Sunday, March 27, 2011

35 years ago today, this monster dropped. I decided to celebrate by purchasing this.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Benefit for the Recovery in Japan - Various

Truly an awesome undertaking featuring tons of the best musicians making music today, including Oneohtrix Point Never, The Ex, D. Charles Speer, Grouper, Tape, Chris Forsyth, Greg Davis, Alan Licht, Scott Tuma, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Spires That in the Sunset Rise, Lau Nau, Oren Ambarchi, Fennesz, Akron/Family, Giant Sand and over 40 more. 100% of the proceeds to go the Recovery in Japan.
Daniel Higgs Sightings

It's nice to know that as some people continue their decent down into the interminable depths, others just keep reaching higher and higher. One such ascender would be the great tattoo artist, musician, poet and mystic, Daniel Higgs. He's definitely one of the most fascinating poets making a racket these days, whether with his long running band Lungfish, or via his incredibly diverse solo works. The recent 2CD Say God (Thrill Jockey) was a head-scratcher of the highest order that a mad mystery embracer such as yours truly found much to dig into and mull over across its gleaming silvery grooves.

Equally inspiring is the more recent Ultraterrestrial Hymns cassette for the Moonglyph label, which comes in a gorgeous package with the ominous but somehow comforting Sun-Ra quote adorning it's inner sleeve, "The apocalypse has already happened. Don't you know that yet?" signaling a patch-work collage of Higgs in supremo acid-kissed home recording mode, as he goes through many musical detours from piped-in-from-alt-dimensions instrumentals, music box tidbits, collage oddities to spoken word call signs, bluegrass hymnals and minimalist howls spread out across 2 half hour suites simply entitled "He" and "She". It's a sheer joy to behold and highly recommended for every Holy Spirit touched one of you. Even if you're not into the the Godhead and just dig weird lo-fi tape fuckery and playful home recorded experimentation, dig it my friends. I know I do.

Also worth noting is Higgs' duo recordings with Twig Harper (Nautical Almanac, Scheme), which pronounces a much more jarring and prismatic electronic bedding beneath Higgs' processed spoken word to unleash some truly otherworldly sound trips that further reinforce Higgs' fascinations with the Unknown Other through sound and word in such a way that defies textual explanation but invokes images and thoughts that might be glimpsed through a DMT trip while sparing the listener the harrowing roller-coaster that ingesting such a chemical might require. If you ever wanted to hear what Higgs might sound like mashed up with some prime Wolf Eyes cuts, proceed directly Clairaudience Fellowship (Thrill Jockey) and hang on tight. Harrowing and trance-inducing in the way the that only Higgs (along with strong contributions from Harper) can be.

And if all that wasn't enough, Higgs recently joined Sweden's Skull Defekts for an album of primal trance inducing experimental rock that should sate those hungry for more Lungfish like guitar crunch with cycling mantras that invoke the raw prog fury of the last Lungfish album, Feral Hymns, along with the Swedish drone noise maestros' penchant for tribal post kraut blast-offs. As heard on 2LP Peer Amid (Thrill Jockey), it's undeniably a match made in freak Heaven. I feel a bit like a fool myself, as the Defekts already have a pretty dense catalog (including a split with Wolf Eyes!) and I've been sleeping on the job, but this 2LP splatter makes for a sublime entry into their world. The title track makes every hair on my body stand up at once and "Fragrant Nimbus" is even better. Hope they tour behind it far and wide. Stone cold mind blown. Job well done, gents!

The Skull Defekts w/ Higgs are on tour now in the US. Also joining the bill is recent Thrill Jockey signee Zomes (Asa Osborne of Lungfish).

Wed Mar 30 St. Louis, MO - Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center w/ Zomes
Thu Mar 31 Chicago, IL - The Hideout w/ Zomes, Mountains
Fri Apr 1 Pittsburgh, PA - Howler's Coyote Cafe w/ Zomes
Sat Apr 2 Buffalo, NY - Soundlab w/ Zomes, Mountains
Sun Apr 3 Brooklyn, NY - Littlefield w/ Zomes
Mon Apr 4 Boston, MA - Great Scott w/ Zomes
Tue Apr 5 Providence, RI - Machine with Magnets w/ Zomes
Wed Apr 6 Scranton, PA - Embassy Vinyl w/ Zomes
Thu Apr 7 Philadelphia, PA - Danger Danger Gallery w/ Zomes
Fri Apr 8 Baltimore, MD - Floristree w/ Zomes
Sat Apr 9 Chapel Hill, NC - Nightlight w/ Zomes
Sun Apr 10 Knoxville, TN - The Pilot Light w/ Zomes
Mon Apr 11 Atlanta, GA - The Earl w/ Zomes
Tue Apr 12 Asheville, NC - Harvest Records w/ Zomes

