Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut 1922-2007

Vonnegut once said that the only proof he needed for the existence of God was music.

Recommended reading: Mother Night, Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five, Breakfast of Champions...just for starters. The old jester may be gone, but his words and convictions will always permeate our culture, our greatest hopes, our darkest fears. Here's a review of Slaughterhouse-Five, run originally in the NY Times 38 years ago.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Four Strange Ones...

The One Ensemble Wayward the Fourth (Secret Eye) - Had this one a while and been trying hard to summon the words to fully capture it's strange beauty. Daniel Padden is one fourth of the always fascinating Volcano the Bear. He's also released some delectable solo albums under the One Ensemble of Daniel Padden name for the last four years. What he did then was a kind of minimal free jazz/prog folk response to what folks like Robert Wyatt and Brian Eno were doing early in their careers with multi-tracks and instruments all performed by Padden. As with the recent Live at VPRO CD-R (Brainwashed), Wayward the Fourth is the work of a genuine ensemble, quartet to be exact, captured in a studio. The songs are gorgeous, twisted amalgams of European and American ethnic musics, free jazz, chamber music, minimalism and experimental plateaus rarely glimpsed in the western world, dispersed with just the right emotional -- ranging from giddy to somber -- intensity. There's vocals on a few tricks, a few bizarre deconstructions on some others, but what strikes me most about this is the sheer musicality, the deliberate attention to space, detail and compositional structure. One Ensemble albums have always sounded like this, but just as with Volcano the Bear's brilliant Classic Erasmus Fusion (Beta-Lactam Ring), the ensemble approach has reached new depths of cinematic, multi-hued brilliance. Easily one of the best '07 has coughed up so far.

Aufgehoben Messidor (Holy Mountain) - Shit yes, son! Aufgehoben tosses the ethereal ladder down the old dusty staircase and revels in the resulting dissonance. Lotta bands out there like to ride the no-wave boogie train into the cosmic night, but I'm not sure any does it with such bewildering intensity as Aufgehoben. Their fourth album is a mechanical flurry of percussive splatter, discordant guitars, jarring distortion and live mixing that further alters the doors of perception into a kind of abstract-expressionist interpretation of the line between chaos and order. Think This Heat, Sightings (only better), Wolf Eyes and the like. Hell they even drop Scott Walker's "Tilt" into the influence blender, but there's no vox here, just sheer aural torment that tickles the cortex like an army of metallic cactus spines. This is live sound that you could almost bang your head to if they'd ever get over their difficulty and just fucking jam! But then...that wouldn't be Aufgehoben now would it? I still want to see this live someday, even if these guys don't play live. Invite me to a rehearsal!

Absolut Null Punkt
Metacompound (Important) If you dig Aufgehoben, you'll really dig ANP. This is apparently an old ensemble (duo?) from master of noise-grind KK Null that recently reconvened to conjure another (s)platter of their free jazz/industrial/noise and man it's fucking coool! Three extended tracks that sound like a flurry of miniature flying machines, small kitchen appliances and prehistoric dinosaurs howling in revelry around a gigantic cosmic bonfire. A different kind of motorik noise sprawl that's actually more digestible than Aufgehoben, while being quite "out" and difficult in its own right. Highly recommended.

In Camera In Camera (Some Fine Legacy) - This newish duo project from Christoph Heemann and Timo van Luijk, as well as the multiple recent releases of fine solo albums from Andrew Chalk, suggests that Mirror may be in hibernation or even finished. Hope not, but as evinced on this '05 vinyl offering (downloaded via slsk), Heemann's still got some magic up his sleeve. This extended track is less mixed and layered than Mirror recordings, instead focusing on a kind of aural vérité exploration of composition and environmental sound. Tone generators, lone piano strikes, electric hums, creaks and cranks are dispersed with subtle acuity that seems kind of random and formless at first, but reveals its own strange logic in time. A fine opening salvo from this promising duo.