Arthur Verocai - S/T

28 Oct 2013

I am fortunate to be always surrounded by people so into hiphop mixtapes and beats. I came across Dexter, a prominent german beatmaker who used an extremely captivating sample pretty much stuck in my mind for days. Couple of weeks later I realized where this sample came from and that sense of satisfaction overwhelmed me. Vintage vinyl record lovers will best understand how it feels like to discover an obscure pre-loved record chucked into dark corners of the store.

This is a truly remarkable record that has sadly faded away with the sands of time. I’m actually pretty glad that it has made its resurgence today, achieving the cult status where people would pay top dollar for a used copy. In 1972, the repressive Brazilian military regime was crushing any form of artistic impression that was believed to have a profound impact on the minds of the younger generation. When Arthur Verocai released his self titled record underground with experimental elements and intense wordplay to escape the censorship radar, little attention was actually paid to this golden record. It was only until much later where people realized it was in a league of its own. And this very sample of Na Boca Do Sol shot to fame in the hiphop circle.

At age 25, it is difficult to imagine how a musician can singlehandedly weave such a masterpiece. From the lyrics to the composition, it is amazing to even think of it as a singlehandedly done project. Who would even think of integrating elements of folk, lo-fi, soul and funk some 40 years ago? Let alone in a period of turbulent military dictatorship?

If you appreciate any form of creativity, or a cocktail of sounds presented with a pint of Brazilian essence and finesse, this is a must-listen-to :)

This is yet another recommendation I’ve received. Apparently people are not aware of me having way too much music to siftlisten through. I bothered counting and had exactly 2404 records left (not including bookmarks to future records I’ll eventually get to listen to), so I grabbed four of them to have something on the go. And for housework.

While I must admit ironing my shirts has an almost meditative effect, music made it even nicer. I’m sorry that this mixtape is little more than nice beats with a flat voice and boring lyrics. That’s still enough to beat the rest in terms of background music eligibility, but not good enough for active listening. Next time I think I’ll just grab a copy of mainstream pop to come off less like a grumpy old guy.

I stumbled upon Mistabishi and the great Drop album of his thanks to a local magazine describing this music as not Drum and Bass, but Bass and Drums. No way I wouldn’t buy this one and I must say it has delivered1. Actually I planned on reviewing the follow-up, but I’m too scared he traded in his style of atmospheric bass lines with interesting samples as base or enhancement of his tracks2, so I decided to leave it to my fellow friend SPRINGFIELD and do this EP instead.

No idea why he chose that title, probably to annoy the scene faggots with their overly oldschool naming rules and people still using Google and the likes to find music to download. His style is still there, but adapted to outer space atmosphere and garnered with samples of telephone voice speakers instead. Towards the end there’s a clear hint to his new producing technique where he relies on analogue synthesizers as source for bass lines and has a much more oldschool sound. This has been seen in these two clips where he operates a Korg EMX, the first one featuring him making rave music live in his Mitsubishi, the second with a cover of Thomas the Tank Engine3. I like these, too, but heard the follow-up album even indulged in gabber which I just can’t stand.

  1. Except for the female vocals on the album being different compared to the “No Matter What” single. It’s a bummer that said single isn’t available on Youtube anymore, so I can’t prove this. 

  2. The most striking example of this would be Printer Jam which even got a dubstep remix. 

  3. There’s been a third with covers of well-known dnb songs, but they impressed me a lot less. 

“ Er zieht sich kein Schmuck an, sie dachten es sei eine Schweigeminute, aber er hielt nur kurz die Luft an. / Der sicherste Fehlgriff der Evolution, er greift das Mikrofon. / Um ein paar Dinge klarzustell’n: Die Größe des Armamputierten ausgemessen in Ell’n. / Er singt nicht das alte Menschenlied der Entfremdung, sondern das der Unmöglichkeit seiner Wiedererkennung. / Er schläft im Waffenlager in der ausrangierten Truhe, die Propheten des Friedens stören seine Ruhe. / Der Stillstand ist ein unnachahmbarer Tanz, er unterscheidet Menschen nach dem Grad ihrer Arroganz. / Er kann es nicht erklären, er kann es dir nur zeigen, denn er verfiel im Anblick dessen in Schweigen. / Er öffnet ein letzes Mal seinen Mund, nicht zum Sprechen oder zum Kuss, sondern weil er husten muss. […] ”

