Bows were born after the demise of brilliant post-rock pioneers Long Fin Killie, by lead guitarist and singer Luke Sutherland. A more atmosphere- and beat-driven, nominally trip-hop associated group than its predecessor, Bows bloomed into something equally adventurous and fulfilling as the acclaimed first band. On this album, they flew even higher.
With a foundation in the bleeding edge of UK PostRock, Sutherland and company’s oceanic swells bleed into entirely new territories, amplifying the latent dub tendencies of the former scene while skipping right over the forefront of then-popular Bristol trip-hop sounds into a starbursting heaven of cascading orchestral waterfalls and breathy dreampop vocals courtesy of chanteuse Signe Hoirup Wille-Jorgensen and Sutherland himself. The enigmatic low end throb provides a bedrock for the torrent of acid-bent melodic workouts embedded with a stream of sub-consciousness lyrics and oracular percussion.
Imagine your favorite deep 90’s Bristol album draped in the gauzy atmosphere of A.R. Kane or Cocteau Twins and shot through with terrifying elation and existential anomie. This is light years beyond that image. Leaning away from the club floor and into the fevered minds of blissed out dreamers, it’s the pinnacle of its kind. Perhaps the only one.
[get ahold of Cassidy at norman records, lala, or reliably, amazon]
Blue Sky Black Death lays down infinitely cinematic left-field instrumental hiphop with their latest album, in the process stretching the very definition of the genre into something altogether more epic and expansive. This LP widens the scope and practically begs for a dystopian sci-fi film to accompany its stately but tweaked out majesty. The duo, comprised of Kingston and Young God, threw down this sonic gauntlet at the feet of every other production wizard and studio sculptor last year and have yet to see a contender pick it up.
Of course, using the term ‘cinematic’ for an album with the word practically in its title may seem lazy, until you’ve spun this at a proper volume. There is no descriptor more apt or quick to pop into mind when listening. This aspect is nothing new in itself; merely raised to an unheard level and played with finesse and a keen ear for detail that lets the music step forward from a long line of atmospheric beat conductors into it’s own wide screen realm.
To put it in relative (and entirely ignorable) terms, this feels as if Dr. Dre were abducted by extraterrestrials and dropped off in a state of the art London studio with no memory of his prior life, accompanied only by his prodigious skills behind the boards and cryptic instructions to make a masterpiece with the resources at hand. All apologies for the seemingly facetious metaphor but if you found yourself nodding at the notion, you’re probably already listening.
Late Night Cinema simply forces a smile at the sheer virtuosity and breadth of vision presented. No song ends the way it began, each track an internal journey presented with a bravado betraying the confidence these guys have in their ability to lay out a fully fleshed out song sans the crutch of vocals or obvious hooks. Utilizing everything from live instrumentation to indecipherable samples to what sounds like a full orchestra, they throw everything which works into the mix and leave no stone unturned in the search for a level of the stratosphere in which to comfortably glide. Plucked strings, fat horns, crunchy bass, snippets of dialogue, rapping, singing, and found sounds work their way into every crevice of the mix. The aural environment is packed to the gills and populated with stylistic genius. Though the nature is sprawling and the landscape expansive, there is simply no wasted space within this record. Every slavishly worked over millisecond of sound feels buffed to a sheen and ready for the close inspection of a jeweler’s eye. Honestly, I can’t recommend this enough.
[pick this up via undergroundhiphop or cduniverse, or the always dependable amazon, you won’t regret it]
Gang Gang Dance released their self-titled (and initially vinyl-only) sophomore album in 2004 and quietly set alight their singular brand of cavernous, sample-fluent, tribal psychedelia with this tripped out onslaught of free form beat-laden soundscape exploration.
So, holy shit. I finally got around to listening to this album. An album I should have discovered years ago when I was knocked on my ass by God’s Money. Jesus. I was waiting until I found the real McCoy, and succeeded in my quest. I’m so thankful. This is better than it has any right or percentage of probability to be. Though leagues more free-form than God’s Money or Saint Dymphna, it’s got far more focus and drive than the murkey Revival of the Shittest. 2 tracks totalling 40 minutes wind through movement after movement like a song-based album broken apart and shuffled into a smooth blend by a mad scientist DJ’s hand, giving ample evidence that the masterly flow of the band’s later efforts didn’t materialize out of the wild blue ether.
So truly odd and uniquely rewarding, I’ll leave it up to the listener to understand my enthusiasm and infatuated prose. Just hit play and sit back, resist the urge to skip around on the slow-building opener and make sure to note the point, halfway through the second half, when you’ve completely lost track of time and place. Or don’t.
In memoriam of Charles Bukowski, I had a vodka drink and listened to scandalously good music tonight – then I wrote. This is the one thing item being shared, however. And I mean it. You may feel disoriented, lost, and slightly apprehensive. But in the end you’ll thank me for that final push, what made you take the plunge.
[the album is somewhat of a rarity but one can obtain it via amazon sellers]
Dreams of Water Themes is the stupendous result of a collaboration between Daedelus and Frosty, who christened themselves Adventure Time and cooked up a nautical stew of jazzy undercurrents, waves of turntablism, sampledelia swells, and clipped vocal crests, cut through with a crackling, frothy breeze.
Check the end of this post for the full album stream.
It’s a unique project in the canon of modern beats, with the title and artwork indicating the type of hefty thematic glue unifying this far-flung enterprise – in other words, it’s one of the more cohesive electronic/hip-hop releases floating around. Fans of Daedelus’ opus Denies the Day’s Demise are in for a real treat; this LP hews closer to that record’s heights than any project he’s been involved in before or since. Loosely roiling keys, dizzy horns, vaguely mideastern strings and incisive, impeccably placed spoken samples drive the narrative thrust, while the constantly evolving yet self-referencing palate keeps two feet planted firmly on the deck through the half-hour-plus of churning beat seas.
There’s a certain whiff of Since I Left You rising off the whole affair, though it’s more respectful nod than straight homage or borrowed nostalgia; the pair acknowledge their forebears in the turntables-set-sail department without constantly reminding us of that towering landmark. Adventure Time created an ambitious – but consciously playful – musical journey which begs to take listeners out on a freewheeling voyage through the high seas of rhythm exploration.
[snag a digital copy at 7digital or get the cd at amazon with its attendant cool packaging]
Meanderthals are a truly new hybrid project comprised of Norwegian DJ Rune Lindbæk and English duo Idjut Boy, and recently released their hauntingly unified musical cornucopia of a debut album.
Desire Lines manages to swallow up everything but the kitchen sink, every touchstone of the artists’ collective sound base, while retaining a densely unified sound and singular feel throughout. The entire trip is anchored by a heavy dub foundation and shrouded in a balaeric beach party ensemble, shot through with airy acoustic and scruffy funk electric guitar. Darkly futuristic keyboard lines weave into and around breathless moments of sunny ecstasy that lift the eargasm potential far above mere dance floor slow burns. Every moment is blessed with a loose, jazzy attitude which belies the group’s disconnection from the club and the more introspective nature of this heady excursion. All of these statements are true, yet merely dance around the compulsively head-nodding appeal of Desire Lines. This is an album to unwind to, whether out on the town or back at home. It’s something you’ll end up listening to alone most often, despite the instantly gratifying beats and approachable nature – any friend with a working set of ears would be thankful for an introduction – it’s just too engrossing a listen when surrendering full attention. One look at the cover art probably gave more of an impression than any of this paragraph, but if you have read this far, take my word that the visuals are certainly representative of the majestically dreamlike beauty captured by this album.
[submit to the sound at boomkat or cd universe – and be sure to show some love at the Meanderthals myspace]
Roots and Wire is a wide-scope ambient dub excursion by Montreal/Berlin based artist Deadbeat.
This band is the funkiest bunch of white guys to emerge from the fertile early-1980’s NYC no wave scene. Featuring one of the most well-known bass lines in recent history, Liquid Liquid are nonetheless relatively unknown to the wider public.
Liquid Liquid is a self-titled collection of everything essential.
To wit: if this band were James Brown, Cavern would be their Funky Drummer. The moment that transcendent rhythm comes to life on the track, you’ll be awash in familiarity and confusion in the same instant. Is this White Lines (Don’t Do It) by Grandmaster Flash? Phenomenon by LL Cool J? Both.
Despite that track’s endearing, enduring charm, it’s not even the best thing here. This collection is overstuffed with quality material, ranging from party-ready bangers to truly outré beat and noise explorations. None of it comes within spitting distance of mainstream pop or modern club music, by any stretch of imagination. One listen though and you’ll be convinced that the ideas contained are the base root for a wide breadth of modern music, popular and obscure alike.
This LP is actually a set released in 1997 by Grand Royal containing basically everything you could want to hear from the band’s limited output. First track Optimo will blow you away. Cavern is next. You’re now on a dark, funky rollercoaster to the end.
[grab this amazingly fresh and complete set at amazon]
bonus: Cavern video!