Christina Vantzou
“Homemade Mountains”

Natural History museums across the country just got their new planetarium soundtracks.

Read aloud at 00:12, á la George Clooney: “Earth. Fragile Earth. At the mercy of a giant ball of exploding gases, it sits tiny within a massive solar system, within a stupefying galaxy, within an incomprehensible universe. Earth… the third planet from the Sun. The first planet in our hearts.”

In her old band The Dead Texan, Christina Vantzou worked with Adam Wiltzie, a member of Stars of the Lid; with “Homemade Mountains,” it seems like Vantzou herself has a fair share of starry and lid-reverent sensibilities. This is unabashed night-gazing music, like sounds for hypnotizing Mercury or to seep from the boombox when you’re making late-night repairs on your Millennium Falcon. Really though, this track, along with the rest of Vantzou’s new album Nº1, does what ambient music is supposed to do: you know, actually lay down some ambiance; a new landscape… like, perhaps, some homemade mountains?

As we reported last week, this piece is the first slice of what was once a single 45-minute track, now divvied up into an album of proper cuts. Check out all of Nº1 when Kranky Records kranks it onto shelves October 24.

• Christina Vantzou:
• Kranky:

Andy Stott

We Stay Together [full EP stream]

Andy Stott’s music took a massive leap into the unknown when he released the Passed Me By EP on Modern Love (home to industrial techno revivalists Demdike Stare, among others). His staple up until then was airy and ambient techno, but he must have decided that this was an over-trodden path when he crushed everything into a noisy, compressed, and thoroughly Dystopian musical vision.

We Stay Together takes this ideal one step further, with kick drums barely surfacing under deep and dissonant noise and vocals lurching unpredictably around a hugely pressurized soundscape. Modern Love is kindly streaming both EPs on its SoundCloud, and this new release is available for purchase on shiny vinyl here.

• Andy Stott:
• Modern Love:

The Caretaker

“I Feel As If Might Be Vanishing”

I’m glad this video is part of a trilogy. When I was walking my dog ‘round midnight Monday, I was giving An Empty Bliss Beyond this World (TMT Review) a re: listen, but forgot I had my player on shuffle. It totally worked with this album, like it do with Crazy For You. So it’s nice knowing the video trilogy will abed to my viewing/listening pleasure. Also, it’s The Caretaker, and his shit’s blowing up in twenty eleven because of this release, right? Well, it blew me up, and I can’t go down.

The trilogy was directed by Video Marsh, who also did clips for other C-named bands like Caribou and Crystal Castles. It’s all total smear stuff and you might see yourself in the video, or a humming bird, or a tree. I don’t know. There’s a grainy white noise effect to the image that presents the same kind of illusory hallucination, only, like, visually. Buuuuuuut, my girlfriend is painting her toenails, it stiiiiiinks, and I’m thinking about going “all work and no play” up in this bitch: cue me An Empty Bliss Beyond this World.

• Caretaker:
• Video Marsh:


“Edgar Cayce”

Coming down from his release on experimental standard-bearing label Night People (owner Shawn “Wet Hair” Reed), Kentucky native Coleman Guyon has offered up this fine selection of tracks available on tape from Portland institution Eggy Records (owner Raf “The Polyps” Speilman) entitled Dream Operator. This song, named after the psychic who is sometimes credited with starting the New Age movement, sort of reminds me of Gary Wilson with its mystical disco arrangement and weird muttered lyrics about “the night” or who knows what. And the slapback echo effects throughout the album (which almost never fail to make something sound cool) combined with push-button beats help to give it a Suicide-meets-Speculator-on-MIDI vibe. Night-driving music. Meanwhile, this bitchin’ offset-printed artwork in fluorescent green and red, which matches the entire Eggy batch, brings it to the next level. Did you say you wanted to watch Coleman eat fried chicken? Okay then.

• Trailblazer:
• Eggy:

Tim Hecker

“Sketch 5”

Way back in the beginning of this year, Tim Hecker splattered the world’s brains on the walls of the universe with Ravedeath, 1972 (TMT Review). On October 10, Kranky will release Dropped Pianos, containing nine untitled “sketches” that were conceived at the same time of the Ravedeath, 1972 compositions, but were left out of the final album (TMT News). That’s like saying it’s as good as the guys who make it onto the USA Olympic Basketball Dream Team but who then sit on the bench the whole tournament. It’s like the sherpa who accompanied Sir Edmund Hillary to the top of Everest. If Ravedeath is the Michael Jordan of modern electronic music, this one is like the Tim Duncan… uh, Tim Hecker. What?…

Anyway, Kranky is letting us listen to “Sketch 5” to obsess over until October 10. Hecker trickles along aimlessly on piano until stumbling into a hypnotizing Glass-esque loop, while deep strings rumble beneath, creating a heartbreakingly beautiful cinematic texture. Ah, well it’s just great, now let’s all buy it on October 10!

• Kranky Records:
• Tim Hecker:

Young Man


Last year, Colin Caulfield released Boy under the moniker Young Man. In my eyes, it was one of the more underrated albums of 2010. It was all about being a boy and becoming a young man — heartfelt, honest, and irresistibly relatable. He sounds like me in the shower pretending to sound like Noah Lennox (Panda Bear). I was such a big fan of this little EP that I made sure to see him (and his band) play in NYC for CMJ last year. They blew my mind. The hushed feel that Caulfield maintains throughout the recording had completely vanished, and the soft, mostly acoustic songs were transformed into an energetic balls-out electric jam session. I wondered if this was the track that Young Man was headed, a road to manhood via the rock ‘n’ roll route.

Well, I was kinda right. Young Man’s new album Ideas Of Distance may not be the jam band record I had imagined, but he’s definitely using more electric guitar and gets to the verge of psychedelia here and there. A good example is one of the highlight tracks “Nothing.” The track starts off with a very Beach House-esque melody on a distant distorted guitar, followed by Caulfield’s youthful voice reciting simple yet striking lyrics. But this time he isn’t singing about playtime as a five-year-old; he’s singing about real young man problems like being in love, sex, and discovering one’s true self … and shit.

Ideas Of Distance is out now and available on Frenchkiss Records.

• Young Man:
• Frenchkiss:



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CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we'll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.