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Posts Tagged ‘James Blake’

Albums Should Come with Instructions

Animal Collective’s newest album, Centipede Hz, comes out today and is streaming here. So open up the page, hit “Play All”, sit back, lie down, tune in, tune out — whatever. I don’t think Animal Collective wants you to experience the album through  shitty laptop speakers but sometimes it can’t be helped. I’d hate to watch a Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon” movie on an iPhone, and in fact anything less than a huge brilliant screen would be doing it injustice, but you gotta do the best with what you got. As I write this, Centipede Hz is playing out an incredible pair of speakers, extra loud; it sounds really good like this. I’m not really paying attention to the videos that they have going along to the music but it’s all about the music anyway.

Nice speakers and a properly tuned system is really the ultimate listening experience. Seeing as almost all commercially made albums are mixed and mastered on these types of setups, it would make sense to try to emulate that setup as much as possible, right? But there’s a lot of electro music today I’d call headphone music. The music of the Brainfeeder lineup and of the post dubstep guys like Mount Kimbie and James Blake is what I’d call ear-candy and the nuanced listening that headphones provide allows for a very pleasurable experience.

Perhaps with the huge increase of DIY musicians, many of whom mix almost exclusively on headphones, and with so many of us listeners now experiencing music largely through headphones, maybe that’s the what’s right? Nah. But I did think it was funny when I read Flying Lotus’ tweet about headphones and listening experience: “even though i don’t like beats by dre headphones I’m gonna listen to my album in them, since lots of kids are gonna hear it that way”. It’s cool to think that guys like FlyLo are being conscious of the way that we are listening to music.

Pearl Jam apparently has an album called Binaural. Having read that the album was largely recorded binaurally, I’ll go so far as to assume that the title is somewhat of an instruction on how the music should be consumed. Binaural recording is a technique that provides the listener with directional and spatial cues provided the listener is listening through headphones; it creates the illusion of being in the same room as the musicians. Here’s a great example.

So once you figure out if you like headphones or speakers better, then you figure out your format. Vinyl’s hit a huge resurgence lately but I believe it’s largely either a romanticization of an obsolete format or a product of vinyl’s status as a collector item. Vinyl poses limitations on song length, sequencing, and even mixing to an extent, as songs with a lot of bass may wear out easily or skip. Aside from that it doesn’t pose a noticeable advantage to sound quality; this is a point of contention to many diehard vinyl fans but from a technological standpoint, the sampling rate and bit depth of CD-quality music, and even the mechanical properties of a speaker are sufficient such that there should be no difference between the sound from a CD and the sound from a vinyl once it hits your eardrums. So let’s leave it up to the bands to decide what medium they would prefer.

Radiohead has stated many times that they hate the CD format so when I started listening to the vinyl of their latest album, the King of Limbs, I was surprised to notice that I had to flip the record in between one of the album’s best segues between songs. So what’s the point? The vinyl disrupts the flow of the album, CD’s suck, so perhaps the lossless wav download that came with the purchase of the album was the intended medium? Somehow I doubt that but it’s fine with me either way; I’m gonna listen however I want to listen so who needs instructions.

Lastly, welcome back to Aphera Music. Music is always on my mind and I’d like to start sharing with you guys (whoever you are) again.

Respectfully,

George

Best of 2011: Finally!

I’m on spring break which means it’s wayyyy too late for this but here we go…

My 10 Favorite Songs of 2011 (in no order)

Jacques Greene – “Another Girl”
This song is perfect.

Joy Orbison – “Video Games” Lana del Rey RMX
Wow Lana del Rey… Not that her music or personality wows me in any way but how does she exist? I do love this remix of her song “Video Games” by Joy Orbison. Really great.

The Stepkids – “La La”
Nothing to say about this song. Just listen for the awesomeness of the catchiest wordless chorus ever.

Radiohead – “Separator”
This song is a serious top contender for the most beautiful song Radiohead has ever written. I’d go as far as to say it’s one of the prettiest songs I’ve ever heard.

SBTRKT – “Pharoahs”
One of the best pop electronica/dance songs ever.

SBTRKT – “Hold On”
There’s an emotion captured in this song which really resonates with me. That and Sampha’s vocals hit it real good… I mean realllll goood.

Julio Bashmore – “Well Wishers”
Is there nothing groovier than this?

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks – “Tigers”
Perfect summer pop :D

James Blake – “Unluck”
A delicate blend of a post dubstep sound palette mixed with brilliant songwriting.

