e a r p e a c e : audio reviewsavey tare/panda bear/geologist
arco flute foundation
the ass baboons of venus
roky erickson & the aliens
hans grüsel's kränkenkabinet
the hungry ghost
sunburned hand of the man
(various artists) the freest of radicals
(various artists) new music for a bad economy
- avey tare/panda bear/geologist (the animal collective) danse manatee cd (catsup plate)
grabbed this one at their show earlier this year at c-pop gallery in detroit... upon further investigation, it seemed that the earlier spirit they're gone spirit they've vanished cd was for many people one of the finest unsung releases of 2ooo... so i tracked that one down, too... and i have to tell ya... i think this one is better... they have seemed to find a point of cross-pollination where syd barrett is as relevant as... i don't know, eno?, [insert your chosen electronic influence here], kraftwerk?... the chaotic aspect of their live performance is still evident here, but the marc bolan, daevid allen melodik impulses emerge often enuff to keep the whole cd in a flux of coalescence... so i find myself coming back to this one in preference to spirits due to the underlying tunes that emerge almost subconsciously.
- arco flute foundation everything after the bomb is sci-fi cd (cenotaph audio)
kind of a strange bird, in the neither completely fish nor fowl mode... all instrumental (no flutes audible, btw), sometimes evoking a no-neck blues band aura of spacey jamminess... but hewing much closer to a structured foundation... the launching pad for their efforts consisting of much more familiar-recognizeable ilk of scales and chords and jazzy-prog-rockish flourishes... but not badly done... when in the right mood, this resonates thru me like it was made to permeate my noodles...
- the ass baboons of venus phuket a la bum bum cd (bulb)
this cd started slow for me. i wonder if it is a collection of singles, because it gathers momentum and by the 7th cut, it seems to have tapped in fully to the muddy two-lane cowpath they are spinning along. there are buried & propped-up blues riffs, like some 70s horro-billy, but overlaid with asian vocal nuttiness that might evoke the fibonaccis or boredoms. the band structure is pretty minimal, with one or two instruments plunking along, allowing the smartass voices to carry things.
- magali babin chemin de fer cd (no type)
this cd is consists of a series of compositions created by handling various found metallic objects and recording the results, then "extracting" the results thru the "anvil or forge" of the studio. the results are akin, yet different from, the work of seth nihil (see review of uva), in that you are brought into an interior environment. as if your ear were pressed up against the objects and hearing their resonance as they are stroked, struck, used as sound and electrical conductors in various ways. which makes for a very intimate audio setting, not immediately accessible as "music"... it is more of an artificial ambience, a created introjected universe. now the question becomes is this of value to you as a listener, to spend your time listening either intently or distractedly to these scrapings, buzzings, etc. i would have to presuppose that you have listened to a lot of recordings, and have become bored with various regurgitations of pop muzak formuli, & have embarked on a search for new ways to appreciate the possible worlds of organized sounds. if so, there are very few more original and thoughtfully-considered works than this one. the 6th track, "l'entonnoir", stood out in its building of heavy motive-type sounds which resolved into a small rolling trickle. the collaboration "jogging dans la maison hantée" appears to represent a step in the microsound electronic motif i have become somewhat familiar with, in its electronic chirps & extended heavily-reverbed metallic sounds, and its more extreme dynamics. "pluie de homards" concludes this cd with a caustic, cutting series of sounds, effectively building to a tangled jungle of a resolution.
- coin gutter truth lifting up its head above scandals cdr (vanity)
mixed-gender duo with much-considered (and documented on their website) conceptual underpinnings, mostly having to do with making the connection between anarcho-squatters and sonic adaptions/appropriation. i was actually much impressed by the credo of the web design services page, which promotes simple clean design (as evidenced by the cd "packaging") over techno-fetishism. [note: these pages are all hard-coded in html] the cdr consits of a single 36 minute track (labeled 3. "lift with your knees"- apparently 1 & 2 are on the previous cd promo) which has some very noisy parts, and some very quiet, ambient-like, constant sounds, but they come in and out so that it surprises you. there are multiple events ocurring thru the track at all times, so there is room to focus on it, or it also works as secondary sound, with less attention. a pleasing work, with apparent care having gone into it, and a sense of humor about themselves, which adds to the attraction, in my book.
