Monday, October 31, 2011

Oneohtrix Point Never’s New Album “Replica”


                Oneohtrix Point Never has been flirting with popularity for quite some time. First it was his epic “Rifts”, three discs worth of insane komische noodling on the vaguely hip label “No Fun”. Then “Returnal” came and scaled back the sheer size but maintained many of his interests. “Returnal” was released on the considerably more hip “Editions Mego” label. Now he’s presenting us with “Replica” which may be his most concise work yet on what is considered a ‘hot’ label right now, Mexican Summer. 

                All this makes me wonder: will Daniel Lopatin’s project ever achieve ‘Best New Music’ status? Or is there something too foreign about what he does? Pitchfork has a well-known bias against experimental music, but there is evidence from OPN’s previous scores that they may be willing to give it to him based off of hype. Normally Pitchfork hypes up an artist when they want them to succeed, so they may ride their coat tails. 

                Below I list some of the likelihoods that OPN enters ‘Best New Music’ Nirvana

Pros:
1.       Daniel Lopatin has a beard – This is important. Pitchfork writers want musicians who look like them. How do you think Bon Iver got ‘BNM’? It wasn’t based off of his music weak sauce. Nope, Bon Iver is Pitchfork. Pitchfork is Bon Iver. For all purposes, the two might be related.
2.       OPN has some vintage synthesizer – Reviewers seem to love vintage synthesizers. It doesn’t matter whether or not the artist uses it properly, just them merely using it is enough. The fact that OPN uses it properly is icing on the cake.
3.       Each score OPN has gotten has increased – This is referred to by Pitchfork watchers as a ‘rising star’. Pitchfork wants to give it to OPN, he’s come so close, and they want him to have it. Already OPN has gotten an 8.2, which would be considered BNM in some slower months. So OPN is nearly there. However, keep in mind others have come close, even gotten BNM only to be thrown to the dogs (see Das Racist).
4.       Mexican Summer is doing really well – Pitchfork Reviewers like sticking with one label. If that label has enough good stuff, the other artists get something of a curve.
5.       ‘Replica’ is a pretty good album – I’m not certain if this is a pro. Pitchfork can be fickle about what is good/bad. Remember Neon Indian? Yeah, that was the 7.9 heard around the blog-o-sphere.
6.       Nostalgia – Everyone loves to use the word ‘nostalgia’ in reviews. Pitchfork is not immune. Their fingers are itching to say some stuff about how nostalgic the album is. Daniel’s video for “Replica” only reinforces that image.
7.       It doesn’t go on for too long – They get bored quick. Go ahead and release a three disc set. See how they react.
8.       Daniel Lopatin lives in Brooklyn – Yeah, it is awkward when you trash a guy you’re going to see play at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday. Best to be on his good side. I imagine the two have probably bought beers for each other and have a lunch date this Wednesday to discuss the colorful adjectives they’ll use to describe ‘Replica’.
9.       Leaked – Yup, this leaked. It leaked all over the damn place. An early leak bodes well for a better review. It shows enough of the right people cared. Early leaks are evidence that there is that magical thing known as ‘anticipation’.
10.   Seasonal – Music is a fine wine. It needs to age. You need to have it with spring, summer, winter, or fall, all you’ve got to do is call. OPN is obviously autumn music. Good thing he saved the release for the appropriate time. This may sound foolish but Pitchfork has defended albums before off of this premise (see Cut Copy’s 2011 output). 


Not everything works according to plan however. Below are some of the reasons OPN may not ‘make it’ into BNM territory.


