Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Seekae - +Dome

While Australian three-piece Seekae have prepared to perform as a live band, their second full length album sounds like the experimental bug shooed a lot of the live instruments away from the studio. Processed vocals somewhere between helium and female are turned into drum pads on "Blood Bank". Indulgent segue "Underling" pairs a sampled string section with a series of square-waved glissandos. One of the best tracks, "Gnor", grooves with overlapping synth modes, bass synth lines, clickity rim shots and live drums. Can't knock these guys for the variety, but therein lies the issue: the endless directions could have been intriguing, but instead they distract from any overall cohesion. "Reset Head" sets the pace wonderfully with cerulean ambience and minimal drum programming before a beautiful melody tandem enters via synth and shimmery guitar. It's one of the highlights, but then things grow more experimental again; the band forges ahead and away from a good thing. No two songs on +Dome are alike. Sometimes the capriciousness of a band is what sells the music, but Seekae don't stick to one sonic pallete, and the myriad sounds aren't compelling enough to define all their edges. It may seem unfair to say, but the production is too clean and innocent for such off-kilter electronica. Most of the drum programming refuses to hit a groove, choosing instead to skitter around, teasing us with a moment that might never arrive. This moment does arrive once. For two glorious minutes in "Yodal", the groove starts as an insistent, shark-skinned laptop shredder, breaks for a cloudscape, and then continues on its razor juice tirade. +Dome is half as long as Seekae's behemoth debut album, but the obvious skills and risks never feel grounded. If this band went straight ahead more often, they'd have more of my attention.

Seekae - Blood Bank - +Dome by Rice Is Nice

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mountains - Air Museum

This album jams. Read my long review at The Silent Ballet. It's one of my better writing pieces in a while, I think.

Air Museum’s strength lies in its ability to change tone drastically while maintaining an overriding voice. I was initially caught off guard by the album's sequencer rhythms, as I had become so accustomed to hearing the duo paint with soft brushes. The synthetic pulse's ebullient and deliberate voice is a gamble, and it’s easy to write off on first listen. In the ambient field, one could almost call this “rocking out”. Given the chance to pass through the folded arms and cell walls, such moments end up being the album's most memorable.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Colorlist - The Fastest Way To Become The Ocean

I like this record. But not a ton. Its brevity (26 minutes) allows for me to play it and not commit too long to Colorlist's occasional missteps, which is nice because I like what the band is up to. The track with the Tortoise guitar player is smokin'. My review is ok. I love the Serein label.

The Fastest Way To Become The Ocean definitely fits the bill as a spring time record. There are darker undertones from the winter beneath the surface, cobwebs to brush away, seeds in the ground that we have worried will not survive the frost, but in the end, the pastels and dewy wonder of a fresh start pervades. The last track “What We Have Left” features some light hearted vocals from Liz Payne, and while the track borders on being silly, knowing what Colorlist were going for helps the track’s disparity make more sense. Still, when taken in context with the longer suites of burgeoning sax revelations, “What We Have Left” feels out of place, like it belongs somewhere different - like Sesame Street. The beef of the EP is great, and the two shorter tracks kind of fill in the gaps with decent material, leaving the entire album feeling like a collection of good music by Colorlist, but not as cohesive as hoped for. EPs, however, are the battleground for experimentation, and given the talent and risks that this band is willing to take, I delight in the next journey they go on.

Vocaloid Hatsune Miku: The Hologram Pop Star

When I put three piercings in my eyebrow my parents were probably perplexed. Why would our child do this? My parents had tattoos in their world (they would never get one), but the advent of body piercing really didn't become a thing until I was a young adult. They probably also wondered about raves, and parents before them were confused by chia pets, and rug burn and leather bars before that. I was starting to think that I've got a pretty radical take on the world and as I age, I still have a finger on the pulse of what young people are into and why (even if I've outgrown some things).

Until this. Watch the clip and be amazed at a sold out concert hall rocking out to a computer generated voice singing songs, with an animated pop star representing it. There is a live band, but wow, the focus is obviously on this machine that some Japanese folks invented that can learn and sing songs. Look at those glow sticks! I kind of get it? Who cares if the computer can sing? I suppose I listen to a lot of wacked music with electronics being the main voice. It's just the arena of the icon worship that electronics really haven't ventured into. Not like this. Rock stars have been human until this. Gorillaz dabbled, but this is full on.

Hatsune Miku (初音ミク) is a singing synthesizer application and its female character, developed by Cypton Future Media. It uses Yamaha's Vocaloid 2 synthesizing technology. Her name translates to something like "Voice of the Future." I was hoping the videos I saw were just staged and that this wasn't really all that popular, but I was wrong. It's a world wide phenomenon. She's performed in Singapore recently. It's growing. Learning... compassion.

In a way, this pop star is perfect. It can't get chased by the paparazzi. It doesn't do drugs or make bad choices after a show. It doesn't get tired or go through the fame gauntlet, leaving it messed up for the rest of its life. It's always going to perform. Once the computer refuses to perform, the world will have effectively changed forever. Usually, people make mechanical or 3D versions of humans, but here, we see humans fetishizing the machine and dressing up like her. It's a total role reversal, and one that I am barely clinging to for some kind of understanding. Why would anyone really care how high a computer voice can sing? How is it that when a certain song begins at this show that everyone's voices rise in appreciation? It's manic, and I feel that gap forming between old fogey Nayt and what kids of the future are into. It's happening. I'm 32 and I feel like I'm already cut off.

Who Is Arcade Fire

I am in love with The Suburbs record, and since The Arcade Fire won a grammy for best album of the year, there has apparently been a large pouting backlash against them due to their apparent obscurity next to acts like GaGa and Bieber and such. Kids be appalled that the band won and they hadn't heard of them. Anyway, if you are at all stoked that a band you kind of (or really) like actually won one of these awards for once (even Trent Reznor won a grammy this year for chrissakes!), then you will probably find this funny.

Who Is Arcade Fire media tumblr. Even Dog The Bounty Hunter's twitter weighs in.