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This Week's Free Song Download
Here We Go Magic
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Free download of "Collector," off Here We Go Magic's new album, Pigeons (out Tuesday, June 8 on Secretly Canadian). In a little over a year since the group's full-length debut, Here We Go Magic has grown its ranks from the one-man band of Luke Temple to a five-piece, and the new album certainly reflects it. While HWGM's music continues to be an exotic, swirling concoction of Krautrock, psychedelia, folk, Afro-pop and ambient music, there's more of a directness here in the songs and the recording itself, making for a great and exciting leap forward for a band that we already loved.
This Week's Featured Downloads
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R&S brings us this great EP from young UK producer on the rise James Blake (not to be confused with the tennis pro), who pretty accurately describes his music as "Melodramatic Popular Song / Dub / Grime" on his MySpace page. Transforming vocals from both recognizable lyrical elements and the soulful grunts and sighs of R&B singers like Kelis, Aaliyah, Brandy and R. Kelly gives Blake the melodrama he's after with nice results. With open and spacious programming, he aligns himself with not only champions of the new electronic scene, a la Burial and Actress, but also fellow freethinking newcomers like Untold and Mount Kimble. Eschewing basslines, proper melodies and traditional song structure, Blake's template most often utilizes a repeating vocal snippet that twists and weaves through a steady yet varied collection of snaps, clicks, muted cymbals, thumps, and digital stutters. During "Footnotes" synth stabs dance across the speakers as a processed vocal speaks and sings in smeared patterns while another darts through the atmosphere -- it's almost deceptive how the song pulls you in without even feeling like it ever properly started, or ended. Blake's sense of space is particularly engaging, and through it there's a lot of emotion being conveyed that's dramatic but not necessarily dark. Even with such restrained use of elements throughout, it makes for some hypnotizing minimal dancefloor funk that's playful and springy, and youthful. The more I listen to these tracks, the fuller they seem to become as my ears begin to feel and fill the empty spaces. There's really not much else quite like it and that usually means that soon there will be. Catch a rising star.
Speaking of R&S, the label just re-mastered 25 of their classic 12" singles making them available for download in their new R&S Archive Series. The first installment of digital reissues include: Beltram Vol. 1 (featuring "Energy Flash"), Capricorn's 20Hz, Outlander Vamp, Aphex Twin's "Digeridoo" and Xylem Tube EP and Model 500's "The Flow." Click here to view all of the R&S titles that we have available on Other Music Digital.
'81 L'homme Orchestre Gor Sayina
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Senegalese superstar Ismaila Lo's debut album, before he'd fully embraced the slick pop style he'd become so famous for. This is a really unique record, and I'm hard pressed to compare it to any other African LP I've heard. Basically a folk record, the entire album is very rootsy and stripped down, with mostly just an accordion accompanying Lo's acoustic guitar, which he plays at this really driving, syncopated clip. It's almost minimal and somewhat repetitive in a trance-inducing way, with Lo's vocals mic'd so spaciously that it creates a rather haunted and moody atmosphere. Just a gorgeous album, the kind of thing that once you put it on renders everything else you've heard lately rather facile. He seriously became a world-pop mega-star after this, but that music almost seems to have come from a different planet than these songs, which I simply can't recommend enough.
There Is a Mountain
South Cherry Entropy
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The past couple of years have seen a host of bedroom pop projects move out of the basement and into the mainstream indie spotlight -- Wavves, Atlas Sound, and Ariel Pink have mined solid sonic gold by throwing the curtains wide and letting everybody peek in. Generally, these are musicians who utilized the bedroom as an echo chamber, bouncing ideas only off of themselves and taking advantage of self-imposed software and hardware limitations. But sometimes the private pop project is a way for a generally public musician to steal away from a larger group and press record on ideas that could only bloom inside of one head. With Common Prayer, Jason Russo -- a former bass player for New York psych giants Mercury Rev and the founder of the long-running psychedelic rockers Hopewell -- reveals that underneath all the guitar-driven howling is an intimate and obsessive collector of found sounds, delicate melodies, and breezy, wistful tunes that initially seem at odds with his better known psychedelic outfits.
Opener "commonprayer" rides a metronome click, some distant shuffling bongos, and double-tracked vocals over a landscape of shambling but skillful finger-picked guitar; it's a loose and ramshackle tune, held together by Elmer's glue, the occasional "ding!" of a typewriter, and Russo's charming, nasal delivery. This quavering, slippery voice is what makes Common Prayer sound so soulful, intimate, and true; it makes lines like "Pray the lord my bones don't break" feel authentic, and honest. Elsewhere on the record, the uncertainty can slip just as easily into anger, as on "Us vs. Them," a song that implores a beautiful girl to prove everybody wrong and dance a lazy waltz into the sunset atop a one-handed saloon-style piano line.
In the end, what is striking about There Is a Mountain is how fully formed and lush it feels, and how strikingly inventive and brash Russo is when he stretches his arms past the prog and psych that has formed the bulk of his career. Whether he's banging on a garbage can lid ("Marriage Song") or waxing nostalgic on a porch with a skronky clarinet ("Free Air"), there's never a moment that feels tacked on or hidden underneath banks of haze and fog. Along with this year's Pearly Gates Music record, There Is a Mountain is a joy to hear again and again.
Boca Da Noite
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This is the third solo LP by Antonio Pecci Filho, a/k/a Toquinho, released in between hugely successful albums as half of a duo with poet-writer-lyricist-diplomat-mythical elder statesman Vinicius De Moraes during the last decade of the latter's life. Toquinho is a master acoustic guitarist and highly-esteemed bossa-style songwriter, and this 1974 album finds him spotlighting his more laidback, almost neo-classical-guitar style. Other albums of his may be somewhat more upbeat, but this one is ideal for fans and students of folk fingerpicking and the aforementioned classical-influenced style. The folk aspect is especially prominent on tracks like his Josh White tribute, "Lembrando Josh White" ("Remembering Josh White"). Ideal material for late night or Sunday afternoon acoustic guitar practice sessions.
El Paso Rock: Early Recordings Volume 3
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The third, and best yet, installment of Norton Record's chronicle of the early years of Texas rock & roll man, Bobby Fuller. Fuller, who of course penned one of the most bad-ass songs in the entirety of rock, "I Fought the Law," died of mysterious and still unresolved circumstances right at the apex of the success of that great single. As good as that song is, he recorded tons of other amazing music at a home studio he'd built for himself in his hometown of El Paso, much of which is chronicled here, along with a smattering of ripping live tracks. While Fuller obviously worshipped heavily at altar of fellow Texan Buddy Holly, he still created a pretty original body of work that reconciled a wide array of influences, from surf-guitar rock to the Beatles and Everly Brothers. This is feel good and homespun music, steeped in a palpable amount of Texas soul, and amongst the greatest American rock music ever put to tape. There's not a bum track across these twenty-six songs, just genius.
Hans Abrahamsen: Schneed
Winter & Winter GmbH
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A sparse, almost astringent collection of canons from Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen. Abrahamsen, born in 1952, took work he'd done on J.S. Bach's own canons and turned it into a very intriguing and immersive collection of pieces that proceed with the rigorous logic of a complex puzzle, while remaining mostly minimal in sound. Each separate sound seems to flutter around the other, almost like two monarch butterflies coming together repeatedly in mid-flight. There is a basic underlying pulse, as in the first canon, where the strings of the violin are bowed with a scratchy melody while the piano is plinked with a repetitive, hollow fragility. The result is weirdly compelling, seemingly both highly cerebral and just this side of beautiful, much like the work of Webern, who must surely be another of Abrahamsen's inspirations.