Published on May 9th, 2014 | by Craig Silliphant0
The Feedback Society’s Week in Music
Albums we’ve been listening to this week at The Feedback Society. New records from old favourites like Fennesz, The Afghan Whigs, and other sonic goodies.
Fennesz – Bécs
Around 2001, I was into a lot of glitchy music, from more straight ahead acts like The Postal Service to the off the beaten path artists like Schneider TM, The Books, and of course, Christian Fennesz. His album ‘Endless Summer’ was an instant classic, a warped, fuzzy, sun-kissed ode to The Beach Boys. I’ve come in and out of Fennesz’s career, as he dips and dives into different territories and collaborations, but his new album, ‘Bécs,’ blasted me back to the headspace of ‘Endless Summer’ with startling immediacy. Fennesz crafts soundscapes with verdant guitars, synths, and samples that roll over each other, and over the listener, as if they were waves being pulled by the lunar tide. Sometimes it’s simple, sparkling, and pretty, sometimes it’s profuse and distorted, but either way, ‘Bécs’ shows the finesse of Fennesz in a way we haven’t seen since ‘Endless Summer.’
Afghan Whigs – Do To The Beast
In 1993, the song ‘When We Two Parted,’ off ‘Gentlemen,’ showed me that modern guitar based music could indeed wear its heart on its sleeve and convey a depth of sadness and mirth, but with anger and hairy-chest thumping that your average cock rock ballad could not. It’s been 16 years since the last Whigs album, the swaggering soul-inspired ‘1965,’ though raw-throated Greg Dulli has been pumping out Twilight Singers albums throughout the 2000s. ‘Do The Beast’ really only features Dulli and bass player John Curley from the original line up, and while Dulli is aged and dragging his broken heart around town again with some piss and vinegar, some of the urgency is gone. There’s a lot to like on this album, but it also sounds kind of 90s, and not in the same unique way they did in the 90s. It’s worth a listen, but it’s not going to grab me by the shirt collar the way ‘Gentlemen’ did.
Brad Mehldau – Mehliana: Taming the Dragon
Our esteemed writer Dave Scaddan brought me this album this week, from American virtuoso improvisational jazz pianist Mehldau. He’s had quite a prolific release schedule over the years, with one of his best records being 2000’s ‘Places.’ But on ‘Mehliana: Taming the Dragon,’ he once again shows his penchant for breaking away from the norm. Mehliana is a hybrid name for Mehldau and his collaborator here Mark Guiliana from the electronic funk group Beat Music. It’s a stew pot of styles, sometimes weird, sometimes approachable. Guiliana rocks the drums and other samples while Mehldau throws his formidable playing at synths and acoustic and Rhodes pianos. There are a few moments that don’t work well, but most of it is an insane, yet sophisticated odyssey through musical techniques and ideas. As much as it’s my job to describe this, fuck it — I know when I’m beat. Just listen to it. You’ll figure out pretty quickly whether it’s for you or not.
Fujiya & Miyagi – Artificial Sweeteners
Fujiya & Miyagi don’t really do anything wrong on their latest outing, they’re still great, but they sure don’t sound as fresh as they did in 2006. When their album ‘Transparent Things’ came out, they strutted into the party on the heels of LCD Soundsystem, who had kicked in the door. Fujiya & Miyagi melded colder Krautrock influences with warm dance floor tones and guitar loops. They were influential on a legion of indie dance rock artists that came after, but it seems like the last couple of records, they’ve just been knocking out the same out sound. Has the world moved on without them or are they just settling into a comfortable sound that they like to play? Maybe both. There’s still a place for Fujiya & Miyagi on the record shelf, and I’m sure repeated listens will let ‘Artificial Sweeteners’ grow on me further, but it’s not going to kick start another era in their sound. A solid record, but nothing you haven’t heard from them before.
Here at The Feedback Society, we love our psych rock and stoner metal, and San Diego pummelers Earthless are right up our alley. They turn it up and nod their heads to the beat, passing through time and space with some epic jams. The shortest of four tracks comes in around five minutes, two tracks are about 15 minutes each, and ‘From the Ages’ is a figurative trip through the ages, riffing around the City on the Edge of Forever, clocking in at over half an hour. Are they doing anything new? Nah, not really. Is it a bit much sometimes? Yeah, prob’ly. Does any of that matter? Fuck, no. Don’t think about it, dummy. Just put your head back and launch into space, until you realize your thrusters are as burnt as you and you’re drifting in space, no way back to Earth, with a big fat smile on your face.