BIG CATS – PYRAMID MAKERS
For Fans of: Daft Punk, DJ Shadow, Clams Casino, Air,
STUMBLEINE – SOLAR FIRE
For Fans of: Air, Four Tet,
There is something about well executed, slow, electronica that reminds me of traveling. Not the desperately poor moments, not the terrifyingly life-risking moments, and certainly not the embarrassing culture clash moments. Instead, it reminds me of the modern, the high-class moments of traveling. Crispy clean white dress shirts, brand new stiff leather shoes, a GQ in a futuristic airport, leather gloves reflecting the bright lights of downtown Shanghai. It’s douche baggy BS, especially considering even in those moments I was on a student’s salary and could only afford those things through loans, but it is also an undeniably intoxicating feeling. The world of a cosmopolitan jet setter is clean, modern, avant garde, and cutting edge. And what better music to reflect that than the Airs and Four Tets of the world?
Anonymous producer Stumbleine has created a thing of sophisticated beauty that can be added to those artists with Solar Flare. The vocal samples are chopped to the perfect length and play off each other in a cool haze, several percussion layers and a Talkie Walkie-esque keyboard plays a notably nocturnal and urban sound. The mixture of instrumental cold and vocal warmth gives it the perfect balance, and it makes for the perfect mega city soundtrack. This sharp production is extremely sleek and shiny. A little like Shanghai at night.
APES & HORSES – MAGENTA
I have my own conspiracy theory that Air, Daft Punk, M83 and Justice are in fact all the same two Frenchmen. Call me crazy, put I have never seen two of those duos in the same place at the same time. Of course, the main reason I joke about this is because stylistically, all four bands share qualities. France has become the forerunner of this genre. In fact, The North American music consumer has become so accustomed to hearing funky electronica from France, that any other style comes as a shock. If it isn’t a dance party classic, it is an uber-cool Phoenix, or Air track. But Apes & Horses couldn’t be a further away sound. It sounds distinctly un-European (excluding Britain), with a blend of American Band of Horses, and chest pounding emotional a la British Wu Lyf. It comes together as a whiskey soaked, late night desperate rambling, and it is incredibly beautiful. The lead singer’s passionate cries are framed perfectly by the echoing guitar notes and angelic background vocals. It is an astounding listen, and may alter our perceptions of France as producers of super stylish, polished lounge music exclusively.
BEACH HOUSE – OTHER PEOPLE
Photo credit: Liz Flyntz
Beach House have changed how I experience an album release. Instead of waiting up on a Monday night to download the album from iTunes, and then staying up too late listening track by track, I simply download and fall asleep to the soothing sounds. Beach House is right up there with Air, Sufjan, and Bon Iver as the greatest artists to fall asleep to. So enough writing, I have to go to bed. I hope you get to enjoy this track tucked under the covers like I am about to!
AIR – RUN
I lived in Nanjing for a brief period in 2005. Despite speaking fluent Mandarin, and having a good understanding of Chinese culture, I always felt like I had landed on a different planet. Maybe it was because I had lived in Taiwan for so long and had an irrational fear that every government official in China sought to persecute me for it. Maybe because having only lived in democratic countries, the mainlanders who had been indoctrinated and subjugated felt alien to me. Or, maybe it was just because I would walk around alone at night listening to Air’s new album Talkie Walkie, with the creepy little song Run left on eternal replay. I found Air’s new album in a cramped CD/VCD shop near the Nanjing University campus. I bought it after a good friend (Chris A.K.A. Big Bear) raved about their debut album Moon Safari. I instantly related to Talkie Walkie’s other-wordliness and sense of discovery, which made it clear why it was used in the film Lost in Translation. There was a dark and insular, but also lush and bright quality to it. Run had a particularly peculiar quality. It made me feel like I was moving in slow motion when I listened to it, like I was going at the pace of the vocals, or the chorus synth. However, the world around me was moving in fast forward, at the pace of the nervous 808s. With the hyper-development that China was going through, and the contemplative state I found myself in, the relative speeds were probably not that far off. With this unforgettable song worming its way through my mind, I watched the cranes build and the human masses hustle in the dark-but-bright streets of Nanjing at night.