DecibelCast 27 – “Weightless”

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A specially curated trip through the continuum of ambient sound, ideal for headphones during the gray days and long nights of late winter. Over the course of approximately two hours you the listener can expect to drift through an array of soundscapes—from classic ambient, krautrock, and new age to techno, ’90s IDM, modern avant guarde composition and disembodied chamber music—toward some faintly outlined shape at some distant point beyond the horizon.

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Tracklist:

Huerco S. – “Sea of Love”

Grouper – “Made of Air”

Laraaji – “Being Here”

Gas – “Pop”

Tim Hecker – “(They Call Me) Jimmy”

Botany – Ory (Joyous Toil)

Iasos – “Bubble Massage”

Aphex Twin – “Radiator”

Dedekind Cut feat. DJ Shadow – “Conversations With Angels”

Vangelis – “Creation du Monde”

Edgar  Froese – “Epsilon in Malaysian Pale”

Julianna Barwick – “Offing”

William Basinski – “Desintegration Loops”

Tangerine Dream – “Mysterious Semblance at the Strand of Nightmares”

The Caretaker – “An Empty Bliss Beyond this World

 

Maston – “Shadows”

It is almost impossible to discuss the music of Frank Maston without referencing his native Los Angeles and the psychedelic pop tradition of the 1960s. That being said, Shadows, released back in the spring via Chicago-based imprint Trouble in Mind, is not an easy record to classify. While it clearly owes some kind of debt to the production techniques of Phil Spector and the arrangements of Brian Wilson, it is hardly a neat fit within the West Coast cannon. After all, there is a certain sound one imagines when thinking of said tradition, and I’m willing to wager that descriptors like spooky, bizarre, paranoia and dread, do not generally figure into it.

frankMastonWelcome then, to Maston‘s fun house of esoteric bedroom pop! Like the name suggests, Shawdows is a far cry from the care-free sunny harmonies of the Beach Boys. Rather, this is the Los Angeles of Phillip K. Dick. Like some sort of bad trip everything is kind of familiar, but in a strange and unsettling way, a shiny veneer masking something  nebulous and vaguely sinister.

Even with a running time of just 27 minutes, there is a lot to take in, in fact this is the kind of record that demands repeat listens. The arrangements, which involve at different times: pianos, organs, guitars, various percussive instruments, horns strings and woodwinds (all of which Maston plays himself), are dense and sophisticated.  Shuffling rhythms composed largely of various shakers and bells and tambourines underlie music box piano melodies, which swirl around surf rock guitars and sit uneasily in the creepy synthetic ambiance with outlandish big band horns. Maston‘s croon, which only features on about half of the songs, has a strange hollow quality, and is processed in a way that makes his melodies sound ghostly when they might have otherwise been sweet.

This is good stuff, probably one of the best records of the year. But don’t take my word for it…

 

 

“Flutter” from Shadows

“Young Hearts” from Shadows

Vinyl Williams

Interesting factoid: Williams is apparently the grandson of John Williams (yes, that John Williams)

Easily one of my favorite discoveries of 2012, multi-instrumentalist,  vocalist, engineer and renaissance man  Vinyl Williams (real name Lionel Williams) creates the kind of music that defies easy categorization. You could label his concoction as equal parts psychedelic rock, shoegaze and krautrock (kraut-gaze? psy-shoe rock?). You’d need to mention his pop sensibility too, even if it’s as warped as Ariel Pink‘s. Listing these touch-points is sort of helpful, but they don’t really do him justice. The thing with Williams’ music is, that it’s a more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts type of deal. The songs that he creates sprawl all over the place, sonically, full of multi-layered dream-like atmospherics, organic and synthetic melodies, and ethereal vocals which sit atop surprisingly propulsive, rhythmic configurations.

His excellent Lemniscape would totally have made my end of year list but for some confusion (on this blogger’s part) about its release – apparently it dropped in 2011 on European label No Pain in Pop, but didn’t make it stateside until 2012.  Williams also put out a great EP in the spring of 2012 called Ultimate World (The first track from said EP, “Teal Palm”, was featured on DecibelCast Vol. 10)

Here are a few samples from Lemniscape:

Vinyl Williams – “Stellarscope”

Vinyl Williams – “Grassy”

If you head over to Williams’ bandcamp page, you can procure the album and the EP for really cheap. Totally worth it.

Vinyl Williams “Inner Space”

Introducing “DecibelCast”

So yeah, as the name suggests, this is about 6 weeks late, but it was necessary to test out the soundcloud account (and it should work equally well for a sunny winter’s day). This is the first installment of what will hopefully be regular mixes from your homies here at DECIBELity. Brought to you by Jay Autom@tticus, it veers towards the sun-burnt, lo fi, psychedelic side of things — some older stuff, some newer stuff, and some favorites that we’ve posted this year.

[dB-01] An Indian Summer Mixtape

Download the zip file

Tracklist is as follows:

Caribou – “Subtronik”

Alessi Brothers – “Seabird”

The Stepkids – “La La”

Gal Costa – “Passarinho”

Thundercat – “Is it Love?”

Tropics – “Wear Out”

Neon Indian/Perrion – “If I Knew I’d Tell You”

MF Doom – “My Favorite Ladies (Etherea Bootleg)”

Tame Impala – “Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind”

Pink Floyd – “Paintbox”

Air – “Highschool Lover”

Jo Jo Bennet & The Rhythm Rulers – “Leaving Rome”

Gonjasufi- “9th Inning”

Blackbird Blackbird – “Tear”

Tobacco – “Untitled Roadside Demo”

Peaking Lights – “All the Good Songs Have Been Written”

• • •

*Any/all feedback welcome

The Stepkids

So these guys came through town a little while back with The Horrors, and totally blew my mind. Their self-titled debut just dropped a few weeks ago on Stones Throw and has quickly become one of my favorite records of the year.

All three members are accomplished song writers and the music they make is a kind of psychedelic soul that’s totally vintage, but not at all in that faux wannabe referential way. They make the ’70s seem like the best possible time to have been alive and listening to music, plus their songs have awesome titles like Brain Ninja and Wonderfox.

Here’s a free track for download over at Bandcamp

Check out these equally great videos they’ve done and don’t miss your chance to catch these guys in action.

Also, you can stream the entire record on the bands website:

http://thestepkidsband.com/