REVIEW: Nicolas Collins’ “Devil’s Music”

Image and video hosting by TinyPic When it comes to sound collage, especially in the 1980’s, one can’t talk about the music/pieces without talking about the technology, they go hand in hand. Some may look to Art Of Noise and their sonic soundscapes for being able to create cool and funky sounds in a syncopated matter, and then look forward to what John Oswald did with plunderphonics. But to only look at these two artists would mean you would be missing a lot of other innovators who were creating their own library of sounds, when some technologies were still primitive and when very few people heard about circuit bending. Nicolas Collins has dabbled in various technologies and also created his own soundmakers, and 1985’s Devil’s Music (Em) is an example of what he was doing to not so much be innovative, but to create and discover.

Imagine finding a radio station and hearing familiar sounds, or at least sounds that are pleasing to the ear. Now imagine someone wanting to find more sounds, or wanting to throw away those sounds, someone wanting to reverse, trigger, manipulate, play with, and fondle with those sounds. With a number of familiar sounds heard in the 19 minute title track, it is very much of its time (1985) as you’ll hear electronic beats, hi-hats, basslines, and keyboard stabs that may bring back a lot of memories. However, you don’t get to hear them in the manner as originally presented, nor will you get a chance to hear them rhythmically. All Collins does is play these sounds as if they’re ammunition in a video game he can only play in his mind, and while it’s audio decoupage, it’s great to hear these sounds used in this way, especially when they’re isolated on the left and/or right channels and they’ll spin around for a few seconds, only for you to find yourself lost in the mix. It is far from easy listening, and this is not meant to tap your feet to (although you could try), but from a far he’s just building a sound building, and I for one wondered if and when it was going to crash. I remember when I created my first sample-based productions with the silly Casio SK-1 that I thought was revolutionary. For Collins, each sample had to be triggered manually, and each sample had a finite amount of time so if he wanted to loop something, he had to do it in real time. But he doesn’t loop, in fact just as you might think he’ll loop a Loose Ends song, it goes into the blender and doesn’t come back. Remember the first time you bought turntables to become a DJ, and you had no idea how to scratch a record? It sounds a bit like that at first, only for Collins to create sounds not originally intended. In this case, this was his intention.

Unfortunately, the first minute of “Devil’s Music B” has been removed, but to make up for it, the CD features the previously unreleased “The Spark Heart ‘Round The World”, which clocks in at a mindblowing 25;28. “Real Landscape” begins with what sounds like classical music, and it seems to be moving in a pace that is more accessible, but once a distant voice enters the realm and stutters, Collins starts his exploration in creating a conversation that doesn’t begin or end. Think of Art Of Noise’s “Opus 4”, but more psychotic. Then it seems the voices get hungry and want to grab a bag of churros. It goes on like this for 26 minutes, as sounds speed up, are stretched, filtered, and made to be the most ridiculous yet delightful things you’ve heard.

Disc 2 also includes software so you can create your own mixes of “Devil’s Music”, along with a video clip of him performing “Devil’s Music” in concert. If you seek audio manipulation at its best, Devil’s Music is an exciting listen, especially when you allow yourself to hear sounds that bubble, beeble, and bobble.

Japanese residents can order it directly from Em Records.

VIDEO: R. Kelly’s “Echo”

What is R. Kelly up to this time? Is he initially singing to a security camera in an elevator? After watching and hearing this, I still don’t know, but the second half of the video moves him one step closer to this album by Elton John:
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Perhaps closer to this as well:×375

Link: GODLEY & CREME - A Little Piece Of Heaven

Nah, it’s definitely this:

DVD Review: Timeless (3 DVD box set)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic A lot of people have wanted to see the end result of the Suite For Ma Dukes performance that was created in honor of the late James “Dilla” Yancey, and now it has been released. While it is certain it will be released on its own, you’ll have to purchase the full DVD box set it is in, but it’s worth the cost of admission.

Timeless: The Composer/Arranger Series (Mochilla) was, as the press material says, “the name of a concert series that was created in homage to the composer/arrangers who have influenced hip-hop in the most literal and profound ways.” In other words, it is a much deeper way of experiencing the music that influenced a cast of producers, DJ’s, and fans than just reading interviews.

  • Ethiopian jazz musician Mulatu Astatke was someone whose music may not have been massively spread in the same way Miles Davis and John Coltrane, but his influence has spread around the world for his unique musicianship, compositions, and arrangements. A recent reissue of his work by Strut Records (my review can be found here) explores what he has been known for, primarily in hushed circles but now people are getting a chance to hear his genius. For some elitists, jazz should be purely American and only American, but by going directly to the primary source of that jazz, Astatke comes full circle with it as an unspoken means of communication, and to finally see him performing this live is incredible.
  • Things get lifted to a higher level when Eothen “Egon” Alapatt introduces an artist who was a big influence on him and a number of people. He’s interrupted by MF DOOM briefly before Egon speaks on finding Verocai’s album, and asking the crowd if they have a specific pressing of the album, the “must have” pressing (record nerds know the deal). Before this segment, we see a photo collage of Verocai in the studio, and almost 40 years later, we see him as he is today, in the flesh, tall and lanky, ready to play. As soon as he gets the orchestra and band ready, there’s something you feel will happen. Then “Karina” begins, and it’s true magic. It’s the unfolding of the album, the equivalent of seeing a music video for the first time after staring at album covers and reading liner notes for years. In this case, it’s in the flesh, in your face, and live. You are seeing your imagination and admiration come to life, and it’s happening, song by song. Those in the crowd know these songs by heart, and to hear each song get applause less than five seconds after each one is sensed is very moving. It’s soulful, it’s funky, it made an impact on hip-hop in a small way, and it is that “outside” admiration that has managed to make him bigger outside of his home country of Brazil. You see Verocai smile a bit, and you know he’s feeling it too. 18 songs later, and you wish he would play another 18.
  • Suite For Ma Dukes is the music of Dilla recreated by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and a 60 piece orchestra. As a record collector, you’ve probably gone through countless records by big bands, high schools, and Air Force groups, and yet you enjoy them because it’s small parts of a big puzzle unknown and unnamed. These big bands will not hesitate to cover the music of a musician, band, or composer. Dilla was known for not just sampling known and unknown tracks, but to do it in a way that doesn’t exactly sound like the original, he was funky and got a lot of attention because people liked his work. To be able to hear his works recreated by a 60-piece orchestra is a trip, because now you’re hearing one’s sample-based intellect turned into reality, it’s not a drum machine or sampler you’re seeing, but each sound reproduced as traditional composition, notated note by note, beat by beat. You’ll hear familiar sounds, familiar beats and rhythms, and one can only imagine what it would have been like of Dilla was alive to see and more importantly, hear this. The crowd goes nuts as soon as they recognize things.
  • One of my favorite moments is when “Stakes Is High”, the song Dilla produced for De La Soul is performed. Various special guests roll up on stage, showing love and support for the music Dilla created, and… I should also state that most of the songs performed in Suite For Ma Dukes is very much a suite in the jazz and classical sense, all done instrumentally. The orchestra is getting down, the guests are getting down, and conductor Ferguson is banging and head-nodding, showing his appreciation for the feeling he is helping create. All of a sudden, out from the crowd of special guests on the stage comes Posdnuos with microphone, and the crowd absolutely goes nuts. It turns from a controlled jazz and classical performance to one where one could imagine people in the crowd pointing at the stage, placing hand to mouth, and saying “oh shit, that’s motherfucking Plug One!”. In place of Dave (Trugoy) was Talib Kweli, and to see the smiles on the entire orchestra… they know what’s going on. It was such a moment for me, especially as a De La Soul fan, I almost started to tear up. It’s a great song unfolding and revealing itself, from our imaginations to the reality, and it looks and feels good. As Jurassic 5 once said, it’s about holding on to what’s golden, and this was truly a golden moment. The cinematography is incredible, true to the photographs of Brian “B+” Cross and Eric Coleman (who directed this), one of my favorite shots is at the intro to “”Don’t Nobody Care About Us”, when you see the drummer about to get ready, he’s looking at Atwood-Ferguson’s cue as he conducts. The music is causing the drummer’s sound barrier to vibrate, and it makes Atwood-Ferguson look like a cross between the album cover of Johnny HarrisMovements and the music of Don Ellis At Fillmore. When the drummer finally kicks in, instant chicken skin. As you see Atwood-Ferguson vibrating and rocking you realize: that’s how a lot of us feel when we’re listening to hip-hop. The effect works.
  • The entire DVD was beautifully shot in black & white, and the extras on the DVD’s, featuring everything from behind the scenes footage, photo galleries, and interviews only add to the greatness of this box. What I liked is that while hip-hop is far from dead, people are acknowledging the influence and its influences by archiving what has existed, so that those in the future will know what it meant to people. Just as jazz has become America’s classical music, hip-hop music is very much that for its followers, creators, and admirers, even though the powers that be will never make it so. Hip-hop, at its best, has never been about what anyone else thought, it was done because there was an unspoken movement to make it work. The Timeless treats Astatke, Verocai, and Dilla as legends, or at least humble musical spokesman for those who were not able to speak, as musicians and producers who had a need to be heard. This is honor, and I hope Mochilla will continue to “unfold” and “reveal” more artists and producers like this in the future.

