Been listening to the Avalanches‘ new LP Wildflower. Nutshell: first beats record I’ve heard since Entroducing that’s about listening, yet here specifically about hearing music in headphones while walking through a swiftly changing urban terrain. It’s an experience city dwellers know well. Album as imaginary playlist.
Which also reminds me: 16 years ago, while DJing in a Brooklyn restaurant, I received a gift.
One of the joint’s two owners, an Australian, was leaving the US permanently due to his southeast Asian wife’s (and their US citizen infant’s) inability to return to their NYC home after traveling abroad in the wake of 9/11’s heightened racial profiling. Oh, to love a country that loses its mind directly following a disaster.
In the week before his departure, I was DJing there, maybe for the second or third time ever.
They’d grown tired of the previous DJ, albeit a nice guy, and adept, etc, yet he spun the same Bob Marley-heavy set, each night, song-for-song. So I varied things. Also, I collected (and still do) NZ/Australian vinyl, and each night sprinkled in a decent amount of GoBetweens, Celibate Rifles, Bats, Cakekitchen, Birthday Party, etc alongside the LCD Soundsystem and Madlib-heavy needs of the early oughts. Not just because I figured he’d dig it; I would have done so anyway.
He approached me on the third night and rewarded me with a record his friends had made, explaining that, because he was unable to take it with him, he’d rather gift it to a DJ and get it played. I played it right there and loved it right away. I don’t even let my kids touch it or look at it. Now and then, I wipe it down with a diaper and check the odometer.
So: Avalanches: it found a good home.
Nice piece in Noisey about Aphex Twin‘s marketing strategy with the new Cheetah EP, which is less an EP than it is a synth gearhead’s workout, as it uses the famously un-usable Cheetah synth. As for the EP, somewhat plodding (maybe the Cheetah being a real obstacle) aside from the price of admission-worthy “CIRKLON3 (Kolkhoznaua mix)” lead track, as well as “2X202-St5,” which lifts the beat from “Smooth Criminal,” whch isn’t surprising if you’ve seen James’s superb Michael Jackson in the NSFW Windowlicker video. (if that’s him. Noisey says it is). Also don’t miss the magnetic “CIRKLON3 (Kolkhoznaua mix)” video, proving all videos ought to be directed by 12-year-olds.
Tigue -“Cranes” Classically-trained drum outfit collaborates with some indie heroes (Kid Millions, Ira Kaplan) for an inspired batch of Moondog-like original compositions. Better when they edge toward melody, but an uncompromising and eloquent percussion journey nonetheless.
Come to think of it, Tigue recalls the magnificent Ganger, who did something similar, ten years ago, albeit more rockist and breakbeat-influenced:
as well as the criminally underappreciated Dylan Group, going back even 20 years.
Vivien Goldman -“Resolutionary” Richly-deserved heroine worship, for her writing now and her music work then (make more!) is years overdue. I was already a big fan of her work with David Cunningham‘s Flying Lizards (and someday treat yourself & take a journey down Cunningham’s wormhole of fascinating dub and tape experiments) and this, which I’d never heard til now, to be honest, floored me. Produced by early PIL members, recorded with Raincoats members:
Don’t sleep on the Flying Lizards, neither, nor dismiss them for the relative novelty of their 1979 top ten hit “Money” either, recorded for $30. Hip hop heads been harvesting their shit for years, which still kicks:
REM -“Dead Letter Office” reissue
Like many my age, my first exposure to Pylon arrived via REM’s still-gorgeous take on Pylon’s “Crazy,” off REM’s odds-and-ends comp “Dead Letter Office.” Which didn’t have much else to recommend on it, at first issue, other than a shitfaced Stipe covering the great and partially insane Roger Miller, who was, as he describes himself below, “probably one of the greatest songwriters who ever lived.”
Pylon’s “Pylon Live,” like “Dead Letter Office,” is a fan-only situation. I’m a fan, and found it flat and poorly recorded. I was better served digging out my vinyl of Pylon’s splintered, proto-funk-punk that inspired a thousand agitpop ships.