I’ve been back home for a couple of days now and in the hours that I’ve actually been conscious and not having fluorescent punch poured down my throat, I’ve been steadily hunting the web for new music. As my fellow Hunters can attest to, this Bandcamp scouring caper can be an addictive pursuit. I found myself relishing the poaching of new discoveries once again, shaking my head as I did so at the sheer abundance of high quality music out there. The fresh meat has been piled onto the back of the virtual truck and there is much to be mounted upon the Bandcamp Hunter den wall in coming weeks. As an animal lover this metaphor makes me sightly ill however I will stick to my guns, as it were.
I haven’t had a whole lot of time to process all the wonderful music The Huntress and BCH The 3rd (is that what he’s calling himself?) have posted so I’m going to go with something I found a couple of days ago, something I’m enjoying very much. Earlier in the year I followed the MJMJ Records story with interest-a tale of two guys moving from Wisconsin to LA in order to grow their record label and pursue their love of music. Once there however, their dreams were shat upon by some nasty scum suckers who pilfered everything they owned. Computers, clothes…the works. But these blokes didn’t collapse and cry (so the story I goes anyway-I certainly would have), they didn’t flee back to the icy north. Nay, they have continued to build MJMJ Records and release excellent music. Such as this split release from Esta Vivo and Gracie.
Sunrise is a power punch opener to this collection, a joyous little rocker full of summery harmonies and booming percussion. It’s a suggestion of things to come in some ways but also not at all. Both of these artists are eclectic : dipping into rock, pop, dance and tropicalia to produce a splendid musical mix. A lot of these tunes will engage your hips and flex your smile muscles-listen to Wonder Away and Natural Blossom by Esta Vivo and tell me you can’t taste the piña colada, tell me you don’t want to tongue kiss a stranger. You are lying if you do. It’s not all palm trees and happy juice though-Just for Us is an abstract slice of intriguing electronica while the wonderfully realised Spring, Wake Me Up is a melancholy conclusion to Vivo’s contribution.
Gracie’s music leans more towards the chill side of things. These are gentle songs, beautifully crafted and infused with a tropical beat. The vocals are more hushed than Vivo’s deep tones, his simple lyrics floating throughout the lush soundscapes of acoustic guitar, piano and beats. Occasionally a scything electric guitar makes an appearance (midway through the fantastic For Dylan, From Africa), but nothing here sounds obtrusive, it’s music that has been constructed with great artistry.
These two artists compliment each other perfectly, particularly with those tropical sounds and complex, infectious beats. Another stellar release from MJMJ records then - it’s inspiring to see true music lovers persevering through adversity to share such wonderful music with us all. Long may they ride.
Post script : One of my favourite Bandcamp albums of the year is another MJMJ release - No Coast by Wild Ghosts. It’ll feature highly in my Bandcamp Picks of the Year which-along with the favourite releases of the other Hunters-will be published next Friday.
I know I skipped a week of ‘Pick of The Week’ back there in the chaos of the last fortnight but I’m hoping you, dearest, gentle reader, will let that slide. Grace. I might do a double post of pick of the week to make up for it. See how much time I have on my hands tomorrow. But for now this is it.
I got that buzz, I got it through my whole body. The tingle down the spine, the weightless feeling in my gut. I physically lent forward, curled, top heavy towards the monitor at work (oh yeah right?) and felt the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. Surprise, anticipation and excitement. That was just from the sonic CLANG that punctuated the bass line in the first song of the LP Spectacles. When his voice kicked in…it was like a release of endorphins. A little personal, private victory, a discovery of something that I hadn’t heard before. A twist on a well known path, dude is singing it in Cantonese. I don’t know. I wish you were all there with me at the time. I had a ‘moment’ that’s for sure. I probably would have pashed a couple of you. Definately hugs. No shit.
This album is drone and dark, dirty rock. It’s an aural caffeine hit. A low, buzzing, thrill thudding relentlessly into your brain stem. I thought for a little while that I wish I could understand what they are singing, but I think I’m happier not knowing. In fact, I don’t want to know. I’ve always associated anyone speaking in a Chinese dialect with a certain kind of tonality, a sort of tonality that I never really thought would suit anything but the traditional Chinese operas that I have listened to. I guess it adds to the thrill, that the vocals on this release are delivered on such a flat, stubbornly droney and dark scale. It just turned my expectations on their head. I mean, I’m still, in this writeup, only 30 seconds into my first listen. You getting me here? It fucking rocked my world.
The album continues along in this vein; it’s really satisfying. You settle into the groove and the subdural violence of the base and guitar and constant drilling vocals and then out of the blue ‘The Loop Swing’ which is song 5, launches at you like a facehugger from your speakers. It’s a changeup. a curveball. The vocals are delivered with a touch more tonality, the guitar ramps it up into a slightly surfy feel and I don’t think they could have set out the order of this album any better. Lulled into a droney, satisfying coma, songs 5 and 6 slap you in the face and take a dump in your brain. In a good way.
There’s a very clear linearity that runs through this wonderful album. I love it very much. It’s one of my favourite releases of the year. Hands down. And my first pick of the week for a while. I think I will do another tomorrow. I have the album in mind and this has flowed out reasonably smoothly on the first take. Please let us know your thoughts.