Music

Music Day 1: Anticon / Ghostly International Showcase

Photos: Jennifer Kelly

Music Day 1: Anticon / Ghostly International Showcase

Michna

The Mohawk has what seems, on paper, like a really interesting juxtaposition. On the patio, a heavy dose of R&B and soul, inside, the experimental hip-hop and electronic of Anticon and Ghostly labels. Nothing doing on the hipster side when I get there, but NeckBone, an Austin based funk and hip-hop band has taken over the patio stage, so I watch for a little bit. Neckbone has got three singers, a couple of keyboard players, a drummer a guitarist and one hell of a bass player, digging in for funky slap and pop. During a break, the singer, who has a little chip on his shoulder about musical popularity, says that his bass player, who is blind, plays 17 instruments. “If a guy who can play 17 instruments without seeing them, can’t get paid in this industry,” he says, “We’ve got to take it back.” Good point, Neckbone’s slow, funk grooves are exactly the kind of thing that crate diggers are always borrowing beats from, but which never seem to get much respect on their own. I’m looking for backpack hip-hop types in the audience, out looking for another breakbeat, but the audiences at the two venues seem to be sharply separated.

Restiform Bodies

Inside, Restiform Bodies, has gotten going. David Bryant, in sunglasses inside at night, is spitting out long, complicated strings of verbiage, wading out into the crowd as far as the mic cord will allow, and bobbing up and down, side to side, swinging his arms like a track athlete. Behind him, Matt Valerio hovers over an array of electronic keyboards, laptops and synthesizers, huge blots of sub bass overlaid by percolating, synth popcorn. “It’s all too much, it’s all too much,” Bryant chants, leaning in and away from the audience, before launching into another pop-culture redolent tirade that speeds along recklessly, somehow hitting the rhymes in all the right spots. Later, Valerio straps on a tom tom and pulls out a snare, adding an organic layer of percussion to the synth wavery beat. Sweat is pouring off both Bryant and Valerio, as this is clearly not just, or even primarily, an intellectual exercise. There is a physical stress and strain to making big beats and twisted rhymes, heavy lifting alongside mental gymnastics.

Michna

Michna next, out of Brooklyn, has the most complicated set-up I’ll see all night, three television sets and a big screen, a turntable, a drum set, two electronic deck/keyboards, a trombone, a saxophone, a fog machine and laser lights. The band, and it really is a band, is led by DJ Adrian Michna, plays an intriguing blend of hip-hop, jazz, downtempo, and rock, always blurring the lines between organic and electronic instrumentation, between sampled recordings and live improvisation. Everything is anchored by a steady rock beat, a live sound that meshes in interesting ways with the glitches and bleeps of synthetic instruments. Occasionally, Michna breaks off from his deck to hold up the trombone, coaxing out long, jazzy crescendos, and his partner does the same with sax. The show is quite visual, with a stream of images feeding into the television sets and green and white laser beams striking through the fog. Towards the end, Michna asks if anyone wants to play the video game Pole Position, and for the next few minutes, his band’s trippy, half-free, half-locked in music is accompanied by the visual of a car driving through videogame curves, occasionally crashing. It’s a fitting metaphor, I think, for the element of the unexpected, of human choice, within the boundaries of electronic space.

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less
10

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image