This album has quickly become an absolute favorite of mine and I’ve been aching to tell everyone about it. The music breathes a strange dreamy atmosphere where the subconsciously familiar blends with startling newness, the entire production emerging from the half-recalled miasma of memory. In other words, it feels profoundly new while evoking my own past.
Here’s Andy Stott spinning dark techno brilliance for almost an hour. I’m totally unsure of how I managed to miss this. Dropping two years ago – just before his stunning full length Luxury Problems – this live set mixes in a whole lot of his signature abrasive 4/4 monstrosities and searing vocal colors from Alison Skidmore. It’s a dark, sinewy construction, shambling its way through the back caves of your mind.
Basically, it sounds exactly how you’d expect Andy Stott to sound like live. Fans of Luxury Problems will be especially pleased around the 19 minute mark.
In typical Boiler Room fashion, the crowd consists of listless hipster types sipping on beers and occasionally tilting their hips. The real draw is the sound. Turn your volume up, and read something interesting while you listen. I suggest this illuminating treatise on the philosophy behind invisible prisons that shape our lives. It’s called The Black Iron Prison, a term birthed by Philip K. Dick in his final novel, VALIS. You should probably read that at some point in your life. It’s a transcendent (and partially autobiographical) dissection of sanity itself.
I don’t have much else to say about this. Just listen. Or watch, too, if you’re in the mood to see people looking miraculously bored at one of the most intimate, brilliant techno sets I’ve ever heard.
I love this show. Only thing worth watching on children’s television.
This video is old and I haven’t written a post about Gang Gang Dance in a while, but neither fact matters. This is a freewheeling ode to getting high on your music.
I really can’t say more. Watch the video.
It will be Christmas in a few hours. More importantly, it will be my first day off in over a month and I’m getting a head start on savoring the opportunity for a long stretch of music enhanced repose. I realize many of you will not be reading blogs or spending time online – some of you must have families – but I feel that it’s as good a time as any in the year to express thanks and revel in the great works of sound art that enhance our lives. Also I’d like to know what you’re spending your equivalent holiday vacation listening to, so reply if you’re interested.
What I’m into this weekend:
1. Rangers – Pan Am Stories
This one is pure six string love, through and through. The atmosphere is warped tape and spacey reverb and psychedelic compression but the playing is hypnotic Durutti Column inspired tapestries of melodic progression. Swinging, flowing, building and cresting and never stopping; this feels like tuning in mid-stream to some frequency of guitarist Joe Knight’s brain, no beginning or end. It sparkles without ever feeling consciously virtuoso, yet remaining far too impolite for wallpaper listening. Try out mid-album stunner Jane’s Well below.
2. Sepalcure – Sepalcure
The tangentially-dubstep-related duo containing Machinedrum‘s Travis Stewart and
some other guy Praveen Sharma burst out of nowhere last year with a couple EPs that balanced any lack of holy shit! novelty with a more than generous dose of holy shit! punch, dynamics, and elastic rhythm and songwriting that made them instant standouts in an exponentially flattening market. The fact that their debut LP is a blistering collection of tuneful cutting edge productions is as unsurprising as a sunrise but equally satisfying and essential. Constant streams of ‘aha!’ sampling and percussion flourishes along with skyward bound synth pads and neck-tingling effects keep momentum with the insistent throb of bass that’s always one step ahead of tame; it’s the kind of sound that I can easily become addicted to, listening on every commute for a week. The fact that it’s nonthreatening is only a detriment to its chances of appearing on Best of 2011 lists (I am working on one, coincidentally) because this is one of the most solid quasi-danceable electronic releases in a long while.