 Cons:
1.       He had his chance – OPN burst out of the gate in 2009. Lately Pitchfork has hated on those great bands from that great year. Much of chillwave suffered lately, despite the few unavoidable ‘BNM’s.
2.       OPN comes from ambient music – Pitchfork is notorious for failing to understand experimental music. Usually they’re all like ‘Uh, I don’t get it but I think it is good. Let’s give it a non-committal 6 or 7 point something, perhaps a low 8 if we really like it but can’t describe why.’
3.       Komische Music may be falling out of favor – the sweeping ambient music which is OPN’s stock and trade may be falling by the wayside. This is a particularly unfair case. Overcoming a genre backlash is hard; you have to be extremely good to avoid it. I’m not certain if ‘Replica’ is good enough to avoid this fate.
4.       Previous project did poorly – ‘Ford and Lopatin’ got only a 7.6. That was Daniel’s last thing reviewed on Pitchfork. A 7.6 is not bad but after we compare it with OPN’s previous scores it is a steep decline. Not sure if Pitchfork would include it but it is worth mentioning.
5.       Somebody else came out with something more amazing – this happens. You’ll spend forever perfecting your album and bummer, Flaming Lips released a mummified human body with a hard drive containing two weeks-worth of music. Sorry but you got shafted.
6.       They’ve already made their ‘Best of the Year’ list and don’t want to edit the Word Document – Hey, it is November. Pitchfork is pretty lazy.
7.       Backlash against a label – I’ll admit, this is rare. It does happen but it could strike ‘Mexican Summer’.
8.       Less ambitious/fails in its ambition – Pitchfork likes telling artists they didn’t try hard enough/tried too hard. It makes them feel better after having written a review in 15 minutes or less.
9.       Everything sucks that day – Often you’ll see Pitchfork was having a bad day. Nothing did well that day. Everything got dumped upon. Whoever wrote the review had a chip on their shoulder.
10.   Your album doesn’t get reviewed per se, instead the reviewer goes off into some long-winded thing about your genre of music – Reviewers do this a lot. Normally it occurs when they can’t think of anything to write and their speakers aren’t working. So they have to improvise a review and focus on the genre instead. Toro Y Moi and Neon Indian both were victims of this in unequal doses. 


I’m pulling for OPN. I want him to succeed. I’ve seen him play live and enjoyed this set. The time has come for ambient to become more forceful. And Daniel Lopatin is just the man for the job.

2012 Republican Primary Update


                I haven’t been following politics too much. People tell me about all the candidates running. Thus far I’m not really digging any of them. I went to Herman Cain’s fan page to ask if the top 0.1% of sloth bloggers receive a tax break. After I was told ‘no, everyone pays the full amount’ I decided I wasn’t going to vote for Herman Cain. Perhaps I might have tried to explain the blogger’s plight. On average the normal blogger earns 0.00000018 cents per year. Actually I’m in the top 0.1% of bloggers by earning a whopping $1.14. Yeah, I know, earning slightly above the price of a Big Mac must make me a baller. Strangely enough, your average person (or even sloth) requires considerably more than that per year. The average American earns slightly more than that, roughly thirty thousand times that. Thus, I may need a tax break in order to continue offering premium content. I asked Rick Santorum about tax breaks but he probably won’t reply since he’s a total loser in every single sense of the word. You simply must Google Santorum’s name to see how seriously the internet takes him. 

 
                Other people are running in the Republican field. There’s some Bush clone named “Rick Perry” running. Rick Perry appears to be basically George W. Bush with a different name. I mean, shoot George, you could come up with a better alias than “Rick Perry”. To me, Rick Perry is basically like one of those cartoon characters that put on a moustache and changes the first two letters of their name. “Am I Bugs Bunny? No, I’m Dugs Dunny.” Yeah right, nice try Rick, or may I say George W. Bush. At least in this incarnation of George he’s moderately more attractive. In some ways Rick Perry is even 'bushier'. He needs to clear some brush 'down south'. Rick Perry needs to trim his pubic hair.


                Michelle Bachmann is a toned-down version of Palin. Like the whole purpose of Palin existing is to make Michelle Bachmann look less crazy, kind of like how Glenn Beck was employed by Fox News so they could say “Well, in comparison to him, the rest of our programming looks downright moderate.” Not really sure what Michelle Bachmann stands for, she probably has the exact same ideas of Palin only better articulated. It is hard to look at Palin’s face and see something approximating a thought. Seeing Michelle speak sounds roughly the same as Palin to me, just with a less grating voice. 


                I can’t say too much about Ron Paul. All I know is all Ron Paul fans live online and support him online. Don’t think I’ve ever met a Ron Paul fan in real life. Yet whenever I see anything even remotely political on the internet there’s always a Ron Paul fan commenting on it. Let me rephrase that: it doesn’t even need to be political. Sometimes I see Ron Paul fans comment on a new album leak, saying how Ron Paul would dig it. How do you know Ron Paul would even dig chillwave? I don’t think politicians listen to music, I think politicians listen to MP3s of themselves talking and proceed to jizz themselves. 


                Hopefully this has given you a better perspective on the Republican primaries. It probably hasn’t but I’m okay with that.

Pleq/Lauki – The Gravity Lens 7.5


                I’ve heard Pleq in many different formats. This one, “The Gravity Lens” may be one of my personal favorites from him. Usually Pleq deals with classical in a rather playful manner, oftentimes through glitching, minor effects, and so forth. On “The Gravity Lens” Pleq and Lauki create an environment which teems with life and sounds like nothing else Pleq’s done before. 

                Twenty minutes float by in nebulous clouds of drone. Different elements of drone can be explored, from classically based (Pleq’s forte) to near-noise assault. Some movements get a bit aggressive, surprisingly so, particularly around the halfway mark. I’ve never actually heard any Pleq-related project get this intense, but I welcome it. Perhaps it is Lauki (his partner in crime) who is responsible for this harsher sound. Even at the most intense level Pleq’s classical construction lingers underneath, giving the section a particularly powerful feel. 

                Classical elements do appear within the piece, over and over again. Rather than being the focus point they are merely a structure for the piece as a whole. Piano comes into view occasionally to offer some respite from the heavier sounds. I think the drones and classical structure work well together. Don’t think Stars of the Lid think more along the lines of Tim Hecker’s gauzy sounds. 

                “The Gravity Lens” did everything a good drone record should do: it has structure, builds, and varying levels of intensity. Pleq and Lauki create quite an experience.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Poncho Peligroso Update


                Poncho Peligroso where art thou? You aren’t with the chickens, you aren’t with the cows. Last time I saw you in August. You were half-naked shouting at the top of your lungs while somebody ineffectively tried angling a laptop to document that wild time. What a wild time that was! And FYI dear readers, he was merely missing a shirt. Get your minds out of the gutter. Thought I know mind-gutters can be wonderful things. 

                Don’t worry, don’t fret. Throughout September and October Poncho has been plenty busy. He’s liked stuff on Facebook. A few poems have appeared on his cryptic website. Some newspaper mentioned him as a muse to future writers. Print seems to be more important than blogs in most cases. Old people read newspapers. Whatever old person read that article, which appeared in a newspaper in San Diego, probably thought to themselves ‘Wow, that Poncho is a force to be reckoned with’ and a smarter old person definitely thought to themselves ‘Dangerous raincoat really? That’s even more ridiculous than a sloth on a beach’.

                Let’s take a look at what Poncho’s been up to since I last met him. When I met him he called me a ‘cool dog’ and a ‘true bro’ though I’m embellishing. The first poem from September is entitled “my past muses have failed me but you have not”. It feels inspirational; it makes me want a muse to excuse and use. Wish I had a muse.

                “Reunited” mentions Poncho never-before mentioned love of Toby Keith, a famous country singer. That’s what Google tells me; personally I’m not much of a country fan. I’m more of an avant-garde post-rock electro-acoustic kind of sloth; you know, a normal chill bro, just like you but with a better working knowledge of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s discography. 

                The most recent additions, from late September cover a lot of ground. First we see he’s gained a position as a social media strategist. Considering he’s the 2011 Poet Laureate this is an easy job and should supplement his Poet Laureate income quite nicely. His origin story “A Grist of Bees” which has never been published anywhere on Earth, has seen the light of day in the collection “An Assemblage of Nouns”. Get it and see what the “Ghost Bee Egg” is about, or take Poncho’s explanation of it as “it’s the egg of a ghost bee”. 

                He’s appearing in the Berkshires, he’s blowing up no longer on the internet but in real life, where he currently resides. I’m pretty happy for him. Poncho is a chill bro, one of the chilliest bros I’ve ever encountered. Glad to see he’ll also be in the ultra-exclusive “Pop Serial # 3” Stephen Tully Dierks juggernaut of a lit mag. 

                Overall, the Ponch bro of Poncho is quite Peligroso.

James Ferraro – Far Side Virtual 6.3


                ‘Far Side Virtual’ continues James Ferraro’s march into 90s era nostalgia. You may be more familiar with his more numerous releases mining 80s cassette culture. Most of the time his fidelity is so low you can barely decipher anything that’s going on, something that is definitely not a problem on ‘Far Side Virtual’. What this album does is finally update James to another decade. It still isn’t this one, but it is a good try. 

