Instantly accessible, incredibly entertaining, and zipping along at the rate of a punk album, Kap Bambino’s Blacklist is a thorough album. Kap Bambino is an electronic French duo, Caroline Marital on vocals and instrumentals by Orion Bouvier, that I stumbled upon on the internet much earlier this year and heard their 2007 lp Zero Life, Night Vision, which is a harsh electronic punk album with some 8-bit influences. Because of their musical tendencies, Kap Bambino will garner instant comparison to Justice and Crystal Castles. However, this quirky, electro-punk duo has been doing this stuff since 2001, and has seemed to steadily improve their craft.
Kap Bambino’s Blacklist is a much more accessible affair than their previous lp Zero Life, Night Vision. Zero Life, Night Vision is a bit noisier, layered with Caroline Marital’s screaming vocals that reminisces of TV static because of it’s lo-fi nature. It’s a renegade punk electronic album that’s full of high-energy, but, because of the noise, most people would miss the intrigue. Blacklist keeps the base of the same recipe of Zero Life, Night Vision, but smooths it out and creates some tracks that are more grander in production. This is due to Orion Bouvier’s expanded range of sounds, such as a spare bass guitar line on “Lezard” or the Monkey Grinder Organ core to “Rezozero.” This album shows that Kap Bambino can keep the experimental punk flavor while making an album that more fans of electro, or similar electronic sub-genres, might have missed on Kap Bambino’s earlier work.
Another difference on Blacklist is that Caroline Marital’s vocals become more recognizible as words, and her french-accent broken english vocals provide the same fun and energy as Deerhoof’s Satomi Matsuzaki. On “Batcaves,” Caroline Marital sings “It’s a good time for bat caves” over and over again, that helps to create a quirky, campy fun song.
Blacklist just needs to be listened to. It’s barely over thirty minutes, so there’s not much excuse not to. The only downside to the album is that it stops at barely over thirty minutes, and between most songs there’s a couple seconds of silence that kill the party, but you can use that time to try to digest what assaulted you aurally.
Scotland born and hip-hop oriented, Hudson Mohawke is an interesting listen. His newest release Polyfolk Dance EP could be labeled as electronic, dance, and experimental hip hop. It’s a little EP that’s short, but packed full of complicated, grimey beats. Hudson Mohawke immediately sounds that he’s coming from the same vein as Flying Lotus. This makes sense, as they are both backed by Warp Records, which seems to be focusing on experimental hip hop instrumental producers and has signed some competent people.
Hudson Mohawke’s beats are incredibly diverse, and are so thick that at times it’s hard to keep track of what exactly is going on. Imagine somebody putting a bunch of different items in a blender, setting it on “high,” and walking away from it. But it’s this variation of flavor that makes Hudson Mohawke’s beats have an incredible amount of lasting appeal. Most tracks are hip-hop samples layered upon electronic beats; that allows for a one-trick pony with a lot of lasting appeal. Guitar riffs and horn pieces blaze above heavy drums on “Overnight,” while beats play with synths on “Velvet Peel.”
Hudson Mohawke is a new blood on Warp Records that has enough skill to be able to be around as long as there’s a beat machine. The PolyFolk Dance EP is only a small taste of what an LP could be and do with Hudson Mohawke as the pilot.
Pictureplane is one-man electronic artist Travis Edgey from Denver, Colorado. He gained fame last year with the remixes of “lost time” on noise-rockers Health’s remix album “Health//Disco” and of Crystal Castle’s “Air War.” Last year also saw the very,very independent release of his debut Turquoise Trail. To sum up Pictureplane’s sound as underground electronic dance music would be misleading, and to attempt to explain the experience that is “Turquoise Trail” leaves much to be desired.
With Edgey’s ghostly crooning in the background, synths rip open and quickly flare up on the album opener “The Turquoise Trail,” which barely makes it over two minutes. The vocals can barely be made out on most songs, making Edgey’s mouth just another element of the crazy, cracked-out dance tracks on Turquoise Trail that weave together seamlessly but pop in with unexpected beats. For instance, on “Wearing a Nothing Cloak,” a pulsing drumbeat partnered with an instrumental that sounds like the baby of a saxophone and a tuba prepares the listener for a darker beat. But as soon as such an assumption is made, the intro gets pierced by a much lighter sounding synth that eventually takes over.
Every song on Turquoise Trail is unique, and also makes one reminisce of sounds produced by other artists occasionally, while still maintaining its own identity. For instance, “Temporary Infinity” begins with light, Daft Punk-esque jagged synths that burst into a trancey dance banger. It’s a shift that is quick, but fluid.
My favorite track on Turqoise Trail at the moment, is “Tha Dark Lord/Warp to Level8.” It begins with some heavy, glitchy, dark synths that open to some slow, heavy-hitting snares. It’s a track full of all the intensity and bang one could ever desire in a minute and a half.
Every track on Turqoise Trail has something to keep the listener entertained and occupied. With about 200% more influences on sound than world music, Pictureplane has a killer debut album that is an excellent starting block for so much more incredible music. I would say it was the best six dollars by mail I have ever s(p)ent.