Sunday, February 7, 2016

Recent Listening: February 2016



MUSIC



"Compton: A History": Dr Dre

I've never been much into NWA, but I did want to see "Straight Outta Compton" when it came out. And even though it was obviously a pyramid under which Ice Cube and Dr. Dre may one day entomb themselves, I did enjoy it. This set me off familiarizing myself with NWA and its whole galaxy of connections, which of course led me to this recent collection.

While I've always respected Dre's work-- I mean, duh-- I've never been a huge devotee, as I've said. But after checking this disc out of the public library just for the heck of it, I found myself listening to it nonstop for about two weeks. The production work-- apparently split up between the Doctor and a number of associates-- is simply nuts, delving into all sorts of experimentation that I always appreciate as part of hip hop's potential.

Bending, blocky single-note figures ascend and descend in ominous tension during "Genocide"; odd echoed fragments hover behind the beats on "Satisfiction" and "Medicine Man"; eerie tremolo effects on the background voices in "Deep Water" simulate drowning. The work with tweaked vocals is an album-wide highlight: multiple voices are stacked, layered, chopped, auto tuned, harmonized, pitch shifted and bit-crushed into fractals throughout.



"Can You Prove I Was Born": Shuttle 358

Dreamy, flowing ambient with a nicely "concrete" physicality to it. While it's impossible to tell how this music was made, the impression is of analog synths roughed up by overload/ overdrive and drenched in pools of old-school effects. Hypnotic repetition. Great stuff.



"Our Small Ideas", "Sleepy Insect Music": The Boats

Ragged, tuneful, intimate, lo-fi, pretty, melodic, spare... reminds me of a more minimal take on The Books. Apparent instrumentation includes ukelele, acoustic guitar, standup bass, toy glockenspeil, and found object percussion-- occasionally mixed with that kind of clicky electronica that sounds like somebody bouncing a ping pong ball off the floor really rapidly. Tracks often seem unfinished in a nice way.



"All Tense Now Lax", "The Letter", "Sane Men Surround": Liberez

This stuff isn't for everybody, but it's definitely for me. Extended heavy yet lackadaisical jams that often feel built on improvisational development. Vocals are mostly textural; some instruments are filtered to a point where there sources are difficult to identify. Reminds me of an edgier/ crisper Set Fire to Flames, with a dash of Joy Division and the more leftfield Broacast stuff. A gorgeously grey music.

PODCASTS

Beards, Cats, and Indie Game Audio

Soundworks Collection

Tonebenders

Level

The Truth (Radiotopia)

99% Invisivble

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Mike Hallenbeck home page + contact

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