Laraaji: Celestial Music 1978-2011 (All Saints, 2013) + Remixes 12″ (All Saints, 2014)

July 21, 2014 at 12:09 am | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Laraaji: Celestial Music 1978-2011

Laraaji: Celestial Music 1978-2011

File under “Things FACT Magazine convinced me I needed in my life.” This 3xLP set was easily the best non-food purchase I made in Toronto last month. Of course I’d been aware of Laraaji because of his collaborations with Eno and Blues Control, but I never delved into his solo works. The first half of this collection focuses entirely on excerpts from his self-released tapes dating back to the late ’70s, and there is just so much mindblowing stuff here. The zither seems like the type of instrument that I’d enjoy pretty much any music that’s created on it, but this sort of ambient meditation music is just so otherworldly and unique. So many strange sounds I can’t place or figure out how he’s making them. But what gets me more than anything else are the songs where he sings. “Vision Song Suite” is 6 minutes of brief drum machine + zither avant-pop vignettes, and I want to hear several entire albums of this stuff. Literally the only thing I can compare it to in any way is Arthur Russell’s solo cello stuff, just in how he takes one instrument, a minimal drum track, his voice, and effects, and just crafts these incredible melodies and strange sounds, and it just deeply resonates with me. One of the things I enjoy best about music is when you hear an artist that just makes you stop and think, what possessed this person to create something like this? When you sit down and pick up an instrument and write a song, usually this is not what comes out. What sets this artist apart and makes him create something so utterly unique, and where can I get much, much more of it? So yeah, that’s what this is making me feel like. But besides the music from home-recorded self-released cassette tapes, there’s plenty of samplings from Laraaji’s higher-profile recordings. The transition from the cassette fidelity to warm, expansive studio ambiance is jarring, not so much on the track with Eno (which was recorded in 1980), but on the 1986 track with Jonathan Goldman, which sounds more like I would expect something from Eno’s Ambient series to sound like. The tracks with Michael Brook have a bit more of a running-stream nature feel to them, and “Laraajingle” is a downtempo trip-hop mantra recorded with Japanese group Audio Active. Bill Laswell’s recognizable bass sound is present on “Airbass”, an ambient drone from a 1998 Divination album. A couple of Laraaji’s newer self-released recordings appear towards the end, including the surprising ambient techno shuffle of “Staccato”. The entire last vinyl side is taken up by a 17-minute track from Laraaji’s collaboration LP with Blues Control, which I seriously which I’d picked up when I DJ’ed at a show they played in Ann Arbor a couple years ago.

Laraaji: Remixes 12"

Laraaji: Remixes 12″

This whole collection is amazing and has been soothing me during some stressful times lately. There’s a few more recent Laraaji reissues that I need to look into, when I have money to buy records again. But I let myself buy the remix 12″ that also came out this year, because I’m a huge fan of everyone on it. Bee Mask is a perfect match to remix Laraaji, blending nature-like tones and bouncy electronic rhythms with space and a few crucial noise swarms. Ela Orleans goes a more poppy route, surrounding kalimba melodies with gently trippy breakbeats, and incorporating vocals (her own as well as Laraaji’s, I think) as the track progresses. Sun Araw takes “Laraajingle” and turns into an even trippier, more abstract bit of blown-out dub, and reminds me that I still haven’t heard the newest Sun Araw album yet. Motion Sickness Of Time Travel takes a loop from “Space Choir” and repeats it in a way that it snaps back to the beginning and initially made me think the record was skipping, and slowly adds more synths over 8 minutes until getting choked by distortion at the end. Totally inconsistent with Laraaji’s music, but still a really powerful contrast. Looks like All Saints released an entire series of newer artists remixing older artists, and usually I hate stuff like that, but this 12″ is definitely ace, and I’m really curious what Hieroglyphic Being and Peaking Lights remixing Roedelius sound like.

