Wednesday, August 31, 2005

light becomes movement

Missoula, Montana's This is a Process of a Still Life create cinematic scores for non-existant films. Toss them into the vat of gorgeous goo that also consists of Mogwai, GYBE, Explosions in the Sky, Sigur Ros, Emery Reel, Early Day Miners and more.

Glacial, melodic, impossible-to-dislike guitar instrumentals with cymbal flourishes and well-implemented chord changes, all evoking some far away place enshrouded by fog.

Yes, there are lots of bands doing this these days, but certainly not all of them are great- and these guys are. And whereas lots of these acts get trapped in the darker passages of life as we know, the Process are more than happy to focus on the good stuff. I hate to use the painting analogy, but it is true that they build up their sounds on the canvas to paint a wonderful, well, not portrait but still life one would presume. Catch them out on tour right now until the end of september supporting their 2nd disc on Firefly Sessions.

This is the Process of a Still Life - No Memory of the Airshow

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

summer is over

Against my bad-taste nature of posting Katrina and the Waves or When the Levee Breaks, I am instead going the happy route that stands in direct opposition to the deluge of rain that is hitting the midwest now that the hurricane has moved inland.

Elkland is a recent act out of middle-of-nowhere New York state, not city, made up of four pretty boys. And while it has become the norm to namecheck the 80s these days, Elkland are unapologetic and pure to the sound of the synthpop - fully embracing the sounds of New Order, the Smiths, Erasure, the Cure, etc. But they also are not just another grouping of retro-rehash, their songs dig in deep and demand repeat plays. At 45 minutes in length, its the perfect length for just that, and I have found a number of their songs stuck in my head for the past few days.

Check out their myspace account for a few more awesome tunes and be on the lookout for their upcoming fall tour where they will be hitting much smaller locations than their tour where they opened for Erasure this past spring.

Elkland - Apart
Elkland - It's Not Your Fault

Friday, August 26, 2005

slave-ghost draculas

The Antarcticans self-titled cd starts as if its going to be another dissident 90s-esque indie-rock album out of DC, but maybe with the instrumental feel of Chicago. By two minutes in, the story has changed to a dark NY noize that has the gauze of a cinematic Canadian arts-collective by the time the track is half way finished. Then the build happens, like explosions in the Texas sky. When the levee breaks, its feedback and sludge pouring over your head, speeding up to a frothy oily flood until you're left doing the dead man's float as the tide and winds sweep you out into the ocean as the sun sets during the final moments.

And thats track one. There are three chapters to this tale and I don't want to ruin the ending so go hear it for yourself (buy it!) from the New Black Music, complete with beautiful handmade artwork and packaging. And check out their live tracks at their myspace page. Yowza!

the Antarcticans - Untitled I

Thursday, August 25, 2005

interrupteur

Another fallen master again this week, Luc Ferrari, electro-acoustic composer, has passed. Ferrari, 76, died of pneumonia on Monday 08/2205, in Arezzo, Italy. Full details, in French, at Le Monde.

For those unaware: Luc Ferrari is one of the most important and original personalities in the history of French "musique concrete." Irreverent, psychosexual and always fascinating, Ferrari's work manifests itself in texts, instrumental textures, electroacoustic compositions, reportings, films, theater, etc. (Tzadik)

Great, lively interview from 1998 with Dan Warburton at Paris Transatlantic.

Listening to Ferrari is the equal to strolling through a reverbarting village -- just not on your own two feet. Ferrari sweeps you up in his arms of magnetic tape and moves ahead, with a stop here for wine and over there to gaze at the ladies. Eveything speaks to you, not just the voices. Dirt comes alive, rotting melons appear, the clouds dangle at the corner of your ear. Constantly and forever fascinatiing and utterly contemporary.

Luc Ferrari - Place Des Abbesses (1977)
featuring Chris Brown, piano, and William Winant percussion

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

vapour steals the glow

Southampton England's Mat Sweet is whispering dark phrases into my ear. Not the altered beast, Matthew Sweet, but one of Kranky's new signings also known as Boduf Songs. Previously self-released on Blue Baby, we are lucky to have a domestic package soon to be on our doorsteps. And trust that while the path might look the same, we are not going to Scarborough Fair.

