“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.
“Every Little Thing Remix (feat. Cam’ron, Irfane & Tekilatex)”
And here, ladies in gentlemen, is the first great weird collaboration of 2013. French producer Para One, best known for his production for TTC and his remixes of Daft Punk and Ellen Allien, has teamed up with fellow Francophones Irfane and Tekilate for a remix of his bubbly single “Every Little Thing,” which originally appeared on last year’s LP Passion.
But what sets this remix apart is the inclusion of Cam’ron, who’s probably been feeling a bit left out since A$AP became the de-facto buzz king of the Harlem rap scene. He certainly knows how to grab our attention by pulling off a solid bit of R&B crooning, before getting down to his usual horndog poetics “booty like a mountain.” Cloudy house seems an odd bedfellow for hip-hop, but it seems that Killa Cam’s found a new niche here, away from the now-outdated machismo of his Diplomats days. That’s not to say, however, that we wouldn’t enjoy another Come Home With Me: fingers crossed we get another “Hey Ma” soon.
Eventually, post-human life spreads the dawn of vegetative intelligence. Piles and piles of green and reusable technology keeps feeding its power-on mechanisms from sunlight, wind, dirt, etc. And plant life becomes the next reign of existence: Som Sakrifis. Fleeing one pile of electronics to the next, growth begins in tiny electrical evolutions. New forms of photosynthesises are created through post-human waste and ooze on another level — thick, purple, sometimes it’s a color indescribable to human eyes — feeds from vegetation to vegetation. Natural plant life remains relatively the same, but bio-technological life sometimes migrates and spreads viral photosynthetic properties, infecting and illuminating what once was native. Sometimes multiple types of bio-technology migrates to the natural, which festers with the culture of evolution. This festering is called “Sakrifis.” But all of these colonies and vegetative groups are only concerned with combining and webbing, networking on a massive informative scale to gain that next level. And the next level is not really the goal, but the push; the “Sakrifis” is definitely where this life force intends to continue. Through PAN, all things Som Sakrifis will begin March 7. PREPARE.
Cool Intentions is Chicago footwork made by an L.A. pop punk. As the drummer for tropical-punk-turned-post-post-punk band Abe Vigoda, Dane Chadwick might be one of the last people you’d expect to be making juke tunes. But it also kinda makes sense. This style of electronic dance music is all about the rhythm, and Chadwick clearly has experience playing lightning-fast rim shots, super speedy tom rolls, and incessant kick drumming in crazy complicated polyrhythms.
Along with all these quintessential footwork elements, Chadwick adds a sunny layer of light-heartedness to these tracks. Bright airy synths, bubbly bass lines, and vocal samples that are a bit less abrasive than many proper footwork tracks makes for a slightly watered-down juke release that is pleasantly listenable but still might break your ankles if you try to dance to it.
Cool Intentions is released by New York City label Astro Nautico, which also released Chadwick’s solo premiere as a part their mind-blowing Atlantics Vol. 2 compilation last year.