After the triumph of OK Computer, Radiohead fell into a creative tailspin -- and frontman Thom Yorke into a nervous breakdown. Exhausted from touring, hounded by press, and jaded by copycats, he escaped into the electronica scene pioneered by Kraftwerk and Warp Records -- fertile ground, the band discovered. Trading spacey rock for apocalyptic brooding, they teased their new sound not with singles or music videos but with innovative web streaming and cryptic, dreamlike "blips" -- winterlands, flocks of cubes, eyeballs, bears. After nearly breaking up over tracklist angst, they cut the kid in half. Thus fifteen years ago today, Kid A and (later) Amnesiac debuted, a confounding mix of electronic fugue, whalesong, pulsing IDM, drunken piano, and epic jazz funeral whose insights into anxiety, political dysfunction, and climate crisis would make it one of the most revered albums of the twenty-first century. See the documentary Reflections on Kid A for interviews and live cuts, or look inside for much more. [more inside]
We wanted to create something quite muscular and meaty. I was getting a little disenchanted with boring wet music. I wanted something with some kind of punch to it ...Esben and the Witch formed in 2008 after neophyte guitarist Thomas Fisher bumped into old friend Rachel Davies on the street in Brighton and asked if she'd like to be in a band. Together with multi-instrumentalist Daniel Copeman, they started making a kind of bruised, ghostly electro goth-pop that drew comparisons with dubstep and witch house. Then things changed. Their third album, A New Nature, recorded with Steve Albini after a successful Kickstarter campaign, sees the band step away from their electro-pop origins, combining English-major Davies' lyrical obsessions with Herman Hesse and Jack London with the band's love of uncompromising noise, psych, and transcendent post rock. A New Nature, released last month, can be streamed via Stereogum.
Deep Elm Records, which turns 20 years old next year, today announced that all 200+ of its albums are available on a "name your price, no minimum" basis: "If you have means please show them love by naming your price. If you do not have any means, in exchange for each download we kindly request that you post, share, tag and tweet to tell your friends about each album as our bands depend on your word of mouth." [more inside]
The Roots of Orchis (Facebook page) don't seem to be active much these days, but sometimes it's nice to look back. Their peak was probably their 2002 album, Some Things Plural (Bandcamp), which blends the mellow post-rock styles of Tortoise with the downtempo, instrumental hip-hop grooves of early era DJ Shadow. For example, the first track "develops into a smooth post-rocking instrumental with a dusty groove that never imagines itself any more pimped out than it is." For another fantastic blend of relaxed instruments and subtle turntablism, check out their take on Björk's Possibly Maybe, from the Read: Interpreting Björk compilation. [more inside]
If you've been tracking gloomy music from witch house sounds to doomy black metal stuff, you might have heard the name Chelsea Wolfe, who contributed to a hazy Halloween-all-year sounding 2-Pac/Notorious B.I.G. mixtape thing and covered Black Spell of Destruction, which was originally by Burzum. There was also her cover of The Modern Age, from the tribute compilation to The Strokes Is This It (prev). Then there are her two past albums: first The Grime And The Glow, which employed lo-fi 8-track tape hiss to add a haunted ambiance, then Apokalypsis, "moody drone-folk" likened to the sounds of PJ Harvey and Scout Niblett. If that catches your interest, great. But may I suggest skip ahead to the current album, Pain is Beauty, "emotionally exhausting in equally mad and enjoyable ways," in which the "permanent Halloween costume" of prior albums is cast aside, and "we get a better sense of her talent and spirit."
