“Pan Am Holiday”
I don’t know what it is exactly, but I have a real thing for the bossa nova. In middle school jazz band, all the drummers would gravitate towards the charts labeled “Latin” at the top, because it was so easy to play for something that actually sounds kinda complicated, the light samba rhythm in the bass drum and the clave pattern syncopated against it with the left hand. When it’s done on a little Casio drum sampler, that groove is even easier to nail, but it’s no less intoxicating and transportive, especially when it’s the middle of February and you’ve got those warbling organ chords and quaint melodies lighting up a tune like “Pan Am Holiday.” And all is nice and well and good, and I can feel the warm breeze in my hair, almost as if one of the VHS babes in this video is about to ask me to reach into the screen to put some lotion on her back, and I notice all of this because of how much I love that bossa nova so incredibly much… but Travel Kyoto is ultimately sold on the voice of Portlander Jake Aesthete, shy and understated as it is, like it’s sitting in with a karaoke machine, doing that tune we all know but can’t seem to remember the words for. Sum total has me thinking that, with a live band, this track might of fit nicely on Sam Prekop’s first solo record. But it’s not there; it’s on this cassette called Empire of Signs from Russian label Singapore Sling.
Amun Dragoon & Mensa Group International
Fjords, Vol. II
One of my favorite related “vaporwave” (wait, that’s what we’re still calling it, right?) releases of this year so far, these artists draw from a deeper, darker well of sample material than their contemporaries. The memories of sitting through that super outdated training video I had to watch when I used to work at Avis are beginning to fade; the flashbacks of playing Mavis Beacon are gone. This digital nostalgia is diluted with cinematic sequences and spiritual scenes that remain with the listener far beyond the brief 13 minutes of music.
Released by the generous Ailanthus Recordings, Fjords, Vol. II can be downloaded here for whatever price you want.
Through The Window
I think we can all agree that the summer album of 2011 was Dominick Fernow’s Prurient release Bermuda Drain. I don’t think there’s a one of us who can say that we didn’t hum along to his tortured screaming on “A Meal Can Be Made” or drive to the beach blasting “Palm Tree Corpse” (with its sun-soaked spoken word chorus of “If I could/ I’d take a tree branch/and ram it inside you”) . And seriously, who didn’t make out with their summer crush to “Myth of Sex” at least once?
Well, the good times are back, my friends! It’s been a while since we’ve gotten a proper Prurient release, but Fernow’s given us plenty to tide us over with his cassette releases, collaborations, and a bunch of work from those other projects of his. Fernow’s latest bears some similarities to the John Carpenter-meets-Wolf Eyes aesthetic of Bermuda Drain, but overall, Through the Window is another beast all together. There’s a significant sense of restraint on this release compared to Bermuda Drain’s synth/vocal/feedback pummel. A perfect example of this is the slow-burning, 18-plus-minute title track that consistently builds tension without ever providing release. The other two tracks have a similarly excellent ebb and flow while grooving unlike any of Fernow’s other Prurient releases to date (even the noise-ridden “Terracotta Spine” keeps a minimal pulse throughout). All of this is sure to make Through the Window the next go-to beach party record of choice for summer 2k13.
Shimmering in billboards, tiles, and pop-ups: SAINT PEPSI. Bling defined by the pearliest of whites. Dancing shoes flashing across the floor in steps that blend beyond visual smear, and stroke an image of streak on streak in sync with each beat. Beat after dime after dollar hailing into an infinity of currency from what? What is being sold here? Bring on the Empire Building. Hi: this here. Attention: products and people. AD: this is an advert about an advertisement. If there were bad press about it, SAINT PEPSI would come out on top. Like hitting a wall and gaining speed. And glasses as glaring as the color of oil in water. So, you take that, yeah? You bought it and it’ll be insignificant in months. WEEKS! Wait. You wait. Is Empire Building enough for you? Oh. Who am I talking to? What are they selling? Life. Background. A world? Let SAINT PEPSI sell you the world through Empire Building. You’ll find it has been there all along.
If you’ve ever dicked around on an old Wurlitzer organ at an antique store, or practiced your sixth-grade piano recital on your neighbor’s shitty electric keyboard, or been to this website, then you’ve probably used drum beat presets.
To some of us, these drum presets (when they are in a keyboard instrument) exist so we can play Pachabel’s Canon in D in a bunch of funny rhythms and try to impress drunken friends. To others, they serve as the groundwork to build cutesy twee tunes. For Dutch musician Rutger Zuydervelt (a.k.a. Machinefabriek), built-in presets on a musical instrument are just another everyday noise, sounds of our planet that should be recorded as if they were a babbling brook or a tribal rain dance.
On his newest release, Vergezichten, Machinefabriek weaves in a whirly organ preset rhythm through layers of hovering ambience and rumbling bass tones, as if it were a rare field recording of a spontaneous, unique moment in time. Zuydervelt’s like bajillionth release is a 10-inch record out on March 15 from Alien Transistor, and comes with (as always) impeccably designed artwork.
“Fuck a Rap Song”
Dahlia Black is the sinister nom de plume for a new hip-hop project born from the twisted minds of two progressive beat makers. Blue Daisy, one of London’s most forward-thinking dubstep producers, has teamed up with South African d’n’b jockey Hey!Zeus for a sinister, bass-heavy banger that sounds like the type of thing Lucifer would bump in his Camaro. “Fuck a Rap Song” draws from both artists’ pitch-black palettes, thudding snare hits, squelchy bass blasts, and all. The video, meanwhile, is a trippy, cartoon-y take on the performance clip; Daisy and Zeus’ faces are covered with scribbled war-paint, and the lyrics flash across the screen in a frenzied shorthand. In just under four minutes, Dahlia Black hits the Manson-y sweet spot that most horrorcore rappers spend years trying to reach (remember when Game tried that?), and with considerably less effort, too. I guess creepin’ comes naturally to them.
• Dahlia Black: http://dahliablackgang.tumblr.com