The Ropes have been a favorite band here at soldout since forever. When we had our launch party at Santos what seems like ages ago (because it was), they were one of the initial bands on the bill. That show got nixed because of snow (I know, right), but the important thing is that this dry, witty, super-smart band has a new EP and a new video and excuse the breathlessness of this but I'm sort of running to catch up on the fact that THERE IS NEW MUSIC FROM THE ROPES.
Expensive Looks is the name of producer/composer/mad rave scientist Alec Feld's incredible, ridiculous, hyperactively bliss-inducing project. His debut LP, Dark Matters, is one of the most exciting things that's going to happen in 2012--all shimmering, kinnetic energy and sparks and flame, as though Feld's already reached a conclusion the rest of the Brooklyn electronic music scene is still struggling to get to.
On the heels of Dark Matters becoming available for public consumption, we threw a few questions Feld's way.
soldout: What's the first record you remember buying with your own money?
Expensive Looks: Either Nelly - Country Grammar or Outkast - Stankonia. I remember my parents refusing to purchase them because of the Parental Advisory labels, so I had to go find a record shop that would ignorantly sell them to me. Stankonia will always be one of those records that sits in a dusty 5-disc rotary CD player I use every once in a while that has the first few records I bought as a kid.
s: Dark Matters really comes across as a record of loving acknowledgement of all genres of electronic music--trance, house, ambient, even some jungle. Did you grow up going to raves or listening to much dance music?
EL: I never went to raves but vividly remember my friends playing Ministry of Sound compilations for me and often listening to Top 20 dance on the radio. There was so much to pick up on; the surge of one-hit-wonders in the mid-to-late 90s brought a lot to the table- so much that I didn't know what shit to listen to. This was when I would still record tracks played on the radio on cassette and make pseudo-mixtapes. I didn't own a CD burner for a long time and was sort of late on the whole peer-to-peer thing, so recording what was on the radio radio and buying compilations were the best ways of exposing myself to shit. The impact really came with not knowing the artists or track titles for half of what I listened to. I was lucky if I caught a video or something that gave some identification and developed a somewhat 'photographic' musical memory. Not knowing anything about what was going on and not knowing when I would hear shit again, I would play songs almost 1:1 back in my head, even if I had only heard them once. That's pretty much the only reason I can go back and see exactly what I was listening to.
s: Dark Matters sounds like a winter record--do you think it will play well in warmer months?
EL: It's weird because to me Dark Matters is a summer album that was made over the course of two winters. Went to class before sunrise and got out after sunset, interacted with few people- intense isolation. I had a pile of shit to do that seemed miles high but, in reality, was stupidly small. Everything just seemed to be impossible and I felt a weird wall or shade between myself and the external world, almost like I was subconsciously trying to escape. There was nothing I wanted more than for summer to come, and passed the time digging deeper into production and shaping the album, which was finished spring/summer of last year. A lot of energy seems to float around during the summer months and I felt this record almost ripping that energy out of me in an exhaustive fashion- it was something I kept second-guessing and had to finally let go of.
s: If you had to place your sound in one genre, what would it be?
EL: I seriously have no idea. I know that's the typical response but genres are either too specific or huge umbrellas. You can just make shit up now, it doesn't have to make sense. If I had to go with an umbrella term, probably electronic/pop. There's so much shit in there that I can't put a label on it.
s: What are you listening to lately that's inspiring or, or just music/songs that you lately find amazing?
EL: I've been listening psych compilations (again) and old R&B records- those seem to be a phases I go in and out of. Other than that, I've been spinning a ton of the very favorites that keep getting stuck in my head. Flying Lotus' Los Angeles will always be an album I can listen front to back over and over again. So fucking banging. Mux Mool's Drums II EP gets me hooked, too- stoked for his new LP, and the Samiyam record from this past year is also legit.
s: Last good book you read?
EL: The Varieties of Scientific Experience (Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan). One of my heroes and his works are damn tough to put down. A great, grand overarching perspective of the universe from both philosophical and scientific perspectives.
Not actually a new series we're starting (though we could...volunteers?)
Just high praise for DJ Lobsterdust (who? anyone?). Well whatever, Lobsterdust killed it on this one.
Anyway. It's 2 of our favorite ladies--Stevie and Britney. And it's nicely done. The ending is a little abrupt but you can't fault anyone for that.
2011's coming to a close, and it was an absolutely brilliant year for music, a year that I had a handful of records actually attach themselves to me in ways that formed new permanent favorites. Compiling ten albums that had serious meaning to me in 2011 and ranking them, though, was difficult as hell: who can say if the revelation at the gym had to one upbeat record is more or less impactful then the solving of an existential crises brought about by wandering the streets to another?
Regardless, the iPod playcount and the amount I've talked about these albums cannot and do not lie: here's my top 10 favorite records of 2011. Sorry, Jay-Z and Kanye, but having that one good song on Watch The Throne does not a top-10 record make. And +10 to Kate Bush for fucking a snowman, -20 for so much of that record being boring. Special mention goes to John Maus who has an album that's literally number 11 of my top 10, sorry bro, part and parcel to making a list is leaving things off a list. Apologies if there's some overlap between here and there...actually, no, no apologies. This is what I loved and felt and breathed in 2011's music.