Meco - Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk [1977]

Meco - Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk [1977]


Fuck me, this is awesome.
As a Star Wars fan and a disco fan, one would've assumed this would've crossed my path before this morning.
In a nutshell, this is disco renditions of the soundtrack to A New Hope. And not just the main theme, but most every section of John Williams' Wagnerian score is here (and funky!).
Killer bass lines, tight drumming, and R2D2 sounds made on a Buchla Box by one of the early synth masters (Suzanne Ciani, look her up!) makes this something you need.

DISCO'S NOT DEAD

Void Pedal - EP (2010)


an extremely chilled-out trip hop record. the vocal samples, skittering drums, and overall mood put me in mind of pre-hiatus Portishead but with wobbles/bleeps&blorps instead of scratches. if you like this, be on the lookout for VP's 2011 release, Omni Colour, which is also tits.

download

Zoo Kid - Out Getting Ribs/Has This Hit 7" (2010)


An EP by the artist formerly known as Zoo Kid - he's rolling by King Krule these days - which is hitting me really hard lately.

Self described 'bluewave', it's a sole, reverb-heavy, jangly guitar playing minor and augmented chords; overtop he sings, mutters and mumbles, with a british accent which is impressively low and mature for his age... he's only 17, and I'm pretty sure he was still 16 when this dropped.

Get down

Caribou - Caribou Vibration Ensemble [2010]

Caribou - Caribou Vibration Ensemble [2010]


This is splendid.
Caribou, primarily known for his minimalist, psychedlic electronica, brings his A-game to his live shows.
In this limited, vinyl-only release, he is joined by four drummers, Sun Ra's horn section (including the great Marshall Allen!), and guitars, keyboards (someone involved with Fourtet, I believe), and just about anything else that'll fit on stage.
While his songs maintain their familiar structure, where they were once sparse and meditative, they are now full, heavy, raucous, and exuberant.
Barnowl is a personal favorite, with the horn section supplying melodic depth before breaking into sheets of cries, yells, shrieks, and the type of timbres that only an experienced free jazz horn section can supply.

BIG BIG SOUNDS

Doldrums - Empire Sound EP (2011)


Some really exciting musical things are happening in my town, and this is one of them.

One very talented fellow putting out insanely awesome, eclectic, arty, percussive, catch-heavy sound collages. Sounds a little something like this:



Scroll down to download here.

Tabla Beat Science - Tala Matrix (2000)


This one has been blowing my mind for years, ever since I thought that elephant on the cover was giving me the finger. Except I can't find my original copy, so apologies on the poor bitrate.

Bill Laswell goes to town with Zakir Hussain, Trilok Gurtu and Karsh Kale under the moniker Tabla Beat Science, and what results is an ensemble capable of tasteful electronic tinkering and sampling, heavy beats, and some of the finest Indian percussion you've ever heard.

I'm an (admittedly very amateur) tabla player, and what I love best about this album is that it honors the original recordings so much. Remixing this kind of stuff can be touchy, gimmicky, lame... but this is solid, the samples only underlining what was already great in the first place. Pay special attention to the only un-electronified track Alla, in which Hussain pays special tribute to his father and guru, the late Alla Rakha.

Om.

Xihilisk - Xihilisk [2010]

This is a sort-of 'best of Xihislisk' album. I wasn't familiar with his work before listening to it, but it definitely convinced me to explore more.
A compilation // best-of album is particuarly succesful when an artist has such a broad range of work that a single album makes for an insufficient introduction. This is definitely the case, as Xihilisk works his range of black metal, experimental electronics, noise, post-rock, and ambient soundscapes. Where they most impress me is that even within such a broad spectrum of styles and sounds, there is always a consistent expressive voice. Xihilisk definitely has a cohesive sound, even if traditional genre boundaries are incapable of expressing // confining it.

My favorite track on this probably "Chysalis March", which gradually builds and builds until it soars in a crescendo reminiscnet of fire alarms, a symphony orchestra, whales singing, and norse-god Heimdallr staring into the future.

The cherry on top: he's got a very progressive attitude towards music distribution (i.e., his album Fuck the RIAA). Here's a link to his whole discography he put on his blog.

Zavala - Vessel Instrumentals (2011)


Zavala's ridiculous beats were by far the best part of the Dark Time Sunshine project. de-grimed (they're pristine) and without emcees flowing over the top, you can see why these complex, swirling, and yet decidedly organic soundscapes can stand on their own. not the emcees fault, it's just a testament to Z's beatmaking that his skills overshadowed the rest of the collaborators - after hearing them this way, i haven't listened to the proper release again. fans of Nobody's early beat tapes and FlyLo's Los Angeles will probably really dig this shit.

beats me

Mary of Egypt - EP [2010]J

Mary of Egypt - EP [2010]J
Oh wow, this one was a surprise. Bandcamp is such a wealth of awesome stuff that doesn't get the love it should.

This is a wonderfully composed pop album by Mary of Egypt. The Joanna Newsom and Sufjan Stevens comparisons are inevitable, but what really stands out on this album to me is the nineteen-century impressionist influence. Harmonies reminiscent of Debussy are played on mellow woodwinds, as subtle electronic percussion roots the overdubbed vocals, and a muted classical piano provides the bed to rest it all on.


(pay-what-you-will Bandcamp link)


Soom T / Disrupt - Ode 2 A Carrot (2011)

Soom T / Disrupt - Ode 2 A Carrot (2011)
Sometimes, an album has everything you could want in it.
Like this li'l gem, for instance.

Dub influenced production? Check.
Songs about smoking weed? Check. Checkcheckcheckcheckcheck. They're all about smoking weed.
8-bit sounds? Check.

I don't know much about those involved with the creation of this lovely album, but it's dancehall beats are put to good use behind the fantastic vocal stylings of Soom T, who plays with language, rhythm, and melody while rapping.

It's pretty great. It didn't do a lot for me on the first listen, but I put it on again, and then I had to listen to it again, and I played it again, and then...yeah.


Alfred Schnittke - Piano Trio/Quintet (2005)


as i've implied here before, Schnittke is probably my favorite modern composer. this disc was my introduction to his work and, oddly enough, i bought it at a Tower Records (RIP) based solely on the cover art - love it when that happens. it starts with the Piano Trio, a very cool piece that combines Viennese music circa Mozart with Alfie's trademark brand of polystylistic modernism (peep the 5:15 mark of track 1). but the real slobberknocker is the Quintet, my favorite of all his compositions. i remember driving at night the first time it played on my car stereo and being so engrossed that i literally pulled over and sat there until it was done. to this day i don't think i've heard music more terrifying and full of despair. as it is, i can barely listen to it, sort of like a really depressing movie (Dancer in the Dark? Requiem for a Dream?) that you avoid re-watching but that captivates you with its beauty.

i found out later that it was begun after his mother's death, then shelved after writing it made him have a breakdown, and then finished a while after that. it struck me yesterday that the 5 mov'ts sort of model the 5 stages of grief. the opening presents a haunting theme in the piano that subsequently stagnates with false start after false start, refusing any real development and crafting a perversely insistent denial. the 2nd mov't is an angry, evil waltz, with the strings crowding each other's space with claustrophobic quarter-tone lines that derail any attempts at lyricism, the piano all the while pounding out a demented rhythm in 3/4... and it just spirals down from there until the finale. maybe another composer would end on a happy note, and at first it seems like Schnittke is going to do just that; the lovely major key theme grows in fits and starts, floating along placidly. and then the strings enter, reintroducing brutal snippets of phrases from the other movements. maybe this is the truest manifestation of the acceptance of grief - life goes on, getting easier a little bit at a time. but maybe the pain of it never truly goes away, always lingering and ready to strike.

none more black

Whale Tooth - EP (2009)


Let me say that, generally speaking, I'm really not into the cutesy-indie-rock thing. At all. But in the right mood, and when it's done absolutely right, I'm listening.

This little band from my excellent city is an example of that 'absolutely right'. Impressive musicianship, interesting vocal qualities, and especially catchy hooks come together to make this group something special. All this plus an overall interesting quality to its production - underproduced, sparsely mixed, I can't quite put my finger on it - make me a fan. 'Clever' is an especially great track that features a great climax, have a listen.

And... I may or may not have a big crush on the lead singer, you should too.