Danny Elfman - The Nightmare Before Christmas OST (1993)

Danny Elfman - The Nightmare Before Christmas OST (1993)
Holy shit, this soundtrack fucking rules.
I'm a huge Oingo Boingo fan, and all of Danny Elfman's creative chromaticism makes the transition flawlessly to soundtracks. Plus, this album has a longer shelf-life than most holiday albums, remaining relevant from October to December!

Fuck it, the whole album is a highlight.

I am filled with Halloween spirit!
(possessed, one might say).

Carl Craig and Moritz Von Oswald - Recomposed (2008)

Carl Craig and Moritz Von Oswald - Recomposed (2008)
Every once in a while, whilst trawling the dark recesses of the internetz, I'll come across an album that'll make me go "how the fuck?! does this exist?! why haven't I heard about this?!". This is one of those albums.
When the highly esteemed and revered classical label Deutsche Grammophon opened its vault to Carl Craig and Moritz von Oswald to remix/reinvent Ravel and Mussorgsky, the detroit techno producers made the odd though experiment work out fantastically.
When I first read the description, I had a bleak vision of filters and drum machines behind generic classical music. This is not the case. Sometimes ambient, sometimes heavy and driving, the juxtaposition of classical music and techno is a much more harmonious combination than one would expect.
Chopping their source material sometimes beyond recognition, the two DJs keep the many layers in constant motion. Trumpets become percussive, and an organ is used to create enormous washes that flow across the left and right channels in an enormous sonic wave.

So, download this, pack a bowl, turn off the lights, and

Requests, plz.

Requests, plz.

Comment with an album that should be up here that I've never fucking heard of.
Include a description.
The coolest sounding one (as decided by me) gets put up.

Fuck you, pigs!

The Ventures - Super Psychedelics (1967)

The Ventures - Super Psychedelics (1967)
This is my favorite album by the criminally underrated instrumental psychedelic surf guitar group. Pioneers in using pedals and effects in their compositions and covers, the album is rich with guitar tones. Tremolo-picked fuzz guitar joins sitars, flangers, phasers, theremins, and all manners of cool guitar tones as The Ventures chew their way through the pop hits of the 60s.

Though their original compositions are fun, and have mostly aged well, my favorite songs on this record are primarily the covers. "Strawberry Fields Forever", "Happy Together", and "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" are each at least as good as the originals, and tend to add a great deal to their source material.

Andreas Staier - Artist Portrait (2002)

The talented German pianist and harpsichordist explores Bach, Mozart, Salieri and Schubert among others, and his interpretations are rich and nuanced. The strongest and most dynamic track however is the opener, Boccherini's Fandango, performed complete with castanets and flamenco stomping.

Hören Sie

The Dismemberment Plan - Emergency & I (1999)

this year has been pretty bad for music, no? some would disagree, i'm sure (plenty, even) but as of now it sucks. anyway, time to be senile and promote something old - emergency & i. i extol this record because of the many factors that have helped make it such a good record. it's instrumentation is innovative in a way which makes it seem new at any point since it's release. i'm not the type to care for lyrics, honestly - a bunch of jirble-jarble nonsense about rattle snakes and jarred mutants, but the contemporary timelessness they portray is really astounding - they are very applicable to that modern view of the world, even if this is 12 years old. musicianship is beyond precise, reaching very satisfying levels of composition and the odd time signatures break pace in a very great way. the "90s sound" is all but there and their jangly sound and definitive keyboard is great, plus the drumming is fantastic. superb listen and a total treasure, give it a spin of your harddrive or whatever other terrible thing to say there is.

Rinaldo Alessandrini conducting the Concerto Italiano - Brandenburg Concertos (2005)

Rinaldo Alessandrini conducting the Concerto Italiano - Brandenburg Concertos (2005)
I love Bach, but there seems to be a constant assault on the man's music. I've heard countless lifeless performances and recordings that deconstruct his mathematical, fractallian counterpoints and melodies to soulless, half-dead theory exercises for robots. This is not one of those recordings.
Under Rinaldo Alessandrini, the Concerto Italiano performs the pieces with great emotion and liveliness, as they manage to make the classical ensemble music literally (not literally) leap of the sheet music and run around like a stag in a...parking garage? The tempos are towards the faster end of the spectrum, but not unnecessarily so (*coughcoughGlenGouldcough*).
The recording quality is magnificent. Ever single part is heard in absolute clarity, and balanced immaculately. This is splendid, because every part is performed near-flawlessly. The use of period instrumentation on this recording gives it an astounding depth of tone-color and lush, rich ambiance. The solos are without-fail virtuosic--of particular note is the harpsichord cadenza in the fifth concerto (supposedly performed by Bach himself at the premier!).

