møziz: E​-​møtion: Time Machine + Cycles (Collection Disques Durs, 2021)

May 30, 2021 at 3:21 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

møziz: E​-​møtion: Time Machine + Cycles

The debut album from møziz, a producer from the Ivory Coast who’s now based in Montreal, is a 19-track set of warm-but-wintry, expressive techno and IDM tracks which clearly aim to capture a wide range of feelings. The tracks are spacious yet busy and highly considered yet filled with spontaneous energy. “Time Machine (The Night of My Life)” switches from skittering electro to a steadier but still swift BPM tempo, beautifully incorporating vocal phrases and delicate melodies, as well as dubby percussion attacks. “When I Can’t Stand I Float” is a great title for a song that slowly rises rather than walks upright, and still seems like it just started when it fades away after 5 minutes. The haunting atmospheric trap of “Oosx” takes a darkly realistic turn with the addition of the words “We don’t want to do anything to scare your children” and police sirens near the end. The braindance-dubstep highlight “War” is immediately reprised by its “emo edit”, and while the original was emotive enough, this version fleshes it out and makes it trippier without losing its affectionate core. “Butterflyeffects” was the first track released in advance of the album, and it hooked me immediately with its abrasive beats at the beginning, then surprised me with how it progressed into faster and more slowly drifting parts, with rippling textures and nostalgic melodies all appearing and resurfacing later. It feels like a sort of audio community rather than a properly structured song, if that makes sense. møziz truly has a skill for making electronic compositions that feel like living, breathing entities.

Show #584 – 5/29/21

May 29, 2021 at 1:52 am | Posted in The Answer Is In The Beat | Leave a comment

Burial ~ Chemz
Bruiser Wolf ft. Danny Brown ~ I’m A Instrument
Casper McFadden ~ why do i always realize it when ive always lost
Blank Hellscape ~ Concrete Walls
Colleen ~ The Tunnel and the Clearing
Fly Pan Am ~ Parkour 2
Barker ~ Bent

CAMÍNA: Te Quiero Mucho (self-released, 2020)

May 28, 2021 at 5:17 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

CAMÍNA: Te Quiero Mucho

Dallas resident Ariel Saldivar, known pseudonymously as CAMÍNA, produces vivid songs of love and resistance. Her strong, expressive vocals are backed up by heavy bass, slightly cracked trip-hop beats, and worn, faded samples drawn from her Mexican heritage. The samples on “Cinnamon” do a delicate dance with the blown-out head-nod beats, while Saldivar’s multi-tracked, bilingual vocals sing of rising above, even though the damage is already done. “Forever and Always” is kind of a ghostly R&B slow jam, as she pours her heart out over starry organs and booming beats. “Burn for Eternity” continues with the bittersweet trip-hop vibes, this time a bit more upbeat and ready to dance like nothing matters. “Maleguena” is the most sonically dizzying track, with Saldivar wailing like young Liz Fraser in Spanish over curdled samples and monstrous beats. On “Se Puede”, she creatively duets with sampled lyrics about desire and perseverance.

Charlatan: The Glass Borders (Moon Glyph, 2021)

