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Yoko Absorbing are the minds of Evgenij V. Kharitonov (music, samples, guitars, keyboards, percussion, sounds) and Mikhail Lezin (music, samples, guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion, sounds), who combine their own creations and unite with other musicians to create something where the fine line between real instrumentation and samples are blurred. Vinyl (Clinical Archives) couldn’t be a more appropriate titles, for this is the kind of music that is perfect for the sample-included and funk driven music fan who love to hear loops upon loops upon samples upon chops upon who knows what. Some songs move on in a place that might work on the dance floor of the lunatic, while others move as if it was progressive rock, but without the rock. Okay, so there are guitars but it sounds more like Mike Oldfield than anything of the Clapton/Page/Beck variety. Sounds begin, stop, suspend itself, and curl over each other, starting out gentle before throwing pelican drats in a mutated metal delivery.
Don’t expect to feel spirited as if this music will save you, but perhaps it will. Instead, take the music as it comes and be prepared to slip off the wagon whenever it feels like pushing you. When it’s on a rhythmic adventure, it takes itself to all new levels, but it takes a liking to itself when it moves into corners unknown. This is when Yoko Absorbing are taking in everything through their pores, eyes wide open, nowhere to hide. Experimental electronic music isn’t for everyone, but if it is for you, soak in its fermented warmth.
First off, let’s get this out of the way. New Yorker magazine called them “the most exciting piano trio in America”, even though one person (Jon Klibnonoff) plays the piano while the others play violin (Maria Bachmann) and cello (Alexis Pia Gerlach). Maybe the world of classical music is built on mystery, I don’t know.
I am approaching this from a different perspective because I am not what one would call a classical aficionado, far from it. Café Music (Bridge) consists of five pieces exploring different worlds and textures, and not strictly classical either. In fact the opening pieces in the 4-part “Four Seasons of Buenos Aires” begins in a funky fashion, which caught me by surprise, only to discover that it was an Astor Piazzolla piece. What I ended up hearing was seduction and passion interpreted in classical form, and as the song moves through its passages one tends to imagine the subject in question, in this case the city of Buenos Aires in Argentina. What I like about their playing is that while they are limited to three musicians, they don’t limit themselves to playing their traditional roles, since there are moments where it sounds like there are at least six people in the studio. This is due to the complex arrangements and performances, and it sounds like they’re loving the experience of playing with each other as they compliment one another in their musicianship. When one imagines a tango for two, it is their musical tango of three that pushes the emotions forward. You can either imagine the passage of time that the music expresses, or simply imagine yourself being moved to the timing of the music.
There’s a lot of dynamics in their playing, and the all-digital recording captures everything beautifully, where it is a jazz motif or something where the spaces between each note are also important elements of the composition. If this trio were playing near me, I would definitely do what I could to watch them perform.
Einsteintonto is, perhaps, a pseudonimus of not-reason intelligence; an intelligence without directions, without prejuices.
To me it meant that the music of David Díaz, Antonia Funes and Víctor Sequí is freeform, perhaps improvisational, which means even they didn’t know what was to come when they performed these pieces. It’s classical in the loosest sense, but it’s not by the book. Some songs, like “Luna de miel”, sound as if they were recorded outside in a public park, complete with natural sounds and human sounds of unknown origin. It may be nothing but a kiddie xylophone mixed in with an accordion and harmonica as someone plays the chimes. Or it could be the unfunk of “Procession In B Side Of The Moon”, where it sounds like it could get locked in a pocket but the three men refuse to stay locked in anything. Is it the sound of ducks milking, or the sound of mucks dilking, and what does that mean?
It is certainly something, and those who don’t want to know what’s coming next in their music will find this to be a comprehensive listen.
Their last album was one of those where you had to say “damn, where in the world have these guys been all my life?” Super Chron Flight Brothers make the kind of stoned out, bumpy ass hip-hop that makes you want to consume all kind of trippy substances all day and night, imagine if Anti-Pop Consortium shared a bag with Madlib and Blueprint, and it was discovered there was some cocaine in it. Indonesia is stoner hip-hop, where the beats, flows, and song structure are so laid back you might actually pass a joint in the speaker thinking they’re actually in your stereo. What kind of hashish were these guys doing? Whatever it was, I’m just glad the recordings were documented and mixed well, because if it was just a bunch of guys running into a basement and spitting out random crap, it would sound terrible. But there’s a method to their musical madness, what the listener has to do is join them and figure it out.
