Bitchin Bajas

“Sun City”

If this is what “Sun City” sounds like, minus the Girls it seems, take me there. We’ll drive into town to the sound of one quavering organ tone as the sun over Sun City sinks into a sunset over Sun City. In the five minutes left of the day, that one tone will coast down the highway with us, growing louder along with the engine, until… yeahhhhhh, three more tones punch in to join it: right channel, left channel, center. It’s as simple as this. If we had more time, “Sun City” could probably scrub the sand off our boots like the wind does, erosion style. We pull over and we raise a monument of cactus and clay up to the sky and we stare at it immobile for hours after the sun sets, waiting for it to rise again.

The Bitchin B’s boys can do no wrong in 2013. Across a series of solid gold physical releases, Cooper Crain’s “side-project” alongside CAVE has evolved into the Chicago drone / neo-kraut scene’s finest full-time ambassadors of the 1970s. The Krausened EP shrunk us down to microscopic size and led us down an artery into the beating heart of Kraftwerk’s past earlier this year. On the upcoming Bitchitronics LP, due July 16th via Drag City (!), Crain and collaborators Dan Quinlivan and Rob Frye harness tape looping and delay systems in four sessions of beatless, gorgeous, hi-fi drone that channel the likes of Fripp & Eno, Tangerine Dream, and Alice Coltrane more faithfully than anything these ears have heard in a long while. While the album’s other sessions take their sweet, sweet time to develop, “Sun City” crams its full arc into five minutes of sublime oscillation.

• Bitchin Bajas: http://bitchinbajas.tumblr.com/
• Drag City: http://www.dragcity.com/

Ensemble Economique

Fever Logic

Ensemble Economique is all at once mellow and wasted and refreshing. Sort of like drinking wine for dinner, only to wake up eating grapes for breakfast. Thus, the title for Brian Pyle (Ensemble Economique)’s new LP Fever Logic on Not Not Fun is almost the perfect literal representation of his sound to date. Having dawned audiences/listeners this year (so far) with a tour CD-R, a split LP with Heroin In Tahiti, and a Shelter Press LP, Pyle is an unstoppable mad-man, driving that same blend of vigor and lax into anyone craving adventure.

In full premiere presentation, Fever Logic by Ensemble Economique is below and streaming in full, just to make your Tuesday a little more of a journey into the knowingly unknown. As well, the “LPs [are] in reptile lodge artwork designed in-house. 240 on opaque maroon vinyl, 210 on black. Edition of 450” (thanks Britt), out officially July 9 on Not Not Fun. Enjoy!

• Ensemble Economique: http://ensembleeconomique.tumblr.com
• Not Not Fun: http://www.notnotfun.com

[Photo: Clementine Nixon]

Locrian

“Eternal Return”

On the Locrian timeline of Terrible YouTube Comment Trolling, previous album The Clearing was to “What is this, it sounds like just an INTRO, where’s the song??? this is BOOoooring, omg so tedious” what new album Return to Annihilation is to “what is this shoegaze-y post-rock bullshit??? too much like a real song! go back to the old stuff!!!” The trolls will never be satisfied, of course, but anyone with functioning ears and eyes can observe that Locrian continue to fucking dominate. Check out the video for the album’s opening cut, “Eternal Return,” above.

What hasn’t changed: visually, Locrian still lead us through the decaying urban spaces that have perfectly accompanied their music for some time now. Steven Hess’s thunderous drums still pound their way into our skulls until our hands raise up as if by their own accord into clenched fists of victory. Terrence Hannum’s synths still occupy massive swathes of aural real estate, swallowing us in the low-end while delivering those airy, mournful melodies in the upper register. Hannum’s anguished vocals still take us there, too, down to a subterranean granite chamber where his howling reverberates from wall to wall to wall to infinity.

What has changed: “Eternal Return,” though admittedly the front-loaded intro of an otherwise deeeeeep album, feels more like a “proper single” than anything the band has released before: three minutes of discernible riffage, something like a verse-chorus-verse structure, and those killer clean-tone leads from guitarist André Foisy (“What is this, the new MBV?”). Even in their most “accessible” moments, Locrian continue to surpass expectations.

