Monday, August 24, 2009
Niao - Clenched Fist (Sailing CD-R)
There's a funny story to this one. A ways back, as part of a Digitalis package I got this tape that wasn't marked for review, but I dug it enough and tucked it aside. Then, recently, I got an e-mail from this guy George Gukerdas who went to Bard--yours truly's ol' alma mater--and was in some classes with me, and he had some handmades he wanted me to give a go--turns out one of them was that tape though. So he was right ther eunder my nose the whole time. Weirder still, this number was recorded by Anthony Kingsley, who lived my dorm a stretch, and features Gordan Spencer-Blaetz who I go way back with. So yeah, some representation from Annandale here, which is always swell to come by.
As for the sounds here, most of it steers between tribal style hippie jamming and deep space synth work in a pentatonic vein. Opener has some sung syllables from spaced out contributors over a barely there thudding before moving into some loose clatter and chatter. Pretty heady dabblings here, fulfilled further by the following synth zonk out, which reaches deep for some celestial pins but manages to stay nicely aloft in the dark. Vocals return along with drum pulses, I'm assuming from the likes of the aforementioned members and Ben Lorber and Austin Julian, eventually slipping back into the void. Third track starts with some real zonked synth stuff, right up my alley, just oscillators on automatic, before the chanting returns--a major theme it appears. The neo-primitive thing works fairly well here though, if only because of the sincerity of its execution. If you think of the album as a cohesive work rather than a series of songs it gives it a real shape in fact, and some nice personal character. Track five gets pretty spacey with some Animal Collective synth vibes before the closer calls on some "Watermelon Man" rhythms and melds them to cheapo pulses and, again, a fair share of earnest syllabic expounding before drifting into the most head-twisting drift on the disc, with synth runs and slipping percussion blowing all about. Nice little disc, especially for those folks into the free-folk/early Pocahaunted realm of the spectrum. Comes in a lovingly crafted handsewn case too. Can't argue with that.