Monday, December 13, 2010

2010 Mix Tapes 3 and 4 ("Strings and Things"/"Nightmare Tracks")

So here are the final two 2010 mix tapes I'll be making. I'll almost certainly keep doing mixes but in the future they won't be confined to a single year. These are mixes 3 and 4 of this series: "Strings and Things" and "Nightmare Tracks," respectively.

"Strings and Things" is a collection of songs where most of the dominant instruments are those often associated with classical music (violins, cellos and so forth) with a good bit of piano thrown in for good measure. That isn't to say these are the only instruments by any means nor are most of these songs classical in any sense of the word. The instruments themselves are the only real unifier. As before I shot for some kind of cohesion nonetheless and hopefully you'll find it somewhat successful. Hildur Gudnadóttir's "You" begins with what sounds like a jangling zither and slowly builds layer upon layer of processed cello on top until the zither fades away and a stunningly beautiful sea of glowing noise pulses for ten glorious minutes, the soundtrack to the sun rising up through the ocean, pure bliss. Zoë Keating uses a looped cello as well but to a very different purpose. Her's is a driving piece, a rich, rapidly bowed cello sets the foundation for lush, weaving arrangements. Clogs and Fursaxa layer strings over acoustic guitar, the former with ghostly wordless vocals and marimba. Aaron Martin's track begins with a plucked banjo and layers of humming high end strings slowly building over top until the banjor disappears altogether and the mournful hum of cello takes its place. Meanwhile Library Tapes and Goldmund both offer solo piano pieces, ambient noise blooming beneath. Daniel Bjarnanson's piece comes from my current top choice for album the year. It's a ferocious, heart pounding piece for full orchestra, piano racing wildly, strings sweeping into epic crescendos, bass drums booming, the brass section bleating out. &c. A whole lot of good stuff here, in short.

1. Library Tapes - Like Grass Straws Against a Blue Sky
2. Daniel Bjarnason - Procession III: Red-Handed
3. Amiina - Sicsak
4. Fursaxa - Poplar Moon
5. Ólafur Arnalds - Loftið verður skyndilega kalt
6. Zoë Keating - Escape Artist
7. Clogs - To Hugo
8. Aaron Martin - Burl
9. Max Richter - Infra 4
10. Brian McBride - Supposed Essay On The Piano (B Major Piano Adagietto)
11. Goldmund - Bergen
12. Hildur Gudnadóttir - You
13. Erik K Skodvin - Etching an Entrance
14. Nils Frahm - Let My Key Be C (Thriller Edit)

Total time: 1:06:43

SoundCloud preview (see note at bottom of post)

The second and final mix in this series is entitled Nightmare Tracks which should be more or less self explanatory. The idea here was to create a mix filled with dread and menace, something incredibly dark, eerie, frightening. Music for nightmares, essentially. To that end I've selected only a small number of tracks (9 in the play list although it's actually 11, three of them are combined into one) but have simultaneously made this my longest mix yet. Magic! Or I just picked some really long tracks. The bulk of this mix is the B sides of Svarte Greiner's "Penpals Forever (and Ever)" and The North Sea's "Bloodlines." Both are comprised of three separate pieces that run together on the vinyl but for various reasons the former is condensed into just one track here and the latter is three distinct files.  Svarte Greiner is Erik Skodvin from Norway. The man knows how to create an atmosphere of pure menace with the most bare bones arrangements. This is an ancient, mysterious sounding album, full of creaking timbers and spluttering candles, shuffling corpses and long walks through pitch black crypts full of lingering ghosts. Chains clanks and rattle, voices call out illegible and buried beneath mournful, ragged drones and window panes clattering in the wind. Unbelievably spooky and incredibly dense.

The North Sea takes a more abrasive tact. Bloodlines is all crumbling cities and factories gone manic, decaying and blazing out of control. Brutally dark, this trio of tracks is a seething, ferocious mess of noise and decay, static, smoke, wheezing last breaths. Drumming by the ever-brilliant Mike Weis of Zelienople helps propel this full side piece in three movements into terrifying new places, his drums wooshing like demonic gasps and clattering like mutilated church bells.
Christopher McFall's "4" is the soundtrack to being lost beyond all hope in some fog filled cave network deep in the mountains. And perhaps you're not as alone as you thought. A low rumbling like distant thunder pervades throughout as failing radio static crackles slowly into oblivion until at last a creaking piano ushers the piece into silence. Thomas Koner's "Permafrost" is a magnificent piece of frost covered ultraminimalism. It takes a true master to make something so restrained so darned effective but Koner is a genius of atmosphere and the track feels immensely rich and fantastically eerie. Xela's track is off his new tape "The Sublime," the finest of the three in his now concluded cassette trilogy. "Eve's Riposte" sounds arcane, almost ritualistic in its darkness and droning menace, a gorgeously undulating sea of swirling dark noise and organ murk. World's End Girlfriend ends with what could be a more fucked up B-side from Venetian Snares' "Doll Doll Doll," a savage, unrelenting torture chamber of electro-skree and horror film samples. I couldn't think of a more terrifying or fitting way to end the nightmare.

1. Christopher McFall - 4
2. Thomas Koner - Permafrost
3. Black Swan - Part VIII
4. Xela - Eve's Riposte
5. Svarte Greiner - Side B
6-8. The North Sea - Counting Down the Days/Save Yourself/Revelations
9. World's End Girlfriend - The Offering Inferno

Total time: 1:51:56

(Trying out SoundCloud to see how I like it. Unfortunately my as-of-yet free account won't let me share the entirety of these mixes. Needless to say that's what the download link is for! Listen away to previews featuring a handful of tracks from each mix (6-14 of Mix 3, 1-5 of Mix 4)).

NOTE: for organizational purposes, make sure you have your media player set to organize these mixes by album or they'll be totally out of order! Something of a technophobe, I'm not sure how to make it otherwise.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Jon Dale & Moth

Up today are two releases by Jon Dale, the man formerly behind Rhizome records. Earlier in his career Dale released records under the Moth moniker before releasing a tiny handful of albums under his own name. Dale has been largely quiet for the past couple years at least as far as I can tell.

In any event, first up is Moth - 1997-2003. As the title suggest, this is a collection of eight Moth tracks recorded over a six year period. Dale primarily uses organ, guitar, and amplified metal to create an incredibly haunting, rich dronescape. Tracks vary wildly. Untitled 8 is nearly 11 minutes of gorgeous glowing guitar drone, the soundtrack to the sun rising blood red over the desert. Untitled 5 is composed almost entirely of dense organ, shifting ever so subtly across its 16 minute run time into a swelling, hypnotic sea of noise. Untitled 1 is a spooky journey into an ancient, fog filled forest. Guitars chime heavily like distant funeral bells beneath a thick covering of slow, rumbling haze. Untitled 7 almost sounds like a jazz standard slowed way down. It's the most percussive track on the album with  real drums instead of the strange shards of metal which seem to be the primary percussive of choice elsewhere. The drums rumble and shuffle with a thickly reverby, high end, undulating dial tone swirling over top. All in all "1997-2003" is an intensely beautiful collection of songs and is pretty much essential for fans of Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Jasper TX, even Stars of the Lid.

Track list
1. Untitled 1 (8:01)
2. Untitled 2 (3:59)
3. Untitled 3 (4:47)
4. Untitled 4 (1:53)
5. Untitled 5 (16:00)
6. Untitled 6 (3:30)
7. Untitled 7 (5:01)
8. Untitled 8 (10:48)

Next is "Son D'or" a release by Dale under his own name from 2005 comprised of a single 20-minute long track. This sounds a good deal like the Moth release above but in a lot of ways this is more developed, a more mature piece of drone work. As in all good drone music, the subtleties are what make this worthwhile. While this could work as background music of a sort, it really demands careful listening with headphones. A cursory listen will let you know that a humming organ drone sustains throughout the single track, shifting at times here and there but largely remaining a constant presence of trance inducing noise. Beneath the surface hypnotic guitars swirl and glow while ominous metallic scrapes and clanks claw through. It soon becomes apparent how densely layered the sonics are here and the more you listen, the more deeply mysterious a piece of music this comes to be. Both sonically assaulting and mesmerizing, this is on my list of essential drone.

Track list
1. Son D'or (19:57)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Slowing down

Anyone who comes to this blog will probably notice the frequency of new posts has fallen off quite a bit. Unfortunately this will continue for the foreseeable future. Never fear though! In the next couple months expect to see all sorts of cool stuff. I'll be posting albums and rare recordings by the like of Starving Weirdos, Birchville Cat Motel/Our Love Will Destroy the World, My Cat is an Alien, Jon Dale, Jasper TX,  Seaworthy, The Ghost of 29 Megacycles, Motion Sickness of Time Travel, and more! Plus my Top albums of 2010 will be posted for your listening pleasure sometime in January. Hooray!

Thuston Moore: Two Trios

Taking a break from the end of the year mixes to post something special. Here we have two trios featuring the man, the legend, Thurston Moore!

First is a live set recorded on 11/11/2010 at the Chapel of the Holy Innocents at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. The trio is Moore and Bill Nace playing guitar and Chris Corsano on drums in a single, continuous, improvised set just shy of 50 minutes in length. It starts quietly, electronic creaks and beeps bubble and skitter over softly scattering snares and cymbals. Slowly but surely the set becomes more manic, more unhinged. Processed, pedal heavy high end guitar noises becomes more insistent: a distant, mangled siren call, the cheeping of robotic sparrows, an undulating metallic hum and the methodical, plodding drumming of Corsano all become almost hypnotic. The set trades off, some moments of spooky calm, others of skronking, noisy mayhem. About halfway through a wall of static shoots through the sound and ushers in the second act. It starts off full of low end menace and mutilated radio static, delves into near drone-like territory, slowly builds into something massive and vicious, a snarling tangle of roaring static, pulsating feedback, desperate air-raid siren calls, lumbering, thudding drums buried beneath. Finally things shift again and it sounds like a field recording from a inside some insane garage with never before seen power tools whirring away, chewing up metal until in the final minutes the machines start to collapse, belts fly off wheels, gear and cogs slip and grind until, at the very moment of total collapse, everything is reigned in and in a bubbling, pinging woosh, it ends. Easily one of the best live performances I've seen this year! Thanks to Goro for recording.
Live @ Chapel of the Holy Innocents Download
(note: Bill Nace is erroneously listed as Ben Nace in the tag. Didn't realize this until after it was uploaded. Change at your discretion).

Next is "Courtney Love Killed da Cobain" again featuring Moore and Bill Nace on guitar this time with Paul Flaherty on alto and tenor sax. Similarly awesome, perhaps a little more out of control than the above set. Somehow Corsano's methodical drumming had a propulsive effect and drove the piece above forward. Here there are no boundaries. It certainly doesn't suffer for it but it's a very different listening experience. Three tracks in increasing length (3:38, 24:23, and 40:45)  making it a good 15-20 minutes longer. It's brilliant but an exhausting listening experience. Flaherty's sax pierces and jabs, skreeing over searing high end guitar feedback and chugging, pummeling low end reverb. The soundtrack to society collapsing, perhaps? Completely brilliant!
Courtney Love Killed da Cobain download

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

2010 Mix Tape #2: The """"Pop"""" Mix

As promised, here's the second in my series of 2010 mix tapes. As with my previous mix, all tracks here are from albums released this year. My previous mix was all over the place stylistically, meant more as a snapshot of some of my favorite groups this year. This mix and the couple I'm working on that will follow should hopefully be a little more stylistically consistent. This time around: pop music! Well, sort of anyway. I'm not going to lie, I can get behind at least a portion of today's indie pop/rock scene. But this blog isn't geared towards that and so I've somewhat eschewed more traditional indie pop/rock for stuff that isn't entirely dissimilar but that still errs a bit on the weird side of things for the most part. Which isn't to say there's nothing recognizably indie pop in the mix. Helicopter by Deerhunter is a pristine piece of music that somehow manages to be cleancut yet still suffused with gurgling, shimmering noise. The Books offer up a riotous bit of electric cello, warm, wordless vocals, and bizarre samples. ALTAR EAGLE (yup, their name is in all caps) put electropop through a meat grinder and get beautifully mangled and distorted songs as a result; clean, discernible pop is there just below the surface of scuzzy static and noise. Marnie Stern sets herself apart with her ridiculously blazing, ultra technical guitar work backed up by the pulverizing drumming of Zach Hill. Julian Lynch's track sounds like a pop song slowed down and recorded through a tin can telephone with one end at the bottom of the ocean; fans of Ilyas Ahmed's more recent work will be instantly familiar and happy with the result. Eluvium's piece is built on distant, metronome percussion, a glowing bed of ambient noise, and plaintive piano and organ over top of Matthew Cooper's quiet baritone. And so on. Enjoy!

Hollow Press 2010 Mix #2: The """"Pop"""" Mix
1.The Books - Thirty Incoming
2. Liars - No Barrier Fun
3. Julian Lynch - Just Enough
4. Menomena - Black Queen Acid
5. Foxes in Fiction - 15 Ativan (Song for Erika
6. Kenseth Thibideau - Black Hole
7. Deerhunter - Helicopter
8. Owen Pallett - Keep the Dog Quiet
9. Marnie Stern - For Ash
10. Nice Face - Beater
11. Big Troubles - Astrology Screen Saver
12. Avey Tare - Cemeteries
13. Eluvium - Making Up Minds
14. ALTAR EAGLE - Pour Your Dark Heart Out
15. Tobacco - VHS Knife
16. Mountain Man - Buffalo

Total time: 1:02:08


Tune in in the hopefully not-too-distant future for 2010 Mix #3: Strings and Things (All Classical, All the Time)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

2010 Mix Tape

I enjoyed making the mix several posts below (and mixes in general) so much that I decided I'd try my hand at a few more for the blog. Over the next few weeks I'll be posting mixes of songs from 2010. This has been such a fantastic year musically so consider these mixes samplers of a sort if you haven't been keeping up. This first one is a pretty diverse set on songs that I tried to stitch together with some semblance of cohesion. Either way, there should be something for everyone here. Asfandyar Khan, Eluvium, and Grasslung offer up slow, shimmering drones, the kind of music for drifting off to sleep during a rainstorm. The tracks by Danny Paul Grody and Black Eagle Child are plaintive, plucked guitar, beautifully simple. Daniel Bjarnason's piece is a monstrous, heart racing bit of modern classical with off kilter pizzicato and jarring swarms of strings both bowed at ever increasing speed and battered with the bows themselves. Rene Hell and Emeralds take exuberant synth journeys. Meanwhile Barn Owl and Ajilvsa delve deep into the America west with their dark guitar dronescapes and growling oscillator murk respectively. And there's plenty more as well. Later mixes might be a bit more focused but I thought this scattershot look at some of the best this year had to offer was a good place to start.

Hollow Press 2010 Mix #1
1. Asfandyar Khan - Hello, Morocco
2. En - Pratyaya
3. The Alps - Telepath
4. Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - Where You End and I Begin
5. The Books - A  Wonderful Phrase by Gandhi
6. Rene Hell - C.G. Mask
7. Emeralds - Candy Shoppe
8. Jasper TX - Our Way Through the Field (Remix by Aaron Martin)
9. Daniel Bjarnason - Bow to String 1
10. Danny Paul Grody - Fountain
11. Eluvium - Nightmare 5
12. Barn Owl - Awakening
13. Ajilvsga - The Animal's War Party
14. Common Eider, King Eider - They Want to Dig for Gold but all They Will Find is Blood (Cell
      Phone mix)
15. Grasslung - When We Were Young
16. Motion Sickness of Time Travel - Telepathy
17. Black Eagle Child - Iron Mountain

Total time: 1:32:48

NOTE: I was having some trouble getting the files to organize themselves. It should be alright but be aware that they may be out of order when you rip them to whatever media player you use

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Night of Experimental Music, live @ Bard Hall 10/30/2010

What we have here today is an extremely rare live recording, one you certainly will not find anywhere else. Three sets, two very brief and one rather long, recorded live at a pre-Halloween show in Bard Hall at Bard College in front of a crowd of about twenty.

The first set is a solo piece by Colin White using amplified metal, tape, and feedback. Warm, humming feedback washes over piercing squeaks and rough, buzzing reverberation as white noise wavers and builds over rhythmic metallic clanking and lowing reverb. A perfect pre-Halloween set, this sounds like some surrealist horror soundtrack.

Next is Michael Foster on saxophone and occasionally gasping, wordless vocals, and Leila Bordreuil on cello. The two instruments dance in and out of one another, sometime complementing each other in an offkilter kind of harmony, other times dueling and spinning off in contrary directions. There are moments of furious build and manic intensity and others of slow, minimal meandering. Fans of the previous post on this blog will find more to love here as this delves into the realm of frenetic free jazz and even swings, in a delightfully surprsisng take, into traditional jazz for a moment. A very cool and altogether too short piece.

The concert ends with a trio of amazing musicians: The great Greg kelley on trumpet, Vic Rawlings on prepared cello and electronics, and Ryan Jewell on percussion and various strange noise producing implements. Clocking in at over half an hour, this was an incredible set. Imagine a field recording from inside some alien, wheezing, decaying factory and you'll start to get a feel for what this piece sounds like. Kelley uses a damper and a small, thin sheet of metal to emit from his trumpet a rattling hum or plays with the mouthpiece removed to create a breathy, moaning gasp. Jewell uses an oyster fork and a piece of Plexiglas placed flush upon the cloth covered and contact miced surface of a snare drum to create a sharp, piercing squeak, places a long metal tine vertically against the same drum and rubs it rhythmically to create a wavering reverberation, and swings a heavily rosined bow through the air in a dense whoosh. The prepared cello of Rawlings buzzes strangely in the background and his electronics build a underlying haze of crumbling static and machinelike rumblings. Other sounds abound: Strange gasps like steam valves venting air, distant hums like generators quietly chugging away, gravely rattles like cogs spinning, hollow clanks like pipes faintly rattling. One feels as though one has found one's way into the belly of some strange machine. It's an incredibly minimal piece but it's eerie and bizarre and really wonderful, especially considering the acoustic nature of most of the sounds which somehow sound so unnatural (in the best possible way).


Many thanks to Goro for taping this show!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Free Jazz mayhem

Two slabs of experimental jazz insanity.

First is a live one-off collaboration between Weasel Walter (drums, clarinet mouthpiece), Forbes Graham (trumpet), Greg Kelley (trumpet), and Paul Flaherty (saxophone) recorded in Boston in 2008 and called End of the Trail. This was released in an edition of 100 cdrs following the set on the ugExplode imprint. It's absolutely insane as one might expect looking at the lineup of amazing musicians and unusual instrument pairings. Two longer pieces, nearly overwhelmingly intense and noisy excursions into the outer realms of free jazz, serve as set bookends. Three shorter pieces make up the middle of this album and each is far more self contained. The second track for example is solo saxophone until the final note. The fourth begins with screeching, scrapped percussion and distant, whistling trumpet manipulations and ends in a whooshing tornado of malleted ride cymbals. Throughout the set, Walter's fantastic scattershot drumming is a constant driving force behind the relentless brass trio's chaotic, manic improvisations. An almost violent sounding album, this is intense, abstract, brilliant stuff.

End of the Trail
1. Le Temps Detruit Tout (20:26)
2. Old Prospector (2:17)
3. The Shrieking Winds (5:32)
4. Deserts (4:03)
5. I Told You it was a Sand Storm (13:13)


Second is another one-off performance by a group calling itself Drive the Pieces Together, a single 27 minute long set titled Ethnography and featuring a mighty lineup: Dave Gross (alto sax and clarinet), Vic Rawlings (amplified cello and analog electronics), Erik Carlsen (tuba), Howard Stelzer (tapes), Steve Norton (turntable), and Peter Warren (recorded sounds). The piece was recorded live in Cambridge, MA in 1999 and was finally released last year by Carbon Records as part of their great 15YR.Series. Peter Warren prepared an improvised minimalist piece for electronic guitar with a good deal of silence. A pre-recorded version was played and the five musicians improvised over it. The result is a menacing slab of minimalist siren drone with undulating brass skronk and dark ambiance and static-filled radio samples thanks to cassette and turntable manipulations. Sound emerge from all directions, their source often unidentifiable. Mechanical clicks weave in and out of haunted house creaks and crumbling reverb. All the while the brass moans and buzzs, a chaotic whine that spikes and jabs from the underlying aural mess. A very spooky, Halloween-y piece of free jazz experimentalism here. So cool!

Carbon Records

Friday, October 22, 2010

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma - Love is a Stream

The second "official" album from San Francisco's Jefre Cantu-Ledesma is here and it's really not to be missed! For the first time, Cantu-Ledesma makes a foray into the world of blissed-out shoegaze, leaving the haunting, glacial drone of his earlier work aside almost entirely. "Love is a Stream" is another home run release on Type Records and another one wholly unexpected considering the artist involved. It could almost in some ways be seen as pop music in an even more washed out version than the latest Altar Eagle album "Mechanical Gardens" (check out a few posts below for thoughts on that). This is gorgeous, elating music, a torrent of immense, blissful noise, textures blown out with dreamy haze, shimmering walls of sound with buried harmonies humming beneath. It's often summery and hopeful but also incredibly loud, in some ways akin to both My Bloody Valentine and Tim Hecker's "Harmony in Ultraviolet" (fans of both will be very happy with what they hear in any case) but more abstracted, a stunning sort of synthesis of the two which manages to make these references while maintaining a distinctly original sound. There's still a hell of a lot of grit and mountains of harsh white noise static, and droning guitars and synthesizers and washed out, buried vocals all of which come together to make this something all its own. Somehow Cantu-Ledesma managed to do all this and still fill the album with what can almost be described as pop hooks albeit ones nearly lost altogether in the noise. There's melodies here for sure even if it does take a whole lot of digging beneath the gauze of glowing sound to find them. Hugely listenable yet layered and complex, this is a unique, amazing piece and one of my favorite albums of this year packed with great stuff. Note that the vinyl copy comes with a 46 minute bonus disc. Called "Love is a Dream," it is billed as a collaboration between Xela and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma. I believe it is songs by the latter reworked by the former and not a literal collaboration between the two but it's terrific in any case.


