In its own way, Pilot Balloon‘s “Vampire Tonic” (MP3) elegantly compresses the already brief history of pop psychedelics, from the Beatles through the Chemical Brothers and Tortoise, into one seamless montage. But don’t call it a mashup. The track, off the duo’s Ghastly Good Cheer album, released last year on the German label 2nd Rec, opens with something reminiscent of so-called Britpop. There’s an electrified piano and a solo male voice, barely intelligible and heavily echoed. Don’t bother grasping for what it’s saying because soon enough that same echo has dispersed the voice into background haze, and the drums have worked their way into primacy. If that alone isn’t the history of heady rock, what is? Anyhow, the next time you hear the voice, late in the track, around the four-minute mark, it’s been sampled and repurposed as pure tone, an instrument to be played. The message is clear: the real “voice” on a track like this is the voice of the arranger, or in the case of Pilot Balloon, the arrangers. The Massachusetts-based duo of Judson MacRae and KaeoFLUX are able to segue from the opening song through elegant post-rock to tunneling drum’n’bass and on, never losing sight of where they’ve been and where they’re headed. The post-rock sections are particularly fine, threaded through with a woodwind dirge and a halo of mallet work that could just as easily be from a piece by a post-minimalist, like a Michael Torke, or a composed-jazz macher, say Marty Ehrlich, and yet feel right at home here, among the fragments of pop songs, the trip-hop grooves, the machine drums. Yeah, it’s that good. More info at 2ndrec.com and pilotballoon.net.
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5 Most Recent Posts
• October 13, 2016: This day marks the start of the 250th weekly Disquiet Junto project.
• November 16, 2016: I'll be sharing the mic at Adobe Books in San Francisco with my fellow 33 1/3 author Evie Nagy for an evening hosted, from 7pm to 10pm, by Marc Kate (facebook.com).
• December 1, 2016: A likely speaking engagement. Details to come.
• December 13, 2016: This day marks the 20th anniversary of Disquiet.com.
• January 5, 2017: This day marks the 5th anniversary of the Disquiet Junto.
• Ongoing: The Disquiet Junto series of weekly communal music projects explore constraints as a springboard for creativity and productivity. There is a new project each Thursday afternoon (California time), and it is due the following Monday at 11:59pm: disquiet.com/junto.
• My book on Aphex Twin's landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, published as part of the 33 1/3 series, an imprint of Bloomsbury, is now in its second printing. It can be purchased at amazon.com, among other places.
disquiet juntoThe Disquiet Junto is an ongoing weekly collaborative music-making space in which restraints are used as a springboard for creativity. Subscribe to the announcement list at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto. There is an FAQ. ... These are the 5 most recent weekly projects: • 0253 / Doorbell Rehab / Record some welcome music. • 0252 / Sonic Palindrome / Make music that sounds the same backwards and forwards. • 0251 / Soothing Sounds for Parents / Remix some music for infants with parents in mind. • 0250 / Soothing Sounds for Junto / Make some peaceful music for an infant child. • 0249 / 80 Phases / Wish the minimalist composer Steve Reich a happy birthday.
... And there is a complete list of projects at disquiet.com/junto.
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