May 2011

Arcade Fire x David Byrne. No Words. Thanks Sound Verite
Arcade Fire – Speaking In Tongues by ListenBeforeYouBuy


Como Asesinar a Felipes//Un Disparo al Centro

by Santos Ramos on May 17, 2011

Como Asesinar a Felipes’ latest release (and debut album on Koolarrow records), Un Disparo al Centro, takes the group’s sound into uncharted territory. Collaborating with the Juvenile National Symphony Orchestra of Santiago adds an epic element to their already diverse amalgamation of hip-hop, jazz, rock, and psychedelic music.

This tone is a bit darker than I’m used to hearing from CAF–in a good way. It’s not a depressing sort of emo darkness, but a haunting sort mad scientist darkness. It steps with tons of confidence, though, as though they mean exactly what they play and nothing else.

This one’s a short listen, but it’s packed with carefully crafted tracks that are sure to stretch your musical reference points. Orchestral arrangements with neo-jazz drums, Subcomandante Marcos’ intelligently spacey keys, brilliant scratching and sampling by DJ Sapcio, and the eclectic, melodic emceeing of Koala Contreras? If you don’t like this album then there’s something wrong with you.

Being that this is their first release with a label outside of Chile (past releases have been through Santiago’s Potoco Discos), it’ll be interesting to see how much the rest of the world catches on. CAF certainly deserves all the success they are able to find.

And mad props for the EZLN reference, guys (Subcomandante Marcos).

Here’s one of the songs off the album, “Cuando la verdad no encaja.”

Buy this album on itunes here.

And check out Koolarrow’s Vimeo page for more CAF songs, as well as songs by their other artists.

CAF Myspace

CAF Facebook


Como Asesinar a Felipes // Colores y Cadáveres

by Santos Ramos on May 12, 2011

This isn’t so much a review of Como Asesinar a Felipes‘ 2008 release, Colores y Cadáveres, as it is an inspection of the quintet within the context of that album.

At the root, CAF is an amalgamation of progressive jazz and hip-hop, but they are by no means contained by that label. DJ Spacio’s carefully-crafted sampling adds an atmospheric texture not often found in either genre, while the group’s jazz canvas–delivered via bass, drums, and keys–gives new life to his more traditional hip-hop method of scratching.

Providing additional flexibility to the group is the bass guitar, which grants them the opportunity to project further outside the jazz realm and into rock-related riffs and climaxes.

The keys remain haunting throughout the album, drifting seamlessly between that chaotically familiar jazz ramble and a more tonal sort of spaciness.

Perhaps the most interesting relationship at play here, though, is between the drums and vocals. A criticism of hip-hop has been that it can be too vocal-oriented (as if all music needs to fit some universal set of standards to actually be considered music), that hip-hop percussion can be robotic and monotonous, even when the shit pops.

the group's emcee, Koala Contreras. photo by Natalia Elís

The integration of new technologies and the increasing accessibility of samples, sound libraries, and manipulation tools has corrected this perspective to an extent by allowing programming percussionists a greater capacity to compose in a more texture-conscious fashion. Really, these changes have simply circumvented the redundant percussion criticism by diverting the listener’s attention from rhythm to tone.

CAF destroys the prejudice in a direct manner, however. The percussion (excluding bass) are almost exclusively performed on [click to continue…]


Violent Protests @ Michigan State University

by Santos Ramos on May 3, 2011

For some god-forsaken reason, most people don’t know about the violent student protests that erupted at Michigan State University a few decades back. The entire school was forced to shut down for 60 days as thousands of students barricaded themselves inside campus to protest massive budget cuts that would have spiked tuition, killed many stipends and scholarships, and imposed hefty new fees.

The roughly 3,000 student protesters on campus set up tents and portable showers, broadcast their own radio station, and put on daily performances of music, theatre, and poetry to articulate their struggle to those watching–and to each other.

As the resistance lingered, students began running low on supplies. They were surrounded by law enforcement officials who were ordered to not let anyone enter or leave the encampment unless it was to completely disassemble. Desperate parents began rushing towards the barricade to throw food, water, and other necessities over the gates and into the arms of their hungry, dehydrated, and ailing children. Those parents were met with state violence, many of them beaten and bloodied.

Professors at MSU consistently voted–almost unanimously–to continue their support for the students throughout this endeavor. And the public put on demonstrations of their own; they came out in tens of thousands to show their solidarity in opposing this attack on affordable education. The university, though apparently hurting for money, launched a $1 million media campaign in an attempt to sway public opinion in their direction. It didn’t work.

After 60 days of striking, the demands of the students and teachers were met (at the time they didn’t realize that it was a temporary agreement that would soon be given the knife, or else they probably would never have halted the resistance). Celebrations ensued as the protests were hailed victorious. The people spoke, and the authorities listened! The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) immediately hosted a delegation in [click to continue…]


Double Rainbow // Fuck the Internet

by Santos Ramos on May 3, 2011

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been hard-pressed to find good new music that’s not withering under the escapist umbrella currently shading us to death. Sometimes it shades us with metaphor (abstractness: Radioheadisms). Sometimes it shades us with Jersey Shore (gym, tanner, diet: Honkey Tonk Badonkadonkness).

But sometimes, SOMETIMES you find a sound that gives you both the artistry and reality fixes you need in order to keep yourself sane. Thus, Double Rainbow is a humble fist in the face of the internet age, their unpolished sound a refreshing anomaly from the legions of over-edited musicians whining about girlfriends and boyfriends.

I originally checked them out thinking it would be a joke band based more directly on the Double Rainbow youtube video, but I was immediately smacked in the face by some sick and serious neo/minimalist-hip-hop. The instrumentation is straightforward, with simple rhythm guitar and solid drums that choose to deviate at all the right places.

The vocal melodies are the half-rapping baby of Black Francis & Alec Ounsworth. And the lyrics are clever enough to directly address the ravenous pangs of capitalist culture while staying grounded with a personalized sense of struggle amidst a clusterfuck of sociopolitical lies. This sentiment is, perhaps, best exemplified in the opening verse of “I Talk English,” the first track on the band’s recently released EP entitled, Fuck the Internet:

disarmament is an alarming bargain/but i’m an artist/so i’m not about to get a gun and start guarding the banks…this country is under construction/men shoveling gravel may marvel at their function/their children will be schooled in consumption/may god have mercy on their souls

The best place to check out and purchase their tracks is at their Bandcamp page, where you can also read the lyrics. Do it. Do it now.