Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dolphins Into the Future - Voyage Series Pt. 2 (Self Released CD-R)

Here's another one I snagged at the Skaters show. This was the one act I hadn't heard anything about going into the night, but when the time came Alex Murphy--update: not Alex Murphy but Lieven Martens, my bad...--sure showed everyone there what they were missing out on. Sitting at a table all dignified like, the guy, armed with a few tape machines, some loop machines/sampling keyboards, and maybe a few other trinkets, created the weirdest little world of repeating echolocation wails and bobbing row boat rhythms. sometimes he'd just let the whole thing sit for a minute before reaching back down to grab one of about fifty tapes lying on the floor. Half were white and half were black, and I assume that meant something but me thinks that's for the Dolphin's eyes only. Needless to say, the whole thing was enticing enough to snag the only thing he had available, a cheapo unlabeled CD in a clear case with a picture and track listing inside (sorry, the bag and CD created too much glare for the photo, so you only get the ocean scene). Believe it or not, this was the fanciest item there aside from Ferraro's girlfriend's thing.

The track listing on the back suggests that the album chronicles some kind of journey, albeit one that starts on Day 7 and is followed by Day 4. Must be how come it's part of the voyage series, no? If this is a trip though, it seems more like one inside the ol' noggin than out on the roaring seas. Track one truly follows the rhythms (or shall we say riddims?) of the waves as long hollow buoy sounds bounce against each other inadvertently. A funny little whistle riff repeats overhead as the aforementioned wails of large undersea mammals beckon immensities into the overall creation.

After the first nine minute excursion (the longest on the album), the whole thing settles into a kind of trance inducing pace, as if all of nature, including that seashell necklace you're wearing, has for a moment united into one strange, hobbling rhythmic structure of aimless shimmer. Not to over do the ocean metaphors, but it all sounds as if your floating on your back over some rainbow colored coral reef, only you're looking at your back from below and the light's shining through the water and everything is all glisteny. Only sometimes you remember just how deep it gets, or you run into some strange crustacean that reminds you that this is a much more complex realm than it feels. Really beautiful stuff, minimal stuff, not far off from something like Eno's "The Big Ship," especially on tracks six and seven, which at the heart of the album really represent the potential that this guy has. Track seven could serve as some kind of underwater Mario level, except its far too ethereal and intricately balanced for that.

Murphy's trick is to never let too much happen, and even the kalimba and other percussive elements are used in such a way so as to completely intertwine themselves with the back porch lulling that the whole thing suggests. Not one organ note or tape sample sounds out of place from the whole of each miniature piece, most of which clock in at no more than three minutes. Hell, half of them are under a minute, like taking a really close peak at one reef shrimp or sting ray before swimming on.

Really, all of this kind of demeans the effectiveness of the album. The whole thing is deeply intricate and well constructed, and in a world where people too often try to blow you away Murphy clearly is confident enough in the sound he's after that he'll take his time getting you there. That said, this would be the soundtrack to my yacht trip through the Great Barrier Reef. I know the water metaphors are tedious, espeically what with the project being called Dolphins Into the Future and all, but really, find it and listen. The whole thing is echoey underwater stuff, part Cousteau score, part island jam, part field recording (only really, none of the above). I don't know where to find this, or whether or not the Voyage Series even has a first part, but it's a journey I'd like to continue, straight on into the deep. Flippers required.

Check out his myspace for more info. Added bonus: killer psychedelic Alf art work on it. Worth the price of admission alone.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

James Ferraro - Edward Flex Presents: Maui Black Out/Liquid Bikini (New Age Tapes / Pacific City Studios CD-R)

Yet another period of non-posting has passed (sorry, again) and another James Ferraro solo release slated for review. This one is the only other Skaters item I was able to snag at that show I've already discussed too much but why not beat a dead horse right? It already being dead and all...

Edward Flex Presents: Maui Black Out/Liquid Bikini is, like Roach Motel, a crudely packaged, crudely produced, and just plain crude sounding trip into the metal riffage alien lands of Mr. Ferraro. Really, the ripped 80s muscle maiden next to the Budweiser can on the cover says it all--Ferraro's universe continues to be a steroid infused party world. Hard rocking pummel sessions spin themselves over and over as voices repeat "go" (or some similarly fist-pumping phrase) ad infinitum while pauses in the sound lead to further digressions, some of them featuring odd scraping percussion over weird funky bass riffs while others sound like the score to a cop show that I might actually be interested in seeing.

It just occurred to me that at the show Spencer described his own sound as "coconut drone," which really was right on the mark. But he might have nailed it even harder in calling Ferraro's breed "cyber tropical." Like some weird Bacchanalian beach party twenty-five million light years directly above Cancun and in whatever year featured similar aesthetic sensibilities to our own 1986.

This one actually got the Tip of the Tongue treatment over at Volcanic Tongue not too long ago, and it isn't really hard to see why. Whereas Roach Motel seemed like an exploration of this certain sound, Edward Flex Presents: Maui Black Out/Liquid Bikini shows Ferraro hitting his stride. If he was hanging at the tiki lounge before, now he's bartending. I guess.

I know I'm spending a lot of time discussing the overall sound and avoiding getting into specifics. In my defense it's no cop-out; this is wiley stuff that jumps all over the map. The feel is unified, but the 71 minute track goes all over the place. Sometimes there's minimal stuff with humming electronics, monkey sounds, weird droning high-pitched mayhem. Vocals are fairly regular in some form or another. But really the only constant is the party feel and the kinetic nature of the whole thing. It never sits in one place too long, like David Hasselhoff at a kegger. Are those dogs in the background or just boozed up knuckleheads imitating seals? Or both?

I guess what's really exciting about this stuff is that Ferraro, a staple of the contemporary noise and drone scene, has taken a chance with these records, and it sure doesn't seem like he's breaking a sweat over it either. Without missing a beat, the guy has created a sound that only he could pull off. Whereas too many noise/drone guys seem to hide behind a similar drone style that they may or may not be too scared and/or capable of drifting from, Ferraro creates an aesthetic that is solely his, and like it or not you have to admit that he has a pretty serious grasp on the approach.

As of late, Ferraro's been doing soundtracks to bad (or even non-existent) movies, and this kind of thing fits right in. Perfect stuff to pump when I'm cruising down the strip in my red Camaro. Hell, I might even pass as legit.

On second thought, probably not.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Lamborghini Crystal - Roach Motel (New Age Tapes / Pacific City Studios CD-R)

So in my last post I mentioned the show I went to in Albany, but obviously didn't go into too many details. I guess I'll update here. Basically, the show was amazing. Shall I go into greater depth? I believe I shall.

It opened with Burnt Hills (albeit in a slightly stripped down line-up) which is always a blast. Got there late but from what I could tell, even the smaller set up had some serious blastitude potential. Spencer Clark of The Skaters went next with some nice loping "coconut drone"--his term, not mine, but really its the most apt description I can come up with. The guy was like the Huckleberry Finn (or Rick Danko, if you need your analogies based in reality) of drone, wide brim straw hat, dangling necklace, incense out the wazoo. Just hunched over his minimal equipment set up. Truly nuts. After that James Ferraro, also of The Skaters, lay down his gurggling dronescape aided by his lovely assistant who lit incense, displayed a mighty saber, and contributed some nice vocalizations. After that Zac Davis of Lambsbread, Traum, and the Maim & Disfigure label had a ten minute solo guitar sesh that went from stoner rock mayhem to psuedo-No Wave weirdness. His prop set up included--actually, no, was limited to--a bong. It fit. Post Zac came a guy I had never heard of who went under the moniker Dolphins into the Future. This thing was serious actually. Very quiet, meditative loop stuff. Patience was big here, and the multitude of tapes lying on the floor, every so often replacing others, kept it moving at a glacial but beautifully minimal pace. This all in time for James and Spencer to unite and become the powers that are The Skaters. Could their set have done anything but slayed? Me thinks nay.

Of course the best part about the whole night was that there were about eight people their who weren't playing, so between sets we all hung out and discussed the finer points of Reptoids (Oprah is the queen it turns out), analog vs. digital video, and Chuck E. Cheese's. My wallet was empty by the time they were done with me.

