Tuesday, August 24, 2010


from here

to here: http://sherriffbart.wordpress.com/

Friday, August 20, 2010

Random Album Generator #458

This, folks, is the first in hopefully many posts of this kind. I decided last night to download a random number generator app for my phone in order to play a little game, shake things up. You see, I have a number of pieces of vinyl staring out from a hefty, imposing shelf at me, begging to be played. Some days I'm good about it, I love my records. Other days, I'm ignoring them to dust-collecting and whimpering unheard desires to be played, instead relying so heavily on mp3's and the portable music fiend's lifestyle. Something had to give, because feeling so inconsistent drives me nuts. It displaces a certain sense of order that my brain craves, but that I have become accustomed to undermining this last year. Stumbling drunkenly and depressingly into my room in a pre-dawn haze of, "...oh shit, I have to set my fantasy baseball lineups before I go to bed..." leaves little room for the contemplative, sedentary practice of listening to music. Something I need and want, but find that ignoring the need can throw me out of whack. And when you arrive at the impetus to change increasingly sullen patterns, you have to get creative.
My inspiration, ironically, came from sitting at a bar watching some fellow regulars play a simple chance and dice game. They would pull out a sizable volume titled The Big Bad Ass Book of Shots and they would roll a ten-sided die a pre-ordained number of times correlating to the number of pages or entries in the book, consequently drinking the shot the numbers landed them on.
Well, seeing as that I am OCD enough to keep my record collection on an excel spreadsheet, I decided to utilize the random number generator app to select an album-a-day to listen to based on its numerical place on that list.
Today's pick, #458, is Esther Phillips Confessin' the Blues, Esther's sixth album on Atlantic Records, but first in a stretch of six years. It would be her last on Atlantic.
Her familiar, piercing Southwestern nasal smoke taking center stage on Side 1 for a batch of 'standards' like "C.C. Rider". For a 1976 release, this A-side is staunchly Jazz touched, almost flying in the face of the wave of Funk- or Soul-infused directions so many of her contemporaries were testing. The B-side, doesn't buck that trend, save for the inclusion of Fender bass and a Rhodes electric piano on some tracks (the B-side is a live recording with a different group than A-side's studio roster).
I may be decidedly influenced by the recording qualities and differences from side to side, but her voice sounds half as good on the B-side as it does the A. The mic for this live set in Los Angeles is a bit too flat and doesn't open up certain tones and qualities of her voice. The room 'appears' (through its sound) to be small and laden with thick fabrics, for there is a lack of naturally positive reverb. It also lacks the equal levels that the studio tracks on the A-side possesses. Furthermore, the version of "Bye Bye Blackbird" just feels too jumpy and up-tempo to me, which drains it of its inherent melancholy.
Overall, this album is a pleasure to re-visit for probably the first time since I bought it, but I don't feel guilty for that. Hopefully the random generator won't force me back here too often...once a year or so would be cool. Or maybe I just need a fuckin' girlfriend to play records like this for.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I Wanna A New Stat

I just watched Scotty Pods here get an infield single based solely on his speed. For 98% off all baserunners, that would have been a ground out with the shortstop beating 'em by a step (or two) with a laser. So, it got me to thinking that maybe we should introduce a new, non-sabermetric stat to this statistics-rabid sport and fanbase. Ready for it?

The Stolen Hit.

Yes. The Stolen Hit (designated 'SH' on your score cards kids). This kind of infield single, which I see a ton of from my hometown icon, Ichiro Suzuki, is less like a hit (save for that it came off the bat) and more like a stolen base. It would still factor in normally to batting average, on-base% and whatnot, but not be included in the WHIP of the pitcher who just had to suffer through the ordeal of giving up a hit based solely on the speed of his opponent.

Let me know what you think folks. This could be a great new statistic!

Food For Thought: Year of the Pitcher

If the 2010 baseball season is "The Year Of The Pitcher", then why did Joe Blanton just struggle to stay under 40 pitches in the top of the first against the Dodgers? After Jamey Carroll lined an RBI double to left center with two outs, Blanton then intentionally walks Brad Ausmus. Yeah, Brad Ausmus. The guy with the career .669 OPS. The Brad Ausmus who has hit all of .207 against Phillies pitchers. Sure, it was in order to face the pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, but come on, if this really is THE YEAR OF THE PITCHER, then shouldn't the argument be made to defeat such piss poor performances as this?

Oh yeah...it's Joe Blanton.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Relaxation Doesn't Have a Heavy Metal Theme Song

Attended tonight's Mariners-A's tilt at Safeco Field with my family and saw Felix Hernandez toss a new career-high 13 strikeouts. I feel I'm connected to dominant performances by King Felix, as I was lucky enough to have seen his previous career-high of 12 punchouts, also against the A's, on Opening Day in 2008. Continuously, as I get older and more knowledgeable about baseball, I really appreciate watching paramount pitching performances. But that's not really what I'm here to talk about. I'm here to bitch about some 'problems' with the game of baseball as I see it.
First of all, I'm not trying to pick at M's new manager Daren Brown, but why in the hottest reaches of hell did he pull Hernandez in favor of that hack closer Aardsma for the 9th?!? Felix was beating the shit out of the A's. He was cruising. And that also meant we had to endure that ridiculous metal intro for Aardsma that goes on waaaay too long and is a hype engine as full of crap as most political campaign ads. The heart of my argument is this: I enjoy, love baseball and going to baseball games, but the pastoral, meditative side of the game is being ruined by all the racket and noise. Every player has 16 different songs they walked to the plate to. Every 35 seconds, some retard at a sound board pushes a button to play an annoyingly stiff and hollow rhythmic noise, because we fans need to be prompted at exact moments to cheer.
Instead of bitching, albeit creatively, in endless ways about how there is too much over-amplified noise at a baseball stadium, I'd just like to posit that maybe it's time to cut out a bunch of the audio detritus and let people return to attending baseball games in the calm, intellectual and reflective environs of old parks.
Or maybe I should just start going to more minor league games.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

7's Mix

Apparently, I'm taking a stiff departure from having any real sense of form here, but it was fun.

-"Noon Hill Wood" ~ Richard Skelton
-"Cielo" ~ Murcof
-"Flyktig" ~ Pjusk
-"White Lake" ~ Deaf Center
-"I'm Building A Bodacious Bodega for the Race War" ~ Mike Ladd
-"Murderah Style" ~ DJ Spooky
-"Songs in the Key of Tryfe" ~ MF Doom & I-Self Divine
-"Linoleum" ~ Company Flow
-"Foiled" ~ Yellow Swans
-"A Night Without Harm" ~ Svarte Greiner
-"Hathor's Dance" ~ Higuma

Guess I tried to make a little egg center of beats, protected, cupped even, between ambient and electronic shells.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Road

I just finished watching the movie adaptation and simultaneously starting the book. That is, by far, the most emotionally moved I have been in response to a movie in a few years. Not for the terrifying bleakness or the ravenous hunger that drives all post-apocalyptic survivors to madness, cannibalism and despair. For the tiny glimmer of hope for humanity McCarthy has for us right now, yet in his frame of putting us through the worst circumstances ever and seeing some of that humanity, compassion peak out on the other side of nothingness.

One thing I noted as a recurring theme in both the books and movies to The Road and No Country For Old Men: binoculars. In No Country, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is standing on a plateau scanning the barren fields below for his prey while hunting and also in spotting the injured dog. In The Road, 'The Man' is constantly "glassing" his environment for safety reasons; to see other people (potential predators) from a distance is a way to stay alive. But the theme to me seems to be for the narrator to have a feeling of distance from the rest of the world. His mindstate is one of being alone in the way he thinks and looks at the world, life.

One last bit. The movie was fantastic in all ways in my mind. The soundtrack by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis fits like a glove. The sound of the world in dissolution around them at all times is perfectly done. It is a sad, crying, aching world that is crumbling at all moments. The acting is fuckin' brilliant, but then what else would you expect from the likes of Viggo? The cinematography is just about bleak enough to squeeze tears out of anybody's eyes on its own. Well done.

Get on the Dice-K Express to psychological Hell!

Just when my boys, the Boston Red Sox, get rolling and reforming into a playoff contender again? They send Daisuke Matsuzaka to the mound. The number one cause of episodic Tourette's Syndrome in my household. What a colossal waste of fuckin' cash this guy has turned out to be. Sure, he can throw 413 different types of pitches and needs every one of 'em to get through 5 and two-thirds innings, but it is beyond maddening to watch a pitcher, night-in and night-out, get to 3-2 counts on every god damn hitter he faces. This guy needs to pay back the rest of his remaining contract and go back to winning games for Japan in the World Baseball Classic. Hey, at least Old Man Wakefield is taking the mound on Friday. Here's to hoping the knuckler is floating like a drunken hummingbird.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Rhymes With A Passion

Sitting at the throne of the laughing king/talkin' 'bout human trafficking

Svarte Greiner: Penpals Forever (And Ever)

I remember seeing Deaf Center at the Triple Door during Decibel Festival's Ambient Showcase two years ago. I sat there with my friend Scott and a couple of new friends (other performers at that year's festival), all of us having our minds splattered on the hard table top in from of us and our hearts liquified in some oozing molten melancholy. I've never felt closer to a male group therapy session; beating drums and yelling amidst campfire flung light. It was clearly a shared visceral, emotional evening.

In the time since then, Deaf Center has gone on somewhat of a sabbatical . Svarte Greiner and Otto Totland having moved on to other projects without officially announcing time of death on Deaf Center. Totland has not produced at the frequency of Greiner, but made an absolutely smashing breakthrough with Nest (see my review for The Silent Ballet). Greiner has continued to pour out his scratchy, steel wool mind on scattered, ever-darkening and more haunting releases. His latest is Penpals Forever (And Ever). His music really has progressed to a point where I feel I'm listening to the soundtracking of a truly schizophrenic and deranged mind, from within, not cinematically. It's an important distinction. I won't waste my breath attempting, at this late hour, to describe the individual peaces, as they seem only movements within a whole that is not dissectable. To communicate how it feels as if actually inside a truly sick (genius?) mind, is to say that there are many noises that make me check if my own environment is making them or if they are part of the music. Intermittent drum beats that made me inspect my turntable to see if it was clicking or knocking its motor (it certainly was not). Low bass rumbles that tricked me into thinking a plane overhead my house was unusually low on its approach to Sea-Tac Airport. This truly is disturbing music; most disturbing for its addictive quality.

