Posts Tagged ‘music’

Nosaj Thing – Home

January 13, 2013

home

Los Angeles producer Jason Chung aka Nosaj Thing returns this year with Home, the long-awaited follow up to his critically acclaimed debut Drift. A lot has happened since Drift came out in 2009 – Chung has toured extensively, playing in every major city in North America and abroad numerous times, he’s developed an excellent visual component to his live shows, he’s done remixes for the xx, Philip Glass, Portishead, Fly Lo, Kendrick Lamar and more – and now he’s finally had some much deserved downtime returning ‘home’ to record his latest record. And while it may not soar to the sonic heights of his debut, Home is a quiet yet immediately absorbing album reminiscent of early Morr Music artists like Arovane, Christian Kleine, and Lali Puna. This gives it a timeless feel, because even though it feels very much a part of the now, it also feels like it could have come out a decade ago. We’ve reached the moment in electronic music where sounds and styles are really coming full circle, and this is evident throughout Chung’s new record.

Fans may feel a bit let down upon first listen, as it is more introspective than his debut, but once they give it a spin on headphones they’ll realize it is a superbly immersive affair that flows into a smooth cohesive whole. Chung has also brought along a couple friends this time to add some vocals – Toro y Moi guests on the slowly sizzling “Try” and Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino captivates on the excellent “Eclipse/Blue”. I think the title of the album is fitting, as Chung has said it was a much more personal endeavour for him, and this is evident from the first few moments of the opening track. The beats are more subdued, the bass doesn’t wobble as much, the synths more subtle, but the overall effect is impressive in its clarity of vision.

Home is one for quiet nights, solitary walks and morning commutes, best enjoyed on headphones. It’s a slow burner of an album that has moments of real beauty and emotion, and it won this listener over real quick. Check it.

OMAR-S (FXHE Records)

January 4, 2010

Born and raised in the Motor City, Alex Omar Smith has been releasing some of the finest techno to come out of Detroit since the demise of Drexciya in 2002.

Following in the footsteps of Detroit producers like Carl Craig, Jeff Mills, Derrick May, and Theo Parrish, Omar-S started his own label and has put out all his music, save for 2009’s Fabric Mix, on his FXHE imprint. It’s a DIY label dedicated to staying underground and keeping record prices cheap. Omar’s sound is dirty, minimal, and melodic all at once, and he mixes techno, dub, disco, and house together to fantastic effect.

Here is a snippet of his newest and just released “Here with Me” EP that I cannot get enough of. That is my kind of techno and Omar-S is one of my favourite electronic producers. If you haven’t heard him, check him out, and read an amazing and candid interview from Resident Advisor right here. Peace.

Even better: sample the whole track and read Little White Earbuds glowing review right HERE. Awesome.

Lusine – A Certain Distance

October 18, 2009

lusine

Jeff McIlwain aka Lusine recently released his new long player “A Certain Distance” on Ghostly International. Fans of his Detroit tinged IDM have been waiting for this since “Serial Hodgepodge” came out in 2004. While McIlwain also released “Language Barrier” under his Lusine ICL moniker in 2007, it’s his beat-oriented material that his fans were itching for, rather than his more stripped down atmospherics, and he does not disappoint with “A Certain Distance”.

I am a fan of all his stuff, ambient or 4/4, and for me “A Certain Distance” seems a perfect blend of McIlwain’s musical aesthetic. An album of deep, emotional IDM which rewards a little more with each listen. Some critics seem wary to accept the album’s slightly more “pop” sensibility, wishing it was colder or more clinical, unable to embrace the addition of female vocals to a few of the tracks, but I find the cut-up and skewed vocals a welcome addition. They add a warm feel to Lusine’s clipped beats and deep synth lines. The track “Gravity” with its stuttering voice and plunging bass drops is definitely a highlight. “Crowded Room” follows and gives fans close to six minutes of sprawling Detroit techno bliss, sure to be a part of many a DJ set this year.

I think Lusine is one of electronic music’s underrated darlings, and I don’t care if “A Certain Distance” is perhaps a bit more accessible than “Serial Hodgepodge”, because I am happy to see McIlwain grow as an artist and continue to refine his sound(s). Seeing him this spring as part of Ghostly’s 10th Anniversary Bash was one of the year’s highlights for me – and even though his set was short and he played a bit too early in the night he still absolutely killed it. His music is melodic and rich and worthy of both headphones and the dance floor. “A Certain Distance” has been on constant rotation for me since its release, and no doubt will be, for months to come.

