Remixed Ambience Wars: “Saw 13 (äNACRUSä remix)” [excerpt]
Mystery, or uncertainty, is in the air, alley, and ether in “Saw 13 (äNACRUSä remix)” on the Remixed Ambience Wars compilation. The air smells of metal and silver. An ethereal mist stipples and outlines ancestral figures. Day or night, the alley stays dark and silent. We detect the danger: it lurks, attacks, and leaves no evidence. The alley is as clean as an operating table, sterilized after the surgery, still warm. The surgical tools are placed in a cold stainless steel container, which also house organs beating “heartily.”
The remix conjures scenes of tragedy, of violence and victimization carried out swiftly by moonlight, lacking the celebratory nature of a public execution, reported and printed next to apple pie recipes as matter-of-fact news blurbs in a high-numbered page of the morning edition. The scenes are commonplace, due to their frequency, but not common. They are composed of supernatural and abstract elements. One blurb reads:
We are halfway through viewing a film in a half-finished attic when the film pauses itself; the film’s protagonist jostles on the screen, in his seat. His tie bends, and his face is washed-out to the point of erasure. His hands, as equally pale and “rubbed out” as his face, wobble on a tabletop. We lean forward and squint in order to examine a nickel that spins near the eastern edge of the table. We pause, frozen with the film, in suspense, hypnotized by the nickel.
Searchlights, hot enough to bleed the pores of the wall, announce the arrival of the midnight paramilitary. We hear them draw their swords and feel their blades on skin, muscle, and bone. We are dismantled, folded neatly, and placed underneath the film’s tabletop, out of the frame, off-camera.
TV Rots Your Brains
Tequila Yuen’s TV Rots Your Brain is a not so subtle mockery of television, booze, and other instant gratifiers. It’s also a send-up of hip-hop as a whole. While this type of smack-you-in-the-face righteousness can usually be pretty tiresome, Yuen’s able to keep the whole thing afloat based on the fact that he doesn’t preach, but rather playfully shows. The beats are formulaic and “wack” (but still are good), the lyrics are self-indulgent and sordid (but still are good), and there are plenty of mass-media references to help any TV junky feel right at home, including self-made tequila commercials pieced together from PSAs and older advertisments, all of which run throughout the album.
With that said, Bron-Bron’s coming home, and I learnt that from a TV, so who’s brain is rotting now, Tequila Yuen? Huh? Who’s? What’s that you say? Mine, still? Yeah, yr prolly right…
Out now on Em La La Terra, in an edition of 50 cassettes. Stream it below if you need more convincing that this tape will be beneficial to your life.
• Em La La Terra: http://emlalaterra.com
Steff & the Articles
“Call You Mine”
A little different from the norm here, Steff & the Articles hide from the dry heat of Tucson, AZ in their coffee-house-lit track, “Call You Mine.” Vocalist and pianist Steff Koeppen maintains, forward and bright, a blend of Jenny Lewis and Nicole Miglis across the shivering lull the “Articles” (Tom Beech, Chris Pierce, and Alex Tuggle) generate. With a string of EPs and a handful of demos, Steff & the Articles have amassed a small following that you can join on their upcoming West Coast-ish tour.
• Steff & the Articles: https://soundcloud.com/steffandthearticles
“Port Harcourt (Shriekin’ Orchestral Remix)”
In everything I’ve heard from Shriekin’ (a.k.a. Shriekin’ Specialist), I’m always shocked at how epic and massive his compositions can feel even though they’re being made from tiny, sound effect-y samples, like some sprawling Game Boy Color game. With “Port Harcourt,” the grime producer pulls the original both sillier and lower brow, and more “orchestral” and higher brow. Although there are a ton of sounds being heard in the track, the silence in between is so palpable, which for me, is the most effective part. I think that emptiness does deaden the style for some listeners, but Shriekin’ is more concerned with the full journey, which is why I think his work is best appreciated when he has even more time to showcase it (Check out the 100% Shriekin’ Boxed Mix).
The longer you listen, the more you realize how the perceived emptiness is a style rather than a void of feeling. Although by no means do I discount how Port Harcourt creates an emotionally effective beginning, middle, and end. And with mostly beeps and boops.
A Loaf of Fun
Jesse Krakow overloads each second, writing out one line at a time, blocking the prior lines with a blank sheet of paper. This technique is good reading practice: it prevents the reader from doing a quick scan of the preceding phrases and, therefore, the reader stays focused. However, when the technique is employed by Krakow, the focus shifts shiftily and the sounds meander radically.
Despite the abrupt terminations, the hard and unpredictable splices, of brief and giddy musical moments, A Loaf of Fun does not break the listener from the fun, due to the tint of humor Krakow applies to those overloaded seconds, seconds filled with shifts in accent, genre, quality, and arrangement, where the artist, presumably by his lonesome, is nearly grinning from his own jokes, like the Alf equivalent of bedroom pop.
The shifting seconds of A Loaf of Fun construct a half hour of an unresolved punchline. Sometimes, I find myself shaking my head at its tackiness; sometimes, I am hypnotized, intrigued by its deranged twists and mesmerized by its fragments, fragments that, when assembled from A to B, create a “linear blur,” a horizontal unison of tangents.