Monday, November 16, 2009

Christopher Riggs - Home of the Glassman (Holy Cheever Church Records CS)

And if one's not enough, than two ain't either. But here we go anyway--two Riggs in one day?! Some day indeed. Actually this is all part of a much anticipated catch up session that involves a number of long buried releases intended for review... sometimes work gets in the way of play y'know? Hell, sometimes it gets in the way of work...

Anyway, if Gold Danny didn't whet your appetite for the six-string soothsayer, this one's got to. At 71 minutes, it's long enough to accompany most any silent film or almost two full episodes of Lost, your pick. Me though, I prefer to have it sit beside me while I'm grading papers. Keeps things on edge enough that it all flows a bit easier. Opening stuff is some muffled action while doors are creased over and over. Airplane's flying overhead as we speak and it's like a third guitar on this duel guitar attack. Hot billing too, its selling points being no overdubs or mixes. "Really!" Pretty mind bending though once you pick it apart and find all the glistening strains in between. Wiley. Like Riggs hooked contact mics up to his teeth and is having a floss with barbed wire or something. Only it's all in this slow burn style that's totally desperate and woody and frozen. Like some desperate frozen bear fumbling around in the woods while the birds taunt his mammoth weight. Never lets the critters see him fall though, just gets to where he's gotta be and then lays rest. Then the fleas start feasting for sure.

Next level stuff as usual, bruised and alive. Seems Riggs is busy all the time, and the payoff is mighty for those willing to dive in. Lonely stuff. Listen to it while driving and it's like crickets accompanying you. Listen to it while sleeping and it's like bedbugs infringing on your dreams. Listen to it while showering and it'll turn the water blue--wait, water is blue right?! Then it'll damn near stay that way!

Christopher Riggs - Gold Danny (Holy Cheever Church Records CD-R)

Q: You like Chris Riggs? A: Yea, totally. Q: Why you like Chris Riggs? A: Cause he floats my boat, that's why. Gold Danny's another yacht to rest your cap on from the dude. And believe it or not, it's a CD-R. On Holy Cheever? What a sell-out... What's next, a Sub Pop contract and a radio sleeper?

Well no actually. The disc might be cruisable in a larger percentage of rides, but that doesn't mean anything concerning its perceived ride-ability. Wheels are a-turnin' mighty slow here, with Riggs' usual breed of drape and scrape stripped way back to single string benders and hollowed out fenders. Loosey-goosey stuff that sticks its neck out far enough that when the spine's snapped the whole thing just flops over, head first and tail in the air. White lump in the shade.

I can tout Riggs all I like but really you're either on board or your not. I can tell you he's the best thing since Django Reinhardt and that still won't get the gypsy fans on board. Or that Wes Montgomery or Grant Green suck eggs compared to this (duh). A recent description on the Holy Cheever site from John Olson pretty much hits the nail on the head in terms of a Derek Bailey to Joe Morris to Keith Rowe to Riggs lineage. One's gotta wonder what's next though? I'm not sure guitar can sound less like a guitar than this really. Sounds more like some deranged tape loop held under water till it can take no more. Add to that lineage someone like, oh I don't know, Fozzy Bear, and you might be getting there. Cagean chance is the tip of the iceberg, but what about purposeful purposelessness huh? Where the point is pointless and the goal is right behind you? Just flesh on metal, with the buzz of signal passage intervening. The short little passages here, skipping along like some drunken elementary school girl, really gives you enough space that you should be able to figure out what the hell Riggs is up to. Clueless still though. Weirdness abounds sleeper style. That's right. Night night. Tight.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Moonflare - All the World is Bright With Joy and Musical Delight (Cubic Pyramid CD-R)

Courtesy of new Lisbon-based label Cubic Pyramid, this disc is a nice little foray into some twisted avenues of psychedelic scree, presenting a fuzzed out offering that has some balls behind its burned out walls. Only two tracks here, but the first is longer than an episode of Doug, so what's the worry?

