Monday, October 31, 2016

Robert Fripp - God Save the Queen / Under Heavy Manners

Robert Fripp seems like a quirky, totally self-contained individual who likes to make metalingual commentary during interviews. He also seems like the kind of musician who would actively pursue anyone sharing his music in this fashion, but hey, looks like this record's been out of print since its initial release in 1980. Anyway, some of you already have this one, but if not...

A divided collection - "Side A" contains the type of Frippertronics we'd come to expect from his collaborations with Eno, while "Side One" (B) explores Discotronics, or the interplay between those loops and bass/drums, as well as, on "Under Heavy Manners," David Byrne warbling about hearing trumpets and divergence. The rhythm section on "Zero of the Signified" actually sounds more Kraut-y to my ears, definitely the highlight of the record for me, ending on one of the loveliest loops I've heard Mr. Fripp construct. A real pleaser for guitar-loop geeks like me and otherwise.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Pillman Radiant Mix

A mix I was inspired to make after starting to read "Roadside Picnic" by the brothers Strugatsky. Imagine Blade Runner as a GTA-style VR game where you can explore the murky neon-soaked spaces of the marketplace... here's your soundtrack. Future-focused electronic pop, twisted vocal samples, footwork, synth music, blah blah blah...
OPN – I only have eyes for you
lena platonos – markos
kelela – bank head
phork – the rhythm of two kalimbas (soundcloud)
rp boo – your choice
aragon – horridula
motion graphics – mezzotint gliss (visible cloaks remix) (soundcloud)
errorsmith and mark fell – cuica digitales / jessy lanza – oh no
fit siegel – carmine
dj Rashad feat. spin – show u how
Justin Kelly – vgf (soundcloud)
dialect – waterfront epiphany
mark Pritchard – under the sun
Fatima Yamaha – what’s a girl to do
shy layers – for you

Or, get it here

NTS radio, if you're out there listening, I'd love to host a show! Seriously. Wishful thinking...

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Toshifumi Hinata - Sarah's Crime

A lovely collection of arrangements for synthesizer, piano, strings, and is that melodica, harmonica, or something else? I find it hard to tell. Heard about Hinata from a post on the Listen to This! blog a while back, someone did a write-up on Reality in Love, which I recently described to a friend as "one of the most beautiful albums I've ever heard." I did not feel guilty of hyperbole when expressing this sentiment.

Sarah's Crime is Hinata's first, apparently. Sounds, like many of his works, like the score to an imaginary film (I can't help imagining a Studio Ghibli-type sequence panning over meticulously drawn landscapes and exploring dimly lit rooms, somber faces...). Alternating from gentle movements between electronics and acoustic instruments to Satie-sounding piano interludes... probably the perfect soundtrack to your rainy weekend.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ulrich Schnauss - Far Away Trains Passing By

Pleasant if slightly dated, straddling the line between ambient and unobtrusive beat-oriented electronica, perfect for early/mid-morning commute or general mid-week drudgery (Slowdive's "Souvlaki" is also a good point of comparison). Think I heard about this record via the always-informative dream chimney 'track of the day' forums. Highlight - the lo-fi nature sounds overtaken by the phaser/chorus kraut-y bliss of "Between Us and Them," channeling "Deluxe"-era Harmonia.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sophie and Peter Johnston - Sophie and Peter Johnston

Heard about this sibling duo via the bandcamp page for an album I've already raved about, but why not rave about it again, Ice Choir's Designs in Rhythm. Cited as one of the latter group's influences, this album certainly shows why - layers of blissful FM synths (say, during the chorus for "A Bigger Temptation"), YMO-style syncopated MIDI sequenced runs in the classic opener "Television Satellite"... this is one of those gems of the maximal 80's synth-pop era (Scritti Politti's "Cupid and Psyche" is another good reference point, but might I suggest also the vocals of Sade on a track like "Torn Open"?). 

Sliding through the shimmering synths, reverb soaked drum track and what sounds like a melodica patch on the instrumental "Take That Jerkin Off!"... an eaaaaasy way to slide into Tuesday.

P.S. If you can't get through the throw-away closer rap track "Brain Def"... I get it. 


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Bowery Electric - Beat

Heard about this album via my favorite facebook meme generator, "I'm sad and I listen to loveless every night." Digging everything about this record, from the b/w overpass image on the cover to the nice mix of shoegaze fuzzy warmth and the insistence of that sampled beat which doesn't get old, despite popping up on 75% of the songs here. "Fear of Flying" is a highlight for me, but I think the highlight comes, for me, when the drums sound like actual drums, on "Black Light." 

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Mercury Program - A Data Learn the Language

A post-rock album?!?! On this here blog???

Hey, why not... this album lands on the spectrum of that harried non-genre/catch-all term that I particularly enjoy (think Tortoise as opposed to any number of soft/loud guitar-centered acts). Solid playing throughout - drums, guitar, bass and mallets. I particularly enjoy the opening of "Slightly Drifting," comparable to Oval or another post-rock highlight for me, a jazzy group from down under called Triosk (I'll put their stuff up here if desired). 

(I think this album is out of print, but, dudes of Mercury Program, if there's still money to be made off this one, lemme know and I'll take this down.)

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Lena Platonos - Μάσκες Ηλίου

BTW, Google translates the album's title as "Sun Masks," seems to go with the cover - maybe just "Sunglasses"? Any Greek music bloggers out there, come to our rescue?

I'm sure a lot of people could tell you more about the somewhat mysterious (to the English-speaking world, at least) Lena Platonos. So I'll let Dark Entries Records do it; this is from their rerelease of 1985's Gallop:

 Λένα Πλάτωνος (Lena Platonos) is a Greek musician, pianist and music composer. One of the pioneers in the Greek electronic music scene of the 1980s, she remains active today. Lena was born on the island of Crete and grew up in Athens. She began learning how to play the piano at the age of two and became a professional pianist before turning eighteen. Soon afterwards, she received a scholarship to study in Vienna and Berlin, where she was exposed to jazz, rock and Middle Eastern music. She returned to Greece in the late 70’s and began working with the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation. She released 3 collaborative albums between 1981-1983 and her debut solo album in 1984.

You can definitely hear the piano training in songs like "Lego." But what's really astounding is the amount of ground this album covers - jazzy progressions, bossa nova beats, dark electronic soundscapes - while sounding completely well-formed/at ease with itself. I can tell it's going to take quite a few listens to wrap my head around this one, but I'm ready for it.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Durutti Column - Amigos em Portugal

I'm reading Philip Roth's The Plot Against America at the moment. As well as some clear overtones with the current political situation in the U.S., you get some lovely passages like this, where the narrator describes his artist brother:

[He] was known throughout the neighborhood for being able to draw 'anything' - a bike, a tree, a dog, a chair... -  though his interest of late was in real faces. Kids were always gathering around to watch him whenever he would park himself after school with his large spiral pad and his mechanical pencil and begin to sketch the people nearby... All the while his hand was working away, he'd look up, down, up, down - and behold, there lived so-and-so on a sheet of paper. What's the trick, they all asked him... as if tracing - as if outright magic - might have played some part in the feat. Sandy's answer to all this pestering was a shrug and a smile: the trick to doing it was his being the quiet, serious, unostentatious boy that he was.

I like to imagine Vini Reilly in this manner, with his light touch and penchant for baroque filigrees of delay'd clusters, bringing to life the emotion of a memory out of the seriousness of silence. His music always impresses in the strongest sense of that word - it burdens me with the power, the force of its gentle insistence.

Amigos em Portugal is one I'd forgotten about, but a real gem from his early days. Indeed, insistence is a keyword here - even the production seems more upfront, stripped down than usual, his voice cutting through the mix from "Wheels Turning" on with unusual clarity. Some songs that I'm sure will become favorites of mine from his catalog. A find for any DC fan.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

John Martyn - Sunday's Child

I've been having some conversations with my British colleagues about the precise level of greatness of this man - "oh have you heard this?" "do you know this one?" - your basic music geekery praise showering and careful historicizing, tracing the discography and genealogy of influence. Not to reduce those chats in any way, I love them, was that not evident? 

But I think I am reducing these conversations about the late Mr. Martyn to a type, and that isn't fair to their subject, who was and continues to be a figure that draws a singular sort of response. A "legend," sure, but there's something that sets him apart, maybe tied up in the ineffability of those Echoplex'd soundscapes he churns out with seemingly such little effort, as at the very end of this album ("Call Me Crazy," to be followed up several years later by the incredible "Some People are Crazy"). "He makes it look easy," a friend said, and maybe that's a place to start with John Martyn - it's difficult to separate the man and his expression, his incomparable stage banter, his grumpy yet teddy-bear-like persona... hence the cultivation of a certain myth (BTW - if you want to get a great taste of this personality I'm referring to, check out the Bullion/Allday John Martyn mix over at Test Pressing, the stage banter interludes and the little essay make it well worth your while alone). 

This is one I hadn't heard until today, but I've been listening to it on repeat on a suitably slow-moving Sunday morning/afternoon. I suggest you do the same, any day of the week will do.