Dan Deacon Has a New Video… and It’s Awesome!

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Last month, electronic composer Dan Deacon released his new album, Gliss Riffer. If you’re not already listening to this guy, you should be. His genre-blending music is as eccentric as it is passionate. His sound is experimental, glitchy and totally unique.

Oh hey, Adult Swim has a show that fits that last description! Airing at the graveyard slot of 4am is Dave Hughes’ hidden gem, Off the Air. Each episode sees Hughes editing music videos, animations, stock footage and other internet oddities into and 11-minute something-or-other revolved around the episode’s theme. Think of it like Liquid Television, but with even less context.

My excuse for cramming these two disjointed paragraphs into a single article is the latest collaboration between the two artists: a music video for Deacon’s new single “When I Was Done Dying”. It’s a 5-minute spectacle featuring the work of 9 immensely talented animators (most of whom have been featured on past Off the Air episodes), pieced together by Hughes into a single, cohesive, symbolic journey molded to Deacon’s euphonious tones and metaphysical lyrics. From the trippy CGI of Taras Hrabowsky to the fluid motion of one of my personal favorites, Masanobu Hiraoka, this thing is absolutely packed with inspired visuals. Check it out if you’re a fan of abstract animations, or if you just want to see collaboration at it’s finest.

As a little something extra, I’ll let you know that this isn’t the first time Deacon and Hughes have teamed up. Back in 2013, coinciding with Deacon’s appearance on the Adult Swim Singles Program, a special episode of Off the Air was set to Deacon’s 20-minute (!) feature, “U.S.A.”. I’d definitely say to check it out, just be aware that there’s a little bit of simulated, NSFW nudity towards the middle.

If you enjoyed these videos and want to see more, Adult Swim has an ongoing online live-stream running all of the Off the Air episodes in a loop. You can also find the music of Dan Deacon on iTunes.

Something to Listen to: “Ghostly Swim 2”

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In case you missed it, comedy network Adult Swim and indie record label Ghostly International have just teamed up yet again to release their second free compilation album, Ghostly Swim 2. You may remember that I talked about the 2009 original a couple of weeks ago. So you know that I’ve been anticipating the release of this one.

Ghostly has a tendency to segment their releases into two categories. Avant-Pop acts as a fusion of electronic methodologies with pop sensibilities, while SMM, a meaningless acronym, represents the more experimental and ambient music. If the first Ghostly Swim was an avant-pop album, Ghostly Swim 2 focuses more on SMM.

I’d spend more time telling you why you should buy it, but you can download it right now for free at the official site! Instead, I’m going to do a track-by-track breakdown and briefly tell you what I think. Feel free to listen along.

Pascäal – “Holo”

True to it’s name (well, the sound of the name, anyway), “Holo” sounds as though it could have been recorded in a large, hollow cave. The electronic noises bouncing of every wall. There’s not much to day about this one other than that it’s atmospheric and puts me right in the mood for an ambient, relaxing album.

Shigeto – “Tide Pools”

Ghostly mainstay Shigeto drops a new track in the form of “Tide Pools”. It’s a haunting combination of synthetic pianos and digital wind chimes set on top of a soothing beat. This one’s sure to invoke feelings of pleasant peacefulness with just a hint of melancholy.

Anenon – “The Grapevine”

Anenon takes his turn to introduce my favorite track of the album. The buzzing of electronic voices work together to sing a melancholic song backed by an energetic set of drums. This track utilizes a nontraditional sound to form an emotional piece. It may sound weird, but I love weird.

Heathered Pearls – “Supra”

Heathered Pearls’ “Supra” focuses on a synth piano among a series of other ambient noises. It’s quiet, but hypnotizing. Another fine addition to our 45 minutes of auditory relaxation.

Babe Rainbow – “Don’t Tell Me I’m Wrong”

Having apparently just made the jump from Warp Records, Babe Rainbow provides Ghostly with “Don’t Tell Me I’m Wrong”. The track consist of a booming drum, a cheerful tune and a haunting set of vocals wailing in the distance. Another quiet, atmospheric track to populate one’s night.

Dauwd – “Kolido”

Dauwd’s entry, “Kolido”, rests continues the practice of electronic elements and far-away vocals resting on top of a subtle beat. About 2 minutes into this one, the beat starts to take on a catchier rhythm fit for a dance floor.

Patricia – “Spotting”

Patricia starts the second half of this album with a quiet synth piano and a thumping bass, as the other elements of the track are introduced one by one. Distorted clapping and complimentary electronic rhythms start to fill the room and the beat starts to progress and shift. By the end, though quiet intimacy is maintained throughout, the tracks has become one catchy ride for the listener.

Lord RAJA – “Spilt Out In Cursive”

The most ambient track on the record so far, Lord RAJA’s “Spilt Out In Cursive” relies almost entirely on subtle tunes and creepy background noises before fading out. Calming or unnerving? I’ll let you decide.

CFCF – “Oil”

CFCF’s “Oil” starts out on a pleasant couple of xylophones, before the electronic elements and bass start to fill the background with life. This progress until the xylophones are replaced by a faded piano sending things into a calm atmosphere. A peaceful ride, through and through.

Feral – “Mirror”

Following a trail of far off sounds, “Mirror” paints a picture I’d like to call digital popcorn. Computer noises and popping sounds play backdrop to a gentle tune and a series of synthetic drums.

Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler – “I Only Have Eyes For You”

“I Only Have Eyes For You” spends it first time on some magnificent chiming among the sounds of soaring skies. Different elements get tossed in and out until settling down to a gentle conclusion. Uneventful, but nonetheless heavenly.

AceMo- “Futurism”

“Futurism” is probably the most melancholic track on the record. Haunting synths set the tone before the drums and vocals continue the song down the downbeat slope.

Nautiluss – “Lonely Planet”

Nautiluss comes in to close out this record with a decidedly up-tempo track. “Lonely Planet”‘s beat moves at a steady pace while the synths decorates it’s path. A nice finish to one soothing journey.

So there we go. 13 new tracks from some of Ghostly’s finest. If you want to hear it, head over the Adult Swim’s site and get downloading.

You can download Ghostly Swim 2, here.

Something to Listen To: “Ghostly Swim”

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Last week, Wired reported that indie record label Ghostly International and comedy network Adult Swim would once again team-up to release Ghostly Swim 2 on December 23rd. I figured this would be a great time to talk about the 2009 original, Ghostly Swim.

Ghostly Swim‘s lineup consists of some of the key artists from Ghostly’s catalog of artists. In the video above, you’ll hear Michna’s ambient yet bouncy beat, “Triple Chrome Dipped” followed by Mux Mool’s electric trip, “Night Court”. Through the rest of the album, you can hear label co-founder Matthew Dear perform a bone-chilling yet prideful tune in “R + S”, while School of Seven Bells provides a suitably melancholy song in “Chain”. The Chap is represented with their wonderfully quirky track “Carlos Walter Wendy Stanley”, while Deastro takes us on a simultaneously intense and cheerful ride in “Light Powered”.

But, if I have to pick a favorite out of the album, I’d go with Tycho’s “Cascade”. It’s a beautifully composed piece that brings to my mind a fallout from an emotionally traumatic event. It makes me think of watching the sunrise, but with a feeling in my heart that I’ve just said goodbye and have to figure out how to move on. Well… that’s my take, anyway.

This compilation album is what introduced me to Ghostly International and ultimately pushed me into exploring the world of underground music. Best of all, it’s free to download. So if you haven’t had the chance to listen to this one, I highly recommend that you do.

You can download Ghostly Swim for free at Adult Swim’s official site, here.

Something to Watch: “Too Many Cooks”

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Well, there’s no use trying to deny it. Rolling Stone wrote about it. The Atlantic wrote about it. Other art sites like It’s Nice That have written about itToo Many Cooks is a thing, and I’m running just a tad late to the party.

See, from time to time, the comedy network [adult swim] produces eleven-minute shorts and airs them on the graveyard slot of 4am. A week later, they’ll often upload these shorts to their official YouTube channel. In a somewhat unusual case, their most recent effort has reached viral status, following it’s upload. I’ll go ahead and say ahead of time that Too Many Cooks is rather NSFW. I’d give reasons why but, as The Atlantic would tell you, the less you know about this short going in, the more likely you are to enjoy it.

That was really well done! The joke about a never-ending TV theme song is funny enough, but to then transcend the sitcom parody and lampoon cop shows, sci-fi shows and even G.I. Joe makes this video something else entirely. Clearly, a lot of thought went into this, and it’s paying off. To give credit where credit’s due, there aren’t a whole lot of networks that would invest money in weird, one-off projects like this. [adult swim] does so for seemingly little purpose other than showcasing them, and that says wonders about who they are and how they do businesses.

Now, as evidence of the short’s popularity, I leave you with a fan-made 8-bit rendition of the theme song from Too Many Cooks.

You can find more from [adult swim] by visiting their official site and YouTube channel.

Spotlight on Adult Swim Games

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Note: Those of you who read my “Discovery” article on Ghostly International should know that this is the continuation of that category. However, in the interest of self-explanation (and the desire to sound less pretentious), the category is being renamed “Spotlight”. Enjoy!

In a couple of past posts, I’ve mentioned [adult swim], a comedy network that shares channel space with Cartoon Network. They’re no strangers to the indie scene. Independent and experimental music is used regularly in the network’s promotions and packaging, and they even have a annual series of free downloads dedicated to highlighting some of these musicians. For the world of indie video games, they have a different approach. The publishing business.

[adult swim] Games focuses on finding independently developed games and using their connections to publish the games on various platforms, including Steam, the iOS and Android app stores and even their own website. They then use their position as a TV network to advertise these indie games to mass audiences, producing (often animated) commercials to air on breaks. On one occasion, they even went so far as to produce a full-length, live-action trailer to accompany a game’s release.

They’ve published a number of titles over the past couple of years. Let’s take a look a of few of them.

Retro Throwbacks

Games such as Super House of Dead Ninjas and Volgarr the Viking fit this category nicely. Defined by 16-bit graphics and a brutal difficulty, they harken back to the days of trial and error and memorizing passcodes in front of your Super Nintendo.

Mobile Games

Here you’ll find arguably the publisher’s most popular titles, the Rainbow Unicorn Attack series.

Not your thing? Me neither. Maybe Major Mayhem is more your speed!

Or how about my personal favorite, Monsters Ate My Condo!?

And… Everything Else!

Super Puzzle Platformer traps you in a Tetris board and challenges you to survive.

Soundodger mixes the music genre with a “bullet hell” style.

And Jazzpunk… Well, I still don’t know how to describe Jazzpunk (although, I did try).

I have a lot to respect for [adult swim] Games. This is a company that could have easily (and rightfully) focused on publishing games based on the network’s popular shows, but they instead do something really cool for the indie game landscape. Curating unique and interesting games and helping the developers get the exposure they deserve.

You can find more games published by [adult swim] by visiting their website, Steam page, iTunes page, and Google Play page.

Something To Play: “Jazzpunk”

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So I’ve been looking over some of the indie stuff I’ve gotten my hands on in the months before I started this blog. I may be plunging into that archive a few times before this year is over. One particular thing that stuck out to me is a strange little game, developed independently by Necrophone Games and published to Steam by none other than the video game division of experimental comedy network [adult swim]. Welcome to the world of Jazzpunk.

Where do I even begin with this one? Well, the story (nonsensical as it is,) places you in the role of Polyblank, a secret agent running espionage missions in an alternate-reality Cold War era. But don’t be fooled. This is a absurdist comedy, first and foremost. You’ll be asked to perform completely insane tasks to achieve slightly less insane results.

Need to get into a room? Go collect a bunch of spiders in a jar and let them loose on the guard. Need to fool a security camera? Go the copy-machine, take a picture of your butt and show it to the camera. Get the idea?

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As you do these strange things, everything happening around you becomes even stranger. Suddenly, your boss’s office is becoming flooded with water and octopuses. Now you’re standing in a creepy land made of pizza. It’s best to just go with the flow.

Actually, the best thing to do (in my opinion,) is to follow the story straight through on your first go. Then, after the end credits have finished, play again and go as far off the beaten-path as possible to see what else you can do. There’s pigeons to smuggle, frogs-with-Mohawks to escort and references to other video games to find.

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Both playthroughs will only take you a couple of hours, but I think it’s worth the price of admission, anyway. It’s really funny and I don’t think you’re going to find a game with this sort of look and feel anywhere else. What else can I say? Jazzpunk is a game where you’re thrown into a weird little world and asked to go see what you can make happen. If that sounds like fun to you, then hop on board!

You can find Jazzpunk on Steam here.