Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ghosting/Robedoor – Split [Not Not Fun], Robedoor/Yellow Swans – Split [Arbor], Yellow Swans/Warmth [DNT]

Alrighty, I guess it’s back to the split 7inchs again. This time we have a trio of them, and in a seamlessly transitioned Ghosting -> Robedoor -> Yellow Swans -> Warmth review no less. All sorts of incestuous connections here: Ghosting and Yellow Swans are from PDX area. Robedoor, Ghosting and Warmth all have had releases on Arbor. Yellow Swans had a split 7inch with the Goslings out on Not Not Fun earlier in the year. Robedoor, NNF and DNT are all buddies down in Los Angeles area. But who really cares about any of that, it’s about the music! And there are certainly some choice cuts here.
Portland, OR’s Ghosting take the A side with “Rivermouth”. Is “Rivermouth” a technical term? Like ‘mouth of a river’? Or just one of those neat image-phrases? Nevermind, there are more important things at work here. “Rivermouth” is a nice bout of electric metallo-drone. Lots of beautiful hissing tones lurk in the background, driving the track, while some sort of electrified muted banjo sounding thing jives at the forefront. (Quick internet research tells me it’s a ‘guitarsnare’; I don’t know what that is but it sure sounds cool). The best part of the track, hands down, is the ending where each of the layers are pulled back one by one revealing tons of sounds you didn’t even notice. It’s a cool effect. Ghosting generally works in long form pieces, 30-40 minutes it seems, so a 7inch cut is quite a change but they do so nicely, providing you with a quick Ghosting fix if yr on the go (well if yr on the go with a turntable at least). I’d like to see them experiment with more shorter form works, cause “Rivermouth” conjures up a real nice atmosphere akin to a year 3000 technologically engineered superswamp. Sorry that is probably about the best I can do to describe it. It’s real modern sounding and real prehistoric sounding. And, most importantly, it’s real fantastic sounding too.
L.A.’s Robedoor rock the B side with “Roving Shaman” which is a pretty spot-on title. Really they already wrote a perfect review by naming their song that. Oh well, now that my existence has been negated, I guess I’ll give it a shot. This is Robedoor at their most subtle (though they are definitely not taking it easy). Britt and Alex unwind eerie spools of vocals, chimes, and flute-y feedback (or maybe it just is a flute). It kind of reminds me of that piece of music in Boogie Nights when Dirk Diggler is getting the shit beat out of him. A real insistent, bone-chilling loop of a chiming bell with all sorts of creepfestery built up all around it. To continue the film comparisons, the track also brings to mind old black & white Japanese samurai films with a ronin wandering a hillside in solitude; it’s perfect mood music. Try watching Sword of Doom set to “Roving Shaman” sometime, I bet it rules. My favorite part is the way the vocals subtly creep out of the crevices and cohere around the main loops adding brief harmonic consonance to the otherwise steeped-in-dread track and then disappearing back into the mist .

Continuing on to the Arbor split with Yellow Swans, Robedoor comes with “Tremor Deliverance”. Sure, that last track was excellent and all, but this one is a certified banger. Featuring the modest palette of cello, keys, guitar and voice, Robedoor create a ballad of total uplift and euphoria. It’s like the roving shaman died and is going to heaven and meeting God and learning the universe’s secrets. Man, am I bummed turntables have no ‘repeat’ function cause this is achingly good set-your-mind-free music that would benefit from being played all day, all night, all day, all night and so on. A sea of warm, enveloping tones swelling (enswelloping?) all around you. Beautiful.
Yellow Swans bring the jam on side B and as 94% of everything they do, it ain’t got no title. Damn man, I don’t what kind of performance enhancing drugs the Swans have been taking lately but they should ease up because cause ruling this hard all the time has got to be bad for their health. I'm certainly not suffering though. This track features a bit more movement than their piece on the Goslings split with a short melodic loop driving the track with all sorts of distorted vocals, distorted guitar, distorted effects, distorted feedback and probably some distorted distortion in there too. It kind of sounds like a super slowed surf song but, you know, played by Yellow Swans. A real deadringer. And while I still give the track from the Goslings split top honors, this one made me seriously reconsider. Fiery.

Rounding off the trio, comes once again, Yellow Swans! I’m pretty sure this one is untitled as well but there is a giant (intentional?) blotch of screenprinting ink over the info so who really knows. Not I, that’s for sure. This track isn’t quite as monolithic as the other Yellow Swans 7inchers but it features some real nice guitarwork courtesy of Gabe. Lots and lots and lots ecstatic ringing notes. Pete cooks up some real nice whirring and whooshing in his electronics kitchen as well. My big complaint is that the track feels way too short. It’s poised for a sonic implosion/explosion but instead tapers off. It’s still a nice track though, it just means I’ll have to give it a few repeat spins to get my fill, which doesn't sound bad at all now that I think of it.
On the flip comes a track by Warmth a.k.a. Steev, a former Jean Poliseman. It may have a title but I’m not in the mood to squint my eyes to death to make it through that deep endless blue. I'm not actually sure what Steev uses to construct his brand of musics, synth or a sampler maybe? There are what sounds like vocal clips and Vietnam movie helicopter sound effects, which makes me think “Sampler?” Anyway, that’s not really too important. The track begins with about half: short repetitive loops and half: sounds trickling in and out. The first part of the track is alright but doesn’t totally impress me, however about halfway through there is a shift where a subtle but thick synth loop takes over and rides the track to it’s end. It sounds sort of like early Excepter (“Vacation” maybe?) minus the constant machinebeats and I like it a lot. Overall, it’s a nice outing and I’m interested to hear more from the Warmth moniker.
A few aesthetic details to go over. Each release looks real nice—though I’d probably give the blue ribbon to the Ghosting/Robedoor cover, which has a multi-screenprint job on grey sparkle paper and some stylish lettering. The Robedoor/Yellow Swans features screen printed art by Shawn Reed of Night People records on lightly shimmering purple paper. Yellow Swans/Warmth features involved double-sided (nice) fold out artwork by Belgian crazyman Jelle Crama. I have no idea what’s going on on the sleeve but I like it. It also has cool inkblot logos for each side, I really dig the Wu-Tang by way of Batman label on the Warmth side. Ghosting/Robedoor and Yellow Swans/Warmth are on white vinyl, Robedoor/Yellow Swans is on black. Those first two are sold out at source, but the rbdr/ys is still readily available from Arbor and I’d probably call that the pick of the litter anyway. Don’t give up hope though; the other two were produced in editions of 300ish so check the distros. Try Here or Here for ghstng/rbdr and Here or Here for ys/wrmth. (fck vwls)


avant gardening said...

you never really know what's going on with crama's art, but it's always nice to look at.

Auxiliary Out said...

Totally. I wonder what his apt. decor is like...

avant gardening said...

ha. that is something to think about.