Christiaan Virant — Buddha Machine co-inventor and one half of electronic duo FM3 — just dropped a solo album called Fistful of Buddha. The peripatetic drone nomad splits his time between Beijing, Berlin, and Hong Kong, but lately has been posted mostly in southern China putting the finishing touches on the fourth-generation Buddha Machine. Fans of “songs” and “disks” might enjoy Fistful. Stream track #3, “Monkey Mind,” below:
Plastic music box purists must hold out until December, when the day-glo Buddha4 ships, but for now, you can also listen to “Monkey Mind,” as it is the source for two loops on the new machine. Buddha4 packs more aural weight into its pocket-sized packaging, with upgraded 16-bit audio and an improved amplifier chip. Christiaan says the loops “sound smooth and zen-like at low volume, but get really dirty and distort nicely when turned up.” So it’s cool for both subway headphone meditation and as a plug-and-play “my first harsh drone band” starter kit. Nice!
Here’s a video featuring Buddha4 Loop 1, for now the next best thing to an infinite (or at least an average AA battery lifespan) loop:
Fistful of Buddha is available now via Christiaan and Merja Kokkonen’s CVMK imprint. Buddha4 will ship internationally in early December.
• FM3/Buddha Machine: http://fm3buddhamachine.com
Escaper makes me feel like I’m riding inside one of those clouds you could jump Mario into in Super Mario Brothers 3, if you were good enough at kicking turtle shells to knock out the Goomba piloting the thing. Then, you could just sail above the rest of the level, collecting secret coins floating in the air and watch as the brightly-colored landscapes filled with strange dinosaur-hybrid monsters passed by just below the cloud like an 8-bit take on psychedelic art. Man, they sure don’t make ‘em like they used to.
Stream all of Grapefruit’s Escaper below and look for the album from AMDISCS.
“Rock Bottom” / “Octopus”
A few months ago, word of a new The Streets-quoting King Krule single, “Rock Bottom,” spread across the interweb like regal trumpets ringing out the arrival of his royal majesty. Since then, the single has been released via London’s Rinse and given a music video representation filled with the good kind of born-to-lose teenage angst.
Watch the video and check out the stream of the dreamy island B-side, “Octopus,” below. And if you really, really like it, you can even pay money for the single (it’s not on Mediafire; I already checked), and help put the young Mr. Krule through college.
“The Gentle Sounds” [excerpt]
Whatever/whoever the fuck Comfort Link is, it’s my favorite thing I’ve heard this year. Mysterious mechanical drones that evolve eons over the course of two short sides on a tape from Baltimore’s super-intriguing label, sPLeeNCoFFin. This excerpt should be enough to give you one of these, but for the full effect, you’d be better off hearing the whole thing on the cassette.
• sPLeeNCoFFiN: http://www.spleencoffin.com
“Lines” (feat. A$AP Rocky & Phantogram)
Here’s another track off Big Boi’s upcoming LP, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors: “Lines,” a collaboration with A$AP Rocky and Phantogram. Carried by a gritty electro-funk riff, the dynamic track features exactly the kind of clever verses you’ve come to expect from the two MCs (topics covered include: success, PETA, Jesus, and being a total badass), set adrift in trippy synths. Phantogram’s Sarah Barthel lends her characteristic smooth melodies to the mix as well. But what makes the track so good is the, ahem, “line” of tension running through it; the shifts in both tempo and delivery pop up when you least expect them. It makes for an intense and rewarding listening experience.
Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors is out December 11.
“All This Wanting”
Slim Twig is a very close friend of U.S. Girls; he even runs Calico Corp with U.S. Girls’ Meg Remy. And it’s through his own label and Toronto’s Pleasence Records that he’s released A Hound at the Hem, a fascinating whirligig of an album that includes collaborations with fellow Torontonian Owen Pallett. The melodies are straightforward and Gainsbourg-esque but suddenly and thrillingly give way to creepier stuff — foreboding brass blasts or counter-melodic piano — which is fitting for an album that pays tribute to Nabokov’s Lolita and Gainsbourg’s Histoire de Melody Nelson.
The video below is for “All This Wanting,” the first single from Hem. It was shot in Montreal by Emily Pelstring (who has also made videos for U.S. Girls, AIDS Wolf, and Yamantaka // Sonic Titan) and her puppeteering friends using a vintage camera to, as Pelstring put it, “give it an ’80s Sesame Street-gone-wrong vibe.” And it shows: the video begins cheesily enough, with goofy lighting and silly looking puppets. But as the song progresses, the sunniest of pop songs turns very, very dark. It’s a playful take on pop, one of the strongest from the Toronto psych scene.
A Hound at the Hem is available now through Calico Corp/Pleasence.