The percussion flanging left to right, splintering into feedback. The vocal snippets put through the glitch equivalent of autotune. The beats blank and broken. This is how Eufoteouria, on its self-titled album, makes instrumental hip-hop. The set’s 10 tracks, recently released on the dustedwax.org, are loping ventures into Poland’s after hours (there are two with guest vocalists rapping in Polish). Highlights include the muffled piano of “Spinal Cord” (MP3) and the robot torch song that is “7 am Blue pm” (MP3).
Come April 5, the Chicago-based duo Colorlist will release The Fastest Way to Become the Ocean, an EP, on the Serein label. As a preamble to that collection, Serein has compiled a single-MP3 “forecast,” collecting tracks from previous releases, seven in all (MP3). It’s a sinuous showcase for what makes Colorlist exceptional.
The duo is comprised of two Charleses: Rumback (drums, synths, electronics) and Gorczynski (saxophones, harmonium, Monome), the latter of whom will be familiar to readers of this site from his participation on the excellent Spinach Prince album (“The Continuing Feedback Loop Between Jazz & Hip-Hop,” March 22, 2010). They emphasize a discerning quietude, layering rhythms, warping acoustic sounds with digital effects, the horn echoed until it become a choral section, the decidedly limited percussion gaining the appearance of semi-automation.
According to the brief information at claritymusic.net, the new album features Jeff Parker (Tortoise), Josh Eustis (Televon Tel Aviv) / Liz Payne (Town & Country, Zoo Wheel), and John Hughes (aka Bill Ding, aka Slicker). More on the forecast MP3 at serein.co.uk.
And here are two brief videos from 2008 of Colorlist performing live improvisations
If John Muir was the proto-phonographer of nature, the model of a writer who strives to capture the world of sound with his words, he arguably had his equal in a fellow activist several decades his junior whose professional life overlapped with his own. Upton Sinclar, in The Jungle, among other works of creative muckracking, proved himself Muir’s match, the distinction being that Sinclair was an industrial mouse to Muir’s pastoral mouse. Muir is likely more often cited because descriptions of verdant national parks make better yearbook epigraphs than does reportage from slaughterhouse killing floors. But there is no less poetry, no less insight, to Sinclair’s ear. By way of example, this is from an early scene in The Jungle:
Then the party became aware of another strange thing. This, too, like the odor, was a thing elemental; it was a sound, a sound made up of ten thousand little sounds. You scarcely noticed it at first — it sunk into your consciousness, a vague disturbance, a trouble. It was like the murmuring of the bees in the spring, the whisperings of the forest; it suggested endless activity, the rumblings of a world in motion. It was only by an effort that one could realize that it was made by animals, that it was the distant lowing of ten thousand cattle, the distant grunting of ten thousand swine.
The passage came to mind while listening, on repeat, to Luís Antero‘s Factory Music, a half hour of recordings made in a factory town in Portugal (MP3). The sound quality is high, and the range of captured audio is remarkable for the distinction and variety.
These are some favorite moments:
03:24 downtempo routine
06:44 intense grinding
07:46 whole lotta buzzing going on
13:20 wash of whir with bell-like overtone
14:09 pneumatic rhythm of steamy minimal techno
Italianate guitar is heard between a creaky door and train-station bells, and just above a foundation bed of vinyl surface noise. Wells of low-pressure feedback and heavily echoed piano make themselves heard. This is “Rumore del Roma,” off Recollage by Erik Nilsson. The title track is no different: same spaghetti western trip-hop vibe, all silverware percussion and romanticly strummed guitar, bonded by a heavy, slow bass line and made all the more enticing by occasions of whirry electric currents. The effect — a kind of frontier steampunk, all gunslinger accents and electronica undercurrent, broken-knuckle castanets and backward-masked samples — reaches its greatest achievement here on “Old Piano/Bad Back,” in which the six string is put on a loop that has just enough of an overlay to mark it as artificial (deliciously so), and punctuated with snippets of dialog and clockwork. The whole collection is tremendous.
• 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.