Tuesday, November 29, 2011

jim o'rourke: old news #6 (editions mego)

Old News #6 is the second release in a “nearly regular” series of vinyl albums documenting analog synth and tape works “from the depths of Jim O’Rourke’s archive.” But where Old News #5 was retrospective in orientation, covering some 20 years of output across its four tracks, #6 zooms right in on the present. The album comprises a single piece entitled “All That’s Cold Is New Again.” It was commissioned in part by Christian Zanési, a French composer and former student of Pierre Schaeffer, and recorded in studio by O’Rourke between 2009 and 2011 in Tokyo, where he’s now, of course, a resident. 

Idiomatically and in terms of sonic palette, the record’s in a pretty similar ballpark to “It’s Not His Room Anymore” off the last release, which was recorded in Japan in the same period with, seemingly, a comparable studio setup. But the most obvious point of difference with “All That’s Cold Is New Again” is that, unlike any of the recordings on Old News #5, it incorporates ‘found sound’ in and among all the electronics: the slow wash of water, tolling bells, the gentle rumbling of traffic, children playing, the briefest snippets of conversation, as if caught accidentally from a passer-by.

In general, this works really well...

And if you wanna know, read the rest of the review on TMT. Includes rampant speculation about sci-fi music and the sound of outerspace!

And do check out my review of Old News #5 too if you're interested.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

bangs & works vol. 2 (planet mu)

When was the last time you experienced Futureshock? I mean really experienced it — affectively, right down to your core. For my part, I got a small dose at the start of the year from James Blake’s self-titled debut. Sure, it had a history; Blake’s indebtedness to dubstep (even bordering on a kind of purism) has been well noted. But that doesn’t change the fact that his clever deployment of both bass and (particularly) space meant that pop sounded different now. This, suddenly, seemed to be the future. And sure enough, it was. So much so, in fact, that the future quickly began to sound dull again: present and, soon enough, altogether past.

Right now, just about everywhere on the planet other than in certain key enclaves in Chicago, footwork seems like the sound of the future. Strictly, it’s a kind of dance music. Or at least “that’s what it is in Chicago’s converted warehouses and rec centers,” as TMT’s Mr P recently put it, “where combatant footworkers form circles and take turns battling, dozens-style, with dazzlingly complex foot patterns.” Outside of such rarefied circles, however, nothing else sounds so Fresh, so New, so Vital, or so Different, even to the point of being Unpalatable — not Unintelligible necessarily, but literally Indecipherable at the level of the body...

Read the rest here on TMT.

Also, I can't help but note that the piece got props from none other than Simon Reynolds. More or less made my day/week/life.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

tim hecker: dropped pianos (kranky)

Jacques Derrida once wrote that Literature — with a capital “L”: the Work, the Opus — is that which “transforms the field.” He was thinking of Kafka’s The Trial. And his point was that after its publication in 1925, everything was different. Literature, as a field, was otherwise. The rules of the game had changed. Ravedeath 1972, Tim Hecker’s last release, is Literature. It’s Music, with a capital “M.” Sure, it has precursors, a lineage. There are elements of “drone” and “noise” to it, as well as passages that come pretty close to being “ambient.” But it’s at once all of these things and none of them. As Derrida might have put it, Ravedeath 1972 is “irreducible to the laws of genre.”

I’m not the only one who thinks so either...

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

colin stetson: those who didn't run ep (constellation)

It’s been nearly 40 years since Roland Barthes first theorized what he called the “grain of the voice.” And whether or not you’re familiar with his famous essay, I think it’s fair to say that the idea, if not necessarily the vocabulary, has wormed its way well into the collective critical consciousness by this point. For Barthes, the “grain” was the “body in the voice as it sings.” Not, or not merely, timbre: the “grain” of a voice, if it has one, consists precisely in the irreducibility of its significance, its weight, to the conventions of technique, style, or genre. Simon Frith famously heard grain in Elvis. “In the end,” he wrote, “this is the only way to explain his appeal: not in terms of what he ‘stood for,’ socially or personally, but by reference to the grain of the voice.” For Frith, Elvis celebrated “more sensuously, more voluptuously than any other rock ‘n’ roll singer — the act of symbol creation itself.” Grain, in other words, is the difference between James Brown and his backing singers, between Frank Sinatra and the Boobster. The shame with Billy Holiday was that she ended up having too much of it. With Sigur Rós, we celebrate Jónsi’s delivery precisely because his voice has none. The brilliance of his voice, in other words, is precisely the fact that it manages to sound disembodied.

We’re pretty comfortable now with those sorts of claims, in thinking about voice in this register. But we’re a little less so when it comes to instrumental music...

As usual, you can find the rest of the view on TMT.

Here's some footage. Just in case you're wondering what the hell I'm going on about: