Keith Rankin plays with sound, tickling it out until it spills. "Soft Channel 003," from Soft Channel, his latest effort as Giant Claw, fidgets with the ludic ecstasy—fizzing and sprawling across circuits and MIDI—by which Rankin has for years made his name. But just as the album cover for this newest offering depicts a misrecognition, a crisis in identification, "Soft Channel 003" gnaws at uncanny sonic territory. Over the course of the track, Rankin fiddles with familiarity and unfamiliarity, spontaneously splicing and unexpectedly dissasembling spurts and motifs. One standout interstice is the MIDI choir Rankin employs: unstable, it titillates, inhabiting a vocal register that always feels androgynous, located somewhere in between the head voice and the chest voice, the alto and the tenor. Despite its uncanniness, the voices frequently spasm into something quite delicate, quite precious: a fleeting melody that hints at something grander, something that would complete the punchline that all Rankin's sounds seem to riddle toward. Now effortlessly incorporated into his repertoire, code-switching across aesthetic sensibilities becomes a focal point as Rankin grates the sublime and the beautiful, cartoon slide whistles and shards of Satie's "Gymnopédie No. 1," together over his gurgling potpourri. A master impressionist, Rankin finds facsimile and structure too straightforward, too easy. Through this playful self-denial, the culinary asceticism, Rankin teases out something addictingly temporary, something effervescently evanescent, like the fizz before the swig.
The Euglossine Bee is an insect whose burnished exoskeleton glints. Flitting in and out of their erratic pollination patterns, the bees adorn flora like jewelry, gilded and opalescent. Rather than collecting nectar from the orchids they visit, male Euglossine Bees instead apply pollen as a cologne, extending their opulence to the realm of the olfactory. Gainesville, Florida-based musician Tristan Whitehill, better known as Euglossine, makes music just as bedazzled as the homonymous hymenoptera. On Sharp Time, his latest record for Orange Milk, Whitehill further lavishes plush synth sounds and pathways, ladling redolent hums and stabs into viscous forms too slippery to crystallize. Perhaps most emblematic of Euglossine's indulgent meanderings and becomings, "Phenomenological Manifold" stages the insectile flutterings and shimmerings across its generous 13-minute runtime. Bedizened with plodding lounge guitar and trickling arpeggiation, the track offers a winding, multifaceted experience across sensations—the very manifold encounters with twinkling and resplendent phenomena that the song's title promises. Glossy and thick, Euglossine's sonics transmute into perfume, fragrant with luxury and luster fit for the ostentatious bees of the same name.
Euglossine's syrupy Sharp Time touches down on July 21 via Orange Milk.
The Russian artist Kate Shilonosova moves through a stuttering, kitschy fever dream in the video clip for her track, "KKU." An alumni of the constantly-expanding Red Bull Music Academy, Shilonosova makes up one half of Glintspeak in addition to her work as NV. "KKU" is one of ten cerebral, cinematic jams on her new tape Binasu. Shilonosova seems to bridge the land between Björk and Kavinsky, with some heavy exploration into Japanese pop aesthetic acting as a nice thickening agent. Binasu is Japanese for "Venus," the figure depicted in the artwork by Orange Milk co-overlord Keith Rankin, and Shilonosova talks about the role this genre played in her music in an interview for Wonderzine, also mentioning American composer Laurie Anderson, as well as the Novation Supernova, a vintage synth prized for the "warmth" you can clearly hear fuzzing up her music.
Stream the album on Orange Milk's Bandcamp. The tape sold out; a second edition is forthcoming.
Welcome to the best boss fight you've never played. Machine Girl's M.O. ever she came into the fold as part of Dred Collective last year has always been to find a way to splice breakbeats of the funky and Amen kind into technicolor things that sound lifted from a dummied out stage from Streets of Rage. Now the NYC-based host-body's got a new split coming out on weirdo AdHoc fave Orange Milk, and b-side "Lillith" is a trip. The drums and split-second vocal snips come at you from every way, but the main anchor is like that gorgeous synth line backing the whole up. Someone put this on the final stage of a game, stat.
