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Album Picks: Four Tet, Ghostface Killah, EZTV, Ezra Furman, Lee Bannon

Posted by Billy Gil, July 10, 2015 11:55am | Post a Comment

Four Tet - Morning/Evening

The title of Four Tet's new album refers to its two extended tracks, split into a "Morning" and "Evening" side.  The release provides dueling meditations that are indeed best listened to at the time period they're ascribed. "Morning" moves with purpose on a skittering beat, but its sampled Indian singer and undulating synth tones feel like they're gently nudging you awake. As such, the 20-minute track evolves and begins piling on more geometric synth runs and string drones about halfway through, seeming to take flight as the beat slowly dials down to just a bass pulse and then nothing at all. "Evening" by comparison, begins more amorphously, unmoored without a beat, its vocal more divided, but it is no less affecting as its tones blink in and out of focus and its arrangement becomes more apparent. Given the suggestive nature of the song title, "Evening's" high-end notes call to mind the sight of stars and sound of nocturnal birds and insects, while its whooshing cymbal sound soothes. Like its predecessor, the track evolves and becomes more saturated with sound about halfway through before becoming more minimalist, its swaying synths evoking a dream state, though a heavy, thudding beat that emerges free of tones suggests nighttime hedonism or a mind-clearing erasure that comes with sleep. As a kind of concept album about how we begin and end our days, Morning/Evening is totally successful. It could be ideal for winding up or down, accompanied by yoga, meditation or quiet listening, but it also stands on its own as an intriguing pair of sound pieces that can be explored at leisure.

 

Ghostface Killah - Adrian Younge Presents: Twelve Reasons To Die II

Wu-Tang Clan's Ghostface Killah and producer Adrian Younge deliver the second installment of their cinematic "Twelve Reasons to Die" series, and it's got more drama than your average summer blockbuster. A combination of voiceovers and lyrical content tell the story of black New York gangster Lester Kane, with Shakespearian levels of vengeance, star-crossed lovers, evocations of violence and resurrection. Raekwon provides the voice of Kane as Ghostface and others, including Vince Staples, Bilal, RZA, Lyrics Born and Scarub provide the narration. None of this would matter if the music itself wasn't as strong as it is. There's a full dedication to telling these stories, which can be a bit familiar, that comes through in the venomous spit on tracks like the Staples-starring "Get the Money" and creative cadences on "Death's Invitation." Composer Adrian Younge's score, full of horror movie organs, Blaxploitation basslines and Spaghetti Western orchestral touches, is as fun to get lost in as the script. Taken together, the "Twelve Reasons to Die" albums succeed as concept albums because of their easy-to-follow, singular subject matter and that the music doesn't suffer as a result of a weighty plot. Now someone call up Quentin Tarantino and let's get this thing made into a movie.

 

EZTV - Calling Out

Brooklyn trio EZTV's debut is jam-packed with jangly power-pop hooks, like a fantasy meeting between Big Star and The Stone Roses. Sunkissed psych riffs line the gentle melodies of tunes like "Dust in the Sky," while singalong melodies guide the intricate dynamics of "The Light" and "Trampoline." Impeccably made and completely irresistible.

 

Ezra Furman Perpetual Motion People

Ezra Furman’s quirky power-pop tunes and wildly flailing voice will leave you with a smile miles wide. The Oakland-based artist, who has played previously with backing bands the Harpoons and the Boy-Friends, captures the feeling of a San Francisco that seems to be quickly fading with his freewheeling, sometimes carnivalesque tunes, full of saxophones and saloon pianos, and lyrics about walking around the city with a bus pass and a $5 dress on songs like “Restless Year.” Though its zaniness is what hooks you, Furman’s way with melody and arrangement keeps you listening. Clearly, as he sings in that track, he’s a dusty jewel in the crown of garagey power-pop.

 

Lee BannonPattern of Excel

Sacramento producer Lee Bannon’s latest is a moody set of grimy instrumentals that seem to dive deep into your psyche. Tracks like “Artificial Stasis” float by in a stream-of-consciousness fashion, with piano moving from gently menacing to peaceful and disembodied vocals and studio chatter poking in like errant thoughts and memories. Some tracks “Aga” feel dark and disintegrated, akin to something Fuck Buttons would come up with, while “Disney Girls” is a gorgeous steel guitar exercise that aims to capture innocence. There’s word that Bannon, who’s worked with Souls of Mischief, Hieroglyphics and Joey Bada$$, among others, will not continue releasing music under his own name. If that’s the case, Pattern of Excel is an excellent way for him to hang his hat with this project and move on to another.

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Album Picks (146), New Albums (213), New Releases (214), Four Tet (8), Ghostface Killah (12), Eztv (1), Ezra Furman (3), Lee Bannon (2)