Two OM playlists for december 2011

I'm a couple of weeks behind on Other music playlists, so it's catch-up time. Many essays and reviews are still pending--the holiday season is demanding a lot of my attention this month...

On 12-11-11,

Malcom Played:
Post-Trendies – Driveshaft – s/t
Evangelista – Tremble Dragonfly – Prince of Truth
Evangelista – Crack Teeth – Prince of Truth
Wadada Leo Smith – Celestial Sky and All the Magic: A Memorial for Lester Bowie – Golden Quartet
The Nels Cline Singers – Divining – Initiate
Mark Wingfield – Kevin Kastning – Secret Density – I Walked Into the Silver Darkness
Scott played:
Little Trip To Heaven - Mugison - Little Trip
Peaceful Paths - Make A Rising - Infinite Ellipse and Head with Open Fontanel 
My Hands - The Magic I.D. - I'm So Awake / Sleepless I Feel
Paper Hats - Pram - Dark Island 
My Darling's Love Arrow - Princess Nicotine - Folk & Pop of Myanmar
Smelly Tongues - Ptôse - Face De Crabe
De Nuit - Lucien Dubuis Trio - Tovorak
Rorschach - Submerged - Before Fire I Was Against Other People 
Chattering Ladies - Moniek Toebosch - I Can Dance

Then on December 19,
Malcom Played:
Antony & the Johnsons – Kiss My Name – The Crying Light
Scout Niblett – Do You Want To Be Buried With My People – This Fool Can Die Now
Joanna Newsom – Baby Birch – Have One On Me
Feist – When I Was a Young Girl – Let It Die ...

Feist – How Come You Never Go There – Metals
Bjork – Virus – Biophilia
Bjork – Hunter Vessel – Drawing Restraint 9
Atlas Sound – Quick Canal – Logos
Sun Ra – Them of the Stargazers – Live at the Village Vangaurd
The War on Drugs – Come For It – Slave Ambient
Wipers – Is This Real? – Wipers Box Set

Scott played:
Women on the Move - Forever Einstein - Artificial Horizon
Two More Dreams - Rocket Surgery - Rocket Surgery
Size 10? Sneaks -- Bill Frisell and Vernon Reid - Smash & Scatteration
Yellow Jacket - Korekyojinn - Tundra
Screaming Idiots - Trunks - On The Roof
One For Asmodeus - Satanized - Technical Virginity
Pent-Up House - Jimmy Rosenberg & Stian Carstensen - Rose Room
Sorcery - Helmut "Joe" Sachse - Solo  
Buluc Chabtan 2 - Corima - Corima
Republic Of Revenge - Ruins (RonRuins) - Big Shoes 
L'Anima Sulle Sue Mani - The Tango Saloon - Transylvania
Steve's Pipe - Michel Waisvisz - Crackle


Ydestroyde - Synzosizer

Sometimes I really miss the glory days of the Kansai scene in the 90s, especially the early to midperiod Boredoms records that had a great "Sesame Street on PCP" vibe that sat perfectly with my youthful need for music that could simultaneously amuse and terrorize. Those days are mostly gone, with cut & paste montage/collage approaches abandoned in favor of psych/tribal long-form work. The newer stuff is enjoyable in different ways, but I still crave the less-controlled energy release potential in the short disjointed freakouts on albums like Pop Tatari or the Ruins/Omoide Hatoba collab album from '94.

Enter Ydestroyde, whose work has been floating around Japan for the last decade but rarely heard in the US. With the release of Synzosizer on Public Eyesore, we now have a stateside taste of this fascinating stylistic bridge between the scattered/deconstructive japanoise approch of yore and newer slow-build psychedelic impulses.

This iteration of Ydestroyde is mostly a solo effort by founding member Synzou, who sings and programs, though most tracks also feature guitar contributions from Shintaro Kinoshita. The music isn't as cut-up as some of the earlier Osaka noiserock referenced above, but the vocals often take me back to that vibe with screams perfectly placed in rhythmically exciting moments on tracks like "Hissatsu," or the simple repetitions of words or short phrases found throughout the record. Musically there is a punk influence, and the riffs are allowed to extend over full compositions, creating grooves rather than obliterating them. I hear a Misfits vibe at times, or something along the lines of the best riffage on old Mad Capsule Markets albums. And the drum programming and synth sounds frequently point to breakcore influences.

