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Archive for June, 2011

(Editor’s Note: This piece appears on The Bowery Presents The House List. Check it out here)

There is what ears are and there is what ears are capable of being. They are organs connected to neural pathways, vehicles for sound. And what they are capable of being is gateways to the divine, messengers for humanity’s greatest gift: music. Those who honor music know its power. Production, with a mind toward the eternal, creates truth, universally recognizable and intoxicatingly beautiful. And ears, fixed upon truth, tap into a boundless well of pleasure.

With a deep interest in sound, both its production and consumption, Brainfeeder’s traveling showcase descended on The Bowery Ballroom last night, attracting a sold-out crowd with sets from the record label’s growing stable of artists. Brainfeeder “began by Flying Lotus,” and the Los Angeles producer’s unique aesthetic guides and unifies the label. His latest album, Cosmogramma, is a veritable masterpiece, merging jazz, hip-hop and electronic music. And Brainfeeder artists, whether subtly or overtly in the case of opener Teebs inserting a segment of Cosmogramma into his mix, see this album as their mission statement.

Flying Lotus, joined by jazz keyboard prodigy Austin Peralta and budding bass phenomenon Thundercat, appeared late into the night. When the trio relaxed into a groove, the result captured the spirit of J Dilla meeting acid jazz. But even though Flying Lotus is one to pay homage to greats, he also embraces his own identity—weaving Lil Wayne remixes among original works and a silly song about DMT. Never mind his oft-repeated half-apology, “I have no idea where I’m going with that shit.” After four hours of incredible, largely improvised music from the Brainfeeder collective, spontaneity and creativity were pleasure to the ears.

Photo courtesy of Charles Steinberg

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Howdy Playtonics,

You may have noticed the new Filckr photostream widget added by JL, located on the right sidebar below the tweet box. This widget will continue to feature my most recent photos, ranging from live music to landscape to HipstaPrints documenting the goings-on of Avon Old Farms, where I teach English and Moral Philosophy.

I just uploaded this year’s Bonnaroo photos, separated into two sets–“Music”  and “Atmosphere.” Unfortunately, access for staff photographers was rather locked down compared to last year. I was never able to get on the main stages, so I couldn’t get any epic shots like this one of Michael Franti from 2010. But my main area of responsibility, the “Other Tent,” was refreshingly photographer-friendly, and many of these selections hail from there. I was lucky to have my girlfriend Grace accompany me as a photo editor this year, editing and uploading my photos to the Bonnaroo gallery. Check that out to see more photos of the artists in my slideshow. If you would like a hi-res image for a desktop background, or a print (up to 20×30,) feel free to contact me: studio (at) morgangharris (dot) com.

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(Editor’s Note: This piece appears on The Bowery Presents The House List. Check it out here)

Behind swaths of hair and layers of distortion, Kurt Vile, the man and musician, is easy to lose. He and his four-piece band, the Violators, wear chest-length hair draped over their faces, sharing an identical neo-grunge aesthetic. And with up to four guitarists onstage at a time, Vile’s own instrumental contributions occasionally assimilate into rock slosh. This isn’t to say, however, that Vile isn’t vital. For his first headlining show at The Bowery Ballroom, Vile, on the strength of his most recent critically acclaimed album, Smoke Ring for My Halo, drew a sold-out crowd, a group clamoring for the frontman’s musical output.

As a singer-songwriter, Vile’s melodies, expressed in slurred slacker vocals, touch on familiar American rock territory with a contemporary touch. Delay-saturated guitar riffs and pounding drums transformed “Ghost Town” and “Jesus Fever” from dynamic three-minute songs into sprawling anthems. The effect felt like Neil Young’s Live Rust given an indie-rock makeover, lots of grizzle with the addition of pulsating toms and huge reverb. But during a solitary performance of Smoke Ring for My Halo’s “Peeping Tomboy,” Vile’s intricate fingerpicking on acoustic guitar wove beautifully with playful, self-reflective lyrics. Moments such as this brought balance to a show that found Vile enveloped within his band. Yet, as one attendee noted, yelling out “I love your band,” a group-driven focus is the essence of Vile’s concerts. The unity is the name.

Additional pictures I took from the show after the jump: (more…)

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