Archive for July, 2012

Album Review

Olekranon – Barbarians (Inam, 2012)


OlekranonPila’s Lament (Inam)

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Ryan Huber, the dude running the sweetest label with the least web presence, Inam Records, and who makes the most brutal/blissful noise metalgaze as Sujo, also pumps out some mind altering drones as Olekranon. His new one, Barbarians, is some truly fantastic shit, the first track jamming this badass darkened industrial beat sounding a bit like Vatican Shadow, stuck in a loop and mesmerizing as hell. The rest of the songs are way more minimal and mostly sans rhythms, like a dense grey mist rolling in from the shore, quiet, subtle, & beautiful, pan and scan static swirls slowly creeping in your skull, rapid echoed snare sounding like a slo-mo fast forward nightmare where nothing is in sync, everything dark & dank as fuck with a strong layer of bliss hidden underneath, content with playing the sidekick. So so fucking good. And like most things Inam, Barbarians is free, but it only costs you $2, literally two fucking dollars, to get an elaborately hand packaged/numbered CD. Ain’t no way you can say no to this.

Album Review

Glacial – On Jones Beach (Three Lobed, 2012)


GlacialOn Jones Beach (excerpt) (Three Lobed)

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Special stuff right here. On Jones Beach is the debut release of Glacial, the power trio made up of Lee Ranaldo, David Watson, and Tony Buck. A singular 48 minute journey into worlds unknown, occupying a headspace you didn’t know existed. The first movement is a spectacular brooding drone, minimal feedback & electronics that slowly caffeinates itself into a gritty dirtbag of swirling ambience that’s ominous and climactic. It seamlessly brings in some percussion and before you know it, you’re in a full on psych jam with a heavy groove and a bagpipes solo. But then you figure out the climax of the drone was only epic on its own terms, not in relation to the whole thing. On Jones Beach gets so crazy, post-punk atonal guitar shredding, screeching feedback, bagpipe drone noodling, electronic nastiness, and a drum beat bleeding perfection to tie it all together, grounding it in some fake-reality where this whack shit makes sense and it’s 100% acceptable to have a noise/drone record that rocks this fucking hard. Seriously though, these goddamn bagpipes are the most unexpected thing and get me maybe a bit too excited. I love those fucking reeds and they just give this record an extra dose of awesome. I can’t believe it took so long for the three of these guys to put out a record because this is such stunning work, it’s like they’ve been rolling together for decades and have already amassed a masterful discography. Big ups to Three Lobed for giving this the swanky vinyl treatment and making sure the one heavenly piece didn’t get butchered when split for two sides. Plus, you get an uncut digital version with the LP, as well as three shorter live tracks that make this thing a fucking steal.

AGB Guide To Hopscotch


I’ve never done a guide like this before. I’ve gone to ATP both in NY & NJ, but those were basically just two/three stage fests with properly staggered schedules so you could jump in between pretty easily. Thus, if you really wanted to see everyone play at least a little bit, you were able to. Not so with Hopscotch. There’s a dozen different venues that get taken over in downtown Raleigh and you’d kill yourself trying to see the majority of the bands play.

One of the reasons I’m super psyched for Hopscotch is because of the insane variety of music they brought in. Yeah, most fests do this, but Hopscotch seems more in tune with my personal tastes. Namely, lots of weird shit & black metal. So since they’re kinda all over the place genre-wise, I thought it might be a good idea to help out some folks looking for a more AGB themed experience at Hopscotch.

This guide won’t tell you what bands to see when (ok, maybe a little), it’s more to tell you the choices I’ll have to be making come showtime. For example, where will I be Thursday night at 10? The Fletcher Theater Opera for Charlie Parr or the Long View Center for Chuck Johnson? And I’m not gonna lie. This guide mostly started as my own personal endeavor and then a few readers wanted me to share, so, obviously I’ll oblige.

This guide is only for the night shows. There’s another schedule that’ll be released in a couple weeks with the day show stuff and I might do another guide for those, but no promises.

Also, just fyi, my personal fest going style is to see as many full sets as I can. None of this jumping around shit. I know that’s a bit antithetical to the whole festival thing but fuck it. I don’t like to second guess myself and wonder “Oh, but what if maybe Oneida is doing something extra awesome right now…” No. I commit to a band, sometimes even a venue for the night, and enjoy the fuck out of it.

Come September 6-8, you’ll know where I’ll be. If you see me, say hey, lets hang out. And let me know what your must-sees are in the comments!
 

Guardian Alien via

THURSDAY

Long View Center is definitely the venue to camp at Thursday night if you had to chose. The crazy underrated electroacoustic duo of Chris Forsyth & Koen Holtkamp start things off at 9:00, with acoustic guitar guru Chuck Johnson and the abrasively genius Bill Orcutt at 10 & 11, then the much hyped Julia Holter finishes things off at midnight. You honestly can’t go wrong by hanging out here. Except…

You’d be missing out on Jon Mueller’s Death Blues at 9:30 at the Lincoln Theatre. And this is one of my most anticipated sets for the whole fest, so there is no way I’m missing this. There’s a lot of mystery and excitement around the Death Blues project and this may be one of the only chances you have to check it out. I may not know many details about this but I can guarantee it’s going to be a fucking highlight.

If you’re feeling like some killer guitarness that’s not Chuck Johnson, head over to the Fletcher Opera House at 10 and catch the incredible Charlie Parr, the self taught old school blues picker who was on that amazing split Thrill Jockey put out last year with Glenn Jones where he played alongside the Black Twig Pickers. You know you’re in for a treat here.

Guardian Alien is a new project helmed by the bestial Gregory Fox who got more involved with this after he stopped drumming for Liturgy. This is some fucking amazing raga noise stuff like Lightning Bolt gone transcendental. You can see him at 11 at White Collar Crime if you’re into the whole “I saw him first” thing.

The Hive @ Busy Bee has a nice double header with thee Alan Bishop aka Alvarius B. at 11 being weird & awesome followed by the beloved synth/guitar superstar Mark McGuire at 12. Definitely not a bad place to be caught at if the timing’s right.

And if you still haven’t seen Liars or Deerhoof, let me be the last to tell you that you’re missing out. Deerhoof plays a mind bending 2 hour set at Memorial Auditorium starting at 10 and Liars close the night afterwards with a scheduled 1.5 hour set that will certainly find its way chugging into the AM’s nether regions.
 

Killer Mike via

FRIDAY

The City Plaza starts things early with the festival “headliners” or whatever with Zammuto at 5:45, Built To Spill at 6:55 (on the dot), and The Jesus & Mary Chain at 8:45. I could miss Zammuto and not feel too bad, and I’ve seen Built To Spill before (not that they’re not worth seeing many times over), but J&MC is where it’s at. Pretty psyched to see ‘em. After them and MBV, I’m just waiting for Slowdive and Ride to make their return so I can maybe put that shoegaze superfecta on the mantle.

If you’re looking for the Friday camp house and you can handle a blackened assault, set up shop at Kings Barcade and get destroyed by all manner of evil metal. I don’t know much about MAKE except that they’re fucking heavy and open things at 8:30, then brutal New Englanders Vattnet Viskar at 9:30, Georgia’s anti-Georgian Withered at 10:30, poster boys The Atlas Moth at 11:30, and Altar Of motherfucking Plagues at 12:30. Almost more black metal than one dude can handle.

There’s a fantastic semi-early double-header at Memorial Auditorium with the subtly masterful and oft veiled drummer Chris Corsano at 9 and Boston hero Glenn Jones’ 1.5 hour long set of massaging 12-string Fahey stylings at 10 (just before Yo La Tengo at 11:30 if that’s your thing). I’ll likely skip out on this one as they’re both pretty common sightings around my area, but that doesn’t mean you should take my lead.

If you’re looking for a quiet and delicate set, Papa M, David Pajo’s understated solo excursion will suite your fancy starting at 11 at the Berkeley Cafe.

The Pour House Music Hall has an insane couple of bands that are sadly interspersed with Corrosion Of Conformity at 11:30 who are definitely not my thing. But at 10:30, this year’s champions of doom Pallbearer will destroy the soundboard. Would love to see these guys as they’re not stopping in Boston on their tour for whatever lame reason. And then the endorphin chasing Dan Deacon closes the night at 12:30. This dude is responsible for two of my all time favorite shows ever. I don’t think I’ve ever had a better time than when he played with the Ensemble at the Middle East Downstairs a few years ago. Nonstop euphoria to the fucking max.

Zola Jesus is pretty awesome, especially Stridulum, and I’ve yet to see her, so this would be a good time I guess since she’s playing Lincoln Theatre at 11:30, especially because immediately afterwards fucking Killer Mike is closing out the night at 12:30. Dude has been blowing up this year with his R.A.P. Music, inarguably rap ROTY. Sure to be a killer set. (yes I did. no I couldn’t help it.)

So that’s three highly covetable sets of stellar sounds at 12:30. Killer Mike, Altar Of Plagues, and Dan Deacon. How the fuck I’m supposed to decide between those I have no idea.

There’s also an hour of sweet spacey krauty jams courtesy of White Hills at Slim’s around 12:30, but I have a hard time imagining myself making it when there’s already so much other incredible shit going down at the same time slot. But just because it’s crowded, doesn’t mean their awesomeness should get discounted.
 

Sunn O))) via

SATURDAY

The Roots start the night off on the right foot nice n early at 8:30, City Plaza. Another big name I haven’t seen, so this would probably be a good chance to indulge, without it interfering too much on the rest of my evening.

But Memorial Auditorium is definitely where you wanna hole up on Saturday. As far as lineups go, and I’m talking in the grand scheme of things, it seriously doesn’t get any fucking better than this. Chicago’s indispensable noise maker Kevin Drumm at 10, Oren Ambarchi’s skillfully precise drones all the way from Australia at 11, and the almighty Sunn O))) gods at 12:30. I have a hunch that Ambarchi will join the mega-doomlords but that’s just me speculating. Regardless, a Sunn O))) set ain’t nothing to fuck with.

The Long View Center is another wholly mesmerizing camp-worthy club, although I’m not very familiar with Secret Cities (who go on at 11). Quiet Evenings, the lovely Rachel and Grant Evans’ sun drone project, start off at 9. Poland’s Jacaszek is stopping by for a rare American hour’s length of his glitchy static shimmer at 10. And at midnight, German minimal turntablist and all around spectacular composer Arnold Dreyblatt is joined by NC locals Megafaun as his “Orchestra Of Excited Strings.” Despite the one off ignorance, this is still going to be a 100% amazing set of sets (matrix?).

The quickly rising Hubble (Zs guitarist) plays at 9:30 at the Fletcher Opera Theater wielding his axe of New Age noise. Definitely a worthwhile show to catch.

If you’re going for the grittier and lo-fi side of guitarings, Amen Dunes will be blasting some low key psych pop jams at 10 in The Hive @ Busy Bee.

Then we have black metal wtfers Sutekh Hexen at the Berkeley Cafe at 11, playing their dark ambient mess of horror noise which I could not be more stoked for.

And 11:30 seems to be the go-to set time for Saturday night, with three separate clubs showcasing a solo performance that’ll give you heart palpitations (well, four if you’re into Laurel Halo, playing at Kings Barcade). There’s Carlos Giffoni at Five Star who might show up with his ear destroying noise freakouts or his new softer droney chill side. There might be weird dancing? Who knows. But it’s definitely going to be crazy awesome. Then there’s Danny Brown at CAM, who put out my favorite hip-hop from last year in the form of his XXX mixtape. This dude has some of the best lyrics, amazing beats, and a totally unique nasally/whiney voice that’s not even the least bit annoying. Love him so much. And finally there’s the inimitable Colin Stetson at The Pour House Music Hall, who legit blew my mind at ATP NJ last year with his sexy as fuck sax prowess that is incredible on record and fucking UNREAL live. This’ll definitely be a tough choice, but having already seen Stetson, I might have to go for one of the other two dudes.

Then you have Oneida starting at midnight at Tir na nOg, playing for who knows how long. Although they’re stunning whether they play for 30 minutes or 9 hours. They always know how to rock the fuck out and I’ve yet to be disappointed by them.

And finally you have poor Balam Acab at Kings Barcade competing for the midnight thirty slot with Sunn O))). I know not everyone digs Sunn’s monolithic slabs, so Balam Acab is a worthwhile alternative. Dank and warped beats with his killer flow. Definitely a good way to end the fest if you’re looking for more of a feel good party.
 
Here’s my personal schedule for Hopscotch spreadsheet style. I might make something prettier and more portable once the day schedule drops, which I’ll post for y’all. Otherwise, take from this what you will and I’ll see you at Sunn O))).

Album Review

Dead Times / TRTRKMMR Split (Aum War, 2011)


Dead Times & TRTRKMMRAn Appendectomy (Aum War)

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Holy fuck. How has this been out for almost a year and had barely any press? This is insane. Both of these dudes are going to be on everyone’s radar pretty soon. Dead Times is currently Steven Vallot’s solo thing, he also runs Aum War, did some vocals on The Body’s All The Waters Of The Earth Turn To Blood and occasionally played with them live. Lee Buford (drummer for The Body) used to be involved until The Body relocated South. TRTRKMMR is a solo thing for Brad Dumville, who was the vocalist for the tragically disbanded Otesanek). So, wow, lots of awesome already bundled up in this split and they’re unbelievably perfect to share some vinyl space together.

But it’s something bigger than the sum of its parts. This split is unholy, pure black and twisted as fuck. A potently caustic black noise with a lots of doom & gloom, industrial & power electronics, and even some melodic synthy organ & bell sounds, like a funereal black pop à la The Mausoleums except way less golden. Tons of samples that talk about redemption & homicide & shit making this creepy as hell. Absolute chaos with plodding crumbling drums, decrepit guitars, blown out electronics, demonic vocals shrieking & creaking up from beyond the grave (with Sewer Goddess joining in on Dead Times’ “Pain Arrives”) everything falling apart in a gloriously fucked up way that could only mean the end of the world. They even do two collaborations, one on each side, and they’re totally fucking killer.

This is truly some of the best of the genre, and all the better that both of these guys are just getting started with these new aliases. Both have new material in the works, TRTRKMMR has an upcoming debut full length on Iron Lung, and Dead Times’ work will likely show up on Aum War again. Make sure you keep your eyes peeled because this is not something you want to miss out on. I’d probably be putting this on some year end list if it didn’t come out last year. All the same, it’s still available and I wouldn’t hold off on picking up this beast.

Album Review

Sun Splitter – III (BloodLust!, 2012)


Sun SplitterEye Of Jupiter (BloodLust!)

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How these Chicago dudes aren’t as well known as Locrian is beyond me. Sun Splitter have just as must genre blending as Locrian, just a different blend. They’ve got this incredible black industrial psych doom thing with some dark ambient noise/drone and even a little HANL style gloomgaze tossed in. I think III is their first vinyl (limited to 500, white, sexy, etc) and it’s monolithic & pure fucking evil. Seriously, this is just monstrous in every way. The riffs are skull crushing, a wall of reverb and distortion sounding like napalm melting your core, drum machines hitting harder than any human could, explosive blasts that level cities, with an abusive assault of rapid-fire fury for the second half of “The Serpent’s Golden Death” where the individual hits coalesce into a waterfall of insanity, static vocals that roar their way to the surface, guitars that chug & rattle, at home only in Hell’s scorched valley, crusted under the black sun. These guys get in a groove and don’t let up until they’ve reached total devastation, the drum machine locked in a loop, sealing their fate as endless riff demons. If you need some fucking heavy in your life, this is where you should be looking. This is the fucking best and most original metal. And with killer artwork by band member Anthony A. Dunn, you would be doing yourself a major disservice by passing this up.

Forgotten Fifteen

This year has been like every other year, in which I don’t review a ton of shit that’s awesome because I’m busy reviewing a ton of other shit that’s awesome. That’s the name of the game. I don’t think I’ve done a mid-year roundup before, not a big fan of ‘em, but since that’s definitely the cool thing to do in 2012, and because I know some items on my year end list haven’t gotten any airtime over here, I thought it would be a grand idea to call out some records that I personally have been jamming like a motherfucker. So here’s 15 records I should have reviewed. They’re not ranked but feel free to speculate wildly if any of these might make the coveted number one spot on my Top 10 Drone list come the end of the year/life as we know it.
 

HorsebackHalf Blood (Relapse)
Probably the best record to come out this year (but best drone record? tough call). This has been my go to since it came out, blending black metal and drone with a dusty psych. Jenks Miller’s vocals are thick & gruff and tear right fucking through the lush guitars. Yeah, everyone & their little sister have been raving about this one but that should just tell you how fucking spectacular it is.
 


PortraitsPortraits (Important)
Portraits are a supergroup and a half, with Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Evan Caminiti, Jon Porras, Lisa McGee, Gregg Kowalsky, Marielle Jakobsons, Maxwell August Croy, Steven Dye, Tony Cross, and Michael Elrod, all making an impossibly minimal drone that’s almost too beautiful to handle. How they were able to corral themselves into making an album so singular and so seamless is beyond me. It’s a shame knowing their output can never keep up with my hopes because after hearing this I want at least another record every year. Something tells me that’s never gonna happen.
 


PanopticonKentucky (Handmade Birds / Pagan Flames)
This one might be making Euronymous twitch in his grave. Kentucky is some truly bizarre black metal that’s sandwiched with some old banjos n bluegrass. Panopticon’s always been one for weirdness but this is a whole other level, some tracks could be taken out of context and your gramp would think it was from one of his old 78s. Gives Half Blood a run for its money for black metal ROTY.
 


Wreck & ReferenceNo Youth (The Flenser)
These Californian devastators seriously don’t give a fuck about genres. This is one that really defies categorization and does a damn good job at evading description. Black metal, doom, noise, sure, all of that, then a decent dose of wtf and leaning heavy on the post-everything. They’re doing their own thing and they’re fucking obliterating everything that stood before them.
 


Mario Diaz De Leon / ONEIROGENHypnos (Denovali / Shinkoyo)
De Leon put out Hypnos under his own name earlier this year with Shinkoyo taking care of the CD version. Then he decided the sound was different enough from his normal modern classical style music to put it under a different name, ONEIROGEN. All further releases in this style will be using that name. Now, Denovali is reissuing Hypnos on vinyl next month (using the ONEIROGEN moniker). You definitely need to keep an eye out for it because this is fucking stellar and might get snatched up quickly. Crazy thick synths (and guitars?) doing something dark & blissful, noisy & droney, like an industrial/power electronics dude taking cues from OPN and Goblin and scoring a film based on a Poe story. Super fucking awesome. One of the best albums this year.
 


Pauline OliverosReverberations: Tape And Electronic Music 1961-1970 (Important)
A truly epic collection, 12 discs of Oliveros’ legendary tape & electronics work, early avant garde shit that has mostly never seen the light of day for us commoners. She’s a legit master in her field and having something this comprehensive with detailed liner notes in a sweetly packaged box set is more than I could ever hope for. A thousand thanks to Important and the many contributors for putting this together.
 


Mount EerieClear Moon (P.W. Elverum & Sun)
Clear Moon may not have the shredding black metal moments that Wind’s Poem had, but that just means this is a little more consistent, it’s no less bleak or dark, and it’s just as tender. It’s kinda hard not to fall head over heals for everything Elverum puts out but this may be my favorite thing he’s done, ever. Absolutely amazing.
 


Sutekh HexenBehind The Throne (Magic Bullet)
These dudes are set to take over today’s black metal scene and tear it to shreds. They’ve put out a handful of releases in the past year or two, but Behind The Throne is their latest and it’s the best fucking thing ever. Torrents of noise and vocal static, blistering atmospherics and destructive guitars, this is so insanely good it’s hard to wrap your brain around due to it being melted, etc. So much more than your usual black metal noise.
 


Man ForeverPansophical Cataract (Thrill Jockey)
Our generation’s Buddy Rich, Kid Millions is out to make sure people fully understand what it means to be a drummer. Man Forever is his drum project that sounds like a Niagara of octopuses playing a Niblockian cacophony. Smooth long form drumming that’s blissful and engaging with a thousand layers of drone to rub you all the right ways.
 


InfinitasJourney To Infinity (Self-Mutilation Services / Razed Soul)
Solo German black metal project with a debut to make you want to jump out of a plane without a parachute. This is some killer post rock stuff mashed with devastating DSBM, crazy soaring guitars and crushing crescendos with torturous wailing screeches that would be like nails on a chalkboard if if wasn’t so harmoniously complemented by the cloud surfing bleakness.
 


AufgehobenFragments Of The Marble Plan (Holy Mountain)
When are these guys gonna get theirs? They already have a doting cult of noiseheads that snag everything possible. Maybe we’re just stingy? Whatever, Aufgehoben’s newest slab of concrete chaos is in a sexy gatefold courtesy of Holy Mountain and is absolutely flooring. Honestly, this is some special speaker melting noise, astonishing even to the noise naysayers in its ability to knock the wind out of you. There’s nothing quite like an Aufgehoben record and this is some of their best work to date.
 


Fenn O’BergIn Hell (Editions MEGO)
You’re pretty much guaranteed something fantastic when Fennesz, Jim O’Rourke, and Peter Rehberg get together, but In Hell takes their killer collabs to another dimension. Namely, a dark and disturbing dimension. All of it was recorded at performances during their 2010 tour of Japan and while it’s generally just an amazing drone/dark ambient record, it takes some unexpected turns with strange samples and furious anger. It gets absolutely bombastic, thick & blissful, melodic static paving the way for sharp shimmer & delicate lullabies. It goes in a hundred different directions all at once, impossible to predict but infinitely awesome.
 


Duane PitreFeel Free (Important)
Duane’s a dude who’s been doing his minimal thing for years, under the radar and somehow missing his deserved notoriety, until Feel Free came out this year and everyone’s like “whoa this guy is fuckin rad.” Right you are, everyone. This is a group performance of his “Feel Free” composition, an electro-acoustic wonder bringing a much needed elegance to the table. Processed strings & guitars weave their drones through organic plucks & bows, softness & kindness found in every breath. A truly superb album that craves a wide-eyed audience.
 


Jon Mueller & James PlotkinTerminal Velocity (Taiga)
A match made in heaven, Mueller & Plotkin have taken their respective talents and bestowed upon us a grand work of art. Both enormous & subtle, it’s an album for deep focus, it stretches time like a meditation guru, taking a lifetime to dwell in one space and slowly crawling to a mass of heavy static drones and hypnotic drums. Listening to this will fundamentally change you.
 


Jute GyteIsolation (Jeshimoth Entertainment)
What the fucked up black metal for the twisted and depraved. One Missouri soul with a ridiculous amount of releases (10+ in less than 2 years), although not all of them hitting the black metal mark, Isolation is certainly a bizarre beast of hardened blackness. Screechy vocals, lurching rhythms coupled with machine gun blast beats, atonal & wonky guitars, tossing in a droning euphoric track in the middle to make sure you don’t go insane before the hour of demoralized noise is up. “Unique” doesn’t even come close.

Album Review

Concern – Misfortune (Isounderscore, 2012)


ConcernGod, Weak And Quiet (Isounderscore)

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A bittersweet moment, this is Gordon Ashworth’s final release as Concern, but it’s such a stellar album that it stings a little less. Made almost entirely with a 15 string box harp, with the exception of some field recordings thrown in to spice it up, Ashworth looped & processed that shit until he turned his 15 strings into a solo Crimson Grail of box harps. This is like the Swedish massage or acupuncture of drone, thousands of little pins & slaps layered and sequenced to give you an overall good time. The first side long track starts with an incredibly lush strum, tender & sharp, that bleeds into samples of indistinct human chatter, a shy social anxiety building as everything tucks itself away into a corner, nervous nondescript fumbling & fidgeting to keep busy while the drones flutter, then a huge blissful shimmering cloud of hand-wringing uncertainty, slightly transparent and hovering right in front of the sun. The first of the two pieces on the B side stretch out the stress and worries, all encompassing but still a heavenly textured euphoria, until the closing track that reaches a relaxing peace, a reserved chillness, obtaining freedom of all concern (yep). An arc in an album I strive for in life, the last track my primary goal. This album is absolutely fucking beautiful and definitely some of the most amazing & unique drone this year. I always expect the best from Isounderscore and, big surprise, Misfortune is another winner.

Album Review

High Aura’d – Sanguine Futures (Bathetic, 2012)


High Aura’dThe Northern Sky Ablaze (Bathetic)

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It seems like maybe this is High Aura’d’s (thee John Kolodij) big one. He recruited the mighty Greg Kelley for his trumpet powers, got Simon Fowler to create a masterpiece for the artwork, had John Twells (Type, Xela, etc) produce & mix it, and dipped it in lead with James Plotkin’s mastering. Not to mention that this is his first slab of vinyl, and it’s on Bathetic, and it’s already been praised to the high heavens by everyone including the fucking Boston Globe. But today is its official release, and I can pretty much guarantee Sanguine Futures will end up somewhere on my year end drone list, so this is my authorized stamp of approval that this record is the fucking BEST.

It seems like with each release Kolodij’s gotten darker & darker, which is A+ in my book, and this one is by far the blackest he’s gone. With the exception of a singular jaw dropping moment of euphoria (and trust me, it’s a special fucking moment), this is mostly all ominous rumble, running the line of doom and black ambient. He’s been pretty metaphoric with the water theme in the past, but this is overt and unmistakable, starting the album off with watery samples. This whole thing is like a foggy midnight journey through the middle of the ocean, with distant muffled canons fighting off some ancient sea beast, mythical & literal sirens wailing, calling with sweetness & alarm, chimes and clatter rattling in the still darkness, the crazy dude on top of the mast playing his song of mourning, the much saner dude in the hull with his heartache piano, everything sad and black, but not quite devoid of hope. Seriously pushing all of my drone buttons right now, ranking in the very top of records this year and likely for years to come. This is Kolodij at the top of his fucking game. Dude is already unstoppable and this is only his first vinyl. If you haven’t been keeping an eye on him yet, now’s the fucking time.

Out of Print

Glossolalia – The Gift Of Tongues (Mace, ca. 1960s)


 
Download The Gift Of Tongues

I have no idea about this one. Some dude speaking/singing in tongues. That’s it. No music. Just one dude taking himself way too seriously and acting like a goddamn fool to “help you in your study of glossolalia or your practice of your beliefs.” 100% weird, and if you can get past the whole phony aspect, it’s enjoyably hypnotic. If you can’t, it still makes for a good laugh. The liner notes say “the man you hear claims no Divine Power and does not claim anything miraculous about his ‘gift’ or these recorded prayers. He has chosen to remain unknown, not wanting the public spotlight for his ‘gift.'” They also claim this to be “the first time the ‘gift of tongues’ has been recorded.” Perhaps. Either way, this is wacky as fuck and there’s some fantastic collage art by Burt Goldblatt. If you weren’t sure what you were gonna be listening to this weekend, I may have just solved your problem.

Interviews

Life & Death Blues: Interview With Jon Mueller

Photographer: Kat Schleicher

 
Jon Mueller is as awesome as it gets. Bio, line one: “My aim is to help people listen and communicate.” One of the most worthy goals I can think of. Plus, the dude plays drums like nobody’s business, founded the continually overlooked Pele, Collections Of Colonies Of Bees, and Volcano Choir, has worked with an insane amount of respectables like Lionel Marchetti, Swans, Bhob Rainey, Rhys Chatham, Marcus Schmickler, and James Plotkin, and has put out killer albums on labels like Type, Important, and the sorely missed Table Of The Elements.

Death Blues is a project of Mueller’s that’s been long in the works. If the project’s name is what caught me first, the statement was a close second. It talks about death, how we live our lives when we grasp that death is inevitable, how to live in the present, and the importance of connecting with others when we all have mortality as common ground. Mueller’s concepts are being embodied in every format imaginable (“writing, recording, images, movement, video, taste, performance, and more”), but the main idea isn’t the media, rather using the media as a means to spark communication.

Mueller stopped by Boston recently on his short tour with James Plotkin in celebration of their new collab 2xLP Terminal Velocity on Taiga and, knowing a little about Death Blues, I was excited to talk to him about it in person. We chatted for a bit, but after I left, all I could think about was Death Blues, what it meant to him, how it came to be, all that good stuff. I’ve been a bit obsessed with death lately, so I also saw this as a great opportunity to talk with someone other than my wife about it.

I got in touch with Jon via email, asking about Death and blues, and got answers about Life and positivity. Not quite what I was expecting but certainly a pleasant surprise. I rambled on about every question that came to mind, from the metaphysical to the musical, and although I didn’t anticipate a response to all of it, he was kind enough to humor my excess & gloom. I’ve left my brainstormy overkill questions intact because why not.
 
