Entropy R Us

Featuring : U

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Last Friday we attended the wonderful Where To Now party at the post-Turkish Bath basement of Stoke Newington’s The Waiting Room.

The whole night was a delight, but we were particularly blown away by U, with his Cronenberg/Wild Palms TV set up, and his all-encompassing electronic music, one moment of intolerable flaying by blunt giant cylindrical fingers, followed by another spent boogieing levitationally across ill-defined ketaminic strata.

It was like plugging into some sort of panopticon style Russian novel if you replace the varied circumstances of the populace before the Bolshevik revolution, with the varied circumstances of humanity in a cyberpunk, data-overloaded, neon-crypto-message pumping world that’s  already arrived, how come you didn’t notice?

You were distracted by the shiny lights and the bumping beats, that’s why.

Let us go to U’s first release, “Eah”, out in ManMakeMusic in 2012 shows the dancefloor face of the performance we witnessed in Friday: abstract soul techno smudged with a dash of 2-step shuffle.

You pass through it as if through a collection of scented, iridescent membranes, leaving something behind, maybe a digital copy of your brain took a wrong turn and ended trapped in U’s murky alcove? Hard to prove that, but don’t worry, if it did, U has enough tricks, twists and traps to keep that other U entertained until the heat death of the universe.

U – Eah

(Image via jpegheaven via Otaku Gangsta)

The method of Goth

Featuring : Single Lash

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We posted about Nicolas Nadeau’s other project (with Xander Harris), Slow Pulse, in May last year.  This year we’ve got Nadeau’s Single Lash — his voice still seeped in all the pained fragile beauty of Goth, but relocated from the city to the fields, where guitars endlessly drench the landscape.

Drown is just such a slice of wilderness.  The guitars roam all around, like restless waveforms tracing the contours of the land.  Vast slow riffs that speak of cyclopean structures rising out of the grass flecked hills.

In the midst of this, Nadeau appears like a sage whispering atop just such a pagan hilltop.  His voice projected with supernatural power throughout the land.  Deep and resonant with the force of something, if not occult, than primal.  This is, after all, the method of Goth rather than the mere trappings.

Single Lash – Drown

This is taken from the self-titled album by Single Lash.  You an pre-order it from Mirror Universe Tapes on…tape (and download), right here.

How untenable we are

Featuring : Concubine

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Sometimes cities look underwater, fluorescent like algae.

And aren’t nightclubs the closest humanoids have yet got to displaying themselves in an aquarium? Bodies squirming instinctively for reasons indiscernible to logic. Darting neon. Thrashing under sodium and tungsten, hunting and feeding.

If aliums ever descend on this wretched Earth and move undetected amongst us, the first places they should stop off to try and understand this species are the nightclubs and the art galleries. Only then will they understand precisely how little we make sense. How untenable we are. (So in need of destruction.)

But there is holiness in nonsense and repetition and if anyone truly understands the beauty of these demented tics and twitches of human nature it is Concubine, whose new video for Pivoting Planes we proudly premiere here alongside Apocalypse Disco – a track from the debut album of this “collaborative project, an improvisation­-fueled live act, a sacrifice to the insatiable bitstream.”

Concubine – Apocalypse Disco

Amazingly, you can download Concubine’s entire – actually-awesome -self-titled album FOR FREE from here.


Image is from New York in the 80s, photographed by Steven Siegel

Hispalodisco

Azul y Negro No tengo tiempo

One of 20JFG’s significant others has, as part of a project to learn Spanish, been listening to quite a lot of music from that country, with a particular focus on 1980s material.

In addition to generating intense waves of nostalgia in your humble scribe, this has helped resurface an avalanche of gems that, he thinks, might have somehow seeped into his subconscious when he was growing up, too small to have a taste, planting the seed of a penchant for sleazy synthesiser melodies, robotic drums, and super-heroic elf dance-floor swirling.

For how could a suggestible, flexible brain resist the allure of things like these?

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We previously featured Mecano, the biggest Spanish pop band of the 1980s.

El Amante de Fuego, included in their 1983 album Dónde está el País de las Hadas, is a song about a woman who falls in love with/is possessed by the spirit of a fire victim. It is a weird banger bringing together Ana Torroja’s high-pitched operatic pixie vocals, a hypnotic synth melody and a metronomic beat grounded on some pretty cool binary bass action.

