Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Where to find me

It should be fairly obvious by now that I no longer use this blog.

If you're interested in what I have to say, you can follow my personal blog:


I'm also writing a strictly music blog with a couple of friends:


There you have it.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Well, I've not updated this blog in about 3 1/2 months, which is at least several eternities in e-time...

Back in February I deleted an entire folder with all my ideas, links, lists, half-finished posts, etc. - it was basically about a year and a half's worth of work, which for some reason I had neglected to back up. Doh!!! That little blunder along with school, a new girlfriend and a general reassessment of my priorities basically left this place in disrepair.

Apologies to anyone who's enjoyed reading this (all - what is it six - of you?). The bad new is that I am probably going to pack it in as far as this endeavor is concerned. But the good news is that I've started a new blog and, though I've not gotten anything up yet, I promise that once I do it'll mop the floor with this one...

Expect rather heavy focus on music - i.e. what i'm listening to as well as free stuff I've found and probably some mixes compiled by yours truly - but in general the content is gonna vary a lot more.

I'll link to my new diggs as soon as I got something up worth looking at.

Thank you, whoever you are.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Lupe Fiasco - Enemy of the State: A Love Story

This mixtape turned up on the internetz a couple of months back, but I've only just now gotten around to listening to it. I've never really thought of Lupe as a freestyler, but given the quality of everything else he's done, I shouldn't be surprised at how good this is.

Grab this and listen as Lupe flexes lyrically over the course of 20-some-odd minutes, on everything from synth pop to dirty south rap to Radiohead.



[edit: you can download all of Lupe's mixtape's here]

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bullion - Pet Sounds in the Key of Dee

London's Bullion is one of the dopest producers in left-field hip hop period. Over the last few years, he and his One-Handed Music label-mate Paul White have been churning out groundbreaking, hallucinatory psych-hop like it ain't no thang.

This is the "mixtape" that announced Bullion's presence as a serious creative force back in '07. And yes, the execution is every bit as good as the premise.


Oh, and if you're a collector or jockularly inclined, be sure to check Bullion's latest single Say Good Bye to What out now.



Wednesday, February 17, 2010

El-B's Mundo Musica Cumbia Mix

Ever wonder where El-B - the man who's drums inspired Burial to start producing - got his rhythm from?

Well if you're a fan and you've pondered the origin of that deadly syncopated swing he injects into his tracks (it's not anywhere in the EU that's for sure) then this probably makes a lot sense, like it did for me.

I love Cumbia and i know absolutely nothing about it, other than it's almost impossible to sit still through.

Cut up dance hall style with air horns and shout-outs, this 55 minute mix is a perfect intro to Cumbia and ideal for walking through the Mission, or any other sunny Latino-filled place, on a day like today.



Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bun B - No Mix Tape

Bun serves up this appetizer (which actually is a mixtape) just ahead of the release of Trill OG: installment three in his triad of trillness.

If you're familiar with the man then I probably don't need to convince you check this out. And if not, here's your chance to clock one of the dirty south's best.

...uh, the first beat is actually pretty weak, but after that shit gets stupid trill son.



Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Horrors - Primary Colours

You know, I vaguely recall seeing a promo picture of these guys a couple of years ago. It was in Rolling Stone or Spin or something like that. At the time I was nonplussed: besides the unctiously fawning press release - which was obviously aimed at teenage girls - the dudes looked like ridiculous, wannabe goths in the accompanying photo. Like they were advertising for Hot Topic or something.

I can’t speak for what they sounded like back then, because I had already dismissed them as a contrived marketing gimmick or at best a cheap rip-off of The Cramps. From what I understand though, they’ve altered their sound considerably for this sophomore effort; bringing in big time production help from Portishead’s Geoff Barrow and Chris Cunningham.

The result is kind of like b-movie meets garage rock – a weird hybrid of gothic surfiness and blood-shot paranoia, where warbled synthesizers and entropic distortion collide with the stark and hollow coldness of vocalist Faris Badwan, who has definitely listened to more than his share of Joy Division. Though he sounds like Ian Curtis more often than not, Badwan does a cockney-ish punk thing pretty well too on songs like Mirror Image and Three Decades.

The use of synthesizers (tonally and in the manner they’re employed) is one of the more distinguishing aspects of Primary Colors. Swathes of them warp and refract into distended melodies adding to an already disorienting amalgam of reverb-drenched guitars, Phantom-of-the-Opera organs and grinding amplified feedback.

On Three Decades synths screech like twisting steel and surf guitars are bent and stretched to the point of creating an unsettling Doppler-like effect.

Who Can Say, probably the most pop-friendly tune, is a love song undercut by dirty, serrated guitars and giddy synthesizers saturated with reverb until they create a kind of hall-of-mirrors-like sound a la My Bloody Valentine.

The lyrics, when decipherable, are predictably morose, but what else could you really expect a band calling themselves The Horrors.

Not everything is so over the top though. The sprawling 8-minute, synthetic odyssey, Sea Within a Sea is melancholic and almost Depeche Mode-eqsue. My favorite of the lot, it's a lovely way to send things off after all the carnage.

I reckon you could pick apart the obvious influences: Joy Division, The Smiths, New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen, My Bloody Valentine, etc., etc.; wax condescendingly about how they’re just the sum of these various reference points. You could ridicule the blatant Halloween/b-movie shtick. You might label the approach pretentious or heavy-handed.

None of this, in my opinion, changes the fact that it's a flawlessly executed hybrid of dark garage rock, gothic punk and psychedelic noise.



Monday, February 1, 2010

The Flaming Lips / Star Death and the White Dwarfs - The Dark Side of the Moon

Wow! Just… wow. The Flaming Lips have got to be the only band with the stones to attempt something like this, and surely the only one with enough creativity and artistic integrity to pull it off.