Deafheaven are a black metal/shoegaze/post-rock/emo/ambient/pop-metal/what-have-you band from San Francisco. The band consists of vocalist George Clarke and guitarist/songwriter Kerry McCoy and are signed to Deathwish Inc. [more inside]
Teeth of the Sea are a quartet of clean-cut young men from North London. They work in shops. Together, they make a near indescribable noise, a bit like Sketches of Spain-era Miles Davis recordings reimagined by slightly scary, 30-something metalheads with a thing for Euro-sleaze cinema, cheap lager, philosophy and noise rock. They are, genuinely, not like other bands. [more inside]
You might have seen the hours of music from Bloglin last year, but Мишка ("Mishka," or "bear cub" in Russian) has another treasure trove of music: free albums, anthologies, and mixtapes on Bandcamp. They started a bit slow with a single mixtape in 2009 from Ninjasonik, and 2010 wasn't too active. But in 2011 they had 9 releases, and already 14 in 2012, the newest being the debut album from 19-year-old nu-disco producer Cream Dream. A handy rundown of the releases to date below the fold. [more inside]
"Rhyece O’Neill is an intense young man. A polemical folk singer, a producer of bass-heavy dance music, a protester, and a digital media worker for a major record label. He’s unlike anyone else in Australia’s dubstep landscape." Cyclic Defrost interviews O'Neill, aka electronic/dub/dubstep producer Westernsynthetics, and head of the Sub Continental Dub label. You can skip the rest and hear two streaming mixes from Westernsynthetics, 19 tracks from the Sub Continental Dub label, plus the label's first three singles, or continue inside for background, context, and even more music. [more inside]
Fluid Radio stream experimental frequencies into the ether. Channel 2 is especially worth a listen, flowing forth a fairly constant warm wash of haunting melancholy and mellow fruitiness in post folk and post rock form. The reviews on the site appear to be written by an offspring of Monty Cantsin and Rrose Sélavy: I don't know what they're saying, but the reading of them brings zen-like quietude.
A couple hours of streaming music, courtesy of the friends of Bloglin (potentially NSFW banner, if you aren't blocking scripts). Browse through the audio on Soundcloud (57 uploads to date, and most are mixes), or sort through Blogin by categories (29 Keep Watch mixes, 167 mixtapes, and 3,235 music posts [though many are reviews and don't include handy downloads]). The music is mostly electronic, with some odd jaunts into post-rock/gothic styles and even some punk. [more inside]
Kashiwa Daisuke is a japanese post-rock musician, (formerly in Yodaka) who specializes in gorgeous, epic, glitchy piano pieces that constantly seem on the verge of falling apart... Stella, April 02, Write Once, Run Melos are my favorites.
The Jónsi and Alex (Recipe) Show: join Jónsi Birgisson (frontman of Sigur Rós), Alex Somers and their very loud blender to make raw food recipes. They made three videos from their Good Heart recipe book, for Macadamia Monster Mash, Raw Strawberry Pie, and Nammi Nammi. If coconut, almonds, dates and agave (heavily featured in their three recipes) aren't your thing, enjoy a couple dreamy videos from the couple's album Riceboy Sleeps: All the Big Trees and Daníell in the Sea. See also: Sometimes I Get Scared (a distortion-heavy non-album track), and Jónsi and Alex talk about their album, with parts of the tracks in the background. [more inside]
Connecticut's Have a Nice Life is responsible for one of the year's most acclaimed, highly conceptual albums this year, Deathconsciousness. The two discs (entitled The Plow That Broke The Plains and The Future, respectively) feature music spanning over five years of collaboration between the two artists, and are accompanied by a 75-page booklet on medieval Italian heretics in lieu of liner notes. Combining elements of shoegaze, new wave, ambient drone, post-rock, experimental industrial, avant-garde dark metal, and electronic music, and citing references such as My Bloody Valentine and Joy Division to their credit, the original and only pressings sold out within hours. Full stream of all 85 minutes available here. Direct mp3 samples here and here. [more inside]
Postrock. A relatively new genre which continues to evolve in scope and definition, postrock is a treat to the ears. With bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Explosions in the Sky, Sigur Rós, Do Make Say Think, and Mogwai at the helm, it has slowly grown in recognition through movie soundtracks. Yes, there's quite a plethora of postrock bands, but is anything necessarily revolutionary, or just a rehash of past ideas brought into contemporary context?