Acoustic folk has a long, deeply mined history; unlike the fare of more transient, hip musical movements, a folk song does not necessarily strive for innovation or reinvention as its primary goal. Instead of concerning itself with blazing new trajectories through music’s constellations, a great folk song just retools old ideas and strives to attain a Platonic form. Water Liars’ “Dog Eaten” operates in that vein.
But that doesn’t mean a song like this can’t surprise and thrill, and in doing so leave you with at least a little heart ache. Listen to the accumulative images that singer and songwriter Justin Kinkel-Schuster offers. His voice is ideally tailored to express the song’s emotional strain without becoming tastelessly conspicuous. It’s the way you not only expect folk to sound, but how you hope it will; expectations are at the heart of this song and at its most potent line, which comes in the middle. “My father was quietly taken” makes us imagine the man’s Pa swept away in the night, but the image is undermined by something much more complex in the song’s next line: “The money that I had been makin’…” Immediately, the earlier “taken” transforms to “takin’.’” The “dog-eaten wallet” makes its appearance moments later, and even though those words make up the song’s title, we know where Kinkel-Schuster’s pain really roosts.
If you’re anything like me — and by “like me,” I mean really into video games — then you probably already know about the video game Fez. You probably already downloaded it on Xbox Live Arcade. You probably already love it so much you want to squeeze its cute little marshmallow-looking main character to death like Elmyra from Tiny Toons.
The game itself is pretty outstanding, but one of the things that’s made me obsess over it even more is the soundtrack. Created by one Rich Vreeland (a.k.a. Disasterpeace), the soundtrack takes chiptune into a very blissed-out drone heaven. Think the music of Lone, Boards of Canada, Emeralds, and early Oneohtrix Point Never done using only the hardware inside an NES, and you’re on the right track. The soundtrack isn’t out yet, but you can stream most of it through the Disasterpeace Bandcamp page and pre-order a digital copy for a mere $5.
• Disasterpeace: http://www.disasterpeace.com
It seems obligatory to mention that Airbird is Joel Ford, one half of Ford & Lopatin; Daniel Lopatin of course is also Oneohtrix Point Never, who set the world ablaze last year with Replica. But somehow, in describing this track from Airbird, knowing that ontology really makes little difference, in both preparation and appreciation. 0PN’s intrigue in the uncanny or nostalgic isn’t so palpable as his partner’s work on “Goodnight” (though I hear just a little Duran Duran, don’t you?); this track is more earnest and purely euphonious than the more concentrated output that has come from this pair in the past. Which, overall, makes it an excellent, listenable single.
Trust, an EP, will be out May 29 from Mexican Summer and Software, Ford and Lopatin’s own label.
LA futuro-funk prophet DāM-Funk has just unveiled a previously unheard instrumental. “DX Heaven,” which dates back to 2007 (coincidentally, the year of the dolphin), is a spaced-out groove that was, aside from the drum machine, recorded entirely live in the hallowed spaces of the Funkmosphere lab. It’s a tranquil, gentle beast, with an understated bassline, stuttery drums, and woozy synths. Consider it seven minutes in funk heaven.
• DāM-Funk: http://stonesthrow.com/damfunk
“Flowers to Bees”
Spectrum Spools, the imprint of Emeralds’ John Elliott, shows no sign of stopping. It’s also not slowing to a snail’s pace or throwing in the towel or drainin’ the Jamba Juice. Proof? The label has just announced a couple new albums, one by Drainolith and one called Parthenon by PLVS VLTRA, the new moniker of Toko Yasuda, ex-member of Enon, touring keyboardist for St. Vincent, and human of Japanese origin. Now, it’s not surprising that Yasuda is still making incredibly poppy music, but it is surprising that Spectrum Spools will be releasing it. So… surprise!
Parthenon is due May 29 on Spectrum Spools. Check out its first single, “Flowers to Bees,” here: