Friday, February 28, 2014

GNOD - Chaudeland (Rocket Recordings,2011)

One of the most relevant groups of the past decade, the collective GNOD was formed in Manchester around 2006. The rotating cast makes predominantly live music, recording in single takes with raw production techniques. A meaningful improvisational aspect is rarely successful these days, and is a large part of their appeal. They are extremely prolific, releasing many singles, albums, cdr's and splits.

Given the need to label a project, I'd have to put them in the Krautrock category. However, this label is very limiting due to their experimental creative apparatus. The two volumes of Chaudeland in particular, run a gamut of styles. Dark and sludgy, metallic and driving kraut rhythms give way to acid-drenched neo-folk with the ramblings of a guru / madman / asthete. The essential process of meditation follows soon afterward, with a real introspection reminiscent of a Jodorowsky presentation. Droning through to the other side , GNOD is a serious and believable operation. Nothing feels like trickery.

I'm growing more and more irritated with all the upstarts being labeled psychedelic these days. I think such misnomer is growing tiresome to many. You want a contemporary band that takes you places? Here ya go. If music is still capable of expanding your mind, this crew is your best bet.

I'm going to go ahead and say, shamelessly, that if you are attending Austin Psych Fest 2014, DO NOT MISS the most relevant band there this year.

Below are youtube clips of the full Chaudeland sessions:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

R.I.P. Bob Casale of DEVO.

Bob Casale, an original member of Devo has passed away of heart failure at the age of 61. Words can't express what a surprise and loss this is. They were contemplating more shows soon. His work has left an indelible mark on most people I know and much of the world. So sad.

R.I.P. Wayne Smith

Recently I've been obsessed with Reggae that was produced at the beginning of the digital age. Enamored with those Casio beats, I've been researching many different riddims. In 1984, while working with King Jammy, Wayne Smith stumbled across a pattern in a Casio MT-40 home keyboard. In their capable hands, the pattern became 'Under Mi Sleng Teng', and wasa huge hit across Jamaican soundsystems, thus launching the digital dancehall revolution.

Today, Wayne Smith has passed away. His manipulation of the artistic 'accident' will not be forgotten. I can't get enough of it. This late 80's sound just continues to blow my mind. For the unfamiliar, I've cited some examples below:

Here's a latter version of the riddim by Cocoa Tea that happens to be my favorite:

And a killer 45 / 12" dj mix of digital riddims recently performed by Raime:

Sunday, February 16, 2014

We Like Cats - Proper Eats (Marriage, 2010)

Winter got you down? Need a little pick me up? Maybe some dub music for cats will soothe you. Yes, a record of dub entirely dedicated to and about cats. The most ridiculous part of this is the artists who made it. It's the brainchild of the Kranky Records hazy blazey dance droner Adam Forkner (White Rainbow, All things pizza-related), alongside the lovely Honey Owens (Valet) and Eva Salens (Inca Ore).

I'm not gonna lie...its not good. Generic tape delay, misplaced samples of air horns, random samples of some guy saying "rastafari", and off kilter edits... ok, yeah, its just bad, but guaranteed to make you laugh. With lyrics like "I like cats that can slam dunk" and song titles like "Ruff-a-lution Dub", it's no doubt tongue in cheek. Plus, it bombed.

I applaud you if you can make it through the whole recording. This is not purrfect dub but I enjoy the fact that they got high enough to sit around and jam on this. Then they thought it was an even better idea to let others hear it. Wow.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Random Access Memory

Little did I know, one of my favorite shows in 1985 would have a direct effect on my strange tastes in music. I didn't actually remember this scene but I'm sure it was floating around somewhere in the back of my brain. This is pure nerd happiness. Relish in the nostalgia with me. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Actress - Ghettoville (Werk Discs, 2014)

"The machines have turned to stone, data reads like an obituary to its user." This was the press release accompanying this latest and supposedly final album from the brilliant mind of Darren Cunningham. And from the reaction of most fans and critics, the end has come none too soon.

