Tuesday, December 29, 2009

African Brothers Band - Me Poma (1984)

Yeah it's that catchy West African highlife rock. It's tough to find a lot of the output of this band here in Chicago, Illinois, so if any of my dear readers have hidden stockpiles of African Brothers digital files, please leave a comment or send an e-mail. Here is a discography that makes my ears ache for all of the songs I have never heard.

These songs are busy with syncopated percussion filling out the not-quite polyrhythmic feel that flirts with that three against four. Guitars dance around major chords in intervallic progressions with plenty of room for improvisation. Nana Kwame Ampandu has an almost matter-of-fact delivery for both verses and call-and response choruses, and the catchiest parts of the songs are often instrumental statements made by the horn section or the keyboard as introductions or as sort of a transition between vocal parts and solo sections. Speaking of which, some of the effects-laden keyboard and guitar tones take on a cosmic psychedelic atmosphere, like the little chirping UFO floating throughout the title track nailing the upbeats for you.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Guest Mix Vol. 6 - Adam Could Die Tomorrow

The internet is oversaturated with music blogs, and you can find just about anything you're looking for using Google's blogsearch. However, most of these blogs have very poor internal quality control, and their backlogs are clogged with the plaque of boring, derivative records that no one in their right mind would ever want to actually listen to. What I'm saying is that it takes quite a bit to make it into my own personal reading list, and I Could Die Tomorrow is one of the select few. Adam and co. really get it done over there by having great taste and running a smooth operation. Pretty much anything goes as long as it rules. If you like what I'm doing, you will like what they are doing. Thanks, Adam, for doing this cool guest mix, and thanks for putting Trouble Funk on it.

When I make mixes for someone (usually friends, but sometimes babes), I tend to abandon any sort of coherence or theme and just bludgeon the listener with whatever it is I think they’ll like, songs that remind me of them, or just shit I’ve been listening to lately, so that’s just what I’m going to provide for you, the distinguished reader of Primitive Future.

My mixes tend to not only be disjointed affairs, but also overly-long and, therefore, potentially annoying; my mixes are practically a representation of myself. The shit has got to have hardcore, shoegaze, sludge, twee pop, noise, funk (or Go-Go for all you D.C. natives!), black metal, hip-hop, and random, obscuro shit. This guarantees that the listener will enjoy at least one song on the mix and will, hopefully, hangout with lonely Adam.

For this super guest mix, I’ve included “When You Smile” by bedroom pop masters Veronica Lake. What does this mean? Let’s just say that if I make you a mix without this song, you ain’t shit. But don’t fret, Primitive Future reader, you are shit and I have included it for you. I care. You’ll probably hate it, but oh well. FTW.

Lastly, I would just like to apologize for forcing you to have to sit through my uninteresting narcissism. I’ll just end this here, though, because this write-up is played out like the Jheri Curl.


p.s. Thanks, Todd, for giving me the privilege of doing this! It was fun.

1. Ramleh - Pit Bull
2. Warhead - Fight With No Fear
3. The Charlottes - Are You Happy Now?
4. Sutcliffe Jügend - Falklands National
5. Iron Cross - Psycho Skin
6. Tubeway Army - Are 'Friends' Electric?
7. Grief - Virus
8. Brenda Hutchinson - Me And My Rhythm Box
9. Kristallnacht - For Resurrection Of Our Movement
10. The Cherry Smash - Nowhere Generation
11. Trouble Funk - Hey Fellas
12. Jupiter Sun - Violet Intertwine
13. Brain Handle - Cold Pavement
14. Talk Talk - John Cope
15. Wale - The Perfect Plan
16. Medicine - Sweet Explosion
17. Deep Wound - Time To Stand
18. Veronica Lake - When You Smile
19. Disco Inferno - Footprints In Snow


Monday, December 21, 2009

Originoo Gunn Clappaz - Da Storm (1996)

I looked at the "Boot Camp Clik" label over on the left there, and I was surprised to only see a little "1" in parentheses next to it. This is something that must change. ORIGINOO GUNN CLAPPAZ 2 DA RESKEW. Yeah with that gritty New York sound that I love.

Beatminerz provide stark, understated production. The arpeggios in "Gunn Clapp" take me to a better place, and "Danjer" reminds me of the dungeon music in some sort of Secret of Mana-ass video game. Oh yeah and notice the shared sample in "Da Storm" and the Dr. Octagon intro. Short post this week, so rest your eyes with some seltzer water and pumpernickel bread.

What's up what's up, what's up what's up what's up.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Donny Hathaway - These Songs For You, Live!

I have a few CDs in my car that I use for vocal practice, and this is one of them. That vibrato, man. This record is great because Donny comes across a bit WNUA RIP in the studio setting sometimes, so it's just right to hear him live with a bit more grit.

These recordings are culled from a few different performances, and there are plenty of goosebump moments like the excessive crowd participation on You've Got a Friend. Guaranteed to give you that full body tingle. "That feels pretty good to me, y'all." -Donny Hathaway

This version of Flying Easy is absolutely ridiculous, and completely crushes the too smooth, string-laden version on Extension of a Man. The tempo is cranked, and the drummer is laying waste with tight fill after tight fill. Seventh chords and modulation done just as well as Stevie ever did it. We've also got an extended jam version of The Ghetto to satiate all of The String Cheese Incident fans out there. So if you get here from a Google search about buying patchouli oil (because you can buy patchouli oil here for cheap, as I have overstock patchouli oil in bulk), download away.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Marshall Crenshaw - Marshall Crenshaw (1982)

Yeahhhhh it's that catchy white guy rock. Anyone who has liked any of the same catchy white guy rock as me in the past (The Pointed Sticks, Buddy Holly) is gonna want to like this as well. And I've got to give credit to Erik B for getting me into this record many moons ago.

I bet that Someday, Someway sparks a flame of recognition. Hey look this song has even been performed live in concert.

The chorus is certainly the focus of these song structures, but the interesting thing is how smooth all of the transitions are. There are very few breaks or rests or abrupt shifts or anything like that. Even though the chord progression is always changing from part to part, these shifts are barely noticeable. There are also pretty active arpeggios going on all of the time that whites such as The Smiths have also used to great effect over the years. But Marshall Crenshaw, unlike Morrissey, is no bitch. You won't catch him crying about some bullshit. Just kidding, you probably will.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Guest Mix Vol. 5 - DJ The Tornado

So stoked on this guest mix, as my knowledge of electronic music doesn't extend much past Detroit techno & Chicago acid house. Steve Adler aka DJ The Tornado is much much smarter than me at knowing about electronic music, so the fact that this guest post even exists is a wonderful learning experience for me. Also, I have been at many ragers that Tornado absolutely devastated, so this helps to fill in my mental picture of belt-slapping and Jordan jerseys. So if you have a party, what you need to do is hire the man DJ The Tornado in order to make sure that your party is a cool place to be. Links:

I've been DJing for about nine years. Since then my tastes have evolved from spinning mostly hip-hop, funk, and house into buying primarily drum & bass and dubstep. Whenever I play out, I usually play for a long period of time and thus incorporate an amalgamation of sounds into each set. I might start out with a top 40 hip-hop banger and later go into some electro-house before finishing with dubstep, other times I blend a Young Gunz instrumental with Simon & Garfunkel's "Cecilia" - it all depends on what you like and, more importantly, what your audience is feeling. When I was commissioned to make this mix for Primitive Future, I wanted to do two things - first, show off my skills and hopefully get booked and raise my profile. Second, I wanted to introduce the readers of Todd's blog to something new. I feel it's important to note that so many times people think that just because I play a certain kind of music out that that is all I listen to at home. As a matter of fact, I listen to music that is all across the board and love being introduced to new things. I could have easily made an ambient mix, a shoegaze mix, or something like the mixes already posted. The fear I have in posting this is that it won't be taken as seriously as traditional, band-based music because so often people think that any music with a rude bass line is meant for the clubs, or maybe the gym, but not for home listening. This is what makes putting together a studio mix extremely hard. When making a mix of any sort of "dance" music, it has to be just that - danceable. I have to contrast that with knowing that most readers of this blog will be listening to this on their MP3 players on the bus ride to and from work, not before they go out to the club (although you can do that, too).

Another layer to this is being able to put together a mix of music that is not listened to by most people. How do I introduce a genre (drum & bass) to people when it is seen as too fast, too loud, or too heavy to the general public? How do I represent a very diverse scene in a short time and leave people with the impression that this music is worth listening to and worth promoting? At the same time, how do I stay true to the genre's roots and "keep it real"? I want to play quality music that has crossover appeal. A daunting task, indeed.

For the second half of the mix, I decided to slow it down a bit and focus on the dubstep sound which has slowly been gathering steam in the underground for years. It has achieved critical acclaim due to albums from producers like Burial and Benga, but has also destroyed dancefloors thanks to heavy hitters like Skream, Plastician, Caspa and Rusko. A genre which grew out of the grime, garage, and drum & bass scenes in the UK, dubstep has become more and more popular stateside in recent months, thanks to DJs like Diplo and Craze incorporating the sound in their sets. I tried to show off what I think are the best representations of dubstep - there are the deeper bits, the wicked impact tunes, more commercial tracks, and a cheeky bootleg remix - with a classic hardcore tune thrown in, strictly for the heads that know.

Some might say I take DJing too seriously, but I think anyone who is passionate about their music needs to represent their shit right.


1. Sub Focus - Rock It - Ram
>>>Q Project - Ask Not VIP - Advanced
2. Dillinja - Shiners - Valve
3. Serum vs. Northern Lights - Dangerous - Zombie
4. Break - Is This What You Want? VIP - Symmetry
5. Friction & K-Tee - Set It Off - Shogun Audio
6. Commix - Justified - Metalheadz
7. Calibre - Let Me Hold You - Signature
8. Icicle - Frozen - Renegade Hardware
9. Fresh - Fantasia - Digital Sound Boy
10. Zen - Dark Em Up - Grid
11. Danny Byrd - Red Mist VIP - Hospital
>>>Hazard - Killers Don't Die - Playaz
12. Chrissy Chris & Youngman MC - Kick Snare - V
13. Chimpo - Like No Other - Contagious
14. Jakes - Rock The Bells - Hench
15. Rusko - Mr Muscle - Sub Soldiers
16. Soulja Boy feat. Lil Wayne - Turn On My Swag (Remix) - Interscope
17. DZ - Old Timers - Black Acre
18. Liquid Wicked - Dubwar (Von D VIP Mix) - Destpub
19. MRK1 - Dubelek - Contagious
20. Skream - Memories of 3rd Base - Digital Sound Boy
21. Plastician - Export - White
22. MRK1 - Borderline - Contagious
23. Deadmau5 feat. Kaskade - I Remember (Caspa Remix) - Virgin
24. Mahanee vs. Von D - S.A.G.E. - Destpub
25. Giant - Rocker - Dub Police
26. The Art of Noise - Moments In Love (Caspa Remix) - White
27. Barbarix - Low Freqz - Aquatic Lab
28. Skream - Burnin' Up - Digital Sound Boy
29. 2 Bad Mice - Bombscare - Sm:)e Communications
30. La Roux - In For The Kill (Skream's Let's Get Ravey Remix) - White

*Link Removed due to Copyright Claim*
*Go here instead*

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Coloured Balls - Ball Power (1973)

My friend Steve recently posted a link to the NME top 100 records of the decade list, and Fenriz recently uh "dropped" the second installment of his "Trapped Under Ice" mixtape series. These internet events have caused me to post this Coloured Balls record. See, the NME list was chock-full of rock bands like The Libertines or whatever that don't particularly rock. Now, the popularity of these bands would make sense to me if they were really catchy or something, but they're not melodic or anything either. So they're in this weird no-man's land where they have the worst of both worlds (not rocking, not having catchy melodies). Get the fuck out of here with that.

Anyway, I was listening to Fenriz's mixtape while I was pondering this, and he included Human Being of off this record, and dang does that track rock. But yeah, these are some Australian guys really playing some progged out weirdo proto-metal boogie. Now, I've expressed frustration at pentatonic scale-knowers in the past, but that is no stab at the pentatonic scale itself. When something rox or is heavy, the pentatonic scale is just as good as any other. These songs exist in a nice sweet spot between upbeat boogie and meandering prog. Actually, in the extended solo section of Something New, they make use of one of my favorite pentatonic sounds: playing pentatonic but harmonizing with thirds. See also: Supernaut intro riff & Down all the time. And also the intro to Human Being uses another one of my favorite tricks. The emphasis is on the "and," but the guitar riff starts on its own so the time signature flips in your brain when the drums come in. See also: Fight Fire With Fire. Great I love rock music woo!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Carmike - Comin at yo Azz (1994)

At this point, it should be pretty easy for you readers to guess my favorite genres of music: late 80s/early 90s metal, 60s pop, bossa nova, Prince, and early 90s hip-hop. And yeah, shit was fucking weird in Memphis in the early 90s. You may remember me talking about this before in the infancy of this blog in this Graveyard Productions post. If you never saw that post, you should probably spend some time reading through my archives because everything I post on here seriously rules.

This is another record whose sounds make me physically uncomfortable (see also: Godflesh - Streetcleaner, Whitehouse). The lo-fi, washed out production, and strangely affected vocal delivery and doubling create a total psychological immersion similar to the most primitive black metal. Hooks are barely intelligible, stuttering chopped up phrases with the moaning of the damned in the background. The vision required to create this sort of horrific sonic gestalt is astonishing.

Also, I usually skip the "Dedications" track, but I just noticed that he says "That solo tape gonna be hittin they ass in the face," which is really funny.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Guest Mix Vol. 4 - Joaquín Chávez

One of the things about touring with bands is that you meet a lot of people. Now, I am not much of a "people-meeter," but sometimes you really end up being surprised by how much you have in common with a total stranger. I met Joaquin in Albuquerque, and it quickly became clear to me that we are both dudes with a "music problem." As such, I'm really stoked to present this cross-section of JC's music brain. Besides, he has a Burt Bacharach tattoo, so you know he's doing something right. Joaquín posts records at Never Get to Heaven, does whatever happens on Tumblr here, and plays hateful, frowning riffs with Dead Hours and Excruciation. A Burt Bacharach tattoo! How great is that!

