"lots of cool ones"

Kara-Lis Coverdale - Grafts (Boomkat Editions)


[Goem's "Stud Stim" plays from the living room.]
"I don't think this is very good night time music."
"OK, I have something perfect."

Natalia Lafourcade - Musas (Columbia)


what a joy this is
the following starts the great video album:

Jessica Moss - Pools of Light (Constellation Records)


Fantastic electroacoustic violin work in 2 main parts. You can hear the processes churning. At time sounds like a daf could show up.

Felicia Atkinson - Hand in Hand (Shelter Press)


badass weirdo neck-tickling soundbath. don't miss

Son Lux - Remedy (Meru)


Maximalist but razor-sharp production on interesting songs and sounds. Favorite is Stolen.

Perc - Bitter Music (Perc Trax)


The noisy, ambient, "experimental" tracks are great, and the pumping tracks are immense.
Here are two of those... don't cheat yourself:

It's Difficult

Today’s left tends to avoid giving such definite philosophical answers, satisfied with “problematizing” and never coming to a conclusion. Generally, thinkers do this under the guise of false humility. They substitute theoretical pluralism for theoretical commitment, presenting the latter as sheer hubris.

I agree.
And I do this.

- - -

so many options for time and effort

April

Justin Walter - Unseen Forces (Kranky)

Wind controllers are awesome, like this music.

Roger Robinson - Dog Heart City (Jahtari)

Oh, that Jahtari sound, dubby delays and video game bleeps. Here it's met with a strong concept, observing and analyzing a dystopian world that's really not so different from our own.

Valgeir Sigurðsson - Dissonance (Bedroom Community)

Big droney string music. Think of 50 strings bowing at different speeds on the same lowish pitch. Then give it narrative drama. Then make it much better than I've just described. I'm not very good at this, so here's YouTube:

Second Woman - S/W (Spectrum Spools)

Eustis and Dietrich roll pads out in percussive glitches. Reminds me of some Mark Fell releases as well, which means this probably pummels live. A dense score of one of these tracks could make a great visual.

That Colin Stetson album was really good, but I could do without the moaning.

fyre

why does this thing generate so much amusement and pleasure?

bourgeois vs enlightenment

I often read things (intangibles: values, ethics, beliefs, systems) described as "bourgeois" that could just as easily be described as "enlightenment." I suppose the easy explanation here is the historical context of one coming after another, but I also wonder if the B is too commonly used for E-based dispositions that aren't necessarily politically aligned the way B's pejorative implications might suggest.

movement

I'm less and less able to settle on a direction.
My political affinities often get swept into declarations or political maneuvers that I can't honestly agree with, but then nothing's perfect.
I've read so many arguments and directions. Where do they meet?
Should the government manage, or should it all be decentralized?
And isn't focusing on the former really undermining the latter? meaning picking sides is really picking sides
Why waste my time trying to change things that I probably won't and that I'm not even completely sure I agree with?
Or is this spoken from a position of privilege and security? And is there anything wrong with that?
There are so many things I could be doing... and by doing I mostly mean thinking about.

kk

"You've done it again."
Yes, it's another one.
It doesn't carry the in-the-moment political intensity of the previous, but it makes up for that with the personal.
where to go from here

it's been awhile

There has just been so much stuff to go through, so it's taken awhile to circle around and decide on nominations, but here are some recent favorites:

arkiv 4 (Raster-Noton)


“What are some of your favorite labels? What does their music sound like?” This is how one of my favorite labels sounds in 2016. I’m usually not crazy about compilations, but this one has been a pleasure. Raster-Noton delivers as usual with murky atmospheres, razor rhythms, machine funk, and floating ambiance, and the best packaging ever (really this CD is just an include on the new “source book 1.”) Looks like it has a weird little promo I can include.

Ryuichi Sakamoto - Async (Milan)


New Ryuichi Sakamoto albums are always welcome. There’s probably some surrounding material I am yet to read, but the album stands firmly on its own. Sakamoto has a diverse toolbox. A simple melody on a piano transforms into a cathedral-organ overture. Electronic tones sit alongside traditional instruments. Dream-pop arpeggios follow crunching footsteps. Is that an owl, a howl, or just an electronic drone? The warm and cool circulate. This album could easily be called Neo Geo or Esperanto, but he's already used those titles.

High Plains - Cinderland (Kranky)


There are a lot of droney electroacoustic could-be-soundtracks. Not all carry this much saturate-your-ear softbass. Not all combine sweet vignettes into an arching whole. Not all have this cello.

deepchord presents echospace - live in detroit [ghost in the sound] (echospace [detroit])


How different is one echochord release from the last? And shouldn’t we just call this subgenre Basic Channel? Different enough, and sure why not. There’s some music that gets me daydreaming about my ideal lineup for a summer desert weekend. It gets me thinking about the few vendors, the budget, the sound, and how I’m going to open the conversation with my friends to get things in motion. Echochord has the 9pm-11pm slot.

Tomasz Stanko New York Quartet - December Avenue (ECM)


Stanko manages to be deeply emotive without threatening cringes. He's not mixed lightyears above the ensemble. The melodies are beautiful. The breakdowns are intriguing. The interplay sum is greater than its constituents. It's good.

why

not sure why I give myself more and more work

ode to February

Visible Cloaks - Reassemblage (Rvng Intl.)

Publications have lost it for this thing. I share their infatuation. Reassemblage is a lullaby delivered through 98-degree goo, a haze of indistinct and comforting memories, accomplished with sonic precision rather than grainy reverb.

Tarkovsky Quartet - Nuit Blanche (ECM)

Couturier's group with Lechner amazes me again with a beautiful, contemplative exploration of melody and strained emotion. I would love to hear this group live.

Kassel Jaeger & Jim O'Rourke - Wakes on Cerulean (Editions Mego)

Another one of these Emego sleepers, Wakes on Cerulean quietly unfolds and drifts from a lazy river out into the ocean.

Kangding Ray - Hyper Opal Mantis (Stroboscopic Artefacts)

Kangding Ray goes off the rave deep end. Epsilon has the psytrance bass. Somebody get this man to the desert.

Sigha - Metabolism (Token)

Kangding Ray + Sigha = no more of this crunchy underproduced house for 2017. Ceramics is the bomb.

I heard boy

Is there any way to stop all this?

the increased military spending is really crazy

Finally Some Music

I've been working through so much that it's taken awhile to have nothing in the "maybe" queue.

Some recent highlights:

Parabolas of Neon - Lord of the Isles (Firecracker Recordings)

It's a well-executed genre excursion with some nice variety (dance-ambient-chill-etc) that I've enjoyed on repeat. The final/title track is great.

Oto Hiax - s/t (Editions Mego)

Really cool, noisy album with some nice harmonic gestures. Perhaps painstakingly constructed, but it sounds more to me like jams from some good-listener performers with some interesting material and patches lined up. Not always the most subtle ("there goes the bitcrusher"), but holds attention with its sawtooth, clattering, and sub-bass. I've been working on music with some friends lately, and I'd love to operate in the vein of this sound (we're not). Good stuff.

Sampha - Process (Young Turks)

On-point / contemporary voice-led pop production. "Like the Piano" is the sweetest. "Reverse Faults" drops the best. "Blood on Me" is my favorite.

Garth Knox & The Saltarello Trio - John Zorn: Leonard (The Book of Angels Vol. 30) (Tzadik)

This is beautifully performed and recorded music, with clear, bold melodic lines and progressions, melodies that are recognized, memorized, and hummed before the songs finish. Apparently this is the penultimate Book of Angels release. So for the expensive "here's everything package," let's hope for a nice book w/history, images, score elements, etc. and a slot for a USB stick with everything. Not a box of CDs or 8 million gram vinyl.

favorite signs

I know signs.
I make the best signs.

and

You're tacky,
and I hate you.

malaise

I hope it's not too reminiscent of Klebold ("You know what I fuken hate...")

iPhone

The iPhone. A magical revolutionary device. Actually it's the iPad that was announced with those words, but they really belong to the iPhone.

Sure, it's useful, but its presence is not a pleasure.

I would be happier if we did not have them. The mobile phone with basic but not-that-convenient texting would have been a great place to stop.

It really is a useful augmentation. One step closer to cyborg.

but what a distraction

to others

~

A few minutes ago somebody I was friends with in high school accidentally messaged me on Google chat/hangout. Clearly she meant to message her fiancé, whose name appears near mine in her list. I could have just not responded, but I gave a sort of joke response, leading to an exchange of happy new year / hope you're doing well / have a good week.

This is not an interesting story.

The point is, it's strange how people come in and out of our lives. I was friends with this person (she was close with my girlfriend in high school and so we became/were friends), we were still friendly after high school, and as with all but a few, basically drifted into not talking. (This reminds me, there's someone I want to email.) I ran into her about 8 years ago in my hometown in a parking lot. Not sure I've spoken with her since then. It's funny to think that most likely we'll never talk again, or maybe we'll run into each other in 5 years again and exchange recognitions.

I run into people from work or the techno scene sometimes outside of those settings, but I rarely run into someone from school. This is OK, as the further from my past someone is (without continuation into the present), the worse the version they know of me is and the more ashamed of myself I am.

facebook

Facebook is a pain.

If it wasn’t Facebook, it would be something else, but right now it’s Facebook.

There’s the whole misinformation thing. “Fake news.”

There’s the constant updating, constant checking.

Facebook.

I wrote about Facebook awhile back:

As the multiplicity of hegemonic theories makes clear, society reinforces its own oppression, advertising its destructive values and false needs to itself. The power and capability for society to do this is intensified and accelerated through social networks. Billboards and commercials impose themselves upon the eye and push values onto us, but Facebook’s users voluntarily turn to it, constantly revisit it, addicted to the messages of their peers.
. . .
No paid-for print, television, or internet campaign can match the power for selling a lifestyle like the constantly advertised lifestyles of real individuals. Surely this is not top-down, unless you consider it the long-term result of seeds sewn in the 20th century. The failed democratic enlightenment of immediate network communication generates a desire and world projection wildly distant from any sub-simulation reality or truth.

While the 1990s models of avatars, online personas, and impersonations followed a more fantastic, escapist orientation, the subjects created on Facebook are meant to be ourselves. As we do our best to generate ourselves digitally, our status-updated online performances merge with our real-world lived subjects in a strange, subject-blurring exchange. Facebook takes the celebrated internet possibility of crafting avatars and other-dimension personas as step further and superimposes the persona back onto the real-world person.

That's not to say that there are no subject-affirming aspects to Facebook, the internet, or any of the examined media. Clearly this is not the case, but what I here mention are unfortunate and dominant tendencies that can be used in the strategizing of militant media, or at least the evaluation of existing media for its effectiveness in counter militancy.

So that wasn’t as interesting as I had hoped, closer to what I had guessed, and in one aspect it’s off the mark. “Surely this is not top-down.” Those of us who work with Facebook in 2017 know the weight of pay-to-play. That’s not to say that as an individual I need to pay for interactions with my "friends," but much of what drives Facebook is paid content. We follow pages. Those pages want their content seen and shared. The more they pay, the more it’s seen, the more (if it interest their followers) it’s shared. This is not particularly interesting beyond its correction of the above analysis.

More interesting is the way that Paul Virlio’s writings on the speed of misinformation and public opinion and sentiment played out in this recent election. But that’s been explored ad nauseam, which Google tells me since is “referring to something that has been done or repeated so often that it has become annoying or tiresome.” Wow, that sounds like everything! P.S. looks like Google strips that from Oxford.

More nauseating than the fake news thing is the forum of public expression. The forum of nonsense. YouTube comments or 4chan come to mind, but they don’t have the benefit of being in front of everyone’e eyes 24/7. They don’t have the mainstream legitimacy. I can hold a job without chewing that. Facebook on the other hand…

OK, so let's force a binary. Is the world a better or worse place because of Facebook? We've (I've) said that if it wasn't Facebook it would be something else, but it is Facebook.
There's certainly positive. Communication, community, expression, information sharing, mobilization, exposure to others.
Then there's the echo chamber.
Then there's the auto-advertising.
The status-seeking.
The obsession.
I don't know. It magnifies and amplifies particular aspects of our cultures and selves, some in ways that we might deem positive, others negative.
I guess I'd critique this moment by questioning the value of trying to judge Facebook or think about what or how it is rather than how it manifests and operates in reality (as a phenomenon). But there's no time for that.

malaise

facebook

iPhone

race

sex

identity

privilege

decency

status

global exploitation

the environment

electoral politics

meetings

expectations

work

watson

favorite albums

These are my fourteen favorite albums of 2016. They're in chronological order by release date, and I've include some meaningless phrases to pretend to say something about them.

Roly Porter - Third Law (Triangle)

It's typically ambient pads or saturated drones that easily drift into space. "Third Law" does it with more dynamic, narrative drama, in a style most closely matched by Porter's 2013 "Life Cycle of a Massive Star." More than other "modern classical" composers whose work is making its way into film scores, Porter employs a mastery of foregrounded electronic manipulations, searing noise, massive sub-bass. The blender of Gantz Graf meets the strings and voices of sci-fi. The music manages to be intense, ethereal, intriguing, multifaceted.

On another note, it's funny how listening to something among others magnifies its qualities, even that of being totally boring. For example last night, with a couple of people:

"This is cool, what's this?"

"Roly Porter's album from earlier in the year."

...

"This sounds like some sci-fi soundtrack. That's cool."

...

"What are we listening to, the Superman soundtrack?"

"Yeah, it's dramatic."

"What?"

"We're listening to the Superman soundtrack, yes."

"Dude, this totally could be the Superman soundtrack."

"Yeah."

Is this what Reich finds disgusting (or whatever)? I'm sticking with it.


 

Skee Mask - Shred (Ilian Tape)

Solid album from all angles. Arced and paced, sonically, rhythmically detailed, heavy on breakbeats, and emotive. Built on legacy (I'm hearing Shackleton, Sandwell, Convextion, Autechre, Detroit all put through a particular lens) while moving forward.

