Cock E.S.P. - Historia De La Musica Cock

Cock E.S.P. - Historia De La Musica Cock
A Tribute to Experimental Music, 1910-2010

Here's a band that I haven't seen mentioned among "serious" musical circles often, but that is likely to change after Historia De La Musica Cock. As a quick introduction for those unfamiliar, Cock E.S.P. is a Minneapolis-based act specializing in areas generally associated with noise music and performance art. At times their work leans on somewhat adolescent humor, which is partly or mostly why they aren't already widely admired among avant-noise aficionados of more academic persuasions. But their music is very, very high quality. And if you're a lady or gentleman who fancies yourself dapper and genteel yet sensitively sympathetic to the visceral vicissitudes of post-Higginsian Danger Musics of the 21st Century, consider this: you have come full circle, and playground humor makes you more uncomfortable than looking at Hanatarash "bulldozer gig" photos. Accept that discomfort--it's supposed to be part of this kind of work. This is the kind of album that can blow your mind and take all of the beer out of your fridge.

Truth be told, Historia De La Musica Cock is easily one of the best noise-related recordings of the last long while. Presented as a tribute to the last century of experimental music, it succeeds both as an homage and a compelling album on its own terms. You can frequently hear the influences being referenced, but even at its most imitative moments, feedback and electronic noise often interject, commenting on particular moments as well as building walls of sonic weight that bring the whole recording continuity. I find myself tempted to start listing off the wide range of bands/styles that make quick appearances, but that's part of the creative joy of getting to know this record--reward yourself!

Cock E.S.P. has divided the recording into 99 individual tracks (on CD), which are also collected into 11 larger "movements" that conform more or less to areas of influence: art movements, classical, avant-jazz, dance, industrial, etc. Later movements incorporate some chronological order, too. All of it is presented attacca (with no pauses), and at a little under 38 total minutes, it's manageable as a singular entity, too. The recording breathes instead through changes in density, atmosphere, or tempo as appropriate. There are quiet passages, though the emphasis is increasingly on speed and abrasive textures as the macrocomposition progresses toward newer influences that evolved in a world increasingly calibrated to accommodate more noise. Percussion becomes more prominent in later sections, too. While some segments segue violently between one another to a montage/cut-up effect, many of them sound surprisingly controlled by the ranges of noise overhead that compliment one another like drone clusters shifting around every 20 or 30 seconds.

This is a record of extreme resources: in addition to covering a wide range of styles/influences, it features  a huge list of guest performers, and segments were recorded over two years in multiple locations, some in studios and some partially captured live. It must have been an incredible effort to assemble the final mix. There is compositional creativity and depth to interest listeners at virtually any time scale they might prefer, from seconds to minutes to the "movements" to the gestalt effect of the whole piece. The packaging is incredibly thoughtful, too, featuring 2 great art panels made by Jobeth Ahlborn and Raws (both of whom also play on the album). And they're only asking $8 postage paid for this! Like many of my favorite records, there is so much material to ingest here, from so many perspectives, that repeated listenings are rewarded with seemingly endless new insights. If you like brutal musical romps through avant-garde history, Historia De La Musica Cock is a must-have for your collection.

-first published at Killed in Cars

Other Music 10-30-11: Halloween edition

We got a good selection of Halloween-themed music packed into this episode of Other Music.

malcom played:

 Jonathan Richman – Here Come the Martian Martians – The Beserkly Years
Jonathan Richman – Abominable Snowman in the Market – The Beserkly Years
Allen Ginsberg/Phillip Glass/Lenny Kaye/Paul McCartney – The Ballad of t...he Skeletons
Mister Baby – Cemetery Mary – s/t
The Cure – The Drowning Man – Faith
Xiu Xiu – Brian the Vampire – Fabulous Muscles
Current 93 – Lucifer Over London – Calling for Vanished Faces
Scott played:

