No Trivia

Archive for the ‘Tim Hecker’ Category

How Big Is Your World? Tim Hecker – “Apondalifa”

leave a comment

“Apondalifa,” has more in common with Tim Hecker’s 2007 10-inch release Atlas or 2008’s Aidan Baker collaboration Fantasma Parastasie than it does last year’s underwhelming, plastic epic, Imaginary Country and that’s a good thing. See, the musical mindfuck of all the post-glitch, proto-hypnagogic noise that came about at the beginning of the ‘aughts is that it bypassed all the typical rewards of a music listening experience. There weren’t build-ups or breakdowns, it wasn’t catchy, and more often than not, rhythm of any kind was absent. The experience hearing this stuff was truly temporal: the music engulfed you and shot out a feeling for that moment and that moment only, and then it moved on. This new Hecker track is like that—rather than reach for “transcendently beautiful” histrionics like Imaginary Country, “Apondalifia” grinds and whirls and eventually gets beautiful, kind of.

Beginning at its breaking point, with an ugly, in-the-red mess of sounds, “Apondalifa” spends its eight minutes letting bursts of noise stick out and do a kind of “solo” before another damaged drone, flickers up and get to stands proud. The base of the song though, is disquieting, guitar. Shambling nylon-string squeaks appear early and ultimately conclude the song and in the very back corner of this soundscape is guitar shredding from what sounds like hundreds of feet away. Another bundle of drones does take over for a bit, but the last few moments—most of what the 7-inch will label “Apondalifa Part 2”–is kindly plucked guitar that loops and waddles until it’s no more. “Apondalifia” doesn’t build-up, it falls apart. Even by Hecker’s usually high standards, this is breaking-apart beauty on another level.

Written by Brandon

October 5th, 2010 at 6:19 pm

How Big Is Your World? New Good Rap.

leave a comment

-Bobby Creekwater “I Mean It”
“I Mean It” is free on Bobby’s Myspace

“I Mean It” isn’t a masterpiece or anything but it’s got the same appeal as all the best rap that contains actual rapping. It doesn’t matter what Creekwater’s saying or really, how he’s saying it, just that he’s going in with rapid-fire raps about everything and nothing without trying-too-hard, “Yo, I’m going in on this one” indicating and just making something dope. Like so many actual rapping raps from the Golden Era too, “I Mean It”s simply about how dude is awesome or “real” but Bobby’s found a slightly less played-out way to talk about how “real” he is, framing it around word-is-bond type chants that flaunt genuine real-ness: Honesty, integrity, sincerity. He laconically drawls out, “If I say it-” and then desperately asserts,”I mean it, I really mean it” because he’s floating around on SHADY Records without a record release date and outside of sheer talent–which sure as fuck doesn’t necessarily sell records–it’s the only gimmick he’s really got. Sincere conviction’s a good gimmick though.

-Lil Wayne “Prom Queen”

This song gets better–the worst of it’s those corporatized post-hardcore guitar strums, Wayne’s rocker grunt, and the subsequent unfortunate cascade of P.O.D-heavy guitars that would score a date-rape on Degrassi: TNG. From there, it never like, gets good but it’s better than “Lollipop” if only because Wayne’s weird, half-ideal, half-bitter tale of a nerd who wanted to get it with sadly beautiful titular Prom Queen is really bizarre and affecting. Wayne’s a free-verse freaky freak I know, but he’s a really great storytelling rapper in his own way too and he uses it (and wastes it) on “Prom Queen” expertly. “She tried to keep em entertained/When they can hardly re-member her name…” is the same kind of melodramatic empathy for the rarified shitty hand chicks get dealt that you get on his “Sweetest Girl” remix or any time he opens up and talks about his Mom. Then, he matches it with the bitter vengeance that only a sensitive, rejected nerd can have with those lines about her “crying, sitting outside [his] door”.

-Soulja Boy “Hey You There”

Whether he tries hard at rapping or not, Souljaboy’s iSouljaBoyTellEm is a ridiculously solid album that does exactly what it sets out to do really well. Rappers I actually like don’t make albums as entertaining as this or as weird and homegrown as “Hey You There”. Souljaboy’s little intro thingy basically explains how they made this song–some goofy-accented Mall Cop yelled “Hey! You there” and they, inevitably clowned on him for the rest of their time tearing the mall up, then went home and made this song. Produced by Souljaboy himself, it’s this really insane intertwining of voices and the simplest of percussion (cymbal, snap, 808 thump) and it just keeps going and going for-fucking-ever! What “should’ve” been a weird interlude or even skit, rambles on for almost four minutes and gains something through the indulgence. It’s sort of hypnotic and you only get pulled out of because there’s a fart joke, a Rick James reference, or something wonderfully juvenile like that.

-E Major & DJ Impulse “Paper Runnin”
“Paper Runnin” with a remix is available from Undersound Music

Woozy washy synths, E-Major’s mournful ode to the paper chase and random vocal manipulations overwhelm the dance-ready club break that shuffles–but never explodes–underneath “Paper Runnin”, making it some weird not-quite club, almost ambient hip/trip-hop/house track (or something?). Nowhere near as dense as the Block Beataz, but similarly drunk and “fuck a club” music avant weirdness that would totally bang in a club, or close to the beats on It Is What It Is and parts of Crack–which I’ve taken to calling “Tim Hecker beats”–”Paper Runnin” is especially vital because it’s two people from the wonderfully incestuous Baltimore hip-hop, dance, and club scenes dropping a hard-to-categorize joint like this at a time when “Bmore club” has become a formula for don’t-even-know-they’re-cynical-about-it, out-of-town artists and DJs. Towards the end, when the song’s sounds further devolve and fumble into one another, there’s a few moments of laser effects, malfunctioning drum stutters, and E’s chant that’s particularly glorious and easily, the best, weirdest musical moment of the young new year.

-College “The Energy Story”

Like Jonas Reinhardt’s also a little slept-on self-titled release from last year, College’s Secret Diary does basically one thing and does it really well for an entire album, with little interest in who will get it and how. Unlike Reinhardt, College isn’t locked-up in some old-fashioned Stockhausen-like lab of big-ass computers and farting electronics, he’s trying to make sad, happy, simple music that grabs from 80s electro less for day-glo irony and more for hazy, bittersweet emotions. “The Energy Story” is one of the less one-note sounding songs of the album, but it’s a good introduction, with a simple melody and an uncluttered mix of keyboards and drum machines that still somehow, have that recorded from a degraded VHS layer of warmth around them. The vocals are fighting against something, quivering and almost getting to a point of really singing but never totally getting there, instead huddling up in the same limbo as the music, somewhere between dancey and depressed, immediate pop and foggy avant-garde–the wonky emotions of the 80s movies and culture College is all about.

Written by Brandon

January 29th, 2009 at 7:40 am

City Paper Article: Electronic Affronts, Bogdan Raczynski & Tim Hecker

leave a comment

Yeah! Another article in the Baltimore City Paper…not rap-related though. I’m pretty into this one; I think it’s the best one I’ve done. Also sports a hilarious Basquiat-meets-MS Paint image from Idolator’s Jess Harvell (Yes, that pic was printed inside the paper which I think is pretty great…). Also also, the label putting out Hecker’s EP, Audraglint, were kind enough to upload mp3s of the EP to hear it because my personal copy arrived like, 3 days before it was due and that’s awesome…also also also, City Paper Music Editor Michael Byrne helped a great deal- probably more than he needs to with other writers- and it’s cool he gave me 1000 fucking words to write about what’s basically an album of happy hardcore and an EP of farts, glitches, and whuurrrrrsszzz…

IT’S BEEN A STRANGE YEAR for electronic music. Kanye West sampled Daft Punk. Timbaland brought the rave to MTV. And even the guys with scene cred embraced the porous borders between pop and “experimental”: Justice got rid of bass and made trebly, black-metal party pop, and the Field made house so micro it just became house again. The indie guys went a little more pop, the popular guys got weirder, and no one, musician or fan, could feel totally comfortable. This year’s common theme is bucking expectations, so it’s fitting that the year ends with releases from soundscapist Tim Hecker and electro-contrarian Bogdan Raczynski, two artists plenty ill at ease with genre lines…

Written by Brandon

December 19th, 2007 at 9:57 am

leave a comment

Rap Music and “Experimental” Music

I was dancing around this topic in my ‘Harmony in Ultraviolet’ review because I didn’t think many people think or care why Tim Hecker and Young Jeezy are similar musicians. As my girlfriend, kind-of default editor, and imminent contributor to this little blog said: “Who would [that entry] be for?” I’m not really sure. But, who’s reading this shit anyway?