Apparently there is a CD version of this but only received the MP3, which of course doesn’t reveal the full potential of the sound quality, but if that’s not an issue, then get to downloading.
This French band named Phoenix have gained a buzz recently for their brand of happy pop with a bit of substance. The new album managed to come my way so I decided to take a listen.
What does “happy pop” mean? For me, it’s means it’s good modern day pop music that is a guilty pleasure, the kind of music you think you’re not expected to like but end up doing. They call this album , without apologies, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (Glassnote), and it’s not just pop that is a major strength, but they also throw in a bit of rock and a pinch of smooth soul to turn out a recipe that is the equivalent of cotton candy: you know it’s not necessary, but it’s oh so good. I love how they’ll throw in the unexpected, such as the disco-flavored “Fences” where out of the blue someone will throw in some acoustic guitar and make it sound perfect. Or a song like “Girlfriend”, containing an early 80′s new wave feeling that makes you want to rock back and forth like the British used to do when MTV played 14 videos an hour.
It’s safe to say that they makes this music so people can reminisce, but there’s nothing wrong with that if you don’t do it for too long. The thing with Phoenix is that they know where they’re at but they like to look back and take out what was great from the music of yesterday. It’s bright and pretty pop, and it’s a guilty pleasure worth loving, kissing, and fondling. I’m now tingly.
Last year in my column I asked the question that Peter Daily asked himself in the name of his debut release: Who Is Peter Daily? I stated that it’s emotional pop music produced and mixed the way I like to hear it. Edgy yet very accessible, I hope people will give him a chance and finally discover who Peter Daily really is. A year or so later, Daily has come back, this time equipped with a band that he gives a name: Peter Daily & The Royal Band and together they offer another EP-sized morsel in another soon-to-be pop masterpiece, The 9th Street Sessions (Sideshow Media Group).
On his debut I felt I heard elements of Paul McCartney and Elton John in his style of music and songwriting, maybe some Ben Folds too but for some reason I kept on hearing someone I didn’t quite expect to hear. If you’re a Pink Floyd fan, you probably have found some of David Gilmour‘s pre-Meddle ballads to be quite moving. I’m not sure if it’s Gilmour’s folk sensibilities getting in the way,but I hear some of that in what Daily does in The 9th Street Sessions, where songs are built from the ground up but he does so in a deliberate pace that isn’t quite expected. He’ll sing very bold but then move back to show a delicate side.
If fans enjoyed the production on Who is Peter Daily? they will definitely eat up the in-your-face sound of The 9th Street Sessions. I hope someone will consider releasing this on vinyl for the audiophiles out there who would love to hear this in their favorite format, but Daily and the band will probably tell you “you want in your face? Come to the shows.” As you should.
The opening track on Qua‘s Q & A (Mush) sounds like what Prince could’ve sounded like if he grew up being influenced by equal parts of Larry Dunn, Daft Punk, and The KLF. The music has an incredible amount of not only melody and counter-melodies, but with an equal emphasis on bass frequencies and an ear for out-of-nowhere samples, with the drums in “Circles” as an example. It would make for perfect music for films, surfing documentaries, porn, video games, or wedding presentations. Okay, maybe wedding videos would seem left of center but then again Q&A (a/k/a Cornel Wilczek) isn’t creating music from any rulebook. He plays by his own rules, creating these deluxe productions that somehow manage to limit themselves perfectly, a bit of chaos within a bit of structure. Some tracks, such as the mid-tempo “All Breath, No Body”, would sound great with vocals from Madonna, Nicole Scherzinger, or even Omarion. What I also like about the track is that when it begins it sounds as if it’s ready to take off and take you along for what could have been a luxurious journey. Sadly the song only goes for two minutes, working as a link between two sections of an album. But what it leads to is the incredible “Goodmorning Sun”, beginning in a folksy manner before opening itself to intense drums and a maniacal synth groove. It comes off like a manipulated revision of 808 State‘s “Pacific” mixed in with Chemical Brothers‘ “Block Rockin’ Beats”.
Electronic music has left the mainstream after a brief flirting session, but some of the best creative spurts come (!!!) from being left alone in a dark room with one’s own vices and devices. It’s mind expanding music that the world needs to hear, a lot of variety coming from one mind and a few of his associates/collaborators. Incredible.
(Q&A was released last year in Qua’s native Australia, and will be released in the rest of the world on Mush before the end of the year.)