When Todd asked if I would be willing to contribute a guest mix, I couldn't have been more into the idea. There is no other blog for which I have more respect. As I sat down to string this thing together, my dilemma was not unlike Andys. Do I flex nuts so that Todd and his readers know what a sick guy I am? Do I let the blog world know what a nerd I am by putting the Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody"* on a mix fifteen times? Well, after scrapping a few initial ideas and possibly saving myself some embarrassment by nixing a couple of tracks, I decided to just keep it simple. Here is a mix of songs that, along with the weather, have assisted in making sure the molecules in my body move a little less rapidly. And although that might make me a little less punk rock, considering that as I put this mix together my roommate is probably busy smashing mirrors, listening to the Total Abuse demo in his room, after all the rage summer brings, it's nice to stop and smell the string arrangements. Enjoy.

*Phil Spector's production only, for the record.

01. Van Morrison - Astral Weeks
02. El Chicano - Sabor A Mi
03. Joan Of Arc - I Love A Woman (Who Loves Me)
04. Big Star - Morpha Too
05. Shop Assistants - She Said
06. Dionne Warwick - Loneliness Remembers What Happiness Forgets
07. Fergus & Geronimo - Glistening Smiles
08. Sebadoh - Got It
09. The Zombies - This Will Be Our Year
10. The Velvet Underground & Nico - I'll Be Your Mirror
11. Blake Babies - Girl In A Box
12. The Lemonheads - Hannah & Gabi
13. Electric Light Orchestra - One Summer Dream
14. The Beach Boys - Unreleased Pet Sounds Backgrounds
15. Stevie Wonder - Knocks Me Off My Feet

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Richard Strauss - Also Sprach Zarathustra (1896)

I, Todd Niefzsche, love music about Nietzsche, whether it be lo-fi basement black metal or high art tone poem. Guess which one this is. The music leave plenty of space for narrative, which my mind fills with tales of me hanging out with Bono, and then I ask him what he's doing later and if he wants to come over and watch Youtube videos. Then we do a youtube search for "funny dog."

The best section is Der Genesende (The Convalescent) which has a variation on the theme from the introduction as the musical driving force while fast tempos and flutes whirl around leading to one of the most crushing moments in music as the intro theme is restated. Actually, I'm going to rip off that first variation for future Like Rats material, so be on the lookout for that.

Also, if you weren't gonna download this, it's the 2001 theme, idiot. Come on now. Load it down.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dead Can Dance - Within the Realm of a Dying Sun (1987)

I think that it's impossible to describe Dead Can Dance's music without sounding like some Enya-ass Putumayo mom bullshit. Because yeah they totally combine aspects of wide varieties of "world music" with Medieval European folk melodies! And it all kind of comes together in a Gothish post-punk way that will tickle your inner fat Wiccan girl!

But what matters is that these melodies are fucking gorgeous. My stomach hurts when I listen to this band because it's so, so beautiful. See, that's an interesting thing about certain kinds of transcendent beauty. No matter how much I listen to Dead Can Dance, there is always something not quite obtainable about the experience that fills me with longing. My own existence lacks in comparison to the music, but I can't figure out what I'm missing. Now imagine that I wrote the previous few sentences about Heather Graham.

Lisa Gerrard's powerful, powerful, powerful and haunting voice takes over for the second half of this record, existing over layers of percussion and counterpoint. These sounds are unmistakably deep, dark purple in my head, and I feel like I'm collapsing into an endless pit of color and velvet texture as I listen. The fullness of the tones and instrumentation, the elegance of the voice-leading and arrangement, and the expressiveness of the vocal performances make this required listening for anyone who has considered liking music.

Download (link fixed)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Guest Mix Vol. 3 - Bo Lueders

Bo Lueders, purveyor of internet wisdom at www.bosxe.com and highly active stage presence in Harms Way and Convicted (RIP), has been kind enough to do a guest mix for your mind. Harm's Way, who kind of sound like Bolt Thrower (this is cool), are currently out for a few days with Rise & Fall (also cool). Their LP "Reality Approaches" is one of the better things to be released in 2009, regardless of whether I know them as people or not. Anyway, Bo has provided us with some quintessential late October jams, so load it down.

I am a huge fan of shuffle when it comes to listening to music. The only problem is I end up shuffling between maybe 10-15 bands and have a hard time getting new music into my library. Add the fact that it's October to that mix, and I end up with a pretty limited play list. October for me has always been Misfits month, I listen to the entire collection on shuffle pretty exclusively; so when Todd asked me to do a mix-up I was actually a little troubled to put some diversity into my list. So I decided to with a “semi-obvious” mix-up, meaning not “Halloween” but another creepy Misfits song instead.

I ended up finishing it with only 2 Misfits songs and 1 Danzig song, out of 13, so for me that's an accomplishment. (Now that I think about it though “Thirteen” is a Danzig song that Cash covered… dam it) It was also an eye opener reading both Andy and Steve's mix-ups, especially Steve's, because I can honestly say I have never heard a single band on his list (yet). That, of course, is the beauty of these mix-ups and music in general.
So here you go, enjoy my take on the fall mix-up:

1. Theme For a Jackal (Static Age version) - The Misfits
2. Still Ill (1984 s/t version) - The Smiths
3. Two Minutes to Midnight - Iron Maiden
4. Walking On the Moon - The Police
5. For Whom the Bell Tolls - Metallica
6. It's Not Up To You - Björk
7. Montana - Rocky Votolato
8. Am I Demon? - Danzig
9. Cough/Cool - The Misfits
10. Dechristianize - Vital Remains
11. Bark at the Moon - Ozzy Osborn
12. Behind the Crooked Cross - Slayer
13. Thirteen - Johnny Cash


Monday, October 26, 2009

Asphyx - The Rack (1991)

This record fills me with nostalgia. As a teenager, I was an angsty idiot mired in spazzy post-hardcore and metalcore. However, as I searched out bands with crazier riffs, I ended up digging into the death metal underground of the late 80s and early 90s. Initially, the poor production and lack of stupid guy heaviness confused me. However, as I read more and listened more, it became clear to me that my worldview was sorely, severely lacking. The upside to this disillusionment was a sense of wonder and excitement as a whole new existence came out of the fog of teen depression.

I can remember the confusion I felt at these raw, sloppy European sounds that were recorded in an era that I thought was entirely dominated by grunge Q101 radio rock. The title of the intro track, "The Quest of Absurdity," immediately spoke to my existential pinings. Still, my initial reaction was "these guys are just playing power chords and they're not even that good at their instruments." I kept checking in, though, and, probably around the time that I "got" Darkthrone, I "got" Asphyx, and the towering monolithic structures created by guys sloppily playing power chords permanently cast a shadow over my consciousness. Listen to the outro riff on "The Rack" until this makes sense to you, too.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Stevie Wonder - Hotter Than July (1980)

If you're anything like me, you regularly worship at the genius altar of Stevie Wonder's early 70s output. And if you're not doing that, you need to leave because I don't even like you. Walk away from the computer and stab your eardrums with a pencil because you fucked up. Since everyone still reading already has all of those records, I'm posting up Hotter Than July which falls outside of the Wonder canon, but is still obviously the work of a complete godhead genius.

Definitely fewer ii-V-I's than in the past, as the feel of this record is a bit less jazzy and a bit more all over the place. Stevie's forays into Reggae and disco-tinged sounds aren't gimmicky or po-mo or anything annoying like that. This shouldn't be surprising, given the plethora of hits Stevie wrote for other artists of varying styles.

You know if I were a normal person, I would say something like "the vocal performances on this record make me want to drink acid and never sing again!" Instead, they make me get really competitive with Stevie Wonder and say to myself "if Stevie Wonder can do this, why can't I?" This is an insane pipe dream, but I am just trying to be honest.

Also, notice the nod to "Rocket Love" in GZA's "Cold World." Wu-Tang Clan: men of impeccable taste.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Exuma - I (1970)

My friends have been making some pretty great mixes about the changing of the seasons. But you know what? Fuck that romanticized bullshit I'm fucking cold. As soon as the temperature drops below seventy degrees, my hands fucking hurt all of the time because I have skinny-ass ET fingers. As such, here's some of that Bahamas doo-wah-nanny rainy summertime voodoo music.

The Exuma mystique is certainly interesting, but an over-reliance on narrative in music reviews is annoying to me so internet search that shit if you're curious. Let's talk about songs:

What we have here are a collection of blues/folk songs based around Exuma's throat-shredding vocals and consistently strumming acoustic guitar. Layers of percussion and sound effects and back-up choirs keep this far from a minimalist affair, despite the stripped-down nature of the song-writing. I just posted a record with bird sounds that was "quirky," but this record with bird sounds is "otherworldly." Choruses take on a hypnotic, chanting feel as layers converge onto a theme and Exuma's raving ad-libs soar over the din. Percussive layering, as on the beginning of "Junkanoo," as well as a healthy voodoo presence identifies this music as hailing from the Caribbean rhythmic melting pot. But really, no matter how much I soak in the humidity of "The Obeah Man" I'm still freezing.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Guest Mix Vol. 2: Stephen C. Kane

Steve Kane is one of the funniest people that I know, and also the biggest Cold Cave fan I know. I'm pretty excited to be posting his mix here, as Steve has a lot of specialized musical knowledge that is very different than mine, and I enjoy new things. Steve has cornered the market on internet endeavors with the name Harsh Distractions, with his internet radio show on Tuesdays from 7-9pm CST at www.fearlessradio.com and his music blog Harsh Distractions. Did you click all of those links? Let's go, Steve:

Somewhere between the brutally humid summers and the arctic winters is a brief flirtation with a temperate climate where, for about two weeks of the entire year, the weather in Chicago is absolutely perfect. Without reiterating too much of what Andy said, autumn is my favorite time of year. It's easy to get nostalgic about fall because I associate so many things I love with this time of year. Namely, the music that reminds me of cooler evenings, new semesters, drinking hot coffee on rainy afternoons, sweaters, and pumpkin flavored everything. This isn't a mix of my favorite fall weather songs of all time, but rather a mix of old favorites and new songs that fit into the mood of the season. Hopefully you agree.


1. Cold Cave - Love Comes Close
2. Seam - Get Higher
3. Desolation Wilderness - Boardwalk Theme
4. King Khan & The Shrines - Welfare Bread
5. Calypso - Casually Sad Mercedes
6. Wild Nothing - Summer Holiday
7. The Chamber Strings - Everyday Is Christmas
8. Hum - Why I Like The Robins
9. Grouper - Heavy Water/I'd Rather Be Sleeping
10. Black Tambourine - Black Car
11. The Love Language - Sparxxx
12. Gliss - Morning Light
13. Alcian Blue - See You Shine
14. The Clientele - (I Want You) More Than Eve
15. The House Of Love - Sulphur
16. (Smog) - I Was a Stranger
17. Vampire Weekend - Campus
18. The Radio Dept. - Always A Relief


Monday, October 5, 2009

Brigitte Fontaine - Brigitte Fontaine Est... (1970)

My posts have been testosterone heavy recently, which makes sense as I am a guy who loves working out. However, in the interest of fulfilling quotas, here is a Brigitte Fontaine record.

Many of the other internet reviews that I've found of this album focus on the "quirkiness" of the sounds texturing these songs (Bird calls! Glockenspiels!). And hey, in a way opposite of dumb Pitchfork bands, these extra things are actually pretty cool. However, the actually interesting part is, no surprise, the songs themselves. . Le Beau Cancer is a wonderful pop song, with an instrumental hook that my subconscious is almost always humming. The way that the phrases of Une Fois Mais Pas Deux leave tension in the vocal line then resolve with a rest and a chord change is a blessing to my earthly existence. And hey, it's got something in common with one of my favorite France Gall songs, too!

There are certainly parallels to be drawn between Tropicalia and this brand of French pop. Something about expertly crafted pop songs with plenty of space behind the vocal melody for an abundance of idiosyncrasies, that, while prevalent, are not distracting from the elegance of the song. You know, all of these flavors and hooks and implied key modulations actually create some sort of world for me. Maybe it makes me feel like I am into steampunk and goggles on my head and full-length jackets and shit like that? Maybe. Come fly away with me and Brigitte F, and Brigitte B in our airship. Brigitte Bardot: the original Steam Punk.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tha Alkaholiks - 21 & Over (1993)

Tha Alkaholiks, despite being a hip-hop group from the West Coast in the early 90s, have a lot more in common with EPMD & A Tribe Called Quest than the whiny, whiny, whiny, whiny synth tones of G-Funk. I've really been on the straight and narrow for several months, so I don't even know what these guys are talking about with all their "drinking lingo." That is ok though, because I think that we both like partying. I mean, I don't actually like partying or meeting people or anything like that, even though I occasionally like to try to convince myself that I do. What are you guys doing tonight I don't have work tomorrow.

Tha Lik's debut also accomplishes something appallingly uncommon in rap music: this record is concise and consistent. There aren't five hundred annoying skits. There aren't filler tracks. Ten bangers for your mouth. Who'd like a banger in the mouth?

So, there's more to my EPMD comparison than the Tyrone Thomas sample used for both "It's my Thing" and "Only When I'm Drunk." J-Ro and Tash (and sometimes E-Swift) trade bars in their verses much like Erick and Parrish were doing a few years before. And both groups rely on lazy flows, their laid-back delivery almost masking the extreme cleverness of their rhymes. Although, the patterns on 21 & Over remind me a lot of Phife Dawg...

OH YEAH! I bought this CD on tour and I was putting it out on the merch table as a "conversation piece" along with The Righteous Brothers and Moondog and whatever else I had accumulated. In Cleveland, this guy who was of course very drunk really wanted to buy it, and became incensed upon being informed that it was not for sale. His offers for the CD increased linearly with his drunkeness, and he got to the point of offering me $30. I told him that if he would give me $40 for the CD, I would give it to him. Not because I felt like I needed $40 for a Liks CD that I paid $6.99 for. Rather, a man willing to pay $40 for a used Liks CD really really likes the Liks, and would enjoy the CD much more than me. Unfortunately, he didn't like music that much. However, he did fall over several times in the moshing pit.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Guest Mix Vol. 1: Andy Nelson

I have a lot of friends involved in a lot of cool stuff with a lot of good opinions on music. As such, the new thing is that my friends will be doing guest mixes for my blog and everyone will thoroughly enjoy this new concept. For Volume One, I present the opinions of my multi-talented (music, jokes, drawings, etc.) roomie Mr. A. Nelson, who plays music in Like Rats & Weekend Nachos and records music at Bricktop Recording (for a very reasonable rate, I might add). So, take in Andy's mix and also visit the internet homepages related to his activities. Also, become excited about this new fun feature and look forward to it every few weeks. Here's ol' Nelly takin it over in his own words:

There are certain pressures I feel when commissioned to make a mix. These pressures are intensified when the mix is for a blog written by a dear friend whose taste in music I very much respect. An irritating self-consciousness sets in when I try to decide on what angle to come at in my song selection. I listen to plenty of music and I feel like my tastes are pretty diverse, but do I want this mix to be some sort of cross-section of my harddrive? Am I trying to impress Todd's loyal readers with a stunning blend of genres, obscurity and controversial mainstream gems? I could do that, but I already applied to the fuckyoucrew several years ago (and was denied). At this point, trying to give less and less of a fuck is a very real goal for me, so whatever, I'm making a mix that I'd enjoy listening to.

