Playlist, October 2012


John Cale
Shifty Adventures

John Cale’s latest is a subterranean journey through weirdly glitched surfaces, lovably crafted MPC loops, and droning sampled vistas. Cale’s rustic, dry-as-acorncob vocals rub against catchy melodies and arrangements that recall Bowie, David Sylvain, and early Talking Heads, all of whom Cale has influenced with one effort or another. Wryly referencing ’80s production styles, its MPC loops so obvious that you can hear the seams; it’s as if Cale purposely used older technology for its limitations, thus producing a warmer, more romantic sound overall. A collection of insular, dreamlike songs, Shifty’s Adventures are completely inside his mind.
Ken Micallef

The Souljazz Orchestra

Canada’s Souljazz Orchestra gives itself a lot of rope in utilizing different styles. On Solidarity, the focus is on Caribbean rhythms, tropical percussion, African beats, and Latin swagger. Filtered through the most ancient instruments the Orchestra could lay its hands on, it is the heavy-duty brass that dominates Solidarity. Prominent honking horns blast through multilingual lyrics, most of which are incomprehensible. It’s about the vibe that’s being created, which is one of big-band jubilation exemplified on “Serve and Protect.”
Lily Moayeri

Adrian Sherwood
Survival & Resistance

A producer, remixer, label owner, and tastemaker for more than three decades, Adrian Sherwood surprisingly has only three personal albums in his impressive catalog, which spans dub, post-punk, hip-hop, industrial, rave, and related rebel rockers. Whereas much classical dub aims its helical transients into spiritual perpetuity, this album corkscrews toward a more claustrophobic terminus, drawing comparisons to Massive Attack’s Mezzanine. Inspired by global socioeconomic pressure, Sherwood lets burnt circuits slink through decaying reverb shots and into reflective arrangements.
Tony Ware

Toddla T
Watch Me Dance— Agitated

Toddla T, specialist in raucous, grime-laced party tunes, enlists his hometown idols, Ross Orton and DJ Pipes, to remix his last album, repackaging it as Watch Me Dance—Agitated. Anchored in skanky dancehall riddims, gutter rhymes, and street soul vocals, Agitated brings an even dirtier touch to Toddla’s already filthy beats. This re-set lends itself nicely to Toddla’s well-shaped originals like “Badman Flu,” now “Badder Man Runs.” Leisurely dub tracks serving as breathers, slowing the mood.
Lily Moayeri

The Helio Sequence

Portland, Ore. duo the Helio Sequence is cresting off a flood of compounding instances, in part literally. After heavy rains ruined the ambient indie rock group’s studio, singerguitarist Brandon Summers and drummerkeyboardist Benjamin Weikel rededicated a newer, larger space to capturing warmer analog impulses than on previous albums. The self-recordists excel in commanding racking focus, selecting initially blurred background washes and gently tightening the mix to flush these treatments out, concentrating them into crisp psyche-folk glazes.
Tony Ware

International Orange!

Firewater frontman Tod A resides in Istanbul these days, and that tells a lot about the sound of Firwater’s latest punk record International Orange! Produced by Tamir Muskat of Balkan Beat Box, this musical culture clash joins powerful political lyrics with mostly Eastern European and Middle Eastern rhythms and horn parts, and ethnic strings, all laid on top of a solid rock ‘n’ roll foundation. If The Clash had made a Turkish record, it would go something like this.
Barbara Schultz

The Wallflowers
Glad All Over

Speaking of The Clash, Jakob Dylan has always counted the seminal punk band among his greatest influences, and the album’s first single, “Reboot the Mission,” a duet with the Great Mick Jones that leans heavily on the funky sound of “The Magnificent Seven.” The rest of the record has a lot of soul, too, with complex, varied arrangements showcasing Dylan’s strong songwriting. Highlights include the piano-and-guitar-noir “It’s a Dream,” and the shimmering, anthemic “Won’t Be Long.”
Barbara Schultz