Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Lazer Bass/Mick Fleetwood Faces

Full disclosure: All the other contributors to this blog are cool guys but I'm the sole law student nerd. Most of my days are spent in quiet contemplation of property law and the like. My only creative outlet is my musical taste and I take my library listening very seriously. Most days I'm the guy in the stacks rocking out to Rumours and making Mick Fleetwood faces while reading about substantive due process.

Today was different. After reading SFJ's New Yorker blog, I decided that today was the day that I would try some  "lazer bass". After all, I had specifically brought my coin-filled Mason jar from home so I could visit the Coinstar machine at Food Emporium and get some cash together for tuna sandwiches for the week. It was good time for a long and intense listening  experience. I downloaded Megasoid's Tank Thong Mix with somewhat limited expectations and headed into Midtown at a brisk pace. Megasoid is the Canadian duo of Speakerbruiser (formerly Sixtoo) and  Hadji Bakara from Wolf Parade. It didn't exactly seem like the recipe for rap greatness (all respect to Maestro Fresh Wes and Main Source but Canada doesn't have the best track record in that particular field). But lo and behold, my ears were assaulted by, um, lazer bass. Basically it's midtempo hip hop beats and acid house-styled 303 bass squelches. During the hour long tape, each of the marvelous bass beats is matched with a classic rap a cappella (e.g. Masta Ace's Born to Roll, Clipse's Mr. Me Too, Blahzay Blahzay's Danger). The music was surprisingly suited to Midtown powerwalking (kind of like how My Life in the Bush of Ghosts sounds great during that Charlie Sheen stalking scene in Wall Street). In the end  I redeemed my change for $75.03 and damn near blew out my earphones.

Now I'm back in the library with the bass still bouncing around my head, debating which is the better Fleetwood Mac-related project--Buckingham/Nicks or Christine Perfect. 

"THE HIRED HAND" By Bruce Langhorne.

Following the enormous financial success of “Easy Rider”, Peter Fonda was given full creative control with his directorial debut, “The Hired Hand”. Starring Fonda, Verna Bloom, and the ever-grizzled Warren Oates, the film rested on the dusty shelves of unsung classics for a few decades until Sundance released a DVD version a few years ago. The soundtrack, composed by 60’s folk musician, session guitarist, and one-time member of Dylan’s cortege (he is thought to be THE Mr. Tambourine Man) Bruce Langhorne, is sublime.

The album drifts along like a lethargic river-ride towards a dusty horizon that you’ll never return from. Spare, haunting, and elegant…

THE HIRED HAND by Bruce Langhorne

Big Boi feat. Andre 3000 & Raekwon: Royal Flush

From the forthcoming Big Boi solo record, Sir Luscious Left Foot. No spaceships, no futuristic slithering, no mutant peacock strut, No heying followed by yahing. Just two dope boys and a cadillac, and a certain chef.

Royal Flush

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Bo Hansson: Lord of the Rings

Bo Hansson - Lord of the Rings

Sophie B. sent us this. The first and best-known of four instrumental albums recorded by the Swede Bo Hannson in the 1970's. Given her line of work, when listening to this evocative, spaced organ-driven prog record, we can't help but imagine not the raging hordes of Middle Earth armies or the picaresque tales of a friendly midget, as one might easily associate with such an album, but instead a visual accompaniment consisting of a long thin white path upon which equally long, thin and white feminine figures are striding in smart, classic outfits.

Bo Knows: Guitar
Hansson garnered recognition in the sixities as part of a duo, Hansson & Karlsson, who released three instrumental albums, eventually attracting American guitarist Jimi Hendrix, who recorded a cover of their composition, 'Tax Free'.

Bo Knows
: Trippy psych records inspired by classic works of fantastic literature
Lord of the Rings (Sagan Om Ringen) was recorded on an island off of Stockholm, on a borrowed 8-track recorder, the only one in Sweden at the time, in friend's summer home.

Bo Knows:
The Hammond Organ {El Orgel Hammondo}

The hammond organ, the real star of Hansson's record, was designed to imitate the function of a pipe organ's ranks of pipes in multiple registers by using additive synthesis of waveforms from harmonic series. Various functions of the Hammond derive from different harmonic combinations. For example, there is a button that says percussion, but this doesn't produce a drum sound. Instead, it refers to combination of second and third harmonic overtones, which produces a kind of jagged, distant, percussive tonal quality.

