Tings & Savage
1080p, a new cassette label by Richard MacFarlane (Rose Quartz, ex-TMTer), debuted mid-June, but it already has three solid releases to its name. While the label’s first release, Heartbeat(s)’ Home Remedies, was a full-on dance hybrid of Detroit techno and 90s-flavored Chicago house, it was soon followed up with Brain Foam, an oblique dance release whose rhythmic pulses serve as a foundation upon which artists Roland Tings (a.k.a. Rohan Newman) and his bud Nathan Savage pile an array of competing yet fluid textures.
Melbourne-based producer Roland Tings is no stranger to the beat, having already released music through Not Not Fun and 100% Silk, but on “Shiver,” the thud is replaced by an indifferent click, a strategy that allows Tings & Savage’s raw, frenzied improvisations to shine, with hissing amps and wild delays threatening to overtake the track. Eventually, the clicking unceremoniously disappears, but you don’t notice, because here, it’s about the subsumption of implied rhythms under a roomy impressionism that registers on an entirely different head space.
Brain Foam is out now on 1080p. We’re grindin’ the label’s following release, by M/M, so look for that soon.
“Pale Mare (Ginseng RMX)”
TRY and stop Dylan Ettinger. Having transplanted himself from the West Coast (Not Not Fun) to the Midwest (Night People) label-wise, this Bloomingtonian is continuously bringing his game and always trying to switch it up. Since his Crucify Your Love tape on Night People, Ettinger has since released a 7-inch split with Iowa City-based Goldendust on DKA Records, and this track here is the (Ginseng RMX) to “Pale Mare.” Lotta that classic Ettinger synth-isms and dread-voxx, but remixed with a slew of swirling chants and elongated snare melts. It’s supreme.
Words from The Ettinger himself: “All is chill. My Iowa City brothers did this remix. Just give it a listen, embrace the darkness, zone out. Enjoy.”
• Dylan Ettinger: http://www.dylanettinger.com
Ant’lrd is sunroom music, not bedroom music.
Sunroom music = Evocative, beautiful tones full of glorious white space and picturesque chords, reminiscent of those rooms — everybody knows at least one; maybe your grandparents’ house or your uncle’s lake house — where at one wonderful time in the day, the sun pours in, filtered through heavy frosted glass windows in the ceiling, allowing you to float in just the right amount of warmth and to listen to the sounds of the forest pour in from the Earth’s speakers (a.k.a nature).
Bedroom music = You know, that cringe-inducing, condescending category of music created so blogs can remind everyone that the tapes and Bandcamp pages they spend hours pouring over are really the work of teenage amateurs taking advantage of the new-to-the-decade portability and quality of recording that can be achieved with minimal moolah. The problem with the term “bedroom music” is that it insinuates a lack of skill and that, therefore, it shouldn’t be taken seriously. Of course, it is entirely possible for literally anybody with half a brain to record music and throw it on Bandcamp. It doesn’t even have to make sense. Seriously; somebody could just make a bunch of shit, upload it in 45 minutes, and all it takes is one blog to label it “bedroom noise” and people are misconstruing it as “good.” There are also solo projects and monikers that have been labeled as “bedroom” that are actually amazing. Full of depth, creativity, and promise. It shouldn’t really matter whether or not it’s lo-fi, glow-fi, day-glo, fire-fly, or lite-brite; the quality of the music comes from the interpretations that can be made while listening to it, as well as the emotions and memories that can be chained together by a pleasant combination of sounds.
Ant’lrd is the work of one Colin Blanton, whose latest tape, extra domicile, fits in perfectly with loose, taiga forest vibes of Watery Starve, who released the tape. There are moments of concise sampling, where nostalgic loops collide with obscure percussive noises, driving the track sideways through time into alternate visions of a single instance. In some cases, this instance is a melody slowly unfolding under layers of nature-esque delay. Other times it takes the form of a single loop seamlessly melding with another, one that perhaps may fit at an earlier point in the album. Way out there, in the boundless fleeting instances in between notes, there is a galaxy of disorientating sound expanding like a Mandelbrot set. It makes me feel at home to be there.
I recently re-read this brilliant bio from Hype Williams (Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland) from their first full-length on De Stijl Records three years ago, and it’s all I can think about when listening to this new release, OneWorld 開発 from L.A.’s Teams.
