April 30, 2012

The Panabrite Horizon

There are no rules. This seems to be generally understood when it comes to music creation, though with varying philosophies and individual line-drawing; perhaps less considered is the same applicability to all practices surrounding music: art direction, context, format, or in the case of this post's angle, release patterns.

Each artist is an island of case-by-case bases; one man's over-saturation limit is another man's stride. For some acts, a dozen releases in as many months is too much, and the art suffers. For others, like Seattle's Norm Chambers, each installment is strengthened by its proximity to the others. I like to imagine that Panabrite isn't an alias for the man Norm Chambers, but rather a music library subscription service, issued monthly and geared towards video production houses of ambiguous-chronology, specializing in documentary, animation, educational films, melodrama, and the avante garde.

I own enough Panabrite releases to constitute a measurable percentage of my music collection as a whole. I might wish under my breath for some musicians to slow down, but not Norm. Unable to choose just one upcoming tape or LP to anticipate, I've instead rounded the horizon up in one convenient blog entry.

Stream: Three songs from Blue Grotto
Upcoming cassette tape on Love All Day.

Stream: Illumination
LP reissue of cassette tape originally issued on Sic Sic. Coming soon on Under the Spire.
Stream: Seychelles
Self-titled release under the name Seychelles. Intended for cassette release on Field Studies, sometime in 2012. Currently available digitally via Bandcamp.
Video: Soft Mirage - Courtyards of Atlantis from Ionian Dream
Upcoming collaboration with Christian Richer (Élément Kuuda, The Haiduks, Cavernes). Available now on cassette via Kinnta Records.

Eccentric Breaks & Beats 2

Numero Group is a soul-centric reissues label founded in 2003, known for its devoted attention to detail and high pace of activity; they describe their centerpiece collections with devotion...
"Eccentric Soul, our flagship series, has documented lovingly mishandled soul labels from Columbus, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Phoenix, Atlanta, and Miami. Our Wayfaring Strangers compilations collect the privately issued song-fruits of wandering folkies. Each Cult Cargo release visits the sonic shores of some tiny, isolated nation, while Good God! titles seek the spiritual, as enshrined on reels of audio tape neglected until now. And with Local Customs we investigate isolated, mom-and-pop recording outfits, each operated by a homespun Alan Lomax who gave neighbors and friends studio time, a microphone, and a shot at being heard a generation later."
Last year, the label released Eccentric Breaks & Beats, a fan made "mega-mix of . . . favorite loops, breaks, and vocal snippets" pieced together into a coherent mixtape from Numero Group's immaculate back catalog and illicitly circulated on a small private pressing. Impressed, the label contacted the fans that made it and prepared a formal pressing, to some fair success. Apparently the first volume triggered a cascade of similar submissions from other young producers, splicing together their own set of favorites, but none had the same powerful narrative thread that bound the first together. "Eyeball-deep in royalties", they didn't immediately appreciate the second volume when it was submitted to them by Parallel Thought, who recently released a collaborative 12" with MC Del the Funky Homosapien - it has the most hideous cover I've seen all year (check it out here) and although I acknowledge I might be relatively sheltered, I felt obligated to mention it in case the awesome painting Numero got for Eccentric Breaks & Beats 2 wasn't enough to ease your conscious. In any event, they're giving volume two for free and it's awesome.
This bad boy is all one track, so just hit download and you're good to go, but click through here for some more reading from the label. When you're done with that, check out volume one here.

The 78th Morning Tide

On March 29 Woodsist tweeted, "B.R. Garm - The 78th Morning Tide LP. find it. buy it." So I did. I found it on Etsy. This morning it arrived in a package from Portland, Maine. I thought it would be the Germs or X, because I ordered both of those earlier. I wondered if it was from a record store where Herbcraft shops. But I opened it and saw that it was this. It came with a handwritten note from Caleb on stationary with a picture of a worm coming out of a hairy ear, and on the back were brown frogs with human heads. Side one ends with a couple of zombies in an Irish pub, mugs raised, singing "Wreck of the Ella Fitzgerald" till they fall into a locked groove.

My wife shut the bedroom door when I put this record on, and I shut the door to the living room. I put on side two and turned it up and leaned back in my chair and looked at the cover and tried to think of a sentence that didn't contain the words "weird" or "strange," but I couldn't. The song that's playing right now is like the stuff I sing at the top of my lungs when I'm driving around town and I don't have a good tape to listen to, when I make up the words and bellow along to some melody that's forming in my head. But this has instruments and layers of voices like sirens and / or a hundred electrified tones from a dozen dirty electric boxes. Near the end there's some table saw mixed in. I won't spoil things by telling you if side two has a locked groove, too.

Two days later I listen again and write, "holy shit this is a weird ass fucking record. Just when I think I recognize something it mutates into something else. It's a bunch of songs built on acoustic and electric guitars, bass, no drums, singing, some shouting or shrieking or whatever, but it's busy with noise, strange sounds all over the place, echoes and feedback and bent twisted tones." Which helps explain things, but not much. So I just listen. Those zombies are singing into their drinks again, but the pub isn't in Ireland, it's in a small American town, and they're so drunk they're in the spins and it's only by holding on to the melody of that depressing old Gordon Lightfoot song that they're able to keep from throwing up. But they can't survive the locked groove. And here are those sirens I heard before. They're wailing while a man sings, "There's a thing I'm thinking of. I'm stoned on drugs, going out of my mind. There's a thing that I'm thinking of. Well, I'm stoned on drugs." And I realize that this is what I was listening to the other day when when I wrote that it's like the songs I make up and scream when I'm in the car by myself, and I wonder what this says about me. I also realize that those Germs and X records still haven't arrived.

