Archive for February, 2011

Album Review

Skogar – Magic/Khands (Native Parts, 2010)


SkogarSide A (excerpt)

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Johannes Brander, the mastermind behind both Skogar and Native Parts Records, sent me this tape a while ago and I guess it just got lost in the shuffle over the holidays. Sad story. I’ve loved his previous records so I don’t know why I didn’t put this as a top priority and get it on the AGB fast track. Especially because this tape is the fucking sweetest.

Magic/Khands is a 50 minute bedroom romp, toying with New Age bubbles, epic space synth, beat heavy psych jams, kicked out guitar drones, sad bastard shoegazing pop, and all points of general lo-fi blissage. This thing is SATURATED in tape hiss, probably because it was recorded on “2 broken 4-track´s cassettemachinery.” Seriously, there might actually be a bit too much hiss, even for a guy like me who loves his trashed tapes.

I’ve yet to encounter something so murkily blissful as this new Skogar tape. It’s dank and mysteriously swampy but glittering with magical purity, clearly recorded in those special few moments of Golden Hour where the most mundane & suspicious transforms into majestic perfection. Even the dirty as fuck blown out static guitar groove towards the end of the A side is glazed in warmth & euphoria.

I think part of the reason I adore the SHIT out of this is the heavy use of a nondescript organ/Casio/synth thing that makes the most glorious droning melodies. It shows up everywhere and is unbelievably fucking heartbreaking, like seeing the girl of your dreams making out with your arch nemesis but through a Terrence Malick filter type heartbreaking. Can’t get enough of that sound, man. So fucking beautiful.

Obviously, you need to grab this tape stat. It’s definitely the best thing I’ve heard from Skogar. But even regardless of his previous work, Magic/Khands is ridiculously awesome. Plus, there’s a Bardo Pond cover and the physical cassette is a very sharp pink. Can’t really argue with that.

Cold Pin

via Reuben Son

 
Percussionist extraordinaire Eli Keszler has a new motorized sculpture installed at the Cyclorama. I’ve heard it involves potentially decapitating wires, is interactive, and makes cool sounds. On Friday night, as part of the ongoing CycSpecific At The BCA event(s), Keszler is going to be playing as Oxtirn with frequent collaborator Ashley Paul and sadly under-appreciated creator Geoff Mullen, and they’ll all be joined with Greg Kelley on his trusty trumpet and Reuben Son playing the bassoon (!?). So they’ll all be making a glorious racket while Cold Pin does its thing, possibly with audience participation? And Kelley opens with a solo set. Not sure if the installation can be turned off or anything, so he might be collaborating with Cold Pin by default.

This CycSpecific thing is fucking AWESOME (clearly) with this and a ton of other cool shit, like Neptune playing in the midst of interpretive dancers Liz Roncka and Olivier Besson, which also happens to go down Friday night. Check out the calendar for the full list. Cold Pin will be up for a while so even if you can’t make it to the performance on the 25th, you should at least try to check out installation.

Album Review

Aaron Martin – Worried About The Fire (Experimedia, 2010)


Aaron MartinBeaver Falls

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I feel like Aaron Martin may be a name everyone knows but maybe not too many people actually listen to? Or maybe just not write about? I don’t see his name popping up as often as it should, I guess because he’s not one to ever get a lot of hype. I DON’T UNDERSTAND IT. This Kansas dude is fucking knocking it out of the park with every album. His latest full length on Experimedia is no different.

Worried About The Fire is a dark & beautiful drone fest with dozens of sound makers: cellos, violins, saws, bowls, free reeds, and presumably anything else within arms reach. Martin dips into the processing world, too, manipulating the analog, bending it in ways that still fit the natural aesthetic that embodies The Fire. There are purely acoustic tracks like “Water Tongue” with its building string layers that are unbelievably beautiful, so elegiac and somber. And then there’s the highly fucked with “Marked In Dust” that buzzes like a generator, pulses like a swarm of cicadas, and flurries like spiraling snowflakes.

