Saturday, September 14, 2013

Songs of the day - new releases edition

1. "Io", by Dawn of Midi.

So, I was hepped to Dawn of Midi by Sasha Frere-Jones. As usual, he is right on the money.

If you were to draw a straight line which had The Necks at one end and Battles at the other, you would be able to locate Dawn of Midi fairly precisely at the mid-point of that line. For myself, that is a good line to be on: Battles I am rather fond of, and I have a possibly unhealthy obsession with The Necks (who have a new album out in a matter of days, be still my beating heart). The piano / bass / drums lineup and essence, if not actuality, of improv connects this trio to The Necks, while there is a kinetic intensity to the music that is traceable to Battles.

And yet, while Dawn of Midi, like those bands, use organic instrumentation, the sounds they make are, in their own way, entirely modern; you could also come at this from an appreciation of the kind of music you would expect to emanate from Kompakt, say, or even (see below) Hyperdub.

Of course, they are their own band, and the whole is more than the sum of those (estimable) parts.

Their new album, "Dysnomia", while divided into nine tracks, is clearly designed to be listened to in one sitting (hey kids! old skool!). Here is the first track, because (a) I'm lazy and (b) they start as they mean to go on, so why not?

2. "Kathy Lee", by Jessy Lanza.

Speaking of Hyperdub, Jessy Lanza seems to be their latest finding, and sees them moving not exactly further away, but in different directions, from the dubstep ballpark they started operating in. I first heard her (without knowing it) on Ikonika's excellent "Beach Mode (Keep It Simple)". But what sent me in the direction of her new (and first) album, "Pull My Hair Back", were the words "co-written and co-produced by Jeremy Greenspan". Greenspan, as if you didn't know, is the driving force behind Junior Boys, if push came to shove maybe my favourite exponent of, uh, modern music. And, while this album doesn't exactly sound like Junior Boys with a Chick on Vocals, the similarities are not exactly hidden. The surprise is that it sounds, more than anything, like the very first Junior Boys album, made at a time when they were a very different proposition. (Not better or worse, just different.)

This song was dribbled out as what passes for a "single" in the early years of the 21st century, ie a video clip on YouTube with accompanying write-up on Pitchfork etc: where, typically, I missed it entirely. But it's never too late to get to the party.

The video is worth watching for its own sake. Evidently filmed in Hamilton, Ontario, it shows buildings and shopfronts that might as well have been lifted intact from the pages of one of Seth's comic books.