Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Clay Man in the Well - Kupe's Sail [Peasant Magik]

This warbly, hissing mess is one Antony Milton's latest works, and amongst his finest.
The first of many untitled racks is a highlight with it's backwards noises, unintelligible vocals, and a killer guitar/drums combo that drops in in the second half. Milton follows that up with some loose guitarin' , augmented by shards of feedback and melted organ tones. It's a really great track that has revealed itself more on repeated listens. Changing gears, the third track spotlights a couple of layers of organ (AM dropped a whole record of chord organ so you know he's into the instrument.)
One of the best things about the tape is that its looseness is a defining factor and strength. Milton makes the listener feel at home in his musical wanderings, the steady stream of new approaches is never jarring. The fourth piece for instance features a sizable build-up. In fact, almost the entire track is a build-up, basically a journey-not-the-destination sort of thing. Milton does change directions though, delivering a fantastic resolution without resorting to providing answers. The piece is a gorgeous little number with a fractured, faraway melody. There's a warmth certainly , but with forlorn trappings. I imagine it soundtracking a vacated farmhouse, the emptiness consequent of tragedy. Really just utterly gorgeous. Milton provides soft vocals but wisely leaves the focus on the central melody allowing his voice to fade into the track's ether. The final piece works in AM radio trance mode. It almost sounds like Milton's version of "Dream On" but I think he's just borrowing the phrase. It turns out to be a rather epic jam with a nice organ-led coda following it up.
The second side opens with a fragile little folksy tune. Wispy voice, intertwined guitar and piano lines and footsteps keeping time. What begins as fragile feels convicted by its end. Nice work. The track that follows is a weird one. Plinking piano keys are featured upfront as Milton delivers speedy, rather incomprehensible spoken word. A lot of feedback and scuzz takes over, rumbling along on a deep bit of drumming. Hot string bends fall all over each other as Milton whips out ragged riff after riff. Milton's brief vocals are barely detectable under the racket but I really like that they make it in, you get a true sense of how heavy the din is. The next piece is quite nice. An unwound, just out-of-tune ballad of guitar, voice, field recordings and a sawed violin. The mellow vibes perfectly follow up the previous wreckage. Slipping into something a little more warbly, multi-tracked acoustic arpeggios vie for control over manipulated field recordings until a new guitar takes the lead with a stomper. Some violin shreddin' and a great vocal melody from AM bring the track home. One his best quieter tunes on the tape. A shiny, ramshackle folk thing is stretched out with soft, bowed drones and organ tones and various guitar melodies making for a fantastic send off. The second side doesn't offer as many high points but it's still incredibly consistent throughout.
The tape is a really cool little journey but seems to have flown under the radar a bit. It's got that rustic, cassette-coated guitar wanderer vibe of Ignatz records but with a penchant for noise rock. Not a bad combo in the least, give this thing a look.

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