I had the good fortune of seeing my friends get married a couple of weekends ago in humid Washington, D.C., and we just got back from a trip to PA this past weekend, where we caught The National at Philadelphia’s Electric Factory. While that venue really has never done anyone much good (more than six dollars for a minuscule cup of light domestic beer? And I can’t take it downstairs?), The National delivered an absolutely riveting set. Needless to say, I’ve been able to check out a lot of stuff in the past couple of weeks between travel and work commutes. I’ll skim the surface below with a couple of downloads, too.
I posted late last year about psyche-mining sound librarian Paul White with respect to a phenomenal digital-only beat record he put out, Sounds From the Skylight. It followed The Strange Dreams of Paul White (One-Handed Music, 2009), and for his swirling, flowery official sophomore LP, it made sense that One-Handed partnered with Stones Throw fam’ members Now-Again. The Los Angeles-based imprint boasts a catalog rife with White’s sort of fruitful sound experimentalism, be it from The Whitefield Brothers or in the form of handsomely packaged, exhaustively researched compilations of deep cuts that barely ever saw the light of day to begin with. Paul White and the Purple Brain sounds fittingly like one of these comps — built almost entirely from samples of Swedish psyche musician S.T. Mikael’s output, White’s hippie-fried instrumental outings are rich with sitars, wiry guitars, and stop/start sound effect collages that are perpetually hypnotic. His “Guitar Whales” begins with fizzing leads but morphs quickly into a more percussion-focused place, where bleeps and curtly chopped choral backups are aligned with spooky organs and more. If you’re any sort of fan of what Oh No has been doing with his Dr. No stuff, or what Paul has done before, pick this album up. Check out his stunning non-album pairup with Detroit rapper Guilty Simpson, who spits over White’s “Ancient Treasure” — the beat should fit nicely with that mixtape of Nuggets and A Saucerful of Secrets you’ve got going. Listen to the album at Bandcamp.
While nothing in popular music has come close to what Van Dyke Parks and his scores of session musicians worked out for Song Cycle in 1968, you can probably trace Viernes’ professed love of Parks and Brian Wilson’s compositions through the dense shoegazer-meets-electronics wash of Sinister Devices. For one, on “Faulty Investments,” Viernes’ Alberto Hernandez and Sean Moore are likely channeling “Surf’s Up” — between grandiose strings and creepy minor chord configurations, “Faulty” is a dark circus of a song, where the Florida act switches gears from flooding rushes of guitars and beats to an elaborate suite that’s swarmed with one-off sonic trickery, stirring countermelodies, and random scene shifts at will. It shouldn’t stop at comparisons to the good ol’ days, though; Sinister Devices is a great headphones record on its own. “Swimmer’s Ear” is another kaleidoscopic effort, with tape manipulation and textured vocals twirling over the track’s motoring beats. Amid dutiful reprinting of M.I.A.’s press releases, Pitchfork managed to host Viernes’ compelling “Swimmer’s Ear” — grab it here.
Adaledge could very well have had the once-thriving IDM landscape in mind when he was formulating the title of his Vintage Feelings album. It’s by no means as jarring as the sounds that pioneers of glitch electronic music were producing in the early Warp or Hefty days, but Adaledge’s rowdy instrumental work is definitely rooted in experimental techno. Even if the arrangements feature piano and reverberating guitars, the sequencing has it so everything ends up in shards. When synth arpeggiations aren’t pinned against battering percussion (“File That Under Never”), Vintage Feelings hosts gentle mood pieces, where gauzy stretches and chimes calm so thoroughly that there’s a threat of accidentally overlooking the combustion beneath them (“Can You Dig It?”). On my friend Sami’s label, Adaledge doesn’t look as out of place as the press materials suggest — Triple Down Records thankfully embraces weird music all the time. And it’s not even that weird — Adaledge’s outing just so happens to see its release as Mille Plateaux’s Clicks & Cuts makes its return. Perhaps we’re in for an in-flux of frenzied drum programming and unpredictable sonic spurts once again? Act fast to get his whole album for FREE here.