Monday, August 31, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Solo album from Big Star singer Alex Chilton. In the vein of the Third/Sisters Lovers era so you know what to expect, a big ol' beatiful mess. It even includes a daring rendition of The Seeds' "Can't Seem To Make You Mine".
Thursday, August 27, 2009
The Digital Aesthete, defined.
"An intellectual pioneer as much as anything else, Akira Rabelais issued forth musical creations and inventions from his perch at CalArts. Born and raised in South Texas, one of his childhood pastimes involved shooting metal plates with bb guns so that he could experience the unique sound that it caused. That fascination with sound, combined with a philosophical and literary bent (his favorite surreal and magical realist snippets of literature are on his website, www.akirarabelais.com) helped lay the path for the musical creations he has been issuing since 1990 -- he describes himself as a "composer writing software, not an engineer making music." The software that Rabelais made reference to in that quote, or at least the most famous among his inventions was the Argeiphontes Lyre. With functions like Eviscerator Reanimator, Time Domain Mutation, Morphological Disintegration, Verwechslung Kaffeetass and The Lobster Quadrille, the Lyre was a program that allowed the user to make a number of alterations to a piece of pre-recorded sound. The program quickly became a favorite of electronic music composers such as Terre Thaemitz and Scanner, who used it to create disorientating sound shifts. Rabelais' own cd, Elongated Pentagonal Pyramid (Ritornell, 1999) showed the stamp of the Lyre, with its multiple layers of gently wavering sound . Eisotrophobia followed in spring 2001."
This album consists of piano pieces by Satie, Bartok and Carte, subtly processed and manipulated by Argeïphontes Lyre. Magnificent results follow. BTW, eisoptrophobia means "fear of mirrors".
Nadja (Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff) are Doomgazers, uniting the navelgazing aesthetic of the most solipsistic shoegaze to the crushing Doom atmospherics of Khanate and early Cathedral. The result is sheer miasmic beauty.
"Deep beneath the layers of the “business as usual” fuzz and gloom of Canada’s favorite doom-drone outfit Nadja lies the key ingredient to the success of their latest full-length album: straight up emotion.
2008’s Desire In Uneasiness contains all new material (following a string of reissues and re-recorded CD-R titles of older material) and is released in a beautiful gatefold jacket by Crucial Blast Records. As a departure from Nadja’s previous electronic beat-driven releases, Desire… features Jakob Thiesen on live drums, which has helped further Nadja’s musical explorations from incessant to existential. The fresh live atmosphere on this record has helped core members Aidan Baker and Leah Buckareff reach new sonic heights and implement a newly found emotional core, which sets this record apart from previous releases.
For a lack of a better word, this album is simply beautiful. Nadja blend hypnotic crash-rhythms with an almost jazzy decadence, delivered in a way that is utterly enthralling to listen to. The dirty fuzz-bass orchestration of Aidan and Leah adds bleak familiarity over a mound of hopeful subtext. And though they may never make another record like this again, Nadja have definitely embraced their honesty, stubbornness, patience, and reluctant beauty.
“Disambiguation”, the album opener, is an elegiac lament that slowly sets the tone for the procession to follow. Nadja seamlessly guide us through their thematic on-record development, as they slowly inject their synthesis and expression. Tracks on Desire In Uneasiness range from seven to eighteen minute suites, filled with dense ambient-doom sludge, and while past Nadja records have included vocals, this release intelligently remains instrumental. This helps keep the focus on some of the most interesting soundscape work to date. I can’t stress how good of a Nadja record this actually is. A defiant “must-have” for any true fan of the group, or anyone interested in the genre(s) altogether.
There is no question that this release, and all other previous Nadja efforts, is an acquired taste. Those who like it REALLY like it, and those who don’t… well, it’s pretty safe to say that Nadja will do just fine without you. Desire In Uneasiness made a believer out of me!"- Justin Gray
"If awesome were a word, and life were worth living, then this band would be amazing. Well awesome is a word, and life for the most part is worth living, so this band fucking rocks. Los Angeles is where they call home, but their music feels so different from the sun and warmth of their surroundings. They create eerie masterpieces that bring about feelings of nostalgia. It makes me want to play with a Ouija board while eating ice cream with sprinkles or walk my dog into the middle of the woods and tell it a ghost story. I can only suggest listening to their music the way in which I first did. Go to your room right now. Turn off all the lights. If you have any plants in your house please drag them into your room (this will enhance the experience). Now sit back and let the music overwhelm you. Get ready to see everything that haunted you as a child. Then be prepared to love it, for you will be dancing and playing Candyland with all your fears in mere seconds. God bless?" - FATHER HUMMINGBIRD from BLACK MOTH SUPER RAINBOW
weird is good.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I suddenly realized there hasn't been a Birthday Party album posted here, an inexplicable phenomenon I soon had to correct. You know the drill.
"It should come as no surprise that there is an album in Nick Cave's oeuvre called Prayers on Fire; a fascination with the dark, (self-)destructive side of religion is more than evident in his later work with the Bad Seeds. While there might not be any of the explicit Biblical imagery on Prayers on Fire and finally concluding with the berserk plea, "Oh! God! Please let me die beneath her fists." Meanwhile, that Cave would later ejaculate, the title of the album is apt, and its aptness is revealed almost immediately. Over the tribal thud of floor toms, shards of trebly guitar, the throb of an organ, and even a creepily out-of-place trumpet come the possessed, chant-like vocals -- not an incantation to any god, but to "Zoo-Music Girl." It's the religion of depraved sexuality, bestial urges, and sadomasochism. "We spend our lives in a box full of dirt/I murder her dress till it hurts/I murder her dress and she loves it," howls Cave, echoing Leonard Cohen. Cave sounds like he's actually being assaulted by the music, emitting horrific gasps and primitive grunts. And this is only the first track. On the next two tracks, language itself is violated and found inadequate. Words collapse upon themselves in "Cry," with Cave tossing out self-annihilating binaries like "space/no space," "fish/no fish," "clothes/no clothes," and "flesh/no flesh." On "Capers," penned by Genevieve McGuckin, semantics are made into sausage -- words are chewed up and regurgitated as warped neologisms: "gloomloom," "clocklock," "paperparrent," "diehood." The lyrics for "Figure of Fun" aren't even printed in the booklet; instead, merely "obsessive, deadpan, moribund, seasick, etc." And perhaps that best sums up Prayers on Fire's graveyard poetry. The rest of the album is a subterranean labyrinth full of "sand and soot and dust and dirt," peopled by bizarre characters like Nick the Stripper and King Ink, and replete with images of murder, decay, blood, and Kafka-esque insects. Then, of course, there's Cave himself, the literate ghoul with an impressive vocal range who just stepped out of a B horror flick, trying to parry the intensity of the music like an Iggy Pop wasted on goth pills. But be careful not to overlook his subtle sense of humor and his awareness of the camp -- there are also chickens to be counted, nuns inside his head, and Fats Domino on the radio. With Mick Harvey being the only future Bad Seed on hand (Anita Lane also contributed one set of lyrics), the music here foreshadows Cave's later work without quite resembling it (with the exception of his first album). The Birthday Party are closer to Joy Division (only more theatrical), the Pop Group (only spookier), or Pere Ubu (only more percussive). Though present on most of the tracks, the moody piano that would dominate much of Cave's solo work is never really prominent here. Instead it's the squiggles of Rowland Howard's guitar dodging the blows of the furious rhythm section that distinguishes the Birthday Party. Oppressive and unrelenting, Prayers on Fire is highly recommended for those aspiring to advanced states of dementia." - G Maurer
Sound Art Papi!
This is Devendra's second album on Michael Gira's Young God Records. It was also produced by Gira himself. The sound is bit more polished than on Oh Me Oh My and Devendra's songwriting is in top shape. He was also 23 when he recorded this. It makes you feel like you haven't accomplished shit.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Yet another amazing 2007 release.
"This is an essential document by one of America's most original and inventive unaccompanied guitarists
working today. "While My Guitar Violently Bleeds" is a splendid three piece gem in which the good Sir
branches out & nods to points west, east & otherworldly. Classic spaghetti western tinged spidery fretwork
("Zurvan"), Fushitsusha style feedback drenched psych decay ("Smashana") and a brilliant lengthy raga
epic ("Mahavidya") round out the proceedings by the Sun City Girls master musician."
"Bishop creates abstract and dissonant fingerstyle webs that evoke those famous LSD experiments with spiders and he stretches
out in long raga-influenced improvisations that accelerate into flatpicked furies." -Acoustic Guitar
i'm so smart now
Been gone for about a month...
Time to start posting music more frequently.
This is a great album by Marc Ribot based on Zorn's Masada songbook. Raw and abrasive, Ribot blazes with his overdriven guitar.
i am the iron(ic) man
Monday, August 24, 2009
For Howard. One of the greatest albums of the 70s, lost in the ozone but recently reappraised. Simon's truly wyrd folk embellished by the feverish improvisations of experimental musicians and instrument builders David Toop and Paul Burwell.
"Released in the hazy crossfade of the late-’60s burn-out and the early-’70s tribal pyres, Simon Finn’s debut album Pass the Distance has long languished in obscurity. Put out by Vic Keary’s ill-fated Mushroom Records in 1970, it was yanked off shelves almost immediately due to some legal wrangles resulting in an extremely accelerated record store half-life. In the next three decades, it was resurrected in dodgy bootleg likenesses or prohibitively expensive original mints. All the while its composer made his way from London to Montreal, taught karate and only now has begun work on its follow-up. Thanks to the enthusiasm of Current 93’s David Tibet and his Durtro label, Finn’s troubled LP has finally been issued on CD, remastered and explained via various liner essays from Tibet, Keary, Finn himself and his collaborator David Toop.
Though he may not possess the same barbituric dexterity and unfettered invention of Syd Barrett, Finn is a fellow dark globe sage in an era of folkie sprites and gonzo longhairs. And much like Barrett’s two shambolic solo LPs – the seminal self-portrait-in-a- melting-mirror The Madcap Laughs and its follow-up, the overcompensating, quasi-narcoleptic Barrett – perhaps the definitive trait of Pass the Distance is its skeletal eccentricity. Songs lurch through psycho-ward strums accompanied by campfire third-eye improvisations. Even the two sides of the album’s cover – a lightly abstracted picture of a scrappy pair walking on a forest pathway headed to the horizon as seen from behind and its psychedelic flip-image with the two figures’ faces exploding in mask-like grimaces as the space around them flares with dreamstate hallucinations – suggests the slow crumble of liminal partitions.
Wizards, mermaids and the requisite metaphorical fauna may crop up in Finn’s lyrics, but his words mostly ring with vague bleakness made even more desperate by the singer’s absinthe-drunk channeling of Tim Buckley’s range. In near epileptic bursts Finn shatters his damaged serenading for phlegm-laden sturm und drang croaks and gasps, most notably in the album’s centerpiece – and dealmaker for Tibet – “Jerusalem.” A post-hippy mantra that swells from threadbare melancholy to caustic fervor with Finn incanting a “dropout”/”political revolutionary” Jesus who rode a lame donkey and lives on in the worship of “200 million hypocrites.” On this and the rest of Pass the Distance’s compositions, the scrawled hieroglyphic trim is provided by Paul Burwell’s ably fluid percussion and Toop’s loose dawdling on various instruments, many he was never trained on. The music-scribe-to-be’s scrapes, drones and various other freeform skiffle expertly preludes the dissections and mystical trawls that was to come from Nurse With Wound to the Jewelled Antler collective.
Mixed with maximum panning, as was de rigueur, and often warbling in an echoplexed ether, Pass the Distance is more than an unearthed relic from yesteryear’s endtimes. With the exception of the four “bonus” tracks tacked on to the CD – the shrill histrionics of “Children’s Eye” and soft-pedal pop of “Good Morning,” both sides of a projected 7”, along with solo takes on two unremarkable early Finn tunes – these 10 frayed yarns still merit study and genuflection." - Bernardo Roundeau
Note: This is not the Durtro reissue, but an earlier import from the 90s.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Abe requested some Ry Cooder so here's his first solo album, still one of his best ever in my opinion. More Ry coming soon.
"Already a seasoned music business veteran at the age of 22, Ry Cooder stepped out from behind the shadows of the likes of Jackie DeShannon, Taj Mahal, the Rolling Stones, and Captain Beefheart, signing his own deal with Warner Brothers records in 1969. Released the following year, Cooder's eponymous debut creates an intriguing fusion of blues, folk, rock & roll, and pop, filtered through his own intricate, syncopated guitar; Van Dyke Parks and Lenny Waronker's idiosyncratic production; and Parks and Kirby Johnson's string arrangements. And while he's still finding his feet as a singer, Cooder puts this unique blend across with a combination of terrific songs, virtuosic playing, and quirky, yet imaginative, arrangements. For material, Cooder, the son of folklorist parents, unearths ten gems -- spanning six decades dating back to the 1920s -- by legends such as Woody Guthrie, Blind Blake, Sleepy John Estes, and Leadbelly, as well as a current Randy Newman composition. Still, as great as his outside choices are, it's the exuberant charm of his own instrumental "Available Space" that nearly steals the show. Its joyful interplay between Cooder's slide, Van Dyke Parks' music hall piano, and the street-corner drumming creates a piece that is both loose and sophisticated. If "Available Space" is the record's most playful moment, its closer, "Dark Is the Night," is the converse, with Cooder's stark, acoustic slide extracting every ounce of torment from Blind Willie Johnson's mournful masterpiece. Some of the eccentric arrangements may prove to be a bit much for both purists and pop audiences alike, but still, Cooder's need to stretch, tempered with a reverence for the past, helps to create a completely original work that should reward adventurous listeners." - B. Hartenbach
give them a try.
More Marc for Abe. Ribot Solo on guitar, including far-ranging explorations of well-known standards.
"Like Thelonius, Ribot knows just how and when to play the right wrong notes. What on paper could appear as a mawkishly sentimental bunch of songs turns out to be nothing short of a triumph. Saints is a magnificent solo guitar outing guaranteed to satisfy the fans but with enough substance to stand the test of time." - Signal To Noise
Abelardo request. 10 Ribot compositions venturing more into 20th century avant garde.
"Marc Ribot's first entry in Tzadik's Modern Composer series allows him to further expand on an already wildly eclectic body of work. Several of the pieces are akin to film cues, more to evoke a mood than anything else. "Our Daily Bread" and "Batialle" are fairly Shrek-like and supply a large portion of the noise quotient for the album. Contrast those with the title cut, which sounds more like chamber music. The high points are probably the album centerpieces, "Pennies From Hell" and "Geese." "Pennies From Hell" is a slightly spooky piece, anchored by a somewhat percussive bass pattern and sparse piano chords with Ribot (using a very queasy tone) and Jill Jaffe (on violin) repeating and elaborating on a descending figure over the top. "Geese" is quite a showcase for Ned Rothenberg on clarinet and bass clarinet, a fabulous piece that's something like minimalism with a sense of humor. Rothenberg's performance on this one is amazing: circular breathing, tongue slaps, and some of the finest goose imitations you're likely to hear. All clarinet and strings, "Geese" really makes the case for Ribot the composer. Taken as a whole, Scelsi Morning is not really an easy listen (although a couple of the tracks are wonderful), but it certainly is impressive." - Sean Westegaard
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
I've always heard people talk about how listening to The Smiths depresses them, but to me at least its quite the opposite. A great live album from an equally great band, but that really goes without saying.
Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body?
Thursday, August 20, 2009
For Abelardo, who doesn't even remember the name of the album I burned for him many moons ago (I'm pretty sure it was Slaves' Mass, but I could be wrong). Anyway, here's more of the supreme Brazilian Dementor, Hermeto Pascoal.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I can't think of one without the other, because they:
A. collaborate on each others work,
B. They are prime examples of a paradox known as "Intelligent Hip Hop"
C. They're cool as shit.
EL-P, also known as El Producto is a renown NYC Hip Hop rapper & producer which jump-started the label Def Jux which included Cannibal Ox. He started off as a member of the infamous group Company Flow.
"El-P's style can be characterized by his dense, aggressive, and verbose attacks, which include notable use of metaphor, science fiction and fantasy themes and references, and associative word play. Critic Steve Huey describes him as "one of the most technically gifted MCs of his time, spitting out near-impossible phrases and rhythmic variations that simply leave the listener's head spinning."
I'll sleep when you're dead.
Aesop Rock was one of the first acts signed to the Def Jux label. Oft compared to lyrical masters like Kool Keith. He also has Science Fiction influence and a dumbfoundingly fast delivery. Just check out 2:43 in the next video and you'll know what I mean.
"It’s probably because it’s not the most accessible music in the world. It may pose a slight challenge to the listener beyond your average pop song. I'm no genius by a long shot, but these songs are not nonsensical, that's pretty preposterous. I'd have to be a genius to pull this many nonsensical records over people's eyes. It's not exactly fast food but when people pretend I'm just spewing non-sequiturs and gibberish I can’t help but think they simply haven’t listened and are regurgitating some rumor they’ve heard about me. Even if it's not laid out in perfect sentences—is any rap?—you’d have to be an idiot to not at least grasp a few things from these songs. Or have had no interest in pulling anything from them in the first place."
None Shall Pass.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Whatever happened to these japanese distortoworshippers? They fell off the face of the earth after their two wonderful, crushing releases (as far as I know).
"Xinlisupreme are a duo from Japan, but they play some of the wildest surf-guitar instrumentals this side of 1960s USA. "Kyoro" kicks off with an incredibly raw drumbeat, pummeling you like countrymen High Rise at their worst. The guitar builds up sizzling feedback, then unleashes a firestorm as a blood-curdling scream tears from your speakers. It almost sounds like heavy metal, but the theatrics that follow pull the ripcord, decelerating into fun, anthemic riffage. The group manages to make low fidelity an almost religious virtue later on "Under a Clown", with electric surges careening around the rattling drums and the sudden appearance of an abused piano being pounded.
Hailing from Oita, Japan, Xinlisupreme's dreamy synth-pop comes as quite a surprise. Yasumi Okano and Takayuki Shouji conjure up dust from dance clubs of the 80s, evoking dirty, fog-cloaked backrooms. "All You Need is Love Was Not True" thumps through eight minutes of flat drum machine beats, the dull thud masking the half-mumbled attempts to sing that float through the mix. The patterns reassure, never boring, just guiding the body out onto the floor. Not so with the wavering synth-static of "Amaryllis", but the repetitive motif creates a ritualized aura, enhanced by the duo's strange chanting. The drama continues on "Fatal Sisters Opened Umbrella", which drives from a gothic groove straight into the heart of the cathedral itself, with insane blasts like pipe organs soaring upwards.
Think you've heard it all? Xinlisupreme make you hear it all at once. This mad twosome from the Far East cuts some of the nastiest noise-rock since the Birthday Party. "You Died in the Sea" begins with Einstürzende beat-boxing, like anvils clanging on cold metal. Without warning, the guitars snarl, shredding the song open in a vortex of distortion and drones. The group isn't all hard edges, though; "Suzu", in particular, with its hazy mesh of soundwaves, will have you thumbing through your shoegazer glossary for acronyms like 'FSA' and 'MBV'. Likewise, "I Drew a Picture of Myself" paints perfect balance between shimmering airiness and barbed aggression, and features some of the grungiest basslines since Gish.
Forget titles like 'power electronics' or 'sonic terrorism'-- Xinlisupreme rain down slabs of pure noise from on high. Keep countrymen Merzbow and Masonna in mind, but also think of Unit Records beatmongers Gridlock and Dryft. "Goodbye for All" matches the snowy grainscapes of the former with the latter's electronic percussion, resulting in a cyclone of pulsing stabs and shrieking pitchshifts. Like most masters of the extreme, the duo show mercy, thankfully, and the piece relents with an ambient midsection that calms before the storm ensues again. Though the sketch only lasts two minutes, "Symmetry" remains particularly unsettling as it builds into a thicket of piercing nettles, reminding more of the phantasmagoric clouds conjured by Ah Cama-Sotz.
It should be obvious by now, but I'll say it outright: Xinlisupreme are all these things. It's become a cliché these days to describe a band from Japan as 'wild' or 'crazy', but the evidence is right up in your face, kicking your teeth in. Don't think about genre-hopping trend-setters-- Okano and Shouji blend these styles together with demented glee. What you get is an hour's worth of helter-skelter sonic invention, lacking any coherent center. This mania is their virtue, making for one of the year's most unpredictable albums, and a damn fine debut. It's also their weakness. Am I being too critical? Imagine the Boredoms ten years back, and where they've come since. Xinlisupreme are only beginning to rock." - Christopher DareIkebana
Gottsching's travels through the eye of Shiva (whose gaze enlightens but also desiccates).
"The years 1972-1973 saw head Ash Ra Manuel Gottsching translating his heady psychedelic visions with two different Ash Ra Tempel lineups. With the departure of founding member Klaus Schulze in 1971, the group's lineup would remain in near-constant flux. Indeed, aside from Gottsching, the only constant on Schwingugen and Seven Up (the group's second and third albums, respectively), is original bassist/guitarist Hartmut Enke. Residing on the darker side of '60s psychedelia, these releases were portents of the darker decade that was just beginning. With hindsight, Schwingungen (1972) feels like the most fully realized of the pair, synthesizing the group's rock, electronic, and psychedelic/spiritual influences for genuinely chilling results. The astral blues drift of album opener "Look at Your Sun" comes to a head one track later with "Flowers Must Die." The song is a demonic, train-like blur built around a terrifying vocal performance from John L.; his guttural wail bathed, then submerged, in a wash of effects. The song is followed by the epic set closer "Suche Liebe," which builds from a desolate electronic landscape to a ghostly space rock mantra. For Schwingungen's successor, Seven Up, the Gottsching/Enke core is expanded to an octet through guest musicians and post-session overdubs. This group of instrumentalists is also joined by a series of vocalists, among them cult figure Timothy Leary, who adds spoken word on a number of tracks. The results aren't nearly as convincing however, capturing the group at the far reaches of their intergalactic travels. Regardless, Schwingungen is possibly the finest statement Ash Ra Tempel made before Gottsching dropped the name to embark on an officially solo trek in 1975." - Nathan Bush
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Before Ice, Techno Animal, Isolationism and The Bug, there was GOD. Check out that line-up.
"Some songs here have titles like "Lord, I'm on My Way" and "Love," but anyone expecting something close to Spiritualized might well run away screaming. God's first full studio album, recorded with the help of such similarly minded souls as Sweet Tooth drummer Scott Kiehl and Russell Smith, sometime guitarist with Terminal Cheesecake and Skullflower, found the band firmly established in its aggro-jazz ways. The influence of both early-'70s Miles Davis and later exponents of free-form playing is clear, helped along even further by the appearance of John Zorn on three tracks. Martin's own squalling sax work finds plenty of room to go nuts in, evil drones and edgy roars an integral part of the compositions, matched just as closely by his shouted, heavily treated singing style. That gives an indication about an equal forebear, Black Sabbath and trudging doom metal -- Possession first and foremost is heavy, crushing all before it in a slow, steady fashion (a notable exception being the faster but still virulent "Hate Meditation"). Broadrick's participation alone might confirm that much to an outside listener, but instead of the focused obsession of Godflesh, God hit the groove a touch more loosely, thanks to Kiehl and fellow drummer Lou Ciccotelli's work in place of a drum machine. Check their starting beats (accentuated a bit by samples from Martin) on "Return to Hell," a sign they know how to swing in their own way. For all the feedback, the guitars aren't the most prominent instrument, Broadrick slotting alongside the various horn players (including sax/clarinet player Tim Hodgkinson and sax/didgeridoo performer Steve Blake) and bassists in the thick morass of the songs. Kudos as well to pianist Peter Kraut, who adds some good parts to songs like "Soul Fire." There are some quieter, spare moments, notably the church-bell sample start of "Black Jesus" -- otherwise, it's a full ensemble approach that won't surprise anyone who loves On the Corner." - Ned Raggett
some varied listening styles for headroom psycobonanza.
"A resident of the West Midlands, England,Stephen Wilkinson developed a passion for experimental music during his time at Middlesex University in London, where he studied "sonic arts". He developed his own style of music, drawing from contemporary experimental bands such as Boards of Canada, and incorporating field recordings and found sounds. Electronically modified guitar melodies and droning synthesizer sounds are a recurring theme in his pieces, causing many people to label his music as a hybrid of electronica or intelligent dance music and traditional folk music. His music has recently been licensed for commercial campaigns by L.L. Bean and Toyota."
gimme all the flowers!
Friday, August 7, 2009
Long forgotten and hugely underrated, except by me :-)
"Evolved from early-'80s Chicago-to-New York transplants the Bag People (whose one undistributed 45 was seemingly pressed solely for the jukebox at their local Brooklyn bar), guitarist Carolyn Master reassembled Of Cabbages and Kings in 1985 from parts scattered to Swans, Foetus, Glenn Branca, etc. Playing only sporadically due to their outside commitments, they gradually coalesced into a focused unit, although Ted Parsons bailed out after the second record (for his fulltime group Prong) to be replaced by ex-Live Skull/Ruin drummer Rich Hutchins (also now departed); Diane Wlezien, still a Chi-based blues chanteuse, remains a cameo vocalist both live and on record. Effectively, the core of OCAK is the duo of Master and bassist/singer Algis Kizys (a Swan and sometime Branca associate) plus a drummer.
Decidedly unprolific and rare to perform, OCAK's highly visceral attack is founded on a vivid technical mastery owing little to the commonly revered tenets of speed and/or flash, instead conjuring a brutal, primal power and intensity virtually unmatched in modern music, with Kizys' bone-rattling semi-chorded playing rendering most contemporary rhythms effete, even as Master's guitar shards swirl about the edges like razors in a tornado.
Of Cabbages and Kings delivers a dizzying panorama of dark surrealistic desire and fear — both in sound and lyric — the latter including a soundtracked snippet of Baudelaire. The seven-song Face delves deeper into the group's grueling, obsessive world, stretching the music into less predictable shapes and ingesting piano and accordion while reintroducing Master as a vocalist. Comparatively quiet in spots but no less redolent of dis/unease, it (like the first record) includes radical updates of Bag People material, reinterpreted in Cabbage style as paranoid introspection, more like the ruminations of a self-loathing rape victim than the simpleminded lurid voyeurism so common in deathmetal and elsewhere. Two of the eight songs on Basic Pain Basic Pleasure were previously issued on a 45 and a compilation; what the album lacks in length it more than makes up in breadth, offering the band's crispest (if not most physically imposing) production and arrangements, as well as increased variety of approach. Hutchins is neither as creative nor as aggressively captivating a drummer as Parsons, but songs like the moody, guitarless "Crawl Again" illustrate yet more facets of a band too facilely dismissed as "mere" New York noisemongers." - Art Black
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Julee's debut, produced by Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch.
"Hardcore David Lynch fans knew the album cut "Mysteries of Love" thanks to its appearance in the middle of Blue Velvet but otherwise, Julee Cruise and her singing abilities were total unknowns when Floating into the Night surfaced in 1990. When Twin Peaks took off, however, the album became more or less its unofficial soundtrack thanks to the instrumental adaptation of "Falling" that served as the theme song. Other cuts, like the haunting, moody "Into the Night," and "Rockin' Back Inside My Heart" turned up on the show as well; but as a beautiful, mysterious stand-alone effort, Floating is still that best of surprises, a left-field hit that loses nothing thanks to its fame. The combination of Cruise's sweet, light tones, Lynch's surprisingly affecting lyrics, which play just enough with clichés so as not to seem willfully ironic, and Angelo Badalamenti's combination of retro styles and modern ambience, is a winner throughout. The feeling is one of a '50s jukebox suddenly plunged into a time warp, dressed with extra sparkle and with a just-sleepy-enough, narcotic feeling. At its most upfront, the music can get downright raunchy -- check out the big band/sax blasts on the strutting tearjerker "Rockin' Back Inside My Heart," or the sudden orchestral blast three minutes into "Into the Night." Cruise herself has a wonderfully slow, burning passion that surfaces as well, such as in her whispers on "Floating." But mostly everything is just sedate enough, crystalline rockabilly guitar playing gentle riffs with a slow slinkiness, Cruise's multi-tracked backing vocals and more combining beautifully. "Falling" remains the most well-known number, and a winner it is, too; Badalamenti's synth orchestrations are so affecting that Moby ended up sampling them for "Go," kickstarting his own career. But songs like the just-spooky-enough "The World Spins," and "The Nightingale," with a great performance all around, ensure Floating's success as a through-and-through listen." - Ned Raggett