Dexterous Material: Edition No.6
This column is a giant pile of puke. Before you gag, know that it is a jumbled mess of Flying Lotus, Crystal Castles, Animal Collective, Four Tet, Rustie, and a few others. So it's good vomit, the best really. And fresh, still warm. But enough about nausea. All these long time players have been fitting some new music in between the summer festival uproar, and it seems like everyone is taking their own pathway.
Starting with a new track from the roughly ethereal and utterly creepy duo Crystal Castles, 'Plague' was recently released. Crystal Castles have been making somewhat of the same music since 2004, with no real complaints from fans. They made their way into the electronic music scene with ease, and have held their ground. The most noticeable changes were the increase in dance influences from the first Crystal Castles album in 2008 to the 2010 album with the same name. The second album was cleaner, tighter, and a little bit friendlier. Alice Glass' vocals continue to soar above the excellent grit that Ethan Kath produces, forming a haunting guttural sound that catches fans and doesn't let go. 'Plague' is more similar to the 2010 Crystal Castles work, with a distinct dance sound, but the slow and suspenseful elements complement Glass' howling perfectly.
Does Steven Ellison sleep? My guess is no. Flying Lotus has been busy working on some of the most enticing music my ears have encountered all year. Everything he does seems to resemble liquid gold, possibly flecked with some green. Recently he released the track 'Between Friends', with Earl Sweatshirt and a mysterious Tyler, The Creator sounding character referred to as Captain Murphy. He also posted the instrumental on his soundcloud. How do we classify this guy? Comparing 'Kill Your Co-Workers' from the 2010 EP Pattern+ Grid World to the 'Auntie's Harp' from 2008 album Los Angeles, untrained ears would never make the connection. Ellison is all over the map, a moving target. Just as soon as we think we've got his sound down he completely warps it into something unexpected and mind boggling. 'Between Friends' appeals to his dustier jazz side with a strong hip-hop influence, but still at the same level of quality.
A certain little scot is making some big sounds. That would be Rustie, and his newest track 'After Light' featuring AlunaGeorge. 'After Light' was included on Glass Swords released last year, sans vocals. AlunaGeorge adds depth and interest to the track which I think was necessary. A lot of Rustie's sound is almost shiny, glittering and flashy, her calm sound changes the whole vibe of the song and makes it seem a bit darker, something I think is good for those that aren't fans of the extreme shine Rustie has.
I really love when music gets aggressive. There's a lot of sappy fleece blanket crap that is floating around the music world, Hudson Mohawke and Lunice's collaboration project TNGHT is most likely to be the ones to kick their asses. Recent track 'Higher Ground' is no exception to this, the ominous bass combined with the continuous handclaps make for an explosive trap sound. The ambitious duo sounds vicious, and their music reflects that in the best way possible.
It's always interesting to see two different artists come at the same track with a totally different approach. Thus is the product of Major Lazer and Four Tet on 'Look At Where We Are' originally by Hot Chip. Major Lazer is known for being outrageous, literally turning girls worlds upside down (see Diplo's twitter feed and recent internet sensation 'express yourself'). Four Tet is the softer more mysterious type. Both remixes are exactly what you would expect. Four Tet keeps the smooth simple approach that is used in so many of his tracks, making sure to get some house feeling in towards the end. Major Lazer's version hints at some reggae influences, leading into a bass laden trap track – no surprises there.
The album name is Cobra Juicy. There is no possible way that I can dislike this. From now on, everything is Cobra Juicy. This is the new album by gauzy psychedelic electric band Black Moth Super Rainbow. Their first release since 2009, 'Spraypaint' and 'Windshield Smasher' sound just as weird and powerful as the likes of Dandelion Gum. Dripping in the dreamy fuzz that they are known for, Cobra Juicy is sure to be just as brain warping as ever.
This has been a year to experiment for a lot of artists, either caving out a sound niche or ditching their old one for a new. Everything being made is seemingly tumultuous, even artists who stick to more subdued music are gaining a certain force. With such an intense volume of music being made as of late, the intensity of the music itself seems like the best feature to focus on.
I'm tapping this into my phone as I hurtle through Germany, one of Kraftwerk's beloved autobahns easing my passage across Europe at a steady 170km/h. By the end of the week I'll have travelled through a further five countries, emailed/Skyped/Facetimed people from seven more and received at least one miss-sold PPI call whilst traversing a mountainside, 2.5km above sea level. [read more]
When the music of Nicholas Jaar or Blackbird Blackbird pours through your ears there’s nothing to complain about. Of course, there is the preliminary dig through the shitstorm of mediocre audio head scratching, but the search is usually worth it. This edition features everything that has captured Chelsea's attention for more than five minutes, and made me hit repeat, and then again. [read more]
Summer music is a cliché. Remember the CD's you made when you were 16 inscribed with "Summer!~." Whatever, we all did it. My point is, music in the summer takes on a whole new persona. We remember the songs we listened to over and over on our way to countless festivals, rather than the ones we heard cursing our way through the snow. There's something about being warm that makes all the vibes a little bit better. [read more]
Last month (or thereabouts) I conclusively put to the sword the notion that the album format is on its deathbed, just a raspy cough, plaintive cry of 'Mother' and voiding of the bowels away from expiration. Buoyed by the overwhelming feedback to that piece I figured I'd turn my attention to another foundation block of the music industry often said to be circling the drain, record labels. [read more]