Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Special Music time, and there's so much of it this year! This past weekend I actually went out to see THE MELVINS live, with a double drummer set up, fuckin' smoked! They didn't play any of the old crawling sludge-burners, but they did pull out "Revolve" from Stoner Witch (best southern fried sludge boogie jam ever), and played a good 90 mins or so of qualified bulldozer glam. It was like Kiss crossed with mid period Swans--amazing. Ok maybe not AMAZING, but I enjoy these weirdos in glam mode more than I thought I would.

Also just got the brand new Aufgehoben album Messidor on Holy Mountain in the mail (their 4th to date) FOR FREE and WOW, definitely one of the finest high energy improv/noise units on this planet. And it is actual rock music too. ON THIS FUCKING PLANET! Wonder if they still don't play out live because they should. Speaking of which, it's an amazing time to be alive; it really is. Hang in there, babies! Hold that ground.

It's good to be rocking and rolling and kicking it with your friends and obsessing over the Rolling Stones and trying to stay warm and make things instead of break things. I could break much shit if I wanted to. On the must see list: "The Devil and Daniel Johnston"--cried a bit while watching this (from all the laughter!). Note to self: Never accept a gift from Gibby Haynes, chemical or otherwise.

A few of my favorite albums to come out in recent months...

Flying Canyon Flying Canyon (Soft Abuse) Precious, dusted folk tunes from the dark side of the desert. The li'l sticker on the package says "doom folk from California" or some such. If that's not some shameless Psych exploitation, don't know what is, but it's also an accurate description all the same. Cayce Lindner resembles a mid 70s Jackson Frank, hair long and sandy, his voice soft and gruff at the same time. I'd like to think a joint was hanging between his fingers when the cover pic was snapped. The songs themselves are tender psych folk chestnuts that capture desolation and beauty with timeless folky textures anchored on reverb-drenched rhythms, especially "Crossing by your Star" with its sweet harmonies. His band features Glen and Donovan from Sky Green Leopards among others. Skip Spence, Jackson Frank and Donovan fans should dig.

Seht Green Morning (Digitalis) Deep drone electronics from Mars--well inspired by Mars and Ray Bradbury and lo-fi sonic constructions in general. This is Seht at his deep drone best, hanging in there with the heavy hitters of the genre and keeping it interesting throughout, even if "interesting" in this particular case is a kind of static textured mechanical hum. It works. Sweet package too. Seriously.

Boris/Sunno))) Altar (Southern Lord) Boris brings the rock and bliss-out sort of edge. Sunn brings the spooky drone; together they make something that sounds like if a heavy progressive rock band had signed to Kranky records in 1994. I think that's praise. I like this myself, though the packaging may be even more impressive than the music.

Mudsuckers Mudsuckers (Important) Super third eye mind meld between Masters Robert Horton, Tom Carter and the D____ Yellow Swans. This actually works really well with searing slide work drowning in a cosmic sea of sci-fi electronic dementia. No big surprise. I expected as much.

Jazzfinger Winter's Shadow Between Two Worlds (Curor) - Travis: I got a head full of it...perhaps even fear...itÂ’s exploration, but riddled with muddled doubt and confusion, by design, of course. Perhaps it's a psychedelic rebirth or a violent ego-death, a stripping away of reality. Me: Tony Conrad goes pop. Wow it's only a CD-R!

Circle Miljard (Ekto) - 2CD behemeth marries Circle's propulsive repetition-to-infinity with quieter, dreamier numbers. Is this post rock? Is this jazz? It's definitely psychedelic, quite enthralling, masterfully produced and a lot more interesting than what one might expect if Circle turned down the volume and upped the sparseness. There's just something about their mesmorizing riff swirls buried in seething electronics that always reels me in, and only more so here. This is quiet, but this isn't light. Me thinks this a definer for these Finnish stalwarts.

Larkin Grimm The Last Tree (Secret Eye) - Sweet pixie dust and fairy butterflies tinkling and dancing through the green yellow fields. Larkin is a star, regardless of if anyone is paying attention or not. She's a good songwriter, and she manages that rare gift of grafting her traditional folky sensibilities with philosophical underpinings that embrace independence and emotional rawness above all else. That she does it and makes her songs so incredibly infectious and accessible at the same time is just the gravy on the chicken fried steak. Delicious.

The Left Jesus Loves the Left (Bona Fide) - How is it possible I never heard of this mid 80s Baltimore hardcore punk groop before now? Feirce, blinding, very capable high energy guitar rock with a strong debt to Stooges (covered here), 13th Floor Elevators (Rollercoaster is referenced in the charred crawl of "R.I.P.") and a few others (including the Gun Club and Radio Birdman). The career spanning "Jesus Loves the Left" is the most convincing punk album I've heard in '06, and it's not dated at all. Superior production and performances all the way around. Who knew?