                I am a little on the fence with this new approach. ‘Condo Pets’ worried me a little bit but this seems to better flesh out his idea of mining the 90s. However, I wonder if perhaps this re-hashes stuff others have already done with greater results. I’m almost immediately reminded of an even cheesier Ford & Lopatin project. 

                That’s perhaps my biggest problem. Perhaps it has to do with my age. I remember these sounds, growing up with them living all around me. James hasn’t yet convinced me that he can handle the 90s with the same mystical reference he’s given the 80s. When he focused on that decade with a more lo-fi approach, I enjoyed it much more. With ‘Far Side Virtual’ you can hear everything, you feel stuck inside a movie from the early 90s. 

                Part of that isn’t an entirely bad thing. There are moments on here which suggest he’ll try exploring the 90s with a greater reverence in later releases. I mean this is James Ferraro we’re talking about. He releases about 80 albums a year so additional tweaks to this template are going to happen. Right now I’m a bit on the fence with this album, part of it is appealing, but the treatment of the sound feels ironic to me rather than a celebration. And usually James does a good job of avoiding outright ironic statement. Perhaps with his further explorations he’ll further hone this sound, but right now I’m not digging it.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Gescom – Skull Snap EP 5.9


                Full disclosure: I’m generally a big fan of this project’s output. What they do usually fall under one of two categories: absolutely insane or hilarious. Oftentimes it is both at the same time. Their last release explored the kitsch and the crazed, the A1-D1 album. Samples on there were stretched, distorted, mangled and generally a blast. On “Skull Snap” there is a healthy dose of humor, but the music sounds a little thin.

                “Seventh Stone Triangle” combines the humor with enough muscle. The workout and general feel of this opener is pitch-perfect; it picks up exactly where their last release left off. Unfortunately the rest of the material on here does not meet those high standards.  It is strange indeed to have such a disorganized track as “Cake Mic” here which lacks any of the ‘punch’ that Gescom brings. Other tracks have even more samples yet do less with them. “Seventh Ace Deuce” has a great sample but little is done with it. “V Take Fastroll” closes out the EP on a high note. Here’s a great example of what Gescom is capable of: a seemingly easy sample, manipulated and snaked out beyond belief. Shame this one lasts for only a little over a minute. 

                Gescom disappointed me a bit with this release. I am usually blown away by their releases, but this one felt rather thin. As the crew behind Gescom often changes, I’m hoping next time around they have a better plan of what to do.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Holy Page Halloween Compilation


                Halloween needs a soundtrack. Unfortunately the ‘Peanuts’ franchise never came up with a soundtrack to top their classic Christmas album. ‘A Nightmare before Christmas’ came a bit closer, but then it had that whole Christmas vibe once again. It seems most holiday-themed albums generally focus on more family-friendly endeavors. Thank the Pumpkin-based God Halloween is anything but wholesome. 

                Christian Filardo has this depraved collection of tunes to set the mood. It’s named simply “Holy Page Halloween Compilation” it’s an eclectic assortment of odds and ends. Most of Holy Page’s output this year has been consistently good, so I wasn’t surprised by what I heard here. 

                What is here? Mostly quirky-as-heck little pieces ready to burrow deep into your mind, picking at your brain like sonic zombies. If this doesn’t sound violent enough, Christian explains how this compilation came in the night, cut you open and lived inside of you. 

                Most of these bands are brand spanking new additions to the Holy Page roster, if there is a Holy Page roster. A lot of these songs fall on the side of mellow more than outright terrifying. Considering their highly unusual nature and cryptic meanings, I’d say they are a fairly decent to downright good mix of songs for your special night. 

                You’ll be scared to death enough of the costumes and tricks during the night. Don’t fret, some of these tracks are rather jolting, particularly short instrumentals like the opener by “Acid Glasses” or the amazing “Graham Patzner”. 

Halloween!


                Halloween, I’m glad you got here. You’re in the nick of time. Really I needed you for a while. Thank you for showing up so promptly. For a while there I was worried you wouldn’t make it, but all my friends told me ‘Relax, Beach Sloth, it is on the 31st, just like every other year.’ Part of me believed them but a tiny atom thought otherwise.

                Ah yes, my days as a young sloth trick or treating. Through the entire night I’d rush through my neighborhood, hitting a whole four to five houses. Or I’d ask a neighbor to lift me up and pour candy into my pillowcase. Win for me and a win for them since they got to hang out with the only sloth in their neighborhood. Back then we didn’t have blogs, we had marble notebooks. I filled whole notebooks with pointless drivel, some of which I may ‘resurrect’ so you can see my evolution from a sloth to a blogger. Most likely I probably won’t do that, since generally people aren't interested in the musings of a young sloth and a cat. 