But ultimately I hear this as a sort of amped up electropsychedelic release, though it attains this atmosphere without resorting to the standard psych tropes of reverbs and delays. When Killed in Cars head honcho Paul was guesting on the Other Music program a couple of months ago, we talked about the nature of contemporary psych bands, and he pointed out how a generous application of reverb can have a transformative effect on a typical blues riff, practically transubtantiating a blues/rock track into an outer space psych experience. Generally I agree--there are lots of bands creating an "outer space" vibe that way.

Ydestroyde is different. This music makes it to orbit with relatively dry ambient spaces. But we start our journey in space, asserting "THIS IS SPACE" repeatedly in the first few minutes, and Ydestroyde sustains the excitement of a rocket ride throughout the album. The exquisite programming, sample editing, and synth playing create a compelling, expansive atmosphere, leaving room for guitar riffs to lumber across alien landscapes while the dry, spoken/yelled vocals hit listeners head-on. Interestingly, the first s/t Ydestroyde effort did rely partly on a reverb + lo-fi production to drive its point home, and I don't care for it nearly as much. The general musical approach here is similar, but it sounds like this album was produced with a lot more studio time and clearer goals.

It succeeds. The riffs are relentless, the percussion alternates between energetic drive and jarring interruption in all of the perfect places, and the vocals take me back to my first memories of hearing Japanese rock approaches in the early 90s, the beginning of a long strange love affair with music that can follow its muse on its own terms. THIS IS SPACE!

--first published at Killed in Cars


Show review: Tatsuya Nakatani, Mighty Vitamins, Neil Jung w/the Archetypist

I caught a great triple-bill last Saturday just up the street from my house at the Toothblack House: local weirdo acts The Mighty Vitamins and Neil Jung w/the Archetypist warmed up the joint for percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani, who has graced Lincoln with his presence four or five times in as many years on his seemingly never-ending touring schedule.

The Mighty Vitamins opened as a duo minus Brad on trumpet, but the proceedings sounded great as always. This time we heard squeaky toys (and the dogs who love them) and radio/sound effect samples from Jerry, and of course the latest iterations of Jay's tabletop plucked/bowed inventions, now spilling into satisfying long insectiod/floral poles with various configurations of strings ready for bowing and quick pitch adjustment. I especially loved the fantastic set ending via spontaneous radio sample to the effect of "if you can't make it in 5 years as a writer, you can't make it." You can't plan those things, but they often work out wonderfully if you have your head(s) in the right place.

This was my first time seeing Neil Jung w/the Archetypist, and I love the concept. Essentially Jim plays guitar with a bit of loop building thrown in, while Robert Stewart creates spontaneous poetry, typing it into an electric Smith Corona typewriter that's also being amplified as a sound production device.  Mostly the typewriter produces the expected typing sounds, with occasional glitchy electronic sounds that indicate potential spelling errors. Stewart must be an excellent typist and speller, as these peek through only rarely. The guitar and the typing are live mixed/recorded onto a multitrack cassette recorder. When the poem is complete, the tape is stopped, flipped, and played in reverse while Schroeder mixes the tape and some more guitar. And Stewart reads the poem. And it was a good poem in addition to a good-sounding performance.

I've seen Tatsuya Nakatani do three solo shows on tour through Nebraska now, and it's always a beautiful, spiritual experience for me. One thing that came into my mind this time, though, was the degree to which his solo performances seem to use a similar set of ideas each time, presented in a relatively consistent order. And just as soon as the thought occurred to me, I wondered why that should even matter. And it doesn't. It's an interesting nuance of so-called "experimental" music shows: artists are maybe expected to change their performances more frequently and more completely than rock/pop acts. No one would be weirded out that a particular rock band shows up with their same tired instruments to play through the same set of songs one might have heard last time. Nakatani has developed his own vocabulary and approach over many years and many performances, has become intimate with the hidden sonic potential of his instruments, and can make his cymbals, gong, and bowls sound like anything from amplifier feedback to string sections to horns. This is his world, his language, and I am glad that he continues to speak it.

This highlights the problem with using "experimental" as a descriptive term for this kind of music: Nakatani isn't really experimenting. Though the music is improvised, he's intensely, intimately aware of what sounds he's producing and how to produce them as well as their collective sonic effect. We aren't seeing an experimentation phase--he is communicating and emoting.

The same holds true for most of the often-called "experimental" acts I've seen and heard on recordings. Experimentation is a part of the musical process, but that's largely true for musicians working in any style. Improvising is itself a discipline with components of study and practice, skill sets, etc, and improvisation and experimentation aren't necessarily, or even normally, interchangeable concepts.

