Saturday, July 21, 2007

Pillars of Heaven – Silver Tusks Vol. 1 [Peasant Magik]/Pink Desert – Black Lung Ode Music [Peasant Magik]

These two are my first releases from Philadelphia’s Peasant Magik label, and judging by them, it looks like a cool little label. Both of these are from a little while back and since they came out PM has put out a handful releases by the likes of Bjerga/Iversen, CJA and others. Silver Tusks Vol. 1 is from earlier in the year while Black Lung Ode Music is from last year, in case you wanted to know. Starting reverse chronologically (or alphabetically, yr pick) we have Silver Tusks Vol. 1 by labelhead and Big Trouble in Little China enthusiast Salvatore Giorgi’s Pillars of Heaven moniker. It’s one-sided, which is kind of a bummer, but it’s still 30 minutes long so I guess that’s as good as any c-30. Sal has done a real nice job packaging it too. There is a double J card set-up with a clear plastic insert with the info and spine title printed on it and an insert of that neat, sparkly wallpaper-type cover. Oh yeah, there is a matching label on the white tape too. Overall a real classy job. Even better is the music.”Drifter” is the first to emerge from the tape hiss and it’s a clear favorite. It’s driven by fast echoing piano chords, a nice bassy melody and some lightly applied though effective vocalizations (at least I think it’s voice). Where is it driving to, you ask? Straight to your brain’s pleasure center, that’s where. Sal does a great job creating subtle changes and movement throughout the track but still allowing you to bask in the rich hypnotic shimmer of the opening notes that carry on throughout the track. “Winter is Coming” employs a similar, albeit much chillier (heh), approach. The track is anchored by a loop (I think piano again?) that rolls through the whole song. It is a series of drones that enter and exit at various points that fill out the track. There are a bunch of points where the wandering drones congeal into brief but striking melodic phrases. I sure do like it when those happen. “Angels Ablaze” is the 14 minute closer. It’s a really spacious piece with many long loops cycling throughout. The track is nice but in my estimation it carries on a bit too long without much change. However, the last third sees the arrival of fuzz; which sounds like it would be out of place in a serene soundscape such as this but it actually works marvelously in conjunction with the other elements adding some weight and new texture to the proceedings without overpowering them. So even though the journey is a little long, the destination is quite breathtaking.
Pink Desert are a duo who apparently hail from Lehigh Valley, PA. I ain’t gonna front like I ever been there, but according to the wide web of the world, there’s a bit of a noise scene going on in those parts. The Peasant Magik website suggests PD might be the east coast’s answer to the Skaters, which is quite a hefty statement. While they do dwell in vocal drone territory, Pink Desert has a much cleaner sound than the muggy murk that the Skater’s are busy emanating. I’d say they sound a bit more like Double Leopards at their most minimal minus the instruments. Anyhow, there are two tracks making up this 3inch cdr. The first, “Swollen Tongue Choir”, is an eerie bit of eeriness. Lots of disembodied voices sounding like disembodied souls floating about. There is some heavy delay pedal usage here, which is fine by me, and all the various repeats actually add a nice bit rhythmicness (not a real word, but you catch my drift) to the smooth drones. Then “Debrider” comes along and kicks the whole thing up a notch. (I’ll be damned, I sound exactly like Emeril Lagasse). It still rocks the wafting drone robe but not quite so minimally. There is a scratchy loop that almost supplies a backbeat while the Pink Desert boys wax plenty of harmonious flowing verbal tones. The result is a seamlessly solidified drone and it’s always a great day when you hear one of those. The packaging, though a tad plain jane, is once again well done (in this case, nicely screenprinted). Overall, a nice effort.
If yr into mind floating arrangments (and who isn’t these days?) I suggest checking both these suckers out. There are still copies available dirt cheap direct from Peasant Magik but they are super limited, PoH is limited to 50 and PD to a measly 36! So, ya know, act fast. I’m not sure what Peasant Magik has next on tap but it’ll probably be smokin’. As for the artists, Pink Desert has some tapes and LPs on the way while Pillars of Heaven will be supplying Silver Tusks Vol. 2 courtesy of Epicene Sound Systems/Epicene Sound Replica sometime in the future, I’ll be keeping my eye out for that one.

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