Album of the Day: Slug, “Early Volume”

There’s never been anything even remotely approachable about Slug, the L.A. noise band that exploded onto the scene in a hail of distortion and feedback in the late ‘80s. They staged deliberately-deafening impromptu concerts outside at Loyola Marymount University, where the members of the band were working as radio DJs, and slowly built a catalog of music with guitars that sounded like breaking glass and basslines that undulated and howled like the sandworms in Dune.

But time has a funny way of sanding the edges of bands that once seemed confrontational. Music that felt oppressive two decades ago now wouldn’t sound out of place in commercial hip-hop songs, and some of the ‘80s most extreme genres—industrial music, in particular—now sound quaint and kitschy. Not so with Slug: the 18 songs that make up this collection still feel like repeated right-hooks from a studded boxing glove. Slug has no use for melody: “Freak of Nature” pits a preacher’s ranting and raving against guitars that groan like the failing engine on an old Camaro. The song bludgeons with repetition: the same pitch black four-note chord pattern buzzsaws over and over and over—like the noise rock version of water torture.

“Elevator,” the closest thing on the record to a “single,” takes the notion of industrial music literally, with rhythms that sound like they’re being beaten out on hubcaps and guitars that are all feedback, no tone. And “Pink Party Dessert” hits the gut like a cement medicine ball, 400-ton guitars whaling away at the same note ad infinitum. The closest analogue would be the similarly-maniacal anarcho-noise of New York’s Missing Foundation, but the fact that Slug keep halfheartedly feinting toward conventional pop structures—a chorus here, a middle eight there—makes their music feel more subversive, as if they’re providing us with entryways just to destroy them. Slug deconstruct rock the way demolition crews bring down hotels: with explosive force and heavy machinery.

J. Edward Keyes

The Robin Hood of Dance Music: How Discos Pegaos Helped Democratize the Electronic Scene in Chile

Discos Pegaos by Carlos Molina

Discos Pegaos. Photo by Carlos Molina.

During the mid 2000s, Chile began appearing on the radars of Latin American music bloggers and fans after a long period of radio silence, and soon established its reign as South America’s pop music factory. Acts like Javiera Mena, Alex Anwandter and Gepe stormed onto the scene with a sound that unabashedly repurposed the most kitsch elements of disco, Eurohouse and early ‘90s techno and turned them into shiny, new gems that had a distinctly Chilean flare. These artists found value in music that the world had grown tired of and labeled trashy, and used these styles to break into the mainstream completely independent from the major label system that had crumbled years before.

Behind the scenes, a similar repurposing was happening in the independent electronic music circuit in an even more nuanced manner. Even though these artists shared bands, parties, venues and stages with Mena, Gepe, and many of the indie pop stars that are the best-known international representatives of Chile’s pop music renaissance, their journey into the public consciousness has been tougher. “In Chile, electronic music has been around for a long time, but the thing that I remember most from those early years is that it was all about extremes,” Mario Martínez, aka Motivado, says from Santiago, Chile’s capital.”There was a purist techno, house and minimal scene, and that was a very closed, upper class circle. There was a stigma that electronic music was for people with money, so the scene had an unsavory image. It wasn’t necessarily related to anything that was happening in the underground.”

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The Best Albums of 2016: #100 – 81

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If there’s one thing we learned since we launched Bandcamp Daily this past June, it’s that the world of Bandcamp is enormous—encompassing everything from emo in China to cumbia punk in Tuscon, Arizona to just about everything in between. So narrowing our Best Albums of the Year down to 100 choices was a daunting task. This week, we’ll be sharing our picks, 20 at a time, until we arrive at the top spot on Friday.

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As “Mankind,” SciryL and !LLumiN@TE Rap About Wrestling, Religion and Video Games

Mankind, SciryL and !LLumiN@TE

“We’re using video games and religion to tell a love story,” says rapper SciryL, bouncing around the Harlem living room-turned-studio that belongs to his partner in rhyme, !LLumiN@TE. Together, SciryL and !LLumiN@TE record as the group Mankind. Their latest release, 8-Bit Genesis, is a concept album about the duo’s imagined search for the Black Lara Croft who, in this story, reveals herself to be God. This spiritual flight of fancy is set against beats provided by the eccentric hip-hop character Charles Hamilton, whose soulful, chiptune-style production boasts the oblique bloops of a ’90s video game.

!LLumiN@TE, relaxing in a corner by a mic stand, recalls how he first bonded with SciryL after their path’s crossed in New York City’s battle rap scene. “At first we weren’t even recording,” he says. “We’d get up, watch some battles, and talk shit about music that was out. We both cook, so we’d do dinner parties that were like chill sessions, and we’d invite people over. The Mankind recording sessions came out of that and we’ve been writing and recording for a year straight since then.”

In that short time, Mankind has racked up a sizable discography—proof of which is displayed on a wall opposite their recording nook, where six giant pieces of paper are taped. On each of them, the track listing for various projects is scrawled out in chunky green and orange marker. As the two rappers discuss their music, they often motion towards the display to illustrate key points, with SciryL frequently reaching over to touch specific song titles.

Having wrapped up the release of 8-Bit Genesis, Mankind spoke with us about the group’s collaborative song writing process, how they met Charles Hamilton, and the throwback wrestling references seeded throughout their music.

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Jay Gambit of Crowhurst on Eschewing Genre and Finding a Home for the Unmarketable

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One of the most frustrating aspects of trying to survive in the noise/punk/metal underground is the premium placed on not seeming like you’re trying. Not to say effort is frowned upon, but it should be effort for its own sake, or the sake of the art. If you admit aloud that, yes, you’d like people to hear your music, you open up yourself to accusations of careerism, capitalism, and serial uncoolness. Success and its ensuing food and rent should just happen, like the weather.

We here at Bandcamp, while still having much love for those too cool for school, also embrace the strivers. Jay Gambit—who, as Crowhurst, has posted over 80 releases on his page, from drone to ambient to epic black metal—is an idealist living through the work. Gambit makes no secret of his ambition; it’s self-evident in the scope of his labor. Talking to him is a bit dizzying: he’s so in love with the music that shapes him, and the subculture that emotionally sustains him, that there were moments in our chat that almost felt surreal. He talks about mid-level post-metal bands as though they were at a critical saturation point—like, say, The Pixies—and obscure loop and drone artists like they’re pop stars who everyone knows. His tunnel vision is appealing; his enthusiasm is contagious. If we were at a bar with him, we’d have gotten whiplash from nodding while we pretended to know every musical reference.

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