Here are two images of the Teleharmonium, a late 19th-century precursor of the Hammond from which the latter adopted its electro-mechanical tonewheel and likewise its principle of additive synthesis.

For more, time can be spent with this BBC documentary clip on the Hammond, in honor of its 70th birthday in 2006.

Stay tuned for next week for more on additive/subtractive synthesis and the harmonic series, featuring notes from Tony Conrad's recent lectures.

Today's entry is sponsored by O'nieals on the corner of Grand and Baxter in Lower Manhattan. O'nieals: home of the weekly saturday night Rowdy Cougar Meltdown (we ride for Cougar anthem 2007: Hips Don't Lie by Shakira)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rye Rye: Shake It To The Ground

c'mon guys.

(courtesy Acknowledged Klassic Rap Correspondent, T'aja)

William says:
joyous. and another small step for euro-trance rap.
but wtf, did they forget to finish the song? Seriously, I'm sort of taken aback by how minimal this is. Remember that part in Pootie Tang where the title character is cutting his hit rap single in the studio, and he turns the beat all the way down and the vocals off, and releases the rap equivalent of John Cage's 4'33"? This is getting there. For real, what's the acappella version of the track supposed to be, the same thing? Sheeet.


Cage's score for 4'33". Go here for more on the composer's most notorious piece.

In essence, it should be said that if you ever have to explain to foreigners what 'poppin' is, it's this song, this singing, and these bodies moving around in that way. That's it, sorry. 'Poppin' has now reached its ideal Platonic expression, so you are going to have think up something new for your rap video. Also, maybe best backing vocals ever. what..what...what... AC rides for half-out of it sounding backing vocals, they pretty much seal the deal on any track.


To return to the emphasis on the song's extreme reductive style (to the point where there's hardly any music to speak of, except for the random euro-synths at the end), let's consider for a moment Soren Kierkegaard's writing on minimal beats, from his essay, The Rotation Method:

"..the principle of limitation, the only saving principle in the world. The more you limit yourself, the more fertile you become in invention. A prisoner in solitary confinement for life becomes very inventive, and a spider may furnish him with much entertainment. One need only hark back to one's schooldays, when aesthetic considerations were ignored in the choice of one's instructors, who were consequently very tiresome: how fertile in invention did not one prove to be!...How entertaining sometimes to listen to the monotonous drip of water from the roof! How close an observer does not one become under such circumstances, when not the least noise nor movement escapes one's attention! Here we have the extreme application of the method which seeks to achieve results intensively, not extensively."

There you are, a dominant artistic strategy both in much of 20th experimental and electronic music, not to mention Rye-Rye and NinjaSonik, right from Soren.

For more on the rotation method, go here

PS: AC wants to acknowledge that if you look up 'beardo disco' in google blog search, we are number one. BOO YA.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Guide to AC Radio: March Edition

The inaugural March edition of AC radio is curated by me.

1. Thief at your Window - Endless Grift
Recorded last April at Explosion Robinson, a basement studio on Grand Street in Brooklyn whose name was adopted by the urban clothing store which had previously occupied the space. Engineering and guitars: Darian Zahedi.

2. You May Be Blue (Neighbors Remix) - Vetiver

Topanga folkie Vetiver refits his own track from the album 'To Find Me Gone', turning the dark folk-rock number into a very Superpitcher/Kompakt-like brooding minimal-techno stomper.

3. Space Disco - Universal Robot Band

Eleven minute epic track that is a very strong blueprint for the now-resurgent 'space disco' style: short on chic/village people/bee gees disco decorations, long on hairy tribal weirdness. Sounds a bit like that 'Cloud One' record if it achieved lysergic velocity.

4. Train (Ewan Pearson Remix) - Goldfrapp

5. Once Upon a Time - The Heliocentrics
Belongs in consideration with the DJ-Shadow playing high school band and the Hypnotic Music Ensemble. It seems that live bands have figured out how to play like Entroducing and are ready to start killing shit.

6. Idle Hands - Harlem River Drive

Jonathan sent us this, a burning latin funk album lead by Eddie Palmieri. This is the deepest, most muscular track. The kind of intense music that will temporarily erase your memory and make you forget you have other songs you could be listening to.

7. Track 5 - Ulaan Khol

Stephen R. Smith's new solo record, very recommended if you are pleasantly susceptible to soaring guitar squalls and other types of mesmerizing sonic excess.

