Thursday, June 02, 2005
Hwyl Nofio, Anatomy of Distort
Consisting of seven tracks of minimalist structures and richly billowing clouds of ominous drone-fog, Hwyl Nofio's self-released CD-R Anatomy of Distort is one of the strongest collections of electroacoustic work in recent memory.
Nofio mastermind Steve Parry works with a wide range, instrumentally: although the structural components of these pieces are often established using traditional instruments such as piano or guitar, you're equally likely to find a piece built around a loop of clanging Einsturzendan metal. The more atmospheric elements found here also come from a broad set of sources: Parry favors the electroniccold oscillations, laptop distortion, E-bow whine, radio wavesbut he's not afraid to exploit the ambience-generating potential of acoustic instruments like clarinet and chamber strings (as on the disc's opening track, "The Life And Death of Joseph Merrick"). He might be bringing a lot of variety to the table, but the disc's coherence never flags: it consistently evokes a slate-gray space existing somewhere between the bleak cliffs owned by Norway's Deathprod and the militarized dead zone that Re: infiltrated on their recent album Alms.
Handsomely packaged in a slim DVD case, and unerringly high in quality, Anatomy of Distort readily holds its own against the best work of other UK dronemakers like Andrew Chalk or Jonathan Coleclough. Check the Hwyl Nofio site for availability, or order through Aquarius.
Listen: "The Face of A Social Butterfly." Thanks to Steve for permission to (temporarily) make this track available as an MP3.
posted by jpb
Monday, May 23, 2005
Apostasy Recordings roundup:
The Opera Glove Sinks in the Sea, S/T
The Believers, BronTOURsaurus
Thee Magik Marquers, Feel the Crayon
A recent batch of new releases on Apostasy Recordings finds these peddlers of low-fi, punk-ass ambient-noise-screech-rawk further expanding their stable and delving even deeper into uncharted psychic terrain. Apostasy is rapidly developing a distinctive sonic and visual aesthetic as a label, and these three releases certainly help to cement its rep as one of the most reliable purveyors of weirdness in the international music bottomfeeder scene right now.
The Opera Glove Sinks in the Sea, the eponymous debut release by Gwyneth Merner, is a haunting collection of tone-poems. Housed in a delicate, sewn onionskin jacket, the 6 tracks on this release strike a poised balance between ominous menace and melacholy beauty. Treated violin scrapes, the clack of a typewriter, looped voice and other found sounds are woven together to create a compelling soundscape of spooky creaks and tenebrous sibilations, but it is Merner's subtle and precise theremin playing that really helps to elevate this baby to the next plane, particularly on the piece "I Am Thinking of You," in which a deceptively simple theremin melody wrings out oceans of pathos from a few well-placed notes, like Eno at his most affecting. All in all, an unexpected and excellent release from a first-timer.
The Believers, a white-clad cult of glam Neanderthals, have emerged from the primeval ooze to bash us over the heads with their single-celled swamprawk on BronTOURsaurus. The Hyde-ian alterego of Son of Earth members John Shaw and Matt Krefting (plus Anna Klein and Jessi Swenson), The Believers like their rock raw, simple and stoopid- and so do I! Camping out around overloaded guitar riffs, distorted vocals, and pounding drums, these Sleestaks-in-satin provide the perfect soundtrack to a summer headcold. Standout moments on these six tracks include Jessi Swenson's snotty vocals over the garage stomp of "Riverbottom Nightmare Band," and the patient, distorted Krautish riffs of "Super Continent," which at its best moments sounds like some lost Parson Sound outtake. A dish best served with a coctail of generic cough syrup and Lite beer.
Much ink has been spilled lately in praise of Thee Magik Marquers (sic?), and deservedly so. Their relentless touring over the past few years has left many a jaw agape and many a forehead bleeding in the aftermath of their mighty live show, a combination of free noise improvisation and confrontational No-Wave theater that never fails to polarize unsuspecting audiences. Though they have yet to release an aural document that does justice to their electrifying on-stage presence, this one comes pretty damn close. Pete Nolan's relentless drumming provides the skeleton for The Marquers' ex temp compositions, with Leah Quimby's precussive guitar squalls serving to flesh out this beast. But it is Elisa Ambrogio's free associating that is the brain of this Frankenstein of jizz-sound. Remember Ann Magnuson's archly incisive, pre-packaged monologues that graced many a Bongwater cd? Hallmark feminisms compared to the rawly inventive vitriol of Ambrogio! "I am a New York City Topiary garden"!? "I have a private audience in the house of God/ I have a purse that won't close in the house of God"!? WTF? Delicious delirium of the highest order.
Visit Apostasy here.
Listen: The Believers, "Super Continent"
Listen: The Opera Glove Sinks Into The Sea, "I Am Thinking of You"
(Note: this is part of an occasional feature where we'll post MP3s of bands we review for as long as the review remains on the front page of the blog. Once the review goes into the archives, the MP3s will be removed. Special thanks to Apostasy for their kind permission.)
posted by cdm
Thursday, May 19, 2005
DKG Sleep Trio, self-titled
The newest zone appearing on the big map of musical microclimates is the teenage wasteland of college-town Indiana, where an unlikely assortment of post-everything bands have group-identified as the Fuck Me Stupid Princess Mountain Recording Collective, which may be my favorite name for anything, ever. The first disc I got my hands on from these folks is a self-titled release from the DKG Sleep Trio, which contains six pieces of bad-trip improv assembled with a loose DIY basement aesthetic.
If forced to place them into a context, I'd say that the trio, at its most fundamental, is playing rockalthough it's the grey, reptillian rock of Slint, Mick Turner, and the Dead C, more in love with the empty blasted landscape of amp hum and distorted crunch than with anything that resembles rhythm and blues. Although most of the untitled pieces here are dominated by this rangy, strung-out guitar work (contributed by Mike Dixon and Carlos Gonzales), they're rounded out with percussive spatter, cracked electronics, and wounded ululations that seem to have risen from the lower echelons of emo. (The album's vocal approach is maybe best exemplified by the second track, featuring an I'm-off-my-meds rant to a beloved fog machine ("Foggy")a rant which goes from schizophrenic mumble to howling tantrum, with brief stops at all the various waystations inbetween.)
Occasionally the pieces establish a structure: the guitar and percussion establish temporarily residence around some pattern of scummed-up electronic arpeggiations, and all the stochastic noise suddenly seems like it's in place. More commonly, however, the elements cohere briefly and then dissolve again, giving the whole affair an air of junk-sick doom, which is almost certainly the aim.
Self-released by the Fuck Me Stupid Mountain Princess Recording Collective.
Listen: "Untitled [Track 4]"
(Note: this is part of an occasional feature where we'll post MP3s of bands we review for as long as the review remains on the front page of the blog. Once the review goes into the archives, the MP3s will be removed. Special thanks to Jeremy for his kind permission.)
posted by jpb
Thursday, May 12, 2005
White Rock, Tarpit
When this quartet of Brooklyn noise luminaries uses the phrase "White Rock," I don't think they intend for us to think of the area of the record store where you'd shelve the Skrewdriver discs (or the Lynryd Skynrd). I think that they'd hope for us to instead think literally, to imagine an actual piece of colored stone, something prehistoric and suffused with cryptic meaning. That might be the right visual for listening to these tracks, which sound, indeed, like something that might emerge from some heavy chunk of prehistoric matter coated in ash or bat-shit.
The layers of animistic heaviness unearthed here will come as no surprise to those familiar with the other work of the personnel on handBrian and Nate from noise-rock act Mouthus, and Maya and Mike from the electronic drone ensemble Double Leopards. Individually, each of these groups have been digging tunnels through the loamy silt of the psychedelic unconscious, and Tarpit takes us on two long dungeon crawls through the weird riddled nexus where those tunnels meet.
Built from thick pileups of unidentifiable groans, vocal mutterings, electical hum, and Neolithic beats, these tracks embody the most lofty Cageian ideas about sound being liberated from instruments and ego, while simultaneously living out the scuzziest punk fantasies about the complete destruction of song structures. And yet, for all its abrasive edges and strange angles, the soundworld established here is strangely welcoming and embracing. Sink into its warm womblike depths and you might not want to leave. Each time Tarpit ends, vomiting me abruptly back into the silence of my apartment, I feel, unmistakably, a pang of disappointment.
On Troubleman, limited to an edition of 1,000.
posted by jpb
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Those of you who can make it to Quebec later this month would do well to check out this great-looking festival, featuring Wolf Eyes, Double Leopards, Philip Jeck, the Boredoms, Anthony Braxton, No Neck Blues Band, Peter Brotzmann, and a bunch of other noteworthy acts.
Thanks to Eric B. for the heads-up.
posted by jpb