Articles

  • Venetian Snares: rossz csillag allat szuletett

    26 oct. 2006, 2h45m

    So I've been addicted to this Venetian Snaresalbum recently called "rossz csillag allat szuletett." A stunningly beautiful album, ranging across a spectrum of sounds, from classical string quartet compositions to psyched-out sound experiments to the signature Venetian Snares hyper-speed drum & bass unpredictability fests. For all this versatility, however, the whole album is thematically based around that aforementioned string quartet-style sound and, unlike a lot of IDM albums, plays like a true album. By that i mean it plays like a cohesive whole, in the manner of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon or any of Radiohead's best.

    The thing I can't help keep thinking about while listening to this album is just how amazing it would be to see it performed live, with a full orchestra, including a host of instrumentalist, a collage of percussionists to reproduce those drum & bass riffs, a vocalist or two, and a couple of people on laptops or harware boards to throw in the necessary effects. Man, that would be stunning.
  • a submission for your criticalism...

    29 août 2006, 23h27m

    http://www.megaupload.com/?d=SXBQEYH6

    A track called "Address" by yours truly. Made a while back now, but one I'm a little more proud of. the aim is glitch derived entirely from samples. hopefully both a fun and an interesting listen. tell me what you think.
  • Review of Mr. Lif's Mo' Mega

    3 jui. 2006, 23h19m

    Mr. Lif
    Mo’ Mega
    (Definitive Jux)

    Have you ever returned to a restaurant to eat the same thing you got last time cause it was so damn good but when the dish gets to the table you find out the chef has tried to spin the exact same meal in a completely different way and while some of the changes are improvements, others are flat-out disappointments?

    That’s the way I feel about Boston native Mr. Lif’s new album. With Mo’ Mega, Lif continues to carry the political rap torch (Molotov cocktail?) with every bit of energy that he had on his debut full-length (I Phantom) and in his work with The Perceptionists. Early in the disc, “Ultra Mega” exposes consumerist impulses and their origins in an explosive manner only Mr. Lif could manage, while on “Brothaz”, he lays out his views on the state of black America and those who oppress it. The serious and fiery tone continues for a couple more tracks before Murs appears for the upbeat and danceable “Murs Iz My Manager.” Shortly thereafter, “Long Distance” is the kind of sex anthem only Lif would create: what other rapper would praise the type of hard and raunchy sex that prolonged absence from a monogamous partner instigates? The album finishes up on tones alternatingly political and sentimental, two things this MC does better than most others out there, whether mainstream or underground.

    Here’s the hitch: Lif’s been incubating in the Definitive Jux workshop for about 6 years now, and with Mo’ Mega, his flow has clearly been affected by the influence of label mates El-P and Aesop Rock. He’s now got that Def Jux off-measure ramble on the breath, and it’s hard to tell whether or not that’s an improvement, seeing as his flow was pretty fat to begin with. It makes the grade, that is until he invites El-P and Aesop onto “Take, Hold, Fire,” and we see that Lif just can’t really stand beside the two who long ago mastered the style. It’s always nice to see an artist trying new things, but not when it’s something that other people are clearly better at. There are exceptions, of course: he works the technique perfectly on “Ultra Mega.” But it’s when Lif reverts his flow back to what he knows on tracks like the introspective “For You” that the rhymes really shine.

    El-P produces most of the album, and while he’s garnished tracks like “Take, Hold, Fire” and “Ultra Mega” with beats worthy of anything off of Fantastic Damage, he seriously cramps Mr. Lif’s style when his attempts at new sounds on tracks like “Fries” and opener “Collapse” fall flat on their face. Surprisingly, it’s Lif’s own production on “Murs is My Manager” that illuminates the middle of the album with some light-hearted funk.

    Even if the album has its peaks and valleys, the songs are lined up in an order that makes for a great listen from beginning to end. Hence, the album will be sitting on my playlist in full for a while to come so I can soak up everything that my favourite political commentator has to say.


    ...that's my two cents. Whuddayou think?
  • Thoughts on The Streets's new album

    15 mai 2006, 6h05m

    Maybe it's because my personal expectations from music have changed over the last few years, or maybe it's just that the novelty of surprising lyrics and low production quality wears off after two albums, but I just can't get in to The Streets's new album, The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living nearly as much as Mike Skinner's last two outputs.