"Lillith" is taken from Gemini, which drops July 3 via Orange Milk, appropriately just in time for the fireworks.
Orange Milk’s newest batch includes another release from perennial favorite track maker, DJ, and painter Foodman, from Japan. The COULDWORK cassette is a semi-compilation album, a combination of old and new tracks by the artist, tracing his footwork evolution over the past few years. “Hitou He Go (秘湯へGO)" is infectious, with its cute, dreamy melodic highs chopped up by an airy 6-beat bassline. Foodman even managed to use a sample of a buzzing mosquito, stretched into 2:18 minutes, adding a muffled boom of syncopated lows on the aptly named “mosquito & clap”. The ten tracks borrow from genres as seemingly disparate as vapor-collage, spoken word, and noise, and Foodman has combined them in a way that “could work” and definitely does.
This is the first in a series of essays chronicling the intersection of humor and music.
Back in January, the internet rippled when Will Bevan showed his face. A bit more than a month after he released his River Dealer EP, the man behind Burial took to Hyperdub's website with a heartfelt thank you to his fans, labelfounder Kode9, and his parents. The reason people cared was not this outpouring of gratitude, but the fairly ridiculous selfie that accompanied it. Bevan surely could have phoned Hyperdub to request a professional for his long lusted-after portrait, but instead, he posted an earnest cell phone photo, the framing and lighting of which betrayed a man who does not point his camera phone toward himself very often. Significantly, the heretofore-faceless producer shared this photo just after the first release of his to boast an overt "message," the first time when Burial seemed to be reaching out to listeners, with a segment of a trans person's spoken story. The selfie and note goaded chuckles because Burial's fans never thought that the guy would unmask himself in such an emotionally upfront and ultimately positive way. From his oeuvre, we came to expect earnest statements from Burial, but never something so absurdly mundane.
Burial was perhaps the first true virtuoso of 20th century electronic music, blending ice cold bass grooves, relentless and tangled drum programming, and found sound through a populist concrète production style. His label Hyperdub, by backing acts as diverse as Flying Lotus, Hype Williams, and Zomby, coincided with a moment when non-dance fans were quickly realizing that electronic music had moved well past rave and eurotrash cliches. For a decent segment of the independent music public that groaned through Ace of Bass's and Eiffel 65's relentless MTV play, Hyperdub was the "in" for innovative and freaky electronic music, a town crier declaring the death of the gauche and gaudy on the dancefloor.
Three-and-a-half weeks later, we're still reeling from the death of DJ Rashad. Enough time has passed for the music community to begin reflecting on his humanity and musical legacy, and we invited some folks both close to and far away from Rashad to share some thoughts and memories.
Excerpted from a phone interview:
Rashad was like one of the craziest MFs you’d ever want to meet. Dude would touch a beat machine and just make something out of crap, just make it. I couldn’t do it, but we was always just rooting on each other. I would make tracks and be like, “Whatcha got, whatcha got?” And he’d be like, “Have I got something for you!” He'd play me something and I'd be like, “Ahhh, I gotta go back to the boards, make five more." Basically we was just competing with each other, but on the kindness of brotherly love. We played together. We played a lot of footwork battles. You’d know we was in the building. Rashad would play two, I’d play two, he’d play two, I’d play two, Spinn would would jump in and he’d play two, RP would jump in and he’d play two, Clent’s there and he’d come in and he’d play two. Just having fun-- me and Rashad going back to back, back to back, killing it.
I’ve been knowing him since 1997-- since he was a kid. I already knew Clent, I already knew Gant-Man. I had met Spinn through DJ Fast in the beginning of ‘97. [Rashad] was like “I’ve got the ‘Get Up Joe’ record, with you and Eric Martin.” I’d be like, “Yeah, you like that record? “Man I love that shit!” From then we just-- oh man-- became the best of friends. At a point we stopped seeing each other, because they’re all the way on the South Side, the South 'burbs, and I’m all the way on the West Side. Every now and then at parties or something, every now and then from ‘99-- we were just bumping heads-- until 2004, when I ran into him. Spinn and Rashad were dropping off a CD called Land of Smackdown Vol. 2, and I was showing them the record shops on the West Side that they forgot. When they started doing their own thing, they was with Beat Down Music with DJ Clent. They decided to leave and start their own network, which was Ghettoteknitianz. This was 2004.