Hobo Cop

If you don't know him from his imprint Orange Milk Records, you might remember writer and musician Keith Rankin's truly "visionary" experimental synth project Giant Claw from our 2011 favorite's list where we recommended his tape Tunnel Mind on Digitalis Recordings. Few have kept their focus as well as Rankin. He's a stalwart. With his latest he approaches nearly a dozen releases on various formats under the name, a dizzying output that began in 2010 and has been a pleasure to watch. Haunted Planet seems to draw more on his early work than Tunnel Mind; there's less suggestion of "synthscapes" (à la the dramatic washes that underpin his captivating Mortal Earth/Morbid Earth cassette on Retrograde Tapes) and more of conscious drama and emotional narrative, muddled occasionally by a scattering of dense maximalist swells into synthesized orchestral jumbles. In a similar vein, I can't say enough how well suited that cover art is to these songs and how expressive it is of Rankin's shift since Tunnel Mind which, although its cassette edition had multiple handmade covers, was mostly represented for promotional purposes by a brooding dark blue collage, crowned by a snow-capped mountain (see here for further context).

Stream: Giant Claw - Hobo Cop
Haunted Planet is available on 12" vinyl in a limited edition from French label Wool Recordings, who were a groovy outfit to discover in their own right. Peruse their catalog if you've got a second. Finally, if you want to find out some more about Keith, Brad Rose, who released Tunnel Mind, did an excellent interview with him over at Foxy Digitalis; check it out here.

Premiere: Tubetops - Warmer Still

Although the pratfalls of challenging yourself "to write as many songs as possible in one weekenaged" are pretty numerous and potentially devastating, New York's Tubetops thrived, recording their Warmer Still EP under just those conditions, yielding a far more focused effort than the self-titled release that preceded it. Where Tubetops was complex and poppy, Warmer Still is at heart dance music, supported by the band's boasted vintage synthesizer collection and driven by distorted bass.

MP3: Tubetops - Warmer Still
Warmer Still is available from Tubetops' bandcamp, pay-what-you-want.

April 29, 2012

Video: Death Songs - Let This Body Go

Death Songs is the solo project of Nick Delffs from Portland's the Shaky Hands. Though they've put a few years between themselves and their last release following some line-up changes, according to their label, Holocene, work continues on a new one. They were a college favorite and though it's been a while since I've heard any new material, it was exciting to hear about Delffs' new project. By and large, his new stuff seems to be an even more upbeat and idiosyncratic experience than his past; lyrically Death Songs is covering similar ground, or at least different ground in similar ways, but divested of a full band Delffs' songs quickly become populated by a menagerie of claps, other body-made percussions, and a varied but bluesy flavor of string accompaniment. The video above was filmed in Boise, ID and seems to exemplify Delff and his band's reputation as Northwestern gentleman, with him being pulled across the unique landscape by a friend in an aviator hat, treating some occasional strangers to a goofier morale boost than they might have otherwise expected from the uncommon sight. It ends in a montage of roadside dancing, scenes of their various travel methods, and bummed rides.

"Let This Body Go" comes from Delff's self-titled Death Songs EP, available from his label Post-Consumer on 10" vinyl via their bandcamp

April 28, 2012

Pale Glistens

Mr. Luke Donovan, aka Spectral Park, has done it again. While he's been enjoying his new role as a dad and mixing a batch of fresh tracks (which he'll hopefully drop on us soon), he released this new, freewheelin' single called "Pale Glistens". If a song can sound like an article of clothing, this track would definitely be a sweet paisley print shirt. Theatrical, sunny, and upbeat, it's also not without some weird psychedelic twinges around the edges -- roll out the shag carpet and light up that roach you've been saving. This one'll grow on you.

MP3: Spectral Park - Pale Glistens
Definitely check out Spectral Park's previous material -- which can be found right here, y'all. (Image by gifmovie.)


"Aoxomoxoa" is a palindrome (apparently pronounced "ox-oh-mox-oh-ah") created by psychedelic artist and cartoonist Rick Griffin and the Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter to title the Dead's third album, an interesting footnote considering composer and media-mystic Cosmas de Xam began his project Pwin Teaks to either document or evacuate an entirely healthy obsession with Twin Peaks, only becoming more questionable in that it somehow overlapped with Lynch's most boring (as far as I'm concerned) grotesque, Laura Palmer. The reference in the title is itself interesting for a variety of reasons. The Grateful Dead's Aoxomoxoa was originally a very experimental record; though I haven't heard any of those recordings, I know anecdotally that the final product bore little resemblance to the first, and that it's final form underscored the partnership between Jerry Garcia and lyricist Robert Hunter. Pwin Teaks' album on the other hand, is without lyrics, spending most of its time in a pair of roughly twenty minute long tape loop and sampled meditations on warp and distortion, the first a thick haze of whirring noise and suspenseful darkness, while the second almost works itself out into recognizable melodies, more or less haunted by the the mingled skeletons of different songs. The  closing track, named for the album or just the palindrome or perhaps even the Grateful Dead album, is a shorter collapsing of the two tones into a singularity, the build towards a crowded jumble of sounds and finally the slow re-emergance of the thread of sanity, gradually more manifest in a simple line of repeated organ tones.

Update: My colleague Joe Miller caught this post Saturday and directed mt to "What's Become of the Baby", a track from the original mix of the Grateful Dead's Aoxomoxoa. Though even for that album the track is a bit of an outlier, twice the length of all but one other track on the album and animated by an extended, heavily distorted croon, the atmosphere and effects resemble the texture of Pwin Teak's album enough to suggest a more tangible connection. Joe summarizes succinctly: "Garcia was on laughing gas in an echo chamber when he made it".

