The way I think of Bastian Void’s Fluorescent Bells has to do with being both extremely relaxed and frigidly cold, if that is even possible. This is what penguins must listen to at the spa, jacuzzis spitting jets of air through lukewarm water or something. Sweet-smelling, chilly vapors softly effervescing from pools of synth. Or, this is yet another trip through the galaxy, synths sprawling out through the cosmos backed by a sultry bossa nova, etc. But you know what? All these descriptors do Bastian Void little justice. What I mean to say is this: Fluorescent Bells is absolutely terrific, one of Field Hymns’ finest dedications to cassette tape yet, which is saying a lot.
Calling to mind the pre-Everything’s Ecstatic subtleties of Four Tet, Keep Right, from Oregon’s Automatic Thoughts, is a reminder of what the beat music was before we started burying it alive under vinyl crackles and tape hiss. While most of this year’s beat-based music averaged somewhere under two minutes a song, Keep Right takes its time, allowing melodies and drums and samples to fade in and fade out underneath the soft hum of synthesizers. It’s soothing to hear music untouched by the pressure of Attention Deficit Disorder.
Relax, breathe, listen: It’s available for the ?? cost of name-your-price.
• Automatic Thoughts: http://automaticthoughts.bandcamp.com
Three Legged Race
A three legged race can be… awkward. Generally — as is my understanding, it’s been a while — the event entails being partnered up with someone you really don’t want to be standing next to (let alone tied to), then being forced to hang on to said partner’s torso for dear life while hobbling an ungodly distance to the finish line. If you win, you get a pie in the face or a trophy or something. “Persuasive Barrier” definitely points to a certain awkwardness, though it’s certainly not that of Robert Beatty, since he sounds completely in control over this selection from his new record. I guess it’s just me who’s the awkward one (big… surprise…), stumbling my way through this labyrinth of synth, notes trailing off in unsettling echoes and forlorn melodies foreshadowing creepy things to come. I feel like this post is deteriorating before my very eyes as I write it. I’ll be honest, I’m grasping here. Not much of this tune makes much sense to me — the clave pattern(s), the diagonal harmonies, the way the lead synth reminds me of Chick Corea’s The Leprechaun, or that one repeating chromatic line, as if slowly walking down the same staircase over and over and over. Oh yeah, and in the end, he sings. Fuck, it’s weird. Cool.
Vol 2. This Was Not Heartbreak
It’s no secret that I’m a big Tough Fuzz fan. If you browse back a little ways in the Chocolate Grinder archives, you’ll see a number of posts about this dude written by your very own Top Heavy. Most recently, I mentioned the single “LUXRY,” unveiled prior to the full release of Vol 2. This Was Not Heartbreak (the excellent follow-up to August’s Vol. 1). “LUXRY,” with its tough-guy, all-caps title and previously-mentioned Nintendo-training montage sound, is actually about as heavy as Vol. 2 gets. Beginning with the sea-sick feel of a cruise ship lounge on album opener “friend ship,” repeated in later tracks like “soft focus” and “broken beat,” the whole of Vol. 2 is decidedly softer, leaning more toward jazz than the funk-driven Vol. 1.
Check it out and look for the tape from Portland’s Ewe of Now Records this month.
• Tough Fuzz: http://toughfuzz.bandcamp.com
Coyote Image Classic
Grant and Rachel Evans, owners of the most-perfect-name-for-what-the-band-sounds-like name (Quiet Evenings), have… well, they have a new name, Coyote Image Classic. Don’t worry, I don’t think “Quiet Evenings” is necessarily going away, and this excerpt from the duo’s new double cassette on their Hooker Vision imprint does carry a different flavor to their more familiar configuration. Here we have “twin meanderings” as they describe them, the two gracefully breaking shackles of synth to tackle new textures that come across incredibly humble and slight. I know that Grant has been experimenting with homemade records lately on his solo work as Crippling with completely bizarre results, and I can’t help but suspect some of that stuff enters here with these tones and their squishy compositions. This excerpt makes the unique approach seem fully functional and realized, a gorgeous accompaniment for the unassumingly beautiful melodies that sway right alongside.
• Hooker Vision: http://hookervision.blogspot.com
“Sunlight On the Faded”
According to Hyperdub’s Twitter, Laurel Halo’s Quarantine will be topping that illustrious of music nerd year-end lists, Joseph Davenport’s Top 50 Albums of 2012…. oh yeah, and that other one from The Wire too I guess. She’s taking a victory lap by dropping yet another slab of vinyl just for me (and you too; don’t get all jealous) also via Hyperdub in the form of the “Sunlight On the Faded” single, which you can stream right here in this very post.