                Lately things have been crazy. There I was, getting boosted into the atmosphere through blog boost. I was pretty psyched about it. Finally I got to see the universe without having to pay Richard Branson prices. Everything felt excellent. 

                I propelled myself on all cylinders. But I burned out due to reality, cruel reality. It happens. My engine collapsed and there I was, in the middle of an indifferent, math-based universe with only a rudimentary understanding of how the universe worked. For I’m a mere liberal arts major, what could I know about math? I know I don’t know it, shouldn’t that be enough? 

                Then I saw it coming from a million miles away. It was who I needed. It was you. You saved me. You carried me back down from the heavens to this humble rock we call Earth. We walked on a beach and checked my blog. I noticed there were new posts on my blog, ones I hadn’t written. I turned to you and asked “Why are there these blog posts? I don’t remember reviewing this album. Where are your blog posts anyway?” You said “During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of blog posts, it was then that I blogged for you.” 

                We hugged. I couldn’t believe you’d give up updating your blogspot to help me through these tribulations. My life felt complete, meaningful, and whole. You dear readers have carried me through this rough, difficult time commonly referred to as ‘life’.

                Now I’d like to flatter you. I’ll be dressing up as a human for Halloween, in honor of you. Right now the plan is to go to the Salvation Army Store on Bedford Avenue and pick the most convincing disguise. What’s a good human costume? How do you guys dress? I mean, I’ve been on LookBook, but not that much because I’m not that trendy. 

                Let me know. I want to thank you for all your help in making this a little corner of care, a care corner if you will. Going to get my all hallows eve on!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pink Playground - Destination Ecstasy 7.9


                Pink Playground reminds us how good shoegaze can be. I’m reminded strongly of another, also Texas-based band: Experimental Aircraft. This is a good thing. Both bands have an obvious knack for an overwhelming, near-sky like feeling of gigantic sound. Whereas Experimental Aircraft are a bit more decipherable, Pink Playground enjoy a bit of distance, a bit of haze lovingly dolloped over the whole endeavor. 

                After the introduction “Fuck the World” we’re treated to one of the most memorable pieces on here “Sunny Skies”. I liken it to an old Cocteau Twins song. Yes, it is that good. The vocals are nearly unrecognizable. “Sunny Skies” pulses with energy. Personally, this is one of my two favorites on the entire short album. 

                “Never Was” is the winner for me. Love this song. It sounds rainy, warm and gray. If I saw it raining outside I’d be extremely tempted to put this on and stare out my window watching the rain fall down on the poor suckers outside. Every element: the slow tempo, lumbering bass and lazy vocals works so well for me. 

               “Dark Bloom” reminds me of Blonde Redhead just a little bit. Perhaps it the near-surf nature of the sound but I think of water all around whenever I hear this one. Ending the album on this note is a positive thing.

                “Destination Ecstasy” is the long-awaited full length album from these guys, who have been active with EPs for a little while. It’s nice to see them spread their wings and soar. Hopefully there will be more from them in the near future.

Spicy Potato Salad


                A few moments ago I read a great post by none other than Justin Carter, one of the founders of Banango, the literary blog. I get inspired by many things throughout my day. But this little article caught my attention and made me want to respond. Of course I could write a comment on his blog, but I want to transform it from a comment into a discussion. 

                What Justin began with was a basic thing: a particularly spicy potato salad. He claimed underneath the spice was something better than his glazed sweet potato fries. The argument is that despite the spicy quality of the salad, there are qualities beyond the spiciness. In other words, beyond one’s initial reaction there might be a quality which would attract a consumer. Sure you get put off by the defining quality, but beneath that is a trait you’ve more attracted to, that you get more out of than anything ‘easy’ such as glazed sweet potato fries. We’re attracted to the easier thing, hence why Justin filled up on the less rewarding fries over the more fulfilling spicy potato salad. 

