Jason Urick "Show Me"
A weird consequence of SoundCloud listening is that you get a unique waveform shape with everything you listen to. Which is new, at least among listening platforms I can think of, and part of the service’s allure, if one of the more superficial ones. But sometimes you’re listening and staring at that waveform—basically a SoundCloud-generated visual representation of a song’s dynamics—and it makes a shape, or a particular pattern, or something that makes a notable impression. There’s actually at least one group of fans on SoundCloud devoted to “pretty waveforms” and a quick search reveals at least one current Ableton Live forum conversation about writing songs that intentionally manipulate the waveform to look one way or another, the assumption being that if listeners like what they see, they will listen to your track.
In any case, the whole experience can have a rather interesting effect. It’s one thing to have cover art for a song or record, quite another to have the thing itself translated into an image. Theoretically, SoundCloud’s parameters and algorithms don’t change a whole lot for generating waveforms, so we don’t have just a translation, but an objective one with which to compare songs. Jason Urick’s “Show Me,” also released on vinyl as a 7-inch split with Co La, looks like a rocket or missile, most especially one of the space shuttle’s boosters. The waveform just reaches the waveform lane’s upper and lower margins after 40 seconds, drops precipitously once, and then tapers in its final dozens of seconds. It looks very flat and geometric, not particularly wild. It certainly looks “electronic.”
None of this would be worth mentioning if it weren’t, first, kind of interesting and, second, a source of some pleasure in the dissonance between visual representation and song. Urick’s song-song doesn’t betray shape easily. It’s a fairly lo-fi-feeling (as if coming from a crappy car radio) six minutes of supremely mellow distorted groove—like dub reggae from a bad copy of the distant future. Some SoundCloud commenter/spammer made the astute comment “tropical,” to which I respond: “sure.” Urick’s given up at least a few variations of Jason Urick over the years, from noise-ish stuff to more mainstream ambient electronic music to super-friendly dub to this not-at-all-a-rocket murk. Note that’s not “murk” in the pejorative, but in the stoned-to-oblivion soupification of the world, a world melting its shapes down even.
Murder Mark featuring Rapper Bitch "Ass Is Phat"
Baltimore club tracks look insane in SoundCloud because they usually have so much empty space in them. They usually look like a comb you’d find laying in a crosswalk or an EKG from a dying heart. Honestly, “Ass Is Phat” doesn’t look all that cool as a waveform, but this is a brand-new track from Murder Mark and, not only that, he’s showing off a new addition to his Z.O.M.E. stable, Rapper Bitch. It’s pretty cool and one of those club songs that manages to look forward and backward at the same time: An actual non-drum bassline trades with only the most straight-forward Baltimore club kick drum pattern, while tiny little bits of synth and sample get diced up here and there. It all betrays a master’s touch at turning a very skeletal-