Another new Zs track streaming right here: “Corps”

Yesterday I wrote about and shared the 18 minute title track for Zs’ upcoming album, Xe. You can listen here. I later realized that the band’s own Soundcloud page held a second lengthy piece, called Corps. It’s another fantastic slice of weird avant jazz that’s got my anticipation off the charts at this point.

The tune opens with a guitar riff marrying Dick Dale surf licks with Steve Reich minimalism, creating a line for the insistent percussion and tenor sax asteroids to dance over. Think Misirlou fucking with Electric Counterpoint and you’re on the right page. The rhythm loosens up, allowing the drums and saxophone to each billow up and take turns leading the sound. It’s a fantastic, tightly wound jam that ends in an effervescent free-jazz cloud.

Because the band absolutely thrives in a live setting, here’s a brief, energetic take on the song:

Now that I’ve fallen into a youtube hole and saved a load of Zs videos, you’ll likely see a handful more of these posts before the album drops on January 27th.

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Protip: you can order the album directly from Northern Spy Records for $17 on vinyl, right here: XE On Northern Spy.

Slowdive – Here She Comes // surreal fan video

Slowdive band 1993

Here’s an admission: shoegaze is still one of my favorite genres. The gauzy dream-sound of guitars blurred into pure haze.. it’s never left that soft, nostalgic center of my brain. Effects pedals, ghosted vocals, and a sort of spectral swagger will always their place in my heart.

Today I listened to Slowdive‘s monumental second album, Souvlaki, and it all came flooding back. I got those old familiar chills right in the middle:

Here She Comes is the simplest, most direct song on the album. The impressionistic lyrics are just dark and weird enough to not seem juvenile; combined with the melodic cloud of hand drums and reverb-laden guitar, they form a surreal love poem.

It’s so lonely in this place
So cold I don’t believe
And as no-one knows my name
It’s easy to pretend
It’s easy to believe
There’s a shadow on my wall
It dances like my soul
Dances like my soul
It’s so cold now
I swear it will be warm
Here she come now

Since the band recently reformed, I’m hoping for at least one chance to see Slowdive perform in this lifetime.

slowdive souvlaki

Someone was kind enough to upload the entire Souvlaki album on youtube, so give it a listen if you don’t already own it. As one of the best albums of the 90s, and easily one of two or three crowning achievements of the shoegaze genre, it’d be a damn shame to miss out on this experience. Buy the album for less than $10, if you’re interested. Or listen first below.

There’s a shadow on my wall / It dances like my soul

The Durutti Column – Trust The Art Not The Artist

A few months ago I really wanted to share this incredible song with you and found, to little surprise, that it was streaming exactly nowhere on the internet. So I put my copy on youtube because everyone deserves to experience this distilled observation of profound humane love.

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Thank You, Music (Jesus Birthday Listening)

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! 

The Durutti Column – Otis

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Another sleepless night for me…

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The Psychic Paramount – II

So I know I’ve been sluggish this year with Optimistic Underground.  I relish being able to share the music enriching my life with you.  I hope to rectify this laziness starting now, with The Psychic Paramount and their (hopeful) breakthrough album II.

I had this whole through-line about jet engines and surgical instruments and LSD and This Heat and Les Rallizes Dénudés and Miles Davis and cathartic volume levels…  but I got caught up, slack-jawed and blasting this album again.  It’s almost like a psychedelic brillo pad, carving clear my thought channels and surrendering my body to oblivion.  A therapeutic breakdown of cogent narrative, this thing blasts away the outside world and disconnects me, sets me free in a way only the most blissed out Lovesliescrushing or hard droning Boris album can.  It strikes an unknown sweet spot, defying gravity while splaying my brain with crushing heft.  Crucial to this power is the flawless production, zooming in on every microscopic detail yet capturing the panoramic magnitude these songs inhabit.  A dizzying high wire act of wide-eyed clarity, this album satisfied me in places only a fellow Swans or John Coltrane or Fennesz fan would recognize.

Second track DDB, opening with one of the more gentle passages on II, grows like marshmallows in the microwave, devouring 9 minutes in a wild-fire.

While I’m dropping names, I should mention that if you like Boredoms, Eternal Tapestry, Lightning Bolt, Fushitsusha, or anything within orbit of those bands, you will find yourself punch drunk and melting to this album.

[Released by No Quarter, the album is available at the label’s page for only $11 on cd or vinyl.  So get it there.  Listen to the free stream while you wait.]

Singing Statues – Outtakes EP

Singing Statues hit me out of nowhere. Sort of. Truth be told I looked this up out of curiousity while absentmindedly browsing Teebs‘ profile and listening (again) to Ardour. After an afternoon bicycle ride with this brief EP providing the soundtrack, I’m completely sold.

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