My embarrassing admission is that I don’t know quite as much about either James & Evander or Shortcircles as I would like. What I’ve gathered is that both are independent electronic acts, that they all share an Oakland flat, and that the hipster interwebz has a little bit of a thing for them. I always try to do my research before declaring why I like the sounds I like, but I think the smooth, sultry tone of this collaboration called Hoodcats says it for me.
1990 is a little known downtempo and IDM artist from San José, California that utilizes quite a few of the tropes of glitch-hop, 8-bit, and chillwave music, but he does so to such unique effect that there isn’t the slightest trace of cliché to be found in his work. Alive and well on Bandcamp, and occasionally promoted via various monthly best-of-hipster-music blogs, He is yet unsigned, I believe, and his work has yet to exist in physical form. Alas, electronic music such as his is rich and evocative.
His debut album The Discovery 1 Beat Tapeis definitely headphones music, the luminescent lasers of sound glittering so briefly and spontaneously that it takes an adept ear to appreciate the depth of each seemingly simple track. The aesthetic of 1990’s The Discovery 1 Beat Tape, amidst all the Gangpol und Mit-esque instrumentation, is that of very austere fantasy/sci-fi music. “Falcon Sword” was included on a TSQ mix several months ago, and the vibe of that track does permeate the album: one of the organic among the industrial, of wonder despite mundanity. 1990 may very well be a denizen of our planet, but his work conjures up images of 16-bit forests, of legendary swords bequeathed to youthful heroes, to the inevitable warping of time and space when the world is so close to death that the hero tastes defeat but nonetheless does the unthinkable and makes it out alive. The Discovery 1 Beat Tape is available totally free via 1990’s Bandcamp page right now. Fans of Com Truise, Krusht, Starfawn, and other independent retro downtempo artists, do tha right thing and jump on it! By the way, the above embedded video is the best I could do for standout “GRB990123”. I apologize that is just a clip, but the album is free, so you have to love me!
Beginning with the opening strains of this refreshing record, it’s clear that Rimar (or RIM4R, as I guess he prefers to be called) knows how to jam. The Higher Ground 12” is modern-day funk at its apex, dripping with romance and shining with inner light.
Standout opener and title track “Higher Ground” was all abuzz among the hipster blogosphere a couple of months ago when the 12” was released, and it kicked so much cracker ass that I’m a little ashamed that it took me this long to hop on the hip bandwagon. Rimar is an electronic jack of all trades, it seems. He uses all of the tools of the trade to effect a super-slick, energizing product. Several of the first few songs on the 12” showcase much loved lo-fi editing techniques (à la 18 Carat Affair, Onra) along with the twangy Balearic guitar that you might recognize from bass-heavy artists like Toro y Moi and Star Slinger. The artist then rounds out the picture with the conservative application of samples of chill androgynous vocals (think Southern Shores with Chad Bundick as the vocalist). Rimar is synth-funk with some serious tropicalia influences, and the Higher Ground 12” is seriously not to be missed.
“On Higher Ground Rimar has created a monument to ancient R&B (though not quite as ancient as the 60s variety), the slick, smooth, sumptuous electro-funk that preceded New Jack Swing. He takes the beats and the basslines from original, long-forgotten hits from that era, then coats them in memory goo. You’ve perhaps read about chillrave (and we believe we used the term first here); this is chillfunk.
The above embedded track, “R U Happy?” is built with samples from 80’s group Surface’s “Happy”, and was probably re-sampled for the opening portion of Small Black’s recent Moon Killer Mixtape, which is really cool because Rimar is also from Brooklyn. That alone should speak volumes. Do tha right thing, kids, and get your copy for only $5-$10 via Rimar’s Bandcamp. You get a free digital download, so you can jam it at stressful intersections, and a vinyl copy, so you can make love to ya bitch wit style!
Via XLR8R the other day, I discovered this free glimpse of CFCF’s upcoming concept EP Exercises. Michael Silver (CFCF)’s always technical studies on often retro themes never fail to captivate me. Building layer upon layer of all manner of digitized analog instrumentation into a symphony of emotion, this electronic solo artist executes electronic post-rock in much better fashion, in my opinion, than, say, Eluvium, Fridge, or other similar artists.
Blending the organic with the electric has always been one of my favorite techniques to behold, and its profundity is not lost within the multitude of artists that are finally beginning to pick up on its power. This particular track, “Building (Exercise #3)”, begins with simple piano and adds in increasingly desperate electronic basstones along with mournful high synth tones until the moment that you are certain that the percussion will just burst into fiery chorus, and then the entire exercise swiftly fades back out of existence. He is truly no beginner when it comes to evocative instrumental work, as it seems he has the power to create and destroy sonic worlds within the space of sheer minutes.
“For his new EP Exercises, out in April on Paper Bag Records, Montreal’s CFCF shows a different side of his pallette with a series of subdued piano and synth based pieces. Pulling from influences like Philip Glass, Ryuichi Sakamoto and David Borden, among others, and using institutional architecture and 70s Canadiana as a framework, the EP has a distinctly 20th century feel…Standout “3 (Building)“‘s rolling piano melodies build to a cathartic crescendo…This is a change of pace for CFCF to be sure, but no less cinematic and evocative than his 2009 debut Continent, though where that record evoked long stretches of neon road and epic rainforests, Exercises is all snowy walkways and long corridors, endless escalators ascending to desolate concrete plateaus. Each track feels like an exploration of lost memories, studies in nostalgia, exercises in spatial remembrance.”
Do tha right thing, nab this track, and plan your life around the Exercises EP’s April 24th release via Paper Bag.
This video has been circulating for quite some time now, and it is high time to repost. Mux Mool’s Planet High School is due out in less than a week, and this short video was cut in celebration and anticipation. Featuring bits of the song “Raw Gore”, from said upcoming release, and giving the nod to several classic arcade and console games (including, but not limited to Contra, Mortal Kombat, and various games by Rare), this brief taste of Brian Lindgren (Mux Mool)’s soon-to-be-released sophomore full-length is electric, nostalgic, and straight up badass.
Recognize that anti-human underground hip-hop sound? It was featured in thisAdult Swim bump. Keep an eye out for Mux’s bass-centric Planet High School, due out via Ghostly International on February 7th, 2012.
I must have just heard all the wrong Gauntlet Hair songs the first time around. After discovering “Top Bunk” via Post-Chillwave Srfr’s “Hipster’s iPod” series and subsequently featuring it on a TSQ mix, I figured the time had come to see if that find was just a flash in the pan for me or the general rule for this band.
”Keep Time”, from the same self-titled album, likewise reeks of reverb-imbued shoegaze guitar, brave chillwave vocals, and plenty of melodrama. The official video above, the lion’s share of which was shot in Portland, is haunting as well. As the duo has apparently recently signed to Dead Oceans, the time will soon come that I will need to acquire the album that features these two jaunty hits. FOR FANS OF: psychedelic chillwave and shoegaze-infused indie rock.
Boys and girls, Bear in Heaven has a new one coming out on April 3rd via Hometapes/Dead Oceans, and a single from said upcoming album was recently released too! “The Reflection of You” bursts in with an ecstatic noise not unlike the beginning of Fuck Buttons’ “Olympians”, and quickly takes form with their trademark cymbal-heavy drumming, echo-laden vocals, and Kraut-influenced synthesizing.
Based on what I’ve heard from this delightful (not slowed down 400,000%) snippet from the upcoming I Love You, It’s Cool, the vocalist it seems has gotten over his David Bazan phase and is now opting for a more tenor approach, gaining a new power with this upcoming album. Single “The Reflection of You” is high tech, high speed, and constantly buffets its listeners, holding us up on high with psychedelic neon wings of darkness, but never once letting us down. Just get a load of that gaudy vintage cover art, and keep your ears peeled for the chillwave chopped and screwed effect there right before the bombastic instrumental conclusion. Let’s hope that this brief glimpse of Bear in Heaven’s newest effort reflects the true form of the album rather than just being a fleeting one hit wonder. I, for one, assume that even better things are to come.
Straight outta the Rhinoceropolis, my main man Pictureplane just dropped a remix album’s worth of great retouches to his most recent full length offering Thee Physical. Every artist featured on Dimensional Rip 7: Thee Physical Remixeswas hand-picked by Travis Egedy, and it is available in its entirety for free via DIS Magazine. As is the norm for remix albums, there’s a lot of chaff to winnow out, namely a bunch of witch house and trance. That said, that may be right up your alley, so I’m sure there’s something for everybody here.
Some of the standouts, in my opinion, include Krusht’s chopped and screwed mod of “Body Mod”, Teams’ electrificied re-animation of the same jam, and a noisier remix by True Womanhood. New found faves include some stellar offerings by Fire for Effect and Little Star Dweller. The album is vast, expansive, and beautiful; so do tha right thing and grab it here, and then devote a reasonable amount of time to evaluating and re-evaluating the content yourself.
My two cents about the latest rage in the hipster sphere are as follows. Clams Casino, a hipsteriffic 24-year old alchemist that has found the recipe for gold, utilizes dark and meaningful hip-hop and R&B tones to weave together a blend of understated chill anthems. Name-dropped recently on the cover of Spin’s rap issue, Mike Volpe (Clams Casino) enjoys a comfortable degree of infamy, due to his production of a certain number of beats for both Lil B and Soulja Boy. All the while, though, he retains the anonymity that comes with being minimalistic and/or atypical.
While he already has two solid releases under his belt, “I’m God”, a pleasant new offering from this budding young artist, showcases the aforementioned talents behind Lil B, going for the emotional jugular in the short span of just four-and-a-half minutes. Utilizing a tried-and-true hip-hop synth leitmotif along with a couple standard beats, Clams Casino then works in a sample of light, crooning Imogen Heap vocals that back Lil B’s misogynistic musings in a strangely emotional way. Check out this bastion of artistic R&B and hip-hop under a microscope at whosampled.com, or enjoy the original instrumental below.