Wild Moon And Sea by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

Where You End & I Begin by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

Where I End & You Begin by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

Stained Glass Body by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

Download (includes bonus disc)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Yellow Swans live in Australia

Two releases here from the tragically defunct duo Yellow Swans. These guys put out their final album, "Going Places," earlier this year. Listening to it recently made me sadder than ever they're no longer around since it was their most accomplished release to date. Luckily former member Pete Swanson still puts out stuff on a regular enough basis and while it's not quite the same, it's still darn good. In addition to that, Yellow Swans has an incredibly deep back catalog which brings us to what we have here

First up is a collaboration with New Zealand's Birchville Cat Motel (now known as Our Love Will Destroy the World) aka Campbell Kneale recorded live during a tour around Australia in 2005. Anyone familiar with the work of these two will know immediately what to expect here. On the first track, the nearly half-hour long Terminal Saints, we have minimalist guitar tones buried beneath a massive sea of feedback and a roaring electronic sustain that nearly engulfs all else before settling down just a bit and making way for some electronic skronk and a slightly more dynamic sound around the halfway mark. It's a massive aural assault throughout though, almost attaining a drone or even distorted raga like quality with the sustain coming to resemble a mangled harmonium. The second, shorter track is even more oppressive. A pulsating, squalling storm of white noise static and eardrum rupturing feedback blares out over a low end siren call, the definition of analog annihilation. The whole thing sounds like the soundtrack to some nightmare space walk, a completely overwhelming cacophony that is not for the fainthearted.
Track list:
1. Terminal Saints (27:28)
2. Marble Carcass (21:18)
Yellow Swans with Birchville Cat Motel Download

After that we have Yellow Swans live @ Sound&Fury 29/10/2005, recorded in a record store and only released in an edition of 150 copies in hand made, wax sealed envelopes. The show was during the same tour as the above two live collaborations but this time it's just the Yellow Swans duo and instead of lasting for much less than half an hour, this set went on for nearly forty minutes. This performance is much dronier, more hypnotically beautiful in its noise than the above release's brutal assault. The opener is 18 minutes of shimmering, low end guitar hum which glides and glows beneath a whistling, creaking, whirring electro-skree. It's a really gorgeous, haunting sounding piece. Track two is about a quarter as long and is a lot rougher. It's louder and skuzzier, the guitar tone still low but no longer warm. Instead it has a more mechanical buzz to it, almost like some distant, muted power tool. The electo skree on top if more unhinged, hissing and screeching into wild high end flurries and ragged rumbles. The third and final track begins with a searing line of high end feedback and slowly builds and develops from there over 15 minutes. The hypnotic drone of low end guitar still sets the foundation for careening sinewave mayhem. This is a shimmering, desolate sound with murky guitar oscillations and humming pulses of sound. There's very little melodic here if anything but this isn't pure noise. It's dense, dynamic, and the more you listen the more you hear. It's actually really impressive that two guys are doing this live.
Track list:
1. Untitled 1 (18:12)
2. Untitled 2 (5:21)
3. Untitled 3 (15:02)
Yellow Swans live @ Sound&Fury Download

If you're new to Yellow Swans, start with the latter before moving onto the former. Actually, start with "Going Places" which you can buy here along with other cool stuff. It's a great intro to a great group.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Video: Liz Harris (aka Grouper) and Ilyas Ahmed live @ Aquarius Records, SF 09/05/2010

A match made in heaven! These two first collaborated on the final track of Ahmed's "Goner" released last year on Root Strata (performed here in the third video). The CD was my pick for album of the year. Harris and Ahmed seem to be the male/female counterpart of one another in a lot of ways. Both like their reverb, both like a slow burning, immensely distant yet somehow simultaneously intimate sound formed from deep layers of processed instruments, and both use vocals less as vocals and more as another layer of sound, often manipulated to the point where words and syllables are lost in a sort of ghostly haze. They both do other stuff as well: Ahmed's earlier work often consisted of long form solo guitar improvisations while the newest Grouper album, "Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill," had some genuine songs with lyrics and everything. Still, "Exit Twilight," the closing track of "Goner," was a revelation of sorts. After around 45 minutes of Ahmed's ramshackle rock and roll and muffled vocals, Harris' voice feels all the more poignant and beautiful emerging out of nowhere in the album's closing minutes. After hearing that, I've been longing for a real collaboration between the two ever since. This series of videos will have to hold me over until the (I hope) inevitable album. Recorded on September 5th, 2010 in the legendary Aquarius Records in San Francisco, this 4 song set is not to be missed.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Glenn Branca - "Symphony No. 13 (for 100 guitars): Hallucination City" rare live recording