    Not that Mike hasn't grown at all; the production on this album is generally fuller and a little more multi-leveled than on the previous two, and the sentiments expressed on such tracks as Never Went to Church are a little more mature. And the whole idea behind "Hotel Expressionism" is witty enough (the title uses Jackson Pollock (et al)'s technique as a metaphor for the destruction on-tour partiers can wreak on hotel rooms). Can't Con an Honest Jon is also amusing.

    But most of the stories, ideas, etc. on the new album seem to be miles away from rivalling the witticisms and comentaries of tracks like Geezers Need Excitement and Don't Mug Yourself off Original Pirate Material and the intrigue behind the highly personal if not inane story told throughout A Grand Don't Come for Free. I'm searching for something that grabs me in the new album the way the last two did, but I just can't quite find it.

    The production's decent. I'm glad Mike's continued to up the quality and complexity bit by bit from album to album, while maintaining a largely raw, synthesized sound and beats that continue to dance around that 2-step core. He's thrown some bling-style hiphop and crunk influences into a couple of tracks, and that certainly grabs me without repelling me the way that the lyrics of that sort of music often does.

    But all in all, there's something missing from the new album that'll make me continue to listen to the first 2 while I expect to toss this one out the window after another listen or two.

    What do you think of The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living?
  • You Say Party! We Say Die! at the Lamplighter, April 15th, 2006

    16 avr. 2006, 22h23m

    Vancouver rock crowds tend to be really fucking dull and pretentious. They like to stand with their arms crossed and scowl at bands, even the ones they really like. The last time I saw You Say Party! We Say Die! was when they opened for Pretty Girls Make Graves back in December, and everyone stood around on the dance floor with their arms crossed, scowling. Even when one of the guitarists jumped into the crowd to introduce the dance move that goes along to He She You Me They We Us OK!, only five or six members of the self-conscious crowd went along with it.

    Last night at the Lamplighter, thank goodness, this was not the case. YSP!WSD! brought their brand of raucous, catchy and highly danceable synth-infused punk to the stage, and everywhere in the club you looked, people were busting a move. And on the dance floor, there was a riotous and boisterous mosh pit, truly a feat for a Vancouver bar show. People yelled along with the lyrics, especially the firey The Gap (between the rich and the poor).

    One of the major culprits in the pit was the lead singer of Fun 100, the first opener of the evening, who jumped in there with a pillow on his head and proceeded to bash into people as he dance around like a blind (and sonar-less) bat. Earlier in the evening, his band had started the night off right with some truly unruly stage antics, including on-stage somersaults and hanging mic stand from the ceiling.

    The second opener was Cadeaux, who really impressed me with their tight and competent musicianship. They reminded me a lot of Pretty Girls Make Graves, with two female singers, a fast pace and varied and complex rhythms and melodies. I'd really like to hear them on CD.

    When it was all said and done, I came out of there with a big fat smile on my face and sweat on my forehead, marks of an excellent show. I can't wait to see YSP!WSD! again.
  • Politics in Music

    13 avr. 2006, 21h05m

    Ever since I listened to Killing in the Name by Rage Against the Machine back when I was about 15, I've been attracted magnetically to music with something to say. Music that confronts the listener, challenges their political paradigms, rallies people to a cause and/or just plain makes a person think is inherently more powerful and worthwhile than music with nothing to push on people other than celebration of hedonism and aimless negativity. Not that a little hedonism or negativity now and then isn't entirely enjoyable, (and personnally, I do listen to a lot of music that doesn't reference the real world at all) but music which eschews fluffy subject matter in preference for a progressive cause is a more worthwhile use of the platform.

    Always in search for this sort of music, I've decided to make a list of a few current bands/artists that I know of that fit the criteria and to solicit from y'all recommendations on any you might know. Here's my list:

    M.I.A.:
    Man, she makes some seriously hopping beats. It's unfortunate that some people who listen to her stuff completely miss the radically political lyrics. Some of the tracks reference issues like immigration and commodified immgrant sexuality. Slightly more poignant for a wider audience, however, tracks like Sunshine and Pull Up the People heroize terrorists, an incredibly controversial initiative which forces the listener to consider the psychology and making of a terrorist. This suggests an approach to terrorism which is more considerate of the fact that the terrorized always have some degree of fault in the creation of their terrorist.

