Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Brian Granger / German Shepherd / Millipede / MOTH - Traveling

Brian Granger / German Shepherd / Millipede / MOTH
(2009, Sunrise Acousitcs/Imperfect Music)
RIYL = Any of the listed above, avant-noise, experimental

With all the noisy sound experimentalists out there churning up bliss amidst feedback, sometimes it is hard to know who to follow and what to listen to. That is why I was super happy to get this collective work of four likeminded artists who each contributed 15 minutes of their individual clatter to disc, all following the theme of the album's namesake, Traveling. And just as a precursor to its success, I definitely think that more groups, experimental or not, should be doing stuff like this. It develops an instant community and provides listeners with several avenues for further investigation and enjoyment. Whelp, moving on, we might as well take this thing on artist by artist. Traveling gets kicked off with two stellar tracks by one Brian Granger. Granger is no newcomer to the independent experimental scene with his back catalog of previous material and two labels. The tracks he contributes are a testament to his experience. Granger's work here reminds me a lot of Stars of the Lid if they allowed themselves to be more heavily processed and decided worked with decrepit, disintegrating equipment. As a result Granger’s tracks are grimier and much more interesting than SotL, while retaining that ambient beauty. Both songs hover around the 7 minute mark and have just enough time to contort and shift around before reaching a pleasant resting place. Of the three new-to-me artists on Traveling, Brian Granger is definitely my favourite. Really top notch stuff here. Next up is German Shepherd. There is this omnipresent fuzz in German Shepherd’s tracks that, if I’m being honest with myself, sound a little amateurish. I don’t know why this little bit of background fuzz in an album of artists that continually bounce ideas off of the static feedback of their recording equipment is a nuisance at all, but in this instance it kind of is. I guess one of the major reasons is that the three tracks that German Shepherd lends to Traveling are really great in every other way. Following the thematic and artistic similarities present to one degree or another with each of the artists, German Shepherd blesses his tracks with gorgeous guitar moments that meander and overlap into well conceived and executed pieces. It’s just that omnipresent fuzz! It dents up his contributions a little bit, unfortunately. German Shepherd’s tracks are followed by FG favourite, Millipede. As always, Millipede brings the heat with 4 concise bursts of doomy guitar grinding that seem to be examples of a perfect contradiction. In one sense they seem to spiral heavenward and in another they definitely dig deep into a more hellish territory. However, it is this joint clause of intent, this beautifully-ugly mess that sets Millipede apart as a master of his analog craft. I’m probably beginning to sound like a broken record on this front, but keep an eye on the happenings emanating from the Millipede camp - he’s presented nothing but consistently delicious slabs of noisy goodness since his very first release (this is the third group of recordings we’ve reviewed of his in 2009 alone!). Concluding our little foursome is another artist with whom I am glad to be introduced. MOTH puts his entire 15 minutes into one track and throws an early curveball by presenting the first vocals to the instrumental guitar domination of the first three artists. The opening strumming and vocals, in comparison, is downright pop accessible, but things quickly evolve into solo acoustic guitar with sample conversations and then into a more lo-fi territory with a throbbing bass and drum loop topped with the prickly strum of what sounds like a metal-stringed toy guitar. After a few minutes this portion quickly cuts out and is replaced by a twangy song with some effects laden vocals that reminds me of Pumice and Blank Dogs in a weird way. It is definitely the highlight of the 14+ minute track. Traveling is pretty awesome as a whole and is definitely worth picking up, especially for those of us that have a hard time making up our mind choosing an album from a single artist.


Brian Granger on MySpace via Milieu
German Sheperd on MySpace
Millipede on MySpace
MOTH on MySpace

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