Once upon a time, there were proper full-length albums, which were milestone documents, often passed over in favor of singles, which captured the moment rather than cementing it. Then, with the rise of Internet culture, came netlabels, with their free, easily accessible releases — often short albums of either abstract or intensely genre-focused material, generally as thorough as a proper album, but with the immediacy of a single, due to the absence of physical packaging or retail distribution. And now, with hosting services such as soundcloud.com, comes an immediacy that’s all the more compelling — music posted on Soundcloud has the feel of a studio soundboard recording, an experiment that the musician, or band, posts, just to float something out there, sort of the way a DJ might issue a white label to give something a trial run in a club. Taylor Deupree, for example, has uploaded some tracks at soundcloud.com/12k, including a guitar-loop one that’s four minutes of highly recommended consonance: circles of soft-loud-soft tones, little pops of percussion. It’s less a song than a test pattern, and all the more enticing for its ethereal nature (MP3).
[audio:http://media.soundcloud.com/stream/Ayipaycs5TiE?referer=http%3A//disquiet.com/%3Fp%3D4987%26preview%3Dtrue&show_comments=true&url=http%3A//soundcloud.com/12k/august-21-guitar&color=0039ff&auto_play=false&consumer_key=sc_player|titles=”Velcro Flow”|artists=Diego Bernal]
More on Deupree at 12k.com.
The sound is instantly recognizable as that of the Cocteau Twins. The thick, slow-moving gusher of decay. The glinting guitar lines that seem to echo forever. The limpid melody rendered lustrous. The maudlin temperament somehow, in fact, teeming with allure. This is “Some Sort of Paradise,” lead track off the new album, Carousel, by Cocteau member Robin Guthrie (MP3). And despite the self-evident languor of this instrumental pop tune, it is less somnolent than it is a hyperreal, widescreen simulacrum of somnolence. The full length is due out on Darla on September 28, with an EP, the promisingly titled Songs to Help My Children Sleep, due out on November 17.
[audio:http://www.box.net/shared/static/iurad7l6ob.mp3|titles=”Some Sort of Paradise”|artists=Robin Guthrie]
The track first appeared at brooklynvegan.com.
Latest Phoning It In podcast show yet again takes a live performance and flows it through one of the great lofi filters of our time: an ordinary phone line. The guests on Phoning It In, which is broadcast on KDVS FM in Davis, California (where I had a radio show many years ago), range from punk to folk to rock to noise. Liz Harris (aka Grouper) is the latest in an occasional roster of electronic musicians to make their sounds heard, however muffled and distant, on this estimable series. The recording moves steadily from feedback-laden irritants through soft elementary minimalism to its true sweet spot, a rough-hewn, moody shoegazer pop, thick with distorted chamber arrangements and haunting vocals (MP3).
[audio:http://www.phoningitin.net/files/shows/KDVS/2009/Grouper%20-%20Phoning%20It%20In%2008_24_09.mp3|titles=”Phoning It In”|artists=Grouper]
Originally broadcast on August 24 of this year. More details at phoningitin.net. More on Grouper at googlepages.com/grouper and myspace.com/grouperrepuorg.
To say there’s a lot of great graffiti in Los Angeles is an understatement. The place is utterly embraced by street art, and each visit to that underappreciated metropolis yields one new site-specific public art installation after another.
Among my favorites is a manifesto — as longstanding as it is brief — that simply reads “Post Mad Bills.” It’s less a retort to the municipal admonition “Post No Bills” than it is a statement: If you’re going to leave your mark, leave an inspired one.
No surprise in Los Angeles that much of the most inspired graffiti — be it spray paint, magic marker, mural, sticker, or stencil — is concerned with music. And one personal favorite of mine is the poster “SMOG LA,” the photo of which below was shot across the street from the Crewest Gallery in downtown LA this past weekend:
The SMOG LA poster is a drawing of a cartoon car, its back holding a massive speaker, its front end the gaping maw of some fierce yet cute automo-beast. It even has a little tail (always the mix of kowai and kawaii, of scary and adorable). I like to imagine that the SMOG beast is munching on air pollution, and in turn transforming it into sound. (Note that the “SMOG” logo virtually suffocates its internal “LA.”) That’s a fitting interpretation, since so many graffiti opponents compare it to a sort of pollution itself.
High-rez version at flickr.com/photos/disquietpxl.
And more on the dubstep club SMOG LA at, you guessed it, smogla.com.
Sometimes, the best thing to do with beats and atmospheres is to keep them at a proper distance. That’s the mode on Nowcast, a six-track album by the economically named 2% (his government name is Trenton McElhinney). The album is a collection of ethereal hazes and downtempo rhythms, a bit like DJ Krush covering Tangerine Dream — or perhaps the other way around. McElhinney reportedly recorded the entire thing on a Monome, the illuminated grid of touch-sensitive controllers that is often conflated or confused with the Tenori-On. There’s a video up on vimeo.com (screen shot below) of McElhinney performing one of the tracks off Nowcast, “Leeward” (MP3), on the Monome; it opens with a Buddha Machine”“like loop — which is to say, a soft haze that slowly reveals itself to have a taut, specific seam, which in turn becomes a sort of beat, which McElhinney then reinforces with a studio-hewn beat of his own construction, all machine-made high-hats.
The one real exception to this beats/haze combination is the last track, the elegant “Neaps,” which drops the metrics almost entirely in favor of a lightly cycling soundscape (MP3). It’s a testament to McElhinney’s background sounds that when the beats are removed, the ambience can hold its own.
More on 2% at myspace.com/2pourcent. Get the full release at archaichorizon.com.