 

Anenon - Petrol (Friends of Friends)

Strings, arpeggio synth sequences, grainy reeds(!), speedy drumkit breaks, field recordings, stereo delays, REVERB. It's moody music, good for the rain. Good for Michael Mann. Rainy LA into sunrise.


 

Vijay Iyer & Wadada Leo Smith - A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke (ECM)

It's a great pairing, mostly pensive and somber, lights low. The nature of the instruments places Smith's trumpet as more of the agent and Iyer's piano as the ground, but the strongest moments are in the interplay, sometimes including minimal electronic elements, everything working together. I was able to witness a moving performance of this at Occidental this year.


 

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - Ears (Western Vinyl)

Here's what I said back then:

Wow. Gorgeous, sensitive atmospheres, calling to mind the organs and horns of Terry Riley, the minimalist spirals of kosmische, and the vocal treatments of Laurie Anderson or The Knife. This will make the list.

This year there were a couple of items I expected to make my final list that didn't and a few things that grew into place. In the case of "Ears" it was clear on the first listen. The "modular sound" has been so done these past five years or so, but here she managed to bring a special touch to it with the vocal element. It also has an enjoyable pastoral ease. There are definite rifts and rises, but they're all within a constrained range.


 

Ash Koosha - I AKA I (Ninja Tune)

There's been so much great chunky, decimated weirdo dance noise from Ling, M.E.S.H., the masters Autechre, and a host of others, but this one stands out. Maybe it's the string samples that win me over, but these are some of the best beats this year. Heavy on melody.


 

Aesop Rock - The Impossible Kid (Rhymesayers)

Aesop Rock is one of the best verse writers (I guess I should just say lyricists). With each listen, new lines stand out for appreciation. I hear this and basically marvel at the fact that he was able to write these verses. The album is more obviously personal than past work.


 

Jungle - Live at Okuden (ESP-Disk)

Mat Walerian, Matthew Shipp, Hamid Drake. Last year ESP released an outstanding duo between Walerian and Shipp as The Uppercut, also called "Live at Okuden," which made it onto my year-end list of favorites. This release adds Hamid Drake to the mix for a 100-minute live recording. The program has everything from somber melodies to frenetic wailing, blues passages, post-bop, and some free breakouts. Some outstanding soloing, both powerful and delicate, finds its place among knotty interplay. With music like this I'm always curious about the notation, how detailed the compositions are, what non-standard instructions they might employ, and what's left up to the player. There's really a lot of "content" here in this release. Drake and Shipp are always strong, and Walerian has emerged with some excellent recordings in the past couple of years. I think these groups/names (Uppercut, Jungle) are probably just for this recording/release, but it would be awesome for this group to tour. Blue Whale. Make it happen.

 

Tyshawn Sorey - The Inner Spectrum of Variables (Pi Recordings)

Somewhere in jazzland the listing of this moving release came along. Tyshawn Sorey is an amazing drummer (for another example from this year, listen to the all-star Zorn recording Flaga (Taborn, McBride, Sorey)), but here his primary role is composer to a wide range of traditions, techniques, and tones, bringing them into a fresh, arching work. It's a beautiful recording. Looking forward to June...

J Balvin - Energía (Capitol Latin / Universal)

It would be dishonest of me to exclude this. Easily had the most replays this year in the car. The delivery is easy and flowing. Clear studio production. What song is best? Veneno? Malvada? Perde los modales? Snapchat? Ginza? 35 pa las 12?? I can't decide. OK, 35/12 in the car. Weddings, holiday parties, and the like all let me down this year. They could have at least played 6AM. Thanks 96.3. Will pass on the videos at this moment.

 

Ka - Honor Killed the Samurai (Iron Works Records)

"I know words. I have the best words." Life is still hard.

s l o w f l o w

 

Bethan Kellough - Aven (Touch)

Bethan Kellough's recording represents the best of what Touch is about, from barely-audible passages to romantic strings, open field recordings to contact mic application. The natural and performed are composed (and in this case performed) to connect us with the world. This was another INSTANT WINNER.

 

Solange - A Seat at the Table (Saint / Columbia)

There's nothing for me to say that hasn't been said, as this one's making it to the top of many year-end lists. The music works on many levels, assertive but contemplative, focused on frustration, endurance, and successes that are personal, (most importantly) local(ized), and ultimately universal. It's critical, catchy, laid-back. It's another one that had heavy rotation. It's of this time.

Sendai - Ground and Figure (Editions Mego)

Just out last Friday, Peter Van Hoesen and Yves De Mey return as Sendai for this workout in crisp, icy, booming, torn techno-IDM that builds, collapses, and falls back into step. Elements change as soon as they seem to solidify. It's music that warps time and space if it's loud enough.

The text will change, I'm sure.

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