20 Watts

20 Watts Reviews Flying Lotus’s Cosmogramma by jluposello

20 Watts Reviews Flying Lotus's Cosmogramma

PREVIEW: VISIT Flying Lotus’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts

Experimental electro-producer and musician Steve Ellison, aka Flying Lotus, has made quite a name for himself as an innovator of a genre often left untouched by modern electronic artists. With two stellar releases prior to this most recent effort, Ellison has lain the foundation for yet another groundbreaking release. This manifests in the form of the highly rewarding Cosmogramma.

Featuring guest appearances from the likes of Thom Yorke and Erykah Badu, Ellison’s star-studded record is overwhelming in a delightfully peculiar way. In the brief yet wildly dense tracks, Ellison warps sound waves into forms that will intrigue and please any fan of his own inimitable brand of electronica.

On Yorke’s track, “…And the World Laughs With You”, listeners encounter a coarsely distorted synth line accented by a swirling, industrial-sounding beat, an abrasive yet effective motif that is consistent throughout the record. Yorke’s distinctive vocals enhance the track’s emotional signature.. The way that the track manages to chart such a varying course of emotions and dynamic ranges parallels the album perfectly, giving first-time listeners a good idea of what FlyLo is all about.

On tracks such as “Do the Astral Plane”, FlyLo steers away from his penchant for the uber-distorted and instead creates something unexpected yet fittingly subtle that demonstrates his versatility as an artist. Its arrangements are bound to tickle the fancy of any Toro Y Moi fans, myself included.

An unfortunate side of FlyLo’s style is that it thrives on brevity. Most of the tracks run their course in well under 2 minutes. This may prove unappealing to fans who are keen on duration. Demanding listeners may misinterpret it as a lack of maturity in the tracks,  potentially painting the cuts as simple pieces of studio experimentation.

FlyLo brings an impressively mature sound to the table and continues to break ground in the genre of today’s electronica with Cosmogramma. The album’s potential to overwhelm in terms of both aesthetics and guest appearances make it a notable release, albeit a brief one.

-John Luposello

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Q&A: 20 Watts Interviews Sleigh Bells by tjwell01

Derek Miller (left) from red-hot new band Sleigh Bells checks in with 20 Watts to talk about producing the debut LP and how the odd couple made the perfect match.

PREVIEW: Sleigh Bells’ MySpace and live performance on Pitchfork TV

Major breakout electronic/heavy-metal/hip-hop duo, Sleigh Bells, a.k.a. Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller, lit up over night after they performed at this year’s CMJ Festival in New York City. Krauss loves pop and Miller loves heavy rock, but somehow and someway, Sleigh Bells became one of this year’s hottest bands and made our “The Five.” While the band is on hiatus recording their LP and tucking away from the shows, Miller spared some time to chat it up with 20 Watts about the new album and adjusting to the suddenly high expectations.

20W: I hear you produced the EP. Do you plan on producing the LP by yourself?

DM: I plan on doing about 90 percent of it on my own, but will likely bring in a co-producer here and there to help me when necessary. Shane Stoneback will be engineering, and the bulk of the record will be made at his studio, Treefort.

20W: How do you go about fusing your metal influences with Alexis’ pop taste?

DM: Well we are both huge pop music fans, whatever that means these days. Alexis is really into soul. early rhythm and blues, while I tend to go for slicker, punchier records from the last two or three decades. The heaviness is something that is less in my ears and more in my blood.

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Editor’s Pick #195: Rainbow Arabia by caitlindewey

Rainbow Arabia = M.I.A. + Gang Gang Dance + LSD

PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD Rainbow Arabia’s “Omar K” MP3

20 Watts’ staff recently spent a good two hours arguing about the top albums of the decade. I was pushing really hard for an M.I.A. entry on the list — a request that everyone, including my managing ed, summarily dismissed. Okay, sure, “Paper Planes” was way overplayed. But the blend of party-ready beats and tribal ululations? The whole East-meets-West-on-a-dance-floor deal? The world needs more of that.