Check it and wreck it.

Dog Day – Concentration (Outside Music 2009)

August 15, 2009

concentration

Halifax quartet Dog Day return with their follow-up to 2007’s “Night Group” avec “Concentration”. Sounding like a mix between Eric’s Trip, Interpol, and Sonic Youth, the band has crafted a consistently solid dark pop album. This is indie rock for those who forgot such a thing still existed. It sounds nothing but genuine, and it gets better and better with each listen. From opener “Happiness” to closer “Peace”, the record is full of catchy melodies, smooth synth lines, angular guitars, and really excellent vocals.

It’s starting to sound like the “rock” album of the summer for me and I love the fact that they are Canadian and consist of 2 couples from old skoool Halifax bands The Burdocks and The Hold. Truly, this album will be an underated, near-missed, top 15 of the year for me. Like I said, it gets better with every listen. A total grower. The songwriting is mature, and the interplay between vocalists is the stuff of Rick and Julie from back in the day – it also kinda reminds me of Versus, another band so very close to my heart. Find this album and play it while making dinner or reading or chilling out, and once you’ve heard it a few times, listen to it baked and hear it again for the first time. Good work…

Edit: Read a review of their live show at The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto.

dog day

David Berman – The Portable February

August 11, 2009

the portable february

Silver Jews frontman David Berman has published a book of strange, crudely drawn comics entitled The Portable February. Looking as if they were scrawled on napkins and on the back of ticket stubs and on bathroom walls, these 90 or so sketches at first had me slightly befuddled, but soon had me dribbling urine down my leg in near hysterics. Is it weird? Yes. Do I understand it all? God no. But I believe their is brilliance in this slim hardcover. Like his lyrics in The Silver Jews and his book of poetry “Actual Air”, Berman seems to have a limitless supply of clever observations and off-kilter aphorisms, and “The Portable February” is no different. I have always enjoyed Berman’s music and find this collection of visual non-sequitirs an excellent addition to his body of artistic work. I’ve already decided I am going to buy a copy for all of my friends for Christmas this year. Available through Drag City Records, it’s a steal at under 10 bucks. Buy it for posterity and for your friends…

Enjoyable, irreverent, and so po-mo it ain’t po-mo no-mo, or better yet, never was in the first place.

lmao once i finally understand how weird this shit is...

Mathieu & Deupree – Transcriptions (Spekk 2009)

August 7, 2009

mathieu/deupree

Transcriptions is a collaborative work from ambient artists Stephan Mathieu and Taylor Deupree. The album contains music that is warm, decayed, and emotive. Sounding a bit like William Basinski’s “Disintegration Loops” series, “Transcriptions” is an album for reading, sleeping, writing, and meditating. Being a big fan of the genre, this comes as a welcome addition to my growing collection of ambient electronica, and sounds like one of the most pleasant and pensive releases of the year.

My initial fascination with the album had to do with how it was recorded. Stephan Mathieu began collecting mechanical gramophones, wax-cylinders, and early 78’s from the turn of the century. Once he’d gathered enough stock material he recorded the cylinders and 78’s via two portable gramophones directly into his computer, and while doing so he rendered and digitally kissed the sweeping orchestral ambience. Next Taylor Deupree added acoustic plucks and strums and vintage synthesizer to act as a perfect counterpart to Mathieu’s wash of sound.

The overall result is an enveloping 48 minute melodic surge that can only be described as gorgeous.

transcriptions gear

Check it.

Flying Lotus at Tattoo Rock Parlour in Toronto

July 10, 2009

flylo

9 July 2009

Warp Records budding superstar Flying Lotus (nee Steven Ellison) dropped his cyber-slick sounds on a crunked and over-capacity crowd last night in Toronto. And hot damn was it ever good. We walked in to opener mymanhenri playing Dilla and Doom and setting the mood just right. FlyLo hit the stage next and within seconds sized-up the crowd he had in front of him. “These peeps ain’t just drunk, they’re all super fucking baked,” was no doubt his assessment, because he immediately pressed the “drug” button on his groove box and the bass just cooked the crowd and made us scream and jump and grin and shake our booties. It was infectious and trippy, full of reverb and snare pops and bad ass bass rumbles and soul.

