Monthly Archives: September 2008

#84 mercury rev – love is pure

so today mercury rev‘s new album snowflake midnight is finally out, and what a refreshing direction it’s taken. while it’ll take many more listens before i start comparing this to their masterpieces like yerself is steam and deserter’s songs, this album strangely melds the unsettling effect of the former with the magical wonder of the latter – tensions best captured in songs like ‘snowflake in a hot world”. one of the new inclusions this time round is the strongly electronic treatment, something explored even further in the free companion album strange attractor. in the album opening “love is pure”, a broken melody seems to be going backwards as its ambient surroundings move forward in a looming thunderstorm that eventually gives way to a new dawn that’s equal parts organic and electronic. it’s as yet a new concoction awaiting refinement, but it’s sure an excitingly promising one.

mp3: mercury rev – love is pure

pop down to the official mercury rev site to sign up and download your copy of strange attractor.

#83 radiohead – reckoner (diplo remix)

up to now, there has been no consensus among my friends on radiohead‘s in rainbows, with opinions ranging from brilliant to bore. for me, it was an album i liked and am liking more with each listen. and more than half a year into its release, it’s still very much in everyone’s consciousness, especially with the remix opportunities the band has been offering to the public, first with “nude” earlier in the year, and now with “reckoner”. diplo was among the first few commissioned to remix “reckoner“, and the result is incredibly fun as you would expect of him. initially unrecognizable save for some of the original percussions, the mix moves into a prodigy-like sequence before diplo throws in a surprise beirut sample. listen out for it and marvel at how well it blends back with thom’s falsetto. thanks adrian for the heads-up!

mp3: radiohead – reckoner (diplo mix)

#82 seppuku paradigm – your witness

how do you review a soundtrack for a film you’ve never watched before? as a mercury rev fan, i’m pretty used to that since the rev have always had a cinematic approach to their music (who else records on 35mm?), but it’s still hard trying (not) to connect the song to the film’s narrative in a situation such as this. the film in question is pascal laugier’s martyrs, the controversial horrorshow on child abuse premiered at the cannes film festival this year. it was scored by parisian duo willie and alex cortes, (otherwise known as seppuku paradigm) who composed the film’s main theme “your witness”. the song, taken on its own, is cold and pensive, deliberately atmospheric even to the point of emotional disengagement – in other words, “chill”. but when considered in context of its filmic relation, the coldness becomes brutal and the distance unbearable, though in both ways beautifully executed. and if you thought that to be a tad too morbid for your liking, you might not want to know the duo’s name is inspired by the seppuku (or harakiri) suicide of japanese author yukio mishima. enjoy!

mp3: seppuku paradigm – your witness

#81 jonathan richman and the modern lovers – roadrunner

it’s formula one season here in singapore, where the city’s playing host to the first ever night race in f1 history, and i can’t wait to be there tonight at qualifying and the at full 61-lap race tomorrow! it’s been a childhood dream of mine, since following the prost-senna duels more than 15 years ago, so countless thanks to jeanie beans for the fab tickets! what i have for all of you, then, is jonathan richman and the modern lovers’ “roadrunner”. obviously smitten with the velvet underground, richman adopted the structure of “sister ray” (with who else but john cale producing) but left behind its bleeding mess in favor of a more urgent sound, creating in the process what some have considered the first ever punk record.

mp3: jonathan richman and the modern lovers – roadrunner

#80 horse feathers – curs in the weeds

album cover art seldom appears here, usually because the posts are more song-centered rather than focused on the album itself. but for today’s feature on horse feathers, the cover for their recent kill rock stars release house with no name is absolutely pivotal. the subject of the photograph references the album title, but is no mere visual translation of it. the ghosted image from a second exposure, the washed out whites, the one-sided vignettes and the overhanging vines – while sitting well in the overall dreamy feel of the photograph, also add to it elements of subtle interventions. the empty signifier in the “house with no name” suddenly weighs more heavily under the baggage of these elements, making for much less comfortable viewing. album opener “curs in the weeds” mirrors that representational affect, with its sparseness giving way under its own weight and tipping to the side every time justin ringle’s measured lyrics coincides with peter and heather broderick’s swelling strings, and it’s in each overflowing movement that the true beauty of the song emerges and remains in its hauntingly residual image.

mp3: horse feathers – curs in the weeds

house with no name is out now on kill rock stars. get your copy here!

#79 blur – popscene

i was talking to b today when she asked what got me started on music, and there could only be one answer to that – blur. the expanding, bloating and later self-imploding brit-pop scene was what i was immersed in at that time, rooted in a culture that was anything but my own. in 1992, “popscene” was all prepped to be blur’s first single in a year and due to usher in their modern life is rubbish album, but in a case of bad timing and even more atrocious press, it failed so miserably that the band took it off the album. “if you didn’t f**king want it in the first place, you’re not going to get it now”, quipped now-estranged guitarist graham coxon. and so “popscene” became blur’s lost single. some might have regarded it a pity, but i think leaving an explosive, blaring gem like this under the covers might just have been the best thing to do, a testament to the contradictions and ironies of our music industry today, perfectly hidden for every new fan to stumble upon.

mp3: blur – popscene

#78 brightblack morning light – oppressions each

in brightblack morning light‘s “oppressions each”, every sigh is heard as the song waltzes in its own time, drenched in reverb as if played in an empty hall where even the dust on the wall trembles along. it’s a soulful, spiritualized piece that mourns and aches with an air of heaviness that weighs down on even the lightest shoulders. production wise, the sound is musky and archaic, but in its content, the message is universal. i haven’t heard the rest of the motion to rejoin album that “oppressions each” is taken from, but judging from this delicately treated dr john-inspired track, the haunting music of rachael hughes and nathan shineywater will continue to seep through the cracks and overflow the consciousnesses of lands beyond their own.

mp3: brightblack morning light – oppressions each