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This Week's Free Downloads
Mia Doi Todd
City Zen Records
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Download "Summer Lover," a free preview off of Mia Doi Todd's forthcoming new album, Cosmic Ocean Ship, which comes out Tuesday, May 17, on City Zen. Produced by Jonathan Wilson, Mia's ninth record finds the LA-based singer/songwriter in a gorgeously reflective mood, with subtle touches of samba, chanson and jazz coloring her lilting, oft-magical folk music.
Tarantula / Holding On
Friendly Fire Recordings
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Free song download of "Tarantula / Holding On," off the self-titled debut full-length from Delay Trees, out tomorrow on Friendly Fire Recordings. This Finnish quartet sculpt great cinematic pop music that's as soaring as it is melodic; fans from Sigur Ros to the Antlers will not want to miss this.
Tar Hani (My Love)
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This free download of "Tar Hani (My Love)" is taken off of Omara "Bombino" Moctar's new album, Agadez which is now available on Other Music Digital. Leader of Group Bombino and one of the Western Sahara's purveyors of desert blues, his new record is an enchanting blend of traditional Tuareg folk music and breezy psychedelia, and is absolutely stunning. The full album is reviewed below.
Now Available on Other Music Digital
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The amazing music pouring out of the Western Sahara from Tuareg bands like Tinariwen, Group Inerane and Terakaft has been attracting an ever-growing legion of fans from all corners of the globe these past few years, and Group Bombino leader Omara "Bombino" Moctar is one of the guitar heroes at the forefront of this enthralling peregrination of sound. Agadez -- Bombino's city of origin, also the title of this new record -- may be half a world away from us, but there's something recognizable, even universal sounding about this music bred in the mystery and hardship of the desert. I first heard this album of supremely peaceful and articulate desert blues while driving down the Merritt Parkway in eerie twilight, the lights of oncoming cars shining through the trees and the sky beginning to glow deep orange as Bombino's sweet, swirling electric guitar lines, accompanied by his softly assertive voice, flowed from the stereo. The music fit the scene perfectly, as though it were created specifically for that moment of tranquil passage into evening. Bombino's rhythmically complex yet lyrical guitar playing and melodic, wavering vocal lines almost instantly lure you into a trance -- a state in which you'll most likely remain for the rest of the record. "Ahoulaguine Akaline" is a stunning introductory track, with a sweet, soft melody that's as catchy as it is reassuring, while the passionate, slow-burning jam "Tar Hani" shows off some of Bombino's most soulful singing. "Adounia" is darkly mystifying, with interlocking guitar parts that inject sparkling light into the song's weighty melody, and if you're not floating in your subconscious already, the nine-minute, "Iyat Idounia Ayasahen" will surely put you there while relentlessly loping into the joyful acoustic tune, "Azamane."
Compared to Group Bombino's entry in Sublime Frequencies' Guitars from Agadez series, which possessed a raw, field-recorded quality, this new set is captured with a studio clarity that still never really detracts from the immediacy or authenticity of the playing. Touched with a tasteful bit of reverb, the guitars hover just above the spare drums and handclaps, and blissfully accompany the direct, sometimes double-tracked vocals. And while this music never attains the rollicking assault of Group Bombino's earlier electric-rock excursions, these songs tend to come together in a way that's equally as satisfying. Rather than relegating his acoustic "dry" and electric guitar styles to respective sides of a vinyl slab, as on the Sublime Frequencies release, Bombino distills the best elements of both into a more patient amalgam of traditional Tuareg folk and psychedelic guitar sounds, creating a vibe that's as arresting as it is meditative. While this desert blues has long been the sound of protest and revolution of this fiercely nomadic people -- Bombino himself recently came out of exile following the Tuareg Rebellion of 2007-2009 with Niger (during which two of his band mates were executed by the military) -- you wouldn't necessarily peg this as "rebel music;" though it's certainly not lacking any feeling, the emphasis here seems to be establishing (to borrow a phrase) ecstatic peace, rather than righteous resistance. Agadez really has something for everyone; record collectors and NPR-listeners alike won't be able to resist these trance-inducing sounds.
