It strikes me as counterintuitive to hail crispness & separation as the most compelling elements in an ambient piece of music. What we expect from the genre is not necessarily an indistinguishable wash of instruments, but an atmosphere in which any 1 tone is nestled in the arms of at least 2 or 3 others, with each codependent on the rest to deliver any sort of impact. This song, on the other hand, is proof of Tycho's dedication to the song as a lifeform made of autonomous parts. The end result still conjures whichever immersive metaphor you prefer – a rainforest, let's say, but one composed of an intricate web of plants & animals, in which the extinction of any single species would cause the ecosystem to collapse. Fortunately, Tycho's keen ear for balance makes this song a wonder to behold.
I admire any rework that naturalizes the original material, making it seem somehow more comfortable in its own skin – mashups that are greater than the sum of their parts, covers which exalt a modest original, and remixes that shift and settle the key elements of a track into a more natural position. The latter is the case with Ra Ra Riot's take on "Juno." The slightest Eastern string medley takes the edge off of Tokyo Police Club's trademark crass presentation, softening up Dave Monks' lyrics the way his pitch-wayward voice stubbornly (endearingly) refuses to. We love T.P.C.'s take on rough, lightning-speed pop, but this one's proof that a little lushness could broaden their scope.
Considering their prowess on the turntables & the microphones, and their long-running consistency, it's baffling how long People Under the Stairs have sidestepped the mainstream spotlight. After all, even if you've never heard them hailed as "the next [insert hip hop legend here]," it's hard not to compare their sense of humor to The Pharcyde's, or their rarefied positivity to A Tribe Called Quest's uplifting mantras. "Anotha BBQ" rides in on the wavy mirage of sweltering summer heat, celebrating the season the only way it should be celebrated: grilled meat, liquor, women, & bona fide good times – void of violence and posturing gangsterisms. They are moving in the opposite direction of the hip hop norm, and it's impossible not to be sucked in by their innovation in the game.
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Label Spotlight: Kill Rock Stars
With a label like Kill Rock Stars, there's a lot to celebrate. From riot grrrl rock to leftfield experimental noise to mopey indie folk, Kill Rock Stars has done it all. The label was founded in 1991 with a spoken word split 7" release from Slim himself, and Bikini Kill's Kathleen Hanna. KRS prides itself on being Queer-positive, feminist and artist-friendly, a part of the vibe of the label that was modeled by label founder, Slim Moon and representative of the Olympia Washington underground music community. It's nice to see a label that gives a shit about their community [world, really] and what's going on in it, and supporting artists that also feel the same way. Not to mention that with Slim's move to Nonesuch in 2006 his wife Portia Sabin now runs the show, so the label now boasts being one of the few labels with a female in charge!