Stream/Download: Pwin Teaks - Aoxomoxoa
Order Aoxomoxoa from Brave Mysteries.


We've gotten word of an interesting new "synnergy" - longtime friend of the site Chris Roberts, aka Orca Life, handled the soundtrack for New York cartoonist Jared D. Weiss' impending film, Transmission, the inspiring story of "Quad-Clops . . ." - guess who that is - ". . . and his dog, 2D, after they find a radio in the barren post-apocalyptic wasteland that is their home". Naturally, hijinks ensue. For those of you in New York, the premiere is slated for SVA's Dusty Film Festival on May 7th in the SVA Theater at 333 W23rd St. and will hopefully circulate to others before trickling up to the cloud not too long after.Whatever the case, Roberts was kind enough to send along a sample of what attendants can expect to hear.

MP3: Orca Life - Sleep Pt. 2
Check out more Orca Life here and see more of Weiss' work on his website. Roberts' soundtrack will be available on cassette this summer from his own imprint, Otherwordly Mystics.

April 27, 2012

Ancient Thing

That picture up top? That's Michael Falsetto-Mapp and Jon Bernson, aka Exray's, on god damn Mars I bet. That's how cool they are. They're so cool their band name - "Exray's" - has an apostrophe even when they're not doing something (vis a vis, an implied ellipsis) or possessing something. They're description on facebook is "with an apostrophe". Love it. To some extent, I like to connect that deliberate dissonance, this "thing" without a "thing" in spite of the apostrophe's implication, with the dystopain themes of their new album Trust a Robot and the incredible juxtaposition of experimental beats, synths that variously crunch and move songs along in symbiotic instrumental arrangements, with Bernson's almost trademark vocal tempo. Howells' description of the album references Philip K. Dick and a whole sequence of connected humanists who wrote sympathetically about darker worlds suffering in stagnant social structures. That is the disconnect; between reality and irreality, good and bad structures, and the robot they exhort you to trust - is it "Exray's" or someone else's? A free agent? The edifying positivity and humanity that the aforementioned juxtaposition conjures detracts on first listen from any overarching sense of 'high concept', but ultimately it's certainly what makes Trust a Robot such a beautiful album.

Stream/Download: Exray's - Ancient Thing

They've also just floated a new remix they did for Latent Sea, adding Bernson's vocals and a more mellow sensibility to their well honed, high intensity electro-pop.

Stream/Download: Latent Sea - Light Holes (Exray's Remix)   
Grab their new album Trust a Robot from Howell's Transmitter.

The Race Is On

I've been really enjoying this ultra-dreamy track from L.A. electro-pop quartet Blacks& (or "Blacksand", for all of you out there with ampersand aversion). The track, "The Race Is On", comes from their debut EP, A Ghost That Follows Me, which was self-released online earlier this month. While somewhat reminiscent of Vampire Weekend, Blacks& is a tad more suave and romantic; they have a pronounced golden hue throughout their music that lingers like warm, tropical moisture in the air. The track is relatively long, clocking in at almost 5 minutes, and within that timeframe it evolves from a woozy, danceable gem into a slower, chocolatey-smooth jam that ends with the cheeky lyrics "You run to me / I run from you / baby girl, it's the least that I could do". We here at the extravagant Decoder headquarters are very interested to see what these guys do next.

MP3: Blacks& - The Race Is On
Pay whatchu want for the whole EP right over here. I'm pretty sure each download comes with a free tiny paper umbrella.

Genesis (The Recycle Culture Revelation)

I'm typically not to keen on posting remixes from artists I've never heard originals from, but Recycle Culture's remix for Grimes' track "Genesis" comes across more as a cover that they completely own by its end. Then there's that gorgeous track art above. What kind of evil soul would I be if I didn't post this!? The original's heart wrenching melodies remain in tact while Recycle Culture installs a high pulse dance drive to back the entire thing. As the song progresses it becomes more a tribute to the beauty of Grimes' track, taking on an emotional tone of its own that differs greatly but holds up equally to the original.

MP3: Grimes - Genesis (The Recycle Culture Revelation)
Recycle Culture doesn't seem to have much work in tow yet, but the recent mix for DIS Magazine and remix for Korallreven's "Sa Sa Samoa" have me eagerly awaiting more tunes.

Oh Be Joyful

Steel guitarist Daniel Bachman used to go by Sacred Harp and I remember that name making me very happy very consistently, referencing as it does the southern tradition of sacred choral music, originated in 18th century England and then fostered throughout the south for more than a century. My dad's always telling me about how his ex-wife's uncle made dozens of field recordings of sacred harp singers throughout Alabama and the Deep South, and with ire, how his family destroyed them when he died. Under that name, Daniel released a tape titled Feast of Green Corn with Mirror Universe Tapes. There are even a few copies left here. For the moment though, Daniel is focusing on music under his own name, releasing his new LP Oh Be Joyful on One Kind Favor, a seven song album and the first half of a double album, preserving on vinyl some instances of his incredibly facile playing; guitar ragas, ala Robbie Basho. Not to make a big thing about age, but the depth and drama of the traditional music he transmits is incredible to imagine for any fellow traveler, old or young, and to imagine Bachman's songs being played conjures up thoughts of a darkened fugue state, made drunkenly meditative by his engrossing songwriting.

Order Oh Be Joyful here.

Video: Unicorn Kid - Pure Space

[directed by A Nice Idea Everyday]
Unicorn Kid recently dropped a video for his newest track, "Pure Space". I'm not sure what more this video could have; from 90s retrograde looking footage to cute redheads (Lady Unicorn?) and Unicorn Kid custom ecstasy tabs (presumably) to top it off! The video was also shot in Berlin, which is a bit of a dream destination for me at the moment. As with the Tidal Rave EP, this track oozes some sort of visceral bliss that seems to reach into my chest and turn my heart upside down in such an exciting way. I'm pretty jazzed on today already, and Unicorn Kid makes it all the harder to find a frown on my face this morning.

Kiss This (Vol. 0)

Following hot on the release of Kiss This volumes 1, 2, and 3, San Diego producer Jeff Tuyay, aka Miró Belle aka the producer with the smudged face album covers (as the rest of the covers in the series evince) is offering the final installment in the series, Vol. 0, on Bad Panda Records. Jeff explains the name, describing these songs, some outtakes and a few new tunes, as too different to fit with the previous series releases; "These songs are more loopy than choppy. I like trilogies/triptychs and only wanted to count up 3". Before his explanation, I was inclined to think the ambiguous a-fourth-installment-named-zero thing has to do with the conceptual supremacy of the samples that make up Vol. 0. The whole repertoire of samples sound like they were lifted from 70s-era British spoof films, like One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing (of cherished childhood memory), that was appropriately billed as a "funky fossil frolic", which actually describes Miró Belle's latest pretty handily.

Download Kiss This (Vol. 0), and all the rest, over yonder at Jeff's bandcamp.

Freedom at 21

I've been a fan of Jack White's for almost a decade now - I'll never forget being 15 and hearing The White Stripes for the first time. My fandom continued throughout my formative years as White changed hats (figuratively and literally) with The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, and although his weird dalliance with Insane Clown Posse scared me a bit (was this how the good part of Jack White's career would end?) I've still been very hopeful, albeit nervous, for the release of his first solo album, Blunderbuss. I should've known that he wouldn't disappoint.

Blunderbuss came out a few days ago on Columbia Records, rather than White's own imprint Third Man Records; he actually commented at length on his choice (surely an enviable deliberation) in a recent interview with NPR's Bob Boilen:
"[Columbia's] history is amazing. They're the first record label. The very first. They invented the album. They've got an incredible history. So I always thought if I did a solo record it'd probably be a great idea to do it with them and I just hadn't done one 'til now... I really didn't want to do this album a disservice. I ain't got nothing to prove about being indie or anything like that."
It's clear that White doesn't have anything to prove about being "indie"; he's made a fascinating and idiosyncratic existence for himself, since his early days of being an upholsterer and a member of various (many of them now illustrious) garage bands in Detroit. White's always seemed to have a tight grasp on the big picture, and although he's reluctant to talk about his personal relationships, and he admits to "growing up with a lot of Catholic guilt, and a lot of punk rock, hipster guilt in the later years", his musical career has always come across as something that's been crafted with a large amount of control and a shit ton of focus. Blunderbuss is a strong, tight collection of songs that exude this sense of control, along with serving as the first time White's released an album under his (faux) solo moniker.

I often feel that solo albums (by musicians that were formerly in full bands) fall flat; they come off as tedious and extremely self-involved, and tend to serve as more of an auditory diary than a real album. My reservations about this immediately dissolved with the opening track on White's solo album, "Missing Pieces" - frolicking organ starts the song and is soon joined by White singing, "I was in the shower so I could not tell my nose was bleeding". He continues to lose body parts as the otherwise upbeat song progresses, and it ends with him crooning, "Sometimes someone controls everything about you / and when they tell you that they just can't live without you / they ain't lyin', they'll take pieces of you / and stand above you / and walk away / and take a part of you with them." Compare this sentiment with the album's closing track, "Take Me With You When You Go", and we could speculate as to whether or not White's singing about his recent divorce from model/singer Karen Elson, or the official dissolution of The White Stripes, but we'd never really know.

With the second track, "Sixteen Saltines", White continues to flex his varied musical muscles, this time pulling out riffs that, more than anything else on the album, remind me of classic White Stripes material. The lyrics revolve around a less-than-compassionate woman that White seems obsessed with: "She doesn't know, but when she's gone I sit and drink her perfume". The hard-hitting drums and simpler rhythms in this track are complemented perfectly by the following song, "Freedom at 21", which opens with my favorite intro on the album - subtle layers of uniquely syncopated drum rhythms softly build while a deep, growling organ holds it down, until they're joined by guitar and White begins singing about another cruel woman who cuts off the bottoms of his feet and makes him walk on salt. With all of the lyrics about hard-hearted women, you'd think White was jaded, but in fact he's the opposite, at least in relation to gender:
"If you have twenty guys in the room and you just bring in one girl, you change the entire mood and everyone plays differently. That's what happened in The Dead Weather and that's why I think we became such tight friends... The four of us wrote in that band, I think, because of her [Allison Mosshart] and her attitude."
However, White's opinion when it comes to love itself might be a tad different, if you take the lyrics of "Love Interruption" (the first single off the album) seriously. The track starts out with, "I want love to / roll me over slowly / stick a knife inside me / and twist it all around", which may sound a bit horrifying, but his intentions are made more clear by the chorus, "I won't let love disrupt, corrupt, or interrupt me anymore" - a sentiment that I think everyone feels at some point in their life, though I've never heard it expressed in a song before (but honestly, rarely have I come across a songwriter with the lyrical genius that Jack White possesses).

