Monday, September 29, 2008

Lateral Hyetography - Some Girlzzz (Really Coastal CS)

Well I'll be damned if this isn't a legitimate cassingle. And I thought they didn't make them like they used to. Hell, the last cassingle I'd seen was that copy of Mariah Carey's "Butterfly" I scored at Goodwill. Love that jam.

As for this one, Lateral Hyetography is some guy named Jon Issac, who's played with the likes of Pocahaunted, (VxPxC), Robedoor, Mudboy and White Rainbow. This is his first release on what I gather to be his own Really Coastal label. The tape looks quite professional, pro printed etc., but the sounds are more muddy and distorted pop. Starts off quite cheery, with some loping along, let's go for a ride round the block drum machine loop and garage-y guitar muddiness over some hooky vocal melody, chorus and all. It's cutesy as hell, like the Feelies playing over some Ducktails tropical beat style beat before descending into murkier waters. Eventually the whole thing gets pretty cloudy with shimmering high tones oscillating out over the guitar chords. Organ in there too, all played by Issac. Side two is the same track acoustic style, but only if you define acoustic solely in terms of the guitars. Actually, side B has some old analog synth on it, which gives the whole thing a weird buzzing alien descent vibe. The instrumental interlude on that side in particular really shimmers, and the quirky as hell vocal stylings have that creepy childhood thing going on. More Animal Collective-y than the first side.

Bonus feature too: if you're jamming this automobile style, side B has the same track, so you don't even have to rewind to keep getting the hooks. Keep your ears to the ground, this could be the biggest cassingle to drop since Whitney Houston covered "Star Spangled Banner." Except it's good and fun as hell. Already sold out at the label, but a second pressing is on its way as well as releases by other groups including Metal Rouge. Worth keeping up on for sure.

James Fella - Salvaged Tape (21:18) (Gilgongo Records / C-Salt CD-R)

Just got an awesomely generous package sent to me from James Fella over at Gilgongo Records, one of the best realized labels around; their whole output has killer sounds galore (not to mention lovely artwork) and this is no exception.

Culled from what James says are "15-25 out of 50 cassettes found during a recent move into a new home, recorded anywhere from 2003-2007," the release is a quick jaunt that proves that careful pacing and solid source material can culminate otherwise disparate material into a most interesting whole. The piece opens with the sounds of crickets and distant doggy yaps which is then sped up and slowed down over some beautiful chime-like melody and odd glitched drum patterings, some string instrument melding its way in like light through glass. It's a beautiful moment and stunning opening that ebbs along before some ultra-crude lo-fi metallic clanks signal the entrance of far noisier and more chaotic territory. Fella can let the noise juices rip when he wants to, and this is no exception, cutting off that peaceful bit with such immediacy that it becomes that much more effective, startling rather than numbing. Odd paper-crumpling electronic blip-outs are overshadowed by heavy oscillating mayhem. Some weird vocal melody hides behind the murk before more high-end madness leads into a mellow psyched out guitar workout, droney and sparse. Some nice folk meanderings to be sure.

The next section includes some quirky, Skaters-style loops complete with guitar twangs, fuzzy cave drips, and reverb-drenched blats. That cuts too, leading into a kind of kitchen-sink gamelan number, killer little section, nice and sparse and blatantly a spoons on sinks on pots on pot deal. Some nice electro-buzz follows before more of the gamelan thing slows into a muddy, car starting wind clogged mic thing. It all blurs together as a string melody that might be played on koto layers itself over again until its halfway between Nepal and Detroit.

Ok, I could give you the rundown all the way through (half way there ain't bad), but really I don't want to spoil it. There's a long period of looped bird call duets with turntables that starts to meld into one big rain stick. There's the sound of screeching swings and hollow caverns of warm tape hiss. Organ drones happen, musique concrete happens and vomit-inducing, dirty blurty blats of cosmic sci-fi refuse happens. A lot happens. The remarkable part is how much sense it all makes, and how masterfully Fella weaves these worlds together. You've got to appreciate the presence of the raw tape wrapped around the case too, right? The medium is the message. Part of the C-Salt series, though I'm not quite sure whether that's its own operation or just its own thing within the Gilgongo framework. Either way, it's super.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Various Artists - Mash Mansum (DNT Records CS)

As DNT continues to shape its sound, opting towards a kind of proto no wave rock slant (now wave they're calling it I guess), it only made sense for Tynan to release this, a compilation showcasing seven different bands takes on this sound. It works too, serving its purpose of presenting bands who may or may not ever see more releases than this (some are already now defunct it seems...) while definitely fulfilling the DNT mission statement and existing as an album as a whole.

