Posts Tagged ‘Jefre Cantu-Ledesma’

VA – Self Discovery For Social Survival

When word of this comp first came down, I mentioned that this was an ambitious undertaking, to say the least. That’s a bit of an understatement. In an age of shrinking profits its rare for a major to take on something this lofty, let alone a (rather largish) indie. Mexican Summer paired with Pilgrim Surf + Supply to send three groups of professional surfers, film crews, and a band to score each of the sessions as they were shot. The idea was for the bands to pick up the vibes of the day and translate them into accompaniment that completely absorbed the mood of the film. As far as an overarching goal, the soundtrack succeeds on all fronts, but better than that, it holds up on its own merits even if the listener isn’t also immersed in the film.

The first portion of the film sees US and Australian surfers travel to Mexico and with them in tow are the Allah-las. This trip is marked by amber-hued sun streaks. Everything seems a bit faded and worn-in. The Allah-las capture the ease of the session, laying back into a lounged vision of surf that’s classic and propulsive. They’re the kind of songs that could waft into the background and instantly ease a mood. There’s a feeling of communal living, irregular schedules, and a quiet cool that rumples itself into the notes. The scenes in the film are aided even further with the addition of titling and animation by Robert Beatty and Bailey Elder, who give this section a ’69-’72 timestamp that soaks into the seams along with the music.

From there the film transitions to The Maldives, with the majority of the segment taking place aboard a houseboat. The tones turn from sepia to crystal blue and with it the mood is given a lift out of the melt of Mexico. Peaking Lights add a dub shimmer to the section, half party, half hallucination. There’s an opulence to this portion, but not to the point of indulgence. It feels like a vacation – fleeting in truth, but forever in the moment. Peaking lights have moved away from their xeroxed dub roots and here they’re headed for more Arthur Russell territory. They give this portion its sense of detachment from reality, helping to freeze each pane into a picture of unattainable bliss.

While on the topic of otherworldly, the last section of the film takes the viewer to Iceland, a venue I’d never thought of as surf destination. Here Conan Mockasin and Andrew Vanwyngarden (MGMT) accompany a group that traverses the grey-streaked, mountain-strewn landscape. All the warmth of the previous sections is stripped away and, accordingly, Mockasin and Vanwyngarden give their songs an icy edge – lonesome, melancholic, half-remembered. Here the vistas almost outpace the surfing for attention, with scenes among the northern lights soundtracked by the pair’s psylocibin disco and light-touch folk feeling like a dream that couldn’t possibly have happened. There’s none of Mockasin’s usual twisted bravado. Instead the music is almost fragile – haunted and hollow at times. This trip and its tunes feel like a journey inward, not the communal experience of the other groups.

The three main bands aren’t the only ones to hold sway over the soundtrack and film, though. Dungen give an especially inspired take for the title sequence that’s born out of their wistful psychedelia. It laps just slightly at the roots of surf, while essentially embracing its own genre. Transitions between sections are given an ambient fizz by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, who evokes a submerged sound under lush animations, which are again provided by Elder and Beatty. Sadly, missing from the soundtrack is the offbeat wisdom and roadworn poeticism of Jonas Mekas, whose narration ties the film together with a non-sequitur sageness. It’s likely that you might not encounter the film, though I’d recommend it for surf aficionados or unfamiliar friends alike.

Even without its visual partner, the soundtrack exhales ease, hope, sadness, solace. As a counterpoint to the film its pretty perfect, but it’s a great mood lifter on its own merits. As I mentioned, they don’t make projects like this anymore, might as well enjoy when someone goes all in for you. It’s somewhat telling that the label has reissued the score to Andrew Kidman’s Litmus, Self Discovery for Social Survival acts as a spiritual successor to that film and its unique accompaniment. Often hailed as the best surf film of its generation, the label has seemingly done the same for the the 21st Century. In this, they’ve created their own Litmus.


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Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – “Joy”

Another haunting track from Jefre Cantu-Ledesma tips off his third release with Mexican Summer. After contributing interstitial magic to their upcoming surf compilation, the artist goes deep into aching drones after his brush with shoegaze on On Echoing Green. The fuzz is wiped away, replaced by a crispness that can’t be shaken. Several of “Joy’s” tones tiptoe in the background, with the main melody sighing heavy with an unseen tragic turn. Cant-Ledesma has long been a frontrunner for ambient ache, but this is him at his least obfuscated, his most present vision of rippling melancholy that’s hard to shake. The track prefaces his upcoming LP Tracing Back The Radience, out July 12th.



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Self Discovery for Social Survival:
Surf Film + Soundtrack

Quite and interesting one coming down the pike (so to speaK) today in the form of a super ambitious film and soundtrack from the folks over at Mexican Summer. Now Sum’s reissue arm Anthology has been digging into surf culture for a while, issuing vinyl versions of Tully and Tamam Shud LPs that tied into Aussie surf culture while also reissuing soundtracks to Andrew Kidman’s Litmus and Glass Love surf films and packing them into a high-end box. Seems only natural then that someone over there was going to push it one step further. That step included getting top surfers from the US and Australia to travel with three groups of musicians and films crews to three top surf spots. The completed film follows Allah-Las and their surf group to Mexico, Peaking Lights and theirs to the Maldive Islands and Conan Mockasin & MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden with a group to Iceland. Each group then composed songs as reactions to the days surfing footage which is cut together with narration by filmmaker Jonas Mekas and art and animation from Robert Beatty and Bailey Elder (who also provide the packaging for this artifact).

