Deborah Martin & Jill Haley: The Silence of Grace (Spotted Peccary, 2021)

May 9, 2021 at 11:44 am | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Deborah Martin & Jill Haley: The Silence of Grace

The first collaboration between Spotted Peccary regular Deborah Martin and Jill Haley (One Alternative, longtime William Ackerman collaborator) is super pastoral new age that perfectly matches the paintings of waterfalls, mountains, forests, and caves that make up the album’s artwork. Haley’s oboe and English horn gently roll across the fields of lush synths, and it generally feels light, warm, and uplifting. “Indian Heaven” has softly pounding drums and shakers, but it’s largely free-floating and beatless. “Verdant Sanctuary” has some gorgeous sparkling melodies, and “From Fire Into Water” has didgeridoo-types droning rhythms in its first half, although the instrument isn’t credited so I think it might be electronically generated. “Water Flows of Clouds and Thunder” similarly has synths that imitate harp-like tones, and it sounds exactly like its title, even ending with a brief burst of thunder. Thoroughly soothing and imaginative work.

Show #581 – 5/8/21

May 8, 2021 at 1:55 am | Posted in The Answer Is In The Beat | Leave a comment

MoMA Ready ~ A Special Connection
Nanoray ~ KAMA4
Drumskull ~ Interlocked (Coco Bryce Remix)
Burial ~ Dark Gethsemane
Rochelle Jordan ~ Love U Good
McCoy Tyner ~ Four by Five
Josh Johnson ~ Bowed
JJJJJerome Ellis ~ Fountain #3
CFCF ~ Night/Day/Work/Home
Vladislav Delay ~ Raaa

Cadence Weapon: Parallel World (eOne, 2021)

May 3, 2021 at 8:35 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Cadence Weapon: Parallel World

Rollie Pemberton’s newest album is his most politically charged release, immediately proclaiming “Black is back” and addressing gentrification and the government’s failure to recognize Black people. “Skyline” sums up the dystopian reality of these issues in 2 minutes. As ever, the noted journalist, former Poet Laureate of Edmonton, and soon-to-be memoir author’s lyrics are sharp and literate, but they’re on another level from the college-age club stories of his early albums, tackling big issues while also displaying a renewed sense of confidence. The surveillance-preoccupied “On Me” continues Pemberton’s from-the-beginning fascination with U.K. grime, featuring a guest verse by Manga Saint Hilare and production by Strict Face. “Play No Games” is closer to the purple sound from the late ’00s, with very busy, wobbly production backing pointed lyrics (“my prime minister wears blackface but he don’t really wanna face Blacks”). “SENNA” (with frequent collaborator Jacques Greene) is much closer to drill, complete with ad-libs, but with more of a euphoric rave atmosphere. Jimmy Edgar’s production on “WATER” (ft. Fat Tony) is brittle and tense, and “Eye to Eye” is less claustrophobic but still blood-chilling. Polaris winner Backxwash provides a cathartic guest verse on “Ghost”. “Connect” is a bit more dreamy and IDM-y, and closer to the more inward-looking and melodic material he’s made before. For the most part, though, this isn’t an album of hype club jams or introspection, and it’s nothing like the hipster nostalgia of his track on the last Jacques Greene album — it’s easily the most urgent Cadence Weapon record.

Amiture: The Beach (Dots Per Inch, 2021)

May 3, 2021 at 6:45 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Amiture: The Beach

Amiture’s debut album is a highly focused slab of minimal darkwave pop, filled with gloomy lyrics about lying and regret, and steadily throbbing beats and sequencers. The most unique addition is the pedal steel and fiddle which appear on several tracks, but they’re subtle enough that they don’t register as those instruments, you might just assume they’re synths. I guess you could draw parallels between goth rock and Southern gothic, but that doesn’t really fit here. Regardless, it’s fine stuff with sullen vocals, propulsive beats, and dark clouds of melodic synths. While the album is steadfast in its gloominess, “Slide In” seems at least a little playful, with lines like “I need a bagpipe so I can blow up every night”. “Operator” nails a shivery vibe pretty well, and then “Dream” is more haunting techno than darkwave. “Last Exit” is a blurry ambient daze, and then “Let’s Talk” is one of the most confident, yet most heartbroken pop songs here.

Hal Galper Quintet: Live at the Berlin Philharmonic ’77 (Origin Records, 2021)

May 2, 2021 at 4:51 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Hal Galper Quintet: Live at the Berlin Philharmonic ’77

Alright, so here’s a previously unreleased live set performed by a bunch of artists I should probably be more familiar with. This concert was recorded after Galper had just finished a tour with Cannonball Adderley, and he’s joined by Randy and Mike Brecker, Wayne Dockery, and Bob Moses. All six songs are around 10-25 minutes each, and all five musicians simply go off. Opener “Now Hear This” is just nonstop energy for 14 minutes. “Speak with a Single Voice” (the title track to the LP released by the quintet in 1979) is almost twice as long, and while there’s a few moments that seem like pauses for solos, there’s no loss in energy, it’s just configured a bit differently. Galper’s piano playing sounds particularly rabid and multi-limbed here, not to mention Moses’ drumming or Dockery’s intricate bass wrangling. The rendition of “I’ll Never Stop Loving You” isn’t full band, only sax and piano, but both Galper and Mike Brecker push hard into the outer limits, far beyond the gentle love song it seems like at the beginning. And “This Is the Thing” is the most madcap of them all, too much energy for words. The only drawback is the album’s fluctuating audio quality. It clearly sounds pieced together from different sources, and both “I’ll Never Stop Loving You” and “Hey Fool” are particularly patchy, shifting from full-bodied sound to worn-out cassette bootleg (or tinny, watery mp3) without warning. The music itself is stellar, however, and for most of the album, it’s easy to overlook the less-than-ideal fidelity.

Longmont Potion Castle: 18 (D.U. Records, 2021)

May 1, 2021 at 6:30 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Longmont Potion Castle: 18

After the unexpectedly normal-length 17, LPC returns to all-out bonus track galore hogwildness with the 20-track, 2-hour-plus 18. This one seems kind of like the last will and testament of Alex Trebek, because he’s on here a lot, and he sounds absolutely haggard and it’s more sobering than anything else. Add to that, it was clearly recorded during the height of COVID-19 lockdown, so restaurant workers aren’t too happy with his shenanigans. Honestly, I might be getting too old for this shit, but the tracks that end up with people screaming “STOP CALLING ME!!!!!” just aren’t doing it for me these days. They felt like an interesting character study sometimes before, but too often it just sounds like harassment now, and that’s not funny. That said, I will never get tired of the tracks where he just rambles off a bunch of jargon and confounds whoever he’s talking to, even those who purport to be the experts in their field (see “Shoot Smart”). And it’s always a fun time whenever the people on the other line actually realize how ridiculous he is, and either play along or recognize that it’s LPC, so they get it, and they’re super amused. The dude in “Commodore Babbit” seems pretty eager to talk about boats, until Alex unexpectedly pops up (and calls LPC a “son of a bitch”). The Game Stop call is nuts because of how he asks legitimate questions (even asking for early games like Pong and Asteroids) but then he keeps smearing his voice with all sorts of waves of echo, then ends up turning it into a sort of musical jam with a cool synth bassline, while he’s still having a conversation asking about products. “LPC 18 Theme” is a fun, crunchy guitar rock instrumental loaded with samples rapidly whizzing by. “Card Collector” is fun because of how he does the trippy delay vocal thing and then leads into him being a slick salesman type. Alex appears for a brief blip, and then LPC returns and brushes it off, like “sorry we got cut off there”. “Gentleman’s Quarters” is a sort of psychedelic pirate story, with bubbling water, fluctuating voices, “pond ramen”, and a hell of a lot of giggling from the other end. Totally fun and silly and the only appropriate reaction is to just lose your shit. And then “Wolverine” is an 11-minute train of people from bookstores talking to each other saying that someone was asking for books about subjects that happen to rhyme. Someone actually finds a book about wolverines, but then it turns out that the other person was actually asking about dopamine. And the thrash tracks are fun to just flop around to at 90 miles an hour and feel like your insides are about to burst out of your body. So yeah, he’s still got it, but it seems like the closing of a long chapter in the LPC saga, ushering in a Trebek-less future. SUBTERRANEAN TURNIPS!

