Saturday, July 25, 2009

Long May You Run

sparse elegant simmering shimmering mournful blues hymns to heartbreak and healing. This is the soundtrack to dreams and sleepless mourning. This is the sound of hearts breaking, and painfully mending. Hushed, intimate, and immediate; the guitars breathe and the vocals moan. In a similar opened vein to Smog or Red House Painters, this is music for late-night introspection, or to carry a sliver of twilight with you throughout your day. This record sounds like grieving, like subdued passion boiling over in a quiet intensity. Deadly beautiful and captivating, Tillman is the needle in the long-playing grooves of my brain. I have listened to this record a dozen times in the last 2 days.

Long May Your Run, J. Tillman (2006)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tree Sound

Tree Sound is a solo, lo-fi bedroom folk pop project from a girl named Natalie, living in California. She got in touch with me before i left for my trip, so i packed up her album to keep me company on the road. What we have here is a short, sweet collection of songs that are strongly reminiscent of The Moldy Peaches and the synthpop, indie-pop moments off of Beirut's The Gulag Orchestra. The mood here is mainly of childlike wonder and innocence, with plenty of ukulele and glockenspiel, 8 bit synth and bird-chirping (!). The vocals and lyrics are rather accomplished, focusing on a lot of nature imagery; sea and sky, birds and bananas, and fishes! There is the occasional moment of heart-ache, on What Happened to the Fishes?, but even that is cloaked in innocence. To be honest, it kind of blows my mind a little bit, i'm so used to living in a world of nocturnal melodrama. I can be too heavy and serious sometimes, and music like this reminds me of that.
The only thing i would like to see is more of an emotional range, dealing with other strains of the human experience. No one is full of wide-eyed wonder all the time. Also, i'd like to see her bring in a wider range of influences, as the main influences show through very clearly. Maybe bring in some other instruments in the future, some electricity perhaps. I'd just like to see more variety on her future releases. The album comes across as a rather accomplished EP, being rather short and sweet, or a bedroom demo showing a lot of potential. Curious to see what comes next. Many thanks to Natalie for getting in touch, and connecting.
Tree Sounds

Monday, July 20, 2009

On Location

Writing from the road, from my friend's apartment in South Chicago. On my semi-annual musical pilgrimage, this time for the Pitchfork festival. Saw 2 out of 3 days, with a lot of incredible music, that i will talk more about in upcoming posts.
Been a most interesting journey so far, and not what i'd expected, as usual. This time, not so much about 'wild times' or 'crazy fun', rather introspective, sort of mellow. Taking stock, making sure all vital organs are intact, located where they should be. Seeing old friends and family, and just generally spreading the love.
I had my headphones on for pretty much the entire 30 hour Greyhound ride, so there were a lot of different sounds in that time span, but overall the winner for the journey was Mt. Eerie, Phil Elvrum's post-Microphones project. Drifting along, in the middle of the night, driving through Kansas' inky blackness. Overhead light wouldn't work, spent the night swimming in sound. I played one of his records, stood my hair up on end, and immediately afterwards went, 'ooh, i wanna hear some more.' In total, i listened to 7 Mt. Eerie albums on my journey. I post one, almost arbitrarily, although i think this is the first Mt. Eerie album i heard, and it is very good. He has an extensive back catalog, and well worth delving into, especially if you like Bonnie Prince Billy or other dark melancholic folk music.
Photobucket No Flashlight

On Friday, i saw Tortoise, Yo La Tengo, Jesus Lizard, and Built to Spill; thoroughly appreciated all of them, although i wasn't too impressed by the Jesus Lizard. This was the 4th time i've seen Tortoise and Built to Spill both, and i have to say that both of 'em sounded better than i've ever heard 'em, in my opinion. Tight and focused.

Flashed back in a serious way listening to Tortoise, which was one of the first bands to interest me in indie rock, post rock (of the late 90s jazzy, chicago variety), electric era miles, dub, and krautrock. Basically, contained the DNA of a whole galaxy of underground sounds that would obsess and fascinate me, throughout my 20s. Angela and i discovered 'TNT' at a Border's listening station, and it gathered dust for a while. One night, we played it on a whim, while dosing. Let it play, and left the room, went on one of those late-night cosmic walks that i did so often in my adolescent years. When we came back in, Tortoise's metronomic liquid funk was climbing the walls like spiders. We forgot that we had left it playing, and it left a deep impression.

Their mathematical, minimal precision has stayed with me over the years, and i've listened to TNT so many times i couldn't possibly count. It still holds up, and seeing them on Friday has irradiated the love i have for them. I am still infatuated by their hodge-podge of influences, and i am even more impressed with the quality of their musicianship. They have a new album, which just came out i think, that sees them breaking out of a several year static groove and coming steamin' out of the gate, and i am terribly excited to see what this new phase may bring. Get to know their music, and definitely go see them, if they come through yr town.

Photobucket TNT

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cave - Psychic Psummer (Important, 2009)

At their best, Chicago's Cave boil down familiar but disparate branches of psychedelic rock into a sludgy yet nimble whole. Their first album approached different modes like a kid in a candy store, dipping into heavy riffs, hypnotic repetition, and howling noise, but it sprinted and lagged, never pacing itself as expertly as the band does now. Psychic Psummer is comparatively a less-immediate listen, but it is a deeper and ultimately more rewarding one. It's less of a wrecking ball and more of an assured roll, tumbling like an enormous slow-moving boulder through the band's diverse brand of burly and blissed-out space-rock.

As a mostly-instrumental album, there's a lot of tension and release in these songs, as well as healthy doses of repetition. But Cave continually toy with and subvert these familiar methods in ways that are as cathartic as they are clever. Opener "Gamm" bores through space with its reverberating vocals and windmill guitar strums, veering between explosiveness and a quieter, tenser lockstep martial beat, before ending on a lower-tempo sigh of relief. "Made in Malaysia" is a faster and more surprising follow-up, with a frantic Morse-code keyboard pattern that the band follows in vicious syncopation before bowing into some monstrous circular riffs. There's still a drifting chill-down moment, as with many Cave songs, but it's with a more nervous pulse, pushed by the occasional vocal provocation.

The loping beat, skittering percussion, and robot keyboards of "Encino Men" sounds as good-naturedly goofy as that the name evokes. The moments of release here and throughout the record are muscular without being obvious, and with vintage organ and guitar tones as dry as the band's mouths after some bong-delivered inspiration. Speaking of which, "High, I Am" ironically winds up a bit more straightforward than most of Psychic Psummer. Its groove is solid and taut and driven by domineering bass and toms, and squirts of keyboard and percussive weirdness make it sound like an underwater level of any 16-bit video game.

The band plays themselves out with placid Moog tone and loose drumming of "Machines and Muscles", ending in a simple, satisfying denouement. The album doesn’t out-freak their peers, but nor does it mean to; Psychic Psummer takes the creative restlessness of the band's debut a step further into something much more linear, and rides the line between the studious and the sublime like an act that’s been around much longer than a couple years. It takes an immense amount of structuring and sweat on their end for you to drift away on yours, and the result is so seamless they make it look easy. -from

This has been one of my favorite acquisitions lately, a truly heady slice of psych rock, suckled on the nectar of psych-heroes that have come before, grown strong, confident, adaptable. A real beast! I hear strains of Krautrock (Can, Neu!, etc.), mainly in the hypnotic repetetive motor-beat; hear a touch of Suicide, in their overdriven garage synths; can see a flash of Lightning Bolt in their spastic breakdowns and monotonous pummeling; can watch the graceful sway of Tortoise in their jazzy syncopation. Psychic Psummer is well versed in Minimalist theory, letting the parts grow and swell over time, yet it remains driving and focused.
The performances are inspired, their musical tastes are well-developed, the album is short and sweet and will leave you gasping for more. In short, this album fucking rock. This is a band on the rise, one to watch out for. Get this now! and let it be the soundtrack to yr evolution.

Psychic Psummer

*now the link's really fixed, i swear!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Tom Waits - Bone Machine

From the discography that just keeps on giving, burping up musical treasures like the ocean floor, Bone Machine is my favorite Waits' album, (today), and also where i would direct those that have problems with his raspy, gravelly voice, with ballads like Dirt in the Ground or Whistle down the Wind that have more soul than a clapboard baptist church in Mississippi.
Recorded in 1992, in a room with 'a cement floor and a water heater', awarded a grammy for best alternative album, and featuring guest appearances by Les Claypool, Brain, and Keith Richards; it combines raucous blues jams, apocalyptic gospel numbers, hillbilly music, and tender ballads. This album never skips a beat, solid as bedrock from start to finish, with the bone-dry african feel of 'Earth Died Screaming' to the jazz-funeral horns of 'Dirt in the Ground', it has some of my favorites of the Waits' canon, 'Goin' out West' (featured in the movie Fight Club), 'Who are You' which can wrench a tear from my stony heart, the spooky country of 'Murder in the Red Barn', and 'Black Wings' which could be a response to Nick Cave's second-coming 'Red Right Hand'.
I love the details and nuances of this record, the skeleton of the blues brought to life and dance with disembodied gamelan clanking, the kalimba-like sticks played on 'Earth Died Screaming', the chestnut horns on 'Dirt in the Ground', that would have done Charles Mingus proud. This album breathes, it emotes, it screams, it moans. It is a elegy and a celebration, a fine soundtrack for a rainy day or cooking a steak at midnight.
Also, another reader request: the guitar intro to 'Goin' Out West', which someone described to me like "being buried in dirt": can anyone think of other tracks that sound like this? I learned the guitar was played by a guy called Joe Gore, who also worked with PJ Harvey on the albums 'Is This Desire?' and 'To Bring You My Love,' and i have decided he is a total genius. I'd like to hear more of this raw and gritty guitar tone.
i hope you enjoy and y'all have a nice sunday.
Tom Waits - Bone Machine

Wednesday, July 1, 2009



"Even as some of techno's most prominent advocates have lamented the present state of affairs, this summer has seen the reissue of some of its canonical texts. The past month alone there have been a bevy of essential releases from the golden age of German electronic minimalism: a four-CD box set and separate book chronicling the hallucinatory pleasures of Wolfgang Voigt's Gas project; a new collection of some of the seminal, gravity-defying singles from Berlin's legendary Basic Channel; and this long-awaited box set reissue of the classic late-‘90s trilogy of albums by Pole, titled simply 1, 2, and 3.


Though his music is cut from similar cloth as the abstract dub of Basic Channel, Pole's Stefan Betke pushed its austere, reductionist aesthetic even further. Using the delicate crackling patterns of a malfunctioning Waldorf Pole filter as an impromptu rhythm box, Betke stripped away even the faintest traces of techno's foundational four-to-the-floor oompf oompf, leaving only echo, reverb, and beautiful, subterranean bass. Much has quite rightly been made over the years of Betke's masterful work at the low end of the sonic spectrum. But ultimately it's not the sheer, bowel-rumbling force of the bass that impresses, it's the subtlety and expressiveness - a Pole bass line insinuates, entices and seduces more often than it overwhelms by sheer heft.

Equally as impressive, however, is the delicate beauty of Betke's distressed effects filter with its beguiling array of crispy (to use Betke's own favorite descriptor) snaps, clicks and pops. Even now, 10 years after the release of 1, the first moments of "Modul" are as mysterious and unearthly as ever (at first, they sound like the run-out groove of a record). The frothy sizzle of the filter is most prevalent on the first record, with only vague intimations of dub lurking in the copious reverb and lovely, lugubrious murk of "Tanzen" or the pleasantly staggered gait of "Fremd."

Over the course of the three albums, Betke gradually submerged his signature crackles deeper in the mix, while bringing the dub elements more overtly to the surface, reaching a precarious equilibrium between crackle and bass on the ultra-dubby EP-length 2. In fact on 3, Betke replaced his signature filter with a disorienting mix of swirling field recordings and gauzey washes of static, all but eclipsed by Betke's exquisitely nuanced bass.

Betke's capacious dub experiments have gained new currency with the ascendancy of dubstep, which has occasionally looked eastward to Berlin, Basic Channel and Betke himself for inspiration. But 1 2 3 are more than mere precursors of 2562 or Burial. They're products of an altogether different age when the deconstruction of techno hinged on the fine art of omission, reduction, and a few fortuitous mistakes."
Susanna Bolle - from Dusted

Pole has got to be my favorite Microelectronic composer, subtle and nuanced, liquid funk for the late-night jetset. Suitable for headphone introspection, but still body-moving; its mind-meltingly smooth bass and snapcracklepop rhythms, this will make all you spastic marionettes out there drool. Here are the albums 1 and 2, and i'll put up 3 soon. Anyone that appreciated the Byetone 'Death of a Typographer' release, must hear this now.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Reality Is What You Make of It

Photobucket i've recently discovered that on the internet, some people are good enough to start scanning and archiving a good chunk of amazing world literature, in .pdf format. This is good news, for me, seeing as how i've probably spent half a million dollars on books, in my life. Not to mention how hard it is to get a hold of a lot of esoteric knowledge, and i think the internet is starting to show us its beautiful Aquarian shining face, democracy of knowledge and of people.

I've decided to make available two texts that have been hugely influential on who i am and how i live my life. The first is Robert Anton Wilson's 'Prometheus Rising', which was the primer for me on reality tunnels, social conditioning, and how we can truly make the world what we want it to be, that is to say, you find what you look for. Using Timothy Leary's 8-circuit model of the brain, he postulates a blueprint past primitive thinking and behavior, a path towards evolution.

The second is the classic Temporary Autonomous Zone by Hakim Bey, answering the question, 'Now that we've changed ourselves, what're we going to do?' The subtitle Poetic Terrorism and Guerilla Ontology sums up its battle-plan. Once we become awake and aware, it becomes possible to transform the world, with silly symbolic actions, like having an impromptu parade or fireworks display. Injecting wonder into the world, and it is contagious.

For far too long, i felt stapled to the couch, incapable and inadequate, frozen with self-doubt and guilt. I'm not really the type to chain myself to a redwood, and i even still eat meat and smoke cigarettes and everything. What can i possibly do to help the world? Just recently, i have begun to find that i may use my unique gifts, that i don't have to cram my mutation into some procrustean bed labelled 'Activism'. It all stems from passion, from caring, from being brutally in love with the world and allowing myself to be skinned alive by every passing moment. Even this little blog becomes a tool towards helping the world, by sharing all this wonderful art that has set my mind on fire and saved my soul countless time, and continues to do so every day.

The other good thing about both of these texts is they do not fall into frilly new-age self-helpisms, rather using all the languages and tools at our disposal: quantum physics, chaos theory, psychology, and occult traditions, all as different reality guides, to pick and choose from as we see fit. These books are elusive and boundary-defying, like most of the music that gets posted here; they ignore static labels and examine living systems instead.

So i hope you may benefit from these amazing books, as i have done, and there will definitely be more to follow. If anybody cares to share thoughts or observations that arise, i would be interested to see what you have to say.


ps... The estate of Robert Anton Wilson has respectfully asked me to remove the link for Prometheus Rising, but it is an amazing book and you should check it out. Can be had here:
Also, the family informed me that they are running an auction of RAW memorabilia, to help with a large debt that was left behind after his passing. You can check THAT out here:

Woods Family Creeps

Photobucket Impressionistic lo-fi folk music from the depths of NYC.

This is their first release as Woods Family Creeps, after 2007's breakthrough At Rear House, and the expanded line-up sees them expanding their sound as well, dissolving their cozy fireside jams in a vat of turpentine, smearing the colors and making the overall result far spookier, seen to best result in the 'Creeps Collage'. Jeremy Earl's falsetto singing voice is tender and vulnerable, and is the human face against the experimental backdrop. The music sounds like a blurred photograph, a sonic pointillism, equal parts intimate and heart-wrenching. And sometimes fun, as on 'Twisted Tongue.' It is experimental and daring, fucking with boundaries and styles, yet the songs are consistently excellent and memorable. This is a band that are taking risks, and emerging victorious, deservedly rising in popularity.

I've been listening to this album for a good 6 months, and every time it is over, i feel slightly disappointed, and want more. The rest of their catalog is well worth hearing as well. I love how it is alternately romantic and sad and fucked up and spooky, all at the same time. The 'Creeps Collage' is my personal favorite, and i dare you to find a better slice of midnight bedroom experimentalism. I have a request, and a challenge, for all you music experts out there: The moment when shit dissolves in 'Creeps Collage', when the drums drown in a half-mile of reverb (about 1:15). Can anyone think of other moments on record that sound like this?

Woods Family Creeps - s/t

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Widow's Bane

Photobucket The Widow's Bane are a refreshing blast of sepulchral air in the Boulder soonshine. Made up of lost souls Dead-Eyed Daryl, Bat Catacombs, Rutherford Belleview, and Mortimer Leech, who perform live in full zombie regalia with a full battery of roots instruments including fiddle, banjo, accordion, double bass, and 6 string, they could be the house band for The Haunted Mansion, or the sounds of a cursed saloon after dark, batwing doors flapping in the dusty breeze.
Reminescent of the gothic country music that emanates out of Denver, Munley and the Smooch Records crew (more about that later), but tinged with more of a gypsy/eastern european flair, and laced with some circus surrealism; its spooky but romantic, and mean-spirited as a whiskey bender. The vocals remind me at times of Tom Waits' rasp and Colin Meloy's reedy baritone, and fans of the Decemberists' story songs will find much to drink down here.
If you like Beirut, or you've ever heard any of the bewitching sounds coming out of New Orleans underground these days, Why are they building such a big ship? et al, you will love this. It will move yr body and break yr heart, and then drown yr sorrows. They are a ferocious live act, and should be seen at any costs. There are no bad songs on here, just one dusty jewel after another. You might start with 'Wormwood Waltz in C minor', 'Rusty Road', or 'The Devil's Son' to see what its all about. These guys are young and unsigned and very cool, so you might drop by their website and say hello, buy an album or see them live. But do yrself a favor and give a listen!

The Widow's Bane

ps.. this is not the album art, which i couldn't find.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Marilyn Roxie - New Limerent Object

Limerence refers to an involuntary cognitive and emotional state of intense romantic desire for another person. The term was coined by psychologist Dorothy Tennov to describe the ultimate, near-obsessional form of romantic love.[1]

Limerence is characterized by intrusive thinking and pronounced sensitivity to external events that reflect the disposition of the limerent object towards the individual. It can be experienced as intense joy or as extreme despair, depending on whether the feelings are reciprocated. - from Wikipedia

The Limerent Object would be the object of said infatuation/obsession.

