Tuesday, August 31, 2004

I adore Fonal Records. The Finnish label has released some of the finest avant/psych recordings of the last five years, including more recently, Silmat Sulkaset by Killa and Meritie by Islaja. Killa offers gorgeous, ornate psych folk easily on par with Ghost, Incredible String Band and Trad Gras Och Stener, only more...Finnish. Islaja offers layered fem vocals over whispy acoustic guitar in a sound that reminds me of Sigur Ros, Cat Power, Charalambides.

Heading to Austin today to catch the Animal Collective/Black Dice live show, and hope to return with the new Nagisa Ni Te album, The Same as a Flower, in my possession. Plenty of other new arrivals of note to comment on too, but they shall have to wait. Why didn't anyone ever tell me how incredible The One Ensemble of Daniel Padden is before now?

A review from the next issue of the 'Terrascope:

Six Organs of Admittance The Manifestation (Strange-Attractors) CD

It’s strange fortune that brings The Manifestation back into my hands. I purchased an original version of the edition of 500 one sided LP’s at Terrastock 4 in Seattle on the eve of its release. That same weekend I witnessed Six Organs live for the first time—a monumental performance every flower-loving, underground hippie in attendance will likely never forget. I basked in the warm glow of friendship and enjoyed precious moments with other folks who’ve been regularly revered in these pages, or contributed to them in some way over the years. As Terrastock was a celebration of love that reaches beyond borders, The Manifestation was made to serve a similar purpose.

The original Badabing release came as clear vinyl, with an extended, unclassifiable droney/folk jam on one side and a primitive etching of the sun on the other, all housed in a clear plastic sleeve. The sun is a reference to a light that eventually reaches even the darkest parts of the universe, a kind of declaration of love rendered as a pagan musical celebration. And now, the arrival of a gorgeous extended CD version on Strange-Attractors confirms The Manifestation’s place amid the spheres and reminds us just what a wonder it is to behold. As the original document was a celebration of light, this extended version dares to take things through the mirror, to the other side.

The title track runs the gamut from shuffling shakers, drones and more to trance-inducing spoken word (featuring the voice of a young female), which will have one reaching for comparisons to early 90s Current 93, a definite influence on Chasny’s music, while his rabid fingerpicking and strumming portray a willful wildness more in debt to Robbie Basho. It’s a striking piece by any measure of the imagination, and remains one of the highest points in the Six Organs catalog, but then comes the B-side, a storm of clicks and pops—literally the sound of the original vinyl etching being played on a turntable—with none other than David Tibet delivering spoken word over top. There’s more to it than that, though. Chasny incorporates the concept of Bode’s Law into the recording: The stylus serves as the sun, each point of contact on the vinyl is a planet, and Tibet’s voice stands for the Earth, which as the “center of the universe” has no mode or audible key at all. In many ways this release completes the promise of the original Manifestation and manages that rare feat of being just as essential and moving a statement as the original, plus something more.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Foxglove - Part 2

Keijo Open That Door CD-R - Creaking, homemade sound sculpture derived from various strings, droney rumbles, percussive clatters, bells and more is what Keijo appears to be all about, but as with his Lal Lal Lal CD-R, an ever present, near devotional quality dominates things as he veers from primitive improv to droney lo-fi world music, disjointed folk detours, homemade noise symphonies--all connected by an oblique surrealist thread--which makes sense given this was probably recorded in a bedroom somewhere near the Arctic circle.

The North Sea The Oscelot Chronicles Vol. 2 CD-R - Varied journeys through electric guitar strum and mayhem dropped as 4-track drone workouts suggestive of early Kranky albums and Vini Reilly/Durutti Column, though one track makes me think of a long lost Hendrix basement warmup session, but this is more subdued. Other tracks emphasize Enoesque piano and ambient studio trickery of a more gently hypnotic design. I could see this flowering into a variety of interesting directions in the coming days; quite the delight from start to finish.

Edward Ruchalski Dark Night CD-R - Another sublime trek through minimal ecstatic drone. Piercing tone clusters melded with acoustic guitar, piano, singing bowls and field recordings to form dense, expansive aural tunnels to the pristine void. Gorgeous stuff that's seemingly materialized from nowhere, but seems to operate in similar orbits as the aforementioned Grey Park and even Nurse With Wound at their dark, lulling best. Don't be surprised when that haunting piano interlude breaks through the icy surface. Another pick of the litter.

