I have written about Bibio twice before (posts one and two here), but not nearly enough given Stephen’s near perfect fit for my musical tastes. His music always hits the sweet spot, so endlessly satisfying yet never overly sweet. I can come back for more and more without ever tiring of it.

His latest track, “À tout à l’heure,” is another gem. Of it, he writes:

Although the majority of my tracks get started and finished in my studio, I occasionally take things outside where I’ve found the process and the result to be refreshing. The recording of ‘À tout à l’heure’ started out in my garden on a gorgeous sunny day when it felt morally wrong to be hidden away indoors. I still had the urge to make music so I limited myself to a few bits of gear and set up in my garden: a 12 string guitar, an MPC sampler, a microphone and a cassette recorder. I drummed on objects in the garden, like a plastic watering can and ‘snipped’ garden shears for percussion parts. The guitar part was something I had been developing over some time in my head but it was this change of environment that led to recording the backbone of this song, which I then continued to build upon in my studio later. When I listen to the intro of that track now, I still hear the sunshine and the garden in it because for me it’s like a photograph of that moment. No doubt the sunny outdoors inspired the lyrics too.

Once you listen to it, you’ll understand why:

I can’t believe I have to wait more than two months to hear the rest of Silver Wilkerson. Expect a few more songs to pop up here when it finally comes out.

With the proper release of Darkstar’s newest album, News from Nowhere, I can finally retire the link to their “Amplified Ease” video. I will post it here for safekeeping:

I must have played this video a hundred times, mostly for the music alone. But each time I caught the video itself, I was reminded of just how far the visual representation of electronic music has come. This is sophisticated stuff. 1080p ftw.

Make no mistake, “Amplified Ease” is an exquisite track too. So dense and layered, but completely light and free. It flows effortlessly, organically, especially with that ever so slightly slipped snare to keep (push?) time. I can’t wait to dive into the rest.

I always make a mix of my favorite songs of the year, but I’ve only posted a few here (see 2006, 2007, and 20 songs from the 2000s). For one, these posts take an enormous amount of time to do, and two, there’s not much you and I can do with them once done. That said, I do enjoy the process and the historical record.

Thundercat · “For Love (I Come Your Friend)” · The Golden Age of Apocalypse

So Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner gets Flying Lotus to produce his new album and then release it on his esteemed Brainfeeder label and the first song they leak is a George Duke cover that just melts my mind every time I hear it? This track has FlyLo’s fingerprints all over it, especially as it goes from seemingly nowhere to everywhere in a heartbeat around 2:30 in. It’s an absolutely epic track and a perfect opening for the mix.

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Plaid · “tender hooks” · scintilli

At long last, after a good four plus years of broken promises, Plaid released scintilli. Granted, there were a number of other soundtracks in between this and their previous full-length on Warp, but nothing quite so profound. I could pull any of the 13 songs randomly and have a gem to share with you here, but “tender hooks” is the one that I play over and over again. It’s such a delicate and deliberate build-up, and I never would have guessed that a stomper of a track would emerge. I can’t imagine a more appropriate name for it than “tender hooks.” Exquisite.

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Battles · “Futura” · Gloss Drop

I’ve written about my love for Battles many times here. I had the great fortune of seeing them perform on the Mirrored tour in 2007 and again just before Gloss Drop was released earlier this year. “Futura” was by far the highlight of the most recent show, and I watched any live performance I could find on youtube until the album was released just to get my fix. Battles is one of a handful of bands that’s actually worth watching play live, as they really do create these sounds on the fly rather than just pressing play on a loop. Check this video from La Blogotheque for proof.

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Hudson Mohwake · “Thank You” · Satin Panthers

I saw Hudson play live up close not too long after Butter came out. He had taken all of those already ridiculously over-the-top tracks to entirely new heights, so I was beyond excited to hear this new EP. I’ll honest though, I thought Satin Panthers was a little flat, but “Thank You” almost makes up for it. It’s exactly what you’d expect from him: it’s dripping with funk, super-sized ideas, comically absurd melodies, and his typically tight percussion. I just wish it didn’t feel like a consolation prize.

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Four Tet · “Locked” · TEXT011 / FABRICLIVE 59

I’ve long had a bit of a love-hate relationship with Kieran Hebden. His remixes are often better than any song he does on his own, and his singles are often better than any album, and his collaborations with Burial and Thom Yorke are generally head and shoulders above all. That said, I was completely blown away by his FABRICLIVE mix from earlier this year, and “Locked” (the last track on the mix) is perhaps my favorite of all. That “womp womp” of the bass at 3:00 just lights me up every time. More like this, please.

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Juk Juk · “Winter Turns Spring” · TEXT012

I saw that Keiran was posting tracks on soundcloud earlier this year, and began following him once he posted this track from Juk Juk before it came out on his TEXT label. I bought the vinyl before the track ended, and continued to play “Winter Turns Spring” almost daily on my walk to work on soundcloud over 3G in SF, which is no small feat. This is such a confident track from such a young producer. It feels like an old friend, but could clearly only be made in this era. I love the way it decomposes in the middle, with the frizzling bass that comes in and then organically fades out to leave just the core rhythm track in its place. If you like this, don’t miss his mix for The Daily Street. It’s every bit as brilliant.

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Rustie · “Hover Traps” · Glass Swords

I didn’t get into Rustie’s stuff on first listen. I bought the two track EP that Warp released before Glass Swords came out, and while I liked it, I didn’t love it. I poked around to see what other people had on their end-of-year lists when I began pulling tracks together for this mix, and Rustie was all over them all. I bought the album and immediately fell in love with “Hover Traps.” There’s so much going on in this track, but it never feels crowded or forced. His production is tight, his ideas inventive even if a bit derivative, and the final product is one of the lighter and more lively tracks on this list. I can’t wait to dive into the rest of it in the new year.

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Rone · “Planet Zoo” · So So So EP

I came across this EP from Rone on bleep.com, and I was sold on it by the description alone. Like Juk Juk’s track, “Planet Zoo” feels both old and new at the same time. It clearly points back to the heady days of IDM but does so in a way that’s genuinely new and novel. Perhaps it’s just the pace of it, but I just love the way it moves so effortlessly. I can’t wait to hear his full-length album when it comes out.

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Burial · “NYC” · Street Halo EP

Like me, you probably bought this three track EP from Burial the moment you came across it without a second thought. This track, though, exceeded my every expectation. I can’t imagine anything more soft and subtle from him. The word majestic comes to mind. It’s so refined and restrained, yet it clearly packs his unparalleled touch and trademark punch on the lower end. I loved the two tracks he did with Thom and Keiran, but I played this track nonstop for days on end, and still can’t get past it without an extra play or two now. It’s as close to perfect as it gets.

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Bibio · “Excuses” · Mind Bokeh

I almost neglected to add this track to the mix, but once I placed it after Burial’s track there was no way it was going to get bumped. I’ve underestimated Bibio before, but even this track in particular and this album in general blew me away. I know of no one else who can so naturally bend genres at will. This is everything a modern electronic song should be: well-composed, equal parts elegant and phrenetic, and informed by what has come before but completely unrestrained by it. I even love the cheeky little “A fragment of time. Which is not recorded. There is a moment of darkness.” sample at the end, mostly because of the way he cuts it up to suit the song rather than that other way around.

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Thank you for listening. If you like what you found here, you will definitely find more in the Songs of the Day tag. Enjoy!

Boards of Canada’s exquisite In a Beautiful Place out in the Country was first released ten years ago today on November 27, 2000, and it’s a moment worth remembering I think. Recall that the world had gone mad over their first full length release, Music has the Right to Children, and had waited well over two years for something new — that this was such a bolt from the blue makes it all the more impressive. I hold this lovely little four-track EP in the highest regard, and the limited edition sky blue vinyl as one of my most cherished possessions. I still can’t believe I opened it for a friend to play, otherwise it would still be sitting in the plastic sleeve, untouched by human hands.

In a Beautiful Place out in the CountryI always recommend these four songs to people new to electronic music in general or BoC in particular — I can’t think of a better representation of the genre itself or their body of work. IABPOITC flows so effortlessly you just might miss it on the first listen. Successive spins pull you deeper and deeper into its trance, leaving you no closer to solving the mystery of its magic, but thirsty for more. I still find it endlessly entertaining and every bit as alluring as my first listen ten years ago. Warp’s founder, Steve Beckett, the man who brought BoC to the masses, says it best:

“Sweet psychedelic 80′s funk – Boards have got a nack for sucking you into a tune within a few seconds and then just holding you there in the beauty of their sounds which connect directly to your heart.”

It begs to be played as one song from start to finish, but the title track stands alone as the finest of the four. Have a listen:

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For those of you paying attention to my humble blog, you’ll note that I left this masterpiece off of my 20 songs from my favorite 20 albums of the 2000s. I cannot begin to explain nor atone for this error. It belongs not only on the list but at or near the top.

Lastly, I was fortunate enough to see them play live in 1999 at Warp’s We Are Ten party in London. They opened their set with the fourth track on the then-unreleased IABPOITC, Zoetrope. A zoetrope loosely translates from Greek to “wheel of life” in English, dates to the second century, and functions as a crude means of showing animation, none of which I knew at the time. I have searched high and low for some footage, even a still photograph, of the video they showed on the screen behind them as this song played — words fail to describe what is still one of the most magical things I have ever seen. Think of the cover art on MHTRTC, with those same nameless and faceless forms, this time in full motion on playground equipment, only instead of moving forward they floated backward without a hint of anything unnatural. It was, as this entire release is, an astonishingly beautiful sleight of hand.

Here’s the audio of Zoetrope from the show:

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Thank you, Mike and Marcus, for this still wonderful gift, even ten years later. Now, may I please ask for something new in 2011?

Let me first say, I absolutely love Bibio’s Warp debut, Ambivalence Avenue. “Lovers’ Carvings” was an instant favorite, guaranteed to light up even the gloomiest day, a trick Abby used more than once when we never listened to anything else in the car. “dwrcan” came to be the brightest one of all, a song that sounds like several well-known epic anthems, Boards of Canada’s “Pete Standing Alone” (the quintessential BoC song of its era) and The Postal Service’s “Natural Anthem” (the only song of theirs I can stomach now), yet more than stands on its own.

Bibio-BonesAndSkullsThat said, I was somewhat ambivalent about buying The Apple and the Tooth. I usually pass on things that are mostly remixes, and with only four new Bibio songs I thought my $9.99 might be better spent elsewhere. But in the end I bought it and the new Warp20 (Unheard) release at the same time. One week later and I still can’t get enough of “Bones and Skulls.”

There’s a then and now in this song. It feels like an old friend on first listen, and yet it just as easily comes across as a fresh memory found in the not so distant past. It builds beautifully, flows effortlessly, and ends ever so delicately. And it’s even better now that I finally figured out the lyrics:

shortened stones
and weathered broken glass
i’ll never trace their path
the reason for their form

it’s like the hairless brush
or the broken little things
in the kitchen drawer
full of forgotten memories
that are gonna be gone
like the people who made them
and the people who broke them
and the people who found them

and the people who put them in drawers
or the children who let them out
with the pottery
and the bones and skulls of birds

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I always listen to my Songs of the Day on repeat while I write these posts, and even after ten or so listens I never fail to lose myself in this song. That is perhaps the highest compliment I can pay, to know what’s coming next, to expect and anticipate it, and still be every bit as surprised by it time and time again. And now I am even more disappointed that I missed out on the limited edition vinyl.

Bravo, Bibio, bravo. I will never doubt you again.

If I hadn’t already posted it before, Aphex Twin’s “Ziggomatic V17″ would be the only other song that could follow o9′s exquisite “Terminal Orange.” However, this mix o’ mine needs a bridge to the somewhat more sedate songs I have planned at the end, but that bridge needs an intensity too, something only Boards of Canada can do.

boc-skyliner“Skyliner,” from their most recent Trans Canada Highway EP, is yet another in a long line of monumental BoC tracks, perhaps second only to their paean to Beck’s “Broken Drum.” In all sincerity, if you have haven’t heard that remix, one which Beck claims as his favorite remix of all, you must find it. Or wait patiently for me to post it next week.

I couldn’t possibly say enough about Boards of Canada, nor even begin to add anything that hasn’t already been said a million times. Their music defies easy classification, transcends any recognizable era, and pretty much exists on its own plane. While many ape elements of their style, their music remain instantly recognizable — both old and new, with a heavy dose of the now too:

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I saw them play one of three lives shows in the past ten years at Warp’s We Are Ten parties in London. Not only was their set flawless, and full of songs that would not see the light of day for several more years, but their visual arrangement tops anything and everything I have seen since. I remember like it was yesterday, listening to the opening song “Zoetrope” while watching the most enchantingly grainy loop of blurry-faced children move in reverse on playground equipment — floating back up the sliding pole, jumping backwards off of the merry-go-round, and so on. One of my fondest memories for sure, easily topping that night’s live sets of Autechre and Squarepusher, and a djing Aphex Twin!

