It's surprising that songwriters Praveen Sharma and Benoît Pioulard have only met a few times, because tracks on the forthcoming Songs Spun Simla sound as though they've spent the last two years in the same room arranging the musical pieces of each song. In fact, the two found one another mutually, and after Praveen returned from a trip to India, began collaborating on tracks that eventually became Songs. The lush, dense instrumentals and digital effects on the album are the work of Praveen, while Pioulard was at the helm of all things voice-related, weaving layered vocal harmonies throughout the music in chillingly pretty patterns.
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Rafter Robert's Sweaty Magic EP began long before he decided to lay some tracks onto an actual disk. Some time back, he hooked up with photographer Lizeth Santos, who was up for the task of completing one art project a day so long as Roberts made one song a day, entirely from scratch. A number of these tracks were published, along with their corresponding artwork, last year on the AK website, and now Rafter has taken several of them to use for the EP. "Juicy" is, like much of Roberts' music, a genre-defying affair that features accessible acoustic guitar melodies and bizarre electronic noises over a helping of falsetto vocals.
The four members of Chandeliers are set to unleash their debut album, The Thrush, this October, and have pulled out all the art funk goodness for the occasion. The Chicago-based band has spent the last couple years blossoming in the city's avant-rock scene, perfecting its own version of the laptop-meets-guitar sound. "Mr. Electric" features punchy keyboard melodies over rapid snare drums, with a slinky funk flavor underneath. Groovy is generally a word to avoid when describing music, but in this case, the term fits perfectly.
Ben Vida's been unleashing a steady output on kranky since 2000, and a forthcoming untitled release marks the third full-length under his Birdshow guise. Calling Vida a multi-instrumentalist is pretty much the understatement of the year, seeing as he wrote the majority of the music on this album, then proceeded to play the Hammond XB-2, microKorg, Moog Voyager, guitar, pan pipes, Vietnamese jaw harp, congas, a wooden flute, the violin, a 10-stringed harp, and about ten other instruments during the recording process. A little help from bandmates Greg Davis, Robert AA Lowe, Adam Vida, and Michael Zerang, and the new album was born. "Green Vines" is a fine example of the many ways in which Vida is adept with arranging instruments. Photo by Katy Fischer.
Germany's not exactly a hotbed for rappers, and it's perhaps the fact that he doesn't have many local influences to pull from that gives Sepalot his own unique flavor when it comes to music. His recently released Red Handed album finds the Munich-based DJ as influenced by electro as he his by Detroit hip-hop, with artists like Frank Nitty (of Frank 'n' Dank fame) rapping over buzzing club beats. The resulting sound constantly darts between grinding, aggressive production and a light, partygoing feel–an intriguing juxtaposition. Photo by C. Boehm.
One could apply many labels to the music of Crystal Stilts. A few that come to mind are '60s-era pysch, garage rock, surf rock, and avant-pop, but really, all of these contribute equally to the music on the Brooklyn-based band's debut full-length, Alight of Night. A collection of jangling guitars, bouncing basslines, horns, bells, and echoing vocals, the album is as much a nostalgic look at music's past as it is a nod towards what the future holds in store for these four artists. For the immediate future, the band is hitting the road with fellow Brooklynites the Vivian Girls. They'll tour North America before the release of the album on October 28. Photo by Maryanne Ventrice.
A Wu-Tang and comic book inspired album? Such is the case for Seattle, WA-based outfit The Dead Science, whose Villainaire release also marks the avant-pop band's debut for Montreal's Constellation Records. In much the vein of Xiu Xiu, songs on the album have a chaotic feel to them, with fractured guitar riffs, random bouts of frantic drumming, and vocals that truly sound pained as they discuss topics of fantasy, reality, drunken blackouts, and moral pragmatism. The contrabass on "Monster Island Czars" adds an extra layer of disorientation to the music. Listen closely for the aforementioned Wu-Tang and comic book elements.
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