New Limerent Object is the debut album from LA based Marilyn Roxie. Citing krautrock, library music, and ambient electronic music as inspiration, she has created an album of gorgeous, sometimes melancholic, often joyful reverie. If this is dedicated to the spirit of falling in love, in finding a new fascination, it would be like falling in love with the world around you, with many tracks named after nature, like 'Idea Leuconue', 'The Shores', the fabulous 'Seagull Room'.

Mainly atmospheric; beatless womb sculptures drag you into their undertow, into the jewelled heart of sea and shadow, occasionally coming up for air with tracks like 'Indigo', an epic piano ballad that segues into the jaunty 'Nearer (interlude)' which sounds like some of the Ghost Box canon, which she also cites as an influence, and would make a nice soundtrack for driving at night or getting ready to go out.

This album is best taken whole, although a number of the tracks stand out and work well on their own. This is impressionistic music, but shows its humanity with excellent melody and performance. She has added an impressive jewel to the crown of the soundworlds she reveres. Any fan of Boards of Canada, ambient Aphex Twin, Ghost Box stuff, shoegazer music, or epic drone jams will drool over this, and she is good enough to make this available for free. Many thanks to her for contacting me, and putting this lovely music in my life.

Marilyn Roxie - New Limerent Object

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Gregory Alan Isakov

It is my great pleasure to introduce Gregory Alan Isakov, Colorado's favorite son and one of my personal favorites. This is the first post in a series of some of the local talent around where i am living currently. There are some remarkable things going on, and i don't know if anybody knows about any of it, outside of the front range.
Gregory Alan Isakov has got it. He deserves to go all the way to the stars he loves to talk about so much, and he is taking steps to get there, touring with Brandi Carlisle and the Indigo Girls this summer. Even as his audience and band get bigger and bigger, his music maintains its sense of hushed intimacy, like he's whispering secrets to you by candlelight. While quite and intimate, his music is also rich and full, fleshed out by his backing band The Freight which features cello, drums, pedal steel, keyboards, and 'God Noises'; quite the departure from 2007's That Sea, The Gambler, which is also mighty fine. Also, he has left behind a rather large debt to M. Ward on that album to inherit his own voice that fans of indie-folk will freak over. The fact that he closes the album by 'One of us Can't be Wrong' by Leonard Cohen, and speaks of Bruce Springsteen and Paul Simon in interviews shows that he is not afraid to write classic songs, to inherit the mantle of the brilliant singer/songwriter. Not that you'd ever know it, from speaking to him; he is approachable, soft-spoken, and humble, with kind eyes and a great hat.
So, this is This Empty Northern Hemisphere by Gregory Alan Isakov. There is not a bad song on here, and i do not say that lightly, with the first three songs, 'Dandelion Wine' (which features another local gem Julie Davis of Bela Karoli on stand-up bass), 'Light Year', and 'That Moon Song' being a particularly powerful trio. 'That Moon Song' joins the ranks of 'The Stable Song' from That Sea, The Gambler as an instant favorite and guaranteed crowd pleaser.
Most of the album maintains the late-night star-gazing vibe, with occasional uptempo forays like 'Evelyn', a story about a down-n-out barmaid, to add some variety. 'This Empty Northern Hemisphere', the title track is epic as hell, and doubly so live. Personal favorites are 'Dandelion Wine', 'Master & a Hound' with its nifty finger-picking, and 'If I go, I'm Going' with its house on fire imagery. There are numerous lyrical references to ghosts, empty houses, night sky, church steeples, that fits this album nicely and immediately in my mythos.
I cannot recommend this highly enough, this is truly special music, i believe that he deserves to be known world-wide and probably will. I just happen to have the good fortune to live in the same town, see him at little clubs, and buy his albums from him personally.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Disparate Listening

These are just a couple of things that have grabbed my attention lately. When something makes my ears perk up, when i think 'i need to hear that again', that is how i seperate the signal from noise. So its all kind of random, and are certainly not the only albums that have stood my hair on end and set my neurons on fire, just a small representation.

Photobucket Some more down 'n out country folk music, this one being recorded in Tucson, Az. Subsequently, tumbleweeds of harmonica, mandolin, accordion, trumpet, and pedal steel breeze across this album, framing its miniature stories of dashed hopes, daily life, triumphs and tragedies. Principle song-writer Willy Vlautin seems like a decent guy in a despicable world, with the creative prowess to capture those details. What sets this apart from other, more stale, musicians in the singer/songwriter stable is the crystal clear production, brimming with mood and ambience, as seen in the ominous pulse of 'El Tiradito'. Sounding sometimes like Calexico or Giant Sand, (Howe Gelb provides some sounds), and sometimes like the hushed solo work of Mark Kozelek, this album stirs yr thoughts, stimulates yr brain, and begs to be listened to again and again.
Richmond Fontaine - Thirteen Cities

Photobucket I've been listening to this for a couple of years, but sort of stumbled upon it again recently, and its stark beauty struck me in the throat, as it always does. This is a couple living in the woods of Finland, making music in a log cabin in the woods, and i will not begrudge them their idyllic eden. Their music comes from the womblike mind-meld possible from spending an incredible amount of time together. They really seem to live their art. I was reminded, hearing this again, of listening to this in the greyhound station in St. Louis; sitting on an old pew, thinking about carnivals. As soon, as i took off my headphones, i began having a conversation with some guy about working for the carnival, apparently he was on his way, in search of work. One of those miraculous coincidences possible, riding the Gdog. I also include this, in that i wrote a complete review recently, that i'm actually rather proud of, so i thought i'd point it out to y'all.
Mi and L'au - s/t Read Full Review

Photobucket This is a solo joint from James Ferraro, half of the noise freaks The Skaters. This is some of the first of the new incarnation of cassette freak-out music, and i am utterly fond of what they're all doing. This record is a lovely chunk of heavenly harmonies, celestial chorus accompanied by Reichian marimba loops, going down smooth as chinese silk for the 35 minutes split across 2 sides. What actually made me want to put this up is it has the most seamless side-flip that i have ever heard, enough to make me do a double-take. This is eternal music, suitable for all-night looping, letting it coil up and down yr nervous system. James Ferraro is providing the soundtrack to a new new age movement, with band names like Nirvana, Pacific Temple Rat Band, on and on; exotic and transcendental, but also down and dirty, for all the kids on the dance-floor.
James Ferraro - Marble Surf