Add to that extra pieces from Dugen and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma and this is a fairly unique package. I’m no surfer, never stepped on a board in my life, but the scope of this and the breadth of talent involved is frankly pretty intriguing. Plus, the psychedelic shimmer of the soundtrack stands on its own, even if you never witness the fully combined efforts. Check the trailer above and keep a lookout for this sucker when it comes out June 14th.

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RSTB Best of 2017

So this year is drawing to a close, or almost, we’re still a few weeks away from pushing the broken pieces of 2017 into the trash. There’s no real solace from a lot of the events that took place this year, but, independent of any current events, music has been kind to us all this year. These are the records that spent the most time on the turntable over here. Yeah, I know its kind of a lot, but there were far too many good ones that haven’t been getting the shouts they need elsewhere. Lets say this serves as both a best of and a most overlooked in one go. If you enjoy ’em, buy ’em if you can. Don’t do them the disservice of just bumping up the streaming numbers.

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Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

On his last album for Mexican Summer, veteran noise sculptor Cantu-Ledesma took a step towards accessibility. The album was still steeped in decaying waves of noise but it squinted into the sun every so often with a kind of shimmering beauty that let in a crossover of fans of shoegaze or more straightforward brands of electronic music. He doubles (maybe even triples) down on the concept for the follow-up and with On The Echoing Green he creates his most overtly pop album yet. The step towards pop is properly enabled by Green being his most collaborative work in a long time.

Chief among those collaborators is the siren call of Argentinian singer Sobrenada, whose voice fades in and out of the compositions on On The Echoing Green, blinking between the beautiful shards of Cantu-Ledesma’s sonic ruins. The album bleeds into the shoegaze world wholeheartedly this time, no half-measures. The slow, contemplative builds of the songs use noise as a trowel to shape their wall of sound, rather than seeping some shimmer in through the cracks of a house of noise, as was the case with A Year With 13 Moons. The result is a gorgeous, fragile, and tender record that occasionally lets itself be lacerated by Cantu-Ledesma’s past.

While there are some contenders, this might be the headphone record of the year. Cantu-Ledesma’s horizons of quaking bliss wash over the listener like a cocoon of lost emotions. He’s always been a master of soundcraft, but here he proves that he can let a little sun shine in without letting his carefully curated world crumble.

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Mary Lattimore – “Returned To Earth”

As anyone who’s seen harpist Mary Lattimore play can attest, she has a way of bringing a hush over a room, sucking out the atmosphere and replacing it with something a bit more magical and serene. On her latest tape for Soap Library, she offers up two shimmering tracks of crystalline beauty. The first, an ode to astronaut Scott Kelly, inspired by his year-long journey in the International Space Station and a subsequent jaw injury that required two months of silence and reflection on her part. The track’s quiet reflection mirrors much of Kelly’s own isolation aboard the station and his attempts to connect with the world below through an online journal. The second track sees Lattimore pair up with composer Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, whom she met while playing a festival in Marfa. The two set out to improvise a piece together and their innate ability to sculpt subtitles into aural sculptures has proven fruitful on the delicate “Borrego Springs”. Any release from Lattimore is worth the price of entry, and this one’s no exception, but its scant length really leaves the listener aching for more.

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Best of 2015


Its been a long year at RSTB and though the pace may have been slower on the face, there has been lots going on to be sure. Next year marks our 10 year anniversary and we’ll have a new look shortly, so stay tuned. There will also some other fun things to mark the anniversary as 2016 wears on. But enough of the future, let’s look to the past. Here are my favorites of 2015, as usual in no particular order, along with a mix of tracks.

Blank Realm – Illegals In Heaven (BUY)
Dick Diver – Melbourne, Florida (BUY)
Colleen Green – I Want To Grow Up (BUY)
Young Guv – Ripe For Love (BUY)
Sir Richard Bishop – Tangier Sessions (BUY)
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Paper Mâché Dream Balloon (BUY)
Wand – Golem (BUY) // 1000 Days (BUY)
Thee Oh Sees – Mutilator Defeated At Last (BUY)
Ben Chatwin – The Sleeper Awakes (BUY)
Mikal Cronin – MCIII (BUY)
Twerps – Range Anxiety (BUY)
Future Punx – This Is Post-Wave (BUY)
Sean McCann – Ten Impressions for Piano and Strings (BUY)
The Mantles – All Odds End (BUY)
Barreracudas – Can Do Easy (BUY)
Peacers – Peacers (BUY)
Love Axe – South Dakota (BUY)
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – A Year With 13 Moons (BUY)
Fuzz – II (BUY)
Sauna Youth – Distractions (BUY)
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love (BUY)
Swiftumz – Everybody Loves Chris (BUY)
Rabit – Communion (BUY)
Holly Herndon – Platform (BUY)
Herbcraft – Wot Oz (BUY)


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