May 24, 2012

Three from Ailanthus

Last week, Ailanthus Recordings dropped a few new albums, again affirming the success of their effort "to place the sound of the internet directly into your hands" - what that means in terms of the recent outpouring of "internet music", whose form suggests a particular kind of social milieu, is even a little unclear to me. Ailanthus emphasizes artistry and independence, so the flare and swagger of their latest efforts is a reminder of just how good a label whose only ambition is quality can be. 

~ Ǥ õ § ƪ õ ŵ ~ is a "self-proclaimed internet musician", according to our friend Scott at Ailanthus Recordings, who goes on to say that his "music focuses on the benefits of marijuana and how 'going slow' and taking things easy are the keys to happiness". That manifesto is tangible in his slowed and screwed computer beats and lyrical, cloud rap influenced hip-hop, full of exhortations to the lifestyle. The video above, based on "D r o w n i n g" from his new album, C☮☯L, is a good testament and is definitely going to be one of my favorite rap videos for a while. Incidentally, C☮☯L follows his album #WeedMusic. So, yea - if you have any affinity for rap, you'll want to check this out. Ailanthus assures us this is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.

Ailanthus' handling of Hleger's latest album Musical Close Encounters of a 3rd Kind (with the nose, sitting down???) is their third project with the South African solo home recorder, who has released in total fourteen full lengths in the last three years. Although this is the first time I've come across any of his material and I can't really speak to how it fits with his entire output, he's been getting some underground press for years and people talk about him in so many different ways - Ailanthus calls him a "one man vision quest" - that it's hard to get a beat on him without surveying the discography better. I'm pretty sure he made a bandcamp at some point, but there's not much help there. He's got a pretty new-ish looking soundcloud and apparently he's done a concept album based loosely around a single sample called Hleger Takes the Case!, which is enchanting and can be downloaded here. He seems to exemplify an old school punk aesthetic, which seems to be at the root of problems with how he's discussed; there's plenty of lo-fi, lyrical punk-pop on Musical Close Encounters, but even the name of the album suggests intersections and cross-connectivity, easily explaining the diversity of sounds it contains. A pop band with an incredibly abstract heart. Through an effective and sincere sounding combination of live instrumentation, loops, and samples, Hleger's music quickly has you thinking it the magical thing that his most devoted fans describe, so expansive and unique as to justify a whole mythology.

Stream: Hleger - Become a Man Like Me

Stream/Download: Hleger - Madgascar

The third, and actually the most recent, release in Ailanthus' catalog comes from Navajo punk-rockers the Discotays. Ailanthus founder Scott Michael dscribes the circumstances behind their partnering for the band's Dried Meat Jewel EP...

This one was pretty cool because we did something really special for this release. See, Discotays were going on a US Tour and were planning on coming through Pennsylvania, so since I've been throwing shows in the Johnstown and Pittsburgh area for the past 8 years, I jumped at the opportunity to bring a band I dug through the area. Just about simultaneously they let me know they wanted to get involved with Ailanthus and that they had a new EP ready. Seeing the golden opportunity in front of us, I told them yes and yes, and we set the "Discotays CD Release Show" for May 11th live in Johnstown, PA. So Ailanthus Recordings handmade several very limited and very exclusive CDRs each in brown paper cases with individualized collaging. The guys loved them and we set the digital release so that we dropped it online during their set, using a photo  taken during their set at VOMA in Johnstown, PA.
Hailing for tiny Sanostee, New Mexico, though from what I've read elsewhere I think they may have technically grown up in the confines of the Navajo Nation or very close by to it. Like me, I'm sure you've heard it's the best place to live. Ever. Bar nothing. There's nothing about their music that pegs them as particularly anything, except capable with their instruments, though I have to admit I'm more and more curious to know better how that area marks the passage of culture, its own and the rest of America's. New Mexico and the Southwest continues to produce some of the most interesting punk music I've ever heard, undoubtedly owing to its being the place to live ever. In spite of that, Discotays' no-wave tinged electronic punk is catchy and fun, but functions more interestingly as a gently angular document of the area's rich underground. 

Check out all of these releases and more over at the Ailanthus bandcamp.

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