I gotta admit the sound system at Tattoo is pretty awesome and FlyLo’s set was so crisp it sparkled. There was even a crowd surfer at one point. I think Flying Lotus was genuinely amazed at how gonzo the crowd was going all around him. He was smiling and laughing the whole set and brought the energy and rhythm to an absolutely feverish pitch. He crescendoed with some subtle Michael Jackson nods from “Off the Wall” that sounded as fresh as ever under his care. A fitting farewell to the King of Pop and a musical highlight of the year for mmmlele.

Ahh…wait for it…mazing.

Bibio (Warp Records)

June 19, 2009

WARP177

Stephen Wilkinson (aka Bibio) will release his first album for the historic Warp imprint on this year’s summer solstice. This is exciting not just for Wilkinson as a musician (making the jump from the respectable Mush label to one of electronica’s most revered and genre-defining), but also for us the listeners. Why you ask? Because Bibio’s sound has taken quite a jump as well.

His 2005 debut “Fi” and 2006’s “Hand-Cranked” received constant rotation in my waking hours of those years, but his recent release “Vignetting the Compost” was a bit of a disappointment. For all intents and purposes “Vignetting” is a fine album, but it sounds kind of uninspired to me. That’s why “Ambivalence Avenue” is so thrilling. It’s Bibio 2.0 – the production is amped, the song writing more structured and deliberate, and his style has gone from hushed morningtronica to an excellent balance of fractured beats à la Flying Lotus to tender folk à la Crosby, Stills and Nash. And it really works.

The album’s release on the first day of summer is fitting, and so far is in the running for tops of the season. Wilkinson may have very well carved a niche for himself here, stepping out of the Boards of Canada shadow that helped launch his career, but at the same time pigeon-holed his sound. “Ambivalence Avenue” is a sunny yet thoughtful album, perfect for drives on winding highways, impromptu kitchen parties, campfires, picnics, and stoned afternoon bike rides.

Dig it. Welcome summer 2009.

Edit: “The Apple and The Tooth” remix album comes out in mid-November courtesy of Warp Records. It’s a great re-interpretation of choice tracks from “Ambivalence”, as well as, four new songs from the man himself. Nice! It’s got remixes from Wax Stag, Gentleman Losers, Leatherette, Lone, Eskmo, and more! A really tight postscript for Bibio’s sound in 2009. Check it and wreck it!

apple & the tooth

Luke Hess – Light in the Dark

June 12, 2009

luke hess

Luke Hess has just released his proper debut “Light in the Dark” on the fantastic Echochord imprint. Having cut his teeth in Detroit and refined his sound over the last few years working with the likes of Omar-S and other emerging dub techno producers, Hess’ debut pays homage to the Detroit minimalism of Theorem and Plastikman and Basic Channel’s deep techno of the late 90’s. And although at times some tracks sound eerily close to the artists he’s paying respect to, overall I think the album totally works.

This is 4/4 techno that is dance-floor oriented, but it’s also heady and reflective. It almost feels as if Hess is trying to recreate the glory days of Detroit techno, before DEMF, when sketchy warehouse parties and the City Club were the places to go to drop pills and sweat and dance and just lose it to the craziest, darkest, bass-heavy, four on the floor techno you ever heard. And unfortunately, I think this is where the album falters. It doesn’t go far enough. Yes, the production is crisp and technically some of the finest dub techno I’ve heard since “The Coldest Season”, but by looking so deeply into the past, Hess never really moves his sound forward. If anything “Light in the Dark” reveals his potential, an artist with skill and style, but one who still needs to carve out his own niche, and continue to refine his own sound.

Luke Hess is one to watch out for in the coming years, and his debut album is definitely worth checking out. Peace.

Edit: Also check out the Ignite the Dark Remixes (Mikkel Metal, cv313, and Marko Furstenberg). Dynomite!

TV on the Radio at Sound Academy in Toronto

June 5, 2009

dear-science

“Dear Science” was one of my favourite albums of 2008. The lyrics were inspiring, the rhythms infectious. Needless to say then, I was quite excited to finally see TVOTR live. But unfortunately, I had to see them at the Sound Academy in Toronto. One of the city’s worst venues. A claustrophobic cave with some of the least flattering acoustics outside of a rubber room. TVOTR were good but the venue was so disappointing I drank myself very close to Hades . . . in the end, blacking and blurring out most of the evening. Hangover scale the next morn: 8.8/10. Beastly. Avoid the Sound Academy unless The Beatles and Michael Jackson are playing there.