Laurel Halo / Julia Holter / Daniel Wohl / Transit
Live at the Ecstatic Music Festival
A HOW TO GUIDE FOR MIXING POP, EXPERIMENTAL, AND CLASSICAL MUSIC:
Guys, combining classical music, electronic experimentation, and pop is dangerous business. If you don’t do it tastefully, you can quickly wind up with a hammy goof of a piece like this. However, if you follow these easy steps, you too can make a texturally rich composition that blurs genre lines:
STEP 2: Clearly understand how your live electronics can seamlessly and gorgeously blend with your ensemble of choice.
STEP 3: Exhibit some knowledge that the Lovely Music Ltd. gang really knew what was up with regards to this whole cross-pollination thing. Robert Ashley, in particular, is a great model for text setting.
STEP 4: Allow for improvisation/different levels of compositional control within the ensemble. This will result in a product that bears some musical similarities to your collective past but ultimately becomes something else entirely.
STEP 5: Avoid relying on those polyrhythmic Philip Glass-ian arpeggios. I get it. They sound cool. They’re all tonal chords and work great in a pop song. There’s nothing terribly wrong with this, but there are all different types of minimalism out there. Maybe try some of the Wandelweisser variety. Space and drones are a good thing.
STEP 6: Don’t be afraid to channel your inner Burt Bacharach.
If at any point you need a concrete example of what to do, please refer to Julia Holter, Laurel Halo, and Daniel Wohl’s recent live collaboration with new music quintet Transit, which is streaming in its entirety via WQXR below. It’s a truly forward-looking example of the intersections of experimental music, pop, and classical composition that excellently illustrates how to put the above principles into action.
“The Long Shadow”
Mssrs. Caminiti and Porras, San Francisco’s finest Creatures of the Mist, purveyors of drones of the desert-scorched and mind-altering variety, return to your turntable on April 16 when Thrill Jockey releases V, the duo’s fifth full-length album (omitting their earliest CD-Rs from discographical roman-numeration). At first, I planned on using some snappy phrase like “Barn Owl unsheathe their guitars” or “dust off their synths” or “fire up their Line6 DL-4s,” but if these two humans’ recent string of fully realized solo works and collaborations is any indicator, their gear has remained unsheathed, dust-free, and fired up for quite some time now. I imagine they’re working on their next releases, solo and together and with other loved ones, right now as I write this. Perhaps they’re standing a few feet away from each other on a bluff, their boots sunk into the mud, gazing out over the bay as the sun inches slowly upward into a plume of graying cumulonimbus. (This counts as “working on their next releases” on some level.)
“The Long Shadow,” our first taste of V, hits all the Barn Owl sweet spots: clean-toned guitars chime, reverberate, and loop back to do it again; a cloud of delay-bleached organ hangs over the mix, coming back to Earth to slip a four-chord progression into the murk; pedals click on and the guitar tone splinters into that overdriven howl we know and love. Something’s new here, though: the mix is denser than previous Owl offerings. As more synth layers accumulate and absorb the duo’s previously looped tones into one mammoth, pulsing swirl, these 5 minutes stretch into what feels like 15.
Pre-order V today from Thrill Jockey. Dust off your favorite armchair and settle in for the wait: when 40-some suns have set, the LP will be at your door.
“Grounds For Arrest”
Cut and shifted into what you think is thought of as music is really an intentional ploy for attention. Watching you. Him watching you. Grain is his digital. Your pores are his pleasure. He wraps his mouth around the eye piece of the camera. He watches you enjoy. Enjoy this night. He reveals her as him/herself. To nobody. To the interior of sweatpants. In a club. The club you’re in now. Invited to now. Be bare and driven by beat and dance. Ice tings flutter your throat from Bombay Sapphire when you yell at the DJ. And he can see you. Hand in the air. Hands in the air. Light in red on purple and blue; yellow becomes all one in green as grey and black. Sooooo exhausted. Your body dwindles. His stiffens. No gender. There’s so much footage. So much to edit and make. Whole entity. Sacrifice age and culture. Asexuality. Properly. Ego froze. Anticipation bare. Prepare for the worst in every situation, and yeah, your keys can’t help you turning down any alley. Especially this one. Digital smear. “Grounds For Arrest.” Laying down Punk Authority March 12.
On paper, ANTHM seems like the bougiest rapper ever. After graduating from Duke, Anteneh Addisu moved to Manhattan and started working on Wall Street as a trader for Citigroup. But then the northern Virginia native made a career swap bold enough to make any college career counselor wince: he ditched the suit and tie, picked up a mic, and turned a lifelong hobby into a career. The cutthroat world of the one percent, the rapper’s bio informs us, instilled in him an unstoppable drive — one that caught the attention of G-Unit producer DJ Whoo Kid, and led to opening stints for hipster-hop favorites like the Cool Kids and Hoodie Allen. Despite his white-collar cred, ANTHM’s sound is surprisingly modest, employing stripped-down, sunny production and wordplay that, while every bit as literate as to be expected from a Duke grad, somehow comes across as effortless and insightful. On his new track “Nina,” named for the famous jazz singer, the New York transplant invokes a decidedly Lupe-esque vibe, examining his unconventional rise to the top with a tone that’s as calm as it is critical.
• ANTHM: http://callmeanthm.com
blk lite [EP]
I like how you can search genres on Bandcamp, but words like “experimental” and “hip-hop” aren’t nearly specific enough to dig up any consistent results. “SP-404” though? Goldmine! This Ohbliv EP, blk lite, is a perfect example. It’s like an 11-minute ascent into that really classy, poorly-lit lounge in the corner of heaven. That’s Central East Coast, man. They know how to make some beats.
• Ohbliv: http://ohbliv.bandcamp.com
“2 o X i i i P R E V i E W”
Six-pack of abs and ICE-heavy, the beach scene is in hi-def, the water a greenish pink. Survive for dolphins in the next level of reality. Swim alongside hidden buildings buried in code and waves of pixelated blur. Smash cut to the sound of cawing, and an island desertion becomes a dimension to itself and itself as a heightened state of euphoria. Question mark. Looking to click with eyes on the screen at a zonal distance, the graphics are as smooth to touch as is skin. Skin on skin: back to the beach party. A kung fu rig opens up on the sand, and there’s lots of blood that dries immediately. Or dissipates. Disappears. Here. Red hair? White hair? Stick with that metallic purple that turns green in the light. Flex into a shirt. Become digi in all literal and/or visual forms. Wash away in algorithms of design and random anonymity. Remember that? Remember this? Remember the sky and running through the mountaintops, thinking, “This ain’t possible” literally? …It was typed in. Everyone saw. Everyone read that, lil brahh. Someone is kicked for trolling. And it’s the beach and shit again. Thinking, “You got this. You got this.” This ain’t you. It’s “2 o X i i i P R E V i E W.” Pretty coolmemoryz.
• coolmemoryz: https://soundcloud.com/coolmemoryz