Dexterous Material: Edition No.9
To expect the unexpected. Which in turn means you are expecting exactly what you will be getting. Which isn't unexpected. So what do you expect? Before I become profoundly irrelevant, what I'm getting at is artists making unexpected music. Switching it up, surprising us, keeping on our toes. Wavves dabble in production, and a collaboration of Philip Glass with Amon Tobin, as well as other surprises to follow, paired nicely with some expected sounds.
First off is the album Rework: Philip Glass Remixed. Philip Glass recruited the talents of Nosaj Thing, Beck, Dan Deacon, Amon Tobin, Pantha Du Prince, and many more. Glass is a composer, and his work isn't often brought into the world of electronic music. Glass began the collaboration with Beck, as he told in a New York Times article. Glass' music has been descried as classical and minimalist, and most of these remixes respect the original feeling he created. The album was featured on NPR as a first listen earlier this October, and a limited 500 copies of the vinyl edition is being offered. According to Glass' website, it looks like glass. Clever. The repetition featured in many of the tracks is more comfortable than frustrating, it forces us as listeners to engage in the audio bliss melting in our ears. Beck did a magnificent job of carefully selecting artists to help with this, and the result is enticing. Beck's remix clocks in around 20 minutes, but rolls and morphs itself into so many different forms that the time passes quickly.
On a more traditional note, the last installation of Flosstradamus' X EP series. This time around it's X☢. It all sort of hurts. Everything is viciously intense and leaves nothing to the imagination, which is fine, but it's nothing new. Tracks such as 'Drak Knight' feel like they're pushing too hard, the intrigue of their music seems to have been lost in a wild frenzy of volume for me. The best track was 'Details ft. PK Hardstyle', a mix between trap and hardstyle that was the easiest to listen to without damage to the eardrums. The good news? Free. Download the series here.
Those familiar with Wavves know that the surf punk band has little electronic sound, Nathan Williams of the band and his brother Joel have been at work over the past few months producing music for what they call Sweet Valley. It is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum from anything Wavves sounding. The Ep Eternal Champ was released via Fools Gold in September. Eternal Champ has obvious heavy influences from video games, and is described on their bandcamp as: a Bermuda Triangle-like place, where cannabis crumbs, spilt beer, record dust and that mysterious shit you had to blow out of game cartridges all collect as if pulled by some gigantic junkyard magnet. There really is no better mental picture, listen for yourself and download the album for free on their bandcamp. More free.
Speaking of getting more free, I can't seem to overlook Diplo for very long. And it seems he doesn't sleep very much. Not surprising, he uploaded a mix to soundcloud titled: got stoned and mixed really old records for half an hour. The mix is just that. Weird enough to be classic Diplo style, but with an implacable flavour. If that isn't enough, the Halloween mix from his weekly 'Diplo and Friends' show on BBC was uploaded and the most terrifying part might be how much this man can accomplish and with what precise quality.
To end things on a lighter note, this month Little People released We Are But Hunks of Wood. Laurent Clerc has became known for the interesting and sparse music, this being his first album release in six years. The sound is different than what Clerc brought to Mickey Mouse Operation in 2006. Tracks are more introspected, thought through, and tightly wound. According to his website a winter tour with Emancipator is to be expected, a combination of live music that would be sure to send any heads spinning.
There's been an increasing amount of negative talk towards electronic music as of late, which is understood. The intense popularity of the music happened faster than anyone could have imagined, but instead of being a fad expected to fizz out after a year or so, electronic music is different. The roots and history that laid the foundation of music being made today will never go out of style. When composers and talents that have no previous ties to electronic music such as Philip Glass begin to take notice and become involved in the music, we have to be doing something right. So begins the weeding out process. The plethora of choices has been laid and I can only hope that the talents with the right flavour will continue on.
Following the recent explosion that was M.I.A.’s ‘Bad Girls,’ I’m going to make a prediction. Indian inspired sounds are coming to the electronic music world. Tribal, sexy, raw and gritty. ‘Bad Girls’ is still on the tip of everyone’s tongues, and on everyone’s twitter hungry fingertips. The track was recognised by the likes of Tyler the Creator, Rihanna, Kanye West, Ciara, Missy Elliot and others, tweeting to M.I.A. with words of praise. [read more]
When asked to takeover this column I had to ask myself first just what is 'electronic music'. As we hurtle into 2013 it's a strange time to be a fan of the all encompassing genre. In theory we've never had it so good, EDM bestrides the known universe with everyone from the most hardcore of rappers to pop's princesses wanting to swaddle themselves in the perceived cool of dance music's all conquering midrange fuzz. [read more]
Last month (or thereabouts) I conclusively put to the sword the notion that the album format is on its deathbed, just a raspy cough, plaintive cry of 'Mother' and voiding of the bowels away from expiration. Buoyed by the overwhelming feedback to that piece I figured I'd turn my attention to another foundation block of the music industry often said to be circling the drain, record labels. [read more]