- cray undo enhanced cd (bip-hop)
both cray & massimo are electronic musicians that i discovered thru the fallt invalid object series. australian ross healy chooses to promulgate an attitude of removing the human context of his work as much as possible, as, for instance, with the name cray, which was the brand of some of the first room-sized supercomputers. however, his work delivers a pretty rough connection that caught my ear. this cd starts off slow and mechanical, but by the 5th track and outward, it gets very interestingly engaging, with noisy sounds layered in a way that i found very rhythmic & musical... creative. there is also an "enhanced cd" video included, which i found more run-of-the-mill, with extended closeups of pretty everyday objects, textures and so forth. the sounds of cray, however, i do not find run-of-the-mill. i recommend you track down a copy of his invalid object contribution, comment, tho this one may be easier to find. now if someone would get around to releasing his zen and the art of hard disk recording.
- roky erickson & the aliens the evil one (plus one) cd (sympathy for the record industry)
couldn't pass this one up for the price, even new... it collects all of the tracks which were released by cbs uk & 415 records on lp back in the early 80s... nice to have roky at his peak of his demented cartoon horror monster powers all in one row... the bonus was the 2nd cd, which i had no real expectations of, having heard too many lo lo-fi live substandard pickup band live sets... but oh my... it's a radio show... (the modern humans show)... and roky is featured in pretty coherent form... unlike most other interviews where he spews non-sequiturs that are either charmingly damaged or just sad... and the tracks are excerpted rough mixes of the evil one sessions, like, in progress... this is a don't-miss document, for anyone who is in the know about this truly original texan. for a few months there, he made some connections between cartoon-flying saucer-horror movie imagery and 50's-60's-70's buddy holly via altamont via the institutionalization of "rok"... hits a nerve for dis one...
- eso steel the technology of sleep lp (20city)
an amazing record made up of what sounds like field recordings & bedroom studio electronix. there are a lot of sounds to listen to here, from near silence to drones to crackles & rumbles. well-considered arrangements make this a worthwhile subject to listen to repeatedly and consider what is going on. eso steel is richard francis, and since leaving japan for his native new zealand has started a new label, cmr (see review of kiyoshi mizutani cd from last issue). i recommend this for anyone who is into listening to soundscapes that depart from the instrumental into the environmental, albeit self-created ones.
- hans grüsel's kränkenkabinet ein haunted sommerplatz cdr (no label)
hans is a good-natured sprite of an insidious influence with his unique combination of electronics and found-dredged-ephemera of sound sources. there is a beautiful obsession at work here, with meticulous attention to detail, creating a soundtrack to a play that is calculated to make audiences scratch their heads... or was he just born that way? extra credits for the packaging, which combines hand-ripped papers/hand-drawn art/illustrated grains with an avoidance of any appearance of over-commoditization... this is work/play by the descendants of humans for the surviving geists.
- the hungry ghost cd (whimusic)
well, thanx, blake, for the cd (which he gave me at the show at trixi's as reviewed last issue)... and i gotta give you credit for adroit networking and successfully coming up with the re$ource$ to get ads for this on mtv, even... but... it doesn't really do much for me... in fact, less & less the more i listen. "lour reed" comparisons only in that there is practically no range to the vox, so we sneak around that with the talk-sing routine... and the beats and arrangements are underdeveloped... in dire need of collaboration with someone who is less adept at self-promotion and more attuned to actual substance... and sorry, associations with the impaler just tweak up the cheeze quotient past the bearable point... if the goths fall for this... they deserve whatever comes to them. here's a suggestion... go up about 3 reviews and track down some primo-era roky erickson for some truly soul-chilling inspiration ...
- massimo hey babe, let me see your usb and i'll show you my firewire 3"cd (mego)
using just a horn as a source, but manipulating the sounds via (laptop?) electronics and subsequently arranging them to form a fiercely invigorating set of peices, the italian massimo delivers on the promise hinted at with his fine set previously contributed to the fallt invalid object series, var. there is a lot of bite in this small package, a 3" cd in a small jewel case, including the graphics, which include a male figure with penis with extruding a usb cable, re reverse view or a firewire port graphically placed between the butt cheeks on the back (i will let you be surprised by the inside picture). i coarsely confrontational sense of humor, which permeates the sounds on this as well. i have to hand it to him for successfully shaking up the already-staid typicalities of the electronic genre... represents his vibrant personality (if the tales i read are true) well.
- [sic] ...and rabbits named friday cd (squirrelgirl/royk)
emanating from montreal, an endearing set of long-form electro-werks, with pulsing drums and synthetix, weaving about and around with care for the listener... what's the opposite of obnoxious? scores extra kudos for the grafx. subtly textures, carefully arranged with effectively soothing sounds, yet not in a cloying or obvious manner. seems to be lots of reverb used... analog synthesizer sounds... ringing bell-like tones here & there... not many edges, all curves kind-of softly bumping into each other... very cloudy, ethereal, with very understated percussives used in a consistent way. not much more to say...just a nice, charmingly entertaining listen. jeez, it sounds like i should invite this cd as a dinner guest.
- sightings cd (load)
another player in the unlabeled (now wave?) circuit of younger bands that work within rock forms, but seem to seek to wreck them from inside, a la us maple, pink & brown, arab on radar... a lot of effort & energy is put into pushing into the loud, fast, distorted area, but still... they are using the old skool gtr/bs/drums/vox somewhere in that mix... and it merges ever so often, sometimes even finds a groove. i hear things like those ultra-distorted early mc5 recordings, the aggression of 60s punk obscuros too-many-to-count, of (ducks) the no wave ikons (dna et al.), of the difficult-music tendencies of the 70s proggers, and the over-the-top malevolence of the early 80s punk-crossing-into-hardcore pawns. i think i would like to see these guys live, as this seems to be music that needs to have sweat dripping all over it.
- sunburned hand of the man mind of a brother cdr (manhand)
- sunburned hand of the man piff's clicks cdr (manhand)
- sunburned hand of the man jaybird cdr (manhand)
- sunburned hand of the man the wild animal cdr (manhand)
well, i had been in search of mind of a brother, so chris from father yod (ed- was that a plug?) tells me he will "go to the source"... a few weeks later, these 4 cdrs pop up in the new arrivals... so here we go... sunburned hand of the man had been mentioned in the same breath (so to speak) with the no-neck blues band, so i was expecting pretty formless communal "free" jams. the first two cdrs, mind of a brother & piff's clicks, both dated 1998, are pretty low-key, wandering affairs, without too much heat. the 2ooo-2oo1 set jaybird, however, picks up some momentum & brings to mind the demented lsd-funk jams of primo-era 1970s funkadelic. the instruments cohere into a more unified sound, rather than a series of individual parts (as on the earlier cdrs), and a constant stream of heavily-echoed voices carry on, unceasingly. the recording quality seems to have been upgraded substantially, as well. an apparent step forward and up from a growing and improving group. the wild animal complete the quadrology [tm=me if i just made up that werd] and things are pared down, yet extended and less manic than on jaybird. some hand drums make their presence felt, the guitars are heavily effected, and the bass is very circular and repetitious. seems to be a pretty deliberate representation of a live set. and i could have sworn i heard some mick jagger-isms during track 5???
the packaging on all 4 cdrs was of a piece, with brown paper sleeves with printed pschedelic-like graphix attached & the theme continued on the stick-on cdr labels. oddly, all 4 seem to contain the same photocopied square piece of paper with band credits, only differentiated on a couple by handwritten additions.
- andrew w.k. i get wet cd (island)
major juggernaut promotional push behind this local michigan musician, resulting in
mtvbuzz clip slots, commercial apps in hockey promos and numerous promo copies cluttering used record bins. considering that this appears to be marketed towards the high school demographic, we assembled & consulted our teen focus group (alexia dyslexia). her response? "take this back before i break it!" according to her, no one she knows is talking about, listening to, or is even aware that wilkes-krier even exists. here & there, i find debates about the merits of awk's approach. the songs are distilled chanted dumbed-down phrases a la "party hard". i hear echoes of psuedo-punk flavored 70s bands like ac/dc and cheap trick. somewhere, 12-year-old eyes are glazing over and fists are pumping, as this becomes their rock starter home. as far as the questions/debate about clever mersh motives vs. irritating condescension; i think most of us would do this (if we could get the chance to get away with it), if admitting the truth in our secret hearts. the end of this tale has not been writ... yet. wanna vote on whether he makes skads of cash (for himself and/or swinging dicks in suits) vs. whether he crashes-burns in those things that actually matter (enjoying life, playing well with others)? vote here: does awk's ass get licked or kicked?
- wolf eyes dread cd (bulb)
(re?)issue of the lp from hanson records, which is notable as the best representation of the current state of the wolf eyes art. this is most like what you are likely to hear if you go see these guys yet in the next few weeks touring runs. aaron mentioned to me recently that they would be taking some time off to rework the band with some newly acquired (and probably created or mutated) instruments. having now heard a few of their recordings, a handful of live dates plus various recorded & live solo & offshoot projex from the various members, i still have a hard time pinning it down... which i think is as good a definition of its quality as anything. nate young is the primary force, vocalist & wordsmith, appears to program the broken, stuttering, halting, yet crunching and driving electronic beats plus throws in permutations of his voice run thru a gauntlet of customized electronix. aaron dilloway (besides serving as goodwill ambassador) serves up distilled, short, taut guitar parts plus textures from the aforementioned altered electronix realm... some originating from tapes... some from his voice. john olson adds yet another layer of degraded & twisted electronic signals emanating from percussives, customized horns and more tapes. an amazing thing is... that the recorded result is so spare in content. they stay out of each others way, waiting for the right moment to contribute what seems like a stray escapee of a sonic patter... but it fits in the unique way that makes it wolf eyes' own. i still make a connection with the results of contemporary "microsound" electronic musiks (at least the good stuff), tho arriving at the sounds from a completely different dimension. final note: the cd appends a bonus track (after 10 minutes or so of silence) of a chaotic live session in perfect lo-fi.
- peter wright clavius 7" (20city)
this single contains a pair of heavily-treated electro-acoustic soundscapes that bring to mind the new phill niblock or rafael toral, there are similarities in terrain, tho with more obviously apparent layers, but still with a deliberate, slow-moving pace. sonic events seem to be happening in the periphery while moving, creating an ominous ambience. i don't know if it was solely due to this single, or the cumulative results of playing this and eso steel back to back repeatedly, but this time my left speaker took a dive into a pile of w§å cd cases. definitely recommended for students of new zealand drones.
- x27 the me ep cdr ep (x27 laboratories)
as advertised in the review of their appearance at 3rd st. saloon last ish, here we have another brief (4 song) eruption. this one is more of a refined production, leaving behind some of the crudeness of the sound of the product ep for a more immediately brutal x-posure... 1st 2 songs sung by carmen are suitably impressive... rikkeh follows up with a pair of disaffected vocals of his own... the overall impact is a good portrait of their live sound.
