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Glyph

Glyph is worse than some and better than others. He believes that life is just one damned thing after another, that only pop music can save us now, and that mercy is the mark of a great man (but he's just all right). Nothing he writes here should be taken as an indication that he knows anything about anything.

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  1. Avatar Glyph
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    Massive Attack came up elsewhere – Burial (a huge fan) collaborated with them on an extremely-limited-edition record that sold out in seconds.

    The two tracks are a little long, but absolutely DRENCHED in atmosphere:

    “Paradise Circus”:

    “Four Walls”:
    Report

  2. Avatar Chris
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    After “Forgive,” I feel like I might need a Prozac IV. This makes for good mood music, but man is it subdued.

    The Massive Attack songs are dope, though, as the kids these days say.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Chris
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      I’m not so sure the kids these days say “dope” anymore. And I’ve never taken Prozac IV; would I be lost because I never took parts I – III? (What, are they trying to keep the formula synced with the DSM)?

      Was it the song or the video for “Forgive” that did you in? That video is pretty, pretty, prettay sad.

      He doesn’t do too many tracks that are straight-up ambient like that, there’s usually a beat, and sometimes even a really fractured one. But even at his most bangin’, it’s definitely not “party” music, it’s very introverted.

      This is probably one of the faster tracks he’s done, and yet look at the trackname:

      “Loner”:

      Or his collaboration with Four Tet – it’s house, but it’s still dark somehow:

      God I love this guy.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph
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        It’s got a beat, but I dunno if I could dance to it.

        I think I like it, but I’m listening to it in the wrong context, which is sitting here just listening to it. That’s definitely not what it’s for.

        Oh, and I had just listened to “Forgive” before. Now that I’ve watched the video, I may need Prozac V (I meant I.V. before, but phone…).

        I’m pretty sure no one but my brother in law, who’s older than me, says dope anymore, but I sometimes enjoy showing how out of touch I am. I imagine it’s a form of signalling.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph
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        It’s a conundrum…”dance” music that is difficult to dance to.

        RE: Context. From the linked Wire interview:

        Wire: One of the greatest things about your music is the sense of place, and it’s so specific to South London. When I first heard it, I lived in South London and as I listened to the LP walking around, it was a perfect fit.

        Burial: Thanks for saying that. I spend a lot of time wandering around London, I always have. Sometimes it’s because I’ve got somewhere to go, sometimes it’s because I haven’t got anywhere to go. So I’d be wandering endlessly, getting in places. Being on your own listening to headphones is not a million miles away from being in a club surrounded by people, you let it in, you’re more open to it. Sometimes you get that feeling like a ghost touched your heart, like someone walks with you. In London, there’s a kind of atmosphere that everyone knows about but if you talk about it, it just sort of disappears. London’s part of me, I’m proud of it but it can be dark, sometimes recently I don’t even recognize it.

        It’s about being on a night bus, or with your mates, walking home across your city on your own late at night, or being in a situation with your girlfriend or boyfriend, or coming back from a club, or putting tunes on an falling asleep.

        Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph
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        says:

        That actually fits perfectly with how I was thinking about the context issue for these songs. I thought, “I’d like these better if I was walking.”Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Glyph
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        says:

        [steeples fingers, Burns-style]Report

  3. Avatar BlaiseP
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    says:

    Nice stuff, Glyph. I tend towards more ordered stuff, DJ Shadow, Tricky, James Blake, down that alleyway are lots of interesting people. Burial is more stripped back, emptier. Bleep, bloop, scratch. Sigh…..Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to BlaiseP
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      Thanks! I’m not sure how old he is, the linked Wire interview (long, but quite good) makes him seem fairly young. I think there’s an appealing unstudied looseness (no scratching though) to what he does – partially due to having little formal training, but also intentional – I think he wants things to sound handmade and human, and not so rigid and perfect.

      In fact, in that interview he comes across as alternately incredibly sensitive and open and insightful, and a bit flaky and scattered and addled by sensory inputs (to the point of synaesthesia + ADD) which is the perfect temperament for an artist. You want to give him a hug, then tell him to sit down and FOCUS, young man.

      Depending on your listening setup, it’s maybe not quite as empty as it seems – it is dub-derived, so yeah, space is important, but like dub, there’s some stuff going on in the low-end that might not come through on laptop speakers, you need subs or ‘phones.Report

  4. Avatar trizzlor
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    This is great, thanks for all the recommendations, I feel like this kind of music is a bit tough to get into unless someone says “here, this stuff is good and not just 15 minutes of ambiance“. I can definitely hear the Massive Attack influences but the atmospherics also remind me a lot of Boards of Canada, another band that always sounded incredibly futuristic to me (and I still can’t believe Music has the right to Children came out in ’98).

    There was an interesting story on NPR some time back where they talked about a “sound” that defined generations of contemporary music (Spector’s wall of sound, Pink Floyd’s reverb, Nirvana’s compression, auto-tune) and they were predicting that the defining sound of the 2010s would be that digital manipulation that makes vocals sound like they’re chopped up or … pixelated, you hear it on like Ke$ha tracks before the breakdown. That makes sense, and the “digital” sound is definitely big in pop music now with Skrillex and Daft Punk (nevermind that Aphex Twin was already on the charts with that sound in ’97). But I’ve always felt that it was more about explicitly sounding futuristic rather than actually being futuristic. That said, I can’t really think of any pop artists (mainstream or otherwise) that are futuristic in this way, Grimes or Beach House maybe but that’s still heavily ambient and not really pop. What do y’all think?Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to trizzlor
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      Grimes definitely sounds futuristic to me. I think she’s pretty talented (and, like Burial, or hey – Prince, maybe just a little flaky – maybe that’s what happens when you stay locked up in a room all the time making music on yr lonesome); Burial seems futuristic, paradoxically, by looking so heavily backwards – he talks a lot in the linked interview about growing up on the music his older brother was listening to in the 90’s – UK jungle etc. – and how he feels like he missed out on that scene, and his music is a little bit about that.

      Maybe that’s why listening to Burial feels like you’re in the future, listening to echoes of the past (that is, now), if that makes any sense. I’m really interested to see what he does next, he seems like he keeps getting more and more quietly-ambitious with each release.

      I like Beach House quite a bit (I saw them in a tiny room in ATL with maybe 15 other people, on their first record – and let me tell you, those two were STONED – but excellent) but they aren’t doing a whole lot that the 90’s dream-poppers weren’t; if anything they look backwards a lot more than forwards.

      I have been lukewarm on BoC in the past, but I like the new one a lot. I think they downplayed their beats (which to me were their weakest point) and played up the textures/tones (their strong point).

      I dunno who is actually pushing things forward in a big way. It seems like we are in a bit of a treading water period, lots of good music being made, but much of it backwards-looking. And even if the next game-changing Aphex Twin or Kevin Shields or whoever IS out there (and they certainly must be), we might not notice for a while, due to the massive amount of background internet noise. Too much competition for our attention, hard to stand out.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to trizzlor
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      says:

      I hear a lot of stuff that sounds like “the future,” but I’m probably not the best person to judge.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Chris
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        says:

        No, you probably are. For all the stuff I do listen to, I manage to avoid a lot of the areas where cutting-edge is just casual and everyday – that is, vast swathes of actual pop (as in popular) music. I mean, how is it even possible that I hadn’t heard any non-live Kanye until just recently? Things are so fragmented that it’s entirely possible, easy even, for entire streams to pass you by. You can only drink from one firehose at a time, and we live in an era of infinite firehoses.

        So, yeah…I’d trust you, before I’d trust me.

        What I’m saying is, post ’em!Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris
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        says:

        I’m trying to think of the some good examples. I think trizzlor’s on the right track with the vocal manipulation, but the sorts of things that Daft Punk and Kanye do are pretty simple. One of the things I hear a lot of now that, if it doesn’t sound like the future, at least sounds like the moment, is the multiple looped, sampled, and manipulated versions of the same’s voice layered on top of each other. I realize it’s not “new,” but it’s used so liberally now that it feels different to me. You hear it a bit in dubstep and related stuff, but it’s more common in the straighter electronic stuff. You’ve probably heard some with Phantogram (if I remember correctly, you’ve mentioned them before), but as much as I like them, they’re not all that adventurous.

        Here are some examples, not necessarily the best ones (just stuff I’ve heard this morning):

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1_Y7sb3myg

        In electrosoul form:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kh1VwCdXrpA

        Sounds like the future and the past at the same time, to me at least.

        As a nod to James K and temporary New Zealander Maribou, here’s Kembra doing it live at SXSW last year:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sd7GLvMYSHI

        As you can see, the audience has no clue what to make of it (though SXSW crowds are often blasé almost to the point of being comatose).

        And here’s Phantogram:

        Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Chris
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        says:

        Manipulating the voices to deliberately obscure or confuse gender cues seems to be increasingly common – Burial talks about pitching female voices down and male voices up, and even before the Knife was making explicit gender-theory records, they were having Karin “duet” with herself as a “male” voice, via that sort of studio trickery.

        But while the tech is new, the concept (particularly in electronic music) is old – I had a very intense argument, many many years ago, about whether Yaz’s husky-voiced bluesy singer was male (she’s not), then Vince Clarke went the other way with Erasure and got a male singer that could sing in higher registers.

        And obviously you’ve got a long tradition in metal/glam rock (from at least Robert Plant forward) of males slipping into higher registers – not to mention the whole falsetto “pleading lover man” thing in R&B.

        Sorry, what were we talking about again?

        Oh yeah, voice manipulation/layering in production. These come to mind:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23PmvKXp7fY

        Or the late 90’s glitch scene (Oval, Mille Plateaux, even Pole), that ended up feeding some of its tricks into house (I won’t type “microhouse”, because that’s a stupi – DAMMIT!), where they applied the ideas to the vocals too:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52tKx7K7-QQ

        Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris
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        says:

        Ah yeah, the Dntel song is more of what I’m thinking of, though it has a bit of a 90s feel. The Matthew Dear song is more in the Daft Punk mold of robotic sounding voice manipulations. I don’t hear as much of that as I did a few years ago when “Harder Better Faster” blew up and Kanye sampled them. Maybe it’s because of advances in the technology, but I definitely hear artists doing more, and more interesting stuff with voices these days. I find the layering or sending the voice way up and then playing around with it (as When Saints Go Machine do in that song I linked above, first around 1:13) really attractive, musically. It’s like musical crack for me, for whatever reason.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Chris
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        says:

        Also, this:

        (though SXSW crowds are often blasé almost to the point of being comatose).

        I love NYC, and I apologize to dhex in advance for the following since I know it’s his town (now and forever), but seeing certain rock shows in NYC is frustrating for exactly this “too cool for school” reason.

        It’s a rock show. It’s a Dionysian celebration. Let’s get happy! It’s OK to smile, maybe even to scream and sing along.

        Once of the weirdest GbV shows I ever saw was in NYC…the crowd just did not know what to do with themselves.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris
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        The first time I went to SXSW, which was several years ago, one of the first showcases I went to was a series of European punk bands (I think there might have been one from Australia or New Zealand too). It was a punk show, and the crowd just stood there. I thought a couple of the bands were really good, but came away thinking they’d bombed. It was only later that I realized that’s just SXSW. Though the crowds at the electronic shows tend to be much better, because electronic music = dancing. I went to one this year with a bunch of 20 somethings jumping in sync so much that I was a bit afraid the place was going to just cave in.Report

  5. Avatar Dhex
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    says:

    Great post. Burial is the bizness. Will alway buy his stuff sight unseen.

    Hauntology Inc.Report

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