Sweet isn't trying to be weird, and by not merely sliding into the glut of "freak folk" has created a concise and wonderful photograph. An authentic air of british countryside via acoustic guitar, hushed electronics, field recordings and other simple embellishments. All the while not running from its own lo-fi-ness and embracing it in much the same ways that made Devendra's first album such a breath of fresh air for us all. More sound clips here.

Boduf Songs - Vapour Steals the Glow

Monday, August 22, 2005

moog grace

Bob Moog passed away yesterday from complications of a cancerous tumor, a glioblastoma multiforme, that appeared earlier this year and spread to his brain. He was 71.

If you didn't take a listen to the Mick Jagger piece posted yesterday, do it. I seem to remember Jagger got the Moog from Mr. Moog himself.

You know what Moog did, so no reason to repost here. Though if Heath and I were to write out a memory, it would be the same: Bob Moog, relaxed and giddy while playing records and the Theremin at the combined elementary/jr/high school in Lyons, Indiana, May 9, 2000.

I received a letter one day in June 2000, while working at the weekly paper, from the Lyons Art Council like I did every week. Though instead of a water color painting display or basket demonstration, it was to say Bob Moog was going to be in town performing with the Jr. high school band and giving a talk during his week stay in May. A lot of folks from other Indiana parts descend on the little south western cove as word spread that, yes, it was really Bog Moog. There was an awful thunder storm that night and the hour drive was rough. The audience was part record collectors, Lyons locals and the ladies of the art council, one wearing an oxygen mask. Moog talked a lot of the history and more of the musicians role in the Moog than his. The night ended with a stunning, spot-on Theremin version of "Amazing Grace." We all had chills by the end.

I'd write more, but our good friend Jonathan Richardson already detailed this fine night when it happened at, the now defunct, Adventures In Sound. Read it here.

Now for a few moments of rememberence and appreciation, I present to you Stereolab and their exquisite track, Moogie Wonderland from 1994. Its the b-side to their Ping Pong 7inch on Duophonic. Enjoy. Oh, and also I faded out the ending lockgroove or our mp3 would never end heh. - heath

Stereolab - Moogie Wonderland

Sunday, August 21, 2005

beast of burden

Tonight the Rolling Stones kick off their "A Bigger Bang" tour at Fenway Park, Boston. Heath and I couldn't snag any tickets so we're stuck watching a blurry boot of Cock Sucker's Blues while jamming Mick's wicked, Sandoz-inspired Moog soundtrack to Kenneth Anger's 1969 film Invocation Of My Demon Brother (Arrangement in Black and Gold). Seeing Mick and the boy's playing to 20,000 or so fans with credit card companies as sponsors nearly makes you forget their connect-the-dot association/interest in Crowley. Anger was sorta an astrologer for Keith and Mick, and claims that not only was "Ruby Tuesday" written for him (as was "Sympathy For the Devil"), but composed during a vision in which Keith foresaw Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001 one sunny afternoon in '69 as they were getting high and gazing into the onyx stone.

Invocation was Anger's "return" to the screen after 67-81's Lucifer Rising which he claims, leading star and Manson pal, Bobby BeauSoleil (who denies) took off with all the masterpiece footage. Inocation, a quickly fluid, image-saturated, fever-induced hotflash of left-overs from the reshooting of LR, is a concentrated Magickal collage founded on the confrontation of opposites in which Lucifer, the Bringer of Light, is called forth. Mick's soundtrack is a juddering, proto-Throbbing Gristle horror; "an attack on the sensorium" (Anger). Two smeared notes repeat and rip over and over for 10 minutes with muffled glitches beneath. If Let It Bleed would've been meshed with this black energy some tides would have tuned a lot sooner.

Mick Jagger - Invocation Of My Demon Brother

Friday, August 19, 2005

poppy opera

Fursaxa's "Aegean Lore," the side-long contribution to From These Roots, You Shall Know the Fruits was Tara Burke's finest 20-odd minutes thus far. On a harmonium bed Burke strumed up decades of village wandering that could've been captured last week or a few hundred years ago. Weaved with shakers, multi-vocal beams and the words smeared towards nothingness, she played until the LP ended. Lepidoptera picks up from there and All Tomorrow's Party hands it to you. Not extremely elusive though the Fursax-ography is built on out-of-print LP and non-record-mart CDRs. Now just walk down the street, get a soda pop, and pick up Fursaxa at yr neighborhood dealer.

