Home > 2012, boogie, dancehall, diva, LA > Picks 1/27/13

Picks 1/27/13

Very interesting week for Cornejo here. I saw Jessie Ware at Amoeba on Tuesday, and I was absolutely astounded by how talented and beautiful she is. And as digger’s luck would have it, at the end of the performance they gave away three gift certificates to the store and guess who got one… Yeeep, $25 in credit to your man’s holy land. I didn’t shop for long, just picked up a few things I had been eyeballing, but asking me to spend free money in there is a dream come true. We’re less than two weeks now from the first RITUAL party, and our special guest Low Limit will be live on the Boiler Room this Tuesday! 2013 is shaping up quite nicely…

Pulled from the hallowed stacks of Amoeba and Bagatelle.

Lee Gamble – Dutch Tvashar Plumes (Pan, 2012)

This record came as a surprise to me when it popped out at the end of 2012. I guess it caught most everybody off-guard when the German experimental label PAN dropped two full lengths from the previously low profile Gamble. Despite the hype of having shown up on pretty much every blog’s best of list, this is really incredible music. I’ve never been one for a lot of experimental/noise/ambient music, as I really tend to require a rhythmic anchor, but Gamble explores unique tones and timbres with a sense of propulsion and movement that is incredibly unique. The music is accessible, engaging and fulfilling.

It’s not all synth washes and harsh bleeps, in fact there is very little of that at all. Tracks that begin hazy and lazy grow legs, jacking like pistons, ecstatic with momentum. “Nowhen Hooks” is a ray of sunlight, a house banger that clears waves of synths and retreats just as quickly with the same waves massaging the adrenaline rush of the dance. As the track ends, “Tvash Kwawar” builds up from the same source of matter and slowly grows into a delicate techno thumper. More techno in idea than sound, the track throbs with life for a moment before it dissolves. “Plos 97s” (above) more explicitly explores techno, but adheres to so little of the “rules” of the genre while maintaining a minimalistic approach to arrangement and construction. With Gamble, suggestive rhythms and the sonic template of a track is much more important than the groove or functionality of the work. The tracks that could possibly be seen as dance tracks are too short, too weird, but undoubtedly I would love to hear them on a loud soundsystem.

The more meditative, serene tracks are just as engaging; often never losing a sense of movement, despite how irregular or vague the rhythm. A track like “Black Snow” ruffles, is muted, and moves, hardly breathing for less than two minutes as samples slip in and growth seems inevitable, until it all stops. Immediately following the tease of snow, “Coma Skank (Binocconverge mix)” saunters in, still carrying a heavy sense of cinematic dread, but with move with a sense of aimlessness and confusion. A thick layer of tape dust covers the rhythmic elements, and the eerie clops and bleeps set up a very particular state of mind for the listener. Opening up the flip side, “Overund” sounds like a morose gamelan ceremony with beautiful wavering bell tones ringing in unlimited darkness.  “Kuang Shaped Prowla” is a fitting close to the album as it seems to bob gently, warmth emanating from the subtle movement of the track. It disappears quietly, sneaking out like a lover leaving in the gray stillness of morning, not daring to look back.

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Bigga Haitian – Haiti A Weh Mi From b/w The Good, Bad, and Ugly (Flames, 1989)

As a digger, it’s always nice to get home and look up something that you just bought and not be able to find a whole lot of information on the record. There’s no discogs listing for this, no tracks up on Youtube, no blog posts, just a quick mention on Wikipedia. The lack of accessible information is partially what makes collecting dancehall records so interesting, as the music seems to eerily stand alone from any particular cultural context. In reality, the scene has healthily existed in pockets from Kingston, to New York City to London, and today is still strong. However, the truly underground stuff like this has failed to have a resurgence of online interest unlike a lot of other music from this time period.

Haiti A Weh Mi From” was supposedly a huge hit for Bigga, so I was surprised not to find much about it online. This is the debut release from the deejay and his flow is full of swagger and rapid fire chatting flourished with a few vocal tricks here and there. The track is predominately a coming out party for Bigga as he chats for nearly five minutes straight over a super lightweight riddim. Bigga’s voicing shows a lot of skill and does well to carry the momentum of the track, but it’s not particularly a superb track.

On the flip, “The Good Bad & Ugly” (above) starts things off with a false start and an instant rewind. This track is everything the A-side isn’t; it’s loud, brash, dirty and full of dread – the ideal club track. It opens with some dubbed out piano stabs and 808 hats, then a cheeky nod at the Morricone theme creeps in but is immediately offset by deep waves of bass. Bigga absolutely demolishes on this track as well, he rides the groove confidently and balances the weight and propulsion of the riddim quite well. Can’t wait to play this one out.

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Nite Jewel – Good Evening (Gloriette, Secretly Canadian 2008/2012)

Finally the incredible Nite Jewel debut gets a repress! On most days I would say this is one of my favorite LA releases of the 21st century, as the record’s mixture of dust covered funk and late night pop have really made an impression on me. I first heard the record at the tail end of 2009, just after it had received a lot of hype and a subtle repress of two tracks on a single by Stones Throw. Specifically, I heard it while vagabonding around San Francisco for a week and a half, stuck in a place between moving across the country with no plan whatsoever, or having to cross burned bridges back to the life I was trying to leave. I was in love at the time like you couldn’t believe, and of course being a Cancer, this was eventually the tipping point towards my return home. I have a specific memory of sitting at the train station in Oxnard, totally fucking cold, alone and waiting for this train for hours, with all my possessions in the world (except the 1200s and two crates of records I had left behind) crammed into a traveler’s backpack. This record was on repeat on my ipod, Ramona Gonzalez’s small voice sounding more and more like the voice of a Siren dragging me back home. Aside from all the heavy emotional associations I have with this record, I can step back and say that this is still a really fresh and incredible release.

Take the fat bassline and sharp claps of “What Did He Say,” a record that has been a staple in my sets for years now. Or listen to how Gonzalez’ quiet pop grows heavy with melancholy and frustration on “Weak for Me,” and just as her voice grows larger and more forceful (but still unintelligible) the track begins to fall apart right before you.On the flip, “Artificial Intelligence” moves forward with some basic drum programming, but its the emphatic vocals and hazy synths that steal the show. But really, the track that gets me each and every time, the true bomb on here is “Let’s Go (The Two of Us Together)” (above) as it starts straight out the gate at a boogie gallop. The shakers, the synth tones, the vocal delivery – it’s all there.

The record is influenced by a vague sense of 80’s quiet storm, boogie funk, R&B and balearic pop with a punk attitude to it all – very DIY and low-fi. It came at an important time in music and it’s sad that she didn’t rise as quickly as some of her peers. I’ve recommended this album to a lot of people over the years and I think that’s one of the biggest signs of a truly good record. Pick it up, you’ll like it.

Categories: 2012, boogie, dancehall, diva, LA
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