sorbet sensibilities facade realities laust and found, the light the crown the molehill mount …. relax, let go: it’s not brain surgery, it’s a cerebral manifesto … post-pop music, vignette pseudocides: high deafinition.
mediated clarity navigates through projected vivisection … infamous perception, immortal imperfection … ‘longevity in pressure withstood,’ says the superstar, wields the supernova, chills cold diamond. who knows what it is, it is fearless descents into unknown abyss of its existence, as weathered wires defy recognized absence; so… keta be mine down the sole #ineverknow #dansforworldpeace #ARTPOP
“Beauty is a form of genius – is higher, indeed, than genius, as it needs no explanation. It is of the great facts in the world like sunlight, or springtime, or the reflection in dark water of that silver shell we call the moon.” – Oscar Wilde
Oakland bred experimental soul singer Ka’ra Kersey has recently dropped her latest visuals. The track is called “HIDDEN BEAUTY” and surprisingly enough I did the beat production. This song was written by Ka’ra and the video is a follow up to her Junkyard Mixtape Vol.1 release that hit the interwebs this past summer. I think she’s on a roll so it’s time to ride the Dreamy Wave.
#WatchThisSpace and soak it all up, it’s apart of life’s game
Dogbite is a band that I have seen and heard about for a couple of years now through media posts and tours that they’ve done with other artists. It wasn’t until the debut of their album Velvet Changes did I really start to dig the band, listening to the album every morning, enjoying the musical arrangements on songs such as “No Sharing” and “Forever, Until.” After seeing them live at the Star Bar in Atlanta, GA, I was convinced that this band had something that was a bit different in the current Atlanta scene and had to get an inside scoop on the band Dogbite. I got a chance to sit down with the Phil Jones (Lead Vocals) Woody Shortridge (Bass) Tak Takemura (Drums) their newest member, Jonathan Merenivitch (Lead Guitar) and chat with them for a while about their music, their influences and what they would like to see from the Atlanta music scene.
The name for the band came from lead singer and coordinator Phil Jones who thought of the name in the shower one day. He started off with sampling and making music with his guitar and would record on his computer to get his ideas out. “I had just dropped out of college and all of my friends were still in Savannah so I was bored.”
He would a year later have the idea to start his own live band and was recommended to bass player Woody Shortridge who had just left his previous group Balkans. “I started off in Balkans playing guitar but we switched instruments and I started playing bass and I liked that better… It has the most balls.”
After Phil met Woody, they began to go through a series of line up changes that finally lead to Tak Takumara on the drums who started off as a fill in drummer. Tak began playing drums at the age of fifteen and he’d just moved to the GA but didn’t speak English. His parents bought him a drumset and he’s been banging ever since. With the help of his brother, he started perfecting his talent and soon found his way to the band. The newest member of the band is Jonathan Merenivitch on lead who started off playing guitar at 16 and formed a band with his schoolmate Dusty who happened to play the drums. He started his own group in college named Tendaberry and has found his way through other bands to play in Dogbite.
The band is now tighter than ever and already have plans for the future. They are currently working on a follow up to Velvet Changes where the band will now have a contribution to the record. “We typically just jam and see what happens” Phil says while taking a pull from his cigarette.
As it goes for the music scene in Atlanta, Dogbite has fallen into the ChillWave section along with acts such as Washed Out who Phil also plays with. ChillWave seems to be an emerging genre in the Atlanta scene especially with the success of Washed Out whose song “Feel It All Around” is the theme song for campy TV series Portlandia. “If people didn’t call us one thing then they will call us something else,” states Phil.
When it comes to labels though, the band never aims to be known as a chill wave band, just a band that makes good music. “I feel like when we’re playing live it’s a lot more grunge, psychedelic and some of the parts Phil wrote has more tension than more chill,” Woody clarifies.
When speaking about the Atlanta scene in general, Phil Jones has his own perspective on it. “This might not sound nice but I kind of just want the whole Garage Rock thing to simmer down and for people to try new, weirder things.”