One of the items I was able to score was this Lamborghini Crystal album. This is one of the solo projects of James Ferraro, and it wasn't really what I was expecting from the set he played at the show. Whereas the live scenario was a mammoth drone, Roach Motel is really more of a collage work. About an hour long, the whole thing stinks of beer and hookers--all heavy eighties guitar riffs mixed and looped until they become nothing more than a heaping concoction of post-concert fatigue. If you haven't seen Heavy Metal Parking Lot see it. If you have, it might look a lot like this afterwards. Bass riffs come in, drum machines lurch along, and looped vocals pulled from radio/James/wherever repeat and meld, bending underneath the riffs as the whole thing undulates back and forth. Really weird stuff.

At first I was little thrown off by this, but actually the effect really works, and it's clear James has an acute understanding of what he's doing. As the chaos of this stuff emerges and engages with itself it all becomes some kind of warped cultural amalgamation turning into some cosmic beast. Almost like what it might sound like if you were to listen to all of Earth's radio waves at once as they sped off towards the sun.

The whole thing is about an hour and is one track, so it makes for a pretty serious listen. Sometimes the riffs fade out and are replaced by new ones either related or not to the previous. The second half contains almost no riffs at all, just tonal workout sessions or droning warmth undercut by harsh static. All of this makes for an affair that, as a whole, is mind-numbing something good. Grating enough to keep your interest but zonked out enough to allow you to slip in and out.

The fact that this thing is a single side seems to point towards some kind of conception. The first half, all metal riffage, beer guzzling and primitivo percussion, really paves the way for a second half in which he can really explore some deep crevices of sound. And really that's what the release is, you know? Fully formed and masterfully executed formations of sound. Pretty daunting. Super good.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sunburned Hand of the Man - Sugar Mongolia / Process of Weed(ing Out) (Manhand CS)

Went to another show Monday night, this time up in Albany. Jack (of Burnt Hills) hosted, and he somehow managed to rally Zac Davis (of Lambsbread and Maim & Disfigure), Dolphins into the Future and The Skaters to play in his basement. Needless to say, I picked up some serious merch, but I figured I'd get the Sunburned cassette I got on Saturday in before it gets buried beneath everything else I've accumulated.

Actually, this tape is the only thing I picked up from them the other night, which was a real shocker. Maybe it's that new cassette deck I got, but somehow that cheapo ($5) tape with the skull on it had my attention more than anything else (well, except for the four cassette Loft Sessions--Moloney wouldn't sell it to me since it was missing its insert... blast). But enough of my blubbering, your here to hear, right?

The cassette is essentially just a single tape: one side has the 6 minute-ish "Sugar Mongolia" and the other has the 7ish "Process of Weed(ing Out)." The opener starts off in surprising fashion indeed. We're talking about a straight up duel guitar, drums, bass, and electric keyboard jam sesh, no frills attached. Sure, it's got that signature Sunburned psych sound--lay some effects over this, some weird vocal outbursts or something, and you've pretty much got a sound not far from Jaybird--but this could also be the practice session of some mid-70s instrumental smooth funk outfit. The piece starts to meander at a certain point, loosening up into something resembling Can territory. All deep, in-the-pocket bass lines and minimalist work by all. Pretty much the closest thing to an unabashed instrumental jam I've heard from them, complete with slow, steady break down, organ fills etc. before the guitar lick kicks back in sounding like a cross between Uncle Meat era Zappa and Amon Duul II. If anything, the tape does groove, and in a weird way it displays the group's strengths as a rock outfit in their own right. The guys can really play, and this is a cohesive instrumental jam that relies on no trickery whatsoever to do what it needs to.

"Process of Weed(ing Out)"--killer title, no?--is a different story completely. Moloney's drums start out right anxious, all skittery jazzish stuff while strange rhythms bounce in the background like floats hitting each other in the ocean. Guitar makes its way in and out with harsh No Wave style shards, though its quiet enough that it becomes more of an atmospheric touch than anything. The name of the game here is definitely rhythm, though I confess that isn't saying anything much regarding Sunburned. Part of what has always made the group work is their percussive qualities. I once read an interview where they said something along the lines of everyone in the band being a percussionist in some way, and it's true. Guess that's how come they can switch from the aimless free weirdness of the beginning to, two minutes later, a virtual punk throttle ahead driver. Guitar's louder now, really wailin, and it's all kind a big speeding train looking for a crash site. Like Iron Maiden covering DNA in Pere Ubu's basement. Deconstructivist stuff. Again though, the track strangely puts the group on display as a working unit--they really do know how to improvise together.

