Another lovely beat-and-haze piece by Patrick Ellis. Like the one written up here earlier this month, “Sheffield Park” bears the “ambient hip-hop” tag. It’s more hip-hop than ambient this time around, flipping the emphasis from the earlier track, what with its more prominent beat, and more varied sectioning (despite being shy of a mere four minutes, it could qualify as a mini-suite). There are distant church bells, and a swaggering rhythm, and a lush hovering spaciousness, as well as, toward the end, what appears to be a quote from the book The Unicorn Trade by science fiction legend Poul Anderson and his wife Karen Anderson: “They talked quietly, until at last Gus reminded them that even here they were not masters of time. Eternity, yes, but not time,” the last word echoing and fading into the instrumental foundation.
Arcka, the Philly-based rhythmsmith, continues his run of 52pickUpbeetz, a compilation-in-progress of homemade, sample-based percussive riffs, each tied to a different card pulled from a deck. The effort, which just expanded to include its ninth consecutive track, bears Arcka’s trademark use of lesser-known snippets of soul, hip-hop, and other favorites as the raw material from which he constructs his avant-hop experiments. This time around, he is heard using more vocal samples than listeners may be accustomed to. Recent highlights include the post-rock interplay of “ad: Mos’Flow 2” and the loungey exotica of “10s: We Dont Need”:
The SoundCloud interfaces provides tracks with the opportunity to be associated with an array of tags, to be situated amid a veritable cloud of tags, but one tag is always selected for its primacy. “Warm Fog” by Patrick Ellis gets “ambient hip-hop” as its main flag to fly, and the enticing semi-neologism provides appropriate sonic triangulation for what Ellis is up to. The music in “Warm Fog” is background material, and not in the pejorative sense. It’s piano, lulling and looped, alongside a trap-set beat. A deep tone and a substantial amount of vinyl surface noise rise to bridge the gap between the elements, to render them whole. At less than a minute and a half of running time, “Warm Fog” demands to be played on repeat, and at least one commenter has asked where the loop button is.
William Gibson’s oft-quoted maxim “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed” is an Internet-age corollary to perhaps the most cited line by William Faulkner, Gibson’s fellow novelist born in the American south. The Faulkner line: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Both statements come to mind regularly when something from the great netlabel Dusted Wax Kingdom is spinning. Dusted Wax regularly posts music from the former Soviet Union, and related countries, that sounds like it was recorded in the Bronx shortly after the fall of the Berlin wall. The majority of Dusted Wax’s music is instrumental hip-hop, voiceless lines of artfully shambling beats. The beats may benefit from digital tools, but they bear all the marks of oldest-school hip-hop: vinyl surface noise, lightly reconfigured samples, a menacingly sedate pace. Among the latest from Dusted Wax is Urban Soul from “Russian beatsmith” Bruks Production, based out of Moscow. Among its key tracks is “Latin Thugs,” its brief horn sample echoed above slow rolling percussion (MP3):
◼ Part two of the two-part history of Celluloid Records is now streaming online, via strut-records.com:
◼ Mike Patton’s score to The Place Beyond the Pines is streaming in full at pitchfork.com. The film stars Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, and Bradley Cooper, and was directed by Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine). There’s also an interview a the site. In addition to 12 original cues from Patton, the film features by Arvo Pärt and Ennio Morricone, among others.
◼ The soft launch of music critic Michael Azzerad’s new website, The Talkhouse (at thetalkhouse.com), included Laurie Anderson on Animal Collective and Vijay Iyer on Flying Lotus. Rosanne Cash describes Jim Jarmusch and Jozef Van Wissem’s The Mystery of Heaven as sounding “like Ennio Morricone and Brian Eno got in a fight while writing the music for a spaghetti western.” According to press materials, “The Talkhouse will feature one piece on one album written by one musician each day, five days a week. On weekends, the site will feature a long-form music feature piece written by artists across many genres: film, comedy, literature, etc.” Azerrad is the author of Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991 and Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana. The site is still listed as being in beta.
◼ In his occasional email newsletter, Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, Red, Gun Machine) talked a bit about the excellent Spektrmodule podcast (“ambient, sleepy and haunted musics,” in his description) that he concatenates. The latest episode, number 17, includes music by Pausal and Paul Hillier’s Theatre of Voices.
◼ There’s a three-day ambient-music convention/conference, titled AMBIcon, to be held from May 3 – 5 in San Rafael, California. It is taking place to note several milestones for the Hearts of Space, which began in 1973 at KPFA-FM in Berkeley and celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. The show began national syndication in 1983, and earlier this had its 1,000th broadcast. There will be eight surround-sound performances by Hans Christian, Stephan Micus, Jeff Pearce, Robert Rich, Steve Roach, Michael Stearns, Stellamara, and Tim Story, a Q&A session moderated by Stephen Hill (the series’ host and co-founder), and a presentation by Mark Prendergast, author of the book The Ambient Century. More details at hos.com.
◼ There were 19 tracks produced for the 64th Disquiet Junto project, which ended last night at 11:59 pm. The project involved the theme of “composing from memory.” … Also, I finally put together a set of the 25 extant tracks from the 14th Junto project, which involved sonic versions of the comic that served as the starting point for Matt Madden’s Oulipo/Oubapa comic, 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style.
Spring 2013: The Disquiet Junto is assisting Geoff Manaugh in a course he is teaching at Columbia University's GSAPP, "San Andreas: Architecture for the Fault." Details at bldgblog.blogspot.com.
February 26: I'm giving a three-hour guest lecture about listening to a class on writing for radio productions at the Academy of Art in San Francisco.
May 15, 2013: Last day of 15-week course I'm teaching about sound in the media landscape at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, California.
Ongoing: In January 2013 I became part of the SoundCloud Heroes project, more on which in the near future. In the short term, full disclosure, I was gifted the top-level account, Pro Plus. Initial post here: "What I'm Up To."
Ongoing: The film The Children Next Door (2012), on which I served as music supervisor and collaborated with Taylor Deupree on sound design, is currently touring festivals. It won a special jury prize at DOC NYC and has also played at the Denver and Hamptons festivals. Directed by Doug Block, produced by Lynda A. Hansen. More at thechildrennextdoor.com.
Down the Pike: Concerts in the Disquiet Junto series are in various stages of planning for London, England; Portland, Oregon; and elsewhere.