Posts Tagged ‘music’

Tortoise – Beacons of Ancestorship

May 21, 2009

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Thrill Jockey stalwarts Tortoise will release their sixth full-length album on 22 June 2009. It’s been 5 years since “It’s All Around You” was released, so expectations are high and the band does not disappoint. Sounding like the proper follow up to 2001’s “Standards”, “Beacons” is truly a prog album. It is dirty and crisp, simultaneously sounding like it was recorded underwater and in an air-tight studio. And as always, their sound is undefinable – dub, post-rock, lo-fi, electronica, dance, spaghetti western, jazz, classic rock, punk, it’s all there – kinda sounds like the album Trans Am wanted to make after “Future World”.

Tortoise and I have a long, torrid history together. I have been with them since the beginning. Have seen them play live 6 or 7 times. I saw them at The Magic Stick in Detroit for their “Millions Now Living” tour way back when, where they showed up on stage silent with little headlamps and played “Djed” in its entirety. Jeff Parker wasn’t even with them yet. Last I saw them was just a few months back at The Mod Club in Toronto, where they had the drums set up in front of the stage and they reminded me why I loved them in the first place. They are professional musicians that love what they do, and it’s completely evident on stage, when they’re all grooving and smiling, and rocking out a fabulously tight set. 

Johnny Mac still proves to be one on the best sound engineers working in the business today, and I feel this album has much more resonance than “It’s All Around You”, it sounds more urgent and dynamic. Whereas with “It’s All Around You” the band seemed to be rehashing and falling back on familiar patterns and styles, “Beacons” sounds fresh, it sounds new, but still very much like the Tortoise you know and love.  

The title of the album is fitting too. Tortoise helped create and develop the indie rock/indietronic scene we all shoegaze, get baked, and rock out to. Their musical influence really knows no bounds. Buy this album as soon as it hits the stores and if you’ve never seen them play live go see their show. Like Boomkat would say: Very highly recommended.

Fab Collab from Burial & Four Tet

May 6, 2009

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Yes. I have it. Yes. I can’t stop listening to it. This two track EP is called “Moth/Wolf Cub” and it merges the musical stylings of leftfield producer Kieran Hebden with dubstep pundit Will Bevam. For electronic music nerds like myself, there really hasn’t been a more exciting release this year. Burial blasted my listening palette wide the fuck open two years ago when I first heard “Untrue”. The beats so simple, the vocals so strange, the bass so deeeep. That whole album makes me feel like I’m in the bathroom of a club, hiding in a stall, mashed on pills and hearing the throb of the music through the bathroom wall. Lucid, yet muddled. Digital yet organic. God I hate using adjectives to describe music.

The opening track “Moth” is a piece of pure 4/4 beauty. Reminiscent of warm Detroit minimalism and Boards of Canada, yet still sounding exactly how you’d imagine Burial and Four Tet would sound if slapped together. It has the feel of a classic techno track, one with warmth, soul and that steady 4/4 beat. The flipside is a bit more abstract, the beats more chaotic, but it reveals a tight meshing of both artists distinct styles and sounds.

I fucking love this.

“Moth” may be my fave track of the year so far. If you can find it, check it!!

Mountains live at The Music Gallery in Toronto

April 29, 2009

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28 April 2009

Brooklyn duo Mountains put on a fantastic and cerebral live show last night at The Music Gallery on John Street in Toronto. The venue is actually an old Anglican Church, made of wood and stone, airy and open, so the acoustics were amazing. They couldn’t have played in a better spot. The small but enraptured crowd sat in the pews as the duo played a one song 45 minute set. Using guitars, synths, accordion, melodica, voice, two Powerbooks, and lots of other neat toys, they created a whitewash of looped introspective ambience.

It had me reeling in the pew, thinking about more things at once than I have in quite a while. Made me feel high on shrooms as samples of sound swirled upward to the peaked ceiling and deep bass rumbled the church floor. My friend Stewart next to me brought a note pad and was feverishly jotting down notes in the dark, my friend Mat on the other side, seemed antsy, plagued by grim yet ambitious dreams. I couldn’t sit still. I felt enlightened and confused at the same time, as their set reached a cacaphonous yet beautiful climax, ending with the moans of a dying accordion. Brilliant stuff. Nice guys too. I wish them well on the rest of their tour.

Benoit Pioulard at the Whippersnapper in Toronto

April 24, 2009

Benoit Pioulard live at Whippersnapper Gallery in Toronto - 23 April 2009

Benoit Pioulard at Whippersnapper Gallery in Toronto 

 23 April 2009

At home, sitting on my couch, reading a book, Benoit Pioulard’s music is ideal. Drifting, drony ambience with a nod to Nick Drake added in for good measure. Pioulard (real name Thomas Meluch) is very much at home on the Kranky label, and both his records “Precis” and the newly-released “Temper” are excellent home listening albums. However, his music did not translate very well in a live setting. He played for just over a half an hour and spent most of it sitting on the ground as if he was just jamming and knob-twiddling in his basement. That’s all fine and good, as most of the audience was sitting on the ground too, but I’ve come to like a little professionalism now and again. Perhaps his youth is a factor here, as he is just 24, but seeing equally young Peter Broderick put on an amazing show a few weeks earlier, Benoit Pioulard’s live show was very underwhelming. 

Headliner’s Windy and Carl were much better, but I think the slowcore drone movement is one best heard in the horizontal position. G’night.