Dr. OctoTron (Del & Kool Keith)
“Spaz” [prod. by KutMasta Kurt]
What do you get when you cross Dr. Octagon with Deltron? Dr. OctoTron of course. The only character missing is Dan the Automator, who brilliantly produced the sci-fi opuses Dr Octagonecologyst and Deltron 3030 in their entirety. Instead, frequent Kool Keith collaborator KutMasta Kurt takes the producer helm here.
“But wait? Isn’t that Dr. Octagon-ass motherfucker dead? Dr. Dooom killed him, didn’t he?”
Well, yes, twice actually. Like Rasputin, he’s been shot, drowned, stabbed over 17 times, electrocuted by electric razor, beaten to death with rocks — you name it. The important thing is that he’s back again, this time on an official Keith-endorsed release. So, while we’re still awaiting the long-anticipated Deltron 3030: Event II, we can at least look forward to a limited-edition 7-inch from Keith and Del coming this spring.
“Speakers R-4 (Sounds)”
Video artist Jonathan Toomey, who has created videos for Oneohtrix Point Never, Robedoor, and Young Smoke, has just dropped a deliciously minimal video for footwork pioneer RP Boo. The track is titled “Speakers R-4 (Sounds),” a characteristically syncopated mindfuck of a track punctuated by sudden bursts of percussion and chopped vocal samples. Despite its spaciousness, it’s a rhythmically dense track that’s enlivened even further by Toomey’s brilliant, meticulously constructed stroboscopic imagery.
Look for RP Boo’s Legacy May 13 on Planet Mu.
Danny Brown and college kid-cum-producer Trampy team up for “Express Yourself,” which is not a Madonna cover, but ACTUALLY a Diplo tribute track. Yep, the Philly native’s viral twerk campaign has inspired this duo to offer a grimy tribute, awash with skittery drums and a mellow two-note synth run. “Yeah, I know it’s a little bit trampy,” a woman continuously interjects. “But what am I?” It’s a cynical bit of rhetoric that sort of speaks to the song itself. Yeah, Danny Brown’s lyrics here are the usual potpourri of blunts, booty, and blowjobs, delivered with his usual thrilled shrieks. He knows these type of Bacchanalian boasts are silly, trampy, even. But then again, aren’t we all? Isn’t that universality the reason why Diplo’s been so successful in turning #expressyourself into a rallying cry? In keeping things sordid, isn’t Danny Brown just playing to the freak in us all? If you want literary references and time-aged R&B, check out Kweli’s latest track. If you just want to get freaky for a bit, give this a listen, and while you’re at it, peep “Blueberry,” Brown’s collab with Darq E Freaker, which takes on the same decadent themes with a bit more ADD-addled urgency.
“Trynawin” (feat. Roc Marciano)
Look, it’s like this: if Tree’s forthcoming, Sunday School II: When Church Lets Out doesn’t rank highly among your most anticipated rap albums of 2013, then you just plainly weren’t paying attention to hip-hop in 2012. And if after listening to the song below it still isn’t, then I don’t know what could possibly be going through your head, but you need to promptly remove it from your keister, re-educate yourself, and get your priorities in order.
Normally, I’m skeptical of single songs being promoted with a trailer or mini-documentary, but this is a different story. This here is monumental.
Church lets out later this Spring.
• Tree: https://soundcloud.com/mctreeg
Noël Akchoté (featuring David Grubbs)
Carlo Gesualdo Madrigals for 5 guitars
If there’s one thing that almost universally unites most experimental musicians and fans, it’s the work of late Renaissance composer/murderer/nobleman Carlo Gesualdo. Most people who have had to sit through a music history course just remember this guy as that royal composer dude who brutally murdered his wife and her lover and then got away with it because of his elevated social/political status. However, an equal number of people (especially the more experimentally inclined) often get fascinated with how forward-looking and beautiful his compositions were. In addition to breaking actual moral laws, Gesualdo broke all sorts of tonal/contrapuntal rules characteristic of the Renaissance as well. As a result, he created a highly expressive style that used tonal harmonies in non-functional ways. Gesualdo’s use of harmony was so radical that it would take everybody else until the late 19th century to fully catch up.
In many ways, Gesualdo’s tonal language has a lot in common with the work of David Grubbs and Noël Akchoté. In both cases, these modern artists revel in the possibilities for dissonant movement while working within traditional song-like structures akin to the madrigal forms that Gesualdo subverted. It’s clear that Akchoté realized this when arranging these pieces for five guitars, and consequently the highly idiomatic results sound like they could fit in on any of Grubbs’ solo releases or on a number of his chamber pop-leaning label mates’ albums. It’s a humbling reminder that, despite experimental pop’s often radical sound sources, we often aren’t too far tonally removed from the music of bygone eras.
You can stream the excellently recorded performance of these works courtesy Radio France right here (the music begins around 12 minutes in). David Grubbs has a new non-Gesualdo album coming out via Drag City on April 16.
As “Spectrum Shock” rattles the primitive gaggle of cave-biker snots outside the Manhole bar, the establishment is burning to the ground, and mistaking it as a biker-bar in the first place was clearly grave. Shaking from the inside-mind, Den rips down the long and treacherously deserted highway, throwing back all sorts of booze and yelling at the bottles as they break. High enough for the riff, they throw up hands and slide signature Den gestures at each other, shouting slack jaw gibberish between the roars of their bikes. Approaching the first car, they spot a chicken truck — they pour out most of the clear booze in the back and set towels on fire under the birds. Out of her mind, one gang member leaps from the back of a bike, clutches onto the side panel, and opens up the doors: cage-by-cage. She takes two birds, snaps their necks, and tosses them to her lady on the bike, who puts them in her saddle bag. And jumping back onto the bike, like from a window to a horse, another Den member pistols out a front wheel, and the truck goes skidding off the road, escaped chickens flapping and feathering away from the highway. Looking back, there’s no fire, only a pit of flickering light off to the side.
Riding up the mountaintop become chillier, and leather stenches the misty night air. Ponytails and missing teeth. A fire is started and the chicken roasts. One takes the gizzard and retro ingests it. Another makes jewelry out of the beak and feet. Taking embers from the fire with her bare hands, one of the bikers tosses the fiery-hot balls at the rest sitting at the fire and shouts in tongues and falls into their troth of drinking or bathing water, flailing around. Her yelling echos throughout the cave behind them and roaring comes back out, proceeded by a large cat of some kind, and it jumps at them straight into the fire, catching itself ablaze and being speared until it stops twitching. And as the undead were to rip open a human to eat, so do Den, as they come down off their “Spectrum Shock,” and full circle with the life they wish to lead.
• Retrograde Tapes: http://retrogradetapes.blogspot.com