“A Night and a Day”
Pepe Deluxé is closing in on the release date for their fourth album, Queen of the Wave (due January 31 on Asthmatic Kitty/Catskills). It’s been five years since their last full-length, 2007’s Spare Time Machine, and they have used the most of every minute: they reorganized the group dynamic to composer Paul Malmström, sound scientist James Spectrum, and their distinguished Rolodex; renovated the world’s largest instrument; tracked down gear used by legendary producers like Joe Meek and Kearney Barton; interpreted a text written in 1886 about the last days of Atlantis; and generally geeked out to achieve an aural and lyrical concept album of unparalleled ambition.
Those on their mailing list were treated to a teaser in the form of “The Storm” late in 2011, but January 17 will see the release of Queen of the Wave’s first official single “A Night and a Day,” complete with remixes by K-X-P, Mex Luthor (a.k.a. Black Grass), and several others. To assign “A Night and a Day” an easily consumable genre, one may call it psychedelic surf trip-hop freak-out. However, all attempts to classify it cannot quite cover the grab bag of influences and obscurities gathered together for this song, let alone its mystifying video. Like the album, this is just something that has to be experienced first hand.
David Longstreth / Bang On A Can All-Stars
In February, Bang On A Can, originally a fest but now an international experimental music organization, is releasing its first studio album in five years by the Bang On A Can All-Stars. Titled Big Beautiful Dark and Scary, the double album features the All-Stars — currently: Ashley Bathgate, cello; Robert Black, bass; Vicky Chow, piano; David Cossin, percussion; Mark Stewart, electric guitar; and Evan Ziporyn, clarinets — performing works by Bang’s founding members (Julia Wolfe, David Lang, and Michael Gordon), as well as pieces by Conlon Nancarrow, Louis Andriessen, Kate Moore, and, yes, Mr. David Longstreth of Dirty Projectors.
That’s right. In 2009, while you were busy listening to Bitte Orca (TMT Review) and watching bootleg videos of Dirty Projectors’ collaboration with Björk (TMT Review), the All-Stars premiered three new works by Longstreth — “Instructional Video,” “Matt Damon,” and “Breakfast at J&M” — all commissioned by Bang On A Can. This put Longstreth in the company of composers like Alvin Lucier, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, John Adams, Ornette Coleman, and Matthew Shipp, for whom Bang On A Can has commissioned and/or premiered pieces.
The All-Stars have since went into the studio to record Longstreth’s compositions for the new double album, and we’re streaming the longest of the three, “Matt Damon,” for the next month or so. In addition to some new Longstreth arrangements that are somewhat reminiscent of the jerky musical narratives in The Getty Address (Dirty Projectors’ 2005 glitch opera), you’ll also hear some direct musical quotations from a track off the group’s 2007 album, Rise Above. Listen to find out which one! Meanwhile, Big Beautiful Dark and Scary is still available for free, so grab it before January 25 or purchase a copy through Cantaloupe when it “hits shelves” on February 28.
Jad Fair + Hifiklub + kptmichigan
“Yeah that’s right…Pow!” there is a new record from the king of collaboration. It’s called Bird House, and this time Jad Fair is jammin’ with French experimentalist Hifiklub and Germany’s kptmichigan. In a world of music where everyone seems hung up on nostalgia and recreating the past, Jad Fair (most notably recalled as the voice of Half Japanese) is always moving forward.
Musically, this record features more synthesized sounds than the average Jad Fair record, as his partners fiddle with reverberating electronic textures as a groundwork for some fresh and groovy rock ‘n’ roll. Lyrically (particularly within the highlight track “Let’s Win”), Fair seems to be beaming with optimism. Although his signature nasaly schizophrenic voice hasn’t faded, his message is one of pure positivity and celebration. As others look to the past, Fair (who has recorded like billions of songs with millions of people since the 70s) savors the present and is stoked for the future. As buzzing synths prepare to transform into a cheerful slide guitar riff in “Let’s Win,” Fair says “This time is a good time/ This time is the best time/ Celebrate!” I don’t know why, but nothing feels better than positive affirmations from someone who seems totally bonkers.
The record is released by Joyful Noise and will feature Fair’s signature groovy folk art on the cover and screen-printed on the B-side. Read more about the release here.
Sun Araw, M. Geddes Gengras, & The Congos
On April 10, RVNG Intl. will release a new installment of FRKWYS, the label’s 12-inch series that, in its own words, “pairs contemporary artists and their progenitors by way of remix, reinterpretation, and original collaboration” (and, in my words, “combines new artists and their forbears through remix, reinterpretation, and original collaboration”). The ninth installment features Sun Araw (Cameron Stallones) and his Duppy Gun Productions partner-in-crime, M. Geddes Gengras, taking it back to The Congos. The collaboration results in both a 12-inch, titled ICON GIVE THANK, and a film, ICON EYE. THIS IS GOING TO BE AMAZING. Check out “Happy Song” below and head to RVNG Intl. to see the film’s trailer.
“SUPER MC !!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Last year, after compiling and releasing the untouchable, better-than-the-first Chicago footwork comp Bangs & Works Vol. 2 (TMT Review), Planet Mu’s Mike Paradinas released an equally fantastic, 47-song mix of leftover footwork tracks via Mixcloud (stream it now!). There were plenty of stellar tracks — Jlin’s “BOTC Flight Anthem,” DJ Roc’s “Next,” Young Smoke’s “Rip Miah Da Great,” every track by legends RP Boo and Traxman — but one that particularly stood out for me was DJ MC’s “SUPER MC !!!!!!!!!!!!!”
DJ MC recently released the track, among many others, on his SoundCloud, so now I can play it over and over and over and over and over and o-o-o-o-o-o-over and over again again again and over and o-o-o-o-over and over and over and over again and over and over and over again again again a-a-a-a-again and over and over and over and over over over over over and over and over again. Check it out here:
In Tragedy, Julia Holter exhibits an extreme form of patient composition via recording herself recording… Err, recording is what that barren sound was on Tragedy, right? With “Marienbad,” Holter presents that same kind of patience, only through noticeably time-consumed pop music engineering. Like, there are almost, like, like mini-movements within this five-and-a-half-minute song. You think it has anything to do with the two different labels’ (Leaving Records and RVNG Intl.) coastal rivalry? Sounds from the West being more washed; sounds from the East being bopp’y. Respectfully, RVNG Intl. is fronting $crill for her next release Ekstasis on CD and double LP formats, to be released early March.