Demon Queen: Exorcise Tape

When I listen to Tobacco’s work, I’m taken back to the retro-dangerous world of Beck’s Midnite Vultures (1999), with the difference being that Tobacco’s weird forays into plastic-wrapped synthy drug-shimmer and hopeless mall bravado don’t arrive laden with Beck’s by the late nineties well-established reassuring mainstream stardom.  Tobacco remains an unknown quanitity, forever masked with the obscene grin of the BMSR, a fringe character hovering somewhere in the collective unconscious between Jason Voorhees and Aphex Twin.  Where Aphex Twin managed to disappear and make us accept his own face as an uncanny mask, we are forced to wonder whether, in Tobacco’s case, there is anything at all behind the mask we are given in lieu of a face.

On 2013’s Demon Queen: Exorcise Tape, Tobacco’s team up with Tucson rappers Zackey Force Funk and his cohort repositions the messily quantized machine funk of Grandmaster Flash back into the desperate places whence it came.  That sounds to me a lot like the goal of industrial music- to stick your neck out far enough to just touch the void that pop culture was built up to blind us from seeing.  My favorite track from this record is streaming from Soundcloud above, a ditty about a party gone wrong reminiscent of Anti-Pop Consortium’s “Tragic Epilogue”, locating the constant threat of desperate living’s violence shoulder-to-shoulder with escapist weekend dreams.

Chaos, chaos, buzzsaw, joy.

Dear readers,

I am writing to you about an exciting opportunity to listen to the HOTTEST new music in the UNIVERSE.  I am happy to say that I can WHOLEHEARTEDLY without ANY RESERVATIONS recommend to you the music of a peppy Baltimore ensemble performing under the name THE ROOMRUNNER.  Without a doubt, PUMMELING YOUR TINY COCHLEAS with their THERAPEUTIC THUNDERING will TEACH YOUR FUCKING HAIR CELLS WHO’S THE BOSS.  I know, because I once LISTENED TO AN ENTIRE DIGITAL UNDERGROUND CASSETTE TAPE with TONY DANZA.

FRIENDS, you may have wondered, “How many different ways in space can the SPIKES ON A BALL OF NOISE PROTRUDE AT ONCE?”  I have been to the mountain, I have rinsed my mouth with all the brands, I have WATCHED THE WRATH OF KHAN with nothing more than socks on my hands and the power of my AUGMENTED MEMORY.

THE SPIKES ON A BALL OF NOISE CAN PROTRUDE IN EVERY DIRECTION SIMULTANEOUSLY, YOU FUCKING IDIOTS!

Did you know that the panopticon is a machine which, whatever use one may wish to put it to, produces HOMOGENEOUS EFFECTS OF POWER?

Please enjoy Roomrunner.

 

Chicago’s Bear Claw Release Puncturing Live Album

I don’t have anything else to add to that title.  This just went live a couple of hours ago, and it is even harder and more precise than their studio material.  God damn this band is good.

Deerhunter: Monomania

Deehunter’s Monomania will be released May 7, 2013 but, as part of a trend that is making me feel like all my tastes are completely outdated, NPR has it available to stream and listen to online in its “First Listen” section now.

Deerhunter’s last record, Halcyon Digest, is now three years old.  It was a remarkable record, but it’s sound was marked by the fact that, at the time of its release, the two creative poles in the band were clarifying the sound of their respective solo projects.  Lockett Pundt’s Lotus Plaza and Bradford Cox’ Atlas Sound were each to drop definitive records in the wake of Halcyon Digest.  Hearing Lotus Plaza’s Spooky Action at a Distance and Atlas Sound’s Parallax made it seem as though Halcyon Digest were more a collaboration of two side projects than the internally consistent output of one band.  Cox was (monomaniacally?) fixated on the use of looping pedals, and songs like “Fountain Stairs” found their long-form perfection over the course of Pundt’s Spooky Action.