It's fucking chilly in the apartment and leaves are turning orange and yellow outside, so my scope has been narrowed to a fall theme. None of these songs have overt fall references (at least I don't think so), but every one of them has some aesthetic quality that I find particularly appropriate to listen to around this season. I guess a few of these songs might make me look like a bit of a sad bastard, but that comes with the territory when you pick and choose tracks in this context. This is my favorite time of year and there's a certain kind of dull melancholy that sort of feels right when things look the way they do outside. It's like nature's last, epic stand before another crushing Chicago winter sets in.

So pop this shit in on a long drive out to the pumpkin patch. Drink some cider and plan your Halloween costume. Wear a nice sweater and get some outdoors-time in before it's too fucking cold to do anything.


01 Chapterhouse - Breather
02 Danzig - Her Black Wings
03 The Chameleons - Monkeyland
04 Depeche Mode - Never Let Me Down Again
05 Mayhem - Life Eternal
06 Cocteau Twins - Evangeline
07 Brainiac - Nothing Ever Changes
08 The Cure - The Figurehead
09 Death In June - The Calling
10 Slowdive - When the Sun Hits
11 Hot Chip - And I Was A Boy From School
12 Burzum - Spell of Destruction
13 Bailter Space - Begin
14 The Stone Roses - I Wanna Be Adored
15 Iron Maiden - Hallowed Be Thy Name


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Eric Dolphy - Fire Waltz (1961)

Eric Dolphy is one of my favorite jazz players, as he fluidly balanced the atonal avant-garde jazz of the 60s with the flying chordal improvisation of bop. He follows chords in fleeting flurries of notes that are sometimes quick, dissonant trills and other times smooth melodic arcs. This is one of the more delightful games of expectation vs. reality, as Dolphy clearly always knows exactly what he's doing. Where is his melody going next? There is a nice overall logic to how far out there and how regularly he travels before returning to his harmonic base.

On "Bee Waltz," which has a nice two part chord progression, Dolphy brings out the bass clarinet, and opens with a variety of bubbling dissonances before settling into a rapidfire melodic arc following the quick ii-V chord changes. Observing his choice of melody or dissonance over the two parts of the harmonic structure of the tune is fascinating. He tends to favor melody over the ii-V part for most of his solo, and settles between "free" wailing and modal gymnastics for the first part of the progression. Really really really stimulating, which is good for me since I crave stimulation.

Also, funny that this is called "Fire Waltz" as Dolphy's playing is, to me, quite airy, blue and wet. Sort of an elemental opposite, I guess (terrible, terrible cards btw). Uh, who wants to play Magic I still have some decks.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Kraftwerk - Computer World (1981)

Back from tour my droogs! Lots of good shows, as music fans around the American East apparently love Weekend Nachos. Also, Brian has a fetish.

Anyway, I was listening to Kraftwerk in the van and Drew was like "Are you listening to the soundtrack for a children's learning video?" This was funny, but also Drew is a fool for not immediately recognizing Kraftwerk.

Kraftwerk is the perfect soundtrack for a detached, emotionless INTJ like myself, right? I live in a computer world, and it certainly is more fun to compute. Social interactions are a stream of data to me, and I read people like Excel tables. I am the next level in human evolution, as the emotions of the plebs were selected for by the statistical climate of the Pleistocene. This type of impulsive thinking is irrelevant and misleading in today's information-rich, black swan dominated megaculture. Good thing I am the operator with my pocket calculator.

There is a lot of space in these songs, which is wonderful for me, as an avowed fan of minimalism. Compositions are very melody-driven, albeit in a slightly quirky way. Each track has a clear theme, that, after being introduced, appears in a myriad of forms throughout. Variations on the melody as well as supplemental samples and counterpoints provide the impetus for forward motion, and the path is laid out by austere, reverb-laden percussion.

I'll use "Pocket Calculator" as my example, as the opening blips are some of the catchiest things ever laid to tape. Pay attention to the bass counterpoint to that melody, which keeps going through the verse after the melody cuts out and a vocal part fills the space. These tradeoffs continue until the string of variations at 2:38, which are eventually tied together by the reintroduction of the theme and the verse vocals. Relate these compositional styles to a Prince groove, or to a quickly morphing riff in a metal song.

Also notice how the opening segment of "Numbers" is just as bonkers as any of the techno, house, or hip-hop that would later rip Kraftwerk off. Swizz Beatz is a pussy, Ralf & Florian are hard.

*link removed*

Also: Once again, some of my writings on music have appeared in the newest issue of Jettison Quarterly (really cool web magazine). Enjoy the articles on Thax Douglas & city gardening in Chicago as well.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

João Gilberto - João Gilberto (1961)

I've been in kind of a "chord progression" mood recently, which means lots of Bossa Nova has been clogging up my ear canals. I've been learning quite a bit about extended chords and, as such, I've been working on creating chord melodies through voice leading. However, putting theory into practice is a different story altogether. As much as I kind of understand all of this wonderful crazy beautiful bullshit, I'm still terrible at it.

It's good for me to listen to real dudes like João Gilberto and think "someday I suppose" about my own musical abilities. It's also good for me to try to focus my raging jealousy of João's brain wrinkles into concerted efforts to add more wrinkles to my own brain. But really, the snug green tones of this record warm even my cold soul, and I click for it every time I need a thaw.

"A Primeira Vez" tickles the minimalist you all know that I am. With just a guitar and voice, it is very easy to hear the chord melodies that I'm talking about. Notice the way that the guitar playfully dances around under the somewhat somber, drawn out melody. This juxtaposition of subtle sadness with ostensibly bouncy and happy chording short circuits my analytical nature with tepid saltwater and a I float away in a logic deprivation tank.

*link removed*

I will be on tour with Weekend Nachos for the next two weeks, so no updates until I come back. If you live east of Chicago, check the dates and enjoy a punishing audiovisual experience. Also I'm looking to win new friends and influence them, so e-mail me todd.nief at gmail.com if you're coming to any of the gigs and you want to talk about records most civilians don't care about.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Camp Lo - Uptown Saturday Night (1997)

I've been listening to "Pot Casts" of my brother Stephen C. Kane's radio show recently, which has been a really good experience for me. Motherfucker had a 90's hip-hop "Cast," which is as directly up my alley as one can really be. So come into this alley with me. I'm not lonely, but I do want some company.

On said "Cast," Joel played Camp Lo's Luchini and it really got me thinking. As a youth into rap music, I really only liked the super dark, raw production of RZA, Mobb Deep, Boot Camp Clik, etc. I was familiar with Camp Lo, but, like a true countercultural teen, I found them boring & mainstream. However, since I'm now a much more eclectic consumer of music, I was surprised by how much I really really liked that dang Camp Lo song.

