The Black Twig Pickers
“You Play the High Card and I’ll Play the Ace”
Two voices trace a melody through the air in unison, sparking miniature harmonies in their moments of divergence. They synchronize into a close lead — a Melody Plus, now with double the impact. This telepathic duet is known as a jugalbandi (literally “twins entwined”) in the Indian classical tradition. Fall deep into a skilled jugalbandi and you’ll come to perceive only one voice, nuanced to death, split across the room into two bodies.
On “I’ll Play The High Card, You Play The Ace,” our second taste of The Black Twig Pickers’ forthcoming Rough Carpenters, fiddlers Mike Gangloff and Sally Anne Morgan treat us to an Appalachian jugalbandi. The string duo winds through the traditional folk melody as one voice, their conjoined runs and double stops rising over a backbone of banjo and fingerpicked guitar. Assertions of East meeting West aren’t so far-fetched here, given that the BTPs share half their personnel with drone/raga/psych explorers Pelt. If that ensemble overtly bridges cultures by deriving song structures and instrumentation from the carnatic tradition, the BTPs keep things closer to home, achieving a back-porch liveness gilded with a few jewels of the Baroda Palace.
The Black Twig Pickers have blurred the line between the modern and the Lomax for eight albums and counting, channeling traditional tunes through their experience with more “out”-minded musics. In the case of “I’ll Play the High Card, You Play the Ace,” considerations of the music’s lineage or geographical origin pale in the light of that Melody Plus: twin fiddles entwined for three wholly pleasurable minutes.
Thrill Jockey releases Rough Carpenters on LP and CD February 19th. Pre-order the album straight from them, and it’ll arrive at your home in a safely packed mailer before you know it.
Night clings to a fluorescent fog, thick and sweetly tobacco-tasting outside club Dread, where the DJ inside is spinning cut-ups of the jazz band across the street and a young, waif-ish girl mutters about something on the stage. “Lost in a dream,” she might have been saying, but it’s indistinct and so casually tossed to the crowd it almost seems like, for her, a common occurrence.
The DJ’s name is Ohbliv, and he’s another in a wave of backwards-looking, post-digital hip-hop producers (among them: Contact Lens, Mattron) who’ve taken to VHS tapes, elevator synthesizers, and decaying smears of 80s pop samples to construct the hypnotic, cerebral beats that leak into the streets from these seedy clubs. Ohbliv’s latest beat tape, Spirit Daps, is an interesting example of a growing trend within the internet underground, where beat-makers are foregoing dramatic stomp- and radio-ready trap drums for a more strung-out sound. On “lost” — among others from the tape — pieces of R&B, elevator jazz, and Casio keyboards feature as complacently pleasant, repetitive loops. The drums have an off-kilter laziness that nicely complements the imaginary MC I have rhyming along in my head. His voice is thick like molasses.
It appears that there’s more to Ohbliv’s production than mere beats, though. After absorbing more of his music, I began to notice that he’s actively constructed an archive — a symbol of African and African-American culture: He releases music on cassettes (a nostalgic nod to his hip-hop predecessors who dubbed their own), and his Tumblr page (The Black Love Series) is full of images of black life and culture. There’s a much deeper meaning to his music, existing perhaps as a revisitation to a different era, chopped and screwed into delightful, swinging portions. It’s no longer so out of place. Ohbliv repurposes his samples to emulate something that, for better or for worse, has become lost in a dream.
• Ohbliv: http://ohbliv.bandcamp.com
I think it’d be the greatest road trip ever if Daytime Television (Jónó Mí Ló) jammed out shotgun-style all the way down to SXSW 2013. Okay, actually, it may be more comfortable for him if he posted up in the back. Shit, it could potentially even provide more room for equipment and sound techniques. Shit-shit, I’ll drive and pay for gas. Just fly me out to Portland. Actually, me and my pal Nicky T (Captain George: Crystal Skylines, Dripping Sunsets, Neon Nightlights, etc. etc., Melted Dunes). He’ll be on smoke/light/pass patrol and pay. Get to SXSW at some unofficial show at (maybe) an old sex toy factory/warehouse, maybe? We’d definitely arrive late and rip ears for Miles into the morning time at max capacity. Actually-actually, unannounced to Mr P, I hired Jónó Mí Ló to travel around with him jamming out all day for the holiday, and I don’t mean Valentine’s Day, yo’s. Mmm — 32 ain’t nothing but a number.
The video below is IntoTheWoods’ eighth Carsick installment, and they got bunch more videos from your favorite and new favorite musicians, so scope ‘em hard!
“The Exploded View”
Oh man, you guys. There just aren’t enough people doing synth music like Raglani right now. With Emeralds dead and Daniel Lopatin having more fun with his laptop than his Juno-60, someone has to claim the throne of analog synth mastery, and my money is 100% on Raglani. His most recent album, Real Colors of the Physical World, pairs two towering 20-plus-minute epics with two concise and extremely happy kosmische pop songs (and the epic tracks are pretty blissful too). One of those shorter tracks is the excellent “The Exploded View,” which pairs the sounds of vintage Kraftwerk with beautifully robotic vocals that recall Tender Buttons-era Broadcast. Lyrically, the song seems to blur the line between human and machine love with lines like “The circuits light up her eyes” and “This engine cradles/ Attentions divide,” calling to mind a retro-futurist relationship in the vein of Fry and the Lucy Liu-bot on Futurama. Raglani’s masterful use of vocoding serves to further blur the lines between the human and the machine in a delightful manner.
Real Colors of the Physical World is out now on Editions Mego, and you can watch the video for “The Exploded View” above.
Launch Pad #3 (MBV)
Happy My Bloody Valentine’s Day! The Talibam! boys (Matt Mottel, Kevin Shea) are back with the third installment of their Launch Pad series, in which they “explore new sound relationships in the digital world” and “paint and mold the music into a new species, blurring the lines between inconspicuous and conspicuous consumption/appropriation” by using recently released albums as a launching pad. First was Dirty Projectors’ Swing Lo Magellan, and then came Launch Pad #2, which saw Talibam! taking on Frank Ocean’s channel ORANGE.
When news of Launch Pad #3 came out just minutes ago, I thought for a moment about how long it took for Talibam! to make this music, and then how much longer it took them to make peace with it, to accept whatever imperfections they still heard. I considered how many days I had listened to Launch Pad #2, cherishing the vague notion of what Talibam! might be working on at that moment, wondering if I would ever hear it. How sad and wonderful, I thought, for a dream this dear and long-deferred to be realized. I savored my last moment alone with Launch Pad #2. Then I clicked play.
Watching the Prescribed Burn
In moments alone, reading at the kitchen table or laying on the couch, my mind wanders and I tune into the little domestic drones around me: the hum of the fridge, the downstairs heater’s muffled whirr, the murmuring ceiling fan in the bathroom. It would be a stretch to call them an “orchestra of appliances.” None of them are in tune with one another. They share the space, executing their task as quietly as they can, their little voices encroaching over thresholds or through floors into other rooms. For as often as I put his cassettes into the tape deck in the living room, I count the work of Hakobune among this set of domestic drones. With the volume cranked, his music manages to fill the room to its corners without disrupting its quietude. With the volume low, the tape deck whispers at the same level as the vent behind the shelving unit.
Since 2007, Takahiro Yorifuji has blessed us with 15 and a half hours of slow-churning guitar dronescapes as Hakobune, spanning 30 physical releases for over 20 labels including Constellation Tatsu, Fabrica, and Cassauna. With the recent release of Watching the Prescribed Burn on CD and Bandcamp via Italian micro-label Pure Wave Recordings, we’re only seven-and-a-half hours of material away from the possibility of a Whole Day of Hakobune. Imagine with me: at midnight, your Walkman clicks on and Yorifuji’s delay-smeared chords collude as you fall asleep; breakfast takes on a hushed reverence as the juicer burbles; at laundry time, each machine rumbles alongside Hakobune in a different register; back at midnight, the day’s sounds sustain in your mind as clearly as the space heater’s persisting drone after the last tape ends.