On 11/5, Twilight Sad releases No One Can Ever Know: The Remixes via Fat Cat. They’re sharing a teaser track, a remix of “Sick” by our favorite Ghostly electronica artist Com Truise. Check out the SoundCloud embed below.
America is electronic musician Dan Deacon’s third full length recording, and his first for the Domino imprint. It would be easy for someone uninitiated with Deacon’s previous work to assume that this is a “rah-rah” type of artistic statement, but those familiar with his usually dense and sometimes frenetic music are forgiven if they wondered if there was some tongue in cheek joke intended by the title.
There’s not: Deacon intends the album to be an exploration of his experiences as an American, albeit one of a more left-leaning, even countercultural, mindset than the artists who are usually found putting “America” in their albums’ titles. According to recent interviews, including one in the New York Times, Deacon’s initial response to the post 9/11 era was to feel disassociated from his national identity. Over time, realizing that, despite wrestling with or flat out rejecting many of the Bush era’s policies and value systems, and some that have persisted under the current president, Deacon found that he couldn’t escape an association with his country of origin, even when travelling abroad. America is a musical work based on this reintegration experience.
A somewhat puzzling aspect of the Times profile linked above: it emphasizes a narrative of Deacon as a burgeoning contemporary classical composer that seems to soft pedal his formidable capacities as a creator of effusive, if at times knotty, electronica by making it sound as if this aspect of his work might be moving into the rear view mirror. To be sure, Deacon has a sheepskin from SUNY Purchase in electronic music composition and credits on crossover events such as Merkin Hall’s Ecstatic Music series. That said, there’s no need for an either/or juxtaposition. Even in the midst of the album’s formidable “B side,” a four movement suite titled USA, Deacon hasn’t left his beats at home. What he’s done instead is to integrate them into a fabric that gives a nod to the wide dynamic spectrum of concert music and incorporates some of its instrumentation into a porous, even shape shifting, musical fabric. These are songs writ large, with an artist gaining greater depth of awareness, exploring nuances of arrangement, and striking a pose that serves as a sharp contrast to any homegrown jingoist ideas about music-making.
Alongside the release of America, Deacon has also released a free Dan Deacon app. Featuring a synthesizer loop program, spectrogram, dB meter, and links to other Deacon activities, it’s a fun addition to one’s smart phone or tablet. I’m lobbying for the designers to add the ability to take a picture of the spectrographs you create, which would make it very useful for composers.
A fun game of video “telephone.”
Dan Deacon’s latest album, America, is out August 27 via Domino.
Real Estate’s latest CD Days is out now on Domino.
Sat-Nov-19 Lexington, KY Cosmic Charlies *
Sun-Nov-20 Pittsburgh, PA Garfield Art Works *
Mon-Nov-21 Philadelphia, PA Johnny Brenda’s *
Wed-Nov-23 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom *
Wed-Nov-30 Barcelona, Spain KGB
Thu-Dec-01 Valencia, Spain Wah Wah
Fri-Dec-02 Madrid, Spain El Sol
Sat-Dec-03 Lisbon, Portugal LZB
Mon-Dec-05 Clermont Ferrand, France TBD
Fri-Dec-09 Copenhagen, Denmark Vega
Sat-Dec-10 Gothenberg, Sweden Henriksberg
Sun-Dec-11 Stockholm, Sweden Slussen
Mon-Dec-12 Oslo, Norway John Dee
* = w/ Big Troubles
Feel it Break
Domino Records CD (DNO 292P)
Katie Stelmanis has a haunting voice which she deploys to powerful effect as the vocalist for Toronto-based band Austra. Their full length debut via Domino features darkly hued electronica with 80s-era synthetic timbres and danceable beats.
There are plenty of bands that have tried to mine this territory of late. But the combination of memorable hooks, and Stelmanis’ pipes singing them, allows Austra to stand out from the back.