Phil claims Atlanta indie band Red Sea as one of the bands that he’s into right now in Atlanta.
“I think that it’s time for more bands to come out of the city and become popular nationwide because I feel like we’ve been dominated by Black Lips, Mastadon, Deerhunter, Janelle,” states Woody Shortridge. “I feel like the crop of people we have right now are really good and dedicated at working their craft. I basically want all of my friend’s to be successful.”
The four members are always keeping themselves busy. They are all in different bands but still find time to contribute to Dogbite. “Dogbite is at a different place then the other bands, says Jonathan Merenivitch. “Our other bands will be cool…through Dogbite those things will get more in the spotlight. It’s all love all around.”
Dogbite has gained it’s own popularity performing at several notable places such as SXSW, Atlanta Film Festival and they have also toured with Toro Y Moi. They plan to tour a bit more, even with aims to go out of the country and tour. “I’d like to go to Australia because there are some really good bands coming out of Australia,” says Woody. “I want to go to Hawaii too.”
As far as the music goes, they might switch things up a bit from their previous album Velvet Changes. “We might make a hip-hop album or even a jazzy one,” laughs Tak Takemura. “Dogbite’s going hip-hop old school.”
It would be interesting to see if they actually follow through on that switch. It would definitely throw them out of the Chill Wave genre! Whatever Dogbite does next, the four musicians have enough talent among them to create something new. They plan to release a new EP coming out soon with a limited vinyl so look out for that soon. Until then take a listen to their latest single “Cold Weather” below.
The Theatre of the Absurd … can be seen as the reflection of what seems to be the attitude most genuinely representative of our own time. The hallmark of this attitude is its sense that the certitudes and unshakable basic assumptions of former ages have been swept away, that they have been tested and found wanting, that they have been discredited as cheap and somewhat childish illusions. – MARTIN ESSLIN, The Theatre of the Absurd
Basically any sort of music, lyrical or not, can be categorized within some sort of genre. These days, we as listeners are inundated with new, emerging genres of music everyday. This goes beyond the basics we have come to know and love, genres like rock, pop, soul, electronica and hip hop. More recently we have discovered new varieties through a certain kind of musical synthesis, building genre upon genre to create a new blend of music. From this new upheaval of singularity and the dream of true uniqueness, several esoteric genres have found harmonious success matched with equally eloquent names to label these new fields of music.
Recently we have seen the rise of such neo-genres, most notably a new type of music known as chillwave, a hybrid of new sounds blended with crucial sentiments abundant in 80s new wave music, usually resulting in a retro-tinged psychedelia. Back in the 80s and 90s, this cross-genre hybridization was rampant, most specifically in terms of shoegaze and trip-hop, both of which boast influence on the sphere of modern music. Shoegaze took hold in the late 80s and 90s as a movement focused on the pivotal role of altered guitar tones and minimal percussion, developing a purely melodic and harmonic structure employed by classic powerhouse mainstays like My Bloody Valentine and the Jesus and Mary Chain, yet their style has translated quite seamlessly to modern acts like School of Seven Bells and The War on Drugs. Trip-hop, on the other hand, is a true relic of the 90s. Popularized by acts like Portishead and Massive Attack, Trip-hop mixes dreamy synthesizers and samples with rougher hip hop mentality and sweeping melodic vocals, creating a marvelously original, albeit somewhat dated genre in the process. These days, trip-hop is a thing of the past, despite the current efforts of the movement’s main players. It seems that acts like Massive Attack and Portishead would rather explore new sound than return to their trip-hop roots.
