Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Late Nite Romance

So this is a fairly remarkable occasion to commemorate, my first mix CD on this blog. I did a halloween mix, last Oct., but that was mainly a sound-fx dj mix, whereas this is a good ol' fashioned mix tape.
I went over to my buddy Mark's house last night, to solicit advice on making mixes, at which he is most adept. He's got a dj setup and a killer vinyl selection, with tons of old soul, country, classic rock, reggae, and much weirdness (Mark is a fairly weird dude. He's from the same town as Capt. Beefheart.) We picked out a stack of records, put a blank tape in the boom box, i let him pick the first track, and two hours later, i had not one, but TWO mixtapes; glorious, romantic, weird, inspired, otherworldly messiness, made with 100% heart and soul. I was practically sweating with exhilaration, when it was all over. It inspired me to complete a digital mix i've been fucking around with for the past week, with smooth electronic jams, to rock yr bodies, exalt yr minds, soothe yr spirits, all yr tensions, all yr worries. In the night, you don't have to worry about the daytime, and what the daytime people do. You are free to be lovers, and poets and dreamers, and wild animals! and all those other things we hold so holy around here at Js Heaven. I wanted to make this mix because i have so much amazing music around, electronically, particularly electronic music, badass beats from near and far, and NOBODY can be expected to have all that DJ vinyl lying around their crib. But in the spirit of the mixes i made yesterday, these are kind of crude, far from perfect, but pretty damn good! Just imagine that they are all seamlessly mixed in Ableton Live, perfectly beat matched by Jeff Mills or Carl Craig or somebody brilliant. It will be good for yr imaginative faculties.
This mix has a little funk, a little house, a little folk, a whole lotta fuckin bass! Whereas we celebrate sweetness and light in these parts, we ARE NOT afraid to get down and fucking dirty, downright nasty at times. These are night-time jams, and night time is for lovers. Along the way, striving to dig out the perfect romantic techno tracks, i came across a new style, which is known as 'Lovestep', which is like the smoother, more soulful cousin of dubstep. Its still got the low-end, but its not being made for hooligans on ketamine, wielding machetes. It embraces dubstep's potential as BODY MUSIC, which is what i always loved about it, was willing to dodge drunken frat boys for. I am totally grateful to see dubstep, and underground dance music in general, moving forward, evolving. I have felt for the last ten years or so, that electronic music was the vanguard for brilliant, creative people, crossing multiple cultures and styles. It brings people together, and that's what this mix is all about: bringing people together. Love... its not just for couples anymore. Its something bigger than that, all encroaching, all encompassing. And this mix, its not only love, but ROMANCE, that most taboo of topics, previously only allowed in teenagers and effeminate men. Well, i'm here to say, i'm bringin romance back. It represents all the finest things in life. It represents a way of looking at the world, and when we are lucky, and when we are paying attention, the right person can open our eyes to this otherworld.
I've been accused of being a romantic, of being a daydreamer. Unrealistic. Impractical. Shallow, even. I'll wear that shit on my sleeve. I am a romantic, a poet and a dreamer and a lover. And i made you all a mix tape.

Late Night Romance

Track Listing

1. Overcome - Tricky; Maxinquaye
2. Teardrop - Jose Gonzalez; Teardrop EP
3. Dark & Long - Underworld; Dubnobasswithmyheadman
4. Wilhelm's Fucking Best - James Drake (james blake/drake mashup)
5. Slowly - Amon Tobin; Supermodified
6. Cockroach - Starkey; luvstep 2 mix
7. Freestylers ft. belle humble cracks (flux pavilion remix) - luvstep 2 mix
8. I Took 2 - Daedelus; Love To Make Music To
9. Something Beautiful - Trombone Shorty; Backatown
10. Thinking About You (s&s drunklove mix) - sticks&stones; webrip
11. Love is the Drug (Paris, Tx) - Burger/Ink; Las Vegas
12. Warm Windows - Casino vs. Japan; Go Hawaii
13. Adrift - Tycho (Shigeto's Adrift A Dream Remix)
14. My Angel Rocks Back and Forth - Four Tet; Live in Copenhagen

I like to imagine people driving around listening to this. It would make me happy if you did this. It would make me doubly happy if you told me about it. There's no cover art or anything on this release, as i'm not snappy enough yet to know how to do such things. Maybe next time... in the meantime, enjoy!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Carissa's Wierd - Ugly But Honest

