Another year, another torrential downpour of albums across our desks. As always, we encountered way too much amazing music, from Meshuggah to The Mars Volta, Converge, Killer Mike, P.O.S, and many more.
Cleveland trio Emeralds made queasy, sprawling, psychedelic drone music prior to 2010, when it released Does It Look Like I’m Here? That album condensed the music into concise, direct, and absolutely stunning takes on the formula.
Just to Feel Anything is a new mutation in the Emeralds pattern.
[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Oneohtrix_Point_Never_Replica.mp3|titles=Oneohtrix Point Never: “Replica”]
Hajduch: One-man experimental electronic project Oneohtrix Point Never is discussed in the same breath with all the other John Carpenter / kosmische / synthesizer music that has garnered attention the past few years (most notably, the oft-mentioned-here Emeralds). However, during that time, the Oneohtrix sound has wandered further and further from the reservation, incorporating blistering noise and looped samples. Replica continues this trend, layering the mournful polysynth washes with odd, clipped samples from television commercials.
Morrow: We talked about Daniel Lopatin‘s collaborative Ford & Lopatin (with Joel Ford of Tigercity) back in June, but that was a much more ’80s-influenced and synth-heavy album. Replica is very ambient, and though it may seem shapeless at first, there are all sorts of sampled melodies percolating beneath the surface. To those unaccustomed to this style, the album can come off as inaccessible or difficult to appreciate, but if you spend some time and immerse yourself in the waves of sound, it should grow on you. The subtlety of the music is best served with repeated listens.
After a brief hiatus in 2010, Baltimore art-rock band Ponytail released its third album, Do Whatever You Want All the Time, on longtime record label We Are Free. Its psychedelic artwork, created by Yamantaka Eye of Japanese rock band Boredoms, is matched by the band’s manic vocals and guitar-driven melodies.
In honor of the changing seasons, Ponytail guitarist Ken Seeno shows the band’s more chilled-out side with this ultra laid-back playlist.
A Warm Spring Breeze Blowing Through My Window by Ken Seeno of Ponytail
Hajduch: Having folded a few years back, experimental music label Mego has come back full force as Editions Mego. Initially started as something of a reissue label (pressing remastered, deluxe editions from label faces such as Fennesz and Kevin Drumm), Editions Mego has begun cranking out brand-new releases, most notably the most recent releases from Emeralds and its guitarist, Mark McGuire.
The Emeralds working relationship continues with the formation of sub-label Spectrum Spools, headed by Emeralds member (and prolific solo artist) John Elliott. Spectrum Spools’ debut release is an LP by Chicago artist Fabric, who mines the same kosmische layered-synthesizer territory as many of the above artists with great success.
Montreal-based ambient electronic artist Tim Hecker recorded his most recent album, Ravedeath, 1972, in one day with a single church organ in Iceland. Then came the real work: meticulous editing, rearranging, and layering.
A largely forgotten mid-’90s band that was always ahead of its time, Seefeel has released its first album in 14 years. The self-titled record feels like a debut, and it is to a certain extent, considering the band’s lineup changes. Seefeel explores the territory of electronic outfits such Battles and Emeralds, bands that were influenced by Seefeel’s 1993 debut Quique. It feels like some sort of weird déjà vu. If anything, it’s an impressive rebirth, one that has the group deconstructing the sample-based post-rock style it pioneered before MIDI sequencers were even looked at as viable forms of instruments.
Formed in 1992 in London, Seefeel’s music was once stylistically situated between shoegaze pop and what people were calling “ambient techno.” It had a smooth nonchalance to its music, with ambient electro-pop symphonies strung together by Sarah Peacock‘s sparse, dream-like vocals.
Noise pop is perhaps the best way to describe its music retrospectively — or IDM before IDM was IDM. Though we must not forget those higher on the electronic family tree (Kraftwerk comes to mind), Seefeel’s importance to the scene lies in fending off the “dance” label. What’s more, as the first “guitar” band signed to Warp in 1994, its use of live instruments also speaks to its groundbreaking artistry.
Despite its history and charm, Asheville, North Carolina isn’t widely known as a destination for music and culture. Many associate the town with the Blue Ridge Parkway, hippie drumming, and maybe Black Mountain College, a progressive institution that closed in 1957 but once was a center for artists like Merce Cunningham and John Cage. But look deeper and you’ll also find a contemporary music scene, classy bars, and a population of locals that are culturally aware and proud of their town.
And they’re nice — like deep-South nice. Maybe that’s why Robert Moog decided to spend the last 25 years of his life there.
Mark McGuire: “Clouds Rolling In” [audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Mark_McGuire_Clouds_Rolling_In.mp3|titles=Mark McGuire: “Clouds Rolling In”]
Hajduch: Living with Yourself is the most recent solo-guitar release of Mark McGuire, who also plays guitar in Emeralds. Much like Emeralds, McGuire’s music spins a gradual yarn over a combination of picked arpeggios and buzzing drones, delayed and looped and layered into a hypnotic tapestry that has become impossible to ignore.
Each Tuesday, Behind the Counter speaks to an independent record store to ask about its recent favorites, best sellers, and noteworthy trends.
Sporting two locations, (Fabulous!) Jackpot Records has served Portland’s independent music community for 13 years as both a new/used CD, LP, and DVD retailer and a record label that reissues lost treasures. We recently caught up with Burnside manager Patrick Dennehy to get some staff picks and see what has been trending.
Held in Champaign-Urbana, IL (the home of the University of Illinois), the Pygmalion Music Festival 2010 will take place September 22-25, showcasing rock stalwarts like Built to Spill alongside up-and-coming acts like Janelle Monae.
There are loads of big-name performers, including Fang Island, Cut Chemist, Holy Fuck, Of Montreal, Roky Erickson & Okkervil River, Caribou, Cap’n Jazz, Ted Leo, Emeralds, and Owen. That list hardly scratches the surface, though. To see the full schedule, click here.
Roll the Dice: “The New Black” [audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Roll_the-Dice_The_New_Black.mp3|titles=Roll the Dice: “The New Black”]
Hajduch: Swedish duo Roll the Dice are not a household name, but you may have heard their work as individuals before. Malcolm Pardon “continously composes for film and television,” while Peder Mannerfelt has long written music as The Subliminal Kid and most recently contributed to Fever Ray‘s album and touring line-up. Together, they make meditative, arpeggiated drone music using only synth and piano.