Top Ten Records of 2009 (in no particular order)

Dan Deacon - Bromst
Bonnie Prince Billy - Beware
Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
Thee Oh Sees - Help
Dâm Funk - Toeachizown
DJ Sprinkles - Midtown 120 Blues
Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
The Dream - Love Vs Money
Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion
Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Other Favorites:

Little Dragon - Machine Dreams
Pill - 4075: The Refill (mixtape)
Best Coast - Sun Was High (So Was I)
Broadcast and the Focus Group - Broadcast And The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults Of The Radio Age 
Blues Control - Local Flavor
Six Organs Of Admittance - Luminous Night
John Zorn - O'o

Top Ten Movies

Avatar (I haven't even seen it yet...I just know)
Public Enemies
Star Trek
District 9
The White Ribbon (also haven't seen it yet but comeon, it's Michael Haneke)
The Hurt Locker
Fantastic Mr. Fox
In The Loop
Bright Star
Anvil: The Story of Anvil
(side note if I ever did get around to seeing A Serious Man I have no doubt it would have made this list but since Michael Haneke has never done me wrong, and the Coen bros do me wrong every other movie, tie goes to the runner)

Lawrence - Until Then, Goodbye

Lawrence's Until Then, Goodbye is one of the Japanese label Mule's newest offering of low key, sleek, late night house, and it's also their best since the elegiac DJ Sprinkles release Midtown 120 Blues.  The record is sort of divided between the luxurious fantasy that one could expect from house these days and a comparatively raw group of interludes that paint a more realistic, earthy vision.  Lawrence's moves are as fluid as the moon is blue; he's elusive but generous.  In the acoustic oriented tracks (of these I've posted the title track, and "Father Umbrillo") he draws heavily from twinkling, ringing things - vibraphones, marimbas, mbiras, bells of various sizes.  But in the synth driven tracks (the obscenely gorgeous "Jill", and the haunted "Don't Follow Me"), it's not an entirely falsified template, he'll sneak in timpani, bongos, trap sets and tablas that feel almost untouched.  Lawrence has clearly been around long enough to know how to keep a mix dense enough to be interesting (take note minimal folks - simplicity is not simplification) but spacious enough for you to fill in the blanks.  It doesn't hit you in throat the way DJ Sprinkles does, it's not a massive record really, but it is careful, well conceived gorgeous music by any standard.

Lawrence - Until Then, Goodbye

Lawrence - Jill

Lawrence - Father Umbrillo

Lawrence - Don't Follow Me

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Edan - Echo Party

Edan, the Boston indie hip hop boy wonder with an intense servitude to obscure rap oldies and a killer disappearing act, has put down the mic and focused solely on his turntablism on Echo Party a mixtape he's been developing (presumably) for years now.  Apparently Traffic Entertainment Group let Edan run wild in it's archives, a veritable treasure of records from the period where hip hop was somewhere between disco, house, and the common breakbeat + MC oriented stuff we think of as the birth of the genre.  Edan has always been terse in all the right ways, and I can't imagine a more well structured 29 minute mix than this one.  It comes, it jamz, it goes into outer space and then it's done.  But it's a dense mix, samples fly by at an alarming rate, perhaps not quite as distracted as Girl Talk, and in general much smoother and less reflexively preoccupied with juxtapositions of genre.  Part of the glue of the whole thing is Edan's use of the echo taps.  It's a constant reminder there's an artist's hand twisting and mashing here.  What's amazing about this record is that he manages to let the samples speak for themselves and yet provides the framework to make them sound utterly new.  There are certainly distortions and intrusions and moments where you wonder if something in there is purely Edan (his previous records make sure the line between sample and production stays murky).  In the booklet that comes only with the CD or vinyl copy of the record, he has painstakingly delineated every sample and when its used in the booklet that comes only with the vinyl, and something tells me Edan has a pretty fierce ethic when it comes to materials so it's hard to tell what's what sometimes.  Devotees of Edan's rapping (I could take it or leave it) will certainly be disappointed by this release, especially having waited so long since the last, but this current incarnation plays so well to his strengths as a producer and un-anointed rap historian that I wish he'd been making these kinds of mixtapes all along.

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Tapes - Hissing Theatricals

I've never been a huge digidub fan.  I guess I've never really been a huge dub fan to begin with so that kind of precluded the possibility of getting into digidub.  Dub always seems too preoccupied with a kind of stoner melancholia, and digidub sounded too piercingly cheap for me.  I certainly haven't sampled enough to stamp the whole genre, but from what I've heard...well lets say maybe I haven't heard enough.  The UK based Tapes' newest 12" called Hissing Theatricals has changed my attitude somewhat.  Part of it is that these tracks are deliciously economic and brief.  Dub gets boring for me after I hear a couple phrases of the same groove and no amount of delay tap shifting will convince me otherwise.  This record isn't about hypnosis or even mesmerization, these are lean and tight structural grooves, that shift and hammer and cut.  They hardly even cut loose.  These are made by a robot from an unsought past.  Sonically, Tapes is playing with degenerated tape surfaces, crackling bitcrushed moogs and junos oscillating a bit out of tune like a cassette that's been fried in the glove compartment.  For all those 8-bit heads out there, this is how you do it right.  This record does two things well.  It places a ton of hiss and frizz on the surface of the sound, giving it a super crisp, bristling profile, but doesn't skimp you on the depth of the mix.  The kicks really thump and the reverbs really haunt.  One of the things I like about this EP is that there are some mean juicy bangers, like the kingston robocop hustle of "C20 Riddim", or "Gold Love Riddim", a track that Major Lazer couldn't dream of copping to for its authenticity (is there any record more full of posturing than Major Lazer?? Ok fine, there was that horrendous N.A.S.A. record.)  But there are also these gorgeous, miniature romances, that just swish along aimlessly, content with themselves.  "Good Thing You Came Along" is almost cut from the same cloth as a Nite Jewel track - plaintive, shabby, and sort of lobotomized.  I'm not sure how interesting any of this stuff would be to see live, it might be kind of a downer, but if you're looking for something rarefied and next level in this genre Tapes is holding it down for all you sleepy, backpack wearing motherfuckers.

Tapes - C20 Riddim

Tapes - Good Thing You Came Along

Tapes - Gold Love Riddim

Tapes - Lowry Dub 

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Signer: Next We Bring You The Fire

I came within inches of putting a track by the New Zealand band Signer on a Friday Finds a few months back and then decided it was too sleepy or something.  That was stupid of me.  Their newish (Sept) record, Next We Bring You The Fire out on Carpark may drift in and out of electronic psychedelia, woozy somnolence brought on by exaggerated LFOs, walls of lydian tuned aggregates, and a voice nearly as slim as a sine wave, but the details of its makings are fully aware and its construction, though not always well conceived, on the whole, cogent.  A contemporary Cocteau Twins comes to mind, though not nearly as fey, which is saying less about Signer's inherent groundedness than it does about the extreme airiness of Cocteau Twins.  The real winner here is a track called "+Kicks and Kicks", which swaggers in a barbiturate induced trip across a dance floor, knees locked then buckling, faceless heads bobbing, moaning, glowing, and a mild case of claustrophobia that creeps and creeps.  "Languidly Toot" is a far more exalted example, swerving perhaps a bit close to shoegaze, and needs a third section, but altogether gorgeous nonetheless (why did they withhold that blastbeat till the last 20 seconds, and then only use it once??)  The album on the whole could use more bouts of this kind of thing (by that I mean adrenaline).  The one place we really get it is on the too long "Don't Be A Forest Cow" which dips into the Teengirl Fantasy/Pictureplane model of muscular, astrally disturbed house, but here it drags somehow despite being the fastest song on the record, the four on the floor kick feels out of place with the listless vocals, or maybe the drums are just too clean, and when the acid bass line comes in it is suddenly the most insensitive moment on an album full of florid, otherworldly sensitivities.  On "We Should Touch Teeth" the initial scape is mulled over unnecessarily, but when we get somewhere, a sufficiently massive tribalized rave sequence is deserving of interest, if a little forced.   Next We Bring You The Fire is perhaps not a crucial record, but otherwise it's a finely tuned likeness of where electronic pop is, and where it's going in the late oughts. 

Signer - +Kicks and Kicks

Signer - Languidly Toot

Signer - Don't Be a Forest Cow

Signer - We Should Touch Teeth

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Brian Harnetty and Bonnie Prince Billy: Silent City

Brian Harnetty is a British composer with a serious crush on American folk.  His last record, American Winter sampled rare recordings from an Appalachian folk archive at Borea College in Kentucky.  In many of those pieces, he added instrumentation on top or around these recordings.  Bells, twinkling toy pianos, bowed metal, string drones, the tools of a new music composer's approach to folk.  Some of it had a contemporary drone feel, some of it was like a disfigured, reoriented bluegrass, as if someone had forgotten how to play it but remembered the rhythmic pattern.  His use of samples is unique.  Firstly, he picks a lot of moments that are in transition from the spoken, or ambient, to the musical; a woman forgetting her lyrics and trying to remember how the rest of the song went, a radio dj introducing the next selection, people describing their understanding, or perhaps more importantly their memory of the songs they're about to or have just performed.  For Harnetty, the moments before or after a performance are not only musical themselves - the ambience, the spoken word, creating a kind of a soundscore already - but also present an openness, or priming for what I suppose you could only call accompaniment.  Which is to say, sometimes the sample is not what's important here, sometimes the composing takes over and really sends the sample into a back layer.  This is especially true when he blatantly ignores the tempo and meter of a given sample and composes against it, creating a new temporal arrangement that feels torn between the two worlds, the imaginary archival world, and the modern one, looking back.