Dead Like Us - Idiot Flesh - Fancy
Zombievision -Secret Chiefs 3 - Traditionalists - Le Mani Destre Recise Degli Ultimi Uomini
Vincent Price is Coming to Russia - Messer Chups - Zombie Shopping 
Vampire Zoo - The Mae Shi - Terrorbird
Bones - Ground Zero - Plays Standards
Flowers Grow Out of My Grave - Dead Man's Bones - Dead Man's Bones
Running Scared - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - B-Sides And Rarities Volume I
Scarecrow - Rx - Bedside Toxicology
Someone Knows What Scares You - Diabolical Masquerade - Death's Design
The Angel Of Death - The Dead Brothers - Day Of The Dead
Deadly Obstacle Collage - PainKiller - Guts Of A Virgin
Undead of the Discotheque - Rob Kleiner and the Satanics - Rob Kleiner and the Satanics
The Dead - The Stench Band - Pray For The Fred (70s Lincoln band!)
Spooky Street - Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra - Moods And Grooves (Ubiquity Soul Sessions Vol.2)
Die In Terror - The Residents - The Commercial Album
For Halloween (Fol Chen remix) - No Kids - The Longer U Wait
You Sliced Up My Wife - Snakefinger - Manual Of Errors


Giant Claw - Midnight Murder

Giant Claw - Midnight Murder

This Giant Claw release really stood out for me among a stack of cassette submissions to KiC.  While this might not be as cutting-edge as some KiC-featured records, it's a thoughtfully composed set that wears some well-chosen timbral clothing.

Giant Claw compositions tend to be straightforward affairs, at least on the surface.  Clear melodies or patterns assert themselves with friendly harmonic support and the occasional drum machine.  Synth sounds rule the Claw--I don't think I hear any sounds that aren't coming from a synth or drum machine.  The synth sounds themselves mostly draw from those of the late 60s/early 70s, basic analog subtractive synthesis tones using soft sine waves.  It's a gentle palette, staying within a narrow range that delineates an overall project sound while putting focus on compositional aspects of the music.

Compositionally, this music is very much in the minimalist school of composition--I get Glass, Reich, Young, and Riley vibes all over the place.  But the analog synth sounds place the music into a somewhat different context than one gets from most of the minimalist canon.  There are occasional countermelodies/countertextures with harsher synth timbres more evocative of 80s 8-bit sounds--these often enter roughly halfway through songs, and usually introduce symmetrical scales or ring-modulated lines that intersect the otherwise harmonically-stable compositions at weird angles.  Also pointing to the 80s are frequent ostinato lines produced with arpeggiators.  Add in the notion that Giant Claw releases generally appear on cassette, and you get an interesting juxtaposition of 70s minimalism filtered through 80s 8-bit nostalgia.

Many groups have been playing with analog synth sounds, arpeggiators, drum machines, and sequencers lately, but Giant Claw makes especially confident-sounding choices.  And the focus is on composition, with dry, clear mixes that stand in contrast to the many reverbed-out improvisations one often hears from neo-psych/Krautrock acts.

Cassette considerations: interestingly, my cassette came rewound to the beginning of side B, which opens with "Big Crush."  Midnight Murder takes advantage of the 2-program A/B side potential of cassette (or vinyl), with generally denser and busier pieces on side B, and pieces that take longer to develop on side A.  I only noticed that I had the track side sequence reversed when I downloaded the digital tracks from Giant Claw's BandCamp site.  I think I actually prefer the recording opening with "Big Crush," which is a soaring yet rigorously sequenced Glass-esque romp through quickly shifting scale segments.

Speaking of BandCamp, I was delighted to discover more Giant Claw recordings there.  One of the potential frustrations with reviewing cassette releases is that they're often produced in such tiny runs that they go out of print as quickly as they can be reviewed.  I appreciate the Tong-esque qualities of releasing cassettes into a preexisting, close-knit community of listeners, but it's nice to review music that can still be found by new audiences who find out about music in part through reviews.  There are six Giant Claw releases waiting to be explored through BandCamp, most of which offer links to order physical copies, too.  Also be sure to check out Yakuza Heart Attack on BandCamp, which features Giant Claw mastermind Keith Rankin on keys.  These are all very cool recordings deserving of a wider audience.

--First published at Killed In Cars


Other Music 10-23-11: Raws!

Art by Raws--go to Accidental Therapy to see more of his visual art.
The 2nd half of this week's show featured music curated by special guest Raws.  Raws is a man of many extreme talents: legendary drummer for Wasteoid, power electronics for Plack Blague, vokills for Vickers, bass for Ezra, and more.  He also brings great shows to Nebraska via Accidental Therapy.  And he's a great visual artist in addition to his prodigious musical abilities--check the back cover of Cock E.S.P.'s recent "Historia De La Musica Cock" for a taste.

