Monday, March 21, 2011

DJ H▼∆D (+ bonus performance art from aids-3d)

Through random internet searching of something somewhat unrelated, I stumbled on an artist by the name of DJ HVAD. or as he spells it: DJ H▼∆D, on his myspace.

I'm not sure if there's a particular genre associated with this type of rap and beat-making, but it's very homegrown sounding beats, often with sped up vocals and a bunch of random samples and edits. I'd say that it's vaguely related to the chopped and screwed music side of hip-hop, but y'know, on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Either way, I considered it to be a pretty sweet find, a gem that has virtually no exposure in the US.. the biggest evidence of which is that it is hardly google-able. The hooks in the raps and the beats are surprisingly catchy and well constructed. The most information I could get out of his myspace was that he is on a label (equally as mysterious) called Bornwrong Records, and that he's from Denmark. and also that he likes to ordain his page his weird photos of black people, for whatever reason.

So on a whim, i sent him a message to ask him where I could buy his music, and to my amazement he responded by initially saying that I could send him some money through paypal for the tracks. I asked him how much and for which tracks and he replied by apologizing for trying to charge me, and told me that since I was from LA and he liked that town, he would send me the tracks for free. He also recommended a night in LA called GROWN at M Bar on temple st. which i am going to most certainly check out the next time i'm out there.

still waiting on the tracks (keepin' my fingers crossed), but in the meantime he provided me with his youtube and soundcloud accounts, which I am now providing for your enjoyment. so indeed, enjoy.

his youtube channel, interestingly enough is called 'listen to mogwai' and his soundcloud is under his other alias dj yungbukkake / WhyBe.

for a quick listen, here's a rip of one of his myspace tracks:

all in all, a pretty fascinating character. if i ever get those tracks they will most certainly be a SPEED GLUE AND MUSIC EXCLUSIVE.

oh and btw, I found this guy by coming across an event for (i'm assuming) Denmark arthouse aids-3D.

who also led me to this performance art piece by them called Network of Love:

i think it's pretty interesting, but i must warn you, it's probably very NSFW starting at 8 or 9 minute mark. but then again, why are you watching videos at work? GET BACK TO WORK

why am i not at work you ask? well maybe because this is my job!.. i'm a professional blogger, OBVIOUSLY

alright, i'm done. will return w/ updates, new fun things

Friday, March 18, 2011

tracks: lil b - various tracks

via space age hustle

Lil B has been blowing up lately, but honestly it's a strange sort of success he's enjoying.  I've been a fan of Lil B since his days in The Pack, and a few of his latest tracks (especially the ones on this mix) I think are some of the best rap tracks being produced today.  Despite that, the fact remains that by almost any criteria you might want to use, Lil B is a terrible, terrible rapper.  In fact, one of the first things that made me a fan of Lil B is that he is so bad at rapping.  It's a debatable point I suppose, but if you look for cleverness, complexity, and actually rhyming in rap, Lil B is definitely awful.  So what's with all of the hype then?  Lil B's inability to construct actual raps are part of his larger persona, which is that of unpredictable weirdness.  Its impossible to guess what Lil B will do or say next, much less guess if he's going to bother to construct a rhyme at the end of a verse, and that is what critics and fans love about him.  That definitely makes it seem like the majority of the attention he is getting is from non-rap fans ironically enjoying a rapper for being strange, rather than for his music.  Of course, the nature of hip-hop is such that persona is always at the forefront, so it's hard to be too disappointed in people focusing on the rapper and not on the rap, but I can't help but imagine this probably grates fans of actual rap music the wrong way.  Personally I tend to focus more on production in rap than on actual mic skills, so it doesn't bother me much.  And Lil B's persona is really entertaining, especially his goofy motivational self-help positivity side .  But what I like best about Lil B is that he chooses to rap over unusual beats that you might not hear more conventional rappers utilize.  The "Illusions of Grandeur (Remix)" at the top of this post is a great example of this; Lil B says virtually nothing of interest on the track but its got such a huge vibe that it succeeds in spite of his shortcomings as an MC.