Anyway, the reason I’m called Hype Williams — aside from the fact it makes everyone actually pay attention to my emails for the first time in my life — is that I’m big into taking commercial hip-hop from the 90s and deconstructing it by feeding it through some default Fruity Loops patches. It’s a recent-past nostalgia thing? Like what Burial did with UK garage, except that silly mug spent literally hours on the stuff! Me? I do all mine on my DS while I’m waiting to sign on (the dole). Think of it as sorta like in 2007, when teenagers used to run around telling each other they “only listened to 90s R&B” for weird kudos points. Anyway, the business plan I drafted in Powerpoint posits the following: Those teenagers have grown up. They are at the early-20s anxiety pinch-point, slap-bang in the demand-saddle. They need aural comfort food, a recent past to idealize. They are, in other words, nostalgic for 2007, when they used to go around telling each other they were nostalgic for 90s R&B. Ergo, Hype Williams is their collective attempt to relive 1998 via 2007. Weird, or what? Anyway, projected net income: $4 million.
OneWorld 開発 feels like reliving 1998 via 2007 via 2010 in 2025… or something like that. Teams constructs rich, futuristic beat-scapes on a familiar foundation of techno and R&B, but elaborates on these structures with such dark, digital, alien textures that it almost feels like being nostalgic for a time that never happened, or a genre that doesn’t exist yet… at least until now.
“Knocking on the Ground (Live Version)”
The dressed and also naked guy up there is called Brandon Locher. He’s the one who so skillfully constructed conversations from prank phone calls (which we loved, more than once), and, as it so happens, he’s also a guy who makes actual music with instruments, harmonies, melodies, rhythms, things like that. I guess arguments can be made that those Conversations works were musical in their own unique and specific way, but I’ll be honest, I’m partial to what’s going on with his project The Meets here and the kinked circuitry that frames this live improv session Locher orchestrated. If there’s really “an electronically created bed of sound collage tapestry” beneath the mix, as he so describes on the SoundCloud source page, then that bed serves as a nice springboard for things like fluttering piano lines, honking saxophones, and bass-heavy beats to bounce on top of, like kindergartners refusing to pick up their damn rooms. Locher’s sly sense of humor and meticulous attention to detail (as represented in his visual art) are at the forefront of “Knocking on the Ground,” contributing to a thrilling and wholly fun preview of the greatness to come on a new LP from The Meets, which is due out later this year.
Stream “Knocking on the Ground” below, and be sure to visit Locher’s various links for a further peek into the world of a talented and versatile multimedia artist.
[Photo: Devon Dill]
“Check Your Heart”
Despite often being pigeonholed and labeled as “twee,” it’s been clear throughout The Pastels’ career that there’s a lot more going on than cursory listening may suggest. Looking at frontman Stephen McRobbie’s list of favorite records clearly confirms this. Additionally, when you consider the band’s decisions to collaborate with Japanese experimental pop artists such as Tenniscoats and Maher Shalal Hash Baz, it becomes especially apparent that even the sweetest moments of The Pastels' records are full of subtle complexity/experimentation in their arrangements, lyrics, and production.
The band's latest album Slow Summits is in many ways one of the group's most complete statements in terms of their dedication to merging loftier aesthetic decisions with pop simplicity. The band chose to work with the like-minded John McEntire (Tortoise) as a producer, and as a result, the whole album has the wonderful feel of many of the iconic 90s-00s chamber pop records that McEntire helmed. Particularly remarkable is the band's use of space throughout the album. Slow Summits is filled with the same kind of room sound that Maher Shalal Hash Baz and Arthur Russell's First Thought, Best Thought album strive to capture.
"Check Your Heart" is one of the most immediately infectious tracks off of Slow Summits. It initially comes off as a simple paean to young love, but when McRobbie's vocals enter, it becomes obvious that this is a subtle song about the passage of time and regret/nostalgia experienced from schoolboy infatuations. Like the track's underlying message and The Pastels' work in general, "Check Your Heart's" music video may initially seem like a cutesy montage of the band, a dance party, and children running, but when taken together, these images reflect the same wistful sentiments about time passing and love that the song's lyrics project.
You can watch the video for “Check Your Heart” above. Slow Summits is out now via Domino.