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Bing & Ruth have announced their third studio album No Home of the Mind. Continuing with the deft minimalism that has marked them out in critical circles in recent years, the New York ensemble’s new record will be released on February 17th, 2017. Established in 2006, Bing & Ruth is an ever-evolving collective steered by composer David Moore. A pianist from Kansas and graduate of New York’s school of Jazz and Contemporary Music at the New School, Moore’s work follows in the great tradition of fellow alumni John Cage and Steve Reich, albeit looking past the more studied repetition of the style’s forerunners toward a meditative form built on feeling. With Moore at its nucleus, Bing & Ruth’s line-up has transmuted from the eleven-strong line-up that created debut album City Lake (“A stunning, humble record built on traditions we all understand, yet, somehow feels dizzyingly new.” – The Quietus) to a cast of seven for 2014’s Tomorrow Was The Golden Age (“One of the finest leftfield releases of the year.” – Pitchfork). With No Home of the Mind, the ensemble has been streamlined to a five-person unit, exploring the piano’s percussive qualities alongside running woodwinds, warbling tape delays and splattered upright bass lines that stare out with a wide-eyed transcendence, taking so-called “classical” music to new limits.
Tempo dos Mestres (Time of the Masters) is the second album from the tireless, young Brazilian guitarist Fabiano Do Nascimento. It finds its roots in the depths of the Amazon rainforest, passed down through generations of Native Brazilians, and is imbibed by the Afro-Brazilian culture that arose after Portuguese colonization. This blend is not new in Brazil, and is represented musically by great Brazilian musicians both known and celebrated - the guitarist Baden Powell and catalyst Hermeto Pascoal, both direct influences on Do Nascimento - and less exposed, like the experimentalist Carioca, one of Do Nascimento’s mentors, and the Brazilian psychedelic pioneer Lula Cortes, whose album Paebiru rewrote Brazilian rock’s history in 1975. It is the third Brazilian album released on Now-Again, following Seu Jorge and Almaz and Do Nascimento’s debut Dança dos Tempos. Do Nascimento's is joined on Tempo dos Mestres by his long time percussionist, Ricardo "Tiki" Pasillas on trap drums and percussion, and Sam Gendel on saxophone and flute. Vocals are performed by Thalma de Freitas and Carla Hasset. These tracks were recorded live in the studio with no overdubs, straight to 2” analog-tape, and only sparingly mastered to focus on the subtleties of the performances. Do Nascimento’s fans include legendary percussionist Airto Moreira, who recorded Dança dos Tempos and can be found playing live with Do Nascimento. "He’s Brazilian but (his mind is) from a place in Brazil that is not common.” Moreira states. “Fortunately, we still have some musicians who like to play music and who like to touch the instrument and who like that energy!” Do Nascimento takes his music, and his place in Brazil’s lineage, seriously, and he often travels the vast country, spending time in the rainforest, living life as it was lived in the distant past, while studying with still living masters as he searches for new directions of the path trod by the geniuses whose influence abounds in contemporary music, but whose names are still unfamiliar. “Being a musician - feeling, studying, experiencing, living music - this comes first, right?” Do Nascimento questions. “Second, we hope that the depths of knowledge in the music from the masters before us can be shared more, each time, to the younger generations coming.” In Tempo dos Mestres Do Nascimento answers himself with a beautiful entry into the evolving language of timeless Brazilian music.
When Moiré decided to call his second album No Future, he wasn’t trying to make a political statement so much as state the obvious: If humanity keeps heading down the hateful path outlined by certain right-wing political figures and recent political events, we might as well hit the nearest self-destruct button. “It’s not just about the West, either,” explains the London-based producer. “It’s the way the whole world thinks. It’s almost like we’re in this mad cycle. In a way, we have no choice—we either adapt to the situation or we’re dead. That’s it.” Today’s musicians are faced with a similar now-or-never situation: they can either experiment and evolve or get brushed aside by the Next Big Thing in an industry that’s as flippant and fickle as it’s ever been. Moiré welcomes this challenge with a record that’s avant-garde and accessible, possessing a punk spirit without stealing its sound wholesale. No Future builds its story on the back of halogen-lit hooks and left-field dance loops instead, leaving a trail of breadcrumb-y beats for guest vocalists like MC DRS (a longtime collaborator of LTJ Bukem) and post-grime poet James Massiah. They both tackled the album's loose themes without being told about them beforehand. They simply got it. Immediately. “For me, the idea of techno has always been new music,” says Moiré . “Not reinventing the wheel necessarily, because everything’s been done before. I just want to make and hear something new. Modeling his machine funk melodies after the sci-fi stories of Philip K. Dick is certainly a nice start, as it leads to songs that feel both futuristic and strangely human. Or as Moiré —a former architect with a deep interest in design—puts it, “His books are like paintings of what’s going to happen; they’re always rooted in reality and current issues. No Future is about where we are as a society right now, too. It makes me think of four words: fear, hypocrisy, inequality, and lies. No Future also captures a fading sense of what makes our cities so special—a celebration of art itself, something that’s been threatened by the rising cost of real estate and the steady closure of major clubs like Fabric and Plastic People. That explains why a smoke-clearing song like “Lost You” is about more than just a mere relationship. It alludes to a complete lack of communication and the loss of, well, everything—our societies, our countries, our families, and our friends “It’s weird,” says Moiré. “It feels like everything is disappearing in front of us, almost like someone is pulling the carpet from beneath our feet, and we can’t do anything about it. Things are changing so fast; I’m not sure we’ll be able to catch up. In that way, the title of the album is very appropriate. I don’t need to push it even. I mean, just look around.”
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Tim Showalter’s latest release as Strand of Oaks, Hard Love, emanates an unabashed, raw, and manic energy that embodies both the songs and the songwriter behind them. “For me, there are always two forces at work: the side that’s constantly on the hunt for the perfect song, and the side that’s naked in the desert screaming at the moon. It’s about finding a place where neither side is compromised, only elevated.” Drawing from his love of Creation Records, Trojan dub compilations, and Jane’s Addiction, and informed by a particularly wild time at Australia’s Boogie Festival, he sought to create a record that would merge all of these influences while evoking something new and visceral. These influences coupled with an uninhibited and collaborative studio experience moved an initial concept for a singularly feel-good record to something more complex and real. As much as Showalter wants this record to seem like a party, it’s more than that. It feels like living. “You went away...you went searching...came back tired of looking” is how Showalter begins the title track, a sentiment that epitomizes Showalter’s own mentality in beginning Hard Love. As the record progresses, so do the themes of dissatisfaction and frustration with love, family, success, and aging, both in personal experience and songwriting.
Visible Cloaks’ Reassemblage is a collection of delicately rendered passages of silence and sound that invokes – and invites - consciousness. The foundation of the duo’s second album is gently poured upon the ground their musical predecessors explored, using the materials of chance operations, MIDI “translation,” and other generative principles that favor inclusive musical environments over the narrowly constrained. In 2010, Spencer Doran, one part of Visible Cloaks alongside Ryan Carlile, prepared the first volume of Fairlights, Mallets, and Bamboo, a mixtape indicated by Doran as “an investigation into fourth-world undercurrents in Japanese ambient and pop music, years 1980 - 1986.” These mixes contextualized the outré orbit of Yellow Magic Orchestra-related solo projects and their abstract, radiant forays as forever futuristic modes of music. Reassemblage evokes similar musical futures celebrated on the Fairlights mixes, but does so observantly rather than reverently. The title Reassemblage, for example, is taken from a film essay by Trinh T. Minh-ha, which explores the impossibility of ascribing meaning to ethnographic images. The author aims to “speak nearby” rather than “speak about.” In other words, to embrace lapses of understanding, and realize that the impulse to map direct meaning across a cultural gap often results in further disconnect. In an effort to “speak nearby” rather than “speak about,” Visible Cloaks filters and forms source material to become young again. Often the duo strip tonal elements of their specificity or randomize melodies so they become stirring and lucid. Essential patterns emerge, conscious experience heightens. In these moments, the musical language of Reassemblage finds unlimited resonance and presents a path to uninhabited realities. The origin of this language could be described as translingual or polyglottal, working within the eastern / western feedback loop of influence, Fourth World ambiguity, and the universality of human emotion. Incorporating an international array of virtual instruments to advance the idea of panglobalism through digital simulation, tones and colors cohere into a living, breathing pool of sensorial experience in Visible Cloaks’ environs. Beyond embracing the fluidity of worldly musical influences, Visible Cloaks works fluently between mediums. The contribution of stalwart digital and installation artist Brenna Murphy’s dream dimensions to Reassemblage’s cover artwork and surrounding videos extends the album’s exploration of global headspace into a visual, visceral reality.
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Joseph Abajian (DJ Jab) founded Fat Beats in 1994 with nothing more than a shoestring budget and an earnest obsession with the music, the culture, and the brotherhood of New York’s burgeoning rap scene. What began as a simple vinyl shop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side quickly became an integral hub for artists, both aspiring and established, to convene and collaborate on new projects. Joseph’s timing couldn’t have been more impeccable. When the 90’s cultural zeitgeist – and, in turn, the music industry establishment – chose hip-hop as its new arbiter of cool.
International tourists and touring artists alike flocked to Fat Beats for rare vinyl, kindred spirits, and exclusive in-store performances from Jay Z, Eminem, Gang Starr, Outkast, Slum Village, Mos Def, and more. One thing was clear: the Fat Beats phenomenon could no longer be contained in a single basement shop.
In the late nineties, Abajian proceeded to open new stores in Amsterdam, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. He further expanded the company’s profile to include global distribution and record label branches. Distribution has since proven to be the company’s strongest and most enduring enterprise. Today Fat Beats Distribution stands poised as one of the country’s pre-eminent distributors of vinyl & specialty item records: a proud survivor in an industry now famous for its mortality rate. Despite market fluctuations, technology innovations, and stylistic revolutions, Fat Beats has remained steadfast in its commitment to the timeless vinyl format and to the loyal community who keeps it spinning.
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