Archive for August, 2010

Sightings: Friendly Knowledge, “Delight Moment”

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Ever since the Visitation Rites inbox became a horizonless sea of triumphantly homologous chillwave MP3s, anything with a beat that does not sound like an imitation of an imitation of Neon Indian is more likely than ever to feel like a preserver. Friendly Knowledge, a New Jersey (?) bedroom producer with one of the most poorly designed and spam-ridden MySpace pages I have ever seen, chops up Jazz of the Big Band and Bebop variety and rearranges these shards of collective consciousness over commercially viable hip hop beats. “Delight Moment” is a giant, teetering tower of shattered urban reference points, footprints of a glittering, sepia-colored New York where Sinatra might have plotted his rise as sailors kissed their sweethearts before Broadway box offices. Somehow, as if by a lucky toss of the dice, the illusion hangs together quite nicely.

Friendly Knowledge, “Delight Moment”

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Sightings: Mathemagic, “Breaststroke”

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

I am not the kind of person who ever would use the word “magical” to describe math. And I would never use it to describe music I enjoy, either. To me, “magical” implies illusion or trickery. Toronto’s Mathemagic do not deal in audio fake-outs. The shimmering intro and steady rhythm of “Breaststroke”, a song off their recent split with Young Prisms on Atelier Ciseaux, transport you to a secluded swimming hole, a liquid fortress of solitude. This track doesn’t just send you away to enjoy a moment of “me” time, it gives you the desire to stay there. Why not? Who needs a job? Who needs money? Certainly not you. Why spend your life attaching resumes to emails when you can spend all night swimming in a pool lit by bright electronic noise?

Mathemagic, “Breastroke” (Mathemagic/Young Prisms 7″, Ateliar Ciseaux)

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Sightings: Big Troubles, “Modern Intimacy”

Friday, August 27th, 2010

BIG TROUBLES “MODERN INTIMACY” from OLDE ENGLISH SPELLING BEE on Vimeo.

Last time Big Troubles dropped a promotional video for Worry, their debut LP, I got into a slightly ugly debate with Elliott Sharp of the blog Biomusicophy when he accused the band of glamorizing the over-consumption of fast-food, and thereby endorsing the capitalist values of consumerism, excess, and animal murder. Elliott announced yesterday that he will be deleting his blogspot in two weeks time, relocating to wordpress, and reducing his web presence to the occasional republication of features and reviews published elsewhere. Now that Elliott has defected from the world of memes to concentrate his energies on traditional, long-form criticism — where he will surely be happier, and probably really excel — Big Troubles is free to promote reactionary bourgeois values to their heart’s content. If the hidden agenda of their “Bite Yr. Tongue” video was to make throwing up look cool, then this new video for “Modern Intimacy” must be trying to foster the false illusion that dropping money on leisure class trifles like sky-diving will bring us a heightened sense of intimacy and communion with our fellow man. The gorgeous texturedness of the production, and the vertigo-inducing guitar lines, and the catchiness of the songwriting can surely be no accident; the more beautiful its vehicle, the more effective propaganda becomes.
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Tracey Trance: “Fountain 1”

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

I haven’t been able to get enough of Tracey Trance and his miniature Leprechaun universe since Chocolate Bobka posted about him on the 2010 cassette round-up that Altered Zones launched with. His Fountain tape on Night People may be sort of “old news” in this cut-throat information economy, but Tracey’s is some of the most fully incarnated lo-fi music I have ever heard. It’s not just that he does the cassette sound “well”; it’s that his songs would simply lose almost all of their glowing, childlike strangeness if they DIDN’T sound like they were being played back over a warped VHS tape. Even on MP3, “Fountain 1” feels like tuning into a May Day celebration in a Playmobil village via stethoscope.

Tracey Trance, “Fountain 1”

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Altered Zones “Zoned In” Pick: The Gamut, Ghost Notes

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Ghost Notes, the debut EP by New York electronic duo The Gamut, sounds like something Excepter might have dropped had they emerged from the spirited sweatboxes of North Brooklyn DIY instead of the narcotic haze of post-9/11 LES. The obsession with duration and group ritual is absent, and the offerings pack enough melodic punch to satisfy instantly, but the line of spiritual continuity is hard to ignore. Combining Suicide-era drum machines and real-time digi-percussion, Kosmische synths, and the bass of Berlin techno, the Gamut mobilize the history of electronic music to construct a seductive pre-technological illusion — a return to the primeval beat of the dance around the fire. If there’s one thing that Derek Maxwell and Christian Fuller know, it’s that all that imagined simplicity — that deep-riding boom boom, those two-note Yodel melodies that would lose all their staying-power if they were forced to accommodate a third — is really just the stuff of pop.