OK, so this is fucking cool. What we have here is a rare live recording of Glenn Branca's "Symphony No. 13 Hallucination City" from its debut performance in New York City on June 13, 2001. "Hallucination City" is a piece for 100 guitars and percussion. Branca, known for his avant-garde tendencies, heavy use of repetition and droning alternative tunings, is in top form here. The piece is absolutely massive, a pummeling, chaotic, overwhelming avalanche of sound. It's like climbing into a jet engine at full rev, an almost unhealthy dose of noise. But it's also meticulously organized and structured. No random, improvisational noodlings here. The entire piece is "double-strummed" by all 100 guitarists (technically 80 guitarists and 20 bassists), a technique similar to playing tremolo but the notes themselves proceed fairly slowly. So many instruments are creating so much noise that phantom notes seem to emerge and hover when played at very high volumes (and really there's no other way to listen to this. Crank up your stereo as loud as it can go for the full experience, even if you can only stand it for a couple of minutes). The sound is built into towering walls but there are distinguishable movements as well. Pianissimo, piano, mezzo, and forte dynamics shift seamlessly into one another, propelled by brilliant, relentless drumming, a galloping clatter that swings from beneath the chaos and keeps the guitar noise from spilling out into some unbound entity. Imagine Godspeed You! Black Emperor at their most cathartically unhinged and extend it over a full 60 minutes and you'll start to get an idea of what this monster is like.

The link here is for the entire, one hour long performance. Recorded by Malcolm Tent of Ultrabunny, it sounds incredibly rich and alive. Surely it's nothing like experiencing this behemoth of a composition first hand but it's the next best thing.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mix Tape: Fall Drive (Two Scenarios)

The first of potentially many (and potentially no more) mix tapes designed for this blog. Enjoy!

This is my mix for long drives on freezing autumn nights. The A side is for a long drive through a deep pine forest in the mountains. The B side is for driving through the same forest but after the zombie apocalypse, desperately hoping to avoid patrols of savage man eating hell fiends (with only minimal success).

1. Eluvium - Defibrillator (3:06)
2. Grouper - Sick (5:08)
3. Kyle Bobby Dunn - Sets of Four (Its meaning is Deeper than its Title Implies) (4:55)
4. Clogs - Last Song (4:00)
5. Olafur Arnalds - Kjurrt (4:45)
6. Hammock - Breathturn (6:00)

1. Jasper TX - A Voice to Lead Us There (Peter Broderick Remix) (3:30)
2. The North Sea - Bloodlines (5:54)
3. Ajilvsga - Roaming Chief (12:03)
4. Xela - Gilted Rose (19:31)
5. Drunkdriver - January 2nd (2:50)


Friday, October 8, 2010

MUSIC: Indian Weapons and Altar Eagle

Brad Rose may be best known, to me anyway, for his solo project The North Sea and for running the exemplary Digitalis label. but Brad's a man of many hats and has been involved with projects such as Aerial Jungle, Corsican Paintbrush, Eagle Altar, Ajilvsga, Charlatan, Ossining, Crystal Alligator Mouth, Hanging Thief, and Sea Zombies to name just a few. Below are two very different releases from two very different duos of which Rose is one half.

The first is from Indian Weapons, a spinoff of sorts of Brad's Ajilvsga project with Nathan Young. Parousia, the duo's debut under the Indian Weapons moniker, was put out earlier this year by Digitalis Limited on pro-dubbed cassettes in an edition of 80 copies. Similarities to Ajilvsga are undeniable but Indian Weapons is definitely a distinct project. Whereas the former is more often than not black-as-pitch, the soundtrack to some decaying, scorched earth, Indian Weapons is a bit less bleak and a bit less relentlessly chaotic. Unlike more recent Ajilvsga releases, specific instruments  (violin, guitar, melodica) are often extractable from the murk, making it more closely linked to early Ajilvsga or even early The North Sea output. As such, Indian Weapons sounds a little more organic, with acoustic instruments woven through growling oscillator hums into a glorious sea of noise. Don't worry though; It's still dark, still chaotic, and still beautiful.

A-side sample
B-side sample
Digitalis Limited (The Parousia cassette is long sold out but you can buy plenty of other great stuff here)

And then there's the official debut of Altar Eagle, the duo of Brad Rose and his wife Eden Hemming Rose. These two have put out a couple very hard to come by cassettes as Altar Eagle and Eagle Altar but this time they get the full length CD/vinyl treatment courtesy of the always excellent Type record label. Anyone who listened to The North Sea's Bloodlines LP, also put out this year by Type, will be shocked by the almost complete 180 Rose has taken (call it a 165 for accuracy's sake). What we have here is an honest-to-god electro pop album albeit with a healthy dose of noisy experimentation thrown in for good measure. Both Brad and Eden sing throughout and their voices burble up through shimmering electronic bliss, weaving in and out of one another. Shambling, mangled percussion, buzzing synthesizer madness, and dreamy electronic shimmers are built into a dense, lovely mesh. Don't let that mislead you though: though complex and lovingly crafted layer upon layer, this is far and away the most accessible album Rose has been involved with. It also happens to be the pop album of the year!


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Upcoming show: Barn Owl w/ Tom Carter, High Aura'd, and Loren Connors @ Issue Project Room

This is a big one, folks. Guitar genius Loren Connors and some other talented dudes open for San Francisco's Barn Owl, a band I never really expected to see live. Barn Owl is Jon Porras and Evan Caminiti building massive, haunting guitar drones. Huge bottom end sounds coupled with immense, almost overwhelming distortion. The small handful of records and recordings of live shows of these guys make me more than confident that this show will be something very special indeed. Doesn't hurt that it's being held at the lovely Issue Project Room in Brooklyn, an ideal space for this kind of set if Grouper's show there this past summer was any indication.

Buy tickets here (they will sell fast so act sharpish)

Barn Owl live at the 2010 On Land Fest

Loren Connor Myspace page

Going to be incredible!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

MUSIC: Hooker Vision Update

Check out the newest batch of releases from Georgia's Hooker Vision label:

Three cool looking tapes and a new 3" cd-r from current fave Motion Sickness of Time Travel. Copies run from 25-50 so act fast!

Friday, October 1, 2010

MUSIC: Higuma - Haze Valley

Released September 2008 by the mighty San Francisco based Root Strata lable ( in an edition of 100 CD-Rs

Haze Valley is the debut release of San Francisco's Higuma. The duo is Evan Caminiti (who in addition to putting out consistently excellent albums with Jon Porras under the Barn Owl moniker has also released some really great solo stuff in the past couple years, notably the Psychic Mud Shrine CD on Digitalis last year and the West Winds LP on Three Lobed this year) and Lisa McGee, a name I'm still totally unfamiliar with outside of this band. Fans of Barn Owl and Caminiti's solo work will find themselves in somewhat familiar territory here: huge, deep dronescapes conjure up the vastness of the American west, sweeping vistas, vast canyons, the skulls of oxen bleached white by the merciless sun. There is something ancient and arcane sounding here. But unlike the dark, merciless terror of William Fowler Collins or Ajlivsga, artists similarly invested in Americana imagery, Higuma's music is intensely beautiful, lovely and complex, rewarding multiple excursions into its lofty, droning expanse. There is clattering percussion and guitars put on infinite delay and loop along with dense, gorgeously layered acoustics, building massive, sound drenched spaces filled with ghostly vocals, so distant themselves as to become purely instrumental. Higuma also put out Den of the Spirits this year, a vinyl only release on Digitalis and are following it up with Pacific Fog Dreams, another vinyl only deal on Root Strata.
1. The Pyramid Has Bleached The Horizon (20:11)
2. Crimson Cloud Ascension (8:22)
3. Crystal Rain Claw (8:08)
4. Winter Bloom (6:19)

Root Strata Release page (with samples)
Related Projects

Check back with Root Strata in a month or so for the new LP

Thursday, September 9, 2010

MUSIC: Motion Sickness of Time Travel - Seeping Through the Veil of the Unconscious

 Released July 2010, limited to 80 copies on pro-dubbed cassette, sold out almost immediately. Released by Digitalis Limited.

A brilliant new cassette from Rachel Evans aka Motion Sickness of Time Travel (also one half of Quiet Evenings and, recently, Aerial Jungle with Digital Industries head honcho/The North Sea/one half of Ajilvsga Brad Rose) is the Georgia based musicians' best release yet! Deep, gorgeous, murky drone, and haunting, distant female vocals are very reminiscent of early (i.e. pre-guitar, so think "Way Their Crept" era) Grouper. But Evans goes in a whole other direction with skeletal synth beats and electro whorls propelling the songs forward. A drifting, gorgeous collection of songs.

Motion Sickness of Time Travel website (with cool stuff to buy)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bela Tarr's Werckmeister Harmonies (clips and stills)

I'm a sucker for Bela Tarr's moody, black and white movies and perhaps moreso for Werckmeister Harmonies than any other. A strange traveling sideshow arrives in a small Hungarian town and brings with it first foreboding and later a wave of savage violence. At two and a half hours, the movie is, staggeringly enough, a mere 39 shots.



Thursday, August 26, 2010

MUSIC: Tarentel - From Bone to Satellite

Debut album from San Francisco's Tarentel. Epic post-rock symphonies. You know the drill: long, slow builds, crushing guitar explosions, general sonic beauty and mayhem. This is album that's not afraid to take its time getting where it's going but manages to make the whole journey an incredibly rewarding experience. Tarentel's come a long way from these beginnings and are now essentially a completely different (and probably more interesting at this point) band. That being said, this one came out before post-rock had become such a redundant, bloated genre and it remains one of the often ignored pinnacles. These guys were some of the first to do it and, for my money, among the very best to this day.

Download it
Buy it

Key Scenes pt. 1 (Godzilla vs. Ghidrah the Three Headed Monster)

Originally posted on Facebook. Now here to preserve it.