3. Teebs – Collections 01
My love for Teebs is a known quantity. While his sound is an entire utopian environment unto itself, there is always room for growth and change, even for someone preternaturally adept at crafting beat-bliss pocket symphonies. Enter his new ‘Collections’ series. Presented as an odds and ends gathering of sorts, only hinting that it’s less of a mission statement than the debut LP in that the tracks lack consistent segues. This half hour is more assured and ballsy than anything he’s dropped, loaded with muscular bass and distinct structures. There’s a tangibility and sense of confidence here which the drifting vistas of Ardour couldn’t sustain over its length, and a wider palette at work. Collaboration provides a couple standout moments: Rebekah Raff’s sensual harp showers Verbena Tea with a transcendent light reminiscent of Alice Coltrane, while Brainfeeder newcomer Austin Peralta anchors the sub-bass throb of LSP with twinkling piano loops. I can listen to this while cooking, cleaning, or paying the rent. I can enjoy it day and night and often do. I can share it with everyone with a working set of ears.
4. Oneohtrix Point Never – Replica
So I’m still really into this. Pornographic flights of radiance, as I said. Something new each time I listen. In the car, in my kitchen, in my headphones mostly. How lucky to hear something so new and so addictive and so profoundly, unpredictably gorgeous. Expect to hear more about this, from myself and everyone else who values adventurous leaps into the unmapped terrain of where our minds and machines can go when pushed beyond what’s known.
Listen to the whole damn album below if you haven’t, already.
I’m badly in need of rest so this post stops here. I hope to find time tomorrow for more since this is hardly all I’ve been obsessive about. Remember, I’d love to hear what you are into this weekend and beyond!
So we all tend to discover some of our favorites of a given year immediately or long after it has passed. I decided to share mine. Despite being the first week of January, I’ve already discovered, revisited, and heard enough albums in a better light (courtesy of my brand new Sennheiser 280‘s) to start a list going. This is the first in a series to unfold for the next month or so. All I know for sure is that this music is at least as worthy of a listen as anything listed in Best of the Rest 2010, or even Best of 2010.
- Forest Swords – Dagger Paths
This album I heard once, the moment it dropped. Despite intriguing me somewhat, it managed to slip to the back of my must list and languished for the rest of the year. Spotting its placement on several highly respectable year-end lists, I felt compelled to give it another chance. So thank you, fellow list makers. Especially my friend at Bubblegum Cage III. What sets this material apart from the beat scene or the solo-psych-project folks – or anyone else for that matter – is the serpentine guitar work and murky, lived-in feel of every moment. Lurching beats dangled around thunderous, bassy guitar melodies and an almost tribal, foot stomping ethos, this (frankly) astounding debut sounds like the work of an accomplished veteran, confidently going out on a limb, then rising, rising, rising. The only direct reference point I have is Gang Gang Dance, live, lately. Don’t look to their records for anything like this; you had to be there. Thankfully that ecstatic experience seems to be just what Forest Swords aims for and achieves on this album.
- How To Dress Well – Love Remains
Honestly, I kept away from this one out of sheer knee-jerk hipster/pitchfork/etc rejection. I shouldn’t have. It’s so much more (and less, in a good way) than what it’s been sold as. Far more psychedelic than any description employing “r&b” infers, it’s a syrupy miasma of primal notions and half-thoughts, the bits and bytes of heartache and longing twisted up in a melting dream logic David Lynch would be proud of. This is drone music for the dance party comedown, dance music for the somnambulist, love songs for the fucked up.
- Shackleton – Fabric 55
So I had the impression that Fabric mixes were simply a series in which an artist makes a DJ mix of other artists work. Sometimes they’re great, sometimes they’re just alright.. but they’re never essential or brilliant like the artist’s own work. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Shackleton mines his own discography, past present and future, using elements of his Three EPs release as thematic glue to bind a striking set of 22 tracks that, to me, is possibly the final word on dubstep as we know it. One listen through and I’m already confident that I’ll be spinning this more than his prior album – and I absolutely LOVE that album. This one is simply more vibrant, active, playful. It shuffles off on an oceanic dub odyssey, seamlessly whirling through almost 80 minutes of depth charge awe. The fact that I ignored this profoundly satisfying set, from a personal favorite artist, makes my head spin.
If you’ve got suggestions for something I may fall in love with, please leave a comment. We all benefit from hindsight. MORE to come…