Well There You Go!

Well There You Go by Kevin Drumm
Bandcamp Link: Well There You Go

If it gets to be more than a month between Kevin Drumm bandcamp releases, I start to get antsy and think to myself, “Hope the guy is OK!”

Fortunately, this fine new, and well titled, album showed up just in the nick of time, before I called the Chicago Emergency Services!

A shorter release from Drumm, I was actually able to listen to this one completely before getting to work, a practice I am sure he disapproves of, what with the road noise and all, but I think he disapproves more of listening to his music on headphones while doing something else.

In any case, this IS an interesting release.

It starts with modulated shortwave static, moves to sound field work, transitions back to static, and again to sound fields, transitions to shortwave with what sounds like morse code, and finishes with a collaboration with a trumpeter named Greg Kelley.

It’s almost like a symphony!

My favorite section is probably the second, when what sounds like a very lonely prairie dog squeaks every so often during the rolling sound field interactions. Like a rodent accidentally caught up and alone on a massive space ark bound for another galaxy.

Can you tell I just read Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Aurora”?

In any case, if you are more curious about Kevin Drumm, bandcamp recently gave him a “lifetime achiement” feature:

Lifetime Achievement: The Diverse, Idiosyncratic Output of Kevin Drumm

Read and subscribe!

#KevinDrumm #WellThereYouGo #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack



UUUU is Edvard Graham Lewis and Matthew Simms of wire, Thighpulsandra of Coil, and Valentina Magaletti of Tomaga.

Most similar to the somewhat experimental Gilbert/Lewis project Dome.

Junkyard percussion, occasional synthesizers drones, and the odd tune.

More evocative than compelling, it does move from time to time when it needs to. And it did suit my dark mood today.

#UUUU #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #EdvardGrahamLewis #MatthewSimms #Thighpulsandra #ValentinaMagaletti

Praise of Our Folly

Praise of Our Folly by Lisbon Freedom Unit.
Bandcamp Link: Praise of Our Folly

Large group free sessions can first, be difficult to organize, and second, very difficult to record.

The risk you run is everyone just honking away in a sort of undifferentiated mass of noise.

The musicians, and engineers, on this album seem to have taken this into account.

What could have been a honk fest is calmed down, the first piece almost feels like everyone was challenging the each other to play as quietly, and as little, as possible while still maintaining the tension of the piece.

However, what makes this album interesting is that it feels like a true cooperative group effort.

I can’t say I’ve every heard such a large ensemble (nine musicians!) where it feels so free, yet at the same time, restrained and sensitive. These musicians feel like they have spent a lot of time playing with each other and have an extreme empathy for each other.

Smaller groups among the musicians form and dissolve in a seemingly organic fashion throughout the course of the album.

III is probably the closest to a full on blow out and certainly does not disappoint, though, again, I am extremely impressed by how the recording engineers found differentiated space for all the players within the group.

Apparently, I need to bring my saxophone the next time I visit Portugal!

Oh, and it is, maybe, the best ever album name for a free improvisation recording.

#LuisLopes #RodrigoAmado #PedroSousa #BrunoParrinha #RodrigoPinheiro #RicardoJacinto #HernaniFaustino #PedroLopes #GabrielFerrandini #PraiseOfOurFolly #LisbonFreedomUnit #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #PictureADay

Sex Tape

Bandcamp Link: Sex Tape

peter brötzmann – tenor/alto-saxophones, tarogato, b-flat clarinet
heather leigh – pedal steel guitar

The cover of this album depicts a naked crucified man embraced by an enormous snake which is biting down on his, well, uh, tool.

While I think the cover image is maybe just a bit sensational, the snake metaphor is apt for BRÖTZMANN and LEIGH’s dynamic. Initially, I was thinking the more apt metaphor would be a snake charmer, with BRÖTZMANN as the charmer and Leigh’s Pedal Steel as the cobra. There is a sinuousness to Leigh’s playing which is very snake-like.

But the more I listened, the less it held up for me. I couldn’t decide who was the snake and who was the charmer.

The way BRÖTZMANN and Leigh interact IS interesting. There is a lot of call and response between them. BRÖTZMANN will play a figure and Leigh will imitate it surprisingly accurately on the pedal steel.