8. National Anthem to the Moon - Bruce Haack

From 'Electric Lucifer'. Deeply eccentric outsider-art moogness from the same camp as White Noise, American Metaphysical Circus, etc.

9. Snakedriver - Jesus and Mary Chain

From the Crow soundtrack! You know what, as a matter of fact, I want you to go listen to that whole record right now.

10. Anambra - Ozo

Renowned for being one of the close-out tracks at NY disco impresario David Mancuso's legendary loft parties. Not even really a disco track at all, just deep spiritual beats from no country.

11. Effective Placebo Effect - In Flagranti

12. Hung from the Moon - Earth
13. Super Inuit - Holy Fuck

Resonant Evil: Notes on Doom, Sound and Religion

Relevant Audio:

Section 25 - "Friendly Fires"
Burning Witch - "History of Hell"

French electronic duo Justice, live in concert

1. Let me about what interests me concerning the aesthetics of menace, doom, portent, suspense and so on (in both music and movies). This is a mode of art dealing with rendering to the senses something that is on its way. Something is coming. Most likely, it is coming for you. It's not here yet, if it were here, there would be no need to present it aesthetically.

In this mode, the work of art speaks of something that is going to happen. Or more specifically, can possibly happen. When we say or represent that the arrival of something, a werewolf, or the devil, is imminent, what's meant is that the arrival is really possible.

If we stop here for a second we can hear how kind of strange it is to say that something is really possible, or that a possibility is real. I can't say much more about it here. It's enough to consider that it's a paradoxical coupling. Because if something is real, we think, it's not possible. It just is.

In other words, if something is possible, does it exist?

This is the question that all art of doom and suspense is engaged with. Art doesn't seek to answer this question, but to unlock the multiple opportunities for its deployment.

(It is enough to stop and consider the seven years during which we have lived under the sign of a 'war on terror' to realize that this question is not only an aesthetic question but a political one. You can say, for example, that the great twentieth-century German political theorist and Nazi sympathizer Carl Schmitt built his entire philosophical edifice around this question, or rather, around a particular way of answering this question - the only force, Schmitt argues, that is capable of addressing the full political weight of this question is a strong sovereign. Only he can face and decide on the real possibility of war, killing, destruction, and so on.)

Now the reason why this territory, of menace and suspense, is so fertile for art is because of the field's fundamental ontological tension, that is, its disjunction between what is, and what is not, or what is coming to be. Whether or not the representation of this tension is filed under doom, or under institutional theology (when it speaks, above all, of the coming or return of the Messiah) depends on how the representation understands the resolution of this tension.

In other words, if there is a strife between what-is and what-is-not, and eventually what-is-not is going to prevail, and what-is is not going to be in very good shape once what-is-not comes out on top, then you're squarely in doom country.

The opening track to Section 25's album Always Now, "Friendly Fires", is a very strong example of what we're talking about. Section 25 were something like Joy Division's little brother band, also produced by Martin Hannett and also on Factory Records. The insistent, tribal drums sound out a warning. The relevance of the lyrics, "they're on their way....they're coming to you...no one can escape...this kind of war..." is clear.

Plus I mean, holy shit is this song dope.

2. It's quite possible that music is most fitting for representing doom because our ears hear further than our eyes can see. Sounds are able to project the imminent arrival of something not there at a grander intensity than images. Plus, images, movies for example, have to reckon with not actually showing the arriving horrible thing. Their strategy is limited to showing its effects: think of the trembling glass of water announcing the arrival of dinosaurs in Jurassic Park.

Burning Witch is a proto-version of Sunno))), consisting of Greg Anderson and Stephen O'Malley, the core of Sunno))) and the founders of doom record label Southern Lord. The Southern Lord, it should be said, is Satan.

Banks Violette, a contemporary artist/sculptor known for his heavy metal/satanic-themed work, cast SunnO)))'s backline in salt for this work. The backline is the series of amps used to produce the band's uniquely punishing, overwhelming sound. The effectiveness of this piece lies in the tight psychological/aesthetic connection between the event of SunnO))) performing, and the sound produced by the amplifiers, such that, cast in white salt, the huge amps produce something like a negative photographic image of the concert. It's the artistic technique of subtraction: take away the effect, leave the cause. Leave the cause and visibly suspend it, strip it from its context and purify it. In a sense Violette's work participates in this aesthetics of thrill and suspense: they're coming...the work says....they're coming and they're going to play punishing grinding death metal....while wearing druid outfits...

