Last year, Andy Stott’s magnificent Luxury Problems blew open the ears of many listeners to new possibilities for vocal performance — or, at least, new possibilities for vocal performance in the context of electronic music. In fact, more than expand the spectrum of mere “possibilities,” Stott’s album appended certain responsibilities to the treatment of the human voice in that particular realm of dark, chasmic sound. More important than reciting mere hooks or spitting looped phrases, the human voice became a tool of texture, of pure expressive force, not to be demoted to a mere messenger of morphemes.
For some listeners (this writer included), this may have been a lesson only recently learned, but surely many of Stott’s peers have known for a while. Rainer Veil — a duo from the North of England and one of Andy Stott’s label mates on Modern Love — certainly understands it. The entirety of their new EP, Struck, is available for your substantial streaming pleasure via Modern Love’s SoundCloud, embedded here. But, more specifically, allow me to direct your attention to “Bala,” the album’s centerpiece, its longest and epitomizing track. In particular, pay attention to the human sigh (at least what I assume to be human) that drops through the mix about 30 seconds in. A more sustained vocal performance shortly follows, but it’s this nearly percussive, lurching breath that makes me fall fully for the song. Rather than serve the tenuous gods of lyric, or even melody, the first sigh of “Bala” has a characteristic most like the ploughing of a ridged brushstroke, displaying a painter’s own impact and presence against his canvas, otherwise smooth.
Soooo many people fucking their neighbors. Don Draper and the broad from Freaks and Geeks with black hair. My pal fucking his (not single) roommate. I’m sure Grams has a thing with the dentist next door. A college pal of mine married his next door neighbor, as they started sleeping together three months before she broke up with her ex. Fucking, A-bomb of all people is seeing the 40-year-old down the block from the house he owns. My coworker wants to get up in my desk neighbor. Kevin Bacon always inside his old neighbor while tryna get back his wife in the Following. And aside from my Grams, I don’t think any of these people are Christian. Or at least, they aren’t now. Also, nooooobody likes plums or peaches like Matthew Papich (Co La). Err, maybe he doesn’t like these fruits?
Same time: my girl now was never my neighbor. She also don’t believe in Christianity. I mean, neither do I, but I do have a witching-hour, in which I usually get bombed-out wasted for two or three hours after my girl hits the hay, and I listen to music and write or game or sit. And thinking of my praise that way, I worship that moment in which I’m merely my girl’s neighbor. As if I’m a roommate, thinking of the love I have for my roommate, religiously sipping on [whatever booze is in the pantry] and puffin’ on that LOUD. Usually my pals are bitching at me through an online microphone to turn down my music. Personally, Co La for me has been in my catalog for a minute or two. So when the new Co La LP Moody Coupe drops May 7 on Software Recording Co., my stereo will track out HARD.
Dr. OctoTron (Del & Kool Keith)
“Spaz” [prod. by KutMasta Kurt]
What do you get when you cross Dr. Octagon with Deltron? Dr. OctoTron of course. The only character missing is Dan the Automator, who brilliantly produced the sci-fi opuses Dr Octagonecologyst and Deltron 3030 in their entirety. Instead, frequent Kool Keith collaborator KutMasta Kurt takes the producer helm here.
“But wait? Isn’t that Dr. Octagon-ass motherfucker dead? Dr. Dooom killed him, didn’t he?”
Well, yes, twice actually. Like Rasputin, he’s been shot, drowned, stabbed over 17 times, electrocuted by electric razor, beaten to death with rocks — you name it. The important thing is that he’s back again, this time on an official Keith-endorsed release. So, while we’re still awaiting the long-anticipated Deltron 3030: Event II, we can at least look forward to a limited-edition 7-inch from Keith and Del coming this spring.
“Speakers R-4 (Sounds)”
Video artist Jonathan Toomey, who has created videos for Oneohtrix Point Never, Robedoor, and Young Smoke, has just dropped a deliciously minimal video for footwork pioneer RP Boo. The track is titled “Speakers R-4 (Sounds),” a characteristically syncopated mindfuck of a track punctuated by sudden bursts of percussion and chopped vocal samples. Despite its spaciousness, it’s a rhythmically dense track that’s enlivened even further by Toomey’s brilliant, meticulously constructed stroboscopic imagery.
Look for RP Boo’s Legacy May 13 on Planet Mu.
Danny Brown and college kid-cum-producer Trampy team up for “Express Yourself,” which is not a Madonna cover, but ACTUALLY a Diplo tribute track. Yep, the Philly native’s viral twerk campaign has inspired this duo to offer a grimy tribute, awash with skittery drums and a mellow two-note synth run. “Yeah, I know it’s a little bit trampy,” a woman continuously interjects. “But what am I?” It’s a cynical bit of rhetoric that sort of speaks to the song itself. Yeah, Danny Brown’s lyrics here are the usual potpourri of blunts, booty, and blowjobs, delivered with his usual thrilled shrieks. He knows these type of Bacchanalian boasts are silly, trampy, even. But then again, aren’t we all? Isn’t that universality the reason why Diplo’s been so successful in turning #expressyourself into a rallying cry? In keeping things sordid, isn’t Danny Brown just playing to the freak in us all? If you want literary references and time-aged R&B, check out Kweli’s latest track. If you just want to get freaky for a bit, give this a listen, and while you’re at it, peep “Blueberry,” Brown’s collab with Darq E Freaker, which takes on the same decadent themes with a bit more ADD-addled urgency.