Other Music has been slacking a little lately in the harsh noise department, and Raws invaded us to fill that gap, bringing some deep cuts from his collection (including a few tracks he's played on).

And here's the playlist:

malcom played.....
The Evens – Eventually – Get Evens
Palace Music – New Partner – Viva Last Music
Gillian Welch – Tennessee – The Harrow and the Harvest
Jun Miyake – Le Voyager Solitaire – Stolen from Strangers
Ornette Coleman – Naked Lunch – Naked Lunch
Colectivo Eterofónico – Telar – Medios De Transportes
Colectivo Eterofónico – Telar – Medios De Transportes
Rinôçérôse – I Love Ma Guitare – Installations Sonore
Colectivo Eterofónico – Medios De Transportes – Medios De Transportes
Maximo Rodriguez Sexteto – Recorriendote – El Tiempo De Nuestro Lado
Herbie Hancock & Wayne Shorter – Diana – 1 + 1

RAWS OF RAWS played:

-RECTAL ANARCHY - Pretty Vacant Panty Rectal Anarchy
-REVENGE - Traitor Crucifixion
-SEVERED HEADS - Cyflea Rated R
-BATHORY - Of Doom...
-POD - Podville
-NYOGTHAEBLISZ - Onslaught of Zygotical Conquest
-SLOVEN - One Inch Punch
-MASONNA - Audiotrack 1
-MASONNA - Audiotrack 2
-HAUS ARAFNA - Happy Thrills
-ARMATRON - I Am Drugs
-COCK E.S.P. - Daisy Marduks/Morbidly Obese Florist/Cradle of MILF/Evil Never Dies/Don't Aske, Don't Tell/On The Seventh Day God Created...Masturbation/The Darkness of Speed/Didgeridoom/Forever Sheet Metal Bitch/For Drug Crazed Girlfriends Only
-MINNY POPS - Monica
-VICKERS - Hog Tied
-GORGONIZED DORKS - Snake In The Grass
-AGENTS OF SATAN - Unholy Ascension/HOG
-PLACK BLAGUE - Manic Satanic
-OTTO VON SCHIRACH - Spine Serpants of Sperm Island


Chris Watson & Marcus Davidson - Cross-Pollination

Cross-Pollination collects two long-ish pieces of Chris Watson, a UK-based "environmental sound archivist" who must also be admired as a founding member of Cabaret Voltaire ("Voice of America," anyone?).  His albums for the Touch label collect his recordings of wildlife and nature sounds into thematic narratives, sometimes featuring guest collaborators like the inimitable Z'EV.  For this effort, the first piece, Midnight At the Oasis, features Watson recordings alone, and the second, The Bee Symphony, combines Watson's recordings of honeybees with a 5-piece choir arrangement composed by Marcus Davidson.

I lean more toward the collaborations that blend compositions and field recordings, but a few words regarding "Midnight At the Oasis."The liner notes refer to it as a "time compression" made from a dusk-to-dawn recording done in the Kalahari Desert, capturing the sounds of the mostly nocturnal creatures of the area.  It feels more like a document than an interpretive piece.  At the beginning, it is dusk, and birds dominate the soundscape.  Nightfall must be arriving by the 6:00 mark, where the buzzing of insects takes over, with occasional punctuation from monkeys.  The insect sounds occupy the center of the recording for a long time, going through several phases of complex multifrequency drones that mostly held my interest--the large quantity of insects and the depth of overtones in their collective sawing make for interesting phase shifts and addition tones when you listen to a consistent field of their sounds for five minutes at a time.  The sun begins to reemerge with roughly 8 minutes remaining, and with it birds again take control of the auditory scene.  I'm guessing that the final 2 minutes might take a compositional liberty, though, as insects are allowed to take a final unaccompanied bow.

The birds arrive again to introduce "The Bee Symphony," though they duck out after the first two minutes or so.  As the birds fade out, the choir is crossfaded in over the course of another few minutes, and the duration is comprised of bees and human voices from the 4 minute mark onward.

