Some of my favorite music is the result of experimental musicians deciding to explore pop songwriting. There’s something irresistible about the combination of traditional song craft filtered through the minds of more “forward-looking” composers. This music often subverts tonality/structure while rendering the abstract accessible when framed within a new context. It’s for this reason that I constantly return to the works of Jim O’Rourke, C.S. Yeh, John Cale, Blue “Gene” Tyranny,” Julia Holter, Richard Youngs, and other like-minded artists who recognize the potential for both pop and experimental music to grow with tasteful cross-genre pollination.
In recent months, Joseph Raglani has posted several tracks to his SoundCloud that clearly show his craft moving further into a pop territory while still incorporating or acknowledging his status as a synth guru on Editions Mego. Of course, Raglani is no stranger to dabbling in pop music, given tracks like his slice of robo-pop bliss “The Exploded View” (from last year’s Real Colors of the Physical World) and the frequent song-like structures that even his most sprawling works take. However, these newer tunes have progressed into full on forays into folk/pop music. First, there was Raglani’s gloriously fractured electronics and voice take on Big Star’s “I’m in Love with a Girl,” then the Richard Youngs-esque “I Can Only See Your Face,” and then the spare folk tune “Three Days A Week.” With each one of these tracks, there’s been less and less reliance on the electronic elements that permeate the composer’s most well-known works, but there’s always been an element that’s indicative of his world in some form or another.
“Start Over” is Raglani’s self-proclaimed attempt at “a Leonard Cohen thing,” and while there’s an element of that present, the tune is more reminiscent of fellow Cohen disciple Simon Joyner’s more recent work and the similarly pop/experimental mixing Leafcutter John. At first, “Start Over” may seem like a far cry from Raglani’s electronic world, with its gorgeous multi-tracked vocals, layered violas, and looping guitar figures, but listen closely and it becomes apparent that Raglani is using these elements the same way he uses synths. The arpeggiated guitar figures could just as easily be burbling synths; the violas could take the form of lush electronic pads; and “Start Over’s” chord progression is just as modal and beautiful as the harmonic language of Raglani’s experimentally-minded works. It’s always exciting to see artists transmogrify the structural/technical aspects of their craft into something that’s stylistically new, and Raglani’s forays into the folk/pop world have whet my appetite for a full-length of this stuff.
Listen to “Start Over” here:
• Raglani: http://www.soundcloud.com/raglani
“All I Wanna Do Is Live”
What we have right here is good. Because all I really wanna do right now is hear a beat. It’s funny, because earlier my buddy was coming by and he asked what to bring, and I texted him jokingly saying I need some “beats” because I’ve been sorta-kinda starved for that shit lately. Sometimes I’ll turn on a step sequencer and let it lull me to sleep, but it’s never the same. Anyway, my phone corrected beats to “beets,” and my confused friend stopped off at the farmer’s market for me on his way. Cool guy, right? Beets aren’t exactly beats, and it’s not easy to substitute one for the other, but I was stoked either way, partly because I was trying to be accommodating.
It wasn’t until he left a little while later when I plugged in Flaamingos’ new slice “All I Wanna Do Is Live” and got a little busy, beating my hands against the couch in rhythm and stuff. Vocalist Jerry Narrows has a nice thick baritone that, in a revisitation of post-punk groups (Majical Cloudz?), helps to remove all the unnecessary fluff from their sets and leave austere bass lines and slow waves of Kubrick-level synth strings. This is a pretty good thing, and Flaamingos are doing it well, even though their band name is clearly *ahem* spelled incorrectly (who does that?).
Despite the feeling I get that Flaamingos are young and ambitious and trying to force their ambitiously drab demeanor on me, they manage to make “All I Wanna Do” a good song by texturizing it in the right places, such as at the very end, where they allow the string part to drag ever so slightly. It isn’t too busy, and it’s not too unnecessarily bleak to the point that I would rather just die than listen to a song about wanting to die. I love dark, depressing music a little more than most, but it’s important for people to realize that getting carried away with the drab-ness can wear a song thin, to the point where it’s possible to see straight through it. Narrows and guitarist Daniel Koontz, however, have made me excited to hear their upcoming album, which is out August 27 on Felte. And kudos for “wanna” becoming a real word now. Like “thru” in all those Spiderman comics.
EGYPTIAN SPORTS NETWORK
Holy moly! This “NECROPOLIS HIGHLIGHTS” by EGYPTIAN SPORTS NETWORK (Charles Berlitz & Matt Mondanile) just bugged out my dog hardcore. Here I am, thinking about what to write, something maybe about the boys wind-surfing to and playing squash to, but these high-frequency beeps in the track got my dog thinking there was an intruder at the front door. Or some extra terrestrial life tryna beam us both off our couch and into another-other. All jood, doh. Was talking to Charles Berlitz awhile back about putting on Lieven’s Canto Arquipélago for my pup while I went to bed. His reaction: “Whoa, dog thoughts!” <3
Anyhow, the Pacific City Sound Visions site is in FULL effect, with loads of back stock on old Monopoly Child and Vodka Soap releases, as well as a hefty travel section and an “Also Available” section, bringing that harden mystery into the mind of Clark (who?) himself! Meanwhile, Matt Mondanile’s New Images remains pretty much thriving on its standard set of releases, which is just as chill because Girlseeker and TOMUTONTTU and PC Worship are MAXX jammers.
