I generally work on my freelance stuff in the evenings (if not in the morning before my day job begins), which means this space doesn’t get the attention it deserves until after 5PM. Last week’s evening hours, unfortunately, were mostly spent in “organization mode,” as I was cleaning up my desk, while sorting through, listening to, and cataloging promos. Outside of attending an unsurprisingly illuminating forum with Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald during the week (and some exhaustion due to my day job), I was busy with mundane stuff and was unable to post here, other than the mini-updates regarding my work that was published at PopMatters and Blurt. Here, now, are some things I’ve been listening to on my commutes into the city. Details and downloads below.
Brighton, UK’s Furesshu showed up on the free Anechoic Chamber dubstep compilation from Echodub (Scottish producer Alex “DFRNT” Cowles’s label) in 2008 with a couple of jarring contributions, and a year later, he issued an EP in the same vein. On his first twelve inch for Project Squared (3/8/10), Furesshu explores more in the way of a temperate techno-dubstep hybrid that doesn’t sound extraordinarily different from 2562′s most recent album. Furesshu’s “Horizons,” the final of three tracks here, didn’t catch on for me right away, but before long, I was revisiting it often — it packs muted sub bass and plentiful, breathy air gusts that curl around reverberating beats, while a singular synth swell warms things just enough. “Horizons” adjourns the EP in an admittedly understated manner, but minimalism is a proven specialty here. Check out a snippet and more info at Project Squared’s site, and download his promo mix here.
Almost four years ago, not long after I’d written about their debut album for Remix Magazine, I had the chance to check out Baltimore dream-poppers Beach House at the Cake Shop on the Lower East Side. It was one of those non-CMJ-CMJ events that was open to boring regular people, not just the usual networking crowd who chatter through the bands anyway. It wasn’t even ubiquitously branded “must-see” by the Internet Jesuses of All That Is Holy, as far as I can remember; it was merely Beach House, wooing a New York City bar crowd with melancholy sleepers of songs that would ordinarily move too slowly for a live setting in my opinion, were they not broadcast with such grace and cool nonchalance. Their new album is worth all of the attention that’s being heaped upon this band — soaring melodies are abundant on Teen Dream, along with a perpetually artful mingling of elastic guitar tones and layered organ tracks that are just as nomadic, bending all over the place. Overall, the songs lend as well to Mondays as they do to weekend listening — a rarity, right? Gorilla Vs. Bear has “Norway” here.
I was trying to avoid a discussion of the weather in this post, but it’s really inevitable — even stranger than watching another snowstorm pummel Brooklyn this year is walking around in it, with Arthur Lyman providing the soundtrack. My piece on Mike Cooper’s Rayon Hula went live last week at PopMatters, and given that Cooper’s album is a tribute to Arthur Lyman, strewn with samples of the latter’s body of work, familiarizing myself with this legendary Hawaiian musician felt necessary, and I’m looking forward to exploring more of his albums. Lyman (among a couple of others), having first earned his keep as a vibes player in a Hawaiian cool-jazz band, is credited with early musical experiments that gave way to exotica, a thoughtful, mystifying wordless genre born in the 1950s, spiked with unconventional instruments and even bird calls (be wary of oversimplified definitions of exotica, such as this one). I’ve been immersing myself in his Hawaiian Sunset, but here is a clip of Lyman performing his cover of “Yellow Bird,” a Haitian song that landed the artist in the Billboard top 10 in the early 1960s.