hfb - 12.5.14 -- 12.31.14 - Flatland twins lit by fire
post-11104849
Thread Starter
Post #1 of 85

MuppetFace

A Special Snowflake
Joined
Aug 2, 2010
Messages
8,092
Reaction score
1,196
Joined
Aug 2, 2010
Posts
8,092
Likes
1,196
Updates: Haven't been too well this past month, so there've been little in the way of updates on my part. I have a lot I'd like to talk about in the coming weeks. Anyway.
 
 
12.5.14
 
Mr. Twin Sister  -  Mr. Twin Sister
 

 
 
Great is my affection for this band. On their early EPs Twin Sister [Without The Mister] found their way into my heart with their delicate, wispy, and spacious pop rock songs that had just enough bizarre detail to set them uniquely askew. Songs like "All Around and Away We Go," "Lady Daydream," "Phenomenons," and "I Want a House" which are now indie classics as far as I'm concerned. Later on they sounded more focused and diverse in their range of stylistic cues, with nods to synth funk and overt electro pop throughout their 2011 full length, In Heaven. The track that really floored me though was "Hindoo House," the remains of a recording session that was accidentally wiped off the face of the earth; a mediocre quality MP3 was all that remained. Still, what was left had a nocturnal, chilled atmosphere and sounded like a spaced out techno reduction, only filtered through the band's twee lens. It pointed to an exciting direction for Twin Sister, as I could listen to a whole album of that stuff on repeat.
 
"That's Mister Twin Sister to you!"
 
A rose might smell as sweet, but for bands a name change often suggests a change of character. In this case it's the old name plus a new title, or rather multiplied by a new title; the 'mister' here turns the name both into a rhyme and a gender fudge. Of course, it's not all from scratch. For starters "Hindoo House" shows up under a new, reworked guise titled "In the House of Yes." Bits and pieces are familiar, but this is Twin Sister after three or four drinks. The androgyne suggested by the title appears with an 'inner voice' of masculinity on "Out of the Dark" and the pulsating "Twelve Angels," expressed by male and female vocals overlaid atop each other, an effect that's a little needlessly creepy but one that still works on some level.
 
If there's one defining trait that sets Mr. Twin Sister apart from its un-titled predecessor, it's a newfound confidence in these moments. These tracks are sonically right there on the dance floor and no longer gazing at the particles of dust drifting in beams of sunlight. Curiously enough though, a newfound sense of vulnerability and self destruction seem to emerge from not too far beneath it all. After the icy, whispering excess of "House of Yes," it all gets laid bare on the neon soaked moments of "Blush" which invokes the wisps of smoke rising from a bar ashtray. If there's any affirmation to be offered, it comes through for me in the occasional glimmers of a youthful voice that played on old tracks like "Phenomenons." It's a sign of lingering genuineness, of the 'me' that exists beyond a series of artificially lit nights.
 
The sweeping arpeggios of intro track "Sensitive" and spacious guitar twang of closer "Crime Scene" are interesting bookends; the latter in particular has the most Twin Sister Without-The-Mister feel to it. At least until it unleashes a chorus of late 90s Flaming Lips esque chants? ...Cool.
 
Gotta love the faux Yeezus (Sisteezus?) album cover art too.
 
 
. - ~ - . . - ~ - . . - ~ - . . - ~ - .
 
 
Chance the Rapper's latest material under the banner of 'The Social Experiment' is really intriguing. First there's the melancholy "Ain't No Better Blues" which finds him sharing an impossibly inclusive list of things he hates. The title could refer to his in-song lament that things aren't getting better, or it could be a self aware jab at blues singing: there ain't no better blues than someone who hates everything. Either way, it's an oddly infectious track considering its spareness and seeming offhandedness. Chance always had a true knack for packing a lot of emotion into his bars; this shows that even when he's just reading off a list of things, the guy can make hearts hurt. In an age where 'emotional rap' consists of voice mail samples, this stuff is golden.
 

 
 
Next there's "Sunday Candy" from his forthcoming album with The Social Experiment entitled Surf. This is more like the Chance people know and love: vibrant and on point with personal and cultural observations all wrapped up in playful delivery. There's also an undeniable weirdness to the track that will make most rap fans raise an eyebrow. Namely the soaring trumpets and dup step break downs that would fall flat for anyone else. With Chance it's transformed into a soaring gospel hit.
 
 
. - ~ - . . - ~ - . . - ~ - . . - ~ - .
 
 
James Blake has a new single due out called "200 Press," the name of which comes from its limited vinyl pressing. To be honest, James Blake has always been one of the most hit or miss artists for me personally; he's really on when he's on, but when he's not it's completely forgettable. But man when he's on though. Tracks like "Footnotes," "Tell Her Safe," "The Wilhelm Scream," and "Fall Creek Boys Choir" have pretty much secured his place in contemporary electronica's pantheon. Now "200 Press" can be added to that list. It has a deceptively simple beat that struts around deep sci-fi club synths, shaking its butt from side to side while Acid Trax type vocal samples deliver robotic hip hop commands. In a way it sounds like James Blake covering Machinedrum, which is fine in my book. If anything it's good to hear him exercising his found sound sampling chops and nurturing his talent for putting together.simple but infectious beats. Enough with the white boy R&B piano recital already.
 

 
 
On the other end of the same spectrum---from the minimal to the maximal---the latest mixtape from How To Dress Well is pretty impressive. Entitled You and I Are the Same, this far reaching mix features FKA Twigs, Philip Glass, Akron/Family, Dean Blunt, The Microphones and many others thrown into a blender and gussied up... or rather, dressed well.
 
https://soundcloud.com/howtodresswell/you-and-i-are-the-same
 
     Share This Post       
post-11110524
Post #2 of 85

MuppetFace

A Special Snowflake
Joined
Aug 2, 2010
Messages
8,092
Reaction score
1,196
Joined
Aug 2, 2010
Posts
8,092
Likes
1,196
12.7.14
 
 

 
 
Black Friday Record Store Day---the bizarre and somewhat less admirable cousin of the 'real' Record Store Day held in April---was a mess this year. At least, for most of the people I know who care about these things. The main issue: the scalpers who seemed to be out in force, a perversion of the original intent of RSD to get folks out and into physical stores. These folks would let six or seven friends cut the front of the line with the intent of buying up all the limited edition releases; they know empty handed saps on eBay and Discogs will pay up to ten times as much.
 
The first vinyl pressing of Death Grips' 2013 album Government Plates was one of the most limited releases, seeing only 900 copies for the entire US (and only the US). Fans who failed to secure one of the two copies their local record store got---assuming they got any---are now faced with paying up to 200 USD for a copy. Perhaps there'll be repressing at some point, but for now an aura of unobtanium surrounds this release. It's a strange contrast to the band's willingness to give away all of their music for free, though it's a strangeness that has existed for a while now with Ex-Military on vinyl and The Money Store on cassette. As is so often the case with underground music, the band's reclusive, anti-commerical attitude has resulted in very limited pressings that go for large sums in niche circles.
 
As psychical releases go, Government Plates is really well done for being a single sleeve. Included with each record is a replica of the license plate featured so prominently on the original cover. For this release's cover, that plate is now buried under an array of 3D rendered objects pulled straight from the album's Blender-made videos and haphazardly arranged  on the front and back. Highlights include a shopping cart with a giant grenade in it (or maybe it's just a really small shopping cart?), two spilled bottles of Hydrocodone 325, and a huge inhaler with '100' Emojis on it. The insert in turn features a full wine glass with what appears to be a dissolving pill unfurling into a plumed cloud of particles. The credits also reveal that Robert Pattinson of Twilight fame played guitar on the track "Birds." Huh.
 
It's an unusual package truly befitting Government Plates, I think.
 
The album itself has grown on me immensely since I first heard it back in 2013. By the time I placed it somewhere high up on my end of year list, it was getting there; only now do I really love it enough to rank it among my favorite of their recordings though. Perhaps one of the most common criticisms leveled against this album is the 'lack of MC Ride.' However his presence is all over this album, and reading the lyrics should give one an idea of just how much he's on it. Often woven deeply into tracks, his voice is used more as an instrument here than ever before (something the band would later take to its extreme with Bjork on their next release). The album is intentionally repetitive, deceptively sparse in places, and incredibly progressive. Its Emoji-laden anthems evoke moods no other DG album does.
 