Hudson Mohawke, just 22 years old, has just released his first proper and widely-circulated EP on Warp Records. This thing has been relentlessly hyped as the second coming of hip-hop, with Hud Mo as J Dilla reincarnate, a comparison that isn’t entirely fair or even remotely appropriate.

hudsonmohawke-velvetpeelIt is clear he is talented beyond belief, and his music speaks with an almost innate knowing, like it was always meant to be. I know I have touched on this in the past, but I love the stuff that sounds so of-the-moment, yet clearly from-the-past as well. There’s a familiarity here, and it’s very comfortable too, but with a heavy dose of futuristic Fly Lo funk. How can you argue with his lineage:

At age 7 Hudson fell in love with jungle & rave music and it kick started an obsession collecting as much music of all genres as he could. At age 10 Hudson was making his first mixtapes, mixing between a personal cassette player & a broken hi-fi turntable. At age 12 he started making music, using only a Playstation. At age 14 he was the Scottish champion of both the ITF and UK DMC DJ Championships.

There is absolutely nothing forced or contrived about it, it’s just pure and simple musical genius:

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“Velvet Peel” is definitely my favorite on the six song EP entitled Polyfolk Dance. I both love that it’s just over two minutes long and wish it were an hour or more, and I can’t wait to hear the new album later this year. Between the new Squarepusher EP and this, Warp is tearing into the new year. May I please have a new Plaid album too?

Continuing with this week’s homage to Squarepusher (see the post from Monday), today’s song is from his very first Warp single in 1996, entitled Port Rhombus EP. Given that it was packaged in the iconic purple Warp bag, and had an exquisite rounded rectangle die-cut in the middle, I didn’t listen to it first, I simply bought it on sight. I knew nothing about Squarepusher, but the name elicited all kinds of amusing connotations, and I just had to have it — just thinking about it makes me want to retrieve it from my storage closet!

I never really made it past the first song, as you’ll soon know why. It’s simply one of the most astonishingly beautiful songs ever created, in fact I defy you to find anything at once as intense as it is sublime. This song is a masterpiece, but just the first of many for Squarepusher.

To be fair, in the beginning I listened to this track on 33 RPM (it wasn’t marked on the label, and the sedate pace was a more natural fit for me at that time, for various reasons). It wasn’t until I heard it on CD many years later that I realized Jenkinson intended it to be played at 45 RPM. Suffice to say I can’t imagine it any other way now:

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This song was a big part of my transition away from anything you might hear on the radio to the more esoteric sounds of artists such as Squarepusher. I never really found a way to talk about these songs, or anyone to talk to about them either, but I really enjoy sharing them now. I hope you do as well.

My final SOTD for this week is another Warp artist, Born Ruffians, a three piece band from Canada. While I have (and love) all of their releases, they’re still a bit of a bolt from the blue — I know less about them then I would like, but I hope to make up for that by seeing them live in San Francisco next week.

They describe themselves so:

We are the next link in the evolutionary chain of contemporary pop music, mixing drums, bass, and electric guitar, an almost unheard of combination, with bits of harmonium, piano and plenty of “hootin and hollerin” to create a sound we call “the best we could come up with!”

“Litle Garçon” is a perfect illustration:

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It’s such a beautifully heartfelt song, so simplistic in nature, also able to be sung in a round (very important), and most of all a wonderful reminder of my wife and son — we sing this song to him and each other quite often. Many of the other songs on their new album, Red, Yellow, and Blue, are both more raw and much more intense, but this one sticks with me the most. Give it a listen and you’ll see why.

Today’s offering is an epic track from Autechre (pronounced Ah-Tek-Er), one of my earliest electronic music favorites. This particular gem is from 1998′s legendary album, LP5, released on Warp Records. I find it difficult to believe that it’s over ten years old now.

To the uninitiated, Ae’s syncopated rhythms are far too complex, recognizable sounds are few and far between, and reference points are completely lacking. Give it time to grow — actually, let go of everything you think you know about music — and you’ll soon find yourself immersed in a lush, if entirely foreign land.

From the moment I discovered Incunabula in 1993, I have purchased each new album on the day it came out, more often than not counting down the days until its release. I am accustomed to finding very few obvious favorites on first listen, but repeated efforts always bear more fruit (I tend to listen to their new releases exclusively and repeatedly for a week or two, then take a month or so off before revisiting). I have also learned that there’s nothing like a new Ae album to make the previous one more intelligible.

“Rae” begins at a blistering pace, revealing its intricate and lengthy rhythm structure, all the while softer pads float just beneath the surface. With time, the harshness melts away, leaving those beautiful tones to envelope what little remains of the percussion, until it too disappears at the very end. There is nothing repetitive about it, its flow is completely organic. Just think about where it begins and where it ends, and tell me who else in the world can do this:

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Still amazing after all these years.