English producer Sam Shepard aka Floating Points will release his debut album “Elaenia” via Pluto on November 6th – and it is something else. So far, he has been one for sprawling, immersive deep house cuts with a jazzy touch, put out on DJ-friendly EPs. But judging by the first track “Silhouettes (I, II &III)” he uploaded last week, the album will push his jazz side up front and dial back on the electronics. It has a long list of contributors, including classical musicians, and word is that he will even sing on it.
It is looking to be a good year for Jamie XX, mastermind of The XX. His solo music has always been more to the dancefloor than his band’s, and after the single “Girl” earlier this year, the new track he recently previewed on Annie Mac’s BBC One Radio show is not only a dance track, but is celebrating dance culture. The steel drums, the 90ies break beats and the samples from a short film by Mark Leckey from 1999 are throwbacks in time and space. As Jamie XX stated, the track was made while watching videos and listening to tracks that reminded him of home, and so it ended up being pure nostalgia. It was released on Young Turks yesterday, along with the promise of an already recorded solo album. 2014 may end up becoming a good year not only for Jamie xx, but for music in general after all.
Experimental NYC artist Daniel Lopatin is finally reaping the fruits he sowed. Not only is he at the peak of his fame, with his critically acclaimed last album “Replica” laying the ground for the attention and anticipation he gets these days, but he is also at a decisive point, musically. While he was mostly looking back all his musical career – beginning with his GAMES project with Joel Ford, out of which something like the “Heaven Can Wait” mixtapes emerged, in which the two of them slowed down and “renewed” mid-80ies Euro Pop hits. Then came his “Ecco Jams” under the Chuck Person moniker, where the tracks from that era were chopped up and strangely reassembled, founding the Vaporwave genre. And finally the way he constructed the droned-out tracks on “Replica” out of old advertisement material: Lopatin always renewed something old and, accidentally, laid the ground for other artists to live off the fields he refertilized.
But now something has changed. It was already audible in the first few seconds of “Problem Areas”, the first single off of “R Plus Seven” – in the way those crisp and clear synths swirled and reverberated – and the rest of the record confirms it: Oneohtrix Point Never is looking towards the future now. He no longer mainly relies on old samples to build his tracks, but has reached a point where he constructs his own world, his own present/presence. Other artists had reached this point already, like Zomby, Fatima Al-Qadiri or – most prominently – James Ferraro, who put out some of the most futuristic sounding albums and EPs of the last few years. But Lopatin does them one over, by inventiveness, by cohesiveness, and by attitude. His attitude is that of an artist, not a musician, in that it has an openess, creativity and self-assuredness very few musicians are able to display. It is “genius”, in the technical meaning of the word as “being inspired by a divine spirit”. Maybe Lopatin picked this up by moving out of the clubs and concert halls, and into museums and art festivals. Or maybe it was there all along.
In the end “R plus Seven” feels like modern worship music, an impression that is enforced by the organ sounds and choirs. But neither the object of that worship, nor the way the service is run are clear – but those don’t really matter. The album simply being a jubilee is enough in itself, and as such it lifts spirits and bestows meaning upon the listener. Expectations were high for this album, and they weren’t disappointed – in a year full of musical highlights, this is one of the best for me. Below is the latest video (with extra vocals) off the record, and head over here to listen to the whole thing before it drops via Warp on October 1st.
Another label compilation is out this week, after Greco-Roman’s impressive double disc from last week. On “Show Me The Future Vol 2”, Friends of Friends don’t show off their own roster, but present electronic artists they think are going to – or deserve to be – big in the future, regardless of the label they are on. Their first compilation from last year was quite impressive, with artists like Ryan Hemsworth, Octo Octa or Kid Simpl definitely on the rise or up there in 2013. This time, the tracklist once again succeeds in presenting newcomers with the potential to make an impact on the music scene in the future. The mood of the compilation is mostly lush, dark and hard, just like the future will be. No, seriously, who knows what it will bring, musically or otherwise – but if it sounds anything like this, it will be alright. My favorite track is “I’m Guilty” by Coyote Clean Up, featuring Slava-style short-looped vocals and internet-scene trap/bass song structures. Or whatever. Listen to and download the compilation for free below.
Sweden’s Axel Willner is one of the best ambient electronic producers out there and he proves it once again with this ten minute treatment of Tame Impala’s “Mind Mischief” off “Lonerism” from last year. There isn’t much of Tame Impala left in the track after he is finished with it, but it is Willner at his best: Repetitive, atmospheric, massive. The track is part of the single release, out on Modular now.
Attention New Yorkers! We give away a (plus one) guest list spot for the show of German experimental electronic veterans Mouse on Mars at Santos Party House this Sunday. It has been ten years since I saw them last, but it was a great show back then – and after they released their best album in a long time last year, it should be an awesome evening.
So what do you have do for it? Simple: Like us on Facebook! We are going to draw from one of the new likes. If you already liked us and would like to have the spot, then simply “like” this post on Facebook.
As a reminder to the great music that Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma make, here is the AWESOME video to their track “They Know Your Name” again, made by Pfadfinderei Berlin. I talked about it back when it was published last year.
Autre Ne Veut (French for “I think of none other”) is the stage name of Arthur Ashin, a producer and singer from New York who released a promising but largely over-looked self-titled album and EP in 2010 and 2011 before teasing us with two superb singles over the past few months. First single “Counting” grabs the listener’s attention immediately, beginning with a riveting female vocal harmony over a slow-jam breakbeat and a retro swell of Purple Rain-era synth. Welcome to the 80s lovefest. When Ashin’s falsetto vocals hit in the first verse, you get the distinct sense that a promising artist has realized his potential. The dissonance of distorted saxophone bleats and manipulated vocal theatrics never let the listener get comfortable, but work to keep you engaged.
Ashin’s previous releases experimented with sounds from 80s R&B, but on Anxiety, he transcends the genre. The opening wash of synthesized harp on “Play By Play” and ridiculous R Kelly crooning of “baybee” would feel downright cheesy if they didn’t immediately fade into an ominous rumble and Ashin’s terrific vocal workout in the first verse. And by the time the track builds – over the course of several minutes – to one of the more epic choruses of the year, you’re hooked. The chorus “I just called you up to get the play by play by play by play” may repeat over and over (and over) for three minutes, but it won’t stop you from re-queuing the track for another spin when it ends. It’s the definition of infectious, and while the title of the album may be Anxiety and many of the tones Ashin uses are assuredly dark, there’s a joyfulness that courses through many of his tracks as well. It’s a pretty exhilarating listen.
“Promises” begins with a staccato drum machine familiar from Sleigh Bells’ “Tell Em”, but while Sleigh Bells’ fixation with the 80s apes hair metal thrashing, Autre Ne Veut’s nostalgia is for euphoric synth-pop and the R&B posturing of Prince. At two minutes, it’s the shortest track on the album, but one of the most accessible pop songs. “Ego Free Sex Free” really could be a Prince cover for it’s “turn it up and blush” chorus. The soaring production is scaled back on “A Lie”, “Gonna Die”, and “World War”, which allows Ashin’s vocal performance to carry the emotional weight. The high-pitched falsetto on “Gonna Die”, in particular, is pretty heart-rending, and the summation of the album could lie with “Someday I’m gonna die, I feel it more acutely now than I have for a while” followed by a frenzied vocal freakout that ends with the self-reassurance that “I’ll be ok for awhile.”
Ashin is apparently a student of psychology, so the choice of Anxiety as title for the album is probably as much a commentary on the psychological effects of emotional volatility as it is a reflection on his own state of mind. That said, “World War” is a heart-breaking close to the album, reflecting the pain of giving up on a relationship. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” directly precedes it and is not a cover of the monster Whitney jam but is instead an earnest plea – I really do wanna dance with somebody, anybody. There’s that fear that death will precede emotional fulfillment – what bigger cause of anxiety is there? Ashin aims to tackle a deep, emotional subject, but does so with a lot of haunting beauty and a fair share of dance-worthy release. As a whole it’s a particularly arresting album with two absolute production gems in “Play By Play” and “Counting”.