Friday, October 29, 2010

Margaret Dygas - Invisible Circles

A Invisible Circles
B Frankly

As so many other classic labels shuffle off into irrelevance, there's something reassuring about Perlon's ability to stay on top of the game. Invisible Circles, the latest 12-inch to be encased in oversized text, is one of the best records of the year so far, featuring two provocative cuts by Margaret Dygas. Like See You Around, her last release on Non Standard Productions, Invisible Circles was mixed by Tobias Freund, and focuses on the experimental side of house. But while that record seemed to shrug off the dance floor almost completely, this one strikes a perfect balance between beats and the avant-garde.

The title track shows Dygas indulging her love of eerie vibes. It begins with 32 measures of nothing but a muffled bass kick, then eases slowly into a murky dreamscape. The "hook" (for lack of a better term) consists of heavily processed vocal samples, layered over undulating industrial sounds, ala Einstürzende Neubauten or P16.D4. It's far too austere for the average nightclub, but its spine-tingling energy could be perfect in the right scenario. In an interesting flourish, some of the twisted vocal samples are featured on a locked groove that hugs the record's label, so DJs can spread this nightmarish motif across as many tracks as they please.

On the flipside, Dygas reassures us she's not too artsy for jack music. "Frankly" rides a stronger groove, forming a jagged bricolage of scattered breakbeats, distant sax and clean electric guitar chords. If the A-side harks back to first-wave industrial, this one does the same for early '80s post-punk. Both sides are fantastic, but for my money, Dygas's experimental tendencies work best when coupled with a funky beat, as on the B-side. Nonetheless, the choice to make "Invisible Circles" the title track hints at Dygas's personal preference, especially when considered alongside the chaotic musings of See You Around. Either way, as her third release to date, Invisible Circles reveals Dygas as a truly talented producer who's not afraid to go against the

Efterklang - Raincoats

01. Raincoats (Single Edit)
02. Harmonics (Covered by Peter Broderick & Nils Frahm)

'Raincoats' really stood out from the tracklist of Efterklang's most recent album, Magic Chairs, chiefly because there's a vocal hook in it that sounds eerily similar to 'Hangin' Tough' by New Kids On The Block. It's a lovely production however, finding the Danish post-rockers making a harmonious marriage of elaborate electronic programming and organic - almost folky - live band performances. The B-side is likely to draw a crowd all by itself: Peter Broderick and piano maestro Nils Frahm take on an acoustic cover of 'Harmonics' (another track from Magic Chairs) which proves that even once all the electronics and extra personnel have departed, there's still a strong piece of songwriting at the heart of what this band

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Seven - Siren (Remix)

A Siren (Remix)
B The Villain

A firing new remix of SEVEN's ravetastic dubstep track that might have you feeling a bit woozy from all of those chopped & screwed, slowed & skewed sirens! B-side "VILLAIN" is a chunky monkey of skittering breaks and

J.Rabbit - The Sex Crime EP

a. Crazy Talk
b. Disco Stick
c. Sex Crimes
d. Thug Life

J.Rabbit is killing it right now. The New York resident, is not new to the genre, and with releases on DZ’s Badmen label, Play me, and huge remixes for the Party Like Us Crew, there seems to be no stopping him these days.
Here, He lets off some steam with a 4 cut monster EP for the Trillbass crew. These tracks are pure nasty dancefloor killers. Insane Basslines, and thumping drums pump thru all four of these tracks, and leaves nothing to the imagination. These are a must for any DJ who wants to destroy bassbins... J.Rabbit is a beast, welcome to the revolution.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Girl Unit - Wut

01 Wut
02 Every Time
03 Showstoppa

Solid gold anthem business from Girl Unit on the follow-up to the killer 'I.R.L' 12" for Night Slugs. It would appear from his form this year that Girl Unit specialises only in BIG tunes, which is no bad thing when you've got a rave to rub up the right way. At the pinnacle of this particular monolith is 'Wut', his scorching fusion of Araab Muzik-style martial 808's and purest R&B synthline saturation that's become a staple in the sets of Jackmaster, Ikonika and Oneman since the summer. There's no avoiding it's lazered brilliance, beaming rapturous organ and that earworming vocal snippet like the light of the second coming. OK, maybe that's a bit strong, but we've definitely seen nerds prostrating at the speakers when this is dropped. Still following the crunk money trail, 'Every Time' jams out spindly triplets and boom-quaking bass hits with properly epic synth arrangements, leaving 'Showstoppa' to go out in a blaze of glory driven by huge black Bentley bass wamps and future lurching synth moves. Right here, right now, they don't come any bigger than this 12"