Seems like both tracks are untitled too, so you get to just throw it on without much thought--though some might argue the extended title cancels that out a tad... fear not though, this stuff isn't nearly as quaint as it's name suggests, instead presenting a minor beat in its opening before shifting gears toward some droned out mish-mash of blown blacks. Not so much a dark foray, but it gets noisy enough, moving from Vibracathedral-oriented twitter to attempts at Hototogisu rumble. And despite it's not really making it to either the disc does have a little something going on if I do say so myself. Real sincere stuff that has an organic flow and a pretty together atmosphere, which is nice to hear from first timers and pros alike. Guitar and vocalizings combine Skaters-shades into a real solid sound that at times even reminds me of some rundown cover of a Double Leopards track or something. Only not. A little nastier sounding really, and less mobile capabilities. The focus is solid here though, and these guys manage to control the general shape of the whole thing well without letting it get out of hand too quickly. Well played folks, well played.

The kicker is the palette cleanser, a nearly six-minute guitar diddle that's got some clues bending about it like some serpentine truth module. Weird and lilting and really nothing like the previous track. In my book it's actually the more effective and weirder route, but what's my book got to do with it. True be told it's a perfect bookend to the fiesta beforehand. Groovy stuff. Limited to 50 though, and nice.

Mark Bradley - Absolution (Basses Frequences CD-R)

Here's another platter for your brain matter, but only if you feel like squishing it to ooze and letting it have a looksy around the premises from the floor. Mark sent me this one a little bit ago, and it's been a delayed delight, especially what with the incoming chill and overextended thrill associated with teaching in the winter. Perfect stuff for elimination of all things detrimental.

Mark's hardly a newcomer though, as he's been popping stuff out for a while on labels like Reverb Worship, Blackest Rainbow and the way-back reviewed Existential Cloth stuff. Which means this is a tried and true tactic, and little could be thought of as trieder or truer than Bradley's laser beam ambiance. With crystal clear precision, Bradley let's it all slip in and out of focus with little regard for the fuzzy affect so often opted for in the scene. Instead you just get shifting planes of lunar lines, lunges of transparent diamonds that reflect so much light that they vanish as quickly as their image gets back to your eye. Split between four tracks, each as iridescent as the next, the whole album virtually melts upon touch. From the shards of "Evolving" to the gentle treatment of vibrato on "Harmonium," the whole work feels far more about the space you're sitting in than the sounds effect. Just let it spill on over and have a go at some manna. It's all for the taking.

The longest work here is the third offering, "Unison," which shimmies around some vacuous nexus like magnetic quarks lured in to inter-dimensional portals. Long and slow, the thing hardly lies still--it just stills the mind while it switches modes with glorious acuity. In the 5th dimension, these pieces are downright quick. Just slows down in translation. "Absolute" closes in satellite managerial moves, blipping and shredding its way out of the steel and into the black. More in line with the Old New Age than the New one, this stuff rests squarely on its blankets of sound--I dare say it's downright cozy in there too. Killer tin package on this one as well.

Dylan Ettinger - Fruit Bats (Curious Lacunae CS)

Just in from Foxy Digitalis:

Proving to be one of the more consistent offerers in the tropically-minded vein of experimental sounds, Dylan Ettinger has broadened his output from his own El Tule label to recent releases from the likes of Not Not Fun and this one, on Curious Lacunae. Meshing his palm-tree aesthetic with a crude, tape mashing sensibility, Ettinger's sound is considerably woozier than many of his contemporaries, reading more like the post-margarita memory of some chopped up circus night in old Cancun.

A lot of the stuff on this tape is actually quite subtle considering its clear overall angle. Small sounds and miniature transmissions are frequently hushed and stoic, writhing like jellies on the sand. Daytime comes, bringing with it the parasols and pina coladas, but at night the moon's glow still gets the crabs out for their crustacean cuisines. It's these moments that are best too, floating in the same waters as Dolphins into the Future and Ferraro without sounding too deeply rooted in it. If Ferraro's in Long Beach, Ettinger might be in some secret Canadian bay where tiny whales sing effortless lullabies. It's nice stuff, and careful at that.

The carnival always returns though, steel drums clanging away in riotous revelry. But the underlying interest is in the little things, the blurts of sound coming from beyond the waves. Ettinger's willing to let it all speak for itself in that way, presenting a scene and examining it one piece at a time. Yet the squids are always of greatest interest, and Ettinger seems more than eager to let them fill the vast majority of the tape. Without the contrast of sounds these synthesizer drifts wouldn't hold the same weight, true, but it's nice to see him work where he knows his strengths are. A carefully done release that exhibits further growth from this up-and-comer. Nice.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Waterside Gala - Composure & Recreation (Roll Over Rover CS)

Here's another go that I'm sure people are psyched for. And if not, well, your problem I guess. Cause ROR's back with new offerings and that's cause for celebration in my book for sure. Figured I'd open the batch up with this one though, as it represents a new project from some familiar faces, and isn't it always nice to see your buds in a different light? Whole new deal. Waterside Gala is actually the duo of living room lunar king Sean McCann and Kellen Shipley, whose previous release was reviewed quite favorably over here for a bunch of legitimate reasons.

