Wednesday, March 31, 2010
In this one Boredoms open your third eye and drive across it like a multicolored U-Boat with Kundalini Torpedoes.
"That’s why listening to Super Æ is such an incredibly fulfilling experience. Everything is placed right where it should be; the spurts of noise, the swells of distortion, even Eye’s wails are dead on every time. The Boredoms have always been proficient with their timing, but it was in a different way on their earlier records. It was about banging a drum in the right place to create maximum entertainment for the listener. Or letting go a monstrous riff after an extended silence for just the right sense of humorous contrast. With Super Æ, it’s something far grander; it’s about forming a masterpiece through unexpected turns, colossal dynamics, and masterful song development.
“Super You” opens the album with a barrier of feedback that screeches unbearably. About a minute into the song, the guitars launch in, beginning the album and predicting its magnitude with their tremendous force. Things build up for a few minutes as the feedback that commenced the track is manipulated and interposed in small portions over the guitars, but the song really hits its stride when, reaching the climax near the seven-minute mark, the noise drops out and a Can-influenced groove sets in. And here the album really begins. Here, we’re introduced to the new Boredoms. The more focused, more meticulous, more ambitious Boredoms.
“Super Are” is the album’s best example of their more focused song development, despite covering more territory than any other band could hope to comprehend. The laid-back, heavily Kraut Rock-influenced keyboards that open the track give way to tribal drums and chanting after a few minutes, and from there, two guitar chords dominate over Eye’s moans. It’s about five minutes in that we see why The Boredoms are just about the greatest band in the world, though, as the drums kick in and Eye lets loose the most fearsome howl imaginable before the song turns to chaos. It’s all done with such incredible precision, while at the same time inviting, no, demanding listeners to participate in fierce, out of control head banging, that it just seems unnatural.
“Super Going” may be the album’s highlight, defining why I love the Boredoms better than any other song of theirs. Despite its twelve-and-a-half-minute length, the song (or at least, the first two parts of the song) is constructed around only two chords. Played far apart, these two chords accompany Eye’s unintelligible vocals and a long, rotating list of sound effects. The song diminishes about a third of the way through, before reappearing at a much faster tempo and a much higher volume. From here, it continues in the same manner until about two-thirds of the way through the song, in one of the album’s defining moments. The drums pause and skip for a couple seconds, and something completely different emerges. The two chords are abandoned, and the Boredoms rock out to a new tune. After the eight-and-a-half minutes of sublime repetition, the Boredoms hit you with something altogether unexpected at just the right moment. It’s the most blissful thing imaginable.
“Super Coming” and “Super Are You” are the most traditional Boredoms tracks on the album. The former wells up in anticipation for a couple minutes, then attacks with the album’s most powerful, most unearthly onslaught of guitars. The band contributes inimitable vocals here; wild, caveman-like chanting that affirms the primordial, yet transcendental nature of the song. That the Boredoms keep this up for almost ten minutes seems nearly impossible, but sure enough, they do. Surprisingly, a calm, even relaxing outro finishes the song before it transitions into the sharp bleeps that commence “Super Are You”. The only song to feature the randomness of their earliest releases, the first few minutes of “Super Are You” recall their Pop Tatari material through vibrant keyboards, playful harmonics, chirping sound effects, unusual percussion, and most of all, vigorous screaming. When an extended vocal sample enters, however, the song takes a decidedly different turn, becoming very spacious and quite subdued. For the rest of the song’s duration, swirling keyboards gradually die and the vocal sample becomes increasingly lethargic.
“Super Shine” is what the Boredoms are building up to throughout the album. The chugging guitar riff and disturbingly high single note that intimidate the listeners at first give way to a simple melody, one that soon becomes the album’s peak. As the band donates backup chanting to a squealing guitar, the song rises to an unconquerable enormousness. The band takes several different approaches to the same melody throughout the song’s near 13-minute length, and each one carries the album even higher, even further away from any sense of reality. As the chanting hits the climax, the album reaches its full glory, and a sense of satiating completion overcomes the listener. Thankfully, we are given a beautiful respite with “Super Good”, the album’s closer (or epilogue, as I see it), and the song’s dreaminess allows us to meditate over the splendor that we have just witnessed.
It is a splendor that is unique to Super Æ, an album that succeeds in its amazing ambition more than any album since The Beatles. It’s almost pointless to say that Super Æ is a wonderful progression from the Boredoms’ previous releases, or an incredible achievement, or even a masterpiece; the album is as inspiring as art gets. The Boredoms did more than perfect their sound with Super Æ, they did more than create an entirely new sound with their old one, they did more than create a monumental album. They created a timeless piece of music. " - Kareem Stefan
Ex-Screaming Trees frontman, collaborator with everybody from Isobel Campbell to Soulsavers, hell-raising booze-drenched raconteur, and perennial favorite of the Isabela-Camuy-Arecibo axis of drunkenness. Raise your glass.
