New Sounds Hunger : Obel, Hval and Lola Marsh

 

Yum! I bought a FLAC reader and I walk with music since a few months. I knowww I could use my phone, but my reader is small like a credit card, and I really don’t want to use Deezer or Spotify. I want Flac, unaltered music, sound density.

I’m in my 50s and I admit I almost completely lost contact with the music of the time. So I explore a bit. Lists. YouTubes. “Best of the year” selections…

I listened a lot to Jon Bellion (The Human Condition, 2016), because I love his voice, his lyrics, and the fractured structures of his songs, a roller-coaster of sounds and surprises. A good example : Good Morning America.

Thus I listened a lot to AJR. Their hymnic energy, the quirky arrangements… and Bishop Briggs gives me a good telling off in each song! She’s intense!

I liked Agnes Obel‘s Riverside, but I am flabbergasted by the album Citizen of Glass (2016). Good trajectory, adding strangeness the her delicate-pop songs, cellos, odd sounds. Kate Bush could have been there. A good example : Familiar.

What is painful? When a group you adored presents new things and you don’t feel anything about it. St Vincent for me (lost her Bowie/Crimson energy, or Metric (lost the fractures & modulations.

I admit I’ve been tricked by some video-clips. Aldous Harding is a splendid example. Her clips put you in a fascinating state. I listened to her albums for weeks, slowly understanding that it lacked something (for me : harmonic risks).

But it stays way better than the gigantic list of “ladies whispering calm songs” haunting YouTube with slow motion Super-8 filtered low angled light clips. Pffff.

Sometimes it goes a bit too far on the other side : listen to Rose Elinor Dougall, elegant, icy, complicated, full of broken subtle harmonies. I’ve been able to float with her for hours, without catching a single song. Try though : A New Illusion.

Billie Eilish 2019? The production is fantastic! Whispering voices weaved with surinventive sounds, great bass lines, dirty electronics. It’s impressive!! I will follow her closely.

I listened endlessly to Blood Orange (Negro Swan 2018), luxury soul, intimate and clever, perfect sound, great voices. Example : “Take Your Time”, horizontal and fluted…

I’m interested in how groups use the eighties mood. Sharon Van Etten (Remind Me Tomorrow, 2019) shows a good use of synthetic sounds. How “No One’s Easy to Love” is slowly invaded by layers…

Jenny Hval? A girl from the North, could be Laurie Anderson working with Björk! In The Practice of Love (2019), “Lions”, or “High Alice”. Volutes of machines, spoken words, blurry arrangements…

The danger is real : it’s to wander in YouTube playlists and put all what you find in fast boxes : post Cocteau Twins in the water, interchangeable country groups, The Smiths copiers, melancholic idiots in cemeteries, NYC fringed happy sugar idiots…

My best finding of the day is Lola Marsh, a group from Israel. Waow! I have to go. Listening to this one in loop. Imagine a Lana Del Rey with nerve, all waken up…

 

How do you find your sound?

Have a nice day.

 

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Music Maps?

ONE

Yesterday I did my exercises. Nah, not pumping iron!

In my locker I chose randomly a 2-3 years old magazine, to read it while I have lunch.

(I don’t like small talk lunches. I sit elsewhere to be alone. My INFTJ alone time is my quality time).

RifRaf was a Belgian free indie rock magazine. I read some interviews of groups I never heard about, then a dozen pages of LP reviews.

I’m 52 and I grew up musically in the eighties, when the “pop-rock era” was still explorable. Gradually, this market became so complex and so huge that I had to learn how to let go – though I suffered a bit, in the 2000s, of a Fear of Missing Something syndrome.

Now that my family has exploded and my daughters adults, I have more time to dive into this indie rock universe, from time to time…

TWO

So : I read reviews and forget all of them immediately – except like 4-5 names I screenshot or write on a piece of paper I fold in my pocket.

Then I torrent’em, home. I’m sorry. It’s because I hate to discover a singer on YouTube, I don’t need images. Let’s blush and assure I’m a “good pirate” : when I love a group I FLAC or MP3 torrented, I buy the CD. I promise!

St Vincent. Blonde Redhead. Vienna Teng. Röyksopp. MGMT. Loney Dear. I bought them!

THREE

I didn’t find much good things, Bert Jansch turned my mind into grey ashes (all good but boring harminies), Animal Collective is too nonsensy – I’m bored-frightened.

I was caught though by the veils and lacy-beats of Cabaret Contemporain – you just wanna microdance with your lover (infinite little movements of shoulders, OK?) in the sunny triangles of the living room. Enough to listen to the whole album.

But how come, each time I find good songwriting, it’s from guys from the North?? The biggest discovery of my last decade were Röyksopp (Norway), and Loney Dear (Sweden). Today the 3 LPs of Jacob Bellens are playing in a happyloop here.

FOUR

Bellens is typically a Type, for me. In an harmonically so poor universe, someone who just KNOW what a bass line really is, someone who tries some smart progression of chords, who knows what a modulation is, becomes like a “Small Wizard”. The man who takes care of music.

Röyksopp are geniuses. I’ve been intoxicated by Loney Dear, Annie Clark or Blonde Redhead. No intoxication here. Jacob Bellens is just… good, always pleasant, a constant disseminator of small good ideas. A sound, a melody, a chord…

Candy for my ears.

FIVE

I found music-map.com, started with Bellens, found that Blonde Redhead links were pretty accurate, and now after a Röyksopp search I’m lost on YouTube for the day!

https://www.music-map.com/r-f6yksopp.html

 

(approaching nervous breakdown maybe ohlala)

Have a nice Sunday!

JP

 

Continue reading

Wandering into Lists of Best 2017 Albums

I googled “Best 2017 Albums” and found many things. Today I wander.

 

Charlotte Gainsbourg is pretty good. Gourmet production, crescendos, gorgeous harmonic shifts. Ring a Ring o’Roses is a great song. 4

Fever Ray and her icy voice… The album looks like a disconcerting big chest, full of sharp patterns, eargasming sounds and a constant sense of drive. There’s a lack of harmony-magic though 3

Fleet Foxes gives me smiles with strange rhythms, but it’s badly produced (too much reverb, buddy) and too casual for me. Voice is boring. Harmonic colors are great, full of moving clouds and facets, and architecture surprises. 3

Girlpool places itself in a clear “indie sound”. Average, but some rare good surprises (the slippery waltz of Powerplant – oh this bass player), the stairs, squeaking risks & breaks of She Goes By).

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith like a baby Fever Ray. Harmless and insipid, but sweet. Stupid voice and funny sounds at times (To Follow & Lead). I like her good will.

Kamasi Washington, a splendid saxophonist, great to listen in your car

Kehlani got me immediately with Keep On. Irresistible! The rest is crap, sadly.

Kelela loves the sound of her own voice. It’s not good, but it’s good enough to keep me listening to the album. There’s always an element (a sound, a loop, a production idea) which makes you wonder.

Kendrick Lamar. Rap is not my cup of beer, but I really LOVED “King Kunta” in 2015 (which is perfection : the implacability of the bass, the laddered construction). Sadly I didn’t hear anything at this level today…

 

(to be continued)

 

 

In the trash :

Dead water puddles : Boring lazy, examples of “I am ecstatic about myself and I don’t work” : Björk, Future, Jay Z, Julie Byrne and Julien Baker (“I bathe in my voice and empty music”)

Stressed boring mosquitoes : Drunk, slippery and unorganized “experimentations with machines” that goes to trash pretty quickly : Arca, Jlin

Ode to Annie Clark

For a few years I add a bad habit.

I used to download torrents of music archives like “100 Best Indie tracks – May 2012”. Then June. Etc.

Then, well, I filled up my iPod with these, exploring thousands of random song VERY casually. I used to trash 95% of all of them, commonly rolling eyes.

My main criteria in music is : “What’s new here?”. And well, nothing’s new, almost all the time. It’s always the same tricks : Pixies like, Nirvana like, Neo New Wave, Decadent Disco, Boring Indie Folk, etc.

So I used to empty my iPod quickly. A real leak. One star (means : trash it).

But really, on 100 tracks, 2 or 3 were really great enough to make me search for albums, buy records. Sometimes it’s a disappointment (I found 3 good songs by Katy Melua – The Flood is great – but not much more), sometimes I’m intoxicated for months (The Bird and the Bee), or just charmed by a song (Make this Go On Forever, by Snow Patrol), or I dance like a fool with stupid gorgeous Trance (Astrix : Poison).

If you want to find me own musicmess, I’m here : https://www.youtube.com/user/jrobocat

One day : St Vincent. I had to stop walking.

“Paris is Burning”. Everything was a surprise to my ears. The horns, the voice, the percs, the drive, the samples chords, harmonies, the permanent changes (including a “sudden waltz”), like a quiet fucking mess of too many ideas for each square meter. Then waltzing toxic casual daring ending let me in an awe in a corner (I remember it was next to a church).

Yes, a little like Kate Bush with King Crimson and David Bowie. Whatever : invent your own links!

Her deep, organized, casual, driven quirkiness is my cup of tea. Make it a bucket, OK?

Then : Her interviews are GREAT. Her Hepburnic smile is awfully cute. Her music stayed complex (too much at times, for me). I would pray to make her enthrust and leave her work in Brian Eno‘s hand (after all she worked with David Byrne, right?). And this class…

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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