December 31, 2004
I'm feeling it
Our final day of "Stuff Laura dropped off at my house recently" week brings us Funkstörung, an act I never thought I'd feature on Comfort Music. I'm not a fan of the really super crunchy side of experimental techno, and the remixes that Funkstörung has done in the past have always turned me off. But apparently this album, Disconnected, is something of a slight departure - a move in a more melodic sound than typical. No idea if that claim is true, because I've studiously ignored the group, but this album is surprisingly enjoyable. (In case you don't recognize the name Lou Rhodes - she's the singer from Lamb.) Released by the infamous !K7 Records of DJ Kicks fame.
These and other fine, fine tracks can be heard on Comfort Radio. See you next week.
Oh, and HAPPY FUCKING NEW YEAR!
December 30, 2004
Day four of "Stuff Laura dropped off at my house recently" week brings us Headset, a hip hop/IDM fusion project that offers many groovy slices of nifty experimentalism. What's their secret? Simple - they have Jimmy Tamborello (of Dntel/Postal Service fame) twiddling the knobs. From the 2004 album Spacesettings, released by Plug Research, the cats what also brought you releases by Thomas Fehlmann, Daedelus and John Tejada - all of whom make appearances on this album, as do Beans, Nobody, and, uh, a bunch of people I never heard of.
December 29, 2004
It just sounds weird
Day three of "Stuff Laura dropped off at my house recently" week brings us Super Furry Animals, a group I know absolutely nothing about. (Well, one unfortunate thing I learned is that their fans apparently refer to them as "The Furries".) The particular album Laura dropped off is Phantom Phorce, a remix album featuring the likes of Weevil, Mario Caldato Jr, Four Tet, and Boom Bip, as well as several other artists that I also know absolutely nothing about. (There are days when I'm glad almost nobody bothers reading this stuff.) The first mix is a bit Kid Loco-ish; the second veers into nice IDM; the third highlights the apparently stellar vocals of the band in a very satisfying, over the top mix; the fourth is sky high uplifting and totally yummy, and that's that.
Super Furry Animals - Father Father (Boom Bip mix)
Super Furry Animals - Sex, War And Robots (Wauvenfold mix)
Super Furry Animals - Cityscape Skybaby (Minotaur Shock mix)
Super Furry Animals - The Piccolo Snare (Four Tet mix)
December 28, 2004
The beat goes on
Day two of "Stuff Laura dropped off at my house recently" week brings us Kid Spatula, otherwise known as µ-ziq. I saw µ-ziq open for Björk in San Francisco a few years ago and remember yawning a lot and making inappropriate "knob twiddler" jokes, but his stuff has grown on me over the years. This album gets fairly noisy in places, but there's also some nice melodic goodness, evidenced in these tracks from the 2-CD set Meast.
Also, I'm guest posting on Royal Music while the regular host is out on holiday vacation. I don't plan on posting anything there I haven't already posted here, but if you're new to Comfort Music, you might find some interesting tidbits over there. That is all.
December 27, 2004
Back by popular demand
Last week's theme was so successful that I decided to do another one. What I like most about themes is that it gives me an additional creative opportunity to convey the aesthetic brilliance of a disparate group of compositions, tying them together with the fabric of metaphor to reveal layers of meaning that might otherwise go unnoticed. And so, we present this week's theme: "Stuff Laura dropped off at my house recently."
For day one, you may remember Laura posting to the Comfort list about IQU:
"not only does the new IQU (local techno-rock) kick ass, but the packaging beats all. it's always nice when the product contained within meets expectations and lives up to the wrapper."
Indeed, this album features one of the most beautiful cases ever - it's basically a small book with circular pages that fold out on a hinge, illustrated with beautiful images and held together in a translucent hard plastic case with really nifty drawings all over it and a great texture. If there was ever a reason to continue manufacturing CDs, it's thinking through and delivering on the entire experience to such a degree.
December 24, 2004
Thank you, and good night
Wrapping up this week's "the shit I wasted my money on the other night because I was depressed" theme is Ms. John Soda, an act that Pitchfork describes as "fantastically accessible pop music flaunting IDM lingerie." Musicspork says, "Sonic Youth + Notwist + Dntel = Ms. John Soda." Comfort Music says, "Uh... it's shiny." From the 2004 album No P. Or D., on Morr Music (the cats what brought you releases by B. Fleischmann, Lali Puna, and Christian Kleine).
