In The Wee Small Hours - Frank Sinatra (1955)

In The Wee Small Hours - Frank Sinatra (1955)


I love this album.

"In The Wee Small Hours" feels like insomnia, in the sexiest way possible. Pacing with a Winston at 3 o'clock in the morning has never sounded so romantically sad. But of course--this is motherfucking Frank Sinatra, the man with the best voice in recording history. His rich baritone is so full of nuances and subtle inflections that you get lost in them, as he drops straight-up 1950s wisdom on your ungrateful earballs.

And the arrangements! Goddamn! The omnipotent Nelson Riddle hits solidly home with his orchestration that sounds like the night. Ranging from small ensembles to a full orchestra, each song is simultaniously rich and subtle, and accompanies and accents Sinatra's voice. Riddle has done a lot of interesting work, I'd also recommend checking out his soundtrack to Lolita for a very different side.

If you haven't heard this before, you're in for a treat.

SAD FRANK

oh, and happy new year wflm people.

controller.controller - History (2004)


A strong debut EP from an unfortunately short-lived Toronto favorite.

Moody, pulsing, dark and heavy disco-dance. Has one of my favorite tracks of all the time, 'Disco Blackout' - dare you not to dance.

They're gonna cut the lights

Keith Jarrett - Paris Concert (1990)



The master improviser (and occasional master prick) doing what he does best.

Recorded October 17 1988 - hence the first track - and released a few years after. Packed with his trademark vocalizations and interesting improvisations.

Enjoy

La Bottine Souriante - Cordial (2001)

La Bottine Souriante - Cordial (2001)


So, in light of some Québecois dude bitchin' in the comments about how "English music isn't Canadian, francophonez 4 lyf, blah blah" (not actually a quote), here's some fucking fantastic French Canadian music.

La Bottine Souriante--"the smiling boot", if my high school French is right--plays traditional Québecois music, with the addition of a jazz horn section, funky bass, and nasty keyboards. Folk music often is portrayed as boring and lifeless, but this is anything but. I dare you to play this and not dance--legitimately impossible.

My favorite track on here is "Le démon sort de l'enfer", which starts of as very straightforward folk, but with each successive verse gets funkier and funkier. However, most every track on here is just as catchy, and will make you move.

OAUY!

V/A - Folk Songs of Canada Now (2011)



Really great collection of folk field recordings, as compiled by Henry Adam Svec, and performed by some of Canada's better known musical talents (such as Olenka Krakus, Laura Barrett and Wax Mannequin).

It's presented less like an album, and more like an academic study, with extensive and informative background information and a free download available on the project's website, which I highly recommend taking a look at. (Fun fact, if you're a fan of Kate Beaton's webcomic Hark! A Vagrant, she's done all the art for this project as well.)

Enjoy, eh

La Mer and Trois Nocturnes - Claude Debussy (1984)

La Mer and Trois Nocturnes - Claude Debussy (1984)



Excuse me for echoing David Toop ("Toooop doggy, dooo-ooo-ooo-ooog!"), but I'd definitely argue that modern music's fascination with texture and tone color can be traced to Claude Debussy. One of my favorite composers, his Nocturnes are easily my favorite of his compositions--lush and rich, they are evocative and abstract without losing their ability to convey awe and wonder.

This particular recording is one of my favorites. The London Symphony Orchestra is conducted by the great André Previn through both the Nocturnes and his equally stunning orchestral work "La Mer". Part of what makes this such a stand-out performance is the recording. EMI's first commercial digitally recorded release, the engineering on this CD is spectacular. The sound stage is enormous, and every part is audible. This naturally adds a great deal to the intricate textures and timbres of the piece, putting Debussy's ground-breaking instrumentation in plain sight.

PROPAGATE BEAUTY.

Age of Mythology Soundtrack - Stephan Rippy & Kevin McMullan (2002)

Age of Mythology Soundtrack - Stephan Rippy & Kevin McMullan (2002)


I was actually playing this game earlier today when I remembered how spectacular it's soundtrack was. On listening, it turns out that the soundtrack to Age of Mythology is just as evocative and entertaining outside the context of the real-time strategy masterpiece.

The bafflingly named tracks ("Eat Your Potatoes", "Flavor Cats (In the Comfort Zone)", "Ma'am...Some Other Sunset") alternate being mysterious and ambient, and epic and orchestral, jazzy and electronic. The use of live instruments and electronics makes it sometimes difficult to identify the sound sources, but all are evocative of your Norse axemen mowing through Hydras and Egyptian chariots (or something like that).

But really, this is one of those soundtracks (like those I've been posting lately) that stands on its own, outside of the context of it's grafted video-game. Stylistically, I'd liken it to the soundtrack from the first Halo game--ambiently eerie, alien, and ultimately entertaining. So, even if you haven't played the game, I implore you to give this a listen.

I'm all about the norse. what's your mythology of choice?

