tirado/thrown


2008 Music Wrap Up

 

With the year quickly coming to a close, here’s tirado/thrown’s list of albums/songs/tracks that made their way into regular listening rotation over the last year.  While most of the titles below were released in 2008, your dear author/editor cannot pretend to scoop up new records and love them as quickly as a number of people picking up records and writing about them.  At times, he wishes he were so adventurous.  Be that as it may, the list follows:

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  • Crystal Castles, Self-Titled, Last Gang Records: A record of 8-bit-inspired madness teetering at the point where self-control and its loss become difficult to distinguish.  It is music to the tune of neurons alternately seizing up and firing at various intensities, making shards and blobs of circuitry-toned noise for your pleasure.

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  • Anavan, Self-Titled, GSL: Manic, tight, post-punk.  Danceable and disciplined, this record will mercilessly cut you right down the middle.

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  • TV on the Radio, Dear Science, Interscope: As close to a perfect album as you can get.  Just. Go. Listen.

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  • El Guincho, Alegranza, Young Turks/XL Recordings: Dense, infectious, rhythmic loops of joy.

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  • Las Malas Amistades, Jardin Interior, Psychopath Records: The record (and band) I’ve been waiting for to offer Latin America’s response to Sebadoh’s Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock.  Not quite new, but it was a 2008 discovery here at tirado/thrown.

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  • Nobody, Presents Blank Blue: Western Water Music, Vol. 3, Ubiquity Records: Lush, slow burning, deep grooves from L.A.  Oftentimes Nobody’s psychedelic arrangements move the music along like fog moving at the boundary between air and water, smoother and cooler than an iced bong hit.  

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  • Chico Sonido, Various Mixes, available at www.chicosonido.com:  Outstanding mixes of vintage Latino tracks that just teem with soul.  He’s an outstanding selector, and part 2 of a set he recorded for dublab in 2006 is proof.  Finding records under pyramids indeed.

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  • Various Artists, The Roots of Chicha, Barbes Records: Irresistible late 60’s cumbia drenched in reverb-laced guitars.  Inspired by the wave of psychedelic cumbia rocking South America (esp. Zizek) as of late, I somehow managed to come across this ancestral document.

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  • School of Seven Bells, Alpinisms, Ghostly Records:  Most of what I read about them invokes the term shoegaze or dreampop, which I find a pretty lazy analogy.  Said genres don’t carry a groove or run vocals the way SVIIB’s Alpinisms does deftly mixing the sonic landscapes of Spiritualized and rhythms of late 80s freestyle to entirely original results:  earnest, serious, groove-laden, and striving for a level of feeling in songwriting that treads perilous musical territory and comes away glowing.

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  • Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, Daytrotter Sessions, Available here.  There’s a fragility and vulnerability in Robinson’s voice and songwriting that is just arresting.  The four songs featured on the Daytrotter sessions are rather magnificent in themselves as well-performed pieces of rock.

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  • Baltimoroder/Die Young, Cat/Back Around, Dopamine Records: A slick but downright grimy track coming from Boston’s finest DJ, Baltimoroder.  It’s much like something you’ll hear him spinning during peak dancing time at one of the many nights he’s a part of.   

A few more records from this year were in the running, but in the name of a measure of integrity, they’re excluded them from the list since said author/editor hasn’t listened to them. They are worth mentioning as records that are eagerly awaiting listening:

  • Flying Lotus, Los Angeles, Reset, 1983, Warp Records/Plug Research
  • Abe Vigoda, Skeleton, Post-Present Medium
  • Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, Self-Titled, Say Hey Records

I’ll leave with a little piece of pre-holiday cheer that came my way from tirado/thrown favorite Caro at Sound Taste.  It’s Gael Garcia Bernal getting his norteño on in with a rendition of, well, you’ll recognize it, by you know who, as part of an upcoming film, Rudo y Cursi.  Judging from the trailer, the song gets its work in. Were I Bun E. Carlos, I would be impressed.



TVOTR: Golden Age

Among the things that make TV on the Radio’s music so rewarding to listen to are the currents of intense, uncontanable energy running through it.  In my opinon, their music’s the closest thing that comes to an original, radical intervention in contemporary Ameican popular music.

Daniel Hernandez points out the band’s merits as an outfit who infuse the cosmic into the everyday. He’s right. I would add to his point that TVOTR do so in a way that George Clinton and the Digital Underground (who made no secret of their desire to emulate Clinton’s stylings) were only hinting at with their experiments in playing with images, figures, and live performance.

TVOTR’s video for “Golden Age” attests to an adroit sense of production, fusing visual, lyrical, and musical elements and leaving a thematically potent package of insights left at the viewer’s door. It’s also a philosophic treasure trove. View the video a few times and you just have to wonder whether the band’s been reading Giorgio Agamben, Nietzsche, the Judeao-Christian Bible, and watching the Care Bears as sources for useful references. A few examples:

  • Scenery evoking, among other references, the revelation atop Mount Sinai, the transfiguration of Christ, and the mountain retreat where Nietzsche first introduces us to Zarathustra: These are elevated spaces where its dwellers are transformed by a gift or bestowal of some sort: of the law, glory, wisdom, or light. We can also say that these are sites of experiences that occur at the limits of experience, language, and comprehension.  In the case of the video, it is quite possible to interpret it as taking place in a state of exception.

 

  • The use of halos and auras as indicators of potentiality, the exposition of identity-shifting figures over and against the figures of sovereign power (the police), and the use of figures fusing the animal and human are found in various works of Giorgio Agamben: Not to belabor the point, but reading The Coming Community, Homo Sacer, and The Open opens up a sensitivity to these themes being played out in cultural products, music videos included.  The nexus of magic, genius, and play at work in the video might also offer examples that point to items that Agamben works with in Profanations as well. 

 

  • In the process of a face-off between the band as figures of humanity and the police as agents of the state, there is quickening of pace, a heightening of tension, and an anticipation of an unknown event.  Hints of Heidegger’s accounting of anticipatory resoluteness and the moment of vision in Being and Time linger within scene.  In the process of transformation to a quickening beat, the police officers no longer operate as agents of the state in the face of a humanity reconciled with its animal nature.  The police’s gestures no longer direct energy towards reservation, distraction, or repression but towards humanity in dance, where gestures are made artful (useful) and traverse the chasm separating spectacle and spectator.  The scene brings to mind a quote from The Coming Community: “The novelty of the coming politics is that it will no longer be a struggle for the control of the state, but a struggle between the State and the non-state (humanity), an insurmountable disjunction between the whatever singularity and the State organization” (84)   Golden Age’s video offers a visual rendition on a variant of such a struggle that Agamben addresses above.

 

I’m sure there are other philosophic themes and references at work in the video (Plato comes to mind), but these stood out most immediately. References aside, “Golden Age” is very succinct rendering of the band’s political mytho-theology, condensing mysticism, mythical symbolism, liberation, redemption, transfiguration, illumination, music making, collective struggle, pop culture, and political emancipation in three minutes.  After all, are these not the promises the holiday season offers to its celbrants, aside from food, companionship, and the prospect of staying in all day? 

It’s fantastic what an outstanding music video can do, especially when the visuals and audio complement each other so well. Enjoy; or rather, be jilted, provoked, distressed, even moved to explore the yet unknown and unspoken possibilities the video offers its viewer.