Suffuse

Suffuse by Roy Montgomery.
Bandcamp Link: Suffuse

Mrs Flannestad is the New Zealand music fan(-atic) in the family. I really like the dead c, but she was the one who had the vinyl of DR503 and Eusa Kills when I met her. Anyway, she mentioned Roy Montgomery, (who was in Pin Group, Dadamah, and Dissolve, all bands I REALLY liked,) had a new album. I said, “Yes, I know, ‘Tropic of Anodyne’.” And she said, “No, another new album!”

It turns out he was initially thinking of taking the vocal tracks from Tropic of Anodyne and having someone else sing them for a new release. Then it “morphed” a record of new songs created specifically for a set of vocalists. According to the press, about half the songs turned out, and thus “Suffuse”.

Roy Montgomery has patented a sort of psychedelic, reverb soaked, multitracked guitar thing, often mixing acoustic and electric guitars. Songs are slow-ish and usually fairly drone-ey.

He ended up with quite a set of vocalists. Haley Fohr of Circuit des Yeux, Juliana Barwick, Liz Harris of Grouper, I am familiar with. She Keeps Bees, Katie Von Schleicher, and Purple Pilgrims, I was not.

Atmospheric, haunting tales of love and loss. My favorite tracks are Rain Bird featuring She Keeps Bees and Landfall featuring Liz Harris.

Midnight music.

#RoyMontgomery #Suffuse #HaleyFohr #SheKeepsBees #KatieVonSchleicher #JulianaBarwick #PurplePilgrims #LizHarris

Shelley’s on Zenn​-​La

Shelley’s on Zenn​-​La

Shelley’s on Zenn​-​La by Oliver Coates.
Bandcamp Link: Shelley’s on Zenn​-​La

I’d read about Oliver Coates in relation to his collaboration with Mica Levi, (of Micachu and the Shapes,) “Remain Calm“. I, however, had not listened to that album, just read about it. Mr Coates is also a part of the London Contemporary Orchestra, who you may remember from the album “Lageos“.

This album caught my eye, because I am an old school nerd who spent many, many Saturday afternoons in the 1980s hanging out in comic book stores, (Capital City Comics in Madison, WI, to be exact). If you are as much of a nerd as I am, you will recognize Zenn-La referred to in the title of this album as the birthplace of the Silver Surfer, Norrin Radd.

Zenn-La was a technologically advanced utopia, whose advances in science had led to the disappearance of crime, war, and disease. A peaceful place where warfare was forgotten. However, one day it caught the eye of Galactus, a giant eternal being who lived by consuming whole planets. Unable to defend itself, one person on that planet traded his freedom for the fate of his planet. Norrin Radd told Galactus that if it spared Zenn-La, he would act as Galactus’ herald, traveling the spaceways in search of planets to feed its never ending hunger. Galactus took Radd up on the offer, infused him with the “Power Cosmic”, and turned him into the Silver Surfer, a being haunted by both his past and his future.

I am unclear who the Shelley of the title is. Perhaps Percy Bysshe Shelley? Would kind of make sense, given the often bombastic, poetic, and tortured pronouncements of the Silver Surfer.

In any case, all that aside, this is a pretty light album.

I kept hoping for something to happen, some small hint of drama or dissonance to crop up. Nothing like a planet eater here.

This is more like a sort of techno version of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra.

Small toys, wound up and crawling across the room.

It’s not bad, but it’s more, as I once heard someone remark at a concert, “House Cleaning Music”.

#OlvierCoates #ShelleysOnZennLa #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Steamroom 41

Steamroom 41 by Jim O’Rourke
Bandcamp Link: Steamroom 41

O’Rourke’s Steamroom 41 is a single 37 minute long track, “Firmware Generation”. O’Rourke recommends, “if possible, please listen on speakers, fairly loud”.

The first 15 minutes seems to be sweeping, yet dissonant, sythesizer vistas. It segues into shortwave manipulation for the middle section. Then closes with another section which combines waves of shortwave and the synthesizer work.

#JimORourke #Steamroom41 #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Steamroom 35

Steamroom 35 by Jim O’Rourke
Bandcamp Link: Steamroom 35

O’Rourke’s Steamroom 35 is a single 35 minute track called “The Creeping Garden“.

