Posts Tagged ‘mutek’

INAUDIBLE’S TOP 15 of 2019

December 18, 2019
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Another year, another big fat list! Hello to all, and welcome to INAUDIBLE’s 11th annual end of year list extravaganza!

Without further ado, in stunning alphabetical order!

INAUDIBLE’S FAVE RECORDS OF 2019

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Bibio – Ribbons (Warp Records)

Stephen Wilkinson’s Bibio project has been shape-shifting for a decade now – from folktronica to glitch hop to yacht rock to ambient drone with many other deviations in between. But with Ribbons, Wilkinson leans heavily on the pastoral folk stylings of his earliest work, while somehow combining almost every genre he’s tipped his hat to in the past ten years. The result is a standout album from an already strong discography.

Some tracks even have an almost Celtic feel to them with subtle fiddles amongst his relaxed finger-picking. While listening to this record, my daughter Sylvia would do an almost mournful jig to “It’s Your Bones” and “Patchouli May”, swaying back and forth to a rhythm she didn’t even know she had yet.

Ribbons is a record that has continually made me wistful throughout 2019, and Bibio has appeared on 5 of 11 of INAUDIBLE’s lists. More please!

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Diiv – Deceiver (Captured Tracks)

Goddamn, when the first three new Diiv singles came out ahead of the full album I could not get enough of them. Zachary Cole Smith et al. had done it again! But this time instead of leeching inspiration from The Cure, mbv, and dream pop jangle, they expertly mined the post-rock underground heroes that ceaselessly played in my 1990’s Shockwave Discman. Versus, Polvo, Seam, Eric’s Trip, June of 44! Even some Sonic Youth and Gish-era Pumpkins thrown in for good measure.

Deceiver hit my nostalgia button harder than any album possibly ever has, and the guitars are perfectly recorded.

Have a listen to “Blankenship” here.

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DJ Python – Derretirse EP (Dekmantel)

Brian Piñeyro aka DJ Python released the excellent Derretirse this year on Dekmantel. I don’t really know what deep reggaeton means, but that’s what everyone is calling this set of lush 110 bpm, Artificial Intelligence era electronica.

Piñeyro skillfully taps into the vibe of so many early IDM records, and creates a mix of beauty, nostalgia, and melancholy. A little Boards of Canada here, a dash of Speedy J, and Autechre to match, yet it still feels very fresh and new, and the bass, oh yeah, it’s deep and heady.

Check it out here!

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Fennesz – Agora (Touch Records)

If I had to pick my overall favourite record in 2019, I think it would have to be Agora. It is by far my most listened to album of the year. It was the soundtrack to my early morning commutes all of last spring and still gets steady rotation.

It’s 4 tracks, all of them about 10 minutes each, and all of them creating their own perfect little sonic mindfucks — but they’re gentle and pleasing. Often when people think of Fennesz, they may think harsh, grating, too experimental, but Agora is smooth, calm, and blissful, featuring rich synthsizers and great guitar distortion.

And guess what? Rich synths and processed guitars is a combination that truly works for this guy right here! One reviewer likened the guitars in “We Trigger The Sun” to the moody chords found on The Cure’s Disintegration — and Agora definitely creates a similar vibe.

I was lucky enough to see Fennesz play during Montreal’s excellent noise festival, Suoni Per Il Popolo, and he had my entire body vibrating and floating around the venue for the duration of his set. It was amazing and intense and the work of a real master of the genre.

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Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Bandana (Keep Cool)

This’ll make it 5 times on INAUDIBLE’s list for Gangsta Gibbs. He and Madlib rejoin forces to try and outdo the heights they set with their 2014 collab, Piñata, and pretty much make good on it. While it may not have the instant classic feel of their first album, Bandana still offers up a one-two punch from the duo.

Madlib is at his most sonically gritty and Gibbs at his most lyrically introspective here. Guest turns from Pusha T, Killer Mike, Yasiin Bey, Anderson .Paak, and Black Thought help add a little extra flow to the album, but the best part is that they all sound like they’re having a damn good time making damn good music. Crime Pays!

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Helado Negro – This Is How You Smile (RVNG Intl)

Robert Carlos Lange has been recording as Helado Negro for close to a decade, but This Is How You Smile is the first record of his I’ve ever listened to. Leaving his experimental predilections behind, Smile is a modern day folk record, echoing Devendra Banhart’s Mala, yet with a uniqueness all its own.

