Playlist: El Perro Del Mar, Domenico, Bjork and Other New Music

Written By Unknown on Minggu, 02 Desember 2012 | 16.43

Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin


"Don't want to feel lonely," sings El Perro del Mar — the recording name of the Swedish songwriter Sarah Assbring — from the isolation of the recording studio on her fifth album, "Pale Fire" (The Control Group). Love, particularly how elusive it is, is her continuing topic, but she has greatly changed her approach to it for this album. She has exchanged physical instruments for synthetic sounds. At the same time she has pushed her structures away from verse-chorus-verse pop, turning instead to the repetition and accretion of dance music. The songs only hint at club land from a distance; beats arrive in a lush haze of overdubbed voices and floating tones. As she watches love drift into and, more often, out of reach, the songs find themselves dissolving too.


Left field is never far away for the Brazilian songwriter Domenico on his album "Cine Privê" (Plug Research). Domenico Lancelotti's collaborators from his previous album as a leader, "Sincerely Hot," in 2003, were Moreno Veloso (Caetano's son) and Kassin; they return on this one along with a United States contingent including Wilco's percussionist Glenn Kotche and the Beastie Boys' frequent keyboardist Money Mark. The music's core is Domenico's nonchalant voice, succinct tunes, very Brazilian rhythms and deceptively live-sounding small-group arrangements, with knowingly retro 1960s pop touches. But Domenico sideswipes them or engulfs them in the unexpected: minimalist repetitions, an overlay of funk, a rippling curtain of synthesizers or a tsunami of drums and echoey guitars. Under siege, the songs sound even more adamantly modest. In "Pedra e Areia," Domenico toys with the words "Pedra vira areia" ("Stone turns to sand") over Afro-Brazilian drums and a bass vamp, answered by Adriana Calcanhotto sweetly completing the thought in a smooth electro-bossa chorus: "nas ombras do mar" ("in the waves of the sea"). It's a promise of transformation through deluge.

Tame Impala

Tame Impala, the Australian band led by Kevin Parker, clings to the fuzzed, phased, echoing sounds of late-1960s psychedelia in all their disorienting splendor. The music on the band's second album, "Lonerism" (Modular Recordings), could almost be whooshing through a paisley-shaped hole in the space-time continuum. But since the band's guitar-centered 2010 debut album, "Innerspeaker," Mr. Parker has found a new fixation: synthesizers, analog of course, which now heave their own wobbly and not-quite-in-tune notes into the foreground and push songs toward midtempo. Tame Impala saves itself from mere revivalism with 21st-century self-consciousness and, tucked amid the swirl and buzz, touching confessions of insecurity: "Am I getting closer? Will I ever get there?"

Scott Walker

The artiest of art-song rockers, Scott Walker always reaches for the magnum opus. His voice embraces operatic drama; he has a sustained baritone croon suffused with tragic, hollow-eyed despair and bitter gallows humor, and he's not shy about letting it linger unaccompanied. His ambitious songs visualize a world suffused with strife, torments and decay, a realm phantasmagoric enough for Hieronymous Bosch. Consider "SDSS 1416+13B (Zercon, a Flagpole Sitter)," the longest track on his new album, "Bish Bosch" (4AD). It's a 22-minute song named after a brown dwarf star and a Moorish dwarf jester in the court of Attila the Hun. Its lyrics juggle historical allusions, insult humor and reflections on astronomy; its music encompasses a tolling electric guitar, atonal sustained strings, a hard-rock stomp and long seconds of silence. "Epizootics!" — the title means epidemics among animals — rides a horn section, hand claps, a sometimes swinging beat and a slide guitar. The album can be heavy going, with or without a dictionary, but its sheer, lapidary obsessiveness provides its own rewards.

"Diablos del Ritmo"

After Brazil, Colombia has South America's second-largest African-rooted population, and, particularly on its Caribbean coast, local styles and favorite imports — like Afro-Cuban salsa — hold deep African undercurrents. Throw in, as a catalyst, an influx of discs direct from Africa that were widely played by sound-system D.J.'s, and Colombian musicians had ample incentive to create the hybrid grooves collected on the two-CD "Diablos del Ritmo: The Colombian Melting Pot 1960-1985" (Analog Africa). The 32 songs in this set encompass rambunctious remakes of African tunes, Colombian twists on salsa and African funk, and regional Colombian rhythms holding echoes of Africa behind the accordions, clarinets and raw voices. There are extensive liner notes — though, alas, few hints of what the lyrics mean — to be studied or ignored. The songs jump anyway.


"Biophilia," Björk's 2011 album of songs as science lessons and apps, set austere, abstract parameters for its music: often using unique or rare instruments, almost entirely acoustic, full of harp plinks and choral harmonies. Few of the remixes she assembled for "Bastards" (Nonesuch) try to push the songs onto the dance floor — though there is a dubstep version of "Solstice" by Current Value, and Omar Souleyman turns two songs into Syrian electro. Nearly all of the remixes preserve Björk's vocal verses, keeping the narratives. And most of them, from Death Grips' percussive spatters to Matthew Herbert's spacious processionals, bring out something earthier in the songs — enough to clarify that whether she's singing about tectonic plates or viruses, all the way down to the molecular level of DNA's "everlasting necklace," Björk is usually singing about bonding and attraction: some kind of love.

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