Posts Tagged ‘lists’

fresh music roundup/ personal update…

December 24, 2010

What’s up everyone?

Akiva here. I haven’t posted an entry in quite some time. The following represents an attempt at a brief summary of what I’ve been up to, and also a recap (as always at least as much for my own benefit as for my readership) of some of the great music I’ve been hearing lately.

Here goes…

Well, firstly, I fulfilled a long-standing goal earlier this month when I bought the Apogee Duet and Logic Studio – two powerful audio tools that will go a long way toward helping me begin to establish a small home-based audio production studio. How exciting! I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of Logic, but I do have some previous experience with audio software so I don’t feel like I’m totally starting from scratch.

This purchase, though, is undoubtedly a big part of why I’m so excited about music right now (and the improvement in audio quality after I got the Duet set up was noticeable). Here are some highlights for me as far as stuff I’ve heard that’s either come out recently or is forthcoming (warning: this list will be rather eclectic):

1. My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky: Swans (site). Let me be blunt: I was fucking ecstatic to hear that Michael Gira decided to reunite the Swans. This album does not disappoint. The first track, “No Words / No Thoughts,” which clocks in at 9:24, starts out ambient, and builds menacingly and forebodingly for minutes until it explodes into a repetitive riff that breaks down into the familiar Swans “wall of sound”…a sequence that refreshingly goes on and on, as though to make up for the years of silence since the Swans disbanded in the ’90s. It’s a wonderful album.

2. 2D33P is a new drum & bass project and label from Trace and Voyager, “focusing on the ’94 vibe and beyond.” All you really need to do is click that link (it leads to their soundcloud page), and listen to the tracks. Unless your soul is immune to sub-bass frequencies and breakbeats (in short unless you don’t like jungle and aren’t willing to be receptive to something new), you’ll see why I’m excited. I’ve also heard a couple clips of tracks forthcoming in 2011 on Trace’s legendary drum & bass label DSCI4.

Speaking of which (and I’m going to probably going to do an entirely distinct post just for this, because I don’t want the link to get lost in the mix), there is a link on the DSCI4 soundcloud page to a mix by Trace and Ed Rush from 1997 called the No U Turn Experience. If you have any interest in drum & bass history, `90s era techstep, and the legacy of underground institution that is No U Turn, don’t pass it up.

Looking at iTunes, I’m beginning to realize I probably only bought one or two releases this entire year. You know what? That’s not going to stop me. I’m going to tell an uber-brief story to illustrate why I think dope releases from 2009 and even (dare I say it?) 2008 are still worthy of mention…

Two days ago, I happily checked out a free track being given away by Blu Mar Ten for Christmas. It’s a total banger. Anyway, some asshole posts a comment, like, “Wow, this track is amazing – can’t believe it’s four years old!”

RIGHT – because it’s only in the last three years that technology has finally enabled us to make amazing music! Everything before then, while still noteworthy, is now going to be relegated to a bygone era. Because…now every producer can afford a DAW, and Ableton and Autotune and etc. etc. etc. Thank God that after millenia of primitive audio production techniques good music will finally be within our reach…OK, now that the rant is over, I’m simply going to say that there’s so much good music that’s always coming out, I’m obviously at least two or three years behind even on the stuff I like to follow most. . . like hip-hop and d & b.

3. Something that’s fresh right now…Duck Down Records!! These guys are KILLING it right now. I still need to catch up on the last five years of dope releases from them. My “to cop” list includes some of the Buckshot & 9th Wonder collabs, the Heltah Skeltah albums that have come out since they reunited a couple years ago…Sean Price’s solo stuff…Boot Camp Clik…oh my god, the shit is fresh. Brooklyn is definitely on the map right now.

4. I gotta mention my man Dash Speaks, a very talented MC, DJ, and producer that I went to high school with. What he does is fresh and original – I just downloaded his album Geography a couple months ago and really, really liked it. His lyrics and approach are unique; the production is an innovative hybrid between hip-hop simplicity and a sort of electronic dance music synth / beat aesthetic, making the album accessible without sacrificing its integrity (if you ask me).

As a matter of fact, you can too. Check a review and free download link here. Dash, Speak brother!

5. It came out last year, but Rakim’s Seventh Seal is fire. Go get it if you haven’t already.

6. While dubstep and dubstep influenced bass-heavy music has continued to become increasingly trendy, drum & bass producers and labels have been stepping up their game over the past year and many of them are killing it. A label that has consistently delivered in terms of quality and originality has been Critical. Without getting too sappy or gushing praise, I gotta say that Critical exemplifies what’s good and what’s always been good about drum & bass. The sounds are varied and diverse. The production quality is always high, and the tracks tend to be on the moodier and techier side, but other than that, the criteria seem to be whatever Kasra thinks fits the label, which is a good approach, and has really allowed Critical to hone and define its own sound. I love what they’ve been doing.

7. A label I’ve had my eye on for quite some time, but which has really put itself on the map and garnered some attention in 2010 is Shogun Audio. Friction has done a good job showcasing a diverse range of musical talent. I would have to say that it is labels like Shogun, Critical, Exit (D-Bridge’s label and one of my faves – killing it right now) that have done a great deal to release material that reshapes the templates for what we used to define as “techstep,” “liquid,” and so on. Rightfully, much of the new d & b straddles several of these arenas. I’m also really happy to see the stripped-down sound that D-Bridge, Instra:mental, and Spectrasoul are pushing to start to get more acceptance. When Shogun Audio first showed up on the scene, I expected Friction to release forward-thinking d & b with deep roots in techstep and the “neurofunk” tradition. Of course, he did; but over the past year he’s also been pushing the envelope with tracks that hardly fit that description. His podcast has featured guest appearances from the likes of Spectrasoul, Lenzman and Rockwell. Shogun is killing it, and doing its part to help shape the new sound of drum & bass for the 21st century. With new material from Alix Perez and Icicle, Friction seems to have done a good job balancing releases from established artists with stuff from more up-and-coming producer. Cheers to the Shogun Audio massive…assassinating the global scene right now.

8. Frankly (and this could just be a reflection of my musical tastes changing), although I’ve always respected them but never been a hugely dedicated fan, I’m kind of warming up to Hospital Records. Obviously they are a total institution by now, and with fresh and hugely popular new acts on their roster like Netsky, they hardly need my endorsement. But I still want to recognize this label for their contributions. Again, a few years ago it seemed like you could pretty much sort d & b tracks by category: liquid, neuro, roller, jump-up, wobble (remember “clownstep”?), hardstep, ragga, jungle…FUCK that! Listen to the new d & b and it’s liquid / neuro-funk / dancefloor / tech. jungle. THAT’s what I’m talking about. (A LITTLE more innovation with the breaks probably couldn’t hurt…but my point is simple: d & b is fresh now so fuck the haters! Frankly more dubstep illustrates the problems associated with d & b than d & b does these days. But feel free to make use of the comment form if you want to argue that point – this is swiftly turning into a rant.) Although in any case, I gotta say, the old school vibes are making a comeback. And that’s something that makes me happy.

9. I guess now that I’ve consulted my iTunes library, I realize that Nine Inch Nails’ free album the slip was actually released in 2008. But I only found about it and downloaded it a few weeks ago. Well, it’s good. Thanks for the free music Trent…and for keeping Nine Inch Nails alive. rock on! And while I’m on the topic of 2008…Portishead‘s Third is fucking awesome. Bleak and cynical and wonderful. It took me a few listens to get into it. Totally worth while. Here, watch the video for Magic Doors.

(I’ve got to grab some dinner…to be continued)

P.S. Bonus video link…O.G.C. – Hurricane Starang. With Heltah Skeltah. It’s a real banger, not to be missed.

Still to come…artists I’m just beginning to discover and still want to check out…labels to watch…producers to watch…forthcoming albums I’m excited about. The round-up will continue! Peace, love and enjoyment…hope everyone that’s reading this has enough reason to stay positive going into 2011. I’m out.