Any rapper that says the word “microfiche” and knows what it means is alright with me, and Lyrics Born has become one of the more impressive MC’s in hip-hop, regardless of city, region, state, coast, country, world. The man isn’t afraid to sing, and he’s not afraid to let people he’s not too hi-pro in that department but what he does is deliver, as an incredible lyricist and powerful entertainer. For fans who find it hard to wait for a new proper album, LB has released The Lyrics Born Variety Show – Seaon Pho, a mix CD featuring a collage of brand new tracks, including rhymes over trusted breakbeats that will make fans pee pee in envy. Ever wanted to know how he would sound rhyming over Gang Starr‘s “Take It Personal”? You’ll find out in “Stay Professional”, Want to know how he does it in a dancehall stylee, as if he’s the Asian Shabba Ranks? Licka shot with “Pop Campaign”. For a bit of R&B flavor he teams up with wife Joyo Velarde in “Mama’s Got A Brand New Swag”, and 1-upping Amerie big time. Need more? Both of them bring in Lateef for a bit of that Latryx deluxe groove in a remix of “The World Is Calling”. LB’s humor has always been subtle, but in “Beautiful Bowlegged Lady” he honors those with their boto legs and puts them up in a pedestal for all to hear. Need funk? His track with The Bamboos for the almighty “Turn It Up”, but I would’ve pissed out a donkey had it been a duet with Kylie Auldist.
Let’s just say that for a well rounded album, of any genre, Lyrics Born is a monarch in this, simply doing music for the love of it. He tours almost endlessly to make ends meet, but the man is incredible in the studio and those who have witnessed him live know there’s no other. This easily works as a proper album, and if this is what his in-between albums are going to sound like, I hope he does a lot more. Sick, sick, sick, sick, sick.
When the cameos on your own album outshine you, it’s best that you move to a new field. So is the case of U-God, who could’ve been one of the unpolished jewels of the Wu-Tang Clan if it wasn’t for the fact that his lyrics aren’t that impressive. His debut solo album was a waste of energy and electricity, and did he really think this would be a good idea? Pfftt.
Dopium (Babygrande) is an album that features a lot of special guests, including Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Method Man, The Genius, Cappadonna, Killah Priest, Large Professor, Mike Ladd, and Jim Jones among others, and these guys totally rip U-God a number of anuses to the point where he looks like a block of cheddar cheese. If this album was released as… well, if U-God‘s vocal tracks were removed and released as Wu Shtyles, Bufo Frog Logs, or even Douchebag Rebels, it would have been considered an incredible project. U-God was known as the 4-bar killer so when he goes past four lines, he’s boring. Remove him, and this album would have jaded heads going “this shit is nice”. If U-God was a factor with the Wu-Tang behind the scenes, then I hope he continues working behind the scenes. But as a front man in charge, he doesn’t have the power to impress. Hell, if this was released as an instrumental, people would mistake this as something by The Alchemist.
In truth, the tone of his voice as always been nice and mellow in that Chali 2na-sort of way, but if he still writes his own lyrics, he needs to improve on them. If others are doing the writing, U-God needs to select better lyrics. Imagine if U-God did some tracks with Pharrell Williams? Now that might be good (keyword: might).
You never see me on stage rappin’ bout my hundred stacks
I rather speak on hip-hop and how we need to bring it back
These are the words from a new group called Grumpy Old Men, whose I Remember When (wormusic/Audio Reconnaissance) is a genuine throwback to a time when hip-hop everything to all of us who cared. This Indianapolis group consists of members of Justice League and Butterfly Toungz, and together they represent the so-called grumpy old men who can’t speak about anything but hip-hop’s good old days. As the Grumpy Old Men, they musically and lyrically look back at what has passed us and perhaps what we are currently missing in the music. These are solid, fun songs that will make anyone move, no silly nightclub mantras or dumbist chants, it’s the kind of songs where you want to consume the verses and then play them over and over until you’re sure you understand it, only to discover new things six months later. There are dance tracks here, but the kind of dance tracks that are decent sounding, no muffle fluff.
Fortunately we have groups like this who truly do …Remember When, and may they continue to preach and teach to the masses/them asses.
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Discovered this book review blog when someone had posted a review of a music book. Went through it and saw a number of books I immediately put on my want list. Created by Maria Popova and features a number of contributors.
Cool slew of goodies from books and diaries to T-shirts, bags and soaps. Now based in Portland.
The show is no more, but you may explore the archives of this great Portland-based podcast while you can. You may now listen to Cort & Bobby in Welcome To That Whole Thing, listed below.