Lil Wayne
Dedication 5 [mixtape]

Call it the curse of the moth butterfly thing: Lil Wayne, rapper/rocker/skater/entrepreneur/Mountain Dew spokesman extraordinaire, got stood up by both the VMA and BET selection committees. No nominations, no performances, nada. Talk about FOMO. On August 24 — better known as the eve of the Twerkapocalypse — Weezy took to Twitter to apologize for his artistic shortcomings: “Noticed I wasn’t nominated nor involved n da MTV VMA’s nor da BET awards…I apologize to my fans and I promise 2 work harder if it kills me.” That promise has been at least partially realized in Dedication 5, the latest installment in the New Orleans rapper’s mixtape series.

Upon initial listens, it appears that Wayne has been taking strides to avoid some of the most prevalent pitfalls that plagued his past releases: namely, bogus rock instrumentals and Auto-Tuned overindulgence. Instead, he revives the M.O. of the first few Dedications, delivering solid verses over the instrumentals of hip-hop’s latest, greatest hits (“Fuckin’ Problems,” “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” “New Slaves”). He’s also scaled back the dick jokes for some clever quips, instead opting for some musical trivia; “And if it’s war call me, fuck Tyrone,” he raps on “Before Tune Gets Back,” alluding to Erykah Badu’s “Call Tyrone.” But even if there are flashes of “A Milli”-era brilliance on Dedication 5, the tape can’t always manage to cast off the clunkers (“Had a phone in jail/ That’s a ‘cell’phone,” “I’ll have people looking for you/ Like a reason”). Still, it’s leagues above I Am Not a Human Being Part IV and a more-than-suitable act of reparation from a superstar. Oh, and plus: features from Chance the Rapper and Vado!

• Lil Wayne/Young Money: http://www.youngmoney.com

Ben Frost

Black Marrow / Sleeping Beauty / The Invisibles / FAR

Though we haven’t heard a full-length album album from him since 2009’s jawdropping By The Throat, Ben Frost has poured time and energy into enough projects to warrant the “scenius” distinction coined by his former mentor Brian Eno: a central figure within a “whole ecology of ideas that give rise to good new thoughts and good new work.” Within the last two years alone, Frost has collaborated on film soundtracks, produced acclaimed records, directed and scored an adaptation of Iain Banks’ The Wasp Factory, and assembled a powerhouse live ensemble with Greg Fox and Shahzad Ismaily — musicians who will most likely figure into his unannounced forthcoming solo work (*droooools*). While we pine for news on this pup, which admittedly biased but also not-to-be-fucked-with co-producer and Swans member Thor Harris has called the “greatest record of our time,” we Frost fanatics can find solace in other sterling examples of his scenius: four soundtracks that recently appeared on the composer’s Bandcamp page, comprising more than two hours of previously un-or-barely-available music made for film and drama between 2010 and 2012.

Even out of their original contexts, Frost’s compositions contain enough detail and gravitas to spark dead-serious cinematic reveries in your own brainspace. The four soundtracks share the sonic trademarks that made his solo albums so killer: unpredictable decisions in instrumentation and production style, roomshakingly high-fidelity industrial noise and sub-bass frequencies, a dynamic sense of structure and development across relatively short track lengths. Put on Black Marrow and face down the same wolves that terrorized your internal landscape on By The Throat. Find much beauty and very little sleep in the miniatures and the culminating title track of Sleeping Beauty. Wonder, based on FAR’s inspired showcases and manipulations of the female voice, how much influence Frost has derived from Iceland’s finest since he moved to the country in 2005. Follow The Invisibles’ prepared piano and low-end drones on a journey through uneasy territory.

You can stream all of these soundtracks below, or fork up the well-deserved funds for your own digital copies. We’ll keep all ears and eyes out for an update on new Frost material.

• Ben Frost: http://www.ethermachines.com

Alpoko Don

“Lord”

Alpoko Don’s music is so raw, one can only write about it without pretension — a tall order for me, but here goes:

I come from a non-religious family. Mom’s a non-practicing Methodist (agnostic). Dad’s a non-practicing Jew (atheist). I’ve never been to a church or temple service other than weddings and funerals. Culturally, I identify with my father, meaning I’ve inherited his neuroticism, penchant for gallows humor, and taste for Gefilte fish. I trust in science before spirituality, though my understanding of both is tenuous at best.

All that being said, if church sounded anything like the video above, I could probably be convinced to go. Hell, I might even throw a buck or two in the collection plate.

Actually, on second thought I’d rather just shell out $7.99 for the MP3s below. Props to Alex at Steady Bloggin’ for putting me on to Alpoko first in February and again just recently.

• Alpoko Don: http://www.alpokodon.com

Blade Roller

Blade Roller

I was lingering about SXSW this year with Mike McHugh, Mr P, jDean, and/or Grant and saw this alien skating ‘round town handing out cards. I gripped and pocketed one, put it on my wall at work, and finally picked it up this week and visited the website. Turns out, I’m just in time for Blade Roller the movie! Super jacked about the information below, but I struck out the word epic, just ‘cause I can’t get down with that word. However…. SUPPORT THIS MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

“This short video, Blade Roller, is the basis for the epic feature length version that will enter production in Austin, TX in the fall of 2013. If you are interested in helping to make this project a reality, please consider contributing funds in any amount. Include your name in a message and you will receive a special thanks in the credits. Thanks for your support!”

• Blade Roller: http://bladerollermovie.com

Alastair Galbraith / Jean Jacques Palix / David Watson

Pure Speculation [excerpt]

One of my favorite thing about Alastair Galbraith’s records is the dichotomy between “noise” and “song” that permeates his discography. Galbraith has always been adept at creating lurching drone-y soundscapes that somehow manage to give way to moments of melodic bliss. Like many of the best noise rockers, Galbraith’s music creates a world where form, melody, and harmony all rely on/emerge from noise/drone.

On Galbraith’s collaborative work Pure Speculation with Jean Jacques Palix and David Watson, the composer utilizes his collaborators to create a sprawling 22-minute work that merges several disparate soundworlds into a coherent whole while continuing to explore the dichotomy between noise and melody. This is articulated early in the track, when Palix creates a gloriously rustling palette of sounds that Galbraith uses as the instrumental foundation for a song before giving way to a massive drone anchored by Watson’s signature bagpipe playing. The ebb and flow between each section of this work too is handled masterfully. When the white noise of the piece’s opening field recordings return, it provides the first obvious sign that the trio imperceptibly structured the piece so that certain formal tendencies reoccur and develop into different themes.

While Pure Speculation makes me wish for more work from this trio, the album is so rife with structural intricacies and shifting timbres that I know I won’t tire of this lone piece any time soon. Stream an excerpt of the album below:

Pure Speculation is out October 7 via La Station Radar and available for pre-order now.

• Alastair Galbraith: http://www.alastairgalbraith.bandcamp.com
• Jean Jacques Palix: http://www.jjpalix.free.fr
• David Watson: http://www.hsmithagency.com/watson/index.html
• La Station Radar: http://www.lastationradar.com

Ryuichi Sakamoto + Taylor Deupree

“Jyaku”

Man, I hope when I’m an old dude I am one tenth as cool as Ryuichi Sakamoto. As if this dude’s reputation as a founder of techno and a goddamned Academy Award winner wasn’t enough, he manages to do pretty much whatever he wants with his solo career nowadays, producing everything from acoustic piano works to experimental electronica. Sakamoto is also doing a cool surrogate older brother/young sad thing too by reaching out to a lot of like-minded younger electronic artists like Fennesz, Alva Noto, and Taylor Deupree, who all share his interest in imbuing the avant-garde with melody and beauty.

Sakamoto’s most recent collaboration with Taylor Deupree, titled Disappearance, continues the composer’s exploration of this duet dichotomy, which is a welcomed departure from the borderline schlock New Age of 2011’s Flumina with Fennesz. Instead, Disappearance is a looser, more minimal record full of gorgeous ethereal drones, clicks, and scrapes (alternately from Sakamoto’s prepared melodies and Deupree’s field recordings), including Sakamoto’s spare piano playing.

Deupree and Sakamoto clearly took time to weave their sound sources into a synthesized whole, which is especially apparent with album opener “Jyaku.” This particular track is a great example of the two artists’ aesthetics merging, and the overall result is so streamlined that it’s near impossible to tell what’s going on. Even Sakamoto’s signature piano subtlety meshes within the textures, as opposed to calling attention to itself as one of the lone purely acoustic sounds. The whole thing calls to mind the vibe of Andrew Chalk’s best work — the Oren Ambarchi-led Afternoon Tea record — and some of Nicholas Szczepanik’s recent recordings. Yet the piece still remains distinctly Sakamoto, while re-contextualizing many of his trademark sounds into new sonic terrain.

Disappearance is out September 3 via Deupree’s own label 12k. You can listen to “Jyaku” below:

• Ryuichi Sakamoto http://www.sitesakamoto.com
• Taylor Deupree http://www.12k.com/index.php/site/artists/taylor_deupree
• 12k http://www.12k.com

  

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we'll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.