El Rakkas - Seas Of Disease / I & I Remixes

1 Seas Of Disease (LV Remix)
2 I & I (XI Remix)

El Rakkas, the duo from Graz, Austria, can be described in a very broad fashion as the sound that fills the void between Rhythm and Sound and the generalized stereotype of Dubstep. This could be a basis of thought, but as that denotes an artist with more in common with headphones than that of a dancefloor, it really is not wholly accurate, as anyone who has pushed our previous LoDubs 12" by them through a proper soundsystem (LoDubs-014, featuring the originals of these two remixes) can attest to. Now, those mystical elements are scrutinized by two pillars of our sound, LV and XI, with a sensibility that shows a pretanatural understanding of the individual songs inherit traits.
LV, largely known for productions on Hyperdub (We honestly believe "Turn Away" is by far the best song on the recent Hyperdub comp) Takes "Seas of Disease" and gives it a punchy near four-on-the-floor kick drum and driving swing, that along with distinctive crakles and effects demonstrate what could be a nexus of a whole substrian of the sound, should some big headed blogger decide to come up with a catchphrase for it. in a true ying to the LV's yang, XI presents a monster of a remix of "I & I" which unlike many throw-everything-at-the-wall remixes, contains a largely understated kick drum, nor anything garish in the way of a melody. The raw power in this remix comes from what we are referring to as an "Anti-wobble", a ingeniously applied bassline full of subharmonic sweeps, bleeps, and creeps that much like the LV remix, really demands a classification of its own. It simply must be heard in the correct environment to be

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cubic Zirkonia / Bok Bok - Hoes Come Out At Night (Ikonika Mix)

01. Cubic Zirkonia - Hoes Come Out At Night (Ikonika Mix)
02. Bok Bok & Cubic Zirkonia - Reclash (Give It To Me)

Another transatlantic soundclash on Night Slugs, this time centered around the New York-based R&B / acid house band Cubic Zirconia.On the A-side, elite Hyperdub producer Ikonika remixes Cubic Zirconia's "Hoes Come Out At Night", letting Tiombe Lockhart's dirty rap vocals ride her charging 145bpm riddim. Infused with all of Ikonika's signature cosmic synthwork, the 'Hoes' remix is also delightfully ghettotech-flavoured and primed for peak-time dancefloors. On the flip things get deeper as Night Slugs captain Bok Bok and Cubic Zirconia's Nick Hook collaborate on an retrofuturistic acid-bassline banger by the name of "Reclash". This time Tiombe is a ghostly presence, delivering disorientating incantations over Bok and Hook's jacking 808 drums and soaring synth psychedelia. Killer Night Slugs Booty from outer

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest

01. Earthquake
02. Don’t Cry
03. Revival
04. Sailing
05. Memory Boy
06. Desire Lines
07. Basement Scene
08. Helicopter
09. Fountain Stairs
10. Coronado
11. He Would Have Laughed

Halcyon Digest is a record about the joy of music discovery, the thrill of listening for the first time to a potential future favorite, and that sense of boundless possibility when you're still innocent of indie-mainstream politics and your personal canon is far from set. In revisiting that youthful enthusiasm, Deerhunter brilliantly rekindle it, and the result meets Microcastle/Weird Era (Cont.) as the band's most exhilarating work to date. Whether those halcyon days were real or just idealized doesn't matter. With producer Ben Allen, who lent a bass-heavy sheen to Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion, these four guys-- lead singer Bradford Cox, singer/guitarist Lockett Pundt, bass player Josh Fauver, and drummer Moses Archuleta-- have created a seamless album of startling emotional clarity.

Deerhunter have never lacked ambition. 2007 breakout Cryptograms came as two discrete halves: one front-loaded with ambient drifts and clanging post-punk aggression, the other blasting off into sunny psych-pop. Microcastle turned out to be a sprawling, ghostly amusement park of a double album, with violence and frail beauty never far from each other. And then there are all those EPs, side projects, and rarities. In blog posts and interviews, Cox has shown himself to be a music lover of the highest order, almost a platonic ideal of the artist as fan.

This record marks a distinctly different approach for the band, more streamlined and stripped down, and in its sparest moments, it echoes the stark intimacy and one-take effortlessness of records like Neil Young's Tonight's the Night or Chris Bell's I Am the Cosmos. Fans of the band's earlier stuff may understandably miss some of the old electric-guitar squall, but Halcyon Digest's expanded instrumental palette-- acoustic guitar, electronic percussion, banjo, autoharp, harmonica, vocal harmonies, and saxophone (!)-- creates endless depths of intricacy and nuance to explore in headphones.

In the past, Deerhunter's gift for garbled sonics and Cox's stream-of-consciousness methods made it easy to downplay the group's lyrical ability. That's not the case here. Whether by Pundt, who sings lead on two of Halcyon Digest's best songs, or Cox, Deerhunter's songwriting congeals into a style all its own, with lyrics moved front-and-center. The words fit perfectly together, down to the most trivial minutia: Cox asking, "Did you stick with me?" at the start of garage-pop fist-pumper "Memory Boy", right after the track people are most likely to skip (funny!), or Pundt mentioning a "marching band" on another uptempo proto-anthem, "Fountain Stairs", as Bill Oglesby's sax first appears.

The topical ground covered here is inspired, too: "Revival", a sort of Southern gothic folk-rock baptism, embraces religion. "I'm saved, I'm saved!" Cox exalts, "I felt his presence heal me." Recorded to four-track, "Basement Scene" "dream[s] a little dream" that soon turns nightmarish: "I don't wanna get old" quickly becomes "I wanna get old" as Cox weighs the alternative. And first single "Helicopter" is a beautifully watery electro-acoustic farewell that uses a tragic Dennis Cooper story about a Russian prostitute (graciously reprinted in the liner notes) to support its emotional bleakness.