Show #580 – 5/1/21

May 1, 2021 at 1:53 am | Posted in The Answer Is In The Beat | Leave a comment

Pet Shop Boys ~ A Man Could Get Arrested
Leon Vynehall ~ Mothra
CFCF ~ Life Is Perfecto
Casper McFadden ~ ITS NOT YOUR FAULT
Naked Flames ~ Waterslug2 (Kaizo Slumber Remix)
The Tony Williams Lifetime ~ Spectrum
Eric Dolphy ~ Gazzelloni
Khruangbin/Knxwledge ~ Dearest Alfred (My Joy)
Negro Leo ~ Makes E Fakes
AceMoMA ~ 1 Million Breaks
1800HaightStreet ~ Intuitionist

vt100: Algorithm (self-released, 2021)

April 28, 2021 at 7:35 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

vt100: Algorithm

California’s vt100 makes live hardware techno using analog and digital synthesizers. This is their fourth album, and it seems to somewhat jokingly comment on algorithms taking on a life of their own and controlling everyone’s thoughts and actions. The album doesn’t seem super conceptual if you’re just listening to it without paying attention to the press materials. It’s pretty straightforward techno that sounds a bit simple and retro, but not in a way that seems like it’s trying too hard to replicate ’80s glitz (i.e. synthwave) or the roughness of early techno and house. There’s steadily repetitive beats and melodies, but it doesn’t quite feel as cold and clinical as most minimal techno. The title “Techno Spaceship” sums up the album’s sound nicely, as it often has kind of a gliding feel to it. There’s some lo-bit textures on tracks like “Aztec LEDs” and “Bit Rot” but it’s still more like spacious electro-techno than chiptune. The album is quite long (over 70 minutes) and there might not be enough to hold onto for the full ride, but it’s worth taking a short trip for a few tracks.

Christopher Alan Durham: Peacetime Consumer 7″ (Space Case Records, 2021)

April 27, 2021 at 7:09 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Christopher Alan Durham: Peacetime Consumer 7″

Christopher Alan Durham co-runs the Detroit label All Gone with Travis Galloway (Traag, Siobhan), home to vinyl and cassette releases by Pure Rave, The Intended, Tarpit, and tons of other noise, noisy techno, and crud-rock acts from around the city. He also makes abstract electronic sounds as Church Shuttle and DJ Bando, and has played in several lo-fi rock bands like Quilt Boy and Roach Clip. This new single follows a solo tape on Soft Abuse and a single-sided tape pumped out during quarantine. The A-side, “Gratiot Crawl”, feels a bit slow and slurry even when played at 45, and he has a sort of exaggerated Iggy drawl, but even though he sounds kind of off his gourd, there’s still something pleasant about the way he traipses toward the general direction of the Eastern Market. “50’s House Blues” is way more down in the dumps, as he gets drunk off potato vodka on the porch and laments being broke and stuck in his run-down old home, feeling too burnt out to try and work towards making his dreams come true.

Claire Reneé: Wings (self-released, 2021)

April 26, 2021 at 8:33 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Claire Reneé: Wings

Heartfelt, lovingly crafted neo-soul with lush live instrumentation and gorgeous multi-tracked self-harmonies. Opener “Honey” is a really enticing, inviting song thanking a potential lover for showing genuine interest in her. “Sirens” is more sultry, demanding your instant attention and legs around her waist. “Check On Yo Friends” is more acoustic guitar-based and a bit more hip-hop-influenced with its beats and cadences. “I’m Tired” lets off some steam without getting aggressive. “Just Hold On” is more creative, especially the way the rhythm switches up later on. “Wings” is a bit more intricate and bossa nova-shaded, and it has the most uplifting lyrics on the entire album.

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