V/A - Donaueschinger Musiktage (1994-2010)


it's tough keeping up with contemporary composition - it can take years for a piece to be written, premiered, recorded, and maybe released by a label. so besides going to shows, i try to pick up releases from new music festivals, like these from the Donaueschinger Musiktage, to keep me current. unfortunately, that's no easy task either, as the DM has recently swapped distributors and each year's recordings are split up into several volumes released on a seemingly arbitrary schedule. fantastic. nevertheless, i consider these an invaluable resource for trending the avantgarde and as an introduction to up-and-coming composers/ensembles worth keeping an ear on. here are some recent favorites.

1994 vol. 1 (modern pieces for player piano! borderline ridiculous)
2002 vol. 1 (vocal-centric)
2006 vol. 3 (Smolka and Mitterer fuck with the baroque)
2006 vol. 4 (large chamber works from Kagel and Posadas)
2007 vol. 3 (works for large orchestra/electronics)
2010 (new pieces for string quartet; unreleased)

Gogol Bordello + Balkan Beat Box - J.U.F. (2004)

Gogol Bordello + Balkan Beat Box - J.U.F. (2004)


First of all, if you're not familiar with Gogol Bordello or Balkan Beat Box, go familiarize yourself with them.

"J. U. F." stands for "Jewish Ukrainishe Freundschaft"--Jewish Ukrainian Friendship. It's about what you'd expect with these two projects coming together--Eugene Hütz and his oversized personality provide well placed yelps, howls, raps, and singing. Tamir Muskat, the drummer/programmer for Balkan Beat Box lays down techno beats, which are augmented by his drumming. All this provides a great pad for lots of saxophones, percussion, dub bass, gypsy violin, and whatever else these guys had lying around (i.e. bagpipes and shit).

This album isn't as good as either of the groups' best efforts, but it's still a lot of fun. It's pretty consistent, and stands up well to repeat listens. The whole thing is exellently dancy, and never seems to be taking itself too seriously--everyone sounds like they're having a good deal of fun.


culture is a cultural construction

Fela Kuti - Roforofo Fight (1972)

Fela Kuti - Roforofo Fight (1972)

I'm glad that in the past couple years, Fela Kuti's been getting the recognition he always deserved. Throughout his storied life (seriously, look up some of these hijinks), he made a fuck-ton of spectacular afro-beat, each release as good as the next.
Fela invented and popularized afro-beat, with it's mix of African-American funk rhythms, Yoruba drumming, psychedelic guitars, cataclysmic horn lines that hit you like a dump truck made of dump trucks, and long long long long song forms. Holding all this joy together is Fela's versatile voice, full of emotions and character.
This release has some of my favorite tracks--the title track, in particular is glorious.


Bonus: this is in a similar vein (with fela's old drummer), and is also fucking sweet. deep cuts from the wflm archives...

Ectoplasm Girls - TxN (2011)


from Sweden comes this creepy little gem of a record - let's call it dark ambient. the first few tracks settle you in, but the record really takes off near the mid-point - "If Your Mother Asks" (track 7) begins the best run of songs on the album. present are all the sound elements that are hallmarks of this type of music, but they're employed with restraint and to great effect. the strangulated drum loops seem to want to get a party started but never quite get there. it's anti-dance.

fyi, this is really good subway music

Pete Swanson - Man With Garbage (2011)

"Man With Garbage" is the accompanying CD with Pete Swanson's "Man With Potential". I don't know Pete Swanson, but after hearing this li'l bonus album, I'm certainly planning on picking up "Man With Potential".

Atmospheric, ambient, glorious noise. Earsplitting, brain-expanding, aurally-pleasing noise. Try walking around town in a foggy night with this in your headphones.

K.Flay - I Stopped Caring In 96 (2011)

I just saw K.Flay open up for some hip-hop shit. The hip-hop shit was good, but K.Flay was fucking great--easily one of the coolest performances I've seen for a while. Getting back from the venue, I looked up her recordings, and what do you know? Also awesome.

I've been so fucking hooked on the three volumes of her mixtape "I Stopped Caring In 96". It's not really the kind of stuff I usually listen to, but it's so fucking good--the beats are dirty and Fresh (with a capital 'F'), and her delivery, somewhere between spoken word and rap, is smooth and full of cool lines.

Station W.E.F.U.N.K.

Station W.E.F.U.N.K.


So this really isn't the type of thing usually posted here, but fuck it, it's worth posting here. Based out of Montreal, WUFUNK Radio is a weekly radio show featuring live vinyl mixes of vintage funk and hip-hop mixes. Using lots of deep cuts of killer tunes, this is one of the most consistent internet radio stations I've ever ran across.

Best of all? A huuuuge fucking archive of past shows.


Post your fave web radio sites in the comments, plz.

Isao Tomita - Snowflakes Are Dancing (1974)

Isao Tomita - Snowflakes Are Dancing (1974)
Riding the wave that originated with Walter/Wanda Carlos' "Switched On Bach" (a masterpiece of applying synthesizers to classical music) came Isao Tomita. The Japanese producer used a staggering array of state-of-the-art (at the time) synthesizers, including the same Moog that Carlos used on "Switched On Bach".

