It’s September 2007. The commercial for the new iPod nano is playing on the television (or your computer screen). Yeah, the new iPod is great, but what is that addictive song in the background?! That is the question that most people had, and soon “1234” by Feist had a cult following. Elmo was even singing a version with Leslie Feist on Sesame Street. Feist was everywhere.
Then most people forgot about her due to her self-imposed exile from the music industry. She told Canadian Press in 2008 “I just need to rest for a minute.” She went back to her roots and played a few shows with Broken Social Scene, but for the better part of the past four years she was out of the public eye.
Feist was suddenly a conversation topic again when British artist James Blake released a cover version of her 2007 song “The Limit to Your Love” in late 2010. After months of quiet rumors of a new album, Feist released her fourth album Metals earlier this month. The differences between Metals and The Reminder are clear. Instead of a shadowed image of Feist with rainbow lasers coming out of her neck on the cover, we just have the letter “f” made of branches,with a tiny image of Feist on one of these branches. None of the twelve tracks on the studio album have a catchy “1234” hook. The songs are more subdued and focused on mood. They have intense instrumentals and chorus parts, especially on the ninth track, “Undiscovered First”. Dedicated Feist fans will have this album on repeat, but it is unlikely that the casual listener of “1234” will appreciate Metals. In fact, the casual listener probably dismissed Feist as a one-hit wonder years ago and has not thought about her since that iPod nano commercial in 2007.
César Bolaños (b. 1931)– Peruvian composer of experimental instrumental and electroacoustic music. This track, “Intensidad y Altura,“is a tape piece from 1964, voices surfacing and swirling, ghostly presences, funky grains.
Borden/Ferraro/Godin/Halo/Lopatin– Five people playing synthesizers. Few surprises here, a typically spacey and deftly executed new-age jam. Ferraro’s been here the past two years, Laurel Halo was here a few weeks ago, Dan Lopatin is here tonight as Oneohtrix Point Never.
Ramallah Underground reside in their namesake, a city north of Jerusalem in the West Bank, melting styles into effortless, jazzy hip-hop that, more often that not, takes the form of brooding sample-based instrumentals. A music collective, they materialized sometime in the mid-‘oughts, and have been producing a dexterous slew of genre-balking stand-alone tracks out of Palestine ever since. A far cry from the Beastie Boy-esque politi-rap born proudly from more visible Arab hip-hop groups–like Israeli-Arab supergroup DAM–the music of Ramallah’s most inscrutably prolific (and generally mysterious) trip-hop-blending M.C.-aggregate is elusive and smooth, one moment a relaxing foray into stuttery laid-back ambience, the next a tense and immediate outbreak of muffled sonic irruption. The elegantly rendered, and yet barely-restrained, musical pathos of many of their tracks echoes the turmoil felt by a vocally-castrated generation of youths. They, by their own account, hope to create a brand of musical camaraderie that can appeal to and possibly speak for many of the concerns of modern Arabs and Palestinians.
After a long absence of silence, Mark Hollis, the singer and main songwriter of the 1980s English band Talk Talk, returned to the scene quietly with his solo debut in 1998 entitled, Mark Hollis. Mark Hollis, still confident in his style of music, continued with the enigmatic tones of the last Talk Talk album in 1991, Laughing Stock. Considered as the pioneers of post-rock, Talk Talk had the synthpop sound that was prominent in the 1980s with their first three albums. However, their newly found success at the time gave them the opportunity and financial support to explore and experiment with music in a different way. Beginning with their 1988 album, Spirit Of Eden, Talk Talk delve into a new realm of music, using a variety of acoustic instruments instead of synthesized ones and having several renowned musicians contribute to their work, including Robbie McIntosh from The Pretenders and Nigel Kennedy, who is one of the greatest and prolific violinists from the twentieth and twenty first centuries. Talk Talk’s last two albums, Spirit Of Eden and Laughing Stock went hand in hand in developing a completely different direction for the band, which brought out their introspective and tranquil personalities. Both albums are also hinted with religious themes and references, though Mark Hollis described the lyrics as having more of a “humanitarian” theme. All three of these albums, including Mark Hollis’s solo effort, remind me of twentieth century classical music and the jazz fusion of the 1950s and 1960s. An album such as Laughing Stock has elements of what Miles Davis introduced in the 1960s as jazz fusion with the releases of In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew. The most palpable difference between Talk Talk’s last two albums and Mark Hollis’s solo album is that although all three incorporate a string of uncanny patterns, Spirit Of Edenand Laughing Stock have more dissonance and overtone characteristics that can be traced back to Bitches Brew, whereas Mark Hollis incorporates more aspects of silence and structure. Read More →
The month that occurs between September 15 and October 15 is officially known as National Hispanic Heritage Month. For me, this past month has been filled with delicious food (tamales!!!), awesome salsa nights at the ‘Sco, and a great playlist of Latin artists on my iPod. As National Hispanic Heritage Month comes to a close, here is a mix of great music by Latin artists, perfect for anytime of the year.