I was randomly reminded of the existence of this band, trolling through my record collection, remembered that i used to like to listen to them a lot. I've been in the mood for pretty folk music, lately, its what strikes my ears the best, so i thought i'd give 'em a shot.
Wandered off to sleep in the bushes, rocking this in my headphones, staring up at a tree, a few stars winking at me, and i was really struck by my life, truly in the moment, alive to my senses, and i realized a vital piece of my musical obsession that had been evading me: the heart. The mysterious, elusive quality that moves and stirs my soul, that cannot be described or quantified, and i really felt all that Carissa's Wierd were saying beneath their words, around the words, in the melodies, in the harmonies. I realized something vital, rising from my depths, lying out there in the ivy, that has driven me mad for years and years, which is to say, i'm never gonna get it right. All these years, all these hours, all these words dribbled, describing mesmerizing music for people i don't know, and i just cannot properly describe the wordless howl contained on all these records. Drifting off to sleep, these songs just killed me, floored me, would've driven me to my knees if i hadn't already been on my back.
This is the flip-side of burgeoning romance, love tainted with experience. Looking back, reminiscing; i've got all these intense feelings flowing through me, these days, and the thing of it is, is that i cannot turn off the love that has come before, cannot numb, coat, or pretend otherwise. I've loved before, i've loved a lot, and i've had my fucking heart broken into a thousand pieces. And i love these people still, although i don't talk to many of them anymore. Lying on my back, staring at the couple of twinkling stars, i could feel the weight of the years, of the memories, coming flooding back, until i was transported to sunny living rooms, or kissing beneath a street-light, and i wept for those memories, for those poor wounded children, one of whom was me.
These are songs of wisdom & experience & disappointment, from a band that was over almost before they were started, who would go on to bigger better things, like Band of Horses. Its got that faded, introspective quality similar to vintage Low, with glorious male/female harmonies, soaring strings, and badass fucking drumming. I hear the best qualities of '90s indie/post rock, la Slint or the Louisville, KY school, creating interesting, moving, emotional folk-rock. I was glad that i was reminded of this band's existence, as i was researching this album, and saw that they're doing a one-off reunion show at the end of Sept. in Seattle, at Neumo's, and it is rumored that they'll play this album in its entirety! Someone in a position of authority, put me on the guest list! I'm intent on going, one way or the other.
This album, this band, is truly an under-appreciated gem. Its brilliant, and soulful, and tremendously sad. Check it out.

Ugly But Honest

" think its better to keep in your head
all the things you tried to have
maybe we already had the good times
maybe we left them behind
so forget the way it made you feel
dont forget it made you want to die
and all these scars
just wont ever seem to go away
do you ever think about the way
all these things they used to be
i think i lost it all out there
i think you know exactly what i mean

so i'll never go back
do you wish they remember still
it can happen again
maybe you should save in your head
all the things you tried to hide
did you ever think about her
did she ever make you cry
and all these scars
just wont ever seem to go away
did you ever think about
the way these things they all just used to be
i think you lost it all out there
i think you know exactly what i mean"

