“Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”
This nonsense is outta hand. I can’t take it. Maybe “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” is the first time I hate song-title allegorical ties to the popularity of a track. Insanely enough, I want to kill Kendrick Lamar’s vibe, just because it’s s’ohhhh October 22 of last year. Like when people were still listening to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy that next summer, but it only reminded everyone of the fall that year before, and it was just fucked and weird. And now that same depressive ghost lives through Lamar. It feels dense and unavoidable. Like flipping through the stations and it’s on three of them; two playing exactly at the same time, the other playing the Jay-Z cash-out remix version. Sometimes C likes to pee alone.
zcamp, kill my vibe:
Okay, okay. I know Kendrick Lamar’s videos have a tendency towards the melodramatic. That free-fall in the “Swimming Pools” video was pretty over-the-top (although the Dumbo-esque ear jiggling helped to break the tension a bit). And although there’s something dark to be enjoyed in the Romeo + Juliet theatrics of “Poetic Justice,” you can’t help but wish that the guy could cut off the smoke machines for a while. Thankfully, there are no smoke machines in the “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” video, no wistful glances offscreen, no high-strung histrionics. The proceedings may revolve around a funeral, but what a -FUN-eral it is! The self-referential jokes, the over-saturated palette, the exaggerated limousine party scenes: it all marks a goofy digression from Lamar’s typical sensibilities, one that almost appears too good to be true. But then we get that twist at the end, and you can’t help but feel unsettled, that all of the smiles and optimism were little more than an MDMA mask, covering the painful truth. And in that sense, “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” works — a “gotcha” game lurking beneath the appealing aesthetics.
“Live Performance Amsterdam”
THEY ARE REAL!!!!! [video from their most recent European tease-tour]!!!!!
Intimacy is a grainy affair. Edinburgh’s Law pushes at the edges of comfort.
She shares a muffled, brooding production aesthetic with fellow Edinburgers Young Fathers, a band that has incidentally been getting really rather brilliant for a while now. As local tastemaker Song, By Toad points out, the two may also share a manager. That’s pretty much all we know.
With “Hustle,” Law gives us an astute manifestation of that now familiar first-song claustrophobia. The paradox of enshrining artistic potential in a deliberately limited initial “hook.” She seems at first to be the embodiment of the multiply situated, often relentlessly heavy scrutiny afforded to new female artists: all make up, wig, and perfect Instagram smile.
But the walls close in and the dark edges take precedent. A phone rings, emblazoned with the word “BITCH;” a man lies seemingly motionless, naked and hairy on the dirty bed. So much for your male gaze.
Law leaves us as the end, transformed, with nothing but the repeat button and its promise of even more disconcerting closeness.
Quite an entrance, quite an exit.
• Law: http://www.lawholt.com
“La La Lonely Maria #1 (Art School Conversations)”
Green Gerry’s Gerry Green (yes…) has kept this particular project quiet since releasing debut album Odd Tymes, which, for my money, still holds up incredibly well. In fact, I’ll go ahead and just beat the dead horse here: that album is fucking great. If you don’t know about it, haven’t heard it, or didn’t realize that it’s still available for free, now you do, and my job is (almost) done. Gerry (er… Green) has been dillying around with another band called Dally, but I’ve been on pins and needles waiting to see what the “Green Gerry” thing would come up with next.
And so here it is: “La La Lonely Maria #1,” a track that finds Green fleshing out a nice arrangement, reigning in the cataclysmic spook-folk considerably in favor of amping up the jangly pop. Such a move might have inspired some complaints from this or any other music writer familiar with Odd Tymes, but given the results, I’m having a tough time being the big bad critic. For one, this is great songwriting, calling back to The Kinks or The Velvet Underground as much as it reinforces the sweet sound Bradford Cox has carved out for the contemporary indie. But the track also doubles as an excellent vehicle for Green’s once again fabulous lyrics (which you can follow along with at the SoundCloud source page, if you’re so inclined).
And of course, this is just a taste of more to come on a new album from Green Gerry called King Baby. Consider yourself in the know.
• Green Gerry: http://greengerry0.bandcamp.com
Computer Death: the sound of emptiness, blank taste, with “meaning” gutted and then modulated into nothing — a retrofuturist collison of dated aesthetics meeting McLuhan’s global village, the electronic nervous system transmitting its last signals, electrochemical waves and neutrotransmitters fading not from life, but away from relevance. “When computers sleep, they dream”: the death of the computer is not just the death of a finite set of logical operations, but the death of 21st-century perception.
Infinity Frequencies’ Computer Death is available for free download and/or stream right here:
• Infinity Frequencies: http://infinity-frequencies.tumblr.com
Michael Pisaro (feat. Julia Holter)
When one works with Michael Pisaro, it quickly becomes apparent that the man has an immense knowledge of various musical genres, despite his highly specialized compositional style. Although Pisaro is famous for his studies of silence as sound with the Wandelweiser collective, he’s equally fascinated by gangster rap, Prince, harsh noise, and The Rolling Stones, among many, many other things. In some ways, I think that all of these disparate sources are perhaps unconsciously present in a lot of Pisaro’s other works.
However, with Tombstones, Pisaro seems to address this part of his musical history in a much more explicit way. Tombstones is guided by two major ideas: (1) The question of “what happens to old political songs?” and (2) Taking “tiny fragments of old and not-so-old songs and [putting] them into an experimental music situation, introducing them to a kind of chaos, where the arrangement of the written-out material is up for grabs.” In this way, Pisaro creates a kind of acoustic/compositional sampling, but this isn’t a John Oswald-esque plunderphonics excursion. Nor is it Pisaro’s attempt to make an overtly pop move. Instead, Tombstones works beautifully because it takes a hidden element of Pisaro’s music and slyly pushes it ever so slightly into the foreground without sacrificing his aesthetic in the process. The result is a gorgeous deconstruction of both popular song form and a fascinating recontextualization of Pisaro’s craft in the process. Mad props to Pisaro’s ensemble (which prominently features the voice and harmonium of Julia Holter) for their great interpretation of this material.