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Archive for the ‘Chillwave’ Category

Pitchfork: Washed Out – Within And Without


The new Washed Out sounds really good, is a total grower, and may induce boners. Also: There’s nothing wrong with chillwave! Anybody out there really into it or even, really not into it? Curious.

Despite being the butt of jokes because of its goofy but actually spot-on name, chillwave as an idea and a sound is here to stay. Synthesizers are in; guitar-based rock has taken a backseat to diffuse, rhythmic dance music; and the sound’s key influences (broken, blissed-out electronica, hip-hop) have leached into most interesting music happening right now.

So, where does a significant subgenre defined by the less-than-lofty goal of manufacturing good vibes go next? The artists either do the same thing with the same synth presets to diminishing returns (Memory Tapes, Small Black, Teen Daze) or they pull a Toro Y Moi on Underneath the Pine and morph into something different altogether. The former creates music that can seem a little too comfortable, and the latter, while admirable, could come over as a bit alarmist– a calculated response to the critics…

Written by Brandon

July 11th, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Posted in Chillwave, Pitchfork

Nguzunguzu, Nostalgia, & The Death Of The Acapella

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Los Angeles duo Nguzunguzu (Asma Maroof and Daniel Pineda) are invigorated by the sonic give-and-take between radio R&B and the of-the-moment underground dance that’s going on in too many places to name right now. Think: Diplo and Afrojack producing “Look At Me Now” for Chris Brown (it always comes back to that song, doesn’t it?) but also, dubstep pretty much just doom-and-glooming the retro-futuristic sounds of mid-2000s R&B and creating a new phenomenon altogether. And Nguzunguzu are so deep into this stuff, beyond what the blogs have already co-signed and declared cool, that they’ve put on experimental Baltimore club producer and No Trivia favorite, DJ Pierre (he’s on Mirage Remixes EP, and Vicki Leekx).

Their Perfect Lullaby mix, moves from Monica and Brandy to Ciara to R. Kelly to Nicki Minaj to footwork to whatever you want to call what Kingdom does, toying with genre expectations, conjuring up immediate nostalgia, making a point that I’ve been harping on for awhile (that everything coming out these days is chillwave), but totally not sounding like “bullshit,” even though that description would suggest otherwise, right? Perfect Lullaby begins with what appears to be Nguzunguzu’s sonic mission statement: The synthesized harps from “The Boy Is Mine” looped over and over into something that’s briefly Terry Riley-like. The group’s own productions are darker and even more slippery, maintaining the sensuality of R&B even as they mutate it into slow-fast rhythmic work-outs and foggy dusted grooves. It’s all about tension, or maybe it’s all about release? It’s hard to tell–and that seems to be the point.

One of the many reasons for Perfect Lullaby keeping at least one of its feet in a couple years ago (besides those songs still being great), is that hits from the early to mid 2000s are far easier to remix. The digital era, along with with the supposed “vinyl resurgence” skipping right over rap and R&B, has made the once standard acapella track something of a rarity and therefore, all-out remixes close to nonexistent. The Nicki Minaj song here, “Wave Ya Hand,” is left untouched (it’s a great pick because it already sounds like a remix) and the few 12-inch singles still being released rarely feature an acapella track. This seems like another one of the industry’s insane, short-sighted techniques for keeping everything as close to their chest as possible: By protecting the acapella, remixes are restricted to those co-signed by the labels and artists. It’s a really dumb move and ignores the importance of remixes in accidentally exposing songs to new audiences or providing them a musical life beyond the right-now. Then again, major labels are only interested in the right-now.

The recent dearth of acapellas may have also helped the growing prominence of chaotic, regional sounds though. Footwork, dubstep, pitch-shifting remixers like Flying Lotus or Star Slinger, the renewed love of screw music, and jagged, noisy scenes like Baltimore club, bounce, or moombahton, don’t rely on a nice clean vocal; they can reach into even the busiest pop song or the radio hit that’s currently winning the loudness wars and still chip off a nice chunk and flip the shit out of it. Then, groups like Nguzunguzu find a place for it in a mix, while whatever major label sanctioned remix dies out a few months after it premieres on Jersey Shore.

Written by Brandon

April 27th, 2011 at 2:49 am

Pitchfork: Toro Y Moi – “Still Sound”

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Wrote about the first single from the new Toro Y Moi, which is some disco-like, Rick James punk-funk sent through the polite filter of indie rock, which means it’s awesome.

Written by Brandon

December 15th, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Posted in Chillwave, Pitchfork

Pitchfork: Top 100 Tracks Of 2010

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Pitchfork’s always fascinating list of the top 100 songs of the year is up. I wrote the ones for “Blessa” by Toro Y Moi, “Over” by Drake, and “Exhibit C” by Jay Electronica.

Written by Brandon

December 14th, 2010 at 7:34 am

Dat Gif & No Trivia present…PLEASANT EXPERIENC




Strategic vigilantes, social malcontents, and the internets’ number one purveyors of the low-brow aesthetic Dat Gif, have teamed-up with No Trivia, supreme defender of Chillwave, for the ultimate chillwave experience, mixed by FIFTHS. 3 Hours. 53 Songs.

Written by Brandon

November 1st, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Posted in Chillwave, mixtapes

do you like chillwave?

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Written by Brandon

October 29th, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Splice Today: Mark McGuire – Living With Yourself

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This is my first “write lovingly about a record but don’t actually describe the music all that much” review, but it’s really the concept and emotions behind Living With Yourself that make is so good anyway. The genius here is that McGuire has totally loaded-up his instrumental music with context without the record toppling over. So there are just all these completely relatable caves of meaning behind really beautiful, bittersweet instrumental music. To me, it’s like anti-chillwave in the sense that it isn’t about sitting around, hanging out, or a half-guilty contemplation of “a life of leisure,” it’s about asserting the very specific problems that arise from growing up suburban, to a family that loved you a whole lot, and maybe a little too much.

Ambient guitarist Mark McGuire releases dozens of cassettes and CD-Rs each year, but he’s calling Living With Yourself his “first record.” Though his basic approach to composition (endless loops of super-clean guitar that build to a cathartic though not exactly epic climax) hasn’t changed much, this is his first release on an above ground label (Austrian noise/electronic behemoth Editions Mego) and this time around, he’s wrapped his wandering instrumentals around a brilliant, very touching conceit.

Living With Yourself is about experience, and the way in which the building-up, inevitable breaking down, and occasional rebuilding of relationships permanently alters the lives of everyone involved, whether they like it or not. McGuire investigates this through contemplative guitar work adorned with cryptic, pointed references to family, friends, and lovers: proper nouns in the song titles, the family photos on the album cover, the audio from home movies that preface the first and last track…

Written by Brandon

October 14th, 2010 at 5:53 pm