May 27, 2021 at 8:41 pm | Posted in Foxy Digitalis, Reviews | Leave a comment

Charlatan: The Glass Borders

I’ll be surprised if anyone reading these words remembers this, but I wrote for Foxy Digitalis from 2008 until the site shut down in 2013, at which point I started posting reviews on this site. That 5-year period was an immense time of growth and education for me, it taught me so much about underground music and expressing myself through writing about it. I will always be thankful to Brad Rose and Eden Hemming for letting me write for their site for so long. I’d written for websites before (all of which are long since deleted), but if it wasn’t for my tenure at FD, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to start doing this for a living at AllMusic. Anyway, Brad shut the site down in 2013, and then the Digitalis label disappeared without warning a year or two later, and for a long time there just wasn’t any word from Brad at all. But now Foxy Digitalis is back, with Brad regularly posting reviews and interviews almost every day, and they’ve been releasing a ton of new albums through a new label called The Jewel Garden (and also making a lot of older releases available on Bandcamp again here). The Glass Borders is their first release on an outside label since coming back from hiatus, and even though there’s been a bunch of recent releases by Charlatan and many other aliases, this still feels a return to an area that’s been closed off for a while. The first side of the tape is taken up by the 25-minute “All Your Gifts Are Weightless”, a dazzling synthscape which cycles and swerves through various shimmering patterns and bell-ringing tones, calms down and switches gears, then goes into rhythmic cruise mode while a slightly detached, cloudy pattern floats overhead. Truly sublime. The shorter pieces on the other side each seem to concentrate on a singular mood. “Living Structures” is a bit muted and dungeonesque, then “Saturnine” opens up a bit, gradually letting more feelings and light rays trickle in. “On the Cheek” could also have been titled “On the Creek” due to the rushing water sounds, and the synth notes feel submerged, but glowing.

Ben Rosenblum Nebula Project: Kites and Strings (One Trick Dog, 2020)

May 26, 2021 at 8:41 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Ben Rosenblum Nebula Project: Kites and Strings

Jazz composer, arranger, and musician Ben Rosenblum alternates between piano and accordion, so that alone is enough to make me interested in checking out his music. Opener “Cedar Place” fluidly switches between lead instruments and styles, from hard bop to Latin and French accents, without sharply contrasting, and keeping up a joyous spirit. “Kites and Strings” is cooler and more vibraphone-centric, with accordion and trumpet providing warm hugs. “Halfway to Wonderland” gradually starts to work into some sort of hypnotic Philip Glass-type patterns right before it ends suddenly. “Motif from Brahms (op. 98)” is as close to a lullaby as you might expect, but then “Fight or Flight” is a fun klezmer-tango jam to invent a weird, wonky dance to. A rendition of the West Side Story standard “Somewhere” starts out soft and classy before taking off with trumpet and bass clarinet solos. Following two ballads which gradually swell up, including a cover of Neil Young’s “Philadelphia”, “Laughing on the Inside” is a more upbeat tune with trumpet which does seem to be laughing, as well as knotty accordion and bass clarinet riffs. Finally, the version of the Bulgarian traditional song “Izpoved” that closes the album is its most solemn, direct moment.

Birthday Ass: Head of the Household (Ramp Local, 2021)

May 25, 2021 at 7:03 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Birthday Ass: Head of the Household

Brooklyn’s Birthday Ass play horn-heavy no wave which reminds me of Scissor Now! and Palberta, but with an expanded 6-person lineup. Priya Carlberg (the group’s leader, composer, and director) has an acrobatic vocal style, wailing and blurting out nonsense syllables as often as she sings more recognizable lyrics, and the band matches her style with angular arrangements, sometimes speeding up into a chaotic rush (“Jello”) or turning into atonal klezmer-sludge (“Spiced Twice”). “Buckle My Shoe” is a deconstructed nursery rhyme; it’s even interrupted by construction noises. “Malai, My Guy” is sort of close to hobbled dance-punk, and it continues to get progressively more rambunctious. “Broccoli Face” is manic scrunch-punk which gets pummelled with beats at the end. Finally, “K Helap” is a dramatic epic in which Priya gets swept away yowling that she can’t stand to be alive, then questioning if her life is a dream.

Gryphon Rue & Merche Blasco: North of the Future (Astral Editions, 2021)

May 24, 2021 at 9:58 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Gryphon Rue & Merche Blasco: North of the Future

These two explorers employ a bevy of rare, vintage synths as well as singing saw and harmonium to create a bunch of pieces which all move in entirely different directions. From the beginning, I thought I was in for a super pleasant new age synth zone-out. Then I was totally surprised to hear that the next track, “Moving Veins of Flamingos”, is sparse, fizzing wires interrupted by sudden thrashes and tripped-out delay, later illuminated by bright but hazy flickering tones. “Frogsayings” is a web of static noise which flashes for a bit and then dissolves into nothingness. The longer tracks are more drone-based rather than noise, obviously, but “Beautiful Evidence” matches some lovely harmonium with some frequencies that kind of groan out. Then “40.65ºN – 73.96ºW” is a duet for saws recorded under an archway in Brooklyn, surrounded by crickets and puzzled passersby. The final title track is a more compact burst of chattering vibrations and ghostly, swooping saw.