"Mark Lanegan's first solo album, 1990's The Winding Sheet, was a darker, quieter, and more emotionally troubling affair than what fans were accustomed to from his work as lead singer with the Screaming Trees. The follow-up album, 1994 's Whiskey for the Holy Ghost, used The Winding Sheet's sound and style as a starting point, with Lanegan and producer/instrumentalist Mike Johnson constructing resonant but low-key instrumental backdrops for the singer's tales of heartbreak, alcohol, and dashed hopes. While The Winding Sheet often sounded inspired but tentative, like the solo project from a member of an established band, Whiskey for the Holy Ghost speaks with a quiet but steely confidence of an artist emerging with his own distinct vision. The songs are more literate and better realized than on the debut, the arrangements are subtle and supportive (often eschewing electric guitars for keyboards and acoustic instruments), and Lanegan's voice, bathed in bourbon and nicotine, transforms the deep sorrow of the country blues (a clear inspiration for this music) into something new, compelling, and entirely his own. Whiskey for the Holy Ghost made it clear that Mark Lanegan had truly arrived as a solo artist, and it ranks alongside American Music Club's Everclear as one of the best "dark night of the soul" albums of the 1990s. " - Mark Deming
L & M
More divine sonic detritus from Master Jeck. Enjoy.
"With its acrobatic athleticism and penchant for charming gimmicks, in all likelihood HipHop will indefinitely dominate the field of turntablism. Even record-spinning abstractionists like Christian Marclay and Martin Tetrault, who may not always share HipHop's necessity for the beat, put on flashy demonstrations that engage the machismo of technique, alongside their critically minded recombinations of cultural readymades. While Philip Jeck's performances, installations, and recordings have centred around his arsenal of turntables (at last count, he was up to 180 antique Dansette record players, though more normally he performs on two or three, and a minidisc recorder), he isn't terribly interested in the contemporary discourse of turntablism, preferring to coax a haunted impressionism with those tools. However as a calculating improvisor, he shares affinities with the turntable community. Once he is in control of the overall context of the music, he leaves much to the spontaneous reaction towards sound at any given moment. A typical Jeck composition moves at an incredibly lethargic pace through a series of looped drone tracks caught in the infinities of multiple locked grooves. As he prefers to use old records on his antique turntables, the inevitable surface noise crackles into gossamer rhythms of pulsating hiss. Occasionally, Jeck intercedes in his ghostly bricolage with a slowly rotated foreground element - a disembodied voice, a melody, or simply a fragment of non-specific sound - which spirals out of focus through a warm bath of delay. For almost ten years now, Jeck has been developing this methodology, building up to Stoke, his strongest work to date. Its opening passages are on a par with his Vinyl Coda series, with Jeck effortlessly transforming grizzled surface noise into languid atmosphere.But Stoke really gets going with the breathtakingly simple construction of Pax, upon which Jeck overlays an aerated Ambient wash with the time-crawling repetition of a single crescendo from an unknown female blues singer. By downpitching her voice from the intended 78 rpm to 16 rpm, he amplifies its emotional tenor by making her drag out her impassioned declarations of misery far longer than is humanly possibly. The effect is just beautiful. Philip Jeck has always been good, but Stoke makes him great." - Jim Haynes
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
"Arto Lindsay has made a lifelong habit of crossing both geographical and musical borders. Born in the United States and raised in Brazil during the heyday of that country's pointedly eclectic Tropicália movement of the 1960s, the multi-faceted songwriter/producer/vocalist/guitarist has forged an international reputation as an artist whose work is as seductive as it is challenging. From his late ‘70s recordings of abrasive “no wave” through his acclaimed series of solo albums beginning in the late ‘90s, Lindsay has bonded rhythms and melodies from diverse cultures and genres in provocative new ways, crafting inimitable soundscapes whose impact can range from fragile pop pleasure to sheer sonic assault."
"Seemingly far from the chaotic no wave of DNA, Arto Lindsay continues his explorations into the subtleties of Brazilian pop music. Throughout Invoke, avant-gardisms bubble just below the surface in strange loops and weird drumbeats, occasionally finding their way to the top (such as on "In the City That Reads"). Lindsay fuses the ideas of the art pop of David Byrne with the haunting samples of Soul Coughing's Mark de Gli Antoni. The result is a magical, atmospheric disc that is ambient in its effect with enough surface-level tension to keep the listener engaged. It is undoubtedly mood music. The only problem might be in finding the proper situation in which to listen to the disc. It's a bit too mellow for party listening and perhaps a bit too bright for late-night contemplation. It might be best suited for dusk on a summer evening, letting it provide the transition into darkness."
