“Glamour Box (ostinati)”
I’d love to start off with something like, “When it comes to Ulver, the only thing we can expect is the unexpected,” but by this point the Norwegian outfit has been consistently
- exploring synth tones and ambient textures (2000, 2002, 2007)
- composing or arranging classical pieces (1998, 2005, 2011)
- interpolating numerous strains of experimental music (2000, 2001, 2005)
for more than a decade, as mythic frontman Kristoffer
- God Head
- Fiery G Maelstrom
Rygg steers his collaborators through increasingly ambitious projects — all of which could be seen as an unfathomable second career in the wake of their pioneering black metal youth spent
- juxtaposing tremolo-picked shreddery with acoustic interludes (1995, 1996).
- conjuring forest spirits and the demons of the night (1995, 1996).
- literally recording outside in the forest (1996).
2011’s War of the Roses carried on the group’s classical predilection by lacing instrumental overdubs and operatic vocals into its dense “electronic”-“rock” productions. If that album underwhelmed, the newly released Messe I.X - IV.X, recorded in participation with
- The Tromso Chamber Orchestra of the Norwegian Arctic Philharmonic,
- Norwegian composer Martin Romberg,
- a host of Norwegian avant all-stars (this one, this one, this one, this one),
finds the band honing their neo-classical fusion into a majestic lance and piercing our hearts with a giant “I told you so!” while a cinematic tableau of string players scraping bows and synth knobs spinning projects out onto the horizon as the background of our ignominious defeat. Scope out
- the allegro agitato drama of “Glamour Box (ostinati),” below.
- the Terry Riley-channeling deep zones of “Shri Schneider” @Pitchfork.
– the order pages for the LP and CD.
Ms. Lauryn Hill
If Grace Jones is channeling and contorting the amorphous fluidity of late-capitalism (late? late? late?), then Ms. Lauryn Hill is its incessant and nagging alter-ego; the ghost of a residual anger buried deep beneath the fog of “never having it so good.”
Ms. Lauryn Hill’s “Consumerism” gives audiences a reduction of all isms to one robotic homonym. Not the beguiling fantasy machines of an afro-futurist utopia, but the one-cyborg production line of a gradually homogeneous mashed-up political alternative. As her incarcerated body lets rip its torrent of colliding words, she seems to be doing, pushing, and lashing out at time. Filling it to breaking point (@4:50). This is anger, however righteous, turned into an endless wormhole of Wikipedia links.
Grace Jones is forcing us to confront the way in which, today, even the transgression that might have thrilled us twenty-five years ago is little more than another marketing strategy. Or the way in which, beyond all those discourses about race and gender and “the body,” the only thing that is “transgressive” today is Capital itself, which devours everything without any regard for boundaries, distinctions, or degrees of legitimacy; which “transgresses” the very possibility of “transgression,” because it is always only transgressing itself in order to create still more of itself, devouring not only its own tail but its entire body, in order to achieve even greater levels of monstrosity.
But all we’re left wondering, “How’s this shit going to make Ms. Lauryn Hill any money?” Answers may consist in her newest track “Consumerism” streaming below:
The humble solenoid was once the butt of all electronics jokes, but no more. Like Felix and his machines, Nicolas Bernier has tasked himself with portraying the electromechanical component as a chic and sophisticated workhorse, and Prix Ars have lapped it up. Having satisfyingly conquered the physical world, Bernier has now constructed 15 fully synthesized digital ditties to be listened to in any order collectively titled Frequencies (Synthetic Variations). Watch the video for “frequencies (a)” above, scope his newest release Frequencies (Synthetic Variations) on Entr’acte (mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi), and experience the DIY.
“An Altar or a Grave”
“Who needs a music video by The Body when my mental images of the bodies of The Body just doing their thing on stage are terrifying enough alone, amiright? Like, just picture Chip King shrieking, his throat stretched wide — it’s a straight up maw, and his beard billows over his guitar in the low stage lights. Can’tcha just see it in your brain? All of his half stack amps surround him. And there’s Lee Buford behind that mammoth drum kit, and the bass drum rattles at a sludge tempo, and he’s hammering on that snare as hard as he can, beard also billowing. Just stand still and watch the air ripple around those cabinets. Who needs abstraction when reality is so grim???”
Naw. The Body knows that a little obfuscation can work wonders; that their colossal doom-sludge beatdowns, layered thick with string accompaniments, choral vocal arrangements, and looped noise elements, drip with terror enough to inspire all manner of grisly visual experiences. Remember the clip for “The Ebb And Flow Of Tides In A Sea Of Ash?” Yeah.
Here we have the video, directed by Richard Rankin, for “An Altar or a Grave,” a cut from the duo’s forthcoming full length Christs, Redeemers. Press play and sink into the murky water off the pier. Your feet get caught in the pond flora. Other feet, already bound, get caught in the pond flora. Other bodies sink into the murky water off the pier. It’s too black down there to see anything, really. Or… You see hooded figures, perhaps King and Buford themselves, come down to join you. You see these figures later, too, back on dry land, rippling across the ceiling in the glare of a neighbor’s flood light. You see them standing behind the half-open closet door. You see them reaching out in the blackness behind your eyelids.
Christs, Redeemers arrives on October 15. You can preorder the deluxe 2xLP or the CD from Thrill Jockey.
Last we heard from E+E, he was reinterpreting John Mayer’s mawkish “When You’re Dreaming with a Broken Heart” with an anonymous female vocalist to stunning effect. This time around, E+E, a.k.a. Elijah Paul Crampton, takes on Drake’s “Take Care,” highlighting Rihanna’s vocal contribution through a soulful rendition from the same singer (and, luckily, with Drake’s part nowhere to be found). Piano remains the primary harmonic fomenter, but it’s much more impressionistic and meandering here, transforming a tepid, cheesy club track about a couple’s post-breakup dedication into a dramatic yet delicate song washed over with crushing thuds and warm ambient noise. E+E’s notorious juxtapositions are still here, but it’s appropriately subtle this time around. Check out “Sword” here:
• E+E: https://soundcloud.com/eande