It’s good when a band can mix things up and change expectations, and few groups can pull this off.  Deerhunter did on Halcyon Digest, but gone was the sock-hop gone freakout bad vibe that infused Cryptograms and Microcastle/Weird Era Continued.  Monomania, then,  is a return to form.  Perhaps the record’s title is to some degree a tongue-in-cheek nod to this need to home back in to the familiarity of the band’s screaming swirl of noise, and to those influences that seem to be displayed so ostentatiously on these new songs.  Never had Deerhunter’s debt to the Pixies and Breeders seemed so apparent to this reviewer than on “Dream Captain”, and is it possible that “Leather Jacket II” carries the lipstick traces of Garbage?  The title track has that by-now-trademarked pounding, repetitive feature, be it bridge, chorus, or solo, that marks so many of the most signature Deerhunter tunes (“Nothing Ever Happened”, “Memory Boy” are two good examples) reduced to the barest minimum of performance time.  Indeed, if anyone has seen the band perform “Nothing Ever Happened” more than once over the past several years, they have surely been left with the impression that the band is both playing the song through as quickly as possible out of annoyance over having produced a “hit” that can so readily pigeonhole them for fans and to somehow imbue it with more power, to concentrate the power of that song into a single grammatical flourish.  “Monomania”, the title song, leans more in this latter direction, seemingly only slipping between the open spaces of the verses in order to rage back into the fuzzed-out canyons of sound in the chorus.  There’s also what sounds like the recording of a motorbike engine all over the last half of the song.  That’s pretty cool.

Here you go, all you lost your edge indie rock types.  Deerhunter’s new record on NPR.

Lloyd Cole is Getting Weird on You, Babe

Lloyd Cole, of Lloyd Cole and the Commotions fame (and of fame itself in his own right, I guess), has gotten together with legendary electronic musician Hans Joachim Roedelius and composed an instrumental electronic album.  If you’re a fan of Roedelius’ many collaborations, you won’t be disappointed with this rhythmic and clear-toned chunk of induced hypnosis.  I’m a Cluster and Harmonia fan, myself.  You can listen and buy directly from Cole at his website.

When the weather warms all I want is to rest in sunspots in the fading afternoon

How did I not know this?  Hum, obviously the best band ever done wrong in a major label deal (and, yes, also just the best band ever), is the only thing I want to listen to when the skies clear and the sun starts warming the colors out of the trees.  Hum fansite MISSION CONTROL has an entire archive of demos, B-sides, and hard-to-find records up.  The site also curates a Youtube channel.  I had never heard either the “Puppets”/”Aphids” single or the b-sides off of “Stars”.  When the thundering guitars drop in and I’m surrounded by the sound, I know I am lucky to be alive to hear something so beautiful.  There is something like god somewhere inside that sound.

Atom™: HD

Atom™ this week Monday released HD on indefatigably experimental electronic label Raster-Noton.  It’s a 9-track, 40-minute guided meditation on the state of pop music, climaxing with the “Komputerwelt” homage track “Stop (Imperialist Pop)”.  The vapidity and globally enforced sameness of commercialized pop media is the theme the record drives at, so as this RA reviewer so rightly observed, there is obvious irony in the fact that HD was released on the same day as the latest Justin Timberlake soporific. Among other sameness over substance acts name-checked on that track (with the demand they “give us a fucking break”), Timberlake carries the honor of being the name that makes the line rhyme.  It is also ironic that this song’s obvious debt to Kraftwerk seems to indicate that the artist is under the yoke of another irresistible influence even as he decries commercial pop culture’s hegemony.

Third track “I Love U (Like I Love my Drum Machine)” features experimental electronic R&B crooner Jamie Lidell, a performer whose profession consists of recontextualizing a R&B mainstream pop thematically and sonically into the experimental and the underground. (Have a look at his video for “The City” wherein he has a shave outside a liquor store with a pink razor for an example of what I mean. Watching this again, with those brightly colored bottles hovering behind him and the pink ladies’ razor skimming across his face (we must keep up appearances!) I think, what a catchy little critique of urban alienation and domination by consumer kitsch!)  The absolute genius of “I Love U” is revealed as it progresses toward a sample of Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech:

“In the words of Martin Luther… (begin sample) I have a dream… (end sample) Now listen to my drum computer.”

By reducing the whole substance of this anti-war and human rights activist’s magnum opus speech to a sound bite before a command to check out how cool he is, this track masterfully exposes exactly what pop does best.  It effects a pleasant, Warhol-esque emptying of meanings wherein the surface, in its vaguest recognizability, is king.  This is the primary theme of tracks “Empty” and “Riding the Void”.  (This idea should go some ways toward explaining the popularity of Girl Talk a few years back, if you’ll pardon the digression.)  The assertion being made is that, in the context of a pop song such as this, there may as well have never been a King or a context in which he originated his speech.  We should also mention that Dr. King is ambiguously, if not erroneously name-checked… Martin Luther wrote the 95 theses that started the protestant reformation.  Martin Luther King gave the “I have a dream” speech. Perhaps this ambivalence is deliberate- after all, if we accept that this record serves as a protest of the hegemony of vapid pop written in the language of vapid pop, then it can’t be a stretch to imagine that Atom™ is, as Martin Luther did in Latin, nailing up his theses in the language of the church.