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Following his instantly sold-out collaboration with Four Tet and Thom Yorke, the ever-mysterious Burial (a/k/a William Bevan) returns with a new three-track EP for Hyperdub. Much like his two excellent full-lengths, 2006's Burial and Untrue from 2007, the sonic palette utilizes mechanized rhythms, tinny hi hats, deep bass, darting, reverb-heavy snares, and ghostly pitch-shifted voices, sounding like a haunted retro-futuristic automotive factory churning away through the night. This is dubstep at its finest, clunky and tumbling, dark, cavernous, and ominous; Burial's distinct imprint is always deeply felt. My favorite of these three slices of urban futurism is the track "NYC;" on this cut his standard tempo is slowed down or maybe broken in half, giving a glimpse of what his take on hip-hop might sound like. It's a nice shift from the signature rhythmic stride. Burial is without a doubt one of the best electronic producers around, and this EP offers another reason why he's so well loved and sought out by his peers as a collaborator, remixer and producer. If you don't know Burial by now, you don't know what you're missing, and this is as good of a place as any to start.
FRKWYS Vol. 5
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RVNG Intl's hallmark FRKWYS series has been an interesting exercise in pairing contemporary artists with experimental music heavyweights of the past for remixes, re-workings, and collaborations. For their fifth installment, Brooklyn psychedelic-goth duo Mirror Mirror get reworked by four incredible artists from the post-punk era: Stuart Moxham (Young Marble Giants/ the Gist), Alig Fodder (Family Fodder), Rico Conning (the Lines), and Stuart Argabright (Ike Yard/ Death Comet Crew/ Dominatrix). Having seen Mirror Mirror a number of times (albeit at scrappy art spaces or basements), I really wasn't sure what to expect here; their messy live performances didn't necessarily feel befitting of a project like this -- yet, the results are quite astounding. Stuart Moxham's mix of "Love Is the Law" uses a minimal guitar line a la Young Marble Giants as a starting point as dreamy vocals float in and the song opens into sunny, Elephant 6-esque pop territory. Alig Fodder's very excellent interpretation of "New Horizons" continues with the psych-pop vibe, yet in classic Fodder fashion, he mixes in spoken word excerpts until the song melts into pure dub abstraction. The flip-side's tone is slightly darker; the collaboration between Mirror Mirror and Stuart Argabright ("Nau Sau Ser Bil Uma Rah Rab") finds them working with mostly electronic instrumentation and washed-out industrial sounds, while Rico Conning's remix of "Oddfellows" is certainly the 'hit' on the 12" with its heavy, somber synth lines and echoing vocals. Fans of Panda Bear, Animal Collective, Small Black, Wild Nothing, or the Mexican Summer roster are going to find a lot to love. Mirror Mirror are definitely a band to keep your eye on.
My Human Wears Acedia Shreds
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Swiss-based producer Dimitri Grimm, a/k/a Dimlite, released the fantastic Prismic Tops album last year; I considered it one of the best electronic records I'd heard in 2010, and was surprised that it didn't land on more year-end best-of lists. The proggy, Soft Machine-meets-Dilla thump of that record was a mighty refreshing listen in my honest opinion, and this brand new album is just as good. Dimlite stretches out even more here, incorporating deeper elements of fusion, prog and Krautrock into his compositions. Opening track "Kitty Cradle Fog" is a playful piece of modern hip-hop jazz fusion, complete with glitchy scat vocals and rich chord changes, coming across like some lost jam session with Weather Report and Sa-Ra. "Metal Snake Rider" sounds like J Dilla obsessing over the Sun Ra Arkestra while remixing Gong. Weird, original, inspired and inspiring, this is gonna be stuck in my iPod for awhile.