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Stuff i've been listening to

Dark times lately. Been meaning to put something up here for a while, but my brain has turned this project into buillding the Cistine Chapel, like everything has to be 'inspired' or 'good' or 'legit'. Well, fuck it, i need to keep pushing the rock uphill, Sisyphus style. Here's some shit that i've been listening to lately, that is helping me to maintain my sanity. I've been nursing a broken heart, and have chosen to deluge myself in falling arpeggios of guitar chords. Losing myself in technicality, in one of the only damn things on this earth that has any prayer of making me feel any better. So here we go:

Photobucket John Fahey. The man's influence is impossible to calculate. Patron saint of the American Primitive. Guardian of the curmudgeonly record-collectors. I have been losing myself in 'When the Spring Time Comes Again.' Almost everything he ever did is indispensable, so i have chosen The Legend of Blind Joe Death arbitrarily, maybe a good place to jump in, if you don't know 'im. get it pw: levente

Photobucket Probably my favorite of those that have come in the wake of Saint Fahey, Jack Rose has mastered the Primitive styles, blues ragtime country etc., and runs it through an opium-hued lens, similar to Sir Richard Bishop. I had the good fortune to see him play in Louisville, KY last summer, his mastery of the six-string is jaw-dropping. His work with Pelt is bestial, as well. I love his guitar ragas, his rags are no slouch either. This is Kensington Blues. hear it

Photobucket Chris Brokaw was the drummer for Codeine and guitar player for Boston-based Come. This is his second solo record, an all instrumental guitar album, mainly acoustic. It is more Celtic oriented than the previous two, but it shares their virtuosity and imagination. He strays from the pack with the title track 'Canaris', which is behemoth! Colossal feedback sculpture, clocking in at almost 18 minutes. Who needs drugs? check it

Photobucket Weepy music, to rock yrself to sleep by. Hushed; intimate and immediate, velvet whispering in yr ear like the ghosts of lovers past. 'Ghosts and Lovers' is my favorite track, no pun intended, but its really a mood piece, an album's album, not really top-40 material, but it IS probably Marissa Nadler's best album, to date. feel it

Photobucket When i can't handle being curled up in a little ball any longer, only pure undiluted rage will do! Get you off of the couch and out into the streets, throwing bricks and hurling invectives! This is probably my favorite Stoner record ever, but its so hard to pick just one! Hard hitting, hard drinking, hard riffing, rock yr fucking socks off, sometimes nothing else will do. Burn it

Photobucket I can't stop listening to Tom Waits, i mean obsessively, all day every day. It is almost frightening. He makes me feel that it is okay to be a lovable misanthropic loser, to take comfort in my persona like a woolen sweater, or a beat up old fedora. This is one of his more recent joints, and has some of my favorites: the mysterious 'Alice', the maudlin 'Flower's Grave', the decadent Weimar cabaret of 'Kommienezuspadt', the burlesque of 'Table Top Joe', and the genuinely unsettling 'We're All Mad Here'. As i get older, i am learning to appreciate so many aspects and nuances of Mr. Wait's music, a discography that just keeps unfolding like a hallucinatory lotus, or a pack of Camel's. This music, and others like it, are showing me what it is to be Grown Up. Which is fucked, but unavoidable. Nursing a grown-up broken heart. Joy. Nurse It pw:
None of this music will probably make you feel any better, and most of it may be an out and out bummer, like many of my recent posts. And there's probably lots more what that comes from, as i peel back my skin to fill the void. So happy listening, hopefully i'll see you around.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble

Photobucket While researching the post i did for Bohren and Der Club of Gore, i decided that i needed to hear more music in a similar opened vein. Stumbling upon the charming sobriquet 'Doom Jazz', i set to work, overturning chunks of audial asphalt thatled me to a number of intriguing releases, the first and best being The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble.
This is their first, eponymous release, and it starts off walking similar Bernard Hermann rain-slicked alleyways as Bohren, with 'The Nothing Changes', but quickly veers off into seamier, more neon-riddled avenues. With 'Pearls for Swine' comes the most notable feature of this ensemble, THE DRUMS. They come, hard and heavy, going off like a .45 in yr fist, alternately pummeling and caressing. Sounding more like next-door neighbors of Burial's or Dj Shadow's, than a downtrodden Chet Baker relapse, TKDJ explores a downtempo, d'n b or dubstep vibe, that occasionally threatens to bust into breakcore territory, as the percussion threatens and cajoles, at times breaking into unrelenting digital dithering hardcore. This is tempered by the layers of velvety saxophone, groovy basslines, and saccharine heartbreaking strings, that provide a lovely melancholy ambience. One of the best things about this group is that they are a live ensemble, originally formed to provide scores for old silent films by the likes of F. W. Murnau and Fritz Lang. This is not some bedroom sequencer afficianado, this is played by REAL musicians, and talented ones at that.
The gripping beats and tasteful, gloomy melodicism make this perfect for late night introspection or gettin' sweaty on the dance floor. From the moment i pressed play, this album has grabbed me by the boiling brainstem and held on. Its midnight has seeped into my afternoons, making my days more deadly and mysterious. These guys deserve to be as well known as the big names mentioned above. Let them bring you into the Haunted Ballroom.

The Kilimanjaro DarkJazz Ensemble: part 1 part 2

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Jade Set - Shiny Triangle

This is a rather esoteric release that came to me straight from Norway. Composed mainly by Shaun Ytterland and a group of fellow sonic adventurers, hunkered down over breaking down machines that include acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, an old casio keyboard with the keys taped down to make it drone, tape loops, and delay pedals. It falls somewhere in the gray realms beyond John Fahey and Emeralds, detouring through Jewelled Antler territory.
The diversity of instrumentation, and the care in arrangements prevent this from being a somatic snooze-fest, and the wavering between power drones and delicate acoustic experimentation keeps it varied and interesting. Personally, i enjoy its no-fi sensibility and lack of commercial pretensions. Dare i say 'Pure Art'? The most exciting thing, to me, is where some improvisation leads to weak, flabby wankery that goes nowhere except to the players head, there is some that opens doorways to new worlds, unexpected connections, and refreshing innovation. I think this tape has all these hallmarks, in spades, and is worthy of yr time and attention.
Thanks to Shaun for the excellent release, and all the amusing e mails.

The Shiny Triangle

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Entirely Inappropriate for the preemptive summer

This week has provided me with the opportunity for much late-night headphone revelry, spinning off into half-waking dreams, with nocturnal sounds caressing me. Busted out some perennial favorites, that i always bust out when its 3 a.m. and i can't sleep.

Photobucket Bohren & Der Club of Gore is what you get when Doomheads play jazz. Sounding like a Bernard Hermann soundtrack for driving around, looking for a place to dump the body, or a sleazy rainy night on the Vegas Strip. Angelo Badalamenti references are unavoidable. This is mood music, chipping off sonic slivers of the same obsidian block, rather than writing memorable 'songs'. Put it on, let it sweep you away into their world, and move you to the depths of yr creepy soul.

Photobucket I took the initiative to bust out an old, moldy classic. Swans' last album, it is the summation of everything that had strived to accomplish. It is astonishing to see how far they had travelled from the rusted metal cacophanies of their earliest work, to how detailed and subtle this record can be, building up to a churning power-house that was the sonic cathedral of the Swans' at their best. 'Soundtracks' features some of Jarboe's most harrowing vocals in her career, which is no mean feat, and it also contains the seeds of M. Gira's post-Swans work, The Angels of Light. It is a fitting document to where they were going, and what they had done, neatly encapsulating their philosophy of flesh vs. spirit.
This record would serve as prototype for later post-rock, doom metal, and drone, sounding particularly prescient on tracks 'Red Velvet Wound', 'I was a Prisoner in Your Skull' and 'The Sound'. One of the earliest exposures i had with these styles of music that have haunted me like a spectre, through-out my 20s, this album has a special place in my heart. The opener of the way. It remains a visceral listening experience, truly frightening at times, making my hair stand up on end. Not easy to do, on these callous ears!
So check 'em out, if you haven't already. If you have, dust 'em off and give 'em another go. As the poet H.D. said in a letter to Freud, 'We Are All Haunted Houses.'

Black Earth: part 1 part 2

Soundtracks for the Blind

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Request Fill: Microstoria

Microstoria is Markus Popp of Oval and Jan Werner of Mouse on Mars, creating beautifully detailed sculptures of micro-electronics.

I've had a request for this, and seeing as how this stuff is next to impossible to find, and criminally unheard and under-appreciated, i thought i'd post it here. Perfect to crank on headphones, and let the dithering static work its magick.

Photobucket init ding
Photobucket model 3, step 2
Photobucket invisible architecture 3 Photobucket _Snd

thanks to for ending my quest.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Let The Mermaids Flirt With Me

No blues singer ever presented a more gentle, genial image than Mississippi John Hurt. A guitarist with an extraordinarily lyrical and refined fingerpicking style, he also sang with a warmth unique in the field of blues, and the gospel influence in his music gave it a depth and reflective quality unusual in the field. Coupled with the sheer gratitude and amazement that he felt over having found a mass audience so late in life, and playing concerts in front of thousands of people -- for fees that seemed astronomical to a man who had always made music a sideline to his life as a farm laborer -- these qualities make Hurt's recordings into a very special listening experience.

Mississippi John Hurt left behind a legacy unique in the annals of the blues, and not just in terms of music. A humble, hard-working man who never sought fame or fortune from his music, and who conducted his life in an honest and honorable manner, he also avoided the troubles that afflicted the lives of many of his more tragic fellow musicians. He was a pure musician, playing for himself and the smallest possible number of listeners, developing his guitar technique and singing style to please nobody but himself; and he suddenly found himself with a huge following, precisely because of his unique style. Unlike contemporaries such as Skip James, he felt no bitterness over his late-in-life mass success, and as a result continued to please and win over new listeners with his recordings until virtually the last weeks of his life. Nothing he ever recorded was less than inspired, and most of it was superb. - from All Music Guide

i was gonna write something poetic and poignant here, but it turned out All Music Guide already said everything i wanted to say perfectly. This man is an inspiration to my heart and soul. This album is a fine place to start (Poor Boy, Long Way From Home is a personal highlight) and then move backwards, as literally every single note is a treasure. Hope you enjoy!

Last Sessions

Thanks to Sir Charlie Palmer for the link, and the rest of the great music.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hellhound on my Trail

On Friday Nov. 23, 1936, a young African-American entered the Blue Bonnet Hotel in San Antonio, Tx, guitar in hand. Brunswick Records had set up an impormptu recording studio there, and the young man set up facing the wall, and proceeded to cut 16 tracks over the next 3 days. What passed between the man, the wall, and the microphone would echo down over 70 years and through countless imaginations.
The young man in question was Robert Johnson, probably the most infamous of the blues musicians. Much has been made of his mythical deal with the devil, at the crossroads at midnight, but his recorded legacy stands up, without hype or myth-making. His guitar chugs like a freight train, predicting the chicago blues sound, and his slide-playing sighs, slinks and soars, planted in the fertile soil of his Delta roots. His voice growlsl, keens in a sweet falsetto; ringing out, clear and pure. He is the crossroads, between the past of his lesser-known influences like Son House, Charley Patton, and Willie Brown, and the shape of things to come.
I've listened to these 27 sides so many times in my young adult life, mystified with its spooky ambience, and it continues to surprise and delight every time. The twisted, doomed romance of 'Kind Hearted Woman' and 'Come on in my Kitchen', and the infernal glow of 'Hell Hound on my Trail' and 'Me and the Devil Blues,' are personal favorites.
Above all else, here was a mean who lived and died for his music. Notoriously laughed off stage by Son House and Willie Brown, he returned a scant 2 years later, and blew everybody's heads' off. He travelled the South, the Midwest, and even the East Coast, as itinerant musician, only to supposedly be poisoned by a jealous husband with a tainted bottle of whiskey. These 41 tracks are a treasure trove, containing the essence of everything that is the blues. If you've never heard this, i highly recommend you check this out; and if you have, let this serve as a reminder of how fresh and vital and inspiring this music can be. disc 1 + ++ disc 2

Friday, April 24, 2009

Through A Scanner Darkly

If you told me, when i was a 16 year old goth boy, that in a decade i'd be madly passionate about Appalachian Hillbilly music, Delta blues, field hollers, and southern Baptist holy-roller gospel, i'd'a thought you were hitting grandaddy's moonshine. However, following the musical threads of my heroes and villains, most notably Nick Cave and his murder ballads, and his namechecking of Blind Lemon Jefferson, from the album The Firstborn is Dead.
When i was younger, i preferred sounds that were epic and melodramatic, but as I have gotten older, i have found those moments are few and far-between, and there's a helluva lot of details in between, aka human life. I became fascinated with more raw and real music, poignant vignettes of daily life, and in this fertile loam my love of folk music grew. Also, from a musical perspective, i love the lack of bells and whistles, the emphasis on skills and lyrics. There are no hollywood scrim to hide behind.
As my 20s have progressed, i have become fanatical about the old-timey sound, has become a gigantic influence on my life, my music, and my philosophy on living. A lot of this stuff is ridiculously esoteric, and name-checking early 20th century ragtime guitarists is a great way to earn blank looks at a party. So, it is one of my reasons for starting this oasis, was to post some of this shit which is so magnificent and hard to come by, and to perk up some ears.

Photobucket To start, i offer this magnificent and hard to come by box-set from folk visionary Alan Lomax, a 4 disc document of his field recordings made in 1959. Some artists featured went on to greater infamy, like Mississippi Fred McDowell and The Alabama Sacred Hard Singers, but the majority are more obscure and worthy of greater appreciation, like Vera Hall, who's 'Trouble So Hard' was sampled by Moby on Play. There's also some great examples of little known musical styles, like drum and fife music from Northern Mississippi.

The sound is pristine on these recorings, and the performances are sublime. This is a smorgasbord of roots music, and this collection is not as well known as the Anthology of American Folk Music. There are many rewards in here, for the devoted collector as well as the unitiated or merely curious.

disc 1
disc 2 disc 3 disc 4

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Leisure Society

This luscious slice of orchestral folk music is the perfect score for Spring awakening, irises and orchids blooming from the banjos and glockenspiels that adorn its framework.
The title track, The Sleeper, seems to be the Rosetta Stone for the album, with natural lyrics of rising and falling, worms and roots and flowers overtaking the cobblestones. Singer Nick Hemming takes these themes over the course of the album and personalizes them, spinning tales of leaving and returning to hometowns, relationships failing, things dying and growing. The following track, The Last of the Melting Snow, is the standout track of the album, with its saccharine strings, which for some reason reminds me of old Disney documentaries. It is lush and gorgeous, sounds great with the windows open.
The only downfall is that this album shoots its load too quickly, the first 3 tracks are the best, and it sort of falls into a homogoneous lull that persists for most of the rest of the album. However, the lyrics and the arrangements are always interesting, the sound fleshed out with all manner of interesting instruments, like harp and strings and ukulele. It is deeply indebted to Classic Sounds, sounding in turn like vintage Simon and Garfunkel, 'Yesterday' by the Beatles, and a very optimistic take on 'Summertime Blues' by Blue Cheer on the final track, Love's Enormous Wings, which is grandiose and ends on a high note.
All in all, this album's got a lot going for it, and it stands up well to repeat examinations, always unearthing a new nugget or gem. Let it be the soundtrack to yr thawing.

The Sleeper

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Lately Listening

This is pretty widely available, but its been gracing my ears for the past week or so, and its actually pretty damn good, so i thought i'd put it up. Bibio is English musician Scott Wilkerson, and Vignetting the Compost is his 3rd full length. He's been working in the field of folky electro-acoustic music, and has been getting more melodic and tuneful as time goes on. Vignetting brings his acoustic guitar playing, which is rather accomplished, to the forefront, adding ambience and electronic textures, as well as other instruments like trumpet and flute, to flesh out the sound, to hold the attention and make it more engaging.
Vignetting the Compost is an enjoyable listen from start to finish, atmospheric but also attention-grabbing, and above all else, melodic. The melodies are strong and catchy, particularly the trumpet fanfare from 'Weekend Wildfire', which will become lodged firmly between yr ears all week. The overall effect is gentle and idyllic, calling to mind scenes of childhood, lying on the grass or between the roots of yr favorite tree, cloudgazing. Sonically, it sounds like John Fahey or Jim O Rourke with Boards of Canada providing the backdrop.
Very good, indeed, and it will grow on you like a healthy curtain of ivy.
Vignetting the Compost Thanks to Incomplete Tales for the link.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fire Walk With Me

Photobucket When i was about 15, my friend Joe would come and spend the night, in the days before he lived with me full-time as the official 'dude on the couch'. At this time, i was living in a ghetto-rigged bedroom in the basement, with bedsheets from the '70s as wells, and a moldy box-spring where i laid my head at night. It was grimy and kind of depressing, but these were magickal nights, where he could get away from his fucked up home life, and we would have no time constraints, all the time in the world to talk about everything under the sun, percolating pots of coffee over candle-flame and smoking forbidden menthol cigarettes.
On these nights, he would bring homemade dubbed tapes, full of mystery. Peter Gabriel, Slowdive, James, The Cure, The Smiths. All the usual saints of depressed suburban youth. One of these was the soundtrack for the Twin Peaks movie, Fire Walk With Me. I don't think i had seen the film or any of the series at this point. However, the music gripped my imagiation and filled me with some of the earliest feelings of 'I've got to find out what this is! I need to find more!'
What it did, was introduce me to the world of twilight jazz, slow and mellow beyond belief, atmospheric, romantic, all to the good for a young proto-goth like myself. It was these seeds that would flower into a love of Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Morphine, and Bohren and der Club of Gore. Also, the heavenly voice of Julee Cruise would predict my love of The Cranes, My Bloody Valentine, and all things shoegaze. To this day, anything that sounds remotely like the music from Twin Peaks fills me with an adrenaline rush, and a need to hear MORE! It also fills me with the intimacy of those evenings, of whispered secrets, of brotherhood. Of youth and possibility, and i am glad to say, all these years later, i still have that feeling.
This album, and the others that will be released in this series, were fundamental in creating the creature that i have become. Sacred listening, this is what my soul sounds like.

(at 320 no less!)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

electronic music round-up

Recently, i have found a lot of electronica albums waiting for me in my queue, thanks largely in part to the rather excellent Double Avenue blog, which seems to be sadly dormant. I'd get home from work, late at night, reverentially slip on my ear-muff headphones, and go sight-seeing. What i have found is a bevy of new, excellent albums that rock body and mind simultaneously, and i was transported to a time when techno imbued every molecule of my life. Tripping out to Coil in the dark was the holiest of holies to me, in my adolescence, and the exploration of interior landscapes still thrills me.
What these three records have in common, stylistically very different, is magnificent production sound design. Every detail, and particularly the beats, are crisp and clean and clear, this sonic alchemists pay so much loving detail to how their albums sound. Perhaps the intention of playing their music through loud-ass systems at clubs makes them extra careful, but i have recently been blown away by the amount of creativity and care existing in this scene.

Photobucket Witchman - Explorimenting Beats
First up is a release from Witchman, the alias of John Roome. Here, he takes you on a guided tour of all things dark and dirty and dangerous, effortlessly gliding through genres: dubstep, d'n'b, hip-hop. The beats are the tenuos silver thread that keeps the vision cohesive, and they are stunning! I can't figure out why this isn't better known, being screamed from the rooftops along the likes of Burial or Kode9. The bass is ferocious and nasty, heavy yet oddly soothing, twitching yet graceful, pummeling and caressing in equal measures.
This album is just one long string of awesomeness, each track more staggering than the last, unfurling like a perfect strand of black pearls. The epic trilogy that makes up the torso of the body, 'Hammerhead', 'Chemical Noir', and 'Order of the Dragon', are the best initiation into the mystery, and would sound at home on any nocturnal mix or on the floor at 3 am.
I am completely and under his spell. Get this now!
320 kbps part 1 part 2

Photobucket Byetone - Death of a Typographer
Next, we have a more minimal affair, brought to you by Olaf Benders, the graphic designer for the Raster-Noton label. Apparently, his taste and economy apply sonically as well, and every element seems in place. Thankfully, the presence of some sawtooth oscillation, some analog equipment, gives a refreshing body for this intellect to reside in, and gives it more immediacy than much minimal house music, which sort of streams by, without leaving much of an impression.
The album starts off with 'Into bios', with about 40 seconds of field recording before bleeding into the single, 'Plastic Star (session)', that is truly a dancefloor anthem (djs take note). The rest of the album sort of blends and blurs, at times succumbing to a warm, analog drone, suggesting the influence of chemicals taking hold in the heat of the night, at the club; finally winding down into the trail-out, 'Heart', a womblike fluttering pulse, like coming home to clean sheets and daylight, at the end of the night. Very impressive, and original. Can't wait to hear more from him.
get it

Photobucket V.V.V. - Endless
Last but not least, V.V.V. is Alan Vega of Suicide pairing up with classic minimalists Pan Sonic. "How do these old guys school kids these days so easily," one of my friends wanted to know. A good question. Chalk it up to life experience or something. Thankfully, age does not seem to have mellowed Vega one bit, and this album is full of his razor-sharp criticism of almost everything, his vitriol mostly aimed at aspects of American life, politics, religion, etc. The wonderful thing about his work is his ability to humanize social themes, like the classic Suicide single 'Frankie Teardrop', telling the story of a factory-worker caught in the rat-trap of a grinding, repetitive life, until he snaps, killing his family and himself in the end. There are moments on this album that are almost as harrowing.
Some have accused Pan Sonic of merely providing 'Backing Tracks' for Vega's rambling on this project, and i think that's unfair. I think, if anything, Vega is providing a human accesibility to their stark noisy world. The added lair of vocals provides a foundation, something else for the ear to latch on to, and lets them stretch out and get downright MEAN at times, degenerating into almost formless noise. Again, i think the addition of analog equipment and effects give their normally sleek, chilly sound some warm-blood, and makes it that much more menacing, not to mention raw. Its great to see such accomplished musicians stretching out, not giving a fuck, loose and ragged and organic, in an otherwise clean and clinical scene. Stands up well to repeated listening, creeping into yr subconscious, drilling down into yr id. Bring some nightmare into yr night life.
320 kbps part 1 part 2

Thanks so much to Double Avenue for the killer tunes. I do hope you come back someday.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Flavor of the Week


I've been on a heavy dream-pop kick this week, kick-started by this British shoegazer band. Part of the second wave of shoegaze bands, they bear accurate comparisons to Lush, as well as the likes of Ride, Chapterhouse, Swervedriver, etc. The most important thing, however, is the mixture of heavenly voices with sweet saturated guitar scapes! Soothing and dreamy, but it fucking ROCKS! at the same time, which was always my favorite aspect of Shoegaze music. This music makes me feel floaty and dreamy, yet revs my engines at the same time. It is also a fine soundtrack to making lattes, for yr information.
I can't seem to get enough of this, and it stands up well to repeat listenings. Also, i had never heard of these guys, a fine blast from the underground. I love it when something comes from left-field and blows me away! Reminds me why i spend all my time digging through unknown and esoteric releases. And then i pass the blessings on to you.

Bleach - s/t Killing Time

Thanks to Stonerrrockmountain for turning me on!

For mah boy... jed

Kraftwerk - 1
Kraftwerk - 2
Jacaszek - Pentral

i highly recommend everyone check out that Jacaszek album, which is new and is a tasty slice of ambient minimalism. Also, if anyone has Microstoria, 'model 3 step 2', and could post it, i'd be much obliged. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Micachu and the Shapes

Careening. Cavorting. Shambolic. Schizo-effective. All of these modifiers spring to mind, describing the debut album from Micachu and the Shapes, Jewellery. Ramshackle and ragged as a favored sweater, yet tight as a suit of leather armor, this album is all over the place, yet the average song length is around 3 minutes. The sound of Mica Levi's tiny tinny guitar is supplemented by beefy, fuzzy synths, and clattering test-tube percussions, ranging from phat dirty beats to found junk sounds, and her garbled grimey voice. This record is full of surprises and is full of teeth. It will snag you, hook you, and drag you into their luminous playground.

This was recommended to me by my friend Serge, it sounded cool but i didn't get it straight-away. One or two more careful passes while working, enhanced by about 8 shots of espresso, and i got it! Now i can't get away! So do yrself a favor and get some more Fun in yr life!