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what I’m doing next week.

August 14, 2009

This is another one of those “write something on the blog so I give it some thought” posts.

I’m taking a week off from work – the week before school starts (well actually I quit my job, too, but that’s another story) – for pretty much the first time in the past year (not counting family events).I’m not really going anywhere, but here are some of the possible ways I might spend my time (besides staying home and doing nothing, which is the most important one):

go to Denver, check out my friend Scott‘s new place, catch up with some friends that have just recently returned from Spain, and maybe pay a visit to one of my favorite pubs

finish reading Discipline & Punish (I’m getting there), order books for school, organize / move the hell out of the way the many I already own (this includes setting aside a lot more to get rid of), and pay a visit to the Ginsburg library – maybe check out Derrida’s Acts of Religion

spend some time hanging out with my turntables (I cleaned them pretty thoroughly this week, outside and in – but I haven’t mixed much in ages). hopefully Sennheiser will ship my headphones back to me before then (I sent my HD280s to them for repairs and they very promptly shipped me the wrong ones; not talking shit because they make good stuff, but I will be happy when the proper model arrives)

practice karate more outside of class. I was on a roll for a few weeks, but then the heat and my laziness made their presence known.

figure out how to ask out girls I don’t know (I suck at this. yet it’s always the ones I don’t know that I’m most interested in). then go out and do it. (yes I have a particular person in mind)

do something to organize my room and make it look better.

get my hair cut.

try to hang out with friends at least twice, and if possible catch a DJ or some live music (in Denver needless to say)

drink cold beer on a hot afternoon.

do a lot of nothing.

YES. my vacation is going to be awesome. I just realized this list is at least 85% about me. Narcissism has its place and I welcome it.

music to check out…(a free association)

August 13, 2009

For someone that loves music and listens to all kinds of it, I am decidedly unadventurous about it. I don’t really buy music – that is, I pretty much only buy vinyl, and when I do it’s usually somewhat DJ oriented, and in any case I only really by stuff I come across in a shop or online.

So here I’m compiling a short list of music I’m interested in checking out (or maybe listening to a little bit more). I’m going to let it build for a little while; I think the results might be surprising.

I guess I’ve been listening to so much electronic stuff for a while that I need to diversify a bit. I’m going to try to represent some of the breadth of the musical styles that interest me in this list, and then hopefully I’ll develop some ideas of stuff to track down.

Although basically I think there are more or less two categories: newer releases or stuff I’ve missed in genres I’m pretty familiar with, and more obscure / indie / avant-garde stuff I’ve never really come across. Or actually that isn’t right at all. It’s that there’s some stuff I’m familiar with, but would like to become more so – like Sonic Youth or Fugazi (I know, weird examples) – and then other stuff that I haven’t really heard but know I would like to – like Kayo Dot, or Merzbow, or more J Dilla stuff since I’m always a couple years behind everyone else (these really are some strange examples).

Perhaps strangely, topping of the list (and the only artist that really comes to mind at the moment) is Angels of Light – which for those who don’t know is more or less the solo project of Michael Gira (Swans).

OK, this list isn’t going to make sense to anyone else anyway. So, yeah:

Angels of Light (I love the Swans. Gira is a genius. Gotta pick up at least one album)

Fugazi (I know – I’m way behind. I’ve only really listened to Repeater all the way through)

New Order (not as familiar as I should be. I have one of their much, much later albums)

Merzbow (I’ve only heard about one song they did with Discordance Axis. I’d be interested in hearing some of their stuff)

Swans (I already know and love ’em. But I need to summon up courage and listen to their back-catalog – like pre ’89. As well as just listen more to the rest of their stuff)

Sonic Youth (I really am not familiar with their stuff much)

Bikini Kill (never heard their stuff. I probably should)

The Replacements (never listened to them, feel like I should at least check them out)

(the direction this list is taking is really unexpected, but then I guess it’s a success)

Husker Du (I’ve listened to some of Bob Mould’s solo stuff, maybe I should add these guys in at this point – it seems apropos)

Desert Sessions (I wish I could put Kyuss on the list but I’ve listened to everything they’ve put out, really – except Desert Sessions)

Kayo Dot (I have all three Maudlin of the Well albums and love them, seen Kayo Dot play, loved them… now I just have to pick up their albums)

Discordance Axis (specifically The Inalienable Dreamless. I’ve listened to a lot of their other stuff. This is one of the only grindcore bands I listen to)

hm. I just actually contemplated adding Napalm Death to the list. I think I’m getting way off track here. Going to post this now. Look forward to future edits – and oh. Suggestions please (especially if you can recommend some good industrial. Skinny Puppy and Nine Inch Nails are about the extent of my familiarity).

P.S. I can’t believe how much rock music is on this list. To my readers that don’t know me (and maybe even those that do) this list could be really misleading about my current listening habits. I basically listen to rock music once every two weeks (that should explain why there’s hardly anything contemporary about my list). But for my appalling ignorance there would be way more house music represented here. I need some help here. Or maybe just need to get out more.

I do want to get the new Martyn album (Great Lengths), and anything that D-Bridge releases (either by himself or on his label – there, click on the link and listen to the songs in the beatport player. that’s more the kind of stuff I’ve been listening to. oh, and even more so stuff like this, this, or this. you really should click on one or two of those.) And yeah it goes without saying: when it comes to Chain Reaction, Basic Channel, Rhythm & Sound – more. . . I just can’t get enough of it. (Discovering these labels…maybe it’s something like…I don’t know, the appropriate religious metaphor fails me.)

OK, it’s late. Enough. I’m off to sleep. Love to you all.

yes, anime.

June 17, 2009
Laughing Man logo (see Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex

Laughing Man logo (see Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex)

OK, here we go. A list (I’m going to try to be comprehensive here) of all the anime I have seen, am currently somewhere in the process of viewing, or wish to see in the future (that last one will probably be the trickiest). If you like anime but aren’t sure where to go, maybe you’ll find something listed here that sounds interesting.

Oh, and if you don’t like anime…well, all I can say is that you don’t know what you’re missing. You probably think what you’re missing is something it isn’t, if that makes any sense at all. Hmm…that’s for another time.

And on a related note, if you don’t recognize the above image, well, I hate to break it to you, but you aren’t watching the right television shows.

ANIME I’VE SEEN AND RECOMMEND (sort of roughly ranked in the order of how much I liked them)

series

  • Serial Experiments Lain – couldn’t not put this first on the list. 13 episodes in all. You should watch this.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – two seasons. You might have thought the movie was great and that the series wouldn’t be. You were wrong. (Besides, don’t you want to know where that logo comes from?)
  • Cowboy Bebop – all my favorite bounty hunters in a single series…how is that even possible? This show promises nothing but pure enjoyment. Recommended for the anime non-viewer.
  • Noir – funny, come to think of it probably my all-time favorite assassin is a character on this show. She practically defines the word stealth. One great thing about Chloe is her wardrobe lets you know how badass she is. Not to give too much away, but in any case, you know she’s not playing because of the way she dresses. Here’s what she likes to wear:

Chloe character sketch from NOIR

Like, every day. She never doesn’t wear this outfit. In fact, her closet is filled with this. She’s a great character. By the way, lots of people seem not to know about this show. Check it out…not necessarily what you might expect. The opening episode is killer…it pulls you right into the storyline. Props to my friends Ryan and Starr for turning me on to this.

