Thursday, June 30, 2011

#3: Up Up Up - Givers

Something a little bit different.

First, this is good proof that I'm not solely electronica and experimental (though this is somewhat experimental). So, ignoring for the moment that Tiffany is CUTE AS ANYTHING (because I'd like this review to be as unbiased as possible... as if that'll happen) this is probably the quirkiest song I've heard in the last few months. Aside from the fact that it combines elements of a miniature symphony orchestra (sans strings and brass and most of the woodwind section and... most of the symphony orchestra, actually, but it does sound somewhat symphonic) with an electric guitar, and the percussion isn't completely overbearing, and there's a complete absence of an electric guitar BRWANGGG sound that makes my ears bleed whenever I hear it, it's also a song that isn't trying to be pretentious. It's the kind of song that's quite content to sit tucked away in its little vein of obscurity, but of course it's done everything but since it came to SXSW.

I praise it for its instrumental break, reggae-style music (at times, particularly from the electric guitar) and radical change of tempo for the second half that emphasises the lyrics - a simple message: "You’re gonna find your way". I also praise it for being a song, and not a "my song is greater than yours because it's <insert lame and irrelevant song characteristic here>" song. It's not a song that would be in my personal collection (well... maybe) but hell if it didn't get stuck in my head all of yesterday for pretty much no reason whatsoever, and that makes it kinda... cool.

It's a good song. Below I've also included a live version of the song (mostly for showing just how diverse the instruments are, just how much fun one can have with a few rattles and tambourines, and just how cute Tiffany is).

The song works as a cool alarm, too.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

#2: Stella - Kashiwa Daisuke

Sean graciously sent me this 35-minute track:

Let's jump back to 2007 for a few minutes. Where were you when... actually, wait. 2007 was a pretty piss-poor year for world events. Hell, jump back to 2001 for me, just for kicks. Then return to 2007 and remember when electronic music was just starting to hit its peak (before artists like Afrojack and Angger Dimas came along) and listen to this thing. Slog through the first four or so minutes of dischord and you'll come across some pretty beautiful electronica.

Sean (an otaku) was probably looking up anime music when he found this, but hell if I don't appreciate it. I've always loved pieces with sweeping strings, mopping strings, or even just string in general (I have a soft spot for Latin and Spanish guitars); the next best example I can think of is the depressingly amazing (yes, that IS a compliment) Adagio For Strings (which has been ripped to shreds by so many trance artists in the last ten-fifteen years...). It gets a bit samey near the end but it at least evolves, which the Darwinian in me loves and everyone else around me hates, especially if they're drunk at 12:55am on a Friday morning - AKA bar night - and want nothing more than to hear this, week in, week out. I'm not giving a review of that song, because it would be one word: starts with "s" and ends with "t" and rhymes with "grit".

But I reckon Stella is brilliant, if you have the patience to slog through the 10% that will hurt most people's ears, the time to punch through over half an hour of sweeping strings, and the open-mindedness that a lot of my high school chumps didn't have. (Yes, I said "chumps".)

Monday, June 27, 2011

#1: CJ's Addictions 1

Hi there. Several attempts to start a blog about music - of which I have a passion - have failed. So I'll try again. This time I won't be so snooty or exclusive. I'll still only blog about music I like. I also won't try to stick to a schedule; I'll just chuck some music and comments on every so often and roll with it.

To clarify: I like electronic and experimental music (I particularly love experimental electronica). That doesn't mean I don't like any others. Except death metal. You won't find death metal here. You'll rarely see hip hop, you won't see pop (but you will see popular), you'll rarely see rock (but you will see the occasional indie rock), and you'll rarely see anything older than about 1990. So basically no rock'n'roll or rhythm'n'blues. Sorry to disappoint. I do respect a lot of that stuff, though. But not the death metal.

I'll start with something reasonably easy: three songs, all of which I'm currently addicted to.

Number one. Street - Jamie Woon. I was introduced to this song when Zan played it on Triple J mornings as my alarm - twice on different mornings. (Yes, I'm a Triple J nut. You'll see me mention it a lot.) The song stays at basically the same relaxing, flowing tone the whole way through, making it very easy to listen to. However, I note that it still does the one thing I believe all songs must do: evolve. I also like Jamie Woon's relaxing vocals and the amazing lyrics:

sheltering from the sky knowing there's somebody in the street that could change my life

The song comes from the Brit's debut album, titled Mirrorwriting. I've been addicted to this song for at least the last two weeks. It's kinda hard to classify this track - if pushed I'd lump it in with downbeat electronica but we all know that's not where it fully belongs - it'd stand out in there like the only "normal" person in a crowd of emos (for some reason, in my head these metaphorical emos are all named Massive Attack or Tricky). Too upbeat for downbeat, too downbeat for upbeat.

Next I'll throw in something older: Pacific State by 808 State.

It's from 1989, and while it was before my time it's cropped up more recently in the form of Pacific 202 by Project 808. I'm kinda impressed that the two bands - plus Pocket 808, of late - all apparently named themselves after a drum machine.

What I've provided seems to be the radio edit. It's a quirky techno beat because it doesn't really conform to the "rules" of house music that succeeded it, nor the disco beats that preceded it. It's a nice Café del Mar slash Ibiza house/trance infusion that has managed to stay alive for over twenty years. This stuff ages gracefully and is one of the few decent older songs that hasn't yet been picked apart by Akon and the like just to grab another cheesy hundred grand (that said, this song can take a remix well). Join me on the beach.

Last but not least is the song I only really fully appreciated in the last 24 hours.

I love it. Arpeggio - Jackson And His Computer Band. It's a short, sharp, sweet song but it's definitely for electro heads only. This stuff keeps me up at night. The piano part at ~1'58" especially.

Amazing how the start of it - from ~7" onwards sounds like it's going to be perhaps a 1980s-style rock-with-a-little-synth track, but Jackson And His Computer Band take us away from that with a beat that, were it at 128bpm, would easily be hard house. And it is. It appears on Destroy - a Ministry Of Sound compilation mixed by the gods themselves (The Aston Shuffle and The Bloody Beetroots) as part of the Beetroots mix. Originally run on Smash (2005), so it's been around for a while. I still swear it sounds too new to be 2005. Musta done this one before his time - the curse of a lot of groundbreaking musicians. Release some song that pretentious morons hate because it's too different and too groundbreaking, and then three years later some other artist rips the style off - sometimes poorly - and becomes famous in the process. (Yes, I'm looking at you, David Guetta.)

Whew. That was exhausting. Time for bed.