This might be the first time I've witnessed Sunburned in this kind of setting. They don't seem to have any of their electronic weird-makers, bells, or any of the things that I typically expect from this crew. Instead, it's a stripped-down look at how tight a unit this group can be in vastly different contexts. A cool little curio for all you non-believers. Actually, some people nay-say the Burned ones for this very reason; you know, "they're really just a psychedelic JAM band" material. That may be the case, but if you're making that comparison than Muddy Waters and Phish fall in the same category. Shit, guess that means I have to stop listening to Phish... yuk yuk.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Century Plants - Bloodrise (Peasant Magik 3" CD-R)

My apologies for not having posted in a bit. I was on a roll there over break, but things seemed to have largely halted since returning to school. Well, halt no more, for I have returned from a voyage northward (Saratoga Springs, to be exact) where I bore witness to the work of two heroes of the modern realm, Century Plants and Sunburned Hand of the Man. Though I must say, the crowd at this thing was not quite what I expected. Alot of parents and little kids running around isn't exactly what one finds at this kind of show but hey, it was so. Everyone was politely seated in front of the stage mingling, and me and my cohorts kept looking around and trying to figure out whether any of these people knew what they had gotten themselves into. Figured it was friends and family of the Plants' crew as it wasn't that far from their stomping grounds, but nay, Eric informed me afterwards. Just Arts Council regulars I guess.

Despite the crowd, council was held indeed. Century Plants opened and they were stellar with their duel guitar gravity hammers. The crowd was a bit nervous it looked, but they got into it eventually and were surprisingly willing to engage with the stuff so I guess powers of good do remain in the world. Sunburned followed and despite about ten minutes of chatter in the beginning of the set they had that place doing the Binger Blitz in no time, fists pumping, little girls doing ballet, etc. Figures that the kids were the ones really getting into it, as their naive ears are yet to be turned on to the smooth sounds of Kenny G and the like. Can I hear a hallelujah?!

So after the show, of course, I picked up some merch. Century Plants were nice enough to introduce themselves and lay a Peasant Magik 3" on me for free seeing as how they had read my last review and all. I snagged the other two they were selling and a nice Sunburned tape which is sure to get the review treatment soon enough as well. Nice night for the buyins, as was to be expected.

So I had heard a lot of hype over this Bloodrise number and, as I mentioned in the last Century Plants review, it was a show that I actually attended but had missed due to late arrival, so it's nice to at least have it on record. But boy was I bummed to have found out I missed this one. The first minute or so is just ringing approach, kinda like those ripples in the glass of water when the T. Rex approaches in Jurassic Park. You know what I'm talking about. Then the train arrives, and its all dense no-man's land drone from there out. Whereas everything else I've heard by the duo is pretty guitary--not to say that they don't coax some whiley snippets from their strings--this one is all shimmering drenched out reverb mayhem. Like demons surrounding you on your decent to hell, whispering in your ears about the horrors that they have and will commit. And bats. Lots of bats. Hell, this shit is downright gothic, some kind of descent into the wildery depths of the darkest holes.

It's not really important to know just what's making the sounds on this 20 minute knock-out. Vocals definitely make their way in and out in some form or another, even a cymbal crash or something. But mostly this is just steady riffy droning. Six minutes in, and there's no looking back. The hole was scary before, but now it's kill or be killed, and I've never seen Century Plants back down from a battle of survival. There aren't many units out there that can create something with this much character or depth. A certain intimacy is attainable when you only have one other person to converse with, and they create a deep sonic spectrum that holds maximum potential for slight changes that cause seismic shifts in the weight of the work. All sounds ring freely off the walls of the Helderberg House (or Palace, as it's referred to in the stunning--no, really--packaging) basement. Maybe that's why it's so cold in this one. Just two guys wailing in the confines of an Albany basement.

