Sunday, April 13, 2008

Add N to (X) - Live Recording with a Dead Thurston

Add N to (X) - "Live Recording with a Dead Thurston"

Taken from Thurston Moore's Root project, where he mailed out short guitar recordings sealed in vacuum-cleaner bags to a number of artists and musicians. What he wanted in return was never explicitly stated, so artists were free to compose remixes, responses, or even visual pieces. Collected together onto one CD, Root is a jarring album that's all over the map, and probably only for the most patient fans of experimental music. There's still lots of groovy B-side worthy material from the likes of Blur, Stereolab, Springheel Jack, and Luke Vibert, but much of the rest is punishing mechanical noise pieces. At nearly 80 minutes in length, this is not an easy listen. Some people might even say it... sucks.

There's no shortage of ear-grating noise pieces on the album, but most seem intent on getting under the listener's skin through unpleasant frequencies and irregular repetition instead of trying to knock them over with giant slabs of sound. Add N to (X) take the latter route and turn in one of the heaviest tracks I've ever heard, a huge, overdriven assembly of analog noise that sounds like some kind of terrible machine gone out of control. The group was always into merging the physical and the mechanical (as made obvious by their album covers and videos), and likewise there's an unsettling, living pulse beneath this inhuman racket. The end of this track always blows my head off. Brutal shit, this right here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

video #54: Kid 606 - The Illness

In which Miguel Depedro's fursona transitions from a long running label logo to an Indiana Jones-adventurer on a gabba-soundtracked quest for a magic laptop. Directed and animated by Joel Trussell, who's made a few more videos that I should get around to seeing soon.

Hard to believe this album is already five years old! I know that means nothing to most people but every time something passes a milestone that's divisible by five, it seems like a big deal to me. Anyway, having gone since 2006 without a single release, this has been the longest stretch of silence for Kid606 since he started making records ten years ago. This July finally brings a new album from him on Tigerbeat6. The title is Hooray Bass!, which is probably a clue that it's not going to be a mellow ambient album like Resilience or P.S. I Love You. We'll see!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Alice Coltrane - Translinear Light

Alice Coltrane - "Translinear Light"

Translinear Light was my introduction to Alice Coltrane and is one of the richest and prettiest albums I've heard in years. There's some really far-out stuff on this but the title track has a beautiful, meditative feel to it that just makes all other jazz I've heard over the past ten years sound like shit! I'm not just talking about Spyro Gyra or Kenny G, I'm looking at you, Wynton Marsalis.

I first heard "Translinear Light" on some NPR jazz show. Not the one that's hosted by the guy who sounds like he's 90 years old and likes big band music a lot. I think it was this one, which used to play lots of good great, classic, 60's stuff nearly every night but was forced off the air last year to make way for some radio experiment that's probably never going to get off the ground. Anyway, that was a year or so before she passed away, but how awesome to go out on top like this? I've since heard Journey in Satchidananda and Universal Consciousness and they have their own dark, moody vibe to them that I really enjoy more than anything I've heard so far by her husband.

Translinear Light takes the ideas of those albums and blows them up into a hi-fi mix, where every note is more immediate and the dark atmospheres are illuminated in the warm glow of a brighter and more organic palette of sounds. It's jazz, but anything but the pleasant and background music that jazz had become in 2006. It's spiritual as fuck, but honest and full of conviction in ways that the peddlers of so much new age pablum these days are incapable of understanding. It's a gorgeous, personal trip that should be a timeless classic if anyone cares anymore.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

video #53: Britney Spears - Break The Ice

Already three singles deep into Blackout we come to "Break the Ice," which actually isn't a bad dance track, for being as dumb and obvious as it is. Much better than "Gimmie More," which was just a boring pole-dancing song, even though lots of people into Robyn, The Knife, Annie, et al., seemed to think it was amazing. At least this song has a little bit of finesse to it. I know they're cranking out ones like this every day now but you could do a lot worse, I guess.

I won't speculate why there's an animated Britney Spears video in 2008 except to state the obvious in that it was probably a necessity. Watch for the shot-for-shot Ghost In The Shell ripoffs. Ponder the subtle metaphors in the narrative as Britney infiltrates the industry and destroys her other, fabricated self. LOL at another "anime" video being made by Americans.

Youtube has disabled embedding of all copies of this so you've gotta click the picture if you want to watch it.