Fortunately the world has Rainbow Arabia, an “ethnotronica” duo so compulsively danceable — and so pleasantly disorienting — that even our picky staff might be won over. Hailing from Echo Park, Cal., Rainbow Arabia force world music through an electro-dance sieve, resulting in a global neon cacophony like few you’ve ever heard. Think M.I.A. meets Gang Gang Dance meets LSD. Intriguing, right?

Rainbow Arabia have released one EP, The Basta, and one “mini-LP,” Kabukimono, on Maninmal Vinyl.  They are not currently on tour, although they are playing a string of L.A. shows throughout November.

— Caitlin Dewey, Editor in Chief

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Photos and Review of Black Moth Super Rainbow, Blank Dogs and Dan Friel at South Street Seaport 7/24 by Eric Vilas-Boas
Black Moth Super Rainbow

Black Moth Super Rainbow were gimmicky, but totally awesome

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Black Moth Super Rainbow, “Eating Us”
PREVIEW: BMSR MP3: “Born on a Day the Sun Didn’t Rise”

So far this summer, River to River’s free independent music shows have yet to disappoint. From Anthony Gonzalez of M83 to The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s great set, River to River has consistently showcased great artists with great results, and yesterday was no different. Though Blank Dogs failed to impress, opening DJ Dan Friel and Black Moth Super Rainbow wowed both the crowd and 20 Watts.

The action began at 6:25 when a guy in shorts with curly, strawberry-blond hair walked out on stage, sat down on a folding chair, and got to work. The first song started with layered atmospherics and quickly went into progressively faster bass beats, accompanied by poppy synth melodies and echoing feedback and reverb effects. His other songs were all just as interesting, and watching him make such eclectic, dance-worthy music from a lap-size set-up was very impressive. Continue reading

Releases of the Week: Agoraphobic Nosebleed & Sonny Moore by subsonicd1sc0rd

PhotobucketAgoraphobic Nosebleed – Agorapocalyspe

Although active since 1994, Agorapocalypse is only the second, proper full-length that these Massachusetts grinders have put out. To give some background, Agoraphobic Nosebleed features Scott Hull, the guitarist of the infamous Pig Destroyer. He not only plays guitar for this project, but he programs drums. In fact, Agoraphobic Nosebleed are mainly responsible for influencing the surge of “cyber-grind” bands in the recent past.

With Agorapocalypse, the group expanded their sound to include elements of thrash, speed-metal and hardcore to the previously total-grind attack. The inclusion of vocalist Kat Katz (who looks more fit to be on a runway than in the extreme metal scene) propels the aggression factor to new levels with terror-inducing screams. Her voice fits perfectly among the equally brutal pipes of Richard Johnson and J. Randall. The tri-vocalist approach stands out on the groovy “Trauma Queen”, a track that finds Agoraphobic Nosebleed at their sludgiest.

Described as a slab of “gonzo violence”, Agorapocalypse is the product of years of drug-abuse (just look at the album art if you don’t believe it). The deranged and warped sound that is produced will certainly not appeal to everyone. In fact, I know a handful of metal-heads that cannot handle the absolute onslaught that is Agoraphobic Nosebleed. For those of us that can understand the artistic appeal, this album surpasses expectations and will undoubtedly be a candidate for AOTY.

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Must See: “Shirt Off” by Blänk by kayzimbo

Okay, so maybe I’ve been on a bit of a techno kick lately, but this is a video that I discovered months ago that I thought you all would enjoy to watch. It is from an unknown Swedish trio called Blänk, and while the lyrics may seem a bit foolish and elementary, the video is creative and impressive for an artist of this size.  It meshes the human and computer aspects of the video together pretty well, and definitely shares the artists’ sense of humor with the audience. I’m not saying that this is equivalent to a Justice or OK Go video, but it’s innovative for a small band.  So enjoy the electronic string section and dope visuals; and approach this with light heart because you’ll definitely dig what you’re about to see.

–Kyra Zeller