James Francies: Purest Form (Blue Note, 2021)

May 23, 2021 at 2:28 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

James Francies: Purest Form

Pianist and composer James Francies has a kaleidoscopic vision that reaches throughout the galaxy. His second album is a sprawling 56-minute expedition that doesn’t always seem like it’s traveling on the same path, but when it connects, there’s little else like it. After a nebulous introduction with narration that’s pretty much beyond comprehension, the mind-blowing “Levitate” is knotty prog-jazz that demonstrates Francies’ skills at making complex arrangements radiate with energy. “Transfiguration” is similar but slightly cooled off, leaving room for a spiky Immanuel Wilkins sax solo. The gorgeous “Blown Away” is a hazy slow jam featuring recent Stones Throw signee Peyton, and Elliott Skinner guests on the even more ethereal “Rose Water”. “My Favorite Things” might seem like a super obvious cover choice, but this 7-minute version is perhaps the most fragmented, deconstructed rendition I’ve ever heard, taking the familiar melody and dropping it down the stairs until it’s bent out of shape, then letting Wilkins and master vibist Joel Ross run with it. After the brief orchestral interlude “Stratus”, “713” is more of a showcase for Francies’ piano playing over laid back but still alert hip-hop beats. Then “Melting” is submerged-in-a-sewer lo-fi R&B that struggles to be heard and understood; the detachment, the “you’re not hearing me” effect is what resonates. Then we’re back to fractured ultra-prog-jazz with “Where We Stand”. After all this far-outness, “Freedmen’s Town” has an unexpectedly direct, personal, and moving narrative from Francies’ father, who talks about growing up in Houston in a poor area which has since been gentrified, then reflecting on how much the world has changed (and stayed the same) during his lifetime. Neo-soul visioniary Bilal guests on “Eyes Wide Shut”, an abrasive alt-rock song which basically sounds like a harder, more claustrophobic Radiohead. “Still Here”, another string quartet interlude, features a cameo from Francies’ mother, and the album ends with “Oasis”, another spacey ballad with obscured, underwater-sounding vocals.

Pixelord: 99% (Hyperboloid, 2021)

May 22, 2021 at 4:18 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Pixelord: 99%

Russian artist Pixelord has been underrated for way too damn long. He was making dramatic Burial-esque garage and wonky bass a decade ago, and he’s moved closer to deconstructed club and hard vapour in recent years. 99% is his latest opus, and it’s like if NFTs existed in the late ’90s. Lots of rave stabs and jittery trance arpeggios, but with a level of hyper-energy which was barely being hinted at as more producers began composing with laptops. This whole thing crunches together so nicely. The beat programming is super punchy and constantly takes new forms, and even the few mellower moments feel like they’re glimpsing into another dimension. I can do without the autotune rap of “Guitarnaya” but otherwise this is an incredibly inventive, awesome release.

Show #583 – 5/22/21

May 22, 2021 at 1:56 am | Posted in The Answer Is In The Beat | Leave a comment

Banda Black Rio ~ Caminho da roça
Giant Claw ~ Disworld
The Android Sisters ~ Sss-X Minus One
Little Snake & Amon Tobin ~ Loophole
Fis ~ DMT Usher VIP
Flying Lotus ~ Your Screams
Pye Corner Audio ~ 1965
NeoTantrik & Suzanne Ciani ~ Blue Amiga
Shawn Rudiman ~ Another Imminent Collapse
Luke Lund ~ Pillface
Rey Sapienz ~ Dancehall Pigmé
Vex’d ~ Gravity
Vessel ~ Tiny

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