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by Nathan Pensky

18 Aug 2010

In the Beatles Anthology documentary, Paul McCartney tells of club dates during the band’s first international tour in Hamburg, where crowds booed and cried “Mach schau, mach schau!” up to the stage. When the nascent Fab Four learned that mach schau translates to “make show”, they did not have to be told twice. From then on they adopted the lively, hair-flopping stage antics that would later take the world by storm.

The emotional resonance to which McCartney refers seems distinct from visual accompaniment explicitly designed to correspond with musical performance. Acts that rely on light and video installations or Broadway-ready dancers aren’t really attempting mach schau in the same way the Beatles did or, say, the notoriously raucous shows of Bruce Springsteen. One performs, where the other exudes sheer enthusiasm. Perhaps most definitively emotive of all pop performances in this sense would be those of Little Richard, whose “whooo!” McCartney co-opted in the same way the Rolling Stones did the blues moan of Muddy Waters.

by Dylan Nelson

17 Aug 2010

For all their eclecticism and all their mixmanship, electronic duo Paul de Jong and Nick Zammuto, a.k.a. the Books, elude the label ‘DJs’.  The schizophrenic sonic adventure of their new album The Way Out evokes images of dusty crates of forgotten media and mad sound engineers doing experiments on inscrutable metal interfaces, but neither looks so familiar as they do emanating from contemporary hip hop classics like J Dilla’s Donuts or DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing… The samples feel different. They often land in the mix with a strange intensity, as though they carry the weight of their history a bit more conspicuously. And why shouldn’t they? The Way Out includes sounds and voices from sources as mundane as weight loss and self-help tapes.

Something more, however, than the stamp of unmitigated obscurity makes the Books’ samples distinctive, a quality magnified, though far from originated, on the new album. They are more assertive than the subjugated, ambient sounds of albums like the KLF’s Chill Out, more cohesive than the disruptive noises of outrageous producers like Lee Perry, and more purposeful than the exotic experiments of dissonant noise groups. They don’t contribute to a pastiche of styles or lend a flavoring of genre. Nor are they meant solely to illustrate a point or explain a lyric. The Books’ samples, which include everything from bits and pieces of everyday noise to extended recordings of Hebrew stenography, are somehow more essential and more secondary at the same time—used for their own sake to create something utterly unrelated.

by Jessy Krupa

16 Aug 2010

“Kreen Akrore” is the final track on the McCartney album. After watching a TV documentary about Brazil’s indigenous Kreen-Akrore tribe, McCartney was inspired to compose an instrumental track that would capture “the feeling of their hunt”.

The next day, after he recorded the drum sounds, McCartney and wife Linda did “animal noises”, including creating stampeding sounds with the aid of a guitar case. The two built a fire in London’s Morgan Studios, but only the sound of twigs breaking made it onto the final cut. Probably the most unusual addition was the sound of a bow and arrow, which later led McCartney to say that he played “bass, drums, acoustic guitar, lead guitar, piano, mellotron, organ, toy xylophone, and bow and arrow” on the album.

by Chris Colgan

13 Aug 2010

Music videos do not play the vital role of exposure in the metal world that they do in the pop world, simply because metal music videos are often more performance-driven than story-driven. With a few rare exceptions (see “Light the Torch” and “Deliverance is Mine” by Soilwork, a two-part video story that will likely become a trilogy), almost all metal music videos show the artists performing their instruments in some fashion. In fact, that is all that is seen in a fair number of metal music videos. The reasoning behind it is simple: metal fans are usually more appreciative of the actual composition that goes into their songs because it is done on actual instruments, and thus seeing the human element of the music being played is visually gripping.

However, when metal music videos incorporate a storyline, usually it has something interesting, or at the very least attention-grabbingly awful, to offer (see “The Beast and the Harlot” by Avenged Sevenfold for an example of the latter). Storylines will sometimes relate to the actual concept of a song or album, and at other times just look and feel appropriate for the song’s overall tone. The best videos are the ones that accomplish both of these, and when they also incorporate a seemingly cliché but actually seldom-used plot device, you get nearly-guaranteed video success. I am talking, of course, about putting metal in space. And there’s no better band to do that than the group that first brought metaphysics into metal, Swedish sextet Scar Symmetry.

by Ian Chant

12 Aug 2010

When your band’s last album was near the top of pretty much every ‘Best Of’ list in the known universe, you pretty much get to do whatever you want for a follow-up. Apparently, what the fellows of Animal Collective wanted to do with that carte blanche was work alongside director Danny Perez to craft the most psychedelic and frankly frightening music/film hybrid since the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, which, for the record, is goddamn terrifying. In this goal, they succeed mightily with their latest release, the “visual album” Oddsac.

Speaking prior to a midnight screening at New York’s IFC Theatre, the film’s director advised the audience to just sort of let go for the film’s not-quite-an-hour run time. “Don’t try to decipher it too much”, requested Perez. It’s good advice that will contribute greatly to enjoying Oddsac, which alternates between creating psychedelic landscapes of color, motion, and sound, and gleefully context-free vignettes that are by turns meditative and gruesome.

//Mixed media

Robert DeLong Upgraded for 'In the Cards' (Rough Trade Photos + Tour Dates)

// Notes from the Road

"Robert DeLong ups his musical game with his new album In the Cards and his live show gets a boost too.

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