Walk through a museum, stand at on of those 8' x 18' Renaissance paintings and smell the paint and you will get a hint at why this is the loveliest aural escapism in a spell. Not sure where the third eyes wonders while listening/breathing, but it leaves for a swim in the accordion drones and dreamscape voices. The heavy Nico mist, though with a higher humidity, that hangs over Lepidoptera is cloud space for Burke's acoustic strum and pickering glimpses of waltzes and repeating millefleur patters to float freely. Looped vocals turn to gauze and wrap around crows feet. Burke's voice is lone choir or charging chants, fluxing from song to song, taking on each mode effortlessly yet in command of its breeze. A hell of a mighty gust.


Fursaxa - Moonlight Sonata
Fursaxa - Poppy Opera

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

turn the lamp on

Lampse is a spankin new Surrey, UK label whose stated m.o. is all about releasing contemporary and experimental music combined with exciting and challenging visual material. As is everyone else's, but Lampse hits it square and then splinters out from there on its first two releases: Marcus Fjellstrom's Exercises In Estrangement and Septs Vents by Nacht Plank.

Fjellstromi is the bee's knees here, as lamp002, a often lone-some, electro-acoustic bottlerocket blaze that stays aloft for quite awhile. Nine compositions of percussion, harp, trumpet, cello and flute that slice Reich's repeat modes and Cage's piano pieces into paper strips and are then laced into a cassette shell and twirled like a conductor's wand. Fjellstromi moves from classical hints (Ligeti) to filmic scores. The opener "Planchette" is punched throughout by a dull metal banging and rotating piano motif that echoes sweetly atop a sustained cello hum before it kicks into almost Branca blast. Fine debut.

Metamatics' Lee Norri steps out for the second time (or fourth, counting two small run CDRs) as Plank. Aqua/black field crumblings fused with static beats at times, blurry tones and distant instrument memories. 3 am would be the right time to sit back with Septs Vents. Seems to be heavy nods toward that 60's vintage from Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center (like Milton Babbitt) or Morton Subotnick's Touch (1969).

Looking forward to the next Lampse's.

Marcus Fjellstrom - Lev Poem
Nacht Plank - Vire

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

wonderful sin

What a bloody, suffocating mass. Heathen Shame's newbie Speed The Parting Guest is an aerodyne; parallel to the solar scorch zeroing in on the globe these days. HS is guitarists Wayne and Kate of Twisted Village/Major Stars, etc. (who got a JFAD hail back in June) and trumpeter Greg Kelley (amplified) flattening landscapes and melting others. Yet there's inscriptions and details left in the torrential wake, minor crevices to peer into, let your finger caught on. Heavy Music is what we have here, gnarled globules dilating until so much light is absorbed only blackness remains.

Back in mid-2002 I booked HS for their "All Head No Bread" tour, with Double Leopards and Hall of Fame. Within minutes of the trio warming up 9/10 of the audience had peeled their selves off the floor and vacated. The building shook, downtown Bloomington bellowed like the Kokomo hum. Speed The Parting Guest is how I remember that night. It's been awhile since I spun their debut self-titled LP, which I felt had more of an electronic hue; blistering Moogs. Though, doesn't really matter what goes on instrument wise (the final spurt "The So-Called 'Arts'" has some drums kicking even) the conclusion is what to focus on. Your money is due solely in exchange for the 29-minute opening title track. Wonderful doom. (Above pic by Bill T. Miller)

Heathen Shame - The So-Called 'Arts'

Monday, August 15, 2005

put it on

Again.... Washed away by Heath's non-stop posts as I am bogged down in the day job swamp of SACS accreditation. Today was sure to be another non-sunshine plow until I revisited The Rich Lives of Trees CDR by Gown. Had it slipped to me by Mr. Gown, on his ride through with Christina Carter, along with a copy of his past group Amarillo Stars. A sure US Saucer vibe was on the Stars disc and it left a dent. Though solo is his zone. Live with CC there wasn't room for either to take it in their own direction yet they amassed a mighty stick/moss dam together.

