Various Artists: Project Mooncircle
“A wild stallion fights its way up from the dirt and tries to receive recognition by separating itself from the herd. Breaking through the anonymity of the group to the freedom of running through endless land- and soundscapes into horizons of new sonic worlds.”
These sentences, used by Berlin label Project Mooncircle to introduce the Uprising Compilation, had me spending two hours looking for an interview in which Werner Herzog declares that he doesn’t believe the rogue penguin from Encounters at the End of the World to be insane. Herzog further offers that if he had to spend every day sitting monotonously with the same collective, he too would eventually say, “To hell with it,” and head off into the mountains on his own.
Alas, I cannot find this interview, so I leave it to you to fill in the thematic and conceptual blanks. [Writer’s note: here it is. Fast-forward to 24:05.]
Speaking of themes and concepts and all that good-good, Project Mooncircle, a driving force in international beat culture for the better part of a decade, has been killing it on the compilation front for just as long, specifically by bringing together artists from different parts of the world to make stories of soundscapes. One standout project of theirs, The Moon Comes Closer served as sonic representation of a dream journey to… you guessed it, the moon. While embracing the premise of “instrumental compilation as concept album” might demand a slight stretch of the imagination, simply enjoying the tunes therein is much easier.
Stream the Uprising Compilation below, and if it suits you, order the 3xLP vinyl version complete with silk-screen artwork here.
• Project Mooncircle: http://projectmooncircle.com
“The West Wind”
Ryley Walker can kick it pretty much anywhere. Perched on a log in the woods, one leg crossed over the other, fingerpicking a solo ballad under the low hanging branches: alright. Cruising down the interstate to the next gig in a four-door sedan with Moth Cock, windows down, switching between fading FM stations to find a signal: for sure. Leave your front door unlocked for a few hours and the 24-year-old guitarist/songwriter could very well be lamping on your couch when you come back in from the yard work, boots up on the coffee table, munching on the trail mix with impunity. “But I ain’t mad atcha,” you tell him. He sets down the bag to give you two thumbs up and a smile. You think of all the stage areas, all the green rooms, all the DIY basement spots through which that smile has flashed and you wonder, as he moves on to the banana bread, “Doesn’t this guy have some new tunes coming out soon?”
Yeah. Though Walker’s debut full-length LP on the inimitable Tompkins Square doesn’t drop until April 2014, the label squeezes out a three-song EP on November 29 to tide us over. If much of his previous work, solo and in tandem with fellow six-string prodigy Daniel Bachman, fell on the minimal American Primitive side of the acoustic spectrum, “The West Wind” arrives as five minutes of prog- and jazz-inflected folk à la Pentangle or first-two-albums-era Nick Drake. The ornate arrangement lays Walker’s busy, open-tuned progression against a string section, piano, and brisk drums — all of which propel the song through crescendos and harmonic-laced interludes on the way to a surging coda. Walker’s voice sets the atmosphere early on, dropping couplets throughout verses in a weary baritone with plenty of room for the strings to breathe and swell in their complementary bittersweetness. Sounds like someone’s been both *hitting the studio* and *putting in serious work* and I, for one, am stoked to check out the rest of this pup come springtime.
Walker is on tour now in Europe with Daniel Bachman. Scope out the dates here, and keep an ear out for more of his solo material before the year’s end.
Maureen Gubia is an autodidact painter and musician from Ecuador. Though her music and her visuals are often detached from one another, both forms expose a remarkable palate that transcends traditional approach and sees the artist invoking a space that’s both visceral and reflective.
In 2006, she recorded a handful of experimental soundscapes that were recently mixed by her partner, Drahog. The mixes constitute Gubia’s latest release, Polillas gusanas, and they unveil a fascinating insight into the direction she is taking her sound. Each recording is a delicate, wafer-thin exploration in vocal manipulation, electro-acoustic composition, and musique concrète, which in this case, operates as an enchanting accompaniment to the cover art that was synchronized with the mixes.
Polillas gusanas is available on Bandcamp to buy and to stream alongside the artist’s 13-track LP La estampita mística (which includes a sensational cover of Jandek’s “Naked in the Afternoon”). It would also be impossible to post about Maureen without a link to her online gallery, which hosts a selection of her astonishing artwork — check it out here.
• Gubia: http://mgubia.com/musica.htm
Zulu P ALWAYS doing theyselves in straight rare original form! Years of practice and expertise have cultivated to this moment: H.O.T. [produced by Ben Malkin for the Representing NYC imprint of Dutty Artz]. Blending hip hop and R&B in their own sui generis way, Zulu P [family includes Marley G, Big Star JF, Killah B, Andriena, Lil E.B., and T-Rock] runs hard, gets weird, flips reality, speculates fierce musical progression, and are (generally) all that IS music. Every single song on this mixtape demands your head nodding. Don’t even refuse it! I mean, you can’t. Like, I’m sitting here writing this post, tryna concentrate, you-know you-know, then “The Block is Hot” starts up, and it’s instant visual agreement.
And if you’re in reach of the NYC area, shout out to these fellahs LIVE this weekend at the Queens Museum of Art. As well, expect two more mixtapes before their album release (expected) Spring of 2014!
Listen to H.O.T. by Zulu P below, hosted by Goodbye Better Scents, or hit up they’s TO.BE field listed below-below:
Autre Ne Veut x Fennesz
Just a second here: Mexican Summer is releasing a Sears Catalog-esque limited edition (of 1000 -_-) hardcover book commemorating a SELF PROCLAIMED “milestone” in music. Mexican Summer: Five Year is 256 pages of (again, self proclaimed): “unique and unseen art and ephemera, photos and written contributions from a host of Mexican Summer artists.” The book ALSO includes a 10-inch record with rare tracks from Mexican Summer musicians.
One of them tracks is a collaborative effort by Autre Ne Veut x Fennesz entitled “Alive.” It’s pretty much what you expect out of both these musicians thus far in their careers. Fennesz is all floaty and warped-ish. Autre Ne Veut continues to front his syrup-wisp vocal style. And all I got are two questions:
Will Autre Ne Veut continue to POP on his next release? (Thought: Daniel Lopatin helped Arthur Ashin’s pre-established torn pop continue on Anxiety by trying to make out with the girl playfully saying “NO!” by the women’s bathroom.)
Stream “Alive” by Autre Ne Veut x Fennesz below, and hope they continue to do so in 2014:
Road rage might be
all the rage the talk of the town due to a recent headline-making motorcycle attack gone viral, but it’s by no means a new phenomenon. Hell, for C Monster, it’s practically a religion unto itself. There’s just something about sitting in a 3,500-pound object traveling at 75 miles per hour that turns people into deranged lunatics. On “Road Rage,” the GOAT Breeze Brewin gets to the crux of this psychological problem, spitting “Been locked in the lane with impossible anguish/ It’s blocks of the same shit gridlocked in the Matrix/ Anger in our voice the pounding up in our head’s real/ If we had a choice I doubt we’d want in the red pill/ See it be hard when it seem there’s no real flow/ When you used to being in charge now you going nowhere slow.”
Counting “Brew’IN Control’” and “Dear Autumn,” this song marks the third Brewin release of 2013, once again giving rise to the $64,000 question, “Will The Juggaknots’ frontman finally release his proper solo debut, or perhaps more optimistically, if and when he does, how many innocent pedestrians will I run over on my way to get it?”
(Hopefully yes and probably three or four.)
• Juggaknots: https://twitter.com/juggaknots