If you think that Eighties nostalgia has lasted longer than the era itself, you’re probably right. But the best exponents of dark wave, bands like Austra, use the materials made famous by 80′s era pop songs as a touchstone and a jumping off point, not merely for the sentimental thrill (now chilled). As such, Feel it Break allows the listener a refreshed take on synth-pop, which is welcome news indeed.
Here are a couple of live videos of the band performing at SXSW 2011.
“The album’s called Mixed Race because being mixed race is the single biggest influence on my music. You sat down at the table in my house and you saw every colour. It’s made me much more open-minded than I could’ve been. I come from both worlds.”
-Tricky on Mixed Race
Tricky spent several years of the oughts on hiatus from recording, but in the past three years he’s returned with 2008′s Knowle West Boy and now Mixed Race. His current aesthetic is more stylistically diverse than the darkly hued electronica of his 90s work. But Tricky’s still not planning to let his music live on the sunny side of the street anytime soon.
On Mixed Race, there’s a plethora of reference points, from Middle Eastern music, supplied by lutenist-singer Hakim Hamadouche, on “Hakim” to Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn Theme” mixed with dancehall on Echo Minott’s 1993 hit “Murder Weapon.” “UK Jamaican” incorporates robo-house synths and beats. As always a number of artists make guest appearance: Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie, Jamaican vocalist Terry Lynn, and UK singer Blackman. He even gets some help from a family member: his brother Marlon Thaws.
Perhaps the album’s signature collaboration is with a relative newcomer: the Irish-Italian singer Frankie Riley, whose supple voice graces several cuts on the album. ”Ghetto Stars” pits Riley’s soaring vocal and cinematic string samples against dystopian raspy-voiced sprechstimme and trip hop beats. It serves as a bracing antidote to any and all hip hop odes to the gangster lifestyle, presenting an unvarnished look at urban criminality.
If Tricky hasn’t entirely found a way to make a break with the bleak world view that is central to much of his most compelling work, he’s certainly added new hues to broaden this prevailingly dark palette. That, and fruitful engagement with new musical collaborators, makes Mixed Race an engaging listen.
26 years after their last full length release of new material, Orange Juice’s compendious career-surveying boxed set Coals to Newcastle is out on 11-22-2010. Orange Juice was Scotland’s answer to post-punk, and their music was a touchstone both for fellow Glaswegian pop artists and for the burgeoning American indie pop scene of the 1980s.
It’ll certainly be on many a neo-pop fan’s Christmas list. But why wait? Thanks to the kind folks at Domino, you can stream five songs from the forthcoming release below!
Jon Hopkins is supporting Four Tet on his latest tour (dates below). He’s recently released a video of FT’s remix of his new track “Vessel.”
Never one to let grass grow under his feet, Four Tet recently remixed the XX too:
10-14 Chicago, IL – Metro *
10-15 Los Angeles, CA – Henry Fonda Theater *
10-16 San Francisco, CA – Treasure Island Music Festival
10-20 Toronto, ON – The Mod Club *
10-21 Montreal, QC – Studio Just For Laugh *
10-22 New York, NY – Webster Hall *
10-24 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club *
10-30 Asheville, NC – Moog Festival*
These New Puritans
On Hidden, their sophomore release, These New Puritans incorporate orchestral instruments alongside synthesizers and driving post-punk rhythms to create an unusually hybridized sound palette. But adding choir, woodwinds, and brass to the mix has done nothing to dilute the urgency of TNP’s songs. They don’t incorporate them in a suave, neoclassical fashion. Indeed, Jack Barnett’s classical chops were honed in a month-long crash course in notation. Instead they appear in angular block-like formations, glaciers a-swirl in a maelstrom sea of pop signatures. Sounds affects – including a sample of knives being sharpened – are also liberally incorporated, as are out-of-the-box dance-hall beats and synthetic loops.
But the severity of these incorporations suits Hidden, an album more about stark juxtapositions rather than finely nuanced transitions. It also manages to blunt any notion that the use of classical forces or filmic effects on a rock record necessitates sonic domestication. Quite the contrary, this is a woolly and wild, yet eminently gratifying, recording.