While I was writing my Hecker review, I kept thinking of ‘The Inspiration’ and how ‘Inspiration’ and ‘Harmony…’ are more alike than any of the other albums I’ve written about. If I had to compare ‘The Inspiration’, I’d say it is sonically similar to Three-Six Mafia ‘Most Known Unknown’, ‘M83’s ‘Before the Dawn Heals Us’, and the aforementioned Hecker album. A weird group, but seriously: What makes Tim Hecker avant-garde and Young Jeezy (and his producers) stupid mainstream rap? The music is primarily created through sampling and electronics. Those soundtrack to ‘Thief’ whips and beeps on ‘Hypnotize’ sound a lot like the in-and-out helicopter-sounding whooshes that provide the backing to ‘Dungeoneering’. More importantly, the songs are after the same feeling: Some kind of claustrophobic, scary world-collapsing paranoia that occasionally breaks open into minor joy. The way ‘Dungeoneering’ lets up towards the end and segues into the next track is a lot like the feeling Jeezy provides with a defiant chorus or Shawty Red or Timbo provide the listener with through a change-up of the beat. What about those sub-level basstones that suddenly push forward on a lot of ‘The Inspiration’s tracks? Electronic music, especially the kind Hecker makes, is all production. The minor details and subtle shifts are what make it good. The organ stabs on ‘Whitecaps of White Noise I’ sound a lot like DJ Toomp’s now signature synth-tone. This stuff isn’t that different!

If we think of Jeezy’s album as a rap album but still, not that different from glitch or ambient electronic or whatever, then the whole “Bring lyricism back/Bring New York back” argument is trivial because an end-run around that argument has been made. Why must Jeezy be eloquent? Is he even rapping on ‘The Inspiration’? He’s just sort of saying stuff that occasionally, doesn’t even rhyme. All I know is, the total package, what Jeezy says, lyrical or not, coupled with the production, is a really satisfying musical experience. Jeezy’s just some guy saying some shit about what he knows. It is unfortunate that rappers are so closely tied to precedent and tradition, but its evern sadder that they are asked to cover all of their bases socially, politically, and ethically. These concerns with racial representation and social consciousness don’t and shouldn’t mean a thing to Jeezy. I’m not interested in only listening to stuff I already know about or stuff that I agree with. I’m Black Metal obsessed and most of those guys are screaming about some Heathen/Preserve-the-White race stuff that’s scary, but also awesome because it’s just some guy in Norway pouring his heart into his music. Even if he’s pouring his heart into music that promotes church-burning. I think the first step towards this disinterest in purity of genre, while still being deathly afraid of “fusion”- could come about if more people realized what is going on in mainstream rap and gave these guys some credit. If ‘Wire Magazine’ had any balls, if the magazine was honestly interested in “adventures in modern music” and dropped their elitism, their rap coverboys wouldn’t be lames like MF Doom or Edan. Three-Six Mafia would have made the cover a decade ago. So would The Neptunes and Timbaland, even Jazze Pha or Kanye West. Are Broadcast or Boards of Canada more “adventurous” than a Phizzle production like ‘So What’? The magazine’s year-end list might include ‘Late Registration’ or something, but it’s more like them conceding to it so they don’t look totally out of touch. There isn’t anything spectacular about Edan, he’s entirely a throwback and I guess that’s cool or post-innovative or something, but I think it’s just annoying. The rap music that sells (not Edan), the rap music so many people have a problem with, is really, really good and forward-thinking and yes, “experimental”. More experimental than the “underground”. Noz wrote on this topic better than I ever could, particularly his passage on how “weird” rap music is. Go check it out: ‘The Good Die Mostly Over Bullshit Post-Rap Side Projects’.I sort of wish one of those anthologies like the Dave Eggers-edited ‘The Best American Non-Required Reading’ anthologies existed for the best web-based rap writing. This Noz article would make it. So would Peter Macia’s review of Little Brother’s ‘The Minstrel Show’ because if this rap-blogging stuff ever means something to anyone, I feel like that review was sort of a significant, throwing down the gauntlet. And yeah, if I were the editor of some sort of rap-blog anthology, it would be so Wigster your ‘Morehouse Class of 94’ Reunion’ commemorative kufi would fucking spin.

Written by Brandon

December 31st, 2006 at 11:29 pm

leave a comment

Honorable Mentions
b. Tim Hecker – Harmony in Ultraviolet.
The only non-rap new release I gave a shit about this year. The market for noisey, farty electronic music is small, but you’ll never stop hearing me tell people that it is the only other interesting genre of music going on today. Last year, the only albums I could honestly and fully praise would be ‘Most Known Unknown’ by Three-Six Mafia and ‘Multiples’ by Keith Fullerton Whitman. For me, Tim Hecker is the musician of this genre (‘glitch’ is a horrible descriptor) that I admire most. Perhaps, it’s simply because he’s a hoser and makes amazing non-kitschy albums consisting of Van Halen samples, but he seems to be the least pretentious of these artists and his music the least precious. Like Ghostface, Hecker’s music may mean too much to me to have an objective or conventional opinion. I think ‘Mirages’ and ‘My Love Is Rotten to the Core’ are his best albums, while most reviewers write-off ‘Mirages’ as “okay” and ‘My Love…’ as some kind of novelty record. ‘Radio Amor’ sounds too much like other albums of the genre (I’ve never heard ‘Haunt Me, Haunt Me, Do it Again’), while the two I mentioned have this woozy, painkillers, brink-of-death-and-destruction feeling that makes it unlike most stuff I’ve heard in any genre.

