“둘 중에 하나 (Runaway)”
Korean pop confectionery KARA just dropped their brand new Japanese album Fantastic Girls, but the real gem of their career’s past week is mother-tongue hit “둘 중에 하나 (Runaway).” Formed by DSP Media in 2007, the girl-group quintet reflect the wisdom of their years with this sophisticated R&B ballad. When it comes to the Gaon charts, only the Brown Eyed Girls — a clear influence here — have such a deft grip on pop this mature and self-assured.
“둘 중에 하나 (Runaway)” is a breezy delight, perfect for those late-summer nights. The single boasts K-Pop rarities aplenty: an expert live band smoothed by delicate studio glaze, lithe melodies and harmonies in no hurry to convince you of their salability, a gratuitous rap so apt it fails to register as gratuitous rap, and — perhaps rarest in Korea (or pop anywhere) — a climactic modulation capable of affecting the desired frisson. Above is the superior full-length version, but you can watch the video’s hugely popular two-minute reduction if you’d like to get your K-drama on.
Also, KARA girls are about to make it ¥en across the Asia-Pacific. Visit their website for more info.
Surprise, surprise: Danny Brown continues to make headlines. In anticipation for his new album OLD, the Detroit MC just dropped a video for a new track called “ODB.” Produced by Paul White (who was responsible for a few cuts off XXX, including a This Heat-sampling track), “ODB” is a relatively easygoing number from an album that’s said to feature his least and most accessible work, amped up as usual by Danny Brown’s characteristic, Muppet-y bite. Other producers on OLD include Rustie, A-Trak, and SKYWLKR, but is it wrong of me to hope for something by Nick Speed again too? The man produced this weird fucking jam, and my life has been better ever since.
OLD is out September 30 on Fool’s Gold, and in case you haven’t heard, it features guest spots by the likes of A$AP Rocky, Schoolboy Q, Freddie Gibbs, Purity Ring, and Charli XCX. STARS STARS STARS STARS STARS STARS.
Lock the doors, break out the candelabrum, build a small tower out of Kleenex boxes but position each box’s open paper-dispensing mouth to face outward so you can reach out from any angle and conveniently procure something soft with which to dry your tears: we have new music from Tim Hecker. Since Ravedeath 1972, 2011’s triumph in holy drone abstraction, Hecker cooked up a set of time-bending improv sessions with Daniel Lopatin on Instrumental Tourist, performed a ludicrous number of high-profile festival-type gigs, and cemented his position as an experimental heavyweight capable of crossing over into the broader public consciousness to zone out even the most casual of zoners. His new full-length LP, Virgins, arrives on October 14. If there’s any justice in this universe, cumulonimbi will appear on horizon while we’re extinguishing the candle in silence after our first full listen and then float overhead to unleash a deluge all over our faces and upper bodies right when we leave our homes so no one can tell we’ve all been weeping.
But hit play on “Virginal II” down below, and you’ll notice something that could surprise you: there’s a lot going on here. If Ravedeath cast Hecker as an isolated, eminently solo artist, poring over his computer and/or an Icelandic church organ in pursuit of a static-infused vision of Pärt’s tintinnabulation, “Virginal II” falls closer to the busy minimalism of Reich’s or Glass’s large-ensemble works. Hear percussive piano loops overlap, phase out of time, and pound their way through the haze as Hecker’s gloriously spatialized droning voices, woodwind overdubs, and low-end pads creep into the proceedings. By the time the stuttering synth leads take over near the four-minute mark, Hecker has filled his mix with an expansive palette of tones both acoustic and electronic, resulting in a piece closer in atmosphere and arrangement to previous efforts like An Imaginary Country, though significantly broader in scope.
A limited-edition vinyl press of Virgins will go up for pre-order soon (but when??) from Paper Bag Records, while Kranky will handle the wide release and distribution.
A few words to the wise: there are no kings, there is no city, and when it comes to this rap shit, Breeze Brewin just might be the greatest of all time. On the low though, he’s also a school teacher. Learn:
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Mamiffer & Circle
Too often, “collaborations” are little more than different musicians each independently playing their obvious parts. The ego does not retreat; even as every voice gets their say, there is no conversation happening. It’s all a lot of yelling and trying to be heard. It’s a humbling thing then to hear different musicians make conversation seem so effortless and genuine, and to hear them strike such an elegant balance between distinction and disappearance.
I had the privilege of talking with Mamiffer and Locrian about this very thing last year. I didn’t learn much about the technicality of collaborations. I only learned that it takes particular personalities, that is, those fundamentally open to the very possibility of collaboration. The situation — the recording studio, the equipment, and even the talent — only determines so much. It really is, instead, a posture of openness, an “ethic of conversation,” that clears the way for making something truly effective, collaboratively.
What I then mean to say — with absolutely shameless, uncritical praise and admiration — is that it’s no surprise to me (at all) that Mamiffer and Circle were able to make this work, together. Below is only one stunning example of this extraordinary collaboration. And believe me when I say that you should look forward to hearing the others as well.
“Kaksonen 1” is from Enharmonic Intervals (for Paschen Organ), a collaborative album by Mamiffer & Circle, which will be released October 13 on SIGE Records.