Side one kicks off with Hunting Lodge's "Waiting for the Bus." I'm assuming this isn't the Hunting Lodge of the 80s and 90s, though who the hell knows? Could be some revamped version of that group's industrial slant, only this is some riffy, thudding stuff, scuzzed out and pummeling, all forward motion mayhem. The guitars, in true no wave form, sound like icicles dragged across the torsos of tiny birds while the muffled vocals are the stuff of yore, crying out in frustrated, suburban dementia as the whole thing crumbles in on itself. Nice headless drum beats too, and a pretty tight unit from the sounds of it. The end of the track could be a poorly mic'd Stooges cover into some Northampton Wools feedback fuckery.

Tracks two and three are both by some unit menacingly called Neck Hold. "Oh God; You Devil" opens with some weird ass drum beat on wood blocks and cardboard while some vocalist calls out in a similarly fashioned, muffled ass chant thing. This is a little less standard rocking than Hunting Lodge's brand, weird enough to give the band its own distinct take. "Sibling Rivalry" is a similar approach, all drums in the beginning along with the anthemic chanting vocals (Popul Vuh style, without the production value). Sounds like a pretty stripped down take on the whole thing, with some amateur sax squelching to boot! Shearing Pinx (or Shearing Pinks as they're billed here) close the first side with "Trusting the Forest," lunging their guitars in fits while the drums patter around. Nice angular guitar work, all energy and convulsions across the strings, but they really pull it off. Some of this stuff gets genuinely heavy without the need for cranking the volume any higher. It's all just rhythmic fits and starts, splooging on the strings like some blow up doll. If the forest sounds like this I don't trust it for a second, though maybe I should. I'm not sure what defines now wave as opposed to no wave but this is definitely in the latter category as far as I'm concerned.

Side two opens with The Sticks' "Aerobic Fuck," killer title for a jaunt this explosively weird. Sounds like fuckin Link Wray or something, twanging away with the volume turned up to Mt. Zion. Good old fashion instrumental riffage, heavy on the nowhere slant for the minute it exists.

Gay Beast, who just released a full length on DNT, follow with "Exploding Knee." The guitars here are all over the map, splashing about wildly before going into a Liliput style dance punk thing, weird and bleepy and full of (is that two?) vocalists yelping about. Pretty tight construction on the song here in the spirit of those smart/art funk/punk girl rock of Delta 5 etc. The singer definitely listened to her fair share of On-U Ari Up records. Really tightly wound and jerky stuff full of energy. Tight guitar lines too. Deaf! Deaf follows with Loss of Appetite, another Riot Grrrl style thing with some James Chance vocal stuff. Real crude and nice for some slamming around dance party style. Twin Crystals closes the tape with "Live in Olympia." I've heard a lot about these guys recently and their breed of chugging guitar walls and off beat electro-quarks is pretty compelling for this type of material. At points it starts to sound like a rave party on planet hip, with even the gap between songs and the crowd chatter fitting right in (notice how the bottle cap fits so nicely in the whole vibe...). The second track is even more pulsating and dancey. Nice stuff to close off yet another winner from DNT--some of these bands are weird enough to snag up right away while others I'm sure will be around for quite some time and make a splash in the broader scheme of things. For my money, the whacked out stuff is where it's at.

I think there's a few left at the label so move quick if you so desire, it's limited to 100.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sky Juice - Empty Telepathy: Early Trancemissions 2000-2005 (Maim & Disfigure CD-R)

Here's another one from that batch of items I snagged from Zac Davis. This one is a solo situation, with Zac playing guitar and overdubbing himself. Apparently a lot of this was actually drawn from old tapes and then reworked. Clocking in at twelve tracks and over forty minutes, it's one of the more unified Maim & Disfigure releases I've heard, feeling quite a lot like a full length album rather than a series of recordings. The feel is way more mellow here too, opting for a more weirdo folksy explorative side.

The first track sounds like Loren Connors jamming with Eugene Chadbourne in some crystal palace--the reverb is layed on nice and thick for a ringing warmth that too many people don't know Zac can pull off. It's almost raga-esque in places, droning along as Zac plucks away at the strings in a melody that's quite effective before breaking it back down into more scraping, languid territory.