Maybe it was John and Tovah Olson in attendance, maybe it was the crowd, or maybe it was the drugs that warm summer's eve. Whatever it was, Bloodrise slays, displaying new depth for an already exciting outfit. I liked Century Plants before. From here on, I'm gettin it all.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

6Majik9 - Rubber God Head (Phantom Limb Recordings CD-R)

Yet another one I haven't had an excuse to do yet, this time from scrap mavens 6Majik9. These guys have a whole slew of releases out right now, and of course I've only got one of them courtesy of the estimable Phantom Limb Recordings, run by Grant Capes of (VxPxC). I don't really know much about the group except that they're Australian, share members with Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood and Terracid, and are the minds behind the wonderful Music Your Mind Will Love You (MYMWLY) label. So basically, its a mysterious collective who release strange experimental music from the other side of the globe. Could you ask for anything more? I didn't think so.

Rubber God Head is one forty-ish minute track that somehow manages to cross all borders between No-Neck style acoustic wanderings, Eric Dolphy angularities, and Jewelled Antler woodsie vibes. I'm not sure just how many people are playing on this thing, but to my ear I hear a whole slew of instruments: saxophone, guitar, drums, bells, piano, assorted electronic noise makers, even a sampler that at one point features a baby crying (so I guess really I'm just hoping it's a sampler...). I might be wrong, but I think I even hear a cello in the mix. Could be wrong, but either way, I have no idea how many people are making this. Could be two guys, could be ten, but whoever it is they sure know how to create one killer half hour.

The piece opens quite noisily, all electronics and off-beat amateurish percussion, before quickly settling down into a more earthly, meandering vibe. The group clearly has their act together though, and never feel lost as they splash around in the mucky muck. This might be a rudderless boat, but the river's plenty full of curiosities. The unit continues its journey then entire time, never resting on any one sound for too long. At various points, guitar, piano, sax, anything takes the lead. At one point, having emerged from one of the more energetic parts of the largely patient track, a small percussion repetitions that could be some guy rapping on a table with a broken chair leg three times holds it all together. The point being that it's a pretty deep sack of tricks 6Majik9's got, and their certainly wise enough not to overuse any of them. Of course they have no problem with some good old fashioned repetition either.

When the baby's cry comes in towards the end, it at first seems a little off from the rest of the album, which could well have been played ritualistically under a full moon in some meadow--even the electronics have, to this point, managed to stay earthly and organic. Yet this baby, out of nowhere, is repeated enough that it too becomes part of the ritual, just another rhythmic motif to build off to as they slink into the night. Not quite noise, not quite folk, not quite psychedelic, not really quite anything. Just organic spacious yum-yums for your ears to drift in and out of. Limited to 90 with beautifully cosmic cover art (just check out the front and back at the same time!) and awesome spray painted CD-R.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Jazzfinger - Wixxon Flag Bearer (DNT Records CD-R)

Another one form the vaults seeing as all my new stuff is waiting for me back at school. Nice excuse to be able to do some of these actually (I scored Carlos Giffoni's No Fun #2 yesterday... maybe I'll do that one soon!).

So this one isn't something I got a long time ago, but it certainly isn't the most recent in either the label or the band's discography. UK-based Jazzfinger have been at it for a while now, combining weird experimental drone stuff with scraping percussion, geetar, melodica, and whatever else they seem to have lying around. I've heard that the trio, made up of Hasan Gaylani, Ben Jones and Sarah Sullivan, is known for rarely doing the same thing on their recordings, and on this DNT album, they certainly do kindle their own brand of musical landscape.

Wixxon Flag Bearer opens with "Birth of the Knife," which, if you were to only hear the first two notes of, might sound something like a romantic Riviera love song. But nay, that third note is a squeaker, and it sure doesn't go away. The whole thing sounds like a weird melancholy message played between power wires--somewhere out there, someone is getting the message. "Autumn Leaf Call" follows up right where the latter left off, except it tones things down in turns of the feedback and opts for a kind of melodica/percussion duet. This ain't no Augustus Pablo though, and that certainly isn't Rashied Ali on drums either. The product is a kind of clanking, toy world with mbira (you know, that metallic African thumb piano), bowls and plates, whatever it seems is lying around. The melodica line actually is quite melodic and beautiful in parts, evoking a strange sadness throughout. Seems for them, this fills the same kind of role as Ennio Morricone's whistle--suggesting both the loneliness of solitude, but also the freedom. Just wait till that alien voice chides in, all vibrato and eerie warmth. A theremin perhaps? Don't look at me.

