Tuesday, April 18, 2006

uninvited, like the clouds

Its been 25+ years, nearly 20 albums and dozens of side and solo projects that have brought the Church to where they are today. They have a more than impressive back catalog, and yet, they continue to have surprisingly strong releases year after year. How on earth do they do it?!

Today is the release of their latest, 'Uninvited, Like the Clouds' on Cooking Vinyl. And if you haven't heard them in a decade or more, not much has changed- and thats a good thing! The chiming Rickenbackers are present, the daydreamy lyricism, the soaring melodies. We are all truly lucky that there still exists a band doing this and doing it well.

While it seems ridiculous to compare a band thats been around for over two decades to anything else, its a necessary evil. The album opens with Block, a classic track that is part Floydian dream and part Spaceman hypnotic downhill acceleration to lift-off. Easy is MBV meets Maggie May. Song to Go is Tom Waits as covered by Air. Go visit a very wonderful Church fansite and learn more about all the time you've missed of this wonderful band that is still doing it.

the Church - Block
the Church - Song To Go

Friday, April 14, 2006

ghost volk

Spectre Folk seemed a pretty overt name for Pete Nolan to moniker-up as for his solo side. A see-saw of truth in advertising or bullshit speculation. But fug it, Nolan knows how to make it work. Within the Magick Markers and Virgin Eye Blood Brothers, his two-of-many outfits I'm familiar with, he can transcend the nothing gulch (which can and does happen in those two groups) and shape it into an abstraction of you just wanna wrap your arms around. After some self-released editions and a moving blossom on Static Caravan, the pressing machines have been called up to punch out a buy-in-the-store album called Requiem for Ming Aralia on Three Lobbed. The push toward giving this a modern volk tint is present in the PR blurbs, but while driving home at 2 am a few nights ago, SF shown through as a great, hand-me-down sound transgression as laid by Trapdoor Fucking Exit. The repeated/flickering guitar strings Nolan plays out (and the backing murk) mirror Michael Morley in spades, especially in the opener "Tendrils Floating Fastly" and the closer "Bindi Clip." Both are drawn in and out of the lines and feel as if recorded in a Louisville cellar a few yeas back. The Turtle's "You Showed Me" is not quite huffed with new life here, instead Nolan has taken flecks of it, melody/lyrics, almost as if scraped them from an old cassette and used those bits as as a blueprint; deftly eerie and sounding about 25 years older than it is. C. Spencer Yeh appears on "Indianana" and keeps the Dead NZ aura up with mild shatters of electronics. What is left after these is Nolan and a guitar and the aforementioned cellar. The voice warbles, rough and broken. It all just sounds aged with despair. I was hoping for another cover in "Been Here and Gone," but it is an original of late night loss feed through burned amps and blown mics. This is a fine milky-skin from the underbelly of the Midwest -- even if Nolan is a Brooklyn dweller now.

Spectre Folk - Bindi Clip

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

villa claustrophobia

Ardent Fevers is Jesse Poe's fourth release under the Tanakh moniker. It came out last week via Montreal's Alien8 Recordings. Recently transplanted away from Virginia, this is the fruit of his time spent living the past couple of years in Florence, Italy. A recent invitation to perform at the 6th Annual Terrastock Festival, this year in Providence, RI, brings he and a group back to my hemisphere for a two week tour, as well.

Fans of Leonard Cohen, Badly Drawn Boy, Calexico, David Sylvian, Elliott Smith, Tindersticks, Lambchop, the Church, Lee Hazelwood, Talk Talk... you get the idea. Spacious arrangements, rural roots, beautiful accents. Closing track "Take and Read" builds over 9+ minutes into a Crazy Horse jam. Understated, personal, serene.

US Dates

04/21/2006 - Terrastock 6 - Providence, RI
04/24/2006 - Cake Shop - NYC, NY
04/26/2006 - PA's Lounge - Sommerville, MA
04/27/2006 - Mezzanotte Lounge - Syracuse, NY
04/28/2006 - Mohawk Place - Buffalo, NY
04/29/2006 - Drake Hotel - Toronto Canada
04/30/2006 - Big Car - Indianapolis, IN
05/02/2006 - Lager House - Detroit, MI
05/03/2006 - Empty Bottle - Chicago, IL
05/04/2006 - Landlocked Music - Bloomington, IN
05/05/2006 - Huntington Youth Art & Music - Huntington, WV
05/06/2006 - The Velvet Lounge - Washington, DC
05/07/2006 - Knitting Factory - NYC, NY

Tanakh - Drink to Sher

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

lunar moos

Past few weeks I've been locked up inside The Bummer Road, the new lunar jamboree band of MV & EE and etc. While I'm sure there are a few more titles out, We Offer You Guru and Suncatcher Mountain have been my two windows. With the mighty flux of Tower Recordings and the MV (solo) & EE (duo) missives, I wasn't expecting that much of a variation on their time-warp blues and always perfect sky-coloring use of autoharp. But after a few hundred digital rotations, those thoughts were like an elephant gun to the foot (or hoof in the mouth), cuz Bummer Road careens around some deftly, overgrown and enchanted forests that I've never been too. The road has forked again we're all on a new adventure here. With Mo’ Jiggs lathering up some south-field mouth harp, the rest of the crew (Samara Lubelski is on violin at times) somehow opens a few bottles of night-time/morning dew ooze and feeds it through some tube-amps and lets is simmer until all is burned off. That has got to be MV on the yayli tambur and dov bantar and EE on the swarsangam, voice and percussion.

In celebration of a the new Bummer 2LP Mother of Thousands on Time-Lag the 'Road and Jigs got together his past week at Mass' Montague Bookmill for a heavy leaf performance sponsored by he Autonomous Battleship Collective and Mandragora. Not only did they organized the show, but but they've set up streaming stereophonic MP3s of the entire night:

MV/EE & the Bummer Road - First Set (acoustic)
Willie Lane solo - Second Set
MV/EE & the Bummer Road - Third Set (electric)

Monday, April 10, 2006

photogenic, schizophrenic you

There isn't much more to say that hasn't already been said about this track many times over from others over the years.

from Wikipedia: Napoleon XIV was the pseudonym of record producer Jerry Samuels (b 1938 New York City) who had moderate success with the song "They're Coming To Take Me Away Ha-Haaa!", released in 1966 (reaching #4 UK, #3 US). The song deals with mental illness brought about by the lover of the vocalist leaving him and was controversial at the time for its willingness to confront the subject directly—albeit humorously:

"Remember when you ran away and I got on my knees and begged you not to leave because I'd go berserk? Well, you left me anyhow, and then the days got worse and worse, and now you see I've gone completely out of my mind!"

Musically, the track is significant in that it does not actually feature any musical notes being played, although a melody was, quite naturally, planned for it. Instead, the backing is provided by a combination of drums and tambourines overlaid with a siren—presumably that of the authorities' vehicle "coming to take me away". The pitch of the vocals also raise and lower throughout the performance to signify the increasing insanity of the vocalist. The vocal effect was accomplished via a tape recorder modified by Samuels himself.

from AMG: Samuels went on to a career as unpredicable as his hit smash, making his living for a time selling marijuana roach clips to head shops. For the past couple of decades he's worked the piano bars of the Philadelphia area; on the recent Napoleon XIV reissue CD, he proudly notes that "I became probably the most popular entertainer at nursing homes and senior facilities in the Philadelphia and Delaware Valley area." (Presumably he didn't play his hit single for those audiences.) That reissue CD combined the 1966 Napoleon XIV album with some additional material from the '60s and some newly recorded tracks from 1995.

Here is WFMU's excellent post about the 21 Variations on the hit single. Included in this is Lard's version, which makes total sense to me since the vocals seem reminiscient of Jello Biafra in the first place.

Napoleon XIV - They're Coming to Take Me Away Ha-Haaa
Napoleon XIV - Doin' the Napoleon
Napolean XIV - The Place Where The Nuts Hunt The Squirrels

Friday, April 07, 2006

neck face

Many stones have been unturned in the quest to throw somethin' nu on the No Neck Blues Band fire. Without much being really, truly known about these Harlem cats there's been a lotta speculation, waxing and anecdotal tribal bullshit out there -- though it all trickles down to that the clan is rarely off n' almost always right on. A few weeks ago I was beginning the early stages of packing up for our next move and pulled out NNCK's "Math of Crack" b/w "The Mouth of Gack" 7" (New World of Sound, 1995) along with some contemporary-from-the-era Shadow Ring and Tower Recordings disks. Been years since I spun any of them instead just repacking and moving from one house/state and back. The Crack and Gack were the drumless, machinery groan that the NNCK birthed from. I remember thinking of its warbled screech when reading Adam Lore's run-through of the discog in Ba Da Boom Gramaphone a few years later. Quite a deal of skin was stretched between there and the A Tabu Two 2 LP set and the double CD Letters From the Serth -- as someone said before, the NNCK locomotive was in full swing by then. It almost seems as its taken 10 years for them to warm up to their free swinging operandi of now. Catching them last summer in Chapel Hill they spent the first 20 minutes of small, inconsequential build up that seemed headed for the door. Before any crust gathered, clothes were shed, liquids poured and the finest, throbbing NNCK performance took place in front of me.

While I'm still sitting on last year's Qvaris 2LP, the brand new EmbryoNNCK collab with, you guessed it, Embryo has been knocking my knee socks right off. No simmer here, the two groups jack directly into waves of percussion fields -- alternating from gaterhing poppy dust and bass movements. While it has that near funky element of the Revenant disk, the abstraction is deeper though the groove (and smart editing) bring a focus that, really, hasn't been cut since "Math of Gack." Check it out.

Frank Cologne
Wieder das Erste Mal

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

letter from the past

Its probably been enough time that "folktronica" can now officially be the new "post-rock". Except that term is already dead. Now the new rage is "ambient pop"? Whereas "post-rock" incorporated loosened "jazz" structures into "rock", kinda, the others bring acoustic instrumentation and "pop songs" into the "electronica" world. Whoopdeedoo!? The list of bands recording their acoustic guitars into their laptops and adding glitchy beats behind it is growing ever longer these days. Too long.

However, City Centre Offices in Germany is doing a great job about choosing tasty ones to release. And their fancy new website has transfixed me nearly as long as their recent releases. Warm and spacious. The result of hours of daydreams. Lovely. They are quickly becoming one of my favorite labels to watch.

I'm Not a Gun's new album, 'We Think As Instruments' is the third album for this duo. John Tejada is one of the most prolific DJs and producers in the Techno world. His remixes and DJ-sets are well sought after, his label ”Palette“ is pumping out 12“ after 12“ of quality electronic music. Takeshi Nishimoto, classically trained guitarist and sarod player has been a long-time member in the jazz/improv scene in Los Angeles. He recently re-located to Berlin.

Their Venn Diagram is the spot where these bands circles cross: Bark Psychosis, Album Leaf, Dntel, Lali Puna, Notwist, To Rococo Rot, Bows, Oval, Remote Viewer, Múm, Tarwater, Mountains, Pole. In 2004, Iʼm Not a Gun was nominated for Best Instrumental Band by L.A. Weekly Music Awards. While they are often classified as the next step past Chicago's post-past, they are more than just a German version of the Hefty roster. Out on April 17th via Forced Exposure.

I'm Not a Gun - Move