Remember Silent Jay? You damn well should, I only posted it about a day ago you fat idiot. That was unfair, sorry. It’s been a long day + you’ve lost weight. Silent Jay was the cat I posted about at the end of April. Featured on one of his tracks was a man who goes by the name of Kirkis. Very little else is known about him, even within his closest circle of friends and extended family. He’s the enigma, shrouded in a cloak of secrets, walking on a bassline of mystery. I’ve done some sleuthing though and I’ll share with you what little I know. Kirkis was born in the small city of Mytishchi, deep in the heart of Soviet Russia. After subsisting primarily on used breadcrusts and found vermin, Kirkis fancied he could eke out a living in the big city so he ventured forth with his family to Moscow where, after opening a caricature stand, the family’s prospects began to look up. Sadly, democracy and liberalism weren’t features of the 70s socialist soviet and so the family’s short lived success came crashing down as a young Kirkis delved into the prohibited world of illicit groove. Found guilty of dealing in the binary rythms of the gypsy communes, Kirkis was sentenced to twelve years hard labour in Siberia but somewhere along the way the young jazzhound managed to elude his captors and jump a ship to Australia. Now residing in Melbourne, Kirkis writes songs that speak of love and loss, of a family left behind and a nation that groaned under the weight of an oppressive regime. His wandering basslines speak deeply of geographical displacement and the ludicrously pleasurable rhodes lines within his freeform arrangements point toward bigger truths and profound wonders.
If you’re lucky enough to be attending the Thundercat show at Oxford Art Factory in a few weeks side you’ll see the man perform prior to Hiayayus Coyote and Thundercat. Should be a treat for synth starved ears.
I’m going to place these before you largely without comment. Actually you know I’m not going to be able to help myself, without a LOT of comment. Two new tracks from Oscar that are mouthwateringly good and are pretty indicative of the direction he’s heading. I think his strength lies in his constant evolution and we’re seeing the mid-to-end stage of his most recent metamorphosis. I’m rather glad to be able to share with you a talent as prodigious as this man so it’s hard for me to avoid gushing out something overly weighty and pregnant with praise. I’ll simply say that there’s a bright future for any individual who can drop tracks like these on a whim. The first is a slow building beast that speaks volumes about Oscar’s attention to production while the second is a cover of Miguel’s Sure Thing that doesn’t deviate too far from the original. The key lesson learned here though, is that the guy has a set of pipes on him. We always knew he could knock up a legitimate beat but this is a hell of a vocal showing. For those interested to see how this translates live then your time is nigh, come see him headline at FBI Social on Thursday, 30th May.
The new single from Tim fitz is
reportedly definitely the herald of an album impending. Just quietly, but actually not that quietly as this is an unprotected public website, I’ve had the opportunity to listen to said album and it’s rife with experimental oddities and bizarro synth moments and all in all it’s just really endearing. There are some truly creative production choices, especially on the slower more ambient tracks which give more breathing space to both bassline and piano struts which are likely Fitz’s biggest strengths. For the moment though, you’ve just got this first taste with which to content yourself. It’s weird, it’s whacky, it’s euphoric and it’s more infectious than Ebola which is considered by many to be pretty infectious I reckon. Stream at it.
This jam raises a whole bunch of questions for me but similarly it provides the answers for those willing to take them at face value. I’m even willing to GIVE them at face value. Anyway, I think it’s reasonably well accepted now that the folk bubble has burst and we’re living in a post-folk world that has retained the cream from the top and a few dreggs from the bottom. Obviously, we still have Mumford and Sons (upto you which camp they fall into) but artists like Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes will both release records that sell and sell (or stream and stream, given consumption trends). The Tallest Man On Earth will still sell out Opera House shows, yes, but each and every time I see PR batting in a folk act I can only really think ‘whoops’. It’s all pretty and lovely and heartfelt but if you’ll cast your mind back five years folk was actually the realm of the tastemakers which doesn’t really seem to be the case anymore.
So, that established [at least in mine own eyes] then comes the question on everyone’s lips; where to now for Angus and Julia fans? Do they go down with the ship? I say no. No they don’t. And the best possible island to which I can see these folks swimming is one called Willow Beats. Let’s pause to recognise the logical inconsistency of that last metaphor. Willow Beats are Melbourne producer and vocalist Narayana Johnson and Kalyani Ellis. I’m sure more than a few of you are familiar with Willow Beats and are preparing a supersized takedown for my comments section but who there big guy. Ease your heart, hear me out. This isn’t a criticism. Angus and Julia weren’t always reserved for screaming 16 year old girls, I presume they were once the domain of reputable music types. Maybe they were, anyway, I’m swinging blindly here. This is a guy girl duo sporting forest friendly press shots and highly accessible female vocal lines over a semi drum’n'bass beat. Granted, the beat throws you in an entirely different direction to ol’ A+J and there isn’t the reliance on vom-worthy hyper-emotion but I can see this happening in a big way accross the Js. Even artists likes Mammals are blurring the lines between folk and electronica though not in the same way the folktronica acts of 2005-2010 did, but in a manner more beats-centric. Mammals ft. Flash forest even sat at #3 on Hype Machine for a period though in the global domain it’s probably far less edgy.
All of that is semi-vaguely pointing you and I at Cambio Sun whose reasonably recent track Intuition (a total winner, I might add) has been a mainstay of my listening experience since Hugh posted about it a day or two back. Nope, not one for the Angus and Julia fans but for those who once folked, this isn’t a stretch. For those who loved their Sufjans and their Bon Ivers (and were ok with the both of them being slightly exploratory in their more recent sounds) this could have some serious appeal. So again, I direct you to this as a primary example of a transitional artist that heralds in a new sphere within which we can praise the lords of harmony and falsetto. It’s got slow build and some really very pretty tones and again, producer and saccarine vocal have their merry way with each other.
Also we need to collectively agree to do everything within our powers to prevent techno from being an in thing again. It’s on its way.
Valar have been MIA so long that I almost feel obliged to reintroduce them but then that would be rude to the kind souls who’ve stuck with me over the other sixty or so times I’ve written about their songs but back off, this one’s a new’n. It’s called Astronaut and it’s the precursor to the forthcoming 5 track album (fine, EP) that we should see arriving in the next month or so. It unfolds, one layer at a time with old man Parsons doing his part to move things forward in his irregular yet mightily constrained way before the whole thing flattens out with Blackwood’s dulcet sweep atop a bed of harmonised howls. At that point he mentions that he’s ‘dreaming of dying on my own’. “That’s so morbid!” shouts my wife. It’s not at all though, it’s actually smothered in this pervasive contentedness that means that sort of statement isn’t scrawled in a fifteen year old’s diary but instead reclines in the mind of a greened out sherpa. I mean, in a way, aren’t we all sort of on our own? I still haven’t done my 2011 tax and I’ve never felt more so. Someone could make a loooooot of money doing other people’s tax, I’m just saying. There’s no angst and there’s no fear, just a sense of bigger picture as if you’re seeing the world from a great distance. It’s as if one’s floating in space, completing repairs on an unmanned spacecraft. Kind of like… Kind of like an astronaut, you know? Daaaaaamn.
Extra free bonus content no cost attached – It’s the video! These are the authentic faces of Valar! Shoutouts to Pete Covington whose name wasn’t mentioned in main body of text.