New Music Machine: Boards of Canada, Disclosure, Bibio

Forget the Hype; Boards of Canada Delivers the Goods

   Whenever your new album comes out after an interval of seven years, there's reason to be excited. While Boards of Canada may not have had the hype machine that Daft Punk did with their Columbia Records debut, Tomorrow's Harvest - Boards of Canada's new album - has certainly produced it's own amount of hysteria. Ever since the mysterious Boards of Canada 12" that appeared on Record Store Day this year (containing only a tantalizing 20 seconds of music), fans have been clamoring for new tracks. After all of the wait, it's finally here.

   Tomorrow's Harvest opens with a nostalgic introduction --- like the intro to a VHS tape --- then immediately opens up to an apocalyptic world, full of dread, slowly rising smoke, and impending doom. The album's second track and single "Reach For the Dead" is dark and heavy and plays out like the scene to a movie: thick with tension. Tomorrow's Harvest moves in this way, slowly building upon layers of drone and percussion. Gone are the quirky melodies and pastoral nostalgia of Boards of Canada past; they have been replaced deep bass and low frequencies. Still, these tracks are unmistakably Boards of Canada. The way they handle space and atmosphere just simply cannot be matched. Songs like "New Seeds" build noticeably until the world is full with sound and music before it fades away just as abruptly.

   As with the rest of Boards of Canada's ouerve, the LP and sleeves are elegantly designed with photographs by the band: Mike Sandison and Marcus Eoin. They hold the same bleached out 1970s color photograph feel and invoke a dusty end-of-the-road distopia. As it should be, this lovely package is available on Warp Records and can be purchased through Bleep. I don't know about web orders, but if you hurry, many of the LPs come with a promotional poster for the album as well.



Disclosure May Have Just Made the Record of the Year

   You know an album is good when with every track you find yourself saying, "That should be the single... NO, THAT should be the single." And so on. Such is the case with Settle the wonderfully brilliant new record by Disclosure. Each track has the ability to set the dance floor on fire, each song will find its way into your head, stuck there for an afternoon. Take "When A Fire Starts To Burn," take "F For You," take "Stimulation," take "Confess to Me (ft. Jessie Ware)" they all have strong hooks, fantastic vocals, and make you want to shake your ass. Don't take my word for it, check them perform "Confess To Me" live on 'Later... with Jools Holland.'


   Outrageous, right? And that is just a taste. As I said before almost every track on Settle is suitable single material and the album is a dream to listen to front to back. They have the record for sale on the Disclosure official store and there is a limited edition package that includes a 12" x 12" screenprint on 250 gsm archival paper. This may be something you want; I have a feeling Settle may turn into one of the most sought after records of the year. Combining pop sensibilities with grime tendencies and a nod to house, Disclosure has made a record you'll want to listen to again and again.


Bibio's Effervescent Beauty


   Almost as quietly as Bibio's music can be, Warp dropped Silver Wikinson this May. The record is an ethereal affair; it's difficult to analyze: try and focus on it and it disappears like fog, but ignored it ambles in like summer aromas wafting in through the window. At times, when the songs coalesce, Silver Wilkinson evokes some of the same feelings as Mount Kimbie. At its best the record sounds jazzy, experimental, but it is elusive and wispy. Listen. And repeat.


New Music Mondays: Four Tet, Cult of Luna, Gold Panda, Jaques Greene, Bearcubs!

A deluge of dance music with some Truth and Honesty (in EP format of course).

   They say when it rains, it pours, and while it's been raining ice here in cold Chicago more than water, this week brings us a barrel full of great new music from some established acts. While we like maintaining a mix of new material from some of our favorite bands as well as new music by under-appreciated / little-heard / up-and-coming artists, there are certain weeks where the onslaught of awesome music released by well-known artists simply cannot be ignored. So for this week, we are highlighting some excellent new music from bands which have spent years developing their reputations. Of course, we couldn't resist including at least one 'new' artist to the list, the highly recommended, hype inducing Bearcubs. Before we get to them, though, let's give up the floor to some stalwarts of modern day music:


Four Tet: 0181

Kieran Hebden is a prolific musician. Beyond making some of the most heralded electronic albums like Rounds and Everything Is Ecstatic as Four Tet, Hebden has made four records under his own name with avant garde behemoth Steve Reid and performed with seminal post-rock band Fridge.  It was during these days, with Fridge, as well as the earliest Four Tet period that Kieran Hebden recorded the pieces which comprise 0181. Assembled together in 2012, Hebden first posted this piece to his Soundcloud account two weeks ago.
   It is a sparkling constellation of pieces, stitched together by Hebden's own graceful collaging. Potentially unassuming at first, 0181 grows with each listen into a beautifully crafted soundpainting. Word is this will be pressed to wax, although it is unclear when it will be released or if Domino or Hebden's own Text Records will be the label. No matter, listen hear-and-now.