Some other highlights on the album: White's blistering, sped-up cover of Little Willie John's "I'm Shakin'" (White's always been good at choosing songs to cover), the funky, dirty-ragtime track "Trash Tongue Talker" (chorus: "You broke your tongue talkin' trash and now you're trying to bring your garbage to me?"), the self-deprecating "Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy", and the aforementioned closing track, "Take Me With You When You Go" - some sort of fusion between pop-rock, alternative jazz, and a tiny amount of country, the song really breaks it down at 2:05 with a sudden burst of grimy guitar and of course, lots of jamming. All in all, White's managed to use his skilled musicianship and engineering knowledge to make a really solid album. Blunderbuss is something White should definitely be proud of; it's certainly renewed my interest in seeing what he does next.

Buy a copy of Blunderbuss here, and if you like, check out White's record label (with its mind-burningly beautiful physical location and "rolling record store" truck) here.

April 26, 2012

Dolphin Dance

Thank you with all of my heart, BMORE MUSIC (sincerely recommended Baltimore-centric RSS feed, maintained by the friends at Friends). They recently shared this track and listen, they described it as a "tutorial on flossin'', as succinct as you can get while maintaining supreme accuracy. Rick Rab may have entered your consciousness (as he did mine) last year with his well-designed and highly-listenable Thick Liquids tape, though I haven't encountered many rabid-fans™ so who knows: the uninitiated should be compelled to investigate the label Watercolor's disemvoweled domain (same people responsible for excellent tapes from Ken Seeno, Co La and Lil Jabba); they seem to still have copies of the debut as well as a free download. I asked Rick (civilian name: Nick Rivetti) what the deal was, and he said "Dolphin Dance" has "a life of its own" though you can expect a new LP (sans Dance) on HOSS Records later this year. He also tipped me off to his Breeeze project; this Soundcloud account is so pleasurable that I'm considering going broke launching a label to release it.

Stream: Rick Rab - Dolphin Dance


Petite Noir is wasting no time putting himself out there; continually dropping tracks that always get me grooving with tropical electro beats and his crooned R&B vocal style. The track originally appears on some Red Bull soundcloud, and it might just give you wings. Could have been the bowl I hit before listening, though I think it was both. The delicately repeated synth notes keep me lifted while Petite Noir's voice guides you through his emotional process. It's just enough mix of dance and emotion to keep the energy alive without letting things get corny.

MP3: Petite Noir - Disappear

Instramaniakall Vol. 1

If you've seen Tazmanian Tiger's name around then you probably already know he's laid down beats for the homies in Main Attrakionz, Shady Blaze, Dope G and more. Taz recently dropped a mixtape that sets him apart from being just another cloud producer. While maintaining the ethereal vision of peers like Keyboard Kid and Silky Johnson, Instramaniakall Vol. 1 manages to tap into a sample-based drone aesthetic that calls to mind Co La and other Baltimore area producers. Leave it to a brilliant dude in Austin to take what some brilliant dudes in Oakland and Baltimore are doing and make it all cohesive. The mixtape is broken up into four sections with various songs and opens up with a single non-instrumental of MondreM.A.N. and Dope G before kicking into nothing but stellar sounds that will have you nodding your head for the next forty minutes.

Stream/Download: Tazmanian Tiger - Instrumaniakall Vol. 1

Look at the Sky

My favorite Carolina rapper, Deniro Farrar recently tagged up with Flosstradamus for a one-off free mp3. Maybe the goal was to get us all begging for a quick reconnection between the MC and producer duo, because this track has left me floored. Flosstradamus' production is so spacious and warm, perfectly complimenting the often cold and harsh vocal prowess of Farrar. It's some of Deniro's best output yet, with him seemingly letting down a wall, or possibly just becoming more at home on microphone.

MP3: Deniro Farrar x Flosstradamus - Look at the Sky

April 25, 2012

Premiere: rRope - Round Bend

Last month the rad homies at Deathbomb Arc came upon their tenth anniversary. To celebrate in true style they decided to release a triple LP box set that collects 90s noise legend rRope's entire discography, titled we are you there. The three LPs cover both of the bands full-length albums, as well as all of their 7" singles and compilation contributions. Then to top it all off DBA has secured five previously unreleased live tracks from a show the band played at the Fillmore in May of '98. Here we have an exclusive drop of "Round Bend", a track that originally appeared on a Massacre at Central High compilation in '95 titled Music For Swingers. It touches on a soothing ambient nature that rRope wasn't necessarily known for, making the track's resonant beauty stand out all the more.

MP3: rRope - Round Bend
The 3xLP rRope box set we are you there is available now via Deathbomb Arc.

io9's Top 100 Albums for Sci-Fi/Fantasy Nerds

We mostly try not to pigeonhole ourselves here, but the run down of "100 Albums Every Science Fiction and Fantasy Fan Should Listen To", albums 71 through 100, that Charlie Jane Anders and Cyriaque Lamar recently assembled for long time king-nerd blog io9 was too much to resist. The fist installment in an ongoing series, their introduction covered some incredible ground that ends on Fela Kuti; granted his song "Zombies", about the Nigerian government's obedient soldiers, is a bit of a stretch, but damn if it isn't one of his best tunes. Some standouts for me included French jazz pianist Alain Goraguer's soundtrack for the illustrated Franco-Czech masterpiece La Planète Sauvage; Bo Hansson's engrossing Music Inspired by the Lord of the Rings, which has aged as well as Goraguer, if in a more "head culture" direction; and a dark but goofy post-Lunar-massacre folk song from the Mountain Goats and John Vanderslice's Moon Colony Bloodbath, a tour-only concept EP that described a network of organ harvesting colonies on the moon. Check out a few of the songs they posted below and click through to check out the rest. (via io9)

