Sunday, April 5, 2009

Matt Endahl / Christopher Riggs - Pride Obscures It (Holy Cheever Church Records CS)

Another 30-minute slice of Riggs and Co. here on Riggs' own totally esoteric and amazing Holy Cheever Church label. Endahl's a pianist, and Riggs picks up his usual electric this go around for some pretty garbled excursions into the belly of the instrument-as-sound approach. Riggs himself says its like Cage and Cowell as rendered by the Michigan aesthetic, which really sums it up about as well as anything could, but I'll give it the old college try anyhow.

To be fair though, it's tough to avoid the description. Endahl spends most of his time strumming the innards of his ivories, while Riggs' usual brand of scrape and shimmy keeps things mobile and utterly alien. A weird little loop in there of a click throws it off even more while odd little electronic blips and beeps squeeze themselves into the ample space created by the molesting of their combined 94 string destruction. More than anything what always blows me away about Riggs is how he manages to take these sounds and point them in a direction without giving them so much shape as to render their more obscure qualities useless. It's all about mobility here, but a mobility that claims the unknown as its destination. And the two stay right close to each other in approaching it.

The second track answers few of the questions raised at the outset, with odd mini melodies speak n' spelling their way into some seriously thwarted electronic scratch before Endahl's piano thuds about drearily above. There's no deader sound than the dampened insides of a piano, and Endahl uses it in conjunction with the fuzz to create a real slow-burning mystery. Totally amazing.

The second side's low end murmur and clatter opens on a decidedly stiller note than side one, but its atmosphere is equally well drenched in what-the-fuckery. There's an industrial quality to all of Riggs' stuff, but it's always filtered through an avant-garde appreciation for letting a process undergo as it will. Odd dripping percussion and a thick haze, stagnant and immobile, combine and continue long enough to give the setting its own weight. It's always patient, but it never loses the quality of play that keeps it so intriguing. Air vent spouts soon mutter along in the background to add to the "composition."

Man, every time I throw on one of these tapes it blows me away. This is some real deal stuff and as far as I can tell they're all worth snagging. Go to the Holy Cheever Church and start practicing. The light just might be hidden in these little tapes, which somehow still seem to be way under the radar, even compared to far lesser practitioners of the noisy arts.

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