Monday, June 8, 2015

DJ Krush

I know it's been a long time since I wrote on this blog.  But given that I kind of doubt anyone reads it anyway, I don't feel that bad about it.  My post was going to be titled "End".  Guess what it would've been about.  No, not the electronic band from New York.  Guess again.

I realize that I kind of took on a task I was not ready for in the writing of this blog.  Since I am always searching for bizarre music, and sometimes finding it, I thought it would be interesting to read about the outskirts of music.  The border, where things get all blended and weird.  And I'd like to think, in a way, that I did.  In the beginning.  But the draw to write about artists I just like was too much.  I mean, even a band like Skullflower.  It's not Strange Music.  It's just sort of noise rock that's a bit under the radar.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't know if I'm "qualified" to write a blog about Strange Music because I don't really know much of it, and I'm always going to be swayed by my own personal opinions.  I love nothing more that hearing a bizarre band for the first time that I really like.  I'd like to think there are others out there who don't care what language their music is delivered in, and that actively wonder "I wonder what Canadian death metal is like?"  Cause I do!  I got into Russian, Japanese, European, Chinese, African, Canadian, and all sorts of other music because of my endless search for other ideas of music.

Music to me is an experience.  More than a way to have fun, it's a way to experience creativity, humanity, and existence.  My own existence has been fucked up enough to make me feel like I need to look for others who have the same artistic pain that I do.  Nothing is worse than being born artistic in my opinion.  I'd trade my stupid drawing skill or my knack for color and font for solid technical skills any day.

What does this all have to do with DJ Krush?  Well, tons, can't you tell?

DJ Krush was introduced to me via Japan For Sale, Volume 4.  Yes, it was 2004 or so and I was at the height of my anime interest, having just watched FLCL.  I purchased this CD somewhere in Japantown, and I put it on ASAP.  It had some awesome musicians on it, including the amazing Tommy Heavenly, Guitar Wolf, and Polysics.  But the track I had the most interest in was DJ Krush's Still Island.  Off the album Jaku, this was cool Japanese music.  It sounded like traditional Japanese music (think the music made with wooden instruments) put through a modern filter to make it an IDM type of track.

It was something I'd always wanted to get into:  traditional Japanese music, and it was in a form I already liked:  almost IDM, heavy on the drums, calm in parts and crazy and others, and just the right length.  Turned out a lot of Jaku was like this song.  Still Island, The Beginning, Univearth, and Song 2 became my quick favorites.  But the trip hop feel of other tracks like Road to Nowhere, Distant Clouds, Transition, etc, also were cool because I was someone who really liked (still like) Massive Attack.

If you know DJ Krush at all, you'll know he is always making rap songs, trip hop, jazz, and downtempo music.  Several tracks on Jaku represent that, and while I hated them at first they slowly grew on me, to where I was actually listening to the rap songs even, and the bizarre lyrics in them.

So then I listened to and enjoyed his album Zen, then I liked The Message at the Depths, and then I bought his all jazz album Ki-Oku.  Ki-Oku is the only one where I'll still skip some tracks, as it's just a little bit too much jazz for me.  But most of the tracks are very nice, kind of a mix of drums and trumpets, and they're accessible.

DJ Krush aside, is my blog over?  I really don't know.  You can check out my other blog, Grindhouse Review, where I talk about my love of bad and weird movies.  And I won't say this is the end.  I think if I find something interesting I'll bring it on here.  I still want to write the blog entry about Christian Fennesz also.  But, I must say, my posts are going to keep being slow.  Sorry 'bout dat.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Sigur Ros - Kveikur

Warning, I may go overboard with Jonsi's tremendous voice.

So I'll admit I am a giant nerd from Sigur Ros.  And that is perfectly fine.  I fucking love Jonsi's voice above everything else in the world.  I would have sex with Jonsi's voice if I could.  It lends a beautiful other worldly feel to everything.  Sigur Ros is the true definition of "Space Rock" as my friend labeled them.  Looking onto, I don't see that as a classification.  It needs to become one.  Is this term my friend's own creation?  I know ambient, ethereal, post-rock, experimental, electronic, abstract, all these and more certainly apply to their music.

But my feeling is that Space Rock is a moniker that truly applies to them.  Because you fucking feel weightless listening to this.  You feel like you're flying through the fucking stars, or at least you feel like you're ina  weird alternate dimension.  At times.  Or maybe you're a fucking scrooge and you feel like it's just music.  Well, shut up, and go away.  Jerk.

Their early stuff, as many people discovered, was just great.  It was really Ágætis Byrjun that catapulted them into the mainstream acceptance.  Which is pretty good for the second release.  ( ) was met with some people finding disappointment, some finding it even better than the last release.  I am one of those that finds ( ) to be amazing.  I don't know if I could pick a "favorite" between them at all. ( ) is perhaps slower, more contemplative, and more focus on the vocals.  But I clearly have no problem with that.

Takk... was the firs tone I remember thinking was not as good.  I felt like some of the songs were just throw away, or ones I would skip because of their blandness.  It didn't seem to focus on anything, it was a bit faster, it was a bit more kooky and "fun" sounding.  Which, I'm sure, some people loved.  "fun" music sometimes means "popular" music.

Everyone has a moment in their lives when they become detached from the world, for me it was from about 2008-2011.  Several things happened in my life, I became broke, I moved about 3 times, I went through 3 relationships that were plagued with trouble, in short, I did not keep up on music and thus missed 4 Sigur Ros releases.  Going back in time recently I listed to Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust, and Valtari.  It seemed though maybe the originality of Sigur Ros was wearing thin, or maybe they had lost their "magic touch".  In fact, I only gave one song between those two entire albums 4 stars.  And that's iTunes, so that's out of 5.  If you don't count the Japan only track Heima that is.  That song fucking kills me with how goddamn good it is.

So then Kveikur came out.  And, WTF?!  It was hard!  it was aggressive!  It was like someone took Sigur Ros, put the vocals in a blender, put industrial rock behind it, and then vomited it onto a release, but in a good way.  Delicious, wonderful vomit.  Now, I'm not sayign they reinvented themselves.  I'm not even saying every track is good.  I;m just saying that thousands, ten of thousands of bands, have never done this.  I was expecting a downward spiral.  I think we all were.  And Kveikur is a huge, amazing surprise.  It shows everyone Sigur Ros was not just a flash in the pan of brilliance.  It shows they are true musicians, innovative, and up for a challenge.

Whether you liked their old stuff or not, it's worth a listen.

that's right, sing that sexy voice.  that sexy, sexy voice.