I’m sounding like John Ruskin or somebody, but I think it is important that all art, especially music, contain this intangible sense of menace about it. For something to be great, it has to have this menace because that menace is the acknowledgement of death and if you’re not somehow addressing death, what the hell are you doing? Even when you’re partying it up, you better remember you’re going to fucking die one day. You’ll be dust and those jager-bombs won’t mean a thing. I can’t really articulate what menace sounds like, but I know it when I hear it. The Rolling Stones have it, the Beatles don’t. Philadelphia soul, especially the Thom Bell productions have it, while I don’t get that same feeling from Motown. Do you know that middle breakdown in Egyptian Lover’s ‘Egypt Egypt’, especially the extended version? That’s menace. Three-Six Mafia, everything they’ve done is nothing but menace, while Lil’ Jon is just twiddling his thumbs (or snapping his fingers…). Pharrell’s minimalism even at its goofiest, is full of menace, while Timbaland has no interest in such things. I could go on and on and it probably wouldn’t make any more sense, it’s just, that ‘Harmony in Ultraviolet’ does not have that menace, that sound of death within it. That’s okay, it’s still a good album but it doesn’t serve my sick, weird musical needs, so ‘Harmony in Ultraviolet’ only gets an ‘Honorable Mention’.

When I first heard ‘Harmony in Ultraviolet’ I commented to a friend that the album is “too good” or “too beautiful” and I still think that is true. Hecker removed the gimmicky aspect of his music, but a gimmick that I loved: the waves of static and talking. It put a thick fog over the music that made it much harder to penetrate and prevented anything from fully standing out. Instruments can actually be heard on the new album; the bassline in ‘Dungeoneering’ or the waves of electric guitar in ‘Whitecaps of White Noise I’ stand-out and this adds a precious aspect to the music, making it feel like post-rock or something equally sentimental. Hecker, on tracks like ‘Rainbow Blood’ (and ‘Blood Rainbow’) and ‘Harmony in Blue Pt. 2’ is moving towards having the kind of “transcendent” feeling that makes similar musicians like Belong or Phillip Jeck or even M83- mediocre or just plain crappy. I can see why Hecker would want to pull his music out of that fog, I’m sure some people considered it a crutch. Maybe he’s taken that sound as far as he can. I have no idea how Hecker makes his music, he may just send it through a single processor in some program and adds some radio static and it comes out sounding Hecker-like. I wouldn’t know and I wouldn’t care if it were that easy because it worked wonderfully. As I said before, the album is good, it just doesn’t satisfy my interest in Tim Hecker’s music. The album is impressive in its cohesion and consistency. Although that cohesion highlights some of my problems with ‘Harmony in Ultraviolet’ it also makes for a remarkably easy listen. The transition from ‘Palimpsest I’ to ‘Chimeras’ to ‘Dungeoneering’ feels nearly subliminal. It’s still worth listening, downloading, or purchasing.

‘Eleven Old Songs’ by Mt. Eerie was also very good. Kind-of like this parody or one-upping of that annoying Postal Service album. I don’t really have too much more to say about it though. It may have even come out in 05?

Reissues/Compilations from this Year:
-Arthur Russell – Another Thought
-Arthur Russell – First Thought, Best Thought
-Arthur Russell – Springfield
-Earth – Phase 3: Thrones & Dominions
-Earth – Pentastar: In the Style of Demons
-Sven Libaek – Innerspace: The Lost Film Music Of…

Most of the music I bought was not released this year, here’s stuff I just got around to hearing, a lot of it was records from Goodwills and stuff like that. I’m sure I’m lame for only just now hearing a lot of stuff on this list, so, fuck you.

-Bobby Caldwell – Cat in the Hat
-Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – E. 1999 Eternal
-Bronski Beat – Age of Consent
-Camel – Rain Dances
-Eightball & MJG – Comin’ Out Hard
-Henry Kaiser – It’s a Wonderful Life
-Jay Dee – Welcome 2 Detroit
-Jay Dee – Ruff Draft EP
-Keith Fullerton Whitman – Schoner Flussengel
-Merle Haggard – Mama Tried
-Modern Jazz Quartet – The Sheriff
-Roberta Flack – First Take
-Scott Walker – Climate of Hunter
-Spinners – Mighty Love
-Sun Ra – Solo Piano Vol. 1
-Tangerine Dream – Risky Business OST
-Thelonious Monk – It’s Monk’s Time
-Vangelis – China

Written by Brandon

December 29th, 2006 at 4:35 am

Posted in 2006, Lists, Tim Hecker