Friday, December 7, 2007

Ghost of an Octopus – Two [First Person]/Ys Trys – Cy Clo Path [First Person]/Culver – The Psychic [First Person]

This is the second half of UK label First Person’s latest batch of releases. In case you’re unfamiliar, First Person, run by Andy Jarvis, rolls exclusively with 3” CD-rs in printed clear acetate slipcases. I hadn’t heard any of the three artists featured here until these releases (though I’d heard of Culver). Anyhow, I’m gonna get right to ‘em.
First up is Ghost of an Octopus. The only info given is Stuart Octopus plays electric bass and Ghost of Joincey plays electric guitar. I don’t know if they both operate solo and this is a collabo or if this is actually a bonafide band. But you never hear about many guitar/bass duos so I’m always eager to listen if I come across one. Things start out slow and droney with hi-pitched guitar+fx scramblings turning up after a little bit. I like what the bass is doing here, low key sustained riffs and occasional feedback bends; I just wish it was a bit louder. The guitar I’m a little ambivalent about. It does some cool stuff but a lot of the time it doesn’t feel like it’s interacting with or aware of the bass at all. It’s too far off in skronk shred world for its own good. I guess the problem is just that the track is really lacking dynamics. Anything up until the 14th minute is pretty indiscernible from the first couple minutes. About 2/3rds through things get better, the two players lock with each other a bit more. There is a long sustained sound, sounding suspiciously like a cymbal, that I’m enjoying. There’s a winding comedown of protracted bass notes against stuttering guitar feedback. I hope I don’t come across as a jerk but the piece as a whole iss kinda underwhelming. While there are certainly interesting moments, on the whole the duo's meandering just kinda results in dullness. I don’t know, I’ve listened a few times and nothing has clicked yet, maybe next time…
Next is Ys Trys which apparently shares some relation to Stuckometer, who I haven’t heard yet but read good things. Judging by the first track “Cy”, this is a guitar/drums affair with someone yelling random shit occasionally as well. The drummer on this disc is a killer. Moving between quiet lulls and total free rock eruptions. The guitarist tastefully mixes in raygun sounds with his riffage. There is a good sense of communication between the two, they make each other better ya know? Synergy, that’s the term right? So sweet beats and monster riffage (though I could do without the monster voices). The second track “Clo” is six seconds long and not really worth mentioning. The final track “Path” features many strange pitched shifted music box type noises echoing back and forth until an ominous drum roll approaches. The piece slowly coheres with classy drum pyrotechnics and looped and panned guitar gathering intensity. While on “Cy” I was impressed with the drumming, I’m really loving the guitar playing here (though the drums are great). The guitarist knows when to take it easy and build complex patterns of delayed tones as well as when to get aggressive and disruptive, the drumming complements the guitarwork nicely—mostly playing it straight but giving a few key percussive outbursts. Overall, I really dig this disc. Sometimes free rock acts can get stuck in a rut but here Ys Trys show they have a variety of styles and approaches up their sleeves. Cy Clo Path has gotten better each time I’ve listened. Final entry from First Person is a twenty minute track by Culver. Culver is the project of Lee Stokoe who if I recall played on the awesome Skullflower CDr Abyssic Lowland Hiss. Save for that record, Stokoe’s work is new to my ears. The Psychic begins with a couple crackling layers of muffled, looping drones. This track is very hard to pick apart. It sounds like there are different things going on beneath the hissing murk but it’s impossible to tell for sure. For all I know these could all be closed loops and Stokoe is just tricking me into thinking differently. There is a semi-rhythmic bass pulse that carries throughout the length of the track, keeping things from getting too esoteric. If yr into radios with bad reception you’ll dig the aesthetic here. Around halfway through a few semblances of new sounds materialize, maybe keyboard or vocals. The piece gets noticeably more active as it nears its end. A few founds break through the bog but they're gone in a split second. This piece is reminiscent to me of Slow Listener’s stuff but with a bit darker demeanor and less melodic sensibilities. Sorry I can’t be more descriptive, but words for this piece are kind of eluding me. There’s a cool evil dormitory photo printed on the cover which can probably do a better job explaining the piece than I can.
As mentioned all these are packaged in First Person’s signature printed clear acetate slip cases and look awesome. The white CDrs are hand numbered and serialized. Each limited to 75.

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