In Rotation: MC Zulu on Major Lazer | In Rotation | Chicago Reader

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In Rotation: MC Zulu on Major Lazer

Plus: Reader digital content editor Tal Rosenberg on the new Kurt Vile, Searchl1te on the swaggering debut album from composer Anna Clyne, and more


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[photograph of James Franco in Spring Breakers]
  • James Franco in Spring Breakers

Tal Rosenberg, Reader digital content editor, is obsessed with …

Kurt Vile, Wakin on a Pretty Daze The album everyone in Logan Square will be playing outside in the sun all summer long. Vile somehow outdoes 2011's great Smoke Ring for My Halo, which is no easy feat. He has a particular talent for knowing which chord sequence he can play for ten minutes without boring you to death. Listen to "KV Crimes" while strutting; listen to "Too Hard" while ruminating; listen to "Goldtone" forever.

Mr. Fingers, "Washing Machine" On an improbably low budget, Larry "Mr. Fingers" Heard records the sound of playing laser tag in a spaceship. In-your-face and fresh for '86, it feels like bouncing on a moonwalk, or like the big bang on a small scale.

A cornrowed James Franco playing Britney Spears's "Everytime" on a white piano outdoors while three bikini-clad, pink-ski-mask-wearing girls play ring-around-the-rosy holding shotguns in Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers Because it's a cornrowed James Franco playing Britney Spears's "Everytime" on a white piano outdoors while three bikini-clad, pink-ski-mask-wearing girls play ring-around-the-rosy holding shotguns.

Tal is curious what's in the rotation of …

Searchl1te, producer, DJ, arts educator

[photograph of the DSI Tempest drum machine and analog synth]

DSI Tempest Dave Smith Instruments' new Tempest, a six-voice analog drum machine that doubles as a synth, is a sick studio production tool and a nerve center for live performance—a rare combination. It's the kind of instrument that continues to reveal itself to me every time I use it. Not only do DSI and collaborator Roger Linn share a commitment to evolving the Tempest's functionality, the geeky coven of Tempest users ceaselessly cranks out new drum sounds and kits.

Oyaarss, Electronic Explorations Podcast 188 Curated by London beat hoarder Rob Booth, the Electronic Explorations podcast gives a platform to producers of electronic music who generally disrespect genre boundaries. Episode 188 is by Latvian producer Oyaarss, who calls his music "lullabies for decadent people." Last year he released his debut album, Bads, on Berlin's legendary Ad Noiseam label. With this mix in my ears as I move around the city, I feel like I'm privy to a secret with catastrophic implications. It's elegant and brutal, and it was the soundtrack to my Chicago winter.

Anna Clyne, Blue Moth As one of the Mead Composers in Residence at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (alongside Mason Bates), Anna Clyne writes edgy compositions that swagger, taunt, and thrill. The production quality of her debut album, last year's Blue Moth (Tzadik), is unlike that of many contemporary-­classical studio recordings in that it's engineered, mixed, and mastered to be punchy and fat. She was a teen in London during the Squarepusher and Aphex Twin days, and though I have yet to ask her, I wonder if that music rubbed off on her a little—or a lot.

Searchl1te is curious what's in the rotation of …

MC Zulu, electro/global-bass reggae artist

[photograph of Major Lazer]
  • Photo by Stuart Wilson/Getty Images for RedBull
  • Major Lazer

Music promo The shift in the way music is bought and sold is amazing to me. It used to be that these great monoliths had total control over what people listened to. By default they ruled popular culture itself! It's been really fascinating to watch that control slip from their fingers throughout the past decade. I feel like the floodgates have been opened, and you almost have to take a Roger Corman approach to making music.

Major Lazer Reggae music has a huge influence on society. I know that the more positive aspects of our culture can have a healing effect. I also believe the way to spread that message is at parties. Since the Max-a-­Million days I've been one of the artists experimenting, mixing reggae with various forms of Chicago-­based (and then world) club music. In 2009 Major Lazer dropped, mainstream though they may be, and bolstered reggae overall.

Communication breakdown Communication is madness. We all rely on this fragile network of understanding. Its integrity begins to weaken as you move between regions and even between people. Adding music makes it even more confusing and exciting. I love what I see with global beats coming into play—tracks ranging from African to Balkan with singers of every background on top of them. We don't always know what's being said, and we don't care. It's anybody's game. Art brings people together.

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Related Film

Spring Breakers

Official Site:

Director: Harmony Korine

Producer: Charles-Marie Anthonioz, Jordan Gertner, Chris Hanley, David Zander, Vikram Chatwal, Chris Contogouris, Megan Ellison and Ted Field

Cast: James Franco, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, Heather Morris, Emma Holzer, Gucci Mane and Ash Lendzion