It is more like two tremendously large pythons wrestling each other, writhing in a swamp, fighting or copulating. In the end you’re not sure if one snake ate the other, or, if one got away and the other is now eating its own tail.

#BRÖTZMANN #LEIGH #SexTape #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

sleep like it is winter

“sleep like it is winter” by Jim O’Rourke.
Bandcamp Link: sleep like it is winter

I was going to give myself this week off from writing about music and maybe get caught up in my plans for world tea domination.

But then I got all caught up in remembering I hadn’t listened to the new Jim O’Rourke album.

Decided I had to buy it on Bandcamp and then listen to it.

And it turns out to be good.


Jim O’Rourke is a polymath guitarist, producer, mixer, engineer, etc. Maybe best known for being the 5th member of Sonic Youth from 1999-2005, he has been involved in a very long list of bands including Illusion of Safety, Gastr del Sol, and Brise-Glace. As a producer, engineer, and mixer his list of credits is too long to even get started on. He has also released a string of eclectic solo albums under his own name, which range from strange, to rock, to folk. Often on the same album.

Lately, he has been producing albums of abstract electronics under the “Steam Room” name.

Those albums are great, but they are fairly abstract, with no noticeable pulse, or, often, even recognizable instruments.

“sleep like it is winter”, from what I’ve been unable to avoid reading, is viewed as a confluence of O’Rourke’s two worlds.

“sleep like it is winter” is a single 45 minute piece.

It starts, quietly, in the Steam Room world, scratchy shortwave radio samples and pulseless fields of bell-like sounds.

This atmosphere slowly gives way to panning bass sounds, piano, and synthesizer.

The piece briefly transitions to dissonant, industrial sounds, but finishes with consonant, long synthesizer tones which cross each other to form almost hymnlike-chords.

While there are somethings like melodies, there are no voices or discernible guitars.

Dissonant without being harsh, pleasant without being boring, it reminds me of the music groups like Tangerine Dream made before they turned into businesses.

Certainly, self released 45 minute long pulse-less electronic music pieces with periods of dissonance aren’t likely to be racing up the charts, (are there still charts?) any time soon, but in a better world, they would be.

#JimORourke #sleeplikeitiswinter #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Wet Robots

Wet Robots by Fay Victor’s SoundNoiseFunk.
Bandcamp Link: Wet Robots

Fay Victor, voice; Joe Morris, guitar; Sam Newsome, Soprano Sax; Reggie Nicholson, drums.

I am most familiar with soprano saxophonist Sam Newsome and guitarist Joe Morris. Fay Victor has been on my radar for a while, but this is the first time I have really made the time to listen to an album of hers. Reggie Nicholson’s name I knew, having seen it and heard him on records from Henry Threadgill and Myra Melford, but this album is the most space I’ve heard him given to shine.

On paper, I suppose this ensemble is similar to Geometry of Caves, even sharing a guitarist in Morris, but in practice, the albums aren’t much alike, aside from being quartets with female vocalists and guitar.

Wet Robots is a much more swinging affair, primarily due to the stellar drumming of Mr Nicholson leading the charge, and partly due to Ms Victor’s very rhythmically led vocalizations.

There is a lot of material here, over 50 minutes of music.

When she uses words, Ms Victor tends to speak sing poetically. Of those tracks, “I Sing” is a favorite. On most of the other tracks, she vocalizes without words, growling here, laughing there, tearing it up and down the bebop scales elsewhere.

Mr Newsome is one of the greatest artists of the Soprano Saxophone. He coaxes bluesy licks with ease and with equal ease animal sounds or floating cloudlike non-pitches. It is always a joy to listen to him.

Mr Morris is less strict and strategic with his playing on Wet Robots than he was on Geometry of Caves. He lets his playing follow the blues-ey and sometimes funky leads of Newsome and Nicholson, while being as eclectic as ever in his choices of texture and rhythm.

Mr Nicholson is the heart of this group, the deft interplay between snare and bass drum are the heart of his drumming. Always on time and always swinging.

Certainly the most “Jazz” album I’ve covered on the blog in a while, Wet Robots is still an eclectic and enjoyable mix of moods and feelings.

Can I stop babbling about this album and go back to listening to it?

