♪ “Blessing It (Remix)”
by Nujabes, featuring Substantial and Pase Rock, on Metaphorical Music.
I still like DJ Krush a bit more, but this track is a feel-good, jazzy, mellow hip hop classic!
The 180-Gs180 D'Gs to the Future!
Doo-wop covers of Negativland tracks — and they sing the samples out loud too of course!
You might need to be familiar with the originals — at least listen to Escape From Noise and read about Helter Stupid.
♪ U2 – “I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For”
♪ Negativland (feat. Casey Kasem) – “I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For”
♪ The 180-Gs – “I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For”
is both amazing and hilarious — the 180 Gs' take is just as funny as the Negativland one, but for different reasons. And the a capella chorus singing “Christianity is stupid! Communism is good!” (originally a sample taken out of context) is surreal.
(“Car Bomb” is as much of a dud as the original though.)
A collaboration between Andrew McKenzie a.k.a. The Hafler Trio (!), Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson a.k.a. HÖH and Einar Örn (who was in Björk's first band The Sugarcubes). Strange ambient weirdness and catchy psychedelic beats; imagine something like Nurse With Wound's most rhythmic tracks, but with more “second summer of love” vibes. I never imagined a Hafler Trio-related record could be danceable!
First released in 1993 as a “bootleg” (was it actually one?) — this may or may not be the first authorized release. Also Mr. McKenzie won't let you stream it, you have to buy it first. It's worth it though.
I can't put my finger on why I like this so much, but I think the voice is an important aspect of it. It's like a character being introduced, sounds more like voice acting than spoken word. Most of the music is abstract, instrumental soundscapes, but that presence still lingers and is one of the reasons why I come back to it.
Better known as his self-titled, with a more serious looking cover art. Another really good spiritual jazz album, with a funny “fusion / world music” vibe; check out finulanu's review, he describes this a lot better than I could!
A series of quiet miniature pieces — textures, shadows, traces, subtle colours —, each one mysterious and rewarding attentive listening. Definitely lowercase, but a few more traditional elements (instruments, melodies) are included too.
This one is funny! And catchy too. It's downtempo house feat. a yoga instructor encouraging the listener to imagine being a tree. It's also the only track the band released (two of them would later found Âme Strong S.A., the other two Alëem).
Also one of the last tracks posted on the now defunct Beau Mot Plage group, I'll miss that. One less reason for me to use Facebook (I might as well delete my account now, honestly).
Move D & Pete NamlookXVI: Travelling the Silk Route
As chill and catchy as you'd expect from these two. Recommended if you like downtempo, house, ambient techno, things like that.
… the extended remix, which isn't just longer but includes a chilling break that changes the mood a lot, if only for a while. Anyway, timeless classic.
Burkhard Schlothauer, by Eva-Maria HoubenAbregistrieren
Like watching a beautiful giant tree evolve, very slowly, with the passing seasons. The slight changes in the organ drone only make it sound more vibrant and alive.
But what makes this album different than a simple drone one is the very long coda. The sound weakens almost imperceptibly at first, but gradually becomes colder, ghostlier, turning into a mere breath before fading to nothingness. I don't want to say it sounds like slow death, but it does — a natural death. Autumn fading into winter, leaves falling, the trunk becoming drier and hollow.
Walks in the city, punctuated and embellished by sparse musical performances; drawing attention to the city sounds, their characters and musicality. Flutes bringing peace and slowness to the frantic pace of traffic, strings evoking a very detailed movie scene with no protagonist, slow melancholic saxophones contrasting with the excitement of the people a few metres away… Sometimes I wasn't sure whether a particular sound was intentionally played or simply happened there. Poetic and beautiful.
(I usually like to listen to field recordings on speakers, but try this one with headphones — you'll hear more details, in a different way. It might sound a bit too sparse and minimal on speakers.)
“[A] mostly experimental, mostly instrumental mix that in [the artist's] mind announces movement into the fall and winter months”, from contemporary drone/classical to old recordings of medieval and folk songs. It's more of a compilation than a mix; introspective, mysterious too (something about hearing a very old recording of a song you've never heard in a language you don't speak).
Mae Borowski is the best video game protagonist! Or at least one of the only relatable ones I can think of.
The game is everyday life with some supernatural horror thriller events, it's a cool game that could have been a cool comic too.
I was terrible at playing bass for the entire game — somehow I thought beating Elite Beat Agents on hard rock mode years ago might have helped a bit, but probably not! It's okay though. Failing at most things and succeeding at a few is more life-like than video games are. Right?
Dystopian sci-fi, with people who can sense, cause or stop movements in the earth — and are ostracized for it. Also a mysterious race of stone people.
