The Flaming Lips
“Ashes in the Air” [NSFW]

Birth, death, baby, corpse, goatee, no goatee: life presents itself to us in the form of binary oppositions that are, most of the time, packaged up neatly into little idealistic parcels without us having to worry much about it. Well, all that stuff goes out the window in the NSFW clip for The Flaming Lips’ Bon Iver collaboration, “Ashes in the Air.” It addresses many of the big, scary questions explored in The Terror, the band’s upcoming, 13th full-length, but as far as I can tell, there are no sparknotes for a visual text that features Residents-styled astronauts, goateed babies, cavemen covered in flour, paint-slicked cadavers, and human meat grinders. Guess it’s a matter of trippy interpretation, then. If your head isn’t spinning by the second half, just wait for the seizure-inducing animations and the gruesome finale. Psychic pain is the Lips’ biggest pleasure, and it’s ours as well. I just hope my mind will stitch itself back together, in time to get ripped apart again by The Terror when it strikes later this month. Thanks for the nightmares, Mr. Coyne.

• The Flaming Lips: http://www.flaminglips.com
• Warner Bros: http://www.warnerbrosrecords.com

The Flaming Lips

“Ashes in the Air” [NSFW]

Birth, death, baby, corpse, goatee, no goatee: life presents itself to us in the form of binary oppositions that are, most of the time, packaged up neatly into little idealistic parcels without us having to worry much about it. Well, all that stuff goes out the window in the NSFW clip for The Flaming Lips’ Bon Iver collaboration, “Ashes in the Air.” It addresses many of the big, scary questions explored in The Terror, the band’s upcoming, 13th full-length, but as far as I can tell, there are no sparknotes for a visual text that features Residents-styled astronauts, goateed babies, cavemen covered in flour, paint-slicked cadavers, and human meat grinders. Guess it’s a matter of trippy interpretation, then. If your head isn’t spinning by the second half, just wait for the seizure-inducing animations and the gruesome finale. Psychic pain is the Lips’ biggest pleasure, and it’s ours as well. I just hope my mind will stitch itself back together, in time to get ripped apart again by The Terror when it strikes later this month. Thanks for the nightmares, Mr. Coyne.

• The Flaming Lips: http://www.flaminglips.com
• Warner Bros: http://www.warnerbrosrecords.com

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

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.