                I try to introduce people to new music and to new literature, in real life and on here. Oftentimes I need to ‘nudge’ myself to travel outside of my own comfort zone. Many times I’ll get an ‘I can’t believe you read this all the time’. Some of my favorite moments in literature occurred after a great deal of ‘elbow work’ on my part. When I read “Gravity’s Rainbow” I felt a considerable amount of affection for the segment regarding the Dodo birds. To me, that’s one of the best things Pynchon’s ever written. It’s totally insane. Same goes for “Finnegans Wake” when I reached the end. By the end, with the beautiful language, the language of waking up for a dream, my eyes began to water. Finally, at the end, after all that insanity, I understood it right before the close of the book. Or maybe I didn’t understand all of it, but I sensed enough to know my effort was worth it. 

                You must on occasion subject yourself to elements outside of your comfort zone. Justin did that with his spicy potato salad. Perhaps Justin cried as he took the first few bites. He might have gulped a drink to help him deal with the initial pain. But would I say Justin has become a greater person for consuming that potato salad, much like he’s done with books or music? I’d say yes, he managed to wiggle out of his comfort zone to find new adventures in whatever sensory experience he chooses. 

                What I’m saying is find your own spicy potato salad.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gui Boratto – III 7.6


                I grew up on an unhealthy amount of dance music. Local college radio stations used to play some truly amazing stuff late at night. There I sat, in front of the radio, ready to record a particularly good song on tape. Once it ended I waited to hear who did the song. Being college radio, it was usually some vaguely inept announcer who had great taste. Rarely did I ever hear them mention the name of the artist. Angry I’d say something quietly like “You wretched bastard! Give me the name post-haste.” Gui Boratto’s album embodied all the good I want to see in more dance music.

                This is his third album, hence the “III” name. Using the sparest of materials, he has created this perfect, quietly dramatic album. Melodies emerge slowly out of the propulsive rhythm. Often they work hand-in-hand with the rhythm, helping it move forward. Gui creates some affecting songs on here, such as the nervous “Flying Practice” early on in the album. With a simple beat and gradual expansion it gets to be one of my favorites on here. 

                Little elements of rock peek through towards the end of the album, particularly the song “Striker” with a prominent guitar. A vocal on “This is not the End” (for the second to last track, nice sense of humor) brings it across to pop accessibility. It’s sweet rather than bombastic, which happens to be the case for many dance singers. 

                Over the course of this short album I managed to be constantly surprised by Gui’s twists and turns. For a reasonably sized album to have such a range is truly a nice treat. “III” brings me back to my days of good dance late at night.

Megan Boyle – Pure Uncut Hype


                Oftentimes I do a careful analysis of a particular writer’s mood and style. Dissecting their use of language, themes, and common tics I try to illuminate exactly what makes them so unique. I’m not doing that this time. This is only for pure hype purposes specifically Megan ‘Ass’ Boyle. 

                Megan Boyle has been swagging out on a whole another level. I can’t really describe it; the word hasn’t been invented yet nor do I feel in a position to come up with one. All the right people have been paying close attention, Victor Vazquez, one of half of the pioneering joke-rap duo Das Racist. An additional quote from Heems would have been nice, since Heems seems Meme, but that’s another story. I wonder whether Das Racist is an updated version of Simon and Garfunkel, or just two guys who really like weed. Besides them she received a flirtatious review in Vice Magazine, purveyor of all that is cool, hip and glamorous. Finally, The Tangential, a site I’ve never mentioned before but am actually a big fan of thoroughly enjoyed it.

                To celebrate this heightened awareness of her web-based presence, she’s brought out a ‘trailer’ for the book, reading an excerpt. Little clips show her saying one word at a time at different locations in different parts of the day, most of them within Baltimore such as the Harbor. Her work expresses this with its stream of consciousness musings, unedited, grainy, and disorientating. I feel for her cat’s lack of genitals, to me, genitals make the world a better place. 

                “Selected Unpublished Blog Posts of a Mexican Panda Express Employee” is bringing her writing to a whole another level. Her Tumblr, Twitter, and ye olde blogspot have become veritable hives of activity. She’s kept up her dialogue with her fans, figuring out what she should wear, who she should mention, and so on. I find it fortunate that a writer she admires (Tao Lin) is also someone she has had sex with. That seems convenient to me. You know, it takes a strong person to follow their dreams. It takes an even stronger person to have sex with their dreams. 

                Her interviews have been multiplying like rabbits. I’ve been reading all kinds of famous people interviewing her, from Josh Spilker (of Deckfight Press Fame), Jay Gabler, and some other internet-famous individuals who I’m too lazy to name. All of them want to know if she can lend them a cup of her hipness, since her relevant cup runneth over. 

                Megan Boyle has answered the age old question: how many blog posts do you need to write before you’re considered a writer. At first I thought this was one of those “How many roads to you need to travel down” deals, where the answer would be ‘42’. Good thing it is one of those answer. Once you’ve written 61 blog posts, congratulations, you’re a writer. I guess that makes me the fucking R.L. Stine of blogging since I have over 800 blog posts.

                I’m excited for Megan. The book was good. She’s doing some IRL/internet reading tour. Catch her at the tenth Ear Eater in Chicago, IL, America’s poetry capital. Regarding her book, you should probably buy it. It’ll make her a little happier than you are.

Jean-Claude Vannier – Roses Rouge Sang 8.5


                Yep, we’re talking about that Jean-Claude Vannier. The one who created the crazed paradise known as “L'enfant assassin des mouches”. He’s returned with his first solo recording in quite some time. This isn’t to suggest that he hasn’t been busy; he’s continued doing surreal soundtracks and generally fulfilling the world’s need for yet another eccentric, brilliant French composer. But I’m happy to say that he’s back. 

                “Roses Rouge Sang” possesses his characteristic weirdness. It takes a certain amount of madness to create such bizarre arrangements and have them (correctly) classified as pop. Songs like “Les Pépins De La Raison” give some hint of the general weirdness which possesses him. No one else could manage to merge these dramatically different sounds into a coherent, and in fact quite enjoyable, song. 

                There’s timelessness to the sound. Jean has never really cared about sounding of his time; he’s always lived in another world. Orchestral flourishes here remind me of all those he’s inspired. Yet none of those impersonators really captures the otherworldly quality of his work. “Dans Mes Rêves” is an example of this effect. Simple at first, you eventually fall into Vannier’s wordplay, his use of language, and the slow morphs of melodies which make his work such a thrill. Even the basic guitar shows his attention to the smallest of details. 

                Everything has been included on here. “Roses Rouge Sang” basically shows what pop music is capable of when it is pushed. Jean-Claude basically created a career off of pushing pop music into glorious permutations. I’m glad to see even decades into his career he still manages to create such beautiful, inspiring music.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tao Lin and Megan Boyle Break Up :(


                There I was, in my matching plaid Pajamas, doing Math homework, when I saw it. A relationship status change which changed my life lay in front of me. Part of me couldn’t believe it. I know love is a never-ending math equation, where the numbers don’t add up, but I couldn’t grasp it. Megan Boyle and Tao Lin had split up. Confused I decided to use math to determine why this had happened, but nothing, not even linear regression or taking the second derivative of love helped me. 

                How did this happen? We’ll never know; that’s for sure. I felt sad seeing this relationship change. The two of them seemed so sweet and adorable together. I remember seeing them in all those MDMA films, which were little funny valentines, bathed in red light, mumbled but caring. Actually I even remember seeing them at one of the premiers of those films, specifically for “Bebe Zeva”. Part of me wanted to go up to them, to shake each one of their hands and thank them for being great writers. Instead I stood by myself, awkward, wondering if I should talk to people more internet famous than myself, which is everyone. 

                Now I can see the bloggers circling around the split up couple. Countless blog entries are going to be dedicated to taking sides. Some will take Tao Lin’s side; others will take Megan Boyle’s side. Foul comments will come out of each camp, dreadful words meant to hurt. They’ll question the other, berate the other, post of Facebook walls, and generally create an internet-based ruckus. 

                I’m going to do an unusual thing I say I like them both. Yes, I’m diplomatic. Sloths are known for being diplomats as we’re not really genetically pre-disposed to fighting due to our slow pace. Each writer has a specific style. Both of them have their own reasons for splitting up and it probably was for the best. Glad to see neither one has any plans for stopping the amazing output they’ve been putting out lately. 

                A number of breakups have been taking place recently. First those old people from Sonic Youth and now this breakup, which hurts more. Sonic Youth are far away from me; they don’t check their twitter nor link my site on their site. Tao Lin and Megan Boyle are responsive on the internet, liking posts and such. Despite having never introduced nor even met either one of them in real life, I feel they are my friends in a way which more meaningful than many people I know in real life. That’s because their work speaks to me and lets me know I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed by this big old crazy world. At times their writing suggests they are in the room, trying to calm me down, trying to make me feel a little less nervous about my life. That’s probably why I’m a little sad about the breakup. Obviously they are too. 

