Dustin Wong & Takako Minekawa
“Party on a Floating Cake”

You might know Dustin Wong (who recently played our unofficial SXSW party) through his work with the sadly defunct Ponytail or his two brilliant solo guitar releases on Thrill Jockey, or because you watched him sit in front of you and craft symphonic guitar loops for 40+ minutes, his feet darting around a crescent moon of Boss effects pedals, one hand on the fretboard and one hand picking with ludicrous accuracy or turning a delay knob or a volume knob or seemingly all of these things at once, his head bobbing, making it look easy. If you live in Japan, you’re lucky enough to be able to catch him in concert in the coming months, and for this, I propose an international Freaky Friday situation with you where we switch consciousnesses and I can walk around in your body in Japan and go see Dustin Wong perform and you can be me here writing things about Dustin Wong or doing whatever else you want.

But whoa, what we have here is something else: a collaboration between Wong and long-revered multi-instrumental Japanese songstress Takako Minekawa. After a string of increasingly experimental electro-pop albums in the 90s, culminating in the partially Cornelius-produced Fun 9 in 1999, Minekawa has laid low for over a decade now. She and Wong met at one of his shows in 2011 and began to exchange ideas and music over email before workshopping material over the following years. The pair releases their album Toropical Circle on May 15 through PLANCHA Records, but in the meantime, we get “Party on a Floating Cake” and its accompanying video. Hear Wong’s rapidfire delayed melodies weave and loop together like cotton candy pouring out of the machine as Minekawa delicately drones, coos, and chants her way back into our shibuya-kei daydreams. See watercolors and glitter and arts-and-craftsy psychedelic paper things swirl around in an animated journey not unlike, say, a party on a floating cake.

• Dustin Wong: http://influencedbysomething.blogspot.com
• PLANCHA Records: http://www.artuniongroup.co.jp/plancha/top

Deerhoof, Dal Niente, and Marcos Balter

Live at the Ecstatic Music Festival

Man, the people behind the Ecstatic Music Festival are sure doing this whole contemporary classical/indie pop/experimental cross pollination thing right. First of all, they’re successfully pairing some of the most forward-looking indie rock artists with some of the more sympathetic young classical composers; then they’re graciously sharing the well-recorded results with the public for free via WQXR. It’s like theIn the Fishtank series for a more classical set.

One of the more seemingly disparate but successful collaborations of this year’s festival is the pairing of Deerhoof with composer Marcos Balter and the Ensemble Dal Niente. It’s often easy to forget that Greg Saunier and John Dieterich of Deerhoof are classically trained performers/composers underneath the band’s rock-oriented arrangements, sugary melodies, and occasionally lo-fi attitude. Of course, this training is apparent in Deerhoof’s formal ingenuity and harmonic complexity, but they’re so good at integrating these complex gestures into the song format that it’s not always apparent upon a cursory listen. However, with this collaboration, the more classical/experimental nature of Deerhoof’s sound comes to the forefront. Part of this is due to the well-thought-out programming of the set. Balter’s opening work for soprano saxophone revels in noisy yet melodic extended technique that’s comparable to Deerhoof’s more skronk-filled tunes, and his second piece, the elegant art song Ear, Skin, and Bone Riddles, is similar to a standard Deerhoof tune with its near folky melodies and abstract arrangements.

Then comes Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier’s lengthy Deerhoof Chamber Variations, which successfully recontextualizes several of the band’s songs into a classical work. At first, it’s tempting to try and play “name that tune” with the piece, but after a while, the work becomes its own entity and takes on a near-Gershwin quality. Saunier’s orchestration of his band’s melodies serves to illustrate the hidden complexity of the group’s pop craft, and hearing Deerhoof play a set after this suite makes all of the individual parts jump in a whole new way. Balter’s closing work for Ensemble Dal Niente brings all of these elements together in a wholly successful way that manages to merge the idiosyncrasies of both ensemble’s instrumentation into a coherent explosion of textures.

You can stream the concert in its entirety below, courtesy of WQXR.

• Deerhoof: http://www.deerhoof.net
• Marcos Balter: http://www.marcosbalter.com
• Ensemble Dal Niente: http://www.dalniente.com

Digital Natives

“Groovevateer”

Just continue getting wasted. Drown yourself into a separate dimension. Speaking in tongues to your pals via digital communication. See me on this television in the camera? Left nut hanging out my whites, stuck to/gripping the leather couch. A grotto has gathered in the ass-crack canopy region. Sweat rolls down your nipple, and only wearing a light cardigan is either a good or bad choice. And you absorb yourself more in a world you can handle. Something a bit timid in access and accessible in thought. Projection at its more non-profound. What’s it called, like, it’s called like when you get so head-kicked the night before it rolls into the next morning? “Groovevateer” pops on your alarm and that growl just gets it right with your yawn. Maybe that’s your girlfriend. Maybe these are your shoes. And don’t forget your teeth, amirite?

