chilly musics

Posted in Electronic, Experimental, Hip Hop, Jazz, math rock, Playlists by Giri Nathan on July 26, 2010

It’s hot outside! Really hot. So I’ve been listening to songs that sonically cool me down, and hopefully they will have a similar effect on you. However, the “relationship” between music and temperature is perhaps, like my affinity for wombats, a weird subjective thing isolated in my mind that no one else really understands. Perhaps these songs will not cool you down. Perhaps they will have the opposite effect. In that case I apologize in advance and promise a follow-up post of musical moist towelettes. But if you share my (non)sensibilities, let me know! I am curious.


Mos Def – “Umi Says”

Recently rediscovered the glory that is Black on Both Sides. This is also an apt description of how charred I felt recently after an ill-advised noontime tennis exploit. Anyway, the entire album is gold — Mos hasn’t been this good since — and this is my favorite track, despite being decidedly rap-free. Because this song is just massively, staggeringly chill. It’s a night breeze, full of stars, pinholes on black velvet. Airy snare drums; slinky bassline; hushed organs; some kind of pleasant recurring twinkle, ostensibly wind chimes; Mos crooning up something soulful. ATTN: Wind chimes. There is a lot going on here but the production is just masterful, leaving plenty of open space between all the pieces so that it all rings piercingly pure and clean. A breath of super-cool smooth jazzy air. If Heaven exists, and has elevator music on the way up, this is surely it.

Foals – “Spanish Sahara”

This tune is glacial. Rarely has a music video ever captured a song’s ethos so damn perfectly. It starts out slow, murmuring dude drifting in an arctic stream, then builds, like climbing a huge crag one frozen plink at a time. Foals have mastered that sort of sterile, angular guitar tone — a nice clean note bouncing off the walls of an ice cave, resonating, repeating. It’s a haunting sound to be sure, and there’s something cathartic about all these icy tones swelling to a kind of avalanche, as the guitar and synth echoes rebound off one another and the murmurs turn to spectral wails: “Choir of furies in your head / Choir of furies in your bed / I’m the ghost in the back of your head.” The shudders at the end are a nice touch; it’s as if even the song itself is shivering by the end of this cut.

Curren$y – “King Kong”

Anyone who’s been within a 10-foot radius of me the past few weeks is probably well aware that I love Curren$y’s new record. It has the ability to make you feel incredibly lazy: I mean, I get it, you like smoking a lot of drugs and going around in jet planes and stuff. He’s certainly going strong with the aerial theme on this one, issuing a favorable comparison to everyone’s favorite skyscraper-ascending primate. But this song doesn’t waste time with the angry Kong, instead focusing on his cool, ridiculously self-assured side that just didn’t get enough screen time.  When I hear those cold fluttering synths, his smugly sluggish flow, I don’t feel like I’m swatting “wannabe pilots” “out the sky.” I feel like I’m getting flown around in an air-conditioned plane, then being dropped of on a rooftop, then napping on said rooftop, even if I don’t own it, because I am the shit and I am a rapper and I can afford this extravagant napping lifestyle. Curren$y’s swagger is oddly refreshing, not because it’s he’s any more modest than the average rapper, but because he eschews the usual chest-thumping gat-blasting bravado in favor of this I’m-so-cool-I-don’t-even-want-to-waste-my-time-on-you aura. If not holier-than-thou, definitely higher-than-thou. He’s on a plane, and he’s on another plane.

Flying Lotus – “Drips// Auntie’s Harp”

Like watching an ice palace melt and refreeze in time-lapse. This guy is the (undisputed) master of atmospherics and this song carves out a strange frigid world I would like to visit some day. Crisp beats give you something to bob your head to as electro-zephyrs noodle in and out of the track in typical Flylo style. And the eponymous Auntie’s Harp swoops in occasionally to breathe a rimy cloud into the mix. And the strings. The strings are like shivers straight down the spine, waterfalling relentlessly into frozen glissandos — and when all the other sounds drop out, and you just hear that lush swoosh, you realize that this track has captured a self-contained chilly little peace of its own. I’m sure John Alan will back me up on this: I cannot overstate how important it is that you listen to Flying Lotus. I really cannot.


8 Responses

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  1. jawillisetc said, on July 26, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    On a scale of one to important EVERYONE MUST LISTEN TO COSMOGRAMMA.

  2. dc3 said, on July 26, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    yo, stop writing so good you bitch.

    Also, I cannot identify anything hip-hop as chilly. That just don’t make sense. Chilly is Bon Iver, Elliott Smith, Bright Eyes. That shit is straight up sub zero my friend.

    • girrig said, on July 27, 2010 at 2:33 pm

      hip-hop is plenty chilly! it’s in the beats. and i could see where you’re coming from (especially with Bon Iver), but something about acoustic guitar automatically just makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. especially Iron & Wine

      • craniumcadoo said, on July 27, 2010 at 3:10 pm

        my fav song on this list is def king kong…. because he has HUGE TITS!! man seriously, seriously get a eye load of those kahunas; those bare breasted kahoohoonas! dayuummm…. dude really like if those wer on a girl – hear me out on this one- if those wer on a girl man…. she would have lik major major major major major back problemsandimreallyhighi♥thismusicandgiriforhisgayasswriting.

      • noggin flatulence said, on July 29, 2010 at 1:04 pm

        yo u a crazy mofo,and i see watu mean with the flyin lotus one, sounds lik itd taste lik an ice cold lemonade that u bought from a bunch of lying 10 year old skanks on the corner that ripped you off cuz i know that shit aint fresh squeeze cuz i taste the minute maid’s juice in here! THE MINUTE MAID’s JUICES!…. shits chilly as hell -> literally.

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