On this three song EP those waters are free. Multi-tracked guitar, nary a gallop, that equals colors blown from a saturated barn brush; the wind lifting off paint specks and vapors. "Bird Wings on the Water" as a title is almost enough to take you there. Overlaying the strings is never in excess, and you'd expect two hands shaking the alternating lines and lower strings at the same time. The pow-wow is brought in with a bongo, or possibly beating the guitar body, that pulls tufts from a British Colombia Native plane. Not sure after two pieces you can deliver a finale, but "Mystical War Canoe" can only be describe as so. Adding accordion, distortion, the Gown moan, and snaked out groove that paddles through the storm and briths at the end.

Word in a Gown LP is upcoming. The continuing CC colab has resulted in a split LP with My Cat is an Alien and an upcoming disc on Digitalis Recordings (which I believe is from the performance the above pic was snapped 3/05 in Tulsa). Gown was once in the NW and now is in Easthampton, MA.

Gown - Mystical War Canoe

Thursday, August 11, 2005

quantum dispositioning

Attention: the Innershell Shielding is being disrupted due to the Planck Factor. Entangled Photons have gained Heisenberg Compensation and Ionic Crystals and Entrophic Decay is imminent. The Probable Densities of the Orbital Wavelengths of the Information Quanta has an inverse relationship to the EPA Effect to the Quantum State Recombination Wave Function. Also, the Isotopic Balance is wavering due to the Uncertainty Principle Variables.

No clue what I am saying? I don't either, but these old dudes might. They helped develop the original ARPANET that was the precursor to today's Internet, which is what we used before the Wide World of Intranets Web came along. Now imagine these three guys as a Kraftwerk robot, Sir Aphex Twin, and Derrick May and you have the soundtrack for one of the biggest technological innovations of the century.

Rephlex Records' Arpanet is a project shrouded in mystery. Nearly no public performances or names are attached to the name, but the packages seem to arrive to the label from Detroit. Sci-Fi chromified for utopian workouts and martian picnics. The second full length from Arpanet comes out later this month.

Arpanet - Probability Densities
Arpanet - Isotopic Balance
Arpanet - Quantum State Recombination

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

save a horse, ride a cowboy

Haley Bonar has a voice far beyond her age and experience. She is not another female singer-songwriter playing coffeeshops and penning poem-songs about her pets. I first encountered her on the Chairkickers Union tour a few years back along with Low and if thousands. What started as just another Low gig for me changed quickly upon Haley's arrival onto the stage. I had always trusted Alan's taste for what he chose to put on his label but really I had no idea. Her voice commanded the room and quieted the already quiet Low crowd. The CD is just as impressive, a warm intimacy for acoustic guitar and Rhodes piano for you and you alone. There really is no reason why Haley shouldn't be one of the biggest and certainly bestest ladies you hear on modern radio. But hey, I can't afford payola like Sony.

Haley Bonar - Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy
Haley Bonar - Razor That Wins
Haley Bonar - The Water
Haley Bonar - Drinking Again

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

the retribution gospel choir saved me

Normally I wouldn't blindly cut and paste an ENTIRE press release verbatim but good god damn this is huge news in my little world and I haven't seen nearly enough other media pick up on the news just yet. I only wish they were coming nearer to my neck of the woods- maybe I will take a roadtrip to Lawrence, KS? What will they really sound like- who knows. Alan's Black Eyed Snakes project might be a slight hint. And these mp3s might be a hint to it as well. The first is Red House Painters' cover of the KISS classic 'Shock Me' from the 1994 4AD EP of the same name. Following that are two of Mark Kozelek tunes that he made famous on his 'What's Next to the Moon' AC/DC cover album. These are live versions from the White Christmas Live cd that SubPop put out.

ALAN SPARHAWK AND MARK KOZELEK JOIN FORCES FOR FALL TOUR AS THE RETRIBUTION GOSPEL CHOIR

(August 4, 2005) - Alan Sparhawk (Low, Black Eyed Snakes) and Mark Kozelek (Sun Kil Moon, Red House Painters) join forces for a Fall 2005 tour. Longtime friends and musical compatriots, Sparhawk and Kozelek will be part of the ever-in flux The Retribution Gospel Choir, featuring Duluth residents Eric Pollard on drums and Matthew Livingstone on bass.