I find Marcus Davidson's choral scoring in and around the bees to be the most exhilarating aspect of this disc.  With only five members of his choir, he has produced an incredibly dense sound, though much of the effect is due to a liberal application of reverb.  And he takes several musical approaches with the choir that cut, blend, and morph between one another to great effect.  Closest to matching the sounds of the bees are are long sections of drones and tone clusters evoking Ligeti.  These contrast nicely with some gentler passages drawing from Renaissance counterpoint, harmonically more quartal/quintal than tertian.  But I'm especially reminded of Stockhausen's choral writing in the way that many of the tone clusters feature eerie shifts in vowel sounds.  The different kinds of vocal approaches tend to give one another room to shift gently, but there are some more abrupt stylistic turns that are very exciting, like around the 14 minute mark when the music comes out of a warm passage outlining a major-key tonality directly into tone clusters that lead to almost horn-like glissando lamentations.

I do have some reservations about the sheer volume of reverb in "The Bee Symphony," though.  While it must be conceded that there are moments where reverb becomes a compositional tool at the level of pitch selection (like around 16:15, where reverbs emphasize different frequency ranges within the vast wall of sounds, pulling out sympathetic drones), I mostly find that the reverb creates an unnecessarily spooky atmosphere.  After all, the bee recordings are taken from "the hives of an English country garden" according to the liner notes--that description doesn't give me expectations of copious amounts of ominous reverb.  And I think there are some really interesting sonic possibilities for a bone-dry choral arrangement made to work with bees.  Consider "The Man in Black," a Jonathan Bepler composition from the Cremaster 2 soundtrack made of samples of 200,000 honey bees pitted against the drums of Dave Lombardo (Slayer, Fantomas) and the vocals of Steve Tucker (Morbid Angel).  Obviously Bepler's piece is working in a completely different direction, recontextualizing the sounds of bees as guitars in a death metal composition, but the overall mix is very dry and exposes a different range of potential interactions between musical sounds and honeybee sounds.  I'd love to hear a mix of "The Bee Symphony"with the intimacy of no reverb.

Finally, a mixtape recommendation: I happened to have the Hum of Gnats s/t release cued to play after "The Bee Symphony," which turns out to be a fantastic transition on many levels: the buzz of bees to the Hum of Gnats, pastoral English gardens to a few minutes of more urban field recordings, and it opens into a pleasantly dry mix that offers some reverb relief.

--first published at Killed in Cars


Moritz von Oswald Trio - Horizontal Structures

The newest Moritz von Oswald Trio release is more properly a quintet recording: the core trio of von Oswald (electronics), Max Loderbauer (electronics), and Sasu Ripatti (percussion) is joined by Tikiman on guitar (!) and bass from Marc Muellbauer.  Like many von Oswald projects, these "structures" follow a relatively fixed path, with little in the way of thematic development over their respective durations.  "Structure" is a great term for these pieces, really, as they lend themselves to the kinds of analysis often reserved for architecture or visual art rather than music.  Instead of harmonic development or melodic evolution, I find myself appreciating them in terms of proportion, balance, weight, texture, and palette.

What is unique to Horizontal Structures, especially in comparison to the previous Vertical Ascent release, is a significantly diminished reliance on beats.  When one considers that the core trio can sometimes function with all three providing percussion-oriented sounds at once, rhythmic delineation on this record is handled with a surprisingly light touch.  Though these pieces are improvisatory, it sounds like several conditions must have been laid down by the group at the start of recording, foremost among them a special emphasis on listening.  For this music, "listening" isn't simply a matter of listening to each others' improvised phrases and working toward a cosmic frenzy--instead each musician is listening for the Structure itself, a collective effort of building and preservation.

Structure 1 is my favorite, and it's very evocative of an early to mid 80s NYC Downtown Scene jam, perhaps a cousin of early Bill Laswell.  Its "structure" is fortified through short phrases exchanged among the group that are sustained through atmospheric washes of reverb.  Guitar lines alternate between occasional nods to blues playing and whole tone descending passages (symmetrical scales are a great way to install some balance in a "structure," I think).  Structure 2 keeps the reverb and feels even more minimalist, spinning around a long-repeating rhythmic synth pulse and eventually supporting some gentle percussion that sounds more tribal than dancefloor.

Dub beats themselves, a mainstay of von Moritz projects like Basic Channel, don't materialize until Structure 3, over 30 minutes into the album.  In the first half-hour, only the subtlest of allusions are made to dub through occasional moments of triplet delays bathed in reverb.  Structure 3, though, will satisfy listeners looking for a track more expected of a von Moritz group.  The album closer, Structure 4, has a bit of the tribal vibe of Structure 2 and more symmetrical harmonic action like Structure 1 (this time riffing for a long time around a simple tritone), but distinguishes itself through a mix that ultimately sheds the blanket of reverb worn over the previous structures, and increases musical density.  It closes the record with considerably more percussion than the first half, but returns to avoidance of anything that could remotely be considered a dance music rhythmic cliche.  It's also the longest track of the album, leaving some space in its final third for individual musicians to briefly peek through the mix with independent voices before coming closely together for a soft, quiet landing.

