Lil Peep's death due to an overdose recently crystallized a lot of fears I've had about the ever-increasingly blasé attitude within the younger rap crowd about mixing opiates and benzos and just doing excess to excess. Conversely, I found myself hearing the remix of Mike Posner's painful "I Took A Pill In Ibiza" and was kinda gobsmacked at how its own anti-drug message got buried under the aspirational hedonism of tropical thoughts. And I just sorta went from there...trying to start vocalize a lot of the rants I find going on in my head as it helps me to both get clarity while also getting buried in thoughts...fun times!Read More
Been a busy weekend at zurkonic HQ, having gone out two of the past three nights. Not usual to say the least. But it's been damn fun, dancing myself clean to Amsterdam's Beesmunt Soundsystem at a delightfully classy mezcal bar on Thursday and wading in the oceanic piano of Dominique Lawalrée at the San Damiano Mission on Saturday evening. And while the two might seem diametrically opposed, live they both crafted a sublime and patient musical space in which to get forever lost. It was a fun time. Onwards!Read More
While I haven't been updating this space as much as I would like this fall, it hasn't been for a lack of writing. Sometimes it helps to get paid for this stuff, even when you end up putting in more hours than any rate can justify. And the team over at Gather of the Tribes has always been amazing in giving me a place to write about some of my other interests. From the web series American Koko to the art of Kara Walker's--whose show at Sikemma & Jenkins this fall was a goddamn revelation--and the late Barkley L. Hendricks, all these articles were serious labors of love. And while they could have all benefited from a healthy outside edit, there's more good than bad, I think;) Check em out!
Damn it's been a moment. But perhaps it's just been the quiet before the storm as I've been working on a couple of deep dives and have some interviews that should be rolling in...at some point. Either way, have been working heavily on a piece assessing the state of music criticism in 2017 and knowing I wasn't going to get it done this week, I felt it at least fitting to engage in some music criticism of my own and probe some of the questions I've been struggling with in real time. Selecting four albums I haven't seen much coverage of, including the most recent Shed album that was released to the kind of deafening silence you'd expect of a secret press embargo ie. the Ducktails controversy. But we'll get to all of that soon...for now, some werid af albums that I can't recommend enough. Onward!Read More
This week I'm thrilled to share my interview with Austin, TX-based artist, musician, and graphic designer of many posters and album covers, Jaime Zuverza. In addition to sharing the same two first letters in our last name, the past eleven months has seen me developing a sincere relationship both Jaime the person and his art. It often feels the more I get to know him, the less I understand his art, but also the more I enjoy it. As I emote after the jump, interviews make for funny bedfellows and while Zuverza seems more like a kindred spirit, I found myself somewhat at a loss for words when trying to describe his art that blends surrealistic styles old and new across a host of mediums. Fortunately, Jaime turned in a truly beautiful interview so throw yourself into his world and get lost in his cosmic desert.Read More
This month's round-up of twelves finds us looking noticeably backwards via a number of clutch reissues, new releases from trusted hands, and older twelves that managed to pass us by the first time around. Inspired by my on-and-off reading of Samuel L. Delany's sci-fi epic Dhalgren, which is something of a Ulysses-like day-in-the-life of a dystopic midwestern city, the tracks featured within all push and pull while cycling in place, eager to transcend their templates while carving out new terrain within old husks. From a trilogy of overlooked dub techno twelves released on both sides of the Atlantic to the parallel world-like Chicago-derived house music of Ozel AB and the return of Mix Mup's mangled microhouse, we also take in a pair of recent reissues in the form of D'Arcangelo and C++s barbed electro and house. Wrapping things up, we jump back in time to take in a deep cut from the hollowed back catalog of Torsten Profröck while finding a modern day kinship in the mutant UK breakbeats of Mischa Lively. It's a heady one, for sure, folks.Read More
Being neck-deep in a couple deep dives right now, an utterly bizarre and just all-around weird experience that happened to me last Monday was just too good not to share. To make ends meet, I've been doing odd jobs via a number of different online platforms, which has been a rich source of material for future stories, essays, etc. Hey, it's not like writers aren't upfront about being leeches...right? Anyhoo, what follows before is a story that while lacking in a big "payoff" does provide an eerie insight into courtship-cum-stalking in the age of the service economy, especially for those who have basically grown up alongside it. Also, it's also a testament to how naive and gullible of a person I am...fortunately I was dealing with a lovelorn 22 year-old and not an axe murderer, or at least I'm pretty sure.Read More
OK, despite the somewhat confrontational title, I've tried to put down the rants and editorializing--with mixed results and just for a hot minute--to put together what is hopefully a truly useful guide to finding music, both IRL and online. From music mags and sites to podcasts, musical resources, and much more, this is an ongoing project to not catalog every music site out there, but those sites and strategies that when deployed in whatever combination feels right for you, will help you to learn more about music and discover songs and albums that might not have otherwise popped up on a playlist or one of P4K's "best of" lists. And please, go HAM in the comments, be it telling me off for not including some amazing site I either forgot or am unfamiliar with or sharing your own methods for finding new music. Now, time to get lost in the online music world....Read More
For as much as I dislike this part of the summer, there's always something special about it from a musical standpoint. Namely, I find myself drawn to funky and hard records with tracks full of machine grooves that pulverize each and every rhythmic molecule, picking apart a genre's DNA in the process. The four artists included in this round-up are each at different stages of their respective careers, with the oldest and youngest releasing two of the most refreshing and focused albums in their genres in the form of Nídia's slippery debut album out on Príncipe and Jay-Z's recharged and renewed 4:44--bootlegged from Tidal, but of course. Meanwhile, Bill Converse and Karen Gwyer, having released their second and third full-lengths respectively, are established techno producers whose global profiles have both been on the rise during the past couple of years. In contrast to Nídia and 4:44, both albums are considerably safe affairs that some may charge as being prime examples of dance music lacking the funkiness of the Detroit and Chicago sounds they are so faithfully channeling. However formalist either record is, both channel a certain raw emotionality that's not just funky, it's downright moving. Let's get to it...Read More
So I've been kinda losing my mind and money over a loosely-assembled coterie of producers in the UK circling around the Timedance, Mistry, Fringe White, and Wisdom Teeth labels in addition to hijacking the current release schedules of the venerable and always on-it Hessle and Hemlock labels. Unfortunately, as far as the stateside press has run, there's been a scarily deafening silence over what I consider to be the best moment in UK dance music since 06/07 (dawn of dubstep). To try and correct this, I'm going to be featuring more of these records in my singles round-ups alongside something a bit more substantial in the coming weeks and months. But for now, let's take a look at releases from Hodge, Parris, Laksa, and a long-lost recording from Drexciyan overlord James Stinson himself.Read More
Now for something totally and wonderfully different... Following on from a solid five weeks of posts about music, including the must-read interviews with Medical Records' and Unseen Worlds' respective Troy Wadsworth and Tommy McCutchon, I'm beyond thrilled not just to return to the visual arts, but to do so with a genre of art that I'm not incredibly super familiar with: Erotic art. I'm still not sure how I first came across the work of Apollonia Saintclair, but I still can't forget the peculiar feeling of confused tittilation I experienced as I began digging through her considerable body of surrealist-informed erotic art. Even before I started digging into her different and highly engaging interviews, I knew I had to at least attempt to interview her as I was deeply aroused and challenged by her singular sense of what's sexy and compelling to look at. Kindly agreeing to an email interview--which I'm now starting to grasp just how fortunate that was considering that she's what the youth might call "a big deal"--the timing worked out quite well as Saintclair is currently promoting her first published collection of her work, Ink is my Blood. Read on to learn about narrative engines, symbolic fields, and surrealist erotica.Read More
