FRACTURED AIR

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Posts Tagged ‘Brainfeeder

Step Right Up: The Gaslamp Killer

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The Gaslamp Killer is a cosmic spirit operating in the atmosphere, far removed from the mainstream. The L.A underground is where the origins of William Bensussen AKA The Gaslamp Killer lie. Bensussen is a resident DJ and co-founder of the mythic Low End Theory club night in L.A. He has produced Gonjasufi’s 2010 album ‘A Sufi And A Killer’ whose beguiling sound was rooted in psychedelica and experimental haze. ‘Breakthrough’ is the debut album of The Gaslamp Killer, where alongside a formidable cast of friends, has created a masterpiece that excels in its diversity.

Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry

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‘Breakthrough’ features a stellar lineup of beatmakers and artists. The soul-baring, otherworldly voice of Gonjasufi takes the journey of ‘Breakthrough’ to beautifully unknown paths. His albums ‘A Sufi And A Killer’ and ‘The Caliph’s Tea Party’ are full-blown classics, both released on the Warp label. The L.A based producer Daedelus who is at the forefront of modern electronic music, mixes with Bensussen on several tracks. Adrian Younge guests, another luminary from the L.A scene is the next generation of soul music. Miguel Atwood-Ferguson provides cinematic strings to the eclectic mix. At the core is The Gaslamp Killer who wrote, produced, arranged and mixed the majority of ‘Breakthrough’ and adds live drums to several songs. Welcome to ‘Breakthrough’, which has been described as “a manic and mystic trip through the mind of a madman”. Be warned.

White noise and eerie voices are the first sounds that can be heard on the two-minute opener ‘Breakthrough’. Worlds of ‘Lost Highway’ or ‘Blue Velvet’ are visited, belonging to horror soundtrack music above anything else. The closing moments descends into an uplifting guitar instrumental with shades of Mali and gospel harmonies. Immediately, The Gaslamp Killer has captured your mind and imagination. Film score strings and Ennio Morricone guitar leads you into the sublime ‘Veins’, one of the album’s strongest songs. Gonjasufi supplies the ammunition here with his soul-baring vocals. Darkness is painted amidst emotive strings and dazzling guitar tones. Gonjasufi sings “Do me a favour/and cut your vein out of your heart” on the opening verse. The lyrics are disturbing and forges a foreboding tension between the compelling music backdrop. “I trust in his name/to pull you out your darkness” is sung from the darkest depths of Gonjusafi’s soul before his falsetto melts into the haunting violins. ‘Veins’ is a mere two minutes in length yet its profound impact lingers long in the ether.

Computer Jay assists on ‘Holy Mt Washington’. Live drums by The Gaslamp Killer breathes bustling life into the psychedelic haze. The song’s slow and menacing groove is utterly compelling, complete with an eerie whistling tune throughout. ‘Critic’ features Mophono. Additional strings are performed by Citizen Ten. The Gaslamp Killer’s live drums combined by the brooding strings paints bleak darkness at the world’s end. One can imagine Johnny Greenwood’s score to ‘There Will Be Blood’ and Dirty Three’s darker instrumentals as cues to Critic’s feel and flow. ‘Dead Vets’ consists of pumping synths, drums, percussion and infectious beats and rhythm. Adrian Younge and MRR assist on the track. Californian psychedelica is wonderfully tapped into here. ‘Flange Face’ is one of the album’s highlights. Divine music of soaring strings is mixed with the compelling beats by the master beatsman, Daedelus. ‘Flange Face’ is a killer-track with a hypnotic beat that will stop you in your tracks. Think Kronos Quartet remixed by Aphex Twin and you’re halfway there.

‘Apparitions’ is another song co-written by Gonjasufi. The meditative music is reminiscent of the Ethiopiques series and otherworldly sounds of Ethiopia. The song is alive with a Memphis soul groove. The guitars, keys and drums provides a spiritual realm for Gonjasufi’s lyrics of wisdom. “Trust in him always/He’s the only way” shines a spiritual light into headspace. My favourite lyric is “I cannot fly with no wings/I will try and hover myself above the ground”, where Gonjasufi’s vocal delivery is majestic. Free jazz and electronica are fused together on the compelling ‘Impulse’. Daedelus brings his futuristic electronic bleeps and tones to the mix of live drums (The Gaslamp Killer) and turntable scratches (D Styles). The sound created is akin to Ninja Tune’s trademark fresh beats and genre bending sounds. The tempo slows on ‘Meat Guilt’ (with RSI) with slow drone pulses and psychedelica. ‘Mother’ casts lighter shades of colour onto The Gaslamp Killer’s songbook. A spoken word sample of a mother speaking of her son is played beneath a jazz backdrop with a flute/woodwind lead. “..You were a very entertaining child/and you took to music early on/and you loved it and I can see now, that it loved you” could represent The Gaslamp Killer’s young childhood wrapped in music.

‘Nissim’ is a joyous instrumental that takes you straight to Turkey’s Istanbul. The strum of yiali tambur and bass, drums creates a stunning instrumental encompassing worlds of sound. The music is like a celebration of life with its sunshine pop feel and uplifting melody. ‘In The Dark’ is the album closer. In contrast to ‘Nissim’, this instrumental is filled with darkness. The menacing synths penetrate deep into your soul. The strings (arranged by Tom Lea) are ablazed in raw emotion. A climax of epic proportions are reached as the crescendo of strings casts an imminent silence. Shortly afterwards, contrastingly soft, bright arrangement of brass (arranged by Elizabeth Lea) forms a bright lament, casting light on the crazed darkness.

‘Breakthrough’ is out now on Brainfeeder.

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December 4, 2012 at 10:15 am

Step Right Up: Jeremiah Jae

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Words: Mark Carry, Illustration: Craig Carry

“I think it’s safe to say Jeremiah Jae is one of my favourite artists of his generation. For years now I’ve been a witness to the incredible progression of his craft. This album has a complex dedication and honesty that I reach for in myself with my own art. Underrated, understated, Jae is ready to show these muhfuckers what’s really good. Believe in Jeremiah Jae”. -Flying Lotus

Jeremiah Jae’s first full-length for the Brainfeeder label, ‘Raw Money Raps’ looks set to be one of the best hip hop albums of 2012. Jae’s album is a fine showcase of his qualities as emcee, producer and healer. The 21-year-old Chicago native is undeniably the brightest star of 2012. His matter-of-fact rapping style strikes similarities with Shabazz Palaces’ ‘Black Up’ album released last year on Sub Pop. Both albums have pushed boundaries in the hip hop genre where similar rapping styles are on display. Shabazz Palaces’ album featured heavily on numerous end-of-year polls last year and certainly Jeremiah Jae’s ‘Raw Money Raps’ will do the same in 2012.

The mish-mash style of Jae is reminiscent of Madlib’s unique and visionary beat making. All genres and styles of music are heard throughout ‘Raw Money Raps’ beneath the psychedelic beats and sampling of Jae. Across the album’s 19 tracks, a rampant lyrical flow is on display by Jeremiah Jae, together with utterly contemporary beats and samples. My highlight is ‘Seasons’ with its deep bass groove, irresistible samples and slow tempo feel. ‘When the seasons start to change/I find I’m out of place’ is the lyrics of the chorus. A soul vocal singing ‘pieces’ is looped continuously over the fresh beats as the soul groove gets bigger and better. ‘As the days of yesterday, move right outside my window’ is the opening lyric to ‘Seasons’ and at 3 minutes in length, the song is sublime. ‘Money and Food’ is ideal for the dance floors with its building synth pop grandeur. ‘Cable’ closes the album with a sample of strings taken from Pixar’s ‘up’ (?) played beneath Jeremiah Jae’s rapping. ‘Cat Fight’ is another milestone. A serious soul/funk sample with doo wop guitar, strings and harmonica creates the groove and ammunition for Jae. A vocal sample is heard on the outro: ‘You wanna spit on me and make me cry?/I’m gonna piss on your grave tomorrow’. The track pulls out all the stops! ‘The Great Escape’ is a beautiful bossa nova hip hop mix of styles with the opening words ‘It’s beautiful’ summing it all up. ‘Guns Go Off’ is an anthem powered with thumping beats and synths over the refrain of ‘Guns go off, baby guns go off’.

Interestingly, Jeremiah Jae’s father was a musician who worked with Miles Davis. In the words of the 21-year-old Jae, he aims to ‘express freely and honestly through the platforms of hip hop, jazz, pop, rock and healing frequencies’ and in turn, ‘help heal and rid the body of musical toxins that are filling the frequencies of the planet today’.

Believe in Jeremiah Jae indeed.

‘Raw Money Raps’ is out now on Brainfeeder.

Written by admin

August 7, 2012 at 1:56 pm