For what’s primarily a drone record, the songs are incredibly short. All but one are under four minutes long, making it feel more fast paced than is typical. This sounds like a Constellation release that’s a cross between Zomes’ self titled and Et Ret’s brief ambient violin loops on Gasworks. And seriously, Constellation, Zomes, and Et Ret are three of my favorite things ever, so that comparison is giving some high fuckin praise. My opinion with drone is make it as long as humanly possible, or take The Fire approach, take something that is usually static and make it dynamic enough that a three minute piece is still endlessly interesting.

I love this record because I’m never entirely sure what it is that I’m feeling. It’s not confusion, just a difficulty in pinpointing the emotions. It’s almost but not quite warm, cold, blissful, and unsettling. It walks a fine line of creation that results in something that’s inarguably gorgeous but open for interpretation in every other way. Just make sure your interpretation stems from the vinyl experience.

Album Review

Moon Climb The Wall – Quite Boring (RSVP, 2011)


Moon Climb The WallMic & Drum Part 2

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Moon Climb The Wall is the musical weirdness project of Salem/Boston/Florida’s Mark Johnson. He’s pals with My Brother Daniel, so when MBD was putting out his Ponky tape, they figured might as well make it a split and through Quite Boring on the other side. But whereas Ponky was also a free download, I’m not sure if the same is true for Quite Boring. Mark is a cool dude though so if you ask him, I’m sure he’ll hook you up one way or the other. I mean fuck, the tapes are only 5 bucks and there’s just 20 of ‘em.

This is some crazy fuckin shit. Johnson makes noise pop unlike anything else I’ve heard. He’s got a thing for solid beats, intimidating blown out electronics, vocals FXed all the way to fuckin Jupiter, and seemingly stream of consciousness lyrics. He’ll come up with a phrase that he likes and repeat it ad infinitum, shifting it from MC Chris highs to dying “Daisy Bell”-singing-HAL lows.

Tons of fun stuff on here. Short bits like “Obstacle Course” that’s all noise and WOOO!s, lo-fi murky mournful moans on “Blown Sonnet,” stuttered percussion on “Beating” for the dancing impaired. “Mic & Drum Part 2″ is a minimal industrial techno jam that builds to a massive distorted noise drone explosion, dropping bombs down old missile silos and watching the ground crumble just because. “Upb” is pure masochism, no pop at all, just laser pulses and static blurts, electronics & vocals blurring in a whirlwind of smashed windows.

Quite Boring is anything but. Totally fucking rad weirdo jams that mash bizarre vocals with ear cleansing grit & occasionally party starting beats. Honestly, I doubt you’ll hear much else that sounds like Moon Climb The Wall. He’s got his own thing and he’s fuckin DOIN IT.

Haiku Review

Aim Low – Foulards EP (self released, 2011)


Aim LowDuodenum

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Foulards EP (download)
/drifting space beacon/
/bleak buzz provokes stardust clouds/
/static shock echoes/

Out of Print

International Morse Code Beginners Course: Learn Code The Easy Way (Archer, 1962?)


Download International Morse Code Beginners Course: Learn Code The Easy Way
 
For hardcore Morse Code nerds only. This LP is straight up basic Morse Code. No instructions, no talking. Just the relentless beeps of the Code. I think they go through the alphabet in the beginning and then spell out some words towards the ends. But who knows. I don’t speak Morse Code.

This sounds like a lo-fi fire alarm with dying batteries throwing a dance party, or somebody hooked up to an EKG whose heart pumps minimal weirdo techno. It’s definitely not the easiest thing to listen to straight through but if you can handle it, fuckin go for it. Or chop it up and make some rad beats with it if that’s your thing.

Also, look at the fucking cover art. Pretty awesome.

Album Review

Ennio Mazzon – Azure Allochiria (Triple Bath, 2010)


Ennio MazzonPart 2

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In addition to running Ripples Recordings, Ennio Mazzon is an Italy based sound sculptor who usually works with eletro-acoustics & field recordings. His new record on Triple Bath, however, is his first that’s strictly electronic, and the first of his that I’ve heard. So no comparisons, just me raving about how he doesn’t need any analog acoustic sounds because Azure Allochiria is totally fucking awesome.

