I’ve been patiently awaiting this album since I first saw Bhatia tweet that he’d covered Flying Lotus’s “Pickled” on his last release, the gorgeous EP Strata. What kind of future-jazz craziness might await on Yes It Will? On Tuesday, My questions were answered. I must admit upon a third listen this is very challenging music. It is certainly not background music as the opening track ironically suggests. This isn’t foreground music either. Like the best free jazz and bebop, This is music that forces you to reinterpret the dimensions in which you thought music existed. More than that though, this album is bursting with life.

I had the pleasure of seeing Bhatia and his band play “Try” and “Endogenous Oscillators” from this album live at Pianos NYC during his residency there and I was blown away by the freedom of “Endogenous Oscillators” (also my favorite track on the album) endlessly developing on itself and changing its own rules, behaving almost like the stream of consciousness of a very caffeinated and scatterbrained person. it enters a system of a couple of repeated polyrhythms and riffs, then leaves it behind, seemingly forgetting it, to move on to a more searching guitar solo. Then the guitar blends with saxophone and trumpets and they get tied into an arhythmic conversation, all the while the percussion and bass accenting and contextualizing every moment. After a perfectly disheveled drum solo, we revisit the two earlier themes, one building and fading into the other, and the song ends.

The affirmation and confidence of the album’s title can be heard in Bhatia’s braving of uncharted time signatures with a sense of purpose, repeated statements of unconventional harmony and disharmony as common in his guitar licks as in the full orchestra he employs at certain points. Needless to say that we are kept on earth by both the use of real instruments and the musical training of real instrumentalists. lots of them. Some moments call to mind Pat Metheny, Elvin Jones, the Coltranes, Herbie Hancock, and friends, but there are so many new inspirations Bhatia willingly absorbs into his music, as though it was Jazz becoming a snowball rolling down a hill of music, picking up math rock, minimalism, ambient music, electronic music, and contemporary classical music along the way, and hitting you in the face at the bottom of the hill.
You can almost hear someone saying, “This won’t work.” and Bhatia saying “Yes It Will.”

I got a sense that Bhatia’s music is impressionist music, aiming to not only convey emotion, but to process chaos of modern life by finding parallels and intersections between the Jazz medium which is a staple of such expression and the electronic medium which has potential as a modern day tool for this expression. If you like Herbie Hancock’s  Maiden Voyage, and you like Flying Lotus’s Cosmogramma, you’ll love this.

Be sure to check out the Sons of the Morning Remix EP as well.

Here’s a link to the album on Itunes, out on Rest Assured.

Here’s a video of the Live performance of “Try”.

Eleven months ago, Madeline, Austin and I began a conversation that would eventually lead to the establishment of The Astral Plane. All three of us wanted to write about music, but more importantly, we wanted to share the music that has irrevocably affected our lives with an audience outside of our immediate group of friends. In January, we created an account with WordPress, officially putting The Astral Plane in motion. Finally, we were the music aficionados we had always dreamed of being… except that we kind of sucked at it. See, we’re all competent people, solid writers and obsessive music fans, but there is a steep learning curve in an endeavor like this.

Ten and a half months later and I’d like to think we don’t suck anymore. Today marks my 500th post and I’m going to use the occasion to offer a HUGE thank you to my fellow writer and all of the artists who have participated in interviews and contributed mixes, but most importantly to every single one of you who has responded to our writing positively or negatively and those of you who follow us on a regular basis. I am also going to use the occasion to discuss the role of context in music journalism and what motivates myself to do this damn thing.

First off, thank you to Madeline, Austin and Will for entertaining my absurd ramblings, supporting me at every turn and turning in some of the best music on the series of tubes some might call the internet. Sam, you’ve only been with us for a few weeks, but your artwork and writing are already an integral part of the operation. The Astral Plane would not be what it is without you guys.

Thank you to all of the artists who have graciously committed their time and energy to interviews. I’m looking at you The Philosofist, Awesome Tapes From Africa, Stavrogin, Skips, Hobo D, Room E, Baauer, Rick from Beat Cinema, Ryan Hemsworth, Co. Fee, Haleek Maul, Aaron Meola and DJAO, Cedaa, Dane and Preston of TeamSupreme and Devonwho. Alex Ruder from Hush Hush Records and Ill Cosby from Car Crash Set. It means the world to me that I am able to talk with the people that drive me on a personal level like these incredible human beings.

It is something of a dream come true to have the musicians I adore actually to compile mixes for me. Well maybe not specifically for me, but having Yesh, Riley Lake (our own Dildo Shaggins), DVMSTR, Kong, Boeboe, Stavrogin and Rap Class to flex their collective muscle behind the decks, providing us with some of the best mixes you will hear all year, is a privilege I never believed would be within reach. We have big things in the works on this front so stay tuned in.

