Monday, December 29, 2008

DJ Deeon - Let Me Bang (2003)

Be careful because once you've heard this record, sometimes you just can't listen to anything else. Don't complain to me when it happens to you.

The title track here is a little more varied than usual for this mother-offending variation on Chicago house. We've got the usual four on the floor kick and the little hi-hats on the "and." But the verse drops into half-time which makes the "Bang it!" transition back into the beat all the more compelling. Wild-eyed thrusting is the only reasonable response. Also note the tastefulness of the sing-songy pre-chorus of "hit it from the back." That is how a children's song should be turned into an ode to debauchery.

Disclaimer: I know of a few big booty bitches and big titty bitches who read my blog, and I don't want you guys to get the wrong idea: I respect you as a person and a woman. However, let me bang.


Friday, December 26, 2008

Erkin Koray - 2 (1976)

If you like the harmonic minor scale and its modes as well as what I think is harmonic major (although I haven't gotten my guitar out to check), this is the album for you. Erkin Koray made several really great rock recordings,but this is definitely his most "Turkish" album. His fuzzed out guitar is certainly present, although it's often buried beneath Turkish instruments carrying the melody forward.

For today's musical discussion, let's think about cultural relativism. These harmonic minor modes are just as common to people living in Turkey as the major and minor scales are to us, so I'm not thinking that if a Turkish person hears that sharp seventh they go all Putumayo and are like "Oh how fun! How exotic!" However, some of these melodies sound fucking menacing to my ears. Like the first, uh, movement of Komsu Kizi for example. Are these intervals registering as menacing to people east of the Mediterranean, or is it my Western upbringing and exposure to things like terror alert levels that's all "Sharp seventh! Level orange! How much shampoo is three ounces?"

Or maybe it's because I've been listening to metal for a good chunk of my goddamn life, and that genre certainly uses the half step, whole step, half step agenda to a purposefully dark and aggressive effect. Have you guys read any of those books about music and your brain or maybe just some wikipedia articles? What's the score?


PS: A post or to ago I complained about not knowing about current music and feeling incapable of putting together a reasonable year end list.However, my friend Steve runs a real robber baron* of a techno etc. blog at, and they put together a list, with samples of the best singles of the year. This is where interesting things are happening in music, unfortunately it's not my area of expertise. It is Steve's. Go listen, especially to the DJ Bone track posted here. Fuck this rules.

*I mean this in the best way, of course.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Group Home - Livin' Proof (1995)

As if the fact that this record is produced by goddamn DJ Premier weren't enough, the fact that the first non-intro song starts off with a sample of Nasty Nas declaring that he excels, then prevails* should give you a pretty good idea about what is going on here.

Premier is the unquestionable star here. Lil' Dap and Melachi the Nutcracker are certainly capable tale-weavers as they rap of inner city life with both the emotion and the charisma that was so prevalent in the early 90s New York hip-hop scene. It's hard to focus on the lyrical delivery here, though, as Premier paints cold cold warm cold synesthesic beats onto your consciousness. We're not dealing with melodies here, but rather, a sparse, echoing percussive structure filled in with the perfect vibration at the perfect time. Trying to discuss this is like looking at a drawing of a hypercube on a computer monitor; there are dimensions here that human intuition cannot quite grasp, and the breast is swelled with wonder.

*Also, note the appalling rudeness of that Human Nature sample.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Trouble - Psalm 9 (1984)

This is posted for my main horse Dan, who loves this record a lot. Trouble is one of those bands that people have heard of, but aren't really listening to in the way that they should be. They might know something about them being Christian, or they might have hazy memories of Dave Grohl's metal ideas. Let me set this straight, the way you should be listening to Trouble is after falling headlong, with your body burst open and all of your intestines spilled out.

Trouble are clearly guys who really like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest. They also have a strong grasp on how to make blues scales sound like eternal damnation. The song-writing strategy appears to be have a mid-paced palm-mutey Judas Priest part, then self-flagellate with a plodding thunder punishment riff. Repeat eight times, then do a Cream cover. Although The Fall of Lucifer does have a cute little pop punk chorus.

PS: Everyone has all of these best of 2008 lists, but I've only got two contenders: The New Lows 7" and the Fucked Up LP. Help me out dogs, comment with some recent music I should enjoy.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Skip James - The Complete Early Recordings

You might have a misconception that the blues is just a bunch of dorks knowing the pentatonic scale at each other. I know I held that misconception for quite awhile since my dad mostly just listened to lots of Eric Clapton, a prime pentatonic scale-knower. Fortunately, I dug deeper at some point, and Skip James was the first pre-electric blues that I heard. Definitely one of those goosebump moments, as these songs proceeded to fucking haunt my past, present and future.

There is something in these songs that I've discussed before on this blog, but in reference to black metal or hip-hop: a certain type of elitist melancholy that I can't quite put into words. Fortunately, a famous author has made a novel about this feeling. Unfortunately, I am illiterate so I don't know what this novel is called.

You guys are familiar with the 12-bar blues whether you know it or not. Just listen to any rock song from the 50s. That chord progression right there is it. These songs are structured in phrases of a certain number of bars rather than in verses and choruses - Jesus is a Mighty Good Leader is a great example, as the song is just the same phrase repeated with slight variations in lyrics. Get a feel for the phrases, and then pay attention to the flourishes that Skip throws in because the dude is fucking good at guitar. And he sounds like a ghost.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Elza Soares - Elza Carnaval & Samba (1969)

My life is pretty fucking cold and windy right now, and this is exactly the type of thing I need to listen to in order to shelter myself from reality. Vibrant vibrant vibrant. I mean just look at this album cover and imagine yourself in better place, such as heaven.

I'm on my way to see my friends Fireworks jam it out, so I'm not really going to say anything else. Except Bernard Purdie does a hilarious job of teaching the samba groove in this video.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Cecil Taylor - Jazz Advance (1956)

This fittingly starts off with a Thelonious composition. However, after stating the theme, Cecil turns into a complete monster. It's like you're watching a nice little porn, but then the hot chick clearly has a bulge. And you're kind of like "well that might be cool I'm open-minded." However, when the panties drop there's a shiny 12" meat mallet and she just starts clubbing a domesticated animal over the head with it. That's what this is like.

Anway, with Bemsha Swing all we've got is drums and piano, and the convention of improvising over a harmonic structure is basically thrown out the window. Instead, the theme is run through the insane gauntlet of Cecil Taylor's mind, and we're left with something approaching an improvised classical composition with a nice little swinging beat in the background. Dissonance in the form of seconds is ubiqitous in a way that, although quite different from Monk, is clearly from the same school of thought.

I don't really have much else to say because what Cecil Taylor is doing here is way above my head. This is some different level shit where infinite possibilities just open up. The mental prowess and control required to envision these ideas is enough to make you get really stoked and practice music all day. Or maybe just take your present back from the birthday party and go home because you'll never be this good.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Crematory - Wrath from the Unknown Demo (1991)

So there's a book out now about Swedish death metal that seems extremely rad. I've been reading about that on the internet today, so now readers of my internet get to read about it too.

All of this thinking about Swedish death metal got me thinking about Crematory, who put out one of the best demos from the scene. The thunderous mid-tempo parts, as well as the cymbal catches into downtuned tremolo-picked riffs are all present, but what defines this band's compositional style is the way that they work with phrases.

Each phrase might consist of a self-contained riff repeated four times or it might have an A/B ending structure or it might be more free-flowing (Wrath of the Unknown at ~2:25), which creates an interesting cyclic effect as the riff is repeated. When phrases of these differing varities are played over fast metal drumming, there is room for the rhythms created by the guitars to take on a life of their own independent of the typical rock back beat. The aforementioned riff in Wrath of the Unknown starts off as a cyclic little phrase, then is varied into a more conventional two-part phrase through a change in drumming accompanied with a substitution in the first part of the riff.

One of the hallmarks of good songwriting, metal or otherwise, is knowing how to work with these different types of phrases in order to create a relevant and engaging work. The ear is very good at picking out cadences, and as such they present one of the most effective tools for creating suspense or resolving as expected.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Giorgio Moroder - From Here to Eternity (1977)

Some people might make up ideas about the relative value of art music and dance music, but Giorgio Moroder is here to show you that, in the future, all such distinctions melt away under the austere pump of his drum machine. Chunks of this album are mixed together as a long track, enabling you to pretend that you are at a cool sunglasses party with ladies, and that the thump of the bassdrum is blood flowing to your big boner.

The opening/title track is structured like a conventional pop song, but then the coolest thing is that the next two tracks are free-form disco bombardments of variations on a main theme from the first song. After a quick little upbeat boner-tickler which functions basically in the same way as a conventional bridge, the first song is brought back for a final jam out. Also, I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone is not only a showcase for clever wordplay and vocoder overuse, it is another great pop song based on a variation of that same theme that keeps popping up. This record is an example of having a vision, and fucking executing it. In the future.

EDIT: As Aesop, the highly knowledgable and well-respected driver of the Cosmic Hearse points out, Giorgio also did music for the movie Scarface.