Musicophilia Daily

[Audio] – Kode9 & The Spaceape – “Quantum” (2006)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 5, 2009

Kode9 & The Spaceape – “Quantum” (2006)

To the casual follower of the Hyperdub label, Burial’s work looms large.  However, Kode9 & The Spaceape’s album ‘Memories of the Future’ is almost equally appealing.  Existing in a less hazy/rain-drenched landscape of sharper shapes amidst the cavernous dub, propelled as much by The Spaceape’s vocal contributions as Kode9’s beats, this music lives up to the album’s name.  It sounds like a future that knows the past, a futurism that isn’t about pretending to exist ex nihilo.  [Kode9 & The Spaceape are featured in an appropriately spooky, rich mix, ‘Tall Stories of Evil Gris-Gris,’ at Musicophilia.]

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[Audio] – Mr. Partridge – “The Day They Pulled The North Pole Down” (1980)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 4, 2009

Mr. Partridge – “The Day They Pulled The North Pole Down” (1980)

“Mr. Partridge” is Andy Partridge of XTC, but this solo-ish work isn’t the singer-songwriter-perfect-pop you might expect from later years.  This track comes from one of the attempts Partridge made at dub/remix work in the early, more post-punk phase of the band’s career, sampling elements songs from the first three albums.  The results are unique in the band’s oeuvre, and are underrated and wonderfully weird.  [My other favorite track from early solo Partridge, though not a sample-based piece, can be heard as part of this beat/dance-oriented set at Musicophilia.]

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[Audio] – Pinch – “Brighter Day” (Instrumental) (2006)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on April 10, 2009

Pinch – “Brighter Day” (Instrumental) [AKA “Qawwali”] (2006)

I’m not well versed in British electronic music between the early 90s and the present day, so when I hear “dubstep” I hear the dub more than the step.  This spare, spacious cavern of a track fits right in with its dub roots; or the work of Pole or Deadbeat and their insectoid, deconstructed dub; some imaginary reduced-fat Timbaland; or even something like post-punkers Grey or Shriekback or early Front 242.  I love well-used space in a mix, and this instrumental version uses it deftly, and achieves a stillness-through-motion that echoes the Qawwali music from which it ostensibly draws inspiration.

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[Audio] – The Congos – “Solid Foundation” (1977)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 9, 2009

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The Congos – “Solid Foundation” (1977)

Produced by Lee Perry, I admit I wish ‘Heart of the Congos’ had been produced in stereo, to let the dub and the elements breathe a little.  But the record contains some of the most beautiful melodies (and staggered harmonies) I’ve ever heard in pop music; they achieve a floating, haunting, convincingly religious quality.  The 2-disc CD reissue doesn’t add anything revalatory, but it’s good if you need just a little more (since the Congos don’t seem to have produced much); otherwise, you won’t do much better with your $13 than picking up a single-disc copy.

[Link] – Kutiman – ‘ThruYOU’ (2009)

Posted in Link, Video by Soundslike on March 6, 2009

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Kutiman – ‘ThruYOU’ (2009) [Video EP]

Often one hears about how it took, say, John Cage weeks to create the tape splices for “Williams Mix” in 1952, but how it would take some random kid fucking around on his iMac ten minutes to create it now with a few clicks of a mouse.  Well, I’d say this “technology today makes it all so easy” thing is at least a little half-baked: any sort of musician who ultimately prides himself more on how long his music takes to make, rather than how good it is, is no musician I trust.  But regardless of the effect–good, bad, or indifferent–on the quality of “sample-based music” of  streamlined/accessible technology, I think the same basic impulse is there and the same search for resonance is at play now as in 1952.  Technology–primitive or advanced–only takes things so far.  Still–if we concede it’s gotten any “easier” to undertake, this guy, “Israeli Afrobeat artist” Kutiman, seems to have decided to make it just about as difficult and time-consuming as it was for those early tape-spicers.

The funny thing, though, is that instead of creating avant-garde abstraction via laborious technique, ‘ThruYOU‘ encapsulates the full-circle from experiment to pop: countless hours of disparate-sound-seeking and (digital) splicing have come together to create songs, songs that “could have been made the old-fashioned way” (at least as old-fashioned as circa 1976 or so).  Some might say, then, “why bother”.  For me, I think it’s pretty masterful: through the video medium, this guy is laying bare a lot of technical factors most people probably don’t think about, and getting them to ooh and ahh (or maybe boo and hiss) just like the crowd at the first performance of “Williams Mix,” and making a nice little joyous statement for combined creativity being greater than the sum of its parts.  But the impressive thing is, even if people didn’t know the technique–and it is impressive, it is laborious, it is some sort of “YouTube finally came to something” social/cultural moment–it really wouldn’t matter.  For the most part, these are good songs, as well as good avant-garde application of tech.  For me, that just does it–I love best where these supposedly oppositional forces meet up seamlessly.

The idea here has been done before, even as a 15-minutes-of-fame viral YouTube sensation (the one with the training videos spliced together).  But this takes it to another level.  The basics: the guy waded through surely thousands of YouTube videos by totally unrelated video makers, spent who knows how many hours cutting and editing and mixing them, and came out with lovely funk/Afrobeat/dub/hip-hop/R&B/dance fusions.  Perhaps this process of splicing and sampling eventually becoming normal elements of pop music, just another instrument, was inevitable.  Things start out a little cute, but like a good Matthew Herbert concept or an Eno/Byrne deconstruction, these tracks take on (through the seven songs in the playlist) increasing emotional resonance, transcending their theory-exercise origin.  And thanks to a few lovely borrowed melodies and catchy beats and hooks, they honestly have some pop potential.  I just love synergy, those serendipitous moments when sounds just fit, so I imagine Kutiman must’ve been grinning ear to ear.

Watch and listen here.