Palm Highway Chase
Some of the more interesting aspects of hypnagogic pop are the questions that the artists implicitly ask with their music. In many cases, these questions take the form of “what if” statements that ask what would happen if a particular musical fad or style was carried to its logical extreme and modernized. For example, the new single “Desert Driver” by Palm Highway Chase seems to be asking “What if the 80s film soundtracks of Vangelis, John Carpenter, and other like-minded composers were written for a film that only existed in the listener’s head?” Given the band’s history for penning soundtracks to imaginary Rocky films, the question isn’t too far off. Couple this with the Escape From New York-referencing artwork on the track’s SoundCloud page and things get interesting.
When listening to “Desert Driver,” I’m reminded of Olivia Tremor Control’s Music From the Unrealized Film Script: Dusk at Cubist Castle; not in sound, but in intention. With this work, Palm Highway Chase take the “what if” notions that underlie their aesthetic and force the listener to participate in filling out the “unrealized film script” of their personal Escape From New York. Of course, their direct references to existent works highlight the oft-discussed role of memory in hypnagogic pop, which results in the end musical product being “new collective memories that incorporate parts of the old model but at the same time [shaped] into an entirely new creature.”
Palm Highway Chase’s debut record will be out sometime in the coming months via Spectrum Spools. Listen to “Desert Driver” below:
• Palm Highway Chase: http://www.palmhighwaychase.bandcamp.com
• Spectrum Spools: http://www.editionsmego.com/releases/spectrum-spools
The Great Order
Every time I hear one of Cory Allen’s releases, I’m always amazed that he’s not more of a household name among drone/electronica lovers. For years, he’s been releasing wonderful drone-based works on his excellentQuiet Design label, and like many of the more well-known artists that his label’s released (among them Duane Pitre, Sebastien Roux, and Alvin Lucier), his releases have frequently struck an admirable balance between academic technique and emotional resonance. His newest release, The Great Order, follows in this tradition with the unique exception of being Allen’s first release to feature exclusively acoustic instruments (all recorded live in the studio, no less). Allen created a self-organizing structure/set of rules to guide these two side-long pieces in order to achieve a near homogeneous deep-listening-esque soundworld with his ensemble. The results are pretty gorgeous and vaguely reminiscent of Duane Pitre’s latest work with its seamlessly staggered entrances and robust harmonies seemingly based off of the harmonic series. It’s an impressively ambitious composition that shows off a whole new side of Allen’s aesthetic and will hopefully nudge him further into the vocabulary of drone lovers everywhere.
The Great Order is out now via Quiet Design and you can stream excerpts of the album below.
Feast of Violet
There is some serious Black Dice noise swells underneath these beats, but it’s like Black Dice if you want to fall asleep instead of violently melt everything you see. And it has some real crunch to it for sounding so big. Like tape music breaking through its own decibel barriers, out into that wide open mist of slow-moving synths and soft drums. It’s weird to say judging by the airiness of the beat, but I think those drums might be the only thing holding this thing down to Earth.
Feast of Violet is the project of Lotus Plaza keyboardist Allen Taylor, and it really follows in the trend of Atlanta bands sounding much bigger than the sum of its parts.
Listen to the Platform EP below, or buy it for however much you damn well please over at the Bandcamp page.
• Feast of Violet: http://http://feastofviolet.bandcamp.com/
Jerusalem in My Heart
“Koll lil-mali7ati fi al-khimar al-aswadi”
Raising up the basket to outstretched arms in a crowd within a crowd, the newborn is cast out covered in blankets, as hands gently take and pass along the vessel of comfort. Anointed with glee, the baby laughs as it rocks along, heading toward a continuous crowd. Tears of joy drench the hands passing along the basket, and marks of fingers and palms adorn its sides. Children and smaller participants within the crowed fling handfuls of Nymphaea petals into the air, raining down white upon part of the crowd carrying the infant, some landing in the basket, which are handled by tiny, fat, wrinkled hands. The baby caresses its nose unknowingly with a petal and giggles louder, followed by shouts and cries of joy within the crowd.
Twenty feet between one part of the crowd and the other is a flowing river in which hands gracefully place this basket in to cast it off. Drips of water lightly mist, spray, and splash upon the infant, and its laughing face quickly scrunches into crying. The crowd of crowds in crowds becomes breathtakingly silent, echoing cries and running water. Before reaching the other side, the basket stretches itself over a hump of water and dips vertically down and out of sight. The crowds gasp in sync. And as quickly as the newborn was stricken from vision, the basket launches itself out of the water and into the hands of the crowd on the other side in furious yells and cheers of joy. The baby composes itself and folds the blanket over its body with one hand and sucks the thumb of the other, drifting to sleep in a sea of Nymphaea petals that continuously rain down.
Jerusalem in My Heart’s Mo7it Al-Mo7it is out March 19 on Constellation Records.
In an interview with Calgary newspaper FFWD back in 2010, Mark Templeton’s music was described as “ambient music for people with short attention spans.” Although his newest release, Jealous Heart, is much too complex and rhythmic to be a proper ambient album, this description still fits. Most of the tracks on Jealous Heart are three or four minutes (the longest just breaking seven), but seem to escape any sort of time restraint or spatial limit. From Terminator-esque mech pulses, to acoustic guitar ramblings, to looping muffled horn melodies, Templeton sews together new motifs and sampled phrases so seamlessly that it feels as natural and organic as a Fahey raga.
Jealous Heart will be released in March by Under The Spire Recordings, but you can pre-order the LP from their site right now. Streaming below is an album teaser, featuring three stellar tracks from the record: “Buffalo Coulee,” “Sinking Heart,” and “Flat3.”
• Mark Templeton: http://www.fieldsawake.com
• Under The Spire: http://www.underthespire.co.uk/releases-buy/mark-templeton-jealous-heart
“Poetic Justice” ft. Drake
In case you couldn't tell, Kendrick Lamar isn’t one to prop his finely-crafted rapsterpieces against the perfunctory visual backdrops of cars, Louis Vuitton bags, and half-baked Fear and Loathing imagery. So it should come as no surprise that the video for "Poetic Justice," the Compton rapper's collaboration with Drake, continues the high-def, high-art approach he's taken with the other good kid, m.A.A.d city clips.
The rapper's latest short film tells a blood-spattered story of love, murder and revenge, a tale that, despite its glossy and cinematic finish, is realistic enough to warrant an opening disclaimer that "all characters in this visual are entirely fictional." Without giving too much away, I'll just mention that Drake a.k.a. Aubrey Graham a.k.a. Champagne Papi a.k.a. Jimmy from Degrassi picked a terrible time to make a phone call. Alas, the Janet Jackson-featuring track is not a Janet Jackson-featuring video, but sometimes we don’t get what we want. Bummer.