Reposted from Altered Zones

Ghost Notes is out soon via CD and MP3 download

Sightings: SUN ARAW announces “Off Duty” EP + Autumn Tour

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Following July’s ON PATROL LP, Los Angeles zoner SUN ARAW has extended the LA Cop theme into a second helping of triumphal warrior dub that wins the prize for best EP title of the year. In Cameron Stallones’ own words, OFF DUTY “grips you in heavy end-of-shift panic.” If ON PATROL feels like a confident, sharp-shooting swagger down the endless corridors of the mind, its sequel opens with the cold sweat that sets in before we turn the final corner — hyperventilating through two and a half minutes of white noise and guitar squiggles, unsure whether to proceed or turn back. Just when we reach a nadir disorientation and despair, SUN ARAW fades in one of his signature walking-pace bongo grooves, intones a few blurred words of encouragement, and we know what we have to do.

SUN ARAW, “LAST CHANTS”

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SUN ARAW’s OFF DUTY 12″ and OFF DUTY/BOAT TRIP CD are out October 12th on Woodsist. Cameron recently announced the dates for his European tour this fall. Scope them after the jump.
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Sightings: D’EON, “What We Want to Be”

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

I only recently became familiar with the loopy R&B stylings of Montreal’s Chris Deon, aka D’EON. For days now, my clicking finger has continuously compelled itself to press play on “What We Want to Be” in his embedded music player. I simply cannot help myself. D’EON’s forthcoming debut album Palinopsia may loosely be about the end of world, or an uncertain future. But I’m not to sure about this song. “What We Want to Be” exudes optimism. No one can dare deny the foot-tapping — and, ahem, booty-shaking — grooves that pleasantly flow in, out, and around your brain’s pleasure center for the song’s entirety. The track’s timeless sentiment also proves undeniable. I am in full agreement with Chris Deon. We really can choose what we want to be.

D’eon, “What We Want to Be” (Palinopsia, Hippos in Tanks)

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Sightings: Autre Ne Veut, “Soldier” Video

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

AUTRE NV “SOLDIER” from OLDE ENGLISH SPELLING BEE on Vimeo.

Olde English Spelling Bee mystery artist Autre Ne Veut has been churning out bizarro blue-eyed R&B for more than a minute now. For those of us less inclined to revel half-sentimentally/half-ironically in the memory of late ’80s/early ’90s stadium pop, the cheese factor may be a bit of a hard sell. But of all the “We Are The World”-generation Ipod crooners that have been cropping on indie rock bills recently, Autre Ne Veut’s vision is epic enough to remind me of some of my favorite outsider artists of all time — most notably New Jersey’s Kenneth Higney, who once penned some songs for Bruce Springsteen in the hope that The Boss would one day bring them to the world. Like Higney, this guy sings with enough soul-shredding emotion to invalidate kitsch as an aesthetic category.

If you, like me, were born in the year 1985, Luke Wyatt‘s digi-psychedelic visuals for “Soldier” will recreate the carnival of images that once flashed through your mind as you lay on the floor of your kindergarten classroom, trying to catch some shut-eye with a stomach full of apple juice and a heart heavy with prayer for the soldiers in Iraq. Princess Leia, GI Joe, and that fat kid we saw crying on Ricki Lake last week dance like Fly Girls across our crania; little do we know it, but we are formulating our first political thought.
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Sightings: Radio People, “Exhale”

Friday, August 20th, 2010

Sometimes it feels like the larger our universe becomes — the more people we meet, the more events we attend, the more information and projects and material objects we accrue — the more cloistered, the more repetitive and redundant, life actually begins to feel. One of the lessons of minimalism, I think — if it is at all possible extract a “life lesson” from music — is that our horizons expand the moment we allow our universe to contract. Radio People, a new synth-centric Kosmische outing by Cleveland’s Sam Goldberg, focuses the mind’s ear on a feather-light patchwork of no-brainer arpeggios and continuous drones, and allows us to take it from there. “Exhale” is perfect Death Pose material, ideal for staring into the inner lids of your eyes, concentrating on the breath, and allowing your body to receive. Encounters with the infinite are likely to abound on The Rumor, Radio People’s new CDR, and a past collaboration with John Elliott from Emeralds certainly comes as no surprise.

Radio People, “Exhale”

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Sightings: Green Gerry, “I Am Getting Old” Video

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

I am getting old – Green Gerry – Odd Tymes from Green Gerry on Vimeo.

Maybe it’s because I never thought it would happen, but the pairing of Green Gerry‘s cockeyed folk with the dazzling precision of a military spectacle keeps blasting me with a combination of awe and seasickness. In fact, clicking play on this video for “I Am Getting Old” felt kind of akin to discovering an intricate mosaic of spores on a slice of leftover grilled eggplant. Who in their right mind would find this dying sigh of a love song to be a fitting soundtrack for a kaleidoscope of uniformed motorcyclists? Not to mention that unforgettable gaggle of admiring military brunettes, applauding in deadening unison before videomulching away? I suppose Green Gerry’s music is not in its right mind, but that’s kind of what I like about it.
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