Banana Wine

The well managed rise of Mo Kolours continued last month with the release of EP2: Banana Wine, a follow up to his debut EP1: Drum Talking, released on cassette by OMGVinyl's imprint Sweat Lodge Guru and independently on vinyl. Among many critical differences between the two releases, EP2 wasn't fortunate enough to make it onto cassette, but Mo and his managers are offering it as a free download as consolation and they even managed to get a Beautiful Swimmers remix to round the whole thing out - quite a package, we think. In any event, EP1 was an easy addition to our favorites last year and EP2 is destined for the same. Mo is half-Mauritian, from the formerly British island of Mauritius, where he soaked in the traditional Séga music of Mauritius and the other Mascarene Islands off the coast of Madagascar. Although I don't know the details of his transition to South London, where he lives the now, but whatever time he's spent in both milieus has created a forward thinking fusion of traditional Séga rhythms and instrumentation; EP1 emphasized percussion and felt more overtly "dub" oriented, while the addition of more regular vocals gives EP2 almost makes Mo's influences more ambiguous. That is to say, EP2 sounds more like Jamaican dub than its predecessor and his influences may seem obscure, but less topical patterns - like his sharp, rhythmic drumming on "Talking Move" or the rhythms that Beautiful Swimmers identify in "Mini Culcha" and use, alongside an ear catching vocal sample, to draw the two minute track out to three times its original length.

Mo Kolours - Talking Move
Mo Kolours - Mini Culcha (Beautiful Swimmers Remix)
Download both EP1 and EP2 from Mo's bandcamp and check out a video for the title track below.

April 24, 2012

Wherever, Boy

Earlier today Gorilla vs Bear premiered this absolutely stellar new track from LA Vampires & Octo Octa. This dancefloor banger touches on all the right notes and begs the body to move as the music grows more intense; leaving listeners practically begging for more. Fortunately it looks like more is just around the corner, with a collaborative 12" EP titled FREEDOM 2K coming in three weeks on Not Not Fun imprint 100% Silk. I'm hoping the EP tag means at least four tracks because I can never get enough of LA Vampires mix of '80s pop nostalgia with unabashed weirdness, and Octo Octa's wonderful production compliments it perfectly.

MP3: LA Vampires x Octo Octa - Wherever, Boy
The FREEDOM 2K 12" EP drops May 15 via 100% Silk.

Easy Bay Wednesday, April 25

This Wednesday will mark the second successful execution of Easy Bay Wednesday, thanks in large part to Era Art Bar & Lounge in Oakland. Glenn Jackson of Mapzzz and XLR8R (and soon enough Decoder) fame is on the ground coordinating efforts and will be DJing with Spaceghost, their two sets being in addition to performances by recent Bay Area transplant Devonwho and fellow beat-maker Kites Sail High High, by now notorious for his reclusiveness and love of fast food. All of them are there to make it magical, so if you can make it to Uptown Oakland this Wednesday night stop in for some conspicuously free electronic fun.

Stream: Devonwho - Sleet

Stream: Kites Sail High - Livin' (feat Blithe Field)

Stream: Spaceghost - Lately

Stream: Glenn Jackson - Fell

Dorsey's High // Jim Gilliam (pass the ball)

Dream Panther has kept busy lately with a cadre of new tracks, each with it's own girl-crazy artwork attached. The above art for dreamy haze caster "Dorsey's High // Jim Gilliam (pass the ball)" is what's on bandcamp now, but you can see some savory-in-a-different-way (less safe for work?) art over here. After you clean up press play on these beauties. Each track was written by Gusto Cat, but played and recorded by his humans, Greg and Nick. Gusto is hard at work on the new EP, possibly titled Beyonce's Child; a release that aside from his love of girls also exhibits a love for basketball. So go ahead, fire up a joint to this one and just relax. It's time for your mid-early day break.

MP3: Dream Panther - Dorsey's High // Jim Gilliam (pass the ball)
Stream: Dream Panther - Late Night Gymnopaedia

PBUH045: Some Ember - Hotel of Lost Light

Named for a piece in Galway Kinnell's Book of Nightmares, Some Ember's debut LP Hotel of Lost Light is the culmination of a lifetime's experience for Dylan Travis; the man behind the moniker, he is a longtime musician and most recently a member in good standing of the Bay Area music community. Some Ember began dramatically. Laid up for weeks after a car accident and loaded up with a little compensation money, Travis "blew it all on synthesizers and production software". In the past he and various bands he played with relied on studio engineers, but he was determined to learn and use that process for himself. Though Travis describes making Hotel of Lost Light as a very intuitive process, refracting his experience with post-punk and noise pop through a more minimalist, no-wave sensibility, recording and producing it eventually drew on every technique and technology that getting hit by a car had gained for him. Appropriately enough, this is a very personal album for him; seeking catharsis in his experience of music, Travis brings his vocals to the fore, underscoring a vividly offered shared experience in their naked emotion and the darkly evocative imagery of the album. His prowess as a producer only improves the experience as subtle nuance emerges in how instruments and vocals set distinct paces or the sound of unconventional warps and effects - whether vocal distortion or sega-synths - as they come into focus.

Dylan sums it all up best himself...
"...the point of this record is to explore emotional territory that is perhaps uncomfortable, but to make that process a positive and constructive one. It's about finding strength and solace even in the midst of loneliness, sadness, jealousy, or anger, things we all go through."
Some Ember - Blood Drops From the Burning Heart
Some Ember - Deep Ocean
Order the limited edition cassette, the latest addition to the family at Crash Symbols, and download the album for free here.