    As a producer, it is an extreme honor to have your music created in this way, and one can only show support for a “fellow producer” who was shown this kind of respect. To see one’s hard work, determination, and creativity turned into a project like this… it’s a beautiful thing. Job well done.

    Hoc n’


  • RECORD CRACK: Pantera’s three most popular albums to be reissued on vinyl in time for Record Store Day

    Alliance Entertainment will be reissuing three of Pantera‘s most popular albums on double vinyl, including Cowboys From Hell, Vulgar Display Of Power, and Far Beyond Driven. To make things interesting, the reissue of Far Beyond Driven will be released with the original cover that was rejected by Atlantic Records because of its sexy imagery.

    The vinyl reissues will be released on April 17th, in time for Record Store Day.

    On March 30th, there will be a Pantera “greatest hits” compilation from Rhino Records called 1990-2000: A Decade of Domination, and this one will be sold exclusively at Wal-Mart. Meanwhile, vinyl reissues of Official Live, The Great Southern Trendkill, and Reinventing The Steel will surface later in the year.

    RECORD CRACK: New record pressings from Pirates Press (March 28th)

    It’s been a month since I’ve looked to see what Pirates Press have been making, but that means loads of graphics of new and recent projects to look at, so here we go.

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    All Shall Perish-Awaken The Dreamers (Nuclear Blast)

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    Lilith Velkor-Shame (Party of Nothingness)

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    Giants-s/t (Cavity)

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    Patton Oswald-Werewolves and Lollipops (Sub Pop)

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    Capsule-s/t (Robotic Empire)

  • Pirates Press have been very busy, but have managed to create a separate blog section on their website, so you don’t have to go to the MySpace blog entries to see these photos. Nonetheless, I’ll continue to post the best of what I see. More importantly, if you have a vinyl project, definitely check out Pirates Press and see what they can do for you.
  • RECORD CRACK: Omegas call out their “Sonic Order”

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    Omegas are a Canadian band who have been punching people left and right with their music, and they recently came out with a 7″ called Sonic Order, a 4-song EP. The record is a split effort between No Idea Records and High Anxiety. Only 500 copies have been pressed, you can order yours here. Digital numb nuts can go to iTunes.

    VIDEO: Phonte Coleman speaks on 9th Wonder

    On Friday, March 26, 2010, MC/vocalist Phonte Coleman put out a Little Brother MP3 for the song “Star”. The track was originally meant to be a bonus track for those who bought the Leftover album through iTunes. The album is to be the last Little Brother album for the time being, although both Phonte and Rapper Big Pooh have always said they will remain Little Brother for life.

    However, plans on releasing “Star” as a bonus track was nixed by 9th Wonder, so Phonte basically said “fuck it” and released it as a free MP3 (8.85mb)

    This has lead to a war of words on Twitter between Phonte and 9th Wonder, and it has lead many to say “take it off the computer and discuss it offline” but it hasn’t stopped. It has lead to Phonte releasing this video. For the most part, the parting of 9th Wonder and Little Brother has never been discussed, so Phonte decided to speak on it, in the hopes this will be the last word on things so that everyone can move on.

    Phonte speaks on Little Brother/9th Wonder from Phonte Coleman on Vimeo.

    VIDEO: Erykah Badu’s “Window Seat”

    Miss Badu premiered this on her website last night at 3:33am Eastern. The song is the Madlib-produced track from her forthcoming album, and her Dallas roots and upbringing are strong in a video that is meant to represent a significant part in American history.

    After the premiere earlier this morning, I stated that the video was incredible, loved “the tita attitude as she peeled her clothes, but the reality for some is that while freedom is fought and sought, sometimes it’s not realized until one is caught (up) in another man’s target.”

    What moved her to create her video this way? The following video by Matt & Kim called “Lessons Learned”:

    RECORD CRACK / VIDEO: Bavaria Bootskiosk’s “Comeback des Jahres”

    I’m going to be honest: I have no idea what these guys are singing about, but it sounds cool. They’re called Bavaria Bootskiosk and they’ve just released an 7-song EP called Comeback des Jahres´╗┐, released as a 7″ record and as a cassette tape by a label who proudly call themselves Shit Attack Records.

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