malleus&incus

Music to listen to while you are stuck in Vermont

Posted in Dubstep, Hip Hop, IDM by jawillisetc on July 1, 2010

My name is John Alan and I hate Vermont. Seriously. Sorry to any readers that happen to live in or have some special affinity for our great nation’s most prodigious producer of maple syrup, but that’s just how I feel. Besides, odds are we don’t have any readers from Vermont because as far as I can tell NO ONE FUCKING LIVES HERE.

I should probably explain my vitriolic outburst, because for one thing it’s sorta bad form to hate on an entire state in your introductory post, and because this is the part where I actually tie my tangential intro into something vaguely music related. Anyway, I hate Vermont because I am stuck here for the summer and it is aggressively, relentlessly verdant and gorgeous. For Realz Yo. Vermont has the kind of scenic views that don’t just make you want to go outside, they get up in your face about it. The blue sky and leaves gently rustling in the wind make me feel guilty every time I’m not hiking or something, and I resent it.

As the scion of a long line of contrarian assholes, I have spent the past several weeks expressing my contempt for my beautiful prison by listening to only the most alien and unnatural music on my hard drive. Being just nerdy as all hell I have plenty, and expect more posts in this vein, but the three artists that I’ve kept coming back to lately are Chris Clark, Burial, and Orphans of Cush.

First off, Chris Clark. Signed to Warp, and if you’re anything like me that’s all you need to know. But just in case you aren’t, listen to this.

Clark
http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=viewImage&friendID=95890983&albumID=413554&imageID=15645414

Herzog//Body Riddle

Matthew Unburdened//Body Riddle

Now, the occasional familiar chime or stringed instrument may trick you into feeling comfortable with Clark, but don’t be fooled. This stuff is alien; even the samples that haven’t been filtered and sped up beyond recognition have a distant and unsettling quality. These tracks come from Body Riddle, from 2006, have a great subtle electric buzz all over them, like the hum of a power supply or something, that puts an extra layer between the listener and the music itself. It’s the sort of buzz that if you heard it while walking around outside, you would hunt down the source, but then be afraid to touch it.  Everything about this album is processed and unnatural, from the drum sequencing the orchestral samples, but it has a paradoxically inviting quality. This music, while unsettling and unpredictable, by virtue of existing suggests that the bizarre and synthetic can be beautiful.

Speaking of fuzziness, how about Burial?

Burial

Archangel//Untrue

Untrue//Untrue

Where Clark coated his IDM in electric buzz, Burial obscures his dubstep (2-step? Garage? I can’t keep English genres straight) in AM radio crackle. This album is all about processing and effects. The initial few seconds of the first track are just static, and that static never lets up. The vocal samples are cut up, stretched out, slowed down, and just generally fucked with until they don’t sound human. The drums don’t even sound like drums. They hit like drums, they keep the beat, but they always seem to be missing something, like they’re being played in another room and you are only hearing some of it. Tracks like “Untrue” and “Archangel” highlight the intense emotion that Burial manages to wring out of these heavily manipulated samples

Also, super dark stuff. The cover of Untrue is a black and white pencil sketch, and I can’t think of anything more appropriate. Burial’s music sounds like someone who has never seen the sun made it. If Beach Fossils is ideal driving music because it sounds like filtered sunlight, then Burial is ideal night driving music because it is exactly the opposite. Burial is the sound of a flickering halogen street lamp at 2 AM.

Orphans of Cush

Rain Blood//White Noize

White Noize//White Noize

I went to a Catholic high school, so naturally I’m just way too into hip hop. This here, this is just perfect.  The MCs on grim, violent, and relentlessly bleak tracks “Rain Blood” and “White Noize” sound like they’ve never seen a tree, let alone been hiking. The album, “White Noize”, mostly recycles beats (I think I recognize some Pharaohe Monch and maybe Dr. Octagon?) but the beats aren’t the point. These guys write like it’s still the 90s. Forget synths, club beats and definitely forget about singing, this stuff is from a different era. Rapping is all that matters on this album, and they deliver, from the hilarious and endearingly nerdy comic book battle rap from the first verse of “Raining Blood” to the obligatory socially conscious conclusion “Where We At”. MCs M9, Cyrus Malachi, Masikah and Kyza weave brainy vocabulary into intricate flows, but somehow never seem like they’re just trying to show off their vocabulary. *cough *cough mos def *cough.

To sum it all up, this stuff is the opposite of Vermont. Violent, unpredictable, dark and alien, this stuff sketches out scenes of urban isolation. Also, it all just sounds really cool, so even if you aren’t stuck in Vermont, give it a listen.

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6 Responses

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  1. audio said, on July 1, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    oddly enough, i actually really like this. what you said about burial seems strikingly appropriate. or maybe the way you put it just makes it more haunting when i listen?

  2. Bob said, on July 5, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    This post sucks.

  3. jawillisetc said, on July 5, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    I like it. By being elusive, he’s challenging me to really critically analyze every aspect of my writing. He’s forcing me to tear every aspect of my post apart piece by piece, because anything, from the thesis to my vocabulary to my comma placement could be the part that sucks. Yup, thank you Bob, for helping me grow both as a writer, and maybe even as a person.

  4. bchenyo said, on July 9, 2010 at 12:52 am

    i think hes referring to the one-armed picha of mr. clark

  5. ned said, on August 31, 2010 at 9:30 am

    haters gonna hate….VT is the best , especially the burlington area


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