3. Lastly a note on the religious in contemporary music. Putting aside Christian rock. Because well. Bands like Justice and Sunno)))) engage in an abstraction of religious iconography.

Now there is a long tradition in philosophy and theory that conceives of music as something like 'de-sacralized prayer'. So that music is something like prayer without prayer, without words or content. An opening that doesn't go anywhere. An opening to nowhere, maybe that's all that can be said of art, and the greatest thing about it.

So when band alter religious icons, appear in robes or install the cross on stage, it's in part an index of the way in which all music traverses the religious impulse. They're engaging with the spectacle of the stage show, and all spectacle at its core is religious.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Endless Grift: Thief at Your Window

Weekend Prince: Can't Give It Up


Doesn't everything sound better...screwed?

John Maus. The Silent Chorus-- Screwed.


Friday, March 14, 2008

The Red Cross for Melting Faces

Cosmic Brooklyn's Religious Knives

There are two kinds of ethics - there are the guidelines and principles that accompany you throughout day, and form the implicit horizon for judging acts of right and wrong: for example, no matter how much you might want to stick a letter opener into the meaty neck of the crowd control manager at the New Jersey hotel casino where you're staying, not because of the tumultuous scene that would ensue, or because of a belief in the absolute sanctity of life, (a principle which is usually easy to uphold but on shaky ground when it comes to New Jersey hotel casino managers), you refrain because it would certainly mean that your friends would be cheated of a long night of slowly losing all their money at organized gambling.
The other kind of ethics is the kind that finds its prime 20th-century formulation in Heidegger's Being and Time: the ethics of the call. The injunction which strikes you like lightning, out of nowhere, seemingly sent from no one, but which you have the utmost existential duty to follow. The call has a number of religious/missionary overtones. Sometimes you spend years waiting on the other end of the line, waiting for the phone to ring, to hear the call.
Our friends in Religious Knives were recently disturbed to their ethical cores to hear of the near-disastrous lack of face-melting that is currently scourging the West Coast, and have organized a tour in hopes of remedying this. Faces are going around, running errands, hanging around in shopping malls, paying money to see movies starring Gena Davis, and all the while they remain tragically un-melted. See RK on these dates and support their efforts to sonically force flesh to deliquesce from the skull.

3.15.08 - Monstersorri House - Seattle, Washington*

3.16.08 - The Artistery - Portland, Oregon*
3.17.08 - House Show - Arcata, California*
3.18.08 - Luna’s Cafe - Sacramento, California*
3.19.08 - The Hemlock Tavern - San Francisco, California*
3.20.08 - The Terminal - Oakland, California
3.21.08 - The Smell - Los Angeles, California
3.22.08 - Echo Curio - Los Angeles, California

*With Ex-Cocaine

Four Points On One Thing

Allow us here to make four points.

1. There is a video downloadable online of a high school after-school band performing songs from DJ Shadow's landmark Entroducing album. This is a really good idea for a number of reasons, the deduction of which will be left to the reader.


2. You should really read the Music Thing blog, which is where I found out about this, and which has numerous interesting/unusual/far-out posts on electronic music gadgets in general, presented in a way that you don't have to be a massive synth nerd to glean pleasure from it.

3. If you go to Music Thing, you can download the clip mentioned in (1).

4. Seriously go here and download it and watch it.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Now Leaving Baltimore, Realm of the Living


The Wire's Omar Little

Lyfe Jennings - Stick-Up Kid

WKNDPRNS mash-up: Stick-Up Kid/Seelenluft "Manila" (Ewan Pearson Remix)

One of the more decisive moments of the closing end of The Wire's fifth season has to be the gunning down of Omar, who over the course of the show had become a beloved, Billy the Kid-type of outlaw, whose murderous actions were governed by a moral code, which forbid him from taking a victim outside of the drug game, and from using profanity. All things considered, this event, in episode 58, cannot have come as a surprise to any viewer familiar with the show's refusal to spare any of its characters, sympathetic or otherwise, from a chance at the wrong end of a street weapon.
In a recent interview with The Onion, the show's creator, David Simon, the conversation repeatedly revolves around the dramatic significance of Omar's death, at the hands not belonging to one of his several major nemeses, but a young insolent camp, carried out not in the heat of a desperate struggle, but in the midst of Omar buying Newports.