Then there's seven-and-a-half-minute finale "He Would Have Laughed", dedicated to Jay Reatard, the Memphis garage rocker who died last winter of drug-related causes at age 29. Its lyrics are the most cryptic on Halcyon Digest-- full sentences are rarely formed before Cox closes them off with his usual crisp consonants. A simple acoustic guitar riff repeats as other percussion elements and electronic tones pan across the track, occasionally joined by the full band. Cox admits to growing "bored as I get older," and then goes into a dream-- "I lived on a farm, yeah/ I never lived on a farm"-- until he finally all but asks, "Where are your friends tonight?" The track cuts off unexpectedly mid-note.

Deerhunter unveiled their new album by asking fans to print out a vintage DIY-style poster, photocopy it, and tape it up all over town. In the last couple of weeks, band members have participated in all-night online chats with some of their most devoted fans. We'll never be able to parse every lyric or tease out every technical intricacy-- though somebody will probably try-- but that is what Halcyon Digest is all about: nostalgia not for an era, not for antiquated technology, but for a feeling of excitement, of connection, of that dumb obsession that makes life worth living no matter how horrible it gets. And then sharing that feeling with somebody else who'll start the cycle all over

Morrissey - Bona Drag

01 piccadilly dalare
02 interesting drug
03 november spawned a monster
04 will never marry
05 such a little thing makes such a big difference
06 the last of the famous international playboys
07 ouija board, ouija board
08 hairdresser on fire
09 everyday is like sunday
10 he knows i’d love to see him
11 yes, i am blind
12 lucky lisp
13 suedehead
14 disappointed
15 happy lovers a last united
16 lifeguard on duty
17 please help the cause against loneliness
18 oh phoney
19 the bed took fire
20 let the right on slip in

Bona Drag, the most enduring success of Morrissey's solo career, was built on his first true taste of failure. After the dissolution of the Smiths, Moz was, quite oddly, tipped by many to struggle without his longtime songwriting partner and bandmate Johnny Marr; he wasted no time proving them wrong, releasing his debut solo single, "Suedehead", just over two months after the final Smiths single. It became his biggest hit to that point, the first of four consecutive UK top-10 singles, and, with "Everyday Is Like Sunday", one of the tentpoles of his outstanding solo debut, Viva Hate.

And then the wheels fell off. Morrissey began what was to be his follow-up album, Bona Drag, surrounded by acrimony and litigation. He had fallen out with producer Stephen Street, plus former Smiths bandmates Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke-- all of whom had played key roles in that successful string of hits. The breakup of his partnership with Street was the most devastating: He had co-written all of Viva Hate and served as an unofficial mentor for Morrissey's early solo years, performing on records and playing several instruments.

Amidst the rubble of these personal relationships, Morrissey issued his fifth single, "Ouija Board, Ouija Board", a relative commercial failure that was so critically savaged that Bona Drag's progress was abruptly halted. When Morrissey did finally return to recording, he contrasted the trifling, almost-novel morbidity of "Ouija Board" with two dark, excellent, descriptive, and quite underrated singles about outsiders-- "November Spawned a Monster" (about a disabled girl) and "Piccadilly Palare" (a young male prostitute). It was a brief recovery: Morrissey's second proper album, 1991's Kill Uncle, still turned out to be a dud. (A move to L.A. and into more muscular rock thankfully soon kickstarted the second phase of his solo career.)

As a title, if not a studio creation, Bona Drag was rescued in 1990 and issued as a compilation record piecing together that first run of seven singles-- six of the m rich and eclectic and rightly beloved, one of them the song that derailed his progress. And without the weight of being an A-side, buried in the middle of the record, even "Ouija Board" comes off as charming. The seven B-sides chosen from the era were well-selected, too. Five are as good as their A-sides: the elegant (albeit edited version of) "Will Never Marry", "Yes, I Am Blind" (ironically introspective considering its title), "Such a Little Thing Makes Such a Big Difference" (not surprisingly well-detailed considering its title), and the archly humorous "Disappointed" and "Hairdresser on Fire".

The compilation was a reminder of how fruitful this period of Morrissey's career had been when he needed it most. Despite a brilliant three-year solo run, coming right off the back of his seminal work with the Smiths, Bona Drag was issued into a rapidly shifting UK music scene. Mancunian music in particular was drastically changing, going from the miserablism, soul-searching, and spikiness of post-punk and the Smiths to the rolling rhythms and textures of the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays. The years covered by Bona Drag coincided directly with the crossover of acid house and subsequent emergence of Madchester, a hopeful injection of youth, optimism, and hedonism, traits met with suspicion if not outright hostility in Morrissey's worldview. Moz was instead often writing songs about England's past-- whether the dissolution of key facets of its national identity in "Everyday Is Like Sunday", decades-old gangsters in "The Last of the Famous International Playboys", or out-of-fashion slang in "Piccadilly Palare"-- while the generation behind him was re-writing UK indie's future.

The hook on this reissue of Bona Drag is the addition of six previously unreleased tracks (though three-- an early version of "At Amber" called "The Bed Took Fire"; "Let the Right One Slip In"; and "Please Help the Cause Against Loneliness", given to Sandie Shaw-- have been issued in other forms.) In sum, the songs are a nice addition to the Morrissey catalog, all worth hearing though none perhaps necessary. In a career of odd reissues and collections, however, they at least make a welcome addition to this 20th anniversary release-- all genuine curiosities for completists that will please non-fans.

Even without those additions, this would be one of the most complete and necessary compilations in rock history, working both as a functional and utilitarian way to catch up with Morrissey outside of the UK and as a way to re-assess him within it. That the latter needed doing in the face of these songs is frankly

The Fresh And Onlys - Play It Strange

01. Summer Of Love
02. Waterfall
03. Strange Disposition
04. Tropical Island Suite
05. I'm All Shook Up
06. Be My Hooker
07. Fascinated
08. Plague Of Frogs
09. Who Needs A Man
10. Red Light, Green Light
11. I'm A Thief

Over the past few years, San Francisco has given rise to a new scene of garage-pop bands pushing the frustrated proto-punk sounds of the 1960s in different directions. Girls are indie-pop classicists who hit heartbreak even when they don't reach for it. Thee Oh Sees take the scrapiest, ugliest sounds on the Nuggets compilations and run with them. Sonny & the Sunsets play cartoonish games with the skewed innocence they hear in oldies-radio fare. And then there are the Fresh & Onlys, who seem in love with the era when garage-rock thud and folk-rock jangle first fell for each other. The guys in the band aren't revivalists, exactly, but they are pastiche artists. And in their florid, carefully orchestrated chug, we hear bits of any number of historical pop moments: starry-eyed Buddy Holly pep, Byrdsian guitar sprawl, willfully silly Donovan Mellotron idealism, scraggly Sebadoh sighs, bored Dandy Warhols stoner glamor.

Since forming a few years ago, the band has kept up a steady stream of 7" and cassette releases, and Play It Strange is their third LP in as many years. But this one finds them starting to pull all those ideas into something a little more focused, something easier to digest. For the first time, they've left the confines of their home studio, and now they're working with an actual producer-- former Fucking Champs guy Tim Green, who might not exactly be Daniel Lanois, but he's still a big step for this band. Their smart little melodic flourishes have always been there, but now you don't have to strain your ear to hear them.

Even at their most straightforward, the Fresh & Onlys still find plenty of room to play around in the margins of their songs. "I'm All Shook Up" is a relative rave-up, but organs blurt and bass murmurs deep in the mix, adding melodic accents to the pounding. "Who Needs a Man" is a swampy rush that ends before you know it, but the ghostly shades of surf-guitar exotica keep things restless. And then there's "Tropical Island Suite", this band's shot at eight-minute "Hellhole Ratrace" grandeur. A straight-ahead, simplistic bash dissolves into muffled feedbacky noise halfway through, then returns as a slower, strummier lope. It's as if the band couldn't decide which way to play the song, so they just went with both ideas.

Singer Tim Cohen has a flat, affectless voice, nowhere near as expressive as peers like Christopher Owens or even Sonny Smith. But that baritone works nicely in the middle of the mix, and it's fun to hear him sounding bored of being a player on "I'm a Thief" or trying to escape information-age overload on "Waterfall". My favorite line comes on "Be My Hooker": "I can hear the open sea calling me, but I don't know, I don't know"-- wanderlust and indecision rendered in one quick, direct stroke. He keeps things concise, and the whole album finishes up business well before the 40-minute mark. May this band continue to crank out inventive little nuggets like this long into the

Sufjan Stevens - The Age Of Adz

01. Futile Devices
02. Too Much
03. Age Of Adz
04. I Walked
05. Now That I'm Older
06. Get Real Get Right
07. Bad Communication
08. Vesuvius
09. All For Myself
10. I Want To Be Well
11. Impossible Soul

With his sixth proper album, Sufjan Stevens does battle with what we've come to expect from a proper Sufjan Stevens album. This time, instead of painstakingly humanizing the locations, historical inhabitants, and trivia of a certain slab of America, he's more concerned with his own state of mind. Banjos are out; moody electronics, deep bass, and drums that burst like geysers are in. The lengthiest song title on his last LP, 2005's Illinois, was 53 words long; here, that same superlative goes to a tune called "I Want to Be Well". He's whispering less, hollering more. And at the climax of The Age of Adz, the devout Christian and poster boy for mannered indie-dude sensitivity shouts, "I'm not fuckin' around!" no less than 16 times. Believe him.

Yet, there is no mistaking this as a work by the Detroit-born, Brooklyn-dwelling overachiever. Trilling flutes, meticulously arranged choirs, and an overarching sense of hugeness are still apparent. The record's last track, "Impossible Soul", is a five-part suite that lasts more than 25 minutes and boasts harps, horns, blips, Auto-Tuned vocals, a twee-dance breakdown, some cheerleader call-and-response, and even a little trad-folk guitar picking, you know, for kicks. That single track bulges with more engaging ideas than most artists could muster in a career, and there's no one else on earth that could've come up with it. Even the record's glitched backdrop isn't entirely unprecedented; Stevens' pre-breakout 2001 instrumental album Enjoy Your Rabbit could be looked back on as a sketchbook for what would become The Age of Adz. So as Stevens' current restlessness fights it out with his past accomplishments, the listener ends up winning.

