William Basinski and Lawrence English – Selva Oscura: An Album for Autumn Exploration

Written By: Joshua Reedy

There is something about the works of both William Basinski and Lawrence English that incites a lust for exploration. Basinski and English are both massive figureheads in the ambient/avant-garde music genre, neither of which are strangers to collaboration. Basinski is likely most recognized for his sprawling multi-faceted Disintegration Loops which, in a nine lp box set, runs for over 600 dollars on Discogs. Basinski has a wealth of other emotionally and mentally stimulating albums such as Melancholia, released in 2003. Lawrence English is an Australian ambient artist known best for his 2009 album A Colour for Autumn. English has worked with various artists including Fennesz, Grouper and even Xiu Xiu. English is responsible for the experimental music label Room 40, which houses various artists including some Tim Hecker releases. Basinski and English have come together to create Selva Oscura, released on October 12th, 2018.

“Selva Oscura” translates roughly to “Twilight Forest”; the album is perfect for any hiking through the woods this fall. The first collaboration between these two feels like an exploration into hollow and decaying spaces in nature: a marriage between cold man-made stone structures and the golden-brown descent of autumnal changes. The album combines sounds of isolating drones with pulses of life interspersed throughout. “Selva Oscura 1.2” feels as if you are traversing through a tunnel deep within the woods. Rhythmic Industrial clanking and movement pierces “Selva Oscura 1.2”, portraying imagery of rusted and abandoned machinery found lingering in a hidden place. Quiet signs of life shimmer through the drone on both “Selva Oscura 1.2” and “Selva Oscura 1.3” testifying to the final stand of nature before the Winter comes. The album exudes a feeling of curiosity, of being in an unfamiliar place and discovering something that has been left behind a long time ago. The album is a perfect ambient expression of Fall; it is lonely, dreary and endlessly echoing yet wonderfully beautiful. Fall, and this album itself are a tragically beautiful “Memento Mori”: A reminder that all things collapse eventually to time. Selva Oscura however, reminds us that this loss is what makes life beautiful in the first place, and that even the twisted nature of loss can be beautiful just as autumn forests drenched in twilight manage to evoke such emotion from us.

The first four tracks of the album, “Mono No Aware 1.1” through “Mono No Aware 1.4” lowers us into the forest with brighter sounds, and more frequent melodies. “Mono no aware” roughly means “an empathy for things” which relates to the melancholy feelings people often have during the transition from Fall into Winter. Selva Oscura as an album represents an empathy toward the slow falling of leaves and coldness of air. The album manages to find a level of warmth on top of the howling winds, providing mental images of being wrapped in a coat and hat to combat the stinging air. The “Mono No Aware” half of this album is certainly the brighter side, representing an initial entrance into Fall or one’s first step in an unknown collage of trees. Sounds reminiscent of a train bobbing along in the distance graces “Mono No Aware 1.3” bringing the idea of nature and machinery together. The albums feels like a testament to the duality of that which is natural and that which is created; as both fall apart just the same. Nature, however, always rebounds and even at the peak of Summer, wind will still blow through the various lifeless and forgotten metal structures that have been reclaimed and engulfed by trees and grass.

Overall Selva Oscura manages to be a beautifully comfortable reminder of our mortality, just as Fall. Hopefully, the existential comparison of natural cycles to the futility of our time on Earth does not unnerve the reader/listener; if it does, take comfort in knowing Halloween is just around the corner where artificial scares and vast amounts of candy can help us cope. Selva Oscura is great for getting comfy with a warm mug of tea, or for walking through your local forest.

Listen to this album below!

The Electronica Underworld, and the Ventriloquists Behind the Curtains of Today’s EDM

Written By: Hudson Hoffman

When the common person hears the term “EDM” in 2018, they believe it refers to the likes of Illenium and Marshmello. In 2011, the same term would have put images of Deadmau5’s iconic helmet and Skrillex’s 3-clawed symbol into the minds of the commercial audience at the time. These names are all superstar icons which have been recognized for their significant contributions to the industry, and their influence in the shaping and evolution of what is defined as EDM. 

However, there is always a bigger fish, and if these are the big fish of the pond, who do they consider sizable? 

The answer is found in what is known as IDM – Intelligent Dance Music. You may not have heard it, but the press has labeled the scene with such a term because there is simply no other term to refer to it as. Some call it Brainwave, Acid Dance, and Glitchcore, among other buzzwords. The scene consists of artists you have probably never heard of, but those big fish in the pond? These are the artists who were essential in the nurturing of their production career. Some of the names in this realm of electronica include Boards of CanadaAphex TwinU-Ziq, and Squarepusher – all names prominent in the 90s dance scene of the UK and Europe – the breeding ground of dubstep and electronica as a whole. If you ask anyone behind the counter of your local record store, there’s a near-guarantee they have heard of these names, for they are credited with pioneering electronica, despite their lack of presence in the mainstream. Aphex Twin is considered the poster boy for IDM, his 1992 release “Selected Ambient Works 85-92” sending subtle yet influential shock waves through what was considered pop & dance music at the time. 

What followed was a tsunami of releases on the heels of Aphex Twin’s album. U-Ziq made himself known with his debut known as “Tango N’ Vectif” in ’93, the first ever album to incorporate the elements that established what the world now knows as “dubstep”. 1996 saw Squarepusher debut with his jazz/breakcore album “Feed Me Weird Things”, which pioneered the virtually nonexistent drum n’ bass scene and further helped with the establishment of glitch, a prominent genre of the early 00’s.

Despite the lack of mainstream exposure of these artists and their works, many mainstream artists of today label the IDM pioneers as the driving force behind their own creation. Skrillex has been very open about how Aphex Twin inspired his debut EP “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites”, and goes into detail in an interview about his interest in the Richard D. James’ discography: 

[In regards to how much he has listened to of Aphex twin’s soundcloud releases] “So much of it. I’m always on SoundCloud, in general, but the new stuff? I’ve listened to all of it. I just put it on and clean my house to it. I found my old CD book and I wanna take a photo of it because I have every [Aphex Twin] CD. Some of the actual CDs are missing but I have every release up until 2006. I know he’s released more stuff since then, but I haven’t bought a CD since 2006. But I have every single [one], like Caustic Window, Polygon Window, every Analord you can buy on CD.”  

Joel Zimmerman, better known as Deadmau5, and the pioneering force behind progressive house with his 2008 release “Random Album Title”, has claimed a love for Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin, his earlier works paying homage to themselves and the scene with tracks off his 2001-2006 production “Project 56”. One particular track on the assortment is named “Bored of Canada” referencing to Boards of Canada in both its name and style. Most, if not all, of the tracks on Project 56 derive from the IDM/Glitch/Breakcore/Ambient scene produced by Aphex Twin, U-Ziq, Squarepusher, and Boards of Canada. Another less known release of Deadmau5 was his remix of Boards of Canada’s famous “Roygbiv”In his livestream Q&A hosted by asQme, Joel reaffirmed his admiration for Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin, and Tycho, upon being asked about his key inspirations and influences, as well as what he listens to on a daily basis, given his constant exposure to electronica. 

Other massive names both inside and outside of the electronic music scene such as Frank OceanRadiohead,MobyDJ ShadowKraftwerkBjork, and Kanye West, have all claimed Aphex Twin either influenced their productions or is one of the artists in their playlists. In fact, Kanye West was called out by Aphex Twin himself for illegally sampling Aphex Twin’s piano piece “Avril 14th” in his collaboration with John Legend on “Blame Game”. Despite having been called out for it, Kanye continues to claim he wrote the instrumental. 

The musketeers are still making music today, U-Ziq having released “Challenge Me Foolish” earlier in 2018, Aphex Twin releasing his first commercial content since 2014 under the almost-mainstream “Collapse EP”, Squarepusher’s“Damogen Furies” reintroducing him to the scene in 2015, and finally Boards of Canada’s 2013 release “Tomorrow’s Harvest”, their first production since their 2005 album “The Campfire Headphase”. They seem to be thriving within their dimension of music, their fan bases loyal to an almost cult-like point.     

So in the family tree of edm subgenres, now you know where it all originated from, and not to forget where it all began in what is today an oversaturated, low-quality market that thrives off of festivals and live shows rather than the music itself. As Aphex Twin once quoted from Willy Wonka

“We are the music makers, and we, are the dreamers of dreams”

Interview with Claudio Reyna

By: Rob Lepelstat

Claudio Reyna truly needs no introduction. Over the course of a professional fútbol career spanning over 20 seasons with stops including Sunderland, Manchester City, and the New York Red Bulls, Reyna left the pitch for the final time in 2008 highly regarded as one of the greatest American soccer players of all-time. 

Serving as the captain of the USMNT up until his retirement from international play following the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the National Soccer Hall of Famer made 112 appearances for the national team – representing America in three World Cups (1998, 2002 and 2006) as well as the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympic Games. 

When sports director Rob Lepelstat got the chance to sit down with him this week thanks to our friends at Wells Fargo for the grand opening of their new branch location on East 86th Street in New York City, they spoke about everything from his childhood growing up, to his professional career, his current position as Sporting Director at NYCFC, the 2018 FIFA World Cup, his favorite DINNER and so much more!

Wells Fargo released the following statement regarding their support for the MLS, the Mexican National Team and the soccer community.

“2018 FIFA World Cup is only a few days away and Wells Fargo is proud to be a part of the soccer community through its sponsorship of MLS and the Mexican National Team.  Each FIFA World Cup year attracts thousands of new fans to the sport of soccer, nowhere more so than the United States. With our coast-to-coast presence, the time was right for Wells Fargo to invest in a national sports marketing sponsorship (MLS).  This sponsorship offers Wells Fargo a unique and ownable platform for engaging new and existing customers, increasing our overall brand consideration and continuing to support community initiatives via the MLS W.O.R.K.S. Community MVP program and community service projects. With many of its players on the U.S. National Team roster, Major League Soccer represents an incredible opportunity to connect with local communities and soccer fans across the country to share Wells Fargo’s passion for their financial success, as well as the ”beautiful game.”

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW HERE.

 

The Big 52 – Frankie Cosmos’ Vessel

Frankie Cosmos have announced the release of the 18-track Vessel, marking an astonishing 52 releases as a project (including early Bandcamp releases). Vessel is their first release under the Sub Pop label, and is set to drop March 30th. You can listen to the first three released singles, “Jesse,” “Being Alive,” and “Apathy” wherever you stream your music.

Frankie Cosmos is also hitting the road in April, with openers Lomelda, Ian Sweet, and SOAR. Unfortunately these shows all fall on the West Coast, so let’s hope for added show dates once the album comes out!

Steam the most recent single “Apathy” here:

 

February Recap

February was quite an exciting month for music releases, including a few full-length albums, and a handful of singles from some of our favorites.

The first, must-listen album goes to Black Panther: The Album, released by Kendrick Lamar and features various other artists. As advertised, it includes music from and inspired by the film, which is currently selling out theaters nationwide. The collection of artists who collaborated on this album is impressive, so give it a listen if you haven’t already.

The next albums worthy of mention are Car Seat Headrest’s remaster of Twin Fantasy, along with Hovvdy’s Cranberry. Both were highly anticipated albums by a few of our DJs, who have been long-time fans of the bands. On a personal note, Triathalon (one of my old favorites) just released Online.

On the singles front, Beach House’s “Lemon Glow” chilled us out, while Janelle Monae’s “Make Me Feel” and “Django Jane” got us dancing. Courtney Barnett’s “Nameless, Faceless” gave us some nostalgia on February 15th, following Michael Seyer’s “Lucky Love” the day before.

While there are surely a bunch missing from this list, these should keep your ears satisfied until the next batch of releases, which are sure to impress.

WCDB’s 40th Anniversary Reunion Weekend

Schedule of Events

Join us in welcoming back WCDB alumni for a weekend full of events and fun! 


THURSDAY, MARCH 1

All day
Station Open House and Birthday Party
Campus Center West Great Hall
Help celebrate the radio station’s birthday with a cake at 3:00 p.m., followed by a 4:00 p.m. airing of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” to commemorate the beginnings of the station WCDB on March 1, 1978, and a sing along shortly after. Join other alumni for the live on-air round table. Registration required. Cost: Free. Complimentary food and beverages.

FRIDAY, MARCH 2

All day
Station Open House
WCDB Radio Station, Campus Center 316
Alumni live on-air round table/spinning throughout the day with bagels, doughnuts and coffee available in the morning and munchies and beverages in the afternoon. Cost: Free.

7:00 p.m.
Multi-Genre Music Night
Campus Center Fireside Lounge and Assembly Hall
Featuring multiple live alumni bands including jazz and rock, and who knows, a professional comedy act by an alumnus or two? Registration required. Cost: $10. Cash bar only.

SATURDAY, MARCH 3

All day
Station Open House and Hospitality Reception
WCDB Radio Station, Campus Center 316
Alumni live on-air round table/ spinning throughout the day with bagels, doughnuts and coffee available in the morning and munchies and beverages in the afternoon. Cost: Free.

7:00 p.m.
Reunion Dinner
Campus Center Fireside Lounge and Assembly Hall
Join fellow alumni and students for an informal buffet and a night of music with alumni and student DJs spinning throughout the night. Grab your friends and have fun in the complimentary photo booth. Registration required. Cost: $75 with beer, wine and soda included. Cash bar.


SUNDAY, MARCH 4

9:00 a.m.-Noon
Remote Broadcast from Brubacher — “Back Where It All Began”
Brubacher Hall, The College of St. Rose, 750 State St.
WCDB will broadcast live from Brubacher Hall just outside the room that served as WSUA’s main studio for the first 15 years of the station’s operation. Reminisce with your hosts, John Kienzle ’67, John Michalke ’70 and Bill McCann ’86, ’87 while they play hit songs and news bits from the WSUA era. Coffee and doughnuts available.

Noon-4:00 p.m.
Station Open House
WCDB Radio Station, Campus Center 116
Alumni live on-air round table/ spinning throughout the afternoon.

Stream Hovvdy’s new single “Late”

Hovvdy, a two-part duo from Texas, have released “Late”, a new single from their upcoming album Cranberry, set to be released February 9th, 2018. The release of “Late” follows their earlier release of “Petal”, which debuted back in October. Both tracks are melodic and slow, with introspective lyrics, reflecting on past situations.

In addition to their two releases, they are currently finishing up a fall West Coast Tour, leaving fans excited in anticipation for Cranberry‘s full release. You can preorder the album here.

Stream “Late” below:

 

Sam Smith Enthralls on The Thrill of It All

Written by: Kitty Modell-Rosen

Last week, 2014’s breakout singer/songwriter Sam Smith released his long awaited sophomore album The Thrill of It All. Smith has certainly outdone himself, stripping much of this release’s songs down to just his powerful vocals, a simple piano and when necessary, a gospel choir to add layers of strength and spirituality to his already angelic voice.

The album’s first track, “Too Good At Goodbyes” served as the album’s lead single and ushered in this new era of music for Smith and his patient fanbase. The first half of the song finds Smith accompanied by just a subtle piano playing the simplest chords, joined by finger-snapping. As emotions build and tensions rise, a beat kicks in and eventually Smith is flanked by a gospel choir, echoing his verses to the heavens.

On “HIM”, Smith tells the beautiful story of a young boy coming out to the most important men in his life – his father, and the “Holy Father”, God. Outlined within the song’s lyrics is a boy standing up for the love he holds for another boy, as well as the love he insists he deserves from God and his father despite this supposed religious transgression in the form of engaging in a homosexual relationship. The track is empowering, and brings chills to the spine when the gospel choir joins Smith, adding another layer to the religious battle the boy is fighting.

“Midnight Train” takes a somber note and flips the perspective to Smith making the painful decision to break a lover’s heart this time, as opposed to allowing his heart to be broken as he usually does. The track takes on a Doo-Wop-esque feeling and sound at the chorus, as Smith contemplates whether he is a “monster” for making the selfish decision to put himself before his now ex-boyfriend, what his lover’s family will think of him for leaving and how to put into words why he must depart for good.

The Timbaland-produced “Pray” served as an additional promotional release for the album, and was inspired by the time Smith spent in Iraq with the charity War Child. The song’s opening fools the listener into thinking the song will be upbeat, when in reality, it openly and emotionally details Smith’s naiveté regarding the state of the world – citing a lack of completed education, his young age, his ignoring of the news and having turned away from religion. By the end of the track, Smith concludes that despite all of this, we all end up praying, at one point or another, for a “glimmer of hope” in the darkness of our current world.

Additionally of note is “Scars”, exclusively available as one of the album’s special edition bonus tracks. Serving as a kind of dual letter to his mother and father in response to their divorce, “Scars” is poetic, heartwarming and heartbreaking, all in the span of three minutes. Smith sings that his parents’ newfound happiness without each other as husband and wife, as well as their assistance and guidance to their children through that tough time, has healed his metaphorical scars.

Smith’s debut release In the Lonely Hour is nothing when in the shadow of this powerful and emotional sophomore release. As a whole, The Thrill of It All is hauntingly raw and real, as Smith reveals to his listeners – layer by layer, track by track – how heartbreak of all kinds has affected him and culminated in this painfully honest collection of ballads.

Listen below:

Boy Pablo’s Roy Pablo

At just 18, Norwegian-native Boy Pablo has already released 3 singles and a 6 track EP. He is joined on stage by his best friends and is currently touring around Europe. His latest release, Roy Pablo, was released this past May and quickly gained attention among the dreampop community, being compared to acts like Mild High Club and Banes World.

Check out the EP below:

(recommended tracks: everytime, ur phone, ready / problems)

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