  • Neon Genesis Evangelion – anything I should add? Oh yeah, I guess I’ll just mention that this show was voted the best TV show…ever. Weird – I thought it was The Wire, or maybe Twin Peaks (Definitely one of those two).
  • Gunslinger Girl – an Italian government agency adopts abandoned or seriously ill young girls from hospitals under the guise of a beneficent charity, then brainwashes them, pairs them with handlers and trains them to be assassins! Sounds a bit preposterous but this show’s worth checking out…it’s a strong production with really high-quality drawings and animation. I’ve only seen the first season. The second is being produced by a different studio, and I’m not sure it’s even gotten a U.S. release yet (frankly it doesn’t look as good as the first season).
  • I can’t leave out BLAME! This mini-anime is freaking weird. I love the art, though. Thank you Ryan for sending this to me in the mail. I should try to find the manga…

I’m sure I’m leaving something out here, but since I can’t think what it is at the moment I’ll move on to…

films

  • Ghost in the Shell – not much I can say here. All I can say is I will never not want to watch this movie again. Sheer brilliance.
  • Akira – everytime I see this film I am struck by the level of detail and thinking that went into its production. It proves conclusively that anime has unique potential as an art form (can you imagine Akira as live-action production?), a fact that few seem to understand to the degree that Otomo has. Must see.
  • I recently watched Memories – a film divided into three parts, each by a different director, but overseen as an entire project by Otomo. This is worth checking out. Unconventional, and brilliant.
  • Spirited Away – this is actually the only Miyazaki film I’ve seen. I need to check out some of the others…
  • how could I have forgotten Appleseed? This film is awesome! Don’t sleep.
  • Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence – some people bad-mouth this movie. It’s pretty different from the first film, both stylistically and in terms of narrative. I would consider Innocence to be the most abstract production in the Ghost in the Shell “canon,” as it were. I have to see it again to form my opinion more completely. If you have seen the original but not this, give it a shot. If you haven’t seen the original you know what to do…
  • Cowboy Bebop: The Movie – When I first watched this I hadn’t seen the series all the way through. I need to see this one again.
  • Paprika – Mixed feelings about this one. Stylistically and artistically, it was excellent, yet I felt it was over-the-top to a degree that took away from character development and other aspects, resulting in a less-than-completely enjoyable experience. Yet the execution of some artistic elements was so impressive that I would most likely recommend it anyway. I like the dream machine.
  • The Evangelion movies…not even sure what to say about them, other than, if you’ve seen the show, watch them. Come on, don’t you want to know what happens to SEELE?

Again, can’t think what I’m leaving out, though I’m surely leaving out something. I’ll tell you

WHAT I’VE BEEN WATCHING LATELY:

  • mainly, a series called Last Exile. I really like this one. It’s pretty unique, lacking a lot of the familiar anime tropes any critical anime viewer might be on the lookout for. The setting seems to be an anachronistic, somewhat dystopian future that seems reminiscent of medieval Europe, perhaps post-apocalyptic. The plot focuses on two young pilots of a vehicle known as a vanship. You should check it out…
  • And also, from the same studio (GONZO) I’m planning to watch the rest of Blue Submarine No. 6. A story with four half-hour episodes, it was also released as a film. I’ve seen only the first episode and don’t feel qualified to comment, other than to say that the art is awesome.

And what does the future hold?

ANIME I’D LIKE TO SEE IN THE FUTURE:

films

  • I’ve actually never watched Vampire Hunter D all the way through. Someday soon…
  • Pretty much everything by Miyazaki, but I’m told Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is really great.
  • I’d also like to see Perfect Blue…never heard of it until recently, but sounds like a classic.

series

As I was writing, I started watching the preview on Netflix for a series called Paranoia Agent. From the director of Perfect Blue (Satoshi Kon) and the character designer of Spirited Away, this series about a bat-wielding killer on rollerblades looks pretty great.

  • Madlax…from the director of NOIR, looks like this might be worth checking out…
  • I want to check out Ergo Proxy. Don’t really know what it’s about but I’ve heard good things about it.

Not sure what else for the moment, but I’m getting tired. Did I leave out something crucial? Or was my assessment of some anime classic completely misguided and wrong? If you have responses, questions or criticism, you know what to do.

Oh and by the way, this blog entry might give you the impression that I am a huge anime nerd. In fact, I didn’t really start watching it much until the last couple of years. Props go out to Cary for this. Anyway, notwithstanding the fact that I lifted my alias <megatech> from a certain anime cult classic, I’m not actually really too much in the know about this. So feel free to leave suggestions below. Peace..