- neil young are you passionate? cd (reprise)
sad to say, for a neil young completist like me, this is not one of his stronger works. comes off as one of his minor efforts, reminding me of american stars 'n bars, trans or this note's for you. apparently, sessions with crazy horse were shelved (with the exception of "going home") in favor of these versions with neil backed by booker t. & the mg's. i saw neil with them live back in the early 90s and it was a potent combination, however, that doesn't come to fruition here. this set seems stiff, forced, the vocals don't fit comfortably. in the back of my mind, tho... i keep thinking that this is much like the reviews of young's 70s works like the aforementioned american stars n' bars or on the beach. those works loomed much larger in the context of the passage of time and the growth of his body of work. we'll see. strongest track: "goin' home- with crazy horse, this is more like it shoulda been. biggest dissapointment: "let's roll"- the much-publicized track about 911 hijack resistance comes off as weak & uninspired.
- (various artists) the freest of radicals 2cd (no type)
"bait" disk: rumbling low end drones from le chien borgne, which i found pleasing, and drawn in to the gently grinding noises contained within. james schidlowsky's "radio collision" seems like the logical progression on the previous piece. nz-style drones swell & throb, with some scraping interjections. tomas jirku uses a pretty much unchanging relatively conventional beat with some sounds going on in the background, not enuff to pique my interest. speech.fake contrasts that with a piece of separated, more minimalistic audio artifact sounds that does a good job of impelling consideration on its own terms. relatively quiet, and compellingly arranged, with lots of space between the sounds, with a nice somewhat louder part near the end. julie rousse mixes bell-tones, digital pops & more layers of sound to create an off-kilter feeling, and adding some surprising movements, very nice. the salvaged sound aesthetic continues with eucci, with torn pieces of mangled sources juxtaposed to find another askew place. i am enjoying the somewhat abstact direction of this disk, continued by the almost out-of-control short piece of distortion by viratone ballad. magali babin contributes a piece with recognizeable dropping small objects and metal resonances (see review above), which i find oddly comforting and familiar by now. some broken beats & ringing hi end tones by camp, which seemed somewhat minor in this context. claudia bonarelli also uses fractured beats, and seems pretty tame in comparison to the earlier sound experiments. ja_dijiste brings in an scratchy vinyls sound and other sources that skirt around the edge of expectations. a quiet, unsettling, insistently emerging mix. next is napalm jazz, who raise stakes with an aggressive electronic assault. an enjoyable and well-placed contrast with its instrumental ensemble approach in the midst of this disk. backstreet noise sounds like someone working next door, so it is like they are playing on your wall, with the possibility of them or their tools emerging thru the room boundaries seems imminent. the use of muffled, distorted shards of voices adds to this effect. a joint piece by n.kra & em follows, evoking the leakage of otherworldy properties thru the hole opened previously. they're here... will they notice us? jon vaughn steps up to defend the gates with a peeling sheets of noise supported by a frontal rhythm. gets a little same-y after awhile, after a promisingly threatening start. interesting buildup from playfully busted up sonic debris to a strong rhythm by 833-45, monolithic rather than monotonous, and broken up by the more abstract, possibly found sounds. an unexpected instrumental piece by kanovanik, using a conventional combo sound which doesn't really seem to fit here. this would be the answer to the "which of these is not like the others" singsong query. it is a modestly tuneful jazz-imprv-y sounding tune, but why? idmonster continues in the "band" mode with a bass guitar-heavy piece with backwards guitar, that again, seems lost or misplaced on this comp. v. v. ends the disk with a live-sounding piece comprised of percussive events, what sounds like a sheet-metal being bowed, small chimes, and progressing into unrecognizeability and sheer sound, with a "room" sound apparent during the quiet parts, overcome by cascades of white noise during the louder movements.