Scope “NECROPOLIS HIGHLIGHTS” by EGYPTIAN SPORTS NETWORK on their new 45 INTERSTITIAL LUXOR immediately on New Images or Pacific City Sound Visions. Feel the future of you!
“One of Those Nights” [ft. The Weeknd]
Regardless of the weather, it’s always a long week that leads up to the first days of summer. For Abel Tesfaye, the fact that said week has presumably consisted of booze- and powder-fueled foursomes with an interracial cadre of insatiable vixens hasn’t made things any easier. His eyes feel like anvils, and the longest day of the year is just getting started.
If Juicy J isn’t going to be involved in the Three 6 Mafia reunion, at least we can all rejoice in the knowledge that the above video exists — and in the existence of Koopsta Knicca, who will be joining DJ Paul, Gangsta Boo, Lord Infamous, and Crunchy Black as Da Mafia 6iX.
Juicy’s J’s Stay Trippy should be out sometime this year. The Weeknd will likely continue making guest appearances on tracks on which he’ll explain in detail how he fucks your girlfriend better than you do, so start taking notes already. Or pull some pantyhose over your face and try to rob the bar where he’s recovering. TRY IT!
An aesthete’s appreciation for natural beauty might latch onto any one of several facets: nature’s sublime scale, its intensity, its persistence, or even its constant, inherent danger. While any of these are awesome on their own, nothing seems so mystifying as the natural world’s capacity for infinite variation — the divots of a canyon, the precise hues of a river, the cricks in the trunk of a tree — each may appear in any one of innumerable combinations, formed by forces impossible to trace with total precision. For instance, we may decipher that a specific river carved a particular valley, but the actual minutes once required for the trough to appear in the water’s wake are utterly impossible to reconstruct. There will never be an absolute ontological answer for why a stone took its certain shape, a slope its angle. Nature’s unimpeachable forms have appeared without any regard for their human audience, for our obsession with history and origin, and it’s hard not to be impressed by the upshot of variety.
The video premiered here, for “Rose” by Japanese duo IKEBANA, is a prime example of the way in which man-made digital media has proliferated to such extremes that it seems to have matched the scope and span of the natural world. It’s now readily expected that one will discover and watch a video on the internet while maintaining no conception of who is responsible for its sounds and images — all that is evident is that the video exists and that it has been curated for your delectation. Just as one doesn’t wonder who “invented” a rose that one sees in a garden, we also don’t presume to wonder who filmed the kaleidoscope, or the flicking hands, or the swaying submerged feet you see on your screen in this video. The vast “variety of the digital” is one of the unsettling beauties of the internet. You passively affirm what you’re seeing is existent and think, “Yes, I accept that there’s footage like this.” Logic is moot. Natural infinity rules. For better or for worse, it seems superfluous to ask “Who? Why?”
Of course, in this case, there’s a ready answer: the video for “Rose” was created by Texan two-piece Twigs and Yarn. And their treatment of the music is inspired — “ikebana” is actually a Japanese term for an art of flower arrangement. Just as flowers may come in any minute variation in the bounds of nature, this video intimates a universe where any electronic image pre-exists in its dewey vapor, ready to be plucked and arranged, then viewed for your pleasure, as you pass on your digital stroll.
IKEBANA’s album When you Arrive There will be released on July 8, from the Tokyo label Flau.
Chocolate Grinder Mix 83
Elements: Its Every Crease
Hi! So, this week I had some hardcore technology meltdowns. From tape recorders failing to my phone constantly dying to Audacity hating me and my time and my computer. Since I’m writing this before redoing the mix on lunch, I’m hoping you’re listening to it today: FriFri. I realize I could write/edit this post-mixing, but I’m into this intense readiness to complete a mix within an hour. All the files are downloaded, listed in order, and ready to fly. And since my phone has been a BITCH and is seeking out “similar problems,” the original mix I had planned to create fell through (more on that later). In light of that, Mr P suggested I do a straight-up hip-hop mix. Which I did, and it’s not mixed or edited. Total genuine CD-mix style, being sold in Times Square right now, only you can hear it below, ‘cause I get my people traffic on TMT. Hi!
Stream below, and subscribe to our podcast here.
[00:00] RIA EKIN - “SEARCHING FRIENDS” (excerpt)
[00:23] Mack Maine - “Kobe or Ginolbli”
[02:22] Nmesh - “Bayside High As Fuck” (excerpt)
[02:35] The Underachievers - “Herb Shuttles”
[04:55] Lou Tennant - “COPS SIDE-A” (excerpt)
[05:08] Lil B - “Lifes Hard”
[07:12] Action Bronson - “No Time” (excerpt)
[07:26] 18+ - “BITCH”
[09:00] Dracula Lewis - “Cheetah”
[11:34] Knx - “KwunsStrongr.ntro” (excerpt)
[11:46] Mykki Blanco - “Ace Bougie Chick”
[14:28] French Montana - Garbage Bag Money
[15:35] Rick Ross & Birdman - “Addiction”
[18:11] Spaceghostpurp feat. Nell - “No Trouble”
[19:37] Tree - “Busters”
[21:30] Free Weed - “Superstar”