This is a different type of post for me, since I'm posting about something that is relatively new to me. I haven't listened to this record dozens/scores/baker's dozens of times. In fact, I'm listening to it for the second time as I type this, and I'll probably have played it a total of three times when this post "goes live." As such, I can't really isolate my favorite moments of the record and dissect what's happening because, man, I don't even know what my favorite parts of the record are! This shit is new to me, dogg! I will say that the production is phenomenal, and at least a few lines made me smile. Listen to this BIG BANGER, love it, download the record, live my life for me.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Goran Bregović - Underground OST (1995)

Here is the soundtrack to one of my favorite movies. Periodically, I try to get into "film" or whatever, and I watch a lot of movies from my Netflix queue. Invariably, I find myself quickly losing patience with each movie I watch, and, as such, losing patience with "film" as a whole. It turns out that I am not well-wired for sitting passively taking in information. Anyway, Underground is one of the few movies that really struck a chord with me, in that I didn't at all feel like "why the fuck am I watching this I should really be doing something else." Not only that, but it nailed my skewed worldview, in which I find things that are not funny to anyone else beyond hilarious. Social tics and absurdist humor abound; if you ever want to know what kind of bizarro filter through which I view my interactions with other humans, Underground is a great place to start looking.

I feel associations with my memories of the film when I listen to this, which is how I think many people process music: in relation to significant memories in their lives. Usually, music is a very abstract "music for music's" sake with me, but, in this case, something is different, and the music is unequivocally tied to plotlines and scenes and characters. I am becoming a real boy after all.

I don't know a goddamn thing about Balkan brass music, but this shit is completely chaotic and awesome. A real sensory overload of nonsensical social dynamics, plotting, and deception. You're really gonna want to give this a try.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Like Rats - Like Rats (2009)

So, I have this platform on the internet where people are interested in my opinion on music. As such, I've got to take this opportunity to tell you to listen to my own recordings. Besides, I wouldn't post it if I didn't think you'd like it. Half-hearted apologies to all of my friends on Twitter/F-book who've already been informed of this a few times. You'll be fine.

This is basically an example of me writing music that I want to hear, and what I want to hear is chromatic riffs at mid-paced tempos, but sometimes fast and sometimes slow. I love Tom G Warrior's signature riff composition style, and I tried to write riffs that evoke similar feelings without actually copying his techniques. There are a few self-imposed stylistic restrictions in order to keep the overall aesthetic within certain boundaries: no palm-muting, no double bass drum. Special attention was paid to the way that two primitive riffs compliment each other and create a relationship that makes each one significantly more interesting than if it were to exist on its own.

With love from me to you:

While I'm talking about heavy Chicago bands, I also have to mention The Muzzler (Voivod, Morbid Angel, etc.) and Hate (newer Converge, except higher, more metal, and more pissed), both of whom recently put out new releases. The thing about these bands is that I would like them and listen to them even if I didn't even know them as people.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Z-Ro - Look What You Did to Me (1998)

If you couldn't tell from the title, this record is fucking hostile. Dedicated Primitive Future readers will already have good feelings towards Z-Ro from my Guerilla Maab post, or maybe you're already into the Screwed Up Click and depressed, angry rappers. (Please download that Guerilla Maab album if you didn't the first time. It is important. Thank you.) So yeah, throw in my UGK post, and you've got a few of the finest cuts and slices that Texas has to offer. And you're already listening to the Geto Boys and Scarface, right? Right?

Just so you understand what kind of cool guys we're talking about here, check out this insane story about the lifestyle of the DJ Screw and affiliates from one of the best blogs on the internet, Twankle and Glisten: "Once we get to the ground the doors open and we were all asleep in the elevator standing up."

Z-Ro raps really, really fast about one of my favorite emotions: melancholy. Death is embraced as a starting point for existence, with a nod to Biggie: I'm ready to kill, and I'm ready to die. Even as a suburban white growing up in safety and affluence, this concept was crucial to my maturation. Human notions of purpose have no relevance outside of our own minds, but the impetus to act still exists and must be embraced with the same fervor with which we fear our own impending demise. Todd Niefzsche.

Nobody loves me, but I prefer to keep it like that:

Monday, July 20, 2009

Merauder - Master Killer (1996)

My friend Friel has never heard Merauder, so I made a promise to send Master Killer to him. Then, I figured I'd just send it to the rest of the internet as well.

This is death metal recontextualized as syncopated rock music. Nu-metal showed the world how guys with braids can do this in the worst possible way; Merauder showed the world how guys with braids can do this in a way that I like so much.

Merauder understands that the best way to make their listeners frown uncontrollably is to play at a steady, mid-paced tempo. There is some sort of evolutionary short circuit about heavy guitars with a backbeat at ~150 bpm that causes a severe frown reflex. Major thirds are prevalent, texturing riffs with a distinct flavor: Merauder's most recognizable moment, the big mosher at 1:57 in "Master Killer," makes use of this sound.*

You know, it's interesting that I like this record as much as I do, as the evolution of death metal and hardcore into stoogish w's downtuning their guitars and putting the kick drum on the "and" bums me the fuck out. However, sometimes it's just done really, really well. I am an adult, and this record regularly makes me see red and mosh in my bedroom.

*Please watch this whole video. Thank you have a nice day.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Christodoulos Halaris - Tropikos Tis Parthenou (1973)

This guy attempts to recreate the music of Ancient Greece, which is extremely interesting. However, the internet search boxes of my life don't really turn up with too much when I try to find out more. I thought we were past these days of not being able to find everything instantaneously with a little bit of basic search engine know-how - information wants to be syndicated.

I did find that people are listing this record as psych-folk on Bay, and also expecting to get several hundred dollars for it. Whoa! I guess the third track has some cacophonous violins that could call up images of Warholian bananas for all the weird-beards spending their paychecks on every fuzzed out guitar solo ever put to wax. The really important part of this record is the impossibly catchy verse of the first song, which exists over a minimally strumming guitar. The chorus of the first song is also really rad, as microtones are used as embellishment on the line. I'd write more, but I'm going camping in order to get in touch with my own primitive roots. See ya never!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Icecross - Icecross (1973)

This album is a total blogger wet dream. Whoa, underappreciated, anti-religious, fuzzed out psych rock From Iceland! Download and archive away!

But honestly, this record has a pretty great proto-metal vibe, as well as riffs, and, fortunately, the one song about being a sad guy is followed up with a song making fun of Christianity, which somehow still exists 36 years later despite the best efforts of Icecross.

Weird almost fusionesque riffing starts off 1999. Flirting with several different modes leading into a choppy, undulating verse. Also note the drummer's exuberant over-playing: crashing like crazy and making more than ample use of his toms. Works out quite well for the herky-jerky vibe of the song, if you ask me. Similarly, Scared makes excellent use of a plodding riff made up of fourths, which gives a nicely pseudo-dissonant sound to lead into another segment with very strange rhythmic emphasis.

Fans of Flower Travellin Band, Black Sabbath and/or Mountain, point your internet here:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Celtic Frost - To Mega Therion (1985)

I wrote some music reviews for exciting current webzine Jettison Quarterly; click through for a rad interface, a really interesting Fischerspooner interview, and some of my inimitable writing. While you're at it, why not subscribe and have the next issue hand-emailed to your inbox, and also subscribe to my feed too because my numbers have been climbing recently and I'd like to keep it that way. Here's an outtake that just happens to be about one of my all time favorite albums:

There was a time when punk and metal were churning in a filthy, viscous primordial ooze with this lithe behemoth of a record lurking just beneath the surface. Celtic Frost took the chromatic, syncopated riffing of Discharge, dragged it down to the depths in their earlier incarnation as Hellhammer, and rose again with their own sliding power chord method that stands out immediately on all of their releases.

