Posts Tagged ‘Electronic’

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Portishead – Third

Friday, November 23, 2012
Third (2007)

Third (2007)

This is one of those rare examples of an artist coming back after 10+ years and completely hitting the mark.

Third just might be Portishead’s best work. Why? It’s true of every Portishead album, but there is not a bad track, and Third contains Portishead’s best track, in close contention with “Roads” – “The Rip”.

Like every Portishead released, Third explores themes of alienation, pain, and anger with such alarming beauty. It is a bit experimental compared to Dummy, and maybe less so than Portisheadbut Portishead will always be one of my favorite groups. Beth Gibbons lyrics are pure poetry – only she could pen something so absolutely chilling with such earnest warmth. This is especially evident on “Nylon Smile”: And I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve you / And I don’t know what I’d do without you. “The Rip:” In my thoughts I have bled / for the riddles I’ve been fed / another lie moves over.

More than most other artists, Portishead creates this dark ambiance that is hard to qualify with words. Listening is always a wonderfully cathartic experience; when we hear our own fears voiced and explored in Portishead, it’s strangely peaceful. I guess like falling into deep water, to reference the track of the same name?

All I can say is, I really hope they release another.

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Radiohead – The King of Limbs

Monday, February 28, 2011

The King of Limbs (2011)

I’m a huge Radiohead fan, and in true fan boy fashion salivate at the mere mention of any potential album.

It was the same for King of Limbs. I had a feeling this one was going to be different – even by Radiohead standards.

Turns out that feeling was more right than I could have imagined.

Not since Kid A have I struggled with a Radiohead album so much. To like, or not to like? While there is much to like, some of the tracks seem lackluster, and the direction they took was quite unexpected.

The lyrics, as usual, are amazing, in Radiohead’s unique cryptic fashion – minimalistic, alluding, and never daring to say anything outright. It perfectly fits with the glitchy, erratic soundscape. The album is very reminiscent of Yorke’s Eraser. But King of Limbs seems more like Yorke’s album than Radiohead’s. Not to say the rest of the band isn’t present – Selway’s drumming really shines and Colin Greenwood’s basswork is phenomenal, though his brother Jonny’s influence is sadly not as evident.

The album’s quality songs rises toward the middle. Highlights are “Bloom,” “Little by Little,” and especially “Lotus Flower” and “Codex,” the latter song probably the most classically Radiohead of them all. It features a piano leading the chord changing charge amid the swooping rising and falling of the background.

I think the many comparisons made between King of Limbs and Kid A/Amnesiac are warranted. Limbs is highly experimental in nature, and is the only Radiohead album that doesn’t outright rock. Even Kid A and Amnesiac did that, which I think is a crux of what makes Limbs so different.

I applaud Radiohead for continuing to mix things up and do their own thing. That is part of the thrill of a new Radiohead album – they never do quite what you expected.

The verdict: King of Limbs is definitely worth the listen. It’s still Radiohead, it’s still good, and is probably still worth your money.

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Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works Volume II

Friday, March 26, 2010

Selected Ambient Works Volume II (1994)

I bought this on a whim. When I popped into the CD player and put my headphones on, I realized I had made a dreadful mistake and that I had wasted about $20. I felt stupid, considering I thought this would be something awesome that I would like immediately.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m pretty open-minded with most types of music. I can listen to just about anything that has artistic merit.

But with Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume Two, it seems I have met my match.

Because this music is what it says it is in the album title. It’s ambient. It has very little structure, if any at all. When I listen to this, I feel like I’m in zero gravity, floating through space, completely disoriented and confused. It’s like the feeling you have right before you fall asleep, that place where strange thoughts come, where suddenly everything feels like it makes sense.

This album is a taste of that, and I don’t believe it’s something the conscious mind can wrap itself around.

I don’t listen to this often. Once a year, at most. It’s just not that kind of music. I could listen to this on a sleepless night around 3 or 4  in the morning, alone in a dark room when I’m writing a late night paper or studying for finals, in the dark hour right before the first gray on the horizon appears. It’s music that must be listened to alone.

In any case, I won’t pretend to understand anything about this album. I don’t understand it. I don’t enjoy it very much, except when I’m in the rare mood for a song (if you could call them that) or two. But I don’t hate this kind of music, either. I understand there is merit, even if I don’t know what that merit is.

It’s not my bag, but when I’m in a rare mood, when my mind is on its level, I can listen to it. No doubt ambient music is challenging to listen to, and it may take more patience than I’m willing to have to form a more decent opinion on it. In that case, I continue listening to it, when I feel that rare mood strike.

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Massive Attack – Mezzanine

Monday, February 16, 2009
Mezzanine (1998)

Mezzanine (1998)

I swear England makes better music than the U.S.. Not that Americans don’t make good music, but it just seems like more quality musicians come from across the pond.  At least per capita, England outdo America, music-wise.

Massive Attack is an English trip-hop group whose heyday was in the nineties. Mezzanine hit stores in 1998 and marked the end of that nineties heyday. Many consider Massive Attack to the best trip-hop group (though I say the cake goes to Portishead).

Where most English hip-hop groups had insanely fast tempos (some around 500 beats per minute), Massive Attack staked their claim but slowing things down. This is one the band’s trademarks, and it makes for a groovy, relaxing, and unique experience.

Massive Attack was more successful than many other trip-hop groups, and that’s due to the quality of their music. While those groups will fade into obscurity with the passage of time, Massive Attack will remain fresh.

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Ulver – Perdition City

Sunday, February 15, 2009
Perdition City (2000)

Perdition City (2000)

Ulver is my recent obsession. I love bands that get out there and do something different.

Before Perdition City, Ulver was a black metal band, based out of Oslo. But with this album, Ulver dared go electronic.

They completed a jump where many bands fell.  Ulver’s style jump demonstrates they aren’t just accomplished metal musicians. They are accomplished muscicians, period.

The style jump reminds  me of Radiohead going from OK Computer’s alternative to Kid A’s electronica and jazz (being a Radiohead fan, I had to use that analogy). In an interesting coincidence, both Kid A and Perdition City hit shelves in 2000.

Ulver, too, incorporate jazz in Perdition City. The opener “Lost in Moments” flirts close to being  cool jazz, only without the cheese. Though relaxing, it remains dark, Ulver remaining true to its black metal past.

The next track is my favorite, “Porn Piece or the Scars of Cold Kisses.” The song begins with icy piano. Then sparse beats join. It crecendoes to a sudden fall. Silence. Then enter lyrics in pure poetry, beats and chord progression accenting each syllable to perfection.

I will listen to Ulver much in coming weeks.