Is there an intentional contrast between Horizontal Structures and Vertical Ascent?  The album titles beg to be compared.  The "structures" are all longer than the "patterns" of Vertical Ascent, so in a literal sense, there is more horizontal space afforded to pieces on the new album.  On a conceptual level, there are subtle differences in overall approach between the two albums, but nothing jarring.  Vertical Ascent's "patterns" are all more beat oriented than most of Horizontal Structures, though Structure 3 wouldn't be out of place in Ascent.  And the Vertical record is lacking a bit of organic feel from the guitar/bass addition to Horizontal--the acoustic bass parts especially enrich the vibe of Horizontal for me, warmly grounding each Structure.  But overall both albums have a similarly sparse approach to collective improvisation, and both focus on quickly creating and sustaining a particular atmosphere with each piece rather than searching for thematic leaps and falls.

It's also worth mentioning that there is a Structure 5 track available as download-only.  It's a shorter recording than the other Structures at 8 and a half minutes, and it does have more of a dynamic rise and fall than the CD/LP cuts.  The whole track is drowning (or "swimming," if you prefer) in reverb, and it's made mostly of percussive hits and distorted and ring modulated synth sounds that evoke an early industrial-era vibe (though again without delineating a particular beat).  It comes to a gentle conclusion much like Structure 4, but it takes a shorter and noisier route to get there.  Foreshadowing of an upcoming project focussing on the diagonal, perhaps?

--first published at Killed in Cars


Other Music 10-16-11: Bobbie Boob

We had Lincoln Dada-electronica duo Bobbie Boob live in the studio for the 10-16-11 edition of Other Music.  Originally scheduled to play for around 40 minutes, we were having such a great time with them that we let them run for much longer: download this podcast where you'll find 80+ minutes of live Bobbie Boob waiting for you.

Bobbie Boob has released 8 albums so far.  It's a lot of music to cover in a review, but a few words about the music in general: I'm hearing BB as party music for awesomely weird parties.  Their approach incorporates a lot of relatively abrasive IDM and noise influences, including Aphex Twin, Merzbow, and the Legendary Pink Dots, but they always keep an emphasis on energetic, propulsive beats.  And there are contrasts, too: mellower moments tend toward ambient music, and some passages feature almost classical or jazz progressions.

They mix things up enough to keep their sound intereresting over long hauls.  Normally my attention span wanes when I'm listening to the same music for an hour and a half, even if I like it a lot, but Bobbie Boob never got boring during their long performance.  I've heard the same comment from a few listeners in the couple of days since the broadcast, too.  And the music can support more active listening than "party music" might imply, too--it just maintains a great forward thrust that would make for a great party.  To my ears, the closest sonic comparison to the Bobbie Boob sound is probably JG Thirwell's Steroid Maximus recordings, or maybe some of The End's work.  All incorporate a wide variety of sounds and samples, alternate between rhythm/noise and relatively tonal orientation, and all keep laying down a beat that promotes focus and attention even for listeners who wouldn't consider themselves fans of "experimental" music.  In particular, some of the sections featuring vocal/chant samples in the last hour of their performance reminded me of similarly eerie moments I love from Steroid Maximus' Gondwanaland.

The overall vibe helps to pull listeners in, too.  While some of their influences tend to create abrasive or gloomy musical spaces, Bobbie Boob embraces humor and fun.  I'm guessing that most of the BB discography is intended to be creatively playful, displaying a warm kind of intelligence that can handle a good laugh or two.  But that doesn't mean it can't be taken seriously in its turn: as I mentioned in the recent Paul Bailey review, I'm pretty burned out on the notion that "serious" has to equate with "depressing."  Bobbie Boob is more likely to become the soundtrack for your next bonfire rather than your next riot.

Best of all, you can hear them for yourself for free.  The entire Bobbie Boob discography is available online from several places: check their website, their BandCamp page, or Mindless Machines, a site that also features some other Lincoln-area electronica downloads, all for free.  If you like what you hear, maybe you can book them for that next bonfire and kick 'em some $$$ that way.


