All posts filed under: Music

album cover Tim Hecker Love Streams

Digital Cathedrals: Tim Hecker – Love Streams (4AD)

Historically, towns and city centers were organized around a sacred building, all roads leading to some chapel, church, or cathedral, which were the orbit around which Medieval life orbited. These buildings were designed to evoke a sense of awe & rapture – vaulted ceilings and flying buttresses, as sacred choirs filled the monolithic space with their cries to God. Love Streams, the excellent new LP from influential ambient composer Tim Hecker, begins with the simple, but convoluted, question: “What might liturgical music sound like, in the Modern Age?” Or, as he cheekily phrased it during the promo cycle “liturgical aesthetics after Yeezus” or “the transcendental voice in the age of auto-tune.” The human voice is at the center piece of Love Streams, with Oscar-nominated soundtrack composer Johann Johannsson composing chorales in Latin for an Icelandic choir. Not content to approximate some modern Renaissance forgery, Johannsson reversed the Latin script, before giving it to the Icelandic Choir Ensemble, which were further re-arranged and edited in post-production. These vocal compositions were then fleshed out with flutes, woodwinds, …

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A View From The Ground Up. Babyfather – BBF hosted by DJ Escrow (Hyperdub)

The UK’s most mercurial, shape-shifting producer Dean Blunt gives the straight dope on life in the UK, with some of his strangest friends. Trying to put a finger on the pulse of a culture via its government and the mainstream media is futile. What you see is distorted by financial interests, hidden agenda, PR campaigns, and, of course, limited time to parse through the DATA. Hip-hop has always been “the voice of the streets”, since the early NYC block parties of the late ’70s. It’s supposed to be a glimpse into the real lives of real people. But what happens when Hip-Hop becomes Top 40. A certain perspective is lost, as we are subjected to endless calls towards consumerism in the night clubs. Today’s hip-hop is more about popping bottles than popping caps. Dean Blunt is setting the record straight, with the latest in the endless string of pseudonyms and collaborations, by way of the maybe-fictional personality DJ Escrow. For those that aren’t familiar, Dean Blunt is a busy, restless innovator, bridging the gap between …

album cover The Body No One Deserves Happiness

Isolationist Pop: The Body – No One Deserves Happiness (Thrill Jockey)

Pop music is designed to be a salve for modern living – a way to blow off some steam after our 80-hour a week jobs, letting us lose ourselves in some escapist fantasy for a bit as we listen to Top 40 hip-hop artists talk about booze we can’t afford to drink, clothes we can’t afford to wear, trips we can’t afford to take, in a simulacrum of pleasure and desire. Pop Music can be both necessary AND dangerous. Pop music also brings us a sense of community, of belonging, in the increasingly atomized world we live in. It’s all too easy to feel like you’re living on one of the jigsaw puzzles in the background of Salvador Dali’s The Disintegration Of The Persistence Of Memory, as any sense of familiarity or normalcy plummets into the void of unknowing, right below our feet. It can be comforting to find some like minds and kindred spirits in the freefall, either dishing up real connections or the illusion of intimacy. Either one will suffice, in the Long …

Mia and Margot

NYC DJ/Violin Duo “The Dolls” To Commemorate Artpace’s 21st Anniversary As Part Of “The Happening” Gala

Fashion is a complicated beast. Clothes are supposed to look natural and easeful, from the most elaborate Marie Antoinette cocktail gown to our ratty, dressed-down, ripped-up jeans. Otherwise, we run the risk of our clothes wearing us, instead of the other way around. Clothing should appear light, organic, fitting us like a second skin. This natural ease often requires insanely elaborate engineering behind the scenes, to achieve this effortless grace. This balance of spontaneity and careful planning perfectly describes NYC duo The Dolls, featuring the beat manipulations of DJ Mia Moretti and classical violinist Margot. Speaking to the balance between spontaneity and discipline, The Dolls told the website Into The Gloss: “I think there’s a really nice balance of discipline and spontaneity. And between the two, I think, grows something very free.” The Dolls draw a direct comparison between their music, style, and fashion. “I think beauty, for us, just feels secondary—but not in a negative way. I think that it comes with the territory. We don’t get on stage without thinking about our outfit first just …

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When Are We Not Who We Are? Dalhous – “The Composite Moods Vol. 1: House Number 44”

Much has been made, of late, as to the malleable, fluid nature of identity. Daily, we discuss the ramifications of systemic bias; of The Other and our reluctance towards, or embracing of, another point of view. The boundaries of “the self” are not concrete – we are not walled off like some isolationist state. We are open, porous, to all manner of environmental stimuli. We are what we eat, so to speak. So what effect does the environment have on us? What influence, other people? And what happens when that influence goes sour? The Composite Moods Vol. 1: House Number 44 is an exploration of interacting psyches, from London’s Dalhous, on the ever exquisite Blackest Ever Black. The Composite Moods volume 1 posits some hypothetical house, House Number 44, occupied by two random personalities on the hinterlands of society. One of the roommates views themselves as perfectly fine and healthy – a sane, well-adjusted human being. The other is seemingly a mess, “detached, isolated, often feeling helpless and unable to influence the world around them; …

Thug Entrancer - Arcology

The Sound Of Celestial (& Earthly) Harmony: Thug Entrancer – “Arcology”