The trouble is, on this new record, Silent City, out on AtavisticHarnetty teams up with indie folk's most notorious self aggrandizer (aside from Devendra who can hardly be called folk anymore), Bonnie Prince Billy (Will Oldham).  Don't get me wrong, I love Bonnie Prince Billy, I mean like love love, like I think he's one of the more enigmatic, shapeshifting, brashest musicians in this country.  He's just way too Bonnie Prince Billy to sit in on a very sensitive proceeding and go unnoticed.  It's the exact same problem I have with David Sylvian's music altogether.  He's singing outside of the music, it's all about him (and his brooding fascination with himself).  Similarly, when BPB sings it pushes the rest of the piece to the background, which is what good singing is supposed to do, but what the best of Brian Harnetty's music moves obliquely in opposition to.  The good thing is, BPB is only on a couple of the tracks, and the rest of the record is really a beautiful graduation forward from American Winter.  It's really a more settled, more accessible record.  It's also darker.  Instrumentally, it leans a bit too hard on the accordion which can get tinny after listening to it sustain through every track on the record.  But the addition of drums, which are performed loosely but with great specificity, is an important step for this composer, in that it pushes him past creating beautiful textures and mysterious situations, it asks him to tell us something with a sharper ear for how time is being played out.  And that's always a good thing.  Who wants to hear a Brian Harnetty/Grouper split?

Brian Harnetty & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Silent City
Brian Harnetty & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Well, There Are
Brian Harnetty & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Sleeping In The Driveway
Brian Harnetty & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - As Old As The Stars

Also here's a pretty interesting video for 'Sleeping In The Driveway'  It's a poignant montage of southern farms, farmhouses, interiors, graveyards, and roads.

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Just feel like it needs to be said that all these "Fences" remixes are getting play now that the new Phoenix remix album of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is out and there's like 5 different Fences remixes on there. Back when I did my remix of Fences nobody was even paying attention to Fences as a track let alone as a dope template for a dance remix (or a garage "remix" in the case of the Soft Pack's version). Not that my shit is better than anybody's, that Boombass remix is aight, although the Friendly Fires remix has a pretty serious case of multiple personality. There's about a hundred others surfacing so I'm reposting mine just to get up in this hoopla.

Phoenix - Fences (Jongleur Remix)

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This is fun right? Todd Terje is definitely one of the best remixers out there, his version of Shit Robot's "Simple Things (Work It Out)" a while back is far superior than the original, which was already a pretty sticky piece of techno sleeze. Here he takes on 80's new wave one hitter M's "Pop Muzik" with sheer unabashed joy. I'm getting fairly bored these days with nu disco and house music, but this track seriously kills. It's got all the forward momentum of a techno track, with the bloopy bass and stab synths of a house anthem. Then add the faux doowop vocals, the new wave sneer, and the deeper subtext here, that pop can be a kind of manifesto, a gestalt, and that the choice to embrace it is not a choice at all, it is insuppressible, and you have yourself a fine evening.

M - Pop Muzik (Todd Terje Remix)

Shit Robot - Simple Things (Work It Out)[Todd Terje Version]

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Rainy day in L.A. Not every day this kind of thing happens. Found the perfect track to accompany from a Dungen offshoot called The Amazing. These swedish dudes drop a seriously snuggly song here. Think Nick Drake, Van Morrison, 60's stuff, with a nice bit of that northern europe aloofness. The rest of the album has a couple other tracks in this vein, and some with a bit more of Dungen style psych swirl and boom.

The Amazing - Dragon

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Asthmatic Kitty, the label home and Michigan outpost of Sufjan Stevens, has an interesting record series called Library Catalog devoted to music basically prepped for a utilitarian role. What that is, or turns out to be seems ambiguous. They write of series: "for possible use in films and television, background sounds for home or office, or personal needs, such as relaxation, stimulation, meditation, concentration, or elevation,” or more specifically as “accompaniment to cooking, eating, sculpting, exercising, high stakes poker, soaking, panoramic landscapes, cuddling, car chases, drawing, knitting, bandaging, romance, playing chess, or planning the rest of your life, of which this is the first day." I don't think it presumptuous to assume Asthmatic Kitty considers "listening" a crucial aspect of the whole endeavor. But I do find it a recessionarily shrewd move on their part, providing indie ambient and arty instrumental rock that seems tailor made to indie films and forward thinking TV. Then again, like many of Sufjan and his crew's ideas (I'm still pissed about the 50 states project's abandonment, and for the record I think Sufjan's noisey, electronic dabbling is terribly ill-conceived, and the BQE is a snorefest), I won't hold breath for them to come to fruition. But as an excercise in 'backgroundness' these records do fine. Some more than fine. Yuuki Matthews, who plays with Seattle's underrated Crystal Skulls is releasing Music for Savage Tropical Imagery December 8, which on the strength of "Conquerors" the first track leaked by Asthmatic Kitty, promises to be a a hazy, rueful Eno-meets-chillwave affair. Fellow Crystal Skull Casey Foubert and James McAlister, who both have solo entries into the series, come together on Music For Drums, a record that does as it a describes just with a lot more interest than you would expect. The mixing is taut, the layers rich, the compositions shifting. I've posted a smattering of teasers from a few of the other records including the Sufjan collab with Lowell Brams "Alpha to Theta" on Music for Insomnia which sounds way too close to Yoga music to my ears but seriously might get some motherfuckers to sleep. Also check out Roberto Carlos Lange's (Helado Negro) "Amazonian Pacific" which is an odd mishmash of darkwave, ambient, and noisey avant kraut grooves, but definitely works. They've amped up their release schedule for these records so keep a look out as they seem to be getting better with each.

Yuuki Matthews - Conquerors

Casey Foubert/James McAlister - Big Moth

Lowell Brams - Alpha to Theta

Law of the Least Effort - Law 2

Roberto Carlos Lange - Amazonian Pacific

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Hudson Mohawke's LP Butter comes out on Warp October 8th. The Wire's Joe Muggs writes of the record, "It superimposes the most vainglorious bombast of 21st century rap/crunk/R&B with the excruciatingly precise production, jazz funk chords and cocaine treble of 1980's soul and 'yacht rock', while deconstructing the clatter and stabs of rave and turning the synaesthetic cartoon sound of P-funk into a high-definition 3D CGI IMAX nightmare." I'm not sure it's possible to beat that description, nor is it possible not to be overwhelmed by the sound he describes as it comes to you in the flesh. The record steps way beyond, or around, all the UK Wonky, dubstep cadre who systematically insist on the same types of snares and kicks and wood blocks, who mumble and pout their way on a sadsack dancefloor with stoned out intellectuals. I don't know what drugs Hud Mo is on, and I don't really know that I could figure out HOW, let alone where, to dance to these tracks (although it turns out I missed out on his show at Low End Theory a couple weeks ago). Everything seems jacked up, either too fast, too busy, too punchy, too weird. It's totally inspired and totally next level, it's just not always totally listenable. Is that possible? I'm gonna post three of the best tracks on the album, one of which ("Star Crackout") is an ambient cut that sublimely takes apart some folk recording, a very new tactic from this particular beatcrusher. But be quick because Warp is on the prowl for this one and no doubt these links will be dead by days end.

Hudson Mohawke - No One Could Ever

Hudson Mohawke - 3.30

Hudson Mohawke - Star Crackout

FYI These tracks are probably the least flamboyant on the record (to my ears). If you're someone who wishes Andre 3000 kept making records like The Love Below until ten years from now, and then time traveled back in order to deliver some of these tracks, (and I don't think I'm exactly excluded from that group) by all means get into the rest of the record.

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Roj Stevens, a former member of Broadcast, has released a collection of music on Ghost Box that will take you far far into the past, into alien addled sci-fi and haunted TV sets, into tribalized exotica, into woozy trance and third person states and musical transversalities, all as envisioned by dumpy, damp midland chaps dreaming of a future in reverse. Ghostbox makes a habit of these types of vintage 60's analog obsessed records, but this one is the bravest and weirdest. It's one of the more unique sounding records I've ever heard. Krautish, Silver Apples influenced grooves sit alongside radio transmissions, alert tones, vocal snippets, synth blips and twerps from locations unknown, potentially sinister, and altogether far fucking out. If you were ever a person who found Stockhausen's "Gesang der Junglinge" and "Kontakte" kinda funky in a really difficult way to express, you will be liberated into pure oblivion by these outer space phobia inducing miniatures. Unlike Stockhausen or any like minded early electronic pioneers, Roj keeps it stunningly brief. Which is not to say that each piece is just a etude, in fact the record has such incredible pace to it in terms of tempo and length, in terms of the simultaneous and opposing diversity and continuity of each sound world. It feels, somehow, that all these disparate pieces, with all their vexing obliquity fit to form a chaotic, spooky and beautifully psychedelic vision. Tasters choice available below but please do dive into the full experience. You can pick up the record on iTunes fr crissake.

Roj - Bongo Workout

Roj - Inhale. Exhale. Love!

Roj - Process Revealed

Roj - What I Saw

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Friday Finds 9

1: Renegade - Thin Lizzy (best and most underrated classic rock band ever?!)
2: 10 Bricks (feat. Capadonna & Ghostface Killah) - Raekwon (wu stalwart takes it back to the 90's, super hard!)
3: Untitled 3 (from Clear) - James Ferraro ("hypnagogic pop" from the unadorned king)
4: It's So - Famous L. Renfroe (famous, no, drunk, yes!)
5: Neon Snakes - Fontan (alert! kraut disco!)
6: Blue Genes - The Champagne Socialists (terrible name! great garage track!)
7: We Just Won't Stop - James Curd (DFA newcomer kills it with some inspirational retro disco - is DFA the only dance label worth it's weight in trendy t-shirts and sneaks?!)
8: A Million Dollars - Stanza (raps about being broke and hating your job make me feel better about myself. especially with slick as fuck production and an embarrassingly awesomea lofi video.
9: Feather - Little Dragon (if you think 'chillwave' is for poseurs but you like the production aesthetic try this band, they actually write songs!)
10: Silly Bones - Horse Meat Disco (probably the biggest track ever!)
11: What Did I Do? - The Beets (I think we all know this feeling. What did I do? Can you save me?!! Sincerely, and simply one of the best NY bands out there - this track is only the tip of the iceberg).
12: Talamak - Toro y Moi (glofi from South least it's not from Florida, I'm over all these blown out bands from Tampa!)
13: Traffika - The Sa-Ra Creative Partners (as weird and inventive as the Black Eyed Peas started out as, only more rugged)
14: Ohayo Mada Yaro - Yura Yura Teikoku (psych soul from Japan. What IS this? How did it get this way?)
15: Go (Offshore Remix) - Thavius Beck (Offshore is the one to watch here, tight knit neptunes inspired beats on the next level)
16: Passing Away - Emeralds (epic 60's minimal drone resurrected with serious commitment from the drone scene's brightest group. new ep downloadable from here)

Download Friday Finds 9 here

Thin Lizzy video of "Renegade"

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The Bran Flakes are the newest addition to Illegal Art, the only record label with the balls to handle the legalities of Girl Talk and other like minded sample heavy mashup artists. They are pretty irreverent, though not in the way Girl Talk might joyfully desecrate two antithetical musics with one fell swoop. The Bran Flakes find samples that while pretty distant in origin share a similar penchant for zaniness. Zaniness is a tough thing to pull off (just ask the Flaming Lips). You either look like you're trying too hard, or you think you're being zany when in fact you just look stupid. I'm not totally sure where this record falls, I think I would have to see these idiots in concert to know for sure. Some of the mashups are really awkward, or just plain annoying in their saturday morning cartoon enthusiasm. Like how Dan Deacon was before he got spiritual, or the really self satisfied dork patrol that thinks it's enough just to retool old nintendo's and other 8 bit relics in order to make "retro!" tech fantasies. As if they're the first ones to find real interest in video game music. Some of the references feel too close to home to be reified. I think Girl Talk gets away with using the most ubiquitous songs ever, because he's trying to be as obvious as possible, he's actually attempting to reinvent or at least deconstruct the most popular songs in American culture. I get the feeling the Bran Flakes' mission, while still largely hospitable to the listener (their self description on their website reads like 'Blues Clues': "The Bran Flakes are ready to turn that frown upside down, put a beat in your step, and a twinkle in your eye"), is more akin to that of Negativland, where cultural references points are worked to a frenzy in the hopes (hopes that are far more political in the case of Negativland) that they are eviscerated. I invariably end up kind of deflecting at the frenzy. It's all too, I don't know, Canadian. I end up craving something with a deeper sense of intent, of identity. But...there's 31 tracks on the record so really who cares if some of them are clunkers, the prevailing mood is pretty hysterical and it all amounts to a genuinely liberating sense of media abstraction albeit one we've been hearing for some time now. The best tracks on I Have Hands do one basic thing well, instead of trying to nail 7 different collages in a minute and a half. I've posted these songs, but for your interest Illegal Art has a 'pay what you want' policy for all their releases, so by all means, the next time you're on your seventeenth cup of coffee and wearing a hot dog costume, check it out.

