Archive for the 'Experimental' Category

On The Bowery – Shalabi Effect

So you’re doing ads that try to get people to work in a munitions factory and suddenly you realize that what you’re doing will create a bombed out landscape full of flying lute thingies (plus the odd car, also flying).

But hidden in the ruins are Canadians playing really cool Middle Eastern influenced drone music. So crooning to a bomb doesn’t seem so bad. And did I mention flying lute thingies (they’re ouds)? They rotate too!

If only there were a way of getting the music without bombing stuff. Oh well.

Note: This is less than a third of the album version of the track. For anyone with a remotely compatible aesthetic, the extended instrumental bit is amazing stuff. The P-fork review for the album is about right.

Comfy in Nautica – Panda Bear

Part of me thinks that in order for this song to be as good as it ought to be, it should be in some language I don’t understand. I don’t want to know what he’s saying. Anything linguistically comprehensible is just a distraction from the sonic experience.

Why do I have a sudden craving for bamboo?

Peacebone-Animal Collective

WARNING: Creepy, expensive video to stylistic U-turn of a song from a band that appears to be taking the piss out of You Tube. For some it will be as unlistenable as the previous Song of the Day. It starts going after the first minute or so, and you might want to not watch the video. Yikes. The trolly comments on the You Tube page are priceless. One guy is just going to town on how much he hates this song.

Justice – Tthhee Ppaarrttyy (ft. Uffie)

I heard this track twice on WOXY and can’t stop listening to it. Initially, I thought it was some bizarre cover or remix of an existing song – I can’t quite explain why I thought it had the lyrics to that insipid Pink song, but it doesn’t. At any rate, I find this track super interesting for all sorts of reasons. The rhythm of the voice is entirely off and intentionally so. Syllables are stretched, repeated, and slaughtered in an almost random way. The whole meter of the song is uneven and that’s what I love. The instrumentation is dark and electronic and simmers without a hip-hop backing until the last part of the song, where it finally lets loose a danceable beat. They lyrics are funny and hedonistic, as if you couldn’t possibly take it seriously.

As most of you know, this is a genre I know NOTHING about. I don’t know the personalities, influences, or politics. What I do know is that people seem to hate Uffie (who collaborates with Justice on this track only) passionately. I’m not sure why, but I’m sure they have good reasons. It could be backlash against a young, cute, white “rapper”, whose other songs sound to me like utter disasters; but I’m not judging her music here, only her collaboration with Justice. The Indie media seems to like them enough, with many comparisons to Daft Punk. Anyway, there are some spectacularly funny rips on this track. This particular response made me laugh to no end. The article is titled The song that will hasten the worlds’ end. You have to read it after listening to the track.

Dear Mr. Supercomputer-Sufjan Stevens

This is one of the sluttiest songs I have ever heard, and I can’t think of a higher compliment to give to any song.  By slutty, of course, I refer to its promiscuous use of styles and rhythms, stolen from other fantastic artists.  It is also potentially the only songs I know of that is primarily written in 7/8 time.  In this case, they syncopation is written in a 3-2-2 rhythm, so if you are counting the rhythm out loud (as I frequently do), you can follow the song by counting 1-2-3-1-2-1-2 for each bar.  Who the hell thinks of this?

First, listen to the track

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.  Then listen again.  Maybe one more time.  OK, now take a break, come back, and listen one last time.  Finally read on …

The track comes from the recent compilation of outakes from Illinois, titled The Avalanche.  In many ways, the outtakes, rather than being just throw-aways, represent a parallel and organized version of Illinois.  This is easily the best track on the CD, possibly better or equal to any other Sufjan Stevens song ever written.

