F•USIC – JANUARY 2017

F•usic is a section I do at the end of each month in which I pick (F)ilms and M(usic) that I’ve consumed and loved over the period and pretty much just recommend and gush about them for a little while.

With the exception of a couple of albums, the majority of the music I have listened to through January were albums that came out in 2016 that I felt I didn’t get a chance to pay enough attention to but obviously deserve it.

Atrocity Exhibition – Danny Brown

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If “Atrocity Exhibition” were a film, it’d be “Requiem for a Dream”. It’s drug-induced paranoia in sonic form, with discordant and off-beat instrumentals that crawl in your ears and lyrics that feel like the carvings on the asylum walls of Danny Brown’s mind. The entire thing is a disgusting, yet oddly satisfying exploitation of the extreme as you search desperately for a conventional rhythm from song to song. At first, there is very little chance of you finding any but as you grow more accustomed to the abrasive and piercing nature of each track, the album becomes an irresistible trip down the rabbit-hole.

La La Land – Damien Chazelle

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I didn’t get a chance to watch as many films as I wanted to this month but it turned out okay because I found one of my (now) favourite movies of all time. Watching “La La Land” was one of the most moving cinematic experiences I’ve had and it’s profundity is kind of ineffable but I will try my best to word it. It doesn’t offer any answers. It doesn’t bring any enlightenment – or at least it didn’t for me – but instead it transports you to it’s vibrant, musical world and invites you to look at the life of a dreamer, your own life, from way up there and reassures you. It sings your hopes and your fears and your irrational preemptive nostalgia and looks directly at you and says “I get it.”

Blonde – Frank Ocean

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5 months. It has taken me 5 months to realise how much of a pure, singular, spiritual masterpiece Frank Ocean has released. I almost don’t want to say any more because I want to do a deservedly more in-depth blog on this record but if you were in my position in August – slightly disappointed – then take my advice and re-listen to this thing. Don’t listen passively or have it in the background like you always do with “Channel Orange”. Put some earphones in and turn it up and really, properly *listen* and I promise you won’t regret it.

Under the Skin – Jonathan Glazer

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Got around to re-watching this and it is such a treat. Very, very few films are able to match the adeptness of the visual story-telling that is utilised by Glazer here; “Brick” (and soon-to-be “Star Wars”) director, Rian Johnson, described “Under the Skin” as something close to a “silent movie” and I’d have to agree. It is beautiful and elegant and so brutally streamlined that it almost feels as if the very alien threat is at the helm of the film, seducing you and manipulating you. When the film is described as “Kubrickian” it makes sense to me, not ((just)) because it is an art-house sci-fi flick but because it uses the same level of craft in it’s cinematic language as the masters of decades previous.

Run The Jewels 3 – Run The Jewels

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This album is one of the most exhilarating in recent memory. If you felt that “Run the Jewels 1” and “2” were less fleshed out (albeit exciting and entertaining) collections of ideas then “RTJ 3” is the bass-fuelled, smart, aggressive package you’ve been waiting for. The album art sums it up really: you have the lyricism and you have the production and both are fucking gold. El-P’s beats and instrumentals are goose-bump-raising good, simple but punchy and you’ll undoubtedly be in awe at the immaculate timing and crispness on your first listen but on your second hopefully you’ll notice how conscious and entertaining the lyrics are. The usual crass jokes and punchlines are here in spades but from the off, Killer Mike’s bars in the insane second track “Talk to Me” and his description of the Devil’s “bad toupee” and “spray tan” show that the duo isn’t fucking around. The whole thing plays out like some beautiful, comedic threat: as if they’re saying with a smile how awfully close everyone is getting to crossing the line and next time won’t be as funny. And as if that wasn’t enough, the first 5 tracks make for some of the best opening 15 minutes of an album I’ve heard. 

Always Shine – Sophia Takal

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It was a toss-up between this and “The Virgin Suicides” here in some sort of Sophia/Sofia showdown but – although I feel like Coppola’s is a better film – “Always Shine” deserves more of the recognition it isn’t getting. This film is pure, irrepressible build-up. Starting as an engaging perspective on women in Hollywood, the snowball begins to roll as sideways glances and scoffs build to confrontation which builds to extreme tension and uncertainty. Although the final 10 to 15 minutes maybe can’t satisfy to the same extent as the previous escalation; the experience is more than worth it for that and a subtle and unnerving performance from Mackenzie Davis on their own.

Migration – Bonobo

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This album was such a nice January surprise. I’d never listened to any of Bonobo’s work until now but I’m very glad I listened to this. Although the beats are often low-key and sometimes verge on ambient, they are far from boring and move with a certain ebb and flow that give them an undeniable kinetic groove. “Migration” is good for any scenario: good to talk over; good to listen to and tracks like “Break Apart” and “Surface” should become permanent residents on your work/chill/sleep playlist. A plethora of influences make an appearance and it all comes together in a soothing but fulfilling listen. It caught me off guard with how much I grew to enjoy it. 

Written by Caleb Carter
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