Last night, sometime around midnight, the bottom of the world fell out. The original Gobble Gobble Born Gold offshoot; Purity Ring has been pretty close-lipped with new tracks, leaving us listening to the same three tracks on repeat while anxiously awaiting more. Then last night the duo of Corin Roddick and Megan James announced a new track, and what's more, an album release date! "Obedear" is just as thrilling and thumping of a track as you would expect from Purity Ring at this point, with Megan's vocals softly feeding you comfort while Corin's massive beats and crystalline synths force you to your feet in zombie-like, controlled dance. This one definitely has us drooling in wait for the record.

MP3: Purity Ring - Obedear
Purity Ring's debut full-length drops July 24 via the fine folks at Last Gang Records & 4AD.

April 23, 2012

Contest: Win 1 Insound Exclusive Band Shirt

For the past few years Insound has been teaming with various designers and artists to make rad t-shirts and posters involving some of our favorite records. This year they're at it again with four limited edition t-shirts for four of their favorite artists currently kicking ass, all designed by Dominic Owens. Kurt Vile, Cloud Nothings, Black Lips and Das Racist have all stepped into the mix, with Owens creating some stellar designs that each fit the attitude of the artist they're for. Insound has been awesome enough to hook us up with a free shirt to give away, so if you want one of these bad boys just leave us a comment with your email address and your favorite design. The contest ends Friday night (4/27) at 10pm EST. If you're not trying to wait or just don't wanna build your hopes up, you can just pop over here and order your favorite right now. Stay tuned after the jump for large pics of each shirt.

Decoder Magazine Preview/Update #1

For the last month we've been gathering final contributions to the inaugural print issue of Decoder, making some last minute cuts and additions and doing our final edits, so we thought it was time we took a minute and put together a dedicated update and preview of what's to come. Decoder is fundamentally a multimedia endeavor and our experience working with other record labels (we also run Crash Symbols when our Decoder hat gets too heavy) will certainly show; many of the folks we encounter have a variety of projects they've dedicated themselves to, as is certainly more often the case these days, and that diversity of experience is something we want very much to communicate with Decoder. So, we're starting off by featuring a few images from artist contributors who also run labels. Next week, we'll be previewing On the Displaced World, a contribution from Malachi Ward, who is truly one of the most amazing rising comic authors we've ever seen.

Thanks y'all for all y'all's support - we couldn't have done it without you and we can't wait to get the first issue in your hands. In the meantime, enjoy these few images and check out what the artists are doing. You won't regret it.

Christian Michael Filardo - Trying My Best Got Me Here
We've been talking about Filardo on Decoder for basically the entirety of our existence, even when Decoder was still Get Off the Coast. He is an Arizona based multimedia artist and notorious tape head, running Holy Page Records in his spare time while he finishes art school. Though Christian has become well known for his .gif advocacy, we decided to showcase a selection of his collages in our first issue, putting them alongside a number of other selections from collage artists. We like collages. A lot.

David Mohr - Eye
A selection of charcoal drawings from Sacramento artist David Mohr, the man behind FAVORS and cassette label Future Push, is among the latest additions to our planned content for this issue; we found out about them on a Monday this month and we immediately asked to include some.

Hunter Mack - Capgras #4
Rounding out this selection of artwork from artists who also run labels is Hunter Mack, the proprietor of Oakland based Gold Robot Records, a bulwark of the emerging local electronic scene and a constant advocate for local musicians. Professionally, Hunter works in engineering, but creatively Gold Robot and his music projects are only half of the story; Hunter is a talented painter with a compelling vision. Of his Capgras series, which will appear almost in its entirety in this issue, Hunter writes...
"The Capgras delusion (or Capgras syndrome) is a disorder in which a person holds a delusion that a friend, spouse, parent or other close family member has been replaced by an identical-looking impostor. The Capgras delusion is classed as a delusional misidentification syndrome, a class of delusional beliefs that involves the misidentification of people, places, or objects. It can occur in acute, transient, or chronic forms."
Expect new updates in the coming weeks! We'll have this thing out in no time. If you're looking to kill some time we also curated a series of images for HUH. Magazine last month that you can peruse here and see a few more of Filardo and Mack's pieces, as well as some other contributions, including a short comic from my good ol' dad Mr. Stevie.

Interview: Dreams West

Dreams West is the pseudonym of Raleigh, North Carolina producer James West, who first gained attention back in December 2011 when he released a self-titled 12-track effort on cassette label As Above So Below. And what a release it is. Dreams West is an excellent collection of productions showcasing a rising producer with a strong skill set. The disc, a study in inventive sampling and glowlit ambient synth lines, stands as an eclectic and sometimes psychedelic collage of 80's-inspired tunes. And his more recent output, including just-released banger "v er sa il l es", shows his production hand is becoming ever stronger. These are beats for skulking midnight walks past bars on retro nights; for cratedigging old MS-DOS titles; for stoned romps through the underbelly of the internet using Internet Explorer 3.0. I recently got a chance to talk to Dreams himself after an engaging live set in his hometown of Raleigh.

How did you start producing electronic music?
I actually first started making music using samplers and synths. I never really liked using software, I just couldn't get a good enough sound out of anything, it all sounded cheesy. After nerding out on gear for a couple of years I finally started using Ableton Live. I still love using gear more than anything but Ableton just makes certain things so much faster. As Daniel Lopatin once said, the gear doth not make the man.

Read the full interview and more after the jump.

