Monday, 3 September 2012

Beats and Pieces

'I know I parked my light cycle somewhere near here'.
I recently picked up two albums as an impulse buy in a record store (remember those?). I was challenging myself to listen to some new material.

Squarepusher’s Ufalbum comes across like a Daft Punk album with the caveat that Amon Tobin arranged the drum machine. Less feel-good House, more avant-garde frenetic breakdown. 

The second track on the album, ‘Unreal Square’ is decidedly more relaxed and and a cheeky affair than the initial blitz of the opener, ‘4001’. ‘The Metallurgist’ and ‘303 Scopem Hard’ also match the opening track’s blistering intensity. This is an album that doesn’t allow itself to be easily absorbed; it requires a degree of commitment from the listener. 

'Even the shelves from Ikea failed to cheer the kids up'.
M83’s Hurry We’re Dreaming plays at a decidedly more stately pace. Whilst still firmly wedded to electronics, this album benefits from soaring and soulful vocals. ‘Midnight City’ is a rousing opening, whilst ‘Reunion’ is catchy, guitar-led dream pop. Although the LP is  double album I found it hard to get attached to any of the tracks beyond ‘Claudia Lewis’. Most of the songs oscillate between ethereal and epic but I struggled to understand a single lyric.

Christ, I’ve just turned into my dad. The other problem I have with double albums is that the second disc is usually more of the same (never was this more true than of The Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Stadium Arcadium). This problem (or preconception on my part) seems to haunt Hurry Up We’re Dreaming.

By contrast, a remix I downloaded for free has become a firm fixture on my iPod over the last two months. Bram Gieben, creative mastermind of Weaponizer and Black Lantern Music (and more creative projects than I can honesty keep up with) is the guilty party.

'No, of course I don't do cocaine... oh, dang'.
Los Angeles 2019 takes the dark paranoia of Blade Runner and brings the already majestic score up to date with the inclusion of some excellent electronica. Initially the mix is firmly rooted in the soundtrack, but wanders into the stranger territory of Portishead’s ‘Machine Gun’ as well as Kuedo’s ‘Ant City’. The whole mix plays out at just under an hour and has a dream-like seamless quality to it.

What are you listening to right now? What unseen gems have you uncovered?

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