For those new to Nakatani's solo work, I would highly recommend his Green Report 12, which documents a lot of the approaches he embraces for solo live sets. And for a great ensemble album, I'm especially smitten with the 3-sided LP "Fever Dream" by MAP, the trio of Nakatani, Mary Halvorson on guitar, and Reuben Radding on bass. It's a beautifully recorded album, and the improvisations show a deep mutual respect. Taiga Records productions feature beautiful artwork and packaging, too, whose pleasurable physicality is a valuable supplement to the listening experience.

Other Music for 12-4-11

Here's the lists for the Other Music show from 12-4-11. Tune in tonight for some interesting stuff--I'm pulling out both great 2011 stuff and some old rarities...

Malcom Played:
Real Estate – Snow Days – Real Estate 
Trip Shakespeare – Snow Days – Across the Universe
Cocteau Twins – How to Bring a Blush to the Snow – Victorialand
Jandek – Come Through with a Smile – Somebody in the Snow
Simon Joyner – Happy Woman – Lost with the Lights On
Laurie Anderson – Thinking of You - Homeland
Laurie Anderson – Another Day in America – Homeland
Sonic Youth – Edges – Goodbye 20th Century

Scott played:

The Time of Going Away - MAP - Fever Dream
Kleinman - Normal Love - Peel/Kleinman 7''
Obthecklomtz- Ruins Alone - Ruins Alone  
What a Way to Go - Mighty Vitamins - Take-Out
Hide Behind My Glasses - Fishbone - Bonin' In The Boneyard 
Gagon - Lucien Dubuis Trio - Le Retour  
Horseback Riding In A Bicycle - EAST OF THE WALL  - The Apologist
Soul In The Sound - Ken Vandermark - Mark In The Watter  
Cruising for Burgers - Frank Zappa - Carnegie Hall 
Bad Timing - Lakookala - Songs For ZeMean
Pauline Oliveros-the_beauty_of_sorrow_(excerpt) - Various Artists -  Harmonic Series
Proboscide - Tom Moto - Junk


Other Music for 11-27-11

...a week behind on getting this round posted, but here's last Sunday's Other Music playlist. Tune in tonight from 10-midnight to hear more creative music, including a few tracks related to shows that have just come through NE this week, or scheduled for the coming week. That's 89.3 in Lincoln, or streaming anywhere at kzum.org.

Malcom Played:
Extra Life – This Time – Secular Works
Extra Life – Bled White – Secular Works
Arnett Cobb – Go, Red Go – Arnett Blows for 1300
Tom Waits – Red Shoes by the Drugstore – Blue Valentine
St. Vincent – Your Lips Are Red – Marry Me
Boards of Canada – The Beach at Redpoint – Geogaddi
No Age – Katerpillar – Everything in Between
Kronos Quartet with David Barron – “North Platte, Nebras-katte” (Harry Partch) – U.S. Highball
Angelo Badalamenti – Twin Peaks Theme – Soundtrack from Twin Peaks

Scott played:
Broken Heart Collector - Get The Dog - Broken Heart Collector
Dureforsog - Nobody's Nose - Knee
Icy Demons - Buffalo Bill - Miami Ice
Material - O.A.O. - Red Tracks
Dull Schicksal - Cruelty Asks for Delivery - They Saved Hitler's Brain
Christian Vander - Mr Vent - Szoloh
Shizuo - Sweat - Shizuo vs Shizor
Cats' Orchestra - A Thin Thief - Coffee Killer
Aram Bajakian's Kef - Raki - Aram Bajakian's Kef
Phillip Glass - I Enjoyed the Laughter - Book of Longing


Other Music for 11-20-11

I started off this show with a bunch of solo saxophone music, inspired by listening to Travis Laplante's record a number of times in the last few weeks...