This is a live version, primarily because I couldn’t find the album version anywhere on youtube but this is pretty good anyway.

Radiohead – “Bloom”
My brother called this “future music” and I’d probably have to agree. So fresh it’s not even here yet.

Honorable Mentions:
Wilco – “Art of Almost”

Thundercat – “For Love I Come”

Shabazz Palaces – “Are You… Can You… Were You? (Felt)”

Get Yourself in the Groove

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Producer Julio Bashmore’s as of yet unreleased track “Well Wishers”. I heard this along with the track by the Portico Quartet called “City of Glass” which I’ve uploaded to the player. It is also unreleased as of yet. Dig it.

The Bashmore track is just a really slick groove and I’ve had on repeat for a while now. The Portico Quartet song is a really cool song in that it was recorded 100% live. This is incredible because as you can notice it’s heavily electronic. It’s a quartet too, not your mom and dad’s string quartet though. The idea of four guys getting together to collaborate and perform electronic music of this nature excites me as the standard four piece rock band format falls apart around us. It’s a new direction and example of the synergy that small intimate “bands” can achieve. So dig it.

ps sorry about all the talking during the beginning of the track. I ripped it from Gilles Peterson’s radio show about a week ago.

Lastly, a new James Blake song for y’all.

When Live Song Go Right!

It happens all too infrequently where I’ll revere an album and adore the sounds on it till I tire it out. Then I’ll sometimes look up live versions of certain songs from the album which can sometimes give me a new appreciation of the album tracks or I’ll simply fall in love all over again with the live version. Well both these things happened for two songs from two of my favorite music makers of this year.

First let’s talk about SBTRKT. I recently missed out on an opportunity to see him live here in Chicago because I flew to Philly that weekend to see family. Several of my friends went to see SBTRKT and of those who weren’t kicked out (ha ha!) they said it kicked all kinds of ass. I’m mad jealous. But anyway here’s a live studio recording made for the BBC of SBTRKT’s “Hold On”, a song which is well in contention for bets song of the year.

hold on (live at maida vale for bbc 1xtra) by sbtrkt

Next is James Blake. I’ve had the opportunity now to have seen him twice in Chicago. Both times blew my mind to say the least. Here’s a performance of his song “CMYK” from this summer at Pitchfork fest where I saw him the first time. I’m was to the right of the stage if you wanna look for my head ;) It’s incredible how full of  a sound he gets with just three guys on stage. The band’s coordination also is incredible as, if you can notice, the guitarist and drummer trade off triggering the song’s characteristic vocal samples.

Some Music for Yous

Aside from right here, I will not mention anymore the long break that apheramusic took because it was inexcusable and silllllly. I feel like I’m starting a new page and I’m also 21 which I’ve been told means something.

I saw James Blake perform twice in the last 4 months. Both times I can safely say my mind was blown. This guy is taking long strides towards a future of musical domination. His new EP, Enough Thunder, does little for me except for this one song but no worries because he’s got a new EP coming out later this year and I’ve heard some of his unreleased songs when he played them live and they kick ass.

I was surprised to hear that James Blake was being called dubstep so I looked up what dubstep meant and I discovered it has a rich history steeped in two step and house and all those weird genres that come from London. Not only that, but I found out that an electronic artist with whose work I am sorta familiar, Burial, is a pioneer of dubstep. funny. Then I found Mount Kimbie, a group loosely associated with Blake, and I heard this song, “50 Mile View” and it blew me away. A lot of richness to their sound – ear candy for anyone with an ear for electronica. A lot of it comes from the way they use reverb to keep sounds lingering; every new sound sits on the residue of the previous blips and synth struts, lingering and fading simultaneously.

Next, Pitchfork just posted a new track by Gonjasufi, everyone’s favorite stoner electronica raspy-voiced psychadelia singer. That’s right kids. Anyway he’s got a new EP coming out or something and again the tracks are produced by my very favorite Flying Lotus. Listen below but first I’m going to express my excitement over the news that Flying Lotus tweeted about his new album, for which he apparently has so much music that he either has to pare it down or make a double album. Now excuse me while I clean up the mess I just left on my keyboard (eww gross).

GONJASUFI – “EATFISH” w: BLU (Produced by Johnson&Johnson) [aif] by Hydroshare.tv

It’s nice to see you guys again, signing off, this is George aka Yurij.