Lazer guided melodies

New music from µ-Ziq, Thomas Bangalter, Someplace, Peiriant, Spresso, and more

Lazer guided melodies
“The Middle of Nowhere (Nicolas Jaar Rework),” Büşra Kayıkçı [Bandcamp]

This week’s playlist: Spotify / Apple Music

I acquired a CD player a few weeks ago. It’s nothing fancy, a Sony D-EJ360 CD Walkman off eBay. It’s the first CD player I’ve had in at least 15 years, and it has changed, almost entirely, the way I think about music. Some observations so far:

  • There’s a fullness to so much music that I’ve forgotten I could hear. On CD, I’m hearing parts of songs that streaming has compressed out of existence. Putting on Slowdive’s self-titled album—which I’d previously only heard over streaming—revealed “Slomo” to not be the muddy, droning track I’d otherwise heard it as, but—in fact—expansive and exquisitely detailed.
  • This has been the case with nearly everything I’ve heard on CD the past few weeks. There’s so much more sound compared to streaming, and it’s not even close. Or is it just my imagination? I took an NPR quiz that was supposed to tell me if I could, in fact, detect differences in audio quality. Turns out, I can’t.
  • Except the quiz is on a website that’s streaming the samples over a wifi network and into my phone, which is itself connected to a pair of Bluetooth headphones, which is probably eight levels of compression and distortion that that I never even thought could be a problem because how could using the internet for everything be wrong?
  • “Audiophile” is a dirty word. No matter the subreddit, CD enthusiasts refute the term. Even when they’re out there obsessively buying this format only because “it sounds better” ... “but I’m no audiophile.”
  • I’ve been scooping up a lot of used CDs, along with selecting a couple of new ones, but what I’ve been seeking out are those with the biggest sounds, the ones that reach the fullest depths—more Disintegration than Boys Don’t Cry—to hear what I’ve been missing. And I have missed it.
  • At this point streaming—and mp3s before that—have trained generations of listeners out of hearing the highest highs and lowest lows, of experiencing music’s ability to work wonders on our brains. It’s more than a case of platforms winning while artists and listeners lose; it’s a tragedy.
  • There is no better format for discovery than streaming, but no better format for listening than CD.
  • But I’m no audiophile.

“Metaphonk,” µ-Ziq

This is the song I’ve been waiting for. My favorite song. The song I heard, but that was then erased from streaming—a circumstance that renewed my interest in CDs. I spent a full afternoon hunting for information about the disappeared song, scouring message boards, listening to live sets. And because I knew the song length, I tried cross-referencing it with the album tracklist on Mike Paradinas’s website, which is where I saw I could preorder a CD. But I don’t even have a CD player? What good would a CD do me? Well in this case, it meant that I wouldn’t lose the song a second time.

Metaphonk, by µ-Ziq
from the album Grush

“Forgive feat. claire rousay,” Martha Skye Murphy

Beautiful and meditative, sure, but the way it ends is so perfect and relatable, and I don’t want to give it away.

Forgive (ft. claire rousay), by Martha Skye Murphy
from the album Um

“Afternoon Clouds,” Neuro... No Neuro

Plinky-plonky glitch overflowing with tiny, lovely details.

Afternoon Clouds, by Neuro... No Neuro
from the album Mental Cassette

“The Middle of Nowhere (Jaar Rework),” Nicolas Jaar, Büşra Kayıkçı

While Büşra Kayıkçı’s original—beautiful, spare, haunting—melody remains in place at the track’s opening, Nicolas Jaar takes the song to an entirely different—inspired, manic, moody—plane.

The Middle of Nowhere (Jaar Rework), by Nicolas Jaar
track by Nicolas Jaar

“CHIROPTERA,” Thomas Bangalter

One half of the now-defunct Daft Punk, this eerie, tantalizing soundtrack for a multi-floor performance with 154 dancers really needs to be heard and seen:

“cha yo,” rhizomatic

I featured some rhizomatic last week as well, and where that was far more on the shoegaze-y end of the continuum of ethereal music, this is down at the ambient end. Excited to hear the range. (Spotify, Apple Music)

“A Summer That Kills,” Someplace

While listening to music with a friend years ago, she told me she didn’t understand how I could identify specific instruments in a song, and that she hears music as its whole, without any differentiation between what’s making what sound in the whole ordeal. Whether or not that’s something that happens for a lot of people, I don’t know, but it sounds like a far less exhausting way to live—and sometimes when I hear songs like this, that blur the distinction so much between its various parts, I feel like I know what she was saying. It’s only at the end of the song that what’s really happening reveals itself, when the rhythm is laid bare.

A Summer That Kills, by Someplace
track by Someplace

“Last Day at the Flea Market,” Jad Atoui, Jawad Nawfal, Sharif Sehnaoui

Now this would be fantastic on CD.

Last Day At The Flea Market, by Jad Atoui, Jawad Nawfal and Sharif Sehnaoui
from the album Modern Individual

“Taflu Dwr,” Peiriant

This has a pronounced clarity and crispness that, paired with its incidental noise and quarks, had me looking over my shoulder when I was listening on headphones while alone (I think).

Taflu Dŵr, by Peiriant
track by Peiriant

“Split,” Russian Baths

I only just realized this is the first vocal-forward song this week, which is entirely by accident. In the context of the other songs here, this burst of bombast seems entirely poppy. Maybe it is!

Split, by Russian Baths
from the album Mirror

“VIP Room,” Spresso

A new one from Alpha Maid and Mica Levi’s Spresso, although by “new one” I suppose it’s three brief song sketches in a single track, but it really works.

VIP Room, by Spresso
from the album Rockstars

“Phoneglow,” Burial

For me, it happens every time there’s a new Burial song. I have to wonder how he’s going to pull it off this time—or rather, is he going to pull it off this time? The answer is yes, and what did it was that magnificent, intricate keyboard riff. And then everything before and after it.

Burial - Phoneglow, by Burial, Kode9
from the album Phoneglow / Eyes Go Blank