Jeremiah Cymerman - Fire Sign

Killed in Cars is okay with cross-posting, so I guess I'll post my KiC reviews both there and here...couldn't hurt for the artists represented to get review hits from a couple of sources.  So without further ado:

Jeremiah Cymerman - Fire Sign
With Fire Sign, Jeremiah Cymerman returns to the intricate microediting approach of his previous Tzadik release, In Memory of the Labyrinth System, one of my favorite albums of 2008.  For Labyrinth, Cymerman made recordings of his own extended-technique clarinet vocabulary and then reworked them in ProTools into a new kind of electroacoustic music where some passages are allowed to sound as recorded, more or less, but they’re also turned into orchestrations and reinterpretations of themselves through intense editing.  Fire Sign expands on this idea by introducing a variety of other source materials: trumpet, contrabass, cello, drum improvisations, and a small ensemble passage from a live performance.
Tiny samples of sound, often small fractions of a second in length, are assembled in new combinations and re-deployed as rhythmic elements and textural spaces.  Even new pitches can be created this way: imagine taking a wisp of sound, a tiny “click,” and running it against itself 200 times in a second: instant bass tone, oscillation through microediting!  Cymerman’s samples are at times so small that one can imagine them behaving like particulate matter, adrift in Brownian motion if left alone, but his careful hand puts them back into the mixes in fascinating ways that enable his source materials to have musical conversations with the audio equivalent of their own homeopathic essences.  At times, the less-manipulated source passages often taking “lead instrument” roles in Fire Sign compositions are also given gentle tweaks through microediting: timbral changes can be effected through removal of tiny moments of sound that alter the waveforms or front-end articulations of notes, and delays can be made by pasting small reiterations of note tails at the ends of phrases.  Overall, Fire Sign isn’t as dense-sounding with microedits as In Memory of the Labyrinth System, but instead makes more use of that conversational potential between source and sample.
While there isn’t any sonic similarity, Cymerman’s microediting compositions remind me of the hermetic devotion of Conlon Nancarrow’s player piano pieces.  Both composers have worked with technologies designed primarily to reproduce familiar sounds, and both aimed for transcendence instead, creating anfractuous and personal worlds through new potentials of technology and a lot of detail-oriented hard work.
Cymerman suggests listening to Fire Sign with headphones, and I’d agree (though I’ve been enjoying it tearing up the air in my living room, too).  There are a lot of subtle sounds that are hard to catch without headphones, but they really enrich the listening experience: in “Collapsed Eustachian,” for example, there are many subtle sounds in both the source material (Wooley and Evans breathing through their trumpets and light tapping on valves) and in the microedits (soft, high frequency electronic-sounding blips, low-end rumbles, and granular effects occasionally coalescing in the midrange with an ambience of static or vinyl surface noise).  The mixes also feature lots of interesting panning to give the music space from left to right, and gradations of reverb to create some front-to-back room as well, creating a 3-dimensional sound that seems to translate best with headphones.
My favorite piece on Fire Sign is “Touched With Fire,” made of in-studio guided improvisations from Christopher Hoffman (cello) and Brian Chase (drums).  This is a high-contrast piece, pitting high density, fast sections, with gentle slow/rubato/ambient scenes.  Cymerman shows here how he can balance highly agitated passages with the need to let the piece breathe, sometimes becoming enveloped in the near-stillness of catatonia.  Long tones contrast with staccato, and there are plaintive passages with relatively traditional harmonic/melodic motion (occasionally interrupted with moments of glitched decay).  
For those looking for even more tonality, the album’s closer “Burned Across the Sky” is built on a gentle loop from a live show, over which Cymerman records a solo that mixes his bag of extended techniques with fleeting moments of more traditional playing (there are a few chromatic clusters in there) and some microedits, and the whole gradually fades away instrument by instrument to a melancholy effect somewhere in the ballpark of Gavin Bryars’ “Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet.”  It’s a moving end to a stimulating album.
For anyone interested in more details regarding Cymerman’s editing techniques, he published a great article about the making of Labyrinth in the March/April 2008 issue of TapeOp.  Unfortunately, TapeOp is incredibly behind in making back issues available online, but Cymerman was kind enough to put a scan of the article on his website.  It’s an inspiring read if you’re interested in creative ways to integrate the recording/engineering process into the act of composition itself.  You can read it toward the bottom of this page: http://www.jeremiahcymerman.com/interviews
(review first published at Killed In Cars)

My first Killed in Cars review + Bobbie Boob tonight

As I mentioned, I'll be doing some reviews for Killed in Cars.  Here's the first:

There'll be more stuff coming, both on KiC and here...

