Michael is the debut full-length from Les Sins, the dance project of Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bundick. Inspired by cartoon and movie soundtracks, the largely instrumental album explores classic dance and pop music traditions. Catchy, repetitive vocal hooks gel with beats and synth work influenced by house, techno, French electronic, and ’90s hip-hop production. Bundick made the album over two years and recorded everything in his home studio. The funky "Why" features vocals from Berkeley, Calif. singer-songwriter Nate Salman asking “Why you wanna go and do that?” “Bother” holds down a head-bobbing, body-moving groove until a stunning hallelujah moment straight out of a sci-fi version of Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. While there are no concrete themes associated with the album, Chaz says he can imagine all of these songs playing in the middle of the brilliantly lighted and busy Ginza district in Tokyo. Touchstones like Timbaland, Mr. Oizo, and Daft Punk, and contemporaries such as Motor City Drum Ensemble offered inspiration, but most influential on the making of the album was the sage advice of a design icon. “My favorite graphic designer, P. Rand always said, 'Don't try to be original, just try to be good,'” Bundick says. “When making this record that was/is my mantra—it was just constantly looping in my mind. I believe 'good' is timeless and once you can recognize that you'll see the world in its fullest." Michael follows a 12” on Carpark Records and two singles for Jiaolong. The LP is the first release on Company Records, a new label partnership between Chaz and Carpark.
Vinyl Williams' Brunei expresses an otherworldly vision of the land of the same name. As a child, Lionel Williams (a.k.a. Vinyl Williams) was fascinated by the appearance of the Brunei dollar. The Translucent, rainbow, and prismatic piece of currency looks the way Lionel's music sounds. This piece of polymer sparked a curiosity in Lionel, which inspired the development of a mysterious civilization centered around the idea alongside a new knowledge of Brunei, 'The Abode Of Peace.' This album uses lush, Islam-influenced pop music to spread harmonious qualitites with the world, to ultimately benefit the human psyche & physiology. 'This album is an impression of Brunei at an immaculate state of being,' Lionel says. Despite its quality of life being ranked highly among Islamic nations, horrific laws exist to severely punish non-herteronormative behavior. 'Fo a place that masquerades as 'heaven on Eart,' we must expose such ugly hegemony, through the latent relfection of their most ultimate civilized potential.' Lyrically, the album is written mainly from the perspective of an incorporeal being from Xol, the gravitiy cluster orbiting the star Alnilam (the center of the Orion constellation), which represents purely harmonious patterns. Brunei opens as if at the birth of a new galaxy with the cosmically tranquil 'Ion,' which seamlessly transitions to the insistent krautrock of 'Riddles Of The Sphinx.' That track's refrain, 'try to understand,' marks a universal struggle. Across the album, the songs use a process of Arabic quarter-tone vocal techniques, layered on top of stretched-out jazz chords and quick-driving beats. The center of Brunei is a treasure of aural delights. 'Celestial Gold's' full-bodied world flies around with a pillow of synthesizer sounds that move like clouds in the wind. Company Records label head and Toro Y Moi/Les Sins mastermind Chaz Bundick recorded 'Evol' at his Berkeley studio with Lionel and guitarist Ian Gibbs. 'I think we played every syntesizer that Chaz owns on that one song,' Lionel says, laughing. 'Voidless,' a Hawkwind-like improvisational track, was elevated iwth the help of Medicine's Brad Laner. The shoegaze icon added four-part vocal harmonies and a fuzzy synth part to complete the song. Lionel wrote and recorded the entire album in one month. To compose, 'I get into a state of mind that is beyond control or knowing, and I let myself be free,' Lionel says. 'On this new album, I tried to take as many risks as possible to represent my mental architectural spaces that are inconceivably vast and ever-changing.' Undoubtedly, the tones of Brunei will continue to reverberate far beyond our hearing, traveling light years into the future-perhaps even arriving at Xol.
Deluxe Gatefold 2LP includes the album on limited rainbow starburst vinyl and a digital download card including the album and links to interactive pieces.Lionel Williams leaves behind the murkier lo-fi production of his 2012 debut full-length, Lemniscate, for the somnambulant pop of Into. The new album—out July 24th on Chaz Bundick’s (Toro Y Moi, Les Sins) Company Records—moves Lionel’s Vinyl Williams alias into a more vivid, multi-colored dream world. Unlike the dramatic film scores of his grandfather (famed composer and conductor John Williams), this 25-year-old Los Angeles-based musician’s songs are far more introspective, effortlessly blending ambient, electronic, Krautrock, psychedelia and shoegaze influences into a uniquely visceral listening experience that often mirrors the surrealism of his own collagebased visual artwork. Like staring at the intricate geometry of a nautilus shell through a rippling aqua lens, Into’s detailed arrangements shimmer across the stereo field with Williams’ breathy, yearning melodies bathed in warm reverb. The gentle, rhythmic percolation of breezy album opener “Gold Lodge” imagines CAN at their most ethereal, as if vying for a release on 4AD Records during the label’s halcyon days. Similarly, Cocteau Twins-esque guitars ring above the pulsing kosmische atmosphere of “Hall of Records” and then later, the 10-plus-minute “Xol Rumi” takes a detour across the Autobahn using Neu!’s motorik precision. Elsewhere, the celestial “Greatest Lives” shuffles through a thick, gooey cloud of synths, while instrumental “The Tears of an Inanimate Object” pays tribute to the spiritually minded explorations of Alice Coltrane and Dorothy Ashby, with astral harp strums guiding the light electronic accompaniment. From the mysterious, nocturnal drive of first single “World Soul” to the gauzy, space-age funk of “Allaz,” Vinyl Williams nicely blurs the line between melodicism and experimentation, his impressionistic song-craft being as inviting as it is beguiling. In this modern era of shuffled playlists and musically short attention spans, Into is that rare album created to be listened to uninterrupted from beginning to end, and one that is sure to reveal itself again and again after each successive play.
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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.
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