Friday, March 30, 2012

Lil B - I'm Gay (2011)

Let's get the hyperbole out of the way first:

This is the best rap album I have ever heard. It is one of the most powerful and epic and inspirational and sincere and joyous collection of songs I have ever heard.

Now, I'm sure at least a few of you are thinking.....dude who doesn't typically listen to rap music hops on the Based God bandwagon like countless other white dudes who only occasionally dabble in the genre as novelty, but hear me out. Despite that I have only posted a single rap/hip hop song out of the nearly 500 public posts here on BS, I used to be quite an aficionado. I had an entire hard drive full of rap (aka "The Rap Drive") and was known to listen to beats as often as ballads. The reason you don't see a lot of rap mentioned on here, is because a) the aesthetic of this blog isn't really geared towards rap (obviously) and b) since the creation of BS and until the beginning of this year I've been pretty depressed and haven't really been in the mood for hip-hop. That being said, I'm Gay (which is a bold play on semiotics and statement on how silly and archaic the homophobia which often plagues the genre is) is about, yes, happiness. I've been depressed for longer than I can remember, and hearing this album now that I'm finally content is such a truly beautiful experience. It's like the sun has come out for the first time.

Let me tell you why this album is so special. For starters (and this is a big thing for most people who aren't big rap buffs), the production is flawless, god-tier. The samples are exquisitely selected and often unconventional, with a few examples being Slowdive (!!) and a screwed version of Goo Goo Dolls (which might sound frightening but is actually quite nice). The beats and hooks are solid too. Because of the quality of the music, I consider I'm Gay to be a pop album.

The lyrics/flows are organic and come straight from the heart and out the mouth and into the mic. Everything about Lil B is pro- and trans- gessive in the rap world, which is more often than not limited to a code of conduct, restrained to a set of topics, themes, and styles. B breaks down these walls, and while he has the classic 'rap ego,' he is also incredibly humble. He does use plenty of rap vernacular and slang phrases, but often these are used in a way which are both intended to be true and ironic, and this self-awareness is what makes B such a unique artist. He goes against the grain, and that is why he is at home here on Bigger Splashes.

But I'm Gay really shines because it is imbued with such empathy and passion (think Tupac's "Changes" and "Until the End of the World"). Stirring, touching, triggering, etc etc. There are six songs (essentially the latter half of the album), beginning with "Gon be Okay" which gave me chills for about 20 minutes during the time they played. I kept thinking that this bombardment of sensation would subside and the album would take a break by going a softer more subtle route, but the message and immediacy kept on in a manner nothing short of relentless. "I Hate Myself" was the pinnacle of this spiritual bombardment. Its an anthem for anyone who has ever been ostracized and it's one of the most real songs I've ever heard, rap or otherwise.

B is a young legend. He is a slayer of ignorance and close-mindedness and hatred, but most importantly B is a purveyor of love and change. Don't wait a single second - buy this album now.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Has technology caused an oversaturation of art and subsequently 'cheapened' the experience?

Bolded for emphasis. Extrapolate what you will from this.

"Levels of dissonance in music had been steadily rising since the last years of the nineteenth century, when Liszt wrote his keyless bagatelle and Satie wrote down the the six-note Rosicrucian chords of Le Fils des etoiles. Strauss, of course, indulged discord in Salome. Max Reger, a composer versed in the contrapuntal science of Bach, caused Schoenberg-like scandals in 1904 with music that meandered close to atonal. In Russia, the composer-pianist Alexander Scriabin, who was under the influence of Theosophist spiritualism, devised a harmonic language that vibrated around a “mystic chord” of six notes; his unfinished magnum opus Mysterium, slated for a premire at the foot of the Himalayas, was to have brought about nothing less than the annihilation of the universe, whence men and women would emerge as astral souls, relieved of sexual difference and other bodily limitations."
- Alex Ross, The Rest Is Noise, p.63.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

MIX - Spring Sprang Sprung

Special thanks to all who contribute to the BS facebook group. It's turning into a nice little community. Feel free to join.

01) Déficit Des Années Antérieures - Baltique
02) Michael Karoli & Polly Eltes - One Thing (Or the Other)
03) Dinosaur - Kiss Me Again (Vocal Mix)
04) A Popular History of Signs - Justice Not Vengeance
05) Blue Clocks Green - Hemingway
06) Claire Hamill - Afternoon in a Wheatfield
07) My Bloody Valentine - Drive it All Over Me
08) ????? - Secret Track
09) Julia Holter - Moni Mon Amie
10) ????? - Secret Track II
11) Rafael Brom - Dance for Padre Pio


Monday, March 12, 2012

Pel Mel - No Word From China

Thanks to Ben White for knowing more about obscure post punk than anyone else I know in the world.

Pet Shop Boys - Domino Dancing (12 inch)

Julia Holter - Ekstasis (2012)

My first ever visit to LA, I saw Julia Holter play in a tiny room at 1830, a studio/art house off sunset, with maybe a dozen people in attendance (apparently the roof was the place to be even though her set rivaled Ariel and Gary Wilson's). It was hot and cramped and there was mood lighting and I swooned and fell in love.

Ekstasis, which is quite different from Ms. Holter's previous and more experimental, less-synthetic release, Tragedy, (which, in my book, solidified her as a 'real' artist and not just a typical lo-fi band-waggoner like some of her associates) is like Joanna Newsom's elegance meets Kate Bush's exotica meets The Space Lady's stylings. "In The Same Room" sounds a lot like it was made using John Maus' synths and keyboards. "Boy in the Moon" is an ambient trip you will want to take over and over. "Goddess Eyes II," technically a remix, is the heavenly pop hit here, an epic, soaring piece that resides in the ethersphere and is appropiately followed by the slow, sweet, & sentimental "Moni Mon Ami" which is oh so dreamy. The whole album is dreamy, but that song particular - lovely. My writing is getting sloppy and uncreative. I should go back to bed. This is a good album for kissing. Good for many things. Yes. Get.

Rating: 8.5/10

Drugs for Drunks - Faiairr

I've been super busy and in a loop the past week. It's a good loop but a loop nonetheless. Is this 'witch-house?' 'Ambien-core?' I can't keep up with the nu-genres the kids have these days, but this sounds and looks good on sleep-deprived ears.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Patrick deWitt - Ablutions (2009)

Such a fantastic and funny little book. Densely laughable and brilliant, not just a paragraph here or there, but rather almost every sentence is great. Its humor is of the darkest, most dejected, depraved, loathsome variety. I finished this in two days, and its characters and scenarios made it severely entertaining. Proceed to amazon and buy.

"Your luck is buckling. Someone gives you a handful of pills that you eat along with your nightly whiskey and as the narcotics take effect a love grows in your heart and you wonder if this isn't how saints feel. But you are drinking more and more and the feeling is hidden in ugly clouds and by night's end you are unable to speak and you walk to the gas station to purchase aspirin. You are slurring and the Arab man behind the bulletproof glass does not like you. Now he is standing over you and shaking you awake: You have fallen asleep in the gas station bathroom, though you do not know why you entered or how long you have been there. You return to your car and find a note on the windshield: "Where did you go?" The note is not signed and the love in your heart is gone. It feels as though it was never there at all."

Frank O'Hara & Norman Bluhm - Poem-paintings

Sunday, March 4, 2012


weird, wacky, & whimsical

Wim Wenders - Pina (2011)

Wim Wenders' latest is an homage to dance choreographer and ballet director, Pina Bausch, and consists of a series of her works, as well as memoirs told by her dancers, captured and woven together by Wenders' masterful curation and direction to create an hour and forty-five minute spectacle that left me utterly mesmerized. If any other director would have attempted this film, I believe it would have had only a fraction of the impact. Every color, every movement, every act is so meticulously designed, yet seemingly organic - at once concurrent and chaotic, raw and refined - each piece so absurd and beautiful and symbolic like all art whose purpose is to convey the human spirit should be. A furious bursting of energy, and power, and passion, and helplessness, and fear, and grace, and frenzy, and entropy, and winsomeness, and flaw, and conflict, and futility, and yearning. In short: exponential.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Stockholm Monsters - Alma Mater (1984)

On the surface The Stockholm Monsters sound pretty similar to the NZ take on key-based post punk, like The Clean and The Chills, but the difference (improvement, really) is how they accessorize their songs and aren't limited by verse-chorus-bridge formulas in their songwriting. They stand out because of how ample and polyphonic their sound palette was (especially in their later years), and as a group that some would consider to be minimal in many ways, no less. Gothy synthetic church organs, psychedelic Celtic flutes, glorious brass, and absolutely delectable piano harmonies make for some perfectly pinguescent pop. I have two minor 'complaints' : Tony France's voice and Tony France's lyrics. France obviously never took any singing lessons and probably wrote most of the words to these songs in high school (or borrowed them from Bernard Summers). But considering the type of music this is, neither short-fallings were really that uncommon.

Rating: 8.5/10

Link includes bonus singles compilation, All at Once


Beachwood Sparks - By Your Side