“The End” feat. billy woods
The media likes to re-spin tales of how New Yorkers all came together after the towers fell, and there is some truth to those, but as far as I could see, what drew us closest together was a pervading sense of impending doom. In other words, despite any reports to the contrary, the general consensus around New York after 9/11 was that the world was coming to an end. At least, that was the story the city’s independent hip-hop world had to tell at the time, and it was that narrative, combined with readings of Watchmen, Behold a Pale Horse and the selected works of Chuck Palahniuk and Philip K. Dick, that nourished the paranoia of many a mind like mine back then.
L’Orange and billy woods’ “The End,” at least for this listener, harks to those days; the days when concept albums about Armageddon debuted faster than terror alert updates; when scene stalwart El-P deadpanned, “Oh, you didn’t know that the apocalypse was here, you didn’t realize that we’re in the middle of World War III and we’re all going to die soon?”; when a South Africa-born, New York-bred femcee by the name of Jean Grae embraced the role of cataclysmic seraph, spitting suicidal resolve in the face of approaching hellfire.
Is it the fiery-eyed shadows of characters like these that stalk billy woods’ dreaded silhouette down graffitied passages in the Jay Brown-directed video for “The End,” the first single off L’Orange’s The Orchid Days due out April 8 on CD and Orange & Grey Vinyl from Mello Music Group? Time will/won’t tell.
Every other day I go to the library. The three-year-old that lives below me is there too (same time), repeating his teacher in mumbles through his smile. It’s a pleasant time for me, typically; I enjoy the brief comfort of the super quite atmosphere. However yesterday, the bases of that calm was thrown off kilter as a gaggle of kids began making fun of a man dressed and smelling exactly of cheap everything, but was well kept in a flagrant way. When the teens began mocking and teasing him verbally, the man burst out into topics of “responsibility,” “adulthood,” “narcotics anonymous,” and “belief in society.” Genuinely, it looked like this man was struggling to keep himself both composed in emotion and contained in subject, while everything came out as a reality-check lesson for these snot wipers in front of him. As he walked out, I’d never seen someone so shaken up and proud at the same time, but then the alarm when off, and he didn’t check out his books. The front desk assistant helped him, said That was awesome!, and offered him an opportunity to teach on Sundays.
There’s a moment in SAÅAD’s “Giant Mouth” where everything seems to tinker around, transition into something bold, and continually questions it’s thoughts through contemplative keys and a deep electric horn hum in the background. The sound(s) constantly filter and descend, as though “Giant Mouth” has been locked away in SAÅAD’s heads for quite some time, and now it’s beginning to ooze out. And because it’s not too premeditated or exact in form, “Giant Mouth” takes to new heights of droning and note-scale, as the duo is in production.
SAÅAD’s newest LP Deep/Float is out April 17 on Hands in the Dark. It is very much a lingerer in the beyond realm, but can be palpable for a variety of listeners and thinkers. Listen to the second single “Giant Mouth” streaming below:
The debut LP from Swedish minimalist Klara Lewis will be released by Editions Mego on April 14. Ett is a dark, detailed, daunting record that fills up both sides of vinyl with five tracks each. One of the new pieces “Shine” can be heard below in advance of the release. Its echoed tones and subtle rhythm maintain a creeping momentum throughout, slowly revealing delicate, translucent layers of sound until it all disintegrates back into silence. A few other tracks on Ett were previously released by the artist on Bandcamp and should hold you over until the full release next month. Stream “Shine” below:
“Loyal” ft. Lil Wayne, Tyga
I’ll bet you couldn’t guess Lil Wayne’s penis size. -Eh, fuck it, I can’t wait for summertime. VERY happy Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, and Tyga’s “beats” in this video for “Loyal” are being played off a cassette, yeah. That’s cute. This whole video is cute. Right down to Chris Brown dancing, singing “These hoes ain’t loyal,” while poppin’ off the daintiest choreography surrounded by women who could crush him each individually in a fist fight. No holds, bruhh. Then Tyga gotta step in with a transition beat that sounds like the owner of my full-time job scream at his phone. And here I am flipping through tabs and windows, tryna do ACTUAL work, while these dudes literally make millions on misogyny, and I’m frantically trying to post this shit ASAP because it’s… “The hot new spring jam?” NO! Because interestingly enough, Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, and Tyga are all three-amigoing the reminder to listeners everywhere that rich people still suck.
A pal of mine in Ohio the other day axed me if Donald Trump ever went into Brooklyn. I axed back, “In his entire life, or just like during the week now?” He told me he and his not-so-new new girlfriend were talking about it and didn’t know if Trump went in there during the week. “Donald Trump is probably in New York twice a year.” Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, and Tyga all probably know the meaning of the streets, though. And what it means to be “Loyal.” Which is the biggest offender here: what’s the point of stating “These hoes ain’t loyal” when there’s no actual explanation to how a hoe can BE “Loyal.” Just to clarify, this is shocking AND warm weather music, totally.
The Honeymoon Workbook
I remember finding the Good Willsmith Is The Food Your Family Eats Slowly tape at a record store in Seattle. It was one of those small, focused record stores where you won’t find a single Linda Ronstadt or Herb Alpert record, the kind of place where you have to sift through everything. And in a single box of tapes near the register was the Good Willsmith cassette from the band’s own Hausu Mountain label. It was the first and only time I can remember finding a contemporary music tape at a store. The format, for all its analog loyalty, is ironically reliant largely on computer screens as storefronts. I excitedly tried to explain all of this to the guy at the counter as I bought the tape, mostly just thinking aloud. He didn’t seem impressed, but thought the band name was kind of clever.
Discovering the tape unexpectedly seemed an appropriate way to “find” their music. Good Willsmith has always had a kind of researching feel to their music, and I’m not just referring to their 14 Years of Desperate Research release. The progression of their sound from song to song, show to show, or album to album has always paralleled a form of rhetorical analysis, wherein the recording and editing of the music itself is another step in the discovery of its own sound space, rather than an attempt at capturing an idealized song. In this regard, there is often little difference between the band’s live performance and recorded output. It’s a testament to the instinctual quality of improvisation between individual musicians creating in symmetry toward an exact common goal, a final filling of a song’s combined sound space occurring simultaneously with the musical artifact reaching the hands of a listener and being heard by outside ears in any format.
The Honeymoon Workbook, the new album from the Chicago-based trio (which includes TMT’s own Mukqs on low-end manipulation), steps closely in the footprints of the improvisational qualities of previous releases, but with a kind of cyclical nature that crests like the changing of the seasons, leaving its listeners in a kind of seasonal cognitive dissonance from the same seasons they’ve grown to expect and know. Still feeling the effects of chilly interludes as synthetic, spring colors melt anything piled beyond its own means, and the sun begins to create new colors in skin. And it feels like it could stretch out forever, but we all know its timeline. It’s written in the calendars of our computers, and it tells us what to expect when we look out the windows on this date, as if years of experiencing March weather hadn’t written expectation into our internal clocks. No matter how much we experiment and research, spending hours and days and years with the same objects, everything will always occur differently enough to hold our interest to the specific inconsistencies hidden underneath its persistence.
It’s an entire measure of the value in improvisation: that nothing really occurs twice, despite any attempts at mimicry through the setting of the knobs on the equipment, whether it be the oscillators on synthesizers or the settings on the chain of effect pedals carrying the softly strummed harmonies from guitars. The Honeymoon Workbook is an experiment, and what we hear is the results, written between the understanding of time-based variables, as something that exists from a datebook of events, every one of which held the potential for writing a natural law, but only as a pattern of numbers describing its findings within the overall sum of experimentation.