And tonight, be sure to tune into Other Music for a live-in-studio performance from Bobbie Boob!  10-midnight CST at http://www.kzum.org or 89.3 on your FM dial in Lincoln.


Other Music 10-9-11: Paul Bailey Ensemble

We had a great interview with Paul Bailey of the Paul Bailey Ensemble on last night's Other Music show, and I wanted to include a review of their music along with this week's podcast.

That podcast is, by the way, right here.

Before I begin, a call for submissions: please feel free to get in touch with me and submit music.  I review music and books on this site, I play interesting music on the Other Music show, and I'm about to start doing more reviews that will appear on Killed in Cars.  If you email neonren at hotmail dotcom, I'll get my address to you, and I'd love to hear interesting new music.  Paul Bailey submitted his music to the radio show, which is the first that we'd heard of his work, and we're happy to promote and expose it to a wider audience.  I'm a composer/musician myself as well as a voracious music fanatic, and I get a lot of enjoyment out of helping musicians and audiences find one another.

Onto the Paul Bailey Ensemble: simply put, I adore this music.  I suppose the closest comparison to the PBE sound is some of Michael Nyman's work, particularly his scores for Peter Greenaway films and his string quartets.  I've been a huge fan of that music for a long time, to the degree that I modeled the music I wrote for my own wedding ceremony after that approach.  Essentially, PBE plays a style of "New Music" in which one can expect a harmonic vocabulary often making reference to the music of the Late Renaissance/early Baroque, but played with a variety of modern instruments and set with very clean rhythmic textures, often driving 8th note figures that propel the music with precision.  Vocal pieces also evoke Renaissance music, featuring the polyphonic motet approach with intersecting vocal lines along with some spoken word passages.

I usually hear this style described as living under the "minimalist" umbrella, which makes some sense: Nyman himself is generally credited with applying that term to music, after all.  But this kind of minimalism is frequently very complex, compositionally speaking--it's just that pieces are written with a kind of care that affords great clarity to the music.  The PBE recordings can be very busy, but everything has room to breathe and to be heard through careful orchestration as well as good recording and mixing. As opposed to "minimalist," I prefer to think of this music as "modular" or "cellular," in the sense that the music evolves gradually and can leave room for compositional adjustment of sections in terms of length: harmonic ideas repeat in "cells" or "modules" while melodies organically evolve through variations that unfold with the ease of nature itself.  There is a degree of practical utility to this approach when scoring for film or theatre, as "cells" can be added or removed as needed to match on-screen action.  But aesthetically it can be evocative as well: one can compose the basic sections of a piece, workshop it for a while with an ensemble, and see how long the sections really want to be by letting them "live in the air."  I hear a unique combination of compositional control and freedom in this music.

But I actually like the PBE recordings better than most of the Michael Nyman compositions I've long enjoyed for one simple reason: this music has a much wider emotional/communicative range.  Bailey's compositions can evoke the same atmospheres of high drama as Nyman, where as a listener I can feel almost overwhelmed, a very small voice in a large, complex world.  Nyman's work, though, more or less operates in dark spaces all of the time, with pieces that are mostly ominous in calmer moments and emotionally crushing at their peaks.  In contrast, I think Bailey's music is more emotionally inclusive.  There is fun, play, humor and joy in the music of PBE that can offer redemption, or speak to the happier moments in listeners' lives. That's something that I really crave in modern music, art, and literature.  Art can remain profound and contemplative and still have some fun.  Maybe I'm just a generally happy fellow, but to me the tapestry of life contains just as many highs as lows (hopefully even more highs than lows!), and art speaks to more of my feelings and thoughts when it can traverse the whole range of human experience.

Hear it for yourself.  Bailey kindly makes his music available for free.  Check out his website at http://www.paulbailey.us.  And be sure to read the hilarious graphic libretto for his Life's Too Short piece while you're there, which deftly represents the contrapuntal voices of the work through Peanuts characters.  He's offering lots of stuff free, but I did notice that you can find his work on iTunes and Bandcamp if you're inclined to kick a few dollars back his way for this amazing music.

