Monthly Archives: January 2009

Ask a Game Producer!

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In this installment of “Ask a…” we’re going to talk to a game producer and play my imitation jukebox obscura, where the most dangerous game of all is Ger-man.

I uploaded five tracks and changed the file names, but completely screwed up by not removing the tags. Mr. Producer was a good sport about it. Continue reading

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Biosphere & Higher Intelligence Agency – Birmingham Frequencies

birminghamHigher Intelligence Agency kinda sucked. That’s being a bit harsh, as they did help shape the concept of “ambient dub” but on the other hand, it’s also an information-free concept.

Silly terms are what they are – silly – but Colourforms is almost ok for what it is, though I’d recommend Global Communication first (and last, really). They had the snap and the style, whereas HIA always had a bit too much cheese. Like Shpongle.

Preemptive disclaimer: I know you did a lot of DMT and Shpongle is very important to you but sometimes the truth hurts. They’re mediocre at best and you damn well know it. Continue reading

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Arovane – Lillies

arovaneBack in the day Autechre clones* were commonplace, like dandruff or dour men in turtleneck sweaters. Like those things, they were just part of being interested in a “thing” or a “scene”; some went off into hip-hoppy directions like Push Button Objects; others did electro-influenced versions of early Ae tracks, like Accelera Deck. And there were the Germans, like Funkstörung and Arovane.

I know I heard Tides way back when (2000), and the impression was not favorable. However, I saw a copy of Lillies in a used CD shop in Maryland about a year and change ago and bought it. It was probably two or three dollars. It’s also apparently the last thing he ever released before falling off the face of the earth.

I only gave it a listen about a month ago, and while it is indeed 90s IDM from the 21st century, it’s very pleasant and engaging. It is what it is, and it seems perfectly happy. If I ran a lounge I’d play the title track during quiet moments.

* Or “artists heavily influenced by” if you prefer it that way.

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Tombs

cramerIf I ran a futures desk in up-and-coming brooklyn metal bands I would be heavily pushing Tombs, a local act that’s now signed to Relapse Records. New album drops in February – you can hear the single “Gossamer” on their myspace page – and I’m excited and all if only because when I saw them open for Today is the Day in Greenpoint last year I said to all who could hear “these guys should get signed to, like, Relapse or something.” What I didn’t know is that they’d already been signed by Relapse at that point so, apparently, me = psychic. It was nice to see three dudes just having a time of it type of performance and they were certainly one of the highlights of the evening. Continue reading

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It Takes a Tough Korean to Make a Tender MP3 Player

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I had a Cowon F2 that I dropped a few too many times. My fault for buying something the size of a matchbook. Though I sometimes had a hard time holding it, it was also the nicest-sounding personal audio device (psst it’s the future!) I’ve ever had the pleasure of using to block out the horrors of that miserable junglist massive.  The EQ was as rich and bumpy as one can get.

And it was cheap as hell. That’s huge, right there. Cheap as hell. Huge.

I knew some folks back in the when who would give my ear a constant tug/shot to the nuts about their fine living ways. All good things must end, especially when they’re built on imaginary sand. Those people would – and did – spend a lot on a personal audio device, because those people had no fucking sense about ducats and discounts. And that’s fine for now. As we’re seeing, we need people to be driven by desire or the economy gets all kooky and people get moody and otherwise crazy.

I sought out the Cowon stuff because it was cheap and good. I dropped it a lot because the F2 was not made for human hands. Continue reading

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Oxbow – Let Me Be A Woman

51wg79n28al_sl500_aa240_Is music gendered? We shall go with “yes” on this one. Otherwise that whole “glam” thing would have just been dodgy dudes in makeup rather than dodgy dudes in makeup working against cultural norms.

So we shall take it as a given that there are gender conventions at play in the giant fishbowl of bitches, tricks, long-haired rock n’ roll fags, redneck homophobes, effete mustachasioed folksters and strange art school ladies with harps and whatnot. Certain scenes are heavily set one way or the other, and certain people like it that way. Some are also far more inviting than others, both by pedigree and by collusion; the invisible hand throws up horns of its own, to strain a metaphor to the point of stupidity.

Oxbow is a very strange band, and seem to have married the musical spasticity of west coast avant weirdos (Estradasphere, etc) with an angry post-hardcore attitude – i.e. a huge dude stripped down to his underwear and yelling about all sorts of stuff. Continue reading

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The Angelic Process – Weighing Souls With Sand

angprocessA remarkable album and a tragic story.

Husband and wife duo make glossy drone metal where everything is buried in a steel bathtub of reverb. Husband injures his hand in such a way that playing becomes impossible, sometime after Weighing Souls with Sand was recorded, and stops the project.

In April of this year he killed himself.

Since it is impossible to reasonably segue from that kind of introduction, the overall effect of so much layering and burying is alternately fascinating and unsatisfying. There’s a flatness that only lessens when some instruments drop out and some of the textures can finally be heard. On the other hand, it absolutely shimmers in pieces like “Million Year Summer” and “We All Die Laughing” as the vocals and guitars come together in a desperate smear.

A bit like listening to the best song your neighbors have ever played from inside their basement. Continue reading

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