Categories
Music

Little Dragon – Ritual Union (Auxil Edition)

On the heels of their killer Blondie flip, electronic scene newcomers Auxil are back with a brand new remix that I’m super stoked on because they’ve decided to take a swing at Little Dragon’s “Ritual Union”. They twist the indie-pop gem into a driving deep house joint that I’d love to hear pumping out of some club speakers late at night…even more specifically, from an open-air club on the beach where the vibes of the dance floor and the ocean breeze swirl together into a sweet, sweet ritual union. Is there one of these in LA? I can only hope so. Anyway, back to the music!

Between their two releases, Auxil have made flips that sound like outright originals which is a massive feat. These dudes have an ear for fine-tuning music that I can seriously appreciate as someone who’s been around musicians long enough to understand the depth of their craft. It’s amazing that their take on “Ritual Union” so subtly makes its way into your ears and has your head nodding before you even realize it. I love a track with massive percussion that sounds like a subwoofer warcry, but sometimes it’s better to slowly slip away as the music unfolds.

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Categories
Mixtape Music

Le Miel du Mois by Steph Lund: Avril 2014

Before you start reading, start listening. As usual, Steph has provided us with exceptional fire and not a second should be wasted before you start playing it.
I’m just what you made God, not many I trust.
Imma go my out way God, take my fate to where ever you want.”

I think about that a lot these days, fearlessly becoming yourself that is. I try to picture my life without external influences and what it would be like. The job we have, the people we love, the places we go all play a huge part in defining who we are. Each one of those requires compromise, you have to spend your time in an office behaving in a way that agrees with the company, your lover may be different from you and you have to make compromises to be in harmony and on and on. But what if those things didn’t play a factor? Think about that for a minute, does the world you live in allow you to truly be yourself? To be yourself, to truly be yourself man, that’s where it’s at.

Avril starts off the Moss remix of Glass Animals’ Gooey Gilligan and the first lyrics says
Let me show you everything I know…”

I was on a call with the EMPT team last night and our conversation was about being open, inviting everyone to be express themselves, not just in the context of the site but who they are. I encourage that because I sincerely want to know the great people around me, I want the world to know them. I want to learn, I want to have more perspective, more places draw inspiration from, more love to know about and on and on. Show me everything you know!  There’s some futuristic Space Age hippie, rebel, uptown, world class shit going on with EMPT right now and it represents everything I am and love.

Perhaps my fascination with LMDM stems from how pedagogic it is, how well it speaks to my desire to explore and learn. Historically, I don’t fare well with know it alls, they have a very clear understanding of what life is, what love is, what the rules are, how good they are at following them and how bad you are at not understanding. I can’t walk around the marvel that is earth pretending like things aren’t malleable, like the world isn’t in constant change. Sound like a dreamer? HYFR it does. This is romantic realism, the world as it exist is always acknowledged but the limitless wonder is never out of sight or out of play.

Needless to say, open minds fascinate me and Le Miel du Mois is perhaps the epitome of an open mind. You can learn a lot about style from these tapes. If epigenetics or former lives are real then I imagine Steph or someone in her lineage being the Diana Vreeland or Anna Wintour of another time. That’s the only way to explain the constantly evolving sound, taste and masterful curatoria that is LMDM. Like all other tapes, this one is 360 degrees of stylistic expression. From the retro future 90s sounding Filthy Lover, to luxurious chill out jam Talk is Cheap, to banger Holding on to Heaven, Steph gives us everything, always showing not just what she knows but what she’s learning. That’s that Space Age hippie, rebel, uptown, world class shit. I love her for that, enjoy.

Let me show you everything we know.

Tracklist:

  1. Glass Animals – Gooey Gilligan (Moss Remix)
  2. Little Dragon – Paris
  3. Foxes – Holding Onto Heaven (Kove Remix)
  4. Mr Little Jeans – Good Mistake (Y&S $500 Mix)
  5. The Golden Pony – Filthy Lover
  6. Jamie xx – Girl
  7. Deerhunter – Helicopter
  8. Alexander – Truth
  9. Chet Faker – Talk Is Cheap
  10. Belgian Fog – Loveless Way
Categories
Music

Little Dragon – Klapp Klapp

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It’s a known fact that we love Little Dragon. They may well be EMPT’s most posted artist. For good reason.

Yukimi Nagano, the group’s lead singer, is a force of nature. Her voice maintains its singular sound regardless of the sonic mayhem playing out in the background, and her octaval range brings excitement to songs that, with any other vocalist, would take a turn to the listless. Nagano is the constant, the bedrock of a band that has changed dramatically in sound and ambition since its earliest days.

Nagano, Erik Bodin (drums), Fredrik Källgren Wallin (bass) and Håkan Wirenstrand (keyboards) formed Little Dragon in high school, and released their first commercial single, “Twice”/”Test” nearly a decade later. Listen to “Twice.” It remains, for my money, their best song, a heart wrenching dive into the smoky heart of a stranger.

In the eight years since, Little Dragon has steadily climbed the ladder from underground club fodder to legitimate arena headliner. I’ve been lucky enough to see them live four times, most recently in November. They had a cold, outdoor crowd moving. Their shows bounce between friendly pop, experimental rythmics, noise rock and heavy dubstep. Yet they remain totally accessible to mainstream radio audiences and older generations. When 6th graders and 60 year olds both dig what you do, you’re doing something right.

“Klapp Klapp,” the lead single off their upcoming album “Nabuma Rubberband” (May 13, 2014) came out in mid February. It is a perfect benchmark of where the band stands today. Take the bassline, which flips back and forth between an acoustic jazz pluck and a heavy buzz saw. Or the aggressively repetitive snare track that fades to the background in the face of swelling strings and those classic Little Dragon organ stabs.

By the end, Nagano is autotune trilling like OG T-Pain, and it somehow fits. I cannot wait for the album to drop, because if “Klapp Klapp” is any barometer, it’s going to be a wild ride.

Little Dragon – Klapp Klapp

Categories
Music

Little Dragon vs. Clams Casino – Ritual Union (Duncan Gerow Mix)

Funny that mash-ups – a genre that brings together disparate forms to create something fresh and new, that is, at its very core, about unification – can be so divisive.

I can always appreciate the ethos behind mash-ups, if not the end result. After all, what is creation if not appropriation? Building upon the foundations of the past, enacting new contexts onto known forms, finding new wrinkles and creases in something well-worn, these are all concepts and approaches integral to the creative process. But my problem with some mash-ups is that too many of them fall back on knee-jerk unsubtlety. It’s so easy to get a rise out of someone when you take two obvious things and combine them to make another obvious thing. Where’s the art in that?

Ritual unions
Got me in trouble again.”

Something can engender a response in you in the immediate, can excite and arouse upon first meeting. But it means little if it can’t sustain those surprises and newness over the long-term.  That’s the difference between the flings and the relationships that develop into something more. The one night stand will flicker through your memory and is welcome to be revisited from time to time. But that’s not the one you’re going to get hitched to, if you know what I mean.

Duncan Gerow’s Little Dragon + Clams Casino = Ritual Union doesn’t suffer from any of these issues. Granted, he’s working with some killer source material. And he could stand to be a bit more creative with the title for his sonic transmutation. After all, he’s cribbing from the Little Dragon track Ritual Union, which is pulled from the album… Ritual Union.

But I won’t hassle this dude too much, not when the results are this good. Gerow uses Clams Casino’s The Fall as an underpinning for Yukimi Nagano’s misty vocals. The math is pretty straightforward but a little tweak to the tempo here and some decay punched in there and all of  sudden we’ve got something beautiful and abstract. It could’ve turned out all murk and miasma. Instead, it breezes on by and has a unique kind of peace about it; the haze envelops but it never quite swallows you up. Little flecks of noise ring out only to fade away. Melodies and hi-hats clang along and keep things swaying along. It’s all very zen, to the point where I wish I had one of those little sand and rock gardens to tend to while this gently lilted out of my speakers.

So. It has put me a supremely tranquil and serene state of mind. I hope it will do the same for you.

Duncan Gerow – Little Dragon + Clams Casino = Ritual Union

Categories
Music

Big Boi – Higher Res (feat. Jai Paul and Little Dragon)

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Now this is a collaboration I can get down to. None of the three artists spinning on this track are strangers to EMPT and having them come together is a bit of a dream I wish I dreamed just to say “Hey, I thought of this before it happened.” Here we are however and Big Boi has beat me to the punch. I will admit that when this single dropped early in December I wasn’t fangirling as much as I thought I would, but like most good things – it’s an acquired taste.

A sharp snare drum knits the track together and provides a solid beat to dance to if you’re not feeling too adventurous in getting down to Jai Paul’s schizophrenic 808 bumps and wobbling bass line. This track is Justin Timberlake and 50 Cent’s “Ayo Technology” re-vamped for the HD age. Jai Paul on the hook blatantly tells us he just wants to get it on in higher res, to “see it on the sick screen.”  Big Boi’s verse is scattered spoken virtual innuendo over a sharp production. There are moments in the track where it feels like we’re in the studio listening to these three artists jamming. The vibes they’re bouncing off one another are genuine and you can hear them get in their zones. While the track is distinctly Jai Paul, Big Boi and Little Dragon’s Yukimi’s styles aren’t lost. Rather, they’re amplified by the minimalist production. Yukimi has never sounded sexier than she does here with her seductive verse.

Don’t take this track for one spin. Spin it again and again. It’s hypnotizing and a real gem off Big Boi’s new album that leaves you wanting more.

Big Boi – Higher Res (feat. Jai Paul and Little Dragon)

Categories
Music Remixes

Zion I x Little Dragon – Ritual Union (J. Period Refix)

Let me rewind us back to summer 2011. If there was a match made in heaven, this would be it. The futuristic raps of Oakland, CA’s own Zion I melts together with the jazzy-synth pop of EMPT favorite, Little Dragon. Taking the title track off Little Dragon’s 2011 release by the same title and adding a killer rap verse at the end, Zion I has found a home in Little Dragon’s production. I can’t think of anything else better than ending the work week by beginning the weekend with track of wayward love spilled over a smooth beat.

We can thank Brooklyn based producer, J. Period, for bringing together two worlds so seemingly apart, now that they’re together we can’t imagine why they’d be separated. I didn’t know much about J. Period before this track, but after consulting the internet I came to realize I’ve known him for quite some time. He’s been dropping mixtapes since 2000, one of which I used to play samples from for a while after the death of Michael Jackson. At the time I didn’t know where the tracks came from. Now I know they’re from J. Period’s 2009 tribute to Michael Jackson mixtape. His work is something to be reckoned with. What he hears in tracks and how he can associate sounds with other sounds is beyond measure in my book, and he’s done something quite good with this track. The song is very much still the Ritual Union we know and love. Listen closely and you’ll hear subtle reggae influences and a quirky synth wobble in the background. Zumbi comes in and spits his fire during the third verse, and it simply melts into the sound. The rhythm of the raps counter the low doom-doom-doom-doom-doom line of the original track in a way that enhances both sampled artist’s styles and eccentricities. It’s these unexpected expected nuances that set this track above a casual remix. It is, after all, a re-fix (not that either track needed fixing but hey).

So congratulations on getting through the week. Pour yourself something, sit back and turn this tune up. Welcome to the weekend.

Zion I x Little Dragon – Ritual Union (J. Period Refix)

Categories
Music Remixes

Little Dragon – Little Man (Tycho Remix)

This week has been a mixture of regret, shame, Oprah-style spiritual thoughts, and plans on making a change. I entered last week not feeling too great after a careless Friday night and spent last Saturday floating though an awaked sleep state. It was a wasted day; a type of day I strive to never have. I’m the type of person that thinks he’s wasted the day if he wakes up past 9:30 on the weekends. I enjoy the day; I enjoy mornings; I equally enjoy the evenings. After last Saturday I spent the better part of the week mulling over what happened, how and ultimately why? I took myself out of my body and imagined myself as Yukimi Nagano singing to the man in this classic Little Dragon track.

You grew high, taller than the middle class
Boy, cash running in your pockets
You skate high, gold on your finger tips
They try to make people nervous
Something missing in your smile
Something missing in your soul
Are you suffering the blues?
Tell me why, tell my when, tell me why…when…”

This track is a classing WTF-are-you-doing-wake-up? song. The lyrics abide by Little Dragon’s eloquent blend of jazz, blues, and pop; poetically calling out someone for carelessly losing themselves. It’s a track that could easily become an irrational outburst if the conversation were had in real life, but Little Dragon delivers it simply and accompanies the words with a production that serves as a quick hit to the back of the head – as if the music is saying, “You idiot.” Tycho hears this in the track and turns the message into something akin to a transmission from another planet. I’ve read that this was Tycho’s first ever remix; whether it is or not, it’s a track that keeps the integrity of both artists. Lush synths melt into reverberating chimes that work in concert with Yukimi’s milky vocals. The bit at 1:50 is a personal favorite. It brings the track down to earth for a cool 10 seconds before taking us back into the atmosphere.

