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.
Grouper is the solo project for ambient musician Liz Harris, of Portland, Oregon. Harris’ music is a mixture of softly-strummed guitar, Wurlitzer keys, and her delicate, dreamy vocals, all of which are heavily drenched in reverb.
“With Liz Harris’ eerie vocals floating above a bed of grainy drones and sparse synth and organ melodies, A I A does not deviate too much from the formula she solidified on 2008’s Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill. But we see the Portland songstress fine-tuning the textural experimentations that have become her trademark. Dig the decaying tones of opener “Moon is Sharp” or the tolling chants of “Dragging the Streets” to hear Harris’ progress as a composer. A I A is a desolate, expansive affair; it sounds like a clandestine broadcast and the way an unborn baby might hear a pop song in utero. Hyperbolic imagery aside, you would be hard pressed to find very many contemporary records that yield the type of vaporous journey found on A I A, nor one that’s as hauntingly beautiful.”
Oneohtrix Point Never is the recording name of Brooklyn-based experimental musician Daniel Lopatin, whose album Returnal was released by Editions Mego in June 2010. Lopatin’s music is composed and performed primarily on vintage synthesizers, and has been described as “drone or ambient music”, “gentle eddies of sound” and “like a cracked mirror refracting the sounds of the past”. He is also a member of Games aka Ford & Lopatin.
“Lopatin is skilled at creating music that is both disorienting and pleasing at once. Whether noise, drone, ambient or minimalist, the form of the music continually shifts, which fulfills the role in traditional minimalism that’s reserved for the addition of new patterns to the mix; to shift the focus and change the entire piece by creating new relations between the patterns. On Returnal, more so than Lopitan’s other albums, this shifting of styles serves to accomplish this without ever feeling disjointed or jarring; the album itself plays as a seamless whole. The disorientation instead comes from the slight, almost imperceptible off-kilter feeling to the music. It’s always buried in a pleasing array of tones, creating a very peculiar and unique feel. Almost like a welcoming vertigo.”
Saturday, October 15th, 10PM at the ‘Sco. $3 with OCID, $5 without. Tickets available at Etix and Wilder Information Desk.
Check out this new music video of Glass Nor Stone by Sons on an Illustrious Father, a 5-piece “heavy-meadow” band originally from the Hudson Valley of the State of New York. Directed by college senior Rafe Scoby-Thal, the video features some beautiful people and the serene summer landscape of Oberlin, Ohio. According to Sons guitarist and vocalist college senior Lilah Larson, the video does “a great job connecting visual movement to the song’s progression and cadence,” and that the unity and divergence of the girls throughout the video successfully embodies the song’s meaning.
Find out more about Sons on an Illustrious Father at their website and bandcamp.