Breaking from their respective "traditions," The Retribution Gospel Choir ups the sonic ante with Steve Vai v. Ralph Macchio influenced guitar solos (what this really means is to expect covers that span from the Rolling Stones and Neil Young to Pink Floyd, Pere Ubu and Flock of Seagulls) along with interpretations of Sparhawk and Kozelek's own catalog.

Sparhawk and Kozelek have long been friends and entertained the idea of working together. "Mark and I have known each other for a while and we both have a secret love for classic guitar rock and a penchant for playing guitar solos," Sparhawk says. "I've always come away from any collaboration excited and invigorated. When Low worked with the Dirty Three, it was one of the most fulfilling things we had ever done. And really, musicians used to do this kind of thing all the time -- it was a way to inspire each other. I think it's something that still needs to be in music now and that you don't have to make a record to back up and validate the music that you are playing. I mean, Chaka Khan and Gladys Knight are touring together right now -- isn't that the same thing?"


THE RETRIBUTION GOSPEL CHOIR TOUR

Tue. August 30 Lawrence, KS - Gaslight Tavern
Wed. August 31 Denver, CO - Larimer Lounge
Thu. September 1 Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court
Sat. September 3 Seattle, WA - Crocodile Cafe
Sun. September 4 Portland, OR - Berbatis Pan
Tue. September 6 San Francisco, CA - Bottom of the Hill
Wed. September 7 Los Angeles, CA - Spaceland
Thu. September 8 Costa Mesa, CA - Detroit
Fri. September 9 Tempe, AZ - Stink Weeds
Sat. September 10 Tucson, AZ - Plush
Mon. September 12 Denton, TX - Haileys
Tue. September 13 Austin, TX - Emo's
Wed. September 14 Houston, TX - Mary Janes Fat Cat

Red House Painters - Shock Me (electric version)
Mark Kozelek - Rock 'n' Roll Singer (live)
Mark Kozelek - What's Next To The Moon (live)

Monday, August 08, 2005

time to echolocate

Labels write the most absurd bios for their bands:

Though retrofit and stabilized on the surface, San Francisco churns and shifts on rivers of lava underneath. The Ebb & Flow bring the tense balance of these tectonic shifts to the surface through an aural montage that unites kraut-rock, 70's progressive, soul, post-rock, jazz and synth-pop. They channel the sounds of the future through the organic, analog instruments of the past.

Then comes the real kicker line: If Sun Ra, Wendy Carlos, Nico, Neil Young, & Faust had one musical offspring, it would be called The Ebb & Flow.

HUH!? I like all these artists but somehow this combination is seriously not possible. Luckily I do like their music but I still don't understand this description. I guess it did its job of catching my attention and twisting my arm into listening to the songs, so mission accomplished. I will catch them live later this week and find out just who wrote that wacky paragraph. Check out their newer songs on their MySpace page, as well.

Aug 8 - Middle East - Boston, MA
Aug 9 - the Manhattan Room - Philadelphia, PA
Aug 10 - The Lime Spider - Akron, OH
Aug 11 - 2nd Story - Bloomington, IN
Aug 12 - Hideout - Chicago, IL
Aug 13 - Off Broadway - Saint Louis, MO
Aug 15 - Vaudeville Mews - Des Moines, IA
Aug 16 - Club Eden - Omaha, NE
Aug 18 - Larimer Lounge - Denver, CO
Aug 19 - Sugarbeats - Salt Lake City, UT

the Ebb and Flow - Breaststroke

Friday, August 05, 2005

don't fear the reefer

Pittsburgh's Air Guitar Magazine are as ridiculous as their name implies. But, they are also so much more than most of the current stock of bands playing in costume (except for maybe Fat Worm of Error).

When I first loaded up AGM's music, the first thing I thought of was a stripped down version of the Dutch band Dog Faced Hermans, (who were an offshoot of the Ex and had a couple of great releases on Alternative Tentacles and definitely deserve their own blog entry in the near future). AGM's lineup is drums, bass and trumpet. They say their sound is "trumpet-heavy noisy costume freakout-cluster of mariachi, prog, avant-cowbell rock, and Ukranian folk -- total dance party". I don't remember anything prog ever being remotely dance-o-rific but I guess I will find out tonight when they roll through town to play with NormanOak and the Retching in a basement a few blocks from me.

Air Guitar Magazine boasts members from now sadly defunct Arco Flute Foundation, who made a delicious GYBE style racket and Meisha. Both of which also featured Mike Tamburo, who I made a post about a couple of weeks ago for his new project and tour with Keenan Lawler.

Air Guitar Magazine - Big Fur(r)y Hat

Thursday, August 04, 2005

under my skin I am laughing

Its no surprise that Earwig ended up on shortlived 4AD subsidiary Guernica after their line-up and name change to Insides. Consisting of chanteuse Kirsty Yates, Sergei Tardo, and Dimitri Voulis, the trio only lasted for one album, 1992's Under My Skin I Am Laughing, which was released on La-Di-Da in America along with a handful of impossibly out-of-print 12"s and the Past compilation, which, believe it or not compiles their singles from the past.

Some reviewers liken Earwig's sound to 'if Stereolab had listened to early Factory Records (instead of kraut)'. Thats interesting, and Yates and Co certainly embraced modern technology much more than the Neu-worship of the Lab, but also had brittle drum programs bouncing off stark white walls and a much more stripped down sound. And in there you can also hear the tender birth of their full-on minimalist future, where on Insides' Clear Skin EP they channel Reich and Riley into a gorgeous 40 minute whirling electronic dervish.

Earwig - Safe in My Hands
Earwig - When You're Quiet

As an extra-added-bonus treat, a reader emailed me the only track off the early EPs that did not make it onto their singles compilation! Now you can hear the true evolution of the band. Enjoy...

Earwig - Blind Stupid and Desperate

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

spooky vibes

Most people have bad connections with the flute in rock music. Its either some hippie-dude (pictured here) or Jethro Tull. But that is not always the case... Take for example obscure shoegazers Blind Mr Jones. The classic comparison that is most easiest to make and has probably been made time and time again is Ride jamming with a flute. But thats certainly not all there is to them. While most bands layered on the fuzz and noise, BMJ took time to find a much looser space for their meandering flute lines, which certainly helped them stand out from the then crowded field in the early 90s. Also, while the lyrics are the general hazy bliss fare, the basslines are slightly more leaning towards the Gallup/Hook realm.

After two EPs on Cherry Red, they issued their debut, Stereo Musicale in 1992. By 1994's sophmore Tatooine LP they had lost most of their wandering flute adventures (much to the chagrin of some folks) and developed more of their own style, but rest assured it still wasn't very far removed from the core sound of the genre. Cherry Red issued a 'very best of...' compilation of choice cuts from the two albums more recently, which is your best bet for finding these out of print gems aside from the used bins.

Blind Mr. Jones - Spooky Vibes
Blind Mr. Jones - Small Caravan
Blind Mr. Jones - Dolores
Blind Mr. Jones - Mesa

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

guru mother

Kirsty Hawkshaw was more than an ethereal beauty behind the pop house outfit Opus III. She may have claimed to be from another galaxy, but that quirkiness benefited the sonic grooves composed by the U.K. four-piece. Their 1992 debut, Mind Fruit, was more than just another techno record in the face of the genre's underground taking shape during the early '90s. Hawkshaw's dove-like vocals transcended into freewheeling soundscapes; the remake of Barton & Jane's "It's a Fine Day" is melodically enchanting with loopy trance vibes and textured synth waves, but the crafty version of King Crimson's "I Talk to the Wind" composes a dreamy synthetic wave. Opus III was barely a step ahead of electronica's late '90s surge, yet it was just strong enough to join the ranks or move beyond the scene. Hawkshaw would later contribute vocals on cuts for BT, Deep Dish, and Orbital. (Halcyon & Lush) - AMG

Watch the classic video for Fine Day here. The sound quality is low but the beautiful shaved head of Kirsty is quite prominent! Check out her website for info about the re-release of her mid-90s solo album.

Sorry for the lacklusterness lately, I have moved residence and things are hectic to say the least.

Opus III - Its a Fine Day
Opus III - I Talk to the Wind