Some passages are really harsh but they all ring true — a lot of this is about social and psychological dynamics, which makes nearly every other sci-fi I've read seem childish by contrast. (And you can tell the author had to face things most others weren't confronted to.) I love how the villain (if there is such a thing as a real villain here) sometimes seems like an ambivalent character and sometimes like an absolutely horrible and terrifying person, even though he always acts in the same way. And how one of the good characters kills dozens of characters and wants to destroy the world. Every character is interesting, the narration is very vivid, it's thrilling, there's a lot of food for thought in there too. Can't fault it for anything, or barely. I'm really impressed.
Pleasantly strange half-ambient electronic music. Multicoloured, translucent alien creatures dancing in a semi-liquid atmosphere, bleep boop beep bloop.
Punchier than the other Workshop records I have — but still pretty chilled out and dreamy, close to a breakbeat Ludwig A.F. Röhrscheid. The A-side tracks are really good — the B side is more forgettable.
… And I had never heard folk like this before. Electronic details in dark, distorted backgrounds, ethereal songs about empowerment and metamorphosis and ?? I don't really have the proper worlds to define this. Picture a dark futuristic fantasy world and one of the creatures there singing folk.
And/or: folk for people who like bass music/industrial glitch and electroacoustic.
A collection of short stories in different styles, each one ending in the family member's death — sometimes realistic, sometimes not at all. Is this about life? Storytelling? Art? Maybe all of these. In concept, it's close to Gabriel Bá and Fabio Moon's comic Daytripper (also very good). It seems to be about death when it's really all about life.
(I find that people — or at least many people in Western countries — have a weird way of thinking about death. Like, fearing it so much that they either think about it too much or not at all. As if it's both unthinkable and the worst thing in the world, and the worst thing in the world but also going to heaven at the same time and… what? But no death at all would be unthinkable for human souls. Thinking of “the curse” in the context of the game might make sense in this way — if the only “curse” is dying, then maybe all humans are “cursed”, but it's only a curse if you think about it as such. And it's about all humanity, not a particular family. Anyway,)
Lewis's story was my favourite here (and the most relatable maybe). I think I liked The Unfinished Swan even more — much lighter in mood and more minimal in style, in fact it was an interactive children's book. Both were good; I hope Giant Sparrow will keep releasing games.
I think this album could sound simply weird to some people and extremely dark to others; I'm not familiar with the other artists but I can definitely hear Brume is involved here. The album may not be industrial, but it feels industrial or influenced by it.
Soundscapes, then. Few sounds here should be taken literally — the recording of a religious song in the second track definitely shouldn't. (Perversely, it's the most easily memorable thing here. The only conventional music seems included for its meaning and not musical qualities.)
I think the only straightforward passages on Stereoisomerism are the drum and bass outbursts — and I love that there's drum and bass on an album like this!
The first couple songs hit hard: “Iron Moon” and “Dragged Out” are really catchy and need to be played loud — the tracks afterwards are much less direct, more introspective, an exploration of black hearts and melancholy.
A novel without a plot (and without any named characters), an exploration of traditional China in eighty chapters — fragments, mostly realistic but I got a dreamlike impression from them. It's the kind of book that appeals to the reader's imagination instead of just challenging their attention and ability to follow, so it reminded me a bit of Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities; you can get lost trying to find the Soul Mountain, but you'll still find your way.
CW: Some of the stories told are harsh — violent, unfair, especially against women. I suppose small, traditional societies aren't good places to live in for the most part. So while my overall impression was one of freedom and wonder, there are some unpleasantly harsh notes too.
DJ VadimU.S.S.R. Repertoire (The Theory of Verticality)
Excellent instrumental hip hop — some classic beats, nocturnal and instantly catchy, with vinyl surface noise (you know the sound), but there's also mystery and experimentation here. At 26 tracks, this changes all the time, I'd expect it to sound like a rollercoaster but it doesn't — the chilled out beats are still chilled out, there's just a lot of weirdness around them.
One of my favourite ambient bands lately — they go from space ambient to tribal ambient, sometimes dark, sometimes soothing and nice. I've heard four or five albums by them and they're all really good.
This one is tribal ambient but quite intense, almost outside the boundaries of the genre — ominous throbbing, fast drums, shrill sounds, dissonance. It's the second album in the “Dante trilogy” and it does sound rather hellish.
I love the Ode label — all anonymous records in different colours, microhouse/deep house, two 10-minute tracks per record — many have an instrumental A-side and a B-side based on a song:
#A9E4FF: Everything but the Girl “Wrong” (very close to the original, it's basically an edit) #FF0099: Laurie Anderson “O Superman” #FF0266: Bombast Broz “Comin' from the Heart” #000000: William BasinskiWatermusic
I don't know what the best release is yet, I haven't listened to all of them, but I intend to! This light blue one and the orange #FF0266 are my favourites so far.
So then I checked out the original “Wrong” (between the ODE edit, the original and the remix here, I can call this my track of the month). Apart from the one guitar-based song I liked this album very much — 90s downtempo is so comforting.
Ulrich Krieger (+ other Wandelweiser artists)The Yggdrasil-Soli
Nine extremely quiet and sparse 30-minute soli, each one played on a different instrument, linked to a different world in Norse mythology — and any of them can be played simultaneously. Listened to on their own, the soli might be a little too solitary, austere and minimal to my ears (if you've listened to any Wandelweiser stuff, you know how extreme they can get), but when you combine them, things get really interesting!
She's 80 years old and as eccentric as ever. Half of this is strange and dark, the other half bratty and provocative (“I won't go to your school! I won't go to your summer camp! I won't go to your hospital! I won't go to your Facebook! I won't go to your burial!”). Self-indulgent but good.
If you're into dark experimental music, listen to “Hermaphrodite” — genuinely scary yet poetic. There are a couple others like that on the album, but this one is the best to my ears.
Comme à la radio is still the best thing I've heard by either Brigitte Fontaine or the Art Ensemble of Chicago, but digging into this band's discography has been very rewarding so far.
Each track here is in a different style — “Certain Blacks” is the one that keeps me coming back with its a capella refrain that leads into joyful chaos, “Bye Bye Baby” has a very danceable bluesy harmonica, “One for Jarman” doesn't have any obvious hooks but has some very nice interplay between the musicians.
Unpopular opinion: this is pretty good! I like that the Melvins are weird, and this remix album is better than some of their own weird stuff. It's mostly electronic — glitch, noise, ambient. There are solid ambient loops here, like Christoph Heemann or Sunroof!'s contributions — and Yamatsuka Eye's track is just playful and catchy, based on a beat + bass loop that's played with in various ways. Some of the later tracks can be skipped, but all in all, it's a fun listen.
I recommend this if you like things like Boredoms's early albums, irreverent remixes like V/VmHelpAphexTwin4.0, experimental electronic music.
Don't bother if you want sludge metal though!
Unpopular opinion #2: I've never been a huge fan of the Melvins' early (dark, slow, tortured, heavy) stuff, I tried Gluey Porch Treatments again and found it boring. Lysol is where I start to really like them.
Quiet, strange semi-ambient jazz is one of my favourite styles — perhaps Rune Grammofon more than ECM Records. I like both, but ECM records tend to sound overproduced, too new agey; the records I got from Rune Grammofon are drier, more on the experimental side, close to free improv sometimes. This one really is in between, with some tribal ambient inspiration.
I always think of Supersilent5 and Supersilent10 as my references for this, but perhaps I should change that!
Art Ensemble of ChicagoPeople in Sorrow is another good one by the way. There used to be a RYM list called “In a Silent Way” with more recs like this but the user's account got deleted.
Lucio CapeceLess Is Less: Music for Flying and Pendulating Speakers
“Das temperierte Berner Münster”:
“speakers flying on balloons, soprano saxophone and the sound of the room itself”. Restrained, ghostly, monochrome, but also very tense.
“Music for Pendulums and Sine Waves in Different Tuning Systems”:
“a piece for speakers as pendulums, moving according to the oscillation phenomena, and analog synthesizer”. Drones and hypnotic oscillations.
The two pieces are very different, different genres even. They're both amazing. Particularly recommended if you like Steve RodenLight Forms.
I still like this exactly as much as I did fifteen years ago — Radiohead's sound design really is top notch. The little metallic rhythm at the beginning is one of my favourite things on the album; also the backwards loops on “Like Spinning Plates”. To my ears Kid A has the best highlights but Amnesiac is more consistent, it flows differently too.
Anyway, this also finally put me in the mood for A Moon Shaped Pool — a new album for when you're in the mood for old music really. It's good. “Burn the Witch” and the “broken hearts make it rain” chorus of “Identikit” are great (and I somehow like that they only use it once? (is it still called a chorus when it's only used once?)).
Beautiful, artificial, precious. Especially good when the synthetic voice is used in a way that accentuates her weirdness (too cold to be cute but too cute to be cold); “Pino Polaris the Monster” is a nine-minute epic of a kind I haven't heard before. I haven't listened to it yet but Kikuo Miku 6 is said to be even better!
One of his best EPs; “Nightmail” is a real banger.
(If you only have Orphans, London 14.09.2019 is a better version of it — it's almost the same EP but one of the Vibert remixes (which are extremely similar to each other anyway) is replaced by “Soundlab20”. I'm just using the Orphans cover art instead.)
Extracts from Angus MacLise's poem New Universal Solar Calendar set to a rhythmic loop. Evocation of a circular time, day after day after day, their strange, unfamiliar names recited in a monotone voice — over sounds moving at different speeds like hands of a clock. The beats are catchy but mechanical; the strings feel ominous, like a presence looming over everything. Hints of something dark. Hypnotized by the beat, unsettled by these words and what little they tell you of this unknown culture — lost in an unfamiliar time.