Yosi Horikawa – Vapor

Editor’s Note: This video is taken from The Boiler Room channel.

So I watched the critically acclaimed silent film The Artist on Sunday, it’s noteworthy because of its release date: 2011. People went nuts over this film as if it opened their eyes to new ways of filmmaking with a patented groundbreaking back to the futureness. Really though, the movement of antiquated 3D making a comeback in 2008 was too delicious, in hand with the internet’s ability for resuscitating old visual entertainments abused extensively in fashion… retro-style anyone? It’s shabby chic, yeah?.. The Weinstein brothers easily came to the conclusion: ‘what other dead mediums can we revive for our hungry little necrophiliacs?’.

The story goes a famous silent actor is enjoying his ascent to stardom and accidentally triggers an aspiring young actress’ rise to fame. They’re enticed on a shoot, seemingly never forgetting those moments, haunting the elder actor as the actress lands bigger roles in the inaugral Talkies, a trend he never takes seriously, demonstrated as he bankrolls a self-produced silent film that simply delivers him into obscurity. The audiences wanted to feel like they were in the room; to ingratiate themselves in melifluous fields of sonics… what was golden was over. From there it all spirals from thereon in as you can imagine with celebrity melodramatics.

I see its intended irony as a Lanterne Rouge.  It behaves like a celebration of silent film while conveying its obsolescence. How droll for the masses, but it’s just as embarrassing as Pharrel’s hat. Nice try. We love bringing old forgotten things out from the cupboard to laugh at how we used to survive. But it trivialises it, misses the point. Fashion changes the message into a disposable one. Where archived silent film was authentic as filmmaking craft that defined an age, here in The Artist it’s surfed a wave of peripheral consciousness and splayed its private parts for a cheap look.

The above live set has no relation to my ranting. Vapor, Yosi’s 2013 debut outing,  showcases an extensive array of immersive, interesting samples. Deeply hypnotic, perfect for summertimes on the beach. Recommended for headphone use, oh yes.

Deep Puddle Dynamics – The Taste of Rain… Why Kneel?

How intelligent do you feel? Because I think I’m pretty stupid, there is a ceiling of comprehension I sometimes bounce my head on, but most of time I don’t even know it exists I’m that ignorant. And, stupid in comparison to all kinds of things, really.  What strikes me most is that I have a supercomputer and only use 10% of it, or there abouts. That’s like a child playing games on their brand new smartphone, satiated with the highs and lows of Angry Birds, already out of fashion, and just as predictable and repeatable.

I watch a lot of football and can appreciate the difficulty of getting a team of players to organise themselves effectively, to groupthink and anticipate eachother’s actions before they even think of it,  and then I look down at the floor and watch ants in perfect unison, that groupthink hivemind action, utterly, and innately knowing their jobs on this universe adding and building for the future of their homemade colony today and everyday. I used to play football, but I can’t get the swerve I used to get anymore. Shifting the air dynamics around the spherical shape of the ball by kicking it with more surface area of the inside of the foot on the ball’s axis to provoke further rotation and swerve. My vision is gone too, it’s plain I am not an ant on the pitch… Shit, imagine getting administerial offices to work cohesively. Police forces. Trading… How do the Mafia do it? Fear, I suppose.

I spoke to a retired psychotherapist yesterday and asked him questions on the science of questions, if he had read certain books I had read, and why he had retreated into a dead end job like I had. This, a person who’s travailed through six years of medicine school, proven himself with exams and supervision during therapy, an older man, born in the 50s… His wife said they should retire, and he did. She’s staying on for a few more years though, her decision.

I’m currently reading Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, the book that allowed her to afford a car. It is immense as a prime mover of modern literature after the Great War. Her exceptional lyrical phrasing of narratorial nothingness captures life at its essence. I’ve recently finished a translation of Paulo Coelho’s bestseller The Alchemist, it’s poorly written, but it’s touched the soul of millions, a difficult ability imbued within something one can pick up and look at and change spiritually. If I don’t compare myself to these, then who should we compare ourselves to? These were people who lived an everyday life, like I have, suffered this banality, and in their brief time they’ve created majestic things because of a captivatingly intelligent understanding of human nature. This is something I seek to do to stop this stupid feeling.

This is the only LP by Deep Puddle Dynamics, released in 1999, titled The Taste of Rain… Why Kneel? This is probably my favourite rap record I’ve come across so far. Its lyrics are about the most inspiring I’ve heard and feel about right.

Opeth – Heritage

Opeth’s basking in a new renaissance with me in light of news of an 11th record dropping this June, and in this opportunity beforehand I want to address their last record Heritage. Finally, Åkerfeldt banished the arid death metal vocals; so obvious in retrospect, he’d been threatening to do so for years. Damnation remains No.2 behind Blackwater Park for most fans, while No.1 for many others, so we know we’re keen. I’ve been listening back to 2010’s Live in Concert at the Royal Albert Hall and Opeth gave a definitive career performance, and oh fans be pleased, Mikael can belch out those signature gutterals like he’s twenty again… but it isn’t 1995 anymore. In a changing modern world where information reigns, there’s constant surveilance, and scrutiny is habitualised, it makes a producer of a creative art want to be understood: clarity in growling is paradoxical. I’ve often held the conclusion a poor lyricist can hide behind a wall of growls. Hell, there’s so many throwback Schuldiner imitators in the marketplace do any equate to the power of what he said other than just how he said it, even 15 years after the fact?

Heritage is a head first plunge into Åkerfeldt’s desire to make that heavy sinister sounding record he’s been after, a word that often comes up with him in interviews, ssssinissssster… These promoted clean vocals enact as compère here stepping the listener through a Master & Margerita-style ball, a hellish and extravagant occasion, there’s no crunch in the guitar attack, this is a delicate affair for softly spoken words, sidewinding hexes with intricate arpeggioed acoustics keeping the tense asymmetrical dance rotating.  Mikael then croons and praises while burrowing beneath the omnipresent strings or soars above those undulating bell-bottom riffs that dredge the floor of the lava and muck surging underfoot. The entire record or affair leaves one with an unshakable dread of those unforeseen consequences we hide in the corner of our eyes.

The Shaolin Afronauts – Flight of the Ancients

Video games transport us into the shapeshifting, time travelling, righteous assassin invincables of our dreams. Many provide heavenly stages of Choices for a user to effortlessly craft an avatar of their vision… alas, flick a screen back and forth, or covet another’s amour, well c’est la vie! Lets transfigure once again into something I really like. Games are manifestations of fantastical and science fictional ideas on possible environments, living things, and dangers which we have dreamt about or invented, perpetuated in stories. Games summon these aspirational objects and project a representative physicality that satiates curiosity, and enables desire of users. There’s fulfilment, even empowerment in embracing realities one craves. Who cares about superficiality? Witness this reality we share in our mass consciousness as it collapses into the world wide web of advertising and droll amusement. So lets transform our physical bodies once again! It doesn’t matter what we look like, it’s about what happens in our minds; in first person point of view camera are you really just sitting there? …and yet, I remain seated. I see indulgence instead of exploring possibilities. Novel mechanics and material improvement weighs heavier on minds than ideological substance or diversity of achievement and its challenges. Trivialisation of a body leads to real life neglect and it’s a fine education of fast hand-eye coordination; Carpel tunnel syndrome, premature blindness, with other hidden costs are mere tutoring fees. The endgame is this: it is easier to succeed in a game than in real life. Try getting a bank loan for your small business idea; that’s a difficult ‘quest’.

Video games will soon deliver near-total lucidity of any imaginable reality, why not escape the fascination on personal technical ability and material wealth; hell, even drop the explosions and fantasy. Possibilities can be anything up to exploring human nature, about how we behave in multifarious circumstances  e.g. biographical games that traces remarkable lives through intrepid circumstances; be the first research scientists who discovered herbal medicines, finding the plants in puzzling terrains, jungle, deserts, collecting 10; survival game in a conflict zone, acting neutral to feed hidden families, building weapons from what you find in the ravaged city. Players go through the same troubles. Child soldiers. Genocide. Slenderman suddenly doesn’t seem so scary. Whatever. Games of the moment fail to realise a potential at exploring our reality, and until they do I’m not that interested.

This is The Shaolin Afronauts debut LP Flight of the Ancients, dropped in 2011. I’ve heard it once and loved it, smooth swinging funk, that keeps ya’ll knees bouncing. Enjoy that sun!

Kanye West – 808s & Heartbreak

I’m pretty conscious that with my extensive listening habits I end up listening to a lot of average music. Of course, there is lots of good; I rave about bands and musicians all the time – my poor housemates – but really there isn’t much GREAT; the stuff that makes you want to hit repeat immediately, stuff that raises the hairs on the back of your neck, something which you just have show to someone else right now! The stuff that changes you from the moment it begins… That feeling, having that experience, is a rare, rare thing. As a producer then, of a different creative medium, writing, okay, but nonetheless similar in that we suffer a familiar plight. There is lots of mediocre, and not much brilliant. So where does this leave us? Hard work counts for nothing if the talent isn’t there; one can learn, and be proficient, and accept there are those more talented. Talent is natural, so naturally most are average. Listening to music that’s had to jump through industry hoops and is yet still average makes me question my own ambitions. Publishing is a different industry, but I’ve read many books I won’t be reading again. Why, I wonder, contribute to the slush?