One of the first deep dives I wrote for this site was spurred by the Unseen Worlds' 3xLP compilation of legendary computer music performer Carl Stone. Not knowing the label already had another release coming next month in the form of C-Schulz's FRÜHE JAHRE, a vexing, seemingly genre-less collection of late 80s and early 90s electronic music released by the German eccentric, when contacted by the label's founder Tommy McCutchon with the idea of reviewing it, I couldn't help but ask him to go one step further and do an interview. Tommy was more than game and turned in an interview that makes for an accidentally perfect follow-up to the journey down musical memory lane that Medical's Dr. Troy took us down last week. Delving into reissue trends, the arbitrary qualities of musical formats and audiophile tendencies that led him to start the label, in addition to sharing his thoughts on streaming, vinyl, and Ethiopiques, this is a must-read imho. Enjoy.Read More
This is one that has been a minute in the making, but also one of those interviews that when you start editing it, you realize how little work you actually have to do because the person you're interviewing is so passionate and earnest in their contribution to the contemporary underground musical discourse. I first met Troy last year online, much like I do a lot of my new music buds these days. A fellow member of a nerdy-yet-not-nerdy-enough record collector group on the ol' FB, the type of sincere enthusiasm Troy brings to running his label Medical Records label and its techno-focused Transfusions sub-label was evident from pretty much my first interaction with him, enthusing about the different records I would post (and vice versa). He's the type of "music dude" who may work in the "industry" but like Pete Swanson or Matt Werth of RVNG, he's actually a music fan--turns out that the vast majority of people working in music don't really like it, or at least I've found that to be all-too true (and so, so sad). In an attempt to try something a bit different, Troy and I didn't actually talk much about the label as much as the years leading up to it, with him serving as tour guide through his own musical history. We touch on his days as a music fan growing up in rural and Dallas-area Texas, his deep and abiding love for such disparate genres as industrial techno, synth-pop, Neue Deutsche Welle, Minimal Wave, and 90s UK indie, and much more, giving some crucial insight into how Medical Record's 'eclectic' output came to be.Read More
We head into the past to make sense of the Tresor label's recent renaissance before taking a deep dive into the discography of Porter Ricks and try to make heads or tails of Terrence Dixon's baffling new EP for the label as well! Oh, and since we're taking a long overdue look at the label after it celebrated its twenty-fifth birthday, it only makes sense to take qa quick overview of their curious and engaging Dreamy Harbor. Onward!Read More
And now for something a little bit different. We don't listen to music in a vacuum, as much as we'd like to pretend we do, and following a soul-shaking panic attack, I found myself approaching this review from a much different standpoint. I chart my personal history with anxiety while also taking in some of the crap on the internet that needlessly feeds into my various neuroses that shape how I engage with music. Oh, and there's an in-depth dive into a trio of ambient and quasi-New Age reissues in the form of Astral Industries' Chi and The Heavenly Music Corporation platters alongside Love All Day's vinyl release of the long-lost recording of Planetary Peace's synthesizer spiritualist folk-pop. So strap on your oxygen tank and join me for a swim through the informational and psychological ether...OF YOUR MIND.Read More
Having been busy working on some long-form articles for this site alongside working on some exciting and forthcoming interviews, a new chapter of Single Life has been more than overdue. Similar to last time's discovery of the marvelous Sikora, I found myself encountering another new voice from the 90s in the form of Delsin's reissue of Norken's Southern Soul platter from 1997. Delsin's other king, Newworldaquarium, makes a more-than-welcome return to the new bin with his first release of new material since 2008 (compilation cameos not withstanding). Moving to the new school, we give a listen to Glaswegian Gordon McKinnon's Strange Culture alias from his release for the Invisible Inc. label. And wrapping things up are two remixes from Convextion and Japan Blues that were released last year and reveal a connection to the shadowy and shady Berceuse Heroique Label who gets a much closer look. Onwards!Read More
Well, it's been a long time coming, but I finally created a Mixes page where I can keep the ever-growing trove of radio shows and mixes I'm making for you to listen to! And of course, I'm adding track lists as I make them so with the exception of the two I just uploaded to my Mixcloud, the rest are covered. So put these on, get some work done, and hopefully find some new music you love! I'll be updating it on the regs so check back and click the link in the top navigation!
