Panda Bear – “Boys Latin”

What people forget all too often about Panda Bear is that he’s a drummer at heart. Consequently, when he incorporates instrumentals on top of his backing beats, they are often used to flesh out and expand upon the the ideas made possible rhythmically. When people reference the stomp-ish feel of his music, this is what they are normally getting at. Lennox doesn’t allow his synthesizers breathe like some artists would, but instead treats them like temporary pulses of sounds. When Panda Bear the beat maker comes out, his musical ideas, though innovative, are always working in tandem with the rhythm rather than elevating above them. On “Boys Latin” this is idea is boiled down to its purest form, like it is in his best songs. The result is a twisting and psychedelic, yet all the while hyper focused three minutes of sound whose inner contradictions work to hypnotize rather than distract. It’s a refreshingly humble approach to music, saying “I can’t do everything, but I can do this one thing pretty well. So you should maybe check it out, man.” Ladies and gentlemen, if after all these years Noah Lennox is still humble, we have no excuses left not to be.

“Boys Latin” appears on Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, officially out 13 January via Domino. Anthony’s review of Panda Bear’s recent EP Mr. Noah:

- Garrett Cottingham

Unsacred – False Light

The Richmond, VA-based trio Unsacred have just released their debut LP on Forcefield Records, and you can stream it in full above.

While the band channel a few different styles of heavy music throughout the album, they don’t really blend them together as much as transition back and forth between them. Although the music is at once identifiable as black metal, moments of crust-punk and hardcore flit in and out of each track. This stylistic variation is mostly achieved via the drumming, often trading astonishingly rapid blast-beats for more mid-tempo punk cadences, with the occasional D-beat gallop thrown in. Staying consistent throughout are the tortured, throat-full-of-nails vocals and the menacing, sepulchral guitar riffs (which sometimes feel straight out of the Watain playbook). The record as a whole can sometimes feel a bit repetitive, but it’s fun to get a Trash Talk vibe one moment, and hear echoes of Dark Funeral the next.

You can purchase the LP from Forcefield Records here.

-Tom Fullmer

 

Lotic – “From the Front” (ft. Dr. Luke, Rabit, Sugur Shane, DJ Karfox, Big Hud, Fat Pimp)

Lotic’s self-released mini-album Damsel In Distress was named one of the best of 2014 by FACT Magazine, referring to it as a mixtape of “gothic club nightmares”. Quite a description of the Berlin, Germany DJ/Producers’ brand of dark yet satisfying, enrapturing club music. And “From The Front” only helps to add to Lotic’s mystique: it’s a grab bag of disturbingly distorted southern voices and lyrics that are paired with a production job that includes elements of trap, trance, gritty grime and crunchy, squeaky dubstep, all competing with each other for attention but still working seamlessly together. Lotic, along with his collaborators (Dr. Luke, Rabit, Sugur Shane, DJ Karfox, Big Hud and Fat Pimp) have created a song that’s sure to be considered an eerie, almost ghostly but exciting and bouncy certified club/strip joint banger.

-Ron Grant

Krill – “Torturer”

Melding elements of punk rock, loads of both metal and garage rock influences and a dash of poppy, melodic lyrics and undertones, Krill’s “Torturer” from the forthcoming album A Distant Fist Unclenching is rousing and bludgeoning, yet focused in its wild need to be experimental. The songs explodes with a spirit of desire and longing in the words and in the music in specific spots, leaving open a wide array of interpretation of the songs’ central meaning. At around 3:30 in, a grating, shredding guitar takes center stage and brings “Torturer” to a whole new level, and then the music drops down again for a more subversive ending to the tune than we were probably expecting. “Torturer” is the sound of a band with a few years under their collective belts, but still striving to find that signature sound. It’s a spirited outing for this Boston trio and should get more people talking about and sharing their music.

A Distant Fist Unclenching is due out 17 February via Exploding in Sound.

- Ron Grant

James Blake – 200 Press

Fans of the London-based producer will have new material to tide them over until the rumored release of his next full-length, expected to drop sometime in 2015. The 200 Press EP consists of four tracks that might seem strange on their own, but come across as united in their oddity.

In a change of pace from the songs on his two previous LPs, the focus is taken away from his delicate, R&B-influenced vocals; in fact, they are strikingly absent. Blake’s voice only makes appearances in the form of a few wispy, intermittent production flourishes and the warped out spoken word track closing out the EP. The instrumentals across these songs are varied, departing from the more direct, saccharine melodies of Blake’s recent work in favor of cryptic, sometimes harsh progressions. Underneath are some subtle 2-step and techno beats, complete with hushed and sculpted sub-bass, tight hi-hat, and all sorts of other blips and pops. Of the bunch, I think “Building It Still” is probably my favorite, but they’re all definitely worth a listen.

-Tom Fullmer

of Montreal – “Bassem Sabry”

I distinctly remember the term “asexual beige” being idiotically lobbed at of Montreal’s last record, Lousy with Sylvianbriar. The band’s subtle subversion of blues rock on that project definitely wasn’t what many were expecting after the manic chamber pop of Paralytic Stalks, and Q Magazine apparently took it especially hard.

But worry not, Q: Kevin Barnes et al. are back and sexier than ever with new single “Bassem Sabry,” taken from next year’s Aureate Gloom. If I had to pin down the sound of this track, I’d call it moody chamber funk, but honestly that’s pretty irrelevant to me at this point. As far as I’m concerned, K Barnes has yet to fail at crafting a self-reflexively personal journey with any style of music he has tried up to this point, and I have no reason to suspect that’ll change within this next album cycle. Listen above and feel the beautiful misery!

Aureate Gloom is out 3 March via Polyvinyl. Our review of Lousy with Sylvianbriar:

Kemialliset Ystävät – Alas Rattoisaa Virtaa

It is pretty much impossible to classify the music of Finnish collective Kemialliset Ystävät. I might say its style is kind of psychedelic, appears to be predominantly electronic, and has exotic elements, but half the time I can’t even tell what is generating the sounds on latest album Alas Rattoisaa Virtaa: Live instrumentation? Sampling? Synthesizer? Voice? You could say it is a mash-up of world music (particularly from the Far East), krautrock, chiptune, and plunderphonics, but in the end I’m not comfortable isolating any one of those (micro)genres. Ultimately, Alas Rattoisaa Virtaa is sui generis – the style is Kemialliset Ystävät’s alone.

The result is an ironically whimsical experience. Alas would be the perfect soundtrack for a Hayao Miyazaki movie – images of Spirited Away and Porco Rosso filled my head, well before the oinking pig samples that come in at the end of the clap-led centerpiece “Vettä Yarahille.” A few more of my favorite moments are the initially boisterous and later moody “Arkistorotat/Risuilla Täyteyssä Salissa,” the clanking and marching “Naderbux & Sundergrund,” and the ethereal “Hetkinen,” which I swear sounds exactly like part of the Spirited Away soundtrack. I wish I could, as usual, lay down a bunch of interesting genre descriptors to posit an idea of the aesthetic and pique your interest. But I hope my inability to do so for this LP will have the same enticing effect. I’ll try one last film allusion: if there were a Studio Ghibli-produced adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, this would be the score.

- From my joint Ultima II Massage Alas Rattoisaa Virtaa review for The Arts Fuse

Jason Lescalleet – This Is What I Do, Vol. Three

Jason Lescalleet is coming forward as a proponent for the virtue of instant gratification with monthly/quarterly subscription series This Is What I Do (deets on his Glistening Examples website).

In an interview with Tiny Mix Tapes, the musique concrète virtuoso touched down on the value of immediacy in music: “Part of this project’s value comes from the immediacy of the material… Immediacy means that I won’t have time to over think anything. Raw. Pure. Also, timely, current, now. A glimpse into my state of mind on a real time basis. Keeping it real.”

You might recall Lescalleet teaming up with Kevin Drumm to suck listeners into an inescapable void of emptiness and beauty earlier this year with The Abyss. If that’s not real, I don’t know what is. Help Lescalleet keep it real – check out last month’s This Is What I Do above and if it’s your bag, consider following the series as it makes its way into the new year. Enjoy!

 

NMESH – Welcome To Warp Zone! (Tiny Mix Tapes 4​-​Hour Video Game Mix)

Welcome to Warp Zone! [via Tiny Mix Tapes]

NMESH, the alias of Kentuckian electronic music producer and ex-drummer Alex Koenig, is committed to the concept of the “guest mix” to an almost unhealthy extent. Consider the above 4-and-a-half-hour-long, 10 “world” conceptual mix he created for Tiny Mix Tapes.

With the tagline, “TINY MIX TAPES HAS BEEN KIDNAPPED BY NINJAS. ARE YOU A BAD ENOUGH DUDE TO SAVE TINY MIX TAPES?” clearly this is not the product of a sane mind. This is the work of a person who has spent way too much time with the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog and Ryu Hayabusa. Basically, Koenig’s my kind of guy and Welcome to Warp Zone! is the musical event of the year in my book. If you too feel keen to listen to 4 and a half hours of retro-virtual inanity, tune in above and enjoy!

Burial Hex – “The Hierophant”

Burial Hex, the well established pseudonym of experimental singer-songwriter Clay Ruby, has reached its calculated end. Last week, Ruby put out The Hierophant, the most graceful finish conceivable for his long-running project. On past efforts, Burial Hex almost always had me wondering at what point a piece of music might be considered sui generis – his style has clear elements of darkwave, death industrial, and modern classical music, but this has always struck me as a trifling observation to say the least. I believe The Hierophant, fittingly Ruby’s most holistic statement to date, confirms this. So, I can really only set up the above title track by calling it a “Burial Hex song” and hope that’s enough to grab your attention.

Although this ‘death’ was prophesied or whatever, I can’t help but be sad that there won’t be any more Burial Hex music. Fingers crossed that like the recently concluded Dirty Beaches, Ruby will continue exploring his own sound under different names, but as is, he has given us one of the greatest avant-garde albums of the year. Anyway, I feel I should pay my respects: R.I.P. Burial Hex.

The Hierophant is out now via Handmade Birds.