Music is most often extolled as a form of art, but really “art” is just a convention of terminology, not exclusive fact. Music is inextricable from science too, and as any virtuoso knows, it is eminently quantifiable, from frequency to amplitude, BPM to MIDI file, harmony patterns to counterpoint. While never endorsing too clinical an approach, we should be thankful for those musicians who can chart musical anatomy with precision, lest we be cleaved by the saccharine, amateurish stuff toward which any art will devolve when left to the cross-section plot of “art over substance.”
So, without being reductive, listen to “Mint” by wise Belgian wizards Villa, who demonstrate how pop music can excel by shrewdly reducing the form back to its base components. Observe the few, yet measured tracks. Simple in element — the beat, the bass, the comped chords, the chorus — and pure in procedure, the song bypasses the heady modes of artistic histrionics in favor of the dance room equations that are tried and so true.
“Mint” is out now as a single from Club Mod, Modular’s new dance music imprint.
• Club Mod: http://clubmod.modularpeople.com
“Lost Wooden Planet Script”
Like the young knight Perceval, who sits speechless and confused in the presence of the Procession of the Grail, Urpf Lanze (real name: Wouter Vanhaelemeesch) stands guitar-in-hand, frog-in-throat, before The Procession of Talking Mirrors. The mirrors reflect a gruesome scene of guitars being torn to shreds by tornado-like fingers; a rumbling superstorm of breath growls and screeches out the echoing chambers of the beast’s vast throat and mouth.
The The Procession of Talking Mirrors LP (which has beautifully appropriate cover artwork made by the musician) will be released by Belgian label audioMER on March 10. For now, the label has posted the riotous finale of the record, “The Lost Wooden Planet Script.”
And within the Transmuteo services, courtesy of one jDean, digital meditation is not only available, but utilizes cerebral waves to signal affirmative triggers inside your mind’s eyes to positively provide access to goals set for always. “Dream Swim” provides the affirmation to always live your life swimming. Whether you are trans-dolphin or just into floating, “Dream Swim” helps you access the most reassuring water-felt thoughts and emotions one takes upon pensive hours. Sit and believe in the aura you’ve created. Become as real as a dolphin, swimmer, floater, or [even] water, and fade away into the reality of thought. Once you’ve reached the end of this cycle, you’ll notice yourself around the Aguirre nebular of your brain. Don’t fret, it’s all hosted on the pleasant side of Motivational Holography Suite. Reach out. Feel the intangible. Make good buying decisions. Transmuteo’ll hear your brainwaves in-sync with the others when y’all spin it to the core. Your core. Feel. Relax. Enjoy the skin you’re in, as you leave and return with positive enlightenment on multiple axes.
Oh, cool. Check me out: I know everything about rap. You think you got game on my rap knowledge? Please, oh’me. Push off this like you know me. Say it to my face. Spray it. If I gotta read y’all nonsense via free-range publication (i.e. The Internet; this post), I’ll assume you DO work like and are TOTALLY a scholar of the rap game. This, this, like — this right here, I know all about this/that, and Danny Brown as THE “#HottestMC.” Believe me, I got cred. All this personalized cred built up that means EVERYTHING (…squat) to you. ‘Cause that’s me. I’m doing me. Ima tell you bout all this and what’s hood upstairs in the filter with the candy on the bow ready to blow on the drop of that yellow cake, cat. Look at that language. I know it all about rap. Lemme tell you how to think about rap ‘cause this me and I got all the goods. Trust my words. Trust me when I write, “Trust me.” It’s the internet, and I’m not playin’. Here is where I read about rap and got all this knowledge about it and downloaded SO much music and I’ve read so much about rap that I think I am rap, but really I’m on the internet, so YEAH FUCK YEAH I am rap for all your concerned. First name: Rap. Last name: Criticism. Believe that. I’m OUT.
“Line the Clouds”
If last year’s Slow Boat (released on Keith Kawaii’s Orange Milk) was a free-float through an impenetrable fog, Ashley Paul’s follow up, Line the Clouds, might turn out to be something of a clearing. At least that’s what sounds like is going on with the title track, sunlight peeking through Paul’s penchant for a spooky atmosphere, shining down to reveal the song’s nudity, a bare and spare mix of delicate instruments and that most fragile of melodies. But even though there’s less clutter to be found here, it’s clear that Paul’s vision is still to challenge basic forms like the “ballad” as we once knew them. Here now, in 2013, on the other side of the end of the world, we find ourselves evolving yet again. Music is mutant. But of course that doesn’t mean it has to be any less beautiful.
Ashley Paul’s Line the Clouds is out March 26 on Eli Keszler’s REL Records.
In its initial “pure” form, ambient music is work that’s intentionally designed to fade into the background and become as neutral as the wallpaper or the furniture in a room. Under this definition, “true” ambient works forgo development in favor of stasis and subtle beauty.
With these definitions in mind, it’s a bit confusing at first as to why Ryan Norris a.k.a. Coupler labels his compositions as “deliberate ambient music.” While these pieces bear some signifiers of the style (synths, minimal harmonic/melodic motion, prettiness), Norris’ works are full of intriguing arrangements and process-based developments that are impossible to ignore and accept as just furniture music.
His latest album Sunless utilizes a small instrumental palette that successfully creates a surprising and consistently intriguing amount of timbres/textures with his minimal means. Even though his music bears few similarities to Norris’ other band, Lambchop, there’s a similar sense of pacing to the development of Coupler’s material. Like his Lambchop brethren, Norris knows that a minimal hook can go a long way, and this is especially apparent on the track “Sideman,” which sounds a bit like Schlammpeitziger’s Collected Simplesongs run through the delay system Terry Riley used on A Rainbow in Curved Air. The entire piece is based around an offset drum loop and a simple organ riff that almost imperceptibly develops additively, accumulating more voices and textures until it simply fades away.
While Norris may use ambient techniques to set this process in motion, the result is ultimately something that doesn’t neatly fit into any one category. Much like Lambchop, Norris is making music that mixes a number of styles without ever really sounding like any of them.
Sunless is out now via No Kings, and you can listen to “Sideman” below.