Steven R. Smith Antimony CD-R - The dude behind some of my favorite solo recordings in recent years turns in another scaled back, improvised solo guitar album along the lines of his previous limited CD-R, Kohl, for Last Visible Dog, striking the perfect balance between jazz, folk and noise to arrive at solemn acoustic/electric skeletal instrumentals that linger long after they fall silent. A reverb drenched soundtrack for the waking dreamer.

The Juniper Meadows Pine Needles and Cones CD-R - Brooding, slightly twisted and quite beautiful free-folk noise stuff will likely appeal to fans of the Franciscan Hobbies and the like, with a stark melange of porch spun fingerpicking on guitar and banjo augmented by dissonant bow work on violin, yielding something that meets all the present guidelines for Weird America, but also simultaneously speaks to an older mountain folk tradition.

Oloolo Audiotbit CD-R - Destroyed cut up industrial/electronica hybrid falls somewhere between a vocalless Wolf Eyes and a soulless Autechre (which is pretty damn soulless already!) . Otherworldly and mind-bending at extreme volumes, a tad annoying at wallpaper volume, but I'm dig what I'm hear more than half the time.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Digitalis Recordings is the name of Foxy Digitalis's inhouse label, and the Foxglove series specializes in limited pressings of obscure noise purveyors from my backyard and all around the world. I've been an avid reader of Foxy D from the moment I checked in, but it took a while to get my ears around some of their music, which I had a sneaking suspicion was produced and marketed purely for the discerning music fan, ie one who values direct emotionality and artistic invention over anything else. Ultimately it's just stuff that turns Mr. Rose on, and by extension, myself.

Foxglove - Part 1

Futurians Radio Futurians CD-R - Hyper-insane wasteoid space garage avant stupidity that surges with a freaked out quality all too rare today. I'm not just slipping Sally laughing gas here - this young ensemble, lead by the raggedly corrosive, painfully arousing, vocal squeak and squall of Duckling and comprised of some of the most inspired musicians in the current NZ wacked noise scene (members of CJA, Claypipe, Armpit to name but a few), unleashes a primal, infectious space punk that in many ways defies description, not to mention transcends expectation. It's repetitious like Krautrock, disjointed like the finest Cleveland new wave, but totally unique - the kind of real punk Lester Bangs would've tripped over a crate of 'tussin to dance to.

Skullpture 4 CD-R - Perfectly named Finnish ensemble specializes in mind manipulation of the aural variety - a lumbering jazz scape crawls into screeching, seesawing drone rock that uses a great deal of space, populating the aural canvass with a variety of offkilter strokes and scribbles amounting to something that comes off a bit as a more fractured Thuja, but these lads' take on the whole free drone thing proves dynamic and undeniably Finnish across the span of these seven hypno-modules.

Grey Park Words Are Little Creatures That Work for the Black Sun 3" CD-R - Since we're up here so close to the top of the world, let us pay the intense electro windstorm of Grey Park a visit. These six short tracks offer utterly fascinating headphones alchemy that suggests an ancient industrial complex being rocked and slowly decimated by nature's fury. Haunting aural snapshots of the dark earth rendered from a variety of processed electronics, feedback, tapes(?).

Ming Mauve Stars CD-R - Birchville Cat Motel guy dives more deeply into his love of static drone with his own brand of merciful minimalism. Captivating, dark, dense tone clusters reverberate and oscillate with the gravity of a massive red giant whose core relentlessly emanates its cosmic pulse. Deep drone for extended immersion that works at any volume.

Hush Arbors Since We Have Fallen CD-R - This one's simply a knockout of fractured folk harmonies and odd cut-up production that reminds me of later Third Eye Foundation, but the electric noise sculpture meshes perfectly with fully realized outsider folk tunes that take me back to the golden age of Xpressway and Siltbreez, and yes the Tower Recordings. A sad, beautiful and slightly disturbed piece of noise/folk isolationism.

The North Sea Pass Porte 3"CD-R - Mr. Digitalis himself offers up six short and quite haunting instrumentals on piano, arriving successfully at the crossroads of reserved jazz improv and chamber music. Refreshingly austere and seemingly simple in execution, conveying emotions that are just as undeniably direct and spontaneous. A warm breeze gliding over the seething tide.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

What would you say?