I have to disagree here with Simon's understanding of the difference between classic Greek tragedy and its modern form. Why? Because although Simon does affirm that what his show is doing involves updating Greek tragedy for contemporary urban America, he doesn't mark what's really at stake in this transformation, which doesn't at all involve adopting wholesale the classic, for example, Sophoclean, framework. Here's Simon:

"We didn't kill Omar because viewers liked Omar. Neither did we let him live because viewers liked Omar. It was beyond petition. We weren't being nasty to viewers, and we weren't being solicitous of viewers. We were serving the story. I don't know what else to say. If people didn't realize after this many seasons of The Wire that they were watching a Greek tragedy, writ across a modern American city… And if they thought that there were going to be redemptions and [awarding] of the Fates, they need to get up with their Medea and Antigone and their Oedipus. I don't know what else to say."

The difference which Simon is eliding here, between the ancient and modern tragic, is most succinctly expressed by the German poet Friedrich Hoelderlin, in an 1801 letter to a close friend. Here is what he writes about the specifically modern form of tragedy:

"For this is the tragic for us: that, packed into some simple box, we very quietly move away from the realm of the living, and not that-consumed in flames-we expiate the flames which we could not tame."

Germany's Friedrich Hölderlin

Being consumed in flames, achieving a Phoenix or Oedipus-like intensity, in which one brings about one's own cataclysmic annihilation, is the Greek tragic. This is not how Omar goes. Gunned down in the convenience store, Omar doesn't go up in flames, he lies down in the street. In theological terms, the Greek tragic hero couples with the gods, and is destroyed in their fire. The modern tragic hero, if he's still a hero at all, operates in the space traced out by the absence of the gods, not, as in ancient Greece, their unbearable overproximity.

Lyfe Jennings

In honor of Omar, you'll find links above to Lyfe Jenning's 'Stick-Up Kid' (sent to us by Braja) which is a pretty solid Usher-R. Kelly-type smooth jam, except for chorus, which is 'I be robbin these niggas...I'm a stick-up kid, that's how I live, I admit it..' In other words it's a smooth criminal ballad. The WKNDPRNS mash-up stitches Jenning's jam on top of elements from Ewan Pearson's remix of 'Manila', which has a great goofy-weird vocal about a dance party breaking out during an ominous airplane flight.

Sunday, March 9, 2008



The Wire's Lester Freamon



Intro: The Wire, episode 59
Pylon – Danger
Ebony Bones – We Know All About You
Liquid Liquid – Optimo (JD Twitch Edit)
The Gossip - Standing in the Way of Control (Playgroup Mix)
Ghosttown DJ’s – My Boo
Kano – I’m Ready
Paradise – In Love With You
The Chemical Brothers – The Golden Path (Ewan Pearson Extended Vocal)
David Bowie - TVC15
Dondolo – Dragon (Shit Robot Remix)
Montell Jordan – Get It On Tonite
Gui Boratto – Like You (Supermayer Mix)
Supermax – Love Machine
Love & Rockets – So Alive
Playgroup – Number One
Lindstrom – Another Station (Todd Terje Mix)
Grinderman – Honey Bee

The Borgata hotel, Atlantic City, NJ

Why f*ck a re-up? Don't we like re-ups, because that's where the goods come from? Aren't re-ups necessary for life? If we diss the re-up, do we still get to listen to Clipse?
In episode 59, The Wire's police officials break out from simply catching drug dealers conducting re-ups. Had they remained in the re-up, it would have been like a grey, existential french drama. Re-up after re-up, with no end in sight.

On Friday night at the Borgata hotel in Atlantic City (AC), after having driven down with several close friends of mine for a long night of bro-ing down, I personally had to say f/ck a re-up, and I was all the better for it. Let me say here that if you are to visit the lovely Borgata hotel, and you want to know who there is not on your side, his name is Joe Vanderslice, the manager of crowd control. Mr. Vanderslice, a stocky, stoic man, refused, even after an extended well-argued and even-tempered plea from me, to admit my passport (issued to me abroad, at the US Embassy in Prague) as a valid form of ID, thus allowing me to drink alcohol and to gamble on the premises. While I respect the relatively unpleasant and joyless labor of maintaining order at a busy New Jersey casino, and the attendant lack of human sympathy that I imagine is an invaluable tool in such a career, I remain convinced that I suffered an injustice as a result of Vanderslice's painfully limited knowledge concerning legitimate forms of government-issued identification.

