Archive for January, 2011

After Adorno: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Become A Critic

Friday, January 28th, 2011


By Emilie Friedlander. Published in Perfect Wave, a new culture mag founded by Camilla Padgitt-Coles of Future Shuttle and Arthur Radio notoriety. Perfect Wave is hosted on Will Swofford/Grant Lyons new Greener Mags publishing platform, which allows users to scroll content from left to right and disseminate articles as embeddable modules. Highlights of the Winter/Spring 2011 issue include features on light artist Tony Martin, avant-garde turntablist Maria Chavez, and Belgrade improv guitar player WoO. Click “Fullscreen” to read my article.

Oh, and here’s the video I’m talking about:

Sightings: Emay, “Because Winter (ft. Lowell Boland)

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Toronto rapper and producer Emay taps into something undoubtedly cool on new mini-LP Mind Altering Dynamics. If this catches on we may all be talking about “chill-hop” or “hypnagonic hip-hop” a lot in coming months. Dude combines a buttery smooth flow with samples and beats that sound like they’re lifted right off of an album called Duckface VII: Arcade Dynamite. This combination of sound rings most obviously in Emay’s other project–Seeing Suge with Blackbird, Blackbird and Star Slinger–but it permeates the songs of Mind Altering Dynamics as well.

As cool as a chillwave rap hook certainly is, the idea would fall flat without Emay’s deft flow and wordplay. On “Beacuse Winter (ft. Lowell Boland)” Emay wears his emcee hat first, and grips listeners right off the bat with a killer opening salvo. The young rapper paints a winter landscape that leaps off the canvas and into dozens of different mini-conversations with listeners–about world peace, lonely childhoods, materialism–you name it. One might complain that these verses lack focus, but I would say they buzz around a wandering mind at just the right pace, filling your lonely winter walks with food for thought.

Emay, “Because Winter (ft. Lowell Boland)” (Mind Altering Dynamics, Self-Released)

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VR Vimeo: Two New Works

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

These are two videos that were recently shown at Public Fiction gallery in Los Angeles. They aren’t music videos, but they are more or less a document of my experience making and viewing music videos for the web over the past 1 year +. The first one is silent, and should be paired with your favorite ambient track. The 2nd one has sound, but might give you a seizure.

Words: Samantha Cornwell

Video: Samantha Cornwell

Sightings: Ghostwriters, “Swizzle”

Monday, January 24th, 2011

The blogosphere would probably hailing Ghostwriters’ Objects In The Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear LP as one of the best pieces of music to come out of the contemporary synth revival is it didn’t date back to 1981. I was informed by an expert source last week that Philly’s Charles Cohen— formerly one-half of Ghostwriters, and now one-half of the band Planet Y (with Stinking Lizaveta‘s Yanni Papadopoulos)– composed this tittering fairy wallop in front of a 200 series Buchla Music Easel, an intrepid, candy-colored modular dashboard by synth pioneer Don Buchla, who only made 14 of the model. Think Keith Fullerton Whitman meets Blondes meets “Beach Point Pleasant”-era Ducktails, but thirty years before the fact. Word on the street is that Cohen composes the majority of his compositions in real time (on the Easel), has virtually no interest in studio recording, and is all but invisible save for the occasional local performance with Papadopoulos and other collaborators. For those of you who can’t make it out to his upcoming dates in Philly this winter (below), this video by Pennsylvania sound and video artist Alex Tyson gives you some idea of what you’re missing.

Ghostwriters, “Swizzle”

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CHARLES COHEN AT THE BUCHLA MUSIC EASEL from alex tyson on Vimeo.

Objects In Mirrors Are Closer Than They Appear is available for free download on Charles Cohen’s blog.

1/21 Charles Cohen & Chris Madak @ The Rotunda,
2/4 Planet Y @ Kung Fu Necktie via Ars Nova Workshop
2/12 Charles Cohen & Julius Masri @ Highwire Gallery

Sightings: J. Irvin Dally, “Sun Room”

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Nature tends to flex its control over us during the winter. No doubt the weather is rough down in New York City, but here in the upper hemisphere of the Empire State appreciating the delicate beauty of a northeastern winter can prove difficult. Luckily songs like “Sun Room” exist to keep spirits up. Here J. Irvin Dally–who I have written of before–displays a talent for conjuring up the prettiest images of the bleakest weather.

