Thursday, February 21, 2008

Blues Control - Puff (Woodsist LP)

This past fall, Sunburned came and played their almost becoming annual show at my school, and a unit by the name of Blues Control opened for them. Now I must have been living in a tin can, but I hadn't heard of them, and frankly didn't expect much despite Moloney's cautioning of their rockingness. I stood and waited for them to set up, yapping with friends and such, when out of nowhere came the loudest guitar howl I'd heard in along time. Needless to say, I didn't pick up anything from them that night. Sunburned rocked equally hard, encircled by the frenzy of mayhem that was the Bard student body, so I had to put my money in to the old dependables. Well, I kept reading about them after that, and it seemed their new record, Puff, was a real dinger of a ringer. It also was a Woodsist release, the vinyl end of the fantastically great Fuck it Tapes. So I finally got it. Took me long enough. Let's see what the hype's about.

Blues Control is a duo from Brooklyn consisting of Lea Cho (keyboards, vocals, harmonica) and Russ Waterhouse (guitar, tape effects). They have'nt released much, but from what I've heard--which isn't much so mind who you're listening to--the unit is consistently killer. Their self titled CD released on Holy Mountain is a great mix of keyboard scenery over patch worked tape loops and crushing guitar demolition. Puff is a bit more sprawling considering that there are only five tracks on the album, and this seems to work to their advantage, allowing for ample space to construct the tomb I'm currently residing cozily in.

The first side consists of only two tracks,"Puff" and "Always on Time," though I'd be hard pressed to figure out where one ends and the other begins. The slowly building keyboard work of Cho, who seems willing to sit and rest on the same expansive riffage just long enough for the next addition to make complete sense, is unreal. Behind these meandeirngs are Waterhouse's environmental loops, subtely swaying in and out of the breeze while his guitar points towards the demons dancing just behind the light. The group's clearly got a concept here, and these are immense constructions with a bit more subtlety than your run-of-the-mill bong band. As Cho's keyboards gradually disperse the goblins reveal themselves. Turns out they're not all that bad after all. This is skull-stretching beauty, heavy enough to cause a stir in your bones but with such effervescent translucence that it keeps you fastened. It screams quietly, if you will, evoking huge summer storms over some arctic jungle.

Side two opens with some heavy, crushing, axe-wielded mayhem from Waterhouse while Cho sends shards of scattered humming above via that harmonica I mentioned up there in the proper intros. Fuck, this is totally different from the first side, and fuck, thank god it sought to take me there. I could ride this riff straight to the monochrome motherland. The rumblings build in the background like they're tearing those tape players apart. Like dull yellow, one viewer added. Sounds more like the darkest, deepest purple if you ask me, and that isn't even a reference to the band that might suggest.

The riff continues its disintegration into the second track, always building and shifting like a slowed down, spaced out Reich line. This googleplex of nod off behavior always tickles me in that specialist of places. Don't disbelieve the hype, it really is that good.


atanase said...

hi, just came across your blog. very thoughtfull and useful reviews. many thanks for these. i'll bookmark this place and visit often. i'm looking forward to reading more of your notes.

take care

Henry Smith said...

hey, thanks for reading! also noticed that you are the person behind church number nine. i used to frequent your blog before you had to privatize it and i missed the boat on signing up. hope your keeping up the great work over there.

atanase said...

hi, always good to come across the old c#9 reader... i didn't really privatize the blog. i just shut it. it has remained untouched since the last post. things were deteriorating rapidly there and its demise was unavoidable. so you haven't missed out on anything... if i find a way to restart it i'll look into it.

i still listen to free jazz of course, but these days i give more time to young players. there is so much good music these days that i can't really keep up. your effort here provides a great help.

GRAVEYARDS came as a tremendous revelation. i simply can't believe what a great band they are.

Henry Smith said...

Yeah, my heart has always been in free jazz too, but this whole underworld has recently revealed itself to me, and there really is a lot of great stuff going on. Another great (but now defunkt) blog is Outer Space Gamelan. He wrote a review a day for about a year and a half on this same kind of thing.

And yes, Graveyards really is killer. Fills my jazz fix as well as my noise!