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I was going to post some sort of roundup of Bro Fest (I hate the name too!) which happened Sunday at Club Dada, but I only attended less than half of it, and I don't really like typing the name so I don't think I'll say much beyond The Body were pretty awesome, DUDE. Seeing a rotund balding bass player scream like a young woman being sexually assaulted over a rumbling din of tectonic bass and percussive crush with power electronics was...something, tell you what. White Hills were as good as I hoped they'd be (and looked great while being great) on the outside stage. And then there was Liturgy, a Brooklyn band that a lot of metal heads love to hate for some reason. I can guess why that may be since they don't look or act very metal and they're on Thrill Jockey records. On record they're a bit underwhelming, but by the third song, a thrash instrumental splicing of "The Immigrant Song" and Rush's "YYZ" I was actually won over. Good times, bros ('n' hos)...good times.

* And The Castanets were heavy as shit.

A smattering of images as captured by myself and (mostly) T-Boz:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Reflections and Visitations of Spring

Brothas and Sistas, I hope you were all safe among the SXSW sights and sounds down in A-town. I wanted to be there more than once this past week, but you knew that already. As life and times have grown more difficult, I've found my view of things widening considerably. It's nothing new really. I meditate more. I spend more quality time among family, friends and places that enrich me and make it all more interesting, but things still keep getting harder. They're supposed to, of course. I figured that out some time ago. I'm just glad I'm not alone, and I'm so thankful for my memories. That's why this blog survives more than anything else. As it all grows more complicated, new worlds still emerge. New faces appear from the fog. Some old chores may be becoming easier and old fears are finally starting to die, but there's always some new challenge or affliction waiting just around the corner. For so many the future remains bleak and uncertain. I wish it wasn't so. I wish this shared understanding of all the pain could somehow sustain us all together. Maybe it does. I know I miss people. I'm afraid of losing what and who I have. I wonder if I ever had anything at all. I'm pretty sure I did, and I do.

I've become one who rides many lines and sees mystical occurrences happening all around him on a near daily basis. I may have simply gone mad, but regardless I know it sustains me to a degree. I have a good heart, and I remain articulate and able to communicate it all here to you now. Where would we be without sharing -- the mysteries, the miseries, the strange events and alien communications? Degrees of ego destruction have set me free over the years, my friends, especially with friends. Best when not alone. I wish I weren't alone right now.

I feel sad and uplifted simultaneously. I had a wonderful weekend, yet in my heart there remains a longing. I long to meet someone, and I fear I have lost someone. I still may meet her. Who knows? I hope she doesn't forget me wherever she goes. I don't think she will. I enjoyed every second I talked with her, in a way like no one I've ever talked with before. That's so very rarefied to find on this plane. And apparently so fleeting.

On Saturday my brother-man Travis and I went on a Spring voyage out to Dido Cemetery about 15 minutes north of Ft Worth to visit the final resting place of Townes Van Zandt. I'm not afraid to say he's probably my favorite songwriter of them all, and I'm not really one for favorites, so there you have it. We loaded up the Toyota and grabbed a burn of Blaze Foley songs and a bag of dried up fruit chips and hit the road a little after 4:00 on what was one of the most beautiful (almost) Spring days to bless us here in Texas so far in '11. It was right on time, too, after all the weird and trying times we'd ALL been dealing with in the preceding weeks.

Somehow neither of us had ever done this, visited the grave of a hero, let alone Townes, which was just 45 mins down the road give or take. It was an easy drive -- down I-20, up 287, west on I-30 for a mile or two, then we exited Henderson and went straight up the west edge of downtown and through the 'burbs before taking a right on Boat Club road which turns into Dido road and runs right straight to the cemetery. Turns out Townes didn't build himself a houseboat in heaven, but he did manage a final resting place on the edge of Eagle Mountain Lake in the town where the West began, and it was actually a quaint little spot, not all built up and polluted by the vagaries of modern cheap, fast and out of control living. It felt like a small miracle.