The bright textures on “Sun Room” combined with Dally’s soothing croon turn large crystalline ice spikes from something that could bust a windshield into a deftly crafted sculpture worthy of pause. They remind you not to dwell on being stuck away from home, but be thankful you’re stranded somewhere just as comfortable; gazing at the falling snow with a hot cup of tea next to someone you care for. On “Sun Room”, Dally infuses a folk stomper with glo-fi’s glistening sheen.

J. Irvin Dally, “Sun Room” (Sun Room, Self-Released)

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Sightings: Delofi, “Med Scene #3/ In Search Of The Fantastic” Video

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Sometimes it takes a real sense of purpose, and a lot of thoughtful work, to make something that’s exquisitely chaotic. Los Angeles video artist Miko Revereza knows this, and lives by it. He and I once spoke about the experience of foreign language film, and how reading is a central part of it. In his video for Delofi‘s “Med Scene #3”, he riffs on this idea to the point of abstraction. Delofi’s drugged-out, stuttering beats are accompanied by an unusual collage of text and image. The base video motif comes from a VHS compilation of cultural dances. While this imagery takes center stage at a few moments, the real star of the show is the often indecipherable text. Revereza created this by applying layer after layer of analog title generator graphics. In order to see it to fruition, he must have had to work for several internet years at the speed of light. However this came to be, it is a true work of art that asks us not to categorize it, and just enjoy its beauty.

Words: Samantha Cornwell

Delofi’s tape Leaving is available now from Leaving Records

Sightings: The Dismemberment Plan, “A Life of Possibilities”

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

What defines the “importance” of a record? A relative question for sure, but just think about it. What qualities make something a classic, something worthy of a 180 gram vinyl reissue and reunion tour? Emergency & I — the 1999 opus by Washington D.C.’s recently reunited Dismemberment Plan — certainly means a lot of things to a lot of different people. I guess that measures its importance in and of itself. This album, including this song, “A Life of Possibilities” — a disjointed post-punk stomper about the choice between hiding yourself away forever, or braving the harsh realities of life — put me along the path I currently stroll. Without this particular collection of 12 songs — expanded to 16 on this brand new reissue from Barsuk Records — I would not be here now, writing about music. I cannot measure how important Emergency & I is to me.

This shows that beauty and dignity exist in the blatant money-grabs of reissued Indie Rock classics. Perhaps the bright and shiny “Best New Reissue” label from Pitchfork brings a new generation of fans and opens them to their own lives, full of possibilities. One can only hope.

The Dismemberment Plan, “A Life of Possibllities” (Emergency & I (Reissue), Barsuk Records)

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Visitation Rites Presents: Dream Massage, M. Geddes Gengras, matthewdavid, Gul Bara, Red Mir, Universe

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

1/15/11 SHOW FLIER- MONDO PALAZOID from Samantha Cornwell on Vimeo.

Join Visitation Rites’ Los Angeles team this Saturday for a night of musical healing in a Chinatown home. Come early to potluck, and stay late to dance. ¬†Additional sounds will be provided by DJ StareOfTreat (Matt Kruglinski) and special guests.

Sightings: Hips Like Cinderella, “It’s What Ev”

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Usually a bit suspicious when artists try to solicit my attention via @reply, but I’m feeling pretty smitten with this multi-tiered, speaker-blowing slacker anthem from Atlanta’s Hips Like Cinderella, who summon tiny accidental miracles from place where over-saturation meets degradation. Makes me think that I’ll never get tired of that classic MBV bending guitar line– or lo-fi, for that matter, as long as it’s guided by a love for texture.

Hips Like Cinderella, “It’s What Ev”

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Sightings: Future Shuttle, “Fog Spelunk”

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Last time I saw Brooklyn electronic duo Future Shuttle perform live — at Piano’s on the Lower East Side, accompanied by flute player Lizzie Harper, who now joins them for most of their performances — I remember feeling the same way I once felt when I was lucky enough to receive a foot massage from a friend: shocked by a sudden apprehension of my inner exhaustion, then shocked by all the emotions that start to well up when you let your guard down without knowing it. With their new Water’s Edge EP, out this year on Kip Uhlhorn‘s new Intercoastal Artists imprint and produced by Sam Haar of Blondes, we discover their mile-long pillow-scapes in higher resolution, revealing an attention to texture and dynamic variation that can only come from losing track of time inside the studio, trapped inside your own spell.

Future Shuttle, “Fog Spelunk”

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Words: Emilie Friedlander

Water’s Edge EP is out this year on the Holy Moutain-affiliated Intercoastal Artists. 2-song 12″ vinyl accompanied by 6-song download of the full EP