So I used to be quite the post-rock junkie back in the early 00's and few bands got me feeling things like Toronto's Do Make Say Think, a band that drew upon the emotionality inherent in live instrumental music while organically cultivating a distinct set of grooves that would make the fathers of fusion smile. Nonetheless, like most bands from that period of my life, I found myself seemingly outgrowing the group's sound for period, especially after the two less-than-stellar albums released at the tail end of the 00's. That's all changed with the band's new album, conceived after getting back together following their label Constellation Record's Fifteenth Anniversary show, which sees them returning to what made their earlier album such classics while also pointing to new and exciting directions. So to celebrate this occasion, I did the only thing I know how: I reviewed their entire catalog. So without further ado, let's dive on in....Read More
When I started this site last fall, it was mainly to try and keep myself busy while I figured out what to do next with my life. Well, it turns out that this is a part of that, writing about music and life. But nonetheless, I've tried to keep my music writing decidedly in the "hobby" category as not only is it a super-competitive market, but I also want to say what I want to say and I just can't smile at someone after a shitty performance and say "Great job!" Not in my DNA.
Anyhoo, sycophant journalists aside, it felt more than a bit fateful when I saw that the University of Washington in Seattle would be putting on a performance of Harry Partch's adaptation of Sophocles' Oedipus. You see, I had a best friend who was basically like my little brother and he died a little over four years ago. And when I say little brother, I mean he truly was like my dream little brother; not only did we routinely get mistaken for one another in the tiny city of Wooster, Ohio, but he would take whatever music or book I gave him and absorb it so completely that I still can't quite deal with what a loss it was when he passed.
Being prone to obsessions like myself, one of his was the composer Harry Partch; eccentric composer and creator of a forty-three-note scale, subject of multiple documentaries along with films made during his lifetime, and a homosexual hobo for good measure. To be honest, I always found his music a bit grating--which it is, at first, but spend some time with it and a world of wonders truly does await you--but when I saw the listing in Oedipus in the weekly show list I get as a music preview writer for Seattle's alt-newspaper The Stranger (it's a glamorous life, this) it was like I had written a pitch before I had even processed that information. And lucky enough, it was accepted and published a week or so back.
In it, I focus on how Partch viewed the human voice as being central to his artistic endeavor. As he saw it, when we speak we glide over different micro-tonalities--we don't speak in twelve tones like they do in the opera. Hence the forty-three notes that Partch derived using the ideas of Greek mathematician Pythagoras was his attempt to nail down the countless microtones that we touch upon when we speak. And to extend that idea, which was unfortunately boiled down to one sentence in the edited piece, I realized that this era of detuned-autotuned sing-song-rap is in many ways likely in line with what Partch envisioned had he the technological means. When Partch spoke, he did so in a half-tonal way where it sometimes sounded like he was singing and then he wasn't. This type of sung-not-sung speech has found a contemporary analog in Autotune-assisted rap.
But wait, doesn't Autotune actually eradicate micro tonalities, reconfiguring the voice's nuances so that we hit one of those twelve notes right on the money, like an android? Yes, but in the post-Young Thug/Lil Yachty rap landscape, not so many people rap anymore. Rather, you have thousands of young men and women, like Atlanta's SahBabii, who release catchy-as-hell and menacing half-sung paeans to their daily struggles. And these guys aren't trying to sound like Cher on "Believe" where Autotune helped to enhance her already on-pitch register. Rather, much like Partch did when he spoke, they sing-rap their lyrics in a manner that when processed through Autotune confronts the listener with a polyphony of microtonalities latent in everyday speech. And the reason, I believe, that audiences have been so receptive to the likes of Future and Thugger is not only do they write catchy hooks, but they're hooks that you can really sing along with and not have to worry about sounding like Gloria Estefan (man, I'm really going HAM with the diva references.) Anyhoo, that's likely a piece in and of itself but do check out my Partch article over at The Stranger, where I also do weekly show previews! It's the editorial circle of life.
OK, it's been a minute, but stoked to renew our interview series with this dense and rewarding interview with the artist Phillip Stearns. I was first introduced to him via his GlitchTextiles, a pretty savvy line of bedspreads and pillow cases adorned with patterns captured from different digital glitches. It wasn't until I began speaking to Stearns that I was only at the tip of a wildly inter-disciplinary, almost fractal body of work that takes in circuit bending, signal manipulation, the materiality (and immateriality) of music, and a whole bunch more. So buckle in as we dive headfirst into the heady world of glitch art.Read More