Posted by: Dominic Umile | 02/08/2010

February Commutes: Eprom, Yuuki Matthews, Next Stop…Soweto

YuukiKnowing that I might feel a bit down when I exited, a friend and I checked out a panel last week hosted by The Nation magazine on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. A few great reporters and writers discussed and argued a bit about the distressing condition that we now find America’s newsrooms to be in (see “The Death & Life of Great American Newspapers,” March 18, 2009). I left thinking about the confusing digital landscape, the towns that will someday soon be without a daily newspaper, and the idea that a lot more work and dialogue is going to have to be put into an area that is wrought with problems, that is not just in shambles because of the Web. This was ironically enough to steer me away from my weekly magazine indulgence and to update this bloody thing. Subscribe via email on your right, and check out what’s been scoring my commutes of late — downloads and details below.

Yuuki Matthews CoverBefore I’d heard the sixth volume of Asthmatic Kitty’s Library Catalog Music Series, I imagined it difficult to think of an actual occasion where I’d pull any of the other installments off the shelf to listen to. Don’t get me wrong; in whole, there’s a distinctive effort on the part of the musicians here to recreate library music, which is defined as production music created specifically for a film, for TV or radio, where the composer’s permission isn’t required for the music library to license out the pieces for a producer to use. In a typically well-researched piece for Wax Poetics (buy here), music supervisor/avid library collector David Hollander notes that “most library music is virtually unlistenable, and the gems are few and far between.” Were he discussing the new library music school, Seattle’s Yuuki Matthews’(Crystal Skulls) contribution might qualify as the latter. His Music For Savage Tropical Imagery is dizzying, with warbling synths and muted programmed beats. Even the guitars do nothing to disrupt the haze here; “Em’s Dream” and “Conquerors” are a lot like Boards of Canada, or like a lo-fi Ricardo Tobar. Matthews’ experiments are short and sweet — most of the pieces here represent an inspired instrumental meeting ground for non-linear techno and subdued guitar work. Some of it is fit for car chases, but mostly it’s just good listenin’ music. My Secret Playlist has a peek into what Matthews is digging these days, and get “Conquerors” here.

EpromOn new label Surefire Sounds’ first release (2/15/10), San Francisco producer Eprom deals some gritty beats that land on the techno side of dubstep — his “Never” fires up with slow-cooking synths, weighty bass grumbles, and vocal clips that swirl in from all directions. With all of the auxiliary percussion and fluctuating melodies, “Never” takes off much like Falty DL’s recent works have, and it just so happens that Eprom snagged him for a haunting albeit short remix on the B-side, GZA samples and all. Get Eprom’s 2009 promo mix here. UPDATE: Get “Never” now at XLR8R.

Next Stop...SowetoThe first volume of the forthcoming Next Stop…Soweto series from Strut digs into late 60s and 70s “township jive sounds” of the South African region for an absolutely beautiful collection of music. These Township Sounds from the Golden Age of Mbaqanga stirred the locals a mere few years ahead of the bloody uprising that pinned schoolchildren against the white South African government’s racist apartheid policy as well as their trigger happy police force (“Soweto 1976,” July 14, 2006). The comp represents a blend of funk, pop, and a number of other styles, both vocal and instrumental, that seem to have but a few things in common aesthetically, although they’re all jubilant, with densely woven choral accompaniment, brass, and guitars that emit mostly really tinny tones. For a series of tracks that appeared on scarce 45s, they sound lovely. Get “Kuya Hanjwa” from S. Piliso & His Super Seven here — mind the pop-up ads and such.


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