The Dave Matthews Band has been sued by the state of Illinois for dumping the waste from the onboard toilet of their multi-million dollar tourbus through the grating of a bridge into the river below, where shit literally rained down on a riverboat of tourists. Can't think of a better metaphor for Dave's career over the last decade.
Before commenting on my latest bulk arrivals, manic depression, various addictions, the current state of Hollywood blonde ambition comedies (just saw Legally Blonde 2), and having pulled my ears away from the 24 Hours boxset by Throbbing Gristle long enough to do so, here are a few brief reports of high quality recordings. One day I'll write something about shitty music, I promise. Then again, someone out there probably thinks this is shit. Or the shit, maybe?

Autechre and The Hafler Trio æ³o & h³æ (Phonometrography) A nice melding of two of the finest in new and old electronica--Hafler Trio sprays its industrial drone splatter out over an elongated plane of microtonal fuzz and secretion conjured by the mighty Autechre, or vice versa. Heck if I know for sure. Two tracks, one really long, one shorter, featuring intense, piercing noise constructs that range from minimalism to full on maximal-landslides. Sweet packaging, one of the few affordable items in the Phonometrography catalog.

Black Forest/Black Sea Radiant Symmetry (Last Visible Dog) Second CD this year from this folk/improv duo is actually a live album culled from recent European performances featuring collaborations with members of some of today's coolest outsider noise combos (Volcano the Bear, Kemialliset Ystävät, Lazily Spun/Zukonican, etc) augmenting the Rhode Island mainstays, who apparently spend more time in Europe than at home these days. Excellent sound quality on wandering instrumental improvs that come in the form of electrical wind storms w/ a barrage of mixed trajectories lashing and rumbling on one track and amounting to a carefully constructed floating house of cards on the next. This steps further away from the trad folk approach than anything that's come before, which may be why it's their most interesting recording to date.

Grimble Grumble Leaves Leader (Pehr) It's been so long since I first heard Grimble Grumble's languid (and very good) self titled debut. It simply blew me away, yet somehow six years passed before hearing anything new, which comes in the form of this (4th?) long player of absolutely gorgeous shoegaze/space rock swells that's more upbeat and rawk than what I'd heard previously but still an utterly glazed trip through plaintive, layered melodies and heavier noise workouts. Fans of Windy & Carl, Bardo Pond, Landing and the little gnome may like this quite a bit. Can't get enough myself. Props for keeping it under 40 mins, and not wasting my time or theirs. "Isn't it our time, Mr. Hand?"

irr. app. (ext) Ozeanische Gefuhle (Helen Scarsdale) Reissue of 2001 CD-R by the one man band with odd name offers our fellow a chance to stretch out and trance-induce on the epic title track, which builds from samples of rain and thunder to sinister minimal tone generations and distant percussion with various found sounds and samples interpolated a la Mirror and more subdued Nurse With Wound, though there are some dynamic noise crescendos here and there. Tis a doosy by any stretch, highly recommended for fans of such, "dedicated to the stubborn persistence of Wilhelm Reich."

Six Organs of Admittance The Manifestation (Strange Attractors) This guy's sure a busy/popular shaman/hipster these days...opening for Current 93 live, rakin' skulls with Comets on Fire (Blue Cathedral, BABY!), breakin' CD cases with Midwesterners, and now comes this expanded reissue of a limited clear vinyl 12" (which I purchased directly from Ben Goldberg's grubby hands in 2000 and will happily sell for 7 times what I paid for it today). Thanks to the new bonus track with spoken word from David Tibet, this is probably one of the most rewarding Six Organs long players out there, so it's a good thing that it's back in print. It's better than the original because said bonus is just as worthy as the haunting title track. But that etching on the vinyl is pretty cool too, recreated here in the form of original album notes and sketches. Last release before the Drag City jump. Movin' on up...

Urdog Garden of Bones (Secret Eye) New Secret Eye signing is a monstro space/psych rock trio that I suppose is gonna sound just fine to those who obsess over the early recordings of Amon Duul II and Brainticket. Farfisa often serves as something of a lead here, with guitar and drums chugging and blaring in the background of what ranges from brain-fried sonic blasts to mellower, sinister prog/psych workouts. Fantastic dopefuckedness sans the dope.

