These RAJA releases come outta nowhere. The first I heard of this kid was in 2011 with The October Series, which was something like 72 tracks spread across three mixes titled Red, White, and Color. I can’t think of a release I liked more than those three in 2011. In fact, I can’t think of anything in 2012 that I liked more than those three mixes. The Rubies EP is right up there with The October Series, though it’s much, much shorter. With all of the salivating tape-hiss and homages to other producers still in place, this short one from RAJA is shaping up to be a 2013 favorite for me already, and I’ve only been listening to it for about a week.
Check out the Rubies EP below:
“Bones in Motion”
Currently, scientists off the coast of all coasts are creating the first man-made human. This ain’t no joke. And proof is popping up on mainlands. Yet, the main-island laboratory has only produced the entire internal skeleton and some organs: the brain, eyes, some vocal processing, lungs, a heartbeat, all stuffed with tubes until further… more. Frighteningly enough, this man-made human so far can’t turn colors to images, and since it’s been placed within a tank of liquid, the blur of sight strengthens and will eventually enhance its vision. This “project” has the potential to become a perfectly evolved human.
However, as all humans, this one has a common hobby: dancing. And when it puts those “Bones in Motion,” dancing in color and smeared visuals become their own versions of clubbing. Usually it dances while one scientist, dubbed The Cyclist, hops on her stationary bike and rides to burn while listening to “endless possibilities of electronic music,” as other listeners/witnesses have attested. She provides joy and release in the mind of this “project” and actually made it possible for the “project” to enjoy its hobby of dancing whenever it wishes. The Cyclist also made it available to the public in cassette and double LP formats on Leaving Records, dedicating the title to all Bones in Motion within natural life.
Ten Kens’ new video for “Gently Used” is a work of masterful, nuanced menace. Its images have a subtle power to discomfit. Their ambiguity is flustering. We watch, but witness what? Is that the meiosis of zygotes? Or maybe they’re abdomens mirrored in the lotus Kama Sutra. When we see the hint of a hand, is its grip babelicious or barbaric? Regardless, it’s clear the images offer us biology — specifically, the science of humans — which should by all means be familiar. But it is not. Somehow, instead, it’s abject, just as Ten Kens intend.
There’s no doubt that the primary concern of “Gently Used” is a relationship, and at that relationship’s core is something physical. But the question, I think, is whether that physicality is bringing the bodies closer together or tearing those bodies apart. (I think Ian Curtis once wrote a song riffing on a similar theme.) Even this track’s title offers malice — one’s imagination need not be too terribly vast to encompass a few of the ways in which a person might be “gently used.”
The song itself, shifting between its diffident coos and its occasional booming chant, presents two of the possible personalities in this kind of dramatic relationship. And the video seems intent to offer an almost literal representation of the euphemistic “beast with two backs.” The “two-ness” is pervasive. One considers how this breed of physicality is unique: it requires two autonomous bodies in order to exist, but in its act of generation, it’s perfectly possible that one half is utter victim while the other plays the “beast’s” entirety.
So: no, “Gently Used” is not exactly gentle. But it is a work of precision and finesse. Subject matter this complex deserves nothing less. The scene is exquisitely rendered, regardless of whether you decide it’s one of rapture or one of emotions being rent apart. Ten Kens pose a savage dilemma: Is any emotion sacred? Or is it all just biology after all?
“Gently Used” is premiered here, thanks to their own Ten Kens Records, who will be releasing Namesake on May 21.
• Ten Kens: http://www.tenkens.com
De La Soul
“Get Away” ft. The Spirit of the Wu
This post should read something like:
Because De La Soul and the Wu-Tang Clan are two of the most popular rap groups of the 90s, merely using their names together in a sentence is enough to send hip-hop fanboys into wild episodes of thumb-sucking and convulsion. However, the two superpowers have only united on record once, with Pos and Dave rapping alongside Ghostface Killah for “He Comes” off 2004’s The Grind Date, and unfortunately, this collaboration resulted in a minor falling out, as documented by Ghost in “Tony’s Money.”
While “Get Away” only features “The Spirit of the Wu,” not the actual clansmen, hearing Plug 1 and Plug 2 trade verses over the Wu-Tang Forever intro should be enough to make any hip-hop head excited for their forthcoming album, You’re Welcome, due late fall.
But what I really want to say is: HOLY FUCKING SHIT!!!!pos#U4Q2QU834R- `V843ER [A]][})(*& )%$(*q-90 46wj lgkja;o dfiopfvaby98dave8q 34249051 451 KL:J:LDFKJS L:erup23maseo4v 15014. Thank you!
• De La motherfucking Soul and don’t you forget it, lickle bitch: http://wearedelasoul.tumblr.com
“Dog That Bit You”
If there’s one thing that 2013 has ruled at so far, it’s been the release of albums that no one ever thought would see the light of day. First, there was the whole MBV thing, and now 10 years after the release of the amazingly fucked up No Silver/No Gold, everyone’s favorite lo-fi folk band Baptist Generals have finally returned!
The Generals’ last album was a slice of guttural Americana that sounded like a schizophrenic Neil Young alternately backed by the Shadow Ring and The Dead C. That record started off with a beautiful ballad that ended in frontman Chris Flemmons screaming obscenities and storming out of the studio because someone’s cellphone went off during the take. You’d think a record could only get more upbeat from there, but instead No Silver/No Gold just stayed intense and apocalyptic throughout.
However, it was clear that while this ramshackle atmosphere was completely authentic, it was also meticulously crafted. The inclusion of a “demo” version of “Going Back Song” at the album’s end indicated that the General’s worked really hard to make their music sound like it might fall apart at any moment. It also made one curious as to what might happen if the band went the opposite direction with their production and decided to frame Flemmons’ gloriously unhinged ranting within a set of studied arrangements.
Well, “Dog That Bit You,” the first single from the Generals’ forthcoming album Jackleg Devotional To The Heart is the band’s attempt at applying a more “produced” aesthetic to their sound, and this new sonic sheen suits the Generals well. “Dog That Bit You” proves that Flemmons’ songwriting is so sharp and cutting that his tunes sound just as amazing dressed up with jangling guitars, strings, and horns as they do covered in sonic muck.
Jackleg Devotional To The Heart is out May 21 via Sub Pop. You can stream or download “Dog That Bit You” below:
Live For The Funk
“LFTF Mix 23 (Astronautica Mix)”
The number 23 has had a varied, often remarkable career. In addition to providing the numeral for a thoroughly dubious Jim Carey thriller, gracing the jersey of the greatest baller to ever play the game, quantifying Winston Churchill’s well-manicured V for victory (two fingers up, three fingers down), and enumerating how many years Ian Curtis had traumatically accrued before he tragically had no more, the number 23 is (drum roll please) now affixed to a Live For the Funk mixtape. Such is the glorious fate of any list so bold as to step beyond its 22nd item!
But, in truth, listen up, because if LFTF’s type of music is of your taste, then you’ll likely find this particular mix superlative. Specifically, it includes a pair of prizes from L.A.’s beat scene: two tracks from Astronautica, a.k.a. Edrina Martinez, who fully deserves whatever privilege of attention she’s recently enjoyed. See also the mix’s lead off with Shigeto’s sample of Astrud Gilberto, her languid, Portuguese bossa-nova, of songbird clarity and incandescent open vowels; then, later, a head-bob inducing remix of one-hit wonder Amerie; and a whole mix-worth of seamless track-to-track transitions.