Monday, September 28, 2009

The Brown Book - Thirty-Nothing [No Label]

I got this CD-r from Boston-area crew The Brown Book a while back, and for the BB crew life is about just one thing: riffs. If you dig on riffs but prefer to be without all the metal fonts and bullshit “evilness” baggage, you’d be doing yourself a favor to check these guys out.
On Thirty-Nothing, occasionally, they play around with a more experimental vibe but really this is just no frills riffage and all that for it. “Deer Heads” features a brief intro of swelling tones before switching to full-on rock mode. “Fat Birds” has sort of a Fugazi instrumental gone hard vibe to me, tightly coiled and tightly constructed. “Family Outing” is my favorite jam (and title.) It begins as an amalgam of the more recent doomgaze stuff and a 90s alterna sensibility which I dig. The drummer also manages to seamlessly incorporate a nearly hip hop flourish into the loping drum beat which is pretty rad. Halfway through the track The Brown Book stomps on the accelerator and introduces more gnarly riffs in the process. An abstractly rhymthic breakdown combusts into another bout of awesome riffing, which the band rides to its fist pumping conclusion. Killer track. “Snuff King” has a nearly ambient intro of slippery guitar before pummeling its way through to a catchy breakdown that layers two guitar melodies and a bass melody on top each other. The section creates a cool depth of sound which they manage to sustain throughout the excellent, amped up outro. Another favorite, for sure. Interestingly enough for “Jumping the Shark” The Brown Book leaves the distortion behind for a good chunk of the track, making it an uncharacteristically clean-toned anthem. “Half Bald” digs back into the 80’s DC/Dischord era for inspiration for its 1 and a half minutes. The closer, “There is a Boy Looking at Us” features a nice melodic breakdown in the center, similar to that of “Snuff King,” and a great lead guitar melody materializes as the tempo ramps up.
My main criticism, as a listener who focuses on texture, is that the album doesn’t really have an invigorating “sound” or presence throughout. It sounds fine, everything is pretty crisp and clear but doesn’t really have that x-factor that makes the sounds themselves pop at out at you. It’s also quite possible the concept is to strip everything down to just the riffs themselves which is just as admirable.
The CD-r is available from the band’s website or myspace.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Brian Grainger/German Shepherd/Millipede/Moth – Traveling [Sunrise Acoustics/Imperfect Music]

Traveling is a four-way split, as you noticed in the title, governed by three rules. First, “all songs must adhere to theme” the theme being traveling. Second, “each artist gets 15 minutes.” Lastly, “each artist gets approximately 50 words” for an accompanying written piece. No reason for these rules is given but there we are.
South Carolina’s Brian Grainger takes the first 15 minute segment with two tracks. Some of Grainger’s written piece sums up the vibe of “Galivants Ferry” pretty well: “The warm humidity of the rusted swamp floor made it seem like time was passing slower.” I know that’s kind of cheating because I’m supposed to be reviewing it, he already nailed it so what’s the point in trying. The piece has a drone flavor, but it’s very melodic and cinematic in addition to being texturally complex. The piece flows effortlessly; some elements gliding, some shuffling along but all of them in sync. “Swamp Bike at Dusk” fills out the second half of Grainger’s allotted timeframe. This piece continues the aesthetic but reveals itself much slower and more dynamically. Grainger creates a rockier sonic field with this piece but beautiful, absolutely soaring waves of sound poke through and eventually wrestle away control, letting the piece blissfully slip away. I’ve never heard of Mr. Grainger before this but based on his work here he is an incredibly talented sculptor of sound.
Milwaukee’s German Shepherd fills the next 15 minutes with three guitar-based pieces. “Returned Effects” is comprised of a number of layers of guitar. It’s a hazy, gentle piece of solo guitar, building melodies rather than spreading on sustained tones. “Vasa” is a more pulsing drone-oriented work, with little looped melodies coming in and out. The last piece, “Imaginary Bavaria,” continues where “Vasa” leaves off, a short looped melody pushes the piece along while textural layers are brushed on with guitar. I like the way the piece winds down with a repeated/looped arpeggio and harmonic combo.
Chattanooga’s Millipede’s 15 minutes changes things rather drastically. The first half hour was more or less mellow guitar ruminations while the first Millipede jam “Batcave” is a thrashing, half-formed rock song of guitar, cymbal and effects. A lot looser and more frantic than anything that came before it. “Milky Way” has a fair amount of static-y distortion but a placid soul. A fantastic, ever growing melody shines through the fuzz making it another great guitar-focused track. “Ocean Hunter” is rougher, plunging into more distorted waters and bringing the cymbal back for another battering. What I love about the piece though are these splinters of melody that are intercut with the crashing waves of distortion. Millipede’s final piece “Family Vacation When I was 17” is a strange concoction of guitar, piano, effects loops and I’m guessing the “old cassette tape scraps” listed in the booklet. The track navigates though places of relative calm and explosions of noise. Well done set of songs.
Chicago’s Moth is the final entry and opts for a single 14+ minute track (though a splicing of numerous subsections.) “Home (Vocal)/LAX/Schiphol/Touchdown at Maya Maya/Congo Girl St. John/Milwaukee/Home (Guitar)” begins with a prayer and then jumps into a short lacerating blast of noise. Then switches gears with a guitar/voice song. Then it’s back into a spoken interlude about sleeping better in St. John’s. Afterwards there’s a cool jam with bass and electric tabla machine. A simple groove but a rollicking one with tinny guitarwork laid over top. The “Milwaukee” section is a weirdo country tune. The last part is a big, burly fuzz guitar outro. Moth certainly gets a gold star for the most eclectic entry and most literal adherence to the theme.
Overall, it’s a well put together collection. Coherently incorporates each artist’s styles without sounding samey. The CD-r is packaged like a proper CD, jewel case, booklet and the whole 9 which is cool to see in lieu of the standard slip case. The first edition is limited to 100. As a tapehead I can’t help but suggest a second edition on double cassette would be real nice for the album, but I’m always trying to get everyone to put out tapes so it is best to just ignore me. Still available.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tusk Lord – Summer 2009 [Dynamo!]/Forest Dweller – Demo [Dynamo!]

A couple of new (and already sold-out!) tapes from Pittsburgh’s Dynamo! imprint.
This tape by Tusk Lord (the moniker of Mike Kasunic) really caught me off guard cause judging by the name/artwork/past Dynamo! releases I expected some kind of dark drone/noise thing. Instead my ears are first met with field recordings and a fantastic, catchy home-recorded song “Museum Fly” written from the point of view of, you guessed it, a fly in the museum (“The pictures on the wall all make me crash.”) You don’t realize at first but there’s a lot of depth in the song, a couple tracks of guitar, couple tracks of vocals, percussion and a stammering piano that does nice job providing rhythmic thrust. This leads into a quick and pretty, overdubbed, guitar interlude which leads into a stripped down cover of Brian Wilson’s “He Gives Speeches”. “Afraid of the Dark” is probably the best thing on the tape, along the lines of Leonard Cohen or Michael Gira but way more catchy and upbeat musically (though the vocals are as dour as can be.) It’s a really simple arrangement of two acoustic guitars but it sounds amazing, and feels like finding some unknown classic from 30 years ago. Another great interlude of reverse guitar follows. After a short track of just field recordings that didn’t really need to be there, Kasunic switches gears to a mega-heavenly, ethereal vocal piece. Another subdued, droney interlude leads to “Blue Eyes” featuring a sinisterly jaunty piano line a la The Birthday Party’s “Blundertown” and layers more tracks of piano top to finish out the side. The side is really varied and solid all the way through. A great piece of work.
There are 3 tracks on the second side, compared to the 9 of the first side. It opens with “Venus”, another cover, though I’m not sure who by. A long live track takes over of garbled speech and simmering electronic tones and lethargic chime melodies. It’s not a bad piece but after how crammed full of (great) ideas the first side is, this track kind of kills the momentum of the tape. “Sewer Drain” closes things up with the weirdest song on here, sloppy detuned acoustic guitar and strange, pinched vocals. I like this tape a lot though, I would like to see grade A Tusk Lord material all the way through, cause Kasunics’s grade A material is seriously grade A.
Forest Dweller, however, is really noisy, and pretty great in his(her?) own right. “Burning Civilization” starts things off in a fit of rage with a pummeling drum machine and an oscillator being torn apart. “Mountain Religion” is a cool piece using a recording some kind of spiritual vocal piece and going all LA harsh noise on it. Really frantic, dynamic and well done. Forest Dweller sounds really focused and confident with the control of this piece. One of the best harsh jams I’ve heard in a while. “Path to the Lean-To (Part 1)” brings back the drum machine for an almost shuffling rhythm. Effected vocals give the piece a bit of an early Yellow Swans feel. “Part 2” of the piece turns metalcore which I’m not totally feeling, but to Forest Dweller’s credit it doesn’t really come off as incoherent to the tape’s overall aesthetic.
On the flip, “Sky Canopy” is similar to last piece but more successfully integrates the noise, electronic and grindcore elements and it’s a pretty sweet track overall. Maybe it’s just the title that gives me the impression but “Bone Garden” sounds like Bone Awl channeled into a one-man noise performance. Relentless drum machine, cool guitar lines and somehow through all the noise it somehow manages to be kind of catchy. “Cedrus Libani” takes it easy, going for a more suspenseful drone vibe. My girlfriend rightly commented that it sounds like a haunted house score. Not in a cheesy way, it’s just very subtly eerie with a looped swelling organ tone and manipulated oscillations. A good thing to be jamming this Halloween.
All in all these two tapes make me really excited for whatever future tapes Dynamo! has in the works. And next time can we please have more than editions of 50 and 25? This stuff’s too good.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Lanterns – White Lodge [No Label]

From the opening notes of Lanterns’ latest CD-r, the perhaps Twin Peaks-inspired White Lodge, they sound a lot more electric than since I last heard them. The sound works for them on the opening track “Divine Slaughter Pavilion,” a single guitar jams out psych-blues evoking a more vibrant, as opposed to rustic, Ignatz. Meanwhile, electronics of some sort spew out chirping and groaning sonics. Really it’s an incredibly simple piece, but something about is really affecting and hypnotic. They trick you into thinking there are more than two things going on. “Brohawk vs. Johawk” has a swirling, fuzzy guitar/synth thing going on covering up some skittering electronics. “They’ve Got Our DNA,” the default epic at 15 minutes, might be my favorite. It’s a woozy affair with guitar masquerading as wind chimes and static buzz and whir. I really like the slinky, understated tom tom pattern laid out underneath. The piece balances on a tense tightrope teetering back and forth between areas of calm and areas of agitated guitar abuse. A full drum kit kicks in eventually, thrashing out the hollow, repetitive rhythm as the guitar starts wigging out and the track heads into full-bore free rock territory. Totally gnarly and displaying sharp teeth Lanterns have previously kept hidden from me. “Hobo’s Meditation” recovers from the previous jam nicely; it’s mellow, glistening, sprinkled with melodic fragments. They manage to use the elements already employed earlier in the CD-r for an entirely different purpose, resulting in a lovely, misty piece with plenty of depth. The last track “Olene” is much more spacious. Unlike the rest of the CD, it’s pretty much just organ and vocals as far as I can tell, really drawn out and relaxing. Rather soft and feathery actually.
Lanterns have yet again proved they’re a talented group and I’m personally pretty psyched for the new direction they’re heading in. The CD-r is self-released and available from the band’s myspace.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Soloing Over Alanis Morissette - Soloing Over Alanis Morrisette [Speed Tapes]

What does Soloing Over Alanis Morissette sound like you may ask? Well, the question can be answered quite easily by reading this project's moniker. Apparently, it's a teen from the Chicago suburbs named Dave Gerhard and he's created one of the more pleasurable and certainly one of the weirdest WTFs I have come across.
I'm not necessarily sure how important my role is here since you can probably fill in the blanks yourself, but Gerhard takes a couple of Alanis's biggest hits and improvises guitar solos over them. To his credit you can tell he is actually paying attention to the songs and forming his improvisations around them--it's not a lame exercise in irony. "You Oughta Know" is a great choice for the opener because Alanis's relentlessly hilarious histrionics put the whole track in a state of constant climax, making the whole duration perfect soil for some burning, cathartic guitar leads. As a personal bonus this tape is the first time I've heard Alanis say "fuck" cause I'd only heard her music (censored) on the radio or in stores or whatever. I really like on the third track, where "Ironic" is the source material, when Gerhard occasionally sings along, murmuring "his very pretty wife" (despite the actual lyrics being "his beautiful wife"). I think singing along with slightly incorrect lyrics is one of the things can be called a universal human experience; relating to the tape is part or maybe most of the fun. The last track "SOAM Gets HEALTHY!" doubles the weird factor by adding some of HEALTH's bootyshaking into the soloing over "Thank You" (which is a weird enough song in its own right, or at least the music video is...) The result is some sort of inbred Alanis Morissette rave mix, somehow both sedate and rabid, even more bizarre than the Alan Jackson club remix cassingle I picked up at Goodwill last year.
Maybe it's because I grew up as one of those kids sitting in my room soloing over other people's songs but I enjoy jamming this a lot more than I thought was rationally possible. I can't explain why but it does me good to know some kid is out there releasing tapes of himself soloing over Alanis Morissette. Here's to hoping the next release has Gerhard soloing over Wesley Willis's song "Alanis Morissette". Worth checking out if it at all sounds interesting to you. And also props to the young label Speed Tapes for throwing their weight behind strange pleasures such as this.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sean McCann – Phylum Sigh [DNT]/Sean McCann – Midnight Orchard [Roll Over Rover]

So I wrote this back in April and I finally found the notebook I wrote it in and transcribed it, anyway I apologize for the egregious 5 month delay…
From its first second Phylum Sigh, McCann’s first tape for DNT, is a departure from his previous work or least what I’ve heard of it. “Betazoid” is full of day-glo synths moving like slo-mo laser beams across the track over unadorned, plucked banjo. The synthesizer is the dominant presence here providing flickers of melody through a dizzying collage of bite-sized splinters. “Sunk Eyes,” however, is melancholic where “Betazoid” is ecstatic. Here the acoustic instrument, viola, sets the pace and the synth follows suit. It’s a real simple piece but a touching one right up to its snake charmer ending. As I alluded to earlier, McCann is exploring a new sound here and the first two pieces show him adjusting to the new elements but “Ice Age Tea,” the final piece on the side, finds him already mastering them. There is full integration of the old and the new. The piece transports you smoothly. Gentle static and rolling waves of keyboards and a bit of thumping percussion. The sounds unfold beautifully, something McCann is already known for. I’m currently writing this on a plane and this is seriously what you are meant to listen to while gliding through the Earth’s atmosphere and gazing at the clouds. Soft, calming and really heavenly but still having a real weightiness to the sounds. It’s a wonderfully orchestrated trek through space and sound—total magic carpet ride. Really it is an unforgettable experience hearing these sounds while soaring through the cloud streaked sky.
“Mango Christmas” kicks off the second side in ultra lush style. Billowing synths and hums with icy wind whistling a melody, making the track’s climate a bit chillier. The “Christmas” bit to “Mango’s” lushness. One of my favorite Christmas songs. “Meaningless Desire” has some jittery slot machine keyboards over viola and guitar and sputters quickly to a stop before remolding itself in a slightly different manner. There’s a tad more space in the second bit and I like it quite a lot. It wraps with breaking and receding waves of distorted viola. The same feel continues in “Spring Spill” lush synthesizer resonations cradling brittle, stuttering pitch manipulated keyboard which worms its way into your brain by the end. “Just Around” is quite nice featuring a somehow natural chemistry between banjo and whooshing synth. An extremely active track, brimming with melodies, quite a beauty to behold. The final track, “Look Out”, comes from a noticeably more percussive angle. I think there is some processed live percussion but most of the rhythmic feel comes from sequencer-esque bits that slowly take melodic shape.
Not sure if this is my favorite McCann work (not sure that I have one) but this tape seems more like a statement than any of his others. I’m always tuned in to whatever McCann puts out but I’m even more curious to see what’s next.
Released a little bit earlier than Phylum Sigh on Sean’s Roll Over Rover label. Midnight Orchard stands out to me as well because I’m pretty sure there aren’t really any keyboards during the 92 minutes. Viola and banjo are the main instruments and McCann wields them wonderfully. The 40 minute title track is phenomenal, by turns lovely and deeply mournful. I think I remember McCann saying it was a long recording of viola slowed down, which makes sense. It has a slightly slow-motion-like quality where every detail seems to resonate even more. The piece doesn’t sound unnatural because of this characteristic but resigned and elegiac with a beautiful bassy timbre. It’s a great piece. The other piece on the first side “Spun Around” is probably similar to what “Midnight Orchard” sounded like before being slowed down. It’s a caustic, wiry web of viola and possibly guitar though I think that’s probably just plucked viola. Despite small cacophonic clashes throughout the piece, a few melodies develop and return in the midst of the clattering layers of bowed and plucked strings.
Side B is quite different, there are 16 pieces instead of 2 and the banjo is featured prominently. The first piece immediately marks a shift into more romantic territory with an unabashedly sweet pairing of stumbling banjo and singing viola. The third “Straw Hat” (all tracks on the b-side are called “Straw Hat”) takes the same basic idea of the first piece but spreads it out into a drone piece. The fourth one features a tremolo’d guitar I think playing a rather pretty, pulsing melody, while the fifth piece resembles the previous side with only bowed instruments, still possibly viola and banjo, intertwining and twisting in the wind. The sixth piece shifts effortlessly into shimmering bells and such and the seventh is another pretty piece similar to the lightly throbbing fourth piece. Elsewhere on the tape, the eleventh piece an effected viola turns string swells into a synthy fog with occasional near fiddle-isms. The following piece is a nice misty segue into the thirteenth piece maybe the most traditional on the tape. A trundling banjo pattern makes a steady base for a lead viola melody. After two pieces deeply submerged in effects, the last track returns to the melody of the first piece, somehow sounding a tad more rustic and worn in this time around. It’s a great tape, up there with some of McCann’s best stuff.
Both are sold-out from source but definitely worth tracking down.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Josh Lay – Heirophant [Sentient Recognition Archive]/Josh Burke – Imagination [Housecraft]

After reviewing that Josh McAbee tape, I remembered I have a pair of releases to review from the other Joshs I mentioned.
