Two years ago, I accepted a promotional album called ‘Ascendant’ from a guy named Mark Northfield. At the time, I didn’t think too much of it. I receive promos all the time, and while this one was certainly more enjoyable than most, I am ashamed to admit I basically dismissed it. I shirked giving it a (deserved) full scale review, instead giving it a cheeky soundoff based off a misguided first impression and not thinking much of it.
But in doing this, I short changed the album’s depth. ‘Ascendant’ has been an album I’ve come back to quite regularly over the past two years, and in doing so, I’ve discovered a deep, intricate album. Northfield’s sound is familiar, but not quite like anything I’ve encountered before. ‘Ascendant’ is jazzy, classy, intimate; like its set in a smokey bar where you’re the only one reeeeally listening. Northfield’s cast of friends brings a vaudevillian charm to each track, realizing a world that romanticizes theatricality, the 19th century brilliantly recaptured.
Northfield, I assume, frequents this site, as he has in the past cited on his Myspace my soundoff and the fact I placed his album (probably too low) on my top 100 albums of the decade. I hope he comes across this blog post and accepts this apology. I feel as though I’ve shortchanged him for far too long. I hope to get in a full review of ‘Ascendant’ this month. Maybe too little too late, but better late than never.
Firstly, if there’s anyone here who actually read the above title and thought “Hey, I wanna piece of that!” then you’re lying, no one ever says stuff like that anymore. But if you were intrigued by the most off-putting title this blog has yet conceived, then your curiosity will not go unrewarded. This is no early April Fools, this is the real deal. Released in 1982, pre-dating the first real acid-house record by five years (Phuture’s Acid Track), Synthesizing: Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat was created by a Bollywood soundtrack composer who intended to capitalize on the disco waves that were flooding the world at the time. Little did he know he was far, far ahead of his time. They could probably play this stuff at my local ‘Dubnium’ and get the pissheads declaring it the future of music… or throwing VK bottles at the DJ. Centuries-old classical (but synthesized) Indian Ragas set atop minimal, trance-inducing machine beats and pure, mesmeric electronic pulses. This is no throwaway record. Early 80’s India is where it’s at. Forget your cultural doubts and EMBRACE THE RAGA.
or maybe its just me
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There’s this girl that calls herself vkgoeswild that is doing piano versions of various rock and metal songs and posting them on Youtube. Some of them don’t work as well as others, but this one is very good.
Coffee shops and small halls are filled with ‘cover bands’ specializing in reproducing classic rock hits and songs that your parents used to love. However, indie cover bands are exceedingly rare — especially attic-based ones that provide arguably higher quality recordings than the original song.
And for something slightly less serious, here’s Katy Perry – Hot N Cold
This version has convinced me that Katy Perry should sing with an Eastern European accent from now on.
Remixes are often hit or miss affairs. Modern technology allows any teenager or unemployed DJ to sit in their living room and churn out tracks — as a result, the internet is bombarded with thousands of crappy Rihanna and Lady Gaga remixes every day.
However, to use a cliched expression, there are diamonds hidden in the rough. This semi-recurring column will highlight some of the better remixes that I’ve stumbled upon over the past few months.
First up is a fairly well known act, The Hood Internet. Visit their website here for additional tracks.
Cult Logic Forever
Today is the 13 year anniversary of The Notorious B.I.G.’s landmark album, Life After Death. To celebrate, Sputnikmusic is offering an exclusive stream and download link for an album by producer wait what, who pairs Biggie verses with backing tracks from indie artist The xx. The album, the notorious xx, is surprise union where “the extrovert meets the introvert.” Biggie’s ambitious and fluent rhymes flow over The xx’s pensive and melodic instrumentals, creating a combination that is sublime.
I’ll admit that I’d never heard of Shaka Ponk when I woke up this morning. I would be as blissfully unaware now had a publicist not dropped an mp3 of ‘Do’ in my inbox, but the Berlin-based French band have made a big impression in that short timeframe.
Forced to leave their native France due to restrictive broadcasting laws that limit the opportunities for non-French language songs on the radio, Shaka Ponk decamped to Europe’s art music capital to further develop their heady multi-lingual mix of rock, pop and electronic music.
‘Do’ is taken from the band’s latest record, Bad Porno Movie Trax, and it quite neatly sums up the contrast of styles the group has to offer, setting a metronomic electronic pop verse against a raucous squealing chorus that calls to mind another great German group, Accept.
We’ll have an in-depth obituary of the recently-deceased Alex Chilton later in the week, but for the moment we’d like you to enjoy 1969’s living tribute, ‘Alex Where Are You,’ which was released in 2008.
Chilton was at ground zero when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and was briefly feared dead, inspiring, among other things, this heartfelt vignette from the threesome’s sole recording, Maya. After a couple of days where things seemed to be touch and go, an evacuation team was able to reach Chilton in his home, where he was alive and well.