Tycho’s take on this track is something to get lost inside. It had me floating between both introspective and extrospective states. At what point do you acknowledge that youth no longer means reckless consumption and wastefulness? What is youth after that? Picasso said that “youth has no age.” What then is youth? Perhaps it is realizing the absence of something Yukimi sings about in the track’s bridges, and rather than fill the void with careless outings and wasteful spending you make it a point to grow into space that’s missing. Maybe? I’m no Oprah or spiritual guru, but tracks like this make for reliable stand-ins.

I’m gonna keep explorin’.

Little Dragon – Little Man (Tycho Remix)

Categories
Music

The Knife – Got 2 Let U

I’m constantly faced with the question of what my favorite track of all time is. Sometimes the question is framed differently, perhaps pertaining to what my favorite electronica track is, or new indie artist. The question is often met with uncertainty and fear on my behalf, because there are so many that I don’t want to discredit and so many that I don’t want to forget. Consistently though, I’ve turned to a few artists. The Knife, The Weeknd, Little Dragon, The Black Keys, Radiohead…these are all staples in my musical diet. And this track, is exactly the answer to most questions that I encounter about music. Almost all musical questions directed at me can be directed towards this band and this track in particular. It’s perhaps one of the few tracks that I’ve discussed at great length with others where the reactions are very similar across the board. It’s usually a street reaction, one where the eyes are closed and the head is bobbing in tune with the beat. Sometimes you feel as though you’re invincible, like no matter what people think of you at that moment, you are so much cooler than them.

I’m always thinking about what I would say to The Knife if I met them. I really don’t know what I would say. I would probably hope that I could carry a sane conversation. One that covers many different levels, but mostly hoping that they have a lot to say about human emotions. Their music, while revolutionary in sound and movement, is extremely emotional for me and I’m so curious to know where it comes from. What channels of their brains direct that sort of innovation.

If you’re not immediately lured in by the in your face bass right from the start, then you’ll definitely be attracted to the sneaky introductions of new instrumentation as the song progresses. The deep voice that comes in during the second verse, the horn, the punchy vocals in the background — it all happens at such a sly pace, where you feel like you’re meeting new characters of a novel within the span of four minutes. And it’s remarkable.

This track doesn’t necessarily exude swag in the obvious way that heavy hip-hop beats do, but in its own way, it gives off a certain amount of swag. The kind that inspires swag in its listener. I hate using that word in excess, and for that I’m sorry. But I think you guys are with me on this one.

The Knife – Got 2 Let U

Categories
Music Remixes

Little Dragon – Little Man (Benji Boko Remix)

In honor of the free Little Dragon concert I attended on Friday night at Prospect Park, I’d like to share with you mighty EMPT listeners this track. I heard this remix a couple of weeks ago from a friend, and have been mildly (that’s really putting it lightly) obsessed for a while now. Little Man is one of my favorite songs by the band, besides Twice, and I almost cried when they played it last night.

I tend to turn to Little Dragon when it comes to anything mildly difficult in my life. Yukimi Nagano has a way of soothing my soul, while encouraging me to conquer my fears of searching within. There’s definitely something to be said about their fluid movement, which caters to many jazz elements. In concert, songs went from one to the other so smoothly. I described it to my friend as if we were seeing a live DJ act whose music production was done all on stage (instruments and all) because they were using transitions from song to song as if it were no big deal. They took every opportunity they had to jam together, that at one point it almost felt like they were just playing because they were having fun. (With an audience in mind.)

As you can probably tell, I could go on and on about Little Dragon for days, but I would rather get you guys amped up for this track. It’s a gorgeous Sunday here in Brooklyn, and I think this is the perfect track for your day. Kick back and enjoy.

Little Dragon – Little Man (Benji Boko Remix)

Categories
Music

Little Dragon – Ritual Union (Bufi Remix)

It’s been a few months since I was in the Dominican Republic. The last time I was there I played the closeout fashion week parties for Dominican Modo 2011 and all I remember is a bunch of rowdy islanders dancing and jumping around so hard that the floor was shaking with my DJ booth about to break down. Had it not been for all the Shave Your Legz cats holding it together as I tried to keep mixing I’m pretty sure things would have gotten ugly. My nostalgia for the good times and my Dominican tastemaker friend led me to their website where I ran into one of their latest mixes and decided to show some love. Below are a few of my favorite tracks for their latest playlists, if you’re not hip to it yet I highly recommend adding it to your list of things to follow, it’s nothing but good jams, enjoy.

Little Dragon –  Ritual Union (Bufi Remix)

Alex Winston – Guts (The Sound Of Arrows Remix)