As the years went on, we just became the best of friends. We jammed all over again. Rashad was always a hardworking dude. He might seem wild and all that, but this dude actually carried a job. He worked it! He used to work on a boat in Hawaii, on a cruise boat, getting money. But he left [the footwork scene at the time], so it was just me and Spinn and Clent and RP. He would come back. “I’m ready to get back down here, maybe get another job doing administrative things.” You a beast, working. My dumb ass can’t even get a job. But he was making heat! He started to deal with Godfather. He and Spinn started dealing with him, and he told me to get involved and I was all, “Nah, I don’t really want to…” It’s kinda crazy, because when other crews was doing stuff, we was just changing up our style. Styles was just changing, changing, changing, changing, changing. Just traveling together. When you travel together, you bond even closer. So it’s like we could be out in London somewhere, we could go to the store, go get some food, we gotta eat. We just sit and just talk about the future: the future and the plans for Teklife, or Geto DJs, or what I’m doing with Tek DJs, what we’re trying to do to further it.
Summing that up: I was very sad. I felt like a part of me had died. I had just talked to him bro, just talked to him [when the news of Rashad's death came]. Me and Bobby Skills were at the the studio together, and I had a whole bunch of new tracks and played [Rashad] some over Skype, and he was like, “Oh my god man, send that to me!” So I sent that to him along with Bobby’s, because he did a track called “'Bout That Life.” I was in New York when I got the call, and it was chaos at that moment. Something that was really surreal-- a lot of people couldn’t deal with it, a lot of people couldn’t accept it. But I look at it as a sign from God saying, “Yeah, I can give it, but I can also take it away.” God doesn’t make any mistakes. It was for a reason. The impact that he made is so big. That will never die.
Our job is to keep it going, keep it cracking, because if the situation happened-- knock on wood-- with me or RP or Spinn or Clent, he would do the same thing for us. The same thing. We got a job to do. All I’ve got to say is thank God for Rashad, thank God for him making this ultimate music, sharing ideas. No mess with everybody-- don’t want everybody to go to sleep because we gonna fresh paint you to death. That’s kiddie stuff. We go hard having fun, doing music. Thank God for Rashad. We always gonna pump his music, ain’t nothing going away. That’s just gonna make me go even harder, make everyone else go ever harder. Rashad man, his heart was so big, dude. I can smile with that bro. I’m not sad, not at all. The only thing we have is memories; we can’t live forever. And like Rashad would say, “Don’t just sit around-- stop bullshittin’, man. Let’s track out. Let’s go. We got some weed. We got some blunts. C’mon, let’s do this.”
Jerry Paper is the casiotone crooner we need right now. His exuberant melancholy is what's going to yank us out of this muck we like to call our day-to-day. Jerry Paper realizes that "day-to-day" means "slow death" but he, like all the truest hedonists, knows that there's no party quite like annhilation. Jerry Paper doesn't give a damn that his aesthetic is three-to-five years out of style-- he's got a thrift store synthesizer and he knows how to use it. In anticipation of his first full-legnth in 2013, International Man of Misery, on Orange Milk, Jerry Paper compiled us a mix that perfectly sums up every inflection you'll hear in his music. "10 Songs To Potentiate Transcendent Experiences Of Melancholy" boasts a schmaltzy array of AOR, girl group pop, Scott Walker lounge lizardelia, Ad Hoc fave Eola, and the Beach Boys doing a bad Beach Boys impression. All vintage, all Jerry. Jerry Paper will be releasing an tape on Digitalis as well, Fuzzy Logic. Make sure to check out a cut from International Man of Misery below, and check out the tracklist to the mix after the jump.