Listening Post #5

by Alex Brammer

Photo: Aphex Twin

Credit: Stereogum

1. Salvia Palth – melanchole / diary pt. 1 (demo)

I didn’t think I’d ever get to write about Salvia Palth on here, but I am so glad that I’m lucky enough to live in a world where Melanchole was successful enough to warrant a remaster. Although the original master and tracklisting will always be the best in my heart of hearts, there’s a lot to be said about this new remix of Melanchole – the original album’s best track – which comes with Diary pt. 1 (demo), a track initially written after the release of Melanchole and which sounds exactly like how a Wes Anderson film looks. This is lo-fi Bandcamp music at its best – open with an instrumental so downtempo it borders on drone, then segue into some jangly dream-pop. It’s a combination which really shouldn’t work at all, but as anyone who’s ever fallen in love with a Bandcamp record can tell you, it really does.

2. Aphex Twin – CHEETAHT7b

Never let it be said that I go back on my word – I promised that I’d atone for putting Desiigner on the last edition, and here I am! This is a real bit of fun ambient-leaning techno, opening with a little beat which sounds like something you’d hear as incidental music in a Mario game. Of course, things are never that simple with Aphex Twin, so as you gradually phase in and out of active listening over the course of the track – has he met Eno? It sure feels like it at times – you realise that it’s really a hell of a lot more beautiful by that. By the end of the track, you’re completely submerged underneath a foot-thick layer of synth. This deserves to be up there with Selected Ambient Works.

3. Gucci Mane – On Me (feat. 2pac)

So, amidst the rumours that Gucci Mane is a clone developed by the US government, suddenly 2pac’s back as well? Hmm… Anyway, here Gucci recontextualises an old Pac verse from F*** Em All over an old-school G-funk beat and brings some traditional Dirty South bars with a little modern twist. It’s both a throwback and a brilliantly of-the-moment track, and it’s a damn shame that it’s been consigned to obscurity by the devil which chases hip-hop producers everywhere and whose name is Sample Clearance. It would have made a fantastic entry to Gucci’s main discography on Everybody’s Looking, but it’ll have to be contented by just being discovered on fan-made DatPiff mixtapes of Gucci’s best loosies. Listen to it now, before it’s forgotten.

4. M.I.A. – Go Off

I am deeply ashamed of how much I’ve been enjoying Skrillex’s recent work. I like to think that after he disappeared along with the whole brostep trend, that he climbed a Tibetan mountain to learn the art of making decent beats before returning to Los Angeles with a newfound taste for green tea and A$AP Mob features. I imagine it played out a whole lot like the first fifteen minutes of Batman Begins, but with more Macbooks. In any case, the instrumental for Go Off absolutely bangs (to use a technical term). It takes a fantastic rapper to not be overshadowed by this beat and M.I.A.’s delicious mix of Kanye-style autotune, an instantly catchy chorus and effortless delivery walks all over this track with ease. I for one can’t wait to see what everyone’s favourite vaporwave pioneer comes up with for her upcoming final album.

5. Crystal Castles – Char

After the departure of Alice Woods from the group in 2014 it was widely believed that Crystal Castles was dead. However, reports of their death have been greatly exaggerated and they’ve made a real comeback over the last few months since Frail with their new vocalist Edith. Char is the best of new Crystal Castles, though; this is Neuromancer or Snow Crashin a song, a real slice of cyberpunk. The lyrics are, as ever, inscrutable – tear imagery abounds, but beyond that, no idea. Edith’s voice is briefly chopped and screwed and for a moment becomes part of the beat itself, getting dragged away on a tidal wave of heady electronic pop. It’s by far the best moment of the song – the moment where you realise that not only is the Crystal Castles magic still around, it never left.

Listen to the PearShaped Listening Post #5 Playlist below.