Formed in London in 2011, Ultraísta is a multimedia trio founded on a mutual love of Afrobeat, electronic and dance music, visual art, and tequila. Its members are vocalist/artist Laura Bettinson, and multi-instrumentalist producers Nigel Godrich and Joey Waronker (whose collective resumes read like a guide to groundbreaking and culturally influential modern music). Their eponymous debut album is 10 tracks of highly infectious, exquisitelycrafted electronic kraut-pop. Favoring mantras over traditional choruses and distilling their compositions to the barest essentials, they possess the kind of masterful control over the pure anatomy of a pop song that only comes from having played a significant role in redefining the pop song in the 21st century. We've already said more than they probably wish we had. This album is superb.
Mono: For My Parents
For My Parents is the new album by MONO, the Japanese quartet who ? over the course of half a dozen albums in twice as many years ? has followed their own muse, and in the process have become "one of the most distinctive bands of the 21st century." They are an instrumental rock band whose melodies have grown increasingly lyrical, with increasingly transcendent execution. There is no doubting a MONO song when you hear it, and no denying their uncanny ability to feel perfectly at home in both pristine symphony halls and dirty rock clubs. In the way that only MONO can, For My Parents obliterates that divide, showcasing a sensitivity and maturity that simultaneously acknowledges where they came from, and where they're going. The songwriting is sharper, the dynamics are subtler, and the production is stunning. For the recording, the band once again enlisted The Wordless Music Orchestra for support, and the collaboration has never sounded stronger. The unique combination of soul-stirring melodies, cinematic East-meets-West arrangements, and firm command of elusive emotional intangibles is what makes MONO so...well, so MONO.
Sleeping People: NOTRUF
Well, we didn't expect this! After a 3-year hiatus following what we assumed was their swan song ? the sprawling double-album, Growing ? San Diego's Sleeping People return with this hypnotic fever-dream of a 12". Following the departure of guitarist Amber Coffman (who left to pursue herother group, The Dirty Projectors, full-time), Sleeping People's core group ? guitarist Kasey Boekholt, bassist Kenseth Thibideau, and drummer Brandon Relf ? reunited with original guitarist, the nimble-fingered Joileah Thalmann. The Sleeping People trademarks are all here: angular, dissonant riffs, mind-bending counterpoint guitar interplay, and grooving, stop/start dynamics. The major evolution here is the hefty amount of patience and primal repetition; each song unfolds over many minutes, revealing something new with repeated listens. In other words, it sounds like what you would expect from a band that draws equal inspiration from Yes, Steve Reich, and Tool.
Caroline: Verdugo Hills Remixes
Following the release of Verdugo Hills ? the second album from Caroline, the Japanese electronic-pop songstress and Mice Parade alum ? a slew of her peers graciously answered our calls for remixes and reinterpretations of every song from the acclaimed album. Not surprisingly, the results are more successful and less ephemeral than most remix albums ? a testament not only to the ingenuity of the various remixers on deck, but also Caroline?s weightless, angelic vocals which transcend even the most jarring sonic manipulations. Along with Caroline?s bandmates in Mice Parade, remixers include: Eluvium, Manual, Dntel, Dead Waiter, Lumia, Her Space Holiday, Rory Vallis, Dan Lippel, and JNH. Additionally, the album comes with a free MP3 download code that includes a bonus remix by Doug Scharin of Mice Parade/Codeine/June of 44 fame.
Three Mile Pilot: Maps
When Three Mile Pilot ? the legendary Southern California trio that spawned Pinback and The Black Heart Procession ? returned to active duty in 2010 with The Inevitable Past Is The Future Forgotten, it ended a 13-year silence from the band. The album was amazing, and the hope was we wouldn?t have to wait another dozen years for more. The brand new Maps EP delivers on the evolution of The Inevitable Past, but also finds the group returning to some of their exploratory roots in a unique and refreshing way. Traditionally EPs serve as stop-gaps between albums, often a collection of toss-offs and leftover b-sides. Maps rejects this notion as it?s filled with some of the strongest songs in Three Mile Pilot?s remarkable 20-year history.
Moss Icon: Complete Discography
In the mid-late 1980s, Moss Icon pioneered a progressive, highly emotive sound that stood in stark contrast to just about everything even remotely considered punk-rock at the time. In retrospect, they more resembled an inspired marriage of the bleak post-punk leanings of Joy Division with the raucous riffage of the Wipers, albeit considerably less accessible thanks to Moss Icon's more sinister tone, exploratory arrangements, and frontman Jonathan Vance's almost stream-of-conscious sociopolitical rampages. In the decades since Moss Icon's disbandment, bootlegged t-shirts and patches have been easier to come by than actual recordings, and the Internet is filled with misconceptions and misinformation, incidentally lendingan enigmatic, almost mythical status to the band. Rather than attempt to pull back the curtain, this collection ? compiling the group's entire official catalog ? serves to permanently document the very important contributions of one very important group from a very formative era of undergroundmusic.
Turing Machine: What Is The Meaning Of What
What Is The Meaning Of What is the third album from New York City psych-dance-rock stalwarts, Turing Machine, their first since the critically acclaimed Zwei was released on Frenchkiss Records way back in 2004. The extended hiatus was largely due to its members other projects, most notably drummer Jerry Fuchs? relentless rotation in virtually every live band within stone?s throw of the DFA orbit ? including but not limited to LCD Soundsystem, Maserati, Holy Ghost!, The Juan Maclean, !!!, MSTRKRFT, and Massive Attack. For What Is The Meaning Of What,Turing Machine spent the better part of a year mixing and tweaking, with a little help from a plethora of friends, including Disappears vocalist Brian Case, and a host of musicians from the DFA roster, including Andrew Raposo and Caito Sanchez (both of Midnight Magic), AbeSeiferth, DJ McNany, and Pat Mahoney (LCD Soundsystem). What Is The Meaning Of What boasts an increased focus on the dance floor while maintaining the adrenalin-fueled psychedelic post-punk fetishism that is the heart of Turing Machine. Propelled by Fuchs? unrelenting grooves and bubbling with layer upon layer of hypnotic riffs and driving synths, the album locks in and refuses to let go for its 40-minute duration.
Sprouting from the same mind that created the Books ? one of the most acclaimed and innovative groups of the past decade ? Zammuto marks a deep reinvention of the highly detailed, genre-defying spirit that made seminal albums such as The Lemon of Pink and The Way Out possible. Given the Books? success as an experimental collage-pop project, founder and namesake Nick Zammuto could have comfortably extended that thread. Instead he has given us a record that is progressive and forward-looking, intense and driven, with hugely varied rhythms and melodies. The whispered, folksy vocals that became a trademark of the Books are for the most part shed in favor of an uncharacteristically confident, soaring delivery, often fueled by awide array of vocal effects. The result is a man-machine sensitivity that ultimately enhances the songs? emotional intensity. With dense and beautiful string arrangements by Gene Back (the Books) and brain-warping drum performances by Sean Dixon, the radical and varied sound of Zammuto leaps out of speakers with a searing directness. Making music that sounds and feels like no one else is nothing new for Zammuto, but making music that doesn?t even sound like his own past is a whole other impressive feat in itself.