Cult of Luna: Vertikal

   Back with their 6th studio album, Cult of Luna provide us Vertikal. The Sweedish lads are up to more of their doom-metal/post-metal or whatever it is people are calling the Isis/Neruosis/Mogwai ilk. The conceptualness of this album seems less heavy-handed than some of their past releases - which is good - but we shall see for sure when the record is released (Jan 25 in Europe, the 29th here in the States) on Earache which you can preorder here. Brooklyn Vegan is streaming the whole thing on their soundcloud


Gold Panda: Trust EP

   In the same realm as Kieran Hebden of Four Tet, Gold Panda produces dance music with soul aka 'Intelligent Dance Music' as some have dubbed the genre. Although Gold Panda has a slew of 12"s to his credit, Lucky Shiner from 2009 is his only proper release. Thankfully, on March 4, 2013 his new EP Trust will be available from NOTOWN and Ghostly in the USA as a vinyl 12". While only 4 tracks, they're all top-rate, particularly "Trust" and "Burnt Out Car in a Forest." Dig.


Jacques Greene: "Quicksand"

   Moving onto the up-and-comers of our article, Jacques Greene has quickly risen to one of the hottest producers in the game. After the Montreal native curated a mix for internet lifestyle mag FADER, he hosted an untitled track of his featured in the mix to his Soundcloud as "Quicksand." Currently there is no word when the up-beat groove will get its proper release. Until then, enjoy Mr. Greene's wonderful offering.



Julian Lynch: "Carlos Kellyi I"

   Julian Lynch has been floating around on our radar for awhile now - mostly as the quiet, weird one you can't afford to take your eyes off of, kind of in the Julia Holter way. Now that Julia Holter has made some waves with last years Ekstasis, I can see Julian Lynch having a similar year with his new record Lines due out on Underwater Peoples on the 26th of March. The lead track off it is "Carlos Kellyi I," a song that is all over the place, but fantastic for each one of those globe-spinning seconds. Mark my words, watch out for this young man and his new album Lines.


Bearcubs: Honest EP

   Sometimes, you'll know it as soon as you hear it. That's how it was with Bearcubs. Just one listen and that's all it takes to become hopelessly hooked. Their new EP Honest is a concise collection of modern bedroom pop. Despite Honest being a debut for Bearcubs, it has a sophisticated feel - mature and fine-tuned. Cadence has the EP available for download on their bandcamp. Here it is streaming:



Dispatches From the Soundcloud: Dragged Into Sunlight's Widowmaker

   A Movement In Three Parts

   Prosthetic Records released Dragged Into Sunlight's new record Widowmaker last month and since then has been quickly spreading throughout the blogosphere. Unfortunately, there Soundcloud has no music up to the public, but a few sites seem to have been granted access to it, and sites from all over are linking to them. As much as I dislike it when I can't share the content on my own site, and thus increase to the neverending chain of links that propels us aimlessly foward on the internet, I feel that out of respect to the band and their music that it should be shared anyway.

   Dragged Into Sunlight have been Black  Metal's version of Godspeed You! Black Emperor since 2009. Widowmaker is almost classical in its most beautiful moments and unfiltered Doom Metal though Parts II and II. The album is marred from time-to-time with ill chosen movie quotes or science fiction samples, but the whole is so much greater than the parts, these drawbacks can only hinder one's enjoyment so much. So take a listen over at terrorizer, Dragged Into Sunlight seem like they could be on the verge of some really cool things, and have made a great album in Widowmaker. If you really dig it, head on over to Prothsetic and pick yourself up a copy too.

New Music: Star Spangled Sufjan Stevens

  A few days ago, Sufjan Stevens posted this version of "The Star Spangled Banner" on his tumblr page in (dis)honor of Election Day. He gives our National Anthem the usual Sufjan treatment and then nearly lets the song break down into beautiful dischord, drowning under an American sized wall-of-sound. Stevens takes a liberal approach, changing “bombs bursting in the air” to simply “all the bombs in the air,” casting a deeply chilling critique of the American government. He elucidates further, but does not match the power of the slight augmentation of something we know in detail.

   In a true commendation, Sufjan Stevens takes the old’e clichéd you’ve-heard-it-a-million-times “Star Spangled Banner” and actually turns it into a listenable, interesting, and beautiful track. Removed from our expectations, the song is returned some of its original heft. Now, if only we could get Sufjan to play this at a large sporting event (or even better, Obama’s inaguration) it could exist in the pantheon with other great renditions of our national anthem like Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, Marvin Gaye at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game, or Whitney Houston at the 1991 NFL Super Bowl.