"Final Scene Before Cloud" again picks up the scattered pieces of the previous piece, restructures them, and embarks on its own journey. Actually, the organ line (or is it still that theremin thing? Or something else? I give up...) takes similar chord structures to the aforementioned theremin thingy and throws them up front, a pseudo-bass line for the scraping percussion and humming feedback to whirl around. "My Water" furthers the bizarre mix that this group achieves, in which you get highly recognizable, even iconic percussion sounds, overlaid by obscured, more alien sounds. The result is a strange mix that is nicely effective. It doesn't sound too weird and out there, but it certainly never rests in a comfortable space. I think this piece has an out-of-tune guitar, maybe an organ in the distant background, and plenty of amp warmth and fuzz. Weird stuff that's strangely contemplative.

"The Machine That Turned Off Mars" features more of that aimless, amateur percussion that these guys seem to love over a restful little piano diddy that might as well be the soundtrack to that kids' movie "The Snowman." You know, with the flying and the whales and the melting? The choice of decidedly lo-fi recording methods is an aesthetic that I happen to love, and the group uses it well, allowing it to highlight the unexpected high frequencies while blanketing the entire disc in strange murky cloud of heat. The fact that Jazzfinger fight back the heat with their chilly atmospheres only furthers their wonderful dynamic. "Caves" follows this beautiful mess with an epic 24 minutes of pretty much all out noise. Here, there's way too much going on for the little intricacies to pop in and out of the mix--pretty much, you just get one full on sonic blast. Yet about two-thirds of the way through a weird horn line comes in, fuzzes out, and settles, holding the clatter in place and allowing even this workout to show its (slightly) softer side. The fade out sounds like its being played in some train tunnel as steam engines whisk by the group's crude set-up.

"The Arrangement" closes the album with something like a cross between the methods used on most of hte tracks, and those used on "Caves." Denser than most of the material on the disc, the track at times reminds me of a (far) busier Graveyards, slowly grinding forward against harsh, tectonic electronics (how's that for a rhyme?). Treated chants are thrown in and out of the mix, and the whistling of objects not typically mic'd add that eerie quality they do so well. Some of it even approaches the sound of a Stockhausen piece, "Kontakte" if you will. A nicely synthesized ending to over an album's worth of expansive and beautiful material. It's some lonely geography these guys tread. Limited to 100 with spray painted CD and insert.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Ashtray Navigations / Cold Solemn Rites in the Sun / Heavy Winged - Split (Ruralfaune CD-R)

Just pulled in for spring break and glad to be able to relax but realized that this meant a bit of time without my trusty turntable, so these next few reviews might be a mining the vaults a bit more than I've been able to avoid lately. Here's one I got for X-mas, so I suppose it's probably not that old, and if it has already fallen by the wayside, well, you know what they say about oldies.

Ruralefaune is one of those small labels that pops up fully formed, ready to unload heavy tunage on the masses. I believe it's a French label, though that's only because their e-mail address has ".fr" at the end. Really tough to find out anything about these guys, but according to their site, they've released some serious outings: Robedoor, Uton, 6Magik9, Taiga Remains, Quetzolcoatl, etc. The list goes on. Of course every release of theirs seems to be in an edition of 100, so fat chance of scoring any from the back catalog I suppose...

Anyway, like I said, this was given to me for X-mas, and at the time I had only heard one of the bands on it. Heavy Winged had wheeled into Bard for a show the previous Fall, and I had swung by, young and naive, and left. Thought it was too wanky or something. Whoops. Ashtray Navigations was a project I'd heard a TON about, but of course had never been able to secure anything by, so this disc was really all about that for me until I threw it on.

Ashtray Navigations is the moniker of Phil Todd, though he sometimes rallies others along for the ride too. He's the only one with more than one song on here--three, in fact--though all of his tracks take up less time than each of the other units' mammoth jams. Still, this was immediately recognizable as something I dug. Convoluted, dense backgrounds, strange guitar or mandolin, middle-eastern tinged vibes, and clackety percussion abound on the first track, which, due to the font, might be called either "Wind Trophy" or "Mind Trophy." I can't tell, but personally, my vote's for "Mind Trophy." Like a psyched-out, noised-out Muslimgauze without all the samples. Ok, so that's a stretch, but they are both into repetitive lines in enclosed spaces, not that Todd's construction is suggestive of anything but expansion. And there is that middle-eastern thing, too. Just none of the DJ nonsense that can get a bit tiresome.

Todd's next track has a smoking title, and it actually fits the sounds in a weird way too. "Beechwood Piss Crescendo" opens around a campfire, crickets, circular loops, and soft guitar layers. A nice relaxed vibe that once again seems to use those middle-eastern melodies he loves. This is a bit more folky, than the last track I suppose, but still all mangled melody and spacious connotation. But this is earthly stuff too, firmly grounded at campfire directly under the axis of the heavens, wavering back and forth between dissonance and complete sonority.

Alright, Todd's final track is really where the Muslimgauze comparison that I spent so long struggling to defend before comes from. "Inside Your Mouth the Elephant's Trunk" (another wonderful title) starts off with a sitar like drone over wooden percussion wavering about like water droplets into a big iron bowl somewhere in Southern India. Building slowly, the piece never loses its focus, as undulating background noises emerge quietly before slinking back to where they came from. When the strings enter, they emit a slow crescendo that ends at its climax, two and a half minutes in, stuck deep in the forests of Nepal.

Cold Solemn Rites in the Sun is a group I have heard little about. Comprised of Wilson Lee, an avant-garde guitarist who runs Fathmount out of Hong Kong,and horn-blower Valerio Cosi of Italy, their track on this one, "Cold Rites in the Sludge," has guest artist Marco Clivati on drums, an addition which must drastically change this outing form most of the duo's numbers. Starting the fifteen minute epic out with a bang, all jerking and halting guitar and free form blow out via Cosi, the piece eventually finds its rhythm, at times going all out a la Brotzmann and Sonny Sharrock in Last Exit, and at times exploring more sonorous territory not dissimilar from an Archie Shepp or Sabir Mateen. The group really holds its own though. Lee has the potential to go into some real far out, fuzz-grating madness, and Cosi is no slouch at all--the guy isn't your average noise-horn-blower, he really seems to know what he's doing. Clivati seems to manage to focus the group more than I imagine much of their stuff is; his driving rhythms and in the pocket breaks are nicely effective in holding the whole thing together. Slows down toward the end, with Clivati's percussion even getting bit tribal, before the guitar drifts the piece off into the hot air currents left in their wake. Worth finding more form these guys for sure.

And now, to Heavy Winged. A trio of Jed Bindeman on skins, Ryan Hebert on guitar, and Brady Sansone navigating on bass, the group theoretically isn't actually a working unit anymore, Stretched across the country, one in Vermont, one in Oregon, and one in Brooklyn, it can't be easy to stay active. I heard one of them opted to become some sort of organic farmer or something. Either way, they recently got hyped up after a slew of releases on various labels, none of which I was smarter to pick up at that show. Luckily I have this. "Under a Reddening Sky" is complete mayhem. All out, stoned and droned sludge. This stuff is far too dense and aimless to be considered rock, but far too riffy and noodling to be noise. The closest comparison I can give is to Burnt Hills, but whereas Burnt Hills wields their power in numbers, crawling along as one giant microcosm, Heavy Winged opts for a tighter, more focused spectacle. This is destruction, but not apocalyptic at all. Hell, this is probably what that kid Sid from Toy Story listened to after he got sick of tearing dolls apart and opted wielding a bong and soldering iron, circuit bending those toys into whacked-out noise-makers instead. This is eighteen minutes of crazed awesomeness. Aimless vocalizings, aimless noodlings, aimless aimlessness. Just shrieking glory. Heavy Winged surely brandishes the hammer of the gods.

Not sure if this bad boy is available, but really after getting this one, I started making a solid effort to pick up more from all of the bands on it (not that I've done good on that effort yet...). The music works well together on this, and it doesn't feel like some cheapo compilation at all. Instead, the groups all seem to be pointing towards the same celestial vision from different angles.