Melodies move through half-steps, syncopating emphasis in an intuition-defying rhythmic framework. Each phrase has its own conflicts and resolutions, as narratives are relentlessly pushed forward by a dizzying command of atonal melody and rhythmic intuition. Themes are created, then endlessly varied in the classical tradition. Sprawling song structures alternate between the near-ambient D-beat and the plodding Black Sabbath dirge, until all forces inevitably focus on a single theme as Tom G Warrior delivers his unparalleled primal prayers.

Slower tempos allow Celtic Frost to utilize longer phrases that move through chords like geologic eras. Planets collide and new forms of life evolve as each riff lives and dies on a scale that dwarfs individual human experience.

*File Removed*

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Prince - Dirty Mind (1980)

It's time for the best album from one of my musical heroes. I decided the other day that I'm going to get into hanging out with celebrities. I mean, my friends are cool, but there are probably way cooler people out there, such as Prince, Ben Affleck, and Heather Graham (bombers). So yeah, attention all celebrities, why don't you come over and listen to records.

Prince's absurdly prolific output from the early 80s is unbearably, appallingly consistently great - a real monsoon of musical creativity and weird-ass grooves. I don't even know what to say about this other than if you don't like it, come over and I'll gladly cut your ears off for you. Idiot.

Underneath the layers of synth tones and guitar embellishments, these songs embody a stark "less is more" philosophy. Notice that Uptown is based upon the same chord progression for the entire song, broken only briefly for a pre-chorus, and structuring changes are brought about by changing instrumentation. As in the construction of human language, a collection of basic rules gives rise to infinite variations in meaning through recursive groove structuring and adolescent incest fantasies.

I usually hate the lyrics to just about everything, but I truly envy the voracious, animalistic sexuality represented here. Prince wants to bang more than I've ever wanted anything in my life, and that is something that rules. Another cool thing about these lyrics is that they are very offensive to those with morals and values. Here is a funny video of Zappa and other whites on Crossfire discussing censorship in the 80s. Sister features prominently in the discussion, which is actually one of Prince's best choruses, home to one of the catchiest, non-diatonic notes of all time.

Also I back Prince singing in falsetto almost the whole time. Really good move; totally maxes out the androgyny.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach - Concerto for Flute, Strings & Continuo in D minor (1747)

Here's my boy CPEB, whose name I can never spell correctly - two 'p's at the end of "Philipp" and one 'm' in "Emanuel?" What was the ol' Johann Sebastian thinking?

Anyway, this is a great concerto for your mind. The introductory theme from Allegro is regularly trapped in my head, and Allegro di molto features some virtuoso playing that can't help but conjure up images of black stallions sprinting through snow-strewn forests, or something equally fast and full of implied conflict.

Counterpoint composition is not based upon the harmonic structuring typical of blues/jazz/rock music, but rather, is based upon independent voices and the relationship between the melodies that they create. I would like to understand how this relates to the scale-based models through which our brains interpret music, as, although compositions are often ostensibly in either minor or major, certain passages imply a variable tonic in a very interesting way. Let's see if I can nail an example. In Allegro, the piece starts out in minor, then the melody ascends through a variety of variations that all seem to imply a new tonic, before descending back into the original minor key for the next theme at 40 seconds. Someone give me a lot of money and I'll isolate specific 'riffs' and have people identify what key they are in. Then I will publish a paper in a peer-reviewed journal detailing the results.

Also interesting is how the strings and the continuo serve as timekeepers and keep the Allegro movement chugging along. Chug-a-lug, CPEB.

PS The new Beherit record, entitled Engram, is great.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Barbecue Bob - Chocolate to the Bone

This is not the cold haunting of Skip James. This is motherfucking Barbecue Bob, motherfuckers, and he too is a guitar freak. Chords are practically eliminated on many of these recordings, and we are instead treated with BBQ's slide trickery. Check out Mississippi Blues, where he mostly follows the vocal melody before concluding the phrase with his trademark VI V VI I (also prevalent in Chocolate to the Bone that reappears in Jacksonville Blues).

I love the idea of having a catchphrase-style lick: Michael Jackson's "hee hee hee", Unleashed's first bar of all of their mosh parts. What a cool thing - if you can think of more share that shit in the comments.

Atlanta Moan is another great example of this tangy bastard following his voice with his guitar and inserting sparse chording as a driving backbeat - then jumping quickly into leads to transition from chord to chord in the 12 bar structure. Super secret family recipe lookin-ass.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sun Ra - The Nubians of Plutonia (1959)

My favorite music captures my fantasies and taps into mind worlds created by my subconscious, filling in the details on experiences never fully lived. Sun Ra, being one of my favorite locksmiths, has kindly opened many of these perceptual doors for me.

The Nubians of Plutonia, like many of Ra's works, is extremely percussive for jazz, bringing unsubtle, yet deceptively nimble rhythms to the forefront. Notice the bells and hard-hitting toms in Watusa - also notice the similarity to Brubeck's Take Five except in 6/8 rather than the notorious, infamous 5/8.

Africa is a great example of a real transporter of a track. I don't know if it's possible to listen to this song without dissociating from reality and having Ra's thoughts plastered all over your retinas. Once again, percussive hard-hitting toms provide the framework for textural, rather than melodic, improvisation.

The discord of Aiethopia and Africa, in contrast with the upbeat progressive big band sound of Plutonian Nights, shows Ra's all encompassing genius, as all of these songs unquestionably bear his mark. I am disappointed in everyone I know for not being as interesting as Sun Ra.

Note: This is ripped from the CD reissue, which pairs The Nubians of Plutonia and Angels & Demons at Play. The track numbers don't start at one since I only posted the Nubians tracks.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Phuture - Acid Trax (1987)

I've been hitting these late 80's recently, which is pretty cool. Really good era during which to be barely alive. Man I had a tricycle and a wrap-around porch when this shit came out, now imagine all three combined. Got the life, my doggs, got the life. However, I was not yet a Chicago resident. No, I lived at the base of the Catskills, and I was a blue-eyed blonde with an ugly-ass New York accent. Lagwadia.

I usually think of 'psychedelic music' as a term with undeniably organic connotations, so experiences with acid house where samplers are used to hack into the hallucination centers of my mind and coat them with a bubbling, chirping effluvium are pretty great. I can't tell if Phuture is a good trip or a bad trip. Sort of a third way outside of the dystopia of Nekropolis and the pulsing bliss of Ash Ra Tempel. This is a new paradigm in which to experience the horrors and beauties of technology, and also in which to get naked with girls for a bit of the ol' in-out in-out!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Sepultura - Beneath the Remains (1989)

A few months ago, I realized that I used to be able to play guitar a lot faster than I currently am able to. This bummed me out, as I don't like getting worse at things, so I've been working out that ol' picking hand with lots of Sepultura. Some of the parts on this record were cramping my forearm up all over the damn place, but, after watching a few tube videos, I realized that fools are alternate picking where I was downpicking. Maybe the ol' pickaroo isn't so bad these days after all! I still don't understand how Igor can play his damn hi-hat so fast, though.

