August 8, 2010

Late again...

Ah well... all apologies, my friends. Those of you who know me understand that I've been attending to terrestrial affairs of a massively celebratory portent. That, and... well, I've been caught up in a lazy hazy summer - after all, it IS August. Sometimes you just gotta soak up some of the most glorious of earthbound pleasures before returning to the cold airless confines of the spacerock satellite.

But no excuses! The music must go on! And I think I've got a doozy of a set for you... a tad scattershot and helter-skelter perhaps, yet encompassing various and disparate factions of Ye Olde Space Rock as they enter my stream of consciousness. Onwards!

Superstar DJ duo The Chemical Brothers have always had a psychedelic side to their block-rockin' beats, as this track from their stellar return-to-form from this year aptly illustrates. Githead, led by former Wire frontman Colin Newman, spans the gamut from Wirey postpunk minimalism to shoegaze, bliss pop, and modern motorik, as in the case of this track. Another track here from Tame Impala's recent release, fast-tracking its way to best album of the year - this track shows why. I just can't get enough of them!!! Another surprise from the realm of DJ/electronica here from the illustrious DJ Spooky, from his recent album that sounds ever more like an electro-organic hybrid, and that features not one but TWO instrumental (and not sampled either?!?!?) Led Zeppelin covers including this one, probably the Zep's most psychedelic song.

Speaking of DJs, the Scottish dancefloor outfit Simian's Mobile Disco was not always such. They began, bizarrely enough, as Simian, a dream pop band saturated with blissful Beach Boys derived harmonies - this track is probably their most stand-out, and the refrain "chemistry is what we are" gets me every time. Berlinian post rock-tronica trio To Rococo Rot (love the palindromic name!) are back after a six-year hiatus, sounding more refined and sophisticated than ever, and we're the luckier for it. High Places are a primitivist mostly-electronic duo that incorporate a lot of faux-African rhythms in their play along with lovely soaring female vocals, but I chose this track for its relevance within this set, as the distant shimmering guitar sheen conjures vintage krautrock explorations (think Ash Ra Tempel). For the polyrhythmic portion of this playlist look no further than The Books, with their own fine return-to-form released this year and possibly topping all previous releases in vision and diversity, and also hyper-rhythmists Mahjongg, who returned this year with their most booty-shaking yet still head-spinning release yet (although I culled this track from their previous album).

Chicago power trio Mass Shivers come to me without much context, but I find their nerd-punk math-psych ramblings enigmatically compelling. Another difficult-to-quantify unit, Indian Jewelry returned with yet another album of dark-psych agit-prop electro-glam musings that doesn't quite measure up to their previous work but I plucked this gem from this less-distinguished album because I love them so much. Hopefully they've got plenty of heady material left in them for the next one. Next up, the bastard children of vintage German motorik La Dusseldorf show us how Neu! and Kraftwerk weren't the only purveyors of that uniquely Teutonic trance rhythm.

Speaking of enigmas (I was, wasn't I?) the next two artists define the "creative unit toiling in obscurity for the better of all mankind, so abstruse and unique that they defy category" ethos that I love so dearly, and they both rank with my favorite bands of all time. Not only are they obscure, they're from exotic lands: Larsen, despite the Swedish name, are from Turin, Italy, and supposedly laid down initial tracks from behind an opaque screen for producer Michael Gira (Swans), who never actually met them before signing them to his label. Myth? Legend? PR gimmick? Who cares? Their music often appears to pulse, to breathe, to be a living thing, and their inventiveness and diversity continue to inspire. Also musically diverse to an infinite degree is Pori, Finland's mighty Circle, a band who have put out dozens of hard-to-find releases encompassing everything from postrock, folk, ambient, free-improv and even hardcore metal. Their only constant is a self-referential repetitive circularity to their mostly instrumental (except when they're singing in Finnish or a made-up language they call Meronian) blitzkrieg. One of the most exciting avant-rock acts in history and still going strong despite the fact that most of the world has never heard of them and probably never will.

Bringing us a textbook example of instrumental postrock, Red Sparowes nevertheless manage to bring justification to the much-maligned genre. Beloved yet long-defunct Jersey boys Chavez managed to bring angular 90s indie rock (Polvo?) into the Marshall stacks guitar worship of arena rock (Smashing Pumpkins?) - after only two albums and a recent remastered repackage from which this is taken, they are sorely missed. Fans of the Spacerock Continuum know I love to stack the end of the set with longer more mind-fucking tracks, and this one is no exception: first a guitar sludge-and-shrapnel behemoth from Long Beach, CA's Magic Lantern, then an epic cinemascopic journey through the western high desert from the aptly-named Scenic (featuring former members of Savage Republic) that summons a peyote-fueled vista of Joshua trees, boulder formations, rocky arroyos, coyotes, rattlesnakes, sandstone canyons...

The following tracks should appear in the player below:

Spacerock Continuum Intro - bRambles - BeeDub's Spacerock Continuum
Dissolve - The Chemical Brothers - Further
Space Life - Githead - Art Pop
It Is Not Meant To Be - Tame Impala - Innerspeaker
No Quarter Dub - DJ Spooky - The Secret Song
Drop And Roll - Simian - Chemistry Is What We Are
Seele - To Rococo Rot - Speculation
Canada - High Places - Vs. Mankind
I Am Who I Am - The Books - The Way Out
Tell The Police The Truth - Mahjongg - Kontpab
Because The Sun - Mass Shivers - Ecstatic Eyes Glow Glossy
Tono Bungay - Indian Jewelry - Totaled
Time - La Düsseldorf - La Düsseldorf
In Illusions Of Order - Red Sparowes - The Fear Is Excruciating, But Therein Lies The Answer
Flight 96 - Chavez - Better Days Will Haunt You
Deathshead Hawkmoth - Magic Lantern - High Beams
A Journey Through The Outer Reaches Of Inner Space - Scenic - The Acid Gospel Experience