Waves of Brazil

I’ve written previously about Noah Lennox’s way with clockwork rhythms that sit behind assorted musical mischief. On his latest album as Panda Bear, Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper, the rhythms are more indebted to psych rock, but here and there (as on the nonsensical anthem “Boys Latin”) the older, dubbier affectations slip in – and on these songs, the chaos unfurling above is all the more effective for it. Continue reading Waves of Brazil

Slow down, dilettante

“You’re like a party, I heard through the wall.” — St. Vincent, 2011.

There is a fraying thread that separates true assimilation of an alien culture and mere appropriation of it.

Is tourism, or even tourism of the mind, a suitable fertiliser for the act of cross-breeding with forms of art outside one’s direct experience?

What, subconsciously, got me thinking about this was Fatima Al-Qadiri’s 2014 album Asiatisch, on which she uses her mind’s eye’s vision of China, coupled with the sensory overload actual images of the country have provided, to unwittingly alight upon the sound of sinogrime. But a deeper exploration of her unsettling art will have to wait for another day. Instead, I turn to three British releases of varying vintage. Continue reading Slow down, dilettante

Misty, you’ve won (two)

For when the frost bites at your bones, the air is unfeasibly crisp, and you’re waiting to be carried away on a pillow-like gust of warmth, Clinic (and Daniel Lopatin) wrote “Misty II“. Atop a shuffling, pattering electronic beat, organs quiver and flicker, squalls of feedback caress, and Ade Blackburn looms and loops between the channels, improbably promising both winter’s conquest and its vanquishing.

The cruel wisdom of Steve Albini

The premise of Gorillaz, André 3000 and James Murphy’s 2012 collaboration, “DoYaThing“, was based on a thirty-second encounter Damon Albarn had with Brian Eno. Somehow, this is stretched to fill a thirteen-minute wig-out in which André 3000 repeatedly yells, “I’m the shit!” in tones alternating between satisfaction, hyperactivity, frustration, and incredulity. The encounter in question (Albarn asked Eno, “How’s it going Brian?”; the professorial Eno replied, “Everything I’m working on is coming out great,” with a surprising amount of hubris and breeziness) is a stand-in for the wider social trends of self-publicising, self-aggrandising, and under-thinking. Continue reading The cruel wisdom of Steve Albini

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20 in 14

Here are some albums from 2014 that I enjoyed in 2014. Ranking everything in one list would be arbitrary, so I didn’t. There’s a Spotify megamix containing some of the songs I mention, and some I don’t, here. Continue reading 20 in 14

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Sow seeds, reap harvest

The narrative seems straightforward enough. Band releases low-key follow-up to a strident, populist career-best. One of the band passes, tragically, nine days after the album’s launch. Three years later, the band regroups with a contemplative effort dedicated to their lost friend. Continue reading Sow seeds, reap harvest

Our love, our music

For anyone with more than a casual acquaintance with Aphex Twin‘s 1990s output, the first hearing of “minipops 67 [120.2] (source field mix)” is a sobering experience. There’s the healthy dose of weirdness—disembodied voices, a constantly shifting structure, wonky tunings and a random diversion into jungle—that denotes this is the work of Richard D. James. But there’s also a classical sense of proportion and beauty—think of those celestial synths, the timely intervention of piano—that feels unexpected, and unexpectedly comforting. Continue reading Our love, our music

Spoon don’t need your soul

…because they’ve got plenty of their own.

Four years ago, people found Transference off-putting: long, melancholy songs riding on seemingly-endless grooves before cutting out mid-phrase; sparse demos peppering a nocturnal landscape of blank-eyed art rock. They were mistaken, of course, but let bygones be bygones. Continue reading Spoon don’t need your soul