Playlist for 11-20-2011:

Scott played:
To Pianist Cecil Taylor - Anthony Braxton - For Alto
Heart Protector - Travis Laplante - Heart Protector
Fire Book Three - John Zorn - Classic Guide To Strategy, Vol. 3
cardinal-fixed-mutable - Steve Coleman - Invisible Paths First Scattering
Axieme Part 3 - Steve Lacy - Axieme
Aerobatics - Evan Parker - Saxophone Solos
Formule 2 - Daunik Lazro - Zong Book
Judges - Colin Stetson - New History Warfare Vol 2: Judges

John played:
Melvins – Blood Witch – A Senile Animal
Jesus Lizard – Whirl – Liar
Big Black – Racer-X – Hammer Party
Arab on Radar – Samurai Fight Song – The Stolen Singles
Time of Orchids – Crib Tingle to Callow – Namesake Caution
Slint – Nosferatu Man – Spiderland
Sonic Youth – Teen Age Riot – Daydream Nation
Don Caballero – Don Caballero 3 – What Burns Never Returns

Malcom played:
Tangelo – Sugarloaf – Year of Saturdays
Sonic Youth – Drunken Butterfly – Dirty
Autolux – Blanket – Future Perfect
Radiohead – 4 Minute Warning – In Rainbows (bonus)
Sigur Rós – Glósóli - Takk...
Sigur Rós – Gobbledigook - Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust
Sun Ra – ‘s Wonderful – At the Village Vanguard


Travis Laplante - Heart Protector

Travis Laplante - Heart Protector

Another solo tenor saxophone record review so quickly after Bertrand Denzler's "Tenor"...hey, why are you backing away from me?

Seriously, though, folks, Travis Laplante's first solo release, "Heart Protector," was just released a month ago, but it's definitely among my favorite albums of 2011, and I can easily see it hanging with the small pile of records I find myself returning to repeatedly over time. Laplante is a great player, but this music isn't about technique or combining genres or contributing to the advancement of jazz or experimental music in some clever way--this is soul and spirit racing into one another.

I've been trying to write about this record for the last two weeks, but I find myself settling into a mostly wordless meditative state within the first few phrases of the opening piece, which is also the title track. It's a multiphonics-based composition played with a warm, inviting tone, gentle articulations into each chord, and the intimacy of Laponte's breathing faithfully captured in the anticipations before each note.  It really does feel like a "heart protector." Subsequent tracks aren't as calm as the opening number, but all of them seem determined to place their listeners deep within sacred spaces.

The story of the making of this record found on Laplante's BandCamp page is a starting point for understanding the transcendent qualities of this music: ill with severe vertigo, he ultimately found his way to an acupuncturist who started him on a path toward both his own health and incorporating healing practices into his music. Since then, he has been practicing Quigong, meditating, and generally letting his energy flow as freely and widely as possible. Based on "Heart Protector" and the recent recorded efforts of his band Little Women*, his approach is working wonderfully.

"Five Points," the second composition, focuses on various trilling, tremolando, and pedal point procedures, each emphasizing a vibratory center. In a few passages that avoid the trilling action, rhythmic shifts between alternate fingerings create some phasing oscillations instead. For most of the last four sections of the album, the music deftly outlines the continuum of the electromagnetic spectrum: vibration, oscillation, frequency, pure energy.

"The Great Mother" opens side B with plaintive trumpet-like tones before hypnotizing its listeners with multiphonic chord-drones. These aren't so melodically uplifting as those of the title track, but they're very trance-inducing. The overtones shift around in ghostly fashion as the fundamental pitches move in mostly chromatic motion. In terms of vibrational energy, the relatively short physical distances between half-steps embody much more emotional potential between one another than larger leaps of fourths and fifths: the larger intervals relate to one another through simple ratios and live together most of the time as harmonic overtone companions, while half-step movements vibrate in monumental and dramatic opposition.

Repeated notes in the first half of "She Heals as She Harms" play a similar oscillatory role as the trills in "Five Points." This is probably the technical centerpiece of the album, full of dexterous runs whose flow is informed in a pointillistic fashion by the quickly-tongued pitch reiterations. Its last half is a somewhat free-form emotional release of high pitches, squeals, and trills, ending on more half-step pushing and pulling. The final composition, "The Tear Dam," is the most traditionally-played piece on the album, and as its title suggests, it seems to hold back from the instinctual emotional release so natural to the rest of the record. It builds in a dynamic swell on its primary five-note motif toward the end, hinting at another emotional flood--but this time, the Tear Dam holds.

I really love the recording quality of this album, too. At times the music is harsh, and the sound quality picks up a slight amount of high-end distortion, but that's what it sounds like standing right in front of someone playing like this. These hair-raising moments are captured while also picking up Laponte's breathing, and you can really hear the sound of the room, which I'm envisioning as a medium-sized space in an attic or garage, mostly devoid of objects. To my ears, it sounds like the kind of place where musicians tell their deepest secrets to themselves and their closest friends, and music so full of introspection and healing as this often sounds its best in these sacred spots, which themselves come alive over time with the repeated emotional and vibrational outpouring of their occupants.