For those who dug the sound of Embryonic – their obtuse, experimental double album released back in October – this will probably go down well (in fact if you’re one of these folks, it’s worth checking out even if you’re sick to death of The Dark Side of the Moon or were never a Floyd fan in the first place).

The Lips’ re-imagining of this almost canonical record produces an effect that is truly surreal. Like the original on an ephedrine bender and no sleep – the experience is more paranoid, more hallucinatory and generally more unsettling. The tone is set in the first few seconds when Henry Rollins (who’s been tapped to do all the speaking parts) says, “I’ve been mad for fucking years. Absolutely years … I’ve always been mad

As with Embryonic, the aesthetic dept to early Ummagumma-era Floyd is palpable; thus in a neat stroke of irony it’s essentially an update of classical Floyd with an approach owing in part to pre-classical Floyd.

Did I mention it was loud? Yes, really loud. Loud and weird. The amplitude’s been cranked and the freak-out knob is at least at 11 - smearing the pristine production of the original into a chaotic mash of buzzing ambiance and crunchy distortion.

The chiming clocks at the beginning Time, for instance, have been replaced by digital, saw-wave alarms and a full on air-raid siren, and the song itself is inverted; with the intro being noisy and the verses/chorus being subdued.

Sex-obsessed Canadian shock-tress, Peaches, was a surprising though ultimately brilliant choice for That Great Gig in the Sky. The cultured elegance of the original tune has been replaced by a chugging, rhythm-heavy groove that’s more than a little rough around the edges. And Peaches’ vocals have been run through a guitar pedal, contorting her normally mid-coital moan into the tortured howl of some orgasmic BDSM fetish involving electrified clamps.

Money retains its original bluesiness, but Wayne Coyne’s vocals get the vocoder treatment and the result sounds like robotic alien lounge music that might fit in a David Lynch film or maybe a tavern on Tatooine. Us and Them sounds positively meditative compared to the rest of the madness.

Because Pink Floyd’s most celebrated record has become practically ubiquitous in the years since its release – you can hear it in the dentist office FFS –one could be forgiven for overlooking just how groundbreaking-ly weird it actually was. The Flaming Lips, having now put their own spin on it while staying true to the original spirit of weird, continue to do whatever the hell they feel like. And I continue to applaud.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ronin - Best Laid Plans

When artists give their music away it tends to arouse certain preconceptions - i.e. the quality of said music is suspect and thus not worth paying for (which is why it's being offered for free).

This is an exception to the rule; a full-length album's worth of moody, cinematic trip-hop with a dark, jagged edge; think DJ Shadow crossed with Amon Tobin circa Supermodified. Sinister atmospherics, dusty hip-hop drums, touches of jazz, orchestral samples and dialog from obscure film noir, swirl together in a sonic cauldron of claustrophobic urban dread.

Ronin's a turntabilist which means:
A) that his work leans heavily on the art of creative sampling to achieve it's affect. This could be a well placed orchestral horn stab, paranoia-inducing strings or nicking a piece of a Hitchcock movie. It also means scratching everything from Chuck D to a recording of someone reading Edgar Allen Poe.
B) a keen ear for transitions and overall flow of composition. The seamless blending of tracks is reminiscent of a proper DJ mix and also a well scored film.

Great concept and damn near flawless execution.

Grab it while you can



Friday, January 22, 2010

Let Money Speak Freely

In a 5-4 ruling yesterday, the Supreme Court overturned two of its previous rulings designed to limit the amount of money that big business can funnel into elections.

The majority, led by Chief Justice Jon Roberts, are claiming it as a victory for political free speech. Those who dissent worry about the flood of corporate capital that will inevitably ensue.

Perhaps you're the type of person that thinks so what big business runs everything already. That may be so, but it doesn't make the self-righteous way that Roberts et al wrap themselves in a garb of anti-censorship any less nauseating. It’s also a slap in the face to an American public that’s becoming acutely aware of just how limited it’s influence is.

The question that springs to my mind is just when did corporations become American citizens? And what entitles them to the same protections guaranteed by our Bill of Rights? As far as I can tell it ain’t in the constitution.

Let’s be honest shall we? Corporate “free speech” is not about expressing dissent, it’s about buying off or attempting to buy off those necessary to get what is desired. That might be a bit hyperbolic, but it’s the way things generally play out isn’t it?

The whole affair really brings up a larger issue I have with the way that government is conducted these days.

Unless I’m thoroughly mistaken, our founding fathers intended our government to be a special kind of entity; one beholden to its people. Not in the sense that a company is beholden to its share holders (although that’s much closer to our current situation), but in the sense that its very existence owes to those who’ve entrusted authority in it. This would seem to mean looking out for the populace even at the expense of profit (e.g. who would you rather have inspecting your meat, someone whose top priority is turning a profit for shareholders or someone whose top priority is public safety?).

Unfortunately during the 20th century the US government’s relationship with its people began to change from one of responsibility to the interests of those who grant it authority, to one of a client/server nature. (The problem with this being that obviously those clients with the biggest accounts are of primary importance.)

This change was a subtle process that unfolded over several decades*. It really took flight though, during the reign of the younger, dumber Bush, whose administration, in its race to prove the incompetence of government, couldn’t privatize itself fast enough.

It’s really difficult from here, to see how this money-corrupted system is going to fix itself. Remember when Obama promised an end to the unfettered influence of corporate lobbying? Well this decision just means more money will be thrown around; so more big energy, more insurance, more Wall Street, etc.

But hey who am I to criticize the free speech of others right?

*there's an excellent book called Downsizing Democracy that lays this out in painstaking detail.