It is, “Music for the film The Creeping Garden by Tim Grabham and Jasper Sharp.”

The Creeping Garden is a documentary film about the unusual and beautiful organisms called “Slime Molds”. O’Rourke’s SciFi-esque Synthesizer doodles seem a perfect backdrop for a film about one of the least understood organisms on the planet.

#JimORourke #Steamroom35 #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Four

Four

Four by Bad Luck.
Bandcamp Link: Four

A drums and saxophone duet, with added live electronics.

I really wanted to like this album.

And I do like it a lot, I like the Sax playing and I like the drumming, but the production of the album has some issues.

The mixing is super-treble-ey and the drums, and especially the cymbals, are overloud in the overall mix.

The electronic effects are cool, but they end up muddying the sound.

Using the electronic processing to multiply the saxophone leads ends up creating this wash of undifferentiated noise in the mids, which combined with the super-treble-ey recording and cymbals, makes the individual instruments difficult to hear, even when you turn up the volume.

It just sounds pretty awful, especially when you’re listening in the car, and even when you’re listening on headphones. There’s just no separation.

Being the My Bloody Valentine of improvised music sounds like a cool idea, but saxophones are not guitars, and what would be cool in shoe gaze or psychedelic guitar treatments needs some consideration when applied to an acoustic instrument.

#BadLuck #Four #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Double Negative

Double Negative by Low.
Label Site: Double Negative

Double Negative seems like it is a polarizing release from Low. People are either, “Low!? What the Fcuk are you doing!?” or they’re, “Thank Gott! Low has finally done something interesting!”

I lean towards the latter.

In any case, let’s just say Low has fully embraced the possibilities inherent in the 21st Century digital recording studio. And they also seem to have splurged on a boatload of new digital EFX pedals.

A very interesting juxtaposition of beautiful hymn-like melodies and harmonies against the sort of distortion levels you would really only expect to find on a harsh noise album. I really thought the song “Tempest” had broken my car’s speakers.

And you thought Yo La Tengo had a monopoly on that sort of thing.

Mrs Flannestad saw Low perform this material earlier this summer at the Eaux Claires music festival and said it was particularly magical.

Low plays the Great American Music Hall, Saturday Mar 16, 2019.

#Low #DoubleNegative #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Hiljaisuus

Hiljaisuus by Kuzu
Bandcamp Link: Hiljaisuus

“Hiljaisuus (English transl. Silence) is a 2011 Finnish war docudrama film directed by Sakari Kirjavainen and set in winter and spring 1944, near the end of the Continuation War…the film details the life and times of the members of a specialized Finnish army unit, commanded by a priest, whose difficult and dangerous assignment is to recover dead soldiers from the front lines, prepare their often frozen bodies for burial, and deliver them to their hometowns and families for funeral and burial.”

I haven’t seen the movie, but Hiljaisuus does come at you like the opening scene of a particularly potent war movie, Chris Nolan’s Dunkirk comes to mind, about which WWII veterans sometimes remarked, “The movie was louder than the actual Dunkirk landing!”

Not for the faint of heart, Hailjaisus’ combination of Rempis’ take no prisoners Saxophone, Dorji’s aggressively nonchalant noise guitar, and Damon’s everything AND the kitchen sink drumming is one of the most enjoyable free releases I’ve listened to recently.

Two longer tracks, “Fontanelles 1” and “Gash” are divided by a shorter track, “Fontanelles 2”.

Fontanelles 1 opens with bowed cymbals from Damon, who is shortly joined by Dorji on a car crash guitar. Rempis joins, noir energy, and things seem to build to a wonderful climax at around the 6 minute mark, but they keep going, building tension and momentum, for the length of the the tune.

Fontanelles 2 could almost be considered “FreeBop” were it not for Dorji’s seeming perverse, and delightful, playing.

Gash, with Rempis picking up the Baritone Sax, is probably the most restful, of the bunch, though it does do some serious damage mid-way through, before it relaxes a bit before fading out to Damon’s percussion.

Anyway, if you want to get to work a lot faster than usual, Hiljaisuus is a great choice for driving music. Turn it up, especially as you roll into the parking lot, open your windows, and let your coworkers know who you really are.

