Friday, January 25, 2008

You Suck at Photoshop: A Love Story

The first in a lovely, unsettling series.

Bonus action: If you make it to number four, here's the relevant ebay auction.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Top-Notch Knob-Twiddled, Synth-Drenched, Loop-Ridden, Click-Infested, Hyperreal Tweaker Jazz of Yesteryear

f/k/a "Top (200)7 Electronic Albums of 2007"

originally published at

Why seven? Because there were only seven good electronic albums released last year.

That I heard.



To remember.

In January.


7. Burial - Untrue (Hyperdub)

For some unfathomable hasn't-read-Pitchfork-since-2004 reason, I'd managed to avoid all news of this album until roughly the end of last year, when the entirety of the hipper-than-me interwubs trumpeted its minimalist genius and prodded me into dim awareness. You know what? It's rather good. I like it. If I'm slavishly working on something in a dark room with big headphones and the remnants of a hangover, "Untrue" fits that mood. On the other hand, it belongs to a flavor-of-the-month subgenre known as "dubstep," which is unfortunate, since what that ridiculous label says to me is that a) it's British; b) it's probably another dubby, garage-y soundalike with differently configured doodads; and c) it features vocals from someone who sounds uncannily like Craig David and whose voice will ruin any possible enjoyment until, through aural attrition, it fades to irrelevance like so much forgotten Kodachrome.

6. Doveman - With My Left Hand I Raise the Dead (Brassland)

There's this local radio show, "Expansions," that sneaks up on me late Sunday nights while I'm navigating Seattle's too-few thoroughfares, wending my way home through idiots in Lexi. Oftentimes, at some point during one of the show's 45-minute ambient freak-outs, I happily stumble upon what I'm convinced is a sort of spiritual tether with the DJ. He has chosen this particular song at this particular moment because he wants me to remember a late-autumn Tuesday in the fourth grade and I am taking that journey with him and it is good. Inevitably, Mr. DJ later pipes up to say "that was Doveman with his latest white label release, 'some crap I recorded on a Playskool microphone in the bathroom.'" This here album may not feature the above track, but it's worth a listen nonetheless. Oh, hey, plus! He (Doveman) took part in a Stereogum-sponsored "OK Computer" tribute project, an idea of which I can't quite seem to disapprove. Please do check out his take on "Airbag," which reminds me a hell of a lot of Mr. Yorke's once-upon-a-time collaborations with Sparklehorse and U.N.C.L.E. Funny, that.

5. Dan Deacon - Spiderman of the Rings (Carpark)

Now that trance and its various deformed offspring have for all intents and purposes gone the way of the glowstick, the word "anthemic" no longer gets tossed around with the abandon of years past (albeit with one notable Arcade Fire exception). I suppose that's probably for the best, but my god if Dan Deacon's hyperactive drums, schizophrenic arpeggios, and plaintive, mutated nonsense lyrics aren't absolutely, unironically anthemic. Something like early (i.e. good) Orbital or Underworld, only with the way-too-excited-to-be-here naivety and energy of Danielson. Could be I've just fallen for some slick postmodern joke. I hope not.

4. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver (DFA)

Um.. So you may have heard of this album. It's pretty okay. Lend an ear to the sequence of "North American Scum" through "All My Friends" (emphasis on the latter) for a 20-minute object lesson in how to structure a generational soundtrack. And this coming from a guy who tends otherwise to lavish scorn and indifference on LCD Soundsystem at every opportunity.

3. Apparat - Walls (Shitkatapult)

I briefly considered turning this column into a "top ten albums to listen to at work." That is, until I realized exactly how little anyone might care about said category. And yet! Had it been so, this gem of a record might have stood a chance at garnering the coveted top spot. It's mesmerising! Adaptive! Rewarding! Constantly varied yet thematically unified! Still not as good as his "Orchestra of Bubbles" collaboration with Ellen Allien! Oddly, the album's lone single, "HoldOn," stands out as one of its weaker offerings. Of course, this may have something to do with my aforementioned distaste for the breathy, sweat-dripping male vocals that pervade European dance pop. I much prefer when Mr. Ring treats voices as yet another plaything, to be chopped, juggled, dropped on the floor, stomped on, and ultimately sculpted to serve the greater good (cf. "Limelight"). Or better yet: the instrumentals!