Driving to work, dimensionally warped, and that guy in the car next to you: every fucking morning. It never seemed so blended in color and upbeat. Oh, what? There’s work to do here, huh? Okay-okay, Ima get right on this Top Female Executives website we call an honor, yeah. Ima write all this and see if Jackie got the fulfillment package. Get into Charlie’s desk and take all the meds at once. Fly beyond the brink of — shit, that’s right, you got Mickey’s meds in the car too. Cocktail, or save it for tonight’s into tomorrow’s gap of where did the night go? To think that you don’t get any more cultural than digital now. And native to the life are all that is trans. Digital Natives is trans. Very so. Fucking came out with a milli releases last year too. Aye-aye, that’s MY “shit god damn” moment.

That or just buy IT’S ALL POINT BLANK now via Beer On The Rug and sell it at $200 next year. :::::RESET:::::

• Digital Natives: http://excelsiordaymaze.com
• Beer on the Rug: http://beerontherug.com

Omar S

Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself [excerpts]

Everyone’s favorite car part certifier has a new CD out. As ever with FXHE, it’s full of gnarly kicks, gnarly snares, gnarly hi-hats, and gnarly synths (and gnarly crash cymbals [and gnarly basslines]), all presented with a reassuring dose of nonchalance. Check out excerpts from the Detroit-based producer Omar S’ Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself here:

• FXHE: http://www.omarsdetroit.us

Kendrick Lamar feat. Jay-Z

“Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” (Remix)

Sometimes when you’re huffing duster at 1:30 AM and cumming at the same time, it feels like 90 years of ghost/haunted seamen just unleashes its way out and messes everything. Yet there’s something poignant there, but I totally bailed on thought to pixkk up technology and write shit right here. But about what? “Sometimes I need to pee alone.” Remember Jay-Z cashing in on Kendrick Lamar’s sleeper hit “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” by “remixing” it? Oh, cool! But look at that pic above: Kendrick is FARR from Kobe. Jay-Z maaaaay be more like Reggie Miller. A Kobe and Jordan one-on-one wouldn’t even be fun to watch. Okay, it might be fun to watch Jordan still slam a bitch in 2013.

HAHAHA — holy shit, you should go to Jay-Z’s website. It’s like the end of a hockey game and finding a bunch of deflated BOOM-STICKS. Or going to Wal-Mart and finding American Gangster in the New Releases section. Wait, good kid, m.A.A.d city was sold exclusively at Wal-Marts, right? Like that one AC/DC joint? But what’s new this year? What trumps both Jay-Z and Kendrick combined? You got that clipping. going in WAY hard. The Underachievers also bumps. What’s this, killing a vibe? No. Earl keeping it 10-second drum solo every 10 seconds. And Danny Brown wants to touch children everywhere with his music.

Don’t kill your vibe, Kendrick? You killed it yourself. A year later. With Jay-Z. Riding in a game that advances faster than you made your last album.

• Kendrick Lamar: http://kendricklamar.org
• Jay-Z: http://www.jayzonline.com

Alan Licht

“Four Years Later” [excerpt]

Okay, I’ll be honest. I throw the terms “life-changing” and “greatest thing ever” around way too much, but if there was one experience I’ve had that was actually both of those things, it was seeing Alan Licht play live when I was 16 years old. The form of his set that night is permanently embedded in my mind; it started with a beautiful slow burning EBow drone that built up for nearly 20 minutes before the dude put down his guitar and proceeded to completely annihilate his initial soundworld by delicately attacking his massive array of pedals. It was my first real introduction to the world of noise/drone music, and I was hooked from that moment on.

Licht has been pretty quiet in terms of solo releases in recent years, probably because someone has to play guitar with Lee Renaldo and write books about Will Oldham. Luckily, Licht is back with a brand new release for everybody’s favorite label Editions Mego!

Four Years Older seems to be the closest I’ve heard Licht capturing the brutal onslaught of a set that I witnessed back in the day. In this excerpt, Licht’s guitar is characteristically warped beyond belief into a delightful frenzy of electronic tones and feedback, before giving way to a beautiful pitch-shifted chord progression at the end. This is made all the more impressive by the fact that Licht recorded these pieces live without any additional overdubs. Even though Licht has apparently been playing this piece live for four years, let’s hope that he decides to tour it so he can continue to corrupt/convert the next generation of teenagers to the wonderful world of experimental music.

Four Years Older is out April 15 via Editions Mego.

• Alan Licht: http://www.myspace.com/alanlicht
• Editions Mego: http://www.editionsmego.com

  

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CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we'll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.