Je Suis Le Petit Chevalier
Visual and sound artist Felicia Atkinson, whose drawings and compositions seem to come in the same stroke, has been making sublime waves this year with album after album of playful, transportive, improvised sound collages inspired by her worldly travels — often leaving her home in Brussels for art shows and excursions in the US with her zine-publishing partner and High Wolf associate, Bartolomé Sanson. Her new vinyl L’Enfant Savage on the Belgium label Aguirre is for all fans of female “forestdroners” and nicely rounds out a very prolific year. This sucker was mastered by good old Pete Swanson, and the first 50 orders get a free newspaper zine by the artist.
While walking through Penn Sunday, I heard a lady music-ing for scrill, and thought to myself: she probably get more listeners and $$ on the internet. Then again, because of technology, the human aspect in music is way questionable now. If you’ve found yourself at the human/technology crossroad in your current-music listening experience, look no further. Julia Holter embodies the wasteland of internet music, utilizing musique concrète as digital-void before emerging into tiny pop melodies. Think Maria Minerva, only more of that Dolphins into the Future field-found recording. And the distance she creates between music and emptiness in each track is the same grace Matthew Barney uses in the Drawing Restraint project(s). Thankfully, Leaving Records not only made Tragedy a part of my top 25 of 2011, but they repressed it for 500 copies (out yesterday). “Goddess Eyes” being the shortest, poppy-est version of her struggle between human and technology-driven art.
So, you may have noticed PAN Records just shat out a whole bunch of good shit (so to speak). Well, a piece of said shit is Steven Warwick’s new record as Heatsick, entitled Intersex. Warwick, who is one half of Birds of Delay, titled the album as a nod to “the work of German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld,” according to a press release. I will admit I had never heard of the guy, so I Googled his ass and learned he was a pioneer for sexual reform and gay rights who wrote essays and books regarding these subjects (many of which were later burned by Nazis). In the 1890s, he founded an organization called the Scientific Humanitarian Committee that aimed to repeal a German penal code that criminalized homosexuality. The committee’s motto was “Justice Through Science,” and it hoped that a better scientific understanding of homosexuality would help eliminate hostility toward homosexuals (thanks Wikipedia :p). And that was over a century ago! The world still hasn’t figured this shit out! Well, without getting too opinionated-college-thesis on yo’ ass, it is obvious this guy is important to a movement that’s still suppressed and misunderstood.
Admittedly, it’s kind of hard to hear a direct reference to the grandfather of gay rights in a recording that is essentially instrumental. When I think of music that is sexual or seductive, I think of “Let’s Get It On” and Ginuwine, not electronic music made entirely by a Casio keyboard and guitar pedals. In fact, the album starts out with a short track featuring Warwick wordlessly singing along to a familiar string melody, and it doesn’t feel sexy at all.
But as the second track creeps along a pre-programmed tango beat on the Casio, a steady bass line chugs through electronic trills, and finally an effeminate male voice emerges from the background, discussing “adventures,” “planets,” and “running around.” At this point, I realize this isn’t a sexy album in the way that Barry White gives you a wide-on; it’s more about personal fantasies, even feeling voyeuristic if you let it (the track repeats itself for 13 minutes, so there is a lot of time to think about this). “Tertiary,” the one you can enjoy for now below, is slightly shorter and just a tad sexier, with a more seductive bass line and playful vibes tickling the otherwise robotic groove.
Sex-driven or not, Intersex is a fun ride, and y’all should just tear your pants off and join in!
Scratcha DVA has always situated himself at the stranger end of UK funky, which explains precisely why he’s been snapped up by Hyperdub, persistently the hub for the dance-floor eccentrics. When not hosting Rinse FM’s formidable grimey breakfast show, he piles sickeningly shifty drums and sugar-coated synths into an occasionally confusing cacophony. He also steers clear of the brooding, bass-heavy productions of his contemporaries and even employs Vikter Duplaix’s extremely silky vocal cords.
DVA’s sound is captured perfectly in the video for “Madness,” where a mildly depressed man walks around the backstreets of London with an utterly bemused look on his face, as his senses are invaded by the night’s neon palette (and obligatory octopus). It may be a little saccharine for some, but for me it sits perfectly on the line between kitsch and paranoid, if there ever were such a thing. Look for his debut album, Pretty Ugly, next year on Hyperdub.
“No Matter What”
We all remember the absolutely huge Onra/Washed Out sample clash when this song sounded like this song, which both took their samples from this song. Wait, you don’t recall the apocalyptic war of words that took place? Well, that’s because they’re both far too nice, saying things like “It appears that we sampled the same thing.” How very amicable. In any case, the Parisian beat maestro that is Onra has already released one album of oriental sampling oddball hip-hop, but it appears that his treasure trove of “Far East” samples is simply too deep for one collection. Thus, Chinoiseries, Pt. 2 has been released on All City Records, with warbling instruments, vinyl crackles, and soaring vocals. It even features an absolutely mental sampler video.