“Estara” originates from the Spanish word for “to be,” a future-tense, third person pronunciation of a persons immediate emotion, location, or status. Essentially, the tense and verb as the most indefinite form of a word about a quickly changing status. E s t a r a, as a record, comes in as a revelation in the current musical environment. Three years after the compilation Collections 01 and four years after his debut Ardour, Mtendere Mandowa, aka Teebs, has returned with a record that already has listeners from Highland Park to Highbury bobbing their heads. A producer and a painter, this record sends a defining sound of atmospherics, improvisation, and articulation of electronic music.
In sci-fi circles, it’s considered a classic. Why it’s not a core book in high school English baffles me. But Dune is probably one of the only modern stories, so intricate and meticulous, that filmmakers have never failed to satiate the ardent fan base. David Lynch’s version seemed to only please Frank Herbert himself, getting eviscerated in the editing booth. The Sci-Fi Channel miniseries in 2000 was remarkable for its visuals (in 2000… who knows what we’d do with modern CGI) yet loses itself in a subplot of woeful trajectory.
Thus comes Jodorowsky’s Dune, a film by Frank Pavich, about one of the (possibly) greatest movies never made. Alejandro Jodorowsky, a Chilean filmmaker / writer / mystic, is most well known for his cult-classics The Holy Mountain and El Topo, but also his amazing graphic novel The Incal. Given the very first chance to adapt Dune to film, Jodorowsky’s legendary imagination was unleashed onto Arrakis. With HR Giger doing stage design before Alien, Dali playing the Emperor, and David Carradine as Leto Atreides, this already sounds like the coolest movie I’ve never seen. In describing his vision Jodorowsky stated about the spice at the center of the story,
In my version, the spice is a blue drug with spongy consistency filled with a vegetable-animal life endowed with consciousness, the highest level of consciousness. It does not stop taking all kinds of forms, while stirring up unceasingly. The spice continuously produces the creation of the innumerable universes.
Just wow. The documentary comes out March 24th. This gonna be good.
It almost felt inevitable. The reigning American kings of drone decide to team up with one of Norway’s greatest avant-garde bands. Ok, Ulver MAY have been black metal in the 90s, and Sunn O))) MAY be responsible for the current world of drone metal, and they MAY have collaborated 8 years ago as well. But there’s something different and special about this record now in 2014. Allegedly made during overnight sessions in Oslo, this inspired collaboration blends intricate orchestration and with restrained melodies.
Clocking in at around 36 minutes for only three tracks, Terrestrials is an essential soundtrack that you never knew you needed. Minimal melodies are built out of a blend instruments – strings, chimes, horns, eccentric drum beats – that only seem to build anticipation. The record seems to revel in this, each track a swirling amalgamation of notes and sounds. Interestingly, the audio mix is quite restrained, forcing you to turn up the volume to hear the little intricacies of noise they have pieced together. This record is as beautiful as anything done by Clint Mansell or Nils Frahm, utilizing a surreal level of restraint that spills out complex musical motifs and variations. Definitely one for contemplation with a cup of tea over the wintery landscape or churning your creative juices in a different direction.
JMSN is one of those musicians you’ve heard countless times but never knew he was there. The former front man and founder of Love Arcade, JMSN nee Christian Berishaj has popped up in hip hop and DJ tracks over the past two years. With multiple appearances on Kendrick’s Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d. city, guest appearances with Tyga, Kastle, Ab-Soul, and Blue Sky Black Death, his soaring voice peppered tracks on both the radio and your personal playlist without knowing.
A multi-instrumentalist and production junkie, the former Motown signee started his own record label in 2012 and released the debut Priscilla. A few months ago, his second release, †Pllajë†, was released independently, a melding of R&B and dark, haunting pop.
Out of Bristol, KOAN Sound seemed like they were going to be another member of the dub-step scene that took over the past five years. The duo of Will Weeks and Jim Bastow were signed to Skrillex’s label OWSLA in 2011, releasing two EPs at that time, and toured with both Skrillex in and Diplo in 2012. This year they teamed up with fellow Bristol producer Asa and hit the studio. Hard.
This years Sanctuary EP seems to culminate their numerous sounds and influences. A ‘Koan,’ of course, being a Zen Buddhist phrase to denote a lesson or concept for meditation. The title track seems to exemplify their name the best, a ‘new age’ spiritual meditation that pulls pulling influences from Air, Sigur Ros and Brian Eno all at once. As the EP evolves it’s clear that they are not just focused on midtempo breaks for your zen moment at work. ‘This Time Around’ is delicate pop, Koo lending her voice to placate the space between wobbly synths and fragile strings. But the final tracks ‘Fuego’ and ‘Tetsuo’s Redemption’ reveal their other half – the heavy, devastating UK garage sound that has emerged from England in the past fifteen years. Definitely a record worth listening to from beginning to end, over and over again.