The above is Kanye West’s fourth LP, 2008’s 808s & Heartbreak a welcome rebound after the flat Graduation party, West’s third outing. This record is much more minimal in production style, the beats are mellow and ‘Ye is singing love songs. The autotune debate reared its head with this record, although I see no problem. It’s a stylistic choice some chose to go overboard with, Kanye here is experimental in my view. It gives the record a sound departure in hand with opting to drop the rapping, these new boundaries pushed Kanye to develop the instrumentation of his beats, embracing the chillwave and slow electronic movements that were hip and happening at that time. Kanye West remains one of the most interesting figures in hip hop and rap, this RnB lovesongs record proves it.

Orquesta Del Desierto – Dos

I asked a friend today if they ever said their name aloud to themselves and they said no.

“So you never you say your own name to yourself, like in encouragement of what you’re doing?”

“No, why would I?”

“Never a “Good job, Sean” or “Sean, you bell end”?’

“That’s your name.”

When others say your name it’s affirmation of your identity, in essence you’ve successfully conveyed yourself to that person so that they’ve remembered you and your name: validation. I am me, and you accept that, and acknowledge my existance by using my name. Saying it aloud to yourself is an act of reinforcement then, a mantra possibly. It’s peculiar to think we are born without names and then given them by our parents; nameless at birth, pure of society for only a brief time. Names, in all different ways, can shape our lives: sharing them, giving them, changing them, admiring them too. They divide us culturally, and reveal our ancestry, while having their own styles and fashions. I feel lucky I have a name that’s not phonetic as it’s not immediately obvious how to pronounce it from the spelling. There’s something to that.

This is the second LP by Orquesta Del Desierto, fittingly titled Dos, which dropped way back in 2003, and I have to say I am stunned. I have followed all kinds of hard rock blogs, metal blogs, and mp3 sites, sites dedicated to stoner rock music and festivals; read all kinds of online biographies of each constituent part, a one Alfredo Hernandez of Kyuss and more, a two Pete Stahl of Goatsnake , and goddaddy the third himself Mario Lalli of Fatso Jetson… and never have I heard a squeak about this record. Ever. For shame it took Spotify’s Discovery feature and my heavy listening habit to unearth this sunny gem, perfect for the upcoming summer times ya’ll. This is beach bum music, with plenty of dancealong parts.

Pushing the Heavy 90s

Pushing the Heavy 90s
Slint - Spiderland
Slint – Spiderland

With scouring the internet for music as your hobby, you notice how PR helps bands a lot. Sifting through threads of fan chatrooms looking for name drops, I find a majority cite a stable cast of bands, those that are signed with some level of marketing. Even a single social media page is presence. Lots of web users who would cite internet browsing as a main activity can easily find information. Intuition at this point. Reunions have been all the rage as the internet allows listeners to discover previously unavailable music. It’s rare to find a band without any such presence. Almost like the members refusing to acknowledge its existence. When there’s no one talking about you, you quickly become forgotten, and with nothing to push or say there’s plenty of other noise to fill that space. For me, if the band isn’t on Spotify I think why bother chasing a record when there is plenty of other things I can listen to. All the while, there are records that sit fading into history, buried under new music and other growing entertainment. Like masterful novels sat on shelves of a public library that don’t get a glance. It’s always fun to recommend; a good book, a walk, best place to eat, strange buildings, music. It’s a part of sharing life. Doing so reaffirms to oneself they are participating and can affect others. Inclusivity, we want to like the same things. So discover the hard to find things and share them because the true thrill is that you can actually do so.

The Afghan Whigs – Gentlemen (1993)

Brant Bjork – Jalamenta (1999)

Breach – It’s Me God (1997)

Cavity – Supercollider (1999)

Critters Buggin – Host (1997)

The Dandy Warhols – …The Dandy Warhols Come Down (1997)

Dismemberment Plan – Emergency & I (1999)

Fudge Tunnel – Hate Songs in E Minor (1991)

Into Another – Ignaurus (1994)

Karp – Self Titled LP (1995)

Rodan – Rusty (1994)

Seam – The Problem With Me (1993)

Shipping News – Save Everything (1996)

Slint – Spiderland (1991)

Soul Coughing – Ruby Vroom (1994)

Unwound – Fake Train (1993)

Weezer – Weezer (1994)

 

And, some millenials that came from this session:

Fugazi – The Argument (2001)

Japanther – Leather Wings (2003)

Internal Void – Unearthed (2000)

Sunna – One Minute Science (2000)

.

The 90s isn’t exactly lavished with praise for its heavy output in the mainstream, I got to admit. These LPs are some of what I’ve found worthy of sharing. From what I can hear, each have helped shape or define a spectrum of heavy sounds that have been developed and worked on in the internet era, a legacy that has been somewhat forgotten, buried under massive neglectful imitation.