Posted by: Dominic Umile | 04/08/2009

April Commutes I: Scuba, Bruce Springsteen, Aphex Twin

A fare hike? Really?Last week on the G train, this younger chap had grown inexplicably quite comfortable with singing along to every word of what I think was Dipset on his iPod, even the middle parts where they nonchalantly speak with/threaten other people in the recording booth, etc. It was fascinating when he was watching his reflection in the door window and posturing, as if there weren’t like, a train-load of people around. I could barely concentrate on what I was listening to. Downloads and more after the jump.

Scuba's new mix

Thanks to Resident Advisor’s always informative feed section, I found that dubstep producer/DJ and Hotflush label boss Scuba pulled together an hour-long mix for Russian magazine, and it’s, not surprisingly, captivating. If you thought that last year’s A Mutual Antipathy was heavy on the headphone-focused flourishes, take a listen to this blend of dense, expertly woven smattering of heavy percussive prods, sparse techno, and loads of rippling, long-echoing synths. The now Berlin-based artist thumbs through Hotflush, Planet Mu, and more here, and I highly recommend it. Download it here, visit XLR8R to get his equally fierce podcast for them here, and read this lengthy Spannered piece about his work here.

NebraskaI’ve spent some time recently with Nebraska, Bruce Springsteen’s very spare sixth album. If you’re unfamiliar with this record, Nebraska is built entirely of lo-fi recordings of acoustic guitar, harmonica, and Springsteen’s dim, gloomy narratives. Aside from “Mansion on the Hill,” I didn’t know anything about this record for a long time — I admittedly never gave Springsteen’s catalog the attention it deserves. [A close friend and I used to share criminally inexpensive Foster’s oil cans on his apartment’s back porch years before I moved to NYC, and we talked about records like Nebraska — you know, those rare hushed and minimal gems that would eventually play a huge part in your life once you’ve let them — he did the talking on this particular album, though, and I’m glad he did. My better, smarter half would introduce me to the rest of Springsteen’s best records when I met her, years later.] Do yourself a favor and visit/revisit the Nebraska title track some Sunday or Tuesday morning. Listen to it here, for starters, and check out this week’s PopMatters feature on the album — I don’t completely agree with everything that’s said about Springsteen here, but it’s a good read nonetheless.

Selected Ambient Works, Vol. IIAn Aphex Twin production that wouldn’t sound out of place in the aforementioned Scuba set has also found its way into my morning routine during the past couple of trips downtown. “Hexagon,” from Disc 2 of Selected Ambient Works, Volume II, is part of a minority on the album that boasts such a pronounced beat, but it’s hardly abrasive. I can fully appreciate it, even before coffee, for its subdued collection of alternating glassy tones, oboe sounds, and playful melodies. The label that brought this record to the masses is turning 20 this year. Go here to vote for your favorite Warp track, and read about why you’d do such a thing while you’re at it. There’s evidently a new entry on its way from the Aphex labs; until that one materializes, have a listen to “Hexagon” here.


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