Oh, Yoko (Celer + Rie Mitsutake)
Will Long, the ambient wellspring behind Celer’s many gentle streams of consciousness, is forming a fresh estuary with Japanese vocalist Rie Mitsutake. Placid as can be, their single “Seashore” marks the debut of a duo they’re calling Oh, Yoko. The A-side mix sounds like Ai Aso’s gorgeous Land album meeting Julia Holter and Tomoyoshi Date in a cozy, creaky room. The instrumental “version two” on the flip provides an even warmer reiteration, while DJ Sprinkles’ “Ambient Ballroom” remix adds a little techno to the ambiance (and, somewhat inscrutably, a dubbed-out sample of young Gil Scott-Heron’s controversial “The Subject Was Faggots”). A viable fount for contemplation, all around.
“Kinfolk” (Prod. by Tynethys)
Cloud rap, meet electronica. Main Attrakionz, the Oakland duo that almost single-handedly proved cloud rap was a “thing,” is preparing to release a collaborative album with Sacramento producer Tynethys this summer. The two Californians’ respective styles mesh well, judging from the sound of “Kinfolk,” the first single from the as-yet untitled LP. Ominous piano and operatic vocal samples give heft to a clacking beat, while rappers Mondre M.A.N. and Squadda B. deliver their typical stoner spitting. The video’s faded lavender tones (or is it sepia? I don’t know, you should ask Sherman Williams to double check that), coupled with its layered editing approach, combine to create a hazy ambience that helps to make up for the fact that this is, by all other standards, a standard performance video. Next time, I’d like to see them playing mini golf — and keep the filter.
Diamond Black Hearted Boy
Father, Protect Me
OMFG, I finally just finished season three of Game of Thrones! Holy moly, guys, I mean, I almost cried. Even though my second-favorite character is dead, at least I can click all those spoiler alert posts on Reddit! This Diamond Black Hearted Boy release kinda reminds me of GoT. Maybe it’s the baller king garb he’s sporting on the cover, or maybe it’s the fact that whenever you get comfortable with any particular theme or character, it dies horribly and is replaced by a bewildering new plotline or villainous element. The music itself is like a mix between early Hype Williams’ improv aesthetic and Arca’s dark, abstract take on rap, but any possible influences here may just as well be coincidental: this music is aggressively original and quite different from anything you’ve ever heard before.
Buy this blindingly different release from Steak Au Zoo
Dead in the Dirt
“The Blaring Eye”
Grindcore lives. The legions of the metal underground will lend ears and lift horns every time the kids do it right: cram as much full-on savagery into as few seconds as possible. Atlanta trio Dead In the Dirt get there again, as they have gotten there before. Their upcoming The Blind Hole (due August 6 via the ever more “-core” friendly Southern Lord) offers us a glorious grind ratio: 22 songs in under 24 minutes. Press play on “The Blaring Eye” now — experience a tightly constructed blast of warp-speed riffage, shrieks, and d-beat drum battery that could conclude before you reach the end of this sentence.
You can always tell when you’re listening to Denver EDM. It’s rough take on the mid-fi production with distant vocal samples is so distinct from the numerous other cities experimenting with the same thing. Listen to Lockbox, (older) Pictureplane, Alphabets, etc. It’s clear it is all coming from the same place. Ron Cole of Hollagramz has been kicking around Denver for a while now, and he’s another one of the big names arising from the city’s Rhinoceropolis venue/collective. Self-described as “Atlantean Techno,” the self-titled debut from this Western American producer will surely be another notch on the belt of Denver dance music.
Listen to the first track, “Corundum,” below, and buy the LP (limited to 300 copies) from Small Plates Records.
New York-based jazz quintet Black Host thrives on contrast, and “Hover,” the opening cut from debut album Life In The Sugar Candle Mines, is a prime example. In the version below — cut-and-pasted from the 10-minute original — the contrast isn’t subtle: it opens with dissociative, barely-there free jazz, before settling into a major-key uplift of sustained guitar, impressionistic piano, post-rock bass, and a 4/4 beat, courtesy of band leader Gerald Cleaver. But as soon as we start feeling comfortable, the vibe’s disrupted by a fragmented, “Lonely Women” melody, the urgency of which is punctuated by Brandon Seabrook’s fuzzy guitar and the aggressive saxophone articulations of Darius Jones. This musical contrast is complemented by director Mario Latham’s video, which features dirty stone sidewalks next to pristine cobblestones, urban decay foregrounded against a bustling city life, film sped up and slowed down, imagery from various periods of New York jumbled together to set the structural, claustrophobic elements of city life (signs telling you to do this and that) against the ecstasy of dance and the freedom implied in wide open skies.
Also be sure to seek out the original version of “Hover,” which features a stunning piano solo by Cooper-Moore and several dissonant buildups that showcase Cleaver’s intuitive sense of dynamics and rhythmic interplay. It’ll also show how the video’s version is a rare moment of clarity in an otherwise much more complex and penetrating exploration.
Life In The Sugar Candle Mines is out now on Northern Spy.
• Northern Spy: http://northernspyrecords.com