Darkstar have a full-length album to their name — North, released in 2010 — but it’s a pair of 2008 and 2009 singles that are more responsible for having entrenched the group in arcane electronic culture. Together totaling 11.5 minutes of music, the tracks were included on Hyperdub’s very good 5 compilation, making up, in fact, two of the compilations biggest highlights. Slight in total size, yes, and deceptively simple in execution, “Aidy’s Girl is a Computer” and “Need You” unveiled soothing timbres and masterful beats, and now when Darkstar shares a single, historically there’s good reason to listen.
“Timeaway” is itself a first look at Darkstar’s next full album, and it offers as much access to euphony as that earlier stuff. In mood and movement, it’s a departure, but in the expert production and sheer intrigue, Darkstar’s profile shows through. The album is called News From Nowhere, and it’s set for a February 2013 release on Warp. But until the album drops, we have here three minutes more to add to Darkstar’s growing mass of soundscapes and electro-excellence. “Timeaway” will be released as a 12-inch vinyl single on November 12.
Albino animals are unbelievably adorable. This is, of course, with the exceptions of both snakes, which tend to look even more sinister than usual, and crocodiles, which are uniformly terrifying. But Albino Deers chose their name wisely. Much like those shy, springy animals, their collection of musical vignettes is enigmatic and fleetingly beautiful. Driven by muted orchestral arrangements and analogue crackles, Albino Deers build emotional harmonies and thrilling crescendos that most ambient music would shy away from.
Carpi Records have only given us a glimpse into this gorgeous, snowy landscape via their Bandcamp portal. However, if you’re one of the lucky 20 (!), you can get your horribly greasy mitts on a good solid cassette of the stuff.
Casey Veggie’s Roc Nation debut is slated for an early 2013 release, but the Inglewood rapper continues to churn out plenty of new tracks. Although he was a founding member of Odd Future, Veggies is pretty far removed from the caustic comedy of Tyler and company: instead of minimalist beats and violent bravado, he opts for laid-back boudoir rap à la Curren$y and Dom Kennedy. On the Kardiak-produced “Life$tyle,” Veggies raps about the good life over an exotic, piano-heavy beat. The lush track lends itself well to Veggie’s stop-and-go flow — it’s playful, but also poised.
The Sea and Cake
“On and On”
It’s pretty intense how long The Sea and Cake has been around, here in 2012 with their ninth full-length record, Runner. And, typically, it’s awesome. I mean, when you’ve got four musicians this cosmically (aquatically, breezily, etc.) aligned and this good at what they do (Sam’s smokey voice, Eric’s super-slinky bass lines, John’s unfaltering drums, and Archer… oh Archer… he’s cute. No, he’s also a really, really good guitarist), there’s basically no way to screw it up.
Anyway, enough rambling about how great the band is; I just wanted an excuse to post the poppy lead number to the record “On and On,” and Nowness sure gave me that by premiering this video on Sunday. Directed by Naomi Nagata, it’s just the eye candy I needed: a stop-motion animation of sand on a scroll, expertly arranged in such a way that the essence of line as an artistic concept is given copious amounts of life and character, much in the same way Chuck Jones did with his classic cartoon.
A few years ago, I co-hosted a show at my college radio station called Morning Wood. It was a morning show, and the general premise was to play all sorts of music that featured woodwinds. We had one simple rule: no ska. But we expanded the premise to include brass or really any instrument that “you put your mouth on and blow.” We also made a guideline to focus more on 70s and 80s rock than jazz or orchestral music, but we played virtually everything.
Our main source of material was the station’s own extensive LP library. Because of the domination of the CD in the past 20 years, and now the digital age, most of the records in the station were promotional material from the late 70s to the early 90s. My co-host and I would grab a random record from the stacks, judge it by its cover, then search the liner notes for the list of instrumentation and look for flutes, flugelhorns, saxophones, kazoos, etc. Through this process, I discovered some artists who are now all-time favorites, like Bongwater, Split Enz, Sparks, and Woo. Woo’s It’s Cosy Inside was one of the albums we discovered, and it featured subtle flute-sounding tones on a few of the tracks that, due to our perpetually loose guidelines, qualified it for the show.
Now, out of seemingly nowhere, Drag City reissued It’s Cosy Inside earlier this month, and I am thrilled that the world will discover this magical record. Originally released on Independent Project Records in 1989, It’s Cosy Inside is Woo’s sophomore release. Woo consists of two brothers, Mark and Clive Ives, who created music that sounded both ahead of its time and timeless. On their website, Woo call their music “nostalgic guitar music,” but it can sometimes sound like contemporary indie soft rockers such as Grizzly Bear, Department of Eagles, or Ducktails. “The Western” is a good example of just that aesthetic, which you can find out for yourself by hitting that sideways triangle below.
Musician, modernist, and machinist Holly Herndon has taken to SoundCloud to release a near-48-minute track called “CAR.” In line with the song’s title, Herndon composed the music for “automobile listening,” specifically for her Toyota Matrix. It’s seemingly detached from the usual signifiers you’d want/expect out of “car music” — it’s mostly atonal, and any rhythms are unintentional — but while it might not make the commute feel any shorter, it may very well increase your perceptual awareness, its sine sweeps and pulsating noise blocks blending into the surrounding sounds such that you’re moving not through space, but through the vibrations of sound itself. Take a listen:
In other news, Herndon is about to drop one of my favorite albums of the year next week. It’s titled Movement, and it’s absolutely stunning. Pre-order now via RVNG Intl.