Tomita's subject for his synthesizer translation was Debussy, and I can't think of a better composer to be given this treatment. As one of masters at orchestration and timbre, I'm fully convinced that if Debussy was born today, he would be all over synthesizers.

Tomita's interpretations are fairly loose with their subject material in a fantastically creative way. Lush, rich soundscapes are created with his analog stallions, all retaining the evocative beauty that is inherent to Debussy's wonderfulness.

The Olivia Tremor Control - Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume One (1999)


so the olivia tremor control are back, and their newer songs sound as magical as the ones contained withing their first two albums. things are looking good, and i thought i'd share their second album, which many say is a culmination of what sounds they were all chasing - and i'd agree if i didn't think their first album was just as good. this album has all of the classic elements of the band - an adamant aptitude towards experimentalism while maintaining an incredibly high standard of pop songs. all the influences are here; from the dada movement, baroque pop melodies to the beach boys harmonies, the olivia tremor control have managed to orchestrate it all in such a colorful blend that it is impossible to call this anything but a classic. lovely sound, please do listen.


also, will, u coo

Fool's Gold - Fool's Gold (2010)

Fool's Gold - Fool's Gold (2010)
I caught a show by these cool cat's a couple years ago. Playing with two very good bands (Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Local Natives), they stuck out as being particuarly wonderful. Maybe it was their burning sage in a cleansing ritual on stage before hand (always a classy move), or possibly the end of the show, with the whole band drumming as they marched through the crowd. Or it could have been the saxophone's elementally pentatonic lines, while the singer's falsetto hebrew. Or maybe it was the acid. Or the Afro-pop guitar solos?


As a side note, I picked up the Red Hot Chili Pepper's newest live show (they just teamed up with Nugs.net, the group that manages live releases for every jam band out there (HEY BANDS! DO THIS TOO!)), and was suprised to see that not only are they touring with Fool's Gold, they bring up the sax player to do a few songs with them. So if you're in Europe (maybe?), check it out.

Getatchew Mekurya & The Ex & Guests - 2007

Getatchew Mekurya & The Ex & Guests - 2007
Dudes, this is awesome.

Getatchew Mekurya is an Ethiopian jazz saxaphone player. Particuarly active in the fifties and sixties, he was "one of the first musicians to record an instrumental version of shellela, a genre of traditional Ethiopian vocal music sung by warriors before going into battle. Mekurya took the shellela tradition seriously, often appearing onstage in a warrior's animal-skin tunic and lion's mane headdress".

So that's pretty cool on its own.

But, when people started looking back on the awesome Ethiopian jazz scene a couple years ago, he caught the attention of The Ex, an anarcho-post-punk band from the Netherlands. They did a few albums with each other (not full on collaborations, but one with The Ex as a backing band for Getatchew, and another one where he solo'd on a few songs of their's, or something like that).

Shit really catches on fire with this live DVD, though. Each half of the equation (Ethiopian free jazz + post punk) clearly influences the other, and ends up creating a sound unlike any other I've heard.

Sometimes biting and raw, the saxophone is like a screaming spirit over the edgy, rough guitars. Sometimes funky, the horn section delivers afro-beat style epic lead lines. Sometimes jazzy, Getatchew spits hot fire atop of the punk structure.

Pet Sounds in the Key of Dee - Presented by Bullion (2007)


first things first, what a hilariously shooped cover. now, i fucking love dilla, and i fucking love pet sounds. so for me to be finding out about this album so late is kind of embarrassing - my cred has now suffered. anyway, excellent production (albeit a bit compressed - but hey, you can do that if you call it a mixtape) by english producer bullion. the mix here is as satisfying as it is fun to listen to. if you are acquainted with both pet sounds and dillas work, you will love this treat. in terms of what period of dilla bullion aimed for, it is for the most part pre-donuts (but after the dee[troit]) mixed with some donuts goodness and some of what was evident in jay stay paid. killer basslines and snares to die for. very nice album. the track "you still believe in dee" is a particular favorite of mine. enjoy.

PJ Harvey - To Bring You My Love (B-Sides) (1995)


You guys.

Not sure why these were released as b-sides, because every track is golden. She starts unapologetically, immediately screaming her desire to "wanna bathe in milk, eat grapes, Robert DeNiro sit on my face", and continues her ruthless and reckless energy throughout.

It goes to some strange places, but the entire thing is worth two tracks in particular - Maniac, which channels the same vibe of her better known single Down By The Water, and Harder, which evokes the best moments of her Rid of Me album days - which are two of the sexiest, rawest, oh-god-I'm-so-turned-on vocal performances alive.

Mmmmmm yeahhhhhh

Protect IP Act - Call your senators

Protect IP Act - Call your senators
from http://americancensorship.org/:

"The US Congress is considering America's first system for censoring the Internet.
Despite public outcry, the Internet Censorship bill could pass at any time.
If it does, the Internet and free speech will never be the same:"

so go to the website so that they can connect you with your senators and just say you oppose the protect IP act. you call them and they connect you after some quick bulletpoints. no hassle and just zip codes required, the email is for american cencorship to send updates.

Neil Young - Dead Man (1995)

Neil Young - Dead Man (1995)


I recently added the 1995 movie "Dead Man" to my list of movies-I-need-to-see-but-have-heard-the-soundtrack-to. It grows and grows and grows.

I don't know anything about the movie but for the liberal use of film excerpts. Normally I'm not a fan of dialogue over music in soundtracks, but it fits Neil Young's ambient, improvised guitar jahms like a glove.

The soundtrack was recorded in one take, with Neil Young improvising while he watched the film. And, since he's Neil Young, Neil Young plays his slow, grungily atmospheric guitar in such a manner that I don't need to see the movie at all.


Edit: And now people are saying that Gibby Fucking Haynes is in this movie? I need to see it right now.

Satanstompingcaterpillars - The Most Wonderfulest Thing (2002)


precursor to black moth super rainbow and tobacco, satanstompingcateripillars is the original pseudonym under which tobacco started experimenting. more like bmsr than his solo stuff, this music still retains the properties which make the rest of his music so unique and likeable - good rhythms coupled with psychedelic vocoder treats. good for those who like this type of music. not the most astounding, but perfect for these calm winter times.

Matana Roberts - Coin Coin Chapter One: Gens de Couleur Libres (2011)


wow. the best avant-jazz i've heard in 3 or 4 years, and not for lack of trying. this is an INTENSE record, with each track capable of multiple shifts in style; brutal, crushing lows; and dizzying, blissed-out highs. filling in the spaces is next level musicianship, interesting instrumental combinations (check out the distorted guitar/violin duo in "Song for Eulalie"), and plenty of overdubs/audio treatments. it's actually quite refreshing to hear jazz discoursing with technology in a meaningful way. maybe it's cliche, but the depth of feeling is what pushes this album over the top, especially the raw, unrestrained vocal work. and, of course, the swing is the thing; if you like the swirling chaos of Mingus's soulful large ensemble improvisations then this is right up your alley. so do yourself a favor - take an hour out to kick back on the sofa with your vice of choice and experience this amazing record from start to finish. by the time the last song comes on, you'll feel like you've earned it.

my picture will never be taken

Pablo Moses - A Song (1980)

Pablo Moses - A Song (1980)
When I was on my big dub kick last month, someone mentioned this album in the comments. I tracked it down (shit's been out of print for years!), and oh man. This is easily some of the best reggae I've heard.

The title track ("A Song") is epic, dark, and so quintessentially reggae with cutting synths, a big chorus, driving bass, back-beat guitars, and I believe timpanis (timpanii?) from time to time. But, on an album this good it's just not possible to pick a favorite. So I won't.

I know I've thrown a lot of dub and reggae your way recently, but trust me--this one is essential. And out of print.

Daphne Oram - Oramics (2007)


i won't ruin the trip and say too much about Oramics besides that it's probably the best random discovery i've made in 2011, and if it had been released by Four Tet, FlyLo, GLK, or Boards of Canada it'd be on everyone's year end lists. it's worth mentioning that the album art above is from the 4xLP deluxe gatefold that was released this year (the version available below is the inferior 2007 2xCD). it'll set you back around 50 bucks, but if you like the up it's definitely worth the purchase.

[removed by request of Clive, who i pissed off]

Alice Coltrane - Ptah, the El Daoud (1970)



Alice Coltrane's third solo album is sheer beauty. Her simple and sparse rhythm section sit comfortably in common time, setting a support upon which Alice - appearing on both piano and harp - and her horns explore a myriad of minor and pentatonic melodies. Their phrasing is moody, melancholic and haunting. Tunes like the title track and Blue Nile prove catchy and syncopated, while the absolutely gorgeous Turiya and Ramakrishna remains my ultimate remedy - if you're anything like me, nothing will sooth you like this song.

One can read alot into this album, recorded whilst Alice was actively engaged with several eastern concepts of spirituality, practices which she infused into her music. To me, the mysticism is in her musical phrasings; this is truly divine.

Om.

Laibach - Volk (2006)

I used to complain about how their weren't any albums consisting entirely of industrial techno covers of national anthems.

Then I found this album. Consisting of fourteen tracks--Germany, America, England, France, Israel, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Russia, Poland, Norway, Japan, the Vatican, and China--the lyrics are bleak, and highly critical of nationalism. Hell, they even give Norway shit!

That said, it's subtle. That's not I word I throw around with industrial music often, but the beats never seem gratuitous or forced. Apart from that, though, there's all the wonderful, epic things you would expect from Laibach: heavy synth beats, drum machines, a threatening voice chanting politically charged rhetoric about nationalism (people used to give Laibach shit for their nazi imagery, but track one really puts that myth to rest), atmospheric pads, and a general sense of menace.