Perhaps Government Plates is best experienced with the accompanying videos. For me it takes on the character of an installation when these 3D renders skitter around and explode, filling in the spaces left open on the album. It's no coincidence that every track on here has accompanying imagery, and taken as a whole these videos are quite hypnotic and silly and compelling all at once. The two 'bookends' of "Pillbox Hat" and "Whatever I Want" are the true standouts for me however; in them live shots of people are used to great effect. Ride starts things off my emoting in a number of ways, going from playful to utterly terrified in seconds. To sit and watch his twisting, pained face for so long is actually kind of challenging. This track goes hard. Finally---after all the CGI in between---we meet a figure in a skull mask tipping his hat and beckoning us forward. Flashlights are shined in the camera and movements start cutting and jumping, turning into a jerky collage of body parts. Actions are suddenly broken up and coalesced into visual loops corresponding to the audio which goes from joyful ruckus to a glitched-out, moody dronescape.
 
At the very end of the video we see Ride laying in bed, staring with this blank yet intense stare off into the void. It's a powerful and disturbing sight. The skull face sits in the chair and a cartoon thought bubble reads, "I told you!" as he appears to cover his face in a regretful manner. My interpretation? I don't really have one that I advocate as concrete, as this is a multifaceted album of everything and nothing all at the same time. Yet to me, the final images evoke feelings of a drug trip gone awry, with the sitter trying to lead you back to your body laying in bed, lamenting that too much was taken ("I told you!"). You are looking at your hollowed out shell out of body. If this is the case, then all the contents of Government Plates are the 'trip' so to speak. They're the goofy yet symbolic products of a mind faced with the void and beyond.
 

 
     Share This Post       
post-11112914
Post #3 of 85

DannyBai

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Nov 21, 2010
Messages
3,446
Reaction score
576
Joined
Nov 21, 2010
Posts
3,446
Likes
576
Excellent stuff as usual.  
 
     Share This Post       
post-11113289
Post #4 of 85

mangler

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Mar 18, 2011
Messages
458
Reaction score
85
Location
Tampa
Joined
Mar 18, 2011
Location
Tampa
Posts
458
Likes
85
Man muppetface, I've been missing out by not reading you're reviews! I already love James Blake and death grips, so I'cant wait to check out these out these other albums :)
 
     Share This Post       
post-11116472
Post #5 of 85

MuppetFace

A Special Snowflake
Joined
Aug 2, 2010
Messages
8,092
Reaction score
1,196
Joined
Aug 2, 2010
Posts
8,092
Likes
1,196
12.9.14
 
NEW DEATH GRIPS.
 
 
From their forthcoming Powers That B album.
NSFW, obviously.
 
Oh man, it's hard not being hyped for this. After their supposed break-up earlier this year and the release of part one of their forthcoming double album, fans are now getting something new "later this year" (as promised). Posthumously, as they're now supposedly done. Or at their best. Or whatever.
 
From this track at least, the hip hop influence is stronger than ever. MC Ride is going hard, and the ridiculous NBA graffix are amazing. Sensory overload. Really, by now it's a tradition with me and Death Grips: the more I listen to their new material, the more I love it. Over repeated listens it just gets under the skin and festers like a rash.
 
Glad I'm scratching this itch.
 
Stay noided.
 
     Share This Post       
post-11150598
Post #6 of 85

MuppetFace

A Special Snowflake
Joined
Aug 2, 2010
Messages
8,092
Reaction score
1,196
Joined
Aug 2, 2010
Posts
8,092
Likes
1,196
12.21.14
 
Aphex Twin  -  Syro
 
 

 
 
 
The Richard D. James Album from Aphex Twin was---along with Mouse On Mars' Autoditacker---my first exposure to electronica beyond Moby cassettes at the mall. You never forget your first. A mathemusically inclined friend of mine was giddy over "Milkman," so at his insistence I took a headlong dive; my introduction to Richard D. James was hearing his distorted grunts which sounded like a possessed corpse. Accompanied by a delicate tinkling noise, he began to sing modestly about his not-so-modest fantasy involving the milkman's wife and drinking milk from her bosoms. That wasn't the shocking part. The real mind bender was the sudden drill beats: what can best be described to the uninitiated as a woodpecker rhythmically assaulting someone's metal siding.
 
