My six year old says she doesn’t like this music “because it’s scary.” She finds the ticking clock sound disconcerting. “It sounds like someone’s gonna get me.” Hirohito Ihara, founder of Kobe-based radicalfashion, admits that he can’t escape from the subconscious influence of his surroundings. The resulting abstract compositions will seep right back into your subconscious. Unlike my daughter, I find the rhythmic found sounds soothing, and as radicalfashion intersperses his dreamy piano playing throughout the track it triggers a reassuring nostalgia. I don’t promise the same reaction for you. On his debut, Odori, Ihara lets his subconscious take the lead and stays back, out of the way, leaving the listener plenty of open space between notes to create their own meaning from his work.
Tacoma, Washington. Home of the underappreciated, yet thoroughly ruling punk band Seaweed. At one point I think I had eight Seaweed t-shirts. One of them had the band’s logo on the front, and in large, capital letters “VISUALIZE TACOMA.” I’ve never been to Tacoma, but from what I hear there’s nothing special to visualize. Then there’s Eliot Lipp. His two latest releases were recorded in L.A. while he had Tacoma on the brain. So what did he do? AURALIZE TACOMA. The soulful grooves on Tacoma Mockingbird, and the new Days EP, grew from his moods and emotions while reflecting back on his hometown and friends. His output is a simple, yet simmering synth stew of well-worn breakbeats with Lipp’s retro, yet timeless, twist. His goal was to create a classic electro sound which he pulled off with his economic use of synths and beats. Think New Order pitched down to Grandmaster Five’s tempo, and drop in a lick of their rhythm.
My family is about 1700 miles away right now, which probably makes me even more of a sucker than usual for this meditative, lonely man’s free jazz. Or maybe there’s an even deeper connection I’m feeling… Solo Andata is a long-distance duo as well: Paul Piocco and Kane Ikin, who live in Perth, Australia, and Stockholm, Sweden, respectively. They collaborate by means of modern connectivity, as I do with my wife and kids, which is great but means you kinda have to fill in the gaps in time and distance with your own imagination and memories. The resulting sessions are sparse, yet richly textured and nuanced, giving you the sense—and I know I sound like Abe Simpson when I say this— that you can actually hear the wear and tear that comes from sending their tracks back and forth over such long distances.
Be sure to check out their remix as part of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Stop Rokkasho project, available on their MySpace page.
Let’s get his pedigree out of the way. Yes, John Hughes is related to that John Hughes (Sixteen Candles, Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller). It’s a father/son relationship. The younger Hughes (the third actually) runs Hefty Records out of Chicago. Ten years ago he started the label as a way to get his own music out back when he was recording under the moniker Bill Ding (his other nom de beat is Slicker). Hefty has released some amazing albums, including the new Eliot Lipp, Telefon Tel Aviv, and essential re-issues and remixes from trombonist/Motown player, Phil Ranelin. Back to Hughes’ music… “Gull” is featured on the new IA-Tunes EP, a digital version of Hefty’s Immediate Action series. This track has a great xylophone riff that sounds not unlike a riff in Kraftwerk’s “Tour de France.” In fact, “Gull” sounds as if “Tour de France” somehow broke and Hughes came across the pieces and put them back together to form a completely new song. In fact Hughes composed pretty much the entire song with his sick collection of modular synths. If you’re new to this world of Hefty, I suggest you jump in now, and jump in deep. If you’re already a fan, share your favorite Hefty moments with us in the comments.