 'Ghettoville' is a bit of a departure from the fun yet avant garde outings of 'Splazsh' and 'R.I.P.' His self-described 'R&B Concrete' as well as his heady lo-fi house jams have been replaced with stark, bleak, and utterly dystopian codes. Some nearly beatless, these intentionally numb melodies are held together by the thread of a drum. This is a laudanum funk, with its soul buried lazily beneath minimal breaks and lackadaisical samples. The dancefloor is still represented. Several four on the floor tracks are present. But this time they feel like a specter. The dust and sweat have long since settled, the dj standing in the booth reminiscing that final night. Ultimately, this just feels like something that would have been cozier over at Modern Love.At first listen, I wondered if Cunningham had a love child with Leyland Kirby and it was just still on the downlow.

 I'm opposed to the critics on this one. Here we have a good final document. Cunningham warned us that Actress was dead. Its possible that after being hailed as a golden child for eight years, Actress has been dead longer than we thought. Though, it didn't seem like it when I saw him perform last year. He killed it, enthusiastically stunning everyone in the crowd. The oh so exhausted one could have fooled me. He seemed to be having the time of his life. Then again, his moniker is / was 'Actress'.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Justine & Juliette - Kiss of the Whip (Arbeit Group, 1988)

I just stumbled across this today. I had never heard of it but I'm pretty sure I'm not going to rest until I find this cassette. American sexy female S&M  industrial duo from 1988. Mostly fast pulsing low end bass explorations contrasted with high pitched Lydia Lunch'ish spoken word. Minimal but rhythmic and sublime in a subtle synth punk way. Sick, sick, sick. Must have. Wow, just wow. In the interim we can all make do with the youtube tracks below. You're welcome.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Najand - Complicated Antithesis (Metal Throne, 2011)

Najand (or Nazhand) is a one man Iranian depressive black metal act. As is typical of the genre, he's prolific, with a couple dozen albums under his belt since 2005, when he was only sixteen. I've been digging this particular album because I enjoy the way the vocals are recorded. Nothing else really stands out. I must admit, I'm intrigued that he is so young, and Iranian. Novelty or not, its is a solid spin.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Wes Tirey - Home Recordings (Orange Milk, 2014)

Asheville, NC guitarist Wes Tirey runs quite a gamut: A consummate singer / songwriter of charming country melancholia, a player who is proficient with the acoustic Fahey Americana, and one who is sometimes just downright experimental.

This cassette release for Orange Milk is a collection of home recordings from his residences in  Dayton, OH and Black Mountain, NC between 2009 and 2011. Its an intriguing mixture of improvisations and compositions ranging from morose to joyful, invoking anything from spiritual oppression to intimate longing. Regardless of the intent, Tirey's subterfuge is effective. You'll feel it in your bones.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Anton Zap - Water (Apollo Records, 2013)

This compilation showcases the Moscow deep house producer's meditative leanings from the bulk of the past decade. It begins with an ambient breaks number, then closes in on the dancefloor with a more accessible house mood. Things shift gears completely with a beatless drone piece, then stun with a new one that is essentially a downtempo 80's funk jam. This one makes me want to add a second 'P' to the end of his last name. Rounding out the album with some cosmic exploration, we get the closest three tracks to his classic sound.

Essentially this is a collection of singles from other compilations on Ethereal Sound, Soul People and Underground Quality. Its always nice to see the other side of an artist, and this one works for me.

Here is a good example of his standard dj mix:

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Bohren & Der Club of Gore - Piano Nights (Ipecac, 2014)

One of my favorite bands of all time has returned with their eighth album. Have they changed the formula? Have they reinvented the wheel? Have they altered course for new destinations in uncharted regions? No on all counts. Nothing is different. Their concoction of ambient doom and jazz meets lounge need not change. The adagio / requiem is a perfectly haunting and romantic melancholy to soothe the thinker's soul. With sax, keys, bass and drums so flawlessly executed and painstakingly slow, the patience required to play this music seems an other worldly talent. These German masters win me over yet again. Timeless.

Listen to the full album here or on Spotify below:

Monday, February 3, 2014

Osamu Kitajima - Benzaiten (Antilles, 1976)

This album is a highly unlikely hybrid. Traditional Japanese instrumentation (flute, biwa, and percussion) fuses with prog rock and western funk (electric wah gutar, clavichord, and thumping basslines). The result is improbably amazing. As far as I'm concerned, everything works perfectly. The album is as tense as it is light-hearted, with a solid narrative. Slow grooves and popping jams glued together by ancient sounding vocals. There are over the top moments but you'll find them as forgivable as I do.

Thanks to Rob for the heads up.