Buke and Gase – Scholars

buke

Now this is some pop music I can fuck with. 

Pop is a strange genre. Straight up? Part of it is absolutely contemptible. It can represent some of the worst parts of humanity. Many in a certain age group and ideology cringe, squirm, and wince before aggressively saddling their high horses when this word is uttered. To these social cowboys, the genre symbolizes the evils of capitalism and its hold on a younger generation. You can identify these musical six-shooters because they talk about this shit incessantly. “The genre lied to millions,” they’ll say as they squint into a setting sun and chew through a piece of wheat, “It turned 10-year-olds into sex symbols and sells clothing made in sweatshops.” Listening to this genre is to support everything that’s wrong in the world to the musical buckaroos. Everyone else? Doesn’t give a fuck. Sorry audio-cowpoke, you had your day in the sun. Time to get off that high horse, throw down that DVD director’s cut of Fight Club (seriously? There’s streaming services now), and take a listen to this dreaded musical classification because lots of it is fucking great. Time to hang up that hat. Pop is just a musical style now. That’s it. 

Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez are the names behind Buke and Gase. They make experimental pop music and it’s fantastic. This album is pumped full of energy and experimentation. Listening to it energizes the fuck out of me. It makes me want to run. Where? I have no fucking clue and it doesn’t matter. I can’t help but move my body in some way when I listen to it. It makes me wanna dance like a 16-year-old with a freshly faked ID at the club. The songwriting seems to be done in a moment-to-moment basis similar to modern Nine Inch Nails but if they took a fuckton of Ecstasy (aka DTF/NIN/MDMA). Shit sounds like Imogen Heap on an acid trip. 

Dyer and Sanchez got their names from the instruments they used to play (Bass + ukulele = Buke. Guitar + Bass = Gase). Thank fuck they put down those instruments and picked up some electronic gear. Sure they sounded good before, but there’s something very telling about this decision. Artists willing to change the things that used to define them are, generally, artists with something to fucking say. Buke and Gase put down their namesake instruments and ventured out into the strange world of pop. In the process they made something enthusiastic, musically gymnastic, and drastically anti-bombastic dressed up in a shitton of colourful spandex (wait what?). In short, they made pop music so fun and bizarre it’s rebellious. So, go ahead and throw rocks at this genre or its artists. Just be aware that nothing ages worse than an asshole. Shit has wrinkles the day you’re born. 

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Machinefabriek – With Voices

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Dutchboy weirdotronic Rutger Zuydervelt is one prolific motherfucker. He’s one of these types that seem to finish one project and immediately go, “I’m done. Oh shit … the existential dread is coming. Need something new fast! Okay, what’s next?” He’s an artist that takes pleasure in doing what isn’t supposed to be done. If someone says, “Rutger! You shouldn’t be doing that?!” The guy will fucking do it and smile like a jackal. As soon as you think you’ve defined Rutger, he’ll pop out of the bushes and say, “Gotcha, bitch! I’m this now!” and stab you twice before prancing away in a tutu made out of pixie dreams. Because of this, Rutger is difficult to define. But, here’s a paltry attempt at doing so. 

Dude has been making albums since ’04. He generally likes to fuck around with samples and recordings all computer styles and is thrown into that opaque definition of ambient, minimalist, drone, field recording, modern classical shit. There’s a phrase I heard once to define such strange creatures, which is, “He’s an artist’s artist.” Meaning, the motherfucker makes art for those that are already knee-deep in the steez. I don’t think you’ve got to be an artist to enjoy Rutger, but it can still be a pretty useful term. So, it should go without saying, if you’re looking for something that’s easy to digest and without too much seasoning you should run the fuck away and not look back or else you’ll pull a Lot’s wife. Lady got salty as fuck.

This album is what happens when you show Rutger some Instagram. Someone showed him a video of Wei-Yun singing (she’s the singer on track 7 of this album) and he was inspired to make an album. The idea? Find a bunch of singers and tell them to improvise like a comedy troupe on acid jazz night, take that shit and throw it through the Rutger blender, and voilà. You’ve got yourself and album, motherfuckers. 

Each track comes with a new singer going all improv. Sometimes they sing, speak, or grunt. Anything they fucking want. The singers on this album are equally as strange and top notch as Rutger. You’ve got: Terence Hannum (from Locrian), Chantal Acda (jazz vocalist that rubs elbows with Bill Frisell often), Peter Broderick (used to be part of Efterklang and now owns shit solo style), Marianne Oldenburg (up and comer), Zero Years Kid (strange, fun, oddly hypnotic), Richard Youngs (experimental, youthful, enjoys the guitar), Wei-Yun Chen (inspired it all), and Marissa Nadler (a folk giant). 

There’s an imaginary line in art. One extreme is all about accessibility and popularity and the other end of art is shit so out there it doesn’t matter if the audience exists or not (it usually doesn’t). Because I’m a bit hungry, we’re going to use some food metaphors. In the culinary world, one extreme is like a bag of flour and the other is like a bag of glass. Neither sound too appealing. Machinefabriek is like a high-end restaurant that orders food for you. You don’t get a choice. What comes in front of you can be scary. Sometimes you really don’t want to fucking touch the shit. But, trust the cook, he’s been doing this a long fucking time. Some of this will make you feel uncomfortable at first (more on the ass end of the album), it might even cause you panic. As the album comes to a close, you will have experienced something you never tried before and, once you develop the taste for it, you’ll want more. Hell, this shit might become your new favourite sonic dish. That is, if you’re worth your salt. 

 

Malibu Ken, Aesop Rock & TOBACCO -Malibu Ken

malibu

Fuck, I love me some Aesop. 

The dude has flows thicker than Shakespeare. No shit. Actually. I’m not fucking kidding. Literary dicks love to say The Bard (William Shakespeare’s rapper name) had it all including the largest vocabulary around. Thing is, under the same test, Aesop Rock scored way the fuck higher. This is no surprise to anyone that actually listens to Aesop Rock. Dude makes you pick up a dictionary faster than a preteen does with a porno. His shit is thick. So, fat warning sign here, if you’re going to listen to this album get ready to plunge deep into some lyrical madness. 

Actually, if there’s one weakness I’ve heard people about Aesop, it’s that his shit is too thick. It’s like trying to suck a milkshake out of a skinny straw. Sometimes shit just doesn’t work. But, with TOBACCO producing these slick fucking sounds (famous for Black Moth Super Rainbow) that skinny ass straw doesn’t exist anymore. Now? This shit hits you like a fire hydrant on Viagra. It’s all money shot all the time. The beats and sounds follow the words to the fucking “T”. Sounds sit back when the words need to step up. And the sounds step up when the words require a helping hand. TOBACCO with Aesop Rock is a fucking dream team. Even though this album only clicks in at 34 minutes, it works like a philosophy book. You can’t judge this motherfucker by its size. I’ve seen stupid people read thick books. I’ve seen short people dunk. Or, as lots of motherfuckers like to say, it’s not about size but about the wielder of the tool. And with Aesop meets TOBACCO? It’s goddam Zorro with Kenshin Himura up in this bitch and they’re fucking like Greek Titans. 

Like I said before, when you deal with Aesop Rock you are dealing with lyrical madness. You’ve got to be ready to throw down some thick biblical allusions and lyrical paths. I’ve often said that rap is the modern day poetry. And if that’s the case, Aesop could possibly be the best there is. I know there will be other review sites out there telling you that this album isn’t as good as his older shit or that he doesn’t have anything new to say, but fuck that noise. From what I’ve listened to? This shit is dense, fun, and sweet. This shit is like chewing through a sonic caramel that happens to make you smarter instead of giving you cavities. The only thing that’s changed about Aesop is there’s more playfulness to be had and the lyrics are easier to digest because of the production. Outside of that? Aesop Rock is still the king. But now’s he’s got a dope throne that can support his lyrical weight. 

 

The Scorpions & Saif Abu Bakr – Jazz, Jazz, Jazz

the scorpions

You’d never guess with the most awkward band photo of all time, but these motherfuckers have balls the size of overgrown cantaloupes at a GMO farm. This album was recorded in the ’80s but it won’t sound like cocaine or spandex. This is that straight funky shit. And, more surprisingly than this, it was made in Sudan. 