Musings on dated sub-genres aside, there are a few acts that fall into more classically defined categories that some seem to ignore. Obviously, the old gods still live on in much of the good music that comes out these days—David Bowie, Eric Clapton, and Iggy Pop have all donated some sort of influence to the modern acts taking the stage across the globe in the modern age. And most bands or artists can fall easily into the genres that we are comfortable with: rock, folk, pop, etc. And we can see these artists as such products of these generalities. But what about forms of a more classical structure? There are several differentiations that lay outside the boundaries of simple genre and thus, there are several fields of music that seem to be ignored when it comes to this sort of classification, and one in particular seems to be making quite a name for itself lately.
It’s my belief that most forms of art are interchangeable and relatable in terms of categorization. What I mean by this is this: I feel like some music, while comfortably in niche in the musical realm, may perhaps be translated to other categorization that is dominated by another medium. Think of it this way: Shakespeare’s plays can basically be separated into comedies and tragedies. If I were to remove any said comedy, say “Twelfth Night” for instance, I could categorize it as a comedy, but at the same time it could be seen as an ensemble piece, or a holiday piece, or even, and bear with me here, a pop piece. “Twelfth Night” was written per request for the Queen at the time, as something to revel in during the Christmas holidays. In the same effect, couldn’t it be seen as a pop piece, in the effect that it was manufactured to please the masses (as most pop music is).
In the same effect, Hamlet’s soliloquy in Act IV could be seen as a ballad, rather than just a dramatic monologue, if viewed under the right lens. I guess the point I am trying to reach here is that art, no matter what medium, is almost incontrovertibly transferable to any other genre within an artistic realm. Plays can be impressionistic. Paintings can be tragic. And songs can similarly be translated to fit within certain literal genres outside of their own individual musical categorization.
I could go on and on about how some songs are inherently tragic or ultimately comedic in nature, but this is a categorization that I find to broad. What I really want to focus on is a somewhat esoteric genre of literature and art that modern music has found a certain place in as of late, in effect revitalizing the genre to incorporate more artistic forms that may have been ignored in the past. That genre is absurdism.
Absurdism (in terms of visual art or literature) is generally defined as a veritable conflict between the human need to find logic and value in a certain scenario and the almost inevitable possibility of discovering none such meaning at all. The way I think of it is “truth with no logic.” When absurdism comes to mind, my mind goes directly to the theatre, acknowledging the works of Eugene Ionescu and Samuel Beckett. Ionescu often employed absurdist doctrine within his dialogue, while Beckett, for example, wrote an entire play on the absurd behavior of man called Waiting for Godot. In short, Godot’s plot consists of two men waiting by a tree for a man named Godot, who never appears. The characters’ analysis of the situation and the effect it has on them is textbook absurd, as the characters seem to seek reason (i.e. why they are, in fact, waiting for Godot) in the most ludicrous of situations. However, while the absurdist theatre held a respectable position in the art world, there was another medium that began to tune itself to a similar frequency: music.
Much like absurdist theatre and literature, absurdist music has been flourishing in its own time. It can be argued that absurdist theatre came about as a remedy to the harshly bi-lateral theatrical categorization system, in which plays and pieces were simply categorized as ‘comedy’ or ‘tragedy.’ Music allows for a much broader spectrum when it comes down to it. Any genre of music can be seen as absurd if examined in the correct light.
These days, it seems that listeners are bored. When something is simply rock, or pop, or EDM (electronic dance music), that’s all it appears to be…on the surface that is. Absurdism seems to be something that many artists and bands have started to cling to, perhaps in an effort to differentiate themselves from the norm. In music, however, the claim to absurdism seems to come much swifter than it would to other media. To classify music as absurdist doesn’t necessarily strip it from any other sort of categorical class, rather it enhances the value of the piece by taking on an additional nominative characteristic. Not only that, but people seems to be developing a certain attraction to this kind of music; not for reasons pertaining to artistic structure, but rather it seems almost more relatable and honest.
The most prominent case I can think of in terms of absurdist music has to be the South African hip-hop collective known as DIE ANTWOORD (pronounced ‘dee ant-vohrd’). DIE ANTWOORD came about a few years back, and were immediately recognized for their seemingly nonsensical raps about ninjas and big dicks, artfully illustrated by a mix of brusque, incomprehensible rhymes by the male members mirrored with squeaky refrains whimpered by the one girl member of the group. On paper, it doesn’t really sound like much, but when put together, it actually works. The girl whines and sighs in her nasal, squeaky voice, which is swiftly followed by the driving, masculine rhymes delivered by her co-pilot. The juxtaposition of the two creates a truly absurd dynamic that is at first confusing and somewhat off-putting, but in fact effectively drives home the nature and intention of the entire album: shock and awe. It doesn’t matter if the lyrics make sense or not; the dynamic is what is so intriguing, and the sheer insanity of the sound is the kind of thing people are looking to hear these days.
The same can be said about German dance-punk group Bonaparte. I had never heard of this band before I heard them at SXSW this past March. The big difference here is that their instrumentation doesn’t artfully clash with lead singer Tobias Jundt’s powerhouse vocals, as in the case of DIE ANTWOORD. This band is more subtly absurd. The absurdity seems to lie deep within the lyrical content of their music. I only own their most recent LP (entitled My Horse Likes You, a tip-off from the get-go), but in listening to it I find such an apparent abandonment of convention that can only be attributed to an absurdist vision. In fact, they seem to feed on more absurd notions more as inspiration, rather than motive. DIE ANTWOORD is clearly trying to self-satisfy as the sovereign prophets of this kind of music, but Bonaparte takes a completely different route. The absurd element is intrinsic with their songwriting and delivery.
Listening to My Horse Likes You, there is such a palpable, almost naturalistic ease to their songs that harbors no allowance for pre-conceived notions. They simply deliver. Truly, this album is about basically nothing. There’s no hidden message or moral of the story. It is clearly a collection of songs that more than nothing demonstrate musical aptitude. Basically the lyrical content of the songs on this album is cohesive to the individual pieces themselves, yet offer no real poetic merit as they seem to be of the stream-of-consciousness persuasion. The lyrics of the title track tell a simple tale of a man on a horse that is horny for basically anything that moves. The thumpy “Computer in Love” boasts Cake-like lyrics that echo obvious detachment (‘I’m your glory hole to the universe’). The rest of the album provides similar rash sentiments that seem to lack any attachment between the singer and the content presented, as it is riddled with silly rhymes and seemingly misplaced purpose.
The fascinating thing is that, upon careful listening, the connection is there and it is fairly strong. Too often do people swoon over poetic devices and heartfelt metaphors. Bonaparte is fearless in abandoning any and all pretense and speaking clearly sans barrier. For the most part, there is truth in their lyrics without the precedence of moral ambiguity. Stream-of-consciousness writing allows for this sort of unfiltered thinking as it demonstrates truly honest writing without fear of consequence. It is very simply bare truth without any logic to muddy the waters. In the dystopian requiem “Boycott Everything,” Jundt boasts ‘I boycott everything not made by my hands,’ a rather bold statement to make (and one that anybody can dispel the actual truth of with some certainty). Later in the song, however, Jundt paints an illustrious yet convincing portrait of a man so enraged by greed and the state of the global economy that he builds himself a whole world out of cardboard as to not participate in it. He even goes on to scorn the great political and economical entities via playful call-and-response rhyme at the end of the song:
Russia? Made of oil! China? Soon to boil! Japan? Made of cars! The Middle East? Full of scars! Netherlands? Built on trade! Africa? Running late! Switzerland? Made of cheese! Canada? Full of trees! Greenland? Made of water! UK? Harry Potter! India? Software! Tibet? Made of prayer! Sweden? Made of bands! Australia? Full of sand! Caribbean? Made of smoke! South America? Full of coke! South Korea? Exponential! North Korea? Confidential! USA? Made of corn! All the rest? MADE OF PORN!