Dies wird ausnahmsweise ein deutsches Review, da ich Deutschrap erörtern werde und zwar einen der weniger Verdächtigen: Retrogott und Hulk Hodn. Das Duo hat bisher unter dem Namen Huss und Hodn drei Alben veröffentlicht, diese mit Fokus auf jazzigen Beats, Shout-Outs an klassischen Ami-Rap (und DJs), und sehr einfachen Reimen auf deren Ausführung dafür aber besonderer Wert gelegt wird. Vom Inhalt her ist es klassischer Battlerap in dem andere Deutschrapper gedemütigt werden. Wiederkehrende Themen sind Wackness, homosexuelle (und einseitige) Beziehungen zwischen schlechten Deutschrappern und ihren Managern, das Hoch auf Turntables, Samples und Drumcomputer, die Ablehnung von Cash und Fame, sowie die Gotthaftigkeit von Retrogott neben dem jeder andere Rapper (mit Ausnahme der Features natürlich) verblasst.

Das erste Album war (wie der Titel schon suggeriert) unprofessionellerer Natur, der Nachfolger ein deutlicher Sprung, das letzte dieser Kollaboration ein Rückschritt, schlicht weil die Reime nicht mehr einfach gehalten wurden, sondern viel weniger bewusste Pausen eingelegt wurden. “Fresh und Umbenannt” interessierte mich aufgrund dessen insbesondere, da es eine Chance darstellte zu diesen Werten zurückzukehren und an den Erfolg des zweiten Albums anzuknüpfen.

Ich bin in der Tat beeindruckt. Die Entspanntheit ist wieder da, es gibt mehr Shout-Outs in Sachen Beats (unter anderem wird ein Großteil der X-Ecutioners erwähnt). Die Texte sind zwar nicht durchgängig auf hohem Niveau, aber dennoch unterhaltsam. Die Featurenummer zum Beispiel hat exakt einen Gastrapper, die Ein$note handelt nicht von Illuminaten und die Zitate am Anfang dekonstruieren gekonnt jegliche Gottwerdung. Zu mehr als Berieselung beim Geschirrspülen ist diese Aufnahme definitiv geeignet.

If Jean-Christophe Le Saoût never got into hip-hop, I suppose he would make a fantastic storyteller. The hip hop artist, who goes the by the moniker Wax Tailor has definitely succeeded in narrating a story, a greatly ambitious direction in the world of downtempo and trip hop.

Truth be told, I was once afraid of even getting into concept albums. You see, I’m the type of guy who makes it a point to listen to the whole album, never single discrete tracks. The notion of a concept album spelled nothing but boredom to me; It is common that artists try to delve into realms they can never “cover” within the time span of the usual record. Although I had a pretty sensational (and somewhat sensual) experience with an amazing concept album last year (Lovage – Music to Make Love to Your Old Lady By), it was probably because of the amazingly erotic vocals blended with interesting beats. Theme exploration was very much just subtle most concept albums I had experience with; they barely skimmed the surface of the concept it was meant to address.

Dusty Rainbow From The Dark is a pretty commendable take on telling a story through hiphop. The narration and production is top notch, heavily textured and sampled to give a one-of-a-kind vintage feel. Quite unfortunately, the story feels a tad too weak to fit the powerful and engaging beats. Do not get me wrong that the concept is poor. I just wished that the story went deeper to correspond with the impactful instrumentation and mood. The beats being extremely fascinating (and to some point hypnotizing) felt almost surreal accompanied extremely well with the female vocals. What was shocking to me was that the decision to integrate upbeat rap into this album. Tunes like Magic Numbers (feat. A.S.M & Mattic) seriously destroyed the eerie atmosphere and mood the album was trying to convey.

If you have a gloomy rainy afternoon to spare, turn off the lights and shut our curtains, sit down in a dark room and pop in this record. You might just discover the evocative power of music like the child in the story did.

New Design

24 Jun 2013

Once I started showing off this semi-public blog to people, I noticed it is quite unreadable. While the intention behind the free font Inconsolata is a good one1, it isn’t well-suited for the average low-dpi display because its hinting simply sucks. Of course getting a website to look like a LaTeX document wouldn’t be worth the effort, but moving there would definitively pay off. So I started learning CSS and thanks to the help of Earnestly and bl1nk I came quite far. Who would have thought well hinted webfonts and surprisingly good full justification exist? If it weren’t for the covers and occasional profanity2 one might even mistake it for something more sophisticated than your average music blog on tumblr.

To come back to the actual focus of my writing: I originally wanted to review “The Avalanches - Since I Left You [2000]” because I found it an appealing album, on the opposite end of the often overly technical turntablism albums, but with every following listen I grew more and more disappointed. Which is why the next one will be my postponed Deutschrap review! Not in english obviously, simply because I don’t find that language good enough for explaining the particular details of that genre.

  1. It’s inspired by the Consolas font that’s included in Windows Vista, a humanist take on monospaced fonts. 

  2. The most obvious one being the subdomain we chose to ridicule imageboard culture. 

It is shocking to believe that Cut and Shadow pulled off this 90 minute stint in real time, performing it live in 2007 at the Hollywood Bowl show. Nobody would ever imagine DJs taking the stage of the very prestigious Hollywood Bowl a decade ago, where only the most legendary acts would get a chance to perform at. The duo certainly deserve to do so. This mix reveals not only their technical mastery in the art of DJing but also wonderful, almost flawless synergy. Remember how Kid Koala shocked the DJ community by his Moon River performance? This time, 8 turntables, 2 loop pedals and 2 pairs of insane hands have pretty much changed the game of DJing.

webspider first introduced me to this record around a year ago. I was certainly impressed and continued to listen to it consistently over the past year. Perhaps I was got too involved writing about new indie releases that I love, I kinda totally forgot about this prized album.

Entertaining. Exciting. Experimental. What makes this record so different from other hip hop mixtapes would be the very effort to come up with something new rather than playing an endless list of obscure and sounds. DJing is used to conceptualise new music rather than replayed to tell or reiterate a story. What you get is a beautiful composition from a myriad of sounds, from African percussion to classical interludes to funk cleverly weaved together to fit ANYONE and EVERYONE’S taste.

This is a commendable effort for a live performance, but there are certainly areas of improvement. Close listening would reveal a fair bit of missing cues, some sped up bits (i suppose unintentional) and some incoherence. Some samples felt over-used to me. But the general consensus is to look beyond the superficial glitches and mistakes made and enjoy the creative sound manipulation the duo has to offer. There is also plenty of replay value; not only will you discover something new on every listen but also better appreciate its tunes.


3 Jun 2013

As an Android diehard, I always swear by my samsung android smartphones. Ever since I took the plunge in 2010 and swapped over to my first Android smartphone (the OS and application support was already terrific back then), I have never looked back. Until less than a week ago, I dropped my trusty beloved Samsung Galaxy SIII from a seriously pathetic height (you average lecture theatre seat) and the supposedly “gorilla glass” revealed nothing but incompetence. Cracks showed up across the glass screen and it practically shattered at the onscreen buttons. Having owned this phone for barely a year, its a fucking nightmare to think that the screen was so vulnerable. I got on xda and read so many nasty stories across the world about people cracking their SIIIs and having to fork out over more than $150 to repair it. Call me a dreamer, but I took it to the Samsung Service Centre anyways and they quoted me a ridiculous repair price of $244. Shit just got real again.

I got myself thinking about my options and I ended up with three:

1.: save every fucking cent to pay for repairs or go straight to my parents for help #poorstudentproblems

2.: Get a secondhand phone (a more reliable one perhaps). I heard from a friend of mine who swears that his N82 was the best phone ever. I had similarly amazing experiences with Symbian on my former E63 and I wouldn’t doubt his words. Then again, its freaking 5 years ago and Symbian is pretty much dead now.

3.: Buy a cheaper new phone; but as an elitistfaggot who never believes in the latest and unproven technology, I would pretty much rule this out

And I never expected myself to get so stuck with making a decision for the next couple of days. I still cant decide what to do now :<

It was only when I came home after today that I learnt about Jolla and their new phone that runs on Sailfish OS. I was intrigued, but heck 399€ is definitely out of question for a poor student like me. This is not an advertisement but I really like the idea and movement behind Jolla and would certainly love to get hold of one of these phones someday.

Let me give you some background on the Jolla project: Jolla was founded by the very team of people who wished to continue the legacy of Nokia’s N9 after the company abandoned its participation on the Meego Project in 2010. The result is the independent Sailfish OS; I wouldn’t call it the remnants of Meego because its fundamentally much more superior. It would be very interesting to see if it lives up to its hype.