Once again there's a concept tying everything together, though it's not quite as educational-- or virtuous-- as before. The Age of Adz is a reference to Louisiana artist and self-proclaimed prophet Royal Robertson, whose work appears on the album's cover and liner notes. A paranoid schizophrenic, Robertson translated his anguish through apocalyptic sci-fi posters after his wife left him following nearly 20 years of marriage. His comic-book style pieces-- which have been shown at the Smithsonian, among other museums-- are colorful, vengeful, and crazed. They feature B-movie style robot monsters who spout cartoon captions like, [sic] "I'll distroy much town's of adultress !!WHORE'S!!" Robertson's work is a long way from the cutesy cover of Illinois, and the fact that Stevens chose such an eccentric and hate-prone avatar for inspiration this time is telling.

Because The Age of Adz is a relatively dark affair, with the 35-year-old songwriter sometimes forgoing his child-like naïveté for something more oblique and adult. Considering the triumph of style that was Illinois (and the legions of lesser lights that subsequently turned it into some sort of over-the-top Disney on Ice parody), the change of perspective is welcomed.

The record is book-ended by two quaint, characteristic acoustic passages that find Stevens reconnecting with a past love. "It's been a long long time since I've memorized your face," he starts. This is the Sufjan we know. But, in between that short intro and outro, the album tells the story of a relationship with fantastical zeal. The tale is sordid and a little absurd, filled with betrayal, selfishness, frustration, suicidal thoughts, a raging volcano, and a space ship. "I've lost the will to fight/ I was not made for life," he confesses on the title track, as robo-noises and churchly backups translate Robertson's futuristic drawings into sound.

Across the album, he relives the more harrowing aspects of a deep personal bond, pinging from bitterness ("At least I deserve the respect of a kiss goodbye," he sings over gloriously spare electro-pop on "I Walked"), to confusion ("I thought I was so in love/ Some say it wasn't true," he head-scratches on the hymn-like "Now That I'm Older", a masterclass in modern vocal arrangement), to, um, melodramatic transmogrification (referring to himself in the third person, he inhabits the Rome-burning volcano of "Vesuvius", singing, "Sufjan, the panic inside, the murdering ghost that you cannot ignore"). Surrounding himself with music that expertly balances between over-orchestrated and chaotic, Stevens elevates his pedestrian travails about love and lust into legendary myths in which he's rarely the hero.

Right before The Age of Adz's back-to-earth finale, Sufjan finally overcomes his emotional stupor as a host of voices join him for the singalong, "Boy! We can do much more together!/ It's not so impossible!" And then he shakes out of the grandeur, goes back to the finger picking, and sighs the album's more realistic final line: "Boy! We made such a mess together." It's an ambiguous conclusion that, like the rest of the album, was seemingly in jeopardy of not happening at all. In a Signal to Noise interview last year, Stevens said, "I definitely feel like the album no longer has any real bearing anymore. The physical format itself is obsolete; the CD is obsolete and the LP is kinda nostalgic. I'm wondering, 'What's the value of my work once these forms are obsolete and everyone's just downloading music?'" It's a valid question. But instead of succumbing to trends, Stevens barrels through with another long-form work that requires-- and rewards-- time and devotion. As important questions about music's worth in the age of free continue to swirl around him, Sufjan's still combating instant-gratification culture the best way he knows

Everything Everything - Man Alive

01. MY KZ, UR BF
02. Qwerty Finger
03. Schoolin'
04. Leave The Engine Room
05. Final Form
06. Photoshop Handsome
07. Two For Nero
08. Suffragette Suffragette
09. Come Alive Diana
10. NASA Is On Your Side
11. Tin (The Manhole)
12. Weights

There's a recurring gag on "The Simpsons" based around Homer's gluttony leading to all manner of culinary curiosities: sometimes the results work, as with his patented Space-Age Out-of-This-World Moon Waffles (caramel, waffle batter, a stick of butter, liquid smoke); more often than not, he finds out the hard way that a combination of, say, Tom Collins mix, cloves, and a frozen pie crust is no substitute for a decent breakfast. Like that disaster, Everything Everything's debut LP, Man Alive, is proof that enthusiastic experimentation can't save your end product when the underlying elements are so incompatible and unappetizing.

Even before you consider their name, song titles like "My Kz, Ur Bf", "Qwerty Finger", and "Photoshop Handsome" imply EE are a product of media overload and social-networking culture-- the self-absorbed musical equivalent of having 12 browsers open at the same time. To apparently a lot of people this is a good thing. (Sample prerelease hype: EE sound like the Futureheads and Animal Collective.) But stuffing everything humanly possible into your songs can be overwhelming, if not identity-sapping. The first 10 or so seconds of this record is pretty much the only span with any negative space-- and even that resembles the obelisk-staring intro of Coldplay's "Square One". From there on, Man Alive is jacked up with bizarre key changes, superfluous time-signature switches, electro noodling, and half-rap lyrics delivered in run-on melodies, and you ultimately think, "hey, what would happen if Dismemberment Plan got a crash course in Pro Tools and a record deal with Fueled By Ramen?" Everything Everything aren't afraid to answer those tough questions.

All jokes aside, it actually is an interesting gambit to find a continuum within all of those coordinates in terms of bands interacting with personal computing-- after all, D-Plan had a frontman who was essentially a poptimist blogger before we knew what to call it. But even crediting Everything Everything's unclassifiable combination of itchy art-rock, pop-locking electro, and straight-up Brit indie to musical omnivorism, there's a problem that is impossible to get around: If anyone's got a more irritating voice than Jonathan Everything, they probably also have a harp and a few good stories to tell. It's not the constant falsetto that's the problem-- Passion Pit and the Darkness had that, but they also owned their own ridiculousness (not to mention songwriting chops). Jonathan Everything merely inflicts wispy, intrusive papercuts on your eardrums. Hearing it for the first time is akin to seeing a roach-- unpleasant and unexpected, but then you start to worry about where you'll find the next one. And Man Alive is absolutely infested.

And yet, I'd still recommend at least a cursory shot at "My Kz, Ur Bf", because even if it's a particularly annoying song and you can't quite pick out whether Everything is seeking to get caught in flagrante with your boyfriend or your girlfriend, it does have something of a pleasant whiff of 90s alternative radio. Granted, it comes on way too strong and is a complete mess, but it's certainly their mess. Credit Everything Everything for finding their own niche, but it's one that's been unoccupied for good

Liars - Proud Evolution EP

01 Proud Evolution (Album Version)
02 Proud Evolution (Thom Yorke Remix)
03 Proud Evolution (Live From Williamsburg)
04 Come Now
05 Total Frown
06 Strangers

The inimitable Liars are releasing their latest single, Proud Evolution, as a six track EP on October 19th, 2010, which features a remix from Thom Yorke, a live version recorded at Music Hall Of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, plus three exclusive new b-sides “Come Now”, “Total Frown”, and “Strangers”. The disc promises to be both lurid and frightening, but what else would you expect from this jagged, splashy and always surprising trio?

Belle and Sebastian - Write About Love

01. I Didn't See It Coming
02. Come On Sister
03. Calculating Bimbo
04. I Want The World To Stop
05. Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John (feat. Norah Jones)
06. Write About Love (feat. Carey Mulligan)
07. I'm Not Living In The Real World
08. Ghost Of Rockschool
09. Read The Blessed Pages
10. I Can See Your Future
11. Sunday's Pretty Icons

It’s a little unusual to be able to picture a band playing a song off of their brand new album on the Merv Griffin Show circa 1965. But it’s not that unusual at all when you’re talking about Belle & Sebastian. In fact, someone could start up a radio station for “New Oldies” and play nothing but The New Pornographers, The Shins and Belle & Sebastian and have a pretty good niche carved out for themselves. On Write About Love, the UK-based seven-piece are sweet and sincere in a not-so-innovative way that is nonetheless fresh by virtue of the fact that, in today’s musical climate, there just aren’t a lot of similar acts out there.

The album couldn’t be much smoother if it had been spooned out of a Cool Whip container, from lead singer Stuart Murdoch’s wistful vocal stylings to the lock step rhythmic instrumentals that back Murdoch and Sarah Martin’s melodic make out sessions (“I Didn’t See It Coming”, “I Want The World To Stop”). A couple of collaborations are also offered, of which the titular “Write About Love” (featuring actress Carey Mulligan) stands out above the snoozer “Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John” (featuring Norah Jones). Still, after such a smooth listen, it wouldn’t be unusual for listeners to seek a slightly more gritty, decidedly more 21st century album to get that sweet taste out of their

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gabriel Ananda - Charming & Alarming

01. Trixini
02. Hyperballet
03. Charming & Alarming
04. Bezwei

One interesting thing about consistency is that it's not achieved by doing the same thing over and over again, but by doing something that's different enough each time, and doing it well. Gabriel Ananda's a prime example, and this third release on his and Marcel Janovsky's Basmati label is varied and creative. "Trixini" opens with wonky, off-kilter folds of dissonance, then drops into a smooth, submerged soup and builds back up, reintroducing the earlier acidic squawks. The structure seems to tell a story, evolving into different sections easily and interestingly. "Hyperballet," in contrast, has deliriously innocent shrieks, then sweet, glowing pastel whistles and plinks; quirky, storytime stuff which would work alongside tracks from his hometown's Kompakt label.

"Charming and Alarming" comes on a bit stronger, and the solid funkiness in the rhythm is complemented as usual by a roughshod aesthetic that makes all the difference. A demented barrel organ and screwloose bloops take turns and then come together near the end. It's not serious music, but it's done with serious attention to detail, form and musicality. The structures of these tunes are all somewhat unexpected, but make complete sense. "Bezwei," meanwhile, is almost totally serious, rolling, tough and eminently clubbable with dreamy, quietly epic pads and wonky melodic percussion which suggests simple melancholy. Like the others, it's rhythm-heavy enough for club rotation but engaging and emotive enough for the playlist at home as

Will Saul & Mike Monday - Sequence 1

A Sequence 1
B1 Small Moments
B2 Sequence 1 (Scuba Remix)

Will Saul's Aus Music imprint has recently been linking house (deep, tech, whatever) with UK bass music, releasing music from Martyn, Ramadanman, Joy Orbison and Appleblim. Saul is among dubstep's most ardent supporters in the house community, embracing the dialogue between the two genres wholeheartedly. Here, we find Saul himself in collaboration with tech house oddball Mike Monday coming at dubstep from the other direction. "Sequence 1" is a quintessential Aus track, made up of shifting blocky shapes and rubbery basslines, but its lightly skipping progression, weird sound effects and prominent 808s recall recent experiments by Ramadanman and his Hessle Audio label.

Meanwhile the swelling synths so typical of new-school dubstep-influenced UK house of the Night Slugs variety overtake the meek tech house of "Small Moments" in grand fashion. Hotflush label boss Scuba provides a remix of "Sequence 1," and provides what feels like one of the pivotal moments in this burgeoning crossover. Scuba jacks up the tempo and adds some UK funky percussion, creating a cartoonishly exaggerated track that wisely avoids the dark technoid explorations of his recent work. In its many iterations, dubstep is often a "serious" music, screwfaced and stoic; it's nice to hear Scuba introduce some wood and rubber into those steely beats of

Future Bass from Soul Jazz Records

1. Mala — Don't Let Me Go
2. Four Tet — Nothing To See
3. Untold — Fly Girls
4. Coki — Ransom
5. Ramadanman — Bass Drums
6. Black Chow — Air
7. LD — Mastermind
8. V.I.V.E.K — Talking Shadows
9. Randomer — Puzzled
10. Ginz — Boss
11. Harry Craze — Gone
12. Distal — Grape Donut
13. Sub Version — Free To Funk

Future Bass! Post-Dubstep, post-House, post everything! Four Tet, Mala, Untold, Black Chow (Kevin Martin/The Bug’s latest project), Coki and loads more all-exclusive new tracks on this new album for Soul Jazz Records.

Soul Jazz Records have brought together some of the UKs most pioneering producers of the day to create an album that can only be defined as future music. All new exclusive tracks from a set of artists all at the height of their respective careers alongside heavyweight new-wave producers. From the off-kilter hypnotic post-House bass music of Four Tet (one of the most hyped tracks of late) to the boundary pushing genre busting post-Dubstep of Mala and Coki (the two halves of Digital Mystikz), Untold and more alongside truly uniques tracks such as Kevin Martin/The Bug’s latest incarnation, Black Chow. Future music! Future Bass!

‘Future Bass’ is packaged in a limited-edition deluxe plastic casing with set of free postcards and vinyl comes on super-loud, super-heavyweight triple vinyl, mastered at

Julio Bashmore - Batak Groove / Around

01. Batak Groove
02. Around

Julio is the latest bass head to release on Bristol's Soul Motive label, following in the footsteps of El-B, Joker, TRG, and Headhunter. As the title suggests, 'Batak Groove' prominently features the Batak drum, a frame drum indigenous to Malaysia and Indonesia with a hollow quality ripe for Julio's tribal style. It's among Julio's more reduced and restrained productions, placing it as a tidy DJ tool for long blends. On the flip 'Around' is a far more plush affair, striking a deep house groove with classically elegant strings balancing the low-cut bassline and efficiently clipped, laidback

Pinch - Croydon House

01 Croydon House
02 Elements

One of the years most flawlessly curated imprints drops a crucial installment from Pinch. 'Croydon House' is Pinch's concession towards the stream of sub-130bpm tracks from the UK Bass quadrant. Loefah deployed it recently on Benji B's 1Xtra show to much adulation, and now it's here for mass destruction, knotting a junglist palette of percussion with sludgy subbass strafes to unsettle the foundations of Funky/House in lethal style. 'Elements' occupies the flipside, stepping back to 140bpm with an up-jacking flex coming from metronomic hi-hats and relentless bassbin punishment in his clearly defined dread mode. Test these anywhere for practically guaranteed results. BIG tip!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

DVA - Just Vybe / Step 2 Funk

01 DVA Feat. Fatima - Just Vybe (Soule:power Mix)
02 DVA - Step 2 Funk

Big moves from DVA, dropping the Soule:Power mix of 'Just Vybe' featuring talented UK soul singer, Fatima. It's essentially DVA's 'Natty' riddim embellished with keys and that drippin' vocal and it should get you lot stroking yourselves into a lather. Putting the champagne down and picking up a Dragon stout on the flip, 'Step 2 Funk' is classically rugged and irresistible tribal Funky, done DVA style, just how we like it!

James Blake - Klavierwerke EP

01. Klavierwerke
02. Tell Her Safe
03. I Only Know (What I Know Now)
04. Don't You Think I Do

Capping a very special year for James Blake, R&S drop the highly anticipated 'Klavierwerke', his most refined and sombre transmission to date. While his previous 12"s were defined by their unstable and unique sense of soul, these tracks have a more esoteric, modern classical air to them, clearly reflected in the monotone artwork and centre labels. It's like chamber music for the post-dubstep crowd, utilising lofty meditations on the techniques and feelings gleaned from the style, distilling their essence from a removed and considered standpoint. The title piece feels torn between wanting to be there, in the dance, and longing to be somewhere else entirely, sequestered in dancefloor solipsism, shutting out surroundings until rhythms are worn down to the faintest flickers of filtered drums creating a richly woven blanket in which to hide oneself from the world. 'Tell Her safe' is a little more optimistic, focussed on Blake's innate rhythmic intricacies and soul-burning chords, while 'I Only Known (What I Known Now)' slips back into that rarified sense of autumnal English melancholy, dappled with watery piano keys and deploying moments of reflective silence to stunning effect. Redressing the balance 'Don't You Think I Do' offers a spurt of tormented internal funk, making a brief but lasting closing statement. Held up against everyone else out there right now, this record is just