Also interesting was the ride up there, especially after we'd gotten above downtown Ft Worth. I'd brought a tape or two, a couple CDs and had no idea what else was in the changer. We listened to The Volebeats' Like Her. As it finished Travis remarked on the awesome view just outside the window to the left -- a panorama that was like something out of Giant or No Country For Old Men, sprawling wide open fields beset by rolling hills in the distance that really did feel like what one might expect the beginning of the West to look like. He said "Finally, this is what I've been waiting for." And I echoed the sentiment myself. I'd always had to drive out further west of Ft Worth to see something that beautiful, where there wasn't a housing development or strip mall in sight for what seemed like miles. Just to the right of the car as we were driving were these massive electrical towers that streamed along forever, but to the left lay another world, seemingly untouched by progress and the encroaching future.

In this reflective moment, the CD changed over to a bootleg of The Stones Live in Ft. Worth (which I'd downloaded weeks/months before) from around '73 or so and it opened on none other than "Dead Flowers" -- I shit you not! A raw, rip-roaring version of said classic, and it's not just that it happened to be this song that Townes himself did such a memorable version of later in his career, but it was a boot that opened up with this specific song, which was somewhat uncharacteristic of The Stones' set lists of that era. Serendipity could be the word, or fate or destiny. Who knows? Things like this do happen to me all the time though these days, alone or among friends, and I must say, I like it. Makes me feel like I'm part of something grander than my own piddling narcissistic existence. And that's a beautiful thing.

After we made it to Dido Cemetery, located directly across the street from Dido United Methodist Church, we pulled off and cracked a beer. We found his family plot easily enough, to the left of the entrance about 30 yards up, near the drive-path. The breeze was perfect in the afternoon haze. We each poured Townes a sip and said our piece to someone who still means so much to us. Someone who could never really die it seems. Travis remarked on how he couldn't help but see him in the later years, older and more broken down. I somehow saw him throughout his life, younger, as a young man, growing older, and in those final broke-down days so close to the end. And it felt like visiting a real friend. And sure enough, there just at the bottom right corner of his gravestone were some dead flowers, remnants from his last visiting brethren who'd said "what the fuck" and gotten off their asses and bothered to make the trek on some near-perfect almost-Spring day back who knows when. Rest easy, old friend.

Not all of TVZ's earthly remains lay there in his family plot. The rest of his ashes were spread throughout Ft Worth and Van Zandt County. Clearly he had a great affinity and much respect for the place he came from.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Japan Tsunami: 20 Unforgettable Pictures

Japan Tsunami: 20 Unforgettable Pictures
Deepest prayers and condolences to those in and around Japan during this incredibly difficult time. It's a horror to watch and think all we can do is just watch and pray. Go here for information on how to send aid.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Colds suck, but this sure looks tasty:

LP released may 10, 2011 in a limited edition of 625 copies. $19.00.

three lobed recordings is stoked to be involved with blatant obviousness in the release of country stash, the latest studio album from the psych stalwarts matt valentine and erika elder. rather than bore you with our own words on this fantastic album, three lobed turned to label friend pete coward, one of fandom’s leading experts on MV+EE as well as the united kingdom’s foremost underground live music archivist, for his well-informed opinion.

“studio-recorded albums from MV & EE fulfill a singular role in the development of their music. the steady stream of live releases, whether on their own craft imprint, heroine celestial agriculture, or elsewhere provide snapshots from the road, vital for their immediacy and for the insight into how those songs sounded with the feeling of that place on that night. but it's when the bags have been un-packed, zuma has been given his tour bones, and they recuperate with the only means of r&r that these guys know, playing music, that the studio magic happens. there they can really reflect on where they've taken their music each night, and been taken by it, and distill some of that knowledge into classic versions of live jams and the birth of new ones, future classics themselves. that's exactly what's happening here on country stash.

it's fitting that this record should be released in part through three lobed. the album is redolent with a sense of friendship and home, and the label is a home of sorts, having had a particularly long and fruitful relationship with MV & EE. it also features contributions from a number of long-time friends, collaborators and road travelers, from both sides of the atlantic and of the us/canada border. and listening to this record you feel right at home in their musical parlor, safe and warm in the welcoming, instantly familiar, glow of spectrasound. right now i can't think of any other place where i'd like to stay and linger for a while.

you're deep in that zone right from the moment the pulsing bass of mick flower kicks the first track, "foxy (one)," up a gear and it coasts along on the beautiful three-way harmonies of MV, EE and jeremy earl and waves of tambourine from coot moon. the mellow vibes and those harmonies continue through "crash palace of records" (click here for a downloadable preview), here the rhythmic momentum provided by canadians mike smith on bass and doc dunn on drums. up next is the title track ( every crash palace needs a stash, right?), which provides the centre-piece of the record and its longest track. and this is some potent stash. the return of three members of the mighty wolf pack -- rongoose, rafi bookstaber and paulie g -- is felt most markedly in a pastoral flute motif from the latter which drifts hazily in & out of focus, subsumed by the weight of rongoose's bass. the tempo drifts likewise, from a woozy crawl to a wide-eyed tumble of bass, drum and hi-hat. throughout it all MV and EE bust out incredible guitar moves, from some particularly garcia-esque riffing to the blasted scree that brings the track to an exhausted close. i'm not going out on any limbs when I predict this will soon be a live MV & EE favorite.

the comedown to that comes in the shape of a long-standing live favorite, "tea devil." the tempo here is uniform, a graveyard stomp laid down by the uk team of mick flower and andy ramsay. the tension between that earthbound rhythm and the sinuous guitar lines enact the eternal, inescapable blues cycle of temptation and damnation. EE's vocals, at their most languidly sensual since "freight train", make the latter seem unbearably attractive. the redemptive coda to that and to the album comes with "no there, there", a dense, multi-layered piece where acoustic and electric guitars drift above shifting foundations of bass, lap steel, synth and percussion. its deep kosmische resonance provides an oddly comforting close, a long exhalation drawn out over 11 minutes. the only hint of anxiety comes in the gertrude stein reference of the title; that and the sublime short outro, which mirrors the intro to the opener, provide a reminder that soon it will be time to leave these home comforts, saddle up the palomino and hit the road to allow new places to breathe new vibes into these songs. when that happens i look forward to taking my spot in the tapers' pit to hear the songs on this masterful album take flight."

-pete coward, notable MV+EE head-

country stash is from an edition of around 625 copies and is pressed on 140 gram dutch vinyl. the album is housed within gorgeous multi-color silkscreened jackets bearing new original artwork by both jenny mcgee dougherty and lucy isabel graves. the album will be accompanied by both a collage / text insert and a download coupon for DRM-free MP3s of the album. country stash is a joint release between three lobed recordings and blatant obviousness.

And don't forget Three Lobed's 10th Anniversary 4LP Boxset at Kickstarter, featuring cuts by Sun City Girls, Steve Gunn, Sonic Youth, Comets on Fire, Bardo Pond, D. Charles Speer and The Helix, Eternal Tapestry, Mouthus and Wooden Wand. 22 days left to pledge as of this blog.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Thank You Thank You Thank You

I've been laid up in bed for the last few days with one of those awful Spring head colds. The Nmperign/Lescalleet, Shawn David McMillen, Zanzibar Snails show was a resounding success by any measure of the word, especially for a Dallas area concert. Thanks to EVERYONE who lent their services, equipment, came out, bought merch and anything else. You know who you are. Bhob Rainey, Greg Kelley and Jason Lescalleet were total gentlemen and great players who brought the goods and rolled with the punches. Shawn David McMillen and company played a barn-burning set of smoke and fire (glad the bass amp worked, Josh!) including an excellent down home version of COB's "Spirit of Love" that practically had me in tears. It was just in time. Zanzibar Snails tore the fabric of reality with their electronic whoosh and skree. Thanks to Travis for driving. Thanks to the OC3 for providing the perfect venue.

I recorded the whole night on video, as did fellow attendee Greg D. on audio. I'll try to get some choice cuts uploaded to Youtube in the next few days. I still have a few of Nevada Hill's original posters available for sale. If anyone wants one, leave a comment and I'll get in touch. Below is just the prototype, not the exact final design. They're big and beautiful.

Wish I could do SXSW this year, but there's too much going on right now, and I'm too broke. Lemmy rocks! More to come soon. This is completely insane. One Love, ya'll.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Nevada Hill's original poster promoting our special event happening tomorrow night at the OC3