Show #553 – 10/25/20

October 25, 2020 at 10:55 pm | Posted in The Answer Is In The Beat | Leave a comment

Buscabulla ~ El Aprieto
Actress ~ Diamond X
Al Wootton ~ Over
Acre & Filter Dread ~ Blood Artist
Basic Rhythm ~ What Would I Do
clipping. featuring Michael Esposito ~ Pain Everyday
Lauren Bousfield ~ Crawling Into a Fireplace Cackling
Machine Girl ~ Blood Magic
1.8.7 ~ Chicago
John Frusciante ~ Blind Aim
Linea Aspera ~ Entropy
Optic Sink ~ Exhibitionist
Molchat Doma ~ Pryatki
Carlos Giffoni ~ Spiral of Rest

Maximum Ernst: Hallmark of a Crisis Period 12″ EP (Ever/Never Records, 2020)

October 25, 2020 at 2:16 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Maximum Ernst: Hallmark of a Crisis Period 12″ EP

The latest EP from New York experimental duo contains two side-long tracks of meandering psychic explosions and ghostly transmissions/warnings. The A-side starts out with a burst of static and some barely tethered guitar notes, and it all gets swept along in a heady rush, sometimes with a few violent outbursts of haunting voices or other premonitions. It’s a bit ghastly but also kind of soothing. The second side, however, is far more nightmarish, with distorted voices simultaneously shouting at you about science from several angles. Then an organ freakout explodes and pushes it even further into the realm of panic. A sort of drilling “bassline” withers through it all as overwhelming clouds of noise drown everything else out. Towards the end it mostly shifts to one speaker, further disorienting everything before it fades out.

Show #552 – 10/18/20

October 18, 2020 at 10:58 pm | Posted in The Answer Is In The Beat | Leave a comment

Nubya Garcia ~ A Shade of Jade
Roland Haynes ~ Second Wave
The Awakening ~ Convulsions
Cesaria Evora ~ Carnaval De Sao Vicente
The Budos Band ~ Gun Metal Grey
The Raymond Scott Big Band ~ Carrier Pigeon
Neil Cicierega ~ Whitehouse
People Like Us ~ You’ve Got To Know When
ESP Summer ~ 天国の王国
Eki Shola ~ Blue Light
Future Islands ~ Waking
L.A. Vampires ~ Deeper
Loraine James featuring Jonnine ~ Don’t You See It
Mary Lattimore ~ Sometimes He’s In My Dreams
Beavis’s Ass Is On Fire!

Brendon Randall-Myers/Dither: Dynamics of Vanishing Bodies (New Focus Recordings, 2020)

October 17, 2020 at 6:47 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Brendon Randall-Myers/Dither: Dynamics of Vanishing Bodies

Brendon Randall-Myers’ first composition for electric guitar quartet is performed by Dither, which includes Terry Riley’s son, Gyan Riley. The five movements are both intimate and distant, sharp and soothing. The striking “Missing Fundamentals” mainly consists of crests of controlled feedback, and will likely crush your speakers if you play it too loud. “Auras” is less startling, more a dreamlike ring of several close-miked guitars plucking away in intricate circles. After the brief waking winkling of “Phantom Rhythms (With Singing)”, “Trem Chorale/Harmonic Melody” is more forceful, barreling straight into the heart of the unknown with with a tough but adventurous spirit, and easily the most exciting section of the piece. Randall-Myers has been conducting the Glenn Branca Ensemble since the composer’s 2018 passing, and this track is where the album matches the force of Branca’s best work. The concluding “Vanishing Bodies (Lines and Loops)” is mostly calm levitation and floating, although there’s a few flashes where tones jump out a bit more, and it plays off of patterns like this for the final minutes.

Mike Khoury/Dominic Cramp/Gino Robair/Phillip Greenlief: Compassion & Evidence (Creative Sources, 2020)

October 16, 2020 at 7:02 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Mike Khoury/Dominic Cramp/Gino Robair/Phillip Greenlief: Compassion & Evidence

Detroit-area improv musician Mike Khoury recorded this 2018 session at the Temescal Art Center in Oakland with three West Coast musicians. Khoury plays viola, while Dominic Cramp (of Evangelista) plucks on a lyra and Gino Robair makes a soup of bubbling, spluttering electronics, which Phillip Greenlief threads in and out of with his tenor sax and Bb clarinet. It can get pretty messy (mostly in a fun way), but Khoury’s viola playing seems to elevate the mood into something more enlightened in the middle of the 13-minute “Nature Is the Objective Reality”. This is interrupted with bursts of radio dial-spinning, with waves of static eventually incorporated into the mix as an instrument before they float away. “The Universe Was Not Created” is a nearly half-hour vortex which features a greater presence of choppy, crunchy radio transmissions, which get blasted and stretched out at one point. It zones out deeper as it continues, ending up with terse scrapes and wind-squeaks against a tense drone. “Nothing, By Definition, Does Not Exist” finds a weird sort of rhythm between the musicians, with electronic distortion nearly sounding like a didgeridoo and having a sort of conversation with the radioactive reed spluttering.

Masma Dream World: Play At Night (Northern Spy, 2020)

October 15, 2020 at 7:31 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Masma Dream World: Play At Night

Masma Dream World is Devi Mambouka, a Gabonese-Singaporean artist who moved from Africa to the Bronx when she was 12, and trains as both a reiki practitioner and a butoh dancer. Her Northern Spy debut is a singular blend of pretty much everything that’s ever made an impact on her, as complex polyrhythms share space with R&B harmonies and backwards chanting. “Knight Wolf” is mesmerizing, with seismic bass and a warped airhorn introing several layers of phantasmic vocals and a slow, throbbing thump. “Theta” similarly feels like an invocation, with its reversed lyrics and ultra-low frequencies. Other tracks incorporate recordings of butoh performances and shamanic chants, while Mambouka’s own vocals are equally transporting. And the album just gets more hypnotic as it progresses, with “Becoming the Magician” being a completely levitating four minutes of slooooooow dub beats and tunneling vocals which nearly morph into throat singing by the end. “RIP” has a similar beat but more of a singular focus on Mambouka’s vocals, rather than echoed-out chants. Really stunning, otherworldly work that a lot of practitioners of otherness could learn a lot from.

Dev/Null: Pocket Selector (Modern Urban Jazz, 2020)

October 13, 2020 at 7:05 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Dev/Null: Pocket Selector

Once known for brain-splattering breakcore which threw grindcore, oldschool rave, wanky jazz fusion, chiptune, and horror soundtracks into a blender, Dev/Null has dedicated much of the last decade-plus to breakbeat hardcore and jungle, a scene which is stronger than it’s been since its ’90s heyday. Any regular listen to his Blog to the Oldskool DJ sets has heard him slip in some jungle tracks he made on a Teenage Engineering PO-33 Pocket Operator, and earlier this year he released an entire album of these tracks. They’re clearly lo-fi and not as dynamic as they would be if they were recorded in a proper studio, but other than that, plenty of these tunes could’ve been produced and released back in the day. Some of them are a bit more over the edge than ’90s hardcore and a bit closer to the hyper-fractured intensity of Dev/Null’s breakcore work, particularly “Ahhh”, “Stop”, “Busy”, and “Hyper”. “Eazy” is definitely more on a darkside tip, and “Baby” starts out a bit smoother and more ecstatic before going haywire. “Stomp” does have some distorted stomping beats, but changes up into some more detailed rhythms as well. Seriously amazing work that seems too advanced to have been made on such a tiny hand-held device.

Show #551 – 10/11/20

October 11, 2020 at 10:54 pm | Posted in The Answer Is In The Beat | Leave a comment

The Sundays ~ Here’s Where the Story Ends
Aaron Spectre ~ Impeach the Prez
Eugene Chadbourne ~ Der Fuehrer’s Face
Neil Cicierega ~ Superkiller
Bubblegum Octopus ~ Tough Guys’ Club
Beverly Glenn-Copeland ~ Ever New
Laraaji ~ Lifting Me
Loris S. Sarid ~ Toad
Grapefruit ~ Sokal Affair
Botany ~ Quiet Down
Pursuit Grooves ~ War Crimes In Space
Pure Rave ~ Loud Jackin House Jam Band
Rian Treanor ~ Opponent Process
Mark Fell ~ Manitutshu 1.3 Razorwire Dub
Eduardo de la Calle ~ Dead Tribute

Eki Shola: Essential (self-released, 2020)

October 11, 2020 at 4:08 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Eki Shola: Essential

Eki Shola’s fourth album Essential, the final third of a trilogy that began with 2019’s Possible, is much more vocal-driven than her earlier releases. While continuing with her earlier album’s themes of hope, healing, and comforting, this one has more direct, specific lyrics, drawing from her own life experiences as well as commenting on relevant social issues. The beginning of the album, however, is more of a series of healing exercises, with wordless vocals building in waves over slowly unfolding rhythms for the first two tracks. Subsequent songs are about freedom of thought and expression, with “Shattered Boundaries” giving a reminder that there’s no wrongs when it comes to creativity. “Ignorance Veil” is a huge rush of thoughts regarding global warming, reducing carbon footprints, loving nature but feeling like a hypocrite for contributing to its polluted state, restriction of women’s rights, and other issues which are certainly important to discuss, but can also put a toll on one’s mental health if dwelled on too much without any form of productive release or pause for decompression. “Eco-anxiety” touches on similar themes while also mentioning her desire to have a career breakthrough and make it as a musician. “Gift of Grief” (included in two versions) goes deeper into this autobiographical train of thought, mentioning her Tiny Desk appearance and other highlights that keep her going as an artist. Then “Change the System” more specifically relates to the coronavirus outbreak and our currently changing world, calling for universal health care and stressing the need for all of us to band together and make it happen. “Pause” wraps it all up with a reminder to step back from everything and relax from time to time; don’t overlook the importance of self-care. Musically, the album has some more jazzy, sophisticated, or experimental moments, with touches of drum’n’bass or trap rhythms or dubby effects on some tracks, but it never gets aggressive, and never distracts from the lyrics when they’re present.

Neil Cicierega: Mouth Dreams (self-released, 2020)

October 10, 2020 at 5:22 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Neil Cicierega: Mouth Dreams

I’ll be honest, I tend to avoid the majority of things that become hugely popular on the internet. I really can’t stand memes or most things that end up being described as viral hits, especially anything that’s supposed to be humorous. I’m not sure if it’s because I just don’t have a sense of humor anymore, or I chose to remain sober, or I don’t care for celebrities or pop culture or anything of the sort. I don’t understand why I’m like this, I don’t claim to be smarter than anyone or high brow or anything like that. Why should I act like I’m above watching cartoons or loving pop music? But with all that in mind, 20 years ago I was a high school student and I loved watching all of the weird Flash animations that ended up being staples of the pre-YouTube internet. All Your Base Are Belong to Us was a big one, of course, that dumb one with the squirrel that I still actually think about all the time, and the entire genre of Animutations that Neil Cicierega single-handedly invented with this masterpiece of culture-jamming absurdity. After a year or two I completely tuned out of this sort of thing, but my sister kept in touch with Neil and I’d occasionally hear about some of the things he did which ended up becoming huge online. For whatever reason, though, he didn’t cross my radar again until his mashup albums started doing the rounds, and getting WFMU airplay and all that. Since 2014’s Mouth Sounds, the arrival of each of these mixtapes has been a major event, and while a lot of the individual tracks on them can be hit-or-miss for me, I just find it jaw-dropping the way he draws connections between certain pop culture artifacts, and how elaborate his concepts and arrangements are. Mouth Dreams starts out by finding nuances in the Yahoo jingle that its creators likely never had considered. An early highlight is “Just a Baby”, which dices Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” lyrics over a freaking Hoobastank song, adds some Justin Bieber in the chorus, and strangely makes it sounds vaguely shoegazy. The lyrics gradually get more and more ridiculous (“stuck in baby prison”, “I shot a train, but that train was just a car” “Just a baby drinking coffee”, etc). It’s dumb, it’s blasphemy, it shouldn’t work, and it’s laugh out loud hysterical. “Psycho Killer” over “Superfreak” sounds like something that was probably done at least once during the Boom Selection blog era, but most mashup artists probably would’ve just done a simple A + B blend with maybe a few DSP tweaks here and there. This one has a lot of fun cutting up Byrne’s paranoid lyrics, especially the ones about his bed being on fire. And obviously it’s incredibly funky and would actually work at a party, and people might not even notice something’s fishy unless they were really paying attention. “Ribs” is almost painfully meta, seamlessly blending that Chili’s jingle with “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, and throwing Marilyn Manson in there because, well, do the math. Tracks like “Sleepin'” display Neil’s gift for making a dumb song sound even dumber through the power of repetition, as well as cutting in an awkward lyric as many times as possible (not Neil, but see also this classic for a similar example). “Cannibals” and “The Outsiders” demonstrate his deep fascination with production bumpers, stock sound effects, and voice-overs, and then “Whitehouse” grafts Jack White onto Raymond Scott’s perennial cartoon soundtrack favorite “Powerhouse” and scores a ton of Detroit-area music dork points. The classical mashups at the end are a bit of a stretch, but the modem squeal at the end is a nice touch, and ties in with the cover art… look closely. And WAKE UP.

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