Abner Jay - Folk Song Stylist (2010)


Mississippi Records' collection of his early tracks. Musically jumps around from gospel to folk to blues, but all tracks are united by his seriously powerful vocal performance. I can't recommend this enough.

Enjoy.

Ashkenazy & Rubinstein - Chopin's Nocturnes (1997, 2000)



a nocturne is music to be played at, or that is evocative of, night. Chopin's sets are easily the best in the genre. why? well there's very little overt complexity here: the form is a simple ABA, with two contrasting themes; the (mostly) uncomplicated harmony is supplied economically by arpeggiated chords in the left hand. you've probably come up with more complicated melodies singing to yourself in the shower. so what makes these so fucking excellent, then? the eastern-European lilt also heard in Bartok, Rach., and Scriabin? the impressionistic tone colors of Debussy, Ravel, and Gershwin? hell if i know. Rubinstein said "Chopin was a genius of universal appeal... [His music] does not tell stories or paint pictures. It is expressive and personal, but still a pure art. Even in this abstract atomic age, where emotion is not fashionable, Chopin endures. His music is the universal language of human communication. When I play Chopin I know I speak directly to the hearts of people." well shit then.

a note on the recordings: Rubinstein's collection is the best available. he plays it the way i think Chopin would, with delicacy and impeccable phrasing that shapes the melodies and emphasizes interesting harmonies. Ashkenazy's interpretation is more dramatic, with lots of exaggerations in tempi and contour. it makes for an uneven set (he absolutely butchers the Bb min.), but his highs are probably higher than Rube's, especially where power and flair are concerned (F, Ab). also included is a mix of modern-ish nocturnes and ephemera influenced by Chopin that you might also like (parent discs available if you ask nice).

Rubinstein disc 1
Rubinstein disc 2
Ashkenazy disc 1
Ashkenazy disc 2
bonus stuff

SOPA (oh shit the internet is over)

SOPA (oh shit the internet is over)
so many of you are probably aware of this already: http://americancensorship.org/ and for those who are not, its a bill trying to pass that could basically do any one of these things:

  • allow isps to block any website they deem is breaking the law
  • shut down sites like youtube, tumblr, and other websites i dont really visit (but are cool)
  • cut off funding to websites that are also breaking the law
  • make it a felony with an up to 5 year sentence to use any copyrighted material even if you are not commercially using it
  • dismantle the morality of internet security
  • ????
  • and more
so please negate that with will or simply write and call to your congressman. this crap should not pass. if it does, we will not be able to fucking love music anymore.

Johnny Flynn - A Larum (2008)

Johnny Flynn - A Larum (2008)
This is, without a doubt, my favorite folk album, and one of the most well-loved pieces of music in my life.

Johnny Flynn is the British singer/songwriter responsible for this masterpiece. His playful lyrics are joined with incredible instrumentation--traditional americana instruments being used in unorthodox ways. Lots of cello harmonics, trumpets, mandolins, drums...

Anyways, as the days get colder, you're going to need some warm music. This is a great choice.

WINTER IS COMING.

HANDWITHLEGS-The Electric Cave (2011)


Rattling live percussion mixed with drum machines beats. Distorted guitars blended with arpeggiating synths. Vocals distorted and drenched with reverb, at equal level with the music, almost as another instrument.  To me, this is what industrial music should sound like in 2011.

Give it a try

Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto - Summvs (2011)

Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto - Summvs (2011)
This is an interesting collaboration. Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, best know for his wonderful soundtrack work--"Little Buddha", "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence", and (I shit you not!) the start-up sound for the Dreamcast--is joined by Alva Noto.

Alva Noto is, in a way, germany's second Oval. Experimenting with glitchy electronic tones and textures, along with oscillators and samples of modems, he accents and rhythmicisizes Sakamoto's lush chordal soundscapes.

Sometimes full and rich with close-miked, reverbed piano and strings; sometimes minimal and electronic; sometimes almost inaudible; this is a very interesting ambient record. Never too much going on to overwhelm thought, but likewise, never so static as to bore.

Woodbine - Woodbine (1999)


Last night I worked for 13 hours, doing lights, sound, and security at the music venue employs me.

Now I'm fucking beat, and this is the perfect music for an exhausted Sunday afternoon.

Psychedelic, relaxed, folky, organic, rich. These are all good words to describe this album.

I don't know a thing about this group, except that their second album is just about as good as this one, and that they're on the lovely Domino Records label.

Anyways, this is a nice little gem. I don't think that anyone will dislike it.

If anyone knows anything about the group, leave it in the comments.

Shivkumar Sharma, Brijbushan Kabra and Hariprasad Chaurasia - Call of the Valley (1995)

This album is a wonderful place to begin exploring Indian classical music. Although it uses very non-traditional instrumentation (slide guitar, hammer dulcimer, wooden flute, and tablas), it offers a sort of intermediary between western timbres and Indian song forms.

