Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Shabazz Palaces-Black Up (2011)

Shabazz Palaces - Swerve... by subpop

Shabazz Palaces - An Echo From The Hosts That Profess Infinitum by subpop

This year feels like it's really trying to have a good hip hop run. Some might be fooled with some of the subpar crap coming out that looks good on paper and in the press(odd future youngins im looking at you!) For the most part this year has some ok stuff coming out. Lil B came out with something decent, the Ghostface/Doom collaboration dropped their first single today and thats pretty solid. Death Grips made a very divisive album( i loved it). Then there is this. Shabazz Palaces feels like effort, it oozes creativity. It doesn't fall into the usual tropes most hip hop falls into. There is very little bravado present, very little cliche on this album. Thats just the words. The musical side of this album is even more dense and "new" sounding. There are twists and turns at every corner with new ideas cropping up here and there. A neat little trick they employ is that of completely changing the entire structure of a song in its final 2 minutes, they do this on more than half the album and it still feels like a surprise anytime. It kind of reminds me of way Skinny Puppy structured their album Last Rights on cd, where the beginning of the next track actually begins at the end of the track that precedes it. It creates a disorienting feeling that is addictive as hell.
This is a very solid hip hop release and so far the best thing hip hop has had to offer so far for 2011.
I guess it takes a veteran from Digible Planets to show all the new(and some of the old) cats how to do shit right.
Everyone should take note, this is the way to make a hip hop album, you know how they used to make em...

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Men-Leave Home (2011)

01 If You Leave by sean.taylor106

It starts with a hum that is vaguely Middle Eastern in origin. The beginning of man. The beginning of The Men. Slowly building with tiny pieces of feedback from both the bass and guitar. Little electrical hums flicker about. Then shitty harmonics play above a feedback drenched bass line. Then the shit opens up, wide fucking open and now it sounds like Harvey Milk jamming with Spacemen 3. Who could ask for anything more?? It is beauty through chaos and then the drums come in and its a kick ass rock song and ladies and gentlemen we are no longer floating in space but now very grounded. "Die, I would die!" gets repeated over and over, and i would die to in a shallow grave in the middle of a seedy bar in downtown LA with these heavy notes and waves of distorted guitar, i could just die!
Back to Earth we are allowed to listen to these recorded sounds over and over, while wearing a pair of pissed jeans and remembering why you liked heavy music to begin with. This is the culmination of collections filled with amrep records, touch and go singles, and just that special amount of 80s weirdness. apparently this is hardcore but i beg to differ, this is just rock, rock at its most confrontational and cerebral. It's albums like these that remind me why i started listening to music in the first place.
Another modern masterpiece to place next to my Jesus Lizard and Big Black records.

LONG LIVE THE RAWK!!!!!!!!!!!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

RIP brain dead dave, owner of force of habit records

I woke up tonight trying to remember what 90's emo band we were talking about that time you came on my radio show, when we had been at the bar earlier and then on the radio you played a ("pre-nazi") Skrewdriver song and wouldn't stop cussing on air (I believe your parting words to the audience were something along the lines of "goodnight you motherfuckers!").  You were a funny guy, and one who cared deeply about music.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

mysterious black metal: mamaleek - kurdaitcha (2010) & murmuüre - murmuüre (2010)

Black metal is a genre becoming more and more crowded everyday, making the effort to find acts doing something interesting and original with the sound that much harder. Recent trends like an overt shoegaze influence were astonishing when they arrived, and have now become commonplace and BORING. The problem of searching for new sounds is compounded by the fact that trying new things is always risky, and the bands out there making genuine efforts to push black metal forward don't always succeed in making something that's actually good.

Mamaleek - The Hypocrite & The Concubine by speedglueandmusic_aw
Mamaleek - My Body Rock Long Fever by speedglueandmusic_aw

Kurdaitcha is Mamaleek's third album, but it is my first encounter with them. I first heard this album a few months ago, and have been trying and failing to put into words what it sounds like ever since. They are a pair of brothers from San Francisco, but beyond that not much is known about them. It USED to be standard practice for black metal musicians to be "mysterious" and not very press-savvy, but in recent times certain black metallers have embraced press coverage with open arms (hello LITURGY), so it's actually pretty refreshing that I'm not staring at glossy photos of these dudes while writing this. It makes it a lot easier to focus on the music, which is good since this music is AWESOME. Mamaleek's approach to black metal reminds me a lot of Lifelover or Joyless, in that they incorporate many disparate and unusual styles into an overal black metal vibe. On top of the black-metal-appropriate buzzing guitars and pounding drum machine, Mamaleek incorporate sampled pan flutes, unnerving disembodied voices and other unexpected elements. These unusual ingredients are not just garnishes on top of meat-and-potatoes black metal however, as Mamaleek's music is as much industrial, noise and shoegaze as it is black metal. I know I mentioned earlier that I thought shoegaze and black metal was a played-out combination, but it's done here in a less clumsy and more original way, so I don't feel like I'm listening to some trend-hoppers. In fact, despite the reckless mish-mash of genres happening on Kurdaitcha, the album is incredibly listenable. While it might not be sufficiently grim for black metal purists, and too harsh for those not open to metal, I imagine that there is a pretty sizable group of people like me who have been starving for something new that is as WEIRD and RAD as this record is.

Murmuüre - Amethyst by speedglueandmusic_aw
Murmuüre - Disincarnate by speedglueandmusic_aw

While Kurdaitcha is an album I've been turning over for months, attempting to unlock its secrets and mysteries, Murmuüre's debut self-titled album from last year is one that I've only recently come across (despite hearing some very high praise from the always reliable aQuarius records last year). Hailing from France, Murmuüre's approach to black metal is as bizarre, adventurous and psychedelic as Mamaleek, but the end result is very different.  Murmuüre's music is more open-ended, mostly layers upon layers of thick and threatening atmosphere, only occasionally punctuated by a beat and a few howled vocals. Although not as immediately catchy as Mamaleek, Murmuüre have just as much happening on this album- it is a record both sonically busy yet also subdued.  I admit that I haven't listened to too many dark ambient records, but this is probably the most appealing approach to that idea that I've come across, and I suspect I'll be continuing to find interesting and new details the more I listen to this.