Track two switches gears a bit to present a folkier take on Zac's chuggingly hypnotic phrasing. Almost like Fahey, only way more stoned. Eventually the whole thing just drops off for a weird single string bass thing before strumming of sorts eventually comes back. It's all very visceral and heartfelt, and you can tell there's some real playing under there for sure--Zac style of course. The guy has a signature style to be sure, it just manifests itself in a ton of different playing styles. When the whole folksy thing is shunned by moments of heavy chordal riffage, you can't help but feel like following him along in some stream-of-conscious guitar course (intended for players of all levels of course).

Track four is another killer, opening with a sound not far afield from someone like Junior Kimbrough. It's a droney and full take on bluesy houserocking, only again, Zac manages to not sound like that at all. Like any real deal musician Zac can't help but sound like anyone but himself it seems, and he manages to infuse everything with his own brand of blatant riffology as well as a steady internal pulse and plenty of odd disjointed asides. Nice thing about this stuff too is that while it is clear that Zac is playing over previously recorded things here, it never sounds too robotic. Rather than these being a constraint, it simply sounds like two or three Zac's jamming live together. Sick deal if you ask me.

Other highlights include track six, which is all free play, scraping the strings, bending the shit out of them, etc. to create some weird stuck-in-your-head madness. Track seven even has some drums, again from Zac (dude can play), in a nice stop-start anthemic ode to unwieldery. After track eight, the most unapologetically dirty rock riff on the record, the next four tracks basically mellow the album down to a cose, sometimes in thirty second increments and sometimes in the form of five minute improvisatory excursions of droney strumming. The last track is all wavering nausea as strum after strum gets bent towards the skies before taking off into the sun. Stoned as hell, and one of the most beautiful things I've heard from him. Definitely a different side of Zac's output that too few people are aware of.

A Stone For Adam Nodelman

Just got this in from John Moloney. Figured I'd post it as it looks like a great show, and is definitely an awesome cause.

A Stone for Adam NodelmanFlorence VFW - 18 Meadow Street (route 9),
Florence, MA
$7 - All Ages
Music starts at 6:30pm SHARP!

No Neck Blues Band (playing very early - not last
Sunburned Hand of the Man
Dredd Foole & the Din (featuring J Mascis, John Moloney & Justin
Fat Worm of Error
Northampton Wools (Bill Nace & Thurston Moore)
Tarp (Joshua Burkett & Conrad Capistran
Noise Nomads
Bunny Brains
Matt Krefting Band
Franklin's Mint
Jow Jow
maybe one more act if they can make it

the band order hasn't been set yet but No Neck and Northampton Wools are on
early so come early to have your head checked.
This is a benefit show for Adam's family so any donations beyond the entry
fee will be beautiful.

Lambsbread - Shitgayz (Maim & Disfigure CD-R)

The great Zac Davis stopped through Bard this past Tuesday with drummer Ryan Jewell for a killer duet set. Started off nice and scrappy for the first cut, then ended up as a sludgey riff heavy stop-start thing, real weird and great. Jewell's drum kit got some beautiful sounds as bowls were bowed and forks were clattered. Anyway, I managed to score some Maim & Disfigure items, and figured I'd start with this one by Zac's most oft-associated group, Lambsbread.

Actually, it was originally Lambsbread that was going to play at Bard but I guess drummer Shane Mackenzie scored a sweet deal with some new job, so Zac went out with Ryan instead, which was great but whole different vibe than this disc for sure. Made up only of Zac, Shane and bassist kathy O'Dell, Lambsbread represent Zac at his loudest and sloppiest, just one big full throttle rock stew made to order.

Shitgayz is one of their newer efforts and it's grimey as hell, just careening around from heavy riffage into slow stoned megariffs. Consisting only of two tracks for a total of about twenty-two minutes, the whole thing actually needs no more to ground you. O'Dell's bass rips around in weird circuitous rounds of nowhereness while Zac goes from full blown strummed out death cries into less gigantic realms of weird fuckery, diddling around before getting all Derek Bailey on the strings.