    Non-Phixion:
    Gangsta communists, whut?? Heh. Sometimes I'm a little dubious of these guys' politics. But it seems like they draw some sort of equivalence between that "street entrepreneurialism" that KRS-1 talks about and a sort of off-the-grid anarcho-communism. And THAT's a pretty radical idea, you gotta admit. Lyrics about killing the president and tracks like "The C.I.A. is Trying to Kill Me" are also pretty... controversial.

    Godspeed You! Black Emperor:
    Obviously, Lyrics are a pretty minor part of this enigmatic band's music, and the politics mostly lie within the music. The wikipedia article on the band says they're mostly anarchists, but I've never found this substantiated anywhere else. Still, there definitely is a political element to the music, which through its very tone conveys an impression of naive and hopeless yearning for a better day in the midst of a world with so many problems. Also, the way in which they distribute their albums and encourage the pirating of their live shows goes against most ideas about music copyright laws.

    Food For Animals:
    Not everything MC Vulture Voltaire spits is political or even sensible, but on their first ep, Scavengers, he takes blingin MCs to task and expresses volubly his hate for George Bush. Plus, Ricky Rabbit's production is so wild as to create a veritable avant-garde status, if you're into that sort of thing.

    Gogol Bordello:
    Bringin a Roma (gypsy) voice to a wider audience through their own brand of "Gypsy Punk," these guys advocate "cultural revolution" and bemoan "a power machine that crushes you and strangles you right in your sleep" with some seriously fun music. not particularly insightful, but powerful and enjoyable.

    You Say Party! We Say Die!
    More than simply the trendies they're sometimes made out to be, vancouver's YSP!WSD!'s got some lyrics worthy of inciting a riot.

    DJ DangerMouse:
    I haven't heard or read any words come out of this man's mouth so I can't be sure of his intentions, but "The Grey Album" was, intentionally or not, a direct challenge to music copyright laws. And that track "Bush Boys" on his album with Jemini was a chilling indictment of the neo-con Bush administration. (including the lyric-less DM-produced epilogue of the song)

    Anyway, there's lots more, and I'm sure there're a ton with more insightful things to say than many of the people I've noted above. If you know of any, please tell me! And have a good day.
  • Gnarls Barkely burns up the charts, and how does that make me feel?

    6 avr. 2006, 20h14m

    So DJ Dangermouse has made a new album with the soul-, etc.-singer Cee-Lo, and if you haven't heard the ep that's been leaked on the internet, you should check it out: Gnarls Barkley. D-d-d-dope, i say.

    Now, I'm a pretty big fan of producer Dangermouse's work. He blew everyone away a couple years back with his Grey Album, which mixed The Beatles' White Album with Jay-Z's The Black Album. It proved that, technologically, a good producer can make a fat, glitchy beat out of just about anything. It also directly challenged outdated music copyright laws and paradigms(I think there's still a pending case against him, even though he never sold a single copy, just distrubuted them for free).

    He's done some other work since, including last year's DANGERDOOM album with MF Doom, which proved his virtuosity as an innovative underground hiphop producer.

    Now he's got this album (ep right now) with Cee-Lo, and he's blown us (me) away again with his wide range, from soul-pop beats on tracks like "basically" to the new-wavish retro production on the Violent Femmes cover "Gone Daddy Gone". Also, he's left his indelible mark on most of the tracks with his glitchy drums and slickly-overlayed samples. My personal favorite track has gotta be "suicide", where Cee-lo spins a tortured tale of depression and self-torment which DangerMouse underlays with latin guitars and a satisfyingly unpredictable in-and-out collage of heavy and distorted drums.

    Cee-lo's great throughout. A fantastic voice with a huge range and variety, and compelling lyrics.

    Now, if you haven't heard, the first single "Crazy" is already number one on the UK pop charts. Not my favorite, but only because I'm partial to Dangermouse's production and this track doesn't show it off half as much as it does cee-lo's voice. And Cee-lo is great on it. Fantastic voice, great lyrics. It's an infectious track. I don't wanna belittle that.

    But somehow I feel cheated. As much as i like to think "I don't care if the music I like is popular, as long as it's good", I still somehow feel disappointed that this album is gonna be so damn popular when it comes out (and indeed, already is). Is it really stupid of me to feel this way? Probably.

    Maybe it's cause "crazy" doesn't show off what I personnally feel are the strengths of this album: DM's innovative aesthetic (eg. willingness to show the glitchy truth behind his computer production) and counter-status quo background (eg. The Grey Album). I suppose I should just be happy that more people will be exposed to all this.

