[GHOSTWRITER POST] Album Review: Various Artists / Think and Change, Nonplus Records

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With Boddika at the helm, UK label Nonplus Records assembles a new compilation Think and Change to be released in various formats, and it proves to be an accurate representation of what we could call the “new sound” of club music, which has begun to move on from the widely appropriated sound of dubstep to foreboding, largely four‐on‐the‐floor techno and house music. The lineup Boddika enlists is nothing short of a who’s‐who of the UK club scene, including Hotflush Records’ Paul Rose under his SCB name, Hessle Audio’s Pearson Sound and the always forward‐thinking Four Tet. However, many surprises are to be found here: a strong slab of acid from Toronto’s Basic Soul Unit, a quality contribution from Dutch producer Martyn, and the final single from label veterans dBridge and Instra:mental, the now defunct collaboration of Nonplus founders Boddika and John Convex. As it stands, Boddika is the most omnipresent force on the compilation, appearing on the aforementioned collaboration “White Snares,” one solo track and two collaborative pieces with UK club innovator Joy Orbison.

Joy Orbison

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Guest Post: WRGW Alumnus on My Bloody Valentine's mbv

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Kevin Shields speaks, addressing a heckler directly at his band’s first gig since 2009: “Um, maybe in two or three days.” This informal announcement regards the release of a new My Bloody Valentine record. The internet lights up, rock‐‘n’‐roll nerds the world over lose their collective cool and everyone braces for impact. I, for one, have been fooled too many times, and while I am optimistic, I’ll pretty much believe it when I hear it. The context: Shield’s Valentines haven’t put out an album since their 1991 record Loveless which is often noted to be a watershed of dreamy guitar music, and despite regular discussion of new material over the years the band has been, save scattered compilation appearances and some recent live shows, largely inactive. Hearts have been broken too many times over this. Two or three days pass and still no new Valentine, but within a few more days the new record titled mbv actually drops and I’ll do you a favor by sparing you my particular saga of having to reevaluate my conception of truth and falsity in the context of this weird little British rock band.

In essence, what this left‐field comeback album sounds like is what it would sound like if a bunch of guys who used to be in My Bloody Valentine were tasked with putting out the new My Bloody Valentine record, maybe most of which was actually written or recorded ten or fifteen years ago, and guess what band it sounds like? Always changing and innovating in their short career, Shields and company were known for never staying in the same place, ripping through rockabilly, punk and post‐punk, jangle pop, their own distinct brand of guitar noise and everything in between. My Bloody Valentine is feasibly the only band that could get away with sounding like My Bloody Valentine without fingers being pointed, but they are also the only band that could be expected to reinvent themselves on a regular basis. Ultimately, they won’t be spared ridicule for either sounding too much like themselves or for jumping off the boat and being too weird after a twenty-year hiatus. At times, they sound like themselves on this record, turning out some stylistic but relatively unadventurous wispy pop songs, but in the last three tracks they kick out the jams and do some new things, rendering themselves all but unrecognizable. The age old rumors of Shields experimenting with Drum & Bass even come to fruition here, and there is still an overall feeling that these guys could continue to surprise us.

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Bloc 2012 Artist Profile: Hype Williams

My grip on Black is Beautiful, the new album by Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland on Hyperdub, is tenuous to say the very least. I know I have heard it all the way through a number of times, but the bigger picture evades me. I’ll turn on my stereo and forget what the hell I’m listening to, because no two songs are even remotely alike; I flip it on while washing dishes and I find myself in another room twenty minutes later having abandoned the listen, but its odd moments still echo distinctly in my skull. The first song, the only one with a name, starts with a damaged and looped sample of what sounds like a hard exhale of something laced with salvia, and then it’s down the rabbit hole.

What ensues is magic: there are tantric chants, samples of bizarre interviews about sexual politics, drum machines hammering out hypnotic rhythms and cheap keyboards noodling visceral melodies. These two elusive multi-format artists, typically known as Hype Williams (perhaps in an effort to be confused with the famous music video director), are responsible for some of the most magnetic moments in recent music that I can think of; a haunting cover of a Donnie and Joe Emerson tune, the tender and soulful “Narcissist,” many particular occasions on Beautiful when Copeland proves her extreme vocal finesse and some of the most compelling experiments in the long, trailblazing history of the label that they now call home.

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What To Watch For in 2012: Grimes, Odd Future, The Beach Boys & More!

If you thought 2011 was a great year for music, 2012 is only going to raise the ante. In the indie realm, Grimes‘ Claire Boucher, an under-the-radar hero of 2010 and 2011, will release her new album Visions on March 12 via 4AD. Expect it to be awesome as well as “post-internet,” whatever that means. The Weeknd got quite a bit of attention from the indie community in 2011 with his trifecta of impressive R&B albums, and in 2012 he will compile and remaster the three discs for physical release with numerous bonus tracks. New albums are also forthcoming from Memoryhouse, Sharon Van Etten and the XX. If the Flaming Lips will operate in half as impressive a manner as they did in 2011, expect some more amazing things from their camp, including collaborations with Yoko Ono and her Plastic Ono Band, Nick Cave and Bon Iver. The Magnetic Fields will release Love At the Bottom of the Sea in March, and are accompanying the release with a tour, and based on personal experience, you won’t want to miss when they hit up your town. Hear their new tune “Andrew in Drag,” over here.

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