Score: 8.75/10

Monday, June 14, 2010

Choose Your Torture

Would you rather have bamboo shards shoved under your fingernails while being waterboarded or be forced to watch Meg Ryan movies for 72 hours straight?

Lost Satellite of Max Richter

she spins
spitting messages unconsciously
to audiences she's
unaware of

beeping, chattering into the void
sweeping the vacuum
for the shattered remnants
of love or existence
that last touch, fading into
a cosmic echo

scan the frequencies
to see if she's still out there
floating less as a heavenly body
and more as a message or a hope

as she spins further into
the vastness, the full-to-overflowing emptiness
swallows her signal
a sip from some universal broth
she begins to attain
some sort of enlightened loneliness

flashing as some unexplainable nova...

Monday, June 7, 2010

working against the cold

working against the cold
most people suggest
making a fire
the creation of heat

but I strike hammers to wires
allow for their vibration
and resonance to
vaporize the arctic air
run a hank of horsehair
across strings
until they burst forth
in a volcanic sinew of a cry
or lament

with just that
I could stand naked
in the face of all
the world's glaciers

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Free The Robots: Ctrl Alt Delete

Ever since I first threw this record on a few days ago, it feels and sounds like a direct descendent of Company Flow's Little Johnny From the Hospitul, an album clearly ahead of its time. Sure, the trademark click-chop LA beats are there and some slightly cheesey synth lines (check "Turbulence"), but the more dusty than digital aspect to much of the rhythm production harks back to that wake of sonic destruction laid down by El-P & Mr. Len in 1999. But 'Chris' (a Cher-like figure, I guess?), who is FTR, never sounds dated or retro. There's a taste of Dubstep style bass tones and samples that sound off time or wrongly situated in some audio processing software, but end up fitting perfectly (again, a la Little Johnny...). Some of the snare hit sounds executed here splinter and crack like a 2x4 being smashed against your studio-cup headphones. Then there is some lovely psychedelia in "Wandering Gypsy" that certainly shares some nucleic acid with Edan's Beauty & the Beat.
Make sure you have your ears checked by your local audiophile before you listen to this record, as to make sure you can handle the bass tones and rumble.
In parting, what I think I love best about the Los Angeles explosion (Flying Lotus, Deru, Noasj Thing, etc.) is that some of my armchair anthropological theories have been proven wrong. I never thought the grit and wisdom of East Coast HipHop would be infused into the slangin' West Coast style. Oh, how wrong I am, but how happy can a man be for being wrong?!?

Score: 7.5/10

Lorn: Nothing Else

Walk to your nearest record store, browse the internet to your closest music retailer, beat up that little kid on the corner with a bag of records, do whatever you can to get your hands on the newest album on Brainfeeder (Flying Lotus's label). Nothing Else is the debut album by Lorn, some kid from the 'middle of nowhere' in the Midwest. Lorn employs the same dark side of Boom Bap HipHop that Deru so enjoys, but in a context even darker and grittier. The chunkiness of his bass drum sounds are rivaled only by that big fucking fictitious asteroid that's going to demolish Earth any day now. His synthesizers are slick and dirty all at the same time, often sounding like an old ballpark organ grinder fed through a Cuisinart cheese grater. Occasionally, the amputated bits of human voices pop up and drown away just as quickly. And one of the dopest parts of this album is that while it is most certainly an album full of vicious, tooth rattling beats, you can bang your head like you're at a Metal concert until it rocks right off your spinal column. A must have for sure!

Score: 8/10

Friday, June 4, 2010

Grails Black Tar Prophecies Review on SilentBallet.com

Score: 6/10

All serious listeners and music fans have a handful of artists they believe absolutely should be more popular; they obsess over the relative obscurity of some of their favorite musicians. Portland post-rock demigod Grails is certainly one of those bands for me. Yes, the band has certainly garnered a healthy level of popularity and success, but I sense that it has hit a glass ceiling (one it's sure to crash through anytime now). Then again, it rarely sets up camp on any particular label for more than a record or two. That can be advantageous for a band (it's not tied down), but it can also constrain an act to a tier below more successful and widely known bands. With Black Tar Prophecies Vol. 4 being released on Important Records, Grails may be leaning towards a more permanent home.

Black Tar Prophecies Vol. 4 was initially rumored to be material left off of the Vol. 1, 2, & 3 album, but to these ears, that can’t be true. It’s partly due to recording qualities and styles, but also playing styles. There’s a bit more polished sound to the final mix, scrubbing away some of Grails’ signature grittiness. In the same spirit, gone are a few of the droney, opiated sounds. Yet, this is, for the majority of the EP, not a bad thing, and it is still obviously a Grails record.

The zenith of Vol. 4 materializes in the groovy “Self-Hypnosis.” For a little over eight minutes Grails pays fantastic homage to the 70's psych and stoner rock that has influenced it. Wah-wah effects and disturbingly unassuming synthesizers place this jam firmly in the hands of Aerosmith circa “Sweet Emotion” (a huge guilty pleasure of mine, by the way). On the other hand, there are dueling Pink Floyd guitars dog-fighting through international airspace. As for the drums, I sense just a touch of Ginger Baker. What’s most impressive about “Self-Hypnosis” is how all these worn-on-the-sleeve influences are packed in together but the song still retains that surge and ebb style of build-up and release known to every Grails fan. This reveals another sterling quality of the band and its music: Grails has deftly avoided the trappings of both traditional and post-rock song structures. This attribute is exactly why “Up All Night” leaves such a bitter aftertaste.

“Up All Night” has the boys from the Rose City jumping ship and doing some sort of cinematic lounge act, sans the singing of course. As the song lacks the teeth and dark soul of everything else the band has done, it sounds as though it could squeeze into place on an 80's cop dramedy as one of the more serious, introspective songs. To get a true picture of what this means, imagine a B movie adaptation of Beverly Hills Cop. “Up All Night” also really shouldn’t be the closer for this EP, because it neither bashes its way to a grand finale nor hushes the last light out of the record. This was also a problem with Take Refuge In Clean Living. “Clean Living” trudged grudgingly to a finish line that “Take Refuge” clearly deserved. In the case of “Up All Night,” it might be better served on the cutting room floor with a completely new song written to take its place as the caboose. This may sound harsh, but focus on the fact that Grails’ sound has always laid firm roots in Americana (be it Appalachian or Frontier), and the loungey, clean aesthetic of “Up All Night” scrubs that grit away. It leaves, in its wake, a sonic Las Vegas; the promise of sin and hedonism in a sterile surrounding; the finely controlled illusion of chaos, which invalidates itself with emptiness and boredom. Another testament to the strength of the band is that, after all that “Up All Night” does to sink its own ship, it has still produced another first-rate release.

While some of the darker drone and drug haze is sublimated, the almost-as-scary-as-Svarte Greiner ambient pieces, “I Want A New Drug” and “New Drug II,” add a lovely dimension to the band’s sonic canon. They both feature the stark ramblings of a preacher, who happens to sound exactly like the one from A Silver Mt. Zion’s “Broken Chords Can Sing A Little.” “I Want a New Drug” also employs a warbly, drowning sample of a choral version of “Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen,” making the opener spectacularly spine-tingling and dark. Whispered voices, one of which I swear calls my first name, whip me into the throes of a supernatural encounter with a wandering ancestral specter. And then, the preacher questions, “Can philosophy lift a man out of the cess pool of this life?………..it never has.”

Maybe that should be the closer. It would certainly be impressive to drop into silence immediately after that bleak line.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Say Hey Word! Kid

Normally, I cringe at watching Braves games; the racist team name, the insidious "Tomohawk Chop" and the fact that Chipper Jones has always annoyed me, for no good reason. But Jason Heyward compels me to watch. He's that good; on pace for a .290/30HR/100RBI rookie season. That's something that Mays, Ruth, Aaron and Griffey didn't do. Only Albert Pujols has done that (or better, of course) to my knowledge. So, I can put aside my murderous rage incited by bigoted white America's continued hate, intolerance and insensitivity towards Native Americans to watch this kid play ball. Hopefully, the Braves hit some hard times and are forced to trade the Say HeyWord! Kid (nickname of my creation, a play on his last name and Willie Mays's nickname, in case you're too stupid to figure that out).

Monday, May 31, 2010

Game of the Day

Ubaldo Jimenez used Tim Lincecum as his experimental playground whipping boy today as the Colorado Rockies beat the San Francisco Giants 4-0. Jimenez looked like a combination of Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez out there today. Lincecum actually looked better than in his last few starts, but he still couldn't master his command. I wonder what kind of software upgrade Jimenez got this off-season, because I remember him in the '07 World Series looking like an average pitcher who was over-hyped because of his bullet train fastball. Now he looks like he's going to unseat Lincecum for a few consecutive Cy Youngs in the NL (no offense to Doc Halladay, who is unequivocally a fuckin' badass).

Friday, May 28, 2010

Tragedy is something to celebrate

I was looking through an email advertisment from Ebbet's Field Flannels that I receive through their mailing list. This one concerned a sale on Pacific Coast League (PCL) team shirts, etc. That is not really the interesting part. What was so fascinating was the sidebar of the page displaying a "This Date in Baseball History" factoid. For May 28th, 1925: "Oakland Oaks pitcher George Boehler pitched 9 1/2 innings of no-hit ball, but lost to Sacramento on two hits and an error in the tenth." Baseball is certainly the only sport, and probably one of the very few realms of life, in which we celebrate tragedy in such a sense. Regardless of if we were rooting for one team or the other, what is most important is that true appreciators of the sport recognize the beauty in such an historical fact and tragedy. Boehler came close to an act of perfection, purity, godliness and immortality. Well, in a sense he's achieved the immortality part a bit, because 85 years later, people he never knew and wasn't related to are talking about him. Nonetheless, he came that close and still is pegged a failure. Icarus would've lit on fucking fire descending that quickly.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

mediate the medium

Interesting listening experience tonight: I was locking into the new Grails Black Tar Prophecies Vol. 4, when I realized the copy I'd received to review was a burn from the original vinyl. The extra white noise and the faint churning of the turntable's motor gave it away, but also detracted from the focus and enjoyment of the listen. What's truly interesting about this is that I knew immediately that if I were listening to this on vinyl (soon enough!!) and could hear the same noises through my turntable, I would immediately tune them out and have a pleasurable experience. But, since it was an mp3 copy, I didn't expect these sounds and it made for a distraction. Mull it over...

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Sinking of the DH

Just watched a discussion about poor offensive production (particularly from the DH spot) on the MLB network and even Sean "The Mayor" Casey ignored the elephant in the studio. All of the analysts spoke of how it may be a return of dominant pitching (which is certainly a valid factor). None of them conjectured about the effects of a downturn in PED use. So, this leads to two questions. First, regardless of testing regimens and harsh penalties for getting caught using PEDs, has there actually been a reduction in use? Secondly, assuming there has been a reduction in use of PED in baseball, would it really produce such awful offensive numbers in absentia and why the fuck didn't they discuss some of these possibilities? The silence leads me to suspicion that they know how little change there has been in PED use in baseball.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sunday Night Breaking Bad Mix

Right after the newest, most awesomest episode of Breaking Bad I turned to my banks of sound and did a little 55 minute (or so) mix of what I have come to affectionately call 'Doombient'. Other folks call it 'Hauntology', which I like, but I also like to make my own words up. Here's the mix in order:
- "Raagini Robot" by Ken Camden
- "Truth & Distance" by Concern
- "Hathor's Dance" by Higuma
- "Persistent Repetition of Phrases" by The Caretaker
- "Gathering Strengths/Silence Within" by Pussygutt
- "Arc of Wisdom" by Elm
- Side B of Francisco Lopez's Untitled #228
- "The Twelve" by Nest

As with almost everything I do, it's a work in progress, as I'd like to continue adding to the mix. But, I'll probably get distracted and do another mix before getting around to adding to this one. Gotta laugh at yourself, right?

Baseball as Polytheism

I'm beginning to sense and think that the game of baseball is a perfect analogue for modern polytheism, which barely exists anymore by the way. There are always examples of a mere mortal challenging and defeating gods. You may idolize one god above the rest, but there are always a multitude of gods, with new ones swirling into fame and power out of the ether all the time. This is only the beginning of a meditation on baseball as religion, amongst other things. Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Rickie Weeks or Rickie Henderson?

We all know that Rickie Weeks has shown glimpses of the talent he possesses that could/should make him a stud leadoff hitter. Tonight I saw some serious evidence of that. He hit his 14th career leadoff home run off of Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter (d'oh! he's on my fantasy team...shit!). Then he proceeded to draw two walks and hit a single to get on base every one of his first four plate appearances, while also effectively stealing second on a sky high pop-up he probably should have stayed on first for. Yet, he was safe and all game has been pouring gasoline on the fire that is the Brewers' offense tonight. My only beef? Those dreadlocks of his need to get longer faster.

More reasons I can't stand Joe Morgan

Watching the Brewers-Cardinals tilt on ESPN for some baseball action and yet again, Joe Morgan says some deplorable and ignorant shit. This is one of my favorite subjects to complain about in sports broadcasting: the ignorance and stupidity of Joe Morgan. So, the 2nd inning just ended and he's already puked out some Morgan Memorables. First, in the pregame discussion of lineups, he's talking about Prince Fielder and how he's "earned the right" to no longer have people (including Morgan) confuse him for his papa, Cecil Fielder. Two parts to this to unpack/break down: a.) I think Prince Fielder earned the right to be called by his name and not his daddy's when he was born and, b.) Shouldn't Morgan be aware that Prince and his pops aren't even on speaking terms and thus, what seems to be chuckle-worthy to Jumpin' Joe might actually piss Prince off? Dumbfuck. Then, Joe and Jon Miller are doing their blowjob of a fluff piece on Mark McGwire, the Cards new hitting coach. In no specific words, but more so just the overall tone of lavishing praise on one of the game's true pariahs, I want to wring Morgan's neck for claiming this move to be intelligent. Does Morgan know that McGwire was a career .263 hitter who only hit over .300 for a full season once? Sure, Big Mac has a career OBP of .394, but I'd guess that number to be skewed by his ability to crush the big bombs rather than his prowess to get himself on base. I can surmise this from seeing he only had 140-plus hits in 5 of 16 seasons. Making Don Mattingly as your hitting coach, that's a no-brainer, but McGwire? I'll patiently wait to be proven wrong or short-sighted.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

An Un World

Trippy and ghoulish soundscapes thrust me back to recurrent childhood nightmares on Andrew Liles' An Un World. Am I turning into some HipHop-infused, 21st Century gothic weirdo? I remember ten years ago, all this ambient shit was detestable to me, but now it's almost soothing. Though, it's not in some self-mutilation blues kinda way, just that the transmissions from other dimensions is so tasty to me now.

Where in the World is Vast Aire

A couple nights ago at work, my coworker threw on El-P's Fantastic Damage on my pod. I hadn't listened to it in a bit, but always love the cut "Dr. Hellno & the Praying Mantis" with Vast Aire on it. So then, naturally, I had to throw on Cannibal Ox The Cold Vein. In the end, this all got me to wondering why the fuck Vast Aire hasn't put out more albums. I mean, the dude is a serious talent as an MC and I love the tone of his voice and delivery. Give me more!!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Home (Normal) Invasion: Pt. 1 Konntinent

This morning, the mailman stuffed a package from the UK into my mail slot, which means usually one of two things: BoomKat order or goodies from the lovely folks at Home Normal. As I ripped open the package, I was delighted with a slew of new Home Normal releases. The first disc I popped in was Opal Island by Konntinent. All I can say so far is that this Taylor Deupree produced album has a wonderful mix of elements that recall Radiohead, Jacaszek and even BJ Nilsen, all wrapped up in some Wild At Heart aesthetic. While it appears to be an album of highly emotional, and emotive, compositions, there is an immediate sense of brooding mixed in. Anthony Harrison (Konntinent) concocts a style that is much glitchier than Helios, but not driven by overly thumping rhythms like much of the 4/4 glitch and techno worlds.

More to come.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Nest: Retold

Lately, I'm falling further and further down the rabbit hole into a staggering world of Neo-Classical and Ambient music. On a more traditional, yet still groundbreaking side of things, Danny Norbury plays the role of Dr. Dave Bowman to my black little heart's HAL 9000, yanking the heart strings out slowly with each bow of his cello. On the other side, lurking from the deepest recessions of the shadows, are artists like BJ Nilsen, Machinefabriek and Black to Comm re-programming circuits of the most tenebrous reaches of the human psyche. Now Otto Totland (Svarte Greiner's lesser known half of Deaf Center) and Huw Roberts combine their wonder-twin powers to activate the nearly loathsome luminescence that is Nest. Totland's piano takes center stage for much of Retold, but could not stand alone without the magnificent and creepy field recordings and electronics of Roberts doing. The reason I'm striving to employ so many dark descriptors here is to offset my usual propensity for romanticized language when it comes to music. And I am mostly doing this, because I don't feel a lot of 'lost-love melancholy' with this album; yes, there is sadness, but it seems more of a sadness from voluntary isolation in the cold. There is beauty aplenty on this record, but it has a bit of a sinister feel to it, as if you were being told how the motifs in your funeral march were to sound before your death could inspire the composer. I strongly recommend this album!

Score: 8/10

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Magical Mystery Chambers!!!

In keeping with the Wu-heavy spirit and focus, I have to tell everybody I can about this excellent remix project from Tom Caruana. This lo-profile New York DJ has taken the 'mash-up' style project to a new level by using original Wu-Tang acapellas and setting them to his beats made from samples of Beatles songs. Hold the phones to your lawyer Sir McCartney! First of all, you're fucking rich enough you punk ass bitch and you know that the old version of you (with John) would abhor such material-centric principles and appreciate the artistic fortitude it takes to undergo a project such as this. Still never understand why you had to jack Danger Mouse for his Grey Album. Also, I believe that Mr. Caruana has learned from Danger's mistakes and utilized only cleared samples, meaning there's a lot of Jazz and Reggae music covers of Beatles songs being sampled here. Anyways, this record is awesome! The versions of "C.R.E.A.M." and "Daytona 500" might be superior to the originals...might. Even better? It's a free downloadable album and you can find it here. Also, make sure to explore the links on that page for the artist responsible for the cover art, he has a great graphic design eye. Cheers!

A Little Bathroom Reading

After a slew of funny books on baseball, particularly the one about all the unwritten rules governing behavior of players, managers, umps and even fans. I've come to realize that, while baseball's post as national pastime has given way to football and auto racing, these rules govern much of the sporting world and have even bled into the behavioral patterns of everyday folks. Well, those books no longer grace the windowsill in my bathroom. Now, a single tome, hardbound and black without its dust jacket sits there, quickly being devoured. Penned by Robert Diggs, better known as RZA, this book reads much more as a memoir than an instructional guide to HipHop life as the title suggests. Only thing is? That's not a problem. RZA drops numerous jewels of wisdom throughout his recountings, which are fun and frustrating (much as life can be). Well, anyways...I haven't yet finished The Tao of Wu just yet, but I can still give it a strong recommendation. I do, however, feel compelled to point out that it seems interesting to write a memoir this early for Diggs. Maybe it is just an installment with more to come?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Oh so fine in 2009!

Yes, that's me as Cheech Marin (circa Up In Smoke) with my buddy as Walter Sobchak (Big Lebowski) this last Halloween. I'm not really sure why, but it seemed the most appropriate photo to head my Tasty Tunes of 2009 article, which seems to be nearing 'overdue' status. I have decided to forego any lengthy descriptions or rankings in an effort for expedience and honesty. Luckily, you, my fair readers, will realize that you now have some music shopping to do, since you obviously entrust me with the knowledge to give you the musical truth as to what to listen to.

Danny Norbury Light In August King of the Neo-Classical giants that ruled the contemplative forests of 2009.
Hildur Gudnadottir Without Sinking Queen of the Neo-Classical giants. Cello dominated 2009's horizons and skies at all points of vision.
Elm Nemcatacoa The third eye sits upon a temple guarded by wolves of the highest intelligence and patience. Psychedelic wonders!!
Elegi Varde Gloomy, gloomy drone and Classical shards strewn about the floorboards of a Norwegian attic, or is that the storm cellar?
Dakota Suite The End of Trying A broken heart can repeat itself into the darkest corners of a bed mounded in blankets and tears.
A Broken Consort Crow Autumn Part Two Richard Skelton plants the seed of sorrow in a mix of Neo-Classical, Ozark meditation and Field Recordings.
Richard Skelton Landings Skelton sows those seeds and grows a crop of tribute.
Black To Comm Alphabet 1968 Holy Shit!!
Anduin Abandone In Sleep Drone done like I like it. I can sleep to this record or sit and read.
Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto UTP_ I wish this record had come out before last Winter's snow storm so that I could drive around listening to it's dampened creepiness in the snow.
Klimek Movies Is Magic Soundtracks have rarely been cooler or more fitting (see Fight Club), yet there's no movie to go with this soundtrack. Dope atmospherics!
Kreng L'Autopsie Phenomenale De Dieu When I first listened to Elegi's album, I thought it nearly impossible for music to get any creepier and haunting. Then this album came out and I've been scratching at the walls ever since.
Le Lendemain Fires More Danny Norbury and David Wenngren greatness. Don't fail to sit with "Lois" for some time.
David Wenngren Sleepless Nights The man behind Library Tapes continues to spew forth dream accompaniments with a deft touch.
Simon Scott Navigare The Drone and Neo-Classical hits just kept rolling in in 2009.
Wax Tailor In the Mood for Life French HipHop? Ya don't stop!
Rapoon Melancholic Songs of the Desert Loops of the world, unite!!
Paul White One Eye Open EP, The Punch Drummer EP, Strange Dreams of Paul White and Sounds from the Skylight Londonite Paul White dropped a whole sortie of funky HipHop bombs this last year. A sound of Jamaica, Southern California and England all dashed into this delectable stew of beats.
Nosaj Thing Drift The LA scene is hot right now and Jason Chung turned it up to blistering!
Nalepa Flatlands Also out of the LA scene, my boy Steve Nalepa rocks out the bubble bass and dub so clean, he could make a $3 suit look like it costs $300. No really, seriously.
Murcof La Sangre Iluminada I am in love with Fernando Corona. Now I just need to find a woman willing to have his babies for me. Then, I wouldn't mind seeing the movie that this album soundtracks so elegantly.
Moderat Moderat Yes, I like to dance. I like to dance to German techno.
Lusine A Certain Distance Seattleite Jeff McIlwain ups the ante on smart dance music. Listening to it live in the Seattle Art Museum lobby was a smashing good time. Or was it that I got smashed that night?
Lukid Foma Wow. This album makes me wanna crawl inside some magical vortex between bong hits and sweaty, all-night sex. A real treasure.
Giuseppe Ielasi Aix Vertical stacks of sound like bottomless library shelves make for a rhythmically controlled galaxy.
Dak Standthis/Standthis (Otherside) Again and again and again, Los Angeles is punching cards to the new cool beatsmiths' club. Weird, esoteric and stoned to his eyelids, Dak makes beats for Buck Rogers.
DJ Signify Of Cities A fabulous rebound from a sub-par previous release.

And, in keeping with tradition from lists and years past, I like to give attention to releases not from 2009, but that I discovered during the year. Artists like Onra and Populous have my devotion to their entire catalogue of releases and Aether's Artifacts is a tasty little morsel. Also, in a direct evolutionary step from Poets of Rhythm, the Whitefield Brothers kick out some greasy, spacey Funk. Well, I'm gonna leave it at that. So here's to an equally awesome 2010, with Deru exploding minds and a rumored Boards of Canada album set to come out!! Giddy with anticipation.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Deru: Say Goodbye To Useless

Good things come to those that wait, even if the wait is torturous.

The wait for Benjamin "Deru" Wynn's newest album has been nearly 6 years. Seventy-two months of agonizing, tantalizing anticipation, which seemed to have turned into a period of serious seasoning; a stewing in the musical mind of Wynn. With his first two albums, Pushing Air and Trying to Remember, many a listener and critic had spotted the heavy HipHop influence, but not until February 23rd of this year when their ears are illuminated with Say Goodbye to Useless will they hear the next evolutionary step in the sound of 21st Century HipHop.

Whereas his previous albums were a HipHop-centric stew of Glitch-Hop and Ambient soundscapes, Say Goodbye to Useless is a much more finely honed blend. Those elements still arise, but they are much more complimentary and don't stand in the way of the purpose statement. This album is where Instrumental HipHop was destined to go, in a mystical cornfield involving recluse writers and baseball sort of sense. It might be a fanciful tale, but you always buy into it as a possibility. Well folks, it has arrived. So, strap on your headphones and check the airbags on your easy chairs.

The album starts out with a super mellow, extra long sample-collage of an old French song where the singers lament different desires that almost hint at the universal yearning for powers beyond our terrestrial constraints. Then, with "I Want" Deru takes immediate flight into an album full of superterranean beats that leave behind some of the murkier, less-focused sub-terranean HipHop of before. I know what you're wondering, "Is he saying that 'sub-terranean' or 'underground' HipHop is bad??!?" NO. My word style is deliberate and poignant, much like Wynn's music. I use derivations of terranean to imply a certain feel to the music itself, not whether it is commercially viable or not. Much of Wynn's previous work, while lovely and high-quality, was occasionally smothered by the decay of bodies past. It was as if his music was still partially in an embryonic stage, but gestating under the decay of previous lives and ideas. Now Deru is plotting a course above ground. Spatially the music is more open, even while it is dark in some ways, that color and timbre is not the primary emotional theme. That's also not to say that this is some happy-go-fuckin-lucky sounding record. It's hard to describe. Let's say contemplative instead of brooding. On to the album, shall we?

One of Wynn's most noticeably improved attributes is his rhythm programming. While he has always been a solid rhythm programmer, I would now easily class him as an Elvin Jones of the HipHop/Electronica world. What do I mean by that? Well, his poly-rhythms are sick and slick, without making percussive mud or distracting the listener from the melodic and harmonic portions of the music (though, to be honest, much of his harmony & melody is syncopated to the rhythm, rightly so). This shines through most clearly in his cymbal patches and patterns. On "I Want" and "Peanut Butter & Patience", the cymbals are what really polish up the rhythm tracks and give it that real riding, driving feel. In fact, one other comparison is Amon Tobin. Tobin is keenly aware of good cymbal use, but has by and large utilized samples as his source instead of direct programming. Deru has a sniper's deadly eye for an ear for rhythm and has now hit his stride. This cymbal work does not, however, over-brighten the tunes or make them too metallic. It's as if you took the excitement of Funk and shifted its environs to be post-apocalyptic. They are still warm little organic structures squishing their way through a largely fabricated and cold world.
"I Want" has its haunting quality that scrapes the line with a surging, undeniable rhythm that could probably make Neo-Cons get up and dance. Okay, maybe after a scotch or two, but you get the picture, right? "Peanut Butter & Patience" carries this dance party on further, where layers of repose and pause give way to glacial calving of even more irresistible funkiness and butt-shaking goodness. And then this is where the major fault I find with record lay. The very next track, "Hello", drops that momentum. The song is still a quality track, that once it builds over time, becomes its own serviceable banger, but it does not let the listener down easily from the previous 8 minutes of ecstasy in motion. And to be honest, I sometimes find myself skipping past this one, more because of its placement within the album rather than an 'I don't like it' kind of thing. In fact, the swelling organ (musical!! get your minds out of the gutter!!) that takes it over halfway through gives this a touch of Post-Rock wandering. Now, when I normally skip past "Hello" I am immediately rewarded with the soul and rump shaking number called "Basically, Fuck You". This returns us to the mammoth rhythm made to alter the planet's axis that I so love. This song does a dance to the death with the Johnny Greenwood Monster That Eats Techno Sounds. That monster flosses its teeth with the garbled tape loop squeals of a lost future projection. I don't drop Mr. Greenwood's name in light jest, I actually feel like this could be a song made for Radiohead consumption and that Thom Yorke could start crooning his pale-ass Blues all over the place and it wouldn't be awkward. Though, I'm glad he doesn't, because this thumper is special all on its own. One night, I put it on repeat and danced to it for about 40 minutes straight. Another smashingly delightful highlight on this album is "Fadeaway". With a wavering dawn opening of reversed string notes, "Fadeaway" quickly hops into a Funkmobile of HipHop rhythm and sways gently onto a Jazz orchestra dance floor where the reeded woodwinds are prominently featured. These clarinet and oboe strutting flourishes immediately bring to mind one master of the weird, Moondog. It is, however, a simply gorgeous piece that begs to be the soundtrack to a late night bicycle ride around the neighborhood under a full moon. This is followed appropriately by the dark, Tyler Durden-esque growler known as "Days, Then...". In fact, I'd put it into a mix with any number of the darker tunes from Tobin's Supermodified.

So, with all that said, I am still allowing the larger energetic arc of this record to reveal itself to me, as, at times, it seems to deny its natural course (see my notes on "Hello"). However, I'm trying not to let this distract me from all the other great qualities of Say Goodbye to Useless, because I would be even more annoyed by a straight through-and-through non-stop thumpfest. Deru is not making dance music stricly for the dance floor or the dance party, no, this is music that you can dance to, but should also think and talk to.
A fabulous effort and the first great album of 2010.

Score: 8.5/10

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

For my 2009 nightcap, I went to Decibel Festival's New Year's Party. On the bill was Lusine, Nosaj Thing and Apparat. Lusine's set was blisteringly fantastic as he played all familiar material (mostly off of A Certain Distance), yet skillfully remixed and reworked. This is another bit of evidence proving electronic music's progression past its old stereotypes of cold, redundantly reiterative and lacking a fluid live feel. The directive to dance is still there, but now artists are working out of the box and into new open fields. Nosaj Thing certainly can rock it and he was up next. Without any resignation or hesitation, I can certainly say he was irritatingly choppy at times, enough so that his set was underwhelming. Surely, Thing slammed down some chunky tracks of his hyrbid HipHop Funk, including a couple that my friend and I agreed are new tunes, but not enough to overcome his addiction to choppy tricks that can kill the groove. Then Apparat closed out the night, though we didn't make it all the way through his set (too tired). He threw it down for sure, even including some of the more slammin' dancefloor wreckers from the Moderat project. My personal favorite from that project is "Seamonkey" and he put it through the grinder and came out with a splendid live version. All in all a fabulous night and New Year's. Hopefully, your's was as successful.