Songs alternate seamlessly from English to Spanish and there’s a playfulness to the whole album that’s had me returning to again and again all year. Tracks like “Fantasma Vega” and “Running” showcase Lange’s strengths as a songwriter, while penultimate track “Two Lucky” shows how a simple guitar lick and great vocals can make a song so meaningful.

I missed him at this year’s Mile Ex End Music Fest, but hope he comes back to town in 2020. Great record!

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Jai Paul – He/Do You Love Her Now (XL Recordings)

These two songs were mined from Jai Paul‘s infamously leaked recording sessions of 2013. They were never heard until now and may be the best songs he’s ever written. It’s hard to compare to the fantastic leaked record now that so much time has passed, but these two songs are sensual slowburn jams that you can play over and over and over.

In fact, my good friend Stew has played “He” over 400 times this year! Give it a listen and decide whether Stew is insane or just has wicked taste in music!

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Kanye West – Jesus is King (Def Jam)

I dunno, maybe it’s because I grew up on Jesus Christ Superstar and going to Midnight mass every Christmas or something, because I think Jesus is King is fire.

Kanye’s whole second baptism might be weirdly dogmatic and a bit ridiculous, and of course, there’s still some cringe-worthy lyrics here — “Chick Fil-A” anyone? But I can dig this new side of Yeezy. Which is surprising since I was oh sooo ready to leave him in the dust after the woefully depressing and disappointing Ye.

Now send me some free Yeezy crocs and let’s walk on water together in 2020.

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Loscil – Equivalents (Kranky)

I’ve seen Scott Morgan perform as Loscil four times now, but nothing could compare to his set at Place-des-Arts as part of this year’s Mutek festival. Huge theatre, huge visuals, massive sound.

Playing tracks off Equivalents, Morgan had the packed crowd in an uneasy meditative trance. The monochromatic visuals pulsed in perfect sync to the music, and the concert effortlessly showed us why he is so critically adored.

This is Loscil’s fourth time on an INAUDIBLE list. And in case Equivalents isn’t enough for 2019, he also just released Lifelike, which is the soundtrack to an Austrian video game, and as with all his music, is just as easy to get lost in.

Loscil is prolific and humble. A true talent. Go buy all of his records right now please.

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Pan American – A Son (Kranky)

Mark Nelson has been making music for 25 years now, both with his revered post-rock group Labradford, and under his Pan American moniker.

As Pan American, Nelson has flirted with ambience, drone, dub and minimal techno, but with his first release in six years, he brings it back full-circle using the guitar as the album’s languid centrepiece, book-ended with a little dulcimer, and featuring his muted yet haunting voice. The result is an emotionally powerful album that creates a quietly somber mood that completely washes over you.

It is definitely his most mature album to date. Songs about trains, family, and fading memories are delivered in Nelson’s whisper-sing style, amidst a spare assembly of unfussy guitar and muted electronics. It’s an album that is sure to be overlooked, but one that should be essential.

Perfect for snowy candlelit nights, lying on the floor with a glass of Scotch. Check it out here.

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Project Pablo – Sofware EP (VMP)

2019 for Patrick Holland aka Project Pablo was one heck of a breakout year! He released three stellar records – Low Wings and Sofware on his own imprint, Verdicchio Music, as well as, the excellent Inside Unsolved on the revered Ghostly label. And if that wasn’t enough, he just dropped his live set from this year’s edition of Mutek. Any one of these releases could be on this list all by itself.

Project Pablo has truly developed a sound all his own, and is making a name for himself as one of Montreal’s finest electronic artists! Go see him live in your city!

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Skee Mask – 808BB and ISS004 (Ilian Tape)

Last year’s excellent Compro is still on rotation over here, and Skee Mask has dropped two excellent EP’s this year to boot.

Ending the 2010’s on a high note, Skee Mask’s two records, 808BB and ISS004 are both victory laps, and subtle showcases that Bryan Müller is just getting fired up.

These tunes show us that he’s ready to start the 2020’s on the dancefloor. “Trackheadz” is a bona fide club banger, while “RZZ” is like a classic Burial track at 140 bpm. But he hasn’t lost any of that heady spliffed-out goodness here either, so if you want you can sink into your couch, close your eyes, and imagine yourself on the dancefloor instead. Both options will work jusssst fine.

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Toro Y Moi – Outer Peace (Carpark Records)

It’s true, I have a man crush on Chaz Bear. How could I not? His smile is just so darn infectious. Almost as infectious as the bass line on “Ordinary Pleasure”.

