Posts by Andrew Williams


Music

Daft Punk ride cyber steeds to video game war

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Andrew Z. Williams

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Daft Punk has just released this video to promote their new Tron: Legacy soundtrack.  And let me just say: it really outdoes itself.

What’s cooler than Daft Punk wearing rhinestone-studded jackets?  Daft Punk in Tron suits.

What’s cooler than the members of Daft Punk dueling on cyber steeds? A Daft Punk joust with lightning lances.

What’s cooler than one of the Daft Punk members turning out to be the beautiful Olivia Wilde?

Nothing.

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“Sunlight, Heaven”–Julianna Barwick–Records Under the Radar

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Andrew Z. Williams

Photo by Juliana Mazza

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The music of Julianna Barwick is nearly wordless; it is composed almost entirely of her non-verbal vocalizations. She sings and then loops her own voice, over and over, slowly building the song from scratch. It is reminiscent of hymns, of monks chanting, of reverberations in a cave. Her voice is beautiful: it can be keening or round and clear as a bell. She often uses a variety of vocal tones, sampled and layered atop one another, to construct her compositions.

The tracks comprising Barwick’s debut EP, Florine, are not “songs” in the traditional sense. There is no verse or chorus, no hook or even a readily discernible melody. Rather, it is as though each song slowly approaches the listener, initial tendrils of sound floating languidly by, and then increasing in speed and frequency, until the layering, looping sounds become a deluge. Then, after building to a peak, the song recedes, like the tide going out.

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Pop Cult

RIYL: Mimes, people doing the robot, Japanese mimes doing the robot

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Andrew Z. Williams

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This new video from Japanese electro-poppers World Order features a cadre of men in business suits doing some of that “super slow mo” action all of us have probably reenacted (in a bar, during some sort of sporting event).  The primary difference here is that they do it really, really well.  In the grand tradition of OK Go’s uberpopular viral videos and, uh, pretty much every Michel Gondry video ever, it appears that these guys just practiced this moves–a lot–and then they filmed at regular camera speed.  Pretty cool.

One caveat: mute the sound (unless you are, improbably, a World Order superfan).  Instead, I recommend playing Hall & Oates’ “Kiss On My List” while you watch.  Seriously, it was amazing.

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“For 400 Electric Guitars”–Rhys Chatham’s A Crimson Grail–Records Under the Radar

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Andrew Z. Williams

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It begins with a shimmery whisper, like an orchestra warming up before a performance.  Then, as that shimmer swells and builds in volume, the realization comes: this is the performance.  Upon first listen, perhaps the most fascinating thing is how, exactly, 400 electric guitars can make such a beautiful sound.  But one can hear the size of the group behind the tidal steadiness, the inevitability, of the music.  It ebbs and flows as an organic wall of sound.

Rhys Chatham’s A Crimson Grail came about as a natural progression of his longtime musical experiments.  Chatham cut his teeth in the early ’70s in downtown Manhattan, working first as a piano tuner for avant garde legend La Monte Young, then as a collaborator with like-minded composers such as Philip Glass and Steve Reich.  By the late 1970s he had formed a guitar trio with Glenn Brancha, which was heavily influenced by punk and the denizens of the downtown No Wave scene.  This trio was the seed of an idea that eventually saw Chatham compose for dozens, and then hundreds, of guitars, all played at once.

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Gadgets

Jason Schwartzman is really into the New Yorker for iPad App

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Andrew Z. Williams

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“A new day is dawning,” indeed.  

This short clip, directed by Roman Coppola, stars the oh-so-charming Jason Schwartzman (of Rushmore and Bored to Death fame) demonstrating all of the bells and whistles of the New Yorker‘s new app for the iPad.  

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Pop Cult

Laser Boobs Are Go!!!!!!!!

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Andrew Z. Williams

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Um . . . wasn’t that, uh . . . wait, what?  The above clip seems to indicate that the “Ancient Dogoon Girls” are back, and there will be:

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“Won’t you rain your love down on me, O Lord”–The Ferocious Few–Records Under the Radar

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Andrew Z. Williams

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On stage, The Ferocious Few are just that–ferocious, a barnstorming duo viciously pummeling their instruments with a fury that belies their seemingly innocuous set-up of acoustic guitar and simple drum kit.

 Yet The Ferocious Few have a few secret weapons, the most startling of which is guitarist and singer Francisco Fernandez’s voice.  It rasps out, snarling, having apparently traveled many a long and dusty mile.  This haunting voice, which veers from a reedy, reaching tenor to a low growl, dovetails perfectly with the shredding guitar and drummer Daniel Aguilar’s galloping, relentless beats.  For his part, Aguilar assaults the drum set with anything at hand: jazz brushes, a tambourine, the palm of his open hand.  

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“I’ll prove how much I love you with this handstand.”–Records Under The Radar

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Andrew Z. Williams

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Moonface is yet another brainchild of the prolific Spencer Krug.  One half of indie stalwarts Wolf Parade, driving force behind Sunset Rubdown, and one third of Canadian “supergroup” Swan Lake, Krug has a seemingly endless creative well from which to draw.  Dreamland EP: marimba and shit-drums, his first release under the Moonface moniker, adds yet another fascinating piece to his legacy.

This cryptic project, quietly released through a dedicated website in January of 2010, is comprised of one sprawling, 20 minute track, consisting soley of Krug’s vocals and, yes, marimba and “shit-drums” (so-called because of their fidelity).  Appropriately, the lyrics to the song are surreal and dreamlike, conjuring images of  specters passing through walls and guitars made of glass.

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“I try to imitate on the piano the leaps in space a dancer makes.”–Records Under the Radar

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Andrew Z. Williams

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Cecil Taylor is a man apart. An uncompromisingly experimental musician from his earliest years, Taylor has pounded keyboards for more than 50 years. He has worked with such luminaries as Max Roach and Mikhail Baryshnikov, and performed at the White House for Jimmy Carter. Taylor is a pianist, composer, poet, and professor. He is widely credited, along with Ornette Coleman, of being a pioneer of so-called “free jazz.”

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“All the People I Like Are Those That Are Dead” — Records Under the Radar

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Andrew Z. Williams

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Now, isn’t that a cheery sentiment?  That lovely title above is brought to you by the criminally under-heard British band Felt.  More specifically, it comes from the silver tongue of Felt’s front man and lead singer, the rather mundanely/mysteriously named Lawrence (his last name has never been solidly confirmed).  They released exactly 10 albums and 10 singles, from 1979 to 1989, at which time Felt unceremoniously disbanded.

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