2015: Second Quarter Favorites 20 picks from the second quarter of the year


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For each year's first three quarters, we celebrate by sharing a list of our favorite music releases. Unlike our year-end lists, these quarter features are casually compiled, with an aim to spotlight the underdogs and the lesser-heard among the more popular picks. More from this series


C. Spencer Yeh
Solo Voice I-X

[Primary Information]

The more I listen to 2015, the more I realize that this year’s theme is vocal fragmentation. Today, more than ever, I’m hearing so many clubby, loungey musicians — forming in legion on SoundCloud — make syllables dance, pushing language through a shredding machine; beatmakers and sample-heavy musicians also do the same, appropriating without end. And then — like a deus ex machina hacking your computer — there are musicians like C. Spencer Yeh, steeped in an avant-garde tradition with more ties to the University than the Nightclub. On Solo Voice I-X, Yeh records vocal utterances, looping them and leaving them mostly dry, with minimal editing. The result: a hyper-materialistic, ultra-zoomed in composition, with an almost nauseous, anti-musical allure.

Action Figures
Action Figures

[Bootleg Tapes]

In the beginning, there was the Look, a moment of existential assertion, a reversible, oppressive relationship bound up with objects (with becoming objects) and gazes (with colonizing gazes). A moment of domination and violence. Then came the Measure, an abstraction of the Look that required no looking, a dissolution of violence that affirmed extant controls. A painless, mournful scrutiny that, evading and omitting no one, signals the death of aesthetic autonomy and simultaneously gives birth to a multiplicity of canons. Enter, now, Perception: not a return to the body, still less a return to aesthetics, at least in any active and independent way. We hold together fragments of form, surfaces in passing: paranoia, leisure, hospitals, performance, spreadsheets, money, cinema, the gym. Sensation, relocated and exposed: effortlessly mobile, inherently passive, tangible segments of the world-as-image — tagged and fixed in an ongoing moment of uneven hypnosis.

Container
LP

[Spectrum Spools]

The tree of life is not really a tree — it’s a tangled fucking web, and Container is one of its most disgusting hybrid outgrowths; noise-techno’s weapons are by now pretty familiar and as unwholesome as ever, but you haven’t heard/felt them so purely, so concisely, so excitingly deployed since you crawled out of that swamp. This album is pretty much pure blown-out drum machine, sometimes accompanied by squealing filth, by sirens and squalor; it doesn’t need a bass line, handclaps, choral pads, etc. All that excess can be sloughed off like your whole soon-to-be-corpse. You’re a worm, a lizard, some other repulsive quivering pile of flesh, and this is a glimpse of your post-human future, billions years of evolution not just bypassed, but made irrelevant. You’re irrelevant. You’re a vessel for forced movement, for horizontal transfer, for what Container does to you.

Various Artists: STAYCORE
SUMMER JAMS 2K15

[STAYCORE]

When STAYCORE, the Stockholm label fronted by producers Dinamarca and Ghazal, pumped out their SUMMER JAMS 2K15 compilation last month, it felt like a sort of diachronic anchoring point for the soca, kuduro, and tresillo beat styles that skirt across various genres and communities. The compilation clearly defines a nebulous movement of rhythm that has previously pervaded strands of UK bass, grime, and funky, as well as American hip-hop and, most recently, art club — a “genre” that often takes the spark of alterity, plurality, and difference to construct a perpetual exploration in authenticity, appropriation, and relational aesthetics occurring in the glossy, specific world of dance music. STAYCORE retroactively and gorgeously sums up the discussion into a serrated collection of club cuts from producers who favor a more economical track design; Zutzut, Endgame, Mechatok, Dinamarca, and Janus-affiliate KABLAM are all especially known for their honed, salient beatwork. They’re known to dip into stark vistas inflected by more organic tendencies, where the gallery wall is pock-marked by flecks of oil, hair dye, Sriracha, and, since STAYCORE’s current HQ is indeed Scandinavian, perhaps a big smear of lingonberry jam. These beats are some of the most system-primed cuts to be released all summer; each has a spartan control of the frequency spectrum that begins with Lil Tantrum’s immediate trunk-shaker “Picuda,” cruising effortlessly into Mapalma & Mobilegirl’s “Philae Touchdown.” If the comp were meant as a means to introduce the label’s squad and culture, we’ll be name-dropping STAYCORE artists well into the rest of 2015. If it were meant to be a visceral collection of tracks to chorus the rest of your summer, look no further.

Jenny Hval
Apocalypse, girl

[Sacred Bones Records]

Complexity.
We deny complexity.
We avoid our emotions at their fullest extent.
We are scared of the mess that is human nature.
What effort we go through to kill it like a feral cat.
Reduce everything to analytics.
Big, soft data.
Like a king.
Charts.
Graphs.
Predictions and forecasts.
Every action, every thought gains a quantity that is either positive or negative.
Nothing in between.
Everything becomes binary.
Yes.
No.
Up.
Down.
In.
Out.
Nothing in between, even though that’s where the world is.
We refuse complexity, because we don’t have enough time to allow it.
Time isn’t there, because we don’t want it there.
We want output.
We want results.
We don’t want imagination, we want you to take care of yourself.
Getting paid.
Getting laid.
Results, output.
We don’t want time, because it’s not output.
You cannot switch places with those around you.
Your dreams are a repetition of an error.
So we say:
Sexuality is pornographic!
Religion is mental illness!
Emotion is irrational.
If complexities cannot be quantified, there must be something wrong with them.
We become binary.
Either.
Or.
Nothing in between.
Yes.
No.
In.
Out.
We see a darkness.
No future.
No wonder there’s so much death.

For each year's first three quarters, we celebrate by sharing a list of our favorite music releases. Unlike our year-end lists, these quarter features are casually compiled, with an aim to spotlight the underdogs and the lesser-heard among the more popular picks. More from this series




This feature is made possible by ChangeTip. Tip your favorite artists via SoundCloud, YouTube, and Twitter. [What is this?]


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