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! 

Destroyer – Kaputt

Before 2011, I had heard one Destroyer album, Your Blues.  I recalled a very baroque yet earnest ballad named The Music Lovers, and nothing else.  I thought of Dan Bejar (the sole permanent member) as part of an indie pop milieu I haven’t found interesting in years.  Thankfully, Destroyer changed and I was wrong.  Kaputt is a utopian vision of space-age late night electronic jazz pop.

 

First I’ll mention the atmosphere: as lush as a Ferrari made of diamonds, parked near a waterfall…  bathed in the neon glow of some not-too-distant future.  Every reverb-laden trumpet blast and bright synth line feels magnified, submerged in the liquid cool of Kaputt’s immaculate production.  Some have mentioned the album conjuring memories of the 80s and I can’t disagree;  I think it’s more to do with the painstaking detail of the recording than any genre the band nods toward.   It was a time, after all, when ambitious pop albums were a slightly more common sighting.

If you’re familiar with Miles Davis‘ monumental Bitches Brew, you’ll have some idea of the tone and color the omnipresent trumpet takes on as it darts through the album from beginning to end.  Muted and echoed at godlike levels, it’s an apparition as much as a driving force.  Accenting and elevating the songs, highlighting the utopian feel, it’s a major aspect in cementing this sound in memory.  Another is Bejar’s voice.  With a deliver both earnest  and cool, his affecting lyrics take impressionistic flights spiked with lump-in-throat moments which remind us: he’s not just our tour guide on this  twilit adventure, he’s sharing the story of how we got here.

This chilled out, slickly psychedelic album is polished pop of the highest order.  Crackling with an energy and intricacy unheard of in Bejar’s (former) circles, it unapologetically stands out with a crystaline picture of a time we’re not living in.  For me, it’s the future.  I’m sure this has something to do with my upbringing in the aforementioned decade; this is how the future was supposed to sound then!  You may hear the past.  Either is a fantasy wholly worth inhabiting.

If you’re like me, you may need more assurance that this isn’t the tired indie pop you may expect (or fear) it to be.  So try this:

On second thought, everyone watch that.  One of the most original, thrilling, and straight up funny music videos I’ve seen in a long time.  80’s girls with wet hair, desert mirages, and flying whales!  Wow.  That just made me like this even more.  Anyway…

[you can get this straight from label merge, or even at amazon]

Teebs – Ardour

Teebs is about to release the album of our sweetest dreams, and I mean that in the most literal sense.  The also-visual-artist and freshest face in Flying LotusBrainfeeder collective has finally created a full length release, finally exceeding even his most beatific psychedelic paintings in service of rendering his uniquely utopian vision.

Yes, utopia.  This is exactly what Teebs conjures on record; one listen leaves no doubt as to the veracity of a claim by Flying Lotus himself that this album sounds “the way Avatar looks.”  I’d be hard pressed to utter a more succinct bon mot.  This music reminds me of imaginary imagery more than any specific prior music; tropical visions of the future as seen in 60’s cinema, a psychedelic James Bond-ian secret island accessible only by submarine.  Or space ship.  The colors and tones may have forebears in  John Barry and Martin Denny – and the optimistic sheen the future once sported – but the construction and the visionary feel is all his own.

Listen to Arthur’s Birds – a cut right from the center of Ardour.

[pick this one up October 18th via brainfeeder on amazon or *more coming soon*]