AGB: Was there an epiphanic moment that you can trace the Death Blues project to? Did you encounter a lot of death before realizing the importance of being present in every moment? What kind of important moments do you remember as laying the foundation for the project? How long were you living life as hyper-aware before the project was conceived?

JM: There was a moment. I was walking around New Orleans for hours one morning, having just come out of an intense flu and antibiotics phase. I had never been to the city before, and wanted to see the most I could on foot before my plane left. During this walk, I thought a lot about what was next for me. I had some ideas about what I wanted to do musically, but I was hoping for some kind of context to put those ideas into. That hope led me toward questioning ‘why’ I wanted to do what I wanted to do. I dug as deep as I could dig into those answers, and with New Orleans as the backdrop, it started to reflect the fact that so many people lived in that city, understanding that another Katrina could, and likely would, happen again. This really struck me – identify what’s important to you and pursue understanding why those things are important to you.

So, the project has less to do about death, and more to do with life. The thing about death is that it’s coming for all of us. What are we doing right now to make the best experience we can have in this moment, even if the situation sucks, various problems exist, etc? We have the ability to enhance any situation.

And I wouldn’t say I’m “hyper-aware.” I’m just trying to understand things, as I assume everyone else is.
 

 
AGB: Death Blues’ mantra seems to focus more on the empowering “Seize the day” rather than the bleak “I might die right now,” but the name is still pretty dark. Did you intentionally lean towards the positive? Why did you chose that name? Also, you say in the Death Blues video (above), “No one likes to think about death, yet how often do we really think about living?” How have you balanced the light/dark conceptually with this project and in your own life?

JM: The positivity is completely intentional. It’s what I would prefer to experience.

I had a good conversation about the name with some people yesterday. Yes, it does sound dark and some have even told me I should change it. But this was part of the New Orleans experience I had. The fact that we have a limited time implies a potential negative, and blues has historically been a way to not only address, but also cope, with negative situations. ‘Celebrate life’ might be a perfect translation for the name, but it lacks the urgency and heaviness of the situation I wanted to be more apparent.

AGB: How did you go from “I’m going to die” to “Life is beautiful?” How has being present impacted your life?

JM: Every moment is a chance to consider positive or negative elements. This project is a reminder for me to make more thoughtful considerations.

AGB: The site calls Death Blues a multidisciplinary project, incorporating performance, video, writing, etc, but it’s certainly seen as your project. How much of a hand do you have in each aspect? How have you chosen people to participate?

JM: I’m involved in most aspects of it, yet other people have taken an interest and simply wanted to be involved. Initially, there were a few people I had to make requests to contribute, and explain the scope of the project. Most of them got it and have continued to be involved. But as time goes on, the idea is resonating with people I hadn’t even talked to about it, and they’ve contributed in ways they might not even have intended.
 

June 23, Lilypad

 
AGB: How would you say the music relates to the theme of Death Blues? You mentioned in our conversation before that this is harder music than you normally play. Did you initially set out to make it heavier? Why have you chosen this sound to embody Death Blues? I appreciate you making death themed music without relying on the usual death or black metal sound, but was venturing into that style ever a consideration?

JM: The musical portion of the project will focus on acoustic instrumentation and voice in a variety of contexts. Some of it is very hard. Powerful sound can create a positive feeling, and that’s what I’ve always been drawn to. There will be a variety of recordings that will approach this in different ways.

AGB: What sort of physical releases will be involved? Records, obviously, but what about DVDs/books/etc? When will we be able to hear/see something?

JM: I don’t have specifics on this right now, but the goal is to communicate the idea through a variety of forms.

AGB: How long do you foresee Death Blues lasting? Is there something like an end goal for the project or for yourself to be reached? Do you think there’s potential for the project to expand in medium & participation or more honed in on a particular medium as time goes on?

JM: It will potentially last for many years. I am in advanced stages of a grant selection that would certainly help determine this if it comes through. If so, there are a lot of elements that will take place over that time – performances, group discussions, talks, film, books, and more. If not, I will do as much as I can with the project through my own means, for as long as I can.
 
Death Blues has a few performances in the works right now as “band only,” including a set at Hopscotch (see you there!?), and the full multidisciplinary experience takes over Milwaukee in November. Also, consider this an open invitation to talk death. I’m all for it.