Ekstasis contains many many ideas. Classical orchestrated electronics. Bits of saxophone. Haunting melodies. Warm vocals, emotional and icy. The background atmosphere of ambient/field recordings. Quiet drones, bursts of joy. The album feels accomplished, but despite all these aspects I point out, you won’t get lost in its construction, no. You will, very likely, get lost in its enveloping beauty.almostaghost
Tag Archive for 'California'
Ultraísta is a band formed by Radiohead’s producer, Nigel Godrich, partnering with Joey Waronker, Beck & Thom Yorke’s drummer. They “discovered” a singer named Laura Bettinson and this is their first album. The music is based around Waronker’s groovy krautrock-type beats, the steady repetitive rhythm. On top, Godrich washes it all with keyboards and effects, and Bettinson voice drifts in and out of it all.
There is a slight feeling that the music/atmosphere takes precedent over the songs, but I think that will reverse as they grow together. This is not just a Godrich sound experiment.
I was looking over my list here, and I realized there are not a lot of bands on it, both up to this point and what’s to come. This year was highlighted by solo artists and projects with one main leader. Ultraísta is one of the few that is a real band/collaboration. Godrich may overwhelm due to his name as a legendary producer, but this isn’t going anywhere without what Waronker and Bettinson mix in.almostaghost
While I do think channel ORANGE is generally overrated–he’s hitting the top of many year-end lists–I still dig it, and respect Ocean’s brazenness. Any album brimming with this many ideas is bound to be worth a listen. It feels both classic and modern, timeless yet unique, innovative but standard. Different genres float in and out, all on a minimal bed of electro-sounding R&B. Though I won’t deny, some of it confuses me (a song about Forrest Gump? in 2012? wtf).almostaghost
History Speaks is the debut record of Deep Sea Diver, the project mainly of Jessica Dobson and her minimal band. Jessica also moonlights as a guitar slinger for various artists (Beck, The Shins, Yeah Yeah Yeahs). Previously, a short Deep Sea Diver EP prior to History Speaks showed off her guitar skills and creativity. But History Speaks impressively expands on all that. More than just a great guitarist, Dobson’s voice sounds incredible, her songwriting varied and interesting and deep.
Here, I will share some of my favorites — a polyrhythmic Talking Heads-like jam called “You Go Running,” and the more moody title track. The rest of the album does not really sound like these two songs though, and that is why I like this album so much. These songs, just like this debut album, are surely just the tip of the Deep Sea Diver iceberg.almostaghost
No time today to put a real review together, but this was one of my favorite rap albums of the year. Lamar has a good calm flow on his verses; though I do find some of his choruses and all the between-song bits strange (though to be fair, rarely for rap albums, they do add atmosphere).
Spotify all my favorite albums here- almostaghost
Ah we’re flooding you with mixes this weekend! These should keep you busy for a couple of days, at least.
At first glance, the Sunday lineup for this year’s Coachella did not have the usual ton of excitement. But getting into it, I found it is totally underrated group of artists, and should lead me to a very diverse day of music.
Stuff I did not know before going through the lineup but am now excited for: First Aid Kit, Gotye, Le Butcherettes, Gardens & Villa, The Gaslamp Killer
UK artists (seems to be a big thing this year!): Florence + The Machine, Band Of Skulls, Fanfarlo, Wild Beasts*, Spector*, Metronomy*, Nero*, Calvin Harris*, Flux Pavilion & Doctor P*
Lots of other countries today!: Seun Kuti (Nigeria), First Aid Kit, AVICII*, Dada Life* The Hives* (Sweden), Gotye (Australia), Le Butcherettes (Mexico), Modeselektor, Zedd* (Germany), Airplane Boys (Canada), Justice*, Housse De Racket* (France), Noisia* (Netherlands)
And while most days at Coachella are probably similar, I was struck by the wild mix of genres on this Sunday: gangsta rap, different varieties of soul, afrobeat, female punks, electrojazz, electro hiphop, electro, gypsy rock, mashup DJs, whatever Santigold is. Going to be a lot of fun!