The second track, the longer of the two at about thirteen minutes, starts off right where the first leaves off. This is full blown grind mode, all a squeezing of these distorted crunching sounds from all three corners of the table. When Shane's drums come in with a steady beat, it only lasts about ten seconds before he too starts to let loose. Zac's guitar really wails on this one; it's heavy stuff indeed, alive and, of course, stoned as shit. Like a stripped down Burnt Hills with less of the psych and more of the dirt.

have to make mention too of the killer packaging on this one. From the play on the "shitgaze" genre name to the theft of the Spin article art text it all works here. Hell even the fucking swastikas work. Check this out, a paste on on the back direct from Spin: "Everything these bands record is spiked in the red and cloaked in caustic fuzz. Vocals are intelligible every so often, and snare hits resemble chopsticks on tinfoil." Sans vocals that sounds a hell of a lot like Lambsbread to me. If only Spin could be clued in as to what they're really writing about... killer disc.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The New Monuments - C (American Tapes CD-R)

New Monuments rolled through campus last Sunday for a killer show with Century Plants and my band, Herons. It being the first show I'd booked I was in large part flipping my shit over the whole matter, especially as New Monuments represented a kind of uber-trifecta of some of my favorite experimental/free jazz stuff today. With Ben Hall (Graveyards, Brokenresearch, etc.) on drums, C Spencer Yeh (Burning Star Core) on effected violin and Don Dietrich (Borbetomagus) on saxophone as fed through a quarantine of pedals, the whole night was rather nerve-wracking, though by night's end my terror had settled into a kind of amiable simmer.

As for the set, the group started off with some pretty heavy feedback from Dietrich's end, some high pitched weirdness over which Yeh laid down some foundational drones. They held this, suspended just like that, for all of five seconds before diving in, Hall crashing in on drums and never letting up as the whole thing gave way to Machine Gun level hysterics. It was a killer set, super high energy, and the thirty or forty people who showed up seemed to be big into it. And talk about three super nice guys (along with, of course, the oft spoken of Century Plants). Great night overall.

Anyway, the way the band's been dealing with merch is kind of clever, although hardly helpful to those looking for more. Basically, each night on the tour the band records their set and sells it the next day as American Tapes 798 in a limited edition of 20. So if you don't see them on tour and you don't want to drop the $100 on all eight nights, good luck. Ben was kind enough to lay some items on me, including that disc, in my case a document of the third night of the tour when they opened for Joe McPhee, Paul Flaherty and Chris Corsano.

While the group only played one set at ours (although it was at least a twenty minute set, if not longer) this disc shows two separate tracks, the first about six minutes long and the second a more expansive sixteen. The first track kicks off in a hard ray, with Hall's drums practically tearing the recording microphones off their stands before Dietrich and Yeh come reeling in straight out of hell. Dietrich is as firey a player as they come, and he tears the walls down and builds them back up again on this, letting loose in some torrent of energy. Yeh's violin effects underneath, sometimes played with one bow or sometimes with two, are eerie and fuzzed out, all textural mayhem over Hall's grooving onslaught. At one point during the show I saw, Dietrich put his mic on top of his amp, creating some low bellow that he played right along with, and you get the feeling that the same kind of play is happening here, three voices made to be four, four to be five, etc.

The second track opens with a deep growl from Dietrich over the walls of static and fuzz reated by Yeh. Everything is held in place only by it duration, high end tones ringing in from afar like some long lost Axolotl track before Hall kicks it off into some kind of post-Shepp blowout session. Hall comes across as a wall of sound, not totally free but pulsing in fits and bursts of energetic catharsis while Dietrich could pass as a Brotzmann or Frank Wright as covered by soot. Yeh's violin sounds screech across the kinetic landscape, filling out the sound and adding a dimension unusual for this kind of instrumentation.

The whole disc is gorgeous for fans of free jazz and noise alike. Considering it's released on American Tapes, maybe it will further help to close some of the gaps in the world of improvisatory music. If enough people hear it of course. Snag one if you can, I can promise that D is killer as well as I was there. A beautiful and logical step for American Tapes and a continuation of the careers of some of the most exciting improvisers in the scene today.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fossils From the Sun - From Another Sun (Tape Drift CD-R)

Just had Century Plants roll through campus for a killer show with New Monuments, a trio of Ben Hall of Graveyards, Brokenresearch, et al., C Spencer Yeh of Burning Star Core and Don Dietrich of Borbetomagus. Killer night all around, but it also motivated me to finally get around to this disc, the first solo effort from Ray of Century Plants' under his Fossils From the Sun moniker.

