Monday, August 3, 2015

What's New?: 8.3.2015

Dubstep and prog, what a glorious combo!

Various artists — Steppas' Delight (mid-2000's)

Soul Jazz doing its damnest to legitimize the UK dubstep scene with these two volumes, both two discs a piece.  The big tune here is Martyn's 'Broken' which is more two-step than dubstep proper, but you don't see me complaining.  The wide array of styles cross-sectioned here is impressive, if not a little overwhelming initially.  From more traditionally dancehall-sounding tunes like Uncle Sam's 'Round the World Girls (Tes la Rok Remix)' or (Con)Quest's 'Hard Food', through moody Burial-inspired soundscapes on TRG's 'Broken Heart' and Kode9's '9 Samurai', past more house-oriented grooves on the Silkie's 'Dam 4' and Seventeen Evergreen's 'Ensonique (Bi Polar Man Mix)' and all the way to the wubwubwub that dubstep is known for on Benga's 'Evolution' (amongst others).  I just can't see this stuff as anything but fascinating these days.  Key tracks: Martyn's 'Broken', Peverelist's 'Roll With the Punches' and TRG's 'Broken Heart.'

Various artists — Steppas' Delight 2 (mid-2000's)

More Soul Jazz goodness.  A lot of the same names pop up as from volume one, but there's still that sense of plenty of variety; even moreso here, making it the more listenable of the two volumes.  Martyn comes up a winner again here with his remix of Shed's 'Another Wedged Chicken.'  Elsewhere, Dusk's 1984-sampling 'Focus' is a nice groover, while the spaced out reggae vibe continues on Sully Shanks' 'Give Me Up (LD Remix)' and Kutz' 'Hard Body.'  You also get James Blake's stunning first single, funky house bits from Brackles and Darkstar, otherworldly greatness from Pangaea and Cluekid and a genuinely successful (and accessible) attempt at melding dubstep and r+b.  Key tracks: any of the above mentioned — I know that's a lot, but this thing is very high on quality

Genesis — The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974) YouTube

Peter Gabriel's last work with the band.  And what a labyrinthine, crazy, art pop mess it is.  Most of the actual tracks are relatively short, all things considered for Genesis, but they're all hard-mixed together, making each side of the two record set seem like one long song, with various movements: typical Genesis fare.  'In the Cage' feels like one of their best tunes, in this vein.  The ballads are all winners: 'Hairless Heart', 'The Chamber of 32 Doors', 'The Lamia' and 'In the Rapids.'  Overall, it's a gargantuan 90+ minute set to tackle in one session, but the songs don't really make sense outside of their context, so you're forced to sit through it.  Some of it does become a bit samey, but it's easy to see why Peter Gabriel would leave the group after such a work.  I'm a self-proclaimed fan of "mess" albums, so maybe I just need a little more time with this one.  Key tracks: 'In the Cage', 'The Chamber of 32 Doors', closer 'It' and the multi-movement 'The Colony of Slippermen'

Genesis — A Trick of the Tail (1976) YouTube Spotify

And Phil takes the driver's seat. Some of the band's prettiest material ever is found here, and that's saying something for these guys. Just check out 'Entangled' for some twelve string loveliness.  There's also the showy time signature mazes and doodly mellotron-laced technicality.  But there's tunes here, and it only meanders just up to the point of not losing the listener's attention.  The title track is easily the poppiest thing that the band had done until that point, but a darn good tune all the same.  A right fine album and one of the best of late 70's prog.  Key tracks: the title track and the ballads, 'Entangled' and 'Ripples'

Genesis — Wind and Wuthering (1976) YouTube Spotify

Super nice 2007 vinyl reissue of this one.  Striking again quickly in the same calendar year, it's a bit more focused on keyboards overall.  The ballads are the winners again here.  Check out 'One for the Vine.'  Just lovely, really.  Besides a few noodlers, it's quite possibly the band's calmest overall record and it's definitely their last hurrah of the 70's and for prog rock in general.  Key tracks: 'One for the Vine', 'Blood on the Rooftops' and 'Afterglow'


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