Release Date: Aug 4, 2009
Record label: DFA
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Electronic
This super-arty Portland duo says its new album was inspired by the mysterious illuminations observable after dark over Marfa, Tex. But judging by the party starting indie-electro jams here, those nighttime lights might simply be the distant glimmer of a disco ball. See Mystery Lights‘ ”The Afterlife” and ”Psychic City (Voodoo City)” both throb with humid jungle-boogie grooves, while ”I’m in Love With a Ripper” turns a sly T-Pain reference into a percolating future-soul workout reminiscent of Michael Jackson-era Quincy Jones.
Jona Bechtolt-- founding member of YACHT, former member of the Blow-- is a huge talent, something that may not have been readily apparent on any of his three previous LPs. Those albums, created largely as solo endeavors, will not have prepared listeners for See Mystery Lights. Now an official partnership between Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans, who performed on several songs on 2007's I Believe In You, Your Magic Is Real, YACHT finally feel like a full-fledged band with direction and vision, particularly given the added weight (or rather, levity) of Evans' influence.
"You can live any way you want," repeats Yacht's Jona Bechtolt halfway through See Mystery Lights. And a man who peppers his records with melodic nabs from songs like Dancing in the Dark and INXS's New Sensation is unlikely to live his skulking in a darkened room. Bechtolt, along with the other half of Yacht, Claire Evans, is a pop magpie, picking up bits of silver discs here and there, making a nest diverse enough to include the obvious - Talking Heads and labelmates LCD Soundsystem - to the less so: B-52s, Snoop Dogg and T-Pain.
What kind of music do nerds normally listen to? It's not a question that's frequently considered, since the perception is that D&D, Magic the Gathering, and Kingdom Hearts are normally enough to capture nerds' attention. In fact, nerds do listen to music, and classic rock and ironic metal are generally safe bets. Maybe this is because nerds flock to the defensible, analytical safety that both genres offer.
It is true that the absurdly infectious “ah yi ah yi ah yi ah” refrain from Pyschic City (Voodoo City) was, for quite a while, replacing our drunken, bar hopping renditions of That’s Not My Name, but I always had the feeling that this song, featured on Pitchfork two months before the album’s release, would be the best one on there. This is, actually, the case. The more I learned about YACHT, the more I liked them.
Religion likes big social signs. Whether it’s the Polyphonic Spree massing around creepy sunshine harmonies, the clean smell of a Contemporary Christian Rock drifting from a mile off, a mad murderous Manson scrawling in shit on a wall, an aging Dylan publically proselytising, or Brother Danielson playing live dressed as a Christmas tree bearing the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit; religiosity as a social performance tends to rely on a sign-world of exaggeration to demarcate it from the heathen remainder. And the more grand and otherworldly the signs the more they might embody and convey what Dostoevsky had his Inquisitor call the ‘miracle, mystery and authority’ that religions so often seek to wield over the human world.
Back when Jona Bechtolt was part of the Blow, it wasn’t clear how far he was going to go in a few short years. The sparse, indie-girl aesthetic cultivated by Khaela Maricich was that whole band, with Bechtolt an unheralded figure in the background, the engineer of some addictive tunes. (Incidentally, where did Maricich go? Silent on her blog, without new material in three years—a return would really be great.) But since that time, Bechtolt has capitalised on a strong Internet tendency, building up the beginnings of a promising musical career.
Trumpeted as a musical breakthrough for Jona Bechtolt, the Portland-based producer/performer behind the Blow and this backronym-named project (which supposedly stands for Young Americans Challenging High Technology), See Mystery Lights sets up interesting, cool-sounding art punk dance grooves that take us nowhere. [rssbreak] The addition of Claire L. Evans's vocals is welcome, but Bechtolt's quasi-spiritual obsession with repetitive structures leads to eight-minute songs made up of one-minute ideas.
DORROUGH“Dorrough Music”(E1) Every couple of years in hip-hop the party relocates. From Atlanta it went to Houston, then the Bay Area, then Miami, and then back to Atlanta. (New York? Not in ages.) During the last year and a half it’s landed in Dallas, which has become an unexpected hotbed of post-snap-music dance-craze rap, thanks to Lil Wil’s “My Dougie,” B-Hamp’s “Do the Ricky Bobby” and the GS Boyz’s “Stanky Legg.” All those synchronized moves? Dorrough will have none of it.