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.

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

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

#Low #DoubleNegative #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack


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 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

A Philosophy Warping, Little By Little That Way Lies A Quagmire (Live)

A Philosophy Warping, Little By Little​ That Way Lies A Quagmire (Live) by Konstrukt + Keiji Haino.

Bandcamp Link: A Philosophy Warping, Little By Little​ ​That Way Lies A Quagmire (Live)

So, first a warning, Konstrukt and Haino have named this new live album with the same title they gave their previous studio album. This is giving certain streaming services indigestion, making it rather hard to tell which album is which. I recommend you purchase the album from the above bandcamp link.

If you’ll recall, I was quite enthusiastic about the previous studio Haino/Konstrukt collaboration of the same name.

The new live album is composed of two long live tracks and I am no less enthusiastic. If anything, I think this is album even more fun than the previous studio one.

Where the studio album was a bit more atmospheric, reminding me a bit of Einstürzende Neubauten in places, this is far more direct in its energy, running right out of the gate. Slowing down a bit for the odd synthesizer break, then being abused back into a trot via some very distorted guitar, and then segueing into a sax freakout that is truly one for the books. And that’s just the first 15 minutes.

As I said before, “Far Freaking Out!”, or perhaps in this case I should say, “Even Further Freaking Out!”.

#Konstrukt #KeijiHaino #APhilosophyWarpingLittleByLittleThatWayLiesAQuagmireLive #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Collagically Speaking

Collagically Speaking by R + R = NOW
Label Shop: Collagically Speaking

With September we’re heading into my least favorite part of the year in San Francisco.

Cool mornings and searing hot sun in the afternoon.

Brown is the color of Summer in San Francisco but Fall is the brownest part of the year.

Blown contrast and pastel colors. A single afternoon’s long sun can kill a plant that has been happily thriving under the rest of the year’s mist and fog. Wandering about without sun screen or a floppy hat can ruin your week.

It culminates in a Thanksgiving that is more likely to require shorts or a sun dress than a scarf and mittens.

At least after Thanksgiving it usually rains.

Oh, right, um music. Anyway, my fusion loving millennial co-worker brought this album to my attention. I appreciate the musicianship, especially the bassist Hodge and keyboardist Glasper. Beyond that, it is a bit too pop for me. As if Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis produced a modern Jazz album. Your mileage may vary.

#RobertGlasper #TerraceMartin #ChristianScottaTundeAdjuah #DerrickHodge #TaylorMcFerrin #JustinTyson

Decay of the Angel

Decay of the Angel by Jeremiah Cymerman
Bandcamp Link: Decay of the Angel

I’ve been following Jeremiah Cymerman and his music for a while.

I enthusiastically wrote about one of his earlier projects, Badlands by Pale Horse earlier this year.

He plays clarinet, I try to play clarinet. He lives with small dogs, I live with a small dog.

When I found out he was raising money to help release a new solo album, I felt like I had no real choice but to support it.

Decay of the Angel stretches what Cymerman had been doing with electronics and his clarinet in Pale Horse.

It is not exactly a solo clarinet album, as there are some overdubs, percussion, and a fair bit of electronics going on, though Cymerman is playing all the instruments, (he also recorded and mixed the album himself).

I’m not exactly sure how to write about Decay of the Angel. A little too close, right? I mean, firstly, I am jealous that Cymerman has made such an amazing record which combines so many things I am personally enthusiastic about. Clarinet, noise, vaguely menacing atmospherics, overtly menacing sounds, electronics, electronic processing of the clarinet, the lyrical quality of the clarinet, bowel loosening sub bass…

It’s an entrancing mix of ugly beauty and beautiful ugliness.

The 20 minute long song, “Decay of the Angel,” is the heart of the album, with Cymerman mimicking the mournful tone of Japanese flute on his clarinet while static fields of sound build and fade around his lyrical playing.

About the name… “Decay of the Angel” is the name of the last book by Kimitake Hiraoka, aka Yukio Mishima. Shortly after writing this book, Mishima and his confederates attempted a coup d’etat by taking over the Tokyo headquarters of the Japan Self Defense forces. He gave a speech to the assembled troops and when they did not exactly enthusiastically embrace his idea of a return to the ideals of Edo period Japan and the divine rule of the emperor of Japan, Mishima went back into the offices and, with the help of his compatriots, committed ritual suicide, rather than live on in a world which didn’t live up to his expectations.

#JeremiahCymerman #DecayOfTheAngel #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Monster Club

Monster Club

Monster Club by Tony Bevan, Chris Corsano, and Dominic Lash
Bandcamp Link: Monster Club

Tony Bevan – Soprano, Tenor and Bass Saxophones
Chris Corsano – Drums and Percussion
Dominic Lash – Double Bass

Everything is in place for me to like this album. Great players, great name, great cover.

Somehow it just didn’t grab me when I listened this morning.

When I put it on again this afternoon, I tried to identify what was off for me.

I guess I’d say, when I listen to a trio like this, as a sax player, I identify with the sax player on the album.

But, this isn’t the sax player’s album. It is the rhythm section’s album, and primarily it belongs to the bass player.

The sax playing is good, but it seems almost beside the point when you listen to what the bass and drums are putting down.

The sax player is just little out of sync, or a little behind what is happening, and I think that’s why it doesn’t grab me.

(Yeah, I’m the guy chasing seagulls with my camera at 7:30am on Ocean Beach. Why don’t you say, “Hi!” the next time you see me.)

#TonyBevan #ChrisCorsano #DominicLash #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack