Saturday, August 29, 2009
Another tiny disc that packs a wallop from Kim Dawn and their miniature vaults, this one is by one Jeremy Walker, who apparently works mostly in homemade electronics, though you wouldn't guess it from the numbers presented here. Which isn't to say there's not plenty of electro-business to be found, it just serves the purpose of bolstering the pop backbone of Walker's material. These are songs to be sure (and thrilling ones at that) that are surprisingly dense considering their listenability.
Made up of 11 tunes the disc ranging from the lengthy (over seven minutes) opener, a buoyant, almost shoe-gazey go of it that moves from full on forward revelry to slow builds over Townshend style circle strums to the nothing dabbles of the 16 second eighth track. In fact, the whole thing seems to move from impressively conceived tracks that are fully realized to little demonstrations of specific sounds, an intriguing and off kilter organizing principle.
The pop material here is especially vibrant, with track two's electric shards backing a melody that would be right at home on any of a number of Animal Collective/Pavement pawning folks, though Walker's go of it is no rip-off. This is a highly founded voice with a delivery that is as mournful as it is earnest. The electronics go nuts too, somehow managing to never turn the record into an electro-based album. There's never nay question these are pop tunes no matter how overzealous it may get. Even when it all breaks up into straight noise freak out it never loses course, jumping immediately into another pop rock gem on the third number, a mix of Built to Spill guitar thrill and epic lo-fi construction. Pretty amazing really. As the disc begins to break down it gets increasingly abstract, sliding into spare electronic demos that move from one to another with deceptive ease--and somehow the feel remains. The fifth number, for it's 15 or so seconds, sounds like some night life neon soundtrack, as does the sixth, each skipping out right in the middle of itself and losing sight before sliding into the melancholic carnival of the seventh track, the near 80s ballad hints on track eight, the "Toxicity"-style guitar on the ninth, with warbling echoes to boot, and the hollow, new age loomings of track ten. Closes it out with a mini melody that's as feint as air and as hard to find as sugar in tea. And then it cuts out. And that's it. Surely one of the wildest sequences I've heard in a while, but totally successful on all fronts. Crazy one, once you pop you don't stop.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Now here's a sleeper. Another one from that last Unverified run, this number is apparently the brainchild of the head of Scumbag tapes, though I suspect the quartet claimed to be in tow here has actually been left behind in the riptide quite a ways back. And I only say that because this is some seriously lonely, claustrophobic stuff, an empty little keyboard excursion with blown feedback whispered beneath.
Opening side is as dank and deep as the mysterious cover fetus suggests, like some tiny little worm feeding off some vent 20,000 leagues deep. Never seen a ray of light other than the glow given off by itself when it's after some equally solitary female--that or going in to confuse its microscopic prey, blinding its dinner before absorbing it. Not much happening here at all, but a world of sounds folded in anyway, with slow and steady little warbles of the keys squiggling between the masks of blackness and the feint outlines of hot water currents sliding above the colder, saltier residings of this lowly sea slug. And then it's gone before it even leaves a mark.
Flip side finds total reentry into the same prehistoric spot, the next generation if you will. Like this stuff just keeps going and going through the millenia, unchanging as its so perfectly suited to its function beneath the waves. And we thought we were the best adapted? These dudes just live their little lives over and over, mirrors of one another, from past to present to future to some post-Earth asteroid induced emigration which they'll obviously survive and flourish through anyway. Little fuckers are the definition of time. And eventually, when some big tuna carcass slides past the un-attentive eye of carnivore large and small alike, down into the dark and, one chance in a million, right into their living quarters, the worms join up to indulge, each little key patter furthering their appetite and each little crunch the sound of a million teeth tasting the energy of the distant sun. Ritual moistness, nice and lonesome stuff, totally killer.
Here's one that was sent to me by Frank Baugh (Kim Dawn head, much touted in these parts) on British imprint Colour Ride, more of which was supposed to arrive my way but has yet to. Couldn't wait any longer though to get around to this one, as it's one of the better items I've heard from Frank, which is of course saying something serious.
At five tracks, this might well be Frank's widest reaching excursion yet, at once spaced out and intensely personal. Right from the get-go with this one the sound is different, more intimate or something. Frank's always got a heavy emotion associated with his stuff, but "String" fades in off a wind surfboard, arms out and fingers stretched to deliver a message concerning some encroaching darkness. You're at once heartened this guy showed up and had enough care to do so, but also aware you get active quick before these dudes show up. A dead synth line appears right away, signaling the entry to "Parts," whose various parts garble together like watching some factory chuggings from high above--all business below, but it looks so tiny from this far away. Some guitar wiggles come in while the metronome punctures light holes in the mesh and hollow vocal ohms recede back into the skull. "Bed" gets even deeper in to the nowhere world, opening with this loop that sounds like the opening to that Moby hit or something before calling on some fuzzed synth and organ to urge it off the shallows and into the deep. Slips right along this way, rich and warm as a bath with gentle light modules shimmying across until it lifts itself up, blue droplets shedding off its feathered weight. And what does it get upon arrival you ask? Why, little guitar fragments of diddies long forgotten wedged against the gentle curdling of shredded mouth maneuvers.
"Plane" is, if you can believe it, a real live "song," featuring Baugh's dreary vocal delivery over some coma-inducing geetar before slipping into an ephemeral, glittering space where resonances are heightened and everything shimmers. And among it all lies the caveman, hanging tight and living right. This one grinds itself out for a good stretch too, really stretching its rubbers in the name of ultra drift attitudes. Closing the disc is "Vapor," which reads like a stripped back Cluster number, with crescendoing synth warmth escalating and retreating over small piano melodies, barely there and quite content and warm. This has got to be one of Frank's best yet--it moves through so many zones but still retains a strong sense of unity, perhaps his most assured outlook yet. A must grab if you're into anything that Frank's done yet, or anything at all for that matter.
On the one hand, this is a bonus from that last batch of Stunned releases, only available if you got the whole load of em. And continuing on that hand, it's sold out and was limited to 50 in the first place, so it's probably tough to track down. On the other hand, this stuff is so downright grooving that it's got to be given the review treatment pronto, so here goes.
Given, it's actually pretty tough to pin these guys down, let alone tell how many dudes are it at here. Could be one guy making beats, could be a whole band taking it on. Regardless, tracks like the opening "Slice n' Dice" have a singular idea, meshing beat culture with a spaced out, go nowhere attitude that fits as well alongside your Madlib discs as it does next to some Tuluum Shimmering cassette. Definitely danceable, but with a pan flute piddler going at it over the super slushy beat, which crunches under foot as it turns to liquid. "Bomba" is the same deal, pulling Arabesque guitar and rhythms out of some parallel netherworld while some submerged nut spews out faded vocal babblings--nothing quite fits together, an approach done with such assurance that it's tough to deny. "2010 Riot" lays a beat over ripping guitar shred that slowly disconnects itself and drifts into fumbling string moves while a flute loop drops a melodic remnant around over and over. Extremely disorienting but with this beat that keeps it feeling familiar.
Elsewhere, "Chapter Three" explores the noisier side of the group, laying down huge blurts of circuit bent fuzz over the slipping, barely tangible rhythm. I guess it's still for grooving, but you'd have to have dancing shoes made of lead to get down to this sound. "Four (reprise)" has this little early 90s alternative bass line (think the Breeders' "Cannonball") but sends it into some spacey foam that hovers, frowning, in some brightly lit motel room. Weird stuff. And closing it all out of course is "Some Heads Will Rock Others Will Roll." Personally, I think it's more of a head roll-style track, if not a straight up head rolling one... all beats evaporate here in favor of deep strums and clacks that feed off the springs and just keep growing out and up. Thick stuff and a hell of a freebie for those who acquired it. Sure you can snipe it down somewhere though, and well you should.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Riggs is all over the place here, I know, but this one got handed off to me at that Graveyards show I mentioned a bit ago and, it being my sonic introduction to (though certainly not cerebral intro...) the Middle James Co. experience, I figured I'd slap it on here for posterity's sake. In the usual Riggs vein this one is, although perhaps even more restless and uneasy, but all under the MJC banner of ultra crude aesthetics and dead to the world production runs. Totally indecipherable cover, as it seems to be with most of these releases, but you do have to appreciate the dude, who happens to be the man behind Fossils, and his apparently devout dedication to his (un)aesthetic.
As for the tunes, these are even more buried and swampy then the usual Riggs fare, with all sorts of shards spewing out from blown out amp rumblings, amounting in a kind of homegrown freak fry that jilts along. Parts of it even remind me, oddly enough, of some Muslimgauze number, sounding more like the hacked up, static induced transmissions from some Arab underground radio outfit spitting its signal out across the Dead Sea. Burned to the ground material that goes on and on, moving between approaches in a second or none, all high-pitch hum here, total bass burnout bumble there. Truly smoked poetry. Slips into a real minimal mode to at one point, bowed notes whispering sweet hostilities through the electric fence, volting its recipient good on the other side but in a pleasant, tingly kind of way. The soothing sounds of stutter worship--they should play this stuff to promote proper head spaces in the work place for sure, especially when the strums start coming in and gliding around each other, like some massively detuned harp plugged into a can opener and played through the metal refractions of the sound waves. Run a saw over it and you get the idea. Second side is much, much shorter, and equally unhurried and wonderous if you let yourself slip in. So let yourself. Killer again, seek it out if you can land a copy--maybe Riggs has a few left over?
A collabo of sorts between Lee Noble, Patrick Singleton, Samuel Steelman, Geoffrey Sexton and Frank Baugh, this little disc represents yet another go of it from the impressively singular Kimberly Dawn ranks. Theoretically intended as a live soundtrack improvisation, the sounds are wisely left to stand alone, the only hint of visual inspiration coming from the still on the front, which, conveniently, manages to say about as little as a film still could while still providing an idea of the feel that these guys were going for. Like the still, the sounds here are pretty bleak and grinding, though in the consistent and hushed way that the highway traffic is rather than outward grating material.
Considering the number of players present, this little project is about as spare as it gets, incorporating some electronic hum, percussive clatter and distant vocal weirdness into some kind of moist ritual that occurs inside of factory piping deep in the night. Super basement oriented, you can almost hear the wash of light on the participants' faces as the screen projects some seemingly desolate stance. Hollow material that just kind of fumbles along, drifting with rudderless with ease down some precipitous river. Nice to hear dudes laying down any cathartic inkling they may have in favor of dark and done, fried and fearful. Towards the end it heats up a tad, going into some blurred black vortex that splashes about a ways, but this is just the end of the road--you've made it. The whole preliminary feels like it would be just as happy to let you wade through its grime on repeat till the bitter end. And yet, despite its invisible tunnel of crud, it all comes out with more of a stoned out, no-zone than a dank dirge. Nice and softened at the edges, just a big nest of black twine for you to curl up in. Another righteous one.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Got a new batch of Kim Dawn recordings in earlier this week, again all of them in the illustrious 3" format. Love that Frank's just going for it with that--such a great layout in my book. Dan Dlugosielski, who's all over the place lately in projects like Uneven Universe, Handicapper Hornz, Body Morph, the EXBX label and that recent collaboration with Xiphiidae, this is Dan at his solo best, combining deeply zoned electronics with an odd, field recording feel. Fried as hell.
The whole thing actually stays fairly tame in the beginning, emerging from some white haze and slipping into hushed forest burnings and chainsaw massacres. It's all eerily subdued though, kept at a steady hum and murmur that makes it all the more unconscious. Not sure what the title is in reference to, but I know he's been working on some VHS pieces lately so it would seem this is an extension of that, taking the whole tape as tape feel and mashing em together till they're buttery smooth and all you get is the product, with a little skin in for variation. Deeply patient and strangely uplifting in a downer kinda way, the thing adds loops of incomprehensibilities over eachother, building a muted color gradient and watching it wash out as oil's poured on top and allowed to drip over.
To some extent this seems like the direction Dan may be headed. A little rounded at the edges, one step removed from the outer bounds of free electronics but still with the same goals in mind. Just a little duller at the corners, numb and dumb. It's a hell of a sound, and one that Dan treats masterfully, at one point sliding out of the loop that's been building and going into some electro-ether for a bit before returning. Tapers off a tad once more though to start something entirely new, with blobs of sticky static flitting around the room while larger waves redirect them to their liking. Totally absorbing and claustrophobic, but with a spatial element that's tops. Another beauty from Kim Dawn for sure.
Monday, August 24, 2009
There's a funny story to this one. A ways back, as part of a Digitalis package I got this tape that wasn't marked for review, but I dug it enough and tucked it aside. Then, recently, I got an e-mail from this guy George Gukerdas who went to Bard--yours truly's ol' alma mater--and was in some classes with me, and he had some handmades he wanted me to give a go--turns out one of them was that tape though. So he was right ther eunder my nose the whole time. Weirder still, this number was recorded by Anthony Kingsley, who lived my dorm a stretch, and features Gordan Spencer-Blaetz who I go way back with. So yeah, some representation from Annandale here, which is always swell to come by.
As for the sounds here, most of it steers between tribal style hippie jamming and deep space synth work in a pentatonic vein. Opener has some sung syllables from spaced out contributors over a barely there thudding before moving into some loose clatter and chatter. Pretty heady dabblings here, fulfilled further by the following synth zonk out, which reaches deep for some celestial pins but manages to stay nicely aloft in the dark. Vocals return along with drum pulses, I'm assuming from the likes of the aforementioned members and Ben Lorber and Austin Julian, eventually slipping back into the void. Third track starts with some real zonked synth stuff, right up my alley, just oscillators on automatic, before the chanting returns--a major theme it appears. The neo-primitive thing works fairly well here though, if only because of the sincerity of its execution. If you think of the album as a cohesive work rather than a series of songs it gives it a real shape in fact, and some nice personal character. Track five gets pretty spacey with some Animal Collective synth vibes before the closer calls on some "Watermelon Man" rhythms and melds them to cheapo pulses and, again, a fair share of earnest syllabic expounding before drifting into the most head-twisting drift on the disc, with synth runs and slipping percussion blowing all about. Nice little disc, especially for those folks into the free-folk/early Pocahaunted realm of the spectrum. Comes in a lovingly crafted handsewn case too. Can't argue with that.
Here's one I've been sitting on way too long. Chris gave this one to me months ago, but it wasn't officially available so I figured I'd wait till it was. Well it finally got the mass publication treatment and boy is it deserving. Been jamming this one for months and it's still got some seriously demented vibes.
Actually I got a chance to chat with the man himself about this number back at the Graveyards show and he dropped some bombs on me about the title, which is actually an anagram for someone--namely one Ava Mendoza--who never got back to Chris about something in some random and ultimately unimportant e-mail. Revenge is sweet, and Chris' wrath is heartily felt, though he made sure to expound on this being between the two of us and the internets. So here, internets. And thanks Ava, for the killer title.
The tape itself is one of Riggs' most sickly offerings, presenting on the front half a sort of warbbling sea shanty that sounds like sickly little cretaceans, their scrawny bones weak from malnourishment, dragging their way across the sea floor in search of cud. Turns grizzly too as they enter the oil fields, slick as hell, and they have to go zig zagging terrified through it--needless to say many are left behind. No one can make their axe sound less like a guitar than Riggs, but when a sax/some reeded instrument comes in over the thud of amps on the floor and metallic clink it almost turns into a straight up free jazz blowout for a second. Old tactics meshed for new, ultra weirdo approaches. Rusty seesaws mounted by albatrosses in heat.
Flip side starts off with some string boinging that oddly enough sounds kinda like a kitchen sink version of that Skaters tape start sound that lies all over those Monopoly Child discs. Plenty of space here, with the white sound of the room giving a hushed sense to it, like this is actually some field recording mic picking up on the sounds of some manic flea orgy. Hell, it's almost cute. Everything flits about while little sounds get added atop, creating a rubber band orchestra. Strangely accesible in its own way despite the utter incomprehensibility of it. Almost seems like it might be the alternative soundtrack to some alien planet's world peace day dance party. Or maybe it's just what happens when you put metal coils in the microwave and try and turn them into popcorn. Careful though, those thigns are not edible. No matter how fucking tasty they look. Killer, one of Riggs best and actually a really good starting point as it's some of his most relentlessly active stuff. Wild all the way.
Just in from Brainwashed:
It may not be an earth-shattering concept to go analog, but this is not your average take on the idea either. Presenting one nearly hour-long track, there is plenty of room here for this Russian artist to sprawl out and develop ideas, but Alexey, the project's sole protagonist, seems to feel little need for sticking to anything, instead bobbing around from idea to idea with fluid and exciting ease. Pulling from as many realms as he can and synthesizing them into one bombastic go of it this is, as the title enthusiastically suggests, timeless stuff that could just as well be some odd Soviet new-wave experimental excursion as it could be the basis of future beat culture worldwide. If only...
If an hour-long track of analog beats and drifting electronics sounds a bit heavy-handed, fear not. This is as light and warm as it gets, with Alexey's instrumentation guiding the way between miniatures, each of which explores a new incantation of the musician's sound. Some of them are pure rave drift, with little ticking beats tickling the underbellies of vast stretches of electronic tone; others take a more spaced out stance, pointing their eye out toward the nebulae and watching it drift apart while marbles crash underfoot. Each one drifts in and out as effortlessly as the next, some lasting longer but none exceeding their desired timetable.
As with so many of the smaller run labels today, Stunned's limited pressings have allowed the album maximum conceptual freedom. These could easily be broken into tracks (of which their would be many) and sequenced as sketches, but the coagulation of the ideas into a single long take means gives the whole a much more weighty feeling removed from the brevity of the numbers individually. Rapid fire drum machine numbers with laser beam stutters rest alongside brooding drone nod-offs, but the necessity of experiencing one before the other provides real shape to the output.
With so many ideas packed into it though, it's a wonder the album maintains the cohesion it does. This never sounds divided, no matter how many areas are drawn from, and even the stoned out white hum of one part, whose only accompaniment is aimless squiggling above, feels as if it is arriving from the same voice as the strictly beat oriented tracks. Much of the material sounds more like early synthesizer experiments, with single staccato runs going ad infinitum, but these give a retro sterility that efectively clears the air for lush drone pieces that sound as if they could go be drawn out for, well, the entire album.
To some extent, the disc's most valuable asset is its ability to sound entirely removed from any context; it appears as a truly outsider work despite the clear reference points of its practitioner, which include everyone from Gordon Mumma to Asmus Tietchens to Aphex Twin. Still, it seems Alexey's most important influences lie far below the public radar, lying under the Russian streets in continual drift.
This is what keeps the music as exciting as it does. It is wisely constructed but also one step removed from that which it initially appears as: an infinitely rich take on synthesizer music that reveals more with every listen. Each detail is as unexpected and inconspicuous as the next, giving it a life far beyond many more consciously connected to these areas of musical output.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Well it feels like forever but here it is, fully formed and ready for anyone willing to receive it. With a full two-plus months between batches (not so long by most label standards) Stunned has reemerged, just in time for back-to-school detox sessions. And of course it's another winner, packing a full eight bands into five releases and making it all feel just so right. Not a rushed number on any of em.
Thought I'd start with this damage from Denmark based Mikkel V. Dunkerley and his Pummeler project and, on the flip, the synth excursions of Derek Rogers, whose slow ascent seems to finally be heating up a tad. First side's a monster, with both artist moniker and piece title pretty much hitting the nail on the head. The whole thing moves from thick black swathes of crush to ominous cave entry beckonings that really capitalize on creepy come-hither brews. Pouring buckets over here right now and thunder's rolling in something ominous, which is pretty much the perfect backdrop to such blustery stuff. The four tracks each glide right along into each other, little pauses representing breaths between gusts. "Juggernaut" might be the most brutal, but the creepy quotient goes up a notch or two with "The Sialagogue I and II" and the closing "Imago," whose little vocal groans and stuttering bellow give it a real trapped, restless hostility feel. Sinister but also well enough gone from the present world that it doesn't feel too tyrannical. Too zonked to kill, maybe a nap's in order. Still enough streams of static to remind you what's underneath though.
The Rogers side is similarly zonked, but not quite so brooding. More glitched out and giddy than heavy and hindered. Little synth blips doodle about in squiggly go nowhere moves that sound like a tyke sticking forks into various appliances and seeing what the circuits feel like. The derangement begins young. Whole thing kinda reminds me of those kiddie work benches where you gotta slam the shaped blocks in the right holes, which might teach them shapes and colors but also gives them a solid lesson in how to let loose wrong way style. As the thing moves along it gives off a kind of glow that moves away from the playful feel and into more volumetric sound bubbles that hover around and fill the space quite nicely, taking on fuzzed out melodies that boil over into blown out pink passages before softly settling down like feathered rain drops into some unseen glen. In many ways these parts feel a little like the antecedent to Pummeler's unrelenting strength. But there's a different strength on hand here too, and sometimes the feel moves toward pure electronic hiss, taking on a kind of white hum that feels less like a beckoning from beyond than it does mere happening in the here and now with little to no regard whether anything goes anywhere ever again. It's trying to tell you something. Cool split from a nice new batch, with more of the killer diagram collages so prevalent in recent runs. More to come shortly for sure.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Here's another offering sent to me by the Hammer of Hathor folks, Mark and Heather. Dug that last LP and it's no surprise that this one provides a similar strain, though the presentation here is a bit more constrained than on the other one. Apparently the duo used to be a sax and drum duet but when Heather got pregnant she couldn't manage the sax quite so well so she picked up a geetar, and what results here are some duets featuring Mark's fairly nimble rhythm work and Heather's wonderfully detuned guitar repetitions.
This is some tight stuff. Given how loose the general sound is the couple react on a dime to each other, settling into these little coves of repeated mantra stuff, Heather sounding like a stoned out Arto Lindsay and Mark giving it a real poly-rhythmic go-round, nice and grooving but without anything too firm to latch on to. Rather they both sort of get something going and then sit there, barely changing it at all but still maintaining freshness through tiny little differences within the very enacting of the looping. It's a surprisingly minimal and interesting approach, and the stuff has real life in its folds. While a lot of stuff like this tends toward the irritating end, either not sticking with the idea long enough or, conversely, sticking with it in too limited a scope, HoH finds a really funky in between spot that really has a lot of space for movement in its constrained universe. Each little piece is as chugging and confusing as the last, and Heather's damn good at proving that if you repeat it enough, it gets head-bobby. These lines are totally fried little things, but they keep going and eventually you'll be tapping your foot right along to its a-melodic anti-groove. And Mark fits right in as close as can be. A little release, but one that further demarcates the group's unique sound. Adding to the mystery, it's a c-30 on a c-90, so I guess there's plenty of room to try it out yourself if you want. Good luck though. Another cool one from these guys.
Whoa there doggie, what have we here. A new format getting the review treatment over at ECN? And how! Of course it's hardly too divergent... for one, it's courtesy of the much praised and enjoyed Sean McCann, and for another it's on the always stupid good Roll Over Rover, so it's not exactly outside of box. Does provide another angle though, does it not?
To some degree though, a DVD seems to be more in line with where McCann's heart lies, and the visual component is almost too obvious when placed alongside his drone shimmer. There always was something soundtracky to his material, and it really coagulates here into something lovely and not at all surprising in the fullness of its realization. So where to start? Needless to say, the visuals here are hardly storytellers, but work more in the same way as his music, slowly shifting and catching different angles of the same reflection. Big time arboreal theme here with a psyched out jaunt through the woods feel, colors and layers overlapping as the soft bows and glides melt across one another beneath. Reminds me a little of the Prelude to Dog Star Man, if a bit more grounded and, importantly of course, not silent. This is not so much a study in visual language but an immersive little twenty minute venture, transportive without being wonky. Almost seems like its meant to be projected on some wooded wall and lived in for a night.
Interestingly, the music here seems even more subdued and subtle than usual. With the visuals gong in and out of focus in an abstracted haze it leaves a bit more room to just let the music drift, heading nowhere and, unavoidably, merging together with the image at once and together forging ahead into the crimson moon. Some of the stillest music from McCann yet that isn't in the Midnight Orchard style, like a slowed down version of that DNT tape sort of. Psyched, but also upright and in control. Rumor has it there's a VHS on the way, which work wonders fidelity wise for this stuff but the DVD is swell too, clean and submersible, a pleasure craft through the ferns. Real, great late night simmer down/burn down stuff. End of party night nights for sure.
Back from the beach, with some new sounds in tow courtesy of Strange Maine, including some killer 16 Bitch Pile Up disc packed in some blue jeans complete with poop stain as well as some of those uberweird Ophibre self releases with the baggies of detritus glued on. Also came across a little tape from Dead Labour Process on Unverified, a label I only knew through Riggs and his Amazed Nova (review pending), but I picked it up and, upon return, found a package from the label with a bunch of zany little numbers. See, it all ties in. A lot of blogs out there seem interested in sharing their musical spending habits with the world but not I because honestly I don't find much more boring than people talking about the cool shit they have--at least until it connects up as nicely as this does. Nice.
Anyway, figured I'd just throw one on and have a go, but it was a real joy to come back to the tape deck with something like this. A duo (though according to the youtube video sometimes a trio...) out of Michigan, Precious Trombley definitely pull from some usual suspects. Knox Mitchell, who also did the EXBX/American tapes style cover art, plays drums, trombone and electronics while Rick Boy is on sax, making it somewhat of an attempt at the whole Uneven Universe/Graveyards/Wasteland Jazz Unit approach. Still though, the unit manages to do something pretty different in that vein, focusing way more on loose horn interplay than skitzo-inducing electronic grind. Not that there's any shortage of circuit skree on it, but it's a little subdued, skittering beneath the horns and numbskull drum patter. And actually, some of the horn work is pretty swell--these guys clearly don't give a damn, and from the sounds of it they're getting a little light headed and just giving the Ayler thing a go. And who cares if they can play or not, they're into trying and to boot, they're really listening to each other, trying to mesh their lines together whether it be in harmony or rhythm or, most of the time, in nothing but movement and energy, true free fashion.
It all makes for a slightly less restive sound, kind of like some deranged take on New Orleans street jazz. Not so much boom boom chick as boom boom sick--there's really something to be said for the nausea inducing slides of the always regal trombone. And on top of all of that it sounds like they're having a total blast. They probably do this for hours, taking rips in between solos before forging onward and outward. Cool little tape from a nice label based in Edinburgh. Good deal. Nice to be back.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Went to see Burnt Hills, Cruudeuces and Graveyards this past Sunday which was a ball--got to catch up with Riggs and Hall a tad, met Olson and saw all the Burnt Hills crew and Nathaniel from Cruudeuces, so overall a swell night. Tough to argue with it. Anyway, bought a bunch of Grave merch including that tour box, a tape and the new Brokenresearch Graveyards LP, but also was given a bunch of stuff from Chris, Nathaniel, and Eric of Century Plants/Burnt Hills/Tape Drift fame. Had been a stretch since I'd gotten to give Tape Drift a go, so it was swell to receive the morsels I did, including this one from Campbell Kneale's post-Birchville Cat Motel project Our Love Will Destroy the World.
To be honest, I'd never really heard Birchville Cat Motel despite the project's sterling reputation, so I was psyched to give this new one a go. Apparently this project presents a new approach for the man, but from what I've heard the sounds are more or less just the same. And by just the same they must mean some full on tectonic blasts, cause the first side here, "Charmed Haruspax," is a storm of electro-glitch out mayhem, just sheets of buzz and scuzz with these little bleeps meandering about like a moth to flame. Real crushing material that leaves little room for misconceptions, just throws it all out there and lets it invest type stuff. It's not entirely brutal though--there's way harsher stuff out there--it's just full on electronic weight with so many little sounds packed in it's a veritable sardine can of sound. I know, delicious right? Sounds like it could all crumble apart and melt into a million colors but somehow he keeps it going throughout, moving along some psychedelic train of contortion whose destination is neither here nor there, but OUT THERE. Somewhere.
Flip side presents the title track, another live document that finds the due in a similar vein only with a whole new bag of sounds to pull from. Clashing plates are droned out while rumble underneath gives it a festering quality that suggests of organs and deep body grumbles. Kneale's willingness to let it happen of its own volition is a nice thing to bear witness to, as he sort of allows it all to creep in over time. Almost like an ambient framework only the beginning is so full on that it wakes you right up, leaving no room for soporific proclivities. Shard after shard here, and once they're in they're in, so it's a real good time for all. A beautiful one, gone from Eric but likely findable else where due to the "extended" run of 150. More to come from Eric soon in the form of that Simon Wickham-Smith disc. Also, the rumor mill has it that the label's considering moving into wax territory, so that's something we can all get excited about for sure...
Here's another number from that latest Roll Over Rover batch to get sent my way, this one coming from another previously unknown dude to me. Apparently the man himself has mostly been making songs for a spin but this is a real drifter, totally unraveled and expansive in scope. Which falls right in there for me given the hot weather and sedentary nature of working in the record store. Nice little soundtrack for perusing clientele as well.
Starts off with this buzzer of a drone track that features some pen drawn horizontal lines that fade from green to yellow to orange and back. Dave McPeters' organ contribution gives it that organic sound too, so as to really lift it off and into the clouds, albeit with a tinge of sadness for soils left beneath. Spare enough to really float though, the thing isn't bogged down by anything at all, as ephemeral as they come. Nice thing here too is that the album closes in on an hour in length, so over the course of seven tracks there's a ton of diversity, but the vision's all the same. Twinkling bells and life force swells on track two, which sees McCann and Ashlinn Smith contributing drums and vocals respectively. Flies right into some neo-nexus space age discovery too, at which point the unbearable blackness of nothing goes white and time stands still till you arrive on Xenu, where all plants are purple and no one is alone. Third done creeps right up from the ponds of the first one too, presenting a kind of chilly haze where McCann's synth co-mingles with Shipley's whatever-the-hell to conjure some zones that bob about, reveling in the oil slicks for their buoyant properties. Slides right on out too, real slippery-like, all shiny black but with rainbows when the light hits it right. Of course in comparison to track four it seems more like a pool of sludge than a graceful little oil pool, as four is so momentously hypnotic as to tear aside any of its less welcoming properties with measly little key melodies that trickle about under McCann's swell drum work. Perhaps the most focused thing on here, but not without settling beautifully in among the rest of it with sun dappled outlooks and fuzzy beaming insides. Really grabs hold of some Lion King vibes without sounding like a whack African hijacking scenario.
Fifth track mellows it out a bit, McCann again contributing with some lovely viola work, getting nearly bluesy but still maintaining the lofty, not even close to down-and-out feel. Just restful and content while harmonica and guitar twang gratifyingly across each others chicken coops, sipping on bourbon and getting increasingly light in the ol' loafers. More guitar fry on six, with Smith again offering up talents on organ, giving it a kind of arcade dream state feel--fuzzed and fine by me, I say. Seven sees McPeters and Smith on organ and pennywhistle, but no matter how you cut it it's clear this is one concept and I reckon it must all be that of Shipley's, as sliding nimbus sounds sift through one another across pale birds wings and grazes of sun. It's a lovely closer that's as peaceful as anything here, settling it all back down to within earshot of the houses, but far enough away that not a voice can be heard. Just nice folks scuttling around. Lovely.
Here's another one received as part of that first Vanishing Hour batch, and like the Antigua Ibis it falls into a weird little category all its own, combining field recordings with odd instrumental interludes and electric current for a pastiche of subterranean sounds.
First side opens with some pastor, whose proclamations are quickly derailed in the name of contact mic futzing and choral drift while some barber gets the old electric razor out beneath and has at. Muddles about a while while guitar comes in and presents a few chords over some bird clatter, but none of it goes anywhere at all, instead opting to sort of ruminate it over a bit. Keeping an eye on it while it hardens and becomes brittle. A nice go of it, totally allows itself to just wander the grounds and take in the scenery until it comes to some nice looking lap pool speckled with potted plants around its exterior, so you dive right in and lo and behold there's some tiny humpback whale living down there, no longer than your fore arm I'd say, and it's sort of scoping you out for awhile, taking in your impressive size and gorging itself on plankton, till you've had enough and leap out, wet as hell, and head right for the fair on the other side of the field. Tough to get there though, so attention starts to wander and you settle in on some workers banging away at some concrete and chattering their chatter while they're at it. A real strange land no doubt, but one that's a pleasure to dabble in.
Flip explores much the same ideals, if in a slightly more focused--or at least diverse--landscape. Little metallic clatters rebound it into being before it mellows down a notch and starts to hover just over the crisply cut grass. Still that same suburban surreality though, with voices of red-haired wives tending garden or men in "Kiss the Cook" aprons flipping burgers while the chilluns huff paint behind the swingset. Only still spot seems to be where the cat's lying, on a carpet letting the sun fall over him and dreaming of mice. It's these moments that really keep it lively too, and somehow the movement from convoluted sensory overload to simple statements of quiet beauty flow nicely, giving it a chance to get you somewhere beyond mere residence. Really cool little tape, interesting straight through, though apparently there are only two left at the label HQ so you might want to move in for the kill quick. Otherwise Tomentosa and, apparently, Discriminate Music have copies.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Here's an interesting one. Basically a remix album, this finds Frank gripping some recordings made by a friend of his, Blake Barton, and using them as the source for this little 3"er. Strange sounds abound, but it all has the distinct feel of a Sparkling Wide Pressure release, a testament to the strength of vision practiced by Baugh.
The little thing starts off with some looped smokers-cough vocals that growl over and over while clanging guitar sort of rebounds around beneath. Takes its time spreading out, but when it does it sprawls all the way, lending itself toward drawn out percussion and semi-tonal murmur. Starts to really lift-off about minute eight, when the tin pan, rain on steel rhythm accompanies some increasingly sci-fi laser drones that shoot right out, emitting toward some sun without a glance back. Real spaced stuff here that serves the noggin well if it's incorporating the proper ingredients. Baugh's control of the material is clear too, as he really lets each little part evolve all on its own, some heading toward the trees, others dipping deeper into the oceanic bowel systems, and some skipping the life step and turning right into pure energy with its eye on the quasars. As the whole thing pitters out, it sorta lets slip each part at a time, leaving the skeleton but getting rid of the muscle so all you have left is this odd space of hollowed out activity that you can still bend; it just can't do it willingly anymore. Has to lay there limp instead until someone else comes and gives it a bend. By the finale the thing's disintegrating between your thumbs, dust-to-dust, but man what a journey.
Second track is a little more neon, even nearly dancey, with little statements of melody below ping pong ball rolls and reversed plate clatters. Sort of gentle-ish before it slips into pure sound zones for a stretch, weighing still while the blade gets closer. Might as well be the sounds of some Rube Goldberg machine in motion, spewing out Seussian sludge till the nimblequacks emerge to sing their songs of peace. Short and sweet, but again, it sure is sweet.
Here's another new contribution to the pool from House of Alchemy, this time in the form of a nice little disc from a group I hadn't heard of before this, Anvil Salute. Apparently they hail from the Midwest, but they sound like they might as well be from the Far East, or at least New York circa '68, imploring a nice combination of free jazz, raga and free-folk into a kind of ESP meets Impulse meets Folkways sound that's super together.
Track titles here are super extended too, which gives the whole thing the feel of a journey of sorts, going from the opener, "The answer is YES; the question doesn't matter" to the fourth and final track, whose title is long enough that I won't recreate it here but suffice it to say it has as much to do with Trout Fishing in America as it does not. Along the way they really go some places, opening with the Indian strings and bells of the opener, whose clacking rhythms find the album steaming in off some pale shores a la Alice Coltrane's Journey in Satchidananda. A smoky sax even rolls about among the mini celeste melody as the thing unfolds into some desert sands lope whose pace is just steady enough so as to give it that Lawrence of Arabia, sun rising behind you feel as the sax loosens it up and gets some silt in its shorts. Feeds right into the next track too, which skitters over some sea shell bells and a snare tap or too for a real brief go of it before falling right over itself and into some languid guitar lines on the aptly titled "The Virtues of the Fuck-Up," whose little celeste melody sort of twinkles along above the increasingly swampy guitar work. A real clean sound though, focused way more in pacing and steady coagulation then seeking out some muddied psychedelic mess. Kind of precious in its own way, though not unenjoyable for it as is so often the case.
The closing track sees reentry for the saxophone, which opens the tune with a billow and a blare while a trumpet sort of mutters to itself underneath. Steady little thing that sounds like the percussion from Art Ensemble mixed in with some post-fire number. Some surprising horn playing too here, real good sound and nice movement around each other, kinda fumbling over one another while the atmospheric backing adds flourishes to the falls. A lot of restraint on hand too, with no one really willing to push through all the way and go for it--the result being that it's never cluttered at all, each sound clear and each line fluid. Nice piano interspersions too that give it an even more percussive feel that's as light as air. Good stuff, the band clearly has a conception and is willing to step out of the proverbial box in subtle and surprising ways that keep the whole thing super fresh. Another glorious one from House of Alchemy, and somehow the spare construction paper cover gets the right idea entirely.
Also in from Foxy Digitalis:
Another project of Haare mastermind Ilkka Vekka, Sutra draws out a more psychedelically minded blueprint, sketching out a drone dialect that is far more concerned with free floating forms than fastened fidgets. The opening track, named after both artist and album, combines raga style sitar loops on clacking snare drum patter and heavily handed strummings that chunk along like Robert Johnson on cigar box. Behind all that is ample electronic perversion, shimmying up and down in muted derangement over the course of the track. Parts of it almost read like one spaced Hawkwind moment looped on top of itself, frozen in immobile stasis. The cut does move though, layering on a heavy hit of fuzz for its latter half before lightening up a bit and increasing the weird quotient, switching between free-folk fuckery and fumed out sun-splotching.
The second track—“The Howling Sun,” as it would turn out—sticks with the more crucified sound for the most part, drilling holes in drills drilling holes in Teflon. Eternal damnation guitar/vocal bellows glide over the grinding, gorged out backdrop, providing it with just enough of the human element that it’s alarming to one’s personal sense of safety; clearly, whoever’s in there does not belong down there, so near the molten coal, but they keep singing something sweet anyhow. Does come up to breathe for moments though, picking up intangible meter as it works its way through spider webs down in Indonesia, but the end result is a one way trip back down to the brine. Savage and quite beautiful.
In from Foxy Digitalis:
The moniker of experimental artist Andrew Tuttle, this disc, named in honor of John Fahey, Mariah Carey and Wikipedia according to the liner notes, find the experimental artist supplementing his finger-picked guitar works with a number of synthesizers, giving the album a strange habitation between the mechanistic and acoustic that gives it a highly unique feel.
The first two tracks, “Memorandums 1 & 2,” are pure synth stasis, giving little hint of the sound to be explored on “Hill Loop,” a gently lilting guitar progression finger-picked within sheets of gliding synth lines that morph between alien signals and pure warm hum as the guitar fades out and is replaced by a banjo that closes the track with a kind of bristling, thistle enwrapped joy. “If at First You Don’t Secede…” finds the same sense of warmth in the synth work meeting a sliding string line that keeps things firmly in the yellow grasses of the South, its humming overtones displaying the stars’ clarity from the expansive fields. There’s an almost Henry Flynt feel here in terms of bluegrass being reinterpreted to more experimental ends, though the addition of synths calls for very stripped lines and a humble feel often lost in Flynt’s hyper-conscious work.
Other highlights here include “Janitor of Luna Park,” a real tune that has a nervous sense of nostalgic excitement, single note synths chattering amongst Appalachian valleys of guitar pluck and strum. “Sabbatical from Procedure” starts faintly before crackling inward, its thudding underbelly pushing it along the dune lines until it slips out on the water, riding crests of waves toward coasts unknown. The closing title track is perhaps the most Fahey-like one here, and almost could be off of “The Yellow Princess” in the way it moves between folk interpretation and sheer experimental what-the-fuckery. A nice little disc, understated and well conceived, with appearances by Seaworthy’s Cameron Webb and Mirrored Silver Seas’ Tim Condon.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Well well, it's been a might long break between reviews it's true, but once confronted this little number what can I say, it just settled me into some kind of summer slumber that had me off in nether-lands for a hot minute. Hard to believe this one really, a straight up dub tape courtesy of the fine folks over at Roll Over Rover that's concerned with little beyond Augustus Pablo, Lee Perry and Adrian Sherwood--just the way we like it.
First side of this tape, which was way too limited and sold out in about twenty minutes, is one straight extended dub session called "Rasta Takeover." Not sure whether they're the rastas taking over or they're being taken over by the rastas but who cares. Cut it either way and it's still dub crazy. They go all out too, calling on the talents of Jr. Dr. Tristan for drums, Dave "Bucketface" Shakespeare on geetar and Sir Miles David Shakespeare II rock steady on bass. Great effects laden stuff throughout here too, with the drums delaying outward into oblivion so as to really drag out the tropical sunset vibe. Nice too that the material is good enough so as to avoid being straight tongue-in-cheek style stuff. White people rarely make reggae sound this good, weird though that might be. Drifting vocals abound too, giving it a real dub-me-crazy version feel.
Flip side divides it three ways, with "Jaded Mutha Dub (Babylawnmover Version)" getting into some more spaced, Creation Rebel-style material, way out and skittering stuff that features that signature McCann side that everyone's crazy for. Bowed banjo slips surprisingly well into this stuff too, and like melodica seems strangely suited to this type of stuff. "Two Sevens Clash," named after, well, "Two Sevens Clash," Culture's classic, may or not be a dub of the title track but who cares really? The spirit's the same, totally smoke-filled with the electronic manipulations falling in just the right crevices for most ample effect. "3 Guys and a Babylon )XXL Fluffy x 2 Version)" brings in RAS Iretha-Franklin III, who contributes some wonderfully suitable chant that ain't Big Youth, but sure as hell has the right idea. Also, props to the crew for the paint job on said cassette--really gets you to where you need to be. Mighty and surprising, ital vital style.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Also in from Brainwashed:
Marc Richeter's Black to Comm project has always been more or less singular in its scope, seeking no less than than the outer reaches of deep drone meditation. Calling on Renate Nikolaus and Ulf Schutte to contribute electronics, bells, percussion, violins, water and more on top of his own monolithic organ play, Richter has crafted a monster with this lone 35-minute piece. Just make sure submersion is an attractive state before descending.
With the sudden emergence of a new drone dialect in underground music, Richter brings a classical sense to his concoctions, drawing on the likes of Steve Reich's organ works, La Monte Young's extended sense of time, Hermann Nitsch's sound world and Charlemagne Palestine's power far more than psychedelic babble steeped in rounded edges. His is a focused maelstrom, less concerned with dips into the nether regions of his mind than in sharp trajectories directly towards the sun. Starting with a microcosm of a drone, the piece largely develops itself as an extended crescendo, continuously moving steadily forward into ever deeper waters.
This sort of constant upheaval in a piece has a way of falling short, but Richter is wiser than a lot of his cohorts, instead focusing on an internal build rather than one extending out from itself. The bulk of the work is enshrouded in the subtle organ play, which reads as singular in any given moment but whose constant flux is clear over the course of the work. Within that cloud Nikolaus and Schutte are constantly building, laying down increasinly kinetic details that clatter, murmur and spew there way out of the organ flow like larvae out of a heated pool. Nothing ever takes hold though, the chatter instead serving to divert attention away from the bold organ drone which, somehow, ingrains a kind of festering bother in the listener whose creepiness is far more internal and personal than overt drawings upon darkness.
Half way through the work breaks up entirely, the tickling metallics fumbling forward until, at last, the work explodes under its own weight. A thick smoke, sharp atop the smooth drone, ricochets across while warbling electronics distort themselves into dreams haunted by wolves and ghosts and ivy. By the time it all comes to a fore it has buried itself so deep that any semblance of self is surrounded, blown apart by the sheer quantity of sound. This, it seems, is why they recommend it be played loudly.
This sort of slow development does more than its share of demolition, but it also reveals a fully realized vision and a musician whose focus and sonic sense are at once contributing to and one step removed from so much of the drone music coming out now. This is not music to take drugs to so much as it is music as drug, an intoxicating and immersive experience akin to the very MC5 song it is named after. Not in sound perhaps, but certainly in attitude and scope.
Primarily the duo of Heather Young and Noah Anthony—though others have been dragged in along the way—Social Junk uses pounding beats and minimal synth to concoct some of the most pummeling pop this side of the sun. With drenched vocals and spare but wisely utilized parts the duo draw on tactics as far reaching as industrial, post-punk and Krautrock in their rugged and broken songcraft. This, their most recent sonic tastament, reaches even further into their warped world.
Interestingly, the group is known for producing vastly different results, swerving between proto-industrial clunk to spacey synth pop over the course of albums and even songs. "Champos '08," for example, features electronic crud mixed in with rotator blades and squeal that reads more like some basement Michigan noise project, while the percussive organicism of "Dirty Cloud" largely explores a much more overtly pretty side of psychedelia. Concussion Summer, their most recent full length on the Not Not Fun label, grinds out mostly instrumental clatter that is in constant flux. This one seems to meld the brazenly fried feel of the latter while persuasively melding it with a kind of numb song form whose fuel is in its monotanous, dead-to-the-world attitude.
This is more or less clear right from the opener, "It Just Isn't the Same," whose constant thud is at once primitive and futuristic, the battle cry for an interstellar war fought with spears and rocks. While the parts are all simple—the three note synth melody unendingly stuttering forward, the bleating scrapes—they are mixed so masterfully, brought forth, drawn back, reworked, that the sound is in constant motion, providing a spaced drift for the half-dead vocals to drift across.
"Those Final Seconds," which begins with a fax machine running across the rattles of snakes and delayed vocal punctuations, creates a sort of endless loop that feels overwhelmingly trapped, stuck in place until, somehow, it manages to wriggle itself into slightly new positions, slowly freeing itself of its confines while free rock drum clatter mashes it to a pulp from beneath. This is some blown out stuff and truly fried material, a sax bellowing outward signaling the approaching peak of a seven-minute buildup. Having wrestled itself free, "Grief" seems to a signal a kind of anti-climax, a new and placid world where synths drape over one another as they reach toward a mangled synth pop dreamworld as abstract as it is tangible. Jon Rickman and Bobby Caution join the duo on this (Rickman also plays on the title track), giving it a more full sound while still retaining the distorted peace within the work. It serves as a fine example of the different sounds the group can draw upon while still managing to sound like itself.
The following title track, the longest work on the album, moves between so many modes that it's tough to pin down. It glitches about, building and dying under its own weight like a Robert Ashley piece gone awry, or better yet as covered by Dead C. It is a true monster that feeds right into the brief "Behind a Wall" before the smoldering simmer of "Someone Upstairs" drifts through the coals. When all is said and done it is difficult to not be a convert, and even tougher not to believe in the group's increasing potential. Every release seems to push the bar further, and this one is another impressive statement along their path, as twisted as it is sincere.