Incredibly it’s been five years since the last album from Sufjan Stevens came out, the challenging, sprawling Age of Adz. That album to me is his pinnacle, a masterpiece that he may not be able to trump. This statement will be tested soon enough as his new album Carrie & Lowell is being released on March 31.
The preview below sounds like a return to his older work, with sort of an Illinois or Seven Swans sound to it. It’s quite lovely though I hope he still plays with the experimental side of music making as well, like the fantastic “Impossible Soul” from Adz. Clocking in at over 25 minutes and it’s an incredible song hat hits about every high and low you can imagine.
Was digging through Soundcloud this morning and stumbled upon this mixtape by Tycho which he created for Vice’s music blog, Noisey. It’s a really great mix featuring lots of my favorite artists like Jamie XX, Caribou, Apparat and lots more. Definitely some good tunes to work to.
Telefon Tel Aviv – “The Birds”
Apparat – “Arcadia”
Tstewart – “Untitled”
Bonobo – “Flashlight”
Jamie XX – “Girl”
Dreams – “Bloodsport”
Howlings – “Hearing Voices”
Jai Paul – “Jasmine”
Dusty Brown – “Hide No Signs”
Caribou – “Silver”
Blackhall & Bookless – “Kevins Spacey” (Virginia Remix)
Dauwd – “Moiety”
Beacon – “Fault Lines” (Dauwd Remix)
Spoon – “Inside Out” (Tycho Remix)
Music discovery has always been an interesting problem for me. I feel like my taste is pretty eclectic though these days I listen to mostly sort of abstract electronic music, a clear influence of my partner Kyle. So while browsing through Soundcloud, my now go-to location for finding new tunes, I was re-introduced to Holly Herndon’s track “Chorus”, a clipped up, distorted jam that in my mind clearly defines where my brain is at musically.
You can hear more of her brilliant music on her Soundcloud.
Tiga may not be as prolific as we (Well, I.) would wish him to be but you have to hand it to the dude for sticking to a very strict aesthetic of high luxury circa futuristic 1986. He hasn’t released anything bigger than a single since his 2009 album Ciao! and, while Non-Stop is one of the best Acid House mixes in recent history, he still leaves you wanting more. Yet, when Tiga delivers, he delivers.
An example of this: his latest single “Bugatti” came out in July and offered a very Germanic, very eighties, and very contemporary fusion of Krautrock and Tech House. Just when the song was gathering a *thin* layer of dust, Tiga released one of his best videos yet that is like watching a mixtape of sexy late eighties commercials from an alternate dimension, where men receive ketchup bukkake treatments and women play backgommon on men’s crotches. Needless to say, some of this video is NSFW.
Directed by Helmi, it consists of quick cuts and dramatic shots edited to the metallic cadence Tiga bases the song on. It’s broken by shots of him in varying outfits shouting “BUGATTI!!” at the camera. Like the song, every “scene” picks up a different piece of debris that results in warping the reality of this eighties world: remote controls spit, sexy legs have lost their bodies, people turn to dominoes, etc. Helmi plays with a visual vocabulary over and over and over again, presenting them in different shapes and forms like parallel universes orbiting next to each other without noticing. The effect is hysterical and absolutely ridiculous—and absolutely Tiga. As the song’s lyrics suggests, the Bugatti at one point was the car to have if you are a macho, aggressive, power suit wearing, ski lodge loving dude who works in finance: the video is a parody of that.
While some has branded the video as “Wes Anderson Movie On Techno And Acid,” I say it’s more of a commercialist fantasy where Tiga gets to grab the tits of models from Esprit commercials while drinking Cold Duck. It’s a fitting follow up to the swank still “Plush” and cable access kookiness of “Shoes.” This is undoubtedly the video of the year. Or 1986.
“Gene’s Liquor” sounds like a reference your mother would make regarding your Uncle Eugene’s drinking habit. Yet, that is probably the exact opposite of what Gene’s actually is: it’s a Los Angeles based collective focusing on retro leaning deep house. The debut release from Laurent (better known as IVVVO) is certainly intoxicating a simple statement of a back-to-basics approach to contemporary dance.
The release—GL001—is just three unnamed songs. The first track has made it’s way out into the world and it’s a song full of rattling attitude based in a basic back beat that last the entire song, framing handclaps, drum cues, knotted bass hits, light cowbell, high hat, and more. The influence of jazz is definitely present from the makeup of the song but it has been funneled through a Detroit vision of early techno. It ultimately lands among new house classicists like Medlar and Andres, which is a very, very good place to be in.
If this is your type of sound, Gene’s Liquor is a new label to bookmark then: they’re going to keep pumping more shit like this out. Moreover, you should also look into Delroy’s other label LA Club Resource. Catch “Untitled 1” below.
When you’re a guy like Nicholas Krgovich
you’ve had a very interesting career. He made a name for himself with acts like P:iano and No Kids (who I put on this mixtape
5 years ago), though for me it was his appearance on Casiotone for the Painfully Alone’s track “Old Panda Days”
that really sold me.
Now he’s back with a new solo record On Sunset which I’ve had on repeat for the past week. It’s a record about Los Angeles which in many ways sounds like Los Angeles and that numerous musical styles that have come from here. If I had to sum up the sound the record in one sentence I’d say it sounds like Jens Lekman tinged with R&B and the lyrical structure of 90s gangsta rap. Sounds crazy right? If you listen to Let’s Take The Car Out, the fifth track on the album, you’ll hear a distinct 90s way of presenting the lyrics yet it’s backed by elegant strings and a graceful piano.
I’m surprised that no one has picked up on this album yet, it might be the dark horse of 2014, but it’s certainly going to be in my top favorites.
Earlier this year Rolling Stone described Jack White as “Rock & Roll’s Willy Wonka” and it’s clear to see why. His label, Third Man Records, is undoubtedly a golden ticket for music fans. Its Nashville HQ boasts a record store and a music venue while also releasing some of the most out-there records you’re likely to come across. From a peach-scented LP to records that glow-in-the-dark, White’s label has enough eccentricity to give even Roald Dahl’s imagination a run for its money.
But Third Man Records isn’t just about novel ideas; they’re also passionate about great music. Perhaps that is most apparent in their most recent project; a first of its kind box set that charts the rise and fall of Paramount Records. Spread over two-volumes, the collection is an omnibus of art, words and music… and both volumes look absolutely stunning.
Volume One was released late last year (take a look here) and covers a period between 1917-1927. I now have a whole host of images showing off the second volume of the collection and it’s a beaut! Consisting of 800 tracks released between 1928-1932, this new collection contains six LPs as well as two books filled with bios, art and articles. Not only that, but it also contains a USB drive filled with music and ads from the era. Everything is housed in a beautiful aluminum and stainless steel cabinet that evokes the high art deco styling of the era.
Even if you’re not the biggest fan of music I’m sure you’d be impressed by how great this package looks. Taking inspiration from the likes of Walter Dorwin Teague, Norman Bel Geddes and especially John Vassos; the cabinet looks beautiful and the illustrations and design of the books is just superb. Its creators stated that their intention for the project was to create something closer to an interactive museum exhibit than a conventional music collection and I think they’ve definitely pulled that off.
To say that Paramount was an important record label feels like a bit of an understatement. Its output included releases from jazz legends such as Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller, as well as blues musicians like Charley Patton and Son House. Their contribution to American music is hugely impressive; bringing about the birth of the Mississippi Delta blues while also influencing the style of Robert Crumb and countless other 20th century artists and illustrators through their series of hand-drawn ads in the pages of the Chicago Defender.
A collection like this is a lot to take in. I’ve spent a small amount of time listening to it and feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface. I love the sound of the era and it’s been a joy to discover some great recordings from that time. Paramount was the first and most comprehensive chronicler of what America sounded like during the 1920s and ’30 so it’s great to see their legacy being preserved in a manner as fitting as this.
The Rise & Fall Of Paramount Records Volume 2, 1928-1932 is released November 18. Volume 1 can be purchased here.
Chaz Bundick of Toro y Moi fame has a new project out called Les Sins, going for a more dance-oriented sound. He was inspired by folks like Mr. Oizo and Daft Punk which clearly comes through on this new track titled “Bother”, the perfect anthem for a hard-working creative. In fact, he was inspired by design luminary Paul Rand while making the album.
“My favorite graphic designer, P. Rand always said, ‘Don’t try to be original, just try to be good,’” Bundick says. “When making this record that was/is my mantra—it was just constantly looping in my mind. I believe ‘good’ is timeless and once you can recognize that you’ll see the world in its fullest.”
Les Sins first album Michael comes out November 4th.
Seemingly out of nowhere Thom Yorke dropped a new album titled Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes this morning, to the delight of Radiohead nerds around the world. In typical Thom Yorke fashion he opted to release the album through a rather unconventional source: BitTorrent. For $6 you receive a BitTorrent bundle that contains eight tracks and an extremely odd music video featuring close-ups of Yorke’s face and him jumping around with boxing gloves. You be you Thom. You also have the option of buying the album on vinyl which looks pretty rad, though it’s £30.00 price tag might be a tougher pill to swallow. Still, I’m sure it was pressed in a very small edition so you may want to snag one while you can.
Electronic music visionary Aphex Twin, aka Richard D. James, is known for his avant garde approach to music, splicing, cutting, and destroying digital sounds for the last 20+ years. Still, it’s been 13 years since his last “studio album” Drukqs was released, leaving a peculiar gap in the electronic music landscape. Since then he’s been DJing across the UK and relocated to Scotland. And now he’s ready to release a new album.
Titled Syro, a word created by his children, the album features 12 tracks and will be released on September 19 (or 22nd depending on your format of choice). I’m not sure what exactly to expect from the album but it sounds like he’s excited for the album and that this is only the beginning. Speaking to Rolling Stones, James said:
Horny. I’m feeling really horny about it. And very smug … I’m in that mode now, so hopefully I’ll stay in it for a while … I’ve got a few more things planned—at least a couple more albums, some EPs, things like that. Some more dance-y things I did about 10 years ago. Experimental things, noise things, weird things. Shitloads of stuff. They’re all pretty much ready to go.
Looking forward to it.
From a design perspective the album features a minimal, slightly cheeky packaging design from The Designers Republic. Long-time Aphex Twin collaborators, the album represents an unseen aspect of producing an album: the cost. TDR founder Ian Anderson explains.
“The intense, and ultimately pointless detail of the list really appealed to me … it was good working with James Burton and the team at Warp to stretch out this mantra that tells the reader everything and nothing about the creation of what I hear was an intensely personal album in the making reduced to the numbers of an album in the marketplace,” he adds.
Quite a conceptual way to go but it makes sense when you think of an artist like Richard James. For me it’s all about the half face screen printed onto the plastic which I’m sure looks crazy on the white sleeves. You can read more about the design of the album and an interview with TDR over on Creative Review.