Lil B-Base For Your Face (Ft. Jean Grae & Phonte) by EverythingSwagBased

This Lil B track on the other hand, produced by 9th Wonder and featuring talented word twisters Jean Grae and Phonte, takes the wrong tact.  That's not to say it's a bad song, but there's pretty much no reason that Lil B should be on this track.  It's a bad fit, and makes it seem as if the established rap world hasn't really figured out how to approach Lil B yet.  Personally, I'm hoping that Lil B sticks with the more far-out style of beats.... and that some label or producer manages to step in and do some quality control so that we can get one really good Lil B album rather than dozens of mediocre ones.

Extra: A ridiculous and hilarious track-by-track review of the 676(!!!!!!) tracks Lil B has released over dozens of myspace pages.... it's EPIC.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

video: geneva jacuzzi - clothes on the bed

Geneva Jacuzzi hails from the same lo-fi glamorous weirdness scene that birthed Ariel Pink and Nite Jewel, and she falls approximately square in between those artists: the bedroom disco chanteuse styling of Nite Jewel crossed with the rinky-dink keyboards and bizarro persona of Ariel Pink is a pretty close description of Geneva Jacuzzi's sound.  Given Ariel Pink's skyrocketing popularity over the last year (and the tendency of sites like Pitchfork to find ways to unnecessarily drop his name at every opportunity... their recent description of Gary Wilson as a "proto-Ariel Pink" is just one of many examples), I'm pretty wary of any new artist that is seemingly hitching their cart to his success.  Geneva Jacuzzi has been cranking out her lo-fi jams for years however, and her recent full-length "Lamaze" on Vinyl International collects songs from 2004-2009, well before popular acclaim caught up to the music Ariel Pink was inspiring.  So despite the fact that this sounds a lot like Ariel Pink, and he mastered and guests on the album, at least she started doing this before it was cool to do so.  Another point in her favor is that, despite the fashion and self-indulgence (which honestly I take as a given for any artist coming out of LA), Geneva Jacuzzi seems like a huge dork.  The appeal of the lo-fi pop sound to me is that it seems more sincere and honest, due to its indifference (or perhaps inability) to replicate the gloss and sheen of the fake, vapid music it emulates.  With the numerable glamor shots, costumes, and multiple videos, Geneva Jacuzzi seems like she is attempting to position herself as a diva, but the oddness of the music and overall low-budget aesthetic points to a more legitimate artistic statement than a simple attempt at pop success.  Check out some of her other videos:

Bad Moods (Rough Edit) featuring Ariel Pink

Love Caboose

Monday, March 14, 2011

video: grouper on the experimental 1/2 hour show

I'm working on a round-up of various tracks and videos that have hit the net over the last few days, but here's one that's so substantial that I think it needs its own post.  The Experimental 1/2 Hour is a Portland community access program that proves that community access television can be more than just City Hall meetings and drug casualty weirdos.  This 30 minute set from Grouper closely approximates what it's like to see her in a live setting, but here she is unaccompanied by the nature footage that was projected behind her last time she performed here as part of the On Land Festival.  She's not really the most dynamic stage performer, so without the film there's not much going here visually.  Fortunately for those curious about her non-musical work, Grouper has released "Divide", a new book/DVD combo on Roots Strata (the book portion of it is really really awesome, but I've yet to watch the DVD).  And then there's more music (two albums!) coming from Grouper in April, too: Dream Loss and Alien Observer.  While I'm hoping her new records will be a little more engaging than this, this performance is nevertheless a patient and beautiful (and kinda terrifying at the end) ambient piece, and I'm pretty jealous that Portland gets such great community access TV.... who wants to try and get something like this going in SF?

PS - for extra experimental weirdness, check out this performance that launched the Experimental 1/2 Hour show (and was my introduction to the program)

the austerity program - backsliders and apostates will burn (2010)

The Austerity Program - Song 25 by speedglueandmusic_aw
THE AUSTERITY PROGRAM // Song 27 by ourbandcanbeyourlife-77

The Austerity Program
New York City, New York, USA
Backsliders and Apostates Will Burn (Hydra Head, 2010)
RIYL: Big Black