                Sure, I know it was for the best for reasons I’ll never understand. Love is a mysterious thing. But now I know: if I ever bump into Megan or Tao of them in real life, I’ll give them a hug and buy them some ice cream.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Derek Piotr – Live at Nightlight EP


                Oh Derek Piotr, he’s a weird guy. I mean that as a compliment. Thus far I’d only been exposed to his album “AGORA”. “Live at Nightlight” is a live EP. Actually this is a first for me; I’ve never reviewed a live EP before. Nor have I heard a live concert sounding this crystal clear. Guess there are audiophiles in North Carolina. I should probably go down there at some point though I’m not much of a Southern sloth. 

                According to Piotr, this was for Signal fest. They took great care in capturing the tiny, physical sounds Derek does so well. Besides the fantastic fidelity, Derek busts out a couple of new tracks along with a few old favorites from AGORA. “Insects”, one of the new tracks, has an aggressive sound to it as his vocals become part of the assault. I enjoy this one quite a bit, there’s something about that pulse which just makes me so happy. More than a few times I thought I was hearing some mysterious sound from outside only to realize it emanated from Derek’s ghostly recording. 

                Quieter tracks can be found on here as well. “Radimantra” is gorgeous in its near-silence. Little brushes far off in the distance allude to some previously unknown form of meditation. Broken pieces of radio filter in and out reminding you that time is passing. 

                “Live at Nightlight” ends with “Focus/Kohti”. This track features the most distorted vocals I’ve encountered for a while. Besides that it employs the most generous use of silence I’ve heard from Derek. Random vocals appear out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly. 

                For me the strangest part of the whole experience was the applause at the end. While I was told this was a live recording, the near silence the audience practiced was doubly refreshing. Usually I get upset with the audience for talking over the music so such discipline was greatly appreciated. 


                I’m excited for his next release.

Justice – Audio, Video, Disco


                There isn’t enough cocaine in the world to make “Audio, Video, Disco” a hit. I mean it. When I put this album on I thought I was listening to a Justice remix of bad 70s cock rock. Have no doubt; this is the cockiest of rock. Somehow Justice has made an album that’s such pure testosterone it needs deodorant because it stinks. 

                I’m reminded of a dance remix of Trans Am’s entire discography. Whereas Trans Am delivers their music with a large dose of tongue-in-cheek, Justice appears to be pretty serious about their music. The vocals veer heavy into self-parody. The lyrics on “Audio, Video, Disco” killed off a couple of my brain cells because they’re dumb as hell. Not sure why they took five years to come out with “Audio, Video, Disco”. 

                Compared to their previous effort, †, this sounds weaker. Percussion hits less hard. That glorious distortion they’re well known for, gone for some homage to 70s cock rock. I think part of the reason it is so obnoxious in its cock-dom has to do with the fact they holed themselves up in a tree-house during the duration of the album’s recording, with a sign stating “No girls allowed.” After they finished watching wrestling on TV for seven hours, the eighth was spent on writing a single song.

                Despite their fall into the sophomore slump, there are still a few good moments to be found on here such as “Newlands” or “On’n’on”. People will buy this record for the sole reason that this is a Justice album. Fewer people will buy it based off of the fact this is an Ed Banger record as Ed Banger has been sinking in relevancy for the past couple of years. Even with the sales they won’t be able to critically outdo their previous record. At least Daft Punk had two good albums in them. 

                How did such a previously successful band come out with this album? You can find traces of its epically stupid guitar on the Planisphere EP, but mostly that previous EP had a more classical, wild aspect which made it much more enjoyable. On here you get the sense Justice made this for only Justice and they don’t give a fuck about listeners. The guitars and attempted epic sound grate on the nerves. 

                Justice might have decided to release more EPs off of this album first to get a better feel for what they wanted to do. Basically they try to sound epic and fail, creating what is commonly known as an “Epic Fail”. Actually I rarely (or commonly) do this, but I’m going to go out there and say this won’t get “Best New Music” on Pitchfork. There really isn’t enough here.  † is the better album, the one they really need to outdo, and on this, they haven’t proved that to me. Instead the only thing they prove is they’ve been listening to way too much 70s cock rock.