Indie Weirdo Round Up- Caribou, Nels Cline Singers, Dr. Delay, Marissa Nadler, Odd Nosdam
Andorra – Caribou (Merge)
Caribou’s Dan Snaith doesn’t make any radical steps forward on Andorra, his second album since cranky ex-Dictator Handsome Dick Manitoba made Snaith change his Canadian moniker. Snaith — with an unused PhD in mathematics — turns out another nine psychedelic wonderboxes. Tracks like the kalidisco pulsing of ‘Sundialing’ and ‘Eli’ are the types of headphone constructions that might become synaesthestic color-shows if listened to eyes closed in a dark, cool room. Though Snaith’s angels are in the details, every now and then, he drops some pure summer pop (‘Melody Day,’ a thundering romp through distant strawberry fields) or a killer chorus (‘and I’m divided like a flock of birds!’ he sings on ‘Sandy,’ a perfect image).
Draw Breath – Nels Cline Singers (Cryptogramophone)
To get a sense of the left turns made on Draw Breath, one need only listen to ‘Squirrel of God,’ the final track on the third album by veteran experimental guitarist Nels Cline with his Nels Cline Singers. For five solid minutes, the track drifts deep in avant-drifts, before — with three minutes left — it suddenly congeals into a grand, through-composed climax. Aided by Cline’s Wilcomate Glenn Kotche on crotales and glockenspiel, it is the type of orchestration that could end up on a Wilco record, though it fades right back to formlessness. Elsewhere, Cline and company bounce between skronk and texture (‘Mixed Message’), stately gospel-like instrumentals (‘The Angel of Angels’), stop-time prog (‘Confection’), and another half-dozen unexpected diversions.
REM Sleep – Psych Mix – Dr. Delay (Funkweapons)
After a mix of garage rock crossed with Dirty South classics (Psycrunk) and a slab collecting Middle Eastern drone-pop (Rajaz Meter), Funkweapons DJ Dr. Delay presents a spliced-and-diced one-hour collection of mondo obscure and properly mellow psychedelic sub-nuggets. Though there are several full cuts, it mostly seems like Delay has served as a loving hook curator: extracting the interesting organ tones (Pookah’s ‘Rain on Your Grave’), tricked-out wah-folk (Yesterday’s Children’s ‘Sailing’), and all kinds of golden harmonies, many replete with vinyl crackle (Kensington Marker’s ‘The Thinker’). Lots of dubbed-out vocal samples make it a good continuous listen, but it’s a top grade spike for shuffle freaks, as well.
Songs III: Bird on the Water – Marissa Nadler (Kemado)
Where weird-voiced harpist Joanna Newsom slathers her delivery in affection seemingly for the sake of affectation alone, Marissa Nadler’s vocals travel through many of the same quavering melodic tributaries. Only Nadler’s vibrato seems to be inherited from cinematic songbird who might’ve thrived in Bollywood or pre-War Tinseltown. Hers is a voice that wanders gracefully from octave to octave while threatening to tumble (‘Diamond Heart’), croons like a Hawaiian steel guitar (‘Leather Made Shoes’), and generally floats in sonic clouds prepared by Espers mastermind Greg Weeks of guitars and strings and sound. Gorgeous.
Level Live Wires – Odd Nosdam (Anticon)
The Anticon beatmaker returns with (by Wikipedia’s count) the ninth solo release of his odd and atmospheric hip-hop beats. Moving forward with an instantly apparent internal logic, David Madson’s tracks have room for old strings, warm crackle, longtime collaborators (Why?‘s Pony Wolf) and new ones (TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe) — all of which figure into ‘The Kill Tone Two.’ Few seem to be fully functional as jams, but it’s all great not-quite-downtempo head music, like the long longing moans of ‘Fat Hooks’ and the queasy playfulness of ‘We Dead.’ In some ways, just another excellent session for Odd Nosdam, as matures into one of the more inventive producers of the day.