“Hog Gloss,” the strong opener of Josh Lay’s Heirophant, begins with a mild grind, a dwelling synth and leashed feedback with a heavy bass throb quaking underneath. The track seems to be teetering on the edge of total sonic annihilation the whole time. Lay opens things up a bit at a point in the second half of the track. By taking it easy and letting up a bit on the noise he’s able to come back with more intensity when he drops in new, bloodthirsty sounds. It was a good choice on Lay’s part to keep things tightly controlled because it certainly heightens the drama of the music rather than to just go at it full force. The title track is some prickly feedback with throaty vocals over the top. Lay does a nice job with dynamics in the track but throaty vox have never struck my fancy so I can’t really get into this one. Nicholas Szczepanik, the man behind Sentient Recognition Archive, contributes to the third track, “Frozen in Blood.” The the track is pretty bitchin’ from the beginning. The track just keeps gathering intensity with a deep rumbling bass pulse and shrill, shrieking feedback “Frozen in Blood” just grows and grows. What Szczepanik contributes to the track isn’t listed but this piece sounds a bit thicker than the other tracks, a bit more ready to consume everything around it. After having built such a massive beast Lay and Szczepanik let it drift off on a wave of synthesizer. The two and a half minute “Beyond Melted” just pelts the listener with hi-pitched frequencies. My ears are angry with me for listening to this with headphones but you need them to pick out the bizarre little melodies within the feedback. Certainly my favorite title of the record, “Found Dead in the Woods of Kentucky” has heavy crunch on its mind like some sort of amplified bear fight. Weird little melodies emerge over long, looped ominous passages against occasional interjections of frantically jostled feedback. One of the cooler pieces on here. “My Cave is a Poison Cave” is way milder, not excessively distorted, and at one point I hear something that sounds like a flute though it probably isn’t. Guitar plays a much bigger, or at least more noticeable, role in the piece. The piece is sort of an intersection between noise and loner blues. The guitar quietly melts against a smoky bed of synths making it a great, unexpected piece. “These Times are Bad Times” is the most vicious on here, 9 minutes of shredded vocals and maddening sinewave feedback.
Quite a 180 degree shift from Heirophant, Imagination is Josh Burke in full-on dreamy keyboard mode. The beginning of the tape has a lovely lo-fi/rustic feel to it as Burke layers more and more keyboard lines on. A pause button edit leads to a much too short passage of a deeply aquatic melody before the tape stretches out and drones for a little while. A melody slowly burbles up eventually, leading into spacey beboopery sounding a little similar to the sound design in Forbidden Planet but more washed out and atmospheric. I really like a mildly seasick little melody near the end of the tape; it sparkles and twinkles effortlessly, tickling the senses. The melody expands organically until has morphed into something quite different but still quite pretty.
Side B continues with watery keyboard melodies. There’s a real nice, seemingly composed piece a couple minutes into the tape that has a rather beautiful, humble elegance. Burke has a very light touch when creating these micro-compositions, never overdoing it. The fragmentary pieces never seem under or overdeveloped, which happens a fair amount with improvised music. The second of the longer pieces is less airy with a pulsing raygun keyboard accompaniment. Overall, it’s a totally pleasant tape worth throwing on just about any time, in line with the quality Burke is known for producing. Maybe even a little bit better.
Heirophant is still available but Imagination is sold out.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Joshooa and the (7/13th) Moon – Hundred Monkey Effect [Bum Tapes]/Offensive Orange – Brown Future [Bum Tapes]

There are 3 Joshs in my underground sonic lexicon, Josh Burke, Josh Lay and Josh McAbee. Josh McAbee, appearing here under a much more unwieldy moniker, was the last one I needed to hear to complete my self-created trinity.
Hundred Monkey Effect is a cool tape and I think I remember reading somewhere that McAbee mangled tapes to make his sounds which seems very possible. This tape is made up of a lot of loops of amplified something or others, it stumbles along at a quick pace sometimes working with strong rhythmic constructions and others it’s more of an unmetered crawl. The tape is a lot darker than the Sloow Tapes-ish artwork would lead you to believe.
There are 3 or 4 pieces on the first side. The first couple are thick, grimy ventures while the last has a hand percussion-esque loop, squiggly tape manipulation and brash sounds akin to bottles breaking entering at will.
The flipside is a heavy loomer. A lot more drones at work here. After two shorter pieces it settles into its muddy swamp of loops featuring loping crumbling rhythms and very strong sustained tones. There’s a skeletal melody sketched underneath which moves the melting mass along before another short piece wraps things up.
I grabbed this Brown Future tape because two guys perpetrating sonic crimes with guitar, tapes and electronics in a chilly basement seemed right up my alley. Also, I grew up in an offensively orange house. Oh, by the way, David Payne from Fossil$ is in the band.
The tape isn’t necessarily harsh but definitely rough. It kicks off forcefully rhythmic loops before backing off a bit until introducing a whining loop that gets the old tectonic plates a groanin’. The duo works in a pretty fractured way, they aren’t in sync a lot of the time but it comes out sounding like they are for some reason or maybe they are in sync and I’m too dense to see how. They still know how to spread the fizzy feral noise on thick though. Near the end of the first side the duo gets ready to cruise and does so with aplomb.
The second side sputters to a start along to a creepy recording of an autopsy report. I really like the following bit though; they get hot and heavy, wrecking speakers left and right. And then ostensibly because Offensive Orange found their WTF quotient to be at unsuitably low levels, they switch on the stereo and play their noisiness along with some metal core album. I dunno, it’s weird. As far as double O’s playing is concerned, this track is pretty slammin’. The metal jam is kept (thankfully) pretty low in the mix while the guys spew and smear static, feedback and amp innards on the walls.
Bum Tapes is a killer label and these are two perfectly fine examples of it. The Joshooa tape is all gone (only limited to 20 I think(!)) but the Offensive Orange tape is still available.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Caethua/Ancestral Diet – Split [Goaty Tapes]

So, this is technically a split, I guess. But if you look at the included personnel rundown of these Maine-based acts “Ancestral Diet is Andy Neubauer and Caethua. Caethua is Clare Adrienne Hubbard and often times Andy Neubauer” it seems more like the same band on each side with an alternate name, and soundwise it does too. This is no complaint though; these two sides complement each other rather nicely.
If asked to pick between the two I’d go with Caethua side “Surface Waters and Underground Seas”. It moves smoothly through a number of stages beginning with pulsing keyboard melodies and what sounds like a recording of birdcalls. A mellow organ lightly pushes things into the next stage, contrasting the melodious, calm keyboards with brief, manipulated sax screech. The sax, one of the elements that mark this side as my favorite, returns periodically with soaring screeds. An electric piano introduces a new melody (along with a bassoon-like instrument) shifting the piece in a new direction. The addition of singing by Hubbard effortlessly transforms the piece into an airy pop song. There’s nice work from a, I think, bowed instrument providing subtle accents. The pop song evaporates into a light cacophony of field recordings and a foghorn type sound that turns into a looped beat. All over the place but a really impressively composed and orchestrated side. It’s always refreshing to hear something constructed with this much precision coming out of the underground.
Ancestral Diet’s side is titled “Coming Back in Trace Amounts” and it maintains a darker outlook than the Caethua side. With sustained tones coming from keyboards and/or sax perhaps, the piece broods along until a song, voiced by both Neubauer and Hubbard, emerges garnished in guitar and bells. They move through a few melodies with this arrangement, guitar doubling the melody of the voices with chimes tinkling all around. Stuttering, wobbly electronic tones take over making for an unexpected conclusion. The track isn’t crafted quite as tightly as the previous side but there’s still some great material on here.
This tape is packaged phenomenally well as Goaty always does. Two inserts, full color weirdly cut j-card, pro-dubbed/printed tape. It’s a nice slice of strange Maine and the rumor is an Ancestral Diet/Goaty LP is in the works so I’m staying tuned for that.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Historians - Proof [Stunned]

I’ve been jamming this thing a ton and I figured it’s high time I actually write something about it. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I put this on, but I knew Historians is an awesome name. The music happens to be even better.
“Slice n’ Dice” comes on like a slurred, Dizzee Rascal-esque beat. Minimal, tactile and totally grooving. The jam ramps up with the entrance of an off kilter thumb piano melody and spacey synth swells. Certainly one of the finest thumb piano uses I’ve heard. The track just keeps ruling, getting better and better, for nearly 7 minutes. The drum machine starts hitting harder, a spirit flute starts singing to the sky and a new awesome, bassy thumb piano melody burbles underneath. Seriously this jam just rules through and through, totally inventive and totally addictive. Timbaland should be watching his back. So that’s one hell of a start then Historians lay on “Bomba.” Way weirder, way more splintered but still just as groovy. Loosey goosey drum programming, grinding synth, messy acoustic guitar plucking, sloshed vocals and a spirit flute on the warpath. A minute and 42 seconds is not enough. After a Malmsteenian shredding intro, “2010 Riot” morphs into a bizarre collage of 80’s hip hop drum patterns and wild clashes of flute and guitar. There’s a weird sinister undercurrent about the track for some reason. “Chapter Three” is the slow jam I guess. Though I use that term very loosely. Where the 3 previous tracks displayed tasteful minimalism, this one is a traffic jam of sound, everything bleeding into each other. “Fours (reprise)” has this slinky, intestine-disrupting bassline pushed front and center and whispy touches of organ and guitar and drum machine that bring the whole thing together. “Some Heads Will Rock Others Will Roll” (killer title) is almost as long as all the other tracks combined. It takes on a dronier vibe and Historians do a fine job. There’s a nice swirling presence, with lots of things going on, and it’s real easy to get lost in. It’s a great track though I must I confess part of me really just wants to hear Historians kicking out the jams like the first half of the record.
I’m kinda bummed this was a bonus CD-r instead of a full-on Stunned release. The world needs more copies of this; I call for a cassette repress! Who’s with me?? A world with Historians pumping on everyone’s ghettoblasters… ah, sounds like Paradise to me.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Golden Sores - A Peaceable Kingdom [Bloodlust!]

I opened this up when I returned from Europe, I was pretty psyched to see the cover as I had literally scene that painting two days before. Anyway, this isn't an entirely useless anecdote because the vibe from the painting matches the sounds perfectly.
As the title suggests, there's peacefulness to this music but not necessarily in the contented, happy sense. There’s a touch of anguished resignation in the peace, like that lamb which is quietly peaceable, but only as a result of being bound and, as far as I can tell, killed.
Opener, "Double Gyres" is relaxing or maybe even comforting in a way with smooth tones gliding throughout but there's also restlessness present too. A few slightly noisy tones rub against the grain of the track. They don't actually derail the track in any way, but that’s just because the sounds flow around them, the way a river reacts when something is trying to move upstream. It's a simple but effective maneuver, lulling the listener while keeping him on edge. "The Awful Rowing Toward God" doesn’t pull any punches however. Loads of distorted waves splash and swell, creating a fair maelstrom but somehow The Golden Sores keep a sense of calm in the center of it all. A peace in the eye of storm kind of ordeal. After a slow dissolving of feedback, “Klonopin” cautiously takes flight. The piece nearly has a choral quality, despite only a few layers of sound. It’s a little hypnotizing, seeping into you without you really realizing it. The six minutes move by surprisingly fast considering what a leisurely pace the piece moves at. “We’ll Wield Fire” is a sort of midpoint between “Klonopin” and "The Awful Rowing Toward God." A distorted synth wanders alone for some time until a stuttering melody rises nearly consuming the initial synth. The piece is in perpetual forward motion, chugging along building to an unknown climax. Surprisingly, the climax is a pretty, shuffling little melody at the end. Remnants of which carry into the next piece “Ondine,” the most straightforwardly melodic and pretty track here. I think it’s a duet between guitar and keyboard but I can’t be certain; The Golden Sores have a way of melting whatever instruments they use down into pure tones. “A Vision” finishes things off transcendent fashion, with The Golden Sores once more exhibiting their prowess for weaving crystalline drones into captivating compositions.
This CD is worth looking into for the drone-minded legions, The Golden Sores are one of the more mature sounding drone groups I’ve heard if you can make any sense of that statement.
Still available.