Friday, June 12, 2009

Thoughts on Air / Xiphiidae - Split (Cloud Valley / Maggot Valley CS)

Here's a label I've been trying to get to for a while now. Way back in the day, Cloud Valley offered to put out a Herons tape--our first request!--and, though we have not as yet returned the release (hope the offer's still available...) it's a label I've been keeping an eye on ever since I managed to pick up Sean McCann's Phase Pools. Lost the disc of course, so whoa is me and whoa is the blog, no review and, more sadly, no jams. Saw this one up on Housecraft's site though and snagged it, figuring I'd restart my Cloud Valley (now, it seems, Maggot Valley--what a change of pace that name switch is...) relationship.

Of course I was plentifully rewarded for my purchase with this one. Hadn't heard of Thoughts on Air, but Xiphiidae's stuff is damn near untouchable in my book, so what the hey?! Turns out the whole thing is a total burner of course, with Thoughts on Air's side opening with some weird little vocal chanty thing for a hot minute, nice and canvas-like, before sprawling its materials out across the floor and letting them mingle as they see fit. Definite undercurrent of hostility here despite what is essentially a drift onward attitude, with synth stuff intermingling with a slowly encroaching guitar line whose interest no sooner signals the end of the track before taking off on its own circuitously meandering route. Especially nice example of this sound here, totally untethered and allowed to bounce about with some heavy delay throwing things off kilter. For sure a lay on your floatie in the pool feel here, though the weirdness factor might start getting to you in combination with all that sun. Wild and, soon as you've settled in without getting your shorts wet, another little miniature pops in. Blown out whispers are the signifier here, with a definite Amon Duul Wolf City era feel, kind of a basement folk thing but way more adventurous and alone than most of that stuff. Truth be told I wish some of these little things would go on longer, but that's hardly a complaint now is it?

Xiphiidae's side is, as per the usual, lovely and strange and removed in its own, in touch way. Opens with some thick guitar swells that layer about while contact mic'd little stirrup sounds come and go without much care. Always something cosmically grounded about this moniker's stuff, though safe to say this one keeps its head up a bit higher than usual. Cause birds are as wonderous as earth worms I suppose. Whereas the first side of the split couldn't stop moving, this one can't seem to budge, setting up its locale and sticking with it. Odd motor hums come and all sorts of field recorded moments, but the overall effect is one of a deeper submersion into the thing first presented. It's just that as the details become clearer the reality reveals a certain level of brutality. Eventual hum and sizzle meet in some factory just on the outskirts of the town we started on, with clouds of smoke and kiln rumbles galore. Heavy stuff, slow and steady. This one's a real winner, great split for both acts--Xiphiidae's tells a real story while Thoughts on Air is a minor revelation, with hopefully plenty more to come from that source. Nice.

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