Browsing All Posts published on »June, 2012«

Various Artists – Album Roundup

June 27, 2012

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Being able to afford soap is the new bling. That’s not necessarily a satirical conceit most artists would consider hanging an entire album off, let alone their group identity, but BIG $OAP MON£Y CR£W are not ‘most artists’, and that’s exactly what they do. Not that this is overtly a concept album, despite its consistent use of all caps and currency symbols, but the identities adopted by its creators are maintained scrupulously throughout; it’s not pure comedy from start to finish, but WA$H YO FAC£!‘s unbroken satirical undertow betokens a refusal to take themselves too seriously, or to ape the street pomposity of the self-obsessed, machismo fetishising mainstream. This is funny, sometimes eye-wateringly so, and it pokes plenty of affectionate fun…

The Blackswords: Episode 3

June 27, 2012

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Umbaral rode scout to the port, handing his lance to another rider and stringing his bow; being an archer usually let him keep a safe distance from the enemy, which was why he’d specialised as one, but there were other times it when condemned him to the van. It was a fair trade-off, he supposed, but it didn’t feel very fair right now. Luckily, in the confusion of the battle, nobody would be looking for their detachment, and he didn’t anticipate ambushes, but he was still alert to every alley and side turning that might let him leave the fight to his comrades if the situation looked alarming. The Suluf were large and ferocious, and he had no desire to cross swords with one if it could be avoided.

Asgeir & Mo – Danza de Andalucia (Flamenco fusion)

June 21, 2012

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Flamenco is a music that lends itself to fusions, and that has been successfully fused in many different contexts, but it is also the site of a pronounced ideology of purism. The kind of cultural essentialism that has afflicted British folk music, or the blues, is still probably still the norm in Andalucia: this is not to say that Flamenco’s practitioners are unwelcoming to outsiders, but they are expected to come as respectful supplicants to the tradition, and those that skirt its fringes are clearly aware of this. I’ve heard Gabriela Quintero at a concert, sounding positively anxious to disavow any claim to the name of Flamenco, on the grounds that ‘those guys will go fucking mental’. There are reasons for this purism, beyond the usual ethnic insecurities …

H.L.I. – Omniglyph (hip-hop)

June 20, 2012

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Rap is a form of spoken language; perhaps more than any other discursive art, it has no independent existence on the page; semantics are central to its meanings, but flow and orality are its material substance. It’s interesting then, that H.L.I. have chosen to title this release in a way that ascribes universal significance to a visual mark, and even seems to suggest that as a work, it intends to either represent, or present itself as equivalent to, such an infinitely polyvalent grapheme. It’s fair to assume that they’re not too hung up on the specific definition of a ‘glyph’, but all the same, taken as a general term for a sign or symbol, it clearly implies a static, atemporal locus of meaning, in stark contrast to the sequential unfolding of rap…

Various Artists – Album Roundup

June 17, 2012

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This is a record that gets straight down to business, a short, kinetic acoustic guitar intro prefacing a series of remarks, delivered with such visceral charisma that it almost doesn’t matter what they mean; the fact that they mean a lot imbues this music with a density that belies its simplicity and lack of frills. You Save You are a duo, performing material of a texture that might be delivered by a single musician (apart from some simple percussion, presumably operated by the singer), but it’s very clearly two people’s energy on Secondhand Suits And Cheap Sunglasses (or maybe ten people’s!). The guitar playing is raw acoustic rock ‘n’ roll, and the vocals hover between declamation and raspy punkish singing.

Coalition – In Search Of Forever (progressive rock)

June 13, 2012

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I felt an overwhelming sense of familiarity when I first saw this album, but I couldn’t work out why. The first thing I thought of was Return To Forever, but that band’s album covers had very little in common with this one. It was several days before it came to me: the fantasy artist Rodney Matthews published a book of his work by the same title in 1985, and although the album art itself doesn’t resemble his pictures, he was a prolific typeface designer, and the one used here looks very like his work. I don’t propose to labour this coincidence, but I think it’s inevitable that such associations colour our perceptions to some degree, and the strange visual worlds I explored at Matthews’ hands as a teenager may have an influence on my imaginative response…

Dementio 13 – El Lissitzky (electronic post-rock)

June 12, 2012

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Composers of electronic music, if they wish to work with a relatively accessible aesthetic, face a particular set of challenges: to avoid a sense of impersonality, to make their music feel ‘human’, to make it breathe, when it may in fact move no physical air between the moment of composition and the moment of reproduction, requires the artist to attend consciously to aspects of the sound that occur automatically in acoustic performance. The uniformity of a repeated sound produced digitally in response to identical instructions is not completely compatible with the idea of music as an expression, as an act of affective communication; this characteristic of electronic music can be exploited as a positive (not just to evoke anomie), by addressing the …