Highly, highly recommended.

*Speaking of Little Women--there was a short post about their most recent album, "Throat," on KiC around a year ago. It referred to the band as "in the vein of Naked City," and as a fellow who has listened to Naked City and Little Women albums well beyond recommended daily allowances, I would make a significant distinction between Zorn's "cut-up" projects and the newer NYC bands of the 00s and 10s like Little Women and Zs. Zorn was essentially a montage composer for Naked City and the 80s "file card compositions," interested in juxtaposing styles toward the creation of cinematically evocative (or sometimes simply amusing) aural spaces. I've always gotten a much more direct emotional punch from the music of Little Women. Influences and genres may peek through, but the music operates at a much higher temperature where genre distinctions are mostly converted into pure energy. I love both approaches, but they're very different to my ears. Little Women's 2010 release "Teeth," by the way, has already enjoyed a short tenure among my shortlist of favorite records. It can be a harsh record when you first approach it, but deep within it becomes pure, sustained euphoria. If you haven't heard it, I would recommend it as a perfect companion to "Heart Protector."

--First published at Killed in Cars


Capillary Action - Capsized

Capillary Action - Capsized


Why you should probably listen to Capillary Action when you finish doing whatever it is you're doing right now

Capillary Action seems to be a relatively new project when you read recent reviews or their own biographical info: they just finished touring on their sophomore record. But there are two earlier releases that I'd hate to see disappear altogether from CapAct history. The first, 2004's "Fragments," is an electric guitar-driven instrumental record that generally settles into a style not wildly distant from 90s math rock bands like Don Caballero, though I hear some Europrog textures and South American rhythms that give it a unique voice. Looking back, there are some guitar parts whose chordal and rhythmic approach anticipate Dave Longstreth's mature synthesis of African and Latin guitar work by five years. CapAct maestro Jonathan Pfeffer was around 18 when this was released, and he started his own record label to put it out.

In 2006, CapAct went in a totally different direction with the "Cannibal Impulses" EP, a sample-based electronics/noise piece full of minute-long bursts of intensity. There were crazy videos to accompany the music, but they seem to be gone from the internet. The only sonic similarity between these "lost" CapAct records is pure charisma--Pfeffer clearly devotes himself fully to every sound he touches.

In 2007, Capillary Action was touring on Pfeffer's newest reinvention, and what seems now to be considered their official debut, "So Embarrassing." This recording found CapAct functioning as a 12-piece band with horns and strings filling out complex orchestrations that incorporate a wide range of pop, classical, and jazz influences. Pfeffer's brilliant guitar playing returned, but now in the service of his singing and lyrical prowess. Indeed, the record is very different than the two before it, and to the extent that "So Embarrassing" and "Capsized" are "songs with vocals" records, I can understand counting the pair as the beginning of a project with a specific focus.

I saw two shows on the masochistic multiyear tour for "So Embarrassing," each featuring a different 3-piece lineup of Pfeffer on vox/gtr with a drummer and keyboardist. Both were incredible shows, among my all-time favorites, though I'd have to lean slightly toward the Sam/Dan configuration I saw in Lincoln in '08. I wouldn't have thought it possible to play such a dense record convincingly as a trio, but they completely nailed it both times, opening with the punishing song "Bloody Nose" with no introduction and mostly playing without addressing the audience.

The band crashed at my house after the Lincoln '08 show. I've hosted lots of bands and had great conversations with musicians, but Pfeffer and company really impressed me with their boundless musical curiosity. I've often thought that the best musicians tend to be those who listen the most (and the most carefully), and it was clear that Pfeffer was building his own musical approach with a very clear vision while taking his participation as a listener within the larger community of music very seriously. And the talk focused on music itself rather than musical equipment or product endorsements or practice regimens, all useful things in their place but not as essential and universal. Very refreshing.

Onto "Capsized:" Capillary Action explores areas broadly related to those of "So Embarrassing," but with some important evolutionary distinctions. Compositionally, the integration of musical styles through collage and montage treatments continues, with time and tempo shifts everywhere, the energy of rock music, the harmonic richness of jazz, melodic approaches that evoke pre-WWII classical music as often as pop (think Stravinsky, Bartok, Schoenberg, Shostakovich), and a bit of lounge jazz that seems be be a natural component of Pfeffer's vocal tone and articulation style. This time around, however, significantly more tropicalia seeps into the mix, all of the instruments used are acoustic, including a switch to nylon-string guitars, and the mix sounds much cleaner. Most tracks on "Capsized" are recorded as quintet pieces, leaving more room for the music to breathe (and the arrangements also keep various instruments out of one another's primary frequency ranges more, reducing the potential for phase cancellation and stressful mixing). The percussion and drum work is also much more prominent and interesting (many kudos to Dan Sutherland for the emotional and thoughtful drumming on this record).

Lyrically, "So Embarrassing" functioned essentially as a suite, depicting uncomfortable moments in Pfeffer's life. In "Capsized," personal struggles remain part of the focus (relationship issues, rigors of heavy touring, the band's van crash), but there are also outward reflections on topics like the meaning of success, consumer culture, and our increasingly apathetic society.

"Collage and montage" doesn't give enough credit to the brilliance of these arrangements, though. Like many of my favorite bands and artists, Capillary Action is comfortable working with the resources of any discipline that the music demands. On the surface, one can discuss the myriad influences and ways they're juxtaposed, but the real work in this music happens through integration and interpretation. Most music lends itself to thorough discussion in terms of relatively circumscribed language and syntax, but this music speaks through all languages and dialects. For the philosophically inclined, this approach could be considered a sort of "metamusic" in which various musical styles impress their values and emotional content on one another in a symbolic exchange. I find myself compelled to listen this way, listening for all of the subtle relationships between the styles employed, the kinds of cultural allusions they make alone and juxtaposed, and how those ideas are advanced even further through lyrical concepts and album art choices. But on a more direct level, you can simply enjoy it as a great integration of art and pop music played with passion and respect. And be sure to catch Capillary Action live the next time they're in your town--they may be incredibly satisfying to the intellect generally, but their live show is every bit as visceral as it is cerebral.

--first published at Killed in Cars


Other Music for 11-13-11

No podcast, as mentioned below, but I'm going to continue putting playlists on here--good for my memory in planning shows, and probably a nice thing for musicians to occasionally bump into googling their projects. It's always fun to get radio plays...

Playlist for 11-13-11

Scott played:

Time Birth Spilled Blood - Dirty Projectors - Getty Address
Phanatical - Capillary Action - Capsized
Blue Suede Shoes - The Residents - The King and Eye
Balk - Zs - Arms
Winter, That’s All - Fol Chen - Part I: John Shade, Your Fortune’s Made
I Don’t Wanna Grow Up - Tom Waits - Bone Machine
Putrefiunt - Igorrr - Moisissure
We Speak in Shards - Time of Orchids - Namesake Caution
Kaine - Dominique Leone - Dominique Leone
Cataclysm - Flying Luttenbachers - Cataclysm
Undone (The Sweater Song) - Paul Bailey - Alt-Classical

John played:

Centered: tern and counting - Fromanhole - Fromanhole
criminal - arcwelder - pull
dainty jack and his amazing technicolor cloth jacket - a minor forest - flemish altruism
building taj mahal - tar - over and out
divinity of laughter - craw - map, monitor, and surge
run it - members of the press - modern day rome
so jesus was at the last supper - a minor forest - flemish altruism
lorch miller - karp - suplex
stubborn agenda - bear claw - slow speed deep owls
after the air raid - zevious - after the air raid


The short era of Other Music podcasts

Note: the following is my own opinion. My views don't necessarily reflect those of the station or the other Other Music DJs.

I received a DMCA complaint for one of the Other Music podcasts. Technically, as these things go, Google received the complaint, the contents of which have yet to be made available, which resulted in the offending post being reverted to "draft" status and the mp3 file of the show being removed as well.

Unfortunately, I had misunderstood how the DMCA applies to podcasts--as it turns out, a music show like ours would have to be posted in 5-hour blocks for no more than 10 days before removal to be compliant. It would also have to be presented in a format with only play/stop functionality. Explore this link for some of the intricacies of DMCA compliance as it relates to podcasts, if you're in the mood to get bummed.

Exceptions can be made upon agreement with copyright holders, so when we have guests on the show talking about their music or playing in the studio, I will make those broadcasts available. And I'm leaving the links available for the recent Paul Bailey interview show and the Bobbie Boob live-in-the-studio show. The other podcasts, however, are no longer linked.