This sort of absurdism is rampant these days because listeners are finally willing to embrace it. Listeners can be impatient, and without the copious poetic nuance that is often so abundant in music, we can more clearly understand an artist’s vision. Absurdism in terms of literature can be quite confusing (not to demerit the value of the genre in literature in the least), yet in music it’s refreshing to hear such sentiment. Literal truth is inexplicably taboo in music, that whenever it is presented plainly, it’s off-putting.
Absurdism seems to be an art form that aims to speak the maximum amount of truth by stripping away any sort of familiarity and thrusting us into a world or dimension where the rules are simply different. It forces us as listeners and observers to re-examine the impact of art in such a unique way that we are urged to question integrity, intention, and above all, reason. Absurdism throws concepts like reason and logic out the door, but in turn it drives us to attempt to discover these notions within, as their apparent obvious absence provides a veritable gap that is begging to be filled with logical explanation. Though perhaps this gap is what we as people need in order to understand our relationship and personal separation from art — and may be the barrier between art and reality itself — it may in fact be this vacancy that keeps us coming back to art. It will always pose a question of “what’s missing here?”
Modern listeners are always looking for something new and different, so whether it be Bonaparte, or DIE ANTWOORD, or anyone, we will always magnetize towards the unexplainable, because that may be the final frontier we’ve all been looking for. Who knows? Maybe we will find the answer to it all, wrapped in squeaky voices and references to blatant bestiality. Or maybe it will just make for some really stellar tunes. I’m hoping it will be somewhere in between, and it looks like we may be on the right track.
As someone who writes about music, I feel like I have to keep up with everything that goes on within that realm. Sometimes it’s very taxing and often it is very frustrating, especially within the sphere that I have chosen to examine, which is usually the lesser-known, more independent brand of music. These days, there is just so much that it’s hard to keep up with.
Oh, hai “that time of year again,” didn’t hear you come in – well, have a seat and make yourself comfortable. I’m not spectacular at year-end reviews… I prefer life like I prefer my albums: gapless. That said, I hat-tipped five artists, songs, and albums that made me pause and take time to jot the time and place – year included – over the last 300-someodd days; and five creations that embodied and encapsulated sonic aesthetic for 2011. To the five I take, to have and to hold; forever like a TrapperKeeper, Pop safe in the fold. #enjoi
Williamsburg is quite a contradiction. Despite the small town Main Street aesthetic of the Brooklyn neighborhood, it has become a catchall hipster haven for art school dropouts, transient scabs, and self-absorbed bohemian types in above average tax brackets ravenously gentrifying the area. Yet with the social discrepancies whirling around him, Chaz Bundick seems pretty indifferent. It’s possible that his high-energy performance to a throng of sweaty revelers at New York’s nightlife stalwart Webster Hall the previous night has left him a bit lethargic. Or maybe he’s simply got music on his mind. “I’m seeing lots of influence from trance and house,” he says as a car whizzes by blaring the latest from Rihanna’s canon of hits. At 25-years old, he’s developed a keen sense of musical trends. He’s well aware that the times they are a-changin’. “People are getting more used to it on the radio, it’s becoming more normal to hear four-on-the-floor beats. Even hip-hop artists are using those beats. That’s helping people open up to electronic music.”
If you ask DJ X, the DJ world has become “over-saturated with bass thumping electro, dutch house, b-more, dubstep and most recently moombahton mixes.” Rather than follow suit, the Atlanta based, New York raised DJ went got together some of his favorite “lighter” musical moments. The mix features some Art Nouveau favorites such as SBTRKT, Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie XX, James Blake and Chase & Status. Chill out listen and download Damage Control after the jump.
SBTRKT’s debut album has been called dub, dubstep, chillwave, trillwave, dance, pop, folk and everything under the sun by critics and fans alike. I don’t blame them though. Putting a label on something this new is how we relate to things these days. But, if the album is indication of anything, genre is dead, and SBTRKT’s indescribable production is the nail in the coffin.