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Posts Tagged ‘Mr. Len’

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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