Atlantics Vol. 2

Last week forward thinking beats and bass label Astro Nautico unveiled Atlantics Vol. 2, ending a three year wait since unveiling the label in 2009, announcing it by promulgating a pocket mixtape with two tracks from each founding member (Obey City, Kuhn, and Paul Jones) and a brief "Surf Break" interlude. If the number of tracks on volume two is any indicator (which it isn't), Astro Nautico have made quite a good name for themselves (which they have); following the seven track series debut, volume two's bringing a solid 43. The variety is astonishing, though the label's manifesto is written across the entire mix, wending its way through junctions of greater or lesser funk, disco, R&B, and pop influence with its passage occasionally eased by collaborative bridges and benchmarks composed by the whole label team and attributed to "Astro Nautico". The label writes...
"The new Atlantics, like its 2009 predecessor, plays like an astral map of our musical tastes, passing from beats and bass-heavy dance tracks up to footwork heaters and down to chill ambient experimentalism . . . But what has changed since this projects beginning is the setting. The founders of Astro Nautico (Obey City, Paul Jones and Kuhn) now find themselves unexpectedly surrounded by a whole community of super-talented and uniquely lovely musicians from around the world."
There's a much better measure of success!

Zackey Force Funk - Nite Flite
Comanche - West 7th
Astro Nautico - Chester, Where's Your Freestyle? (Prod. By RDBN)
Download all of Atlantics Vol. 2 here and check out its predecessor here.

April 22, 2012

Doves and Vultures

Local hero and music legend J. Marinelli announced a new EP today, titled Young Spillers. Released by German label Stencil Trash Records, the album is three tracks long, and is available as a 7" (on red vinyl!) with hand spray-painted sleeves. Marinelli has been cranking out amazing lo-fi punk-folk jams for years, which is impressive enough by itself, but add to that the fact that he's literally a one-man band and you can see why he has a loyal following and his live shows always garner a large audience. The opening track on Young Spillers, "Doves and Vultures", makes full use of its short run-time (1:37) by being immediately catchy and ass-kicking; hard-hitting drums and Marinelli's vocals combined with great lyrics ("leave them all behind / don't throw your pearls at swine / it's not you") make me wish I'd been able to listen to J. Marinelli back in high school. The whole EP will definitely be on loop in our house for awhile.

MP3: J. Marinelli - Doves and Vultures
You can pay what you want for the digital version, or try your hand at snagging one of the 7"s (only 2 of 150 left), here. Be sure to also explore his back catalog, as they're all available for free.

Da Da Damage

I would like to maintain a policy of only writing about and listening to music that I can hold in my hand. I can generally toe the line when it comes to streaming stuff online. Computer speakers make wretched sound, and 128 kbps ought to be a crime. But I can't resist when my favorite labels release compilations that I can download and dump into my iPod. My favorites are from Night People. They have a new one out called Da Da Damage. It has songs by Featureless Ghost, The Garment District, Bomber Jackets, LanternMiami Angels in America and many more. Any day now, Night People will have vinyl releases by three of the bands on the comp: an LP by Blanche Blanche Blanche called Wink With Both Eyes and a split by Scott and Charlene's Wedding and Peak Twins, both of whom are from Australia. Blanche Blanche Blanche are more on the freaky side of the Night People spectrum, with a Ritalin/quasi-primitive beat, poppy singing and waves of synth burbles washing over it. Scott and Charlene's Wedding and Peak Twins are guitar based with lazy, greasy-haired singing of the modern hits of Junkieland. I am going to buy both of them.

You can download Da Da Damage here - scroll down under the general information header and you'll see a little note with a mediafire link.

April 21, 2012

Dire Cast

Ed Jurken lives precisely one block away from where my wife and I did when we were in Oakland, CA; on 41st and Webster, just past Telegraph. I still remember the intersection distinctly, a weird turreted blue apartment building looking over a few houses. In one of them, where from the above picture we can presume he's getting some great light, toiled Ed Jurken, and "perhaps he still does", to put it most tritely. Literary flourishes notwithstanding, space is a critical part of Jurken's music - the recordings he directed us to, available for perusal here, were all recorded using "only one microphone, an old computer, my voice, one guitar and my apartment" and their sound determined by what parts of the space he used for recording. I can particularly relate to his using a "bathtub a lot", for various reasons, though the bit of back story really does give his vocal heavy, minimalist pop a sense of intimacy and experience that poorly written press releases frequently claim for their subjects and rarely deliver. Having attained the reality and perhaps knowing it, Ed did not and needn't have made one for our benefit. 

MP3: Ed Jurken - Dire Cast
Download this and other tracks from a self-titled, self-released LP on Ed's website here.

Close Encounters with Green Magic

Nate Henricks and Patient Sounds, the cassette imprint of Fort Collins poet laureate Matthew Sage,  celebrated this year's 420 by accepting preorders for the former's label debut, Close Encounters with Green Magic. Suitably green-looking and containing two sprawling sound collages that Henricks' punctuates with structured moments of his otherwise dense and heady psych-pop, we presume it inspired people to new heights of revelry on the spring holiday. The association, however serious the conceptual link drawn by Henricks or Sage, feels appropriate; the name of Close Encounters with Green Magic suggests a document, perhaps describing Henricks himself, though if I were to take it literally I would assume the ultimate beneficiary was his music. I said "sound collage" and "psych pop" a second ago, which are  two qualities here born out in Sage's own comparisons to Elephant Six, but the magic of these recordings is their restraint; Henricks never languishes and the album's poppier moments, however infinitely brief the snippet of song in question might be, jump nimbly from one instance to the next or more grandly spin into the network of interconnecting segues that make his digressions so interesting. 
Order the limited edition cassette from Patient Sounds. Although Close Encounters with Green Magic is Henricks' label debut, he has four or five other self-released sets of recordings available on his bandcamp.