If you've heard Century Plants, Fossils From the Sun will be no surprise to you--a lot fo this material sounds like a more minimalist take on that group's efforts. Splitting the bill between slow guitar crawlers, synth masheries, and gentle guitar constructions, the whole thing flows like a charm, keeping each idea enclosed within itself without losing any of the seamlessness of pacing that surrounds every good album. Take the first track, "Orange Blue," and its transition into the second, "Tasting the Crown." Starting off with a simple chordal pattern warmly strummed, "Orange Blue" uses its two minutes well, lulling you to get lost in it without it overstaying its welcome. As soon as it cuts, "Tasting the Crown" comes in, creaking across the speakers like some frayed electric lines pumping heavy electron juice into some hillside or nearby cumulonimbus action. It's a different sound for sure, but one that is far from disconnected to the previous. Rather, it sets up another side of Hare's sound--each facet represented allows for more to be allowed throughout the disc.

"An Audit of the Sun," the nine minute third track, is a wobbling heap of static and lo-fi drone with aspects of both Slow Listener and ultra-cruddy Skaters' sides. It's a pretty gigantic beast by its end, so "Love" is a welcome respite. It's soft Loren Connors-y vibe, though perhaps a bit less minimal and more loping (in a good way). "Will the Circle Be Broken?" is another solo guitar effort, only this time less pure and a tad bit more strung out as if Spacemen 3 had decided to jam out with Harmonia, only with a touch for gentle, unapologetic beauty that those group's surely lacked.

By the time the even more kosmiche "Happy" feeds into "Velcro," an eight minute sludged out marathon of tasty licks fried to the bone, Hare basically has you along for the ride, and you can fully entrust that the last track, "I'm Gonna Lose You (Song For a Future Sun)," will take you exactly where it must for the album to work. Starting off with a series of loops played through what sound like heating vents, the whole ride swarms up, for a good four and a half minutes before cutting right in the middle for a brief reverb drenched ditty of peace and quiet. Something to settle in by as the night draws to a close and the high wears off. Another Tape Drift winner.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Gang Wizard - God-Time Universal Continuum Calibration (olFactory Records/Lost Treasures of the Underworld/Green Tape/TANzProcesz LP)

The start of school has arrived, so sorry for the delay on the reviews. If a four label co-release doesn't make up for it though, I don't know what will. Gang Wizard, which has had releases all over the place (including a 7" on DNT as well as items on Load and Ecstatic Peace) is, at least on this go around, a sextet consisting of some major players in the underground scene. Brian Miller plays in Foot Village, Eva Aguila's in Kevin Shields, Ren Schofield's in Deep Jew, and Val Martino is a some-time Leslie Keffer collaborator. Jake Anderson and Mike Landucci are the co-founders of the group, and seem to be the most chaste in their musical duties to the group. This is their first studio recording, and to my ear the whole thing sounds great.

First off, you've gotta give props to the cover artist. I don't know who did it, but the whole Yellow Submarine/hipster freak children bubble land thing really sums it all up, like some big fucked up circus. The first side slips right in, opening with "Whoever Invents," a scatter brained roam through free-rock tom-foolery. THe mumbled vocals across the disc are like a cross between Malcolm Mooney and John Moloney, real mindless material. Electric wig-outs come and go as the percussion keeps the whole thing chugging forward beautifully. "Bad Teacher" works up a sweat of its own, tearing across the record like some punked out No-Neck cover band. Like if Arto Lindsay rocked with Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood or something. Weird stuff that eventually tapers off into no man's land electronic babble--there's even a creepy kiddie voice babbling itself into the abyss of oscillators and record scratches. Somehow I can't picture all of this taking place in a studio. I wonder what kidn of damage the place incurred...

Side two is one mammoth track menacingly entitled "Why Pharaoh Hanged the Baker." I don't know who Pharaoh or the Baker are, but it sounds like this was some grizzly scene. The beginning, filled with warbling turntables and electronic blips and blurts, could be some basement free super group jam, really whacked to hell and super chaotic. It's like DJ Shadow mixing Wolf Eyes or something. Eventually the low engine rumble of some warped electronic drifts apart only to once again be joined, this time by the whole ensemble plus the shattered vocals of some alcoholic high priest. It's a hell of a toe tapper, let me tell you. By the time the whole electronic mess subsides, the situation becomes a bit more focused, though equally zonked out. Blurting squelches and airplane propellers all mixed in with the percussive pounding of maniacal repetition. Some of it actually sounds like the same breed of silly wiling out of the Residents or something, although again, larger-scale music freak outs like those of Sunburned surely show through. Still, there's a distinctly electronic, in-your-face angle here. It hasn't lost any of it's rotten as shit, snot on the walls punk attitude. It's simply filtered through a more experimental filter. By the time this monument of psychosis inducement has subsided you'll be ripped to shreds. Brutally killer.