It defeats the purpose to be describing music made purely to be experienced, but what then is left to be said? In the world of husband and wife duo Peaking Lights and their album 936, the medium of dub transcends its function as form or genre. In a loose Mcluhanesque sense, it has become the message itself, operating as an undisguised narcotic somewhat like an extension of our bodily senses. This strategy isn’t new, having been pushed to its limits by the likes of Spiritualized, for which music-on-drugs blends effortlessly with music-as-drug. Their sound itself isn’t exactly novel either, drawing as much from the legacy of Stereolab and Broadcast as from contemporaries like Panda Bear and Ariel Pink. But what shines through is the single-mindedness of 936 to remain exactly what it set out to be, an elegantly outstretched loop held together magically without the slightest care in the world. – Dan.
It’s hard not to listen to London producer Zomby in the context of the long wait for Burial‘s next (dub)step. The two seem to work best in elusive anonymity, and more significantly, both share an uncanny penchant and deft touch for creating electronic music in mournful and evocative tones. Yet, while Burial’s album work – Burial (2006) and Untrue (2007) – relies heavily on hauntingly intimate vocal samples, Zomby’s palette on his 4AD debut Dedication (2011) is broader and more scattered. That’s where the comparison gets a little unfair, since Zomby’s work seems more decidedly a work in progress in contrast to Burial, who always sounds like the finished product.
But if we take Zomby on his own terms, the moments on Dedication are absolutely stellar, each showing promise of a multitude of different possibilities, ranging from the energetic shuffles of “Natalia’s Song” to the dark minimalism of “Riding with Death” and the delightfully playful bleep parades of “Digital Rain” and “Mozaik”. And in the midst of all that, another surprise is found in the form of “Things Fall Apart”, featuring the familiar nostaligic chants of Panda Bear – the only track to feature vocals. Approaching the end of this concise album, though, we find Zomby settling into a more introspective element distilled into its purest form in “Basquiat”, a moving piano piece underscored by a breathlessly enveloping layer of strings, echoing in parts the nocturnal loneliness of Burial and who knows, maybe his own. – Dan.
When I came across Ian Cohen’s post for Pitchfork’s 15th anniversary feature and his selection of the Wrens‘ “Everyone Choose Sides” as the song that meant most to him personally in 2003, it dawned upon me how many years it’s been since I’d listened to that Meadowlands album I loved so much. “Everyone Choose Sides” was my favorite track not just of the album, but probably of anything I heard that year, and I’m quite sure it’s there on that year-end mix cd I compiled with Brian. If only I could find that disc now. It captured everything I loved about American indie rock, precisely at a time when the confessional core of emo wasn’t yet embarrassing (to me at least). Listening to the track again in 2011, I’m shocked at how utterly immediate it still sounds – its impeccable sense of timing and devastating pace bracketed by blatantly blown out guitars and an audaciously abrupt ending. It was defining of its time, and in a silent way it’s patiently grown old(er) with me. – Dan.
Reading from afar on the recent London riots, I’m struck by how Johnny Rotten’s “no future for you” still rings true more than 30 years on, hanging ominously over the aftermath at Tottenham. It gave shuddering perspective to what I’ve been listening to lately – Nine Types of Light by TV on the Radio. While the band has steered their fourth album in the direction of lushly padded funk rock, the underlying tensions that have come to so characterize their music remains as disconcerting as ever. “No Future Shock” casts this grim context under an ironic disco light, painting a picture of social dysfunction, growing paranoia and everything that “just doesn’t seem right” whilst goading its listeners to dance it all away, to “do the no future“. It isn’t as biting as the Pistols, but it sure sounds a lot more cynical in unsettling times as these. – Dan.
SINGAPORE: I’m Waking Up To… The Psalms – Johnny Mnemonic
Fiercely upfront and dizzyingly discordant, The Psalms have been shaking things up in the music scene here, with growing expectations on their upcoming debut album. The band’s Ishmael’s Wishlist EP offers a raw glimpse of things to come, with its arresting spiral of chaotic rock delivered at breakneck speeds. All donations through the EP’s digital download on Bandcamp will benefit Acres, a Singaporean organization promoting active community involvement in animal protection. – Dan.
To download all 32 songs in one file click here. MAP is published on the 15th of every month, featuring a showcase of music handpicked by bloggers from all over the world.