In a casino, while gambling, one's drinks are re-upped periodically gratis by the house. Denied the re-up, I went for re-supply: sympathetic to my situation, my friends agreed to retreat to our hotel room, where room service was entreated to produce a bottle of Absolut, the contents of which were then enjoyed with gusto, the remainder going into a clear plastic water bottle I had procured earlier from an in-hotel Starbucks. I treasured the fact that I would be the only one that night who could get in trouble for drinking, high-school style.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

On scanning the tracklist, the attentive reader will notice that several of the pieces do not make their debut appearances here, but have in fact been utilized in at least one, perhaps more than one, previous mix. It's possible that the reader will greet this observation with a twinge of disappointment. Why this persistent attention to these particular songs? Should today we not look forward, are we not, as it is said, in an era that craves and deserves change?

There is a kind of change associated with upheaval, radical disjunction, and the jolts of sudden difference. And then there is the change of modular repetition, of unfolding, of infinite permutation. The former is what is hungered for by an appetite trained by the rhythms and intensities of industrialized entertainment. In this context, technology is used to deliver the promise of the first change, while a deeper potential lies in its capacity for exploring the second.

The most intense exploration of this capacity in sound is in electronic dance music, and in language, the French postwar nouveau roman, exemplified by the repetitive narrative techniques of Alain Robbe-Grillet (who passed away less than a week ago) and others.

[read A R-G's obituary in the Guardian]

What R-G shares with techno is the engagement with modular repetition as a phenomenological lens on the world. A mental object, be it a condensed literary scene or a four-bar loop, is held, bound, suspended, rotated, its possibilities and potentials unfolded and ignited, again and again, without progress, without tragic arc, without end.

This world is marked everywhere by the permanent tension between possibility and determination. Each object or event carries in itself more possibilities than can ever be realized, all of which make equal claim to the right to be manifested. Modular repetition stages the interruption of the process of determination, holding the object up the light of potentiality and engaging in infinite inspection.

One of the benefits of a blog is that its disposable character, its off-handedness and comparative instantaneity give it a workbench-like atmosphere. The reader is not a tourist in a museum of finished masterpieces, but a casual visitor to a craftsman's studio during work hours. Hence the reworking, the investigations of alternate drafts, discarded revisions, and the compulsive return to old favorites.

final episode 60 of The Wire now available from HBO On Demand. As if you're not so deep in it right now.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble - Jupiter

The Hypnotic Blog

In the past week, during my commute, which as of late has finally reached, in spite of the near ten years I have called New York home, the kind of frequency and psychological intensity commonly associated with bustling metropolitan life, I have several times passed the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble in the midst of a performance in, or around, the Union Square subway system. When I saw that they had re-surfaced, I recalled that I had picked up a CD of theirs during their last subway residency, the 2nd of a series of now 3 CDs. The track 'Jupiter' is the title track from their second album Jupiter. Although it is somewhat atypical of their sound, its impassioned, controlled beauty alone is enough to warrant its being shared. There is a tidal swell of horns, whose modular repetition recalls Riley-style big-band minimalism. There is a wild singer, who intones psychedelic-spiritual invocations not dissimilar to those of June Tyson, who sang with the Sun Ra Arkestra. This would seem highly appropriate, given that of the ensemble's nine members, eight are sons of Phil Cohran, who played trumpet with Sun Ra from 1959-1961.

The track resonates in my ears as they are tuned into 60-70s ensemble jazz, not only the Ra, but Eddie Gale as well, another Arkestra adept. Hypnotic Brass in general however seem to steer less towards interstellar expanses than the no-less far-out dark corners and alleys of an urban cosmos -> which is to say that head-nodding, neck-snapping hip-hop funk and soul are their central cause, if still all the while fueled by the beautiful energy of the big-band jazz ensemble that undoubtedly father Cohran had a hand in cultivating.

Here's a youtube clip of a new track, "War", where you get another dose of precise jazz horn figures with bricklayer beats. Other youtube clips of HBE feature cover versions of stuff like, that one Outkast song with the sick-ass horn section, and 'Moments in Love' by Art of Noise. At least, I believe it to be the AON track, as less-than-ideal recording circumstances seem to have compromised the audio quality.

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble's first two CDs are now available on itunes. As far as I know, they are currently maintaining their Union Square live residency. Check their blog for more tour dates. PS the lead image is from an issue of the German music magazine Loop, the cover of which announces Eine musikalische Familienbande! See Hypnotic blog for the full photo spread, which is kind of sick.