Welcome to the musical version of “Cool Runnings”, motherfuckers. Mind your hats.

If you’re one of those cynical assholes that think it’s difficult to pursue art now of days, you’re going to need to check yourself. The Scorpions will make you look like a fragile milksop pissing themselves cause the soup’s too cold. These guys are badass. Check it: They had this dream of being a funk band but, living in Sudan and shit, they didn’t have access to traditional western instruments. So, what do you do when you don’t have a drum set? You build that shit. They approached their local blacksmith, with a picture of a drum set in hand, and said, “Hey man, can ya try and make this?” The blacksmith, somehow, manufactured a frame. But then, what about the drum skins? The band went to a tannery and wrapped animal skin over the frame built by the blacksmith. This isn’t the only story The Scorpions have like this. You know what they did to their poor acoustic guitars? They did up their own wiring and soldered that shit by hand. What about that bass? Thankfully, one of those band members was a carpenter, so he built that shit from scratch. You can guarantee these motherfuckers didn’t pull a Hendrix and light that shit on fire. They probably tapped that shit to their leg and would stab a bitch if anyone came near. You can’t get more authentically funky than that. And remember, this is all before they even knew how to play a single note. Now, that’s some mammoth sized gumption. Feel like a milksop yet? Personally, I feel like a milksop getting breastfed at a dairy farm while sitting in a pile of cottage cheese. 

One of The Scorpions late founders, Al Tayeb Rabeh, was one of the first Sudanese to ever play the guitar. That’s for real. You’d think with all this homemade equipment that the album would sound like shit. But you’d be wrong. All the dedication that went into building their instruments also went into learning that shit. These guys are tight. They have solid horns, good drums, punchy bass, and slick fucking guitar licks on this motherfucker. On top of this, you get a distinct Sudanese influence into these funky jams that you won’t find anywhere else. This is the music of pure rebellion and a couple dudes with a dream. There’s a fuckton more to their story, but I’m not gonna ruin the whole surprise.

Everytime I listen to this album I find a new inspiration to do what I fucking want. Got a job interview? Listen to this shit for inspiration. Not enough confidence to stand out from the crowd? Try this shit on for size. Want to build a Jamaican bobsled team? Bring that shit. A Sudanese funk band? Why the fuck not? History favours the bold and adores the defiant. But if you want history to give ya a reach around you gotta do that shit with some pep in your step and a sweet-looking smile. It takes some huge fucking cantaloupes to break down social barriers, it takes sheer coolness to do it and look fly at the same time. The Scorpions are what funk is all about. 

 

Hof-Capelle Carlsruhe & Kristin Kares – Hommage à Joseph Aloys Schmittbaur

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There’s a strange delight in hearing the glass harmonica. The what? The glass harmonica. No, you don’t fucking blow into it. You play that bitch with your fingers. It makes a similar sound to when some dude wets the tip of their finger, circles the rim of their crystal glass, and stares at you all wide-eyed like a serial killer while the glass lets out that hypnotic hum. Benjamin Franklin invented this shit back in 1761 like a total weirdo. The instrument is strange, eerie in the same way a circus is, yet somehow it’s cool. It fits into that Amélie or Delicatessen world where some really attractive person dressed in monochromatic clothing plays an eclectic instrument. What?! That svelte shy blonde with the perfect skin all dressed in orange and blue plays the glass harmonica? Mais oui, c’est un putain de film de Jeunet. 

So, onto the next question that’s most likely on everyone’s minds. Who in the hot living caramel fuck is Joseph Aloys Schmittbaur? 

Don’t feel bad if you don’t recognize the name. Not a lot of people do. First off, he is old school. Like, even for the 1700s this motherfucker is old school. For context, this dude and Mozart were dropping tunes around the same time. As Mozart dropped those forward thinking hits Schmittbaur was like, “You know what? Fuck that New Age Mozart shit. I’m going back to the classics.” Some people in the classical game call this shtick “preclassical”. 

