Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Weasel Walter, Mary Halvorson, Peter Evans - Electric Fruit

(Thirsty Ear, 2011)

Contemporary jazz--the good stuff--the stuff that peels itself apart limb from limb, lurching and creaking, banking towards every wall at once before reverse-cohering, enmeshing into some glottal lip-purse; the kind of stuff hell-bent on engining forward, pushing, ever pushing, finding the boundaries (are there pushable boundaries anymore?) that we don't even know exist and making beautiful war with them--contemporary, or should I say free--no, lets say forward-thinking, avant garde: this album in there somewhere, these players--Mary Halvorson with her lightly dissonant strumming and plucking, Weasel Walter with his machine-gun percussion, cluttering, Peter Evans trumpeting bursts flitting up and down the scale--are of that kind, and Electric Fruit, then, is one of the more enjoyable free jazz--or whatever--albums that I've heard lately.  The interplay here is as playful as it is disorienting, dismantling and destructive.  A really wonderful record from three of my favorite players.

Viodre - Interpol Alchemi

(Hospital Productions, 2011)

Like death, or like Graham Lambkin had he swallowed a microphone for Amateur Doubles (maybe he did) and instead of simply driving his Honda patiently (or whatever it is he did) decided instead to drive the thing through a building, then drove it through a crowd of zombies, then drove it into an ocean of lava, or like pulling apart, cord and wire by cord and wire, the instruments and amplifiers of doom metal band mid-set, or like recording and listening to the hellish mullings of sediment and magma stretching together and twisting apart, the elements of that monumental taffy machine at work below our feet, or like John Wiese’s essential masterwork, Soft Punk, if it were Soft Doom, or like, though hopefully not—and as I’ve already stated—death: that’s what it’s like for me when I’m listening to Interpol Alchemi.

"Incon, Ceph."

"Far surface delir"

Monday, February 27, 2012

U.S. Girls - U.S. Girls on KRAAK

(KRAAK, 2011)

I've never been able to get into U.S. Girls, though I've wanted to.  Megan Remy's project felt like the female counterpart to San Francisco's The Hospitals (RIP) in some ways, which was always a really exciting prospect.  Previous releases though, while interestingly caustic, have been somehow (and it's hard to describe why exactly) just not quite enjoyable enough for repeated listens.  U.S. Girls on KRAAK, however, finds Remy's U.S. Girls project really finding its feet, offering squawk and squalor in addition to hooks and a really bizarre, kind of wonderfully terrible cover of R&B classic, "The Boy Is Mine."  And it makes me so happy because I've expected that Remy had this record in her, after listening to her previous work, and it really is really good.  Certainly worth your time.

Pierrot Lunaire - Turn Back the Hands of Time / Lantern Floating Vessel

(Hooker Vision / Fadeaway Tapes, 2011)

Of all the 2011 that I’ve heard now in 2012, Pierrot Lunaire’s two cassettes, Turn Back the Hands of Time and Latern Floating Vessel, have wowed me most. He released another 2011 tape too, Exercise in Futility, but I haven’t listened to that one yet. But I will. I will listen to any- and everything I can find from him (including the new Hooker Vision 7”). Strictly on the basis of these two tape being, well, so weird and weirdly amazing. A mix of blurred vocals, tape manipulation and distorted saxophone, Pierrot Lunaire sounds (particularly on TBtHoT) like The Caretaker’s An Empty Bliss if it were wonkier and infused with the out-jazz dissonance/melancholy of Sean McCann. Which means (if you are familiar with those references—and you should be) it’s really really really really really good, which in turn means that it more than good.

from Turn Back the Hands of Time:

from Exercise in Futility:

Monday, February 13, 2012

2011: Still Glittering...(Pt. 1)

Balkans - Balkans

(Double Phantom, 2011)

For those with This Is It-era Strokes still on rotation, here's a solid alternate (thanks Olive-Music).

Flossin - White Anaconda and the Rainbow Boa

(Overlap, 2011)

What?! Zach Hill, Matmos, Christopher Willits (and two other guys) made a record of cluttery, blustery awesomeness? Many thanks, Anti-Gravity Bunny.

Brian Grainger - Forcefield

(Milieu Music, 2011)

Milky-sweet, atmospheric, attention-worthy drone action from Mr. Grainger, a clearly underrated (and insanely prolific) experimental mastermind (thanks J. Davenport).

Jowita Wyszomirska


(Self Released, 2011)

Can someone tell me whether this is good or not?  I think it might be.  I'm on guard though because there's a blatantly high level of idiocy here, no doubt about that.  Not that that's always so bad.  But, all idiocy aside, there's a curious amount of possible genius as well.  Possibly.  I can't tell.  I can't stop listening to it either, so I guess that's a good thing.  GAHZA's a free-blitzing chipmunk Armageddon--taste freely.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Monday, February 6, 2012

Quicksails - SIlver Balloons in Clusters

(Deception Island, 2011)

I don't go in for a lot of the synth-based experimental stuff coming out lately.  Or, rather, I have no real impulse to even listen to it.  It's probably as good as anyone is saying it is, or something.  (Are people saying it's good?  What am I even talking about?)  I get confused.  And I'm am getting older.  I mean, I'm almost 30.  Pretty soon here you won't be able to trust anything I say.  Wow...I'm almost 30.  It feels like I shouldn't be writing a lame music/art blog if I'm going to be 30 years old.  And I have a kid.  I should have a job or something.  Or something...  I definitely shouldn't be awake at 3:30 AM posting blurbs for cassette tapes.  Cassette tapes.  People are still making cassette tapes and people are still listening to cassette tapes and I am almost 30 years old and I remember when I had my first cassette tape (Kris Kross) and I remember when Asaad Salleh made me a cassette with Snoop Dogg songs on it back when Snoop Dogg was Snoop Doggy Dog and how he was cussing a lot in the songs but he never cussed on MTV and I felt guilty about listening to him so I destroyed the tape by pulling out all the tape innards and my mom walked in and was way confused and said Why are you destroying that tape? and I said I didn't know.  And now I listen to stuff like this.  Weird stuff.  Am I an adult?

Peter Evans Quintet - Ghosts

(Self Released, 2011)

I am always talking about, whenever I'm talking about jazz, about how I don't know anything about jazz (though, I did watch all ten episodes (they're long episodes) of Ken Burns' Jazz). And it's true, I really am a know-nothing. Still, I know what I like--mostly free and discordant styles when we're talking about contemporary jazz, but Ghosts by the Peter Evans Quintet, this is different. I mean--for example--I could actually, conceivably, present this to my father-in-law ("Hi, John.") and call it music. And, though he'd probably argue me over the quality of the music, he'd have to concede to at least that point. And, if you follow Forest Gospel, if you have any sense of overlapping taste with what is, I'll admit, an ofttimes wildly disparate sound palate--and, with Ghosts, an interest in jazz helps--I'm making an quality evaluation about this one here: exceptionally high. I can't really lay out the specifics of the trumpet/bass/piano/drums/electronics interplay--I can't even name the other players--but I do know what I think is good when it hits my ears, and this is more than good (more than more than good).

"One to Ninety-Two"



WIlliam Tyler - Behold the Spirit

(Tompkins Square, 2011)

If I'm going to use one word to describe William Tyler's debut solo album, Behold the Spirit, it's going to be luxurious, I think.  Or, more simply, satisfaction.  But that doesn't really get at the heart of it, the richness of it; to say, simply, that it satisfies--it undersells it.  But by luxury, also, I don't want to imply that Behold the Spirit is, in some off-handed way, disposable.  It's in-between these terms, satisfying, as does water, but luxuriously (the most luxurious thing I drink is probably orange juice (albeit, expensive orange juice)--I'm sure you can think of some fancy alcohol drink to complete this analogy). What we have here is Fahey-lineage guitar music which, despite the blandness of that reference point, is some of the best of its kind I've heard in a long time.  Tyler is shoulder-to-shoulder with James Blackshaw as far as I'm concerned--maybe even better.   What elevates Behold the Spirit is the effortlessness of the playing and the composition, so that the virtuosity isn't even a thought, only the fluidity and impact of the music.  This is what I listen to when I want to be nice to my ears (heaven knows they need niceness).

Vampillia - Alchemic Heart

(Important, 2011)

It feels gullible, over the course of 25 minutes, to fall for the singular crescendo, like I'm thirteen years old again and I'm listening to Godspeed You Black Emperor!, taking that exclamation point at face value.  Is that right?  We were gullible?  Or juvenile--was it that: we were buying into the manipulative theatrics of a lengthy arc, like we were hysterical girls and they were Tiger Beat boys.  I can't help though, even now, getting chest-swells from a well-composed build and release.  Alchemic Heart taps into that: an unapologetic sense of the unavoidably apocalyptic.  And, to these ears, they pull it off.  No, lets not be timid: they totally pull it off.  Probably because they're Japanese.  And look!  Look what I found out after the fact!  They wrangled in Jarboe, and Merzbow!  Credentials!  And a new record collaborating with Nadja!


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Area C - Map of Circular Thought

(Preservation, 2011)

It feels like Australia's Preservation label more-or-less owned 2011, from what I can tell, because all last year I kept stumbling into their idiosyncratic album covers, everywhere seemingly, followed by some someone generously endorsing whatever Preservation artist it was that was on display (this being particularly prominent during list-making season).  I can see why now.  At random this past fall I met Erik Carlson.  Carlson was curating an art exhibit that Erin and I were very lucky to be a part of and, in the course of working with him on that project, he casually mentioned that he made music as well.  He didn't mention that he made really really good music.  Or that his most recent album, Map of Circular Thought, was released by Preservation (well, eventually he did).  And it's really great.  As Area C, Carlson's composed a series of expansive and utterly hypnotic treasures: minimalist, texture-focused  pieces that build upon a mesmerizing, almost subconscious sense of rhythm and progression.  The album is rich with minuscule details that scrape away softly, elevating the looping and droning into a perfect headspace.  It's a welcoming thing to hear such wonderful, beautiful and unique sounds being created in the place where one lives (especially for newbies like us). It's a testament too, I think, to Preservation, that their curatorial eye sees as far as Providence, Rhode Island.  By the strength of this record, I'll definitely be much more attentive to Area C and Preservation, both.