United Bible Studies The Shore That Fears the Sea (Deserted Village) - Don't think I ever mentioned this here. Sprawling lyserfic acid folk cum free jazz run through a slight post industrial filter. The flagship Deserved Village ensemble truly hits their stride on this, their debut CD release. If you love the fuck out of The Bummer Road's Mother of Thousands, and would like to hear a slightly more gothic, Irish variation on some similar themes, you might just like this more. I do.

Volcano the Bear Classic Erasmus Fusion (Beta-Lactam Ring) - A definiteve 2CD sprawler from one of the finest psychedelic free jazz industrial rock bands on the planet. There was a time when VTB's vision far outshined their technical abilities. Now their chops have caught up. This monster, recorded with a newly added 4th member on electronics, is one of the most vital, creative, alive, REAL albums to come down the pike this year.
End of an Era... ...Till today, Robert Altman was my favorite living filmmaker. The workhorse and great eccentric who gave us M*A*S*H, Nashville, The Player, Gosford Park, McCabe and Mrs Miller (one of my top 3 favorite movies of all time....) and dozens more has died. He worked till the end. His last film, A Prairie Home Companion, is highly recommended and a fitting capper for such an intelligent, vividly alert and deeply humanistic filmmaking career. There will never be another Altman. It's truly the end of an era for American filmmaking. Even though he's largely considered one of the mavericks who birthed a newer style of gritty realism, old Hollywood dies today. If Kubrick was our Orson Welles, then Altman was our Jean Renoir. Fuck. I'm crushed. Really thought he was going to be around a while longer...

Monday, November 20, 2006

I am not a big sports guy or anything, but I was very pleased to see the Cowboys rise up and ultimately crush the Colts yesterday. I was lucky enough to watch the Cowboys become the baddest of the bad (in more ways than one) in the early '90s, as well as the ensuing decade of dribbling mediocrity and failed promise that followed. So let me enjoy this for a few days plz.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The sad case of Jason DiEmilio.

What would you do if a medical condition impeded upon your ability to hear, play and enjoy music? Like, made it impossible. I never really knew Jason DiEmilio beyond some email correspondence and an appreciation for his work. His drone/noise project The Azusa Plane defined homemade American tone bliss in the late '90s, and he released the first album by respected psych popsters Mazarin on his Victoria imprint on top of exploring other label and musical endeavors. He died recently of an apparent suicide. The facts are cloudy at best, but it seems his failing health was making his life unbearable in some way. It's an especially moving story to some of us because we have such fond memories of this guy, his intensity, his devotion to sound art and the underground community in general--all of the best things about taking chances and following your own muse in this cruel often indifferent world. He must have released over three dozen singles in his time, many of which were splits with drone titans of the era. He also played Terrastock 2 and 3. On an email list people have been discussing him, his music, what his life and death means, the state of underground and the world in general. Be aware of those friends and acquaintances who seem to literally drop off the face of the earth. They don't just drop off. Maybe they go even further underground, look for new routes of travel, new realms of vitality, and sometimes the search may seem in vain. Sometimes hope may seem dead. I wish and hope that Jason knew that his search was not in vain. His myriad singles, splits, live albums, the Azusa Plane's gorgeous "Tycho Magnetic Anomaly" (the second ever Camera Obscura release) all hold a special place in my heart. Rest easy, fellow traveler.

Recommended Listening:
Tycho Magnetic Anomaly and the Full Consciousness of Hidden Harmony CD (Camera Obscura)
Result Dies With the Worker live CD (Colourful Clouds for Acoustics)
Lou, Nico, Sterling, John and Maureen/This Is Not Spacerock 7" (Burnt Hair)
The Azusa Plane/Loren Mazzacane Connors - Split 7" (Colorful Clouds For Acoustics)
The Azusa Plane/Roy Montgomery - Split 7" (Colorful Clouds For Acoustics)
They did have a smoke machine! Dead Echoes was by all measures a great success. At one point there was probably close to 40 people in that li'l house, all on the floor wriggling like eels, but thankfully the crowd cleared out as it got later so we could stretch out and really relax for some heavy trance states. Every artist brought something substantial to the table.

Walking in with the mindnumbing gutteral drone of Sunno)))'s "GrimmRobe Demos" blasting throughout the red-lit crypt that the house had been converted into for the night gave me deju-vu, sort of like coming home to hell. Maybe it was because I'd been listening to waaaaayyy tooo much of the stuff lately and pondering, "can I really listen to this crap forever?" and "is there something horribly wrong with me?" and concluding nah. Sidenote: I like the new Sunno)))/Boris super collab album "Altar." A friend commented how he wished it were more evil sounding or at least really mean, but I don't mind, as there is simply enough evil in the world today as is. "The Sinking Belle" is a real beaut me thinks. Sort of like if Mogwai didn't suck. LOL I'm jaykay...Mogwai doesn't suck.

Had an amazing time talking to everyone, making new friends and catching up with old ones. It was also very cool seeing some of the old Austin gang close to home. More to follow on the subject.

Random too-dark-cuz-I-forgot-how-to-work-the-flash phone pix from the evening: