Number 8 in the wire magazine Top 50 releases of 2018.
The second half of the first NTS Session builds in tempo from the first, going from the rather plodding 60-ish bpm of “t1a1” to a pretty blazing high point on “gonk steady one”.
“gonk steady one” sort of sounds like what might happen if The Art of Noise had attempted to cover Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit”. That is, if they also decided to use a bent, spindled, and mutilated version of George Clinton’s Atomic Dog as the vocal component.
After the heady tempos of “gonk steady one”, things move to a more mellow ambient groove for the remaining tracks, “four of seven” and “32a_reflected”, and then fade out.
Number 8 in the wire magazine Top 50 releases of 2018.
Number 8 takes a bit of explaining, and will take all of this week’s commutes (and most of next week’s) to listen to.
Earlier this year the band Autechre had a residency of sorts on the online “radio” platform, “NTS.Live“. They performed 4 sessions live in the studio.
This album is the result, and clocks in at around 8 hours of pure, unadulterated, Autechre fun.
Autechre, if you are not familiar, are a fairly experimental electronic music duo, who, perhaps, are most often excoritated as being music which could be generated by algorithms or the easy listening soundtrack of a race of androids.
I think that is a bit harsh.
Their music is primarily percussive. And they do tend to use synths, rather than samples. Still, it is easy to hear the master’s voice in the mix.
Even being about only half way through the first recording of the NTS Sessions, there is enough light hearted squelchy fun, that I am looking forward to a couple week’s of suspension rattling ambient electronic danse muzak.
The first track, in particular, is an enjoyable side trip down a parti-colored mutant version of Mancini’s Baby Elephant Walk.
Number 7 in the wire magazine Top 50 releases of 2018.
Senyawa are an Indonesian duo.
I would classify what they do as a sort of ritualistic performance art.
The vocalist has a very low voice and groans more than sings. They accompany themselves on handmade electrified and acoustic instruments and percussion. Most recently they have discovered a small handbag of digital EFX boxes.
Due to the external similarity of their music to a couple Western genres, mostly drone metal and maybe prog, they have been adopted a bit by fans of those musics, and the associated publications and scenes.
Well, to be honest, if you heard a Senyawa song between a SUNNO))) song and a magma song, it wouldn’t sound terribly out of place.
I like them a lot and have been kicking myself that I missed their performance at the lab, here in San Francisco, last year.
Regrets, I’ve got a few…
Don’t make the same mistake I did! If you get a chance, go see them!
Number 5 in the wire magazine Top 50 releases of 2018.
There were many American rap releases in 2018. There are a few elsewhere on this list.
Yet, the British underground music magazine chose to rank JPEGMAFIA’s Veteran highest.
As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t particularly listen to a lot of music in the popular vein, so I’m probably as outside on this as the high falutin’ critics of the wire magazine.
So, what, for wire magazine, about Veteran makes it the most interesting Rap release of 2018?
On this release, JPEGMAFIA follows his muse, wherever his instinct takes him, his poetry, and samples, move through allusions to a wide spectrum of modern media culture, weaving together a picture of modern life in America. On the other hand, the music is about as close as you can get to abstract electronic music and still make something that sounds like a rap album.
Still, this is a rap album, and all the bragging, swearing, n-word this, b-word that, f-word this, bang-that, does put this middle aged white man off to a certain extent. Which, I guess, is the intention. This ain’t easy listening.
Ranked Number 4 in wire magazine’s “Releases of the Year”.
Raucus, raw, bracing, and unforgiving, obviously, I loved, “My Mother the Vent”.
It comes roaring out of the gate from the start and doesn’t lose a step until the end.
I have no idea how these kids, (and I can only assume they are kids with this energy level,) can possibly sustain this energy level for the duration of a concert. I felt a little tired just after listening to the pummeling beats, screaming yelps, and guitar abuse.
Remind me a bit of something that might have been on SkinGraft Records back in the 1990s, say a lost record from U.S. Maple or Lake of Dracula.
Ranked Number 2 in wire magazine’s “Releases of the Year”.
This album is pretty far outside of the type of music I usually listen to.
In fact, so far outside, that I’m not exactly even sure how to classify it.
Chopped and Processed Raps and other samples played over eclectic soundscapes?
Zuli is a Cairo, Egypt, based DJ and Producer. There are a host of guest vocalists on this album performing rhythmic poetry, most of it in Arabic.
The soundscapes often include the sounds of, I assume, Cairo. Car noises, construction, radio, etc. The sounds of a city. Some songs include legitimate music as backing, influenced or cut from eclectic sources.
The “beats”, such that there are beats, are usually digitally mangled through a chorus or flanger type thing.
Too strange to be pop music, but too accessible to be legitimately strange.
It exists in an odd place for me.
Interesting enough to listen to, but not something I am likely to go back to.
Ranked number 17 on wire magazine’s “Releases of the Year”.
I’ve listened to quite a few solo saxophone albums this year and it’s interesting what a diverse group they are. Almost all have gone in for some sort of extended technique, whether it is circular breathing or multiphonics or split tones.
Ms. Bertucci’s album, as is usual in these releases, isn’t strictly speaking solo, as she is manipulating the sounds with tape and also playing other samples or recordings of instruments to accompany herself or create atmosphere in which to perform.
She starts with a fairly typical arpeggio based song, “Patterns for Alto”. As is usual for this sort of music, it could be from a Philip Glass piece. One nice thing about Ms Bertucci’s arpeggio piece is that she leaves space in it rather than cramming it full of detail, then as it progresses, she allows echo or tape loops to build gradually behind her.
Other songs experiment with long drone, atmosphere, and near Industrial soundscapes.
It makes for an album that is continuously changing and morphing, once you think you understand where Ms Bertucci is coming from, she throws you a curve. I especially enjoy her pleasant use of dissonance and wonderful bird-like squeals.
Not because it is super long, but because it is super dense.
It is a Tenor Sax and Drum duo album from Travis Laplante, (of Battle Trance and Little Women,) and Gerald Cleaver, (of Farmers by Nature and Black Host).
Travis Laplante is well known, along with his other compatriots in Battle Trance, for extending the tonal vocabulary of the Saxophone. “Extended Technique” and all that. He is also an extremely melodic player.
But, when I first heard about this album I was wondering, where would Gerald Cleaver fit in?
Most saxophonists who traffic in arpeggio based extended technique and saxophone multiphonics do it solo. With all that going on, there’s just not a lot of room for other players to fit in.
So, I sort of put off listening to it for a while.
Foolishly, it turns out.
Mr Cleaver is a great foil for Mr Laplante, translating his complex saxophone polyrhythms into an ever changing sea of even more complex drum motifs. Somehow finding the accent points in Mr Laplante’s playing and using them to create rhythmic units.
The album is made up of 3 pieces. All three include passages of solos and duos.
Mr Laplante’s playing utilizes some of the same techniques as an Evan Parker or a John Butcher, but it feels more controlled and spacious than those men’s often extremely dense work. Which I guess leaves more room for others.
Though, some of the tempos these two build to are just nuts. The third piece, especially, Mr Laplante has a particularly long section where an arpeggio speeds up and speeds up until it is going so fast it is a single modulated tone. Nuts.
The funny thing, as I was thinking about this today, is the rhythms of A Dance That Empties often feels not so much like “Jazz”, as an extension of the type of playing that might accompany a Shakespeare play, Renaissance music, or an English traditional dance. Well, OK, a totally nuts Morris Dance Ritual, perhaps performed by extremely nimble goats.