Continue after the jump…

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For fans of experimental beat music, Stuart Howard AKA Lapalux represents a constantly rising bar. Since his production techniques are so huge and his style and artistic choices so personal and unpredictable, he’s the kind of producer people just have to watch to see what he does next, rather than judge in reference to a fleeting trend. An early and enduring fascination with analog tape manipulation is a large factor in the fresh but rooted sound he has harnessed. In his new EP, Some Other Time, Lapalux further expands and saturates (literally and figuratively) his world of sound and takes it in a refreshing direction. A lot of this new work feels even more inspired by the intersection of R&B with both the past and future of electronic music.

I’ll save your valuable time by listing here all the onomatopoeia and sonic descriptors I would have used in the rest of this article if it was much longer: “Buzz, pop, crackle, skitter, skip, lush, collisions, collapse, jittery, measured, fluid, swirling, whirling, winding, spindly, windy, vivid, brittle, jagged.”

So now that that’s out of the way I can talk about some of my favorite moments.

Unlike many Lapalux jams, the opening song, “Quartz”, remains innocent and free without descending into madness. Instead, meandering vocals and airy resonances create a pensive, soothing atmosphere, suggesting a place that would be nice to get lost in.

Throughout the EP, many will recognize the quality of certain sounds. Maybe a bass we’ve heard in dubstep, out-of-context foley sounds like those we’ve heard on other Brainfeeder releases , noise and rummaging textures we’ve heard in computer music for years, strings we’ve heard in symphonies, but they’ve never been used to make us cringe the way that I did at the 1 minute mark of “Strangling You With the Cord”. It’s a song that is as homicidal as its name suggests. Whatever/ whoever is being strangled here is to be permanently scarred and will probably never again make the mistake that provoked this song. It’s that cringe of distress or terror or torment that activated the neurons that awaken memories of when I’ve cringed like that before, thus transferring directly to me the emotion that created the song in the first place, without lyrics as a vehicle. I’d argue that Lapalux is at his best at these moments.

One similarity to his past releases is that sounds seem to brace themselves in anticipation for their turn to dive in on our ears in one crushing blow after another. We hear this same tendency epitomized in “Time Spike Jamz” of of Many Faces Out Of Focus, but really all across his catalogue. To avoid completely losing track of all these sounds, Lapalux has always masterfully woven some sort of hook into every track, whether through vocals or chord progressions. What has progressed about his style on Some Other Time is the level of control and attention to detail which allows the tracks to be even more transportive and immersive.

“Forgetting and Learning Again” with Kerry Leatham is the standout track and the one I want to hear again and again. It is larger than life, and has a staggering amount of soul. It has the most pleasurable sounds on this EP, going effortlessly between between decadent bass and keys, and sounds that various creatures from Alice and Wonderland might make if you stepped on them or they were scurrying away from you in a magical forest. The towering force of the beat combined with the emotion of the vocal really penetrates. In the final minute of the song, we’re treated to a distant anticipation, and an absolutely arresting final statement by Lapalux and Leatham, the latter of which is on track to “have another” and is probably “having another” right now as I write this. Much like whatever Leatham is having another of, this EP is intoxicating from beginning to end.

Remember the days when hip hop party tunes were about having a good time, sippin’ on a cold one and maybe snagging yourself a fine Applebaum? When names like Big Daddy Kane, Redman and The Pharcyde rung true? When Dr. Luke was your endocrinologist and David Guetta was another anonymous floppy haired muppet? The times have changed young grasshopper. If you asked the average teenager what party hip hop is, the answers would probably boil down to a collection of MMG, Young Money and G.O.O.D. Music artists with a Chief Keef or two thrown in here or there. It’s easy to be a golden era yearning curmudgeon after spending a night at a (read: any) club and listening to “Niggas In Paris” and “Ass” on repeat.

We recently enlisted Portland’s own Rap Class aka John Kammerle of Dropping Gems to lay down some tracks for our Guest Mix series and while it is firmly nested in old school hip hop and R&B, it remains decidedly fresh. We tend to focus on “future music” here at The Astral Plane, but even we need to indulge in some nostalgic listening every so often. It is called the “golden era” for a reason. Anyways, my words don’t really do the mix justice so I’ll let John take it away:

This mix, is like, all about my go-to songs. When I DJ out, these are the songs that loosen up the crowd. Some of the songs are from records that I think are rare (maybe?), then some chillers + some original remixes and songs from me. I’m proud of this mix because it represents where my initial love of rap music started, and has taken me. From the beginning, this is where I find myself today.

For more Rap Class music, download Greatest Hits (or buy the cassette) here. As always the mix is up for stream and download. Be sure to give the man behind the art and team member Sam Andrus some love.

Robert Glasper has already released what is easily one of my favorite albums of 2012 in Black Radio. With an outstanding list of featured artists including, but not limited to, the inimitable Erykah Badu and Yasiin Bey (Mos Def).  Now, half a year since the release of Black Radio, the Remix EP has been released with a mouth watering lineup of producers and guest vocalists. I guess I will just list them off: ?uestlove, Phonte, 9th Wonder, Black Milk, Pete Rock Georgia Anne Muldrow, and vocals from Bilal.  I’ll start you out with this remix of “Letter to Hermione” by Robert Glasper and Jewels, accompanied with the slick flow of none other than Black Milk. One of my favorite parts of this track is the minute long outro that is then backed up by an awesome voicemail from Ma Dukes.

Up next? How about a Pete Rock remix of the track, “Black Radio” also featuring Mr. Yasiin Bey.

To top off the remix project, Glasper followed up his previous Dilla tribute, from In my Element, with “Dillalude #2”. A nine minute compilation of a couple of Dilla tracks ranging from “The Look of Love” and “Open Your Eyes” that all feature Casey Benjamin on vocals!! Give ‘Dillalude #2″  a listen below and you can find the rest of the tracks on Robert Glaspers’ soundcloud here.

After this summer’s truly exceptional Channel ORANGE, it has been difficult to predict what Frank Ocean’s next musical step forward would look like, as it generally is with an artist who has clearly poured so much of their soul and talent into an album. After reportedly struggling vocally over the summer and canceling the European stretch of his tour with Coldplay, the blogosphere buzzed with rumors that Channel ORANGE would be Frank Ocean’s last release. It should come as no surprise, though, that Frank is back, slipping a new track quietly and unceremoniously onto his Tumblr last night before his FADER show in New York City. As usual, there was no fanfare, no Twitter countdown; he didn’t even supply a title to accompany the track (although sources are saying it is called “Blue Whale”). Just the music.

It might come as a surprise to some that there is no singing on “Blue Whale.” Those accustomed to Ocean’s crooning falsetto might be taken aback by his calm, nonchalant rap flow on this track, but their surprise will surely give way to satisfaction as the song progresses. “Blue Whale” is a discussion of the art of slowing down, re-assessing, and moving forward. Stream the track in its entirety below.

“Relaxing / I ain’t racing no fuckin’ rats / I’m relaxing / and if its wrong to yah / well life goes on brother, that’s one thing about it.”

My oh my…This has been a long time coming. LA producer, Nosaj Thing, has been off the radar from the blogosphere for what seems like an eternity. Since his release of his debut LP Drift, Nosaj has been at work on his follow up LP Home and doing specific mixes for select shows (check out his mix for Mary Anne Hobbs here). Home is set to drop in 2013 from the good people at Alpha Pup. Before that though, we will see a 10″ with the album single, “Eclipse/Blue”, dropping from Innovative Leisure. The single is driven by low key beats that are only accentuated by Kazu Makino’s (of Blonde Redhead) cooing vocals. Stream the single in full below and hopefully we will see some more material off the album soon.

And once again, Machinedrum proves why is among the vanguard of outside of the box producers pushing electronic music into the future. Here he takes a rare recording of a Boards of Canada performance from 1999 and, using a bootleg recording, recreates the untitled jam. There are very, very few artists who could take on something like this and Machinedrum is definitely one of them. From the mouth of Mr. Stewart:

“Using the recording I laid new drums over the existing drum patterns (almost 100% accurate to original), replayed some synth parts and the bassline. The only thing I didn’t try to re-create was the original vocoder parts and some random samples so I used the original bootleg recording for that.”

You can stream the original bootleg here. This is the type of endeavor that keeps me engaged in listening to and sharing music with all of you beautiful people. Enjoy.

Update: Free downloads have run out, but you can grab the track here.

Glass Animals are an Oxford-based band toeing the line between obsequious psychedelia and pop mastery. Frontman, vocalist and neuroscientist David Bayley likes frolicking in the forest and pretending to hunt mythical creatures. Their debut EP, Leaflings (out now on Kaya Kaya Records) is an exhibition in R&B hook writing, wonky subject matter and focused beat work. EP opener “Golden Antlers” is a throbbing track about vampires (unless I’m missing something) with some tasteful wobble bass for good measure. Standout “Cocoa Hooves” is the most pop-oriented song on the EP and its “Spanish Sahara”-esque guitars and almost overpowering hook make it unavoidably infectious. Leaflings came out back in June, but we missed it then and vinyl pressings come out this week so why not celebrate a great release? Stream below and order yourself some vinyl here.


In a bittersweet turn of events, internet friends LOL Boys announced earlier that they are going on hiatus. Jerome and Markus will each embark on their own solo careers, an exciting and probably inevitable result. The fact that the two never worked together in the studio, instead opting to send tracks back and forth between LA and Montreal, makes this development less surprising. Luckily for fans, the breakup has commenced a flurry of new material. Jerome jumpstarted his solo career, releasing a two part track called “Happy/Sad”. He also let loose a pack of edits that appeared in the duo’s FADER mix back in July. It’s disappointing to see a duo just coming into their own come to such an abrupt end. The Changes EP was undoubtedly their best work as they seemed to be justifying their place on the Friends of Friends roster alongside the likes of Shlohmo and Salva. Their final release will be a Changes Remix EP, coming out soon, presumable on FoF. We can only hope that Jerome and Markus will embark on their solo careers in the same lighthearted manner that they carried out the LOL Boys project in. Thank you for the fun times guys. Stream and download Jerome’s new sounds below and grab the edits pack right here.