Toro Y Moi’s discography, like Bibio’s, is restless in its varied style. Chaz has been the harbinger of chillwave, he’s tried out disco, crunchy guitar rock, deep ambience, and more. But with Outer Peace he returns to the lo-fi funk of 2011’s Underneath the Pine, adds a little steady 4/4, and has crafted his sunniest and most fun album to date.

It’s pure summer driving music. Windows down, arm hanging out the window like the tounge of a thirsty dog, sunglasses and infectious smile of your own, as you head bob to them grooooooves. Love it.

Oh and check out the filmed in Montreal video for “New House”.

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Tyler, the Creator – IGOR (Columbia)

Tyler, the Creator showed us he was more than a punk ass kid with 2017’s Flower Boy and he has only continued to grow with IGOR, his strongest collection of music to date. While Tyler has always been chameleonic, on IGOR his restlessness feels like a conscious choice, not merely the jittering impatience of a young star looking to explore new sounds.

This confidence allows him to resist being tied down to any one identity, be it musically or sexually. Young T has grown up and has caused a quiet “Earfquake” with the kaleidoscopic IGOR. Let’s keep it rollin’.

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William Basinski – On Time Out Of Time (Temp Res)

The last song on William Basinski’s cosmic new album, “4(E+D)4(ER=EPR)”, is my most listened to song of 2019, according to the music streaming data makers. And William Basinski’s music has been playing out as a soundtrack to my life for many a moon now.

He’s been on INAUDIBLE’s list 5 times in a decade and will most likely only continue to find his way there. It’s so odd to think that these works are simply just tape looping and decaying, with textures added over top, but this seemingly simple art form has the power to bring you to tears, think deeply on the past, and excitedly about the future.

Yes! Made it! Check out these other fine releases below as well!

Love you and thanks for reading (all three of you)!

2020 comin’ y’all! Let’s fly.

HONORABLE AUDIBLES

Danny Brown – U Know What I’m Sayin? (Warp)
Corridor – Junior (Sub Pop)
CFCF – Liquid Colours (BGM Solutions)
Deerhunter – Why Hasn’t Everything…? (4AD)  

JPEGMAFIA – All My Heroes… (Universal)
Malibu – One Life (Joyful Noise)
Sandro Perri – Soft Landing (Constellation Records)
Andre Bratten – Pax Americana (Smalltown Supersound)

R.I.P. David Berman (1967-2019)

Tim Hecker & Stephen O’Malley at MUTEK

June 16, 2012

2 June 2012

Montreal sound artist Tim Hecker and Seattle hesher Stephen O’Malley of Sunn O))) fame joined forces for the 13th edition of MUTEK in Montreal to play the historic and recently refurbished St. James United Church in the heart of centre-ville. With O’Malley on guitars and pedals and Hecker playing the church’s monstrous pipe organ, and adding electronics here and there, the effect was powerful and hypnotic as an intense drone filled the church – the only light source a red glow pulsating from the stage.

A steady rain poured outside, as I sat up in the mezzanine, stoned and a little bit drunk, gazing at the beautiful architecture and thinking of how this was such an amazing combination of the sacred and secular. The venue was a perfect choice, catering to the wall of sound Hecker and O’Malley slowly built, while adding a touch of reverence and fear for the end of days. At about the halfway mark, the volume reached its crescendo and I had to pop in my earplugs, feeling as if the sound was actually coming out of me, coming out of everyone in the church really…the feedback a visceral and palpable vibration emanating from our very pores. It was pretty sensational. At times, O’Malley really crunched up his riffs, dropping D, and getting all gloom and doomy, while at other moments the sound would slowly drift into a more dulcet drone and allow us to catch out breath, until O’Malley’s guitar would blast off again.

Even though I found this show thrilling, I must admit I became restless about 30 minutes in. Perhaps the weed had something to do with it, or maybe I wasn’t quite in the right headspace for a subjective 90 minute drone-fest. Or maybe, I was really kinda hoping Hecker was going to treat us to Ravedeath, 1972 instead of playing in tandem with O’Malley. Still, it was a fascinating take on sound collaboration and improvisation by two of today’s finest experimental artists, as well as, a highlight of this year’s excellent MUTEK festival.


