Data Garden is one of my favorite new(er) labels. Expertly curated with a pretty damn slick and unified design sensibility, these guys know their shit. All their albums are for sale digitally and via plantable cards. This is what I had to say last year about those plantable cards: “you plant the album art.”
Anyway, the Data Garden release schedule seems to be ramping up as of late, and I’m here now to premiere a track from beatmaker Spaceship Aloha’s Universe Mahalo: Volume #1. You may know Spaceship Aloha as Christopher Sean Powell of Man Man and Need New Body (unless you hate music), but Universe Mahalo still feels a bit from left-field considering those credentials. Apparently, Powell was inspired by Hawaiian radio and decided to channel it through his MPC sampler, a conceit that works out nicely for him. Are there no bounds to the samplers’ music-making prowess? If anything, Universe Mahalo (Volume #1, will there be a #2?) is a testament to the power of the MPC. Or “maybe it’s the Island Magic.”
“Galaxy” is the track we’re looking at specifically, so take a minute to bask in its warm and comforting vibe. It’s definitely reminiscent of the recent well of “beat tapes” we’ve been seeing — instrumental, cloudy, bedroom-beats spanning 20-some minutes on a cassette or a Bandcamp page. Plus, it’s all sunshine, full of beautiful tape hiss and old-timey compression — if this thing wasn’t at least mastered on analog equipment, then it has made a sucker out of me. But I would happily be a sucker, because I love when tracks like this make distinctions between analog and digital and plantable a bit irrelevant. It’s all about that vibe, the design, the little things making your subconscious tingle. When all that is hitting at once, you could be making a blast beat ode to Hawaiian music, and there would still be something to smile about.
“Why Should I”
Maximize your mood and ‘tude. Three days straight of “Why Should I” on repeat in the car, at work, and around. Monalisa and heavy rain stop rain heavy rain stop, stop. To benefit from stupid is coy. Evil rises in the slightest bit of all people via “hi” and neglect to notice. First it’s this, and then wherever you’ve ended up from that. Open now, /please/, and through it all, through it all. Confusion between nerves and cold: a shaking leg loses more weight than stagnant arms. Simple moments exist as a seagull eats trash off an inaccessible roof near the window. But “Why Should I,” right-right. Stacks of boxes of Kleenex of snot and nose and “Hi, my brother.” It’s all genuinely illegitimate. Breathing and seeing through venom has always been a combination. Everything now has that summertime haze/glow. Smoke on the horizon blends into the clouds from the land and. And staring through leafless trees is natural abstraction. Brittney’s head and nonprofits. Instinct is internal lying. Whistling in the elevator and watching “Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb” with Grams. .2., oh /please/ is so Sewage Tapes.
• /please/: http://slashpleaseslash.bigcartel.com/product/please-2-tape
• Sewage Tapes: http://sewagetapes.bandcamp.com
The Blue Rider
Way Out West [7-inch]
A little over a decade ago, tons of bands were co-opting the Bo Diddley beat for some reason and made it all “hip” and “cool.” Fast-forward to now, and the Blue Rider is thankfully bringing that groove back to its original awesomeness. “THTD” stands for “To hip to dance,” meaning if you’re a hipster asshole, then get the fuck out of here; this ain’t your kinda party. For the rest of you who knows the real meaning of the word “boogie,” you’re invited to jump out of your skin and let your bones shimmy around for a minute.
Blue Rider’s debut 7-inch comes to us via the Hot Congress imprint out of Denver.
Dear Freelove Fenner,
I know I just met you, and this is crazy, but I feel like I have to tell you something pretty big and important.
I’m in like with you.
Don’t let that freak you out or anything… I’m a nice guy. I love pop, pep, sweetness, things like that. I just think it’d be a cool fit. I dig your hair. I like how you don’t really strum chords on your guitar. I like how dry and snappy your snare drum sounds. I like how your bass line slithers around the melody. I also like how you’re a little sad. And I really like the way that whammy bar looks. It’s cute. You’re cute.
Anyway, you can take this note however you want. This doesn’t have to be serious, but maybe it could be? Give me a call sometime.
“Vicky’s Day” is off Freelove Fenner’s Pineapple Hair EP, out now on Fixture Records.
Over the past couple of years, Astro Nautico has really established its motif. Focusing more on sounds and atmosphere, the label has taken some of the best bedroom beatmakers and shown us that beat tapes can be called albums too, dammit! Taking artists relying on lesser-known and lesser-heard noises to comprise their beats, each release has a distinct non-studio sound to it. Nothing is over-produced, all of it sounds hand-crafted.
The new single “Over” from Dreams grabs those noises from Astro Nautico’s VHS-warped sound and chucks them into outer space, where every noise can echo outward infinitely. Humans have launched a number of probes into outer space filled with examples of Earth music from varying genres and time periods in hopes of communicating it to other potential lifeforms in the universe. I imagine this track is what it would sound like if those aliens had a chance to listen to it all and send us a response. It’s a fitting release for a label called Astro Nautico.
Check it out below, and buy the Lost Kingdom album over at Astro Nautico.
• Astro Nautico: http://astronautico.com
Iowa City’s Gem Jones has been reconfiguring and repurposing pop music throughout a number of different CGIFriday and home-recorded cassette tape releases in the past few years. But it makes complete sense that he’s now landed a Night People release, considering he’s been tearing down the same pop walls as Shawn Reed (of Wet Hair), Night People founder and fellow Iowa City resident. Mr. Jones, welcome to the family.
“Starsquisha” begins like a 1990s daytime sitcom, before falling into a kind of Joe Strummer-filtered take on Gem Jones’ specific style of New No Wave, explored previously on his Symphony in P release on Portland’s CGIFriday label. It’s catchy, trashy, and comes as close to falling apart halfway through as a song built from a drum machine loop can manage to do. Listen to it below, and buy the full tape, Exhaust, from Night People.