Musicophilia Daily

[Audio] – Tonio Rubio – “Bass In Action No. 1” (1973)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 8, 2009

Tonio Rubio – “Bass In Action No. 1” (1973)

Sound library music doesn’t get any more stone cold than this track.  Music of any kind rarely does.  What should have been a cornerstone of golden-age hip-hop, “Bass In Action No. 1” is an incredible audio stroll consisting of sweet glistening electric piano glissandi, an ice cold single-note bass line, and the ready-made laid-back hip-hop breakbeat.  It’s enchanting for the first minute; but when the beat kicks in at 1:05, you won’t be able to keep from grinning. [Tonio Rubio is featured in on an equally groove-laden mix of tunes from around the world at Musicophilia.] Update: Corrected the streaming link.

[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.]

Tagged with: , , , ,

[Audio] – This Heat – “Repeat” (1979)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on May 22, 2009

This Heat – “Repeat” (1979)

Few one-off experiments are more exciting than This Heat’s “24-Track Loop”.  This Heat were an expansive band, but at some level were generally identifiable as a “post-punk” or “rock” act; “24-Track Loop” defied genre at its time, sounding little like any established repetition-based dance or electronic music of the time, though drawing from dub and musique concrete methodology.  “Repeat” is an extended mix of the seminal track, allowing each phrase to burrow into the listener’s consciousness before new qualities are slowly introduced; it’s no less stunning than its briefer counterpart.

[Audio] – Digable Planets – “Black Ego” (1994)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on May 20, 2009

Digable Planets – “Black Ego” (1994)

I hope by now it’s common knowledge that Digable Planets weren’t the hip-hop-hippies their “one-hit-wonder” single made them seem.  Like the best trip-hop, their mellowness (especially on their second album, ‘Blowout Comb’) fronted a complex blend of emotions, telling stories of the personal-as-political and the political-as-personal.  Plus, with their Modern Jazz Quartet-like approach to vibes-and-strings and their judicious beat-borrowing (here the eternal Zigaboo), they made hip hop sound as good as their best new-school contemporaries.  They tapped a deep well, and another fifteen years on, it’s far from dry.

[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.

Tagged with: , , , , ,

[Audio] – Jaylib (J Dilla & Madlib) – “Raw Shit” (2003)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on April 2, 2009

Jaylib (J Dilla & Madlib) – “Raw Shit” (2003)

Nothing touches ‘Donuts‘ for me.  But even though I’m not a huge Madlib fan, I’ve come around to the “Jaylib” collaborations between he and Dilla.  This track has a little of the feeling of both, succinctly capturing the chopped playfulness of J Dilla, and bounces along confidently with a catchy vocal hook (featuring Talib Kweli sounding as good as I’ve heard him) and a great organ sample.  [J Dilla is featured here and here in very different contexts at Musicophilia.]

[Audio] – Jean-Jacques Perrey – E.V.A. (1970)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 31, 2009

Jean-Jacques Perrey – E.V.A. (1970)

I love Pierre Henry, but I prefer his “serious” work to his most famous track, “Psyche Rock”.  “E.V.A.” is sort of an alternative to “Psyche,” blending similar early sci-fi pop electronics with a funky backbeat and even the large bell accompaniment–but I’d have to say, I like Perrey’s take better, since this sort of electronics-popularising was his main thing.  Sampled regularly and with good reason, “E.V.A.” is as cool today as forty years ago.

[Audio] – Franco Battiato – “Meccanica” (1972)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 24, 2009

bukka-white-bukkas-jitterbug-swing

Franco Battiato – “Meccanica” (1972)

‘Fetus’ was undoubtedly a horizon-expanding discovery for me, adding another layer to my understanding of the roots of synth-based music, outre, proto-punk, etc.  Battiato would go on to do much more abstract music, following a trajectory not that unlike Eno, until he entered the center of the Italian mainstream in the 80s.  This early stuff is a great headtrip of early electronics, off-kilter pop-rock songwriting, borrowed/sampled sources, and what I take to be sort of sci-fi lyrics (from what I can gather via Italian-English cognates).  [I’ve not used the album’s cover because some might find it disturbing; it does seem slightly shock-value unecessary to me and is not representative of the fun music contained within.  Franco Battiato is featured from this period here and in a later form here in mixes at Musicophilia.]

