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.