Opine Kosinsky’s October Purchasing (part 1)

The unknown, anonymous producer and some time Acre Recordings contributor Opine Kosinsky got in touch recently reeling off about his recent musical acquisitions. Here’s what he wrote us.

Sonic Youth – SYR 8: Andre Sider Af Sonic Youth
(feat. Mats Gustafsson & Merzbow) live at Roskilde Festival ’05 [Sonic Youth Records]
I’ve not been a follower of Sonic Youth since a grunge phase in the early 90s and so am not familiar with what they’ve been up to since then. If the first part of this live session is anything to go by, that’s probably a good thing.

Meandering nonsense. And that’s all I can be bothered saying.

However, (and it’s a big “however”) at about the 20 minutes mark things start to kick off with saxophonist of death Mats Gustafsson bringing some much needed tension, noise and disharmony. The New Yorkers start to wind down and eventually leave the stage. It’s then not long before Merzbow starts plying his trade and things get better and better, with a good 40 minutes of textured and cathartic noise. This is a lot more nuanced than some of his solo things I’ve heard.

After a ropey start this live recording turns out very well indeed, as perhaps evidenced by the fairly rapturous crowd noise at the end.

Demdike Stare / Hype Williams – Meet Shangaan Electro
[Honest Jon’s Records]
Despite feeling familiar with the name, I’ve somehow managed to completely avoid Demdike Stare, until the nice man in the local record shop made me listen to their new split 12″ with Hype Williams, part of a series on Honest Jon’s.

While it was Stare’s rework of the original Shangaan Electro sounds that drew me in (lush analogue noise, analogue bass synth and tribalistic sounds) it’s the Hype Williams side I keep going back to. It’s a short track (plus dub) this one, a wonky sideways look at underwater reggae with wafer thin vocals from Copeland.

The production style is deliciously lo-fi analogue with plenty of dynamic overdrive, making it sound nostalgic for a past era of recording, whilst being modern feeling in it’s oddness. It’s also refreshingly catchy and the dub version ain’t bad either. This’ll defo be getting played in my next set.

Death Grips – The Money Store
A lot of people have wet their breeks in recent years over Death Grips. I may even have been one of them. Exmilitary was certainly a shot in the arm and fiercely aggressive with it: it had a fair amount of play here.

I was quite excited to hear The Money Store but it is by no means a perfect record. Firstly, the production is fucking awful: no real bass and squashed flat. Lots of sounds are fighting with each other, frequencies clash, and it has that horrible Radio 1 sound to it (albeit it in a more distorted kind of way).

Sadly, the sound quality strips away a lot of the aggression: a shame, as the vocals are pretty full on and very angry and the programming/beats are frenetic. This album is a lot more grimey than Exmilitary but despite me being no grime fan most of the tracks have grown on me (like some sort of cheese) and the overall tenor of the record is appealing in its rapid-fire fury and unorthodoxy (let’s not mention the ropey techno track at the end). Further to the plus, the vinyl comes with a printed inner, a lyrics sheet and mp3 coupon.

Monolog – Sticktease
[Tender Productions]
This is another record marred by dodgy production/mastering which is a crying shame because it’s otherwise really very good.

Once again much of the dynamism has been compressed out of it, leading to a rather ‘Chris Clark/Amon Tobin’ sound, one of my pet hates. That out of the way, however, Mads Lindgren fuses Autechre-style electronic jiggery-pokery with jazz, IDM and even a touch of breakcore-ish style beats in an inventive but very listenable and alluring way.

There are six tracks here, all offering something different, yet melding into a whole gratifying listening experience. They at times, in terms of programming and vibe, bring to mind Jega and bits of Squarepusher but improve on those artists, presenting us with something more appealing and warm than Jenkinson usually manages. For example, the track ‘Travelsong‘ brings to mind AE’s stunning ‘Under BOAC‘, yet fuses the mechanistic percussion with jazz guitar to produce something at once abstract yet beguiling.

Kid Koala – 12 Bit Blues
[Ninja Tune]
I love the idea of artists limiting their creative process in some way, as Matthew Herbert does quite a lot, most recently with One Pig and the two Wishmountain 12″s.

Old time fave and funny-looking fucker Kid Koala certainly limits himself on new album 12 Bit Blues, a lovely homage to stripped-back blues music of yore. Over three days he sampled the source material, using a new (to him) stalwart hip-hop sampler, the SP1200. Apparently eschewing any sort of sequencing software, he played the parts live himself, only adding a few over-dubbed cuts afterwards.

So, what’s it like?

In a word, endearing, like most of his output, yet also with touches of nostalgia and melancholy; poesy to times gone by. The timbre and feel very much fits into what he’s done before, with similar strands of humour, quirky vocal samples and lurching lo-fi off kilter beats.

The production values, despite his self-imposed limitations, are impressive and this record has the lovely warm vibe to it you’d expect. File under quirky and girl-friendly: this is perhaps the best thing he’s done since Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Bless ‘im!


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