I feel like the embodiment of a Lindsay song.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Experimental rock stalwarts led by Bill Kellum, founder of one of the best labels around, VHF (look 'em up and buy everything you can from them). The Doldrums conjure drifting waves of spectral psychedelia, in which even the more aggressive parts sound draped in audio velvet. Pure bliss.
"Doldrums' second full release on VHF resembles its first in that the slightly wiggier side of the group emerges along with the serene, powerful drone compositions -- as can be seen a touch from the start, with "X-Ray Me, Bert" combining both some lovely feedback and a weird, clattering initial rhythm. The same guiding spirit of the band persists as always, exploring generally lengthy songs via instrumental improvisation and occasional vocal work, but not much. A slight variation in approach comes via the structuring of the album's two longest tracks, "Left in an Airport Gift Shop" and "Ascending Copper Mountain." The songs are mastered and listed in the liner notes as three separate pieces each, blended together as one long affair. "Left in an Airport Gift Shop" starts with a shorter, more typical performance before sliding into the second part, a stripped-down affair with softly plucked and strummed guitar and varying percussion chimes and drums. The final part, the lengthiest, hits a steady trance groove initially, then turns into a great, extended run of processed, shimmering guitar before returning to the beat in a truly epic if still calm mode. It's fantastic, probably the band's best individual moment to date. "Ascending Copper Mountain" picks up exactly where that ends, with soft vocals adding to the bright, surging flow of the music, a lovely rise up and up, living up to the song's name. The first part then slowly evolves into a martial drum-tinged drone-and-float, turning into the similarly ambient second section before concluding with a final extended combination of haunting tones and shimmers over a vast depth. Pretentious? Not when presented so well -- and besides, how can anyone label a group pretentious when it has a song to wrap things up called "Come Back, Lao Tzu"?- N. Raggett
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
One of the finest of Cleveland's rich, intense proto-punk menagerie. "Drano In your Veins" is a classic life-affirming anthem.
"The Styrenes are precursors to many of the precursors of the bands that you are listening to now. They have their origins in the burgeoning 70's Cleveland scene that spawned such classic bands as Pere Ubu & Dead Boys. Indicative of this incestuous family of Cleveland bands, the Styrenes were founded by The Electric Eels' Paul Marotta & Mirrors' Jamie Klimek, with an amalgam of attending musicians: Jim Jones (Pere Ubu), John Morton (Electric Eels), Anton Fier (Golden Palominos, Lounge Lizards), Mike Hudson (Pagans). With a style best described as jazzy agro-pop, the Styrenes were a bit "off," a bit too weird, even by CLE standards, kind of like Syd Barret backed by Pavement. Including "Drano In Your Veins" (truly one of the best songs you'll hear, and one of the most joyously violent songs of all time), "Girl Crazy," "Jaguar Ride," "Radial Arm Saws," It's Still Artastic could possibly be the quintessential Cleveland 70's anthem you need in your collection.
This is the genuine article more convincing & more daring, playing host to modern day re-makes & copycats. The Styrenes, on the other hand, experiment with almost every song. The result is indescribable, chaotic, often catchy, and always on-edge. Adventurous and exciting- punk/agro-jazz w/ a tinge of hostility that can only be described as genius. The music on It's Still Artastic sounds just as idiosyncratic now as it did then, and just as prescient. The rest of the world has yet to catch up.
The Cleveland landscape is coming under the microscope again; Pere Ubu, The Electric Eels, & Amoeba (raft boy) (feat. members of the Styrenes) all recently released new albums, Rocket From The Tombs' newest re-issue is selling very well, and Cheetah Chrome is packing the house in Nashville. The time is ripe." - ROIR
"The Styrenes proved to be a crucial missing link between Sixties punk grunge and Eighties avant-rock. It's Artastic is an overdue retro-salute to the Styrenes' rarefied smashup of ragged-ass psychedelia, proto-No Wave guitar noise, corkscrew jazz & pummeling freak rock."
- David Fricke
Screwed & Chopped
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Alex Chilton, singer and guitarist of Big Star, one of the most influential rock groups to emerge from the early 1970s, has passed away at the age of 59. Chilton reportedly suffered a heart attack today in New Orleans, just days before Big Star were scheduled to perform at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas. Chilton had been complaining about his health earlier in the day, and was eventually taken to a New Orleans hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Truly saddening news.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Scott Ayers and Bliss Blood, creating havoc. Pain Teens, like Dj Screw, are Houston's pride and joy. "Destroy Me, Lover" here.
"The final Trance Syndicate release from Pain Teens, Beast of Dreams, is a swirling, noisy swan song that echoes across familiar territory for the Texas industrial deviants. During an inspired first section, vocalist Bliss Blood draws inspiration from PJ Harvey as "Coral Kiss" sizzles with sexual confrontation. But somewhere around the fourth track, Beast of Dreams becomes predictably synthetic and repetitive. Percussion and guitar figures cycle over and over like Satan's homemade meditation tape -- each second stuffed with electronically simulated banshee screams. It's enough to make you wonder if Scott Ayers actually tortures his tools of the modern musical trade. Is this what it sounds like when you put cigarettes out on the face of a Roland 808? Will a Strat scream like that as it's being drawn and quartered? Listeners who ask themselves these kinds of questions will be fascinated by Beast of Dreams. There is an aggressive element to this music that is pure and worthwhile for sure, but unless post-industrial ruminations of excess are your bag, chances are this stop on Pain Teens' circular road to ruin won't exactly qualify as a revelation." Vincent Jeffries
Monday, March 8, 2010
Stones Throw Records have recently released these three excellent compilations, get em.
"Funky fuzzy psychedelic tracks from 60s and 70s Nigeria, Iran, Turkey, Russia, South Korean and other exotic countries."
"Tropicalia Psychedelic Masterpieces, 1967-1976. The Heaviest, Rarest, Best Fuzz-Funk-Psych 45s From Brasil."
"Covers and music inspired by the Godfather of Afro-Beat. This Fela Estate-approved anthology includes rare and previously unreleased music from Nigeria, Ghana, Colombia, Trinidad and more."
Sunday, March 7, 2010
As requested my Mr. Roark, I come with some examples of the brilliance and magic of my favorite groups, The Legendary Pink Dots. The Dots have a long and fruitful history combined with a massive discography so I invite to peruse at will in their site. This album is from 1991 and is widely considered by LPD fans as one of their best and most consistent.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
As a musician, King Tuff falls somewhere between having a distinct point of view and being a full on parody of flaky '70s glam rockers. The King, as he likes to refer to himself, is a persona of Kyle Thomas, lead vocalist of the J Mascis side project Witch and freak folkers Feathers. In this incarnation, Thomas eschews both harder sounds of the former and the laid-back grooves of the latter to board a time machine for the era when it was still acceptable to dance to rock music. On Was Dead, King Tuff confidently returns to the land of the living with 13 lucky numbers that nicely evoke the era of feel-goeable rock 'n' roll.
para una cocodrila
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
One of the greatest albums ever. Cosmic American Music, as Gram Parsons put it. Cover art by Robert Zimmermann.
"None of the Band's previous work gave much of a clue about how they would sound when they released their first album in July 1968. As it was, Music from Big Pink came as a surprise. At first blush, the group seemed to affect the sound of a loose jam session, alternating emphasis on different instruments, while the lead and harmony vocals passed back and forth as if the singers were making up their blend on the spot. In retrospect, especially as the lyrics sank in, the arrangements seemed far more considered and crafted to support a group of songs that took family, faith, and rural life as their subjects and proceeded to imbue their values with uncertainty. Some songs took on the theme of declining institutions less clearly than others, but the points were made musically as much as lyrically. Tenor Richard Manuel's haunting, lonely voice gave the album much of its frightening aspect, while Rick Danko's and Levon Helm's rough-hewn styles reinforced the songs' rustic fervor. The dominant instrument was Garth Hudson's often icy and majestic organ, while Robbie Robertson's unusual guitar work further destabilized the sound. The result was an album that reflected the turmoil of the late '60s in a way that emphasized the tragedy inherent in the conflicts. Music from Big Pink came off as a shockingly divergent musical statement only a year after the ornate productions of Sgt. Pepper, and initially attracted attention because of the three songs Bob Dylan had either written or co-written. However, as soon as "The Weight" became a minor singles chart entry, the album and the group made their own impact, influencing a movement toward roots styles and country elements in rock. Over time, Music from Big Pink came to be regarded as a watershed work in the history of rock, one that introduced new tones and approaches to the constantly evolving genre." - William Ruhlmann
"Buddy Emmons is the most influential pedal steel guitar player in the world. He has been recording by himself and as a session musician since the 50’s. He has also participated in the technical development of the instrument itself, being a founder of both the Sho-bud steel guitar company, as well as the Emmons guitar brand."