Friday, December 18, 2009

Bird Names - Recession Vacation [Really Coastal]

Recession Vacation is Chicago's self-described "young adult contemporary" ensemble Bird Names' second cassette on Really Coastal this year. Returning with 9 more songs of their brand of borderline twee pop concocted from a bevy of instruments, this cassette seems a little more homemade and smeary.
"The Squeeze" kicks things off with a shambling mini-orchestra of keyboard melodies, strummed acoustic guitar, jaunty drums, slide whistles, idiophones, and fuzzy guitar leads. The piece shifts from part to part with abandon always returning to the central catchy melody, starting the album off on a strong foot. "Hauntings like Harpoons" uses a programmed drumbeat, a couple of opposed keyboard melodies and a couple more layers of guitar, slide and other, on top of that. The band manages to keep the melodic heart of the song in focus the whole time despite the loosey-goosiness of the arrangement. The arrangement of "Another Faceless Puller of the Pharaoh's Great Stones" is a little more restrained. Beginning rather skeletal at the beginning of each verse and gradually expanding into a melodious cacophony with cymbal clangs and all. "Crumbling Hand" is the last song of the side and the dude singing sounds just like Calvin Johnson. Musically it's not too Beat Happening though. The song is anchored with a nice slide guitar lick and rambles along with a twitchy energy.
The title track opens the B-side with a Vince Guaraldi/It's Christmastime Charlie Brown vibe. A jaunty acoustic guitar and piano duet for a little while before a cooing choir of voices join in. There's a glockenspiel solo later which is followed by a great warbly bridge/restating of the initial melody. The instrumental "Key West" is the shortest song here at about a minute and a half. It's got a keyboard set on the bossanova drumbeat and invests itself fully into mircrowaved "Latin" grooves. Bird Names' previous Really Coastal tape closed with a fantastic song that towered above the rest called "Taxicabs and Bicycles" so I was hoping there might be another song like that on this tape. There is (yes!) and it even tops "Taxicabs." "If I Had a Carriage" is probably the most straightforward Bird Names song I've heard. It's two minutes of unadulterated pop goodness, addicting as it should be. The song's central refrain, which begins with "If I had a carriage..." is the star of the show here with just voices, handclaps and an acoustic guitar, and Bird Names wisely don't diverge from it too often. There's not much to say about it other than it's just a wonderful pop song. The next track "On With the Show" sounds like an old NES Mario game; an instrumental comprised of a ratatat-ing drum machine and a bunch of bouncing keyboards. Finale, "Where Sheep Graze" gets freaky. Starting with an acoustic guitar arpeggio that could have maybe been from some epic folk-metal album, then shifting to some refrain sung by creepy forest creatures. The track changes up plenty of times from there developing into a rather nice song with various bits of slide guitarwork, agitated keyboards and a trumpet. A grandiose ending for a sweet little tape.
The blue pro-dubbed tape is still available from Really Coastal and comes with a hilarious cover as you can see.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gay Beast - Gay Beast [Gilgongo]/Pigeon Religion - Dead Boss [Gilgongo]/Sissy Spacek - Fortune [Gilgongo]

Gilgongo records down in Tempe, AZ has been doing some good work this year including this trio of 7inches and a James Fella/Timeload Fowl LP I'll get to at another time.
I pull out Gay Beast's LP Disrobics on a regular basis and now hearing this 7inch as well, I'm convinced they are one of the best fucking rock bands on the planet right now. The king of the show is the first side "Multi-Purpose Anti-Form" which I played probably a good 30 times in the first two days I got it. GB start out with a rather mellow intro before jumping into the verse. The song is actually a bit slower than Gay Beast usually moves but it's certainly not devoid of energy. "Multi-Purpose Anti-Form," however, is also Gay Beast's most melodically rich work to date. An endlessly spinnable jam where each element feels so fucking right. Each instrument, the fuzzed out vocals, everything is dynamic and perfectly placed. And goddamn, this song is so well crafted. It moves in stages with each moving seamlessly into the next, and what is most effective is that each successive stage outdoes the previous one. There's this tremendous tension that builds as the song just keeps getting better. Seriously invigorating, one of the best songs I've heard this year. When are these guys gonna get another LP out already? I'm dyin' here!
The B-side features two tracks the first of which is a short instrumental titled "Pressing Hard." It's got all their signature, off-kilter rhythmic prowess but it feels a bit underdeveloped like it's a warm up rather than a full-fledged song. The last track is an expanded, re-recorded mash-up of Dymaxion/The Need covers, "SM Head, LG Torso, Crushing Grip/Whitewash" which was also on their Navy Quilted Pier 3". The first half is angular and scrappy which sets up the second half perfectly. When they hit the "Whitewash" bit the track gets real great real quick, rolling along on a fantastic walking guitar line and ending on a strangely contorted bridge. A cool jam sure to make its songwriters proud.
My band was actually asked to play show with Pigeon Religion when they hit Seattle last summer but I was out of town which was a bummer. Anyhow, that's a long winded way of saying I've been looking forward to hearing them. "Dead Boss" begins like a soccer hooligan chant. The chorus of voices is joined pretty quickly by guitar and drums turning the pseudo-soccer anthem into a punk anthem. The actual singer is shouting his lungs out but can't make himself heard over the flurry of voices. It's an admirable effort though. "Henderson" is even better. There's an accompanying text insert about being a bum in Henderson, Nevada but I can't quite tell if it's actually the lyrics being sung. The song is only a couple minutes but it's a got great strung out, post-Jesus Lizard vibe. No wonder they got a record on Parts Unknown as well. Side B's sole track "Huge Bummer" is probably my favorite of the bunch. It reminds me of some of Pixies' (my fav band FYI) rawer, more seething selections. It's a pretty simple arrangement, a catchy bass line and dual guitars feeding back rather than just mirroring the bass line while the singer dude is agitated about "relying on someone else" or something until the piece splinters to a shambling close.
I reviewed Snow storm's debut full-length a while back, 12 songs crammed onto a 45rpm 7inch and I thought I'd seen it all. That is until Sissy Spacek put out this 7inch which ups the ante to 26 songs at 45rpm. Though calling each a track a "song" is a questionable proposition, the band seems to even think so too as they give each side it's own umbrella name. In their defense they do name every single track as well and when I saw them play a year or two ago Pete Swanson assured me each blast of noise I heard was a different song. But that's enough of my meaningless ruminations, I'll try to get one or two meaningful ones in here instead. This Spacek line up finds John Wiese joining up with Corydon Ronnau on vocals and Charlie Mumma on drums. The first side, "Fortune" sets the tone of the record. Breakneck, machine gun drumming, and a blur of processed guitar(?) noise and wild-eyed vocals. It brings me back to those early Black Dice records which I dig a lot, occupying the exact midpoint between hardcore and free noise. The songs are maybe 9 seconds long and I do find myself wishing they were a bit longer. But the sensation of accelerating and stopping, accelerating and stopping each time a song finishes and a new one begins is intentional I'm assuming. Sissy Spacek is trying to give me whiplash just by listening to their record! Spacek's frenzied sound isn't just the product of speed either; I accidentally played it the first time at 33rpm and it's just as savage and violent slowed down 12rpms. The second side "The Eyes of Men" is pretty similar to the first. It is interesting how all the songs fit into the larger dynamic framework of a side. The songs are often arranged in a way that creates what seems like a natural pause in the overall "song." Definitely a strange record and definitely a Sissy Spacek record. They do their thing like no one else I know of.
All records are still in print and each has it's own aesthetically pleasing packaging. I especially like the 4 color screen printed sleeve of the Gay Beast single.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Streetworker - Streetworker [Wheaton]

Streetworker is the musical moniker of Kevin Salyers from Wheaton Records. He's a modest fellow it seems. How modest? This tape which is a pretty great 20 minute chunk of drone is limited to a scant 11 copies! Chances are you probably won't get your hands on one but it's in print as I write this and maybe getting this review up will inspire a repress of, I don't know, more than 11 copies.
Side A consists of a single track, "20091014." The piece has a hard-to-place vibe somewhere between glistening and airy and cybernetic. There's a shimmering crackle at the center that sounds like something out The Matrix or any number of sci-fi movies. More subtle layers of sound surround and snake through that crackling until it exits completely leaving the ghost of the piece that had been following all along. It's not a particularly active piece but a nice one to drift off to. And it doesn't go too far down the "ambient/ethereal" path which is a bit refreshing.
I really like the second side which was recorded a couple years earlier. "20071014" has a much smokier, more maximal feel where even though it's a very loud piece there is so silence to be found. A ton of layers mingle creating a thick fog, but all the sounds are so distant it's difficult to decipher what I'm actually hearing. After a minute or two a simple gliding melody pops up which is augmented by what sounds to me like samples of a cheering crowd in a stadium. The track all of a sudden gets agitated with various pulsing drones and a dark undertow attempting suck everything down with it into its static grave. It plays like the soundtrack to a collapsing black hole, if it were possible for sound to exist anywhere near a collapsing black hole. The piece ends with an eerie calm and soft crackling hiss. Well played, sir.
Definitely a strong tape for any drone-minded individual and I'm curious to see what else Streetworker has up his sleeve. Just next time make it more than 11 copies, okay? Luckily, there appear to be some still available. It's nice looking as well, a fully clear tape in a light pink j-card with another transparent j-card overtop.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #49 (12/13/09)

Celer “Part 3 Tended Pouring (excerpt)” Close Proximity and the Unhindered Care-All [Sentient Recognition Archive 2009] (CD)

Tim Blood and the Blood Album “Work” W/ Blood and Squalor [CTRL Force 2009] (mp3)

M. Geddes Gengras “The Blue Push (excerpt)” Split with A.M. Shiner [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Ossining “Untitled 3” Split with Afterlife [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Hunted Creatures “Himalaya of Skull” Split with Ophibre [Oph Sound 2009] (CS)

Albero Rovesciato “Untitled” Ancient Shining Drums of the Covered City [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Fag Cop “Gimme Fag Agenda” Whispers from the Pantheon [No Label 2009] (CS)

Orphan Fairytale “Bubble Memory” Ladybird Labyrinth [Ultra Eczema 2009] (LP)

Handglops “The Last Party” Ronk Ng Rool [Gulcher 2009] (CD)

Grasshopper “The Langoliers” Wretched Blood Wraith [Obsolete Units 2009] (CS)

Teenage Panzerkorps “Corpse on an Empty Stage” Teenage Panzerkorps [Captured Tracks 2009] (7”)

Historians “Bomba” Proof [Stunned 2009] (CD-r)

Sean McCann “Sunk Eyes” Phylum Sigh [DNT/Roll Over Rover 2009] (CS/CD)

Little Claw “Frozen in the Future” Human Taste [Ecstatic Peace! 2009] (CD)

Horse Boys “What is Always Angry Like” Horse Boys [OSR Tapes 2009] (CS)

Tusk Lord “Museum Fly” Summer 2009 [Dynamo! 2009] (CS)

Dylan Nyoukis “I'll give you a translation world in which you're a rotting corpse of a run-over dog in some ditch” Split with Nackt Insecten [Sick Head Tapes 2009] (CS)

Silver Bullets “Monday Morning in Ragusa” Free Radical [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Steve Gunn “Untitled” End of the City [Abaddon/Abandon Ship/DNT 2009] (LP)

The Widow Babies “Moon Milk” Jet Packs [olFactory 2009] (LP one-sided)

Dragging an Ox through Water “Houses and Homonculi” The Tropics of Phenomenon [Freedom to Spend 2009] (CD)

Black Joker “Watch Out! Part 2 (excerpt)” Watch Out! [Pacific City 2009] (CD-r)

mp3: Part 1 Part 2

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Grasshopper/Twisty Cat - Split [Abandon Ship]/Cough Cool - Digestible Doom [Abandon Ship]

Sorry for the long absence, school and work are finally not kicking my ass quite so hard.
I got a couple standout tapes from Abandon Ship's awesome recent batch.
Back in October I called Grasshopper, the processed trumpet duo of Jesse DeRosa and Josh Millrod, my new favorite band and whether intentionally or not they've been defending that title with a fury. Their half hour side is split into three pieces. The first, titled "Smokey Nights, Melting Flesh," surprisingly begins with a trumpet that actually sounds like a trumpet. After its brief semi-mournful introduction, the buzzing synthetic groundwork is laid. The piece builds unassumingly, bringing back the initial trumpet melody, filter squelch and oddly organ-like tones. The jam builds to a staggering, hypnotic and forceful crescendo. Brilliant piece. "When Hell Overfills, The Dead Will Walk the Earth" follows it up admirably with what I'm pretty sure is just an organ. Though these guys mold their trumpets into all sort of sounds so I wouldn't be too surprised if there's no organ around. The piece wastes no time getting right into the thick of it. Glistening, towering walls of drones surround you at every turn like the most overwhelming labyrinth you've ever been lost in. At a certain point the vibe changes up with pulsing loops and jets of swampy electronic muck. The track ends up being a cacophonous, seasick rager with an effective melodic undercurrent adding a little bit of Heaven in there with all the hellishness. "Once I Die, Put Two Coins on My Eyes" was recorded live last January on WNYU radio, which reminds me come play on my radio show guys! Please? Anyway, this one plays a little more mellow and minimal at first with layers of filtered trumpet weaving in and out. Slowly more and more layers enter as the piece teeters back and forth between calm and tense territories. It has a great vibe of a beautifully composed piece of music decaying right before your ears. There are flickers of sweet sounding melodies amidst crumbling electronics. A short but great piece. By the way, it says on the j-card "Grasshopper exclusively uses Bach mouthpieces" they've gotta be the only band putting out tapes with a sponsorship.
Fellow New York duo, bass clarinet and baritone sax, Twisty Cat take the B-side. Not to be outdone, they contribute the best stuff I've yet to hear from them. "Sedenion" showcases Twisty Cat's less drone-y/more melodic side. There's great interplay between the instruments and a bit of an eerie, tragic feel. The clarinet wanders and improvises on a great melodic phrase while the sax responds with a deep, counter-melodic undertow. "XGDFXy" features Greg Fox (Teeth Mountain) on drums and the track itself has a very unexpected sound. The trio goes math rock for a bit, with a continuous, complex arpeggio and jazzy drumming before the drums drop out for a breakdown of sustained reeds. The drums return, and the song shifts to the first section but the group builds it to a climax. Definitely an odd track but quite cool. The side's finale is "Guns in Grilling" which is another left turn. The track sounds like the duo playing melodies and then running everything though a UFO sound effects pedal. Tractor beams, warbly landing noises, they're all here but the piece definitely doesn't feel kitschy. Just strangely off-balance and unnerving. The pre-existing weirdness is topped off of with a march in unison between the two instruments. Eventually the duo lock into a real nice melodic bit that gently soars to the track's close. Twisty Cat serve up a varied platter for their side but it's all satisfying stuff.
Cough Cool is the home-made pop project of some weirdo out in Pennsylvania self-described as a "stoned Bruce Springsteen" though I'm not sure how accurate that is. After the bouncing laser synths of opener "Spaczed" the tape kicks into song mode with "Recycle/Earth." Built upon a minimal arrangement of stuttering bass synth groove and windy white noise, the song doesn't even need the astro-apocalyptic imagery ("Moving closer to a black hole/The Earth will be recycled") to exude the bad vibes. "Spit Up Blood" is still heavy on the bass fuzz but has more of a loping 90s rock flame burning within. Everything is fuzzed out making the lyrics totally indecipherable. "Giveth" kicks up the tempo a couple notches, delivering a noisy minute long punk track even without drums. The brief guitar solo at the end can barely be heard over the gain saturation of everything else in the mix. "The Real Germany" is one of the stronger tracks and the first ballad. The arrangement is basic but not as skeletal as the previous tracks. There's rhythm guitar, lead guitar, mellow drums and vocals all taking part in a simple, sleepy pop song. What's not to love? Good jam definitely. Flip the tape over and you get another standout "Sinking Soul." Rolling on a clanging drumbeat and distorted bass. it evokes a number of awesome basement bands over the decades. No real chorus or anything just the same sloshed chord progression over and over. "Four Letters" is another ballad with acoustic guitar and weird high-pitched almost alien-like vocals. "I Don't Want to Die" returns to "Sinking Soul" territory but with a more buoyant, upbeat outlook on life. Though considering the lyrics "Mommy, I'm trying" I could be reading that wrong. The fittingly titled conclusion "Leaving" shifts gears into straight noise territory mainly a persistent sine signal.
The Grasshopper/Twisty Cat tape is still available and definitely recommended (it's released on bright yellow cassettes too!) while the Cough Cool tape is sold out at source but I'm sure there's still copies around a few distros.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #48 (12/6/09)

Talbot Tagora “The Weather Man” Abstract Distractions [olFactory 2009] (10”)

Forest Dweller “Mountain Religion” Demo [Dynamo! 2009] (CS)

Eureka “Cherry Kush” Big Breath [Stunned 2009] (CD-r)

Matrix Metals “Flamingo Breeze” Flamingo Breeze [Not Not Fun 2009] (CS)

Ultra Bonbon “Restoration” Paradise Vol. 1 [Bonbon Bruises 2009] (CS)

Mama Baer “Alcoholisme – brut Pt. 2 (excerpt)” Amerikanische Poesie und Alkoholismus [Feeding Tube 2009] (LP)

Tonstartssbandht “Black Country” An When [Dœs Are 2009] (CD-r)

Spreaders “Never Seen Jaws Too” The Friends [No Label 2009] (CS)

Chefkirk & Ironing “Notorious” Notorious [Hymns 2009] (CD-r)

Zebu! “Bloody Lips” Bag of Sand [Feeding Tube 2008] (LP)

Arklight “Hunt Me Everyday” Shards and Ashes [Little Fury Things 2009] (CD-r)

Human Adult Band “Oh God, Oh Sh*t” La-Dee-Frickin-Da [Abandon Ship 2009] (CS)

Excavacations “Untitled” Excavacations [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Jamison Williams “Side B” Onassis Project [Closet Sorcery 2009] (CS)

Hair Friend "Live In-studio Performance"

Ugly Husbands “Starved by Ulysses” The Faith of the Family [Roll Over Rover 2009] (CS)

Wounded Knee “Lucier Rising (excerpt)” Split with Astral Social Club [Sick Head Tapes 2009] (CS)

Bhob Rainey “Ain't it Grand” Split with Angst Hase Pfeffer Nase [Sedimental 2009] (7”)

mp3: Part 1 Part 2

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ajilvsga – From the Muddy Banks of the Arkansas [Near Passerine Devotionals]

It’s been a little while since I’d heard something from Ajilvsga, the duo of Brad Rose (the Digitalis empire) and Nathan Young (who the press release states emphatically is “NOT the Wolf Eyes guy.”) So when I got this pretty LP, the debut release from Toronto-area upstart label, Near Passerine Devotionals, I was psyched check it out.
I’ll have to go back through my stack of Ajilvsga tapes cause I never remember these guys sounding this heavy and fucking desolate. I sure hope these dude’s lives are going well cause in this age of “hope,” these guys are nothing but doom and gloom. The A-side titled “Gnarled Roots, Leaves, Rushing Water” kicks off with layers of dense synthesizer that only gets denser by the second. Rose and Young forge such a monolithic maelstrom it’s difficult to actually pick out everything that’s going on. There’s usually a layer or two pulsing in various ways, keeping the track surging forward and there’s something I’m just picking up on this listen that has sort of a looped music box vibe which I like a lot. I’d say around a third of the way in everything slides up in pitch a little bit that, if it weren’t for the complete pitch blackness that came before and comes after, I might say I is a little uplifting. The duo riffs on this section for a little while whipping up some oscillator manipulations before a dive back down into the depths. This is a harrowing journey into an incredibly intense soundworld. One of the strongest elements is that as active as Young and Rose are during this piece and with all the electronic dirt they kick up, “Gnarled Roots, Leaves, Rushing Water” never loses its singular batholithic impenetrability. It reminds me of my favorite samurai flick The Sword of Doom where you are lead down an unrelenting path of such darkness that by the end you are crushed and broken by the shadows and unstoppable evil. So that said, it’s a damn fun listen.
I do, however, think the second side is even better. “Dead, White, Lifeless” creeps along with a sub-bass undertow and a looped percussive hit. This side is simpler, more focused and arguably more powerful. It’s hard not to get lost in this. Maybe “lost” isn't the exact term I’m looking for but it is difficult not to succumb to the track’s sinister, chilling vibe. The piece doesn’t change a whole lot throughout its runtime, and it doesn’t have to. The demonic dedication is the whole point. I dare you to listen to this and not get the shivers. Eden Hemming Rose pushes the track beyond its serpentine slither with her drugged banshee vocals. Her voice (and whatever effects she’s singing through) creates an eerie, gothic cathedral choir-like aura that just really elevates the creepiness of the whole affair. The last few minutes see the duo expand the scope of the track pouring on more white noise and splicing in a few slivers of melody. This record is like a natural disaster.
Props also go to Evan Caminiti (of Barn Owl) for the perfect, Medusa-like black/silver artwork. Limited to 300 so book your tickets to the underworld ASAP.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Widow Babies – Jet Packs [olFactory]

I’ve been jamming this record a lot as I’ve been freezing my ass off in these colder than death, pre- winter(!) months. I keep hoping that these fun, tropical pop/punk sounds will transport me to June in that Millennium Falcon on the sleeve. No such luck yet but I have gotten to listen to this record a lot which is a reward in itself.
After their Minutemen-tribute (whom they also thank in the final track) The Mike Watt EP, Jet Packs is The Widow Babies' debut LP or half of an LP to be more exact, though since they crammed 13 tracks on a single-side I’m calling it a full-length.
“Harp of 1000 Strings” sets the tone for the record. A killer jangly, clean-tone arpeggio drives the track with a surf-rock-meets-a-steel-drum vibe. The rest of the band gives the guitarist steady backing as exuberant female vocals snark their way through the song. “Possibilities at Sea” finds the rhythm section getting into the grooves with machine gun snare hits and some great rubber band basslines. The track, like many of the others, morphs a little during its minute and a half length, carrying the same spirit throughout but avoids falling into the standard verse/chorus format. “Pyramids” has another killer riff (the record is full of them) and some of the vocalist’s best work when she falls into an effortless, relaxed nearly speech-like vocal-style that I hope she explores more in the future. Perhaps my favorite on the record is “Carmen y Pipo” which has the best opening riff on the record and each member is totally on point. The song just comes together beautifully. “Arboreal Womb” has a great breakdown and then out of nowhere the band busts out a bombastic howl then switches gears again to nervy free jazz in the span of about 15 seconds before calling it quits. “Brillo Pad’s Theme” is another highlight cause it’s one of the best written, thought-out songs on the album. The various syncopated parts lock together tightly and the guitar plays a more subtle role adding melodic shading more than central riffs. I like “Moon Milk” a lot too cause it changes things up a little with the excellent addition of marimba. The marimba and guitar basically mirror each other during an extended melodic breakdown on the first go round so when the guitar ends the piece with the same melody it seems different, more solitary and focused. It’s a really simple trick but it’s effective in adding an extra punch to the finale. And it’s just a great melody anyway. “Odin’s Rainbow” kicks the energy back up after the slower “Moon Milk” with great raw and riotous drumming. The half-time ending of “Score for a Migration” is a nice change-up leading into “Silver or Lead,” another favorite. It’s got a bunch more great guitar melodies and spirited vocals. “We Can Clone an Orange” closes out the album with a more straightforward rhythm and even a lilting bass breakdown.
It’s a fun record for sure, more fun than even the Star Trek/Star Wars references on the sleeve, and my only real criticism is that each song is cut from the same jittery, tropical pop cloth. It’s a pleasure to listen to but the songs, though good, do sound very similar to each other. But considering people listen to the same drone over a 20 minute side, this criticism is more of a suggestion to broaden the palette than calling out a harmful problem. The Widow Babies obviously have their shit down, they make a mean jangly, loose-limbed pop song, so I would be interested to see what other directions they can push their sound into. I bet the results would be something pretty great.
So the jams are real good but I must mention what a damn fine job olFactory did putting this together. The LP comes on clear vinyl with the tunes on one-side and a bright blue design screen printed on the flipside consisting of a giant snake chasing its tail and has fun items such a cop car and a handgun in its belly. There’s also a figure (maybe a surfer?) running along outer edge, flipbook-style. And since the record is clear you can watch it all while listening! Pretty sweet… I have say I was pretty blown away when I first opened it up.
So, anyway if this sounds like your thing then you got a record to buy.

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #47 (11/22/09)

Sean McCann “Wait Over There” Phylum Sigh [Roll Over Rover 2009] (CD)

Summon Thrull “Cannibalized” Summon Thrull [Debacle 2009] (CD-r)

The Spread Eagles “Don’t Be a Drag” Don’t Be a Drag [9-11 is a Joke 2009] (7”)

ID M Theft Able “Untitled” Split with Cave Bears [Feeding Tube 2009] (LP)

Xray Eyeballs “Broken Beds” Xray Eyeballs [Night People 2009] (CS)

Nomen Dubium “Desert City Summer” Psyched Punched [DNT 2009] (2xCS)

Hammer of Hathor “Bee” False Teef [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Nodolby “Automatic Mydriasis. Dream Weapon's Pivotal Guidance” Nodolby [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Padna “Tapewars” Siberia/Hinterland [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Tricorn & Queue “Untitled” Ashes Wander [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Donato Epiro “Ella S La Mia Farfalla” Sounding the Sun [Stunned 2009] (CD-r)

Plankton Wat “The Magic Citadel” Dawn of the Golden Eternity [DNT 2009] (LP)

Megabats “Bag Lady” IN/OUT [Debacle 2009] (CD-r)

Cordyceps Unilateralis “åolian Process (01-06-09)” Unreleased [No Label 2009] (mp3)

Zebu! “Rover the Radio, Over” Bag of Sand [Feeding Tube 2008] (LP)

Andrew Coltrane & Mike Khoury “Untitled” 1000 Basements [Detroit Improvisation 2009] (CD-r)

Cave Bears “Germicide (excerpt)” Split with ID M Theft Able [Feeding Tube 2009] (LP)

Bird Names “If I had a Carriage” Recession Vacation [Really Coastal 2009] (CS)

Mist “Stole Colors” Stole Colors [Pizza Wagon 2009] (2xCS)

Burial Hex “Go Crystal Tears” Split with Zola Jesus [Aurora Borealis 2009] (LP)

Pig Heart Transplant “How to Survive in the Woods” Bleak|Beauty [Debacle 2009] (CD-r)

mp3: Part 1 Part 2

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

ID M Theft Able/Cave Bears - Zone Y Ponds Y Sugars I've/Germicide [Feeding Tube]/Cave Bears – Jazz Hands [Serf Released]