And if you're craving more new music, Bailey also operates a website featuring free downloads from a variety of new music composers at http://www.alt-classical.com.  I haven't had a chance to dig into the site yet, but it looks like a great resource and a great community where fans and composers can find one another.

On next week's Other Music show, we'll be having an in-studio live performance from Lincoln's weirdo electronica project Bobbie Boob, so keep tuning into Other Music.

I'm working on some more Words on Sounds content, particularly more writing in the Technology and Humanity series, but I need to focus on some KiC reviews in the short term...hang tight, dear readers!

Also: for you Lincoln readers, I'll be playing a show this Thursday as part of Lincoln Calling.  I'm playing guitar with Paper People at the Black Market.  6 PM, all ages, no cover.  I haven't played a gig on guitar in over 10 years.  I'd love to see some Lincoln folks at the show!


Quick update

Many busy things happening here, but I wanted to get links up for the last few Other Music shows.  But first, be sure to tune in 10-midnight central time on Sundays in October, as we'll have special guests all month:

Oct 1: (tomorrow night!) Paul Banks of the wonderful Killed in Cars web empire: guest DJ.
Oct 9: Paul Bailey of the "Alt-Classical" Paul Bailey Ensemble: interview and playing tracks from his releases
Oct 16: Lincoln's own Bobbie Boob, playing experimental electronica live in the studio
Oct 23: Raws of Wasteoid, Plack Blague, Vickers, Ezra, Accidental Therapy
, etc: guest DJ
Oct 30: Devil's Night--Halloween show

You can listen live at 89.3 in Lincoln or streaming anywhere at kzum.org.

Malcom rocked out  the 9-18-11 show all by himself.  He played:
Jonathan Wilson – Gentle Spirit – Gentle Spirit
Jonathan Wilson – Gentle Spirit – Gentle Spirit
Clogs – Gentler We – Lullaby for Sue
Cut Copy – Strange Nostalgia for the Future – Zonoscope
Herbie Hancock & Wayne Shorter – Memory of Enchantment – 1 + 1
Mark Wingfield – Kevin Kastning – The Mirror of Here – I Walked Into the Silver Darkness
Mark Wingfield – Kevin Kastning – Secret Density – I Walked Into the Silver Darkness
Howard Zinn – The Patriotic Thing to Do – Artists in a Time of War
Think – Ascension: The Pretty Part – Drift
Think – Aeons to Go: Sunshine People – Drift
Ornette Coleman – Fadela’s Coven – Naked Lunch
Ornette Coleman – Interzone Suite– Naked Lunch
Manu Dibango – Nights in Zeralda – Soul Makossa
Manu Dibango – O Boso – Soul Makossa
Jun Miyake – Est-ce Que Tu Peux Me Voir – Stolen from Strangers
John Coltrane – Om – Om (This one's for you Jeffmetal!)

And the 9-25-11 show included:

Sajjanu - mechanical tampopong - Pechiku
Ydestroyde - kurukuru-DONG!! - Synosizer
Night On Earth - Atman - Second Hand
O Paradis - Guardo Mi Amor - Pequenas Canciones De Amor
Okkyung Lee - Kung - Noisy Love Songs
Omoide Hatoba - peace ball - Black Hawaii
Oranssi Pazuzu - Kangastus 1968 - Muukalainen Puhuu
Korekyojin - Quicksilver - Arabasque
Cornelius - Count Five or Six - Fantasma
Itoken - Monomaniac - Pins and Needles.
John Frusciante - My Smile is a Rifle - Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt
Pregnant - Liquidation on Swans - Liquidation on Swans
Pilesar - Slipping On Eggs on the Floor - Radio Friendly
Bjork – Unravel – Homogenic
Bjork – Unravel – Homogenic
Domestica – Sweeps – A Situation In Situ
Junior Mighty – 55 Replies – A Situation Presents Itself
Once a Pawn – Blue Eyes – A Situation Like This
The Thielgoods – Last Night - A Situation Like This
Gillian Welch – Dark Turn of Mind – The Harrow & the Harvest
Gillian Welch – The Way It Will Be – The Harrow & the Harvest
Neko Case – South Tacoma Way – Blacklisted
Joanna Newsom – Bridges & Balloons – The Milk-Eyed Mender
Neko Case – I Wish I Were the Moon – Blacklisted
Joanna Newsom – Go Long – Have One on Me