MOVES Spring 2012 Music Reviews

New York Moves

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LEONARD COHEN Old Ideas . Leonard Cohen’s latest release, Old Ideas — his first in eight years— is somewhat of a predictable masterpiece. In his staple whisky-and-cigarette rasp, Cohen morphs musings on love, suffering, spirituality and much in between into a graceful musical patchwork of crooning confessionals and dark, witty ruminations. While the deep, soulful poetics may not necessarily be any groundbreaking departure for the legendary troubadour, at 77 years of age, Cohen has nothing he needs to prove (besides that he’s still f-ing got it.) With his age-old spellbound whispers put to a medley of folk, jazz, blues and gospel undertones - "Amen," 'Darkness" and "Crazy To Love You" are all standouts- Old Ideas ends up a fine-tuned, encapsulating testament to the simple and honest mastery which has made Cohen one of the greatest singer-songwriters of our time.

PORCELAIN RAFT Strange Weekend . There is a certain elusive, almost-mythical stature surrounding Mauro Remiddi, the Italian-born, globetrotting artist behind Porcelain Raft. At the core, his official premier, Strange Weekend, is gratifyingly dizzying and easy-to-listen-to synth-pop at is best. The ten tracks are consistently warm, hypnotic and beautifully-stitched together; a collage of multi-layered sounds, instruments, transposing drum-machine beats and echoic vocals that are as beautiful as they are peculiar. As a body of work, the album conjures a colorful musical kaleidoscopic turning in very dreamy celestial world. Continually rediscovered with every listen, it’s a soundtrack to a day of cloud-glazing at the park and a welcome excuse for listeners to float away for a few moments and smile for no particular reason. It’s one to turn up for sure.

SHARON VAN ETTEN Tramp . Sharon Van Etten, in her intimate and understated guitar-and-vocal brilliance, has simultaneously laid out her personal torments and unveiled her skilled musicianship over the past few years and two album releases. Her third most recent effort, Tramp, at once follows the trend while managing to carve a new, bolder path for it, stamping a certain (if still subdued) strength previously unseen on her first LPs. It comes much welcomed. With the pillars of heartbreak, havoc and self-reflection still at the nucleus of her haunting melodies, the same fragile, smoky-noir ambience that makes Van Etten so unconditionally alluring is more than plentiful on Tramp, yet tracks like “Leonard,”“Magic Chords,” and the record’s first single, “Serpents,” evocate a variation that demonstrates she has more tricks up her sleeve than we think.

AIR Le Voyage Dans La Lune . The French electronica duo Air have always been a bit of the capricious type. No strangers to creating masterful soundtracks —they were Sofia Coppola’s go-to music gurus for The Virgin Suicides— their latest project, Le Voyage Dans La Lune, is a fantastical and at times compelling homage to Georges Méliès’ pioneering 1902 sci-fi film of the same name. Recorded live (applaudable in itself), the predominantly instrumental track list is not as futuristic as one might expect or hope, but a more subdued intergalactic score is, in many ways, far more appropriate, as the brilliantly color-remastered 16-minute film itself is the main act. Still, the album is a brave, interesting and a successful backdrop for what is essentially a historical treasure. Do yourself a favor and buy the complete CD/Video package for the full otherworldly experience.

SCHOOLBOY Q Habits and Contradictions . You don’t necessary have to be a fan of hip-hop to think Habits and Contradictions, Schoolboy Q’s sophomore effort, is exciting. While the Compton, CA, rapper doesn’t shock audiences with anything that hasn’t been heard before, per se —dark, cloudy “gansta-rap” tinged lyrics with references to money, weed and bitches is prevalent, but surprisingly not off-putting— what Schoolboy Q does do is produce a solid, well-paced and organic blueprint of a talented emcee who knows how to release a thoroughly enjoyable record. Like the title suggests, it’s full of it’s own paradoxes, but with splashes of unexpected sounds and samples (including indie-darlings Menomena) and a streamlined head-rush-type energy, the release is erratic and engaging.

RODRIGO Y GABRIELA Area 52 . If the latest tracks from Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela’s Area 52 release bring on a certain déjà vu, be not surprised; you’ve probably heard them before. Guaranteed, though, not like this. In what is essentially a re-mastering of sorts, Area 52 is both propelled and magnificently enriched by Rodrigo y Gabriela’s collaboration with the ever-pulsating, 13-piece orchestra, C.U.B.A. The result is exhilarating. The addition of sultry Cuban rhythms, complete with raucous horns and sassy percussion, is an effortless marriage to the 12-string virtuosos’ celebrated music. While it is certainly not the same raw, intense fingerwork that we’re used to— at times, the guitar work even becomes somewhat muted in the blaring big-band sound— it is nonetheless an energetic and saluted departure for the talented musicians that is sure to rile you up. Take a swig of tequila and let the music take hold.

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