By the late 1950s, the trumpet and the saxophone took over as lead jazz instruments. Jazz flutists and clarinetists didn’t have a chance against the cheek-busting likes of Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and John Coltrane. So many of them left US jazz clubs and flew to Asia. Flutist Paul Horn, for example, spent many years in India studying native spiritual and musical traditions, gaining access to pretty much anywhere he wanted to play his flute (like the Taj Majal, The Great Pyramids, The Magic of Findhorn, etc.). Similarly, clarinetist Tony Scott moved around Southeast Asia studying local folk music and performing with native musicians throughout the early 60s.
These two musicians (among others who adopted Eastern practices to create quiet meditative music with typically jazz instrumentation) are the founders of New Age. Scott’s work with Japanese musicians Shinichi Yuize and Hozan Yamamoto to create 1964’s Music for Zen Meditation and Other Joys and Horn’s original 1968 release Inside are prototypical examples of New Age.
So what does this have to do with ESPRIT 空想’s new album ｒｅｌａｘ™? Absolutely nothing. Besides the fact that vaporwave is like the grandbaby of New Age, and also because ｒｅｌａｘ™ is all about meditation, which I’m sure Mr. Scott and Mr. Horn would love.
“Swallow My Pride”
I definitely wouldn’t have chosen “Swallow My Pride” to be the “single” off Merchandise’s own D. Vassalotti’s solo cassette Live in Infinity, out now on Night People. But it’s still tight and lingering as the rest of the album. Just would have liked it if his single focused more on his guitar-slaying and less on his vocal-/song-writing and electronic talent. Or maybe it’s a ploy to get people thinking this is what D. Vassalotti is all about, and then [GUITAR SEEEEEAR]. I’m just very into Live in Infinity at the moment: D. Vassalotti takes twists and turns no seasoned vocal-listener could imagine. He just builds and builds, bringing us back to level one, confusing the most unintimidated reelers, as if it were musical, not optical, illusion. And as D. Vassalotti will forever “live in infinity,” so shall his cassette tape in my player.
Night People been making moves this year (other than from Iowa City to Minnesota [somewhere]), selecting music that rivals their most important works within the past few years. Scope out Live in Infinity immediately!!
I’ve always thought that the name RAP/RAP/RAP was referencing old Myspace band pages, where the artist could choose three genre tags, separated by forward-slashes, to describe their music. I remember hardcore bands using the same genre tag, repeated three times, but I figured they, being a hardcore band, were perhaps making some sort of point. Especially religious bands. SPIRITUAL/SPIRITUAL/SPIRITUAL, something that gave you no real idea of what the artist was going to sound like.
The same goes for RAP/RAP/RAP, I think, who typically uses tags like Postrap, Universe, and World Music to categorize his songs. But the RAPs in the name seem to refer more to the way those drums always sit right on top of the track, almost entirely unequalized and unmixed, like beat music before computer programs were involved. With HYPERREALISM, those old drum sounds are still heard, but with much more of an ear for equalization and their blending into the waves of synthesizers and video game noises. But that generally unmastered sound so prevalent in early RAP/RAP/RAP releases still defines this release, and I can’t help but feel like it’s intentional, like using music software in an attempt to neglect the sheen of using music software.
HYPERREALISM is out August 12 on INTERSCAPE RECORDS LTD.
That’s it! That’s it! That’s it! That-that-that-that-that-thatit-tit-tit-it-it-it-it! We-we-we-we-justttt. We-we-we-we-juuustttt. Take it there. Take it there. Let’s do this Wednes-Wednes-Wednes-Wednes-day-day-dayyyyyyy’errrrr. Right-right-right-right. LEFT. Right-right-right-right-right-right-LEFT-righ-righ-righ-t’t’t’t’t’t’tttttt. Look. Look. You might even look. You might. You might. Look. Even. You might. Even. You might. Look-look-look-even-even. Even. Even. I know things. I know things. Might. You. Even. Look. Know. Things. I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-[kill your ego via DJ Clap, please]I-I-I-I-I-I-I. “Unbelievable.”
Listening to “Hawk Bones,” the newest single from Bambara, I can’t help but be reminded of the danse macabre: the infamous “dance of death” that served as a visual reminder of the inevitability of death for the folks living in plague-addled Europe during the late-Middle Ages. The message behind the memento mori might be the earliest historical example of what is commonly referred to as #yolo: sooner or later, we’re all gonna die, and if we’re lucky, we might be able to live on as skeletons, dance the farandole atop each other’s graves, and get our pustule-covered friends stoked for eternal damnation. Woo hoo! Bambara’s music throbs with this sinister excitement, evoking Swans circa Love of Life, with some traces of the The Jesus Lizard for added danceability. Periodically, the guitars sputter and burst, derailing the chugging beat; off in the distance, chimey synths strain to create some semblance of order. As vocalist Reid Bateh desperately pleads “Have you seen my baby?” in his Gira-esque baritone, you can feel the sonic space starting to cave in; the rafters are collapsing, and soon the skeletons will come a’prancing. Complete, utter anguish has never sounded this good.
• Bambara: http://bambara.bandcamp.com
This last weekend, “Roar,” Katy Perry’s first single/Sara Bareilles cover from Prism (forthcoming!!!) leaked. In a very real, very embarrassing moment of serendipity and synchronicity, my girlfriend and I (unapologetic Katycats, each) simultaneously texted each other the exact moment we each heard Katy roar at, get this, the exact same time! I can’t explain it. Maybe someone out there really does love us in all of our ridiculousness. Or maybe we’re adrift, endlessly, to live out our Emoji-filled days in terror and isolation, texting unto death. Who really knows. Oh, yes, and is it extra-coincidental, then, that the new video for “Roar” is nothing but a series of text messages? (Fortunately, someone is already exploring the Illuminati connections.) I really don’t know, though. (At least I’m brave enough to ask the questions, right?) So pull out your Popchips (looking at you, Joe) and smartphones, and burn your blue wigs, because things are about to get empowering.
And please, please, please: with all of this talk of Obama/Illuminati connections and chips, don’t forget to NEVER TEXT AND DRIVE.
• Katy Perry: http://twitter.com/katyperry
• An Important Poll: http://buzzworthy.mtv.com/2011/11/29/taylor-swift-katy-perry-cat