There’s already been a surprising amount of great electronic music released in 2013, and with the year wrapping up shortly, I’d like to bring up another release that stands out. Hailing from Vancouver, BC and taking his project to Montreal, Hecker has created a name for himself in the experimental music scene since his Imaginary Country release in 2009. Virgins is his 7th full length album, and it further progresses the droning, beautiful chords that he’s noted for.
The album opens up with a signature Hecker contrast between light, pretty ambience and booming distorted whole notes. What I loved about his previous release, Ravedeath, 1972, is that it carries an experience that is unable to be had with other musicians. The problem is that I wouldn’t go back to it all the time. It’s not that it’s not re-playable, but it was a listen that I’d crave after. What makes Virgins the superior album is that I want to listen to it immediately after the final track is finished.
These 12 songs off Virgins flow so smoothly, and they stick in my head. There’s a slight dance to his music that allows me to fall under a trance, but as soon as it becomes a little too much, he swaps for another sound. Think Stars of the Lid mixed with Steve Reich’s minimalism for this album. Add some distorted, resonating notes, and you have the formula for Virgins. Although not that simple, it feels like that at times.
I found Virgins to be quite accessible too. I never felt challenged to “stick with it” or pretentious having his music playing. Especially the track, “Live Room”. Now that’s what I’ve been wanting out of Hecker for years now. It takes over “Sketch 7″ as my favourite by him. Those omniscient opening notes collide like a horror movie soundtrack with the distant echoes of noise. I imagine a burst of white noise, Xiu Xiu style, breaking the tension, but instead Hecker works his magic by flashing distorted saw buzzes into both speakers with total control over the emotions of his fans. He watches like a god and laughs at us as we can only wait until the beautiful destruction of it ends. The track is literally apocalyptic.
I found my word to describe my feelings Virgins. It’s more destructive than a typical Godspeed You! Black Emperor album, and more tense than Oneohtrix Point Never’s recent release. I feel as though Virgins can full under post-rock territory, although it’s not rock at all. Maybe post-(insert genre here)? Post-experimental-ambient-drone. deciding what genre music is in is a losing battle so fuck that, but Hecker provides some amazing moments on this LP.
“Black Refraction” is another moment that I connected with. It’s the complete opposite of “Live Room”, but the tense, creepy feeling of being lost in unknown territory still lingers. The closer, “Stab Varriation”, reminds me of The GY!BE track, “Moya”, oddly enough. It’s downfall chord progression provides imagery of ashy, torn buildings, and loneliness. I love it, and I don’t feel guilty one bit. Hecker’s ability to stay with the same idea and expand it until it breaks without feeling forced is true talent.
That’s been my comment about his music in the past, and he fixes that on Virgins. I don’t at all feel like I’m having a song on repeat, and even after many listens, I pick up on the subtlety of his layered creations. They drone, and drone, and drone, but every measure the pieces get louder, quieter, add another faint noise in, etc, until the mess is too much to handle and you cannot think, and then it’s over. You can breath. You can relax. Now you want more, so one listen turns to two, and two becomes three, and three becomes four. Hecker implies one single question through the blips of noise on his opener, “Prisms”, and asks, “Are you ready?”. I thought I was until listened.
Listen to “Live Room” below:
MITNG has been covering the recent news for Reflektor very heavily, and it’s come to the surface that a studio release for a song titled “Afterlife” has arrived. On Zane Lowe’s BBC radio show, he premiered the track, which resembles the early 80′s dance floor scene, especially in England. It still has that classic Arcade Fire twist to it, but it’s nice to see the band try new sounds. I’m really excited to see what happens with the rest of Reflektor, which is released October 29th.
Listen to “Afterlife” below:
As the date draws nearer to the ultimate release for Reflektor, Arcade Fire seamlessly excite fans again with another trailer. Since appearing at performances like the YouTube’s Music Awards, and the Bridge School Benefit Show, they’ll perform on “The Colbert Report” October 21st. Expect (or hope) to hear some new tracks. The band continues to hold us on a string.
Nonethless, view the cryptic and beautiful trailer below:
So as the dust has sort of settled with the release of the new single, “Reflektor”, I can honestly say I enjoyed it a lot. At first, I hated it. Then, I disliked it. Following that I accepted in myself that it’s a great track. The shift in sound is very different compared to the past Arcade Fire sound, but let’s face it, when a band wins a Grammy for album of the year, are they ever the same? The band has arguably become even more experimental with Reflektor as the rumors grow. Yet, as everyone knows, nothing is for sure until the album is released. Here’s what you should expect following the release of Reflektor on October 29th:
Lead vocalist, Win Butler, has announced that Reflektor will be a double album, marking longer tracks, and an overall gigantic collection of songs. He also noted that the two sides will present two distinct vibes. The question is, what will the sides sound like? Well for one, Arcade Fire has never been afraid to touch on themes like nostalgia, growing up, questioning life, so forth on the “meaning of life” metaphors. The way it will translate into music might be a tough call at this point, but never the less it’ll be interesting to see.
This is a tough call right now, but as the first single dropped it seems like an appropriate gesture. The DFA records and LCD Soundsystem founder, James Murphy, is producing Reflektor, so don’t be surprised to hear his influence on these songs. I apologize in advance if anyone despises LCD Soundsystem, but I wonder then why anyone would hate such a great band. “Reflektor” was chock full of the signature groovy, steady beat that Murphy does perfectly, but on a double album will it be enough to hold up?
Bowie has already confirmed that, in fact, it was him on the band’s first single. Not surprising in the least as he’s already cited himself as a fan since Funeral‘s release way back in 2004. Now the question is who’s next? Many musicians today agree that Arcade Fire will be held as the original Indie bands of the 21st century, and that could open many doors to other musicians for appearances on songs. The band was spotted on LCD Soundsystem’s documentary, Shut Up and Play The Hits, along side The National and Sufjan Stevens. The potential for opportunities is enormous, but how amazing would that combination be? Add Owen Pallet into the mix, and that’s a guarantee for an award somewhere.
Rising High or Falling Fast:
The band has only grown since it’s debut, and although fans recite Funeral as the ultimate winner, it’s hard for the music industry to argue with the biggest Grammy award. They’ve influenced music forever, won every award imaginable by many publications, and have the album of the year award by the Grammy’s as an indie band under their belt, but is there room to grow? Arcade Fire has extremely high expectations to meet, considering their only three albums in, yet have been consistent since their beginnings. Reflektor so far is very promising, but with 8 minutes in, and possibly 70+ to go on the double album, should we lower our expectations?
Everything is up for debate until the release of Reflektor. The band’s influence on music only proves that this is one of the most anticipated releases of year, and decade following The Suburbs, which reserved them a spot in indie music history for breaking down barriers of independent music. Reflektor comes out October 29th, and you can watch the video for the single of the same name below.
- Song of the day: Arcade Fire wows with Reflektor (masmusicblog.com)
- New Arcade Fire song Reflektor leaked early…..listen here (blogs.montrealgazette.com)
- Arcade Fire – “Reflektor” (stereogum.com)
- Arcade Fire, “Reflektor” (theawl.com)
- This Might Be Arcade Fire’s Reflektor Album Cover (stereogum.com)
- David Bowie Confirms Arcade Fire “Reflektor” Collaboration_ (oddly-even.com)
The time has come. I can finally wear my Arcade Fire shirt with pride as they’re now relevant to everyone who’s listened to music past 2007. The Grammy award winners, and indie icons have announced a new single, along with a video that will be dropping on Monday (It fits the 9/9 9PM scheme). Even from the trailer, I’m very excited to see what they do, as the 40 seconds of sound they release is total kick-ass. Relfektor is supposed to drop Octobert 29th, and you can view the trailer below.
A quick note to readers, get hyped. The Washington, DC indie-rockers have announced their first album in 12 years, titled Uncanny Valley, it’s set to release October 15th. A message from the band’s facebook says,
“The Dismemberment Plan is pleased to announce that on October 15, it will release Uncanney Valley, its fifth LP and first since 2001′s Change.
This music will be available for digital download. It will also be sold in the compact disc and vinyl 12″ formats.We are very happy with how it turned out and can’t wait for everyone to hear it… we’re also super excited to play these songs at shows this fall.”
How exciting is this! The band has made huge strides in promoting indie-rock, especially with their 1999 album, Emergency & I. So excited for this. Also expect shows to follow-up this release.
In the mean time, check out some classics by the band:
On the brink of a new album, M.I.A. has released the single, “Bring The Noize”. The new release, titled MATANGI, is a follow-up to the 2010 album, Maya. The album failed to reach the success of the great Kala, which was released another three years earlier in 2007 (“Paper Planes” anyone?). The multi-talented British artist seems to have dabbed her toes in every genre surrounding a drum machine, and she kills it for the most part.
The song is aggressive from the get-go, and it blends traditional Middle-Eastern singing with a few drones. That’s before the song breaks into a chopped and jumpy combination of vocal splices. She uses her voice are a drum beat that oddly reminds me the “Otis” off of Watch The Throne last year. The difference is that this song is way closer to a trap song than “Otis”.
Her rapping is quite typical, but in M.I.A. fashion. She touches on telling people off, her heritage, and how far she has come. Most of the time I have to laugh at musicians when they mention this, but she has my fullest respect when she talks about her success. Kala and Maya are chart toppers, and a British Female with Tamil decent who has broken into the American music market is remarkable. I’ll give you an idea to how difficult that is, and the only other successful person of Tamil decent in American entertainment is Aziz Ansari. Huge respect for M.I.A.
Her videos as well is semi-controversial. She makes light of a few topics like religion, and life in India, but in a way that’s respectable. Her contrast between the outside of the venue with it’s dusty and bleak roads compared to the indoor club is quite creative. I’ve always enjoyed the cultural aspect behind M.I.A. videos, and even if in the end they’re for pure entertainment, I like to think there’s a deeper meaning behind them.
M.I.A. always has a few tricks up her sleeve, with a great closer that separates itself from the rest of the track. It’s slower, but still retains the energy found in the hard hitting chorus and verses. The gold background of the music video gives me full reason to believe that it’s a section that will lead into another track. Not to mention it’s one of the best parts of the song. It’s cut time beat of the drum is so minimal, but it adds the effect of the song growing even if it’s not. The native Indian influence that is found on so many M.I.A. tracks shines again on the closing section of the song.
It’s reasons like this that makes 2013 such a great year so far. Knowing that new M.I.A. is coming gets me fired up for the summer, and fall, and winter. Make that the whole year. Make that all of 2013, and the albums released before today. So much music has come out this year that stands out to me, it’s a shame knowing that 2014 is around the corner. Who knows, maybe a new Avalanches album could be in the works? Nonetheless, check out “Bring The Noize” below.