Yesterday I listened to a mixtape featuring Angelo Badalamenti working out the original theme for Twin Peaks with David Lynch himself. I thought of all the fantastic music that’s sampled the haunting melody, and this Moby classic was the first to bloom.
So, this is more of a news item than music that I’m sharing, but I’m too excited to keep it to myself.
Last October, Oneohtrix Point Never (aka Daniel Lopatin) recorded a brand new score for the astonishing 1995 anime film Magnetic Rose, premiering it live along with the film itself at a live event in the UK. I obviously and regrettably did not attend. However, good news is afoot!
Today Lopatin announced that he will be releasing a follow-up to last year’s Commissions I 12″ on Record Store Day, surprisingly titled Commissions II. The new release features selections of his suite inspired by the video game scores of Manabu Namiki, Bullet Hell Abstraction, on side one. The bigger news for this fan, however, is that side two includes music from his re-imagined soundtrack to Koji Morimoto’s aforementioned anime short, which was originally part of the Memories trilogy.
You might recognize Magnetic Rose as the film gracing this very blog’s headliner – that decaying future piano resides at the heart of the mind-bending film. I consider it a sort of psychedelic cousin to the original Alien.
The release is over 30 minutes long and boasts more minimalist cover art from Robert Beatty. Hopefully that blue X is another die-cut detail like part one had!
So, fellow Lopatin fans, keep an eye out on Record Store Day 2015, which hits Saturday, April 18.
This sounds like towering columns of shattered light, the kind of futuristic timbres that I associate with crystalline sky cathedrals in some imagined Final Fantasy game.
I just needed to share this right now.
I forgot for the longest time. I had somehow missed the opportunity to share this infamous and absolutely captivating music video on Optimistic Underground for a long, long time. It’s based on one of the final songs on Aphex Twin‘s spastic genius monument, Drukqs, and it’s one of the most unforgettable videos you’ll ever see.
There’s not much to say about this, other than make sure to pick your jaw up after it’s over, and try not to be upset if it takes you outside your comfort zone!
My morning news just brought word that Edgar Froese, founder of one of my favorite bands of all time, Tangerine Dream, has died at age 70. The cause of death was pulmonary embolism.
Tangerine Dream, for those only familiar with the name via a smattering of mostly-great 1980s film soundtracks, were one of the most innovative and popular bands to emerge from the 70s German krautrock / kosmiche scene. Constantly evolving, they helped birth the modern ambient sound and informed generations of electronic music in every form. Froese was the only consistent member through dozens of lineup changes that included the luminous contributions of Klaus Schulze and Conrad Schnitzler.
Moving from spooky moonscape-scouring meditations through epic space rock and pulsing dance music, Froese never let the band stay perched on one sound for long. With over 40 years worth of music to choose from, fans of the band can never reach consensus on what is the best. Personally, my heart will always return to Rubycon. The eerie psychedelia on these two tracks laid the blueprint for ambient rock, but was so much more than a chill-out session. Analog synth arpeggios lay a spaced out bed for for a quietly propulsive rhythm. With a wash of disembodied choral voices influenced by György Ligeti, plus tactile sounds from gongs, strings, and woodwinds, the eponymous pieces build tension and ease it away like a tidal wave in slow motion.
Aphex Twin is dropping a new album for only the second time since I became a fan, and the first time I have been aware, this month. Since the neon blimp soared over London I’ve been excited beyond words. The build-up to this album has seen a newly unearthed side project from two decades ago, art stunts on two continents, and a series of listening parties set to occur in the next week. We should have expected it at this point, but this week birthed surprise as we finally got a taste of things to come. Richard D. James has truly delivered.
This feels like a Windowlicker sibling raised in the nocturnal, neon soaked grid of Selected Ambient Works 85-92. Familiar touchstones abound: skittering percussion moving like a current over melodic bedrock, dynamic shifts birth crystalline synth tones, and a sort of broken cyberpunk tone colors the whole thing. Over halfway though, warped vocals enter unannounced, striking in their warm candor. The most unexpected aspect of minipops 67 might very well be how welcoming and open it is. This is Aphex Twin as pop auteur, working in an understated, head nodding aesthetic that he’s rarely approached.
The reaction I’ve seen around the world has ranged from exultant worship to cries of heresy – which is par for the course, as far as I’m concerned. This track sneaks up on me, sinking its knives before I even realize 5 minutes have passed, before I hit “replay” again. For an artist known for bold moves (the entirety of Drukqs, his confrontational, arresting videos), perhaps an ambient pop song was the boldest move of all. Is he setting us up for a full frontal assault when Syro drops later this month? Will the album pull this thread, becoming his most accessible release yet? In a few weeks we’ll know. I expect that we will see how far the internet can bend that day. It’s good to have Richard D. James back.
Buy Syro at Bleep, Amazon, iTunes, or wherever. This is the one indulgence I’ve allowed myself this fall: the 3LP set is destined for my home in a few weeks.
This has been out over a week and the leak for half that, but tonight, alone, listening to the proper stream on NPR, my excitement is reborn. There are details, sharp edges and vocal snapshots bursting out at me, entire stretches brimming with instrumentation I haven’t noticed. I listened to the leak ten times and haven’t heard the album like this. My thought confirmed: the vinyl leak is muffled, distant and compressed sounding. Everything’s in there, buried then rendered in high fidelity. I kept wanting to lean inward and focus on the elements I knew were inside. It’s a treat to know that what I’ll be receiving in a couple weeks is even better than what fans have been going nuts over.
Stream the entire album here:
Thanks, NPR. Also a question: why can’t your player embed?
Also here is the video for first single Putty Boy Strut. Regardless of how you feel about this song, remember that with this man’s work, it’s all about context.