If we really wanted to bring you a knowledgeable discussion of electronica, we'd undoubtedly need to bring in a guest blogger. We're not. Now, I'm no connoisseur, but from time to time I encounter entries into the genre -- not that electronic music can really be accurately described as a single genre I realize, but bear with me, I'm using shorthand here -- that pique my interest. Here are a few:
Caribou is the nom de guerre of Don Snaith, who reportedly recorded his newest, Andorra, a dense, multi-layered wonder of neo-psychedelic pop, at home. I can't claim these comparisons as original thoughts, but there are those who invoke Elliot Smith's vocals, Brian Wilson's melodies, and '60s psychedelia as reference points. Those people would be right -- all colored by a modern DYI aesthetic.
Andorra, which I understand is something of a more pop-oriented departure from Snaith's earlier work, is a sonic tour de force -- one made for the headphones. It's a certifiable grower, albeit that rare grower with initial appeal. Be sure to check out the lushly romantic, Brian Wilsonesque "She's The One." Great stuff.
MP3: Caribou - "Sandy" from Andorra
I am completely blown away by UK's Burial. Although I'm certainly not hip enough to discuss the meaning of British "Grime," "2-Step," "Garage," or "Dubstep," as I have variously heard this music described, I can describe the sound as something like a Ghost In The Machine. With skittering electronic beats, ghostly keyboard washes, and soul vocal samples manipulated near the point of torture, Burial's Untrue sounds like some kind of aural missive from the next world, crackling and popping in the rain. This music is both haunted and haunting.
Adding to the cool mystery of this one-man band is that no one knows who Burial is. And he (or she) aims to keep it that way, and keep the focus on the music. The music is certainly worthy of that focus. The songs on Untrue flow from one to another with blurred distinction, and the whole record sounds very much like it is meant to be listened to in its entirety. Its sameness is never boring, but feels as deep (and as dark and cold) as the ocean.
MP3: Burial - "Near Dark" from Untrue
Camilo Lara's Mexican Institute of Sound may come from south of the border, but it specializes in smashing musical borders via a latin dance party. In MIS's new record Piñata, one can find aspects of Cumbia, Cha Cha Cha, Baile Funk, and other musical styles with which I have limited or no familiarity. Regardless, you don't have to be an ethnomusicologist to have fun with this stuff.
Obviously, Piñata is heavily influenced by Central American style, but it incorporates a club-friendly hip hop flair that will put the party right into your Margarita. If this doesn't get your toe tapping, I don't know what will. Go do a shot of tequila.
MP3: Mexican Institute of Sound - "Para No Vivir Desesperado" from Piñata