Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Family Underground – Chill at Will: August West Coast Tour 2007 [Into the Lunar Night]

I’m not exactly sure what to call this cause there is a title on the CD-r, a title on the insert and a title that comes up when you put it in a computer and they’re all a bit different so I improvised and made a little mashup of the three. Anyhow, I saw Family Underground up in Seattle the other night (damn Portland and it’s penchant for cool but 21+ venues), it was a great show and they were all really nice people. I picked up this little baby at the merch table the minute I showed up because a) Family Underground are awesome 2) It’s a limited edition tour CD-r that I would probably never see again and lastly, cause it’s generally kinda tough to get a hold of stuff on FU’s Into the Lunar Night label and now I’ll have at least one release to my name before I die. Oh yeah, the other reason is Salt of the Sun totally ruled so I wanted to hear more of their recent output. So now that I needlessly justified giving 5 bucks to a bunch of really talented and deserving people, I’ll start the review.
Chill at Will (which is what I’ll call the record from now on, just cause I like it the best of the titles) has two 27 minute live recordings. “Live Copenhagen May 2007” goes first and the family wastes no time getting going. They set off blazing black astral jet streams through the night air. FU appear to be using the unique three-pronged attack I observed the other night. Nicolas is pushing heavy e-bowed guitar drones through a jungle of pedals, Sara is whipping up a cloud of drones/noise of her own with a suitcase full of electric gadgets and last, but certainly not least, Jesper is jammin’ on guitar with propulsive stabbing action which acts more like percussion adrift in the fierce sea of hum rather than the usual guitar sustain that’s typically at home in drone music. I know, using guitar as a rhythmic instrument in a drone band?! These guys are constant innovators. Elsewhere in the track, there is some insane psychedelic bend/slide action that stretches out for a portion of time before a new rougher noise storm starts raining down on the track’s dense menagerie of loops and feedback. Awesome.
Moving chronologically, we come to “Live Bruxelles June 2007” which begins rather quietly. A chorused drone (I’m going for the record, most “drone”s in a single review) and a short loop of what sounds like an isolated car revving up. Soon after, a thick bit of grey gauze wraps itself all over the proceedings, and the tension is jacked up into the, impossible to perceive, 1000% range. Even a really loud incidental/accidental bottle clinking can’t kill the mood. They creep like death, slowly unfolding their sorcery and you’re helplessly under its spell, the Family comes for your souls on this one. I can’t imagine what the audience was like experiencing this live—probably mesmerized, jaws dropped, that sort of thing. Amidst vocal murk, there almost shrieking trills of feedback (I think) but it’s pretty rad cause it almost sounds a choral sample or something like that. There is also an-old-computer-modem-pitched-three-octaves-up type sound that comes in for a little bit later and surprisingly (at least to me) it works pretty well with the heavy low-end frequency population. The last five minutes are pretty great too cause the band begins, ever so slightly, to bend the frame and dismantle it into a beautiful scrap heap. This is up there with some of the best Family Underground stuff, as well as their contemporaries’ best stuff too.
As far as I know, this is tour only which is a bummer for those who couldn’t/can’t make it out to one of their shows. So if you’re going to one of their rad upcoming gigs in L.A. with wretched yetis, Robedoor, or another one of their dates; do yourself a favor and snag yourself a copy the moment you arrive. If you went to one of their previous shows and didn’t pick it up (what’s wrong with you?!) or the Family cats didn’t come through your town, then I suggest you start writing every label you can think of and ask real nicely for a reissue. It’d make a great tape.

Go here for the remaining tour dates

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