The Bran Flakes - Jump Up

The Bran Flakes - Singing Dogs

The Bran Flakes - Van Pop

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Hidden Cameras have me feeling mighty 90's today. I don't why this track "In the NA" is so damn good, it reminds of so many useless silly songs that wear out quick but in the moment are just trancedently 'pop'. What the hell does it mean to be "in the NA"? Who gives a shit I'm bopping around my living room, shut up, that's what. I usually don't post indie rock as obvious as this, but mostly indie rock isn't this good. The cheesy synth brass hook, the totally underutilized in indie rock baritone range (Crash Test Dummies excluded). This song is gonna be stupid in like a day. But today it's fucking brilliant.
I'm posting one more track off that album, that pales in comparison to "In the NA", and apes Arcade Fire pretty hard, but all in all is a pretty decent song. Also check out the video for "In the NA" below. If you have seen a more ridiculous video since Men Without Hats' "The Safety Dance" (a video to which this one is obviously indebted) please do let me know.

Hidden Cameras - In the NA

Hidden Cameras - He Falls to Me

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Lightning Bolt, the rISD/Fort Thunder powerhouse art thrash duo is back with a destroyer of a record called Earthy Delights not out till October but a couple tracks have leaked this week. Fitting timing for those of us in the LA area as Lightning Bolt plays this saturday at the FYF Fest. "Funny Farm" has a bone crushing almost bluegrass hook, which is a weird and awesome change of pace for them. But almost as if the song had a dialectic, this hook gets gobbled alive by a hard as fuck section clearly designed to destruct the former. It's really odd how much this song could be off an earlier, better, and harder Deerhoof record. "Colossus" pretty much honors its namesake without apology, riding a huge dirge into a speedy oblivion. In the interest of defaulting to a theme here, I have to point out the bluesyness, albeit of the Junior Kimbrough/Buddy Guy blues as weapon school, of the primary riff. Have Lightning Bolt gone traditional? On previous records, bassist Brian Gibson had an interest in circular, minimalistic riffs, ascensions and falling patterns, arpeggios, the tools of modern minimalism done up to look like speed metal. It gave the band a kind of classical rigour. Here there's an almost rootsy vibe emerging. The third track, "Sound Guardians", references something of a tradition, though not as far back as folk and blues. This time it's classic metal, almost Black Sabbath (if Black Sabbath were lit on fire, thrown into a pit of snakes, and then blasted with explosives to eternity) in its broadness and depth. There's even flourishes of hair metal guitar theatrics. Lyrically there's not a lot of change here. Brian Chippendale, the world's fastest, hardest drummer (which would distinguish him from Zach Hill - the world's fastest, gangliest drummer) still swallows his mic (literally) and half sings/shouts indecipherable discourses like a politician/street preacher with a bullhorn who is seriously spiritually unsound. But lest anyone tell you this band is a one trick pony (and those who do aren't really listening anyway), proof of progress is here, in the dirty history of rock, wrung out and juiced up once again by the duo from Providence.

Lightning Bolt - Funny Farm

Lightning Bolt - Colossus

Lightning Bolt - Sound Guardians

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The german techno producer, Ada is back with a mixtape called Adaptations out on Kompakt. On it, DJ Koze's remix of the track "Eve" is transcendent. While so many brights lights of the minimal house and techno scene are acting all monkish and apocalyptic, Ada reminds us that techno is pure, beauty seeking, repetitious fun. While Vladislav Delay's new record, someone who used to understand this base level of aestheticized desire, smacks of every hack sound art installation made in a thousand converted gallery space warehouses in Berlin, and everyone and their mother is making ambient records that take a half a day to put together, Ada is doing gorgeous, pristine things with the basic structures of dance. Sounds that still retain heft and bite. Sounds with transitive charm. Sounds with swooning capabilities. Who doesn't want to fall in love on the dancefloor? Who would rather explore the inside of a sound with scientistic precision?