This LP (well I have a CD-r version) unites two of the weirdest of North-eastern weirdos, ID M Theft Able and Cave Bears. Feeding Tube records, a certifiable weirdo in its own right which is also responsible for the best youtube channel ever (!), put it out.
Believe it or not, I’d never heard any of ID M Theft Able’s stuff before so needless to say I was excited to see what the hubbub was about. I have to say it surpasses my expectations (though I’m not sure what I actually “expected.”) Anyhow, his side is split into 5 tracks, the first being a short one balancing recordings of kids singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands” or whatever that song is called with eerie organ and crooning. The second track features all manners of percussive, noisy sounds with unintelligible vocals. It’s bizarre, cut-up shit but the dude’s pulling from so many places (samples of someone slurping, a field recording of a jungle?) that you can’t help but get into the madman energy. Plus there’s a recording of a drunken person calling someone a “jackass!” which makes me laugh pretty hard. The track returns often to a sample of what sounds like coins dropping and a haggard croon. Some sections capture the dynamics of aggressive harsh noise without completely drenching everything in distortion. Composing with such strange source material gives ID M’s music a much different, unique texture. It’s not just the source material though, it’s the skill with which he wields it that makes his work stand out. The third jam has gotta be the LPs single. It’s a weird little fucker that grooves relentlessly on a synth/percussion loop with strange samples and a croaking Tom Waits-ish voice (I’m guessing this is ID M himself) that’s making all the ladies swoon with his deep, soulful vowels. So damn weird but totally addictive. The next track is reminiscent of the second one but maybe a little sparser at times and at others indulges in more of the harsh noise vibes without getting too busy for a few plucked guitar/banjo notes here and there. The jowly grunts make another creepy appearance around halfway through over a short lived but strangely normal arrangement. Of course the track the veers back into sonic psychosis. The thing I dig about it though is it has a very, very loose verse/chorus structure. It’s not a pop song by any stretch of the imagination, but different segments that happened previously show up later. The final track messes around with slicing/dicing drum programming over a loop of mellow feedback. It’s actually pretty scaled back considering the audio onslaught that just occurred over the previous 15 minutes. It’s a nice respite though to end on a vaguely standard percussion+melody+voice-style piece. Dude’s got a great sense of proportion, what can I say. I don’t know how this stuff stacks up to his other work but I can say this is pretty damn good and I’m kinda bummed I wasted all this time not checking out his stuff. Really weird and really dense, and by the way has this guy had anything on Ultra Eczema yet?
Cave Bears turn in a 20 minute live recording called “Germicide” (EDIT: just discovered through some googling that this set consists entirely of Germs covers--hence the title--which is fuckin' rad as hell though I'll be damned if I can recognize any of them.) After the first song a riotous, scatterbrained guitar/drums/vox assault, which is around a minute twenty, the band says they’re done and a priceless moment occurs when an audience member exclaims “That’s it!? That’s all!?!!” in disbelief with a hint of feeling like the victim of unthinkable betrayal. Luckily Cave Bears continue on, eventually, after a long bout of amp hum and people shuffling around they get started, sort of. Nonsensical, slurred vocals eventually take the lead over a slippery snare drum and occasional input from guitar. There’s a great oddball guitar solo in there as well. Cave Bears seem to push rock music about as far as it will go while still being categorize-able as rock music. Their “pop” songs have a weirdly amorphous quality where the songs move in a general direction but each of the instruments kinda bobs and weaves in it’s own way down the same path. It’s surprisingly listenable cause most of the bands that go for the non-pop music thing just end up making shitty pop music. It’s also amorphous in the way that (besides the initial song) the other songs just kind of stretch and blur seamlessly or organically into the next ramshackle stomp. I wonder what it’s like to see these guys play with the relentlessly buoyant drummer, the angular skronk mechanics of the guitarist and whoever is doing the blank, sloshed vocals. Each element seems in it’s own world at times which weirdly makes sense in the all-enveloping Cave Bears world they’re playing in so I wonder how that essence manifests itself in the physical world.
This tape entitled Jazz Hands is one of the many CB cassettes put out on their label Serf Released. This tape is really anything-goes with the only possible guideline being the material must be recorded on degraded tape. In the first piece there’s weird disco or techno or something mixed alongside drum solos and jazzy guitar chords all shrouded in a perma-static blanket. The second piece is only a minute long but touches on slow piano pieces and frantic drum machine programming. The third piece has a bit of an ID M Theft Able vibe with scrambled, gnarled tape noise and frenetic rhythmic wrecks. The track moves between searing, noisy sections, mellow slowed tape loop segments and other parts with a vigorous drummer pounding away excitedly. A bit of a live recording is spliced in there. What I appreciate about a lot of the bands in New England is that you never really know what the hell you’ll hear next. Don’t know if it’s something in the seafood or what but nothing is off-limits for these people and more often than not it’s pretty good stuff. This piece moves into a killer nearly hypnotic section before segueing into broken down sing-alongs and split second clips of R&B. I love the next piece (these are just “pieces” as I determine them, there’s no tracklist) which is a recording a little over a minute of some small accordion-led ensemble. It’s steeped in grainy static and I literally don’t know where they found it but it provides a fleeting, melodic lilt in the middle of tape; an excellent choice to include it. The next piece consists of a series of screams that I don’t much care for at first but around halfway through something begins to accompany the screams though everything is so blown out and fuzzy I really can’t say what it is. Despite that though it gives the jam a strong rhythmic presence. The next one is a really fuckin’ zonked (due to pitch shifting) banjo and voice duet that I guess would qualify as a ballad, barely. I like an odd little keyboard piece that pops in the second half that segues into Forbbiden Planet-ish spaced out synth warbles. Next piece ends up with a jaunty little banjo-led ditty which yields to the wild noise and cheers of the second half. The next piece underneath all the warped electronics is a couple of acoustic instruments and a stereo playing Texan blues. The tape closes with a repetition of a 4-second loop of free jazz. The flipside has also blown out, also awesome foreign-language pop music that ranges just about every badass popular musical form from 50s rock n’ roll to Tex-mex(!). I have no idea who the band is but it sounds like something from Asia, maybe Thailand, but it’s seriously pretty fucking awesome. Even if you can’t get into the Bears’ loopiness I guaran-goddamn-tee you you’d love this stuff. Total bonus.
So yeah, in conclusion, Jazz Hands is a weird fucking tape but quite charming overall. It’s what you might expect from a band that defines songwriting as “a collaboration between tape and a magnet” (one of the few revealing nuggets I dug up on their website which is as befuddling as their music)
Both items are still available and look amazing!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Super Special 3" CD-r Round-up!

Direct Shadows is the latest Rambutan triple-incher, released on Frank Baugh’s (Sparkling Wide Pressure) KimberlyDawn label. Rambutan is, of course, Eric Hardiman of Burnt Hills/Century Plants/Tape Drift records fame but it’s his solo guise that appears to be really taking flight this year. The disc is cut in half fairly cleanly with “Direct Shadow” taking up the first half. The piece moves slowly, with Hardiman controlling pulsing, strictly minimal tones. It has the feel a deep space transmission you might stumble upon with a serendipitous flick of the radio dial. It’s an isolating, moody piece that feels like it will go on infinitely, whether anyone is listening or not, and somebody just happened to record 8 minutes and 14 seconds of it. “Empty Sleep” takes up my favorite Rambutan mantle which is when Hardiman goes for jittery, tranced out grooves. The piece reminds me slightly of Ren Schofield’s (God Willing) minimal techno project Container. This track definitely isn’t techno, but it has the same sort of repetitive sci-fi pitter-patter that builds and interlocks into a strange, twisted, dripping mass. With a few minutes to go Hardiman busts out this synthish melody (though it may actually be guitar) that comes out of nowhere but is so ingrained in the preexisting rhythmic framework that it seems like the topper the piece had secretly been working towards along. If you don’t know Eric’s work, check it out.
It’s not often you get 11 tracks on a 3” CD-r but that is exactly what Spade & Archer has given us with Sullo Scaffale released on Bloomington, IN's Auris Apothecary. The dude covers a lot of different terrain over those 11 tracks as well. The sub-minute “Purple Tulips” starts things off with a stomping, mid-tempo DJ Shadow-esque intro before moving suddenly into rhythmic full band rock mode in “Judge and Jury” driven by a rumbling bass line and is eventually given a nice send off of atmospheric piano. “Window Business” is more aggressive with more distortion and wild hit-every-drum-as-fast-as-I-can-style drumming which ends up being a keyboard/drum rave-up. “Yeti” has the same feel but it comes off with a “sampled” sounding vibe, which is kinda cool. “Bell Crawl” provide a brief breather of grainy acoustic guitar and, as you might expect, a bell set. “Cool Breeze” has a kind of smooth jazz vibe which is a little jarring and in all honesty I’m not really feeling it. What I am feeling however is “Fifteen Stories High” a little minute and a half treasure nestled in the middle of the album. Looped drums, piano and guitar make this lovely, groovy, melodic Menomena-esque cell that sadly doesn’t live long before the tempo and volume get jacked up and the piece closes out with a rhythmic mad dash. “Faraar Gil” matches thumping drums with sprinting, spacey piano lines that almost takes on a free rock sensibility which is surprising cause everything is so precise. “Floodwaters” is the default epic at 4:23. Most of the album is these brief, little nuggets that establish their point usually in a matter of seconds, “Floodwaters” is a bit more leisurely in establishing itself. It’s pleasant to listen to but also doesn’t really lead anywhere over its four minutes. “The Short Lines” is pretty jammin’ though. It’s got a great low-end piano melody (with a killer countermelody as well) and lively energy about it that makes me miss the heyday of piano-driven rock bands like Pleasure Forever and The Get Hustle. “Yeti Guen” wraps things up with a shuffling drum and sitar loop, the most straight up hip-hop-influenced track on here.
Static and Distance is a single 21 minute track from Brooklyn- based Millions and released on the also Brooklyn- based Obsolete Units. The piece is bathed in thick, shimmering, digital fog. With many, many layers of synth dissolving into each other. An interesting note is that the jacket states “all sounds by David Suss recorded October 2008” and also “Certain elements performed by David Suss and Mike Magill recorded live to mobile phone July 18 2008” I’m not really sure how both those statements can be true but everything in “Static and Distance” sounds pretty single minded and of its own so maybe the former is somehow true. I certainly can’t tell any distinctions between what’s Suss and what’s Suss/Magill. Anyway, let’s not get off the subject. Around halfway through a great, slowly bending synth adds a phenomenally effective seasick vibe to the piece. The track continues to travel deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole into a monolithic mass of buzz and hum and shimmer and sinister effervescence. This thing is so thick it’s incredible. I have to constantly redirect my listening trying to catch all of the seemingly endless amounts of layers here. The last few minutes make it slightly easier as Suss introduces a little breathing room to the piece during its slow fade. It’s interesting how weirdly oppressive this piece is considering there’s very little distortion, any “noise” is pretty mild and static-y, and the palette is closer to new agey synth stuff. Maybe that’s Suss’s bag, killin’ ‘em with kindness.
Build Your Bed in a Burning House by Blackbeard and released on the Dynamo! imprint isn’t technically a 3inch CD-r (it’s a regular old 5 incher) but it contains a single 16 minute track, well within the means a 3” provides, so I’m throwing it in here. This thing is all over the place; it starts with some kid talking before a looped organ and simple drumbeat start up with distorted speech panned back and forth over them eventually fading into distorted tones. Synth burbles, electric guitar, two note keyboard melodies all overtake the track in a disjointed fashion, pairing heavily filtered oscillator squelch and funeral home organ which is in turn usurped by a recitation of the classic Freaks moment (“One of us/Gooble Gobble”) recast as a one-man sports game crowd cheer. A marching din of distorted electric guitar layers that at some point becomes a loose, vaguely new-wave-inspired jam rock guitar solo sesh. A heavily reverbed, sort of creepy, piano and vocal thing that eventually terminates with a minute long playing of automated answering machine messages that I wish I hadn’t spent the time listening to. All you WTFheads out there, this thing’s for you.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #46 (11/15/09)