Although I'd been planning to sit down and write this review for a few weeks now, THIS bumped writing this review up to the top of my list.  If you didn't click that link, it's a news bit about how there is going to be a live tribute to the book "This Band Could Be Your Life", featuring the music of the classic bands from that book as performed by some of the fucking LAMEST modern indie bands who have NOTHING to do with the bands they are covering.  In particular, I'm pissed that some jackass (seemingly Michael Azerrad, the author of "This Band..."???) thought it would be "cute" or "funny" or "ironic" if St Vincent covered Big Black.  Ha ha, isn't that funny?  Aren't you laughing?  Its like, St Vincent is this twee folk indie chick, and like, Big Black are that seminal pissed-off noise rock group that basically personified seething hate and loathing?  GET IT? THIS BAND COULD BE A JOKE HA HA HA OMG LIKE THAT'S SO FUNNY.  Anyway, this is a review of an album, not just my raving about some boneheaded indie rock travesty.  And the reason that said travesty prompted this review is because The Austerity Program are pretty much the closest modern equivalent to Big Black around.  The relentless drum machine, the heavy bass driving the show, the snarky attitude, the intense energy of Big Black are nicely kept alive by The Austerity Program.  On previous releases, Terra Nova and Black Madonna, The Austerity Program didn't quite manage to rise above the rank of "pretty good Big Black rip-offs".  On last year's Backsliders and Apostates Will Burn EP, however, The Austerity Program have refined and focused their sound, becoming "pretty excellent Big Black rip-offs".  While it's impossible for any Big Black fan to listen to this without hearing that band's influence, there are a few differences between them and The Austerity Program.  While The Austerity Program's guitarist/vocalist Justin Foley often recites his lyrics in the same deadpan spoken style that Steve Albini used, Foley also stretches his vocal chords out further, reaching for melody far more than Albini ever did.  This is one of the band's most notable qualities, because Foley is not a very good singer.  However, I think that fact works to the band's advantage: Foley's caterwauling lends a sense of sincerity that makes his darkly humorous lyrics more interesting.  And in terms of subject matter, although Foley visits the same kind of bleak subject matter that Albini covered, Foley seems more desperate and out-of-control than Albini did.  While my repeated references to Big Black might seem dismissive of The Austerity Program, I think that there's more going on here than simply paying tribute to an older band.  And even if they were, seeing as Big Black are better than 99% of any other band (then or now), being a Big Black clone still puts you ahead of the rest.  Just don't ask me what I think of bands that "ironically pay tribute" to them...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

horseback - the invisible mountain (2010)

Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
The Invisible Mountain (Relapse, 2010)
RIYL: Grails, Om

Originally released in a limited run in 2009 on Utech, Horseback's four-song mini-album The Invisible Mountain was re-released in 2010 to wider audiences on Relapse, one of the biggest metal records in the US. You might expect that would mean that this is a metal album, and I guess if the presence of (rather subdued) scruffy black metal vocals is all it takes to make something metal, then this is. I was certainly expecting this to be metal, since I first heard about this album on Haunting the Chapel's best of 2010 list, where it broke the top 10 (besting Burzum even)! But apart from the raspy vox, this is pretty much a straight-forward neo-americana/post-rock album in the vein of Om, (modern era) Earth, Barn Owl, the soundtrack for Jonah Hex that Mastodon made, and most of all, Grails. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing- do you like those bands (and that OST)? There is a good chance that Horseback's trance-inducing basslines, mournful steel guitar, and patiently unfolding darkly Western soundscapes will appeal to you. One noteworthy aspect of this album is how natural the blend of traditional American instrumentation, post-rock structures and black metal tinges is. Horseback's sound, while not terribly groundbreaking, is definitely fully formed- when Horseback hit their stride, especially on "Tyrant Symmetry" and "The Invisible Mountain", the result is an compellingly heavy groove. And the album's final song (the vividly named "Hatecloud Dissolving into Nothing") stretches out over 16 minutes, abandoning the rhythm section in favor of slowly twisting and mutating shimmery guitars and strings, resulting in a very sorrowful and moving epic. That being said, although The Invisible Mountain is well crafted and enjoyable, Horseback have yet to really bring anything new to the post-metal table. I found the mileage I got out of this album to be inconsistent; sometimes I put it on and found myself engaged and taken by the grandiose songs, whereas other times I found myself wishing that there was something more original here. Perhaps most of all I think that this is a very promising start for Horseback, and I'm looking forward to see if they can solidify their place among the already established bands in this genre. However, if you consider yourself an post-metal-stoner-Americana enthusiast, this is definitely an album to check out.