"THAT NETHERLANDS FRESHNESS: if you get out there, Amsterdam has some raw barbers, y'all."

Thursday, March 6, 2008



In the moment we are born, the spirit that we are before we enter into this world is split. I don't want to say that it is split into two. Because, it's not a matter of the one becoming a two, two symmetric halves, that might one day become again the one. As is spoken, for example, in the famous image from Plato's Symposium. In that scene, the reconciliation spoken of is one of love, and of a relation between two beings of the same kind. Here, instead, I mean that in order for us to take a living form, a form that is alive in this world, there is part of us that is clipped or cut, and sent away. I don't know where it goes to. I don't know if this part is sent to meet with the other parts that have been clipped from all those in the world, and if they know and commune with one another, in some phantom city never seen, erected on an Asian plain, or beneath the ocean's deepest doldrums, where furious currents have gone to die.

I know that there is a way to meet this split spirit again. Or maybe it is not a meeting face-to-face, maybe it is a way only to wear the face of this spirit, the way that one acts on a stage, or wears a festival mask. In the way that there are some things that live in this world as a mask, a disguise, a costume, and when the costume is laid down again on the bed, the spirit is gone.

Often this way involves visiting a foreign country. It can happen that while traveling abroad, this shadow lost before birth can be heard in a silent speech by one's innermost ear. No matter what, you will never see or touch this shadow, at most you will hear its wordless pronouncement: here, in this land, you and I may come to know about each other. And in all that you take in about this land, its foods and languages and music and so on, it is in a kind of mute and private acknowledgment, a recognition, a greeting.

So it is, I think, with Christina and Italy. Who for our all-too-brief trip seemed to be living the life of another, not one which is an escape from one's first life, but which makes the first seem to be an extended exile from the second. In some people, travel is a catharsis, a kind of necessary semi-regular exercise useful in purging built-up energies and tensions. In others, it cleaves the psyche in two for good, such that dynamic energies are sparked for eternity. It is not known whether in this case the soul becomes permanently restless, or turns to face for the first time the restlessness which has always haunted it.

On a trip for five days through Rome, in the ceaseless heat, on the stony earth, each day punctuated by the shot from the noon cannon. Those traveling days where everything bears a faint halo of mythic intensity. We spent three days on the island of Ischia, a volcanic island reachable by ferry from Napoli, and home to several thermal springs, one of which is cava scura, 'secret cave', and that lies at the end of a path one can take from the small beach of Maronti, where we took seafood pasta on the beach for lunch.

Not on purpose is the song structured into three parts. The song is so structured, in three parts which do not repeat in an A-B form, because this form is boring and constraining and I can't do it. Whatever inner daimon it is whose hand moves my creative impulses, it is one that seems to prefer the horizontal flows, tangents, contiguities, unfoldings, and so on, and all those other trappings of nomadic freedom.

(..As much as on the other hand there is another daimon, perhaps one who resents the first, one who craves the brutal cut, the unforgiving amputation, the diabolical reduction....)

Ninjasonik "Tight Pants"

If it is the case that the comment posted anonymously below is the result of some kind of mildly beleaguered indignation, as is often so with expressions like 'come on, guys', we would like to point out that the preceding video is not only wholly within the general editorial spirit of this blog, it also directly forms an aesthetic triangle with two videos previously featured here, Wiz Khalifa's 'Say Yeah' and Hot-tub Johnny's 'Let Me Tell You'. With the first it shares an opening up of hip-hop to the rhythmic forms and structures of electronic dance music, which is arguably really going back to re-ignite potentials that were present between electronic music and hip-hop at the latter's historical inception (see our post on the Beat classic compilation), and with the second it shares the reduction of vocals to absurdist, minimal chanting. If hot-tub johnny were a rapper, he would be Ninjasonik. If Wiz Khalifa plays a show in NYC, Ninjasonik should open.

Plus he wears tight white pants, which is very Weekend Prince/Casual Pansy. This is like a summertime Bushwick rooftop Caspan jam.



yeah and like, what about 'Watch my Feet' by Dude n' Nem?' that's a good point.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Now this commence up the night...

Every few months I go to my favorite passage in Lloyd Bradley's Bass Culture and read Dennis Alcapone's description of King Tubby's soundsystem:

"King Tubby had a sound system that I never hear nothing like it in my whole life.  Sound systems, the big ones, was always exciting, but when Tubby came on the scene it was extraordinary.  Most of these dances we talking about were outdoor things, where you always have the big speaker boxes, but Tubby had him steel horns for the treble and he put them up in the trees so it's like the sound is coming from all over. When the night was warm, the breeze is blowing and the music's playing, it's truly something to behold. King Tubby's sound system was definitely magic.

"They had reverb on that sound system, no other sound system had reverb at the time--Tubby was the one who introduce it. Listen to his bass speakers and it's pure melody coming through. His bass was so round and fat that every singer sound wonderful, every song sound rich. Even if something hadn't been record so well it would still sound good on King Tubby's system. And the echo was another thing, nobody else had that, either. When U-Roy used to take up the mic to start his session and say, "Now commence up the night...night...night...night..."

I love reading this passage because dub music changed my life and Dennis describes my version of heaven. Dub music changed my whole concept of sound and it changed the way I listen to music. 

It is because I feel this deep affinity for space, reverb, and attention to sound that I love Basic Channel so much. This Berlin duo, in the early 90's, took Detroit Techno and mixed it inna dub style. The difference between them and others who claimed they'd been influenced by dub was that you could hear that dub music changed their lives. This is why they started their own mastering studio to produce the highest quality vinyl: because that's what Tubby would do. 

Though Basic Channel's output only amounted to a few 12" releases and exactly one CD's worth of material, they continue on in various forms. They have taken it upon themselves to make quality reissues of nearly all of the releases from Bronx-based reggae label Wackie's;  their Main Street label puts out many house music releases; and then there are their own recordings as Rhythm & Sound on their Burial Mix label. As Rhythm & Sound they have moved closer to straight roots reggae and dub, coming out with collaborations with various chatters (including legends like Cornell Campbell) on the 10" vinyl format. In 2003, they simultaneously released the A's and B's from these recordings on two different CDs--With the Artists and The Versions. The names are pretty self-explanatory. I've gravitated toward the dubs, naturally. Here is just a taste.
Rhythm & Sound-King Version
Ripped at 256k for optimal roundness.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Keep It Angry Geezer!

Basically, Birchville Cat Motel is the SHIT!!! BCM is New Zealand native Campbell Kneale, an uber-prolific creator of gorgeously wild drone / noise / music compositions. I'm not sure if listening to his stuff inspires me, excites me, or just plain freaks me out. "Her Anger Is Limitless" is a tour-only CD-R release from Late '06 / Early '07, and a good place to start. Aquarius Records says....

"A single half hour track, created out of what sounds like manipulated samples of voices, is transformed into a massive glistening technicolor shower of sound. You know how when it's crazy hot, kids open up the hydrants and just run around in the street as tons of cool water rains down on them. Imagine a similar situation, except when the hydrant is cracked, out comes thick torrents of billowy fuzz and grinding whir, all sparkling and dense and warm and thick, and you just close your eyes and let the sounds wash over you and fill your ears. It sounds like a million guitars, and guys outside cutting down trees and tossing them in the wood chipper and some sort of futuristic synth battle and thousands of little bells and chimes and a roomful of amps turned on and buzzing with no instruments plugged into them, all smeared into one gorgeous glimmering sonic deluge. "


I wrote Campbell Kneale a Myspace message (have you heard of Myspace?) to tell him how great the record is... Click on the photo below to read our correspondence.

Does anyone want to get together in some dark room and blast this as loud as possible... on weed ;)


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo

A while back someone sent me a Youtube clip of some puppets playing a wild psychedelic Afro beat song. Yes puppets. The song is amazing and speaks for itself. It is full of loud yelps and lo-fi wickedness.

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Contonou Dahomey turn out to be from Benin (formally called Dahomey), a small country on the West coast of Africa. According to the WFMU blog, Beware of the Blog, Orchetre Poly-Rythmo have put out 50 LPs and 100s of EPs. Two amazing ones come from the blog Analog Africa, which is putting out what should be an amazing comp on the travels and research of the author. The blog has some free samples that are worth checking out.
Here are 2 tracks from O.P.R that are from a lost master tape found in some recording studio in Benin recently. They are completely distorted and fuzzed out...making them sound like an African White Light/White Heat. Ahouli Vou Yelli has this John Cale organ solo that will melt your brain.

Turns out Soundways released a compilation of some of the bands greatest hits. Definitely worth the money.