Since the very beginning, electronic music has always been exploring alien worlds, conjuring images of whirling discs, horseshoe nebulae, and strange, alien races. Whether this is due to electronic music’s arsenal of non-acoustic sound generators – synths and drum machines – which can produce pure, mathematical tones not possible in the natural world; or because of early sci-fi’s adoption of said signal generators to soundtrack their far out fever dreams, is difficult to say for certain. But whether it’s the soundtracks for SF classics like Fantastic Planet or the original Dr. Who score from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, the shifting patterns of the “Berlin School [of electronic music]” of Tangerine Dream, or the amorphous ambiance of beat-less Aphex Twin, electronic music is particularly adept at portraying new worlds, as well as our own, at times. Electronic music took a brief detour into the mainstream, starting in the ’70s, with the dawn of rave/EDM/disco, which was all well and good, not to mention inevitable, given the laser-precision of electronic music’s tonal sculpting. It might have been inevitable, …

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Music for Music’s Sake — GQOM OH! “The Sound Of Durban Vol. 1”

There seems to be a line drawn in the sand, in terms of today’s Electronic music culture. On one hand, there’s the huge-budget world of the summer festivals, with massive multi-million dollar events like Electric Carnival or Movement Detroit dragging in hundreds of thousands of the best, brightest, and most beautiful to listen to larger-than-life DJs, elevated 200-ft. above the crowd, hurling lightning bolts through gigantic subwoofer stacks. Then there’s the sound of the underground – martial, militaristic beats echoing from down long concrete tunnels, resounding off of bunker walls, usually dished out on the fly from cryptic, cobbled-together machines. There’s a back and forth, between the “underground” and “mainstream” Electronic music world, with the popular, populist beatmongers diving into the murky depths in search of fresh energy, enthusiasm, and inspiration. Considering how much mainstream music ends up, either intentionally or subsequently, as advertisement for lifestyle branding, it’s no wonder that dance music fanatics feel the need to keep digging, in search of something real, in a sea of marketing mirages. Africa has been an …

Kedr Livanskiy

The Most Alive & Honest Thing In Moscow: Kedr Livanskiy’s “January Sun” EP (2MR Records)

“Lo-fi” homemade & handcrafted objects offer an immediate glimpse of the heart & soul of a place. Whether it’s a handstitched quilt, decked out with regional colors and designs, or a disintegrating flyer for a punk show that happened a decade ago, handmade, locally-sourced objets d’art offer an essential insight into the hopes, dreams, styles, and preferences of a people. This is particularly true of “lo-fi” or bedroom music, which seems to inherently evoke images of intimate listening in close quarters with the artist, as they unveil their secrets, like a hidden jewelry box from under the bed. As the world seems to succumb to Pop’s hypnotism, as the spectacle continues to get bigger, bolder, and less accessible to independent participants, the need for raw, intimate, accessible art will continue to expand exponentially. January Sun is a glimpse into the hidden, jewelled kingdom of Kedr Livanskiy, who crafts weightless, otherworldly synthpop and antiquated future beats from a skeletal configuration of bare synth, drum machine, and voice. Each element, however, seems packed in styrofoam, steeped in …

album art Matmos Ultimate Care II

Matmos – Ultimate Care II – Album Review

Music and fashion go way back, probably for as long as either have existed. These days, however, they’re more intertwined than ever, with a number of music’s biggest names working as fashion designers, models, or icons, in their own regard. Electronic music and high fashion are particularly interwoven, as cutting-edge designers soundtrack their runway catwalks with booming beats and glistening synths. Considering all of that, it stands to reason that someone would flip the script, and make electronic music out of fashion. Quite literally. Matmos are some of electronic music’s longest-running and most notorious sonic dada punk conceptualists, crafting countless musique concrete odysses over the last 22 years. Drew Daniel and Martin Schmidt have made oddly-danceable albums out of everything from plastic surgery noises to automata to civil war battles to psychic powers. On Ultimate Care II, Matmos are at it again, this time using the humble source of a vintage washing machine. This is no laundromat field recording, however; Daniels and Schmidt are too hyper-detailed and fussy for such a thing. During the course of …

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The Pop and the Personal. Radiation City – “Synesthetica” LP review

Food Writer Regan Hoffmann posted a tweet in February, as part of the “music writing exercise” #mwe hashtag campaign, speaking on The Carpenter’s “A Song For You”: “I’m finally able to look past the offputting sugary arrangements to understand how dark Karen Carpenter was. #mwe” Much of the most timeless Pop music flirts with darkness. From the sexual exploits of Led Zeppelin, to the “watching-a-train-wreck-as-its-happening” voyeurism of Amy Winehouse’s career, we seem to prefer our sweetness with a little bit of the bitter. Historically, much of this darkness is implied, behind the scenes – from Stevie Nicks’ cocaine enemas to Karen Carpenter’s tragic eating disorders to the expat bacchanalia of the Rolling Stones Exile On Main Street. We find out, after the fact, all manner of disturbing, fascinating details. Maybe it’s because we’ve had nearly 100 years of eccentric pop stars. We’ve learned to peel back the shiny outer layer, looking for a scoop, some kind of narrative to hang a batch of songs on. Something juicy. Many of today’s pop artists realize this fact, and …