Thanks to slsk and ipod, I am once again excited about music. At first I was overwhelmed by the possibilities inherent in these new tools. Ok I can listen to anything... so what do I listen to? In an age of profuse information, filtering becomes the big problem. This is why critics are important and labels won't die.
After combing through emails from friends and various internet sources, I made my first ipod playlist.
1. Cunninlynguists - Nasty Filthy
Ok, if you were to combine the words "cunnilingus" and "linguists" to create a clever pun for your clever hip hop band, would you insert a superfluous Y? Of course not! It's just stupid. Next time you're trying to download this, good luck trying to remember how to spell "Cunninlynguists." Anyway looking past the asinine name, what we have here is solidly produced backpacker hip-hop with an emphasis on glum realism. Over a RZA-like loop of pounding piano and sliced-up diva, MCs SOS, Superstition, Cashmere and Deacon relate tales of eating ramen and dodging bill collectors while trying to crank their next underground hit.
2. Cropstar - Take My Woojet (Spiller vs Busta Rhymes vs Berlin)
I missed the mashup bandwagon, so I've been playing catchup. This track, like so many others in the Bastardpop/Boomselecta canon, is both highly illegal and highly contagious. When you hear the lyrics to Busta Rhymes' "Woo Hah" cleverly matched to the music from Spiller's "Groove Jet", it's a revelation; both songs sound better together than apart. This kind of thing is like cotton candy-- it's disposable but it gives you a short sweet sugar high. The best bit is when Berlin's "Take My Breath Away" comes in for a brief interlude and then screeches to a halt as Busta angrily proclaims, "TOM CRUISE? MUTHAFUCKA STOLE MY FLOW!" Eenie meenie, minie moe.
3. Flaming Lips - Do You Realize
4. Lee "Scratch" Perry - Cow Thief Skank
In the liner notes to "Best of Lee Scratch Perry", it says he invented rap with this song. Yeah right. What can be said is that "Cow Thief Skank" is thoroughly bizarre. It has at least three different time signatures, transitioning from one to the next without warning. An especially eerie moment comes when the angry cow owner mutters, "Pass the machete, hurry mon, me gon' chop off his hand" and the beat suddenly shifts from a merry dub rhythm to menacing, stoned groove. If I were a cow thief I'd be scared.
5. Wire - Reuters
Wire's post-punk masterpiece "Pink Flag" is severely overrated in my book. Too much shouting. I think somebody should apply the mashup treatment... maybe Britney Spears vs Wire? or Busta Rhymes vs Wire? You really can't go wrong adding Busta Rhymes to anything; he's like hot sauce. Anyway in "Reuters", I think Wire is satirizing the media jackals who flock to war zones so they can stand in front of cameras and intone solemn banalities. I like the end the best, when things come unhinged. This is your correspondant, running out of tape... Gunfire's increasing... Looting! Burning! RAAAAAAAAAAAAPE!!
6. J-Zone fet. Huggy Bear - I'm Fuckin Up the Money
J-Zone's trademark production style is in full effect here-- old movie dialog, symphonic strings and street noise woven into a kinetic, messy soundscape. Huggy Bear notes that he's fuckin' up the money in a variety of ways, including not getting paid at shows. I'm fuckin up the money in gross abundancies / Bootleg cds, reprinted currencies / Stolen cable, eatin' off ping pong tables...
7. Jan Jelinek avec the Exposures - My Favorite Shop
Jan Jelinek is another producer who's carved out a unique sound for himself. He uses warm crackles and pops, glitchy sounds, but rather than shaping them into abrasive beats, he creates music soothing to the ear. There's something ineffable about a Jelinek groove... it's vaguely similar to a cd skipping but not annoying like that is. The "Exposures", by the way, are fictional; apparently just a joke on Jelinek's part, in the same way that Ben Folds 5 was really a trio. Oh, my sides are aching.
8. Squarepusher - Vic Acid
Man I'd forgotten about Squarepusher, written him off because his jazz-fusion stuff was lame. But can't front on the raw acid and tangled breaks wrapped up in this monster. Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music classifies this as jungle->idm->experimental. Sure, why not. Whenever this comes on I spazz out and jerk around like I got poked with a taser.
9. L.F.O. - L.F.O.
Simon Reynolds claims that "L.F.O." is one of the only early full-length electronic albums that works as an album (as opposed to a collection of disparate singles). I don't know about that, but these guys were definitely ahead of the curve. Raw, minimal, 4-4 robotix. If I were a robot I would emit this music as I crushed puny humans.
10. Pulp - Sorted for E's & Wizz
Jarvis Cocker should really be writing musicals. His songs are epic in scope and his lyrics belong in a museum somewhere. Sorted for E's & Wizz perfectly captures that hedonistic-afterglow when you're sitting there feeling disconnected and empty, smoking a cigarette but already thinking about how your throat's gonna hurt the next day.
Oh is this the way they say the future's meant to feel?
Or just 20,000 people standing in a field?
And I don't quite understand just what this feeling is
But that's ok cos we're all sorted out for E's and wizz
And tell me when the spaceship lands cos all this has to mean something
In the middle of the night
You feel alright but then tomorrow morning
Ooooh then you come down