– sound quality is good, pic not so good, watch in HD
– media courtesy of Jacquelyn Taylor

Marc Leclair – Musique Pour 3 Femmes Enceintes

July 14, 2010

An absolute and understated classic from Marc Leclair, “Musique Pour 3 Femmes Enceintes” was released in 2005. Leclair is probably best known for his work as tech-house wizard Akufen, but with “Musique” he tapped into something special, and overall it exceeds his work under the Akufen moniker, because it’s much broader in scope and so much more subtle in execution. Yes, I love “My Way”, and when I first saw Akufen play in Detroit in 2002 with Luciano and Dandy Jack at The Works, I thought I’d witnessed the future of techno music. I remember smiling and dancing non-stop and being proud that he was representing Canada and MTL, the city I would move to a year later. And for awhile, Akufen was indeed the shit — his tracks were meticulously produced, uber-groovy, and they bumped hard and heavy — but he was never able to match the grandeur and finesse of “My Way”. His releases afterwards fell flat or felt samey in comparison.

Yet with “Musique Pour 3 Femmes Enceintes” he tapped into a whole new vibe. Leclair seamlessly meshed the ambient with the minimal, and the organic with the digital to smashing effect, and tossed in the conceptual aspect of his wife’s (and 2 friends) pregnancy to go along with it. The album features nine tracks, one for each month and begins almost clinically with “1er jour”, a collaboration with Rechenzentrum featuring very dark and digital programming, presumably signifying the child’s conception. By “64e jour”, the album begins to warm up, with organic ambience and Steve Reich inspired piano patterns. The next two tracks feature the sounds of water, rain, thunder, and begin to slowly open — as if he’s trying to recreate the experience of the nascent child growing in the womb. By “150er jour”, Leclair’s aesthetic palette expands exponentially, adding in guitars, loops, glitched beats, and by the end of the track a soft rolling 4/4 beat.

The album slowly unfolds and evolves from quiet minimal ambience to full on Akufen-inflected tech house by the album’s last track, “236e jour”. The baby is being born, it’s amazing and joyous, and you can’t help but wanna get up and dance. Throughout, Leclair’s knack for production is flawless, and as an album its flow is perfect in execution. I have fallen asleep countless times to this album, but I have also put it on many times as the precursor to a great night out. “Musique Pour 3 Femmes Enceintes” is truly a fantastic electronic album and one that needs to be listened to by more people. It’s never too late to check it.

Peace.

Marsen Jules Trio at MUTEK

June 9, 2010

4 June 2010

Ambient neo-classicist hero, Marsen Jules, made his North American debut at this year’s MUTEK festival in Montreal. Accompanied by twin brothers Anwar and Jan Phillip Alam on violin and piano, Jules had the large crowd enraptured as his emotive and glacial soundscapes swirled and pulsed in the airy Monument-National Theatre.

Marsen Jules is my favourite of all composers in the ever expanding genre of modern classical/ambient music. The opening track on Herbstlaub, “Fanes D’Automne” is the most played track on my iTunes, and his music has sailed me off to sweet dreams many a night, as well as, welcomed the dawn with me on many a morn. So you can imagine how stoked I was to finally experience his music in a live setting. And what a performance it was. Choice of venue had a lot to do with it, and the Monument-National was perfect, providing a large theatre space with phenomenal acoustics. The visuals by VJ Nicolai Konstatinovic were an excellent addition to the concert — showcasing abstract imagery in uber-vivid colour, as well as calming footage of hovering birds and a beautiful steady shot of a local swimming hole somewhere in what I imagined to be a small village in rural France.

It was great to see him do his thing live. Using his computer, a mixing tablet, two glasses of water, two drum cymbals, chimes, and the twin brothers on strings and keys, Jules was able to create a stirring live rendition of his work. Overall, his performance was the highlight of the festival for me, and further proof as to why I think he’s one of the best musicians in the genre.

Unfortunately, the rain stopped me from going to see him play at the Picnic Electronik under his dub-oriented krill.minima guise, but still a great time was had. Check out the remastered version of his first album Yara right now.

INAUDIBLE INTERVIEWS WOLFANG VOIGT

February 25, 2010

Inaudible teamed up with Headphone Commute and scored an interview with Kompakt Records founder and electronic music legend Wolfgang Voigt to discuss Kompakt’s latest Pop Ambient collection, the infamous Cologne sound, and his work as Gas!

I am new to this whole interview thang, and realized afterwards that my questions kind of suck because they don’t allow room for much elaboration, but hey . . . I’m learning and still pretty damn happy with it.

Please click here to check it out.

Big thanks to ML from Headphone Commute for making it happen!

And thanks to Mr. Voigt for taking the time to answer the questions!