Saturday, March 31, 2018

Deep Cuts: March '18

Welcome to the eleventh installment of Deep Cuts, a new monthly segment highlighting standout tracks that weren't given a spotlight to blossom. All songs listed below have been released in the month of March on albums where they weren't previously released as a single. The only condition I've imposed upon myself is that no artist can have more than one song. 

of Montreal - If You Talk To Symbol / Hostility Voyeur
White Is Relic / Irrealis Mood | Progressive Pop

Of Montreal's 15th record was exhausting. Not only due to Kevin Barnes' insistence on perpetuating the group's iconic world for nearly two decades, but also thanks to White Is Relic / Irrealis Mood's intent to drive listeners mad in its cobweb of drum kits, synthesizers, and swagger. Yet somehow, despite enduring schizophrenic principles with numerous beat switches on the previous five epics, White Is Relic's closing track guaranteed listeners a party that could only happen at the onset of an encore. Fear of the future, fear of the government, fear of love, permeate 'If You Talk To Symbol / Hostility Voyeur,' an eight-minute artistic exposé that pits the final hooray and inevitable downfall against one another. Barnes brings out all his stops, strutting preposterous lingo ("Like a swan with a broken neck who keeps singing"), angst-ridden paranoia ("Kill the rats, close the gates, erase the United States"), and sexual liberation ("If we weren't filming ourselves we'd get bored") in a maddening display of transgressive subversion a la John Waters. All this comes before 'Hostility Voyeur' comes to wipe up the blood, sweat, and tears with a Universe-expanding Jazz piece that borrows from, and more than likely makes an ode to, Barnes' hero David Bowie and his Blackstar.

Suuns - After The Fall
Felt | Art Rock

Since their inception in 2007, Canada's own Suuns have crafted a world of Art Rock that's easily able to identify them in a room full of their contemporaries. Comparisons can, and have, been drawn to Deerhunter, Radiohead, or more precisely, the combination of the two, but alas, elements of the Suuns repertoire are wholly individualistic. That can be seen on 'After The Fall,' a Felt deep cut that torments the band's instruments with a wild and wicked strain. A feedback-abused guitar is left purposely out of tune, inconsistent and squarely flat drums mime the drudgery of forced labor, and a squelching bass from the deepest sector of a black hole warbles in and out of focus. There's even an extra layer of screeching violin mixed with howling wind at the track's climax. Just for shits and giggles, I presume. All the while Ben Shemie sings with a monotone voice and cocksure attitude, as if the demolished pieces behind him work in unison and not discord. 'After The Fall' presents a dystopian Art Rock world where law and order has been replaced by humanity's ugly underbelly. And through that debauchery what a beautiful cacophony Suuns created.

Cut Chemist - You Want It, I Got It
Die Cut | Glitch Hop

Die Cut's loaded with quality deep cuts. An easy statement to make given that not a single lacks in substance. However, Cut Chemist's work with an old friend, Hymnal, who was previously featured on The Audience's Listening's genre-blender 'What's The Altitude,' felt special in a way of two minds functioning as one. With 'Work My Mind,' the two teamed up with Chali 2na for a Funkadelic-inspired, futuristic Hip-Hop cut, while on 'Plain Jane' the two worked with The Precious Hectic for some Beatles-inspired Psych fluff. Nothing captured an imagination, both in the long-term and short, than 'You Want It, I Got It.' Right from the get-go, Cut Chemist's sensational beat dives headfirst into an advanced world of Big Beat thanks to overlapping percussion and driving strings working at a ridiculous tempo. On the vocals, Hymnal discusses the prevalence of knowledge in a world with an omnipresent being that can provide answers to any of life's question. While relatively cliched, Cut Chemist's vocal effects that turn Hymnal into an autonomous robot really expounds on that message. Without a doubt, the best part of 'You Want It, I Got It' occurs twice, once as an appetite, the other a full course meal. Already fluctuating at a high pace, in each ensuing bridge Cut Chemist ramps up the intensity to the point of combustion. The finale of this a grand representation of the repercussions of endless knowledge.

Young Fathers - Picking You
Cocoa Sugar | Art Pop

Like much of Young Fathers' discography, Cocoa Sugar concerned itself with the grey area of our lives. How oligarchs govern us, how culture shifts define us, how relationships swing wildly on a pendulum. Their genre-bending represented the sonic unpredictability of that, but so did their lyrics, and nowhere was that more clear than on the closer 'Picking You.' Over a sparse, forward-moving Gospel background, the trio twisted expectations and mourned society's shortcomings. There's marching band drums, string-assisted build-ups, and vicious grunts that parallel Perfume Genius' own primal awakening on 'Queen.' Young Fathers' sleight of hand prose isn't a new trick, considering we saw similar the tactic on White Men Are Black Men Too's opening moments, but on 'Picking You' the Scottish group takes things up a notch. At first an idyllic set piece implying the selection of a lover, Cocoa Sugar's close builds in intensity as the grim gravity crumbles, culminating in a euphoric chant that, rather than blessing the lone traveler, condemns them with a twisting knife. "You'll never find your way to heaven" they preach, muddling the intent with "but you can follow me," proving that, despite their struggles, Young Fathers work as our torchbearers through this complicated world.

Preoccupations - Compliance
New Material | Post-Industrial

Preoccupations' third album, New Material, found the group venturing deeper into the muck, grime, and mental warfare of the Cold War era. The world was on the brink of annihilation, and the group's favorite genre, Post-Punk, sprouted up as a response to the despondency. On New Material, Preoccupations expounded upon the various fears of decent people, correlating them, through rusted Industrial and synth-heavy sheen, with our paranoid society of today. However, nothing instilled such dread as their instrumental closer 'Compliance,' one that found the layman struggling under the weight of an ironclad dictatorship. Abusive bass that damn near borrows from Andy Stott's early Dub Techno days, drums that extort a militarized response, and Noise screeching down the stark and barren walls. 'Compliance' threw away the hope, leaving only the rubble of a society removed from peace. It is loud, shrill, and definite. As the noise builds, with layers of discord and dissonance multiplying in size and intensity, Preoccupations displayed, in such an unexpected way, the consequence of true power. With a slow and dominant thrust, 'Compliance' enacts auditory rape.

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