UNKLE - Psyence Fiction (1998)

UNKLE - Psyence Fiction (1998)
This is the album that I can trace almost all of my favorite music back to ("back to which I can trace my favorite musics"? screw you grammar). The product of a collaboration between James Lavelle and the always-spectacular DJ Shadow, the album has everyone you could possibly like.

Kool G Rap? Check.
Mike D from the Beastie Boys? Check.
Thom Yorke? Yep.
Badly Drawn Boy? Absolutely.
Richard Ashcroft? Check.
Metallica's Jason Newsted? Plays the goddamn theremin!
Ian Brown? You know it!

And these are just the guest artists. The samples are all over the place--this is DJ Shadow we're talking about--and reinforce the almost cinematic Sci-Fi feel of the album. Lots of creepy vocal samples, Shadow's trademark dirty-ass drums, and old commercials give this album a lush soundscape.

And the music! Ah! After the swirl of samples in the intro (it's fucking ridiculous, look it up on wikipedia 'cause it's too long to put here), comes some killer gangsta rap, mellow trip-hop, hard-rock, ambient interludes, a string ensemble with beats, more hip-hop, and then a fucking Thom Yorke ballad (with a stellar video).

This album's a fucking trip, and the songs flow into each other so well, your brain can't help but create its own space-opera narrative.

Outsider Lounge Music - Captain Luke + Cool John Ferguson (2008)

Outsider Lounge Music - Captain Luke + Cool John Ferguson (2008)
"Music Maker Relief Foundation keeps our culture vital by directly supporting senior (over 55) American roots musicians in need. We provide for basic life essentials while expanding their professional careers so that our rich musical heritage can be shared with the world and preserved for future generations.

Since the organization’s founding in 1994, Music Maker has assisted hundreds of musicians who represent the traditions of Blues, Gospel, Old-Time String Band, Jazz and more."

Captain Luke, born in 1927 in South Carolina, sings a bass that's low and full of emotion. Paired with the bluesy guitar stylings of Cool John Ferguson, an album full of some killer blues tunes. Both personalities shine through, and make the album remarkably personal.

Check out this short video of Captain Luke teaching how to sing bass.

Classixx - Into The Valley (2011)

LA's Classixx used to be called Young Americans until they got sued by David Bowie, which is both kinda shitty and kinda awesome. their dance-y mixes have been featured in Kitsune Maison, DFA, and Stones Throw comps, and they recently released this first single from their long overdue debut, which will be out... soonish? threw in a bunch of their remixes to round out the dl; peep their fucking excellent take on Yacht's Psychic City, better than the original.

jack and diet coke and turkish royals

go here for remixes of the new single by Yacht and Julio Bashmore

Tim Hecker - Dropped Pianos (2011)

Tim Hecker - Dropped Pianos (2011)

"This new Tim Hecker release is composed of sketch pieces recorded in 2010 in preparation for what would become the Ravedeath, 1972 album. All of the compositions are piano driven and minimal in nature. This is not a new Tim Hecker album, but rather a peek behind the curtains into the working process. That these pieces stand on their own as compelling soundworks is a testament to the fact that Tim Hecker is at the absolute top of his game at the moment."

Dig? This man makes some of the most fascinating soundscapes I've heard. Glitchy and yet wholly organic, they run the full spectrum. From intense, overwhelming noise to tranquil meditative sounds, I love it all. And so will you.
Like the description says, this is the sketches made in preparation for his most recent album. It's a little more dependent on acoustic instrumentation then his typical stuff--there's lots of piano--but y'know what? I could care less. This is still the stellar sound of Tim Hecker that I know and love.

bonus fact: I spent way to long trying to get this fucking cover the right size. Jesus.

Colin Stetson - Those Who Didn't Run (2011)

20-min, 2 song EP reminds me of P. Glass's extended sax melody studies. here the swirling, distorted/processed alto lines are paired with Can-ish, krauty rhythmic elements that provide a constant pulse no matter how "out" the playing gets (which really isn't that far out, anyways). edgy, sharp, beat-driven, and propulsive in a way that most modern/avant/minimal/studio-fun "un-jazz" (Arve Henriksen, say) isn't.

where have you gone, Nadia Boulanger?

Xander Harris - I Want More Than Just Blood EP (2011)

follow up EP to XH's excellent debut, Urban Gothic, which is something you'll definitely want to pick up if you're a fan of that Gatekeeper '80s horror-electro swag. the title track, one of the standouts from the full length, is remixed here into an 11-min epic and is itself worth the price of admission.


Rawkus - Forgiveness (1996)

Traditional Hebrew chants, electronified. Some dancey, some catchy, some heavy. All really neat sounds. I don't know much about this album or it's maker - I picked it up years ago second-hand - but if you care to enlighten us, comment.


Shukar Collective - Urban Gypsy (2005)

The Shukar Collective was born in Romania from the meeting of traditional ursari musicians (ursar means 'bear tamer' or 'bear handler') using spoons, wooden barrels or darabuka, and electronic music. What results is urgent, soulful, highly original and distinctive sounds. Some of it is a little difficult, but standout tracks like 'Gypsy Blooz' remain accessible and awesome.


Merit Hemmingson - Queen of Swedish Hammond folk groove 1971-77

Merit Hemmingson - Queen of Swedish Hammond folk groove 1971-77

Now, I'm not going to lie. I don't think that there's particularly a lot of competition for the Queen-dom of Swedish Hammond folk groove. But! If ever there was, I'm pretty confident that the sublime Merit Hemmingson would sweep the competition.

The music is pretty much as described--it's Swedish, it features a Hammond Organ, it's folk music, and it grooves like a motherfucker. My favorite track is probably "Steklåt från Älvdalen", which has a particularly tasty groove trip into some very fusion-y lines. Most of the tracks stay in about this territory, for better or worse, and are all quite mellow in a jazz-funk kind of way.

Various Artists - Funkcronomicon (1995)

Various Artists - Funkcronomicon (1995)
I've been loving this album for upwards of four years, and I still don't have a good grasp on what it is. Bill Laswell, producer extrodinaire, reassembles two discs-worth of some of the primest funk grooves, into a mismatch of funky thangs that range all over the place. All still have the classic Axiom sound, with low dub bass, drum loops, and very clean, almost sparse, production.
It's a great place to jump into Bill Laswell, who is easily one of the most prolific musicians ever, since it features a number of his stand-out groups, and many of the musicians in his enormous stable; Material and Praxis both have tracks, and Bernie Worell, Buckethead, Bootsy Collins, Eddie Hazel, Herbie Hancock, and George Clinton all make appearances in this indisputable funk masterpiece.
Ranging from aggressive, open jams (Cosmic Slop, Jungle Free Bass, Orbitron Attack) to tightly produced electronic funk grooves (Hideous Mutant Freaks, Animal Behavior), there's something on this album you'll dig.
Expect to see more Bill Laswell up here soon.

Elliot Goldenthal - Fire Water Paper: A Vietnam Oratorio (1996)

after posting the Good Thief soundtrack, i googled Goldenthal and it turns out he's a decently well respected composer as well. if you're looking for sexy chamber jazz or trip-hop interludes, you won't find them here. this is SERIOUS CONCERT MUSIC godammit, elevated to such by the presence of the OC's Pacific Symphony, no less than 3 choirs (!), 2 vocal soloists, and Yo Yo fucking Ma. it's not avant-garde by any stretch - there are few modern techniques and overall the work owes more to John Adams' minimalism and non-functional tonality (think Harmonielehre and Dr. Atomic) and romantic-era tone poems (Berlioz, especially) than it does to Stockhausen or Boulez. and despite its art music overtones, Goldenthal occasionally falls prey to a filmic mindset, with heavy reliance on the strings in the brutal Scherzo, and the odd "Law & Order murder scene" chord progression.

despite all that, i think this is pretty good. those propulsive James Newton Howard-ish filmic elements give the impression of an underlying narrative, like the music is taking you somewhere instead of making you wait 5 minutes for something rad to happen. and besides, there are some really sublime moments that will catch your breath (4:30-5:45 of track 3). judge it for yourself.

and it's about the Vietnam War or some shit

Worship Black Twilight - 2009

Right now, I'm baking several loaves of bread with upside-down crosses on them. This is because I can't afford to pay the entrance fee to catch some of these cool (angry) cats (black metal bands) tomorrow, and am going to do my best to barter my way in.

This is a compilation of some fantastic black metal bands from the legendary Black Twilight Circle collective. The tracks range from the biting hatred of Ashdautus, to the semi-ambient track by "Unknown", and the post-rock stylings of Arizmenda.

These groups are all the real deal, as is evidenced in this fascinating interview.

As always, if you love what you're hearing, support the band.

Toronto Chiptunes

This weekend, I drove nine hours to Toronto for a gathering of 8-bit musicians. Coinciding with the TIFF center was 12 hours of live chiptunes, with half a dozen NESs projected in the background.

This was just a prelude for the all night rave held outside of the old city hall. A big crowd raged to gameboy luminaries blasting uptempo beats, and impromptu breakdance battles broke out throughout the night.

Yours truly was on hand running a line out to record the madness. Right below are two standout sets: DEADBEATBLAST and Awesome Force.

Seriously, shit was fucking raging. Check it out.