Solids “Blame Confusion”

solids

Solids

Blame Confusion 

By Jeremiah S.

Solids are a relatively new guitar/drums duo from Canada, but they aren’t another White Stripes/Black Keys clone (thank god!). The band is heavily influenced from 90’s alternative rock and for the most part wouldn’t sound too out of place in a mix tape from Seattle’s glory days. Their sound is pretty much emo (think Sunny Day Real Estate or Modest Mouse) buried in layers of feedback and noise (a la Sonic Youth or Nirvana). Blame Confusion is their (dare I say it?) grungy debut.

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Author & Punisher “Women & Children”

author&punisher

Author & Punisher

Women & Children

Jeremiah S.

Author & Punisher is a one man doom/drone metal band formed by Tristan Shone, a mechanical engineer from San Diego. The music is composed and performed entirely on custom designed and fabricated mechanical instruments called dub and drone machines. While a large mechanical contraption may be fitting to a cacophonous wall noise, the human element in the form of the operator, lends the project a musical accessibility not typically found in the homemade instrument experimental/noise community. By design, the Dub/Drone Machines follow the player’s mood giving the songs an expressive quality that is not typically found in electronic/industrial music, where the BPM is typically locked into a stable pattern.  Operating from within a mechanical assortment of knobs and sliders, Author & Punisher’s music explores the fusion of man and machine and is essentially the ultimate industrial band in both concept and sound.

Women & Children is the most recent Author & Punisher album, and while it retains the pulsating mechanical rhythms, industrial clamor and outright sonic brutality of the previous albums it also brings the vocals to the forefront and relies on more familiar sounds, such as piano, to create some of band’s most accessible and musical moments to date. While previous Author & Punisher tracks seem to alternate between introspective dub serenity and all out assault, Women & Children has found the middle ground between those two points, making the tracks into more conventional songs while maintaining the band’s uncompromising sonic vision. While the album does feature the occasional piano ballad or Ghost style clean vocal, the overwhelming intensity of the music remains true. This is the only band in our metal section without a guitar player or drummer but the crushing intensity of their sound confirms that this is genuine metal machine music.

Author & Punisher is opening for Philip H. Anselmo in Seattle on January 17 at El Corazon.

Best of 2013 Staff Picks

bestof2013
By Jeremiah S.

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1. Zomby “With Love”

This dubstep pioneer refuses to be pigeonholed and continues evolving his sound. This time around Zomby delivers haunting trap beats with his trademark piano melodies interspersed with some 90’s jungle revival business, reminding listeners that you have to know where you have been to know where you’re going.

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2. Machinedrum “Vapor City”

The follow up to his breakout 2011 album Room(s), Machinedrum continues exploring the relationship between juke and jungle, taking both musical forms into a lush spacious territory.

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3. Kode9 “Rinse: 22″

Hyperdub label boss delivers his latest mix for the UK radio institution, Rinse. The mix begins as an overview of current UK dance music and finishes with a healthy dose of Chicago footwork, revealing the future direction of Hyperdub.

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4. Jace Clayton “Julius Eastman Memory Depot”

This album features two piano pieces based on the compositions of composer Julius Eastman. Performed by dual pianists David Friend and Emily Manzo, and filtered/edited through custom software on Jace’s laptop, this album explores and pushes the boundaries of the piano’s sonic possibilities.

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5. Author & Punisher “Women & Children”

Sorry Lou, but this is the real metal machine music.

M.I.A “Matangi”

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M.I.A

Matangi

By Jeremiah S.

M.I.A. is a study in contrast: She’s a British-Sri Lankan rapper/singer and millionaire freedom fighter that makes pop songs about boys while simultaneously issuing Orwellian warnings about the government’s invasion of privacy and the trampling of freedom, as she eats truffle fries in Beverly Hills. The dichotomy she exhibits is not exclusive to her persona; her music thrives on the appropriation and fusion of disparate genres, plucking fresh underground sounds and grafting them onto her own personal style. Her previous albums have seen her joining Baile Funk, Baltimore Club Music and Dubstep to more traditional Bhangra and eastern elements, which pushed sounds even further into the pop lexicon.

On Matangi, MIA’s 4th album, trap beats become the backbone of MIA’s frenzied bricolage of sound. Not unlike how the internet has accelerated the consumption and distribution of information, MIA’s tracks have become increasingly hypercharged. With every moment so densely packed this album is not easily digestible; there is so much detail crammed into every moment that it feels both chaotic and unruly. However, as you slowly absorb what you are hearing over repeated listens, the album reveals it secrets and rewards your patience, as you grasp new layers of sound and  lyrical references.

This is not to say the album is completely inaccessible. The lead single “Bad Girls” is a relatively straightforward rap tune that sounds as fresh now as it did when it debuted back in 2011. “Double Bubble Trouble” keeps things simple and light, which combines reggae, rap and Kuduro. “Exodus” samples The Weeknd and along with it’s coda “Sexodus”, provides an introspective pop moment among the madness.