Stainless Staining [EP] // Lisa Moore // Cantaloupe — Resonant, entrancing piano music by an Irish composer Donnacha Dennehy, augmented with samples of G# overtones. [soundcloud]
Mendelssohn: Songs without Words, books 1-4 // Ronald Brautigam, Mendelssohn // BIS — Sensitive performances of early Romantic-era miniatures for solo piano, played on a historical instrument.
Norwegian Woods OST // Jonny Greenwood // Nonesuch — Radiohead guitarist would be doing pretty well for himself even if he just wrote movie soundtracks.
Johannes Brahms: The Complete Trios // Smetana Trio (w/ Premysl Vojta, Ludmila Peterkova) // Supraphon — This Czech trio brings it.
Where [we] Live // Sō Percussion // Cantaloupe — Album realization of a Kickstarter-backed, collaborative, multi-media performance exploring concept of ‘home': toy percussion instruments, spoken word, singing, electronics — the works. Based on this trailer, looks like ambitious stuff. Performance has already premiered at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, with future performance during the BAM Next Wave Festival in Brooklyn, December 19-22. [soundcloud]
Heavy// ETHEL // Innova — Adventurous, rock-solid contemporary string quartet playing. Includes Don Byron’s ‘Four Thoughts on Marvin Gaye’ and works by Julia Wolfe and David Lang. [streaming on ETHEL website]
2012 saw an influx in exposure to electronic music, from sources both domestic and abroad. Good beats abound in the States for sure yet I can’t help but feel like I’m missing out. This is entirely because over the last few years, electronic music has been graced by some really creative citizens of the U.K. Here’s a playlist of a bunch of them and the incredible new sounds they’ve made.
Both in and out of the limelight, acts such as James Blake, Rustie, and Actress have released tracks that set the standard for post-dubstep, experimental house, and maximalists genres, among others. This British surge isn’t simply dance music, nor is it only for listening, but rather a balance between the two: both experimental and reliable. A lot of the artists featured here toe the line quite expertly. Actress’ song “The Lord’s Graffiti” off his new Honest Jon’s release R.I.P., is simply the idea of the house, the absolute basics, but totally revisited. The track is fun and danceable but totally perplexing as well, as if there is too much material for contemplation to get up and jump around. In a similarly eclectic fashion, James Blake coos soft love ballads, satiates the cravings of bass-addicts, and experiments endlessly, all while sounding true to his own personal sound and style.
There’s more electronic music from more parts of the world than ever but admist the overload, there are some standouts worth clearing your head for. These are some of the British ones.
This is probably going to be my last blog post of the semester. It has been fun, and I appreciate any one who stuck with my posts through the good times and the bad times (my Looper movie review). Since the year is ending, I guess it’s time for a post about my favorite/most-listened to songs of the semester. Most of this listening occurred in a frantic stage of studying in the library, but there was some fun had too.
Here is my best of the semester:
Girls, “Hellhole Ratrace”
A classic, sorrowful Girls track that, through its repetitive nature, is about 3 minutes too long. Call me crazy, it’s my favorite song ever.
Danny Brown, “Monopoly”
I saw Danny Brown live, became obsessed with hip-hop, and found “Monopoly” to be one of his best, both in concert and on the album “XXX”.
Ariel Pink, “Reminisces”
It was great to have Ariel Pink at the Sco, and even though he didn’t play this track, it is still worth listening to. It’s a groovy instrumental that fits well into cohesively structuring the 2010 album “Before Today”.
Frank Ocean, “Forrest Gump”
Everyone loves Channel Orange. I think it is a bit overrated, but it’s still a great album. Forrest Gump is my favorite song, it’s just too catchy.
Holy Shit, “My Whole Life Story”
Combine Matt Fishbeck, Ariel Pink, and Christopher Owens. The best track on “Stranded at Two Harbors,” in which Fishbeck at one point sings the chords being played.
Death Grips, “The Fever (aye aye)”
Death Grips is insane, and “The Fever (aye aye)” successfully conveys this. Vocalist “MC Ride” screams and shouts, simultaneously making you love/hate the song.
Like many others [I presume], I was very excited for dead prez’s new album. Eight years waiting; the anticipation was at an apex. Over fall break, a like-minded friend and I eagerly gave it a listen, and were absolutely baffled. “Could this really be dead prez?” we asked each other.
If there was a music award purely for the element of surprise, dead prez would get my unequivocal vote.
Though they still retain their socio-political messaging, M-1 and stic.man have chosen to rap their wisdom over dance-pop Top 40 beats –> an interesting artistic choice, but one that is quite astonishing and potentially alienating to their fan base. Shock value aside, it ultimately detracts from their profound poetics. True to their reputation, they created another thought-provoking album, but instead of pondering the school-to-prison pipeline, it is equally tempting to ask: “is that a sample from Ke$ha’s new single?”
I should note: not every track is synth-heavy and reminiscent of strobe lights, but even so, the sharp and eloquent lyrics so signifying of dead prez have lost their edge. M-1 and stic.man seemed to have stepped back from unabashed radicalism to embody a slightly more passive sage-like role. Instead of encouraging their listeners to rob pizza delivery boys, they instead advise love, patience, spiritual renewal, and perseverant education.
“Through the course of life, you gon taste some humble pie”
Definintely a message worth sending, but still an intriguing twist of tongue for M-1 and stic.man.
If you consider yourself a fan of dead prez, I would give this album a listen [or two]. The first time may be difficult and awkward, but I have found that Information Age is slowly growing on me. Once over the initial shock of the pseudo-rave beats, one can easily find the provocative politik that endears, engages, and excites dead prez’s audience. The vegan diet, the climate crisis, and the capitalist commercialization of Western religion all make an appearance. Though the question remains: are dead prez still Revolutionary But Gangsta? It is up to you to decide.
My favorite band, Girls, broke up this summer. I wasn’t too distraught, because I held the hope that the two guys in the band would continue making music, but it was still upsetting; I had no idea what was next for Girls, so as a fan, I was in limbo. I was mainly focused on news from Christopher Owens, the lead singer and primary force behind Girls’ success. Aside from a few twitter posts from his account “Cri55yBaby,” there was no real news. It wasn’t until October that Owens resurfaced, announcing his intent to release his solo debut Lysandre in January 2013.
The only tracks from Lysandre released to this point have been “Lysandre’s Theme” and “Here We Go.” In my opinion, both tracks are successful, yet it’s necessary to acknowledge that musically, Christopher Owens solo project isn’t really similar Girls. Sure, the singer is the same, but the instrumentation is very different, with Owens citing classical guitar as one of his inspirations. It shows. “Lysandre’s Theme” is an instrumental, consisting of Owens on guitar, with a flute laced through the track. It provides an effective transition to “Here We Go,” in which the flute serves as continuation. Owens opens with guitar, largely similar to Girls’ “Just a Song,” before providing vocals, about 20 seconds into the new track. Hearing Owens’ voice for the first time provides relief and familiarity, and for a moment, it’s like Girls are back again. This nostalgia primarily was at the 2 minute mark, in which Owens solos on electric guitar, but it’s only for about 10 seconds.
Although there is only a glimmer of Girls in Christopher Owens’ solo project, fans should still find solace lyrically. The themes of heartbreak and love, focuses central to Girls’ prior success, are still present, and Owens still is able to convey the multitude of emotions he encompassed while still part of Girls. “Lysandre’s Theme” and “Here We Go” are both definitely work checking out, they’ll get you through until the album’s release.