malleus&incus

This is What Happens: An Album Review

Posted in Indie, Jazz, Record Review by jurbanik on August 14, 2010

Those of you who have been following malleus&incus know by now that I’ve been planning on reviewing The Reign of Kindo’s new album, This is What Happens, for quite a while now. I hinted in my chiptune post that the review was coming soon, and much earlier on mentioned that I was anticipating the album to be one of my favorites of the year (in my post on indie jazz).

The Reign of Kindo live

The other day, I sat and listened through all of the This Day & Age songs I have, every single released The Reign of Kindo album/ep in chronological order, and Jeff Martin and Steve Padin’s album ‘The First Joke & Other Matters.’ I’ve waited several weeks and several listens before attempting to tackle judging this album, and yet I still don’t feel qualified to have a real opinion. Part of the problem is that the album keeps growing and morphing on me as I notice different subtleties, part of it is that I just don’t feel a little biased. But as it is, I’m tired of waiting, and I’ve finally decided ‘well, the time for a review is… now.’

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Genre-defying Bands Part 1: The jazz-rock-funk-hip-hop-etc band

Posted in Funk, Genre-defying, Hip Hop, Jazz, Rock by Keshav on August 1, 2010

In the month or so that this blog has been active, I’ve been attempting on and off to come up with a good idea for a post. Alas, my efforts were in vain. The conclusion I’ve come to is that, like Hamlet, my tendency to over-think things can prevent me from actually getting anything done. So, I’ve decided that instead of agonizing over what to write about, I’m just going to write, and see what I end up talking about.

I have a problem with genres. When people make music that attempts to conform to x-genre, they really pigeonhole their music. While there are a lot of great bands that can be described with one genre label without doing them a grave disservice, I’ve come to believe that one characteristic many great bands share is their inability to be accurately described by a genre label. Maybe this has to do with my taste, as I gravitate towards things which are strange and different. But regardless, I’d like to share some bands which I think defy genre-categorization, and also happen to be awesome. For now, I’m going to talk about two genre-defying bands with a lot of similiraties, Rudder and Kneebody.

IMPORTANT: Listen to the sound clips, or you won’t get much out of this post.

Rudder

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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.

...frosty

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Hot New Vuvuzela Music!

Posted in Bossa Nova, Instrumental Hip Hop, Jazz by djandresen on July 15, 2010

Hi I’m David, and no, I’m not a DJ, but thanks for asking.  Now that the final whistle has been blown from the pitch of Soccer City Stadium in South Africa, I’m starting to experience some serious World Cup withdrawal.  No, really, it’s gotten pretty bad. This morning I took “penalty kicks” with a plush soccer ball on a goal I constructed out of couch pillows.  At the same time, I was also reliving some of the best and worst moments of the tournament.  Though some of the 2010 World Cup’s most memorable aspects had nothing to do with soccer (Paul the psychic cephalopod is the unofficial champion in my mind), there were plenty of calls and controversies that were sure to spark a debate among any self-respecting football aficionados.

It remains uncertain whether the arguments centered around this tournament will have a beneficial influence on the future of the sport (a future hopefully full of hovering Terminator-esque robot referees, who vaporize floppers without warning and self-destruct when when they happen to make a bad call), but it is clear that we have learned at least one thing from the most recent World Cup: everyone fucking hates vuvuzelas. Unfortunately, the influence of the vuvuzela has somehow moved past the stadium walls, and those seemingly innocent plastic hell-trumpets are giving horned instruments everywhere a bad name.

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Jazzing Up the Indie, Smoothing Out the Rock

Posted in Indie, Jazz, Rock by jurbanik on July 14, 2010

It has come to my attention that some people may find 1400+ word posts a little hard to get through. I’d be very glad to receive some feedback on that point in the comments, but for the time being I’ll assume that there is some legitimacy to the claim. As a result, this post is going to be my attempt at a speed post: I’ll brief the general idea and each artist, but leave it up to you to listen to the individual songs, and try to be a little more succinct with my writing.

That said, jazz and indie are two genres that are not commonly fused. Sure, lots of indie/ alt rock artists have jazz influences, but few artists have continued in the legacy of 70s Jazz Fusion like Return to Forever of King Crimson, fusing jazz rhythms and improvisation with rock instrumentation (and vocals). However, a few artists have begun to fill this niche in the last decade, replacing the progressive rock roots with indie qualities, and altering the formula for how much of each influence to take in to create some very unique sounds.

Karate

Karate is one of those bands you’ll either love or hate at first… but even if you hate them, if you listen more, they’ll probably grow on you. Karate has a reputation for being one of the most calculated musicians on the indie scene: while self taught, Geoff Farina and other band members were compulsive in their control of song arrangements. The band loves jazzy improvisation, but when recording, requires perfection. The laid back instrumentals are complemented by Farina’s lo-fi voice, which in itself takes a little getting used to. Sadly, after 695 live shows, Karate disbanded because of Farina’s hearing problems. While listening, check out the jazzy guitar riffs, subtle cymbal-driven drumming, and especially the beautiful, almost ethereal solos.

pines// pockets

The Halo of the Strange // Unsolved

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Radiohead Reimagined

Posted in Acoustic Guitar, Alternative, Jazz by jurbanik on July 2, 2010

Hi, I’m John, and I’ve been juggling a bunch of post ideas in my head. I finally settled on one on Radiohead, but I must warn you that my musical tastes are far more diverse than such an introductory post might indicate. I fully intend to blog about everything from the most popular artists of all time (like Radiohead) to artists who have barely few enough fans that all of those fans would barely fill up a neighborhood. But most of all, I’ll only post about music that has value to me. Hopefully that means something to some of you reading.

Since the group’s inception in 1985, Radiohead has released album after album of musical gold. The band has been lauded as one of the greatest musical artists of all time, has been nominated for 14 Grammy awards. They draw on influences ranging from jazz to Krautrock, and bring to the table a unique sound that has provided an influence for artists by the masses. That said, I think any self-respecting music listener must own at least one Radiohead album, if not all of them. Hell, In Rainbows was available as a free download!

Because of this prolificacy, however, I hope that it is fair to assume that I do not have to detail the power of Thom Yorke’s voice, the brilliant fusion of jazz timings into songs masterpieces such as “Pyramid Song,” or the impressive stylistic developments Radiohead has made over the course of the past 25 years while managing to maintain their own sound.

Instead, the focus of this post is what other artists have done with Radiohead’s music. I have selected five covers in remarkably different styles that showcase how music can truly be transformed by an artist’s perception and playing style.

Paranoid Android

Radiohead’s longest song to date contains four distinct sections, and is said to be put together from three different song ideas, each from a different band member. This building block style of song-writing reveals that the song is influenced heavily by The Beatles’ “Happiness is a Warm Gun.

That said, the abrasive guitars, frequent key changes, and gritty lyrics lend next to nothing to an instrumental interpretation. Beyond that, even Radiohead took a year and a half to learn to play their song live.

Paranoid Android // OK Computer

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