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Pale Fire [Indie/Pop] Much like her pal and countrywoman Victoria Bergsman (Taken By Trees), El Perro Del Mar's Sarah Assbring has taken to cushioning her frail melancholy with warmly gauzy synthetics and surprisingly forward, clubby grooves.
Which isn't to say that you can necessarily dance to all (or even most) of Pale Fire (Control Group), but its swaying soft-touch house, trip-hop and Swedish reggae grooves definitely help coax an unprecedented fullness and sensuality from the waifish singer, and it's a great look – best embodied on "Walk On By," the album's luscious, Massive Attack-cribbing high point.
"Only A Sin If You Lose" tops a bossa groove with fluid guitar filligree and playfully mismatched vocal snippets, cut-and-pasted into a light-hearted gambling blues, while the seemingly more straightforward vocal cut "Fish Fried, Birds Blue" welds some vaguely unsettling field recordings onto a straight-ahead country blues stomp, complete with wailing harp.
And a few pieces deviate substantially from the general jazz/blues template, landing closer to the winsome, organic IDM of ISAN or Plone ("Bumpin' in A Quiet Way"; the banjo-led folk-hop of "Fundamentals.") It'd be easy for a record like this to succumb to formula or gimmickry, especially given Chang's somewhat tokenist approach ("the Latin one," "the New Orleans one," etc.), but there's enough evident craft and inventiveness on display here – not to mention humor and charm – that Bay Blue stands as far more than a retro-flavored bauble, the album's bland, unconvincing "Blue Note-style" cover art notwithstanding.
– but the sheer quantity of musical content, the amount of variation within a given track, is – by their standards – staggering.
It's like Emeralds exploded, leaving shiny little shards all over everyplace.
"Vōs-Sākō-Rv," in particular, stretches this approach to wonderfully delirious extremes, with each circuitous, contrapuntal build-up growing more daringly suspended than the last until a final, impossibly constrained moment of tension lunges back to earth with two massive snare thwacks.
The label's latest party platter, The Crystal Ark, is the full-length debut from synth wizard/LCD mainstay Gavin Russom's new-ish project alongside artist-singer Viva Ruiz: an adventurous, bilingual punkfunk fiesta spiked with oscillator weirdness, tribal flourishes and trippy disco.And while his hip-hop background shines through on occasion with a touch of sly boom-bap, the focus is on squarely on instrumental interplay, which is organic and improvisatory enough (in feeling, at least) that Bay Blue can be classified as a "proper" jazz record about as easily as it can be called anything else.It's hardly beholden to any one era or style, spanning Frankensteined be-bop ("Don't Clap On The One And The Three"), recombinant Dixieland ("Postcard From New Orleans") and throwback Cuban jazz (the roiling "Ulises Takes The Silent Cinema By Storm"), along with the growling, Mingus-like "Take It Back Time" – maybe the most impressive thing here – and the musty, cinematic 78 RPM swing of "To The Cornerstore," which recalls early-period Daedelus at his dandiest.s/t For a while there, around the turn of the millennium, you could've built a small fortress (or at least a swanky bachelor pad) out of all the jazzy sample-based cut-up records filling record bins, from French House types like DJ Cam and St.Germain to Madlib's Yesterdays New Quintet, plus what seemed like half of the Ninja Tune stable (Mr.