Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Wild Style roots, spoken-word poetry, and some creepy Cliff Martinez tunes

The inside of Wild Style: Breakbeats

Charly Fasano and Lucero, Retrospect/ed

Spoken-word poetry. You still with me? Because even if you have a raging aversion to wannabe Ginsbergs and Bukowskis spouting open-mic-spawned doggerel, there’s something special about Charly Fasano. As a poet, he’s been publishing his downbeat, deadpan, slice-of-life verse in various formats for years, but he’s also become known to fans of the roots-rock band Lucero for being a hand-picked opening—and a rather unconventional one at that, although there’s a lot in common between Fasano’s wry, dust-dry observations and the similar songcraft of Lucero frontman Ben Nichols. So it should come as no surprise that Fasano and Lucero have teamed up, even if the result is more ambitious than anyone might have expected. Titled Retrospect/ed, the collaboration is, at its core, a 7-inch record that features Fasano reading two pieces of poetry, “Gasoline Fumes” and “Teddy’s Bowling Alley,” over Lucero’s slinky, atmospheric instrumentals (which sound completely out of the band’s comfort zone, and are intriguing because of it). But it also comes with beautiful lyric book; Fasano’s striking, linocut block prints (oh, yeah, he’s a visual artist, too); and the obligatory digital download that all the kids demand with their vinyl nowadays. It’s even hand-numbered and limited to 500 copies. It makes for an immersive experience, and so much more evocative than just another poetry chapbook. [Jason Heller]


Wild Style: Breakbeats

Since its release in 1983, Wild Style has been one of the movies for hip-hop heads. Featuring appearances from Fab Five Freddy, Grandmaster Flash, The Cold Crush Brothers, and the Rock Steady Crew, to name a few, the movie captured the birth of rap and of hip-hop culture. Now, a new book-style box set celebrates the film’s sounds. Wild Style: Breakbeats, out now on Kenny Dope’s Kay-Dee Records, collects 13 of the movie’s base beats, tracks like “Down By Law” and “Cuckoo Clocking.” They’re tracks that’ll be known to fans of the movie, but have previously been almost all but unavailable to the public, having only been issued once, in the late summer of 1981, as a limited edition of 100. And while the beats are a fascinating document of the era and of the film, the box set’s accompanying 28-page book is even more interesting. Written by Brian Coleman, author of Check The Technique: Liner Notes For Hip-Hop Junkies, the notes contain dozens of images of the movie’s production, as well as commentary from its director, Charlie Ahearn, and Fab Five Freddy, Blondie’s Chris Stein, and Grand Wizzard Theodore. It’s an essential piece of culture for any Wild Style fan, or anyone interested in exploring rap’s danceable roots. [Marah Eakin]


Cliff Martinez, The Knick (Original Series Soundtrack)
The Cinemax period drama The Knick and the show’s official soundtrack record both start off the same way: In complete states of alienation. On-screen, it’s a stunningly composed POV shot of Clive Owen in an opium den; on record, it’s the lonely doppler effect of “Son Of Placenta Previa.” A medical drama set in the 1900s isn’t supposed to sound like cerebral sci-fi from the 1970s, but Martinez’s oscillations and manipulations fit the series like a surgical glove. It’s a musical approximation of the electricity that comes to the Knickerbocker Hospital in the series premiere, ambient hums from modern technology competing against noises from instruments made of metal and wood. There’s mystery in these tracks, and danger, too, as evidenced by the way the primary melody of “Son Of Placenta Previa” unexpectedly mutates into the sound of an accelerating UFO. The intergalactic vibe is appropriate: The Knick is a story taking place on a scientific frontier, so its score might as well reflect the audio of the final frontier. [Erik Adams]


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