It also does that structurally paradoxical thing where the song keeps going up but ends up where it began. Someone call Douglas Hofstadter.

Mecano – El Amante De Fuego

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Azul y Negro were the pioneers of Spanish techno pop. After their La Edad de los Colores debut, an informationally-dense example of new wave crossover with echoes of Joy Division, Kraftwerk and Roxy Music (and cotemporaneous with New Order, having come out in 1981), they released La Noche, and what a beast of a night La Noche is.

It is the perfect soundtrack for a perfect party, which happens to be the same thing as the soundtrack for the disco scenes in some hallucinated 1980s hit movie where everything is glamour, pastel, leather and flash, shot by Michael Mann after rediscovering his feminine side.

The Night, inside it, is a pure blueprint for everything that is brilliant about italo disco that I’m sure many of you have already heard it while having a sassy dance out, and thought it is some Italian Superradio gem. No, it’s Azul y Negro, from Cartagena via Madrid.

Wig out.

Azul y Negro – The Night

La Noche also features the anthemic Con Los Dedos de una Mano, which with added vocals/vocoder would become “No Tengo Tiempo (Con Los Dedos de Una Mano)”, the soundtrack for the Vuelta a España cycling competition in 1983.

Definitely dynamic.

Azul y Negro – No Tengo Tiempo (Con los Dedos de Una Mano) (Extended).

alaskadinarama

We conclude with Alaska, one of the coolest people in planet Earth.

Alaska was one of the stars of the Movida, the Spanish equivalent of New Wave/Punk which took place in the years after the advent of democracy (an intense time, as you might imagine).

[She was also a children’s TV presenter for a time, positively messing up the brains of a generation of Spanish children including your writer in la Bola de Cristal (a show that was eventually cancelled because of its subversive slogans against authority and capitalism).]

Her career comprises a never-ending stream of hits, including Kaka de Luxe, Alaska y Los Pegamoides, Alaska y Dinarama y Fangoria. Today we leave you with a song where she talks about wanting to be a box of washing powder in order to appear in TV, remixed to reach extreme apices of Hi NRG hysteria.

Alaska y Dinarama – Bote de Colón (Tecno Chochi Club Mix)

Alaska is still going strong. Find out more about her in the Fangoria website.

Swaggin’ on the flippity-flop

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Before Shabazz, the closest Sub Pop ever seemed to get to hip-hop was Jermaine Clements’ and Brett McKenzie’s spoof-rap alter egos The Rhymnocerous and The Hiphopopotamus, that is if we’re not counting the gratuitous N-bombs of indiepop racists CocoRosie, or the self-aggrandizing  ego-swag of The Legend! 

Nevertheless, Shabazz’s Ishmael Butler is not only signed to the label, he’s one of the grunge landfill’s A&Rs now.

(Does this mean he gets to write the famous ‘Dear Loser’ rejection letters?)

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Whether or not “swingin’ on the flippity-flop” will ever make it into hip-hop parlance remains to be seen, but Shabazz’s recent Lese Majesty is better than the entire combined Nirvana discography and is the best thing the label that forced The Postal Service onto a screaming world has released in forever.

Shabazz Palaces – Motion Sickness

We shouldn’t be so cynical though, Butler himself describes signing to Sub-Pop as “the first time in my recording career I was dealing with people that didn’t seem like they were from another side. It felt like we were all on the same side and moving in the same direction. They understand artists’ wants and needs and that’s something that’s rare in the industry.”

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Ishmael started out his career as “Butterfly” in 1989 as part of the great communism and Black Panther-celebrating Digable Planets:

Digable Planets – Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)

On news of his appointment to the grunge elite, Butler said he wanted to sign “Imaginative artists, daring artists, courageous artists, independent-thinking artists, artists that aren’t relying on trends or superficial things to get noticed, artists that are more musically inclined rather than image inclined, artists that are hard workers and . . . cool.”

And that he didn’t want anything to do with “Artists that are corny. Self-aggrandizing, self-mythologizing, self-reverential, cornballs. There’s plenty of room for them in the pop world.”

Fuck the self-reverential cornballs!

Buy Lese Majesty


GIFs from UrbanceUrbance is a 26-minutes animated action serie for 16+ audience. Written and Directed by Joel Dos Reis Viegas and Sébastien Larroudé. A topic that hits with stunning visuals and blasting tunes; Urbance brings you into a post-modern story world, made of hip-hop vibes and electronic influences.

 

 

Blue synth pop-rooted disco-technoid, smart club anthems (aka Machinique Classicism)

Featuring : Levon Vincent

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We have mostly spent this week listening to Levon Vincent’s self/titled debut LP (the non-bracketed part of this post’s title is its official genre meta-data).

But can you really call this thing we were doing – or rather, that it was doing to us – listening?

Is walking under the soaring domes of a gothic cathedral walking?

Is surrendering to the mega-structured beauty of squadrons of automatons, as they approach under the cover of electronic nimbostrati, being a coward?

We don’t know.

We just know that this thing is classic – and A Classic – in the same way that Metro Area’s S/T album was. It arrives at a place where machines speak a message of sonic truth, but following a different path, where NYC disco is replaced with techno, and David Mancuso with John Carpenter.

The vibe is not scary or creepy though. Imagine if you removed the human protagonists, with their values, their fears and their prejudices, from the urban framework of a John Carpenter film, from the non-Euclidean geometries an H.P. Lovecraft hallucination, from the self-reinforcing dynamics of a technological system on the cusp of the singularity. What you are left with is a sense of awesome beauty that is simultaneously alien and natural, like cetaceans swirling in the abyss, or Herzog gazing at the sun from the Antarctican depths.

This is what we get in this record, but with electronic things.

But don’t take our word for it. Listen to Launch Ramp Into Tha Sky in its prolonged, shape-shifting introspective banger beauty.

We can try to sell it to you through its form: In the beginning, it sounds like Liquid Liquid’s Scraper cycling down CERN’s quanta-bahn. It concludes with the close encounter of Gavin Russom and Ennio Morricone in a revelation space of Arrakean geology. Between both stages, awesome things happen.

Yes, we can sell it to you on its form, but it will hook you on its substance. And its substance cannot be described, it has to be heard.

So here goes:

Levon Vincent – Launch Ramp Into Tha Space

LV made the record available for free download through Wetransfer earlier this week. If you missed out on that, just go and get the thing from Novel Sounds. Really.

(Image above: I saw Three Cities by Kay Sage, via Princeton University’s Art Museum)

Au @,.,@

Featuring : can

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So we finally have Pynchon on the big screen.  And lo’ it has pissed some people right off.  Which given that it is, by far, Pynchon’s most accessible book — full of sex, action and music — is a feather in the directorial cap of PT Anderson.  That he exorcises most of the sex, action and music is a shame, but there you go.

What we’re left with is a deeply melancholy comedy that exists, for great swathes, on weed-logic.  Weed-logic being somewhat grimier, sweatier, messier version of the dream-logic of Lynch’s 50s/80s dreams/nightmares.  Weed logic dictates that when our hero (Doc) has spent sufficient energy peeling back the layers of post-68 LA, things will resolve themselves.  Which is terrifying even before we witness the nervous breakdown of his cop nemesis / soulmate.

Weed-logic doesn’t manage to salvage the refocussing of the narrative away from Pynchon’s arch noir-y nihilism and onto Doc’s mythic quest to ‘win back’ his ex, Shasta.  Which is a shame but you kinda’ let it go because man, they got the important stuff feeling just right.

The film sweats: you can feel the humidity of the night and the cool dead air of the day.  The foggy haze permeates every pore of every character while the innate fascism, willed into being by the heat death of the hippy dream, hangs over the whole thing.  Everything makes sense for a moment and then we’re off again, buffeted between coincidence  and conspiracy; between the attempts at humour that make you deeply, primally sad and the puerile sight of a man fellating a chocolate banana.

It’s a glorious mess, I love it and that love sprung from one particular moment.  After an extended opening scene in Doc’s apartment between Doc and a scared Shasta, he walks her slowly to her car, along an alley filled with colour.  As she drives away, Can’s irrepressible Vitamin C begins and I knew, from that moment, that everything was going to be alright.

Can – Vitamin C

The Inherent Vice soundtrack (which is an odd mix of Jonnie Greenwood doing his best Bernard Herman impression, exquisitely selected period tracks and Joanna Newsom doing spoken word over Radiohead live jams) is out on vinyl on Nonesuch in March.