Dang, it's been a while since I've done one of these In Rotation things. And since, so much incredible stuff has found its way to me one way or another so I'm gonna spew it all out at you.
I caught Chicago free jazz crew Tiger Hatchery at Seattle's best show so far this year (they shared the bill with an amazingly free and melodic set by Wally Shoup and Don Berman (dude's got one of the coolest drumming styles I've ever seen,) Jason E. Anderson (Brother Raven) did live analog modular processing of saxophonist Wilson Shook and Panabrite closed the night with deep synth vibes.) The Hatchery blew the roof off the place, still one of the most intense, relentlessly energetic jazz ensembles I've ever encountered. Dudes were all super nice too, I complimented Andrew Michael Young on his solo Catholic Tape and I was pleasantly met with news of a second tape to be released in the future. Ben Billington also gave me his recent tape as Quicksails on Deception Island, another sweet entry in his unique percussion-inspired solo synthery. While I was there I obviously clutched a bounty of proper Tiger Hatchery stuff too: an insanely good one-sided LP on Pizza Night, a cassette on Baked Tapes, the best bang for the buck, with a live set on each side, and a split 7inch split with rock band Lechuguillas (who they modestly stated delivered the better side; modesty is great and all but please allow me to disagree, Tiger Hatchery.) Killer band, if you missed their tour, well, that was dumb.
More killer Chicago shit (is there something in the beer over there?) Running's self-titled 45rpm LP on Permanent. A wailin' and wall-shakin' Chicago noise rock record. Sloshed, uptempo Jesus Lizard-on-amphetamines gnarlyisms. Some of the cuts barely qualify as songs and others drop the catchiest riffs and most inept drum solos in ten counties, all the while feedback bleeds all over the record even between its 13 tracks. There is no silence on this record! Awesome. Check this band out already!
Speaking of silence, I gotta talk about this new Rale LP on Isounderscore. First of all, fuck. Have you seen this record? Like for real seen it in person? If you haven't, you won't be able to begin to understand what I'm talking about. Seeing a picture of the jacket online will give you an idea of what it looks like but make no mistake, the record in person is simply gorgeous. It's so simple, so elegant and just perfect. Kudos to Brandon Nickels's design work. As far as the sounds go they are quite stately as well. Rale aka Bill Hutson has created quite a fantastic drone record; one that does not lull (or dull) you into submission with constancy or repetition but it instead breathes. Hutson constructs it meticulously to move through stretches of sculpted sounds and pure silence seamlessly. I just got this and can tell it's a good one. I am looking forward diving in many more times.
"Meticulous construction" and Sightings are two terms that I've never really thought about together until now. "Now" being since I got Future Accidents the latest LP by Sightings, released by Our Mouth. This is the best Sightings record I have heard. It's got all the good things about Sightings but revamped into a more studied, cerebral brand of noise rock. The side-length track "Public Remains" on the B-side (which features help from Pat Murano) could pass for (or in fact is rather) an excellent example of modern abstract composition. It's dense and complex stuff but immediately listenable. Really outstanding work. Shahin Motia and Kid Millions engineered this record which reminds me when are Ex Models gonna drop another record?
Moreso than any other label this year, Weird Forest has been blowing me away. Of course part of that is me digging through their back catalog as well but still, props. One of the smartest moves made by Davy Bui when he became the new CEO last year was instituting tapes into the Weird Forest pantheon. Matt Kretzmann (Garrincha & the Stolen Elk) dropped a tape earlier in the year which is a great cassette-concrete thing he had done like a decade ago or something, glad it finally saw the light of day! I can hear traces of its style in Garrincha, but it's definitely a path of its own worth traveling down. And damn man, Bui went 3 for 3 with the new tapes he dropped recently. Colour Buk delivers a half hour of intermingling avant-junk skronk rock with super-weird and really awesome songs. The Preterite dropped a hearty two full hours of magical piano/tape manipulation pieces. It's always nice to have another reason to add a double cassette to the collection. The crown jewel of the three for me is Kevin Corcoran's Haptic Music, an absolutely stunning tape of solo percussion. It's the kind of thing that not everyone will be down with but they fuckin' should be. Corcoran's approach to his instruments (or "objects" may be more apt) is patient, tender (sometimes) and fascinatingly detailed. His subtle manipulations make for extremely engaging aural gestures in the headphones. It's music for people who love to listen. One track is actually pretty too, as Corcoran pulls drones out his drums. Along with the tapes, Weird Forest dropped a to-the-letter reissue of Symphony for a Genocide by Maurizio Bianchi (billed as M.B.) which was gone in a flash (all 520 copies!) I had never actually heard any M.B. stuff which is why I picked it up. Apparently Bianchi is a pretty conceptual guy stating "The moral of this work: The past punishment is the inevitable blindness of the present" and, well, whatever. I'm not exactly seeing what the gnarled tones and relentless beats contained on the record have to do with that. Good thing I only really care about gnarled tones and relentless beats. This thing seems like it could have been made today and it's 30 years old. Modern experimental music you are really behind the times. Also, Noveller released a new album of her trademarked tangled guitar strings called Glacial Glow. Weird Forest collected a bunch of Terrors cassette tracks, forming a new CD/LP of barely-fi, heavy-on-the-lethargy tunes called Qagan Lord. A few keepers on the record for sure. Perhaps the most interesting of the new full lengths is Garrincha and the Stolen Elk's Void. In some ways it has a touch of a post-rock feel. Not the shitty neo-prog stuff but the classics like early Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Of course, where there was like 20 people on a Godspeed record you got two here; though the two, the aforementioned Bui and Kretzmann, are products of the current multi-tasking, 17-instruments-to-every-person scene. Long story short the record is still a bit of an enigma to me as it is, and when you think about it in context with their previous releases, well, that makes it all the more enigmatic.
No strangers to blowing me away, Stunned dropped their second to last batch of tapes and well the batch probably couldn't be any more flawless. A.M. Shiner drops a weirdly musical tape (is that an actual instrument, and not a stalled transmission, that I hear?) Super Minerals go straight off the deep end with Contacteer and continue their hot streak of one-upping the release that came before. Not sure if you caught that, but basically each successive Minerals release has been better than the last, at least for a while now anyway, not many bands you can say that about. M. Geddes Gengras and Jeremy Kelly play analog synth-sparring partners as Voder Deth Squad to masterful, mind-blowing effect. Think Gengras's other Stunned tapes and then imagine him dueling with some kind of alternate reality doppelganger. Santa Cruz, CA's Ugly Husbands (which I haven't heard since their very nice debut cassette) delivers an abstract spectacle of lo-fi bedroom songwriting while on the flipside resides Gul Bara, a Warm Climate side project--need I say more to entice you? A duo of Seth Kasselman and Caitlin C. Mitchell, Gul Bara is maybe a little like an expansion of those interludes between "songs" on the Warm Climate records, but where as those interludes were strategically calculated, each piece here is left looser to thrive on its own accord.
The Rise of Elklink delivered by, you guessed it, Elklink is a LP reissue on KYE of a cassette released way back in 1998 (yes, "My Heart Will Go On" was stilling ruling the airwaves when this initially came out.) Graham Lambkin, thank you for reissuing this. This record is way too fucking nutty to get lost in the past. The duo of Lambkin and wife Adris Hoyos (Harry Pussy) have created something that hasn't gotten any less confounding in its 13 years of existence. The source of practically all sounds on the record is the human voice but, it's most likely not what you imagine it is after a description like that. This is a record for someone who loves tactile sounds, minute sounds magnified and all textures that can be derived from physically manipulating something i.e. me.
Blanche Blanche Blanche, the metamorphosis of a Zach Phillips project I loved to pieces, GDC, delivers lots of good homemade minimal pop pieces ("Heroes of the Microphone" probably being the definitive statement thus far for a few reasons) on their debut tape (pictured) for Night People. The duo seem on the verge of blowing up, Night People are dropping an LP later this year and Pitchfork and Vogue are already drinking the kool-aid. Looking forward to more.
Avant Archive has been all over the map of good shit this year. Take a gander for yourself. Recently Mr. Michael Jantz dropped tapes by Talk West, Bret Schneider and HMS. They're all so different it is hard to rank them. Talk West was initially my favorite with its patient pedal steel meditations but now, I don't know, Schneider's balls-to-wall loopy computerisms are really sticking in my mind and that doesn't even take into account the staggering showmanship of HMS' guitar/synth/drums improvisations. How about you take a listen and tell me for a change?
Seattle-area crew Extraordinary Pigeons and Regosphere (who is PDX-based if I'm not mistaken) just dropped a split cassette via Pigeon Coup International. The last I heard from the X-Pigeons was a Zine/Flexi-lathe which was a short track of harsh, grainy noise derived from an "audio-ization" of the images in the zine. Their side here is a spooky acoustic-drone piece reminding me of the days of 2008 when everyone was high on GHQ. Needless to say it caught me a bit off-guard but I like it. Regosphere contrasts EP's acoustic activities with a nasty wall of noise. Concocted with analog synthesizer and shortwave radio, the two pieces have guts to back up all the noise and sometimes even lock into strange hypnotic places. Nice work.
Also got a weird tape by Chica X on HeWhoCorrupts Inc. who is an eight year-old girl who raps over home-made beats by her pops. That sounds like a gimmick but most of the tracks are pretty sweet such as opener "Da Bank (1, 2 Step)" Chica X is at her finest when she's droppin' lines like "on my malibu bike and I'm feelin' kinda happy" or sneers "It's not that hard to get a library card" and taunts "How's that job at micky dees treatin' you?/Guess you shoulda been hittin the books instead of skippin' school" on stand-out "To the Library..." A couple tracks aren't as strong but overall the tapes a lot of fun.