"switch" disk: was impressed with the brief piece by kalx, a rousing whit-ish noisey piece. then depressed abruptly by the idm beats of oef korreckt, which was good, for idm, if u like that kind of thing. sluts on tape were an editing amalgamation that was darker and more varied... loved the last 50 seconds or so. octopus ine bring it back to a more abstract setting, with what sounded like highly edited acoustic events. an intriguing piece, makes me curious for more (time to go download some mp3s?)... alphacat realigns the stream to beats, with much reverby ambience circulating around the thumpisms, very atmospheric. books on tape present a piece with beats, but they are made out of pretty noisy sounds, and they keep things moving. i can imagine someone trying to dance to this, but... good luck. a complex arrangement,with some somewhat predictable pacing. someone passing by just said "pretty psychedelic music there" as morceaux_de_machines' piece erupted from the speakers. good stuff, hard to breathe, tho, its so densely packed... claustrophobic. hmm, and i have their full-length on tap for review next issue. amazing piece, dense, metallic, onrushing, voices murmering things i am not sure i want to understand. then we get to martindx, an appropriately-placed respite of a piece which nonetheless takes us into a levitating plane, using common-sounding elements in a very peculiar and effective style- another winner. dick richards brings us back to earth with a less warped perspective on digital-sounding composition. small sounds abound, placed repetitiously and layered intricately. very subtle & effective... chris degiere was a kind of nondescript broken beats piece. headphone science continues the well-paced sequencing with its deliberate, somber, constrasts of slow tones and slippery rhythmic crunchies... mmm, tasty, pass the milk. the interestingly named gimp gadget oscillation are next with 6 minutes of modest mid-range beats. the moon stealing project... a little difficulty, i have to set aside a poor interpersonal experience with this guy... mostly backwards sounds with some strange lo-fi loops off in the periphery, doesn't really go anywhere for me. time-stretched sonic mini-diorama from diablatomica, very minimalistic, makes you listen for the slight variations, very nice, a standout. kalx returns with another, more beat-oriented piece, which i found less striking than "soundtest" which opened this disk. infoslut comes in with a piece incorporated some serious sequencing, resulting in a majestic electronic orchestral arc-ing effect. after a 20 second pause (t o set it apart?) n.kra concludes the disk with a relentlessly concussive percussion & distorted sequences that were reminiscent of (a perhaps drived from?) the preset demos in cheap keyboards. is "metroid" a video game?
- (various artists) new music for a bad economy 3"cdr series (absit omen)
- brain transplant live at the prairie house
- chris smentkowski worms
- dave stone solo
well, don't say i never do requests... reviewing these 3 3" cdrs together was the request, so i figure, what the hey, i'll give it a shot... 1st up... brain transplant: initially, not much of an impression made here... noises scurrying about without creating a feel. the single 20+ minute track begins with an electronic fanfare, of sorts, before proceeding to incorporate more sounds on the edge of hearing in frequency & volume. i enjoyed the interesting introduction of contrasting sounds. they are given room inbetween, allowing the mix to breathe. some serious editing went into this arrangement [ed- according to the press sheet, there was "no post-production/editing up in this mug"]. i kept hearing different things all thru the piece. nice one, that grew on me enuff to impress. next.
chris smentkowski's worms, to my ears, couldn't seem to decide what to be. an arrangement of sounds? or a noise on the brink of tolerance? seems like a kitchen-sink approach. lot of elements, some interesting, some cliched, but the pieces fit together awkwardly. 7 different tracks are indexed on this one, all pretty similar until the sax solo with electronic accompanyment of #7.
this one, by dave stone sounds like a wired-up electronic sax gone feedback-amuck. some attempts to harness or modulate the sounds are there, but they are being overwhelmed. it definitely sounds like the point of origin is a reed [ed- it is a bari-sax]. indexed as 2 tracks, but they seem to be of one piece, anyways... i couldn't tell where one ended and the other began... towards the end the mono-noise was broken up into chunks that provided a rhythmic component. a rough, loud listen. overall, i like the idea of a 3" cdr series, with the 20 minute or so time limitation making each lineup/approach finite. and that's a good thing.
~ b . w i l d e r e d (except where noted)
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