We heard the Hot97 premiere “straight from the Abbott,” all covered in DJ drops and airhorns ‘n’ shit, and now Ruler Zig Zag Zig Allah brings the “Family Reunion” to Bandcamp, pure and unadorned. In the wide timeline of the Wu, things change and things do not change. RZA’s beat comes off like a synthesis of many eras: the “Protect Ya Neck” intro fanfare leads us into a vibraphone line that would’ve fit nicely among Iron Man’s soul samples, until the track blossoms into the lush strings we’ve come to expect from Robert Diggs, Esteemed Film Composer (Bobby Analog). Who showed up to the reunion? Masta Killa, the wise uncle, keeps calm and sketches the physical environment. Method Man stands on top of the picnic table, spreads his arms, smiles, waxes nostalgic. Ghostface drops a half-verse Dirt McGirt tribute. RZA raises a cup on behalf of the family for a few seconds. Four out of eight generals ain’t bad. Thematically, all signs point to the POSI/UPLIFT vibe that we haven’t heard much of on record, but that constitutes a solid fourth of the live set these days — one bar of kung-fu FX subsumed into the sounds of children at play. After 20 years in the game, the Wu deserves a moment of joyous self-congratulation… but here’s hoping A Better Tomorrow (due: ?????) follows it up with some fire.
I ain’t no music critic. 100% not a music critic. In light of that, I dig this label Swan City Sounds. But I hate having to tell you that because I’d rather be inspired by the music to write something fictional or a personal anecdote, to complement the creativity songs/albums/releases bestow upon me. However, this Walking Catfish does not give me that. Again, I hate having to tell you rather than show you. (Like in creative writing; “show not tell.”) Instead, when you see posts where I just talk about the band and music, rather than give it something wild, it’s because I want to just put the music out there (as Swan City Sounds deserves), but really have nothing personal to opinionate it with. Walking Catfish was just my grab bag choice.
Thus, it’s neat that Walking Catfish is keeping that old-style indie/alt-rock vibe alive on cassette and being sometimes “new-ish” and random. Like in the track “Obvious Answers to Obvious Questions” before it bursts into straight jam-rock-bongo-guitar-riff-yays. It’s all whatever, and I’m into people still vibing this way. Like, okay, here’s a description: Walking Catfish is like the modern local blues band that still plays neighborhood bars and posts fliers about their shows and is super warm and grateful people came out to see ‘em — as if they’re accepting a dream they chase on a smaller scale, and I appreciate that a lot. It’s cute and warming in a “Fucks yes” sort of way. Now watch 4AD pick up Walking Catfish on a three-LP deal and this post makes me look like a chump. IMA CHUMP!
• Swan City Sounds: http://swancitysounds.com
Dangerous Boys Club
It’s not unusual for a boy to want to sing to a girl. Many girls, in fact, encourage it. Romance is easy for a bard with good ear and silver tongue, and what girl would not want to be the subject of an immortal love song?
Answer: the girl whose boy is part of Dangerous Boys Club. Not because of the quality of the music — which would be and surely is high — but because the sentiment of that song might be less about love and more about, well, menace. Of course, Dangerous Boys Club is exactly the band to beware in the video we premiere here, for the title track from DBC’s album Pris. And presumably, Pris is the girl whom we glimpse through all manners of surveillance and in various postures inviting imminent threat. We see her stripped to a two-piece in sandy repose. We see her before a cross. We see her against the long splay of school buses, walking away. We see her through the static of cameras, which we can only reasonably assume Pris doesn’t know exist.
A girl has reason to believe that her boy might be dangerous — or belong to a club for boys behaving that way — if the music he makes can be more easily produced from a V6 Ducati engine than from a hollow six-string guitar. But the real danger arrives when said music is also this good, this alluring that you can’t turn away from the chug.
To further your intrigue and entangle more deeply, check out the rest of Pris, the full album, out now on Dais Records, and check out an exclusive download of a remix of “Pris” by NIGHTCHILDE, below. The Club is exclusive too; the pedigree’s legit.
“Make It Slay”
Woah! I didn’t know my desktop monitor could do 1080p HD! …Or maybe it can’t, and my eyes are tricking me. Or my ears are tricking me. Somebody is tricking somebody here, because this new video from Co La is too dope to be true.