What are the influences?  Here’s what I come up with.  The introduction, which is the only part of the song in 4/4 time (more likely 8/8 time) begins with a Philp Glass minimalistic theme.  You know the kind of builds slowly and moves fluidly in bladilaidabldialdlald kind of way until 10 minutes later and your brain has been beaten into submission?  Then the trumpets come in and play a very Stereolab rhythm, which incidentally was stolen almost verbatum from Imperial Teen (again, that’s a good thing).  The song abruptly changes into its highly syncopated 7/8 all Sufjan all the time song.  It’s sublime genius.  I get weepy listening to how good the song is.  A few abrupt tempo changes happen here and there with little mildly jazzy Sea and the Cake moments, but song always gets back on track.  The other amazing highlight in the middle is a moment where a robotic voice sings, “One two three four five six seven, all computers go to heaven” – a direct homage to The Beatles Abbey Road.  As can be expected from any Sufjan Stevens song, there are probably 15 different musical instruments in the arrangement, each more obscure and beautifully blended than the next.

Teen Age Riot-Sonic Youth

I had the ol’ 12 inch of this one, so it is a similar edit, it doesn’t have the thoughtful instrumental intro. Ignore the kind of scenester-esque NY-sCene feel to the vid, these indie kings always made the music they wanted to play. You can hear exactly why the metallos etc. hated SY. The detuned guitars. This song is straight-ahead for them, but like fingernails on a blackbaord to noodly proggos. I love love this song. Ignore the video, just listen. It has a certain confidence and directness. Four minutes of art punk pop. In a way, listening to the words, it is like a rocking “Kids On Holiday” by Animal Collective. What I mean to say it has a certain nostaligic feel for me.

Islands – Where There’s A Will There’s a Whalebone

Islands are one of those crazy Canadian collectives that emerged from the ashes of The Unicorns. Yes, those Unicorns of the endless hooks and the total disregard for a chorus. Islands manifests itself as even more inventive, diverse, and fun. The songs vary greatly, from the calypso influenced to drawn-out Arcade Fire-esque movements. Where There’s a Will is like no other track on Return To The Sea. It starts off sounding like a typical Unicorns track, but then something happens about halfway through, and it dissolves into a wild dance party. The best I could provide is a poor-quality recording of them performing live (in Toronto of course!!!!), but the rapping on the recorded version is so fast and smooth and fits beautifully with the increasingly elaborate accompaniment. It reminds me a little of Beta Band’s Won, but that’s only because of how surpising and effective the rapping actually is. I’m not sure that PP would really love Islands through and through, but I’m sure it’s way up Fulsome’s alley.

Where There’s A Will There’s A Whalebone

Negativland-Neu!

So I am just starting to scratch the surface on Krautrock, the German experimental rock movement that has given us drone, ambient, much electronic music and dance rock, dance punk. Neu! are one of the more well-known bands of this genre, along with Can and Faust. I can’t add a whole lot, as I only have the first Neu! (self-titled) album. What I want to point out is the invention of a huge chunk of Joy Division’s sound, somewhere between 1:28.889 and 1:41.214, Peter Hook, Joy Division/New Order bassist gets birthed, whole. Listen to the bass go from whatever whatever to the original scary emo/punk/goth/expressionist/whatever Joy Division can be categorized as. Also, the snap on the snare is definitely proto-JD as well. Not exploding yet, but you know Joy Division’s legendary producer Martin Hannett wore out a couple of copies of this record. Very influential.

Negativland-Neu!

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Slang Teacher-Wide Boy Awake

So Gavin M. and myself are waging a war of attrition. The skirmishes have consisted of an interchange of 80’s obscurities. The goal: guess the band and/or song. The underdog, I rely on quick feints at the edge of Messr. Gavin’s fraying, genius mind. He, the overdog, relies on the massive blindspot known as my lack of musical knowledge. So far the battles have included:

Gavin M.: Bluebells‘ “Cath” (a friendly exhortation to eat it cobag because I didn’t know it)

Pinko: Freur “Devil and Darkness” (implied EAT IT COBAG since he should have known it)

Gavin M.: Orange Juice “Rip It Up” (completely awesome, but a definite EAT IT COBAG HOW MUCH DO YOU SUCK from the master, because how could it be possible that I didn’t know it)

Pinko: Thrashing Doves “Beautiful Imbalance” (oh, now who is the master of obscure and forgotten?)

