Posted by: Dominic Umile | 10/13/2009

October Commutes: Brackles, Roc Raida, more

typewriterI don’t have anything remarkable to share with respect to an excuse for not updating The Whisper Council. I’ve been working on a couple of longer review pieces that I’ll link to when they are published, and I suppose that’s what kept me behind over here for the most part. I’ve been absorbing a great deal of solid 2009 releases — in promo form and in purchases from local retailers — it’s almost hard to run down a list of the good stuff that’s been in my headphones and in the living room of late. I’m also thinking that there might need to be a couple of changes around here that would somewhat improve the look of this blog, but I don’t quite know what they should be yet. Anyways, GO PHILLIES, and come on in, fall weather. Right now it’s green tea and the first Adem record, but here’s what I’ve been listening to on the trips back and forth into the city over the past couple of weeks. And thanks for your repeat visits to this site.

BracklesAlthough the Brackles number on the Mary Anne Hobbs comp doesn’t grab me in the manner that the other artists on there do, his Rawkus 12″ on Planet Mu snaps and cracks hard. Rob “Brackles” Kent steers winding, stringy synth lines over punchy breaks for “Air Pie,” which is so incredibly frazzled it’s tough not to jump up on the desk at work and throw everything off it when this comes on. The kick is as prominent as possible on “Air Pie,” while Kent’s gurgling set of analog-sounding organs and glassy 8-bit patterns dance around vocal samples and a playful bassline. I’m now revisiting “LHC” on Wild Angels; maybe I just missed out on its overtly melodic arrangement and driving garage rhytmn because he was in such good company? Get Brackles’ grime-loaded FACT mix here.

Broadcast Vs. Focus GroupI had intended to write a lengthy post on Broadcast’s new collaborative effort that finds them paired with London experimental musician Julian “The Focus Group” House. Instead, I’ll direct you to fetch the October issue of The WIRE magazine; Joseph Stannard’s cover story, which traces this record’s odd and wondrous aesthetic from conception onward, is a superb example of contemporary music journalism (unedited interview transcript here, but go buy the actual magazine). I would definitely reference early psyche/electronic explorers The United States of America and their 1968 self-titled opus in describing Broadcast & The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age, but there is a lot more to say about this new mini-album on Warp and its far-out brew of tape loop collages and acid pop. Recommending this one for long train rides — it’s hardly an easy listen, but I’ve grown fond of it anyway. All this noise and freakish samples, peppered with segments that lend more of a song structure like “Witch Cults”…it’s really jarring.

X-PressionsThe world lost another incredibly talented musician by the name of Anthony Williams in September. Having garnered across-the-board critical acclaim for years as turntablist Grand Master Roc Raida, this loss won’t be soon forgotten for anyone who’s had the distinct pleasure of seeing him perform live. I didn’t have the chance to see him on the decks, but I hold in high regard 1997’s X-Pressions, the first-ever turntablist group LP from Raida’s masterful outfit, NYC’s The X-Ecutioners, which were formerly The X-Men. Members Roc Raida, Rob Swift, Mista Sinista, and Total Eclipse are collectively an unbeatable cast on X-Pressions. Their debut is a hard testament to the unheralded critical importance of the DJ in hip hop, but it also stands as a manifesto of the then-fledgling turntablist genre that, on this album, happens to sound like the turntable-as-instrument art was already decades-old. I’m recommending that you check out the cuts that fire through the pugnacious “One Man Band,” which is one of my favorites here. Then, head over to Unkut for a marvelous rundown of forgotten beats that Raida put together in the producer’s chair, and see DJ Step One’s blog for a Raida Hot 97 set circa 1994 (be mindful of the questionable ad content at Mediaupload when opening at work). DJ A-Trak penned a lovely tribute here. My condolences to Roc Raida’s family and friends; he will be sorely missed.



  1. Hello there! Just a quick note to say thank you for your kind words about my Broadcast feature in The Wire and to commend you on your rather spiffing blog! Keep up the excellent work! JSt

  2. Thanks a lot, Joseph: It was a pleasure to read your piece. I look forward to checking out whatever you’ve got planned over there, and thanks again for checking out this space. Cheers!

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