Music’s never been an emotional escape for me. In most cases, creating music has taken over that role instead, while listening to it is more recreational. What I seek in music, usually, ends up being simple, catchy pop songs. That’s how I’ve always been, really. People will tell me about the inner rolercoasters that “Album A” put them on and I more often than not find myself unable to reciprocate those feelings. So what am I supposed to say when an album finally does that to me — makes me have a real emotional response? Continue reading
Monthly Archives: November 2010
Welcome to Fermata Over Whole Rest’s first video review! There might be more of these, but we’re honestly more focused on actual writing because it’s cleaner and by cleaner, I obviously mean “professional” (derp). So, view to your hearts content and see me try to explain why I like my favorite album. Shit’s tough.
So, in short:
WINNER: “Black on Both Sides” by Mos Def
WHY: Because it’s really hard to argue with a favorite album of all time.
When you’re working with samples, loops and hooks you run a fine line. On one hand, a repeating hook serves a lot of purpose. It’s something simple, but catchy enough to keep you entertained. But working with a looping hook is a double-edged sword – if you let it run on for too long, eventually you begin to cross the threshold from being catchy into being monotonous. “Man On the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager” is a prime example of what happens when you let your hooks take up too much of the heavy lifting: You inevitably end up with a droning, soulless, boring product. Continue reading
It’s about Turquoise Jeep Records, not about Animalistic. It’s about drums of womanhood, not about Animalistic. It’s about dead rats, not about Animalistic. It’s about Doorshit, not about Animalistic. It’s about Andrew listening to Stretchy Pants for the first time, not about Animalistic. It’s about Animalistic, not about Animalistic. It’s about Kid Cudi, not about Animalistic. It’s about Kanye, not about Animalistic. Next week’s about Swans, not about Animalistic. It’s about holding that mid-note, not about Animalistic. It’s about Andrew recording me at a moment of awesome weakness, not about Animalistic.
It’s safe to say that I’ve been waiting for this album for a while now, though it hasn’t been all that long since “808s and Heartbreak” was released. But before I go anywhere on expressing my thoughts on the album itself, let me give you the set up for Kanye as of late. September 2009: the VMAs, no explaining really needs to be done here. Since then, Kanye’s been keeping a relatively low profile, at least until Summer of 2010. There was a bunch of talk about how Kanye had been recording an album and whatever earlier this year, but he never took advantage of an outlet to tell people that. Then came “Power” out of nowhere: his redemption. This song made me realized that Kanye’s next release was going to mean hell of business. Lately, he’s been releasing one song every week for his “G.O.O.D. Fridays” series (which is amazing). The hype just kept building for Kanye West’s new album to be the greatest thing ever. Sure, that’s not reasonable, like, at all, but the end product of “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” is nothing short of awesome music from one of the most powerful artists of the last decade. Continue reading
PERIOD: Nascent (recorded 2001, released 2004)
Not much has been made of Omar’s desire to make films by anyone but Omar. It comes up infrequently in interviews, usually in tandem with discussions of the output he has and how casually he approaches releasing it, discussing how many finished albums he hasn’t finished and how he’s the same way with films. His first publicly viewed film, “The Sentimental Engine Slayer,” surfaced in 2010 and is currently touring the festival circuit. While a variety of named films show on his Wikipedia page, the only one widely known despite no public release is “A Manual Dexterity.”
“A Manual Dexterity” appears to be a charged film for Omar, deeply personal that was difficult to revisit after the passing of Jeremy Michael Ward, a founding member of The Mars Volta and a close friend. It’s fitting, then, that this album feels like it’s working around deep voids. The most obvious is the absence of the visual that the music is supposed to wrap around. It’s some of the more subtle composition work Omar has done because that’s the purpose it’s supposed to serve, and as such the album ends up serving a valuable purpose outside of the artist’s original intention, and it’s the reason this album is tagged as it is.
Said purpose? Due to the subtlety of the work, this album is an excellent primer to how Omar thinks about and composes music, as well as giving a chance for to appreciate how oddly naturalistic Omar’s compositions are. In interviews he’s described the two sides of his composition; the roots of punk and traditional Spanish music as well as his pursuit of pure expression, leading to a solid pop structure base with experimental guitar and sound manipulation being overlaid.
The whole of the album builds this incredible atmosphere around an empty space, ornate and disconcertingly familiar like the final scene of 2001. Maybe like A Manual Dexterity. The only thing I could even consider being a misstep is the outro of the album, after the abrupt arrival of frequent collaborative partner Cedric Bixler Zavala interrupts the sparse space the music had been creating. At the same time, Zavala’s lyrics give the only attempt at filling the void left by the film’s absence, so it’s difficult to judge too harshly.
This album’s importance as Omar’s first solo release along with being an easier listen than other albums of this period make recommending the album a logical conclusion. Also I guess now would be the time to mention this series is going by release chronology.