Civilized cover, no? Well, partially. The people look pleased enough, but where are their faces? And why's the water so splotchy? What's in there anyway? Finding McCann and Shipley meeting each other somewhere between Bennie Maupin (or Chick Corea, if the reference is better), Leroy Jenkins and La Monte Young, the sounds speak to that more or less on the opening "Scotch & Soda." One too many cocktails deep at the Society Ball, I suppose. Beautiful bowed moves on the opening alongside lone sax lines and synth sprawl. Very strange and restive stuff that moves toward an earned passivity by side's end. Action without reaction can only go so long before nap time, you know? The important thing is it speaks for itself while it can.

Flip side features "Guest of Honor," a considerably more crotchety go that sees the crowd getting sloppy and sounds getting floppy. Overlapping horn lines and thick bows attempt arranging themselves over junkyard searches. What are they looking for? Haven't the foggiest. But the sound's coming from somewhere. Real nice loopings that never get caught up in their own mess, instead presenting and slipping out, each giving their compatriots time to have a say. Real nice stuff that sits pretty where it is instead of flipping over itself time and again. Summer's over, November's here. Don't let the soporific chill get you down. Sleep on, Gala, the season is upon us. And don't get your head stuck in the water wheel while you're down. Short tape, small run. But (of course) nice stuff from a considerably excellent batch.

51717 - Sch (Gel CS)

Sequestered in my abode due to borderline dire health circumstances, but luckily healthy enough to take a minute to catch up on some long neglected merch that's been coming through. Wanted to start with this one, which I actually lay down the dollars for, but I haven't really heard much hype surrounding this label and I think it deserves some. Gel's run by former Racoo-oo-oon member Daren Ho, whose solo output as Driphouse has gotten some fond criticism, but everything else on the label seems like it's been largely ignored which has got to--GOT TO, I say--stop. From the production of these things--transparencies with print--to the sounds, the label's put out some monster stuff already.

This one is a real mystery from a band with a numeric name. Don't know anything about the unit other than the presentation here, but it's a real solid go of it. Stripped back high end oscillator stuff it sounds like, but real drifting and lilting--far removed from American Tapes high end pummel. Just little drippings and smatterings of elevated pinpoints on F.Y.P.P., which sounds like some beautiful and lush pop track if everything but the most frozen tones were stripped away and left for dead. "Trust Track" has a similar effect, ultra minimal cymbal smatterings over some dual chord synth and wordless mermaid wallowings. Anybody seen that newish Werner Herzog flick "Encounters at the End of the World." Good flick, but a lot of this stuff reminds me of the ultra haunting undersea seal screes that the scientists listen to, seemingly for hours, heads pressed into the ice in some proto-primitive ritual of Zen archaeology. Hey, how bout that?--thar she blows! "Like Pink Floyd or something..." Hmmm, I think not. But the frozen tundra idea is alive and well here, as is the isolated foreignness. Good god.

Flip side's got more offerings, including part two of the aforementioned "Trust Track," which is less bare but equally there. They seem pretty relentless in their refusal to build beyond skeleton structures here, and it's a fine resistance. Not much else is needed. And again, gotta go back to the fact these guys are largely working in a preconceived form--there's an element of new age fetishism here to be sure, but it's so controlled and weird that it changes things up to keep it mere ice crystals in the wind. Chilly in the way that heats my hearth slow and steady style. Even gets into some sawed off singer stuff, like some little girl's voice drifting into the netherworld as a saw's taken to her torso. Grim? Sure, but it's all air at the end of the day I suppose. Almost reminds me of Peaking Lights without the glow, or Pocahaunted with snow. Slow go bro. Whoa. And dig the drum machine weirdness on "Sma," bra. Special mention too of the art--the transparent element and black and clear color mode really fit the bill here in a way that goes beyond the tape "looking like" the music. All builds on itself for a super package. As with all of it really, so have a have.