The visual accompaniment to “Make It Slay” — the final track on Co La’s newest release Moody Coup — follows the adventures of a champagne glass as it travels from Arizona, to a snooty staircase, to the Great White North, and a few other glamorous locations. The stunningly sharp visuals enhance Co La’s crisp clicks, claps, snaps, and rimshots that set the downtempo pace for sluggish bass glides and sleazy trumpet slides on this tantalizingly minimal piece of electronica.
Make sure you expand the video to full-screen, and experience it to its fullest.
It’s been almost five years since we’ve heard some new Beck tunes. Wait, scratch that: last December, he put out Song Reader, a book of sheet music containing 20 new tunes. In other words, Beck did drop a new LP, but in order to listen to it, you had to either read and/or perform the songs on your own or, in the case of lazy ol’ zcamp, bribe your musically-inclined friends and family with baklava and fake tears. And before you start in with the whole “oh, but that’s how music used to be for thousands of years!” and the “maybe if you hadn’t fallen asleep in music theory, you would be listening to the new Beck album now!,” let me just say that I am just another privileged, middle-class millennial who doesn’t know any better.
Anyway! The dark days between Beck albums are finally drawing to a close; this fall will see the release of a new acoustic LP, and Rolling Stone reports that a second album — “the proper follow-up to [2008’s] Modern Guilt” — is in the works as well. “Defriended” isn’t specifically tethered to either one of those projects, but it’s safe to say that it’s not very acoustic-sounding at all. Rather, it’s a teetering vortex of bleeps and bloops and whirring synths that offer a fleeting glimpse of what 2006’s The Information might have sounded like if Beck had ditched the hip-hop for a fuzzier, more fractured sound. The familiar, lilting melodics you’ve come to expect from a Beck song are still there, even with some good ol’ fashioned guitar strumming — you just have to sift through the electronic dross to find them. And best of all, every time you dive into the slurry, it sounds just a little bit different. Just don’t ask me what the time signature is; remember, I fell asleep in music theory.
• Beck: http://www.beck.com
It’s sometimes difficult for a music writer working in modern-day vernacular to know exactly what term should describe a piece of music. For instance, consider Egyptology’s beautiful, subtly surprising “The Skies,” the video of which we’re premiering here. “The Skies” seems to transcend the catch-all, generic concept of a “song” or a “track;” Egyptology’s opus is more finely pointed, more deliberate, more aware of its historical position than these labels convey. Rather than lazy, contemporary terms like “breakdown” or “wub-wub,” “The Skies” is better prepped for dissection when we apply more formal concepts, such as “cadence,” “arpeggiation,” and even, vaguely, “fugue.” It is music that offers a kind of old wisdom, a time-tested form, even as its sounds arise from synthetic aural materials, which are relatively new.
The marriage between electric sounds and classical structure makes me think of Wendy Carlos, who 40 years ago established herself as an indelible icon of that kind of unorthodox musical union (along with her other brave, bold unions, of course). Then in turn I think of Carlos’ work with Kubrick. With Carlos’ help, the director married a man to a machine in A Clockwork Orange. To follow this kaleidoscope further (akin to the fractal-esque images of the video for “The Skies”), I also remember Kubrick’s own famous version of a swirling, polychromatic sinkhole: 2001 is an illustration of a blazing evolution. And yet that film’s score had a traditional orchestration. Evolution is an ouroboros. It is powered by unions. It is dependent on loops.
Egyptology make an emphatic point to be neither solely “retro” nor heretically futurist, forsaking history. These are basic prerequisites for evolution: there must be both a past to depart from and a future to depart toward. The hieroglyphics of ancient Egyptians baffled archeologists for their opaque, concentrated meanings. Now we use minute, square logos on our tablets and phones as the signals for expansive concepts and communication. The ancient has become new; the illegible, intuitive. Egyptology are well-named, indeed. They become synonymous with evolution, history, and the mysterious workings of digital things. They sound damn fine too.
In addition to the video for “The Skies,” also check out The Skies EP from Clapping Music and Desire Records (pre-order here), which contains four remixes of the title track by a variety of digital champs.