Chapels “Beggar” Last Night of Earth [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Cro Magnon “Crop Circles” Split with Circuit des Yeux/Bird [Goaty Tapes] (CS)

Dubbio Nil “Seed, Fruit, Thorn (excerpt)” Seed, Fruit, Thorn [Hymns 2009] (3” CD-r)

Arnau Sala “Voluntad D'agressió Pura with Juan Matos Capote” La Joia L'agredir [Circuit Torçat 2009] (CS)

Teenage Panzerkorps “Shopping Blitz” Games for Slaves [Siltbreeze 2008] (LP)

Muscletusk “Side A” Muscletusk [Sick Head Tapes 2009] (CS)

Buckets of Bile “Solver” Split with Paid in Puke [Speed Tapes 2009] (CS)

Alphabets “Euphoria” Nature Nature [No Label 2009] (mp3)

Rambutan “Middle Altar” Broken Infinity [Stunned 2009] (CD-r)

Stellar OM Source “Sand Lie” Crusader [No Label 2008] (CD-r)

Cough Cool “Sinking Soul” Digestible Doom [Abandon Ship 2009] (CS)

Puffy Areolas “Noble Rot” Final High [No Label 2009] (CS)

Mood Organ “Untitled” Visiting a Burning Museum [Debacle 2009] (CD-r)

Futuresport “Hibernation Pt. 2” White Chimneys [905 Tapes 2009] (CS)

Uneven Universe “Side A” Live at Cosmic Beach [Excite Bike Tapes 2009] (CS)

Grasshopper “Smokey Nights, Melting Flesh” Split with Twisty Cat [Abandon Ship 2009] (CS)

Twisty Cat “Sedenion” Split with Grasshopper [Abandon Ship 2009] (CS)

Nicholas Szczepanik “We Define Everything in Desperation” The Chiasmus [Sentient Recognition Archive/Basses Frequencies 2009] (CD)

mp3: Part 1 Part 2

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Charly “the city mouse” Fasano - Whiskey Won't Cure Clap [Fast Geek Press]

I wasn’t sure what I was gonna think about this tape cause talking/telling stories over music doesn’t usually sit with me just right (I’m quite a fervent Hold Steady detractor amongst a certain group of friends) but anyway this Fasano dude’s stuff (backed up musically by woMANgione and Magic Cyclops) is quite good.
“Smiles that Go Ding” begins with an eerie chord organ drone before quickly switching to an arrangement of a jauntily strummed banjo, glockenspiel and steel guitar. Fasano talks about a roller rink and people wanting to wear labels that cost more than their rent and the weekends when families bombard the streets with strollers and dogs on leashes, “pushing around their accomplishments.” Fasano's stream of conscious style sounds random when certain parts are just plucked out but it works somehow in the context of each song. “Chicago Walk” ostensibly describes various Chicagoans, including an overweight man going to yoga class, stone masons, “pan handlers who only accept dollar bills” and a barista who he can’t tell “if her pants are covered in pigeon shit, or if she’s just wearing acid wash jeans.” “Bar Bar Anthology” has a really beautiful string and brass arrangement that along with Fasano’s descriptive language creates lovely cinematic images in my mind as Fasano “talks to drunks who respect [him.]” An upbeat keyboard line starts off “So Hollywood in KC MO” which is about a man, “he’s a singer, he’s in a rock n’ roll band,” going through various photo shoots and the other demands of being a popular musician. I like the music and the song as a whole though the tempo is a bit too driving for Fasano’s leisurely, somewhat weary delivery.
Nostalgia pops up its head up in “Pretend to be a Man” as Fasano details memories of his childhood pretending to be Rambo while playing capture the flag, “wanting to sing like Huey Lewis and dress like Don Johnson” and remembering how E.T. scared the shit of him. “People I Can’t Trust” has a great dark jazz vibe, giving it a vague slowed down hip-hop feel, and weirdly enough it works really well as Fasano relays a funny story about a drunken news anchor’s wild night. The downer musical vibe carries over to “TJ” but it delves into even darker, dirge-like territory giving a grim tone to Fasano’s adventures down sketchy back alleys in Mexico and depressing philosophical comments like “What do Americans really do in between commercials? My best guess is they open another bag of chips, living life 22 minutes at a time through someone else’s eyes” The tape’s closer, “If I had Money,” is sort of an update of that lame Barenaked Ladies song; Fasano spouts pithy statements like “If I had money, I’d buy a Winnebago for any band that didn’t suck” against a synthwash than veers back and forth between melancholic and euphoric.
Whiskey Won't Cure Clap is definitely an anomaly in my tape collection, but I’m glad it’s there. None of the songs wear out their welcome and it’s nice to just put on and absorb sometimes. Fasano writes well, conjuring up detailed images of numerous characters and situations with ease. Fasano remarks at one point, “Nothing happens here because I’m the only one who notices” which sums his subject matter rather well. Props to him for making “nothing happening” sound interesting. Also, woMANgione and Magic Cyclops deserve a lot credit for the great music they supplied Fasano with. WoMANgione, especially, he/she could seriously do film scores, though that moniker might have be ditched first.
Still available as far as I can tell; the tape comes in an envelope with an insert and download code.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #45 (11/8/09)

Streetworker “20070922” Streetworker [Wheaton 2009] (CS)

Container “Side A” Container [I Just Live Here 2008] (CS)

Swim Ignorant Fire “I Just Got Shot in the Love Handle” Haircuts [No Label 2009] (CD-r)

OVERJOID “Side A (excerpt)” Split with Fight Spider with Spider [Fast Geek Press/Buddha Palm 2009] (CS)

WOOL “Reapo” Шерсть Шерсть Шерсть [Oldturtles Tapes 2009] (CS)

HOU “Brainswell” Reticulating Inner Shade [Auris Apothecary 2009] (CD-r)

Moonflare “Ancient Comet (excerpt)” All the World is Bright with Joy and Magical Delight [Cubic Pyramid 2009] (CD-r)

Analog Concept “Deep Music has Died” Listen Already Today to the Music of Past! [Stunned 2009] (CD-r)

Little Claw “Frankie” Human Taste [Ecstatic Peace! 2009] (CD)

Scraps “Mountain Problems” Scraps [GGNZLA 2009] (CD-r)

Red Squirrels “My Bike is a Sailboat” Bleak|Beauty [Debacle 2009] (CD-r)

Physical Demon “Pleural Effusion” Split with BRNT [Atonal Microshores 2009] (CD-r)

Walrus Machine “Attic Stains” Bleak|Beauty [Debacle 2009] (CD-r)

Snowstorm “Side B” Snowstorm [Malleable 2008] (7”)

Derek Rogers “Side B” Petit Chapeau [Tape Drift 2009] (CS)

Dragging an Ox through Water “Snowbank Treatment” The Tropics of Phenomenon [Freedom to Spend 2009] (CD)

Lanterns “Divine Slaughter Pavilion” White Lodge [No Label 2009] (CD-r)

Bipolar Bear “Cape Verde” Abstract Distractions [olFactory 2009] (10”)

Cave Bears “Untitled” Jazz Hands [Serf Released 2009] (CS)

Public Bummer “Illegitimate Dad” Project Housing [Monorail Trespassing 2009] (CS)

Mortuus Auris & the Black Hand “Part Two: Buried” Omicida Della Regina/Songs for a Solo Piano [Stunned 2009] (CS)

mp3: Part 1 Part 2

Thursday, November 5, 2009

WOOL - Шерсть Шерсть Шерсть [Oldturtles Tapes]

Spawned earlier this year, the Ukraine-based Oldturtles Tapes has put out three releases thus far, one of which is this tape by WOOL.
It’s seems like the underground has really been embracing electronic music lately, I’ve received a bunch of tapes/CD-rs over the past five months or so that prove it. This tape is one of those. “88” begins with a calm, slowly forming beat and echoing keyboard probably but maybe it’s a guitar? A new melody sounding like muted guitar harmonics leads the track into its next phase with a heavy, synth-bass undertow. The track is quite nice when the beat drops out leaving a glistening looped keyboard. I like all the elements of the piece but it’s not really composed that seamlessly, it kind of jumps section to section without building momentum. The next two are pretty sweet though. The second track “Kafakyak” (these are just my attempted transcriptions into the English alphabet, so I could be messing these titles up) is immediately more grooving. Incorporating live percussion, or samples thereof, the track slinks along confidently on the strength of its rhythms. The melodic elements are very understated which works well because there are hints of melody that make the track flow smoothly but the emphasis is kept on the beat. There are some creepy vocal samples that I could probably do without, but they don’t stop the track from really movin’. “Reapo” carries over the groove but introduces a much more complex, polyrhythmic pattern also sampled from percussion I guessing. There’s a heavily reverbed, drum machined snare hit that provides so much drama and authority to the track; it’s killer, every second or so there’s this massive “wwwwoooooshkkkkkkk”. The “melodic” elements are kept rather minimal, though those elements are mainly a simple synth-bass line and a sample of a weird groan. The track works really well and comes together surprisingly succinctly.
The flipside brings “Hole” with its wobbly Dead Prez-like sub-bass line against a minimal drum machine pattern. The jam slowly expands with a loop of distorted guitar and synthetic chimes. It’s long, slow burn and a cool jam at that. It’s probably the darkest track so far and the echoing vocal samples don’t do anything to dispel that. Out of nowhere WOOL gets all scary and no longer dubstep with “Fuck You We Murder” a mid-tempo grinding rock number which is pretty cool aside from the hushed-screamed vocals and silly lyrics like “I hate you/I want to bury you/One by one”. The last minute and a half is called “3anynk” which is a swirl of fuzz, feedback, voices, a thumping drum and other.
Limited to 50 and still available. Oldturtles peddles their tapes for only 3 bucks not including shipping, so it’s a cheap endeavor to check the label out and c’mon, how many chances do you get to add cool Ukranian dubstep tapes to your collection?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sudden Oak - Causeways of the Sun [Bezoar Formations]

Killer cassette released in the summer by Sudden Oak, San Franciscan guitar/sax duo of John Ward and Matt Erickson (Radiant Husk/Bezoar Formations). I’ve been sitting on this hot little number for far too long.
The first of seven pieces goes straight to the heart of murky psych land. Smoky GHQish vibes abound as fuzzy guitar and fuzzy sax blend into the same hazy cloud. The last minute reveals a great, excellently placed, nearly DJ Primo-esque loop adding a lovely rhythmic bob to all the freeforminess that preceded it. The second piece is less droned, even incorporating some straight up psych-rock guitar melodies. I like the way the sax can kind of hide within the track and then pop out with these tense, vibrant bleats pushing the piece into a different realm. The last piece of the side starts with a rather up front high pitched guitar melody before falling back into a dynamic, beautifully astral stream of sounds.
The first piece from the second side brings in drums out of nowhere. I don’t even know if there’s guitar or sax on here, all I’m hearing is drums and fuzz. It’s an awesome rumble though and breaks up the otherwise percussion-less tape nicely. The next track continues the foray into rhythm with a repetitive guitar strum. That strum builds tension which is further heightened by occasional frantic sax work. The ending is pretty great too, with swarms of angry wasp-styled sounds before rolling a cool short sax melody. The side’s third piece plays things a lot more quietly than anything else on the tape; it’s much airier, looser and eases up on the poisonous, fuzzy fog that drenches everything else. The final piece wanders further from the guitar/sax instrumentatio, using a recording of sloshing water.
The tape is still available from Bezoar Formations, I recommend grabbing it along with Radiant Husk’s Beyond the Endless Swale, since it’s still in print and one of my favs from last year. Causeways of the Sun looks great too, as is usual with Bezoar.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Derek Rogers - Petit Chapeau [Tape Drift]

I’d been hearing a lot about this Derek Rogers guy earlier in the year and late in the summer I got my hands Petit Chapeau along with his also great split with Pummeler on Stunned.
I dig Rogers work because he manages to strike the delicate balance between creating a unified, monolithic force with his drones and avoiding strict minimalism and creating a depth of sound. “Side A” of this tape for instance, depending on the volume you are playing it at or perhaps just how attentive you are listening can seem like a constant, hypnotic flow of sound or a pretty complex, dynamic field of sounds. Both perceptions are great, and hey sometimes it’s nice to have control as a listener like when that record you have sounds even cooler at 45rpm. The sonic palette Rogers uses is fairly dark, in the sense of the color palette of the tape’s cover, rather than “dark” imagery. It’s dense and marshy, and kinda bleeds all over or into itself creating a nearly impenetrable, rumbling wall of fuzz. The wall of fuzz slowly opens up (or lightens up) near the end where everything seems to get a touch lighter in pitch and maybe with a bit of a brighter outlook as well. Which makes me wonder what exactly is it that makes a drone a downer or more uplifting?
I like “Side A” but “Side B” is what really captured my heart. Way more “synth-y,” this thing is just thick and pulsing to no end. The brute force of the low-end drones keeps kicking while Rogers fiddles with some higher pitched modulations further heightening the tension. The piece pounds you into submission in a weird way because it really isn’t noisy or abrasive but it just overpowers and absorbs you into itself. It’s this big fucking ball of sound that you just can’t ignore or avoid; it seeps directly into your brain through your ears whether you like it or not. Against all probability the piece gets even more massive, even more dynamic, and even tenser as it rolls along. I don’t even understand how Rogers does that; is it just a slow application of pressure through imperceptible volume increases or what? I don’t understand it and I’m not gonna argue. We obviously have a master at work here.
Still available as far as I can tell from Eric Hardiman’s (Rambutan) killer Tape Drift imprint and obviously recommended to those who like getting their brains rattled.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cresting – An E.P. [Fixture]

This is a nifty little CD-r EP from Canada’s Fixture Records. It’s the debut of Montreal’s Gabe Ng a.k.a. Cresting.
The record has a breezy feel, but not the typical California breezy feel. It’s more like walking along a beach in the Northeast (or Northwest for that matter) with grey clouds gathered and billowing on the horizon and a chilly wind enveloping you. The atmosphere of the record is definitely important here, as the keyboards and pre-recorded drumbeats are wrapped in gauzy lo-fi production values to great effect.
The first track “A Bottom Hill” is based around a shuffling drum machine and stuttering keyboard. The melody sort of wobbles around, never fully repeating a clear cycle, but being more of a collection of random fragments with a similar theme in mind. “Sprained Ankle” is my favorite cause it’s a bit of a feel good number. A jaunty descending/ascending melody bounces along through the fogginess of the record bringing a brief, upbeat ray of sunshine amongst the clouds. “Variation on a Variation” builds around a number of short loops of guitar and keyboard and gets increasing askew and disjointed as it moves along. “Sashes” almost comes out like a twee hip hop beat. A groovy drumbeat and some keyboard-on-the-vibraphone-setting noodling. It’s a cool track but it’s really the addition of another organ melody halfway through and that really seals it. It’s a jam I like more and more each time I listen.
Ng then gets more abstract with “Crow’s Call” which moves on a couple seasick keyboard loops before bringing in drum machine and touches of harmonica half way through. The song turns into one of the more understated and unexpected grooves of the disc. The closer “Squared Feet” layers a bunch of rhythmic piano lines on top of each other forming yet another nice groove, but more organically and more complexly this time. It doesn’t feel like long before it’s over, which can be said of the disc as a whole as well. The CD makes for particularly pleasant listening now that we’re in the midst of Autumn.
The disc is still in print and available from the Fixture website.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #44 (11/1/2009)

Sun Araw “Luther” In Orbit [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Russian Tsarlag “The Master’s Speech” Split with Lesson Lesson Lessen Relearn [West Palm Beotch 2009] (7”) **played at 45rpm

Waterside Gala “Scotch and Soda” Composure & Recreation [Roll Over Rover 2009] (CS)

Cresting “Sprained Ankle” An EP [Fixture 2009] (CD-r)

Super Minerals “Clusters 3” Clusters [Stunned 2009] (CS)

The Uzi Rash Group “Bella Donna” Erotic Terror Beats the Drums of the Republic [Jerkwave Tapes 2009] (CS)

Sky Limousine “Untitled” Midnight Heat [Excite Bike Tapes 2009] (CS)

Charly “the city mouse” Fasano “Chicago Walk” Whiskey Won’t Cure Clap [Fast Geek Press 2009] (CS)

Abolicao “Side B” Flowering Judas [Cabin Floor Esoterica 2009] (CS)

Crash Normal “Hairy Wine 2” Finger Shower [Rijapov 2009] (10”)

Totally Dad “Creeks” Two Hearts [Obsolete Units 2007] (CD)

Floris Vanhoof “Paranormaalabamba” La Bamba [Ultra Eczema 2009] (LP)

White Crime “Teen Horror” White Crime [Faux Pas 2009] (CS)

Sean McCann “Ice Age Tea” Phylum Sigh [DNT/Roll Over Rover 2009] (CS/CD)

Fabric “And a Borrowed Shirt” Late Clothes/Blue Doorways I-III [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Sudden Oak “Untitled” Causeways of the Sun [Bezoar Formations 2009] (CS)

Millipede “Milky Way” Traveling [Sunrise Acoustics/Imperfect Music 2009] (CD-r)

Emuul “Whatever Pushes Back (Take 2)” Omicida Della Regina/Songs for a Solo Piano [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Size “El Diablo en el Cuerpo” El Diablo en el Cuerpo 1978-1984 [Broad Tapes 2008] (CS)

The German Measles “Mosco Street” Demos Sorry [Captured Tracks 2009] (CS)