Schmittbaur was a German composer (no shit, just look at that fucking name), a music teacher, and he also made instruments. In the late 1700s, people knew him. He was a thing. Later on, everyone thought his sickest jams were written by Haydn. Ouch. This album is dedicated to Schmittbaur. Also, it’s first press. The majority of this music has never been recorded before. 

I don’t listen to this the same way I do Mozart. I listen to Schmittbaur like I would a ’70 hair metal band: according to the time and style they are trying to portray. So if you compare this shit to Haydn? This motherfucker is awesome. The orchestrations are as dramatic as preteens on first dates. The lows are oceans and the highs are peaks. Everyone on the album plays like total badasses (Shogo Fujii, Antonello Cola: oboes. Ulrich Dürr: timpani. Hans-Joachim Berg: soloviolin. Benedetta Costantini: violin. Gabriela Bradley: violoncello. Jane Lazarovic: violone. Philipp Maguerre: veriphon. Kirstin Kares: Harpsichord and pipe). And that glass harmonica I mentioned earlier? That shit breaks up these symphonies like a high-pitched bouncer at the club. Shit is tight.

There’s a tendency in the classical world to keep playing the top forty hits until everyone aggressively vomits on each other. But there’s tons of overlooked classical music that’s never been recorded. I get that classical musicians need some stacks so they gotta chuck out shit everyone knows. But what if, somehow, people actually started to listen to music they don’t instantly recognize? Shit, those people would have to be pretty cool. They’d be hella smart as well. They’d emit sexual pheromones so strong, shit could melt a car. But I guess not. Only people that listen to this album would have all of that. But, an audiophiliac can dream, motherfuckers. An audiophiliac can dream. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now Vs Now – The Buffering Cocoon

nowvsnow

Hot Christ on a bike, now that’s some good fucking jazz. 

This album was released back in September of last year. I completely missed it. This album passed by me like a blind goth sailor on a silent ship travelling through the dead blackness of space. I could lose points for writing about it now or not catching this shit in the first place. But, fuck it. Nothing stops me from writing about sonic waves that clench assholes and work like any good seductful jailbait does: it’s audacious, young, new, modern, and doesn’t give a flying fuck what you think.

Jason Lindner stands as bandleader and is the dude behind these slick licks. His lines fit snuggly next to motherfuckers like Thundercat, 8-bit Nintendo themes, Kraftwork, Black Moth Super Rainbow, and the melody lines from Aphex Twin. It’s a strange world of an undiluted jazz drunk without that nasty hangover to deal with afterward. Combined with the efforts of bassist Panagiotis Andreou and drummer Justin Tyson, these tunes come out with such elegance, dirt, and creativity it feels like the music 8-titted male aliens must strip dance to. I’ve heard some refer to this album as electronic, which … sure. You can call it electronic if you wanna be that dick. But, why limit what jazz can be?

There are points while listening to this album where the synth will border on some cheese. But just wait it out and give it a fucking second. Jason knows where’s he’s going. You can trust him. This album is bookended by two songs that have “buffering” in the title. Another “buffering” song is thrown into the middle for good measure. These songs are there to move your brain antennas onto their channel. Once there, they slide easily into your ears.

Many hardcore jazz heads will probably hate this album. Which, to me, means it’s working. This album doesn’t push genre boundaries, it burns them down and pisses on the ashes. But it doesn’t feel forced either. It does this in a natural way. These songs should be on every LSD playlist. In another world, this is the music of heated and sweaty dancefloors where everyone wears the same baby mask. And with each new dissonant and disorientating direction these happy-sounding video game synths take, the tension rises on this shit another 100 degrees. In the end, you can envision 8-titted male aliens strip dancing amongst a sweaty club of baby masks and everything is burning the fuck down. In other words, though this album may sound strange at first, this shit’s fire. 

 

 

Nothing Till Monday

I got tied up with some major shit. I won’t be able to post anything. But, don’t worry, I’ll be back soon with a fucking vengeance.

Keep listening, you audiophiliac motherfuckers, keep listening.

P.S. Just so I don’t keep you completely stranded, here are some albums I’m excited to listen to.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – January 11
Ill Considered – January 15
Deerhunter – January 18