Soft As Snow: Glass Body (Houndstooth, 2014)

July 20, 2014 at 7:56 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Soft As Snow: Glass Body

Soft As Snow: Glass Body

Swedish electro-pop, reminiscent of The Knife, Zola Jesus, witch-house (during the downtempo tracks), LA Vampires and Not Not Fun lo-fi bedroom disco in general. “Glass Body” has UK garage type beats. “Halo Heart” starts slow and spooky, switches to more uptempo beats in the last few minutes. “All Our Beasts” is a slow noisy spooky interlude. “Black Birds” is another slow spooky witchy track. “Drops Of Armour” starts with cascading synths, kind of falls apart and gets sloppy after a minute or two but comes back, and then has dubby conga-heavy 4/4 beats. The final track is a more distorted, echo heavy mix of “Halo Heart” by Asher Levitas.

Magicicada: Wrack With Ruin (Mission Trips, 2014)

July 20, 2014 at 7:53 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Magicicada: Wrack With Ruin

Magicicada: Wrack With Ruin

Really cool fractured scrambled noise collage. Not without rhythm and beats, but it’s jumbled and discordant and won’t make obvious sense. Black Dice fans will be all over this. “In League With Ugly Face” is the most “fun” track here, “Except Sioux” has clicky IDM beats and overblown feedback, “My Fault” has some mumbling underneath and has some joyously confused noises smashed together. “Blossoming Snares Of The Earth” has the type of crashing snare drums alluded to in the title. Seriously just a fun, noisy, confusing, fun album.

Show #250 – 7/19/14

July 19, 2014 at 2:15 pm | Posted in The Answer Is In The Beat | Leave a comment

Mic break sounds = Ed Special: Art Fare
Hour 1
3:02 AM Tim Hecker ~ Incurably Optimistic! ~ Mirages (vinyl reissue) ~ Kranky
3:11 AM Thought Broadcast ~ Wanderer Dub ~ Votive Zero ~ Editions Mego
3:18 AM Circulatory System ~ If You Think About It Now ~ Mosaics Within Mosaics ~ Cloud
3:21 AM Guides ~ Ergo By Sunset ~ 7″ ~ self-released
3:24 AM Brian Eno & Karl Hyde ~ Return ~ High Life ~ Warp
3:34 AM Saturday’s Cab Ride Home ~ Espresso Shot ~ When We Were All There ~ self-released
3:38 AM Paper Armies ~ Walls ~ Trying ~ Bridgetown
3:43 AM 555 ~ Homunculus X ~ Nine Gates ~ Moon Glyph
3:48 AM The Bug with Liz Harris ~ Void ~ Angels & Devils ~ Ninja Tune
3:52 AM Soft As Snow ~ Drops Of Armour ~ Glass Body ~ Houndstooth
Hour 2
4:04 AM OOIOO ~ Gamel Udahah ~ Gamel ~ Thrill Jockey
4:09 AM Ros Sereysothea ~ Wait Ten Months More ~ Metal Postcard sampler ~ Metal Postcard
4:12 AM Xeno & Oaklander ~ Nuage d’Ivoire ~ Par Avion ~ Ghostly International
4:16 AM Barbeque ~ Skitchin’ ~ Yearbook Detroit 2014 ~ ZZZ Tapes
4:18 AM Martyn with Inga Copeland ~ Love Of Pleasure ~ The Air Between Words ~ Ninja Tune
4:22 AM Fort Romeau ~ Nights Bridge ~ Kingdoms ~ 100% Silk
4:25 AM Quarta 330 ~ Hanabi ~ Hyperdub 10.1 ~ Hyperdub
4:36 AM Laraaji ~ Tilturn (Sun Araw Remix) ~ 12″ ~ All Saints
4:39 AM Storm Ross ~ Alpenglow ~ The Green Realm ~ Fengrosso Music
4:45 AM Carl Hultgren ~ Ledge (Tambourine & Bells Mix) ~ Tomorrow (download only bonus track) ~ Blue Flea
4:52 AM M. Geddes Gengras ~ Ishi ~ Ishi ~ Leaving
Hour 3
5:00 AM Gershon Kingsley ~ Miracles ~ First Moog Quartet ~ Audio Fidelity
5:07 AM Venetian Snares ~ She Runs ~ My Love Is A Bulldozer ~ Planet Mu
5:14 AM Bubblegum Octopus ~ Rugolorf ~ Critters ~ Moth Life
5:17 AM Lone ~ Restless City ~ Reality Testing ~ R&S
5:21 AM Esteban Adame ~ The Reason ~ Day Labor ~ EPM Music
5:26 AM Ryan Huber ~ Weade ~ Harken ~ Inam Records
5:36 AM Stereolab ~ Heavy Denim ~ Wow And Flutter ~ Elektra
5:39 AM The Proper Ornaments ~ Stereolab ~ Wooden Head ~ Slumberland
5:41 AM Matt Kivel ~ Open Road ~ Days Of Being Wild ~ Woodsist
5:44 AM Ramon Speed ~ Upstate ~ Effulgence And Alacrity ~ Unread Records
5:47 AM Obnox ~ Best Time Of My Life ~ Louder Space ~ 12XU
5:51 AM Cold Beat ~ Wave ~ Over Me ~ Crime On The Moon
5:54 AM Planning For Burial ~ 29 August 2012 ~ Desideratum ~ The Flenser