*not on this mix- almostaghost
A few days back, I went to see Sharon Van Etten and The War On Drugs concert at the Avalon in Hollywood. A strange combo! But I am a fan of both, and was excited.
The War On Drugs, who put out one of my favorite albums last year, opened. I saw them headline five months ago at a smaller venue, which was fun. But I think their sound fit this slightly bigger venue a little better. But their momentum, tight on record, is given more expanse on the stage. More specifically, that means a bit more jamming, longer ambient build-ups, phatter bass.
To be honest, I cannot decide if their groove is derivative, or unique. A fine line, I guess! In the end, it does not matter. But original or not, I really enjoyed their noisy, groovy set, once again. And if they come back again in five months… I’m sure I’ll enjoy it then too. Here’s a song from the excellent Slave Ambient:
Sharon Van Etten, who, on the other hand, I last saw at a MUCH bigger venue (opening for The National), was impressive as well. She has a somewhat goofy, self-deprecatory stage presence, which was a little surprising considering sad, emotional songs make up the core of her catalog. Fortunately, this presence does not get in the way of the songs. She can switch focus and deliver a jaw-dropping performance like it ain’t no thing, even after awkwardly talking to the person in the front row (PS. we in the back had no idea what you were saying). Musically, I enjoyed her ability to pull off some of her slower, more drone-like pieces; and her band was also skilled enough to jump on faster ones too.
I did find myself wishing for a couple of songs where she just played acoustic guitar alone. Her first demo recordings are basically just that, and are so beautiful. But the new stuff has opened her up to a much wider palette, and for someone with such a great voice and such great songs, that’s nothing but a good thing.almostaghost
As I mentioned somewhere along the way, I’m going to Coachella again this year. But even when I don’t, I enjoy going through the lineup and checking out all the artists. This is a mix of the ones I like for Friday. It feels like an odd collection, the Friday lineup, but it will be a fun day to kick off everything. A short breakdown:
British artists: Pulp, James, The Horrors*, Yuck*, Arctic Monkeys*, WU LYF*, The Midnight Beast*, Wolf Gang*
French artists: Breakbot, M83, SebastiAn, Madeon*
Texas artists: The Black Angels, Neon Indian, Explosions In The Sky
intense artists: Refused* (hardcore scream punk), Death Grips* (hardcore hiphop), Atari Teenage Riot* (digital hardcore)
women: Mazzy Star, EMA, Hello Seahorse!, honeyhoney*, Ximena Sarinana*
rap/soul/reggae: Frank Ocean, Jimmy Cliff*, Kendrick Lamar
artists I didn’t know very well before doing this and was impressed by: EMA, The Black Angels, Hello Seahorse!
personal favorites of the day: Mazzy Star, Pulp, Frank Ocean
* = not on my mix
Spielgusher – Spielgusher (2012): Legendary bassist Mike Watt joins with some Japanese musicians (Yuko Araki and Hirotaka Shimizu) to back rock critic Richard Meltzer, who reads his silly pseudo-beat poetry (“red snapper is the lettuce of fish!”) over their brief little jazzy blips. There are 63 (!) tracks on the album, which seems daunting at first, until you see how short they all are. The album feels amateurish to me, though I did dig a few of the musical moments–Watt’s bass in particular. But it is hard to get a sense of the work/creativity when it runs through so many moments so quickly. And frankly, sweet jazz bass is hardly enough to recommend an album.
PS. Instead of writing a select bunch of longish reviews at the end of the year, I am going to try to more regularly post shorter ones all year long. Mint and I always talk about expanding like that, so time to try it out! I’m sure if something comes along that inspires me, it will be longer and more thoughtful, but most will probably be like this one. And hopefully an increase in quantity won’t hurt the quality!- almostaghost