Everything has been a skirmish up to including the recent exhchange:

Gavin M.: Wide Boy Awake-Slang Teacher

Holy crap. Of course I didn’t guess it as this band never even had an album. As an artifact people might be all, this sucks, it’s English White Boy Hip-Hop from 1983!!!!!! What I might point out to you cobags, is the first 10 seconds could easily be Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit” or New Order’s “Perfect Kiss” and it probably predates them both. And it’s got spacey walled up behind the cheese casiotone and of course some slappy bass. These oddities are actually important to remember before Clear Channel completely erases all musical history.

What’s next? I’m gonna take a risk and try….

(pop renaissance- you have the raw material to feed my desire to crush G., please help me out)

Song For Children-Brian Wilson

As part of my celebration of the second live performance I have seen of Brian Wilson’s SMiLE, I chose this particular track because it reveals so much about how things changed from the days of the Beach Boys bootlegs and how the final album matured so much.

Song for Children began as an instrumental melody called Look. Look is a lovely track. It began with a keyboard and a beautiful horn flourish followed by bass stuff and a very high-pitched mallet percussion melody with different percussive and tubic punctuations. It’s a beautiful piece. For the final SMiLE version, several things changed without the structure and melody being altered. First, the piece was placed thematically in the second suite – centred on children. Second, the piece was directly hooked to the previous track Wonderful through the ingeneious transition of Wonderful->Won->One->Wonderful. It’s so great. Third, the thematic link of Child is the father of the son was brought back lyrically. The song is not so much a single lyrical message, as a combination of all the songs in the suite. By adding the words and the thematic links to other parts of SMiLE, the song is a million times better. Even though it isn’t the same level of masterpiece as Cabinessence, Good Vibrations, Heroes and Villains, or Surf’s Up, I think this is the quintissential SMiLE track.

Rhododendron-The Beta Band

There are too few artists in the world that truly ripoff Brian Wilson. Everyone is influenced by his music, but the stuff they steal from him isn’t what really in his heart. Beta Band is unafraid to play true homage in so many different songs from their last ever CD (sniff), Heroes to Zeroes. Rhododendron is really a continuation of Let’s Go Away for a While, from Pet Sounds. I love the sentimentality of both songs and the unfearing use of percussion.

Beginning with a strange combination of mallet percussion (xylophone?) and weird high synthy instrument, Rhododendron forms a tight little canon with the bells, synth, and finally timpany. It’s a quintessential Brian Wilson instrumental arrangement, highly reminiscent of the Holidays instrumental bootleg track from the old SMiLE sessions. I love this song and therefore Pinko will have objections.

Year Of The Dragon-Sufjan Stevens

Sufjan Stevens has been gaining quite a lot of notoriety for his masterful folkie Americana suites about states (Greetings from Michigan, and the soon to be released Illinois). But this is the music he makes on too much drugs. Know Your Rabbit, the album this song is on, is a song cycle based on the Chinese calendar, and is largely electronicy and minimalist. Year of the dragon is probably the centrepiece of this cycle. Timed at 9:26, it is not the longest song, but it is probably the most grandiose and adventurous. The first half is highly reminiscent of Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells”. It is hypnotically repetitive and builds slowly with a few new synthesized instruments added in over time. At about the four minute mark the piece changes dramatically. Time becomes compressed and the bass starts to play more and more powerful descending chords. It is a stunning and moving moment. Just as the crescendo seems like it can’t go any further, the entire song dissolves into a bleepy interlude and it starts to build and move in a different direction. The song finally ends with a Morse code series of beeps and then a short cacophony of fuzzy bass.

I really like this song a lot. It is probably the one song on the whole album that made me feel it was worth buying. I also think I like it for the same reason that I like “Tubular Bells”. It has a well structured flow and keeps my attention throughout. I’m quite curious what inspired Sufjan to pick this particular song as “Year of the Dragon”. Supposedly people born in the year of the dragon are healthy, energetic, excitable, short-tempered, and stubborn. This track, however, would probably be detestable to people with the above traits. Nevertheless, the track begins and ends like the roar of a dragon. 9/10.