Crush Collision 7/17/14

July 18, 2014 at 9:47 am | Posted in Crush Collision | Leave a comment

Hour 1
10:05 PM Kid606 ~ Smooth Sailing (AM Version Remix)
10:10 PM Prostitutes ~ Suck Out The Reason
10:12 PM Fhloston Paradigm ~ Race To The Moon
10:17 PM Jon Hopkins ~ Abandon Window (Moderat Remix)
10:21 PM Eaux ~ Head
10:25 PM Martyn ~ Fashion Skater
10:29 PM Plateau ~ 3am
10:36 PM Digitalism ~ Wolves (Booka Shade Remix)
10:41 PM Monobox ~ Rectangle
10:45 PM Synthek & Audiolouis ~ Spiral Path
10:51 PM DJ Guy ~ BX90 Tape Side A Track 4 (Community Corporation Bootleg Edit)
10:55 PM Randomer ~ Bring
10:59 PM James Ruskin ~ Dependant Stage
Hour 2
11:05 PM Esteban Adame ~ Handed Down
11:09 PM Lone ~ Vengeance Video
11:13 PM Throwing Snow ~ Linguis
11:16 PM Wata Igarashi ~ Junctions
11:21 PM Kenny Larkin ~ Glob (C2 Mix)
11:24 PM Nightmares On Wax ~ I’m For Real
11:28 PM The Cyclist ~ Fire
11:31 PM Nathan Fake ~ Vanish North
11:37 PM Floorplan ~ Phobia (Re-Plant)
11:41 PM Raiz ~ Transcend 1
11:45 PM NX1 ~ OR3
11:51 PM Dronelock ~ Clusters (Mark Broom Remix)
11:55 PM Cute Heels ~ Methaphysic The Method
11:57 PM Cabaret Voltaire ~ Silent Command

Esteban Adame: Day Labor (EPM Music, 2014)

July 15, 2014 at 11:05 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Esteban Adame: Day Labor

