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Posts Tagged ‘Cannibal Ox’

Backed by Ninja Tunes records, hip hop producer Blockhead, better known to his momma as Anthony Simon, has been making killer solo albums since 2003. His latest album The Music Scene harkens back to the hypnotic trip-hop experimentation of his debut (Music By Cavelight). Tracks like Daily Routine and It’s Raining Clouds are so deliriously eerie that you almost fear for those gorgeous strings. What if the guitars tear them down? What if the percussion blasts beat them into a senseless pulp? This is not one of those instrumental hip-hop albums that you play in the background to make social conversations less painful; this is the stuff that conversations are built around.

*****

Surfer Blood really love their guitars. Most indie rock bands are too bemused by their own eclecticism to give a hoot about those clean-sounding guitar riffs around which glam rock and grunge gratuitously fornicated (incidentally leading to the birth of Nineties alternative rock). These lads from West Palm Beach have kept it simple on their debut Astro Coast. A meaty riff to kick things off, a hasty verse here and there that leads to hastier choruses and yes, more riffs. No mish mash of electronica, no turntablism and certainly no front man hogging the spotlight with his Robert Plant impersonation. Just Surfer Blood and their fucking guitars. Three other guitar-driven albums you ought to listen to – REM’s Monster, Spoon’s Kill the Moonlight and Dinosaur Jr’s Farm.

*****

Now-defunct Company Flow once comprised MCs El-P, Bigg Jus and Mr. Len. Their 1997 debut album Funcrusher Plus was a cult favourite, especially for those who were just about to pledge their allegiance to Cannibal Ox. Filled with dystopian verses that require a second listen to decipher and gnarly Lynchian samples, it acted as precursor to industrial hip hop (which never really took off). The Fire In Which You Burn is a favourite of mine, with mechanical beats wrapping their legs around a lovely Sitar sample while EL-P, Bigg Jus and J-Treds from Juggaknots spit razor sharp rhymes about top seeded tennis players, terrible surgeons and enlightened apostles. If Cannibal Ox had never released Battle for Asgard, If David Lynch ever gets bored with Trent Reznor, he should Company Flow a try.

*****

I don’t think I fully understand TV On The Radio. Much like Animal Collective, they seem keener on escaping genres rather than focusing on the music itself. With Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone leading jazzy sing-alongs and the rest of band curiously fiddling with curious instruments, their music is at least surprisingly tight for its lack of a genre. Dirtywhirl, from the Return To Cookie Mountain album, however is one track I’d go out of the way to recommend. A rumbling bass note sets the pace and Adebimpe sings out-of-breath “Oh there is a murderess amongst us, her love is a violent spiral, hurling in upon us, conjured up at the birth of the world” and just as the cowbells kick in with faux vocals whispering, “dirty little whirlwind, defender, destroyer, I found you”, you know this will only get better with further listening. Ahem I think I’m going to give TV On The Radio another listen.

*****

Hailing from one of those kooky British counties (Wokingham), The Cooper Temple Clause were a modern progressive rock sextet that you’ve never heard of because (a) they split up in 2007 (b) you can’t get over Dream Theatre’s Pull Me Under (c) many of you are under the impression that progressive rock didn’t survive the Nineties. Shelve every Porcupine Tree album you own and save yourself from the ignominy of recalling those ghastly Mike Portnoy drum solos. Progressive rock has er…progressed. Their first two releases – See This Through and Leave and Kick Up The Fire And Let The Flames Break Loose – bring back memories of Radiohead’s OK Computer with its gorgeous shifts in tempo and lazy vocal arrangements that threaten intensity when the music picks up pace. Hell you don’t even have to appreciate this genre to listen to tracks like Murder Song. A slight fascination for the way music transcends itself just to give us something different to listen to would do just fine.

Watch

Blockhead – It’s Raining Clouds

Surfer Blood – Harmonix

Company Flow – The Fire In Which You Burn

TV On The Radio – Dirtywhirl

The Cooper Temple Clause – Murder Song

Buy

Blockhead’s The Music Scene

Surfer Blood’s Astro Coast

Company Flow – Funcrusher Plus

TV On The Radio’s Return To Cookie Mountain

The Cooper Temple Clause’s See This Through and Leave

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Kronos Quartet

The film Requiem For A Dream and a distinct lack of sobriety once introduced me to the haunting sounds of Kronos Quartet. Violins gratuitously meshed with their fellow strings and beat themselves to a bloody, self-loathing pulp that spoke of the mistakes made by the film’s sordid characters. In a perfect world, I’d be amazed if you hadn’t heard of David Harrington, John Sherba, Hank Dutt and Jeffrey Ziegler until now. However given our world and its abnormal distance from anything any of us would dare call perfect…ladies and gents, introducing The Kronos Quartet.

*****

Pete Philly and Perquisite

Pete Philly and Perquisite is an Amsterdam-based duo who make a fascinating blend of hip hop, neo-soul and broken beat jazz. Their first album Mindstate was a concept album, with each track representing a specific state of mind. A bunch of really nice people even awarded their effort with a Zilveren Harp award. ‘Hope’ featuring Talib Kweli was a standout, with its groovy-as-hell vibe and soulful sentiments. Following a sophomore remix album Remindstate, they released Mystery Repeats. Unless I start figuring what the fuss is all about with Mos Def’s new album or some indie rapper breaks the glass ceiling with a ridiculously awesome debut, I doubt that I’m going to listen to a collection of fresher beats in 2009. I swear, I know angels who would have sex to this music. You might want to close your eyes, light up some incense, and hit the loop button; lord knows, a cocktail of Dave Brubeck, DJ Krush, Q Tip, and coolest light-browned skinned MC you have ever heard deserves some incense.

*****

el-p-big

If Cannibal Ox never broke up and instead metamorphosed into a vortex that sucked away the memory of Eminem and the pin-cushioned moron from the criminally-awful ‘come my lady come come my lady” band from our collective consciousness, they’d sound something like Jaime Meline aka EL-P aka former Company Flow rapper.

*****

soulsavers_Lanegan

North England downtempo duo Soulsavers has released their third album (Broken) and second straight one with real godfather of grunge Mark Lanegan. Broken features an impressive list of guest artists including Mike Patton, Jason Pierce and Gibby Haynes, but the real story is that in the track You Will Miss Me When I Burn – Lanegan’s vocals inch closer towards the perfect blend of Tom Waits and Johnny Cash. Please continue deleting all those silly Nirvana songs from your hard disk.

Download

Kronos Quartet – Mugam Beyati Shiraz

Watch

Kronos Quartet – Requiem for a Dream (Complete)

Pete Philly and Perquisite – Insomnia

Pete Philly and Perquisite – Empire

EL-P – Drive

Soulsavers & Mark Lanegan – You Will Miss Me When I Burn

Soulsavers,  Mark Lanegan & Mike Patton – Unbalanced Pieces

Tom Waits & Kronos Quartet – Cold Cold Ground (live)

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Cannibal Ox’s brand of hip-hop is not for everyone. They did to West Coast Rap what Annie Lenox once did to pop music. Scare the living shit out of it. Their 2001debut album Cold Vein sounded quite unlike what the hip hop heads were accustomed to. A sound that bore some sort of resemblance to the darker moments of Wu-Tang, Dr Octagon and MF Doom. The simmering tension between their gritty beats and their cacophonist melodies added to the sense of claustrophobia and then there was this shooting pain on the left shoulder. Wait, that’s a cardiac arrest. What I meant was nobody in his or her right mind had any right capturing beauty from this sort of carnival-esque discordance. Mo’ power to the rappers Vordul Mega and Vast Aire for having dragged the bastard out, kicking and screaming.

cannibal_oxAs for the lyricism…well, thankfully they didn’t rap about poppin’ cristal and bustin’ caps, but they did indulge in a lot of abstract braggadocio . Songs like Pigeon (Eskimo metal got shit locked in oxygen shell / Words shot plated metal lungs which spun the kids’ carrousel) and Ox Out Of The Cage (I flow like arachnids on waterspouts / the circle is never seen and seldom heard about / now they put me in a cage and break me out) also have enough proof that these guys don’t share any particular stance on sunshine, rainbows, group hugs and bunnies. Even more power to them.

If you can manage to sit past the first 25 seconds of the epic B-Boy’s Alpha, you are in for a visceral aural experience. Never have I seen beauty so wonderfully abused in Hip-Hop. As fate would have it, Cannibal Ox haven’t released a studio album since their debut. Hip-Hop’s Blind Melon, I guess. Only they replaced the bee girl with, you know, actual talent.

Watch

Cannibal Ox –B Boy’s Alpha

Cannibal Ox – Iron Galaxy

Instead of a Blackberry, buy

This and this.

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