It's time once again to cast a critical ear toward a grip of great new discs. Let's proceed with recklessness.
GIRL TALK, Night Ripper (Illegal Art; illegalart.net). Girl Talk (Gregg Gillis) is a voracious consumer of upful, feel-good music. But when he's done digesting said sounds, he doesn't merely store them in his mind; instead, he stitches them into crazily disjointed collages whose discrete elements flash by with coke-addict restlessness, and then shoves them to market. (Negativland's Mark Hosler is on the money when he calls Night Ripper "a Plunderphonics party record.") In Girl Talk's mad, copyright-flouting universe, the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" cushions Ying Yang Twins' "Wait," Biggie spits over Elton John's "Tiny Dancer," and KRS-One raps to the Beatles' "Come Together." Here, classic rock, vintage soul, alt rock, crunk, golden-age hiphop, and James Fuckin' Taylor coexist in chaotic harmony. Night Ripper will have hyphy party people and music nerds doing the random mashup shuffle.
LOSCIL, Plume (Kranky; kranky.net). I have a friend whose babies can only fall asleep to Loscil albums. This speaks highly of the wombtastic effect of Vancouver producer Scott Morgan's tranquil, ambient dubscapes. Like his previous three discs for Kranky, Plume is a beatifically immersive listening experience, warmly enveloping, subliminally throbbing, and deftly embellished with Rhodes piano, e-bow guitar, vibes, and xylophone. The nine tracks here gently lap at your consciousness like a tide at low ebb, lulling you into a state of goggle-eyed bliss. Plume is crucial balm for these Bush-whacked times.
VARIOUS, Min2Max (M-nus; m-nus.com). Richie Hawtin's minimal-techno empire is on fiyah. Blazing on the (clicking) heels of 2005's Minimize to Maximize comp comes Min2Max with 12 more essential ingredients with which to build awesome techno DJ sets and radio shows. Newcomers like Gaiser, Tractile, Berg Nixon (AKA Ryan Crosson), JPLS, and Loco Dice join M-nus mainstays Magda, Niederflur, Troy Pierce, and Marc Houle to give North America a label that can compete with Europe's deepest talent pools. Even Josh Wink rises to the occasion with his best track in years. M-nus's artful rhythm scientists prove that, more than ever, less is more.
SCSI-9, The Line of Nine (Kompakt; www.kompakt-net.de). On their 2002 debut, Digital Russian, Moscow's Maxim Milyutenko and Anton Kubikov plowed a fecund furrow of intricately detailed tech-house that seemed ideal for designing video games and speeding down the freeway. On the follow-up, The Line of Nine, SCSI-9's knack for feathery, beautiful melodies and mesmerizing synth swirls (the key to interstellar aural transport) improves dramatically. The 12 tracks here may not be as driving as Digital Russian's, but their softer-focused tones and more sanguine melodies ensure they'll stick in your brain longer, though nothing here's as sublime as 2004's "Mini" single.
7L & ESOTERIC, A New Dope (Babygrande; babygrande.com). Esoteric sounds like Eminem if he'd never blown up; his battle raps burst with passionate bile and unabashed guile. 7L provides dense, unconventionally tough productions that allude to the work of DJ Premier, El-P, and cLOUDDEAD without being obviously indebted to any of them. Together on A New Dope, the Boston duo's fourth album, they come off like a scrappier Gang Starr, their competent skills obviating the need for cameos (save for Kool Keith on "Daisycutta") or guest producers. This is probably the only hiphop album with samples of Suicide, Kraftwerk, Chrome, This Heat, and the beat from the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's" laid over the Twin Peaks theme. Tight.
VARIOUS, Silverware: Audraglint's Fifth Anniversary Compilation (Audraglint; audraglint.com). Headed by Nudge's Brian Foote, the Portland label Audraglint champions IDM, post-rock, and psychedelia with acute attention to quality control and a predilection for understated gems. Highlights include tracks by Charles Atlas, Caural, Strategy (gorgeous MBV/Loveless homage), the long-absent Bugskull, and Grizzly Bear's stunning acoustic cover of Yes's "Owner of a Lonely Heart."
STOP DISCO MAFIA, You Don't Wanna Know (Proptronix; proptronix.com). I'm not huge on cutesy/goofy electronic music with (occasional) stilted female vocals, but Stop Disco Mafia (Ronald Gonko) executes this problematically madcap style with as much panache as anybody in recent memory. For fans of Flying Lizards, Blectum from Blechdom, and DAT Politics.
VARIOUS, Touch 25 (Touch; touchmusic.org.uk). England's Touch has been showcasing the finest esoteric, abstract electronic music and field recordings for a quarter century. Touch 25 celebrates the company's rarefied aesthetics (which includes some of the most consistently beautiful CD-cover art, as demonstrated here by a gorgeous booklet illustrating all 25 tracks) with this collection of exclusives from its loaded roster, including Fennesz, Oren Ambarchi, Chris Watson, Pan Sonic, Philip Jeck, Biosphere, Ryoji Ikeda, Z'ev, and Wire's Bruce Gilbert. As a font of keenly chiseled sound design and cerebral tone painting, Touch remains nearly peerless.