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.