Michael Yonkers Microminiature Love (Sub Pop) Kind of amazing that this never got a proper release in 68 or so when it was recorded, making it right on time with a fine amalgam of arty, funny post mod psych that signals the way to the no-wave/noise developments that would characterize New York in the early 80s, thanks to some wonderfully detuned guitar clang. Think Fugs, Beefheart, Seeds, but this is pretty damn rockin' and unique in its own right. Michael's voice is either the icing on the cake or the mold on the cheese depending on personal predilections. I've got sticky fingers.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

And on the seventh day...

I've been going through one of my metal/grind obsessive phases again lately, and it's right on time when struck by something as righteously genre busting as this. I suppose that's the true measure of greatness for any piece of work--in the end, who needs to hear it? Just the nut-cases who obsess over one particular genre with a psychotic intensity or those of us who diversify? The complex tech/jazz metal that is Behold...The Arctopus breaks the barriers. I simply had no idea human beings could play this fast and still keep everything so succinctly in place. There veins must be rotting from the inside out with ice-streaked flesh sores by now. This isn't possible, is it? Arctopocalypse Now, Warmageddon Later (Epicine Sound System) is some sort of masterpiece (2 tracks, 11 mins on 3" CD) for fans of Slayer, early Metallica, Lightning Bolt and King Crimson, but dare I say these lads say more in a tiny space of time, sans vocals, than most of the above ever did in a lifetime.

Speaking of crankin' it up and turnin' it out, grind purists might respond more kindly to Necrophagist, whose Epitaph (Relapse) is an ear rupturing sonic mortar shell featuring drill-hammer riffs punctuated by ornate electric lead after ornate electric lead. Guttural vocals, relentless metal assaults and the endless battery of loop-to-loop rollercoaster solos make this one trick pony a pretty fun ride. Not necessarily better than the solo drum machine backed debut, Onset of Putrefaction (a Carcass reference?), but at least it's a full band now.

No discussion of extreme musical expression would be complete without a mention of the Scandinavian black metal scene. It took me some time to finally warm back up to death and black metal, and it happened at all largely because of this stuff, which leads me directly to spearheads, Mayhem (whose so-strange-it's-gotta-be-true story will be the basis for some hilarious Miramax film one day), Emperor and more importantly these days, Enslaved. Back to Mayhem though--they represent one of the finest examples of rock myth making at its best and most absurd. Violent suicide, cannibalism, homophobic murder, church burnings, jail time, endless lineup changes, ritual sacrifice--it's all there when running down the "behind the music" checklist. Eventually one realizes it doesn't really matter what they sound like when they're up to such nutty parlor tricks outside the studio. As a friend noted recently though, black metal is quite simply a gorgeous aural specter to behold. Where so many death and grind derivatives are wrapped up in prog complexity, hyper speed and pure gore, the Norweigians and their brethren bring something fresh to the table--a primalcy backed by somber, keening emotion that might seem just like more silly genre convention on first listen. But listen again, and keep doing that. Try it with something like De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (Century Media), and you just might come to the realization that Mayhem bares more similarity to the atonal noise assaults of the early Velvet Underground and Sonic Youth than Black Sabbath or Metallica. And you might even come to appreciate Attila Csihar's jaguar vocal screech, which I have, but then I always admired Mercedes McCambridge's amazing voice work in The Exorcist.

Though they have a newer one out, it's Enslaved's previous Monumension (Osmose Productions) that's got ahold of me currently. Epic, experimental production, tasteful vocals (growling and baritone singing), monstro layered riffs, dueling leads and a tendency towards old fashioned Pink Floydian moodiness make this a heck of a lot more than just another black metal opus. There's that whole trad Nordic folk vibe on top of everything too, in which one envisions a round table surrounded by very drunk Vikings singing off key, but golly-gee help-me this does not sound laughable or inane. I've never heard a cleaner, more technically adept album in the genre (traits that usually turn me off bigtime) with such compositional depth. Every track is a fucking knockout! Black metal is too limited a phrase

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

I've come to the realization that Marissa Nadler's Ballads of Living and Dying is one of the very best folk releases of 2004. Look for an official release on Eclipse Records in the next two weeks or so. I'd say more, but I'm speechless. (imagine that...)

Sunday, August 15, 2004

She and Me Fall Together...