Elgato - Tonight / Blue

1. Tonight
2. Blue

Hypnotic swingers from the revered DJ and now producer, Elgato, making his debut on the equally esteemed Hessle Audio. Ask almost anyone who's been tracking this underground UK thing for the last decade and they'll have come across an amazing Elgato DJ set, crossing from Grime to Techno and all points in between with consummate style. Essentially these tracks sound like a distillation of all those mixes; the mesmerizing flow of 'Tonight' incorporates dubstep subbass intensity with fluid percussive programming, aligning patterns from Garage, Hardcore and House for an inescapably locked-in groove, recalling everyone from LD to Scuba and Bok Bok in mongrel style. On the flip, 'Blue' is aimed squarely at the Funky/House nexus, rolling out devastating subbass pressure under typewriter rhythms with squashed R'n'B vocals and hovering strings maintaining a sublime tension. To be totally honest, we've not heard anything quite like this from the scene yet and it's going to be getting a lot of plays round these ways. Fans of Narcossist, Ramadanman, and the deeper ends of Doc Daneeka and co need this!

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Made Up Sound - Demons

A Demons
B1 Extra Time
B2 Demons (Reprise)

The Hague's Dave Huismans merges the disparate worlds of dubstep and four-to-the-floor electronics, occupying a middle ground that seems more relevant than ever due to bass music's polarisation of chainsaw wobblers and lower tempo explorations. Although his material as A Made Up Sound is slightly closer to traditional house and techno than his 2562 productions for Pinch's Tectonic label, Huismans always manages to conjure up a sound that is recognisably his own.

His latest transmission as A Made Up Sound is a slightly pacier offering than his "Alarm"/"Crisis" 12-inch, rooting all three tracks at a 130 BPM tempo that will please both house-influenced bass music DJs and more energetic techno selectors. B-side cut "Extra Time" should definitely appeal to the former of these two camps; its swung snares and sharply pitched bleepy lead contrasting with the steady intensity built by the sweeping synth progression that occupies the track's second half.

The two real highlights on the package, though, are the two versions of the title track, which are wildly different from one another. While the shorter reprise utilises stuttering rhythmic blasts and deep, reverberated chords to engage the listener, the main cut keeps the groove bouncing with gruff low end and slinky swung

Rustie - Sunburst EP

1. Neko
2. Dragonfly
3. Beast Nite
4. Chew
5. Hyperthrust
6. Starwolf

Since 2007 Wegie rogue Rustie has decimated the world of electronic music with a handful of exhilarating 12"s. The demented 'Sunburst' is his long awaited debut for Warp, lurching into his future vision of hyper-coloured prog-rock, crystallized digital emotions and bombastic rhythm dynamics. Much like his 'Jagz The Smack' debut, there's no clear banner to this style, crushing everything from ultra-modern American Funk to '80s synth dreams, 8-Bit Japanese cuteness and stadium-worthy riffage. The closest comparison would perhaps be to his Glasgow brethren, Hudson Mohawke, or LA's finest Flying Lotus, but this guy is still way out on his own platform, zapping baddies with lazer-boogie synthlines and wrecking booties with deceptively fluid rhythm constructions. In 'Neko' we find his most distinctive statement, like a sugar-rush fever dream with Rustie as some Macauley Culkin figure in a John Hughes movie soundtracked by Outkast and a Scottish marching band. In a perfect world, the heroic swell of 'Dragonfly' would be topping the charts, while the 3D spirograph squiggle of 'Hyperthrust' shows how prog-rock can still be clever and retain a sense of forward funk without spooling overboard into the most elaborate math-wank ever conceived. Imagine Araab Muzik jamming with Battles in an import-only Japanese arcade game and you're on the button. Highly recommended!

Babe, Terror - Summertime Our League

1. Summertime Our League (Four Tet Rework)
2. A Capital Federal (Appleblim And Arkist Rework)
3. Summertime Our League

Hypnotic and mesmeric, the haunting music that Brazilian artist Babe, Terror makes belies its origins: originally conceived as a soundtrack to “cold Saturday afternoons” at home and long, late night walks around his hometown of Sao Paulo, his tracks are not so much songs as compelling, unsettling aural landscapes; lush, cinematic stories rendered as washes of electronica, absorbing influences as disparate as 50’s pop, Tropicalia and cold wave and distilling them to their ghostly essence.

After winning acclaim with releases in 2008 from the likes of The New Yorker, Pitchfork and Uncut, Phantasy Sound is finally introducing the UK to the unusual charms of Babe, Terror. EP 1 features the spectral chill of “Summertime Our League”, twisted pop that the reconfigures the Beach Boys' lush harmonies into something haunted by the night time of the city. Images of empty car parks, abandoned buildings and hot summers emerge through a hazy mist of fuzzed out layers of controlled feedback and spacious reverb. In addition, his soundscapes have provided the perfect bedrock for remixes from two artists creating progressive future music both at the height of their respective careers - Four Tet and