[Audio+Link] – François Bayle – “Solitude” (1969)

Posted in Audio, Link by Soundslike on March 18, 2009

electronic-panorama1

François Bayle – “Solitude” (1969)

Please don’t pass this post by. One, for the track at hand: it will turn your brain inside out, to be sure.  But also for the links and the general information this post will contain next.  First, the track: in a similar style to Parmegiani’s “Pop’eclectic,” Bayle’s “Solitude” is a fantastic melange of student politics energy, psychedelic rock, musique concrète, and early electronics.  It makes a great gateway drug to the latter styles, chugging along with Krautrock-esque beats and guitars, run through the more sophisticated, less bleepy-bloopy-space-musik end of concrète/electronic music.  It is proof that while the avant-garde weren’t often trying to make pop inroads (Henry’s “Psyche Rock” and BBC Radiophonic Workshop aside), they weren’t hiding away in ivory towers by the late 60s, and the visceral impact of this music makes it inarguable.  If it hits you, you’ll hear the 2nd half of the 20th Century all flowing in and out of the mix.  So listen, please listen, with open ears:

But that’s just the hook. What I really want you to do is start treading in deep sound, if you’re not already.  And if you haven’t jumped in–there’s really no place better to start than at the top.  Which is, for me (some of Parmegiani’s albums aside) the simply inconceivably amazing 4LP set, ‘Electronic Panorama: Paris, Tokyo, Utrecht, Warzsawa‘ released in 1970 and drawing on music from the late 1950s through 1970 from leading figures of those four cities’ avant-garde (Paris is unsurprisingly tops; Utrecht, for me, comes in next).  If you’re obsessed with sound, if you ever get excited about the way sound literally feels in your ears and how it moves through your body, if you ever listen to the sounds around you in the world as though they were music: you’re ready for this.  You need this.  I’ll let my hero of deep listening Woebot give you the verbiage.  And I’ll tell you that these records cost hundreds of dollars, if not more: so yeah, I don’t own a copy myself.  But, this is one of those examples where I say fuck all the doubters, the internet is a beautiful thing: you can download these amazing records in very high quality here and here at the absolutely life-changing Avant Garde Project.  Along with UbuWeb, Mutant Sounds, and the Wax Cylinder Preservation Project, I don’t really know any more wonderful archive for sound on the internet.

This is not pop music, and I’m not pretending it’s for everyone. But if you’re at the right place in your life, if your ears are shaped (metaphorically) anything like mine–well all I can say is that for me, whereas I’d been a skeptic about musique concrète and early electronics, thinking it was all bubbly bleeps and bloops; after I heard these records along with a few key bits from Stockhausen, Henry, Parmegiani, Schaeffer, Ferrari (those last four all found here), Raymond Scott, and Dockstader: I am a devotee.  I don’t try to push this stuff very often at Musicophilia, but finding these people the last few years has been as important as finding Can or “Piano Phase” or hearing my first fusion-era Miles Davis was for shaping my musical love affair.

[UPDATE: Check out this nice article from Simon Reynolds on the sleeve design for the series from which ‘Electronic Panorama’ comes–truly objects of beauty, and an inspiration for anyone attempting phony label-series artwork and for any graphic designer.]

[Video] – Massive Attack – “Protection” (1994)

Posted in Video by Soundslike on March 12, 2009

massive-attack-protection-video

Massive Attack – “Protection” (1994) [By Michel Gondry]

With its James Brown-based beat and Tracey Thorn (Everything But the Girl and post-punk tweesters Marine Girls) vocals, though it’s dated slightly, this track is still a winner.  For me, though, its impact is heightened greatly by this technically unbelievable single-shot, single-take Michel Gondry video, one of the first videos I ever remember finding simply enthralling.  Typical of Gondry when given emotionally meaningful material, his faux-lo-tech wizardry transcends the technical fascination and comes to reflect its subject matter in a way more honest and accurate than any more straightforward presentation ever could.  UPDATE: Argh, embedding disabled for whatever reason, so a link instead–worth your while.

[Audio] – 9th Scientist – “Do You Love Me?” (2004)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 10, 2009

9th-scientist

9th Scientist – “Do You Love Me?” (2004)

9th Scientist is carrying the torch strong for those who love mid-school sample-based hip-hop, but he’s not living in a DA.I.S.Y. retro world.  He takes it Southern slow (Atlanta, not Houston or New Orleans), with an unhurried delivery, and for him “consciousness” is not an aesthetic, but a life’s pursuit.  Musically his strongest suite is production, where he’ll appeal to fans of Dilla, with simply utilized, unpolished soul/funk loops.  This track uses a perfect sample, sounding almost like a heartbeat echoing the intensity of an ode to a lifelong (possibly estranged) friend.  Check him out here, pick up a new album here.

[Link] – Kutiman – ‘ThruYOU’ (2009)

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

kutiman_thru-you

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.

[Audio] – Steinski & Double Dee – “Lesson No. 1: The Payoff Mix” (1983)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 5, 2009

steinski

Steinski & Double Dee – “Lesson No. 1: The Payoff Mix” (1983)

This track is embedded in the trajectory of contemporary culture, just as much as it (and its sequels) drew from mass culture through ’83.  But besides all that “importance” bit–it’s just a great listen for those who dig electro, early hip-hop, and cultural sampling in general.  Reissued in 2008 on the compendium ‘What Does It All Mean? 1983-2008 Retrospective,’ it’s a good thing this stuff is now quasi-legitimately available.  UPDATE: New stream link.