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.
Thee Open Sex
“I Do Not Know What”
When I lay eyes upon the visage of Miss Mess as she traipses through the foliage, I am not reminded of Alice in her assorted Wonderland, but of Jimmy Swaggart. The televangelist — now at the end of his influence — was once a powerful voice for the minions under heaven. He chastised those of us prone to vice and temptation. He turned his nose at sinners even as he rode the coattails of his cousin, Jerry Lee Lewis, to prominence. He renounced the coitus and demagoguery of rock & roll until his own ruse was uncovered, never once batting an eyelash at condemning it publicly while devouring it privately.
Here, Miss Mess plays the role of Swaggart. She fights temptation at every turn, but is curious to what the other side holds. She finds herself lured by the simplicity of action. She keeps wandering down the rabbit hole until she washes herself with the unclean water. Rather than weep and ask for mercy as Swaggart, she embraces her change from a stripped jester into a rock & roll queen, finally given the key to ultimate freedom. Swaggart’s was a sin of hypocrisy; Thee Open Sex’s only sin is that it took them this long to turn on the rest of us to the hyper-psychedelic cocktail they are serving.
“I Do Not Know What” is the second track off Thee Open Sex’s new Self Titled album on vinyl via Magnetic South Records and on reel via Let’s Pretend Records.
“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