“The Continuing Story of Counterpoint, Part Nine”
For the particularly impressionable secular mind, American synth pioneer and minimalist icon David Borden creates music that proves the existence of some rarefied godlike consciousness within the meat sacks that constitute our corporeal forms on this plane. When presented with a seemingly infinite expanse of percolating arpeggios, re-harmonizing bass notes, and yearning lead melodies, this overwhelmed mind prepares its fleshy avatar to bow and perhaps to weep. Other emotional responses will not suffice. But Borden’s “higher power” is not necessarily a spiritual one, though such an argument would be easy to make. His hands-on-patch-cables pragmatism and collaborative experimentalism within a small group of friends and co-performers paint him as the everyman’s synth deity, coaxing his masterworks note by note from the systems of keyboard instruments he pieced together as a labor of curiosity and personal fascination. His work both with the Mother Mallard Portable Masterpiece Company and under his given name exudes a unique godliness by virtue not only of its cleanliness, but of its humble confidence in the manifestation of an ancient idea: consonant and complex music is naturally enjoyable to listen to.
Borden’s career-defining epic “The Continuing Story of Counterpoint,” composed between 1976 and 1983, has reached his devotees in multiple arrangements possessed of varying rosters of electronic vs. acoustic instrumentation (see, for example, Cuneiform’s more acoustic-leaning issue of the cycle in the late 80s). Spectrum Spools’ forthcoming reissue of Borden’s relatively unheralded 1981 LP Music for Amplified Keyboard Instruments restores two movements of “Counterpoint” from his private master tapes. Press play on “Part Nine,” below, and enter the maestro’s tumbling network of synth harmonies. Borden utilizes counterpoint principles to maximum dramatic effect, crafting a labyrinthine narrative of communicative lead passages and seismic transitions. Over the course of nearly 15 minutes, his real-time synth mosaic blooms in increasingly complex floral configurations, prodding listeners closer to ecstasy on the way to a massive denouement that highlights a stuttering two-note motif for longer and longer durations, like a funnel narrowing down to its focal tip.
• David Borden: http://mothermallard.com/David/Mother_Mallard.html
• Spectrum Spools: http://editionsmego.com/releases/spectrum-spools
The Confessional Tapes
At the risk of being hyperbolic, it seems as though we are living in the twilight of decay. As we humans march forward into time, relentlessly bearing down upon other creatures and their habitats, while envisioning our own post-ecological futures, we’ve come to create artifacts that will not decompose. The future of decay does not look good.
It it refreshing, then, to come across the holes in the system. Aidan Baker’s The Confession Tapes is an album that almost wasn’t. The files, lost initially in a hard drive crash, were recovered and reconstructed. The reconstructed files, with their fizzes and glitches and scars, form the foundation upon which Baker’s songs fuck up and play out.
The songs, as you can hear below, are gorgeous things (unapologetically among my favorite from this year, so far). Deep, resonant echoes are carried forward in jazzy quietude. Moodiness abounds. Confessions, always already full of reconstructions and glitches, are, at once, the concrete and nebulous material through which these songs have their being. It is, as with so much of Baker’s work, worth your decaying time.
Listen to The Confessional Tapes streaming below and pre-order it here.
“100” is the fourth track on Dean Blunt’s last LP Black Metal (TMT Review), and it was the number that drew me completely into the conflicting dichotomy the album began possessing both audibly and inside of me. Impatience is a bitch, and driving ‘round, (potentially) getting lost in whatever neighborhood is super irritating, but if you’re “Dying to meet” someone, it’ll feel like an eternity of frustration. Yet, Blunt (classically) keeps his fucking cool. Not only vocally composed, but visually on camera, as well. And stocked with muscle at the trigger, ain’t nothing stopping Blunt from his pursuit of passion. Ever.
Yet, ever since our boii Papaya went up in NYC to witness the War Report, gripping a BUNCH of written-out “War Report” sheets Blunt provided for free, I’ve been on a rampage reading it. Mostly because my phone got stolen in the gym locker room and I only got “War Report” to read. Though, if I followed the OBVIOUS lead, I’d be another white boy caught copying a stack of these at work, having left one in the Xerox machine, and eventually getting shit canned. But it’s in my pocket, kept safe, and will soon be housed in Black Metal.
But it’s official: Dean Blunt is a Tiny Mix Taper. The one-two-three: 1) Quote at the beginning of his work, 2) Continuing to flourish art while trying to keep nonchalantly private (SEE: Papaya, Mr. P, Bort, Squeo, Mukqs, Birkut, Weaver, Max Power, Monet Maker, etc.), and 3) We all wear flight jackets and have HENCH drive our Bentley coupes.
OH! THIS SHIT TOO…
“United” ft. Large Professor (SP Remix)
There’s a lot of history wrapped up in this MF Grimm-Large Professor collaboration, even if it isn’t sitting there on the surface awaiting razor-blade dissection. For those who don’t know, MF Grimm was originally slated to appear on Large Pro and Main Source’s now-era-defining “Live at the BBQ” posse cut, which helped launch the careers of Nas and Akinyele, but a car accident and assault charge on the way to the studio prevented the Grimm Reaper from making the recording session.
Like Grimm’s musical career, which neither jail nor paralysis could permanently sideline, the song “United” has continued to bounce back over the years. Originally issued on American Hunger, the first triple album in hip-hop history, “United” was later remixed by its producer DJ Crucial and included on his Retro/Active compilation released on LP in 2012. Three years later, that EP is being combined with the tracks from 2014’s Retro/Active Vol. 2, as well as “new and unreleased material from 1997-2014,” for the Retro/Active Double Cassette, a limited edition of 200 shipping February 24. Repress naysayers be damned, all tracks on this release come “straight from the original 4 track tapes, floppy discs and sessions.” As a result, you can hear all that history hissing just below.
New York-by-way-of-Taiwan deep house experimentalist Policy (Francis Hsueh) parts the 100% Silk curtain and emerges from the blacklit back room with a subway map of Taipei. As his new tape The Republic bumps from the PA, he tries to explain something to you. You can’t hear a damn thing over his chugging basslines and syncopated sleigh bells. It’s nice. He points at the map and then points at a speaker. He wants to say to you: “This is this.” You nod and you keep swaying. If this music mimics a Taiwanese subway journey, you want to go there. “Take me there,” you say, and he doesn’t hear you either.
Press play on “Shuanglian” and enter Hsueh’s pulsing railway grid. Classic house tropes (see: stuttering acid lines, driving handclaps) meld with more mind-expanding fare in the subterranean darkness. Bit-crushed synth bursts take over the corners of the mix as a filter spirits the bassline down a tributary tunnel. Hsueh transfixes us with ballistic forward motion, letting us glimpse select roof-shaking strategies for a few moments through the window. The elements he presents us feel no need to compete. Fragments overlap cooperatively for their airtimes, sketching the influence of an external system set in motion, spiraling through the earth on a path dictated by decisions made decades prior.