Indian classical music is very different than what is labeled as classical music in the European tradition. Based around different ragas (which would most closely be approximated as modes), the music is heavily improvised. But, you really don't need to know the mechanics of what's going on to appreciate this beautiful music.

If you dig this and want more suggestions, lemme know in the comments.

░▒▓ - █ ▄ █ █ ▄ ██ ▄ ██ ▄█ [2010]


Hehe. Good luck searching for this one.
As gimmicky as the artist name/title might be this is a lovely ambient excursion. Some very intimidating soundscapes, but ultimately very beautiful. I think Mr. ░▒▓ himself describes this release pretty well:

This Mister Softy side-project was born just after the Paulstretch / Bieber craze. Seeing how incredible the algorithm was I decided to make something with it. I collected various samples (a full track I did a while back, snippets of unfinished stuff, comedy radio broadcasts, bass guitar recordings I made last year with a borrowed instrument - I don't even play bass but who cares?), "paulstretched" them, fired pro-tools and made a huge montage with the stuff. I then recorded the output on tape using a worn, shitty ghetto blaster with damaged heads. Finally, I mixed the digital and tape versions together (to get rid of the digital purity while maintaining a sense of clarity). The end result is a series of ominous yet relaxing soundscapes lasting over 35 minutes.

Oysterhead - The Grand Pecking Order (2001)

Oysterhead - The Grand Pecking Order (2001)
My mind damn near exploded when I found discovered this gem during my junior year of high school. At the time, I was really into Phish and Primus, and...well, for someone who likes those bands, this album's something of a mindfuck.

With Primus' Les Claypool on bass (slip slap slap-ing the shit out of those strings), The Police's Stewart Copland (who lays down some tight pockets), and Phish's Trey Anastasio (who, at what was undoubtably an oxy-ed out low point, hits a home run), this is the power trio to end all power trios. Each member is undoubtably a master of their instrument, and with this one-off side project, they really stretch out quite a bit.

What immediately makes the album stick out is the lovely, lush, colorful production. Claypool and Anastasio's past studio albums tend to stick to what they can do live--both have masterpieces under their belts, but "The Grand Pecking Order" is very much a departure. Full of overdubs, rich textures (thanks largely in part to The Matterhorn, Anastasio's custom guitar with--get this--a fuckin' theremin made out of fuckin' antlers attached to the side), and silly voices, the album is light enough for constant listening but complex enough to listen to constantly. That's right, I fucking went there.

Anyways, even if you're one of those snobs who won't touch jam bands with a ten-foot-pole, I implore you to give this a listen. Or I'll poke you with my ten-foot-pole.


Amadou & Mariam - Sou Ni Tilé (1999)



An incredible blind married couple from Mali, whose music straddles multiple genres. This genre-bending is immediately apparent in the haunting opening track, which blends Indian tabla and violin over a blues progression, all while retaining elements of their western African roots. Their eclectic style is united by incredibly catchy melodies and rhythms. They've put out several albums, this is one of my favorites.

Enjoyyy

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band - What's Going On? (2006)

Am I the only one posting here anymore?

Okay, now that that's out of the way: this album kills. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans' own Dirty Dozen Brass Band covered Marvin Gaye's classic album "What's Going On?".

They could not have chose a better album to cover--the issues in Gaye's deeply personal and political album remains relevant today, and one can only imagine how much his calls for social justice resonate with these musicians who lost their homes to the devastating hurricane.

If a top-tier brass band covering classic motown funk doesn't do it for you (and it really should), then get this: Public Enemy's Chuck D does vocals for the first track, and Betty Lavette, Ian Neville, G. Love, and Guru also contribute vocals for other tracks.

This is a great listen. Check it out, and then buy the album: proceeds go to benefit the New Orleans music community.


(but seriously, am I the only one posting here anymore? i'm 12 and what is this)

Keith Hudson & Friends - The Hudson Affair (2005)

Keith Hudson & Friends - The Hudson Affair (2005)
MORE DUB BY POPULAR DEMAND:

Keith Hudson is one of my favorite dub producers. His album "Flesh of My Skin, Blood of My Blood" is one of my all time favorite dub albums (also, check out this blog. it's one of my favorites). His music is consistently dark and clautrophobic, full of sonic interest while not sounding contrived or cliché--Hudson is one of the key people (I'd put him up there with King Tubby, Lee Scratch Perry, Augustus Pablo, and Errol Thompson) who gave dub its signature sounds.

Anyways, this two disk set is fascinating for a number of reasons. First of all, it contains many tracks which are fundamental to the development of reggae and dub. The first track, "Old Fashioned Way", shows reggaes foundation in American R&B. This wonderfully upbeat track has all the trappings of a typical reggae song (backbeat guitar and organ, low bass, and quintessentially reggae-y drums), as well as a keyboard line which will be stuck in your head for a week ("doo doo doo doo doo!").

The second reason I love this compilation is in the second track: "Dynamic Fashion Way", a dub version of the first song. Using mostly the same form as the "original" (quotations are present because originality is a false capitalist concept. /marxist), the instrumental track is toasted over by the fantastic U Roy. The track really reinforce Hip Hop's roots in dub, as U Roy responds to the lyrics of the first song and encourages the audience to dance. Almost every track on this album is accompanied by two or three dubs and versions, making the album a great example of the musical developments that led to dub as its own musical style.

In an even broader sense, the techniques demonstrated on this album laid the foundation for todays remix culture, and contributed to the general destabilization and deterritorialization of music that remains ongoing. The internet has further contributed to this process, as music is removed from its cultural and geographic boundaries.

Anyhoo, if you're at all interested in the history of dub, you'll get a lot out of this.

Sorry for all the big words.
This is what happens when I take breaks from thesis writing to post things I love.

Snuffy - Mangia! (2011)

Snuffy - Mangia! (2011)


First and foremost: if you're one of the posters who's album this isn't, don't be mad at me. Y'all threw so much good shit up there that it'll take me ages to get to it all. I fully intend to put much more of it up here, 'cause y'all are some articulate, informed, tasteful motherfuckers. Still, for whatever reasons, this was the one that really stuck out to me--it spoke to me today.

This suggestion came from the illustrious Mike A. What does 'A' stand for? We can only speculate. Maybe 'articulate':

Just a fun ass album that takes explores animal collective experimentation with a hip hop beat. just listen and you may be hooked. P.s band name is in homage to the late great Mr. Snuffulupagus
http://snuffymusic.com/

This is a fairly accurate description, I guess. I'd replace the Animal Collective comparison with Ratatat--their textures are all quite beat driven, in a fun way. Very rocky, and just all around fun. I think you'll dig it.

Anyways, I'll post more of your suggestions later--I love how articulate and knowledgable this community is. Keep it up.

Various Artists - Dub Gone Crazy: The Evolution of Dub at King Tubby's (1995)[v0]

Various Artists - Dub Gone Crazy: The Evolution of Dub at King Tubby's (1995)[v0]

Happy November, y'all.
I've been listening to a whole lot of dub in relation to my thesis (remind me to talk about that sometime, it's pretty relevant to this blog), and then I realized that there's not nearly as much old-school Jamaican dub on this blog as there should be. So I'm taking matters into my own hands.

Dub music is quintessentially Jamaican, though the impact of the music was felt world-wide. During the 1960s and 1970s, mobile sound-systems were the primary places music was heard.
"King Tubby's Hometown Hi Fi" was one of these sound-systems.

Bobby Vicious: "Nothing compared to Tubby's. Tubby's was the legend, you know. And I"ve seen a lot of sound systems, man. Even today, with all the technology we have today, you still don't hear any sound system like Tubby's. They're big, and they're huge, and they're heavy, but nothin' compares to that sound Tubby had"

"The sound system context in turn influenced King Tubby's studio work: after witnessing the crowd's response in the dancehall, he would then elaborate upon these effects in the laboratory setting of his studio, and eventually use them to craft records", says Michael Veal in his vital book "Dub".

One thing that led to the success of his sound system was the pressing of special records--dub plates--that were popular reggae and ska singles, stripped down of vocals and spaced out with delay and reverb. These were used for MCs to toast over, talkin' shit about other sound systems, and getting the crowd hyped up and dancing. These dub-versions gave each sound system a unique sound, and Tubby's was know far and wide for being the best.

This album is a compilation of tracks made for and by King Tubby. Including a lot of work by his protégés Scientist, Philip Smart, and Prince Jammy, this is a great introduction to one of my favorite styles of music.

If people seem to be particularly into this one, I've got a ton of good Jamaican dub I'd love to throw up here.

Danny Elfman - The Nightmare Before Christmas OST (1993)

Danny Elfman - The Nightmare Before Christmas OST (1993)
Holy shit, this soundtrack fucking rules.
I'm a huge Oingo Boingo fan, and all of Danny Elfman's creative chromaticism makes the transition flawlessly to soundtracks. Plus, this album has a longer shelf-life than most holiday albums, remaining relevant from October to December!

Highlights:
Fuck it, the whole album is a highlight.

I am filled with Halloween spirit!
(possessed, one might say).

Carl Craig and Moritz Von Oswald - Recomposed (2008)

Carl Craig and Moritz Von Oswald - Recomposed (2008)
Every once in a while, whilst trawling the dark recesses of the internetz, I'll come across an album that'll make me go "how the fuck?! does this exist?! why haven't I heard about this?!". This is one of those albums.
When the highly esteemed and revered classical label Deutsche Grammophon opened its vault to Carl Craig and Moritz von Oswald to remix/reinvent Ravel and Mussorgsky, the detroit techno producers made the odd though experiment work out fantastically.
When I first read the description, I had a bleak vision of filters and drum machines behind generic classical music. This is not the case. Sometimes ambient, sometimes heavy and driving, the juxtaposition of classical music and techno is a much more harmonious combination than one would expect.
Chopping their source material sometimes beyond recognition, the two DJs keep the many layers in constant motion. Trumpets become percussive, and an organ is used to create enormous washes that flow across the left and right channels in an enormous sonic wave.

So, download this, pack a bowl, turn off the lights, and

Requests, plz.

Requests, plz.


Comment with an album that should be up here that I've never fucking heard of.
Include a description.
The coolest sounding one (as decided by me) gets put up.

Fuck you, pigs!

The Ventures - Super Psychedelics (1967)

The Ventures - Super Psychedelics (1967)
This is my favorite album by the criminally underrated instrumental psychedelic surf guitar group. Pioneers in using pedals and effects in their compositions and covers, the album is rich with guitar tones. Tremolo-picked fuzz guitar joins sitars, flangers, phasers, theremins, and all manners of cool guitar tones as The Ventures chew their way through the pop hits of the 60s.

Though their original compositions are fun, and have mostly aged well, my favorite songs on this record are primarily the covers. "Strawberry Fields Forever", "Happy Together", and "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" are each at least as good as the originals, and tend to add a great deal to their source material.

Andreas Staier - Artist Portrait (2002)


The talented German pianist and harpsichordist explores Bach, Mozart, Salieri and Schubert among others, and his interpretations are rich and nuanced. The strongest and most dynamic track however is the opener, Boccherini's Fandango, performed complete with castanets and flamenco stomping.

Hören Sie

The Dismemberment Plan - Emergency & I (1999)


this year has been pretty bad for music, no? some would disagree, i'm sure (plenty, even) but as of now it sucks. anyway, time to be senile and promote something old - emergency & i. i extol this record because of the many factors that have helped make it such a good record. it's instrumentation is innovative in a way which makes it seem new at any point since it's release. i'm not the type to care for lyrics, honestly - a bunch of jirble-jarble nonsense about rattle snakes and jarred mutants, but the contemporary timelessness they portray is really astounding - they are very applicable to that modern view of the world, even if this is 12 years old. musicianship is beyond precise, reaching very satisfying levels of composition and the odd time signatures break pace in a very great way. the "90s sound" is all but there and their jangly sound and definitive keyboard is great, plus the drumming is fantastic. superb listen and a total treasure, give it a spin of your harddrive or whatever other terrible thing to say there is.

Rinaldo Alessandrini conducting the Concerto Italiano - Brandenburg Concertos (2005)

Rinaldo Alessandrini conducting the Concerto Italiano - Brandenburg Concertos (2005)
I love Bach, but there seems to be a constant assault on the man's music. I've heard countless lifeless performances and recordings that deconstruct his mathematical, fractallian counterpoints and melodies to soulless, half-dead theory exercises for robots. This is not one of those recordings.
Under Rinaldo Alessandrini, the Concerto Italiano performs the pieces with great emotion and liveliness, as they manage to make the classical ensemble music literally (not literally) leap of the sheet music and run around like a stag in a...parking garage? The tempos are towards the faster end of the spectrum, but not unnecessarily so (*coughcoughGlenGouldcough*).
The recording quality is magnificent. Ever single part is heard in absolute clarity, and balanced immaculately. This is splendid, because every part is performed near-flawlessly. The use of period instrumentation on this recording gives it an astounding depth of tone-color and lush, rich ambiance. The solos are without-fail virtuosic--of particular note is the harpsichord cadenza in the fifth concerto (supposedly performed by Bach himself at the premier!).


UNKLE - Psyence Fiction (1998)

UNKLE - Psyence Fiction (1998)
This is the album that I can trace almost all of my favorite music back to ("back to which I can trace my favorite musics"? screw you grammar). The product of a collaboration between James Lavelle and the always-spectacular DJ Shadow, the album has everyone you could possibly like.

Kool G Rap? Check.
Mike D from the Beastie Boys? Check.
Thom Yorke? Yep.
Badly Drawn Boy? Absolutely.
Richard Ashcroft? Check.
Metallica's Jason Newsted? Plays the goddamn theremin!
Ian Brown? You know it!

And these are just the guest artists. The samples are all over the place--this is DJ Shadow we're talking about--and reinforce the almost cinematic Sci-Fi feel of the album. Lots of creepy vocal samples, Shadow's trademark dirty-ass drums, and old commercials give this album a lush soundscape.

And the music! Ah! After the swirl of samples in the intro (it's fucking ridiculous, look it up on wikipedia 'cause it's too long to put here), comes some killer gangsta rap, mellow trip-hop, hard-rock, ambient interludes, a string ensemble with beats, more hip-hop, and then a fucking Thom Yorke ballad (with a stellar video).

This album's a fucking trip, and the songs flow into each other so well, your brain can't help but create its own space-opera narrative.