Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Week That Was #9: Tribulations

Before you even begin reading this post, go watch Portishead. In Bristol. Last month. I'll wait. Okay.

The week before spring break is notorious for being a deathtrap of exams, papers, and other academic hazards. Mine was relatively light (but heavy on music!) compared to many of my friends, but I still managed to totally procrastinate on this update. That whole "do a blurb a day" plan? Not so much. So yeah, I'm writing this from scratch on Saturday evening, so I better get started. Enjoy!

I guess the first thing you'll notice is that Maria Taylor has staged a major coup, backed by her various associates. I've written about Azure Ray excessively, but has really thrilled me is Maria's first group, Little Red Rocket. Although still a collaboration between Maria and Orenda Fink, this band channels a youthful energy that's definitely been substituted for more mature introspection in latter work. It's fun, pretty, and really rocks out at times.

MP3: Little Red Rocket - Back To Where I Started
Buy: Here

Wait, so what about Orenda Fink? Well, she composed a solo album of her own, called Invisible Ones, and it's quite unique (inspirations include Haitian folk music), if not as accessible as Maria's wistful pop. Although there's definitely a vocal similarity, this album is a lot more solemn, even at its loudest. Unfortunately, this disparity seems to signal the end of Azure Ray, as Orenda has gone on to form another band called Art In Manila, although they've yet to release an album.

MP3: Orenda Fink - Invisible Ones Guard The Gate
Buy: Here

Man, this album is amazing. Although Aphex Twin is probably known more for his hard, slightly freakish work, perhaps epitomized by the disturbing "Come To Daddy," he really has a melodic side. Ambient suggests a certain minimalism, but although the instruments (or programs) are sparse, there's a real substance to this work that most electronic artists spend a career trying to duplicate.

MP3: Aphex Twin - Pulsewidth
Buy: Here

Ellen Allien's collaboration with Apparat yielded one of the best albums of last year. While I haven't delved into her prolific solo catalogue nearly enough, I did hear more of Berlinette, which, as the name suggests, is a bit of a tribute to her German hometown. While the actual singing that makes me so fond of Orchestra of Bubbles is more along the lines of vocal interjections, the immediacy of the music is so great, you don't really notice. Ellen plays at Studio B in a week with Miss Kittin.

MP3: Ellen Allien - Sehnsucht
Buy: Here

Damero is Marit Posch, a BPitch promo employee who recently released an album entitled Happy In Grey. While it's been called intelligent nap music, it's far from boring. While fair to say that the generally relaxed mood obscures any lyrical message, the point of this kinda of music is, well, not to make a point. Anyways, the album features a number of collaborations, including this great one with Apparat.

MP3: Damero - Passage To Silence (Feat Apparat)
Buy: Here

Rilo Kiley is working on an album after a hiatus year due to side projects. I finally gave their last album, More Adventurous, another listen, and my appreciation has definitely grown. In a market saturated with female vocalists (which I know more than anyone, eh?), Jenny's powerful delivery really stands out. The first track really emphasizes her soulful side, while the second is a really fun cover of The Postal Service's classic, with Blake handling vocals.

MP3: Rilo Kiley - I Never
MP3: Rilo Kiley - Such Great Heights
Buy: Here

Shuffle is a great feature, as long as you're open-minded. I heard of Doves about a year ago, as their album Some Cities placed on some end-of-the-year list (I think it was Under The Radar or something). I've had the album for ages, but finally got around to listening to it only recently. "Black and White Town" is a clear standout; it's pretty much a blueprint for anthemic, melodic rock. Look for a live post on these guys in the near future.

MP3: Doves - Black and White Town
Buy: Here

I'm From Barcelona is actually a 29-member crowd from Sweden, as just about everyone is these days. You've probably heard a lot about them elsewhere, but if you're late to the party, as I am, this song is particularly apt. It pretty much describes my usual mornings: throwing on clothes and racing to class, but in such a fun, catchy way, I don't really mind the sleep deprivation. Oh, and remember, if you live in the States, turn those clocks forward an hour. Yeah, I'm not a fan of Daylights Savings either, but this track should make the transition easier.

MP3: I'm From Barcelona - Oversleeping
Buy: Here

So that caps off a rather excessive day of posts. I am, as noted, now on spring break, and updates will be sporadic over the next week. To help guide you through SXSW (and beyond), check these sites:

Brooklyn Vegan has comprehensive pre-coverage, including a list of bands from Sweden and Montreal.

Music Is Art celebrates a year of visually stunning posts with a listen back.

Faronheit has Emily Haines' live solo set on MPR.

And, of course, there's always the usual suspects.

See you soon!


Anonymous said...

Off topic but do you know what happened to rbally's site?

the link you post here shows some recent posts but you can't download any of the shows?

James said...

I think rbally closed up shop around a month ago...anyway, on with my comment:

Selected Ambient Works 85-92 is basically the only important Aphex Twin album, in my mind. All the other stuff is good, certainly, but there's something stunning about how well SAW holds up to repeated listening.

Roland said...


And yeah, sorry about inactivity over the last week. Things should go back to normal soonish...

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