Thursday, September 30, 2010

Jamie XX releases solo single

Fanboys rejoice. Although not a proper release from the much hyped The xx,  their drummer, appropriately named Jamie xx, has released his first solo single.  Featuring a steel drum lead over some shuffling drums, the track seems to come from a pretty genuine place, rather than some opportunistic cash-in.

Entitled Far Nearer, the release features the pitch shifted vocals that are all the craze among Brit beat makers these days.  Insistent without pounding, relaxed without being breezy, the track suggests a promising future for Jamie xx if the whole indie-darling-come-international-popstar thing doesn't exactly pan out.

Also, download a mix he did for French fashion label Collete over here

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Download Duck Sauce - Barbra Streisand

Armand Van Helden and A-Track collaborate on another lighthearted tribute to New York.  The awesomely titled duo—Duck Sauce—shout out Barbra Streisand on this catchy dance floor track.  While Streisand may seem an unlikely recipient of such praises, as any vinyl enthusiasts can attest, her records are a staple of used record stores all around the city.  Whether that is a testament to how good or bad her actual music is seems irrelevant.  Her records have become a constant reminder of old New York in an era when DJs mine those times for modern cultural relevance.

The video—an endlessly silly take on the New York party scene—features more talented artists than I care to name, but will anyway: ?uestlove, Todd Terry, Santigold, Biz Markie, Smif n Wessun, Fafi, Just Blaze, Dj Mehdi, Buckshot, DJPremier, Ezra Koenig, Kanye West, Pharrell William, Diplo, DJ Premier.

Its always nice to see DJs make music just because its so goddam fun to do.

Download the track here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Four Tet - Nothing to See

Ever since Four Tet grew out of his bedroom studio's polite, jazzy explorations and got all techno on our asses, I've had precious little quality music of his to hold on to.  For a while it was unclear why he ditched the sound he helped create (and was clearly so good at making) in favor of more club centric music.

It seemed he had been making his older music in the vacuum of his apartment, and when he finally looked and up realized that his fan-base was largely made up of electronic music fans, decided to explore their world a little further.  His first few steps haven't been stellar—this years lukewarm There is Love in You, along with a string of underwhelming remixesbut Kieran Hebden seems to have grown into his own as a club music producer.

Off a fairly recent release with fellow producer Mala, the track Nothing to See finds Four Tet bridging the gap between his older productions and his new ones.  Whereas his newer material has been clean and minimalist in approach, this track hearkens back to his earlier days of messy jazzy abandon.  However not without updates.  Nothing to See is undoubtedly jazzy, but not free-formHebden's time as DJ has taught him to focus his impulses and tailor them to the dance floor.

The result sounds like Theo Parish's Falling Up meeting the Junior Boys at Pantha Du Princes house for dinner, or, er, something.  Cheers all around.

Breach - Fatherless

Electronic dance music is unique among popular musics in that it's output is largely instrumental.  When lyrics do appear, they are usually functional call outs to get the party started, or create a mood.  Aside from Matthew Dear's outings under his own name I'm finding it difficult to point to an artist who incorporates lyrics into their music for anything aside from rhythmic utility or dramatic effect.

One of the few consistent avenues for literal communication with the listener has been song titles.  It seems like the more minimal a piece of music is, the more thought is given to its name.  Take for example, Regis's late 90s techno masterpiece Delivered into the Hands of Indifference, a stark record to be sure, but one that was given a hefty political undertone thanks to its poetic title.

So it is no small statement when an artist like Breach entitles his latest track "Fatherless."  The brooding, angry track stomps about, wildly searching here and there, seemingly lost among the flutes.  If a picture can tell a thousand words, how many words fit on a 12"?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lil B is a Dangerous Mind

Every so often something comes along that throws into question everything you've been listening to for a while.  Funny how I had convinced myself that Drake and Co. represented some kind of resurgence of quality rap.  This track by Lil B is a quantum leap for rap music.  Its new and unusual but undoubtedly organic.  Its futuristic only insofar as its pretty much unprecedented.  None of the stark futurism or intellectual posturing that characterized the underground hip-hop of the turn of the century can be found here.  Its as though that phase in rap music was the necessary evil that broke down conventions so that a track like this could come in a rebuild them anew. 

I haven't heard rap music this unselfconsciously vulnerable since an 18 year old Dizzee Rascal released Boy in Da Corner.  This isn't vulnerability in the vein of Kanye West.  Kanye's troubles are simplistic and uncomfortably juinor-high.  Today's squeamish, contrived, R&B-drama inflected "confessional" (think Kid Cudi) finds no audience in this track.

Lil B's stream of conscious flow is lyrically dense and stylistically fresh, hopping from topic to topic with ease. The first 30 seconds are spent waiting for the beat to kick in, and by the time the fifth minutes passed your happy it hasn't.

Machinedrum does The World Famous Show Mixtape

Machinedrum continues his acrobatic genre shifts on his new mix for LuckyMe. More than any other artist out now, Machinedrum represents a chameleon-like approach to production.  Where other artists attempt to don 20 different hats within one song—often sounding messy or stylistically awkward—Machinedrum keeps things streamlined per track, exploring an entire genre via one well executed track.  His tracks are varied and schizophrenic when compared to one another while remaining internally coherent.

This mix starts with an emphasis old school Hip Hop, laying down tracks that have been sampled until infinity.  If these tracks are familiar to you because of Nas and Maria Carey then you need to get up on your Hip Hop game, and this is the perfect opportunity.  This isn’t tongue in check or nostalgia driven.  Machinedrum knows the deal and he sounds eager to share with the public an era that has proven endlessly influential to the producers of the 1990s and DJs of the post-2000 electronic music explosion.

Download the mix here

Also, check out Machinedrum rehearsing for a live show on a kitchen counter in Brooklyn.

Machinedrum RAW from machinedrum on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Deep house, actually.

In the world of electronic music, artists seem to largely be treading the same water these days.  With the explosion of talent splattered across the internet media machine, if one were only to read about, without listening to, the music that is being released at breakneck speed, they would surely assume that these were the most important and fruitful times in music production history.  After all, when each hyped release is delivered with the adjectives revolutionary and mind-blowing standard, how could one reach any other conclusion?

Clearly there is has been a disconnect somewhere between quality music production and relevant music criticism.  Online magazines eager to break the next Burial, or Flying Lotus—each of whom represented major Events (capital E) in the progression of music in the 21st century—greet each new artist as the forebear of some great new genre.  New genres are invented around artists who are largely unimportant.

The modern incarnation of Deep House is one such example.  A few DJs started rehashing old styles, that fell out of fashion somewhere in the late 90s and people loved it.  The talking heads rejoiced and Deep House was brought back from the dead.  Not in the rebirth sense or the awesome zombie sense, but rather in the somewhat disrespectful Weekend and Bernies sense.  Critics and DJs alike parading around an old, powerful force of nature so that they can seem important and part of the in-the-know.

The same thing happened last year with disco edits.

And the point is, these records weren't dusty recollections of themselves when they came out.  If you are an artist and you like something, great! Go ahead, be inspired, take cues from your influences and make your own music.  Don't steal a genres most basic signifiers (which mean exactly NOTHING out of their given context) and slather them in artificial laptop static and call them purist Deep House.  Go out and make a record that is actually deep, soulful and sexy.

James Teej's track Get Off the Phone did exactly that.  It may be a throwback in vibe but in execution it is anything but.  The clipped male vocals and the careful production flourishes are the sound of an artist taking full advantage of a 21st century studio.  The result isn't stale or derivative or masturbatory, but straight up angst ridden, sexual (and most importantly) modern dance music.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Creating Black City

Matthew Dear's landmark new album Black City, the twisted piece of pop genius that it is, has yielded its first video.  Less a music video by the numbers, and more a making of, the video explores an artist crafting the cold shapes that made up the album's art work.  The song Monkey blares in the background as the artist meticulously casts the pieces.  As the track gets more and more unhinged, the sharp metallic pieces come into their own.  The "I can be your monkey" refrain repeats itself as the synths become increasingly insistent in their maniacally childish manner and then all we are left with is Matthew Dear's name on black.

Matthew Dear - MDBC Totem from Ghostly International on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Robert Hood gets interviewed

Robert Hood, considered by many the father of minimal techno, gives an in depth interview with a local Detroit radio station.  While minimal techno is considered by many to be functional, repetitive club music, given the context that surrounds it, Hood's latest release on his M-Plant lable, Omega takes on a spiritual and political depth that most overblown anthems tend to only heavy-handedly grapple with.  What might seem like nihilistic, if sinful music to some seems to come from a genuinely religious place in Robert Hood.

Hood disucesses his middle-class upbringing in Detroit, chronicling his youth going to basement parties and listening to black and white artists playing side by side on the radio.  He goes on to describe the experience of having his city literally collapse all around him.  Starting with the crack epidemic, on through the disintegration of the job market, Hood interestingly points out that as many parts of the country were experiencing increased growth and opportunity, Detroit has grown increasingly segregated.

It is not surprising, then, that Hood's latest release draws its inspiration from the early 1970s film The Omega Man, staring Charlton Heston—a mediation on loneliness and faith in the face of absolute decimation.  Based on the 1950s novel I am Legend, the film confronts day-to-day life in post-apocalyptic reality.  The parallels are everywhere, and with song titles like "Are You God?" and "The Plague (Cleansing Maneuvers)" this is not your typical club record.

Expertly crafted and lovingly curated this is the sound of a devout man intent on spreading his message the only way he knows how—through the sound-system.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Big Boi: "You Ain't No DJ" [ft. Yelawolf]

The continually slept on Big Boi album, Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, has yielded another single.  Criminally underrated and largely overlooked, this album has already bestowed upon us three huge singles.  Will this be the one to blow up? Probably not.  Looks like that ship has sailed. 

Oh well.  For your viewing pleasure:

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