Return To Annihilation is available now on CD and 2xLP via Relapse Records. Pick it up, put it on, fall into it.

• Locrian: http://www.locrianband.com
• Relapse: http://www.relapse.com

Lil B

“4 Me”

My main man C Monster recently wrote an excellent post on the new Lil B mixtape, 100% Percent Gutta. In it, he describes “4 Me” as a “Fucking GAME CHANGER,” and I agree with him — so much, in fact, that I want to do another damn post just on the track. So basically, “4 Me” is the BasedGod’s take on Rihanna’s “We Found Love,” a track that was epic when it debuted two years ago but that has since become staler than a bag of Tostitos left in an overheated car for two years. But they don’t call him the BasedGod for nothing, because Lil B brings this track back to LIFE, in a strange, twisted, tone-deaf kind of way. “4 Me” consists of an intro, a verse, and a hook: a trolling, Sadean lovechild of a hook, repeated just the right number of times so that it’ll come creeping into your head 16 hours later. Indeed, the Auto-Tune on this song is unequivocally, awe-inspiringly awful, to the point that it actually makes Our Lord and Savior Yeezus Christ’s singing sound operatic by comparison (collaboration, guys, please?). Depending on who you ask, “4 Me” may be considered a triumph of transcendentally terrible art à la The Room, an earnest but nonetheless shitty take on a hit song — or maybe it’s just another excuse for Lil B to cavort around in a bomber hat and PJ pants. Me, I say it’s a combination of the three, plus a belated New Years’ greeting. Hey, it beats “Auld Lang Syne.”

• Lil B: http://www.youtube.com/user/lilbpack1
• Dat Piff: http://www.datpiff.com

Talibam! with Yasunao Tone and Sam Kulik

Launch Pad #5 (Kanye West’s Yeezus)

Regardless of your feelings about Yeezus, one thing that’s objectively apparent about the record is that the whole album (and especially its first half) is mastered and mixed well into the red, with an emphasis on amplifying both the high and the low ends in the mix. Such mixing tactics, from a purely physiological level, make Kanye West’s music abrasive when played at high volumes or listened to for a long period of time. Even though Yeezus finds West experimenting with musically noisier textures as well, this relationship to the psychoacoustic effects of frequency and timbre is explored even further with episode 5 of Talibam’s Launch Pad series; here, the noisier aspects of West’s music are pushed to their disgustingly logical extremes by Talibam!, Sam Kulik and legendary Japanese Fluxus artist Yasunao Tone.

The trio use the first third of Yeezus as the catalyst for their collaboration, and the results present a magical alternate universe where the implicit use of frequency and volume in West’s music become explicit. Opener “Bon Zaite!” (oh yeah, puns abound with these titles) is perhaps the most overtly bombastic illustration of this, with Kulik’s absolutely guttural trombone and Tone’s piercing glitches threatening to swallow the track whole. However, the duo still leave room for West’s verses to cut through, which nicely draws a direct line to the source material. “I AM A SCROD” is another major highlight that nearly approaches prettiness while also thoroughly deconstructing “I Am A God’s” production. The idea of deconstruction is key to this material; listen to the original Yeezus tracks after listening to the Talibam! session, and it becomes apparent that these artists picked certain sonic elements of the original tracks and chose to highlight them by distorting them. The attention to frequency on “Bon Zaite!” mimics and warps the synthesizers on the original track; the rhythmic glitches on “FRACK S{PIN BREAD” subverts the pounding drums of “Black Skinhead;” and similarly the debased kalimba(?) and electronics of “I AM A SCROD” beautifully perverts the sounds of “I Am A God.” Umm, time for a full-album remix, guys?

You can listen to the Launch Pad session below:

• Talibam: http://www.talibam.bandcamp.com
• Sam Kulik: http://www.samkulik.com

  

CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we'll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.