21 March 2009

Cranes - Wings of Joy (1991)

From allmusic (4.5/5):

"From the quiet, descending strings and woodwinds at the start of "Watersong," which launches Cranes' first proper full-length album, things are at once in sync with, and far removed from, the deep murk of the group's earliest days. The gripping, chilling atmosphere that Cranes dwell in hasn't moved an inch, but in terms of approach, it shows that on the (very well) self-produced Wings of Joy, the quartet has continued to expand its palette. One thing to note is in the album credits: Matt Cope may have been initially invited in for live bass playing, but it's Alison Shaw who plays the shuddering, ominous deep notes throughout, and effectively at that. Check out her opening work on "Living and Breathing." It's a simple enough pattern, but delivered in such a context that it immediately conjures up a nervous, threatening mood. Jim Shaw's relentless percussion, never overbearing but always moving with a stately, ritualistic tinge, and his piano and keyboard arrangements -- elegant and haunting at once -- set the rest of the tone. His guitar, along with Mark Francombe and Cope's credited work, adds everything from brisk, gently creepy acoustic touches to vicious electric snarl. Add Alison Shaw's almost too wistfully calm and sweet singing -- just missing out on easy interpretation, but suggesting so much via delivery -- and the result is what most goth music, or any music with a sense of shadows and doom, aims for but generally misses. With songs like the epic "Adoration" and the gentler "Tomorrow's Tears" already signaling the careful variety that dominates the album thanks to their previous appearance on EPs, the new material takes center stage here. "Starblood" is the most flat-out disturbing track, with Jim Shaw's slow-paced, pounding drums and Alison Shaw's guitar wailing slammed up against cold slabs of feedback. The album as a whole is a beautiful, if unsettling, piece of work. "

Get it here.

18 March 2009

Steinski - Nothing to Fear: A Rough Mix

From allmusic (4.5/5):

"Despite the title, there's nothing rough about this mix, a point-perfect ride through the world of hip-hop studded with so many perfectly timed samples (and split-second scratching) that the man should have the legal hounds of Hollywood at his heels (not to mention the greater music industry), if only they could track down the sources. Those who know Steinski only through his hefty influence on the British beat-obssessives at Ninja Tune -- and not the succession of extra-legal, occasionally bootlegged twelves he recorded during the mid-'80s -- will find themselves in very familiar territory, occupied by the man who connected all the dots between the what's-next aesthetic of party hip-hop and the type of pop-cultural cues later made famous by retro-culture. Produced for the BBC via the Solid Steel program ("the broadest beats in London"), Nothing to Fear comes from a person who describes himself as "elderly," but despite the absence of 50 Cent or Ja Rule, Steinski sounds only as out of touch as Coldcut or David Holmes or any other celebrity soundtracker making hundreds of thousands from the silver screen. The occasional scratching (by the unheard-of F. Olding Munny and the Poolroom Loafer) adds an edge to the mix that nudges it closer to the mainstream, but Steinski is still the star here. No more than four or five of the 28 tracks are pure vocal cuts; all the better for him to drop in dozens of extended sample passages, each of which gets in where it fits in -- perfectly."

This is the version with the 28 individual tracks, as opposed to the crucial 59 minute single track version from the recent What Does It All Mean?: 1983-2006 Retrospective (which is also a recommended download).
Get it here.

Crystal Castles - Glastonbury 2008

Great live set from Crystal Castles. "Yes No" is a definite highlight.
Crystal Castles - Glastonbury 2008

05 March 2009

Portishead madness: Third (2008), Dummy (1994)

I have nothing to say about these albums. They are worth ALL the hype that they have gotten. It was all I pretty much listened to for a month. Dummy uses samples, and hip-hop drum loops to make Trip-Hop, and the vocals are soulful. If you ask me, it was way ahead of its time for a album in 1994.Third goes away from using samples, and uses more of a natural sound to create a darker atmosphere. Download for your own good.

Download Third

Architecture in Helsinki - Fingers Crossed (2003)

A great spring time album. Picked this baby up junior year, and I really didn't like the male vocals on it, but despite this, it feels like you're swimming in spring time bliss. You either will love it or hate it, but its worth a listen.