Mall: 05.17.2012 01:34:28 PM -0400

Dave Heaton


05.17.2012 01:34:28 PM -0400

Label: tbtmo
US Release Date: 2001-03-06

The opening track on Mall's second album, 05.17.2012 01:34:28 PM -0400, sets an unmistakable mood, through recorded dialogue and atmospheric based music: People hanging out late at night, smoking and having deep conversations. With glowing synth in the background, two pairs of men are talking, one in each speaker. On the right side, they're discussing spirituality. On the left? Dope, dreams and revolution. One man asks, "What are you up to?" "Planning a revolution," the other wickedly replies.

While the set-up for the album is a portrait of independent-minded intellectuals expanding their minds, through words and chemical substances, the album on the whole is more an instrumental musical backdrop for such activities than a depiction of them. For close to an hour, Mall create dreamy, laid back, electronic soundscapes. They surround you with electronic fuzz, glimmer and beats, using computers, synthesizers and other technological tools. Throughout there's a melodic side, but the tracks aren't lead by melodies. However, they are lead by pounding beats, either; outside of a few dance-oriented spaces, the beats come and go with a certain lackadaisicalness associated more with mellow, after hours chillouts than dance floor sweatathons.

Mall are based in Philadelphia, a city with a continually growing group of talented electronic musicians, many of which have been released through the tbtmo label (formerly known by its spelled-out title, The Blind Man TM Organization), which is run by Rob Cantagallo, one of the two central members of Mall, along with Mike Page (on both 05.17.2012 and their debut album Special Education, they were aided by Sean O' Neal of Flowchart). This is a spectacularly creative and diverse scene, one recently showcased on the stellar Vibon compilation.

While Special Education had a more giddy, playful feel, exacerbated by samples from children's television programs, 05.17.2012 is thoroughly dreamy and blissfully mellow. It feels more like entering a zone than listening to a collection of songs. Everything flows together and forms a cohesive feeling. Throughout this enchanting and fun album, Mall sound as interested in people and ideas as in computers and technology, and use all of these interests to draw you into a comfortable aural space.

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Forty years after its initial release, one of the defining albums of US punk rock finally gets the legacy treatment it deserves.

If you ever want to start a fistfight in a group of rock history know-it-alls, just pop this little question: "Was it the US or the UK who created punk rock?" Within five minutes, I guarantee there'll be chairs flying and dozens of bloodstained Guided By Voices T-shirts. One thing they'll all agree on is who gave punk rock its look. That person, ladies, and gentlemen is Richard Hell.

Keep reading... Show less

Tokyo Nights shines a light on the roots of vaporwave with a neon-lit collection of peak '80s dance music.

If Tokyo Nights sounds like a cheesy name for an album, it's only fitting. A collection of Japanese city pop from the daring vintage record collectors over at Cultures of Soul, this is an album coated in Pepto-Bismol pink, the peak of saccharine '80s dance music, a whole world of garish neon from which there is no respite.

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

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