Contrary to the stereotype of electronic music, Aphex Twin is far from being soulless. Alien at times, yes. But never without some measure of life. RDJ's sense of humor often results in mundane vocal fragments becoming track fixtures, or seemingly out of place details and unusual production choices confounding listeners. This entropy is carefully balanced against the precision arrangement of tracks that grow and evolve like organisms, tracks that are beautiful in their strangeness of proportion. Because of this, RDJ was the first personality I could ascribe to electronica. His is a truly memorable face in a music scene that is often faceless. Literally: his smiling visage has been the main visual component for Aphex Twin, appearing in everything from album covers to music videos, often twisted into something vaguely unsettling. It's nearly impossible to separate the man from his music. More specifically, it's nearly impossible to siphon off his cultivated image: whether he drives a decommissioned tank around the English countryside and is a conspiracy truther or whether he's just having a go, trolling, or trying to cloak himself in oddness and half-truths is uncertain. That uncertainty is what's most compelling of all, though. It's symptomatic of a time before the Internet was widespread, when pockets of fans would develop rumors in insolation of one another and when these rumors would gain more enigmatic appeal as they spread and distorted through a game of telephone. None of this would mean much if it weren't for the already compelling case his music presents.

 
Syro is no different. It's a restless album that spans a bewildering number of production techniques, electronic instruments, different genre cues; its an album that also tells the story of an eccentric virtuoso's creative process. Each one of its tracks was supposedly recorded with a different arrangement of studio equipment, and with each new track RDJ would start rebuilding everything from scratch again. The extended track names give some clue as to what equipment was used in these recordings. It's a procedural approach that sets up the parameters in advance, and what follows sounds like it's continually evolving. Listening to these tracks, it's evident to me that they've been composed by an expert hand; the arrangements are extremely meticulous but often subtle in their brilliance. I've seen some complaints about a lack of visceral impact or Sryo's underwhelming nature given its status as Aphex Twin's "comeback" album. Fair enough. It doesn't feature him haphazardly blowing through a straw to make beats like he did for Trent Reznor's commission or anything like that. To me, RDJ seems less concerned about being a prankster now, less concerned with bewildering his listeners. His focus seems to be on the means just as much as the ends, on building studios and exploring ways of creating sounds. On taking the language he developed early in his pursuits and interpreting different genres with it, all while using various production techniques.
 
That's not to suggest this record isn't playful or even challenging in spots. RDJ's sense of humor really shines through in the ridiculous swagger present on some of these bangers. The dancing-on-the-tips-of-your-shoes charm of "produk 29" with its swelling synths and mindless chatter about whores and clubs is one of my favorites. Despite being a fairly reclusive fellow, he's keenly aware of club culture and how ridiculous audiences can be; after all, he likes to DJ at small venues under an assumed name every once in a while. In this same vein is "180db_" which is simultaneously obnoxious and glorious with its insectiod bass bumping fit for rattling car windows. "4 bit 9d api+e+6" is nestled between the two, and it presents a lovely picture of dancefloor mystique complete with nostalgia-pining synth pads and jingles that sound like they were taken straight from an early Fromsoft Playstation title, all woven up in AFX analog beats. Tracks "PRAPAT4" and "s950tx16wasr10" in turn have a definite Richard D. James Album vibe to me, though the latter infuses a healthy dose of interplanetary space travel. This leads into the final track's offering of ultra-analog mesmer wherein RDJ revisits a live performance piece involving a piano suspended from the ceiling. Evoking the name of his wife (but not quite), this track is perhaps the most haunting moment of the album.
 
Present throughout Syro as well are the left-field vocal samples for which Aphex Twin is known. Culled from various family members as well as the man himself, these unintelligible vocal smears add an extra human element, albeit a warped one. I find they add an element of mystery to the album. They seem familiar, yet they can't quite be discerned. The mumbling on opener "Minipops 67" even sounds like some kind of bastardized version of autotune at times, all warbled yet somehow sincere despite sounding like gibberish. At the end of the track there's an alien abduction. Meanwhile title callback "syro u473t8+e" opens with a woman's foreign tongue before proceeding straight into a quirky electro-funk number.
 
It's worth noting that RDJ has been working on a lot of material since his last full-length. Syro is only part of that. One that is said [by him] to have the most "mainstream appeal." Apparently he's been experimenting with sustained tones and electronic organ music, among other things. Based on recent interviews, I get the impression that Syro's tracks might have just as well not been released had the crowd funding campaign for one of his 'lost' LPs not given him feels. This suggests he's been tinkering away in private for the sake of exploration. Then again, it could all just be part of his cultivated image. We'll never know for sure.


 
     Share This Post       
post-11150816
Post #7 of 85

Mimouille

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Nov 3, 2010
Messages
11,782
Reaction score
8,322
Location
Beijing
Joined
Nov 3, 2010
Location
Beijing
Posts
11,782
Likes
8,322
This new Death Grips is quite exciting. Not to be listened to through headphones with aggressive highs...

I have never been able to fully get into Aphex despite purchasing an album in the past. I need to give this one another try.
 
     Share This Post       
post-11151584
Post #8 of 85

amigastar

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 18, 2011
Messages
352
Reaction score
35
Joined
Jan 18, 2011
Posts
352
Likes
35
Syro is the album of 2014 for me. Since the first day i got it, it never left my playlist and i still listen to this recording regularly.
 
     Share This Post       
post-11151861
Post #9 of 85

Coolzo

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Oct 10, 2011
Messages
671
Reaction score
205
Location
Valley of the Pun
Joined
Oct 10, 2011
Location
Valley of the Pun
Posts
671
Likes
205
Website
www.head-fi.org
Syro is a masterpiece. It gets more interesting as you listen on better systems too; there's so much ultra high and ultra low frequency details that you simply can't discern on even most mid-fi systems. Not a bad thing though, because you get a different experience on every pair of headphones/speakers.
 
     Share This Post       
post-11152473
Post #10 of 85

wahsmoh

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Messages
1,460
Reaction score
322
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Posts
1,460
Likes
322
Syro is a fantastic album, I preordered it when it first came out in 24-bit WAV. Another album you need to check out is Glass Animals - Zaba. Another understated album that might take over the radio soon.
 
 
     Share This Post       
  • Like
Reactions: CoiL
post-11152526
Post #11 of 85

MuppetFace

A Special Snowflake
Joined
Aug 2, 2010
Messages
8,092
Reaction score
1,196
Joined
Aug 2, 2010
Posts
8,092
Likes
1,196
  Syro is a fantastic album, I preordered it when it first came out in 24-bit WAV. Another album you need to check out is Glass Animals - Zaba. Another understated album that might take over the radio soon.
 
 
 
I've been enjoying Glass Animals' ZABA as well. Reminds me in places of Sohn's rather slept on Tremors, though with an entirely different feel.
 
This has been the year of soul infused electronica for me.
 
Got a lot of electronica impressions in general I need to post by the end of this year; I'm falling behind on it.
 
Edit: the latest version of my Syro impressions is now up FWIW.
 
     Share This Post       
post-11154577
Post #13 of 85

TheUbiquitous

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 14, 2011
Messages
155
Reaction score
18
Joined
Jun 14, 2011
Posts
155
Likes
18
Selected ambient works 85-92 has got to be the friendlyest way of getting into RDJ. That or maybe drukqs!
 
     Share This Post       
post-11154739
Post #14 of 85

amigastar

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 18, 2011
Messages
352
Reaction score
35
Joined
Jan 18, 2011
Posts
352
Likes
35
  Selected ambient works 85-92 has got to be the friendlyest way of getting into RDJ. That or maybe drukqs!
Drukqs? Hm i personally wouldn't say so, then i would rather choose Hangable Autobulb for that matter or Richard D James album.
 
One of his best stuff, though is Analord series, but basically everything from him has something worth in it to be listenend.
 
     Share This Post       
post-11154777
Post #15 of 85

Carlsan

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Mar 6, 2009
Messages
2,979
Reaction score
828
Joined
Mar 6, 2009
Posts
2,979
Likes
828
I really enjoyed Selected ambient works 85-92. I'm a big fan of Ambient work when it's done well, even if half the album wasn't really Ambient.
Syro, as has been pointed out above, is a masterpiece as well. It is easily within my top five for best of the year.
 
I recently got the Glass Animals album but haven't had a chance to listen to it, I love the single that was playing on the Sirius channel I listen to.
 
     Share This Post       

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Top