2. Justice - † (Downtown/Ed Banger)

Huddled toe-tapping masses: Arise! Leap! Contort! Dance! Participate in violent head-bob action! Punch the air so hard you leave welts and bruises and it escapes to a battered elements shelter! Harder! Wish you were French so you too could make the world's best dance music! The only dance music! Remember why you fell in love with Daft Punk and forget why you ever stopped listening to "Homework"! Yup, that's Justice all right. Too bad it now reminds me of car commercials. Or maybe not? It's an unsettled and intensely personal question, thank you very much.

1. The Field - From Here We Go Sublime (Kompakt)

So I guess the Swedes can excel at something other than disco-pop and orc-metal, huh? Rad. Actually, The Knife should have taught me that lesson, but until I consulted The Librarian, I honestly had no idea that the two shared a homeland. Fortunately, they also share that rare alchemic talent for transmuting base materials into something quite otherworldly. Suddenly and devastatingly off-topic, I am returned to the halcyon days of my "techno"-spewing youth, when decent samples were nigh impossible to come by, a four-note sequence of stolen 303 burps constituted a melody, and "user-friendly GUI" meant you could choose the background color of your craptastic DOS-based keyboard-only 8-bit shareware. Ah, them were the days. Now any old chump off the street can instantly assemble a collection of professional (aka "illegal") samplers and soft synths, dump the results in Reason or ACID or Ableton Live, and BAM! you've got a world-class indie-electronic producer. Or, well, not so much. Turns out that no matter how drastically the entry bar is lowered, the measure of success remains what you can do with the tools at your disposal. (-END TANGENT-) "From Here We Go Sublime" is not an exciting album in the way that Justice's hump-the-subwoofer kinesthesia is exciting, nor the way in which Radiohead's cheap-as-free publicity stunt pricing model is exciting. No, it's exciting in more of a transcendentally meditative, gently throbbing, endlessly looped carnivorous brainworm migraine of a chord progression sort of way. The way electronic music should be exciting; which is to say, not exactly. But goddamn if it ain't brilliant.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

LOC <3 Flickr

Part of the cowling for one of the motors for a B-25 bomber is assembled in the engine department of North American [Aviation, Inc.]'s Inglewood, Calif., plant (LOC)

The Library of Congress just uploaded 3000+ copyright-free photos to Flickr. Take that, Getty Images!

One can only hope that this is but the first easily accessible drop in the LOC's 14 million-gallon bucket of images.

Monday, January 14, 2008

"Linda Linda Linda" (2005)

"How could anyone possibly think this would hold my interest for 114 minutes?"


"Japanese school girl punk cover band? Awesome!"


..oh, and don't forget the source material:

Friday, January 11, 2008

That's a mouthful

This/last year's Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (aka "worst opening sentence" contest) grand prize winner:

Gerald began--but was interrupted by a piercing whistle which cost him ten percent of his hearing permanently, as it did everyone else in a ten-mile radius of the eruption, not that it mattered much because for them "permanently" meant the next ten minutes or so until buried by searing lava or suffocated by choking ash--to pee.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Discovering Electronic Music

Far and away the best thing I've ever seen on the interwubs. This afternoon.


Or, in the colorful argot favored by YouTube denizens: "lmao gay"

Thursday, January 3, 2008

All hail the button-masher

Never let it be said that one man with an MPC doth not a band make.

Okay, so I ran myself a little search, and it turns out that no one else has ever actually said that. FINE.

Video courtesy of Anticon's Jel, and his one-off blog.