Arts Desk

Tuesday Rock City: Extra Golden, Tim Hecker


Extra Golden: Thank You Very Quickly (Thrill Jockey)
Never mind the geographic difficulties that face Extra Golden, its members split between two countries and three cities (Washington, DC, Chicago, Illinois, and Nairobi, Kenya, to be specific). No, the group’s most vexing problem has simply been to prove that it’s a real band and not just a haphazard inter-continental jam session. Thank You Very Quickly should clear that matter up once and for all, though. It’s a tight collection of songs that, for the first time, manages to fuse the group’s wildly varied influences. Extra Golden has been trying to mingle genres since the get go, but the results were always a little iffy. Guitarist Alex Minoff’s attempts to pluck porn music-inspired riffs over Onwango Wuod Omari’s syncopations on Ok-Oyot System wound up sounding a bit little like East African elevator-jazz. On Thank You Very Quickly Minoff has better luck. His slide melodies and bluesy guitar tones meld perfectly into the songs repetitive vibe, giving “Anyango” a driving, psychedelic edge. Granted, given the band's increased touring schedule, it's probably easier for them to tell what works and what doesn't. They’re no longer a group of guys sitting in a Nairobi bar trying to hash out songs on a deadline, they’re part of a band that’s three records into its career. All that experience pays off on Thank You Very Quickly. Extra Golden isn't doing rock songs and it isn't playing benga. These days Extra Golden has it's own thing going on.

Thrill Jockey is currently streaming the entire record here.

Extra Golden: "Anyango"

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Tim Hecker: An Imaginary Country (Kranky)
It's easy to see why the music of Montreal-based Tim Hecker is often tagged as "ambient." His swarming symphonies of manipulated samples and computer noise are certainly atmospheric enough to beg such a label, and yes, he was even featured on Kompakt's annual Pop Ambient compilation in January. But this is ambient music that grabs the listener by the collar, demanding attention with compositions so massive, so overwhelming and thick with laptop wash that they border on the aggressive. Hecker's new full-length, An Imaginary Country, offers more of the ghostly anthems he's know for, though his approach this time is a bit more pronounced than in the past. The distant transistor crackle exhibited on 2003's Radio Amor has come closer into range, and the distortion saturated refrains of 2006's Harmony in Ultraviolet have progressed in clarity. The bass throbs and overloaded organ of "Sea of Pulses" even sound like a slow-motion version of Dan Deacon covering Terry Riley. Whether it's background lush you're seeking, or an active exercise in melodic deconstruction, An Imaginary Country comfortably satisfies both niches.

Tim Hecker: "Sea of Pulses"

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