- Carissa's Wierd - To Be There Now

Friday, August 26, 2011

Thao and The Get Down Stay Down - We Brave Bee Stings and All

I first heard Thao & The Get Down Stay Down on the last day of Pickathon, when i was at my most jubilant; hopping and skipping in the sunlight. I had come to grips with darkness, pain, fear, loneliness the day before, while listening to Califone, Jesse Sykes, Future Islands; reading tarot cards in the blazing summer sun for 8 hours, forsaking food, water, and sleep. I felt renewed, cleansed; finally in a proper festival mood, and most of all, in love with MUSIC. Dear sweet music, my constant friend, my loyal travel companion, my north star. Holy of holies, if this was asceticism, it was the most delightful, delectable kind!
Thao's music skips and bounces in the sunlight; it swings and swaggers. It soars, it climbs, it grows and flourishes; music for the summertime. Music for health and well-being, and do please remember that bumps and scrapes and pressure are necessary to make us healthy and strong. It reminds me of a style of music which i can only generically identify as 'old-timey', bringing to mind bands like Beirut, the Be Good Tanyas, Paper Bird from Colorado. Its not strictly confined to denim and ten-gallon honky tonks, however, i can hear modern influences like The Strokes, on the 4/4 thump and clean guitars of 'Bag of Hammers', as well as the swinging nostalgia of M. Ward on 'Big Kid Table', with its rippling guitar arpeggios. Thao did not invent this style of music; she did not even rediscover it, but the genie's in the details, in this case. Textures, nuances, and details make this record stand out from legions of lackluster impostors: soulful horn stabs, rickety percussion, banjo pickin', layers of guitars and vocals. All the little flourishes, combined with strong songwriting, pristine performances, exquisite production, and interesting lyrics, make this a mandatory addition to yr record collection. I won't say yr life is incomplete without this album, just lacking. Yr life will be enriched if you get down with the Get Down Stay Down.
As i sit with these transformative experiences that have been occurring, letting their effects wash over me like a waterfall, i'm excited by the changes that are happening. Rather than spending my days in daze, coccooned in a haze of insane harsh-noise, pummeling my ego into non-existence, i find myself sitting outside on a nice day, listening to sweet soul music, gospel, sufi devotional chants. Rather than letting these visions pass like Dorothy's adventures in Oz, waking up to resume a routine of the same old shit, i'm noticing my personality shift, preferences changing, habits mending. I'm getting healthier, happier; certain things aren't bothering me as much. I'm making new friends. Feeling more creative, more confident, better able to focus on music and writing, and i am able to pass along the rewards to you, dear readers. Keep an eye out, things are just gonna get better and better, from here on out!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Phosphorescent - Aw Come Aw Wry

Matthew Houck gets it right - the warm, bleeding low-down supersaturated intimacy of late-night confessionals, early morning optimism, late afternoon, slanted-sunlight reflection. Euphoric, reflective, somber, he captures such a rich, deft tapestry of emotions, that arise when Love rears its head; hope, fear, pride, jubilation, sadness. Innocence smeared with experience.

I played this record in a friend's basement, when i was getting to know my lady friend. It simmers like a burnt-out campfire, and its melodies and poignant lyrics are nearly as hypnotic as a bed of embers. Warm and fuzzy; tender but passionate. Phosphorescent sings my soul, my heart-song, and while i am tremendously excited for life, at the moment, i am haunted by the shadows of experience, and while i am celebrating the new life of love, i am also mourning those who have come before. Missed chances, lost hopes.

I love how he mixes traditional folk forms with elegiac choral music, sub-textures floating, timeless. It is this sea of complex emotions that provoked me to share this with y'all, like on the organ dirge Dead Heart. This is music for adults, not for children, not for the faint of heart. If you truly give yrself to the ocean, to be lapped up by the waves of the sea of love, you cannot shy from the shadows. You cannot shield yrself, hide from its daggers, you cannot protect yrself from ANYTHING. This is living as a raw nerve, stripped-down, naked. This is the challenge that is presented, and it is synonymous with being an artist. Wide-eyed, stupified, terrified, exalted. This is not a hedonism trip, for me; this is straight-up battle, and nothing will bring up yr demons quite like a new love. I'll stare straight into the face of my Shadow; i will not blink or falter.

Pride is actually my favorite by Phosphorescent, but this is the one i had on my iPod, so i've been stalking the streets of Olympia, reflecting on life and experience, weeping from memories, from a life-time of repressed emotions. I feel that i must say, in the spirit of journalistic integrity, that Aw Come Aw Wry no. 5, is my least favorite track from Phosphorescent, so far; a bit too up-tempo, a bit too jubilant, a bit too reminiscent of Beirut. But the laid-back gorgeousness of the rest of the record is the perfect soundtrack to lie around in the grass, with yr nearest and dearest, even if that is yr very own heart and soul (very good company indeed, and well worth adoration).

So i'm sending you all a sunbeam. I'm lighting a campfire. I'm praying for peace. You all mean the world to me. Blessings on anyone who finds this music, who reads these words. Don't shy away from yr own heart; it is worth it, even in its poignancy. Even in its terror. Even in its glory.

"i am not a heel
but i will turn turn

i am not a seal
but i been learned learned

i am not a lamb
but i will sweet sweet sweet
and curl and sleep
all at your feet"
-Phosphorescent, Not a Heel

Aw Come Aw Wry

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - Love is a Stream [Type075]

I've got good news, and bad news, depending on who you are, and what yr disposition is. The good news is manifold, firstly, that i am still alive, down right flourishing here in the Washington wetness, and that i have recently fallen madly, deeply passionately in love, met the girl of my dreams during my wild, windswept journeys, and have been having a gorgeous, romantic, inspiring, passionate life lately. So, oddly enough, this is also the bad news, in that i am glowing and gushing, and unapologetic in doing so. You can expect to see romantic sonatas and soulful ballads popping up here, in the near future. If you are jaded or cynical, you might just turn right around now. Go check out Spreading Neurotoxins or something.