Lesson Lesson Lessen Relearn “Ultra Cultural Bummer” Split with Russian Tsarlag [West Palm Beotch 2009] (7”)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Grasshopper - Wretched Blood Wraith [Obsolete Units]/Waterside Gala - Composure & Recreation [Roll Over Rover]

Got a couple of jazz-inspired (emphasis on the "-inspired") tapes recently and figured I'd them throw together and kill a couple birds with one stone.
So actually I'm not sure you can mention "jazz" in the vicinity of this Grasshopper tape because it's full of some of the thickest, most steamrollin' drones I've ever heard. It's a duo of trumpet players though so they must've played jazz at some point right? Anyway I'm getting off topic. The topic is of course that this tape totally RULES. It's so heavy and oppressive without actually being that abrasive in any way. The two guys weave filtered sonics into a fucking dense, maniacally zombie-like tapestry on the first side, "Regal Blood Wraith". It sounds like there's maybe some garbled speech in there too but I may be hearing things, the point being there are so many things going on it's difficult to wrap your brain around it.
So basically my vocabulary is not capable of describing how brilliant this piece of music is to you but the piece just keeps getting more massive, more swollen, more terrifying. The sonic equivalent of the Blob basically. This is some Yellow Swans-level shit, these Grasshopper guys know what the fuck they are doing. Simply incredible. I know which jam I'll be pumping when Halloween rolls around this Saturday.
That was just the first side, "The Langoliers" takes up the flip and it's equally as good. From the get-go the piece contains infinitely more hope than "Regal Blood Wraith". The tones are brighter, there's spacey synth-esque sounds and a soaring processed trumpet melody. That is until a killer, deep melodic undertow starts up and the piece locks into a great hypnotic groove. The piece achieves a strange, pulsing beauty and it feels just wonderful to bask in the sounds and it's pretty great how the piece just keeps getting better and better and better. It's also nice that they put the uplifting track after the (awesome) trek through hell of the first side so you end feeling at peace with the world.
With this tape I have discovered one of my new favorite bands. Get this immediately.
Waterside Gala (not a diss, but wouldn't have Waterslide Gala been even cooler?) is a brand new duo of Sean McCann and Kellen Shipley. How brand new? This, their debut, was recorded last month. According to Roll Over Rover's website, the duo plays keyboard and sax and first side "Scotch & Soda" is weirdly (or maybe not so weirdly) McCannish despite the constant skronk sax. Though what I'm assuming is sax sounds a lot like a violin being bowed to pieces. The piece has a lovely float and lilt to it and the frantic, scraping violin/sax/whatever keeps everything just enough off-balance to give all the beauty of the piece extra effect. It's a lovely curiosity. Near the end of the side everything changes to a cavernous sax/keyboard duet riffing on a pretty keyboard line and resigned sax, also quite lovely. The B-side "Guest of Honor" changes the vibe considerably, bringing in rattling percussion and murmuring saxophone. I think there's a flute in here too, making that whole keyboard/sax tag a bit of false advertising. In the keyboard's absence, the melody of this track comes from the sax giving a slower, more wandering tempo. It's not minimal like Body Morph/Uneven Universe, but it does have the oddly shifting sax-in-a-vacuum feel. The track builds to a strange climax where right at it's slight pinnacle, it completely deconstructs itself. Like the first side, there's a short coda at the end. This one sounds like rubber balls tumbling around in a giant wooden box.
It's a cool tape full of lots of interesting sounds. Check it out for sure, I'm looking forward to hearing more from these guys.
Both tapes are available still but limited to 60 so get them soon. And no, I have no idea what is going on with the artwork on the Grasshopper tape. Check Obsolete Units and Roll Over Rover for copies. You also may check the Hopper's 'space for copies too.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #43 (10/25/09)

Body Morph “Side A (excerpt)” Negative Face [Arbor 2008] (CS)

Hunted Creatures “Live Collage” Spring Tour Demo 2009 [Dynamo! 2009] (CD-r)

Shawn David McMillen “Untitled (excerpt)” End of the City [Abaddon/Abandon Ship/DNT 2009] (LP)

Francis Harold and the Holograms “I See It All” Who Said These Were Happy Times [Going Underground/Square Wave 2009] (LP)

FNU Ronnies “Golem Smoke” Golem Smoke [Skrot Up/Night People 2009] (CS/CD-r/one-sided LP)

Grey Daturas “Barren Planet” Barren Planet [Heathen Skulls 2009] (7” one-sided)

Bright Duplex “The Lady is Waiting” Strawberry Trust [Thor’s Rubber Hammer 2009] (CD-r)

Forest Dweller “Cedrus Libani” Demo [Dynamo! 2009] (CS)

Children Under Hoof “Live Scoring of John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 4/9/09 (excerpt)” none [Unreleased 2009] Watch it!

Mrtyu “Ritual Terra Continuii” Ritual Terra Continuii [Tipped Bowler Tapes 2007] (CS)

Ajilvsga “Dead, White, Lifeless” The Muddy Banks of the Arkansas [Near Passerine Devotionals 2009] (LP)

Wild Gunmen “Let the Blood Flow” Wild Gunmen [White Tapes 2008] (CS)

Locrian “Rain of Ashes (excerpt)” Rain of Ashes [Fan Death 2009] (CS)

Sorry no MP3 for this week due to severe technical issues with the radio station. How did I not know my (pre-)Halloween would be cursed...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Locrian - Rain of Ashes [Fan Death]

First of all, my apologies for the lack of reviews lately. Illness, houseguests, a ceiling leaking in 4 places and general school/work business have been keeping me, well, busy. Anyway, gonna work a bit harder to keep the site current. Now on to the show...
I can tell you one thing I thought I’d never see again and that is a new (as in current) tape in shrink wrap. And well, thanks to Fan Death I have seen it and even touched it. Locrian’s work both soundwise and visually is known for a certain professionalism and blackened elegance and Rain of Ashes, capturing a live performance on WMUC this past summer, continues their hit streak.
I haven’t had the fortune of seeing these guys live yet but if all the live recordings I’ve heard are any indication, and I assume they are, Locrian’s live show is quite an experience. Rain of Ashes starts up with a barely there drone which is slowly modulated by a searing, sustained guitar lead. The track slowly peels open with layers of subtle melodies. Some way into the tape a low guitar melody materializes and it’s very simple but a sweetly melodic counterpoint to the colder drones radiating elsewhere. The organ follows suit with a descending melody of its own that the guitar quickly picks up on. It becomes apparent just how psychically connected these guys must be to pull this stuff off live. There’s always been an underlying beauty to Locrian’s music but in this piece they push it out there front and center, expanding that organ melody into a lovely fugue. What’s more is that the guys perform a slo-mo obliteration of that little section. Unstable guitar tones and quaking bass frequencies attempt to usurp control and swallow that bit of beauty up whole. They don’t succeed which is good for me cause I quite liked that melody, though it doesn’t last forever. White noise and a solitary guitar playing a lonesome melody duet for a little while afterward. The tempo and volume increase slightly giving it a surprisingly rock vibe. This fades into a slightly more uneasy section, once again based around a guitar melody. A bolt of distortion builds intensity and the piece swells into a mild crescendo of swirling feedback that gets stormier by the minute, ending with something sounding like the wind blowing through a Metal Zone. It’s a really strange, non-linear journey but a good one.
One of the coolest things about the tape is instead of doing the standard double A-side tape, the piece plays out in reverse on the second side, making it possible to ride this thing continuously if you so choose. Even cooler is the track sounds really awesome in reverse. Since Locrian mostly uses sounds with slow attack, the piece doesn’t exactly sound reversed most of the time. Or at least not in a distracting way. It’s re-contextualized and strangely familiar but not quite the same. More bonus points go to the inspired backwards printing of the label on the first side of the tape on the B-side. Hell of a job by Fan Death and a hell of a job by Locrian.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #42 (10/18/09)

Rahdunes “Sounds” Drink and Drive Smoke or Fly [Bum Tapes 2009] (CS)

Peaking Lights “Intro to Imaginary Falcons” Imaginary Falcons [Night People 2009] (LP)

Oneohtrix Point Never “Zones Without People” Zones Without People [Arbor 2009] (LP)

Silver Bullets “Flight from Babylon” Free Radical [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Blank Realm “Cats on the Edge” Psyched Punch [DNT 2009] (CS)

Soloing Over Alanis Morissette “SOAM” Soloing Over Alanis Morrisette [Speed Tapes 2009] (CS)

Sord “Made in Ecuador 10-07” Rebuking the Despoiler [OSR Tapes 2009] (CS)

Theo Angell & the Tabernacle Hillside Singers “A Crime from the Vine” Tenebrae [Amish 2009] (CD)

Spade and Archer “Fifteen Stories High” Sullo Scaffale [Auris Apothecary 2009] (3” CD-r)

Terror Bird “Box Office Boyfriend” Sociopaths are Glam [Night People 2009] (CS)

Bird Names “Taxicabs and Bicycles” Sings the Browns [Really Coastal 2009] (CS)

Juan Matos Capote “Star Dust” Jabal [Circuit Torçat 2009] (CS)

Astral Social Club “Stacking Stacking” Split with Wounded Knee [Sick Head Tapes 2009] (CS)

Slasher Risk “Brooklyn” Slasher Risk [Obsolete Units 2009] (CD)

Fag Cop “They Won’t Tell Me About It” Whispers from the Pantheon [No Label 2009] (CS)

Life Partners “AIDS of Spades” AIDS of Spades/Teenager in Trouble [Ride the Snake 2008] (7”)

