Things without words #25: Jazz bending time (we’re pretty sure of that)


“Taubenfeld” by Kuhn Fu | Let me set the scene here. I write this on a Saturday afternoon. The temperature’s a sweltering 33 degrees – knowing Manila, this will feel more like 40, especially now that summer is kicking in. My social media feeds is filled with reminders on how to beat heatstroke, apparently because the sun is closest to the equator or something, which makes me wonder why this never came up before. I’m reading Monocle – I finally got a subscription – but couldn’t really focus because of the heat. I’m also nursing a headache. All I did was drive in the morning. Today I listen to Kuhnspiracy, the new album from Groningen band Kuhn Fu. (The founder is a guy named Christian Kühn. Smart.) The band’s a fun mix of jazz, rock and all those things – but perhaps more importantly, it somehow seemed to fit the very sweltering summer heat. It’s like time was bending. Things were going back and forth and back again. Maybe my headache got worse, but I don’t blame it on the album. It was quite trippy. In the right context, it will be. The album drops this Friday. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

Things without words #24: Difficult, open-ended, and possibly fascinating

“5 (Valentin Liechti)” by UFO | Three things. One, I will be the first to admit that this is a pretty difficult album to make sense of. Two, the song I’m embedding does little to give a taste of the album – it’s really one of those things where you have to listen to everything. Three, I know I am publishing this the day after Valentine’s Day, when everybody feels lovey-dovey out of obligation – what will they make of this? (Shalla and I didn’t get involved this year, considering we just came from Taipei last week.) The band is called UFO: they’re another one of those Swiss acts that find their way on the blog, and they’re releasing a new album, III, in a week and a half. The lazy will call this an experimental record; they’re playing up the improvisation angle here. The band invited five guest musicians for one mostly improvised recording session, KL each, then invited six sound artists to make something out of the sessions (thus the Valentin Liechti subtitle); supposedly they’re making sense of the link between documentation and performance in these times. Well, to me, it is a record that you really listen to, and one that makes sense after a while – but it will depend on what you’re thinking at that moment. Me, I was thinking of how to slot this in the day after Valentine’s Day. So… horror date stories? Waking up to a person you didn’t expect to wake up to? Maybe a dystopian story of romantic bliss? Up to you. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

Things without words, part twenty-three: It’s a dub rerecording of a dub record!

“Ma Main” (Dub Edit) by Dubokaj | And now, in a change to previously scheduled programming – for, well, reasons – we head to Switzerland, and we head to dub, a territory we haven’t exactly mined before despite how good it sounds. I mean, we have explored reggae, and we have explored ska, but we haven’t explored dub. But, again, it’s good. Think of it this way: while listening to Alpine Dub Re Dub, the new album from Swiss dub producer Dukobaj – aka Daniel Jakob, of the electro outfit Filewile – I ended up doing extra work without being all begrudging about it. I actually was inspired to write – granted, not one of those essays I’ve long been holding off, but I’ve done some writing. I felt prepped up. Anyway, to this album – as the title suggests, this is a rework of his previous album Alpine Dub, so, essentially, some sort of dub Inception. But the reworks stand nicely – no suggestion that it’s a remake. But perhaps it’s the whole idea of dub wriggling into my head. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

Things without words, part twenty-two: In the dark of night, they lurch…

“Petit-peur” by Magnetfisch | It’s been almost two years since we first (and last) wrote about Magnetfisch. A refresher: they’re a three-piece from Bern, specializing in that space “between synth pop and new wave,” focusing squarely on the melodies to build up the vibe. Just weeks back they released a new three-track EP with an interesting title: If You Were A Dinosaur, What Kind of Dinosaur Would You Be? My answer would be “not extinct” but anyway – it is just three tracks long, but it gets to the point, this time towards an underbelly not out of place in the Drive soundtrack. It wobbles stealthily, like a thief, heartbeats pacing as it goes for the steal. The whole thing’s now on their Bandcamp page[NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

Things without words, part twenty-one: For sunsets on the beach

“Daydreams” by Lauren’s Lullaby | To close the week, some trippy dream pop. If we’re to relate this to that summer-y thing we found ourselves in all this week, this would be the capper – you on the lounger as the sunsets, this song faintly in the background as people transition from frolicking on the water to getting freaky on the dance floor. (But that’s just the Boracay template – and that’s why I don’t like it.) Lauren’s Lullaby is Mexican producer Eduardo Miller, and his latest EP, Sin Ti, is an interesting mix. Some songs press down too hard on their seeds – one nod to Florence Welch, one nod to Elena Tonra – but others manage to take their origins (if any) and make it their own. That leads us to “Daydreams”, the entrancing album closer, which really did remind me of that one time I got annoyed because I still wanted to read, but the sun was setting and I did not want to let go of my lounger. If you’ve been to Boracay in the summer, you will definitely know why. And yes, I know it’s June. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)