For starters, again picked out almost arbitrarily, is Jefre Cantu-Ledesma's Love is a Stream, released late last year. I was gonna write this up back then, when i first got my mitts on it, but everyone else was doing it, and i was having a mystical epiphany at the time, and losing teeth, and never quite got around to it. I listened to the album Shining Skull Breath damn near daily, during the entire autumn, as i was house sitting for a friend and pondering the nature of the universe, and was deeply impressed by Mr. Ledesma's alchemy: truly subtle yet achingly emotional noise music; human and otherworldly, simultaneously.
The same is true of Love is a Stream, perhaps less subtly, but with more heart and heat and flesh. Many people call this a noise pop record, but i'm not quite sure where they're hearing the pop. This is pretty much a fuzz record, from where i'm sitting; headcleaner; body music. What impresses me about this record, especially re-visiting it with a fresh perspective, is that most purveyors of wall-of-sound tend to be pretty gloomy; monochromatic post-industrialists, reminiscing on half-remembered nods. Cocooned, closed off, cacophonous, even violent at times. I mean, this music is definitely in the heritage of Masonna and Merzbow and Zoviet France, as well as the Shoegazer sect like MBV and Ride. But the Japanoise ilk shuts you down, blinds you, pummels you, more S & M than sunset picnics. And that is what i love about this record, and why i have chosen it as a flagship for this particular series of releases.

Love is a Stream opens you up, fills you with light, fills you with psychedelic romance. It will fill yr head with rainbows. It will fill yr dreams with owls and moths. It is reminiscent of new love, but its not just sex and romance, its love for all things and all people. And that's what i'm finding out here on the road. I'm so full up, so profoundly grateful for all the little things, that it spills over to all those around me, strangers as well as friends. That's how i interpret the title Love is a Stream, it is a motion, a fluid return to yr own essence. I am being dissolved in this stream, the edges of my "personality" are disintegrating, and there is less of a clear sense of where i end and you begin. While i have pursued much high magick and heady philosophy over the years, it has always been somewhat safe, removed, distant. I have kept you at arm's length, preserving my "self" at all costs. This love is killing me, and i am the most willing and grateful sacrificial lamb in the universe! I will offer up my neck to this beauty, any day.

Love is a Stream does a really nice job of simulating this state, this aspect of the human experience, but it can also help produce it, open up yr heart, open up yr mind, especially due its poetic and subjective nature. He uses the strengths and possibilities of noise music in a really innovative and masterful way, that is rare and special, thought-provoking and emotionally stirring. In short, really damn good, and it has been a total pleasure grooving on these technicolor waves all day, as the sun emerged from the blanket of clouds, turning into a really cheerful Washington afternoon. I'm a bit malnourished, at the moment, sort of floaty and in love, and this music just sounds awesome floating on the air here at my temporary office at Media Island. I got to see my lady friend yesterday, really unexpectedly, she's on the road, as am i, but she got an extra day off, and we got to kick it in Olympia, got to introduce her to some of my new friends, and we slept near the forest at Evergreen College, woke up and ran around in the woods, talking to the ferns and the snails. Perhaps you get the idea why i am so deeply smitten.

You can definitely expect to hear more about this, as i am learning new and challenging lessons every second, but also keep yr peepers peeped, as i have been out working a bunch of badass music festivals here in Cascadia, been hearing tons of new and inspiring sounds, meeting shit tons of amazing musicians, so i will update as much as i can, while i am around electricity, before i return to my hermitage in the forest. Bigbigbig ups to fucking Media Island, where i have the opportunity to write and collect my thoughts, organize my music collection, make coffee, etc. Give them all of yr money. I would if i had any. Make sure you save some for Jefre Ledesma, also. All of his releases that i have heard are incredible, and pretty much every thing he releases on his Root Strata label is also badass. Just amazing art, so inspiring. Love it love it love it.

So check back, when you get the chance. I'll try and put up new material as much as i can, while i have the chance. Also, check out my other new blog: http://there-again.blogspot.com/ for more stories from the road.