Sailfish, in my opinion would be the next promising alternative to mobile scene, now gravely dominated by iOS and Android. There is very little room for diversification in the mobile OS market, but the very fact that Sailfish is Linux based opens up a whole new realm of possibilities. I also love the idea that the people behind Jolla are genuinely trying to replicate the success the Android SDK and open source ideal. Having been a fervent supporter of open source software, I think a highly inclusive framework for development is quintessential for a project like this. Whether Jolla lives up to its expectations, it would be worthwhile to take note that a non-mainstream company is stepping up its game to penetrate the already saturated and heavily dominated mobile market.

Being somebody who loves music brings some annoyances. Such as people blindly recommending you things until you’re drowning in tons of things on your todo list. After finding out that beets, the music organizer for people obsessing over correct tags, finally supports Discogs as a source for the fans of more electronic music, I finally had an excuse for actually listening to some new music and grabbed the first recommendation coming along. I didn’t expect much, as it came from Ubiktune and none of their albums were really my thing. The premise seemed to be the fusion of classical music with focus on piano and chiptune. “It better has to be good”, I thought, waiting for the intro to pass.

Then I realized these two genres would come along quite well. If you look at the spectrals of piano and other instruments used in classical music, you’ll see it’s mostly mids, which is why lossless rips of CDs of that kinds tend to be much smaller than from other genres. Chiptune however uses a lot of sawtooth and rectangle synths, giving the music the distinct high frequencies. Depending on the sample rate, the bass notes are more or less punchy. Both together form a coherent image, with aivi playing melodies reminding one of J-Trance and surasshu game chiptune. The tracks try to not go too much into the game OST direction, but do once with track #31, a cover of Katamari Damacy. I particularly like how we have something greater than the mere sum of its pieces, without getting overly complicated for persons unfamiliar with classical music and not diving into the cheesy end of 8bit music (yes, I’m looking at you, 8bit screamo).

It would be nice to see one of the tracks in a penspinning collab of the japanese kind. Due to ubiktune only releasing free albums, neither including nor downloading it would be problematic. So feel free to grab a copy for yourselves and enjoy!

  1. Here, have a nice video. 

As I approach the end of the crazy floorball season and the summing up of my 2 years worth of curriculum in high school, I was told to write a resume of my own to “sell” myself. Seriously though, looking back at the past 2 years of my life revealed nothing more than just a fuckton of studying (never studied so much in my entire life), sports and music. I was never that much of an achiever; I had so little to write! Here I am struggling to add more words when my fellow peers are exceeding the 1000 word limit. I started to wonder what the actual fuck was I doing with my life? I decided that ok screw that shit I’m gonna add in my pen-spinning interests and achievements as part of my formal resume, and maybe this blog too (webspider and I did this in a genuine attempt to hone our English skills so why not?). Then I remembered the URL and I was like 8( 8( 8( shit guys why did we come up with such a name? /endrant

Ok anyways I decided that mere ranting would do no justice to this post. Just wanted to recommend and review a recent album that I was really impressed with. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City. I must admit I was never well versed with the indie scene (only got into it in early 2012) but having heard them first during Coachella and later stumbling upon this release, I have to admit that this is definitely a remarkable piece of art.

Having spent some time in New York City before, I found this album strangely nostalgic with its constant references to the city that never sleeps. The music video for “step” (ironically never occurred to me as a desperate hipster attempt with instagram) conjures the multifarious images of NYC to immortalise its beauty and as a reminder of the borough they represent.

Thematically, this album is nothing but GOLD. I mean it when I say it; the guys brilliantly pulled off an album that dabbles in the much unknown - life, death and NYC. Sonically, production is top notch. Far different from the sound of their experimental debut, this album glows with much warmth that permeates the hearts and minds of the listener. (I suppose it was a deliberate attempt to do so.) To anyone who judged them based on their previous work, this album shines with much more promises. Lyrically, the literary allusions and references gave me real tough time deciphering its meaning. It is just just the lines, but also the cleverly named tracks that revealed much about their songwriting prowess. Think about where “Diane Young” originated from?

I urge you to not be affected by the clusterfuck of listener reviews (including mine) and experience this album. Not only will you experience the finesse of this album, you will enter the very lives of the people who made it possible.