Heaven’s Gate is either a new shoegaze project stemming from Mike Shef’s Sweet Bulbs. I think I remember either Liz or Jenn Pelly telling me Mike started playing with some ‘totally rad new singer’ and apparently this is it. Heaven’s Gate sounds a lot like Alanis Morisette joined a shoegaze band, bringing a very cool perspective on 90s nostalgia.
I feel like this is kind of unfair because this is the first I’ve heard of Thundercat and my mind is totally blown. I also feel like this podcast documentary that the KEXP Blog did on Aphex Twin and electronic music explains how I feel about this Thundercat mix as well as Thundercats’ sound better than I could explain in words. Apparently this Flying Lotus-mixed mixtape is “a prelude to the LP. Some new, some you might know, some we may never release. His debut album The Golden Age of Apocalypse drops Aug. 30th, which I have had my hand in putting together. [FLyLo]”
Thundercat: Shenanigans Pt. 1 mixtape [mixed by Flying Lotus] (via GvB)
When I first started listening to Speculator, he had only a couple of cassette tape releases available and his music is no doubt geared for the cassette format. His recordings are lo-fi, filled with a nice background layer of static, partly generated as an after-effect from ripping those epic guitar riffs.
Nick’s music is geared around his Fender guitar, using samples and various effects that allow the listener to meander around the creative passages of his brain.
I remember listening to his tapes and thinking, how would Nick translate his music for the vinyl format? The day finally came, Nick signed up for a release with Underwater Peoples.
After listening through, the average Speculator listener will notice the lack of samples when contrasted with his cassette tape releases. Speculator’s “Nice” LP is raw compared to his tapes, Nick’s guitar has always been the center of his music and it is obvious that he used this vinyl release as a means to showcase it. The LP begins with hypnagogic ambience created by some deep bass and a haunting guitar riff that scores a late afternoon in Los Angeles. The record then takes off with Century Select, an ode to his tapes. Century Select pushes forward with an up-beat tempo with the use of palm-mutes and some guitar rhythm layered behind Nick’s always worthy guitar wails. You will notice some incoherent vocals throughout the track, and listen to it end with a very short clip of a mysterious sample sped-up. It is important to note that these vocals are to be looked upon as in unison to the track’s instrumentals and not as an additional component. While some reviewers may look down upon these incoherent vocals, it’s important to recognize that it’s simply another method of implementing creativity into music.
What I really like about this record is how his vocals seem to become more prominent as tracks progress toward the center. Colleen is a track that screams love and emotion. His vocals, once merged to the instrumentals earlier in his record, have spread a part. It’s an effect that is synonymous with the biological process of cell division called Mitosis, which is when a eukaryotic cell separates the chromosomes in its cell nucleus into two identical sets in two nuclei. This process of separation seems to repeat itself as you venture away from the center of the record, just how a new cell would begin dividing. It’s On Every Channel sounds like Nick simply playing his guitar that was recorded onto a music format, skipping, an allusion to what I mean by ‘raw’. It says a lot when you decide to celebrate music by replicating it’s imperfection. Nothing is ever perfect, and what comes naturally is raw, not free of imperfection just because it is organic.
In the end, Nick gave us a record that symbolizes growth. “Nice” is a record that showcases his evolution as a musician and is a celebration of the physical music format. This record isn’t just a piece of music that should be looked upon as ‘yeah, these tracks present some cool vibes’. Nick’s music is just as complex as the eukaryotic cell that lies enclosed within its membranes, waiting for the right time to separate and divide, to become something more. This record clearly presents this process.
Get it now from Underwater Peoples, stream the record below.