For all its obvious flaws that are perhaps emblematic of a relatively inexperienced filmmaker trying too hard to imitate John Cassavetes, Derek Gianfrance’s Blue Valentine still makes for absorbing viewing, particularly for those who are able to immerse themselves fully into the improvisational feel of this muted marital melodrama. This ballad of Dean and Cindy (as portrayed by Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams), which shifts restlessly between their disintegrating marriage and sense-memory flashbacks to the couple’s happier times together several years before, is accompanied by a score composed by Grizzly Bear featuring instrumental versions of a number of their songs from Yellow House (2006) and Veckatimest (2009). And not much of a surprise that these supple instrumentals fit in wonderfully as the backdrop to Blue Valentine — with Grizzly Bear’s music radiating the same distinct sense of fragility as the film, as well as providing the roiling momentum for its main characters’ most vulnerable romantic projections: She seemed different. I just got a feeling about her. You know the song comes on, and you just gotta dance?– Keith.
sharon van etten:
Lately, I have been obsessed with this band from Montreal called Automelodi. I work at a record label (Ba Da Bing Records) and my boss, Ben, is constantly getting new records in. He knows I have a soft spot for 80s/90s post punk/early electro, vaguely alternative music... and so one day, he put on a Wierd Records compilation. It was a vinyl set of like 4 pieces or something. There were so many good bands on there... however, Automelodi stuck out in my mind as being an authentic, genuine, NON-cheesy version of the 80s I wish I was a part of. The song in particular that gets me going in the morning is called "Schéma Corporel".
mp3: automelodi - schéma corporel
bani haykal from b-quartet:
often enough, it’s the early morning rush which gets me excited about shutting my eyes. and by morning, we’re looking at the 4 a.m. time frame where all you hear is yourself in a foggy blur, thinking if sleep is really all that important because the early few are storming off for work. in all honesty, there is no ipod nor a single earplugging devicetron which i’d attend to. often enough, it’s someone else’s sonic leak i’m getting addressed by. but, i’m listening to Steely Dan’s “Babylon Sisters”. in my head, at least. sanity ‘from the point of no return’, personally. it’s a breath of fresh air. despite its age. everything is beautiful then.
mp3: steely dan - babylon sisters
naomi yang from galaxie 500:
The perfect song to start the day is “A Tonga Da Mironga Do Kabuleté” – the live recording from 1971 by Brazilian artists Vinícius + Bethania + Toquinho. It is like a beautiful sunrise – although I think that the lyrics are actually some sort of political commentary disguised as a Candomble/Afro-Brazilian curse – but whatever! And then you should just leave the CD on, and listen to the rest of the album while you have your coffee. And you will have a great day.
mp3: vinícius + bethania + toquinho – a tonga da mironga do kabuletê (live in buenos aires, 1971)
jamie stewart from xiu xiu:
i have a nico button on my guitar strap and her excess eyeliner has been burning the dirge "janitor of lunacy" into my waking ears as of late, at least 20 times in the last week. until yesterday we have been on tour in scandinavia, russia, poland, austria, germany and czech. these grey locations held hands with her harmonium perfectly.
mp3: nico - janitor of lunacy
justin ringle from horse feathers:
i have been obsessively listening and waking up to this tune by gillian welch called "annabelle". it's a song about a sharecropper in alabama and it is so sad, beautiful and timeless that I can't help but listen more than once in a row. the harmonies in the chorus make my hairs stand up... beautiful song.
mp3: gillian welch - annabelle
tracyanne campbell from camera obscura:
my favourite song at the moment is called 'one in a million' by steve miller. it's really beautiful. his voice is like honey in the sun and it totally melts my heart. the lyrics are quite simple and i guess
corny but it's a great tune and the production is so good it really doesn't matter. i wish i'd written it. in fact i'd love to do a cover version of it. i was recently in stockholm visiting my friend victoria (bergsman) from taken by trees and we were singing it in the flat and talked about recording it. watch this space...
mp3: steve miller band - one in a million
stuart murdoch from belle and sebastian:
every day when i leave the house and walk over the iron bridge and up to the glasshouses, i listen to “what for” by james. i have a habit of dropping back 20 years in my thoughts, and having a parallel soundtrack running in my head so that i may be walking in a street in 2008, but my head is in 1988. i don’t know why that is. this is an up and hopeful song of the period from a band i used to care for deeply.
as we slip into the autumn here, i am prepared to let my new song of obsession become “the game” by echo and the bunnymen.
“everybody’s got their own good reason why their favourite season is their favourite season”.
mp3: james - what for mp3: echo and the bunnymen - the game
alison eales from butcher boy:
I'm waking up to Labi Siffre, and wondering how I managed to stay asleep for so long. His songs are diverse, unpretentious, and performed with tangible joy. I'm literally waking up to him as well - I have 'It Must Be Love' set as my alarm, and it is proving to be a very nutritious musical breakfast.
mp3: labi siffre - it must be love
who we are
i love music, but i can't play it for the life of me, so i might as well try writing instead. hope you like it. i'm from singapore, where there really is good music if you look hard enough. i'd love to hear from you (yes, you): email@example.com
I'm a four stringing minstrel of doom, and hired gun for the odd band or two. Few things excite me more than music, and whiskey soaked vocals are a definite plus, so please be sure to send some my way. When I'm not contributing to I'm Waking Up To and MAP, you should follow my misadventures at http://litford.wordpress.com And yes! I'd love to hear from you too: firstname.lastname@example.org
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