Aphex Twin – Cheetah

Nobody is quite as big an asshole as Richard D. James. In real life, yes, he is fairly brusque, but musically he falls just short of maddening eclecticism, into a not-very-sweet spot where every record has listeners screaming “WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM US!?!” at his anonymous SoundCloud account.

Cheetah is named for an obscure British synthesizer maker, whose ms800 model features prominently throughout the first four songs, followed by the Cirklon hardware sequencer. Yes, this is him showing off both his knowledge of and prowess with a variety of vintage electronic instruments. He can use the Cheetah’s breathy wavetable synthesis to make songs like “Cheetah 7b,” which sounds like tropical house with a concussion, and the Cirklon to make “Cirklon 3” and “Cirklon 1,” Kraftwerk gone free jazz. That the song titles are filenames just furthers my suspicion that he’s fucking with us, but subtly.

Yes, Cheetah is better than most electronic music releases, but as with any Aphex Twin release there’s always going to be the nagging question of just what we’re hearing. Is Cheetah a joke or an experiment? Is it postmodern or sincere? Do we dance to it or contemplate it? Only Richard D. James knows.

Adult Books – Running From The Blows

Adult Books put out an album on Lolipop Records, this one’s on Burger Records and let’s just get this out of the way now: they’re cooler than you. Everybody they know is cooler than you. Their life is one long photo ‘essay’ from one of those magazines that are 90 per cent ads for clothing brands you’ve never heard of.

But damn if, on the evidence of this album, they’re not charming. Their sound is roughly power pop, mostly garage rock, somewhat post-punk, a little surfy in places, there’s synths and holy shit if the songwriting isn’t just there, right where you want it to be. There are a lot of West Coast bands at the centre of the venn diagram created by AB’s genre reference points, and a fair few of them are on Burger Records, and the only thing I can say to make you pick up this and not the grimier together PANGEA, the surfier Guantanamo Baywatch or the party-er Dirty Few is that the songs here just work better. If this was still the kind of musical culture that could make The Lemonheads the biggest indie rock band on the planet then on the strength of the song “Suburban Girlfriend” alone these guys would be huge.

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Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression

A ghost is haunting the 17th and likely final album by James Newell Osterberg, Jr. The ghost of Osterberg’s friend, producer and collaborator David Robert Jones. From the bifurcated city of Berlin they cut a swath through 20th-century rock and roll, becoming the quintessential rock stars, living harder than anyone could and still recording songs as universally beloved as “The Passenger,” “Lust for Life” and “Nightclubbing.” With The Stooges, Pop took up the mantle of filth-encrusted rock ’n’ roll laid down by the Sonics and straight up invented punk rock. Decades later musicians are still picking up instruments because they want to be one of the two: feral, primitive Iggy Pop or mercurial, post-human David Bowie.

The former left on January 10th of this year, gifting the world the album Blackstar, recorded in secret as he was dying of cancer. While it was no Alladin Sane or Low, having Bowie’s spectral hand on your shoulder as the man who has been so many people and lived so many lives grapples with his mortality does something to the listener.

If Blackstar was the ultimate rock star forging for himself a life after death then Post Pop Depression is that same figure living a death in life, having outlasted his “usefulness” (Pop’s term, from an interview with Rolling Stone). The title itself is all you need to know about the content: what happens to Iggy Pop after Iggy Pop?

Read more at Beatroute