This is some minimal stuff but it has a hundred and one layers. Pretty quiet, delicately textured like digital lace. If you play this at a normal volume, (1) you’ll miss out on 80% of it because it flies under the radar and (2) you’ll forget you ever put on a record and you’ll just think there’s an EBS test running somewhere you can’t find. So play this fucker loud and you’ll be in for a treat, with all of the vertigo high pitches, stuttering anti-patterns, and garbled dog whistles.

There’s a magic beauty to Allochiria that transports you to a midnight garden. Lots of insect sounds, chirping, static hammering, clicking, everything twinkling & glitching with a Tron-like blue glow surrounding it. It makes me think of a much more controlled version of the sound speakers/amps make when plugging them in. An elaborate ambient alien Morse code that seeps through The Matrix. Seemingly cold & unwelcoming to the uninitiated, but in reality it’s a warm embrace of next-level electro-harmony.

Not knowing what sort of field recordings Mazzon has done in the past, it’s still pretty obvious that that’s where he’s coming from. So much of this record sounds like it could be from the analog world, melting icicles & trickling water, buzzing cicadas, throaty bird songs, yet all blatantly electronic. But regardless, THIS IS IT. Azure Allochiria is an hour long gorgeous minimal texture fest and it’s all I need. Way to fucking go.

AGB <3 Boston


 
Since I’ve started grad school at Simmons, things have been a little different on AGB. There are things I anticipated, such as posting being less frequent, going to WAY less shows, and the concert calendar getting the cold shoulder. But I also noticed that I’ve been posting about less Boston related stuff. :(

What I recently realized is that I might be able to kill 2 birds with 1 stone. What I plan on doing is posting shorter blurbs that are more news/event related to the Boston area, which will hopefully take up less of my time, get me back to talking about local awesomeness, and keep AGB nice & plump. Like last night, for example, John Twells (Xela, Type Records) and Ian Lawrence (Barge Recordings) DJed some killer weird tunes at River Gods in Cambridge. Tyler The Creator spinning in the same set as Outer Space. FUN STUFF. There’s no reason I couldn’t have pointed that out to you ahead of time instead of… now.

So if you live in the Boston area, this is good news for you. If you’re far away and couldn’t care less about who’s DJing where, and when Non-Event hosts a fundraiser with DJs Rob Forman, Angela Sawyer, & Ning Nong, visuals from Orangecookie & Fielderblank, food, raffles, and a silent auction this Saturday at Goethe-Institut from 7-10, FEAR NOT! I also hope to be reviewing more Boston based records as part of my re-localizing plan. Which you will totally care about. Promise.

Video

Robocopodenieve – Siamellizas

Robocopodenieve makes music out of Buenos Aires full of beautiful ambient loops that glitch out in glorious ways. The video for “Siamellizas” has a pair of vintage girls connected at the hair who have a lonely life in the woods where they make failed attempts at having tea parties with each other. So sad. The track can be found on their split tape with Los Sueños on the newly formed & totally awesome Argentinian tape label, Spit On BPM.

Out of Print

The Farm (Droll Yankees, 1979)


Download The Farm
 
This. Is hilarious. The A side has an old geezer, who occasionally doesn’t really know what he’s talking about, having a conversation with a young farm owner from Vermont, Charles Dana, about all of the animals wandering around the farm. The dialog is SO awkward. The old guy asks the most obvious questions and says things like, “Well, I see you have a cat here” and “What’s that thing out in the barn there bawling like a lamb?” (answer: goat). He’s basically the worst person to just shoot the shit with. And the farmer sounds like he’d rather die than explain what the animals are up to.

Of course, while this whole conversation is going on, there’s all sorts of animal sounds. So not only are two guys uncomfortably chatting about farm life but they’re surrounded by peeping chicks, cows, horses, pigs, turkeys, and some other guy calling the sheep & cows from the fields. They went for the ultimate in realism over here. It’s like you’re actually ON A FARM. Except they clearly recorded all of the animals separately and tried to string it together with a single conversation afterwards. “Oh, look what’s here. Pigs!” Yeah, good segue there buddy.

The B side is the exact same as the A side, except it’s just the animals. The interview is gone and you’re left with a strange array of farm sounds. In other words, way less entertaining. Clearly the meat of this album is listening to these two dudes talking about the automatic milking of cows and the problems of raccoons.

Droll Yankees looks like an amazing label. They put out a bunch of records like this, all with great album art, but about all sorts of things. Grave diggers, tug boats, bird songs, all aspected of New England life they tried to document. Some guy got kind of obsessed with the label for a bit and did a fair amount of research and independent cataloging, picking up as many copies as he could find. Definitely a worthwhile little page he has set up. Hope it helps me find some more Droll Yankees records.

Album Review

Josh Lay & Teeth Collection – Josh Lay & Teeth Collection (Husk / Factotum, 2010)


Josh Lay & Teeth CollectionSide A (excerpt)

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Josh Lay is the head Husk hero, putting out crazy blackened everything, and back in 2008 he recorded some jams with Teeth Collection aka Matthew Reis, which never saw the light of day until now. Thank God Husk & Factotum finally got their heads on straight and got this slab on noise out to the masses. Absolutely necessary.

The LP has 2 side long pieces and it comes with a CD-R of material previously available on a Factotum double cassette, 4 tracks, 2 extras recorded from the same session and 2 solo pieces. So when you drop $$$ on this, you get over an hour and a half’s worth of darkness.

The A side is a sprawling ghost of decay, the souls of machinists lurking in empty factories, bringing equipment rusted solid back from the grave. Grit covers every nook & cranny, belt sanders and hollow pipes echo down hallways, floors covered in peeling paint chips. I have no idea what the source of the sounds actually are, but it sounds like the building itself is dying, held up by nothing more than rotten boards, everything a disgusting haunted mess, saturated in bleak & black.

Flipped over, you’re treated to a very similar lesson in industrial spookiness, although this time they take the minimal drone route. If the A side was sprawling, this is a gauzy lead blanket stretched flat, covering Death Valley under the night sky. It hardly moves at all, just rustles in the breeze, screeching & throbbing like playing a saw with acid nails while phantom buffalos dance in underground silos. There’s an ebb & flow, a blackened drone rearing its head, grieving over mechanical ambience, drifting through space, without a home.

I’ll leave the CD as a surprise, although I’ll just say it’s a bit more rowdy than the LP. These are some harrowing sounds, certainly not an album to share with your loved ones. Totally fucking killer, though. This was made to spin on wax, so do yourself a favor and let your turntable take part in this gloriously grim experience.

Album Review

Nicholas Szczepanik – Not Knowing (For Eliane Radigue) (Ante Algo Azul #1) (self released, 2011)


Nicholas SzczepanikNot Knowing (For Eliane Radigue) (excerpt)

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Y’all know who Nicholas Szczepanik is, right? Only one of the greatest new-droners working today. He put out a couple of straight up amazing full lengths and that collaboration with Jenks Miller. He’s right up there with Kyle Bobby Dunn and Ophibre. AKA watch out for this dude ’cause he’s fucking going places. Here’s the proof.

Szczepanik is doing a subcription series!!! It’s called Ante Algo Azul and it’ll consist of 12 3″ CDs, each with one piece of music, each housed in beautifully handcrafted packaging, and, of course, limited to 100 copies. The best thing is, you don’t need to pony up all $125 right out of the gate, you can do a payment plan (4 x $31.25). HELL YES. The first, titled Not Knowing (For Elian Radigue), just got sent out. If you’ve been paying attention, then you’d know Szczepanik released this track a couple months back on Soundcloud as a “work in progress” sort of thing. Well he finished it up (you can still stream the entirety of it) and made it the inaugural AAA.

“Not Knowing” is an 18 minute slow moving static monster, heaving & throbbing with glacial bass for the first half. It’s hypnotic but a bit menacing, dark pulses breathing at you from the abyss, relentless. A sleeping monolith that eventually opens its dreams to you, showing you the cascading choirs of beauty that surround it while it sleeps, gorgeous harmonies that rise & fade, never lasting as long as needed to totally envelope you, to relish in that glorious warmth. It runs up to you with open arms only to get scared of some unknown and hide behind shadowy rocks, inching closer & closer to a full embrace that never quite comes.

Clearly, this is some amazing fucking stuff. I love it just as much as anything else Szczepanik’s made. And the packaging is wonderful, a stamped envelope (each stamp is different) sealed with a thumbprint and a photograph inside (more pics & updates here). I absolutely can’t WAIT to see how the next 11 turn out. And it’s not too late for you to join in. Plenty of copies still left.

