Friday, 14 December 2018

Anderson .Paak ‎– Oxnard (2018)

Genre: Hip Hop
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Aftermath Entertainment, OBE, 12Tone Music

01.   The Chase
02.   Headlow
03.   Tints
04.   Who R U?
05.   6 Summers
06.   Saviers Road
07.   Smile/Petty
08.   Mansa Musa
09.   Brother's Keeper
10.   Anywhere
11.   Trippy
12.   Cheers
13.   Sweet Chick
14.   Left To Right

With its languid pace and sunstruck mix of hedonism and tragedy, Los Angeles has always had a powerful and enduring relationship with funk music. The onset of G-funk in the ‘90s channeled the whining synthesizer experiments of Zapp and Parliament Funkadelic into something sepulchral and nihilistic and, in doing so, defined parameters for L.A. Funk. And now, you can hear Parliament-by-way-of-Dr. Dre in the music of Thundercat, Dâm-Funk, Terrace Martin, and Dre’s own Aftermath Records artist, Anderson Paak. 
On Oxnard, Paak’s follow-up to his 2016 breakthrough Malibu, the rapping, singing, and drumming polymath approaches funk from a rap perspective. When Paak allows himself to be instinctive and loose, Oxnard blends these influences with a comforting ease. Cloaked in natty threads and a horndog ladies-man persona, he favors bubbling bass, silky textures, and sunset timbres, forever somewhere between Snoop Dogg’s “G’z Up, Hoes Down” and Bootsy Collins’ “I’d Rather Be With You.” In that richly instrumented, sometimes misogynistic, and sexually debauched space, Paak has enough leeway to showcase his versatility as a vocalist. 
In the best possible way, Paak has a voice like ’80s R&B singer El DeBarge after a pack of cigarettes. Though Paak doesn’t have DeBarge’s piercing falsetto, his pitched-up, suggestive rasp is apt for a self-styled lothario. Throughout Oxnard, he exalts blowjobs and carps about a “petty bitch” and, on “Sweet Chick,” has sex with a skater who “watches anime while [he’s] laying dick.” Even his vaguely political song, “6 Summers,” opens with artless wish-casting: “Trump’s got a love child/And I hope that bitch is buckwild/[...] I hope she kiss señoritas and black gals.” Individually, his moments of hetero-masculine bluster are mostly passable—”Sweet Chick” is particularly enjoyable—but, in aggregate, they seem like a sock stuffed down the front of his jeans.
Torii MacAdams / Pitchfork

Japan ‎– Tin Drum (1981) (2003 Remastered)

Style: New Wave, Synth-pop
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Virgin, The Town Huse

1-1 The Art Of Parties
1-2 Talking Drum
1-3 Ghosts
1-4 Canton
1-5 Still Life In Mobile Homes
1-6 Visions Of China
1-7 Sons Of Pioneers
1-8 Cantonese Boy

Bonus Disc
2-1 The Art Of Parties (Single Version)
2-2 Life Without Buildings
2-3 The Art Of Parties (Live)
2-4 Ghosts (Single Version)

Despite taking its title from a German novel ('twas ever thus with the literary references for singer, David Sylvian), Tin Drum remains Japan's most Eastern-influenced album. It's all there in the song titles of course. This, their final effort, showed the band really becoming what they'd always wanted to be all through their career: An art-rock band, with aspirations towards the musicianly end of what pop could aspire to (and, aptly, a huge fanbase in their spiritual home of the Orient). Ironically as the band disintegrated (mainly due to Sylvian's urge to strike out alone) following this release,they finally shook off the sub-Roxy Music/glam goth associations that had hampered them in earlier years. 
One of the reasons that Tin Drum broke the band out of their image straightjacket (for which they were in no small part responsible, due to their propensity for make up and fey tailoring) was the departure of guitarist, Rob Dean, after the previous album, Gentlemen Take Polaroids. Moving away from the rockist trappings of six-strings, and hanging out with The Yellow Magic Orchestra's Ryuichi Sakamoto had shown the band the light. With Richard Barbieri's spectral keyboards taking the high ground, aided by the almost fusionist tones of Mick Karn's fretless bass and Steve Jansen's masterfully polyrhythmic drums, Tin Drum is, in places wonderfully minimalist and exotically esoteric. 
On top of this Sylvian's voice had matured beyond the aforementioned Ferry-lite comparisons. His mournful deep-throated trills suited songs that explored lost love (Ghosts) and the fascination with all things Eastern (the amazingly deft Visions Of China, Canton and Cantonese Boy). As with fellow so-called new romantics, Duran Duran, these boys almost straddled the line marked 'muso', yet avoided crassness with the simple application of taste. Tin Drum has no flashy waste or needless bombast, just evocative skill that remains fresh to this day.
Chris Jones / BBC Review

Japan ‎– Gentlemen Take Polaroids (1980) (2006 Remastered)

Style: New Wave, Synth-pop
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Caroline Blue Plate, Virgin

01.   Gentlemen Take Polaroids
02.   Swing
03.   Burning Bridges
04.   My New Career
05.   Methods Of Dance
06.   Ain't That Peculiar
07.   Nightporter
08.   Taking Islands In Africa
09.   The Experience Of Swimming
10.   The Width Of A Room
11.   Taking Islands In Africa (Steve Nye Remix)

After making two albums in the vein of typical post-punk and one synthpop/post-punk crossover, Japan successfully created their own and unique music. Comparing Gentlemen Take Polaroids to other artists of the same time is quite hard, because I've failed to hear anything remotely resembling this. While having sung in a punk-ish David Bowie style on previous records (except for Quiet Life), frontman and singer David Sylvian swapped his earlier singing voice to baritone, making the music sound more mature than ever. Growing up and becoming more mature applies to the music as well. Average song length is longer, greater instrumental diversity, and the lyrics are deeper and better than ever before. Even though David was only 22 at the time of recording and despite being in the music business for merily 3 years, he is very confident and targeted. Knowing his musical capabilities, and acting as band's sole song writer, David knows exactly what kind of music he wants to create. 
Kicking the album off with the strong title track, it's easy to point out how he has progressed in just over a year. Guitars no longer rely on power chords, but rather play in the background, with quirky synths and interesting fretless bass becoming more apparent. The title track is a dynamic masterpiece alternating between the experimental, free-floating middle parts, and the casual pop chorus found throughout the song. As for as diversity goes, it might actually alienate some listeners. At times, you can draw paralells between the works of minimalist artists like Brian Eno. Burning Bridges is by far the strangest track on the album, refraining from the likes of rock almost completely, but instead focusing on creating a strange atmosphere, utilizing a wide variety of synths and recording techniques. An important element to the album's quirkyness is bassist Mick Karn's fretless bass playing. It's often played in a way that almost sounds anti-catchy. The basslines are for the most part independent, and they give off a totally freaky, psychedelic vibe. However, it perfectly fits the music because of its strangeness. 
Furthermore, David has enough brain to lay off with the whacky sound, and instead deliver some very pretty ballads. Both Methods of Dance and Nightporter stand out as top notch tracks. Both are seven minutes in length, and don't fail to impress the listener in any way. Methods of Dance follow the title track's song structure, with similar elements such as the synth. However, it is much more melodic, with David singing in a much more passionate way and sharing the chorus with a female background vocalist. Nightporter on the other hand sticks out from the other songs completely. It doesn't contain any bass or drums, only vocals, piano, synth and additional woodwind and string instruments. Nightporter is the ultimate "looking out of the window while it's raining outside" song, reeking with sadness, but also beauty.  
In short, this album is strange, but good. Recommending it to everyone would be a pretty crazy thing to do, because it might be a bit hard to swallow for some listeners. Nonetheless, the album's strange sound shrouds the real element behind it: the grace. In every song, you always find moments that you can savour. If you like broadening your horizons, this album is perfect for you. Approach with an open mind.
smaugman / sputnik music