#FayVictor #JoeMorris #SamNewsome #ReggieNicholson #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Low Cost Space Flights

Low Cost Space Flights by Chris Corsano / Paul Flaherty.
Bandcamp Link: Low Cost Space Flights

It has been a week of energy jazz. On Monday I saw two groups with local saxophone flamethrowers Tom Weeks and Josh Allen, listened to this album from Corsano and Flaherty this morning, tonight going to see Peter Brötzmann / Keiji Haino Duo.

The name of this album is completely descriptive of both Corsano and Flaherty’s take no prisoners approach to playing. From the first note to the last, this is playing as if your life depended on it.

Flaherty spends so much time in the upper register of his sax, smearing squeals across the milky way, that you might follow him into the stars. Corsano’s playing is so fast and furious, if you vibrate along, you might just reach launch velocity.

This is a great album. Energetic, abrasive, harsh, and beautiful, all at the same time. A new moment of insight with every breath.

#LowCostSpaceFlights #ChrisCorsano #PaulFlaherty #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #FeedingTubeRecords


Practitioner by Ben Goldberg and Michael Coleman.

The story goes, Ben Goldberg asked and asked musician Steve Lacy to give him a lesson. Finally one day Lacy relented, and when the lesson was done, he gave Goldberg a copy of his album Hocus-Pocus.

Hocus-Pocus was an album of pieces that Lacy wrote to challenge himself, as a sort of book of Lacy-isms and solo etudes, but also which were tributes to artists who had influenced his work. People like pianist James P. Johnson, escape artist Harry Houdini, jazz musician Sonny Stitt, and high wire artist Karl Wallenda.

Goldberg, and his friend Michael Coleman, a clarinetist and keyboard/synth/electronics player, became somewhat obsessed with the album and have planned and schemed to put out their version of the pieces from Hocus-Pocus.

This album is the result of that obsession, and it is not at all what I expected.

Goldberg and Coleman have another band with drummer Hamir Atwal called Invisible Guy. On their last album, proper, Knuckle Sandwich, they even included a song called “Hocus-Pocus”.

But, Invisible Guy’s relatively straight forward approach to playing improvised music is completely different to what they choose to do on Practitioner.

Instead of concentrating on playing keyboards, Coleman collaborates with Goldberg and their recording engineer to process, multi-track, and otherwise mangle the sound of Goldberg’s clarinets playing Lacy’s work, (and he does play some of the king of all clarinets, the contra-alto clarinet, on this one,) and create a collage piece, not unlike what Miles Davis did with Bitches Brew. They use the recording studio as another instrument in their repetoire.

Lacy is here, Houdini is here, Wallenda is here, James P. Johnson is here. Goldberg and Coleman find them, and invoke them, often between the notes.

This is a fascinating, thought provoking, and very modern, piece of work from Goldberg and Coleman.

#BenGoldberg #MichaelColeman #Practitioner #SteveLacy #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

As a bonus, they made up a set of baseball cards with painted portraits of the artists in question and poems inspired by their work and personalities. A cool package, and a cool album, all around.

Hundreds of Days

Hundreds of Days by Mary Lattimore.
Bandcamp Link: Hundreds Of Days

I chose this album, as Mary Lattimore will be playing with Dylan Carlson Thursday, August 9, at The Hemlock.

I guess there is some sort of risk to listening mostly to “unusual” or “extreme” music.

That is, when you get to an altogether pleasant album where not much happens, it can be, well, disappointing.

Not really because of the album itself, or its merits, but just because of where you are living, musically.

Lattimore plays harp, piano, some guitar and sings.

Like another Mary, Halvorson, she plays her harp with a rather dry tone, (she is no Zeena Parkins,) and she deploys a looping reverb unit. Though, more like the artist Colleen, she is mostly creating her songs by building and manipulating loops with the digital delay and then playing along with them.

Also like Halvorson, she does seem to deploy an expression pedal from time to time on her digitally reverb’d harp, which is a cool effect to hear.

So, if you come into this expecting something more like Colleen, or Satie, you may not be disappointed. Quiet, pleasant pieces, that are a little quirky, but not in a disturbing way.

It’s more end of the day wind down music or music for a relaxing lost weekend at a spa in the Redwoods than commute music.

#MaryLattimore #HundredsOfDays #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack