Short Circuits 8 - By Volume

Got our poster on her wall so every boy that she brings back will see my best side. Johnny Foreigner - Stop Talking About Ghosts
HeckBear

Short Circuits 8

Tayyab discusses the dwindling appeal of artist anonymity, bedroom production -- though what matters most is the tunes. Author: on September 12, 2013
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DJ Yolo Bear – That Good Good (LuckyMe, 2013)

To echo Matt McDonald’s investigation on Thump, it’s not quite clear whether DJ Yolo Bear is a genuine rising talent waiting for the right moment to unmask their self, or simply is an inside joke, dreamt up by Scottish label LuckyMe. A family of artists championing the bombastic sounds of TNGHT (Hudson Mohawke & Lunice), S-Type and Machindrum, softened with a touch of Jacques Greene subtlety, LuckyMe are clearly associated with Yolo Bear. The label’s own Obey City, is the latest attempt at fixing the moniker at someone, while Eclair Fifi pens the only known image of the enigma. The artist anonymity trope is one that has worn out its welcome in today’s world, though the case of Yolo Bear is not so frustrating as it is comical. If anything, that makes total sense in the world of the Yolo Bear – with songs like “Bring That Ass To The Table” and “Make U Touch My”, the theme of the proceedings is unhinged and unhindered fun.

“That Good Good” will be the first Yolo Bear vinyl release, carrying the baton from previous audio escapades pushing what’s becoming a surprisingly quintessential Yolo Bear sound: vocal samples – adlibs, croons, pick-up lines – are chopped and chucked into the blender, thrown into a frenetic concoction of sentences that thankfully make more sense sonically than they do grammatically. The sampling style borrows from juke without inheriting the aggressive, difficult drums, instead dragging a break mixdown into Jersey club territory. Like other Yolo Bear releases, “That Good Good” is instantly striking, with its sexually-charged content pumped into overload, to the point where the song also makes for comedic entertainment listening – “what is this? / dick!” Sparse output combined with the lack of a hybrid take on footwork, with such outrageous abandon, has kept the sound from growing stale, so Yolo Bear’s sheen continues to shine. Even so, my advice is grab it while it’s still hot.

Tim Hecker – Virginal II (Kranky, 2013)

After joining Daniel Lopatin’s venture as Instrumental Tourist, Tim Hecker returns to Kranky, home of his last solo album, the seminal Ravedeath, 1972. This time round, Hecker has expressed desire to ditch the greyed, colder approach for something more human. New album Virgins comes from live ensemble pieces recorded over several periods in various places, and the track “Virginal II” leads the PR charge with a chiming piano loop that’s spooky and foreboding without the ominous weight that usually comes with such feelings. There’s comfort in the eeriness, like the sense of danger that sparks feelings of life, as one explores the fringes of the unknown. “Virginal II” enchants an atmosphere reminiscent of Pantha Du Prince’s Bell Laboratory experiments. Albeit purged of pulsating techno and flushed out with synthesisers, swelling into transcendent oscillations. Hecker’s latest is a song that cleanses and reforms, forcibly, yet gently wiping away tears, doubts and fears in order to reward curiosity and courage.

vla.duet – Mirraurs (Unreleased, 2013)

Earth is in need of many things: happiness, equality, world peace… this list goes on. One thing the world probably doesn’t need is another bedroom producer. However, can you ever have too much good music? At By Volume, we don’t really think so, whatever end of the spectrum, and though the Manchester-based, classically-trained vla.duet’s “Mirraurs” remains unmastered, it’ll still catch you with its rusted, blunt hook. The track repels and attracts simultaneously, led by a magnetic ringing over a choppy, hesitant beat. The unease draws listeners in, like a venture into an abandoned building where sounds have been left and forgotten for some time, before crawling out of their shadows. Compelling hi-hat work meets bass wobbles that at first seem like they can be danced to before breaking into disrepair. “Mirraurs” is a trip you think you know, until it throws in a few worthy surprises for good measure.

BANKS – This Is What It Feels Like (Harvest, 2013)

“This Is What It Feels Like” opens with a relatively grating, un-pop vocoder sound, preceding brief silence before the plunge into BANKS’ luxurious vocals. The music wanders to more familiar grounds of electronic-RnB quite quickly, over an easy beat and synths that play like strings. Still, there’s an irregular feel to it all – perhaps it’s too perfect. Indeed, there are many great moments, such as those isolated sections with heavy reverb on background vocal samples or the easily-missable wind instrument-style synth. The song is undeniably focused on its sound than any message, with layered cuts of BANKS’ voice dressing the mix. I’m not so sure it brings anything new to the table, though interestingly, it’s produced by Lil Silva and Jamie Woon. “This Is What It Feels Like” showcases some of Lil Silva’s more delicate creative skills in the wake of his Distance EP while Jamie Woon’s gradual resurface only bodes well for those hoping for the sequel to Mirrorwriting, and the pair’s involvement helps things make that much more sense as Lil Silva’s percussion traits and Woon’s RnB manipulations reveal their secrets. The track is a part of BANKS’ London EP ahead of her tour dates with The Weeknd. While a strong production, “This Is What It Feels Like” bears no distinct, unique characteristics from either three of its contributors, working against its favour even if it does represent a very worthy collaboration and compromise. Regardless, the outro is simply divine and is sure to leave the right feeling.

Factory Floor – Work Out (DFA, 2013)

Every so often I express surprise about the fact that Factory Floor are signed to DFA Records. DFA are known to be defined by dance-ability, over everything else – whether it’s indie-disco or Balearic, it has to be fun for both the mind and the body. Perhaps I’m wrong – Eric Copeland’s Joke In The Hole brilliantly tramples all over any expectations I could have of the label. Still, Factory Floor’s post-industrial, often hard-hitting, occasionally-noise productions seem odd when placed next to The Rapture, but then tracks like “Work Out” from their debut album Factory Floor fit everything into place again. Factory Floor are DFA through-and-through.

“Work Out” is cheekily playful from the offset, with a sound that prods and provokes to poke you off the wall and get things moving with a smorgasbord of percussion lifts. Factory Floor take their time, building things up for several minutes despite kicking off early from the get-go – it’s easily to let yourself be carried by each bar on a track that dances around any real developments because it knows it’s having fun where it’s at. The penultimate track on a highly impressive LP. “Work Out” rewards those willing to move (or rather stay) with it, playing with effortless funk.

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