Sunday, March 16, 2008

Du Hexen Hase – Under the Clouds of Sleep [No Label]

Hey, a quick (but awesome) one here. This is a 3inch by local (Seattle) act Du Hexen Hase, which I know little about other than its Adam from Dull Knife’s other slammin’ drone trio. Adam gave me this at a totally killer show with masters of the universe Yellow Swans a while back and anyway, I’ve really been slacking on the reviews so I’m just now finally giving this CD-r its due. Also worth noting, the guys list Mitch Hedburg as an influence on their myspace page, so my question to you is: how can they not be great?
“Under the Clouds of Sleep” is a single 17.5 minute track. It sounds like there is maybe two guitars though I suppose it could be one looping over itself. There are plenty of others groans and creaks emanating from who knows what, doubling the track’s mystifying-ness. My favorite thing about the track is its melodic sensibilities. Despite the eerie, almost film-score vibe, there are many moments of beauty in the rotted greyness. The guitarplaying is the element providing the melody and it really anchors the track, so whoever was playing guitar during this session—gold star to you. There are a few layers, particularly a simple repeated arpeggio and a really great almost shimmering staccato type part that pops up occasionally. As the track moves along various bits of electronics noise curls around the frame of the guitar playing. This track is really strange for me to listen to, because it’s an incredibly pleasant listen yet it almost always makes me think of grim, incredibly unpleasant things like a plane crash or a post-apocalyptic world. Under the Clouds of Sleep is like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road but done d.i.y. drone style. Du Hexen Hase conjure up the sonic equivalent of the smoke rising from ashes and burnt rubble. Sorry to get so bleak on you but, hey, I can’t help it. Some ephemeral elements I particularly like towards the end of the track are the echoing clanks of cymbals/sheet metal and a shrill sound device reminiscent of the synth used on Liquid Swords. The piece as a whole is interesting; it’s simultaneously about half repetition and half free form. And even despite the repetition, the track is endlessly replayable. It’s a meditative zoner but not in the typical “drone” sense (there are very few if any sustained tones). Anyway, this track is a killer and though I’ve yet to hear any other pieces of Du Hexen Hase’s discography, I’ve got a feeling they’ll be pretty sweet too. Now I just need to fulfill my duty as a Seattle citizen sees these dudes shred in the live environment.
The CD-r is self-released and adorned with fantastic ostrich art and limited to only 47 copies (a shame). So if there are any copies left, I’m not really sure where to look (maybe their myspace page). But if you come across it don’t hesitate to snag it, and if you don’t, better pray for a re-release. One of my favorite releases of ’08 so far.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Yes Collapse – Final Diagnosis [Crucial Bliss]

Yes Collapse is a group I’m entirely unfamiliar with but I do know it’s got Matthew Reis (Teeth Collection) in it. And I know they’re pretty awesome.
I’m gonna cut right to the chase. The first of the nine untitled track is a kind of loosey goosey noise plus atmosphere (silence) thing. It works as an intro type thing but the good stuff really starts with the second track. “Track 2” starts with a sustained tone and a synthesized cymbal sound and a dude not saying words (at least not any that I know). Like going down the hill on a rollercoaster the track accelerates into a really sweet rhythm ‘n noise deal. I can’t tell if it’s live percussion or a sampler or drum machine or what but honestly it doesn’t really matter. Someone is credited with “metal” so I’m assuming some of the percussion is them pounding on scrap. There’s a breakdown at the end of the track with a cool two-note synth whine. I’ll be the first to say the track is too short but I guess that means we can listen to it more times. Killer track. “Track 3” that follows is pretty sweet too. And when I say sweet I mean like nice and sedate, for the first half of the track. The second half is a harsh scrap heap. I’m not sure which half I like better but I’d probably have to go with the sweetness. The fourth track is a lurching mess of pedals and loops and more monoto-crush percussion that primes you for the next head ripping piece…
Alright, you know how there are some tracks that are so good that regardless of how good the rest of the album is you have to own it just cause it’s got that one really fucking mindblowing track. Well this is one of those tracks (and lucky for us the rest of album is good too). Remember the name “untitled 5” but because it’s gonna be your new favorite party jam. Guaran-goddam-tee it! I wish I had a better knowledge of club music so I could do a nice critical blender for this track but alas I don’t go to creepy night clubs (yet I still hear slammin’ tracks like this one so the joke’s on them). Anyway, I should probably attempt to describe this track. I this has the most monster bass groove I’ve ever heard, it makes me want be like Grand Master whoever and get a convertible and some big ass speakers and drive playing this track in the summer. You know, as a public service. This sounds like the guys are sampling an earthquake or something like that; it is volcanic, it is destructive, it is relentless. The only thing I can think of that sounds remotely similar is “Stabbed in the Face” from Wolf Eyes big Sub-Pop debut. This track is a little like that one but on a murderous rampage while fucked up on ecstasy, drinking glowsticks. So I don’t think I ever did a good job describing it in all those words, so sorry about that. But if I ever soundtrack a dance party (unlikely) “untitled 5” by Yes Collapse is going to come right after Boney M’s cover of “Sunny” and it will be outstanding.
Most of this album’s tracks are a length that most people would consider to be the length of songs (3-4 minutes), the dudes hold on to their experimental cred with this 11.5 minute piece. This thing is still heaving on the bass but takes the tempo down a few notches, playing pretty noisy for most of it but getting unabashedly groovy at the end. The album closes out with another long one. At one point it resembles a slowed down version of that track I just lost my mind over. Who knows, maybe it is. Then all of a sudden things get eerie and silent though. It sounds really strange and scary after being used to all the big pounding patterns. The guys slowly swell a few tones before unleashing a Kevin Shields style assault. Oh man, it is crushing and awesome!! On a dime, it’s gone with a bit of quiet static and that’s the album. Apparently the band split a while ago, but I guess they put out some other tapes and CD-rs so keep an eye out for those, I certainly will.
Adam Wright-Carmean of Crucial Blast/Crucial Bliss takes his CD-r shit seriously. All his CD-rs come in 4x6 cardstock folder looking things that fold out, printed on both sides. Even the CD-r is color printed and sits on an invisible nub and many of them blend into the artwork like a chameleon. The release is limited to 150 so if you want one, hit up Crucial Blast.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Abuse Report – El Diablo Está en Casa [Pendu Sound]

