Instrumental Tourist is a collaboration between two of North America’s best-known drone musicians: Montreal’s Tim Hecker and Daniel Lopatin (Oneohtrix Point Never). Quoted as being “a divorce from any idea or concept,” this album seems to rely too heavily on improvisation, causing the songs to sound more like a senseless jam session without atmosphere rather than showcasing the strengths of these musicians. Hecker’s best work is strongly conceptual, whereas Lopatin seems more interested in relying on the gimmick of his vintage synthesizers than creating something significant.
Songs like “GSM I” and “Intrusions” sound like a synthesized massacre, while “GRM Blue II,” though speckled with what seems to be an angry dial-up modem, has something of a free-jazz cool to it. Much like a tourist, Instrumental Tourist seems to only skim the surface of its full potential.
Trial track: “GRM Blue II”
After dropping Unapologetic, Rihanna is unrecognizable next to her innocent 16-year-old self that stepped onto the music scene in 2005. The R&B/pop superstar’s “good girl gone bad” persona continues to evolve, evident just by looking at the racy album cover.
Unapologetic starts strong, but then comes “Numb” featuring Eminem. Unlike the pair’s previous collaborative success, “Love the Way You Lie”, this one misses the mark. Chris Brown lends his vocals to “Nobody’s Business”, which also fails to impress, but seems to confirm reconciliation after their 2009 debacle.
The hard-hitting confident Barbadian beauty shows vulnerability in emotional ballads “Stay,” “What Now” and lead single “Diamonds,” a refreshing change from the up-tempo beats. Finally, what’s a Rihanna album without a little reggae? On “No Love Allowed” Rihanna doesn’t hold back her strong Bajan accent, proudly reflecting her Caribbean roots. Yet again, Rihanna has released an album that will no doubt land her many more number-ones.
Trial track: “Loveeeeeee Song” (feat. Future)
– Sabrina Curiale
Bastards comes one year after Bjork released the world’s first ever ‘app album’, Biophilia. The inspirational and technical process of music-making drove her last album, but her newly released material itself has made a comeback as this album’s focal point. Bastards is Bjork’s third remix album. Though the majority of its songs were originally released on Biophilia, Bastards has a very fresh feel and stands independently as an album.
Each song is remixed by different artists giving their own take on Bjork’s inimitable sound. Fans of Bjork will be pleased with the wealth of melancholic vocals propelled forward by dynamic and compelling synth. The album’s sound as a whole covers a wide dynamic range; from echoey and ephemeral melodies to hard, driving beats, this album has plenty of depth to it and will deliver beyond the first listen.
Trial track: “Sacrifice” (Death Grips remix)
– Keith Race
Ke$ha has been described by her label’s producer, Dr. Luke, as “irreverent and sassy.” Her debut album Animal sold over 13 million copies, and her second album, Warrior, hit shelves on Dec. 4. Warrior is the second chapter of that infamous, autotuned voice and those electro-pop beats that defined her first hit album. This time she has added a special genre in the mix — rock.
Ke$ha coupled electronica with rock ‘n roll for the majority of her songs. “Gold Trans Am”, “Dirty Love” featuring the legendary Iggy Pop, “Die Young” and “Out Alive” embody her edge and rebelliousness. Surprisingly, Warrior is also big on slow songs, as seen in “Thinking of You” and “Love into the Light”. Her decision to try something new demonstrates maturity and a boost of musical confidence since her debut.
Trial track: “Die Young”