Esteban Adame: Day Labor

Los Angeles native Esteban Adame has been playing keyboards in various Underground Resistance-affiliated projects (most notably Los Hermanos and Galaxy 2 Galaxy) since 2004, and has released a handful of solo 12″s on labels such as Motech and his own Ican Productions. This is his first solo full-length, on Dutch label/distributor EPM Music. The album embraces several flavors of late-night Detroit sounds. It starts with a bass-heavy, blinking ambient intro track called “Rise And Shine”. “Out To Get It” balances jittering hi-hats and floating synths with calmer moments, all on top of a steady 4/4 beat. “The Grind” is more of a gritty, tense burner, with meteor-shower synths sprinkling over everything. “Paraphernalia” is where we start getting into topsy-turvy melodic loops and ghettotech vocal samples. Seems a bit lo-fi, not quite in an ’80s Dance Mania way, but maybe like a smoothed-out homage to something like that. “Handed Down” heads straight into Galaxy 2 Galaxy territory, melodically, with swinging house beats and funky keyboard lines, and plenty of smooth soloing. “Home Sick” is another standout, with a haunting synth melody, slapping beats and echoed piano riffs. “The Reason” is vintage UR in contemplative mode, with lots of spacey whistles and a forlorn, distressed melody. “What I Really Think” is a retreat to a more singular type of track, focusing on a beat and a few sounds that don’t really move from their spots much, but seems to slowly build and expand a bit. “Another Day” sounds a bit similar to “The Reason”, except it’s brighter and more optimistic sounding. “Friday Night DUI” ends the album with a slinky soundtrack for starting your weekend with a cruise around Detroit, while intoxicated.

Pursuit Grooves: Modern Day Minerals tape (What Rules, 2014)

July 13, 2014 at 10:29 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Pursuit Grooves: Modern Day Minerals tape

Pursuit Grooves: Modern Day Minerals tape

The newest Pursuit Grooves album has been available on Bandcamp for a few months now, but I found a copy of the cassette at June Records when I visited Toronto for NXNE, and I couldn’t be happier. This tape shows the now-Toronto-based producer doing what she does best, with unconventional beats and rhythms, mysterious dialogue samples, and soothing synth tones. A few tracks flirt with guitar-like sounds and harder-edged beats, but not in an overwhelmingly hard way. “Carbon Elements” rides skipping beats over swerving bass, sounding like it’s suspended in air, high above the ground, but still with a consistent rhythm. “Traces Of” has a dubby echo riddim and sublime organ, and a voice popping up that says “that doesn’t change a thing.” “Gem” closes the album with a more straightforward drum machine sound, rather than the found-sound rhythmic patterns that most of the tracks are constructed from, and voice that simply intones “beautiful”, which is all that really needs to be said. So good. Also worth mentioning (also on the same label, and also which I found at June Records) is SlowPitch’s Dimly Lit Existence tape, which features a Pursuit Grooves vocal cameo, and is a different take on abstract downtempo rhythms, with dusty scratching, cinematic pacing and more mysterious dialogue samples, with an offbeat pop song (“Robotic Rain Cells”) thrown in for good measure.

Bubblegum Octopus: Critters tape (Moth Life, 2014)

July 13, 2014 at 8:05 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Bubblegum Octopus: Critters tape

Bubblegum Octopus: Critters tape

I probably should’ve posted this before, but everything on the Bubblegum Octopus Bandcamp is set to “name your price” for another day or so, so if you’re interested, you can grab a bunch of awesome releases for free. Critters is the first physical BGO release in a while, and his first tape (as far as I know), and it looks like it’s still available. It’s only 10 tracks and 20-something minutes, but it’s pretty packed with ideas and spazzy tempos and blippy melodies. Opener “Gems In The Dirt” takes its time to build, eventually settling on craggy splittering beats and high-pitched vocals. “Critters” starts with detuned Seinfeld bass slaps, then quickly descends into digital thrashing and growled vocals. A few tracks have hard-trance atmospherics, and others have choppy, obliterating drums and chiptune textures. “You Asperse Me” is surprisingly more straightforward grindcore than usual for the project. All awesome stuff, nobody really blends sweet, menacing and spazzy/unpredictable like BGO.

