I’m having one of those days where I fall into the bitstream of the internet and don’t make it out until I have become completely overwhelmed by sheer volumes of amazing music. I’ve been on an album buying frenzy lately – buying and ingesting to the point that I’m burning out new albums I’ve waited months for in the course of a couple of days. When in a situation like this I often find that it is good advice to step back and look for new things to fill the head with. This is what I’ve found.
The Bedroom Community. A collective of musicians/sound artists from all over the globe release albums on The Bedroom Community as a label, however they also apparently tour in various permutations under the same moniker. A great write-up in a recent issue of The Wire led me to their myspace and I absolutely fell in love with many of the calmingly apocalyptic suites and songs I found there. Of particular note I felt was artist Ben Frost’s new album By The Throat, an ethereally violent piece of work haunted by post-rock/industrial tendencies. If those two attributes sound at odds to some, they might be. Admittedly I’m reaching here – I don’t really know what Frost’s music sounds like. However, follow the same path I undertook with it, paying special attention to the track entitled ‘Hibakusja’ and maybe you’ll get what I’m saying. On Hibakusja the light plucking of chords is interfered with/accompanied by the most deafening throat manipulations I’ve heard since Mike Patton first threw on the ol’ ‘Stroke Me’ effect in Mr. Bungle.
Some of what’s on the Bedroom Community is a little to ‘acoustic’ for my tastes but that’s just me. Frost’s stuff especially reminds me a lot of a (moreso) dystopian Mogwai or Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Another album I really latched onto here was Valgeir Sigurdsson’s ‘dreamland’*. This is a dark and contemplative score that unfolds similar to a symphony but at moments peeks into the world of orchestral post-rock a la Sigur Ros. The ‘song’ element is there but in a more demanding way, a way in which the listener’s ability to weather the often delicate build-ups seem to actively enhance the crescendos. Check out The Bedroom Community here:
Now for the other end of the musical spectrum. Let’s talk Detroit.
It’s no secret the Gothic Midwestern city** is one of (if not the) birth place of much of what has come in electronic music since the early/mid-1980’s. However as dance, trance, rave, hip hop, trip hop and every other conceivable (and inconceivable) permutation has hatched and derived from the fountain of invisible channels cut into the aether between Detroit and Ibiza ‘back in the day‘ the Midwestern midwife often gets overlooked as a continued source for kick ass electronic music.
Believe me, it’s still coming out hot and hard in the city of perpetual steam.
I spent the better part of a day surfing around between myspace pages, investigating the current scenes and schemes of the Motor City and here’s what I found.
I was led into this Detroit thing by, again, an article in The Wire on DJ Stingray. After looking into his set I was blown away. I like a lot of electronic music but this guy – wow. It’s throwback but also new, it’s dance but also generally song-like in structure. So freakin’ cool. Check DJ Stingray out here:
Next up is Detroit’s Own DJ Surgeon. The Surgeon operates within the ‘ghetto tech’ paradigm and it works. Street level grooves that have a dark urban nature. Not the dark urban element I associate with Underworld (the darkest, most urban of the urban) but more transient in nature perhaps. Whereas Underworld is about discovering the sacred spaces and magickal relationships within the walls of urban space, ghetto tech, and especially Surgeon, have a fight-and-flight vibe going on – he holds down the beat like a pusher with a switchblade guarding his territory even while evolving the accompanying synths and samples like a man looking for the next uncharted dance floor.
Lastily we come to Jason Carr. While not currently residing in Detroit Mr. Carr is indeed born and raised Motor City product so I’m including him here. Also because his tracks rock. Probably more in the Darren Price kinship than the former two artists I mentioned Carr has a sort of ‘global experience’ brimming beneath the beats of his often science fiction themed tracks. Not that Surgeon and Stingray are limited by geographical M.O., but Carr has a little less of the kind of ‘functionality’ that adheres a scene together and a little more flights-of-fancy vibe. Or maybe I’m just struggling to tell you how good this stuff is with words when I should just let the music speak for itself.
* Soundtrack to a documentary about the environmental impact some of
Iceland’s recent industrial projects have had on the country.
** The one occasion I had to go to Detroit was an off-the-cuff trip to The Majestic Theatre to see Stereolab in, I believe, 2003. We only spent a few hours actually in the city but this I can tell you – the freakin’ place looks like Gotham city. There was literally perpetual steam pouring from the manhole covers everywhere we looked. This phenomenon has since been explained to me in a drunken conversation that I have absolutely no recollection of, thus remanding the entire thing to the cusp of urban legend in my own head.