#Hiljaisuus #Kuzu #DaveRempis #TashiDorji #TylerDamon #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Cancelled

Cancelled by Toned.
Bandcamp Link: Cancelled

Toned is Tom Weeks, alto saxophone; Nathan Corder, electronics; and Leo Suarez, drums.

Two long pieces, “Cancelled” and “For Harry Dean Stanton”; and one shorter pieces, “Toned”; and one micro, 24 second, piece, “Sterile”.

On “Cancelled” Weeks spends the first ten minutes, or so, exploring flutter tonguing without vocalizing tones on his sax while Corder plays small electronics. Suarez comes in, using his hands to coax vibrational tones out of his drums, briefly segueing to hand drumming, then the song fades.

“Toned” is a more typical chaotic “free jazz” piece, with Weeks playing his sax and Suarez playing percussion. Corder comes in, seemingly processing Weeks’ sax through electronics. The piece finishes with Corder on keyboards.

“For Harry Dean Stanton” is probably my favorite piece, sounding like a field recording in a woods or rain storm. Various sounds fade in and out, with none of the players ever resorting to what might be called “music” for the length of the song.

“Sterile” is a very short balls to the wall improvisation.

#TomWeeks #NathanCorder #LeoSuarez #Toned #Cancelled #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins

Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins by Chuck Prophet.
Bandcamp Link: Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins

In 2015, for the 100th anniversary of SF City Hall, Chuck Prophet was asked to organize a musical tribute to the city of San Francisco. His band, The Mission Express, provided the core for the backing band, and played for singers as diverse as The Kingston Trio, The Beau Brummels, Flamin’ Groovies, Deborah Iyall, Mark Kozelek, Penelope Houston, and Jello Biafra.

Chuck and his band did so well, especially on their song, “Willie Mays is Up at Bat”, that I expressed to Mrs Flannestad how impressed I was. I had enjoyed Mr Prophet in the past, but not listened to him a lot recently.

She reminded me Prophet had been in the band Green on Red, whose album Gravity Talks had been in heavy rotation during my brief stint as a college radio DJ, and my mind was blown.

I resolved to listen to more Chuck Prophet.

Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins is his most recent album, released in 2017.

The music is well produced, joyful and energetic rock, ranging in its influences from the 1960s to the 1980s. The lyrics are by turns slightly disturbing, mournful, joyful, and angry.

I mention “mournful” as a lot of the album is tributes to musicians and public figures who have passed. From the likely murdered singer of “I Fought the Law”, Bobby Fuller, to Jesus Christ (the hilarious, “Jesus Christ was a Social Drinker”). From David Bowie (“Bad Year for Rock and Roll”) to Alan Vega (“In the Mausoleum”). The album closes with a moving tribute to the young man killed by police in our neighborhood, Alex Nieto.

Maybe we all should listen to more Chuck Prophet.

#ChuckProphet #BobbyFullerDiedForYourSins #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Resonant Spaces

Resonant Spaces by John Butcher
Bandcamp Link: Resonant Spaces

This is a recent reissue of an album Butcher recorded in 2006 while on tour in Scotland.

The “Resonant Spaces” of the title are varied, from the interior of an old Military Fuel tank (with a 15 second echo) to a piece recorded at the Standing Stones of Stenness on the Orkney mainland, but all the environments are notable in the pieces, shaping Butcher’s choices and providing shapes for him to interact with.

“Wind Piece” recorded outdoors at the Standing Stones is particularly nice. Birds chirp, the wind blows across the mic, and Butcher’s sax at first is almost indistinguishable from the environmental sounds.

“Close by, a waterfall” is also nice, perhaps recorded in a cave near a waterfall, as other tourists, and the waterfall, babble in the background.

Some of the pieces utilize amplified sax and the variation of feedback produced by manipulating the resonant cavity of both the sax and the environment.

Though, lest you think it is all peaceful sound field and environmental work, the torrent of notes which fills the second half of “Calls from a Rusty Cage” is particularly impressive in its speed and the fact that he doesn’t appear to take a breath for the duration of about 3 1/2 minutes. Circular breathing, I know, but the fierceness of this section, taking into account circular breathing, is notable.

A fine piece of work from Mr Butcher that manages to straddle being both meditative at points and at other times invigorating.

#John Butcher #ResonantSpaces #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack