Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Caldera Lakes (Deathbomb Arc CS)

Just got this c20 in from Brian over at Deathbomb Arc, so thanks to them for that. Caldera Lakes is the duo of Brittany Gould and Eva Aguila, the former a member of Married in Berdichev as well as a Jandek collaborator and the latter one of Kevin Shields and Gang Wizard. This debut by the group exhibits a different side of their sound though (at least drastically so from Gang Wizard), as they opt for a kind of noisy wood-folk sound, stark and haunting.

Side A opens with some harsh clicking sounds before it crunches along down a path of off-kilter electronic destruction and the strange looped vocals of pixies, bouncing across in their meandering melodic buildup. Needless to say, the contrast between the electronic lurching--which sound like a broken tape deck playing alongside loping high frequencies and a skipping, scratched to fuck record--and the spaced-out, Bjork-like vocals of Brittany, which conjure a kind of lyrical purging of tangible despair (or is merely disrepair?) makes for an eerily shimmering beauty. When the electronics overtake the repeated vocal line it explodes into a frenzy of waterfall cleansing via dirt and metal. The vocal line, slinking back in and out, serves as a reminder of the ethereal beauty that had once been a part of the landscape.

The B side opens with the gentle chiming of hand cymbals before the muted strumming of a cello or ladder or some object sets some semblance of a rhythm. Feedback builds in the back before effected vocals enter with brief shots of tenderness alongside maracas. A string instrument enters, reverberating across the backdrop as the vocals build into lyrical form, gently riding along with the disturbed grace of a Billie Holiday. The echoes on the vocals even serve to dub out the proceedings a bit before the vocal loops are built with great caution, never losing sight of the control necessary to maintain such quaint and gentle melodies. This time, the vocals build along with the electronics rather than remaining stagnant beneath them. Strange and effecting stuff, especially in a world that is running out of ideas concerning this kind of folky nymph sound. The electronics backing the vocalist are so well done that it creates a dialogue of real interest between the voice and the equipment, two sound worlds meeting somewhere between Eden and John Olson's basement.

Deathbomb Arc did a beautiful job with the artwork, incorporating the truly weird skeletons from the Natural History Museum along with a groovy little robot sticker. A meshing of technology and nature you might say. If you dig the vocal stylings of Pocahaunted or the gnarled tapes of Sick Llama, definitely worth exploring this, as its an odd meeting of both worlds.

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