These and other fine, fine tracks can be heard on Comfort Radio - 96.8 gigabytes strong and growing. Why aren't you listening?
Oh, and MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS!
December 23, 2004
What else is new
Episode four of this week's "the shit I wasted my money on the other night because I was depressed" theme continues! It's a good thing I have distractions like this blog to keep my mind off my poor showing at that callback. Well, this blog, and lots and lots of alcohol.
Today we're featuring Telefon Tel Aviv, a band I've been meaning to check out for a while now. Very rich, very lush poptronica - kind of like Thievery Corporation meets Dntel meets Craig Armstrong. Or something. It slips a bit too far into the "pop" part of "poptronica" on occasion, but there's still a fair bit worth checking out. From the 2004 album Map Of What Is Effortless.
December 22, 2004
Poor widdle me
Episode three of this week's "the shit I wasted my money on the other night because I was depressed" theme continues! Aren't you all VERY LUCKY that I couldn't get cast! Isn't it SO FANTASTIC that I suck! *sob*
After thinking about Cibo Matto for a post a couple weeks ago, I was inspired to pick up Yuka Honda's second solo album, Eucademix, especially because Miho Hatori shows up on some of the tracks and I was hoping some of that old Cibo magic might be present. I wasn't too inspired by Yuka's first solo album; it was good, but it was missing a certain oomph. This album is a little less experimental and a little more pop, but it remains clear there's a good reason why this album is on John Zorn's label. If you're looking for Return of Cibo, this won't do the trick for you; it's lacking the sugar-coated gloss and infectious giddiness of Stereotype A, and the sheer wackiness of tracks like "Know Your Chicken". But if you ditch those expectations, you might just find a few treats.
December 21, 2004
Almost... but not quite
Episode two of this week's "the shit I wasted my money on the other night because I was depressed" theme continues! Having a theme like this almost makes me feel like I have a real professional music blog or something! Future themes are already forming in my mind - look out for "singles that start with diphthongs", "albums that feature harp guitars and mandolinettos", and "music that reminds me of puking", coming soon!
In the meantime, today it's The Notwist, a band I'd label "rocktronica" for lack of a better term (or lack of a desire to really think about it very hard). An Amazon reviewer correctly points out how much the guy's voice might remind you of Belle & Sebastian, but the music itself is a great combination of crunchy electronics and good old-fashioned rock geetar. From the 2003 album Neon Golden, on Domino USA (the cats what also brought you releases by Four Tet, Max Tundra, The Magnetic Fields, Mouse On Mars, Ulrich Schnauss, Elliott Smith, and many, many more).
December 20, 2004
And so, a theme is born
I had a rotten callback experience the other night, which resulted in some serious retail therapy at Sonic Boom. And I'm passing the savings on to YOU all week long! None of these CDs are particularly cutting edge or new; they're just "the shit I wasted my money on the other night because I was depressed".
We'll start with the delightfully rockin' group, Broken Social Scene. I heard them on KEXP doing something somehow melancholy and hopeful at the same time ("Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl"). Then I put the CD on this morning and had my ears pleasantly blown out by "KC Accidental", which was so engaging I literally couldn't figure out how to operate the volume to turn it down. From the 2002 album You Forgot It In People, on Arts & Crafts.
December 17, 2004
Then the horns kicked in, and my shoes started to squeak
I don't know how many of you might remember a novelty hit in the '80s called "This Is Ponderous" - kind of a spoken word-y half-comedy thingie that briefly made it onto the radio, by a group called 2nu. I LOOOOOVED that song and years later tracked down the long out of print CD. The album is pretty much craptastic, but there are two tracks on it worth remembering - "Ponderous", and a weirdass story called "Frank's Chair". I don't want to describe "Frank's Chair", other than to say that I've often pulled it out during altered state experiences to bewilder and bemuse my companions. It starts off very cheesy, so be patient, because it then manages to confound your expectations.
As long as we're on the spoken word tip... an anonymous Comfort Radio listener writes:
"'neo futurists - bad affirmation' on comfortradio is quite the monolog to have running off your computer while someone is in your doorway asking you questions and you are mostly ignoring them while typing away sending an email. thanks for helping me to keep them guessing..."
These and other fine, fine tracks can be heard on Comfort Radio - 98.6 gigabytes strong and counting. Why aren't you listening?
See you next week.
December 16, 2004
Random chanting monks
Here's a review I wrote a few years back for Trip magazine:
"Garmarna: Swedish folk rock group. Hildegard von Bingen: tenth century abbess and mystic, one of the first female composers on record. The new album Hildegard von Bingen by Garmarna: crazy good! Garmarna blends old school (really old school) Latin lyrics and melodies with modern programming and musical textures to create a haunting album. At first I feared this was going to wind up sounding like Enigma - generic, watered down beats, with random chanting monks from an old Library of Congress LP scattered about. Not so! Garmarna compare favorably to Afro Celt Sound System, although they've been around longer, and on this album, they're more of a Medieval Swedish Sound System, but hey, who's complaining? The music is pretty and dark, gothic and spiritual, and lead singer Emma Härdelin's wonderful voice is perfectly suited for rendering the straight tones of von Bingen's compositions amidst the lush mix of acoustic instruments and synthesized sounds."
December 15, 2004
Pretty, but bad
To aid in my never-ending quest to track down all the Boom Boom Satellites music in the world, Sleepy snagged an Ogg rip of the 2-CD soundtrack to Appleseed, which features BBS, Basement Jaxx, Carl Craig, Paul Oakenfold, and the entire score by Ryuichi Sakamoto. Normally Oakenfold bores me, but his appearance here is rather hot. The Satellites do not disappoint with several new tracks of their signature weirdass techno/rock fusion. And the find for me on this album was Akufen, a producer who makes music that an editorial review on Amazon describes as "a pop-house mind fuck". OK, sign me up!
Appleseed is apparently pretty, but bad. [Insert joke about your ex here; cue rim shot.]
December 14, 2004
Clueless versus smart
Some booty-kickin' dance music from a group called Force of Nature, from their 2003 vinyl-only release, Forces of Nature. I never heard of them before; apparently they've produced for UNKLE and Nigo, though, which means, as usual, that I am clueless, while UNKLE is smart. Released by Exceptional Records, the cats what also brought you releases from Susumu Yokota (hey, why haven't I posted about him yet??), United Future Organization, John Beltran, Ken Ishii, "and more!"
December 13, 2004
KICKING MY ASS right now!
I was listening to the station the other day, and about half way into this song, I suddenly realized, "Holy shit, Comfort Radio is KICKING MY ASS right now!" I forget which MP3J first posted this track; may you be blessed with fountains of chocolate and Ecstasy in the afterlife, whoever you are. From the Can't Get Enough / Murder That Sound 12" single.
And in the "complete opposite end of the spectrum" department, from a split 7" with Am-Boy comes this haunting little downtempo track. They only made 250 physical copies of this single, which were sold exclusively to very cool people.
Because I am a sucker for songs that mention drugs, please to enjoy the following delightful ditty. From the album Soul Communication.
December 10, 2004
Yeah, I suppose it would be good
Virtuoso jazz vocalist Michael Schiefel has created some of the best acappella music I've ever heard. On these three tracks from his debut album, Invisible Loop, you will hear an astonishing breadth: "Präludium" is an outstanding reworking of a Bach tune; "I Want You Back" is a giddy cover of the old Jacksons classic; and "Wouldn't It Be Good" is a thoroughly bizarre industrial acappella cover of the Nik Kershaw hit. This is all one singer, massively over-dubbed, intricately arranged, and amazingly well-executed. Released by the German label Traumton, who also brought you Erika Stucky (well, I think they mostly just brought me and, like, five other people in the US Erika Stucky, but still).
These and other fine, fine tracks can be heard on Comfort Radio. See you next week.
