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 V.23 No.25 | June 19 - 25, 2014 

Sonic Reducer

Popcaan Where We Come From (Mixpak Records)

Where We Come From is summer Friday music, riding-in-the-drop-top music, magic hour music. You know that gentle euphoria advertisers try to evoke with scenes of tropical utopias? This album will make you feel that, the real thing. Popcaan is the protégé of recently incarcerated dancehall legend Vybz Kartel, but Popcaan creates love songs, not murder songs. On this debut full-length, he finesses seamless melodies with his smooth, sometimes sharp voice, ebullient synths and familiar rhythms for 45 minutes of party. Dancehall hasn't really had a strong voice in America's pop consciousness since Sean Paul, and this album is accessible enough that your parents might like it, too. Case in point: The lead single is titled “Everything Nice.” (Elliot Pearson)

In the savage world of rocanrol, complexity can be damning. Genre-eclipsing musical complications are antithetical to rock’s core values. That caveat didn’t stop the prog rock's progenitors—or their progeny—from birthing a beast as lauded as it is laughed at. Japanese outfit Boris' new album Noise deftly treads the fine line between virtuosity and self-conscious pastiche with nary a swoon. The recording commences as a technical procedure that builds until one note reigns predominant; a few beats of silence slip out of time before the serious space jamming begins. Opening track “Melody” is reminiscent of mid-career Styx; its sweeping instrumental and vocal bluster ultimately surrenders to a hard-edged counterpoint ironically titled “Vanilla.” Familiar prog-rock and metal tropes rise up with random precision on Noise. As things unfurl into the deep on Floydian finale “Siesta,” you may become convinced that punk rock never existed at all. (August March)

WIFE What's Between (Tri Angle Records)

James Kelly has pushed the leaden envelope of black metal with Altar of Plagues. Now, as WIFE, Kelly seemingly turns inward and discovers an entirely new universe of expression. Following two preliminary expeditions, Kelly’s new full-length work What’s Between finds the artist ensconced in a nighttime electronic landscape that's disarming and intimately dusky. There is a dark and driven personal narrative at work here. Tracks like “Salvage” demonstrate a confessional tone that bleeds through hypnotic vocals and into a pounding rhythm section and buzzing background. Kelly collaborated on this recording with The Haxan Cloak, and Bobby Krlic’s predilection for droning instrumental inertia provides a compelling contrast to Kelly’s plaintive vocal stylings. As the eerie fullness of “Living Joy” transits into the enigmatically soothing “Fruit Tree,” it’s quite possible to get lost in Kelly’s atramentous endeavor. (August March)

 
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    High Mountain Hideout
    High Mountain Hideout8.30.2014