Video

Eternal Tapestry – Galactic Derelict

The ever busy dudes in Eternal Tapestry put together a video for “Galactic Derelict” off their new album, Beyond the 4th Door, out in March on Thrill Jockey. Lots of noodlin & groovin heavy space psych set to straaange old sci-fi movies, the video having just as many layers as the music. The best part is when the caped space adventurer is flying through space and he checks his watch because, y’know, he’s gonna be late to Neptune.

Album Review

Chris Rehm – Worries, Etc. (Chinquapin, 2011)


Chris RehmBlinders

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Chris Rehm has gotta be one of my favorite dudes workin right now. His solo work on the Salivary Stones tape was a slab of pink drone bliss and the mathy noise pop album he did with his pal Sean Hart as Caddywhompus remains to this day one of the catchiest & most listened to records in rotation. So clearly Rehm’s a fuckin champ. PLUS, he runs Chinquapin Records out of New Orleans and all of the music he makes is available for free downloading. Including Worries, Etc.

Worries is Rehm’s seventh solo release in 4 years and right off the bat, you can tell it’s more developed and intricate than his last tape. Instead of just straight up drone noise, there’s all sorts of extra stuff going on. The muffled industrial machine beats from before take a higher priority now, chugging away making some Usputuspud-like disco drone. Now there’s strummed acoustics with depressed vocals echoing “I just want you to give a fuck” and pulsing space dust shooting through the heart of frozen moons. One of my favorite tracks is “Blinders” which starts outs with mumbling ghosts hiding behind curtains of xylophone kaleidoscope static and then blurs into bombastic Fuck Buttons noise bliss. So fucking cool.

The individual songs on Worries, Etc. are perfectly unique, each one sounding a bit different than the last, but all flowing seamlessly into the next. This could have been one half hour long track and I wouldn’t have batted an eye.

This is a beautiful record, tender, harsh, euphoric, and occasionally danceable. If you’ve yet to experience life through Rehm’s ears, now’s the fucking time. But if you’re already a fan, Worries is essential, it’s filled with more elaborate sounds fused with the noise pop elements from Caddywhompus. Seriously, what more could you ask for? Oh right, IT’S FREE.

Album Review

Charles-Eric Charrier – Silver (Experimedia, 2011)


Charles-Eric Charrier12 From

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What’s the world coming to when it takes a guy like me 3 years to review a release on Experimedia? Shameful, I know. Well, it’s time for that to change because this label is consistently killing it with the most awesome freshness in cool shit. And Charles-Eric Charrier is the first in hopefully many more, because this dude has got something special goin on.

Charrier is one half of MAN along with Rasim Biyikli, and he’s done a thousand and one collaborations with every cool cat around. Silver has him taking a beautiful blend of psych & free jazz, creating a hypnotic and constantly morphing spiral of jams. The opening track is prime Western groove material, with dusty percussion that skitters like tumbleweeds and meandering guitars set in slow riffs getting their buzz & grit on under wide open blue skies.

The second piece is more evil, a possessed hermit whipping out his busted vintage synths & radio transmitters, making swampy electro drones and garbled alien space blasts, all while some mad genius in the back swaggers on the drum kit. A fucking journey and a half, going places I didn’t know existed with mournful trumpets and stuttering guitars, back and forth unsettling tension and smoothed out relaxing tones.

And that’s just the A side, from there it goes in all directions jazzier, noisier, etc, etc. It gets more frantic, numerous staggered layers of piano, acoustic guitar, electronics, and hidden percussion, slowed down single bass strings resonating with fluttering Americana, lush cymbals & dry shakers, hollow toms chugging down the railroad, steel plucking in the heat of the night, blistering battles of scratching stars & bats terrorizing the valley, the kind of jazziness that’s right up my alley aka not too heavy on the jazz.

Silver is definitely a winner on all accounts. Charrier’s got some twisted vision of contemporary free jazz that I’ve yet to see elsewhere and I’m all for it because this record is fuckin HOT. Some seriously top notch shit, obviously it should’ve been called Gold.