    After all, I don't want to be jealous of other people listening to my music and disappointed when it loses its "underground" status, do I? Be happy for DM and Cee-lo, I tell myself. Be happy for all the people who are gonna love this album! You're being stupid!

    Still, somehow I can't quite console myself...
  • Seen any of these bands live?

    11 mars 2006, 11h01m

    Some of the acts I'm thinking about seeing live over the next coupla months:

    March 11: Bend Sinister
    March 14: Electric Six (?)
    March 24: Art Brut, if someone recommends their live show...
    MArch 29: We Are Scientists
    April 5: Pink Mountaintops - to see their openers, Frog Eyes
    April 9: Fall out boy (I'm Joking!!!)
    April 16: Jamie Lidell w\ Jimmy Edgar
    April 22: The Books!!!
    April 24: Yeah Yeah Yeahs

    Any of you seen any of these bands live and wish to acclaim or slander their live show? I can't see EVERY one, after all! ($$$)
  • The drunken marching band

    9 mars 2006, 5h45m

    Fuck Kris Kross. They Shoot Horses, Don't They is gonna make you jump!

    They're like a very, very drunken marching band, complete with rolling drums and multiple horns (8 pieces in total). The guitars and keys are slightly off-tune and distorted. The singer sings kinda like that guy from Wolf Parade with a little early Modest Mouse-style yelliness.

    The results are joyful yet slightly dark and very high pace. just makes you wanna jump around!!

    I'm really pissed because they're from Vancouver and I'm just discovering them now, when they're off on tour. I can't wait til they're back in April so I can see em live! In the meantime, I'll be putting this on whenever I need a pick me up!
  • ipod Iching

    8 mars 2006, 10h25m

    I hate being linked to these, so I'm not gonna add connections to anything, but...
    What can I say? i did this and it comes up with such great results!

    "Go to the music player of your choice and put it on shuffle. Say the following questions aloud and press play. Use the song titles as your answers. NO CHEATING!"

    How does the world see me?
    Song: Twenty-Three
    Artist: Four Tet
    Comments: :well, that is my age...

    Will I have a happy life?
    Song: World's Greatest Concertos
    Artist: Frog Eyes
    Comments: Sounds fun!

    What do my friends really think of me?
    Song: Giga Dance
    Artist: Deerhoof
    Comments: Well, I do know how to tear up a dance floor.

    Do people secretly lust after me?
    Song: Wireless Fantasy
    Artist: Vladimir Ussachevsky
    Comments: I knew it! All of you are hiding your wireless-internet daydreams of my sultry good looks!

    How can I make myself happy?
    Song: Walkie Talkie
    Artist: Dj Shadow
    Comments: Well, they are fun toys...

    What should I do with my life?
    Song: Lyrical Cougel
    Artist: Them
    Comments: I have absolutely no clue what a "cougel" means, from a google search it appears to be a family name. maybe I should start rapping AND change my name... (I'm reaching)

    Why should life be full of so much pain?
    Song: Summer: Ghosts
    Artist: Clint Mansell and Kronos Quartet
    Comments: Spooky

    How can I maximize my pleasure during sex?
    Song: Flashflood
    Artist: Aesop Rock
    Comments: !!...!!!! what does THAT mean?!?!

    Will I ever have children?
    Song: Nimrod's Son
    Artist: Pixies
    Comments: Ummm... is that referring to me, or my son? Am I supposed to be a nimrod?

    Will I die happy?
    Song: Violent
    Artist: The Faint
    Comments: I'm serious: it actually gave that answer. Can you believe that?

    What is some good advice for me?
    Song: Call 1-800-fear
    Artist: Lali Puna
    Comments: Ipod, you're spookin me out - but I'll try it anyways......There was a busy signal. Damn. I'll try again tomorrow.

    What is happiness?
    Song: Haunted Feelings
    Artist: Rahsaan Roland Kirk
    Comments: Once again - Spoooooky.

    What is my favourite fetish?
    Song: The Anomaly
    Artist: Asterisk
    Comments: Shhhhh! Don't tell anyone!

    How will I be remembered?
    Song: Heroin And Cocaine
    Artist: Hang on the Box
    Comments: !!! Fuck! Well, I guess I'd better get working on that, cause if that's all I'm gonna be remembered for, I'm gonna have to SERIOUSLY upgrade my intake of said substances in order to outdo Kurt Cobain, etc. in notoriety! My weekend plans are chosen!