December 09, 2004
I got your sweet smelling surfaces right here
Gloriously unusual IDM (or "poptronica") from the Portuguese netlabel Test Tube. The artist is :Papercutz, and the tracks feature quirky programming, nice vocals and interesting arrangements. As with anything I describe as "unusual" or "weird", your mileage may vary on this one; it reminded me a bit of The Books, if that helps you place it. (If that doesn't help you place it, why the hell haven't you listened to The Books??) From the 5-song EP Nighttime at the Playground.
Surprisingly entertaining dance yum from the netlabel Sweet Smelling Surfaces. I don't think I'm supposed to like anything with "disco" in the title, but I couldn't help it. From the 4-song EP Disco Mess.
December 08, 2004
Do U like it?
Nominations for the 47th annual Grammy Awards were announced yesterday, and to celebrate, all this week Comfort Radio will be playing nothing but Usher, Green Day, Alicia Keys and Velvet Revolver!!!!
Oh wait - sorry, that was just my cough medicine kicking in. I'm better now.
Kinky has a show coming up Dec. 16th at Chop Suey, giving me an excuse to post a couple of rumpshakers from their last album, Atlas. A co-worker confirms that Kinky are in fact a non-stop riot in concert. Sadly I have rehearsal and can't attend the show, but if you're in Seattle that night looking for some kickass Mexican funkpop, this might be your ticket.
December 07, 2004
They say it's your birthday
The wacky netlabel Comfort Stand (no relation to the irritating blog Comfort Music) recently celebrated its first birthday, and I finally got around to listening to the compilation album they released to celebrate - Comfort Cake. As I've come to expect, the album is a mixture of goofy samplepop, bizarre covers, and outright weirdness. About half of the stuff Comfort Stand releases annoys the shit out of me; the other half is wonderful, zany, and delicious. That's the clear signature of an experimental label that is DOING ITS JOB RIGHT PROPER. Happy birthday, Comfort Stand - let's hope the hits just keep on comin'!
December 06, 2004
"Did you listen to that CD yet?"
Years ago, Skef gave me a CD at Burning Man and said I should give it a listen. It was our last night on the playa, and I stuck the CD in our camper van and promptly forgot about it. Months passed, marked by a distinct lack of fully unpacking the van, and every now and then, Skef would ask, "Did you listen to that CD yet?" Eventually he got tired of waiting for me to find it in the van again, and he burned me another copy, which promptly got stuck on a pile somewhere in our basement and forgotten about. I just have a lot of music in the queue, you understand. Skef's questions become more agitated - "Did you listen to that CD yet?" became "You're never going to listen to that CD, are you?" and then, eventually, "I am going to kill you with my bare hands."
Well, it's been nearly twenty-five years since then. I've been through two wars and seen enough misery to last a dozen lifetimes. Skef went missing on a covert op in the Balkans; his last message to me, an encrypted burst captured by Echelon and relayed by the DoD, was - "Please, Scotto, for the sake of freedom, listen to that CD."
December 03, 2004
Just what I was waiting for
And in the "some people will remix anything for a buck" department, Domo Records - you know, the people what brought you the Chuck Barris album Confessions of A Dangerous Singer - recently put out an album of Kitaro remixes. You know, Kitaro. It solves nothing to ask the question, "Dear God, why??" Just listen. These remixes are Kitarotastic.
Coming up soon: a host of today's top hip hop emcees take on the Mannheim Steamroller canon - and WIN!
These and other fine, fine tracks can be heard on Comfort Radio. See you next week.
December 02, 2004
It's a listening adventure!
Digging through a backlog of stuff from The Suburbs Are Killing Us, I came across these two tracks by Cibelle, from her debut album on Six Degrees Records. Cibelle sang on Suba's album Sao Paulo Confessions; her debut was mixed by the gents from Morcheeba. Excellent bossa nova-inspired, slightly experimental downtempo.
The Suburbs Are Killing Us is a really eclectic blog, covering jazz, techno, afropop, ska, obscure '80s pop, modern classical, pretty much whatever the hell seems noteworthy to the guy, in a fairly scattershot fashion. "It's a listening adventure!" Plus, the suburbs are, in fact, killing us, so.
December 01, 2004
You know you want it
Middle Eastern-influenced improvisational avant-garde dub, anyone?