We ❤ Arca. The Venezuelan producer’s most recent two releases — Stretch 2 and &&&&& — made our last couple year-end lists, and he has already started off 2014 with a bang, having just announced a vinyl release of &&&&& and now with this new track, “Fluid Silhouettes.” Here, Arca teams with visual artist Jesse Kanda, a frequent collaborator who was responsible for one of 2013’s more memorable videos, the Arca-produced FKA twigs track, “Water Me.” And no surprise, the partnership works incredibly well again, with Arca’s grotesque, fluid musical transformations finding visual accompaniment in Kanda’s liquid, mannerist figures and shapes, all designed to reflect the “experimental forms” of designer clothing store SSENSE’s Spring 2014 collections: the look and sound of digital androgyny, 2014.
Meanwhile, look for a new Arca album this year on Hippos in Tanks. (!!!!!)
Chocolate Grinder Mix 99
Blood Sport B2B
“DJs,” the solipsistic parasites of the musical world, exist at a funny contemporary juncture. Between the entrenched vinyl purists and teenage iPod DJ-Appers exists a hinterland of frankly confused music collators, wondering which side to take. New technology, the primacy of “good selection,” open arms to new kids with affordable $50 DJ controllers from supermarkets? Or DJing as an art, a skill, a practice in the verbal sense, something that is being dramatically diluted by an explosion in cheap DJ software and a disappearing materialist edge, literally losing its grooves?
As someone who’s spent more than a few nights behind a laptop screen, swearing I’ll convert to Traktor Scratch for the next gig, trying to avoid the alluring ease of my pre-planned tracklist, feeling occasionally vindicated by the fact “you can’t even get this shit on vinyl, mate,” I can attest to the peculiar reflexive worry of the modern DJ. But what else is a DJ than a beacon of reflexivity: an ego with a sync-button screaming “LOOK HOW GOOD MY TASTE IS, DANCE TO IT YOU MUSICALLY INEPT IDIOTS.” It’s a sentiment we all have in common.
One thing promoters and DJs have turned toward to help avoid these lapses into screen-gazing automation is the humble B2B, Back to Back, HEAD 2 HEAD, in which two DJs respond to each other’s tracks organically. Here, partly inspired by the joyous mystery of taking part in the The 2013 Exquisite Corpse mix, is an attempt to propel the B2B ethos into a “long distance” (i.e., over email) online domain. We thereby get all the fun of a B2B exchange, without the actual fear of having a crowd in front of you waiting for a decent mix. Huzzah.
This mix was compiled with Blood Sport, a band from Sheffield who made one of my favorite albums of 2013, Life In Units, which you can stream for free at their Bandcamp. I hadn’t met the band in the flesh until a couple of weeks after this mix was finished, but we had fun steadily accumulating these tracks over email.
In a typical assertion of authorial primacy, I’ve granted the band one line in which to explain their experience of this process: “We’ve spent the last few years of our lives trying to chase an inexorable rhythm, through afro-beat, techno, and god-knows-what-else, and have found that our use of guitars and drums have become increasingly similar to a warped DJ set. So we were more than happy to oblige.”
They chose the first tune, I the second, sending the newly mixed, steadily growing beast we’d created between each other after each selection. The theme was loosely related to their experience of being in a band this last year, and my pining after the idea of making music again (Fix My Life, indeed). Here’s to shared solipsism.
Stream below, and subscribe to our podcast here.
[00:00] Edzayawa - “Darkness” (Blood Sport)
[03:50] Melt Yourself Down - “Fix My Life” (Beige)
[07:35] Philip Glass - “Einstein On the Beach Act IV, Scene 1: Building” (Blood Sport)
[10:50] DJ Killer - “Church Song feat Chaka Chukwu” (Beige)
[15:41] Maxmillion Dunbar - “Cassette Arabic” (Blood Sport)
[17:00] Blood Sport - “Untitled Practice Rhythm #1”
[18:46] Maxmillion Dunbar - “Cassette Arabic”
[21:10] Four Tet - “Kool FM (Champion Remix)” (Beige)
[24:20] Gedeo Tribe - “Gedeo Vocals” (Blood Sport)
[26:30] Bee Mask - “Moon Shadow Move”
[28:13] Rose Nwanghonyama - “Xitsare Tsetsa” (Beige)
[31:00] Sosolye Undugu Dance Academy - “Butter Rhythm” (Blood Sport)
[32:20] Murlo & Famous Eno - “Ariel”
[35:06] Anchiskhati Choir Trio - “Adila-Ali Pasha” (Beige)
Signor Benedick The Moor
In Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, knavish protagonist Benedick Mountanto famously groans, “I was not born under a rhyming planet,” which is Bardspeak for “I can’t rap to save my hindquarters.”
Signor Benedick The Moor doesn’t have this problem. He may take his name from the Shakespeare character, but the Californian musician definitely doesn’t suffer from lyrical dysfunction. Armed with a propensity for double-time sprays and a nasal, ever-so-slightly strident delivery that could easily be mistaken for Danny Brown’s, Benedick made a compelling case for himself as a rapper with his first mixtape, last September’s absurd, ambitious El Negro. But as sbthemoor, his first-ever physical release, makes abundantly clear: the twisted universes of this man’s mind do not subscribe to conventional modes of description, “rap” included.
Oh, you want to pull out the labels? Have fun with that – somewhere between the melodramatic baroque strings, the krautrock freak-outs, and the Fred Durst-style punches to the face… I lost track of my adjectives. Not that you’ll have any use for them in this brave new world, where kids dice up bullies on the street just like in Skyrim, and leave their bodies to be found by the drifters and the womanizers and the hawkers and the heart breakers. Scary stuff, but it slithers forth with such a goofy grin on it’s face that you can’t help but get drawn in. A rhyming planet, indeed.
sbthemoor is out on Deathbomb Arc now.
• Deathbomb Arc: http://deathbombarc.bandcamp.com
Oh, you were expecting Bootleg Tapes to stop? ‘Cause money rains closer to the trees it falls from. Non-stop trains seem to accelerate these days until the conductor’s phone goes off. Go drive the same car as the president-fellah who says NSA will stop looting personal data. To catch you up: Bootleg Tapes will rain dance all over 2014, they don’t own cellphones or a car, and some may say their “existence” isn’t even lootable. Unless you’re trying to hack their wifi-ray’d manipulation listeners subconsciously experience while ‘earing their releases.
This time, Nativist. is grillin’ in the prime steaks. And the boii only sizzles to fry. Maybe a couple caps off some shrooms to ring in overtones of savory flavorings. Spices add a snare or two at a tap of the finger. But melt that cheese and we all fluctuating in airy rhythm. This Nativist. – for real – “s.tt” will get your feet stuttering into a dance that socks DREAM of: organized in colors, tucked away in a drawer, and awaiting the stretch. Work up your appetite, ‘cause Nativist. is birthing a release on Bootleg Tapes soon, so continue your daily refresh of their site. Who knows what you’ll miss?
I love you. Have a good weekend. Enjoy the dancin’ vibes of “s.tt” by Nativist. streaming below:
• Bootleg Tapes: http://bootlegtapes.bandcamp.com
It’s been pretty fascinating to watch the musical evolution of Angel Olsen over the last few years. With each record, she’s gradually fleshed out her songs more and more, moving from the beautiful austerity of Strange Cacti to the tight country arrangements on Half Way Home (TMT Review) and now to the more expansive and rocking instrumentation on the forthcoming Burn Your Fire for No Witness. However, the one thing that has remained the same despite Olsen’s progressively expanding instrumental palette, is her knack at capturing the loneliness and volatility present in tumultuous relationships with her lyrics and vocal delivery. “Forgiven/Forgotten” is another excellent variation on Olsen’s themes and the song’s sneering in-the-red garage rock shows that she’s now using arrangements as a new kind of text painting. Olsen’s lyrics may sound sweet on paper, but her singing and accompaniment makes them ooze sarcasm and bitterness that the track’s video manages to match visually.
Burn Your Fire for No Witness is out via Jagjaguwar on February 18th.