Husker Du - Savage Young Du:
“We’re not the most professional band in the Twin Cities” – Bob Mould
So Husker Du is a punk/hardcore band from Minneapolis, with a career spanning most of the ‘80’s. Though they never achieved widespread popularity, they have had a lasting influence on artists including Dinosaur Jr., Nirvana, My Bloody Valentine, and much of Minnesota’s iconoclastic indie-rock and avant-garde scenes. While each of their albums has its own unique quality, the band’s magnum opus Zen Arcade features Pink Floyd-esque conceptuality, while reaching a level of punk intensity rivalled only by the likes of Bad Brains. Zen Arcade was one of the first albums that really got me into punk rock. The band’s musical, sonic, and lyrical complexity is made awesomely accessible through a viscerally gripping, awe-inspiringly destructive primal energy.
Savage Young Du is a 3-disc set of re-issues of the band’s early work, including some previously un-heard or seldom-heard demos and live recordings, all remastered and remixed when possible to improve the garbage sound quality that marred much of the band’s work from that period. I gotta be honest, even with the marginally improved sound quality, most of the demos that start off this reissue still don’t sound very good, I would recommend for everyone who’s not already a hardcore Du fan to probably skip these tracks, except maybe “All I’ve Got To Lose Is You”. The live stuff, on the other hand truly captures the amount of mind-altering substances the band was consuming at the time, along with their frantic energy and truculent musicianship.
While Savage Young Du doesn’t quite match up with the influential genius of the band’s later work like Zen Arcade or New Day Rising, it is a fun listen and provides a unique insight into the legend status the band would go on to attain. JATIN
RIYL: edges, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4
Recc: 8, 20, 24, 32, 40, 43, 63, 68
FCC: Mostly dirty
Hailu Mergia - Wede Harer Guzo:
This week, after a lil break (did you miss me??), I’m reviewing Ethiopian organist and keyboardist Hailu Mergia’s transcendent instrumental album, Wede Harer Guzo.
I don’t want to sound too hyperbolic with my words, so as to overplay the real virtues of the album. The real virtue of this album is its heavily layered instrumentation with Mergia’s desiring keyboard and organ parts at the center, with the saxophone, occasional vocals, and very low-key percussion complement this relationship.
Despite what I’m sure was considerable refurbishment by the engineers at Awesome Tapes From Africa, there is recognizable tape hiss that is common in their releases which I adore. It is warm, dreamy, made more so by the absence of lyrics. Lyrics can really get in the way of relaxing.
I’ve been spending a lot of time reviewing and listening stuff from East Africa so there is probably more on the way. My thoughts and my love are in Mogadishu right now with the people harmed or killed last week, I hope that they find peace. I hope that you can find peace with this album as well. AUSTIN
RIYL: 1, 5, 10
Recommended Tracks: Woubeshet Feseha, Sweet as Broken Dates, Ethiopiques, Awesome Tapes From Africa
Burial - Rodent, Pre Dawn, Subtemple, Inner City Life:
The UK’s resident 2-step and garage apparition, Burial, needs little in the way of introduction. Not that he’d desire one anyway: his echoing, ghostly rave music does all of the introduction for him. Creator of the landmark 2-step/dubstep album Untrue, the producer has shied away from the public sphere, emerging in 2013 to make an anti-bullying statement alongside the release of his Rival Dealer EP. However, he has not been shy about releasing material: 2017 alone has seen 3 Burial singles as well as a remix of Goldie’s jungle/drum ‘n’ bass masterwork “Inner City Life”. His recent releases have been notably marked by a departure from his usual 2-step form, and each of his singles present themselves as the work of a veteran producer toeing his way into new territory.
“Burial disappears into embers” reads the description for the purchase of the Subtemple single. Before this surprise release, Burial had toyed with extended ambient segments in Young Death / Nightmarket, and Subtemple seems to expand on this new side of the producer. The sounds of water, vinyl crackle and synth bell tones aren’t unusual for Burial, but they are brought to the center of attention on this record as it creates the soundscape of a long, forgotten building. “Subtemple” revolves around breathing, the winding of what appears to be a clock and footsteps; elements commonly present in the background of his trademark 2-step shuffle. “Beachfires” seems to take a more mystical route: the wind-chimes and almost-ritualistic ringing of bells accompany the prominent and meditative synth choir.
Another trademark Hyperdub release came unannounced in September, featuring a similarly unexpected Kode9 remix of the title track. Rodent is sort of a back-to-basics track for Burial, and it demonstrates the producer’s mastery of a dub garage sound. A cheeky horn line is occasionally tossed in the track to lighten the heavy vibe of the deep 2-step groove, as the sample of a YouTube cover of “All of Me” coats the track in Burial’s traditional longing.
Pre Dawn is a rare non-Hyperdub release: emerging on Non Plus Ultra, the normally shuffle-prone Burial completely swaps his style for a 4x4 techno thump that would shake any dark dancefloor. “Pre Dawn” is exceptional in this regard: the track fades into and out of a dark and aggressive techno cut, and “Indoors” brings focus on his trademark “angelic” vocal samples, as they hum and guide the listener through its darkness.
Goldie’s “Inner City Life” will forever be unparalleled. A 1995 drum ‘n’ bass classic, it marked an eternal shifting point in the genre. Timeless showed that drum ‘n’ bass and breaks in general weren’t just relegated to clubs, but could actively express atmosphere and orchestration in a way that had never been heard beforehand. Burial’s remix does it justice: a pulsating and twitchy synth line couples with police sirens and the cut-up vocals of Diane Charlemagne with an ever present Amen break to guide the song. Eventually the song “trance-ends”, moving to sample the saccharine synth tones of Quietman’s 1997 trance anthem “Now and Zen”. The record ends on the ghost of happy hardcore – pitched up vocals tell us to “forget about the bad times”, in the same way as the 90’s kandi kids would want us to.
Burial’s four singles have been marking points in his development as a producer. Although there has been no album from him since 10 years ago, he is still finding ways to innovate and fine-tune his sound, bringing it to all ghostly genres he can revive. He haunts them all and will continue to haunt club music going forward as his presence fades in and out with every release. SEAN
RIYL: dubstep before Americans killed it, Kode9, Clark, Four Tet, et al.
Recommended Tracks: all
Majid Jordan - The Space Between:
Hey everyone, in case you forgot about them, Majid Jordan are around. They've got this new album; its called The Space Between. As a follow up to last years eponymous album, Space is basically the same thing. A lot of the tracks on the album just feel flat; there isn't really a lot going on, and they're playing by a very basic rulebook.
There seems to be a universal truth to Majid Jordan's releases: there are bound to be exactly four decent tracks. This holds true on The Space Between just as it did on Majid Jordan and A Place Like This (which honestly is still their best release to date). Check out the recommended tracks below for those four. Ultimately Majid Jordan is at their best when the tracks drifts towards Pop more than R&B. CAMERON
RIYL: OVO, H.E.R., Kelela, Syd
Recommended Tracks: 4, 8, 10, 11