Mayyors “Deads” Deads [Hurling Man 2009] (LP)

Angst Hase Pfeffer Nase “Horseshoe Crabmobile (with Little Doo Doo Scoops)” Glistening Inn [Ultra Eczema 2008] (LP)

Rale “Side B (excerpt)” Slow Life [Young Tapes 2009] (CS)

mp3: Part 1 Part 2

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Auxiliary Out Radio Programme #41 (10/11/09)

Historians “Slice n’ Dice” Proof [Stunned 2009] (CD-r)

Tusk Lord “Afraid of the Dark” Summer 2009 [Dynamo! 2009] (CS)

Jazzfinger “Birth of the Knife” Psyched Punched [DNT 2009] (2xCS)

Blue Sabbath Black Fiji “Laksa Bath” Gemini [Deathbomb Arc 2009] (CD-r)

Maths Balance Volumes “Untitled” Tried to Make a Call [Bum Tapes 2008] (CS)

Caethua “Surface Waters and Underground Seas” Split with Ancestral Diet [Goaty Tapes] (CS)

Nackt Insecten “The Telepathic Jackal” Split with Dylan Nyoukis [Sick Head Tapes 2009] (CS)

Hanging Coffins “Haunted Hives” Hanging Coffins [Night People 2009] (CS)

Warm Climate “Lost Teeth” Edible Homes [Stunned 2009] (CS)

Occasional Detroit “Side A” Occasional Bomb [Human Conduct/I Just Live Here 2007] (7”)

ID M Theft Able “Zone Y Ponds Y Sugars I’ve 3” Split with Cave Bears [Feeding Tube 2009] (LP)

Lam Young “Kati Sorn Jai” Siamese Soul: Thai Pop Spectacular Vol. 2 [Sublime Frequencies 2009] (CD)

Rambutan “Sideswept” Vertical [Tape Drift 2009] (CS)

Orphan Fairytale “Crybaby Needs a Hanky” Ladybird Labyrinth [Ultra Eczema 2009] (LP)

Bright Duplex “It’s Geese” Strawberry Trust [Thor’s Rubber Hammer 2009] (CD-r)

Teenage Panzerkorps “Arc de Triomphe” Teenage Panzerkorps [Captured Tracks 2009] (7”)

Grasshopper “Regal Blood Wraith” Wretched Blood Wraith [Obsolete Units 2009] (CS)

The Widow Babies “Carmen Y Pipo” Jet Packs [olFactory 2009] (LP one-sided)

Ignatz “The Woman Helped Him” A Canine and a Kitten in the Car [Goaty Tapes 2009] (CS)

Dragging an Ox Through Water “Devil’s Prayer” The Tropics of Phenomenon [Freedom to Spend 2009] (CD)

Brian Grainger “Swamp Bike at Dusk” Traveling [Imperfect Music/Sunrise Acoustics 2009] (CD-r)

mp3: Part 1 Part 2

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bright Duplex – Strawberry Trust [Thor’s Rubber Hammer]/I Heart Lung/DWMTG – Ecstatic Jazz Duos [Thor’s Rubber Hammer]

Thor's Rubber Hammer seems to be becoming the go to place for jazz in the underground. There was the totally slammin' first installment of Ecstatic Jazz Duos LP series last year with Talibam! and the absolutely most slaying Wasteland Jazz Unit stuff I've heard. Now Thor (actually Lars Gotrich) is back with the second Ecstatic Jazz Duos installment and an absolute monster of a CD-r by Bright Duplex.
If I gave out a best new artist award or something Bright Duplex would be the horse to bet on, cause from this vantage point they’ve got it pretty much locked up. The duo of Matthew Armistead on drums, percussion and clarinet and Vanessa Rossetto (The Mighty Acts of God) on viola/in, cello, percussion, electronics and field recordings. Just the instrument line-up alone is enough to get the salivary glands pumping. “Egg Harbor” says the first hello with grinding violin and snare devolving into a humming/whining clarinet/strings duet that ratchets up the tension while Armistead beats his percussive pallet with frustrated fury. The clarinet gets placed more centrally on “Luminous Pumpkin Sockets” which is always met by enthusiasm in my book, before long though the duo ends up in an acoustic drone passage. That passage becomes rather absorbing with epic gongwork, splinters of feedback and jangly bells. The duo lets lose with the reeds near the end which sounds wicked and on a dime they’re in hushed silence slowly creeping back into the daylight. “The Lady is Waiting” turns out some kind of bizarre, creepy horror movie jazz. Combining all the right frequencies to scare the shit out of me. The piece drifts along with a minimum of percussion; it’s mostly fueled by the vibrations supplied by the clarinet and strings. And when this thing heads for the climax, oh man, it is sensational. Clarinet pipes up for a few seconds leading into a huge swell of sound, really tremendous. “Motorcycle Goodbye” features violin in a more melodic role, sort of, cello also gets the spotlight briefly too. The thing that’s so strange about Bright Duplex is they have such control over dynamics, they can kind of “mute” the whole band leaving each instrument in a tense, straitjacketed state. Weird but incredibly effective. “Small Simulacra” in contrast, gets to roam a bit freer including an odd rhythmic pattern by Armistead. Rossetto creates a great bed/undertow of strings as well which slowly sucks the jam into some sort of crazy jazz vortex. “It’s Geese” also kicks off in more “straightforward” fashion. Creeping percussion, creepy violin, creepier clarinet all headed to some grimy jazz club on the eastside of Hell. The piece has an especially eerie spirit to it for a mere jazz jam, even hypnotizing in a way. A recording of a crowd of people crops up later which prompts clarinet and drums take a little well-earned alone time together. It’s hard to choose a favorite on a record like this but that could be it. “Church of Rosy Porky Pine” rides on grinding strings and rumbling drums before gliding to a halt. The hilariously apathetically-titled finale “Well Then” starts up with droning strings and mild free percussion. The piece feels like it’s about to lash out at any moment but manages keep things polite and noticeably more melodic than the rest of record due to Rossetto’s stringwork. All that makes for a great, unassuming topper. These guys are pretty spectacular, there’s no way this stuff was done totally live—there’s gotta be overdubs somewhere—but Strawberry Trust totally feels live though. Very vibrant, alive and masterfully executed. Furthermore, these guys have a sound all their own; I mean, name your favorite current underground jazz crew, chances are Bright Duplex sound different and, most likely, better than they do.

The second installment of the Ecstatic Jazz Duos series continues to expand the range of artists in its exclusive roster. Electric guitar/drums duo, I Heart Lung, takes the first side with three pieces. “Conflagration” is the longest, taking up the first half of the side. It begins rather un-jazzy with reversed guitar and the grinding of rusty cymbals until the guitar debuts the main melody and the drums follow suit, shaping up into a semi-free pattern. There are some relaxing moments of a mellow guitar melody and slight drum accents, actually my favorite part of the piece, before a return to the initial melody at the end of the track. “Grand Assembly Line of Retired Machinery” starts out a bit more fiercely with a mechanized split second guitar loop, which is backed by splashes of drums and guitar chords before turning to ambient drones for the rest of the track. The most bracing and best track of the side is “Axes Only,” which settles into a melody akin to that of the first piece, after the opening of slashing guitar and frantic drumming. I Heart Lung sound the most “ecstatic” here; they play with more ferocity and seemingly more purpose. Their foray within the more traditional areas of guitar-led jazz sounds more alive in this piece than elsewhere on their side. However, they’re at their absolute best when they’re at their most atavistic. As the piece nears its conclusion it reaches its peak of intensity when I Heart Lung takes to thrashing about frenetically creating a synergetic texture of aggression. It’s a pretty great ending.
Overall, this is a decent side. It’s obviously competently performed and features some great moments but I can’t help repeating that they don’t sound that “ecstatic” for most of their contribution, at many points I find myself wishing they would really go for it as they do at the end of their side. I’m no scholar of jazz, but what I Heart Lung is doing doesn’t really feel that new either unlike the work of the artists on the previous installment of Ecstatic Jazz Duos. I should also note though, that I tend to prefer reeds and/or brass-led jazz as opposed to guitar-led jazz.
DWMTG is a Thurston Moore-approved electric bass/percussion duo of Dale W. Miller and Tony Gordon and their side is comprised of ten untitled tracks. The first piece begins oddly enough with a duet between a bass guitar and a rubber ducky or some such squeaky toy. After many listens I’m still not sure what the hell to make of it. The next piece is even stranger with, possibly electronic, clicking percussion and percussive, “noteless” bass work. Things start to congeal on the third piece with slippery bass playing and skittering cymbal work. The fourth piece, as well, has weirdly burbling bass work and rustling drums. I like the textures that Gordon pulls out of his bass, because as far as I can tell there are no effects or anything and he makes some strange sounds. I can appreciate DWMTG’s textural miniatures (and their overall weirdness) though I think it’d be to their benefit to let loose a bit more and use dynamics to their advantage. A couple of the later tracks feature more confrontational vibes with both instruments creating thick webs of sounds and pushing those sounds much harder and to a fuller extent. The last couple pieces are louder, less sparse and, I think most importantly, get the blood flowing, the head nodding and the foot tapping.
The LP also features some of Christopher Cichocki’s best artwork; I particularly love the front cover which looks like a sketch of some barren, landscape despite it probably being a microscopic image of wood or something.
Both releases are still available but note that Strawberry Trust is limited to 100. Also, a suggestion to Thor, snap up Bright Duplex for a future edition of Ecstatic Jazz Duos right away! Those kids can't miss!