Thursday, June 28, 2012
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Saturday, June 16, 2012
Thursday, June 14, 2012
The new album from internet label Sewer Greats is the fifth in a series of free compilations they have released on their Bandcamp. The label is centered loosely on the post-witch house scene, but each issue in the series has had a slightly different theme. They’re all worthwhile though I wasn’t crazy about the R&B flavored #4. This issue is a major work: the theme is rap. Each of the 26 tracks features rapping of some type, but it’s the swagged-out fringe of post-Kreayshawn / Gvcci Hvcci rap. The material ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous, and sometimes is both.
Dolo Gang$ter -"Fuckt Up" is a good example: the refrain is “I love to get fucked up / everybody get fucked up / drank drank dat liquor / smoke smoke dat weed”, absurd when viewed as lyric content. Yet the street authenticity is undeniable, and the music behind this lyrical exercise in reducto ad absurdum is one helluva track, combining jazz samples and drag technique. This level of quality is the rule, not the exception on this carefully curated comp. Main Attrakionz’s “Chuch” is one of the best tracks here, a good example of their own brand of chill-hop. Kodak to Graph, kitty pryde, Bobbi Dahl, Michael Myerz -- all contribute interesting tracks. There's not a single track I skip when playing this.
Most feature provocative lyric content, and I can already hear the sanctimonious scorn of the ‘enlightened’ reacting. “If you’re a thoughtful person – how can you sanction this debased degenerate culture?” Attempts to make art serve some kind of social good usually results in the opposite, as in the case of nazi Germany, or in artless shit. Socially conscious hip-hop is virtually non-existent.
Or is it? The irony is that taking lyrics to this extreme of sex and drug obsession does something to highlight the inherent absurdity and throws into relief something that is almost irrational. Maybe following a thread through to its’ logical conclusion is a way of exorcising certain ills, of ‘working it out’. There is something undeniably valid about this music, more because of the debased content than in spite of it. This music is far more ‘real’ than what passes for hip-hop these days. It forces the audience to confront the dreams and nightmares latent in suburban ghetto bedrooms, and a society freed of the restraints formerly imposed by Christian morality. And that’s thought provoking. Sewage Tapes Facebook
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Monday, June 11, 2012
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Internet label Bad Panda really 'gets it'. Not only do they have their finger firmly on the pulse of the DIY / bedroom music underground (IE chillwave!), but they have seen the future clearly as expressed in their manifesto, recommended reading. Their latest release, the self-titled LASERS EP is a slice of electronic heaven in the form of four original songs and seven first-class remixes. With artists like ruddyp and Sun Glitters contributing, I was assured of some winning remixes, but the original tracks struck me with their quality and diversity. The titles of the tracks reflect a theme of West European capitols: Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin and Porto (in Portugal). The remixes by previously unknown (to me anyway) artists like Elite Athletes, Stereoboy, Sam a la Bamalot and Daily Misconceptions are all winners This is one I play all the way through, some seriously beautiful music.
LASERS is a Portugese artist currently based in the Netherlands. Asked by Bad Panda about Creative Commons he said: “I think CC is the way every music should be released. For me, music is to be listened and shared at no cost. If you want to make some money out of your music, just play live and charge for that instead.” Fuck yeah!
When I first encountered the term on Youtube in the spring of 2010, I got that buzz of discovery I’ve had too seldom in my life-long quest for truly new music. It reminded me of 1986 when I began seeing the word “house” on record labels, and wanted so badly to figure out what it was.
I keep thinking about this scene in the movie The Social Network where Mark Zuckerberg is explaining to Eduardo Saverin why he’s not ready to ‘monetize’ Facebook;
“We don’t even know what it is yet, we don’t know what it is. We don’t know what it can be, we don’t know what it will be. We know that it is cool, and that is a priceless asset I’m not giving up.”
Avey Tare of Animal Collective was asked about chillwave: “I don't really know a lot of it. I don't know what goes under the ‘chillwave’ moniker. Sometimes I hear that it's stuff Ariel Pink influenced. When I hear stuff that's supposed to be ‘chillwave’, it sounds really like 80s or new balearic, Italian prog, Goblin soundtrack kind of stuff.” The parent doesn’t recognize his own progeny.
Any good definition must resolve the apparent lack of structural unity to the music called chillwave. Some of it is identical to hip-hop in its’ construction. Some of it is house. Some of it is dubstep and some, rock. The lack of a unified approach to tempo and rhythm has led some to question whether the music constitutes a discrete genre. With house music, it was either house or not: it’s a distinct rhythm, like reggae. Dubstep also is a particular rhythm, defined by its’ tempo and pattern. So, by this classification-by-rhythm, chillwave is not a genre. And yet, there it is: a style, a theme…a discernable and recognizable thing.
Whatever it is, it is something big – and I don’t mean it’s racking up big sales or setting attendance records at concerts. It is not journalistic hype. But one can almost feel the cultural plates shifting underneath. This stuff is sprouting like mushrooms on the web in prodigious volumes. We really don’t have the metrics for this thing: it is not registering in the flow of mainstream culture. There’s not a chillwave bin at the record store, nor is there going to be. The music is not selling on itunes. This revolution is destructive of the existing order, and the threat to vested interests is evident in the mainstream’s ignore-ance of it. I asked the hipster clerk at the local old-school record store about chillwave. He retorted indignantly that he didn’t smoke pot. He doesn’t want to know about something that spells the end of his job, I thought. He’s intuitively reacting to a threat, but at least he got part of it right…
Maybe, rather than a genre, chillwave is a meme, that is: an evolving, mutating, virally spreading, self-replicating nexus of ideas and associations and images, with a life of its’ own: a product of the hive mind. [Even if you know the meaning of this important word, you will benefit from reviewing the excellent definition here. ] Of course hip-hop, house, electronic and even rock are also memes, albeit ones that had their genesis in the pre-internet world and are in decline. So chillwave is simply the first distinct musical meme to emerge from the internet. It’s the web-based DIY bedroom music. The artists and their audience constitute a new kind of community of interest, quite distinct from the old ‘star’ based celebrity culture that has dominated the “music business” since the beginning of audio recording.
Chillwave carries on the creative energy of hip-hop and house and dub and shoegaze and synthpop, in their developmental phases. As the life (developmental energy) of these forms passes, a new cell is fertilized. Chillwave takes the best from all these forms and blends it into new whole. It’s my dream pop, as in ‘the pop of my dreams’. This new, developing art movement is hidden from mainstream culture by its’ non-commercial nature. It is a true counter-culture. And it’s just about the most important and vital art being created on the planet. Part one of a series