Sunday, April 11, 2010

A few different family members and friends are dealing with some hard shit right now, mostly of a medical nature.  You know how that goes.  Up and down but always looking for the level ground.  I don't want to go into detail, but I do want them all to know they're in my thoughts and prayers daily.   

SUPERHYPED for the premier of Treme on HBO in a couple hours.  The latest new show from The Wire creators, David Simons and Eric Overmyer, is all about New Orleans and its culture/music in the wake of Katrina.  This is a subject I've been interested in since it all went down five years ago, so I'm looking forward to seeing some familiar faces from Simon's stable of actors over the years, along with new ones like Johnathon Goodman and Steve Zahn.  Here's a teaser:  And RIP to David Mills, a writer/co-producer who worked on Treme, The Wire, NYPD Blue, etc. He died of a brain aneurysm almost two weeks ago.

Friday, April 09, 2010

This is My Music: Vol 7, Part 1 (Rainbow Electronics)

Æthenor Faking Gold And Murder (VHF) CD -  Faking Gold And Murder is the strongest Æthenor long player since Deep in Ocean Sunk the Lamp of Light.  Along for the ride this time is David Tibet of Current 93 (he's made more guest appearances on more records in the last year than in the previous 10 years combined) doing his cryptic apocalypse prose thing over Stephen O'Malley and company's dense swirls of electronics, synth, guitars and percussion.  The atmosphere is grim and surreal as squiggly keys and prepared guitars dangle over jagged percussive spikes and massed cymbal gales.  Minimal melodies materialize and seduce like sirens only to fade out and leave us lost once more and hurdling through space with only Tibet's lunatic narrator as our guide through this spontaneously improvised wasteland.

Emeralds What Happened (No Fun Production) CD - No Fun has definitely emerged of late as drone merchants of the finest kind of celestial transcendence.  As has Oneohtrix Point Never, Ohio's Emeralds has been bouncing around those subterranean wormholes for a while now with bubbling concoctions of synth modulation meets minimal guitar backing to reveal luminous star portals to worlds rarely glimpsed in our dimension but apparently visible all the same.  FIve tracks/almost an hour of continuous deep space meditational overtone.  Definitely worth a listen for folks in awe of the golden age of Minimalism and early electro-washed Krautrock.

Esperik Glare As the Insects Swarm (Static Hum Records) 7" - An interesting new arrival on the Dada/noise/ambient tip, Esperik Glare is a one man sound sculptor hailing from somewhere deep in the Midwest.  He comes from the Nurse With Wound / irr. app. (ext) school of domestic creepy crawlings, which means he keeps one foot planted in murky industrial waters, the other in more minimal found sound space.  The title track is exactly what it promises -- a babbling brook of clicks, shivers and windy whooshes that brings its subject matter to life on a molecular level.  It's basically impossible to tell what is making what sound, but the overall caustic atmosphere breathes with a Beginning of The End Complete air.  The flip offers spooky minimal tones and synth drones beneath a spoken work description of said cataclysm that sounds almost like a sparser ambient answer to some of the scariest moments of Current 93's Dog's Blood Rising LP.  Pretty tight. 

Jim Haynes Sever (Intransitive) CD - Jim Haynes first came to my attention as the "weirdo noise maker guy" in Thuja and via his fantastic ambient field recording work with his duo Coelacanth and contributions to the surrealist supergroop The Sleeping Mustache (wiith Steven Stapleton and Matthew Waldron among others).  He also runs the Helen Scarsdale label (see the irr. app. ext. review below) out of his home base in San Francisco, which releases new music that falls somewhere in the minimal noise/ambient/industrial spectrum and pretty much always subliminally kicks ass.  His recent Sever for Boston's Intransitive stretches out over four tracks that waver from machine hums massed with crumbling percussive clicks and crackles to more organic stretches that weave field recordings of wind and sifted earth into precise animated worlds where rationality and logic crumble away till all that remains is a glowing, effulgent aum.  Like "looking" at the world on a subatomic scale through an electron stethoscope.

irr. app. (ext.) Kreiselwelle (Helen Scarsdale) CD - Oh, golly, this is just wonderful.  An ode to dark joy, the third release in Matt Waldron's amazing trilogy assembled under the influence of German philosopher and psychologist Willhelm Reich is an absolute masterpiece of shifting mechanical sound dreams that alternates from warped nightmare throngs to the most stunning post NWW industrial mechanical pulses and back again.  Kreiselwelle is a meticulously composed sonic investigation that spans nearly two years of collecting and collating data and assembling it into a piece of music that is alternately overpowering, resonating, horrifying, uplifting and in every way an amplification of the most mystical properties of existence itself.  This is an industrial noise record.  A surrealist music concrete Dadaist dreamhouse.  A tunnel of love.  A carousel of dreams.  A world of sound.  I love this CD!

Nmperign Ommatidia (Intransitive) CD - Nmperign is one of my very favorite duos when it comes to tearing down the walls between genres and breaking completely free from the restrictions of trad jazz idioms.  Ostensibly a jazz duo (trio with the addition of sound artist Jason Lescalleet on reel to reel / see the brilliant Love Me Two Times 2CD, also on Intransitive), Ommatidia is actually its first studio recording as a duo in its 10 plus years of existence.  These six pieces breathe with the wind, spatter with concussions of bursting raindrops and ultimately engender the spontaneous poetry of nature itself.  That is Nmperign's great feat -- its ability to make jazz music that sounds unlike any other jazz music in the world, but utterly transfixes, draws the listener in and instead of providing a means of escape offers a portal to complete and total perceptible reality.  It's the harmony of the spheres, as heard through the wind and captured on tape.   
Nurse With Wound The Surveillance Lounge (Dirter Promotions) CD - Steven Stapleton and all his ol' ghosties (Andrew Liles and David Tibet among them) bring out the dead with these four epics of messed up horror-ambient that are something of a return to form given the overall NWW catalog, including Stapleton and co.'s recent Gas-Huffing Blues, which teetered a bit too close to novelty schlock minus the mad genius that made the comparable Sylvie and Babs Hi-Fi Companion such a recommendable side trip through the Nurse With Wound multiverse.  The Surveillance Lounge's four extended nightmares are closer in spirit and tone to the earlier dread atmospheres of long lost classics like Homotopy to Marie and the skeletal decay of Salt Marie Celeste, plus the more mechanical feel that helped make Thunder Perfect Mind such an inescapable industrial jackhammer.  Then come foreign whispers and shrieking howls over foghorn drones and death-rattle percussion and we know we're slowly sinking into the nightmare muck.  It'd all be a bit much if there wasn't such a captivating compositional depth to what's going on here.  Somehow Nurse With Wound continues to not just matter but to give us a cerebral investigation into paranormal sound that more often than not hits the listener on a primal, gut level.  Every time I listen to this in the dark, I think I see apparitions in the corner hiding in that fuzzy area between real and imaginary.  This is a dangerous record.

Jim O'Rourke Long Night (Streamline) 2CD - Here's an early O'Rourke gem that finds our man lost in the space between the notes. This is some seriously static drone not for the faint of heart (or short of attention span), but those with an ear for texture, and the kind of sloowllly spiraling overtones that emanate from the heart of the darkest celestial night should find some haunted melodic progressions buried deep inside the seemingly static dissonance.  With two discs topping out nearly 80 minutes each the listener is tested for sure but ultimately taps into a highly rewarding listening experience that's ideal for sleep or meditation, foreground or background reception.  Long Night offers a boundless wall of glacial drift that ultimately serves as a worthy precursor to Mirror's impressionist tone work that would emerge a few years later.  I think O'Rourke was just 21 when this was recorded.  Deep, yo.

Friday, April 02, 2010

It's pretty sad that there are already uploaded copies of the Chris Knox benefit album, Stroke, floating around the blogosphere.  Please BUY IT from Merge or don't listen to it at all.  As I'm sure most of you know, Knox recently suffered a life-altering stroke that has left him partially paralyzed.  I enjoyed a pretty amazing night/morning hanging out with Chris and his wife Barbara about 10 years ago in Austin.  I interviewed hims for The Broken Face, and we enjoyed a great breakfast at the Magnolia Cafe and got them both to the aeropuerto just in time for their flight, despite my dunderheaded non-realization that Austin had just opened the new Austin-Bergstrom International airport some months before, which was nowhere near the Austin Municipal or whatever the fuck I was looking for (looser).  Chris is an amazing, intense performer/songwriter with a deep catalog of weird home-made psych pop, art punk and whatnot songs -- solo and with his duo Tall Dwarfs -- that comes with the highest Womblife recommendation for anyone even remotely interested in weird pop/folk/punk/psych (from The Beatles to Elephant 6 'n' beyond).  Recommended records: Chris Knox solo - Meat, Seizure, Beat.  Tall Dwarfs - Hello Cruel World, Weeville, 3EPs, The Sky Above The Mud Below.  His work with early Kiwi punk bands The Enemy and Toy Love also should not go ignored.  The tribute has a stunning roster of some of my favorites: The Chills, David Kilgour, Stephen Merritt, Pumice, Hamish Kilgour, Bill Callahan, Jeff Mangum, Bonnie Prince Billy, The Bats, AC Newman, Lou Barlow, Lambchop, The Verlaines, etc.

Here's one of my fave live clips of Chris from Youtube, complete with broken guitar string:

There's also a benefit concert happening in New York next month (already sold out) with a stellar lineup. Major props to Ben Goldberg of Ba Da Bing for making that happen! 

A group I've been meaning to write more about here one day is Philly's charred to the bone Pissed Jeans.  They merge psych slop and punk trash better than just about anyone else makin' records out there today in the US.  Think somewhere between newer La Otracina and Pussy Galore.  Here is a killer live set recorded on Brian Turner's show on WFMU  which offers a potent example of their mongrel sludge fury.  

I also feel the need to mention Fort Worth's Drug Mountain, probably the scariest band operating in the DFWD triangle currently.  Definitely the loudest.  After seeing this quintet of sax, sax, bass, drums and electric viola (played by Nevada Hill from Zanzibar Snails, who joined the band after it recorded its debut 12" at Steve Albini's studio in Chicago), I was so gleefully pulverized by their Contortions-meets-Jesus Lizard skronk attack that I went and threw down the bucks for their lovely one sided LP, which features an archaic etching on the flip by maestro graphic artist Hill.  You can snag your own at the Myspace site above if that's yr cup of joe, and yessir, it'll make ya go.  Edition of 111.

And let me close it with a thank you to friend Aaron Gonzalez -- he of the Gonzalez brothers, who plus their father Dennis are thee fabulous Yells At Eels free jazz/fusion trio -- for throwing me a rough copy of his duo (with his brother Stefan) Akkolyte's forthcoming debut LP, which comes highly recommended for weirdoz into early Napalm Death, Takashi Miike and Ornette Coleman, to name but a few possible influences on their pummeling/absurd grind/jazz/thrash.