Let’s get something straight: XXX was a great album, a complicated album, a psychedelic meditation on survival and excess, at turns (and sometimes simultaneously) a celebration and a lamentation. It was followed by a long string of strictly celebratory interviews, EPs, and guest verses — a blatant brand-building exercise that succeeded more in caricaturization than characterization.
Virtuosi, man. What to do with ‘em? Sit open-mouthed a few feet away as fingers move faster than the naked eye can register? Allude to “wankery,” in some form, as if instrumental prowess is little more than glamorized musical masturbation? Sure, a number of shredders apply their dexterity in bouts of hilarious self-service. Some, though, work to unlock otherwise unavailable harmonies or rhythms with their legendary digits, fitting their speed and precision into wider compositional frameworks. Lubomyr Melnyk’s style of “continuous music,” which finds the Ukranian composer exploring the piano’s keys at maximum velocity across improbable stretches of time, channels his virtuosity into post-minimalist compositions of extraordinary beauty and elegance. Although more than 60 years old, the man who once set world records for piano performance (19.5 notes per second per hand [!]; 93,650 individual notes in one hour [!!!]) has not yet slowed his roll, and a recent slew of new releases, collaborations, and reissues has earned him more love from listeners than ever before.
In 2013, Melnyk has performed as a duo with fellow mega-shredder James Blackshaw for Important Records, and released the Corollaries LP with UK contemporary classical/avant-garde hub Erased Tapes. Melnyk’s next album Three Solo Pieces continues his relationship with Unseen Worlds, who reissued his style-defining 1978 opus KMH: Piano Music in the Continuous Mode on CD in 2007. “Marginal Invitation,” one of the Three Solo Pieces, demands close listening of the macro- and micro- varieties. Measure by measure, Melnyk’s playing astounds: individual notes reach us with infinitesimal separations between them; left and right hands lay out a shifting rhythmic grid that slides into new chordal configurations after each phrase lives in the mix for its own moment. Zoom out, and whole measures of consistent 1/32 notes fuse into discrete chunks, yielding phantom melodies and overtones that float above Melnyk’s handiwork as a rarefied layer of slo-mo harmonies.
Three Solo Pieces arrives in November. You can preorder the album on LP or CD now.
Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden announced earlier this year that there would be “no pre order, no youtube trailers, no itunes stream, no spotify, no amazon deal, no charts, no bit coin deal, no last minute rick rubin” for his new album, Beautiful Rewind. We here at TMT completely understand the decision to disengage — we’re lazy too! And hey, we also both like SoundCloud, which is where Hebden has made available the entirety of Beautiful Rewind. Check it out here:
Look for the physical release October 15, self-released through his own Text label
• Four Tet: http://www.fourtet.net
Magik Markers have released the first single from their forthcoming album, Surrender to the Fantasy, the group’s first in four years, which makes you, what, a senior in high school now? Shit, you’re cool! And so is this: “Bonfire,” a track that sees Elisa Ambrogio, Pete Nolan, and new member John Shaw wailing, thrashing, shredding, flailing, hollering, grinding, ripping, and roaring through two and a half minutes of trash-humping fun.
Surrender to the Fantasy is out November 19 on Drag City. Read our interview with them here.
Look, some people just go through bad breakups. Sometimes there’s baggage beyond the physical. On occasion, shit’s left behind. In the case of now defunct Hype Williams, Dean Blunt is just having a hard time letting go of samples (potentially) made by Inga Copeland (now copeland). Actually, this whole track comes at listeners in a misleading way. Who knows, the sample could even be Joanne Robertson.
The SoundCloud is under the name cplnd. Under the cplnd profile is a link, including the description, “[I’ve] fancied Nick for several years and am looking to meet someone with the same type of look . So if you would like to rescue an attractive late 30s lady from a reclusive existence let me know.” Furthermore, the brilliance of it all is if Blunt keeps referring to relationships in all his songs, he and Copeland will always remain insidiously together, in posts like this one you’re reading. Harmoniously hyperlinked throughout. But without a doubt, he’ll find something else to brilliantly tackle. Eventually. Maybe.
Bottom line: new track “HENNESSY” has Dean Blunt crooning atop a looped female vocal, and the man is THIRSTY.
• Dean Blunt: http://www.youtube.com/user/pollyjacobsen