Ada - Eve (DJ Koze Mix)

Vladislav Delay - Musta Planeetta

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Jim O' Rourke has a new album, his first in 8 eight years. It's a single near 40 minute piece, like a sort of folk suite, or just a multi-movement work with many reoccurring themes (I have a problem with pop's use of the term 'symphony', which really refers to the use of the orchestra as an instrument). O' Rourke is an ex member of Sonic Youth, and an old stalwart of the experimental, free jazz and improv scene in Chicago (certainly the most vibrant place in the country for that music for the past decade). But he's also just as well known as a producer and mixer, having mixed Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and Joanna Newsom's Ys, and produced Wilco's Ghost Is Born and countless other records. This is an absolutely gorgeous record. The mixing is flawless: it's clean as a whistle, and don't expect to be able to listen at a low volume or vast portions of it will go unnoticed. One would miss not only the detail and thoughtfulness of the orchestration, which is stunning (check out the haunting horn section around 9:30 minutes, just to start), but also simply because O' Rourke hasn't compressed the shit out of everything. so like a classical record, there are sections that are very quiet and section that are quite loud. In form, The Visitor harkens back to a lot of John Fahey's folk classicism. But it dips into so many other styles and textures, and generally plays around so much, that it escapes the religious stoicism of some of Fahey's long form works. Currently my favorite section of the piece begins around 18:30, where out of nowhere a rolling, almost martial beat, a flourish of banjos, and a brass choir tear the roof off the barn, so to speak. Two minutes later, the arrangement has morphed into something so utterly nostalgic and prescient, it's hard to remember just how you got here, through all this twisting and turning, onto a plateaux of some kind, adrift. It's really a three movement work, with the first movement running through a gamut of themes and textures, trying them on for size, the second movement, which moves much more directly, beginning at 18:30 and running through a gradual wilting meltdown before eliding with the third mvt. at the the finger picking figure which picks up at about 30:00. The third mvt gains momentum, building into most exuberant portion of the whole piece before whispering off with a long piano postlude. For those of you with problems with something as overtly beautiful as this record, please drop your b.s. angsty posturing and curl up in bed, or laze in your backyard and listen to this full through, and then tell me it didn't soften you, just a little, in the hardest and most formidable of places.

Jim O'Rourke - The Visitor (link removed at the request of Drag City)

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Friday Finds is back. Numero 8.

Highway Memorial Shrine - Nodzzz "illegally cute lofi garage"

Black - Dam Funk "LA's inheritor of all thing funkadelic"

true enemies & false friends (yesteryears suite) - Klimek "a brass fanfare in orbit"

Laughing Owl - John Zorn "Zorn made another lounge album, woot woot!"

tryouts - Javelin "soundtrack to your trip to the aquarium"

Girls - Doe N Reezy "in what club do girls get crazy to songs like this?"

Candy Girl - Trailer Trash Tracys "biggest snare sound ever, and heart breaker of a tune"

Open Up the Watergate (Let the Sunshine In) - Bert Jansch "who knew politics could sound this warm"

Apology To Pollinateurs - Karl Blau "psych funk, from a K records all star"

Don't Need No - Pink Dollaz "the anthem from LA's 'jerkin' scene"

Feel It All Around - Washed Out "dayglo beats from newcomer outta South Carolina"

Gold Light - The Pink Noise "android Fonzie posturing"

The Laurels of Erotomania - Cold Cave "the best new dark wave. FYI Erotomania is a type of delusion in which the affected person believes that another person is in love with him or her"

Last One Awake (Friend Version) - Memory Cassette "topical tropical"

Trap Goin Ham - Pill " two day old shit....nope, harder than that. check out the insane video"

No Hello - Illuminations "what the world wants old Wilco to sound like"

Madagascar - Lake "Jill's jam"

Download the zip here

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White is the first name to emerge more broadly out of the "No Beijing" scene. The duo, Shou Weng (guitars, electronics, organs) and Shenngy (vocals, electronics, percussion) formed in Beijing and got picked up and by Einsturzende Neubauten's (one of the pioneers of industrial and experimental rock) Blixa Bargeld who produced the record in Berlin. White has plenty of kinship with Neubauten's sound; dirty electronics and metals, materiality mixed with a kind of spaced out minimalistic drive. White has gotten compared as well to many classical minimal composers, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Glenn Branca, and Alvin Curran, although I'm not so sure that the comparison should be made based on sonics as much as philosophies. White oscillates between a few different postures. There's a more industrial noise based vibe (see "Space Decay"), a minimal, synth driven tribalism that aligns them towards a more Japanese style of experimental rock like the more recent Boredoms, and OOIOO, or even more zen leaning experimenters Asa-Chang and Junray (check out the hypnotic post-dance album closer "Bai" and "47 Rockets (for Wan Hu)"), agitated drone pieces (is that an Erhu on "Spring House"?), and pieces that blend these ideas (the superbly badass "Conch Crunch"). Always with White there's a softer melodic underbelly to any of the more extreme gestures. There's a yearning, almost folk sentimentality that creeps in amidst this sort of hostile industrial sound world. It makes for an odd dynamic, something clearly distanced and analytic, the way Neubauten, or basically anything legitimately post-rock (rather than bands just tagging off its tropes) came off like a statement on culture rather than participating in a construction of it, mixed with something confidently placed in the shifting center of a burgeoning countercultural music movement in China, where seemingly the future of everything is being assembled. Check it out, or miss out on some truly new sounds.

White - Conch Crunch

White - Bai

White - 47 Rockets (For Wan Hu)

White - Spring House

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Here's that new Teengirl Fantasy release - two new tracks with a couple remixes of "Hollywood Hils" by Mark Brown that don't really do it for me. Both of these cuts though feel really different. Slicker production values, but also a more mellow late nite vibe. Less loony toons on crack, more codeine sippin booty jamz. Reminds me a lot of that DJ Sprinkles record especially with the way vocal snippets are integrated. Get this new one and the older Teengirl Fantasy EP here (via Pukekos)

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Gold Panda makes his debut with his Miyamae EP out on Various Production this month. His remixes have gotten him a lot of attention in blogs etc., especially one of Little Boots which is alright, and another of Telepathe's "Chrome's On It" which fucking rules. But when left to his own devices turns out he has a lovely, delicate sensibility for warm, glitchy techno. "Back Home" ties a neat, clipped beat to a lone violin line. Pulsing soft pads, play in reverse, marking time closely, making it the most romantic thing I've heard I could still dance to. "Long Vacation" is a stranger beast, his beat is similarly laced up, but there's a host of herky jerky synth blasts and static that make the ride less comfy. Somehow all that is so background, it still seems luxurious. Mayuri has a dub foundation but the mixing is super interesting. The bass overwhelms as it's supposed to, but not in the way it normally does; the upper lines are so pulled back that when the bass comes in it seems less about filling out the composition, or driving things forward, than it about pulling your focus to a different element. I haven't heard a mixing process this thoughtful since Aphex. This is the really the first thing this kid's done, and it does feel tentative beyond what I think he intended. Here's hoping there's a long player on the calender that steps a bit taller and prouder but keeps it all at this gorgeous micro level he's working with.

Gold Panda - Back Home

Telepathe - Chrome's On It (Gold Panda Remix)

Clark, the English beat programmer/producer has a new LP called "Totems Flare" out tomorrow on Warp. In all honesty, I really haven't liked any of Clark's other material. As yet, I've found his stuff too aggressive and cold for my house and IDM tastes, which generally seek either a more limber, playful set of move sequences or approaches so minimal and scientistic they become a kind of dance lab test for the inheritors of musique concrete. This time around though he finds some really ingenious ways out of his icey dance floor restrictions without losing his sense of repose. The beats are have a lot less digital bite to them, they are warmer, in a way, without being warm necessarily, as if cut with a rusty blade. Two of my favorite tracks, "Future Daniel" and the standout "Totem Crackerjack" draw a clear lineage back to Squarepusher, one of the godfathers of Warp, in their anthemic, baroque use of arpeggiators; rounded square waves cycling through a series with a sense of internal harmonic logic, not unlike the harmonic rotation of a jazz tune.
"Totem Crackerjack" especially, after a few minutes auditioning and jumpcutting through various other modes, gears itself up into a pattern that bears striking (and for me deeply emotional) resemblance to the classic Squarepusher "A Journey to Reedham". Squarepusher's pioneering style of beat shifting, basically giving birth to the notion of IDM, in retrospect looks a little too much like pure virtuosity. Clark on the other hand isn't sacrificing his own dance motivating capabilities, and yet at the same time, as this record proves, he's seriously interested in formal adventure, not to mention dips into sound design, boom bap, and post rock. Check out "Talis" for the best (and only) time you'll here a combination of Interpol, Radiohead, Anticon, and Aphex. It's what I wish TV on the Radio would do if they only simplified their ensemble with a few more computers and synths. Anybody who has heard them live knows this to be true. It's one thing to mix a record with 10 instruments, its another to play live with 10 instruments when you have 2 different members of your group who refuse to turn down their instruments to a reasonable level. But I digress...
One last point before you listen, 'Totems Flare' has a nice sense of flow over the whole album. This is largely due to a couple really gorgeous ambient cuts that let the harder, housier numbers have a sense of breathing room. Thankfully these are not throwaways. "Primary Balloon Landing", with its delicate panning and EQing would impress even the geekiest of studio dudes, maybe even Matmos. And "Absence" is a pointed piece of melancholy that wouldn't be out of place on a Caribou record. I like that he included these vignettes, it shows that he's stretching a bit into territories other than the dirty, dark corners of clubs.

Clark - Totem Crackerjack

Clark - Future Daniel

Clark - Talis

Clark - Primary Balloon Landing

Clark - Absence