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Best of the 00s: Luomo, Manu Chau & Microphones

Posted by March 17th, 2013 No Comments »

Best of the 00s: Gabe Joins the 21st Century
Part 27: Luomo, Manu Chau & Microphones 
By Gabe Baker & Matt Ashworth 

Nada Co-founders Matt and Gabe are listening to 197 of the music press’s picks for “best albums of the 00s” for a series called Gabe Joins the 21st Century.

Luomo – Vocalcity
Pitchfork #43

Matt: Vocalcity seems to be a series of blips and bleeps designed for some sort of space age dinner party. The best moments are when Finnish producer Luomo imbues his “microhouse” compositions with actual human vocals, but for the most part it just sounds like pleasant background music. Grade: LIKE

Gabe: I apparently do not have the aural vocabulary to appreciate “microhouse”, which Wikipedia says is “a subgenre of house and glitch music.” Further research indicates that the term microhouse was coined by Pitchfork critic Philip Sherburne, who says microhouse is “a genre that seemed to take the essential template of house music and shrink its constituent parts (that shoomping beat, a cavernous sense of space, and an echo of soul music as processed through disco) down to byte-sized pieces, leaving a schematic of dotted lines swimming through oceans of dubwise absence.” All of which makes we want to respond with a Philly-style “fuuuuuuuuuhk you.” Grade: DNL

Manu Chao Proxima EstacionManu Chao – Proxima Estacion: Esperanza’s #7

Gabe: Growing up, I hated “world music.” In the 80s, the term appeared to reference washed-up rock stars like Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel and David Byrne going on safari in order to steal some native sounds as a gimmick to boost sales and appear conscientious.  Manu Chao is what I thought world music should sound like.  Horns, chants, mariachi, and more languages than I can count, mixed together as a soundtrack for a global dance party.  To summarize: “Me gustas marijuana/me gustas tu.” Grade: LOVE

Matt: Man do I adore this album. It reminds me of the good times living with my sister and pleasantly takes me outside of my normal musical wheelhouse. (Incidentally, I think I stole the CD copy of this that I gave to my sister for Christmas… sorry Meg.) Anyhow, Manu’s an Argentininian dude who has a big, kick-ass band with a full horn section. He writes great songs in four langauges (English, French, Portugese and some sort of Arabic type deal I should probably look up), though throughout Proxma Estacion his music communicates despite language. As best I can tell, the album’s recurring theme is about partying and being nice to people. I don’t know exactly what he’s saying on “Denia,” but I know it’s about a girl and that’s enough. And the way it bleeds in from the previous song, “Me Gustas Tu” is worthy of comparisons in sequencing genius to the Beatles putting “Here Comes the Sun” after “I Want You (She’s So Heavy). I gotta make sure and make my sister a copy of this. Grade: LOVE

Microphones The Glow Pt 2Microphones – The Glow Pt. 2
Stereogum’s #30

Gabe: The Microphones’ Phil Elvrum seems like an auteur in the mode of Isaac Brock, Conor Oberst, or Jeff Mangum.  Accordingly, my knee jerk reaction on first listen was to dismiss The Glow as pretentious twaddle.  But I warmed up to this with every listen, until I almost want to call it a lo fi mediation on blood and nature and death and stuff.  Or a masterful song cycle comparable to Astral Weeks.  The songs are sort of abstract and repetitive, but over time the sounds coalesce into something unique and pretty super. Grade: LOVE

Matt: I’m rooting for Phil Elvrum and his projects, Microphones and Mount Eerie. I lived in Olympia when he was first releasing music on that city’s K Records and saw him perform on his own or in various bands several times, often at someone’s house or a loft somewhere. He’s played with fellow K Records Indie rockers Old Time Relijun and Mirah and had help from kindred DYI spirits – Anna Oxygen, Dennis Driscoll and Calvin Johnson, to name a few. The Glow Pt. II certainly captures that collaborative lo-fi spirit. I love the transition between the unengaging nothingness of opening track “I Want Wind to Blow” to the loud fuzz of the title track and “The Moon” and “The Map” are both kind of nice, but nothing else really keeps my attention.
I read that this album was lauded for its production, or rather the way in which the album simply and plainly captures Elvrum and his songs, but to me it just sounds like there are too many times when Phil and company could barely be bothered to finish the songs before they turned the tape on.  As my 6 year-old would say, “this just isn’t my cup of tea.” GRADE: DNL

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