Anyway, I named this very blog after a track on this album, so just apply all of the good feelings you have about my writing to listening to Sepultura, and you'll be on the right track.

The thing that makes Sepultura one of my favorite bands is their technique of rapid-fire variation on a theme. The intro to Sarcastic Existence (really cool song title) is a great example; notice how the riff slowly morphs every four bars into something just a little bit different, as rhythmic emphasis shifts and melodies come in and out. Eventually, the riff also evolves vocals, and the linear progression starts to fall back in on itself in a looping structure that abandons past adaptations only to find them again later on in slightly different form. Genius.

Also, the melodic riffing on this record is really great, as most of these songs are based upon E phyrigian with a sharp third, so the tonic triad is major rather than minor. This gives a happier sound than one would expect from most metal records, but the first four notes of the scale are still the ever-popular E-F-G#-A that have provided the basis for countless metal riffs over the years. Perfect examples of what I'm talking about can be found as the intro riff on two back-to-back tracks: Slaves of Pain and Lobotomy. Although it was quite foolish of the track-lister to place these astonishingly similar intros back-to-back, this provides great insight into Sepultura's techniques of riff-craft.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sam Mangwana, Franco & TP OK Jazz - Forever (1989)

I received a request awhile ago to post more material from Africa, and then I forgot about that request. Fortunately for you, Pat, I just remembered, and now there is a nice digital slab of Sam Mangwana, Franco & TP OK Jazz available for your hard drive's pleasure.

Franco's guitar playing is a very sneaky beast, as he uses lots of two string intervals interspersed with little pentatonic melodies and arpeggiations that make use of open strings. I'd really like to observe what positions he's playing in, since it seems like he's sliding all over the fretboard, but always ending up with plenty of closed voicings using those open strings. Likely, he's just a brainfreak with tens of thousands of hours of practice trapped in his neurons, so he can do whatever the fuck he wants.

Basically, any music with the beats on the "and" of two and four is good summer music, and when I think of summer, I think of an army of babes in my backyard, all converging on me to apply trigger point therapy to the crunchy spot between my my right shoulder blade and my spine. This is what summer means to me. Everybody come over we have a garden now and our record player is finally set up with some vinyls of the ol' Ludwig van.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Pandit Pran Nath - Ragas Yaman Kalyan & Punjabi Berva (1972)

My friend John and I recently had an e-mail chat in which we discussed the implications of various iterations of "spazzy" behavior. Modern dance/performance art often looks to me like Pentecostal glossolalia, and shroomed-out 60s children (saxophones and guitars alike) made no secret of stealing directly from the raga form. What primal itch do the facial contortions of both godheads and dorks scratch?

Indian classical music is an attempt at collectively scratching that itch on the way to enlightenment through a highly complex system of improvisation based upon melodic modes and rhythmic patterns. I, unfortunately, don't have the necessary base of knowledge to break down what is actually occurring on these recordings, but I do know that the primordial ooze flowing through my body starts to bubble and burst when these sounds tickle my eardrums.

PS: For any other bloggers out there trying to figure out the issues with hard returns and formatting, it has something to do with haywire-ass div tags. I still don't know where they came from, but, when I cleaned out those extra div's, my posts finally began to meet the stringent aesthetic standards that I had envisioned for them.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Beach Boys Collection

So, I mostly thought that it was impossible to offend me, but, the other day, I realized that I am offended by several of the songs on the pre-Today Beach Boys albums. I had a craving for Custom Machine, but I decided, in truly non-Western fashion, to take in all of Little Deuce Coupe and delay my own gratification. Several times, my mouth dropped slightly open, and my neck cocked suddenly: I was offended.

So, what I did was take all of the best songs from those albums and put them in one spot, because, believe you me, the songs here are fucking transcendental.

Structuring is similar to that described in my recent Buddy Holly post, in that extended chord progressions are used to build up to a specific point ("Surfin' USA!") while contemporary verse/chorus arrangements are largely absent. These songs are also super-fucking short, which rules, because I don't always want to hear the half-time chorus/vocal histrionics at the end of a song (sometimes I do want to hear this).

Pick out some voice-leading harmonies! Shut Down and Catch a Wave both have some keen-ass contrary motion, which makes me wonder if the Boys were thinking in terms of chord inversions or some weird-ass sibling mind-meld counterpoint shit, being very neglectuful of equal temperament, etc. Either way, what we end up with is a viscous musical texture pulling at the edges of reality, with the shockingly banal lyrics and more apparent-in-hindsight melancholy only adding to the surreality of the experience. The contrast between the basic rock pentatonic scale framework and the lushness of the vocal melodies (see also: The Beatles, Motown) is sometimes more appealing to me than the more cohesive blending of instruments and vocals found on Pet Sounds and later works.

Also, check out the lyrics to Be True to your School. Whoa!

PS: Can any more knowledgable bloggers explain why the hard returns in my posts keep getting all fucked up? I can't make sense of this!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Midnight Star - No Parking on the Dance Floor (1983)

Super-wet sounding bass, all oiled up and flopping around. Fortunately, sterile vocoder vocals and Kraftwerk synths offset what would otherwise be a shockingly organic sounding 80s cliche.

Cheesy ad-lib lines like "Let me plug you in, baby" on Electricity bring to mind the question: which is responsible for more creeps, sleazy R&B one-liners, or Hollywood-style romantic comedies rewarding male awkwardness/desperation with the love of babes?
Freak-A-Zoid is the unquestioned star of this record, with its thickly layered, highly syncopated robot beat that would make Timbaland proud. Oh and the cut-up, black metal vocals in the intro (probably really a James Brown sample). The melting pot of weirdos/geniuses like Kraftwerk, Prince, James Brown, George Clinton & Giorgio Moroder is what this blog is all about. That and really stupid mid-song skits about how to spell "freak-a-zoid;" typical of uptight, British squares not to know how to spell "zoid."

Guys, I would have been "out" all of the time in the 80s. Is this what bro bars played instead of Flo Rida, because that is pretty much my dream. Imagine the frattiest bro bar just playing Prince and Prince rip-offs. As much as I rag on civilization, that would make up for just about all of its wrongs.

PS: Two of my closest friends have recently updated their online presences. I don't pretend to know anything about non-auditory forms of art, but I do pretend to like guys:

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Nekropolis - Musik aus dem Schattenreich (1979)

I first saw this album browsing through the Krautrock bins at a local record store. I thought it was a misfiled ass-flap style band, but, after reading the fine print on the back, I realized it was a different story altogether. No, those skulls are not part of the mass grave of d-beat clones. Rather, they are the dystopian echo chambers through which Nekropolis's oppressive, pulsing ambiance reverberates.

"Pulsing" is a good word to describe a lot of krautrock, such as the funky, busy-body songs of Neu! that incessantly call images of Sim City to mind. How interesting to hear that feel recontextualized in Holle Im Angesicht, this time as the next evolution of a rat picking its way through the post-civilization wreckage of the same, once-thriving metropolitan center. The groove of Ghul is textured with the wailing of several hundred televisions blaring to empty apartment buildings, all inhabitants, save the rat, victims of a superbug that is just beginning to stir in the bellies of our midwestern CAFOs. Lights out listening is mandatory for this one.

PS: This rip is from the excellent Mutant Sounds blog. Take a second to consider their bountiful offerings.