Author Archive

The Lull

Some of you may have noticed that Mildew and I have missed a few posts. We both just moved, and I just started a new job and I’m working out the particularities of streaming music to work so I can listen. As such, I haven’t had much of a chance to listen to new stuff over the last couple weeks, and The Daily Decibel has suffered. School starts soon and we should be back on track within a week or two!

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DJ Spooky – Under the Influence

DJ SpookyUnder the Influence

26 songs, 1 hour and 13 minutes long

DJ Spooky’s Under the Influence is long and badass. Released in 2001, I’m sad I’ve been missing out on it for the last nine years. Mostly remixes from other artists as varied as Amon Tobin, Sonic Youth,  Moby, and The Future Sound of London, DJ Spooky chills out each track and drops a sick beat. As each song is a remix, vocals vary from sung to rapped to nonexistent, but the album is coherent, with a laid-back attitude and great beats. Just a little too slow to be hip-hop, DJ Spooky lays out an album that is great to listen to with your feet up.

Buy Under the Influence at Amazon.

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Alva Noto – Xerrox, Vol. 2

Alva Noto – Xerrox, Vol. 2

11 songs, 1 hour 6 minutes long

Xerrox, Vol. 2 is an ambient masterpiece. One of my all-time favorite sleeping albums, Xerrox, Vol. 2 is ambient enough to sleep or work to, but also enjoyable to simply sit and listen to. There is never much rhythm or melody; Xerrox, Vol. 2 is probably closer to being interesting noise than it is truly music. That being said, Xerrox, Vol. 2 is beautiful and will have you questioning the definition of music itself, as the album is most certainly minimalist music. Full of buzzes, hums, and bleeps, Xerrox, Vol. 2 sounds like what I thought industrial would sound like when I first heard of it. It’s like listening to the thump-thump-thump of a dryer that is spinning off of its axis, and then a steam generator, and then a satellite. Xerrox, Vol. 2 has to be heard to be understood, and for any fans of ambient music, it’s high on my recommendation list.

Xerrox, Vol. 2 is available in vinyl on Amazon.

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Younger Brother – The Last Days of Gravity

Younger Brother – The Last Days of Gravity

9 songs, 1.123 hours long

The Last Days of Gravity is the most recent release from another one of Simon Posford’s (Shpongle, Hallucinogen) projects, Younger Brother. This album is probably my favorite of all of Posford’s work, and since I’m moving apartments this week and I haven’t had much of a chance to do any exploring, I’m going to take this opportunity to write about something I consider a modern classic. As usual, Posford’s work is genre-defining, and it’s placed somewhere between psybient and goa trance. The tempo is slow but the songs vary from being heavy to light and beautiful, and the album is somewhat of a journey, as Posford is known for. Personally, I find Younger Brother and Shpongle the best of the Posford projects by a wide margin, and Younger Brother is definitely the lesser-known of the two, and it’s not because of quality. For fans of Shpongle especially, this album is a must-listen. For those who want to know what the best of performed music combined with electronic composition can create, Younger Brother is at the top of the genre. My collection could not be complete without Younger Brother’s The Last Days of Gravity, as well as a few other Posford works that I’ll probably cover some other time.

Buy The Last Days of Gravity on Amazon.

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Pilot Balloon – Ghastly Good Cheer

Pilot Balloon – Ghastly Good Cheer

12 songs, 40.9 minutes long

Ghastly Good Cheer is Pilot Balloon’s first and only LP, released in 2004 on the 2nd Rec label. 2nd Rec is currently on an “indefinite hiatus,” and it’s unfortunate because this album is a gem. A darkened side of hip hop or trip hop, Ghastly Good Cheer straddles several genres. The album is unsettling, and the beats start and stop. There is a lot of empty space in the album, not in pauses, but silence between the beats. In many ways, Pilot Balloon is crafting beautiful silence among schizophrenic beats rather than drowning away the silence. Singing is muffled and quiet for most of the album, but suddenly lyrics emerge some twenty minutes in; the sudden introduction of rapping is as jarring as the rest of the album. Maybe Pilot Balloon was unsuccessful because it’s not music that would appeal to the masses, but I find it haunting and beautiful, like an abandoned cathedral.

You can still find Ghastly Good Cheer for sale at places like InSound but if you send an email to 2nd rec, they accept PayPal and then the struggling label will see more of the money that they need to keep promoting under-appreciated artists like Pilot Balloon. This album, more than the others I have posted, I recommend both because it is astounding, but also because if the artists don’t get any attention, it may be the last of its kind.

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West Indian Girl – West Indian Girl

West Indian Girl – West Indian Girl

11 songs, 45.6 minutes long

Faithful readers may have noticed that I’ve been on something of a psychedelic rock stint, and I have. West Indian Girl is the latest in that trend, but very different from The Besnard Lakes or Tame Impala. The first album from a band of the same name, released in 2004, the biggest difference is that both The Besnard Lakes and Tame Impala employ a large amount of distortion in their sound; West Indian Girl has a very clean sound. That being said, all three deserve the term ‘psychedelic rock,’ especially when referring to the structure of songs and layering of instruments. West Indian Girl has a more American sound than many psychedelic rock bands, complete with guitar solos and the album opening with a harmonica. This is especially true since the “greats” of psychedelic rock (namely The Beatles and Pink Floyd) are Brits, and it’s interesting to hear an album which is almost reminiscent of the American West fall well into the psychedelic genre. In short: West Indian Girl isn’t at all what I was expecting when I put it on, but it was quite a pleasant surprise. I’m excited to listen to their sophomore release, 4th and Wall, released in 2007, which I haven’t gotten a chance to listen to  just yet.

West Indian Girl at Amazon.

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Fleeting Joys – Occult Radiance

Fleeting Joys – Occult Radiance

11 songs, 46 minutes long

Occult Radiance is the the second release (2009) by Fleeting Joys, a promising new shoegaze band, which is something to be said for a genre that hasn’t had much new material since the mid-nineties. Their first album, Despondent Transponder sounded like a direct sequel to My Bloody Valentine’s essential, groundbreaking, and final release Loveless. A great album in its own right, it lacked innovation, especially since My Bloody Valentine hasn’t put out an album in so long, one would expect a new group picking up the shoegaze banner to innovate and/or find their own sound. This drawback is exactly why Occult Radiance is, in my opinion, a much stronger release. Occult Radiance still has the shoegaze essentials: almost-whispered vocals awash in noise, and beautiful guitar-effect landscapes, but Occult Radiance is more clearly organized than either Loveless or Despondent Transponder, and most importantly, is much darker. If you are a fan of My Bloody Valentine, do yourself a long-awaited favor and pick up a copy of Occult Radiance.

Amazon has this available as DRM-free mp3, but do yourself (and the band) a favor, and order this one directly from the band site so you have the full-quality CD.

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