So I’ve been sitting on a pretty killer cache of analog goods from Pendu Sound for a long while now, and it is way past high time I get to talking about them. For those unfamiliar, Pendu Sound is the music arm of the larger Pendu Org which triples as a gallery and bookshop in addition to being a label. So that’s intensely awesome. Abuse Report, the author of this tape, features Todd Brooks, who runs the label, writes for Foxy D and plays in Ghost Moth as well, Cassette Gods scribe Max Gudmunson who also plays a part in K.P. and Matt Folden who I know nothing about.
I don’t really know too much about this c40 either. Though it sounds like the trio rolls in the electronics department, with probably some guitar in there somewhere too. They have a noise drone thing going that’s vaguely sinister but not really harsh or intentionally ominous sounding. It doesn’t feel like Abuse Report is trying to scare me, like some bands do, and I like that they don’t. There’s slurred vocals against a fuzzy bog of sustaining tones and synth sputters. It reminds me a little of the way Family Underground does things but with much less emphasis on guitar. Some of the best parts of the tape are when things break down a bit and there’s a simple echoing rhythm repeating against a few cascading swells of fuzz. To go back to the sinister-ism point, the first side on here is like “leisurely sinister”, the dudes manage to sound slightly off-kilter and menacing without even trying. Whenever I listen to this tape it makes me miss drone trios and quartets, well “miss” probably isn’t the right word because there’s still a fair amount around but, as much as I love duos and solo acts, it’s great to hear 3 or 4 people totally locking into the same imagination and weaving together a piece music like on this tape. There’s just something about having more people that adds another dimension, a kind of looseness that sounds tight anyway. Or maybe put more accurately it is even when a band sounds tight there’s still a looseness, where all the pieces float magically into place. Anyway, this tangent has lead me to the first sides second track “Outer”, though if you weren’t paying attention it may seem like a sidelong track. There is a clearer sounding drum thing going on, still echoey and distorted but you can tell they’re drums (or at least I think I can tell they’re drums). The track’s a pretty short one, it builds to a glistening, if slight, crescendo before dropping out.
“Exo” takes up the entirety of the B-side and it has a more extended feel to it. The guys create a fuller, more “drone” sound I guess is how you would describe it. It has got an odd pseudo-propulsion to it which I think is the result of dirty loops buried way way down. The first good chunk of the track is lead by hi-pitched sounds, probably from a guitar or synthesizer, but by the end the tracks gets pretty heavy and monolithic. The track despite its twenty minute length actually feels like it’s over pretty quick. It’s one of those that you discover more when you listen with headphones, lots of buried layers to excavate.
Pendu has a couple of killer LPs worthy of your attention as well (a newish Talibam! one and a comp called Getting out the Glue), but since this tape is only limited to 25 copies (eek!) I figured I better get the word out on this one first so you can snap it up before it’s too late. El Diablo Está en Casa is available from Pendu and has a color-printed 3-panel fold out and a black tape with a silver Abuse Report logo drawn on. Definitely worth checking out if you were into the 3 man drone/noise sound.
czech out this interview with Mr. Brooks about Pendu