Category Archives: Album of the Week

LCD Soundsystem – American Dream (2017) / Sound of Silver (2007)

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“I wouldn’t trade one stupid decision for another ten years of life”…kinda put your money where your mouth was on that one, didn’t ya?

He said he wasn’t gonna do it, then he did it. Look, I know that writing about LCD’s 2011 retirement in a review of their new album is lazy, not to mention the least original angle one can take. But it is hard to divorce the two; while Murphy wisely kept the reunion low-key, their initial breakup was anything but. LCD Soundsystem’s “final” show was a bona fide event, the sort that might’ve been name dropped on an alternate universe version of “Losing My Edge”. You had Madison Square Garden, you had Aziz and Arcade Fire, you had scalpers selling tickets for $1500, and you had that moment where Murphy, the man who hired a camera crew so he could release his own feature-length film about the show, started getting the sniffles on the final song. People paid a lot of money to be there; this was not a hiatus, nor just some winky-winky breakup. This was the last show ever, the perfect ending to an unlikely success story, announced and sold as such, and if you couldn’t be there, then you could at least get the documentary or the quintuple live album (I gave it a fairly rapturous review here).
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Nmesh – Pharma (2017)

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“I liked the idea of a seamless, uninterrupted ‘trip’ as opposed to the conventional methods of mixing or laying out an album. Every bit of audio from movies/TV/radio was at my disposal and there were no holds barred — as my idols best put it, “we can plunder the waste bins of time” and that’s exactly what I did. I sampled and wrecked everything under the sun.”

One would think this quote pertains to Pharma, when it fact it was about a mix done in 2002 called Peel Blue Equinox. Alex Koenig, a.k.a. Nmesh (the “e” is silent) was in high school at the time, and Peel Blue was simply the first entry in what would quickly become a lengthy and diverse catalogue. Certainly his chops have improved in the meantime; Nmesh has the sort of discography that gets better and better the further down you go.  But his “sample and wreck it” attitude has largely remained the same, going from distending Weezer songs until they’re completely unrecognizable to chopping and screwing Barbie commercials.
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Todd Rundgren – No World Order (1993)

hqdefaultVN8XLF15Of all the lengthy classic rock catalogues out there, Todd Rundgren’s has got to rank near the top on pure intrigue, with a large number of “I don’t know if this is going to be any good but I’ve got to hear him do it” moments. There’s the album where he made painstakingly accurate renditions of 60’s psychedelic radio staples (Faithful), the one where he jammed 36 minutes of sequencer instrumentals onto a single side (Initiation), the one where every single sound came out of his mouth (A Capella), and the one where he imagined an “alternate” history of The Beatles, which managed to piss off a big chunk of their fans (Deface the Music). Perhaps these aren’t Todd’s greatest inventions but they’re all worth at least one listen, if only just to satisfy your own curiosity. But to me this all pales in comparison to No World Order. An industrial hip-hop album? Originally released on CD-i? With fully interchangeable components and three separate CD releases? By Todd “Hello It’s Me” Rundgren? Hell yeah, sign me up!!

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20 YEARS ON: Cornelius – Mellow Waves (2017) / Fantasma (1997)

If I had to pick one track to represent Cornelius, it would be his remix of James Brown’s “Call Me Super Bad” which appeared on CM3. It’s so odd, I can’t decide if it’s incredible or awful, but I do think about it a lot. Essentially the idea behind the remix is to take one of the funkiest tunes ever, surgically remove all the funk from it, and then artificially insert it back from scratch. This assembled clutter of drums, keyboards, and pulsing bass try to play off Brown’s voice but feel utterly contrived; when the horns come in and quickly get cut off, it almost reveals the whole thing as a joke. Alas, as the tune goes on, it eventually coalesces into something; Brown’s madcap yelling and shrieking force the arrangement to get busier and busier until it really does start to groove. Like Frankenstein’s monster walking for the first time.
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The Feelies – The Good Earth (1986)

During my freshman year of college I had a reputation as being the dorm’s computer guy. Not that I’m particularly savvy in that area but I was at least on the same level as a technically inclined 13 year-old. Once word spread that I knew how to “get the internet working” I was suddenly installing printers and doing virus scans for everyone on the floor. Not that I minded too much – it was a good way to meet cute girls and get free beer. At one point I spent three hours troubleshooting for some hunting bro whose computer was one of the most messed up I’ve ever seen – the thing was just completely slammed with viruses, to the point where it was effectively useless. Before I finished up some people knocked on the door to drink a few beers and play cards and the dude kicked me out, saying I should come back tomorrow. I did it because I’m a sucker, but it did hurt a bit…after all who likes beer and cards more than yours truly?
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Akiko Yano – Gohan Ga Dekita Yo (1980)

6268577I’ve always loved this album cover. Maybe it’s not “lifting an inflatable dolphin” great, but it’s great nevertheless. More than that, I think it represents what her music is all about. I first heard of Akiko Yano through her involvement in YMO; as you may know she was married to Ryuichi Sakamoto for a long time, so she was always in that orbit. I don’t think she appeared on any of the albums but she was part of their live show for a few years. If you’ve ever seen one of those performances then surely you will have noticed her; while the other members were mostly stoic and businesslike (must be the Kraftwerk thing), Yano was always bopping along and having a great time. You ever hear that phrase, “dance like no one’s watching?” Well, that’s her.
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Susumu Hirasawa – The Man Climbing the Hologram (2015)

hologWhen I reviewed In a Model Room I had planned for it to be just the first of many articles about key P-Model/Susumu Hirasawa albums. But there are just so many good ones – to start on that path would be like writing a novel. Granted it’s a novel very much worth writing, but as you can see, I get sidetracked easily. So I’m just going to skip to the end. The thing is that Hirasawa is at a strange spot at this point in his career. I’ve had this sense ever since his excellent 2006 album Byakkoya that there is just nothing left for him to prove anymore. It was yet another realization of a sound he’d been chasing since the mid-80’s, something that was epic and incredibly melodic; the full skillset of the Zolo Technopop Goofball porting over to the symphonic world in pretty much the best possible way.
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