Quite enjoyed the KFJC special on Nurse With Wound yesterday, courtesy of the very fine Psychoacoustic Soundclash with Nozmo King. If you missed it, you missed guest DJ Matt Waldron (aka irr. app. (ext)) expound on his incredibly cool record collection, but more interestingly, on the confounding labyrinth that is the Nurse With Wound discography, and Steve Stapleton's odd impulse to constantly revise, remix, reissue and rethink his previous works. Ever the painterly jazz architect is he. A big part of what I dig about this strange electro/acoustic noise collage is the fact that Stapleton and chosen cohorts (Colin Potter, Diana Rogerson, David Tibet, Peat Bog, etc) create such a compelling and living aural mythology. These albums take you on trips to places not dreamt since your earliest nightmare memories, when dragons and seamonsters were much more than just...dragons and seamonsters. The more I hear, the more I realize that in order to truly enter this world of "eerie trippy sounds" the listener needs to explore each album as chapters in a larger shapeshifting sound book whose closest literary equivalent might be something like Naked Lunch. It can be a daunting task though, I admit. Waldron also talked of performing with Stapleton, the recent Angry Electric Finger CD (United Dairies) and soon to be released 3LP and Stapleton and Potter's sound expeditions above the Arctic Circle; click here for more on that one. Cold, indeed. And most exciting (to me) is the news that NWW and Current 93 will play a small west coast tour in the US in early 05. Nurse hasn't played live in almost 20 years, since a fairly disastrous European tour, the fruits of which can be heard on Live at the Bar Maldoror, (United Dairies) which confirms a certain lack of...energy? Nurse is a different "band" now though. The idea of live performance is thrilling in a way I can't really communicate. So...I hope it all works out!

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Thanks to Noctos for showing me the grim light of true despair. Are you one half of a bored couple?
--Saw OPEN WATER tonight, and must concede it's a good gimmick built up substantially by some decent characterization. The way the couple is left behind is actually fairly plausible, though the director goes to great pains to make it so. Second act lulls (they always do in these sorts of flicks), but the climax is truly unsettling and kind'a moving. Better than the Bare Wench Project.

--Got the 2000 reissue of From Elvis in Memphis the other day -- does it get any better than "Suspicious Minds"? Think not.

--Recieved a hefty package from Foxy Digitalis a few days ago, more sure to come on that front. I HIGHLY recommend you gettin' over there, lookin 'em over and maybe buying some of their CD's and other media.

Speaking of which, here's a review written for the FD e-zine:

Japan’s LSD-March comes from a sacred tradition of charred guitar psych. They’re not necessarily as aggressive as High Rise, or as mellow as Nagisa Ni Te, yet at any time across the span of an LSD-March album comparisons to either could justifiably be made, meaning the sometimes mellow/sometimes flailing grunge punk of this quartet fits in perfectly in the larger Jap psych underground. All the benchmarks are there: the aforementioned rawness, those sun-kissed acid leads, murky rhythmic build-ups and dark, dark sunglasses.

The domestic issue of Suddenly, Like Flames, the trio’s second album, coincides with a recent mini-tour of the US, including a stop at the Million Tongues festival in Chicago, which probably featured the best all-encompassing experimental/psych/noise lineup in recent history. It plays like a solid live album, which is probably what it is, culled from various performances throughout the late 90s/early 00s.

The end results are sprawling psych jams like the distorted groove waves of “The Lamp – Tomorrow’s Godard,” which sort of comes off like the Velvet Underground playing atop a hovercraft hurdling through a massive echo chamber. “Black Bouquet” is some mighty fine bombed out heavy blues, while the sad melody of “When I Die, Hell Awaits” owes something to the desolate guitar melancholia of White Heaven. But it could be argued that one approaches this kind of music for the jams, which the incredible title track has in abundance and absolutely destroys with its cataclysmic wind storms of distorted guitar/bass/drums cacophony before setting direct course for the hottest nearby star. Holy shit! is an understatement. Still the best track just might be the sad drone rock of “After the Storm,” a plaintive pop workout that erupts in some of the most righteous low end fuzz blasts this side of the legendary Les Rallizes Denudes. This is the real, my friends: The sacred rock ’n’ roll.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

...So we ran out of things, so we just kept playing...

In retrospect the Tower Recordings are one of the truly influential bands in my development as a fan of abstract acoustic/electric folk/noise whatever the hell. From the beginning I was never quite sure where to place these people, and only with time have I come to relish such confusion. Since then various complimentary solo and splinter ensembles with mysterious abbreviated designations such as PG Six and MV & EE have popped up to tide over those of us waiting for the followup to the 'Recordings' Folk Scene, as rumours of their demise are largely unfounded. It's already in the can, and the word is it's heavy.

My lucky bottom found its way down to the humid outskirts of downtown San Antonio a few days ago where the MV and EE (that's Matt Valentine and Erika Elder for the uninitiated) traveling medicine show was stopping through before heading up to Oklahoma City and on to its final destination, the Million Tongues festival in Chicago. I'd seen my fair share of avant-clatter fests where a few different scraggly haired sorts made their way from one home-made or ethnic noise generator to the next, but it'd been many moons since I'd seen such a culinary approach explored from the duo perspective. Things began with a variety of chants, shakers, metallic bowls, and flutes building to MV's introduction of what looked like a stick bass banjo, which was bowed, strummed and strangled across the expanse of the half hour piece. This instrument turned out to be something of a secret weapon among their vintage arsenal, but then so were the spoken word bits, EE's autoharp strums and ukelele pickings. Constantly during this extended improv a more trad acoustic approach was augmented with minimal electronics that proved fascinating and capable of holding attention in their own right. But when coupled with MV's rabid bows and strums, a different kind of beauty was unleashed. This was followed by two folk blues numbers, taken from their recent and brilliant Lunar Blues Cd-R, with EE singing ever so fragile and soft over MV's Faheyesque picking. Things concluded with a massive raga, with a stunning 12 string acoustic workout from MV that reminded me that Glenn Jones and Jack Rose don't have a monopoly on this sort of thing. This is the best show I've seen all summer, if not all year. I even recorded it. Get in touch if you want my Soulseek username. Sounds pretty good, if I do say so mahself.

There was also a short film, The Temptation of Zoology, directed by MV, EE and Gabriel Walsh. It's a fun montage of moody surrealist night shots, creeping through old houses, forest roaming and silent movie absurdity revolving around one creature's strange journey to the other side. Alan Licht, Dredd Foole, and PG Six are among the "guest stars". I kept laughing at various points, but no one else did. At least MV was tickled when I suggested they'd all given Jodorowsky a run for his money.

Also must mention the Children of Microtones label, which I've only barely explored at this point, but the aforementioned Lunar Blues comes highly recommended for fans of mind-freeing space blues and Erika Elder's voice. The Heroine label, a subsidiary to C.o.M., also proves interesting with single releases of extended live jazz interps of songs from the Lunar Blues CD-R, and what I heard so far sounds like da bombus diggitus. Also picked up the super phat (and fat) 2Lp reissue of The Futuristic Folk of the Tower Recordings, just released by Time-Lag, which serves as yet another stunning production in that storied young labels career, and a fine tongue-wetter till Idea's vinyl version of MV & EE's Blues and Ragas is ready for mass consumption in a few weeks.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

When I was younger and approaching the age of consent, I had a nasty scare and tested positive for hepatitis C after giving blood for free tickets to a Moody Blues concert. My charity always comes at a price. I tested positive a second time, had to get an MRI, see a specialist, you name it. It was all quite mysterious because I wasn't exactly sexually active at the time, nor prone to needle-sharing, so I couldn't see how I got such a mysterious, and then newly discovered, disease. Time revealed they were false positives, as the tests were still early generations, and sure enough I passed a third and fourth test with flying colors and my liver kicks ass to this day.

Austin's great unheralded tunesmith, Alejandro Escovedo, hasn't been so lucky since being diagnosed with the possibly fatal disease a few years ago now, but it didn't stop him from recording an amazing piece of work in A Man Under the Influence (bloodshot), a rich, vibrant sort of sad and hopeful roots rock/power pop amalgam that falls somewhere between early/mid 70s John Cale and Neil Young, with a hint of Let's Active (Mitch Easter guests on guitar) and the DB's (Chris Stamey produces) thrown in for good measure. Two songs in particular have made an impression on me lately, one about how we live our lives, together or apart; the other about the need to keep going even if it seems the end is already here:

"Don't Need You"

There's Heaven then there's somewhere else
and those who fall between
the cracks and land upon their feet
with the rhythm of the King.
But most they sway from side to side
just to keep the story lit
and guide the rest across the rooms
the borders and the lines...

I don't need you (repeat twice)
Like you don't need me.

Someone can wish you everything
then take all that he gives
and tie a rope around the neck
of the promises he gave.
The time he takes to twist his lies
just to keep the story lit
and you wish you would have bit your lip
then just followed him to sleep.


There's heaven then there's somewhere else
and those who fall between
the cracks and land upon their feet
with the rhythm of the king.
But Me I sway from side to side
just to keep the story lit
and hold your hand across the rooms,
the borders and the lines...

I don't need you
like you don't need me....
you don't need me.

"Velvet Guitar" on the other hand is a rousing old style power-pop dream rush which features Stamey and Easter on electric guitars with Escovedo and his band working together as a soaring bird of intricate, dreamy guitar flights and more unhinged fuzz blasts swooping beneath a simple lyric about endlessly strumming that pretty old guitar of the title. A definite MUST for the power pop enthusiast inside us all, and not a bad reason to keep waking up.

Next up, some words about the amazing MV & EE show last night, which I recorded on minidisc, and hoped to transfer to my pc for sharing, but as you probably know, Sony disabled this feature in an effort to protect their own bloated interests. Fuckers. But apparently I can still go the old fashioned analog route. We shall see...fuckers.

Monday, August 02, 2004

The above was found in the parking lot of a BEST BUY earlier tonight. If anyone knows what compact disk this is, please get in touch. Tinkering with the idea of writing a short story about how and why it got there, and I feel the WHO of the artist in question is paramount to character development. Is it a Tool CD? What kind of sick person breaks a Tool CD in half in the parking lot of a Best Buy?

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Comets on Fire's last studio album was a one way trip to the sun, a massively distorted psycho punk behemoth that was a bit of a struggle to get through, but worth every minute of the fight. Blue Cathedral (Sub Pop) brings all that heat back home in a glorious solar windstorm of cataclysmic beauty. This is easily their best album, and if any band deserves the right to be named after a Blue Cheer album, it's this one, but they're too damn cool to pilfer old titles and too damn fresh too! Smoking heavy psych barnburners, an Allman brother's southern quickstep, a Six Organs-ish dark hills folk thing, completely enthralling guitar duals = mind melting on every plane. There's even some smoking piano on a few tracks. And what better place for such skunkified psych grunge sweetness than the house of Mudhoney?

Rato Triste Sus Funturos is the latest from Japan's quartet of black doom, Corrupted. This is heinous, demoralizing sludge with cookie-monster vocals that will either instantly repel or sickly fascinate (and amuse), and yes, it's all sung in Spanish, the true language of evil! After a good two minutes of such speaker destruction, a state of numb resignation is imposed on the listener. The first track is actually a side-long endlessly sad acoustic sedative, not unlike something on recent Neurosis albums, but the other two deliver the goods in soul-killing abundance with massive bottom end riffs and shrill feedback squealing all the way through the mix. Musically, it's very hard to complain with the results. For one who can't take such relentless bleakness in large doses, Boris At Last-Feedbacker- (DIW Phalinx), by another Japanese export, which just happens to go by the name Boris, is more digestible, and vaguely similar, with its mix of glacial feedback conjuring, groovier jams and atonal metallic deconstructions. A worthier listen than their last EP, emphasizing production, disorientation, Hendrix-ian guitar squalls coaxed by a very hot chick, and even a fair amount of melodicism. Excellent, but expensive--damn!

POP, can never have too much of it to be honest. Of Montreal turns down the lunacy a few notches, ups the songwriting on the scrumdiddlyumptous Satanic Panic in the Attic (Polyvinyl) and unleashes a loverly Beach Boys inspired dream psych opus that longs for breezy late afternoon margerita consumption cum poolside smooching while listenin'. Doleful Lions actually come to mind on a couple tracks, but this is more spritely and quite simply good gay fun. NME hottie pin-ups The Choral have done something similar with the slightly subdued Magic And Medicine (Columbia), turning down the weird and upping the melodics, making this not as instantly appealing as the debut, but worthy for those who value classic '67 era Kinks and the Doors' Strange Days as much as me, and all the production trappings that come with such. I suppose questions of originality could arise, but the li'l bastards sound accomplished, maybe too accomplished, and I'm gonna take this over 95% of the major label rock coming out of the UK at the moment. Cool bonus: An entire album, Nightfreaks and the Sons of Becker, maybe not as good, but shows where some of that waning energy may have scuttled off to.

Old friends at Camera Obscura continue to crank out a diverse range of righteous head dust, including the wonderfully filmic Ultraviolet Makes Me Sick from Italy, who even sing some on ...No Freeway, No Plan, No Trees, No Ghosts, but it's the subdued jazz/psych textures of the mostly instrumental guitar/bass/drum lineup, replete with well-placed fuzz eruptions and gorgeous minimal tones, that have me returning to its lovely dark sheen over and over. Joe Turner, drummer of the mighty Bostonian folk/noise unit Abunai!, makes his solo LP debut on Camera Obscura with Between Two Seconds, mixing fuzzy psych pop gems with harmony laced power pop, shimmering shoegaze workouts and other neat stuff. The Who love of "Coordinate Zero" keeps tickling me in the funniest of places, but it all has a warm, laid back sweetness throughout, and a bit of melancholic streak as well, with strong harmonies hearkening back to the golden days of this sort'a stuff, making it perfect for this time of year. Note to self: both of these make fine companions for extended drives through the countryside.

In honor of my growing affection for Einstürzende Neubauten and the incredible live show I saw a couple months ago, grabbed the 2 CD 2000 album Love is Sexy (Mute) recently, and it fits in quite nicely in their later development. Blixa almost whispers on a few tracks, as the lads dole out low-key moody electro pop noise soundscapery at its most seductive, though there are some clanks, blurts and blaring yelps dispersed throughout. Since I'm wandering the realm of slightly older, meditative art pop, the s/t 2LP by Sun is a fantastic little detour from the typically brilliant Oren Ambarchi, which sees he and partner Chris Townend playing their own kind of laid back slow-core bliss. Not your typical Staubgold release, and honestly quite straightforward and accessible like a few other of my favorite Aussie guitar bliss merchants, but there is a second disk of remixes, some truly astonishing work from masters of the form (Mapstation, Pluramon, Pimmon, Tom Recchion, Rafael Toral, Hrvatski, Norbert Moslang, Chistoph Heemann)...phew. Given such a roster, it's no surprise the remix disk is incredible and arguably the real reason to hunt this sucker down.

Wanna get funkay? Weird War will do it for ya, man. If Ya Can't Beat 'Em, Bite 'Em (Drag City)! Originally born as a "supergroup" composed of Neil Hagerty and Ian and Michelle of the Make-Up, Hagerty's now gone and a couple other guys are on board, Jennifer Herrema guest vocals on a song, and the end vibe is a super stoned acid garage whippits fest, not far from the funkiest Royal Trux, Funkadelic, early Can at their James Brown obsessin' best.

My dumb ass labeled Frog Eyes as King Frog in the last issue of The Broken Face, when I was reviewing the awesome The Golden River CD. Wonder how that happened? Ego Scriptor (Absolutely Kosher) is one of those unplugged live sorts of things, which are usually just another attempt by Da Man at further wringing the precious consumer of his/her hard earned cash by lulling him/her through repeated playings of mundane, sedated versions of already boring studio songs into purchasing the same songs yet again, but Ego Scriptor is different. First off Frog Eyes are pretty obscure, and an album like this which offers a sampling, albeit of radically different versions, of previous and forthcoming releases might come in pretty handy. Secondly, even in a mostly acoustic setting, Carey Mercer sounds like one sick fuck. Weird, lopsided folk pop is the result with a hiccuping vocal approach that will understandably scare some away. But unlike, say, Bright Eyes, where I think some of that strained weirdness is a bit manufactured, knowingly or not, by Master Oburst, I feel this Mercer guy, with his strange variation of early Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Tom Waits and even Jeff Mangum, actually has something to say, or at least an interesting way of saying it.

Driving down the road two days ago, listening to the radio, I noticed an interesting ringing minimal guitar line on the radio, and I was sure it was something off the Strokes second album, and I was thinking, "oh it sucks... or maybe this is pretty good and I'm just a snob"--but then it jerked into a big stomping house beat with funky guitars and bass and some Scot singing about going to a party and hooking up with a hot babe. Something like, "and I will leave with you!" was the chorus. GOD it was so silly. It was Franz Ferdinand! AND it really did make me want to hear more. But just that funky part where he sings about picking up the girl. The opening Strokes bit blew.