I have a few observations regarding this situation, and I'd love to get a conversation going in the comments section of this thread. Please feel free to chime in:

Regardless of the letter of the law, I fail to see how 2-hour-long mp3 files, recorded at  low bit rate and transcoded from the webstream of each broadcast (and the webstream is a product paid for by the station) presented as singular long files with no track breaks, could conceivably hurt record sales for any artist. The broadcasts themselves never feature more than 2 tracks from any one artist in the course of a 2-hour show, and even if we played an album from beginning to end--which we wouldn't--the audio quality of the podcasts would be incredibly low and full of pops and crackles from transcoding.

The radio show has been on the air since the mid 90s, building an audience over time and establishing a reputation as a great "finding tool" for people who are interested in learning about creative music of the past and present. We help to expose lesser-known music to a considerably wider audience, and we spend a lot of time selecting truly exemplary music for broadcast, digging into our large personal collections and continuously researching new and old music that we want to feature. The situation is very much the opposite of trying to hurt the potential sales of creative music. I wish I had a way to compile statistics, but I can say anecdotally from the calls, letters, and Facebook comments and messages we receive that people who listen to the show do find new favorite composers and bands with our help, and they ask us for more information on music we play almost every week. And the artists featured on the show receive compensation for both the over-the-air and the live streaming audio of our broadcasts through the usual broadcast/SoundExchange channels.

Because the live broadcast of Other Music happens at a potentially inconvenient time for many of our listeners, and because people generally have busy schedules, many have requested that we offer podcasts of the show. Having fielded many of these requests myself, it's clear to me that these are people who want to find out about new and unusual musicians, and recognize the potential of our show to help them in their search. Having a podcast of the shows is not a way to get music for free for this audience--instead it is a starting point toward musical explorations which frequently result in album, digital music, and concert ticket purchases.

At minimum, the DMCA needs to be amended to take a more realistic view of podcasts and their place as promotional tools. If podcasts followed the guidelines that pertain to live-streaming audio, I can't see how they could be construed as anything but an asset to the promotion of music, especially if there were bitrate limitations applied to the products. In a deeper sense, I am frustrated with the DMCA's functionally putting podcasts of legitimate broadcasts into the same category as peer-to-peer filesharing and download blogs, and I am baffled as to why random takedown notices are still being used as a "tool" in an online environment that has for the last full decade made it possible to download virtually any record ever made. While I can't claim to have an answer for the larger problems of illicit album sharing online, it must be obvious to any observer that the law is it stands is archaic and functionally unenforcable.

--Speaking of "functionally enenforcable,"there are many free tools for recording streaming audio, including tools that can be used for "scheduled recordings" where you can set up your computer to record a streaming broadcast in your absence and listen later. I've been using Radio Recorder to make the OM podcasts, which would work well for listeners who use Apple computers. PC users can look at tools like the ones on this huge list. While not as convenient as my offering a podcast from a central location, listeners can certainly make their own recordings of the show with a minimum of trouble.

For the record, I have grand plans for this site and the radio show, and while I'm frustrated with the podcast situation, I'm not going to let it slow me down. Music has been essential to my life as long as I can remember, and I'm enjoying this opportunity to put my musical education and experience to work through reviews and interviews. In my years as a musician, composer, and performer, I spent lots of time informally reviewing and recommending albums to friends and peers--most would attest to my trapping them into extended listening sessions on multiple occasions. Now I'm excited to incorporate a more formal series of reviews and conversations into my musical activities. I'm already listening to huge volumes of music with passion and rigorous concentration, and I also love to write--it's a natural and enjoyable activity for me. So stay tuned for more reviews, interviews, and essays. A few goodies should be arriving in the next week.


Other Music, 11-6-11

OM 11-6-11: no guests this week. Actually, we had a couple of guests, but they were just visiting. It's all about the music this week.

Scott played:
  1. The brambles in starlight - Sleeps In Oysters - Lo!
  2. Dances From the Monastery Hills - Fanfare Ciocarlia vs. Boban & Marko Markovic Orchestra - Balkan Brass Battle
  3. Eat Your Greens, Mr. EGG - Big Block 454 - Their coats flapped like God's chops
  4. Cognitivo - Bz Bz Ueu - Bz Bz Ueu
  5. Right Away - Pattern Is Movement - All Together
  6. Deterioration: Three - Norman Yamada - Being and Time
  7. Sore Eros - Bastien, Pierre - Mecanoid
  8. Having Smarter Babies - Xploding Plastix Amateur Girlfriends Go Proskirt Agents
  9. Throat I - Little Women - Throat


Bertrand Denzler - Tenor

Solo instrumental records can be difficult to live with, but they're often worth the effort. At their best, they give us windows into the deep, lifelong relationships many performers develop with their chosen instrument over years of multi-hour practice sessions, listening, experimenting, playing with ensembles of all kinds. They can share intimacies simply impossible through performances in group settings, private experiences that many musicians have in the walls of their practice rooms and studios that even their closest musical collaborators might never hear.

And I must admit that I'm especially partial to solo sax albums. Though my "years of shedding" experiences have all been with guitars and the voice, I often feel like I was meant to play the saxophone. I love the "normal" voice of saxes, especially altos and tenors. I love the huge range in timbre that is possible, the ease of wicked vibrato, the many kinds of scale and arpeggio runs that lend themselves to nimble sheets of notes, the clarity of articulation possible, and on and on. And it's a great instrument for extended techniques: growl tones, slap tongues, multiphonics, alternate fingerings, altissimo, reed biting--I love it all. Anthony Braxton's "For Alto" is an all-time favorite album of mine, and I've been delighted to know the solo work of many others: Zorn, Abe, Lacy, Parker, Butcher, and so on. So I was delighted to receive Bertrand Denzler's "Tenor" for review. I was not familiar with Denzler's work before this disc, but I'll definitely be looking for more.

"Tenor" is made of three long tracks that were recorded on one day (and it sounds like they're probably all part of one long improvisation or composition broken into three sections for tracking convenience). Presumably this is a studio recording, with close micing in a small space. There are no effects used here, and even the tracking room gives Denzler no reverbs or delays to play with or against. It's all Tenor, all of the time.

Denzler's playing is pure patience. This is a delicate record, in effect a drone/ambient affair, and every note and extended technique is carefully executed to keep the focus on sounds produced rather than the person producing them. I don't know if this is improvisation, but it sounds very composed. There are only a few notes used on the whole record, no vibrato, no shredding Coltrane licks, and because of this I think its appeal extends beyond fans of "saxophone music." In fact, long passages of the album sound almost electronic in their careful realization.

"Filters" opens the record on a long Bb (concert Ab) that is continually teased throughout the course of its 17+ minutes. As the title implies, Denzler manipulates the pitch by adjusting his oral cavity, through alternate fingerings, and through multiphonics, creating a series of rhythmic and melodic interjections out of his fundamental note. If you're not familiar with these kinds of sounds, imagine solo Tuvan throat singing, making melodies out of overtones while the root continues to sound, and you're getting somewhere near this kind of effect. To that basic sonic approach, the alternate fingerings add quick pitch/tone adjustments that also have a rhythmic component, and some of the multiphonics evoke louder, more abrasive sounds, especially in the last third of the track. While dynamics stay within a fairly consistent range in the early part of the track, there are some louder moments in the last section as well, especially in the 12-14 minute range, where multiphonics almost sound like bowed guitar feedback at times. Many of the rhythm/filter/overtone motifs repeat and oscillate throughout the piece, creating a very composed feel. Denzler does stop to breathe, reattacking his horn again and again, but this doesn't detract from the drone music vibe for me--if anything it heightens the tension through repetition.

Earlier minutes of "Signals" continue to work with some of the same materials used in "Filters," but a few additional pitches are introduced. Occasionally tonguing effects are used to stop or flutter the pitches, sometimes while they're also being manipulated through multiphonics. A few very high pitches appear around the 10 minute mark (the "signals?") which reappear a few more times throughout the piece.

Like "Filters," "Airtube" is a fairly literal description of its music--this piece works with breathing and sucking sounds, sometimes with different keys depressed to change the size/resonance of the instrument, slaptongues that violently and percussively pop through the horn, overblows, etc. This piece moves away from the drone/ambient implications of the first two tracks toward a music steeped in almost industrial sounding rhythms. It also uses the widest dynamic range of the album, with incredibly loud moments and others that are almost inaudible. There are some particularly stunning moments that seem to be produced by following hard slaptongues with extended breathing sounds--I've never heard anything quite like it.

Obviously this kind of music isn't for everyone, but for readers of KiC who like EAI and drone music while shuddering at the potential "macho jazz" implications of a solo sax album, this album will be a pleasant surprise.

--first published at Killed In Cars


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.