Archive for May, 2011

Scenic Route

Posted in On Notice with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 31, 2011 by jazner

ENERGY ZOOMS FROM one end back to the other, a breathing, pulsating perpetual motion machine emitting and absorbing waves with effortless grace.

At the heart of the mechanism is London trio LV and Joshua Idehen, whose latest LP, Routes, off Keysounds maintains a warm rhythmic ebb and flow that, once you’ve reached the album’s end, shoots you back to the first track for another go around.

Routes is a living organism, a synthesis of different systems of sounds complementing and cooperating with one another to produce a vibrant sonic being.  It’s cohesive and multidimensional, with various synapses firing different moods and tempos to build a complex unit of emotions.  The wax and wane, expanding and contracting of Routes undulates like the curves of a body taking breath.

With connections to Hyperdub, LV and Idehen share similarities with Kode9 and The Spaceape.  Light speed UK Funky pattering drumbeats balance crooning sub bass lines and recurring measures of pure silence, and Idehen’s vocals sway from heavy MC-like spoken word flows to light scat plinks and tantric repetitions dotting the melody.

Yet Routes is an entity in and of itself, containing bludgeoning beats that establish its place as one of the best electronic albums of 2011 to date.

“Tough” leads the way, a complex, interwoven fabric of sounds and sonic phrases whizzing by and completing one another in a wavy, hypnotic rhythm.  There’s so much movement: swooshes of an electrified slap bass, followed by a deeper bellowing bass, 2-step offbeat drum, blinking 8-bit laser synth, and popping Idehen vocals flying by.  The soundscape passes like the view of a landscape from a train, short glimpses and images giving way to the next batch in an ever churning push forward.

Other standouts include “Melt”, “Never Tired” and “Deleted Scene”, although Routes should be listened to in full.  “Melt” bumps with a Latin, almost reggaeton rhythm, with entrancing vocals, staccato synth and growling bass.  “Never Tired” is a kaleidoscope of timbre, clinking woodblocks and stuttering vocals overlaying angelic harp-like synth.  “Deleted Scene” has a velvety late-night vibe, dark and silky soulful synth drops with a resonating bass heating things up.

Routes has so much going on, a complex organism relying on so many varying factors that all unite to form a beautiful masterpiece.  Please listen to the album all the way through, keeping an ear out for idées fixes.  Stream it in its entirety at XLR8R or listen to single tracks below.

Deleted Scene

I Know

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P-Dena Funk

Posted in On Notice with tags , , , , , , on May 27, 2011 by jazner

SO MUCH FUNK and family popping off with this one, where to begin?

Steven Arrington, legendary composer, drummer, and vocalist known mostly for his work with the 70s/80s group Slave, has teamed up with Pasadena godfather of future funk Dâm-Funk for a new album to be released this summer on Stones Throw Records.

You can purchase the Goin’ Hard 12″ at the Stones Throw store.

The first single, “Goin’ Hard” is gushy with G-funk sauciness, thick with bass as viscous as honey and glistening West Coast synths shimmering like a sunset on the Pacific ocean.  The track makes you wanna grimace in ecstasy at its full-toned funk, hitting you “down in the trenches” to get those hip gears gyrating on the dance floor.

Not to be forgotten are Andrew and Daniel Aged of the LA group Inc., previously documented by jazner here, who have performed in sessions alongside both Arrington and Dâm-Funk, which can be viewed in the video below.  Staffers are working diligently to find if the Aged brothers had any involvement in the production of the upcoming Arrington album, as well as if Inc. has any new recordings to be released this summer.  Stay posted.

Enjoy the new cut “Goin’ Hard”, as well as this classic Arrington jam that has such a complex beat you might fight your knees buckling to the floor.  Don’t fret, it’s supposed to get you “Weak At The Knees”.

Goin’ Hard

Violetta

Posted in On Notice with tags , , , , on May 25, 2011 by jazner

REFRAIN FROM COWERING in fear of the ominous aesthetic of Manchester’s Demdike Stare.  See it as a rare opportunity to peek inside the mind of a psychopath, a window displaying the gears of a horror movie villain’s brain twisting and writhing in a slow descent from a semblance of sanity to deep end dementia.  Follow your curiosity and step onto the other side, where the ‘good guy’ is seen as the antagonist and oppressor, and darkness obscures the light.

After previous collaborations with videos for “Hashshashin Chant” and “Forest Of Evil (Dawn)”, “Violetta”, the latest single from Demdike Stare directed by LoveLockandLoad cult movie guru Jonny Redman, is the pair’s greatest synchronization of sound and imagery yet.

The soundtrack and the video’s erratic man in the blue suit seem to coexist in a deranged reality, teetering together towards an abysmal fall into insanity.

Clanging piano chords and the man’s shoreline stumble in the intro subtly point to a percolating tension, nerves about to be shot, frustration nearing its end, and an anxious hopelessness clouding one’s judgment.

Nervousness and danger ooze from the seams, the buzzing of bee-like strings fluttering with swoons of doom, a pattering rhythmic pulse keeping the track moving forward in angst filled suspense.

The climax shrieks at the 4′ mark, the hysteria of the blue suit man now unleashed, a torrent of knife wielding carelessness and the amalgamation of industrial drones and mechanical moans emanating from the screen.

Demdike Stare create high quality tracks that not only hit the gut with its bass but crawls under the skin with creepiness.  Check out the 3 piece anthology Tryptych and a previous jazner piece for more on the duo.

Sam Baker’s Album

Posted in On Notice with tags , , , on May 24, 2011 by jazner

NOT EVEN THOSE sweet cherubic cheeks will soften the blow from the first cut from Samiyam’s upcoming full-length Sam Baker’s Album, “Cushion”, off BRAINFEEDER June 28th.

Tension, nervousness, and skepticism set the mood for “Cushion”.  The low end tromps like Godzilla in a defenseless metropole, trampling beats with a booming force of breakdown funk and unrelenting thundercloud rumblings.  No headphones are safe from the dubstruction.

The 8-bit synth rains down like a laser beam from above, a fireball illuminating the track’s grittiness and undercurrent of soulful foreboding that can also be heard as a chill hip-hop reassurance that it’s all gonna be good.

Keep the ears open June 28th for Sam Baker’s Album to drop in your local record store.  Till then, here’s some “Cushion” for the pushin.

Cushion

Fun Friend Fest

Posted in On Notice with tags , , , , , , on May 24, 2011 by jazner

COME CELEBRATE THE terribly terrific twos with a party at the Echoplex June 18th in LA with Salva, Shlohmo, Groundislava and Mexicans With Guns as Friends Of Friends marks its 2nd Anniversary building a rhizome of electro-glow friends the DIY way.

Giving a taste of what’s to come, Groundislava recently debuted his video for “A Grass Day”, off his Ground Is Lava LP, directed by his father, Michael Patterson, director of A-Ha’s “Take On Me”.

Hope to see you all there.

Dancing In Museums

Posted in Cruz Music with tags , , , , , , , on May 23, 2011 by jazner

A NOSTALGIC GLOW is permeating from the campfire of Art Museums, who are stoking the flames of their latest 7″ DANCING EP off Slumberland Records, available on vinyl early this summer.  Digital copies featuring an extra track are available for download here.

The EP is a jangle jellybean covered in a thick coating of 80s wistfulness with lo-fi granules. There’s a nod to British Mod and a subtle, fake English accent wriggling within the tracks.  It is light in weight and bright in color, emphasized in the glittering guitar and synth breaks in “You Don’t Want To Live Like That” and upbeat pulse of “Imaginary Day”.

The playful, sunny melodies at times contrast dark and morose lyrics. “Dancing With A Whole In Your Heart” tells the story of a recluse “melting away every afternoon”, whose friends gave up on him and resulted to spreading embarrassing gossip behind his back.  “Imaginary Day” touches on a former love and the bleeding of reality and a dream, the singer noting “the look in your eyes makes me think of a tragedy” and “I always seem to fall apart in dreams”.

The dichotomy between the EP’s lyrics and music illustrate the depth and creative imaginations of Art Museums’ Josh Alper and Glenn Donaldson.  DANCING EP is old school pop on point, bouncing and bubbly yet emotional and dark.

Art Museums is set to play at the Woodsist Fest with Sun Araw, Ducktails, Real Estate and more in Big Sur July 30  & 31.  Check out the video for “Dancing With A Hole In Your Heart” and listen to DANCING EP below.

Old Arc

Posted in Cruz Music with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2011 by jazner

A SHOULDER PAD encrusted with a shattered disco ball reflects random lightbeams upon a darkened crowd.  Cloaks and tribal war paint mask the machine tamperers twisting and transforming, sampling and scrambling sounds stashed within the duo’s digital quiver.  Electro crinkles and unctuous bass slather ears with a smarmy lather of left-field funk that feels like a stroll through a wily industrial district in the cuts of a gargantuan metropolitan amoeba.

Creeping closer to the sounds, two psychedelic cyborgs, Stefen Lazer and Austin Wood, materialize and give way to the experimental Santa Cruz group Old Arc.

Old Arc’s aesthetic has a past’s future element to it, like a 1950s conception of a near future world with Forbidden Planet-like space traveling technologies and tomorrowlands filled with robots, and a darkened, industrial cyberpunk shade like a scene out of Blade Runner.  There is an off-kilter Xiu Xiu aspect as well, with forlorn and imploring vocal intensity overlaying multi-angular mechanical beats.

“We had an idea behind our music that conveyed an image of psychedelic space & 60s-70s funk,” Old Arc writes to jazner.  “A post apocalyptic future where funk is the key to survival.”

Nothing provides the funk sustenance to survive more than the track “Merchant Cross” off the Old Arc EP, available at the crew’s Bandcamp and below.  The bass is so plump and juicy, skiddling throughout the track and leaving a wake of wonk.  The synth brings a blurry, upbeat melancholy vibe, like a broken heart about to be mended with a new love.  And Stefen’s vocals tie it all together, belting lines like “You best believe me, honey / I’ve got diseases, honey” that puts the cherry on top of this weird and addictive tune.

“We spend a lot of time manipulating samples,” the group divulges.  “The bass in ‘Merchant Cross’ is one of them. We would love to eventually have a live bassist pull it off but as of now we have a midi controller for the sampling.”

Backing Old Arc is the Santa Cruz artist collective and label UFOLK Records, which also represents Blackbird Blackbird, Sun Glitters, as well as Austin and Stefen’s side projects, Atlantic At Pacific and Baromet, respectively.  Art, friendship, and creativity are the main principles of the UFOLK organism.  UFOLK is invested in the DIY philosophy, devoting time into creating handcrafted Sacajawea-like jewel cases, abstract cover art and CD-Rs on a small scale that requires first hand concert experience and befriending this inviting community to become exposed to their bountiful gifts.  Old Arc was kind enough to give jazner a copy of one of these gifts, a copy of their Blue CD at a gig opening for DOM, with beat blazing Tracks 5 and 7 running the show.

Old Arc is primed to reach the apex of its curve, bubbling in the underground with shows in San Francisco and Santa Cruz building a larger following.  Check out the Old Arc EP and UFOLK Records for an off-the-map trek, both in terms of business and musical conventionality, to the outer regions of spaciness.

Old Arc EP