Xeno & Oaklander: Par Avion (Ghostly International, 2014)

July 13, 2014 at 3:06 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Xeno & Oaklander: Par Avion

Xeno & Oaklander: Par Avion

Wierd Records disintegrated a few years ago, so fortunately Xeno & Oaklander have aligned with the Ghostly empire for their newest work. The Brooklyn minimal-synth duo’s sound hasn’t changed much, which is fine because it’s perfect the way it is. I saw them at SXSW last year and their set seemed more like a continuous dance mix, which surprised me a bit, but their albums still consist of concise synth-pop songs of various tempos. “Sheen” and “Jasmine Nights” are the most straightforward 4/4 dance tracks, there’s some excellent speedier tracks (“Lastly”, “Nuage D’Ivoire”), but what stands out the most are the horror-atmospheric slow-jams: “Par Avion”, “Reflections” and “Providence” The latter 2 are short instrumentals, suggesting that this band should look into doing soundtrack work, if they haven’t already. Sean McBride’s voice is absent for most of the album, only appearing on the album’s first 2 tracks, as well as its last; otherwise Liz Wendelbo takes the lead, except for the instrumentals. I’ve listened to this dozens of times this week, it’s just so addicting and I never get tired of it. Now that they’re on Ghostly, maybe they’ll play in Michigan sometime soon? Please?

Show #249 – 7/12/14

July 12, 2014 at 12:53 pm | Posted in The Answer Is In The Beat | Leave a comment

Hour 1
3:02 AM Xeno & Oaklander ~ Lastly ~ Par Avion ~ Ghostly International
3:04 AM Lowfish ~ Big Robot/Deep Pond ~ split 12″ w/ David Kristian ~ Suction
3:09 AM Bill Trivison/Ron Slabe ~ Social Collapse And Ensuing Bedlam ~ Better Music Through Electronics ~ noise-arch.net
3:17 AM Storm Ross ~ Frost’s Howl ~ The Green Realm ~ Fengrosso Music
3:25 AM Siavash Amini ~ Unreal City ~ Till Human Voices Wake Us ~ Umor Rex
3:32 AM Brian Eno/Karl Hyde ~ Lilac ~ High Life ~ Opal/Warp
3:42 AM Laraaji ~ I Am Sky ~ Celestial Music ~ All Saints
3:48 AM Carl Hultgren ~ Evening (At Night) ~ Tomorrow ~ Blue Flea
3:53 AM Spectrum Control ~ Dark Matter ~ Mugen Volume 5 (split tape w/ CarRI) ~ Hausu Mountain
Hour 2
4:00 AM Jandek ~ Waiting To Die (excerpt) ~ Athens Saturday ~ Corwood Industries
4:20 AM Arco Flute Foundation ~ It’s A Symbol Like The Word ‘And’ ~ Everything After The Bomb Is Sci-Fi ~ Cenotaph Audio
4:29 AM Mike Tamburo And His Orchestra ~ Beneath The River ~ Ghosts Of Marumbey ~ New American Folk Hero/Music Fellowship
4:38 AM OOIOO ~ Don Ah ~ Gamel ~ Thrill Jockey
4:48 AM Wreck & Reference ~ A Tax ~ Want ~ The Flense
4:51 AM Planning For Burial ~ Where You Rest Your Head At Night ~ Desideratum ~ The Flenser
Hour 3
5:01 AM Swans ~ To Be Kind ~ To Be Kind ~ Young God
5:09 AM Young Widows ~ Doomed Moon ~ Easy Pain ~ Temporary Residence
5:15 AM Boris ~ Angel ~ Noise ~ Sargent House
5:35 AM Tim Hecker ~ Balkanize-You ~ Mirages ~ Alien8
5:43 AM Ben Frost ~ Nolan ~ A U R O R A ~ Mute
5:50 AM Olekranon ~ Feather/Hammer ~ Aphelion ~ Inam Records
5:53 AM Paper Armies ~ I Lied (I Miss You) ~ Trying ~ Bridgetown

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