Brass Orchids

Brass Orchids by Ann Guthrie; Record Label Link: Brass Orchids

Number 31 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.

I can’t believe I had to wade through 30 albums (many of them great) in this roundup to finally get to a fucking outstanding example of abstract electro-acoustic music.

Anyway, Brass Orchids is a fucking outstanding example of abstract electro-acoustic music.

For the first several songs, I wasn’t sure if she was just using samples/field recordings and foley work with treatments, or if there were going to be actual instruments involved.

Not that it matters.

There is drama, there is interest, there is suspense, and there is noise, a lot of pleasantly noisey and abrasive noise.

Anyway, she does break out the French Horn and, I believe, guitar on the last track, Glass, for something like music.

…and as a bonus, the title of the album, “Brass Orchids,” appears to be a reference to Samuel R. Delaney’s SciFi classic, “Dhalgren”.

If this were my list, I’m pretty sure this would be, as they say in the industry, number one with a bullet.

#BrassOrchids #AnnGuthrie #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50

Lala Belu

Lala Belu.

Lala Belu by Hailu Mergia; Bandcamp Link: Lala Belu

Number 29 in the @thewiremagazinetop 50 releases of 2018.

A fine St Valentine’s Day soundtrack, if there ever was one.

Keyboardist of crucial Ethio-Jazz band, Walias Band, Hailu Mergia now lives and drives a cab in the Washington DC area. In 2014 @awesometapesfromafrica re-released one of Mergia’s albums, which inspired him to get back to writing and recording music. Lala Belu is the result.

#LalaBelu #HailuMergia #Awesometapesfromafrica #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50

Faithful Fairy Harmony

Faithful Fairy Harmony

Faithful Fairy Harmony by Josephine Foster; Bandcamp Link: Faithful Fairy Harmony

Number 27 in the wire magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 releases of 2018.

From the Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting Autoharp vibe of “Soothsayer Song” to the Joan Baez fronting Sweetheart of the Rodeo era Byrds groove of “Indian Burn” Josephine Foster is anything but predictable.

Her unusually retro vocal stylings, think Meryl Streep in the Prairie Home Companion movie at best or Meryl Streep in Florence Foster Jenkins at worst, cut an unusual audio profile for a modern recording artist. On the plus side, there is no detectable auto-tune.

Unfortunately, I can’t say I really care for Sweetheart of the Rodeo era Byrds or Wednesday Night Prayer Meetings.

Having grown up going to those prayer meetings and listening to Country and Western music, Faithful Fairy Harmony cuts a little close to the bone for me.

#FaithfulFairyHarmony #JosephineFoster #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50

Faithful Fairy Harmony.

для FOR

для FOR

для FOR by Kate NV; Bandcamp Link: для FOR

Number 26 in the wire magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 releases of 2018.

Kate NV is a Moscow, Russia, based electyronic artist, and, as such, для FOR is primarily an electronic album, but it has a pretty old school vibe.

Like, in terms of her synthesizers, she limited herself to things that might have been played on David Bowie’s Low or on early Yellow Magic Orchestra album.

In any case, the music is sort of typical for modern solo music. In terms of older music, it has a bit of the repetitive, yet quirky, feel of Cluster, or the above mentioned Yellow Magic Orchestra.

She creates a set of loops, creates a sort of bed of sound. Then improvises on top of it, largely with a pretty bloopy synthesizer.

The loops are primarily percussive, the first few sound like marimba. Though some of them are based around synthesized sounds.

In any case, I found this album completely enjoyable.

Listening to it, it has an almost irresistible playful and whimsical cheeriness. And I’m normally a pretty gloomy guy, who finds cheerfulness irritating. But, it got me.

I can say without exaggeration that it improved my day to listen to it on both the way to work and then, especially, on the way back home.

#дляFOR #KATENV #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50

Black Helicopters

Black Helicopters.

Black Helicopters by Agnarkea; Bandcamp Link: Black Helicopters

Number 28 in the wire magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 releases of 2018.

“Black Helicopters is Anarkea (Keaton Transue); a 20 year old producer from Richmond, Virginia,. “

It is funny, I was reminded about an interview at a recent City Arts and Lectures with Jeff Tweedy. Talking with author George Saunders about the myths of rock music, “There are tons of Rock and Roll myths that I think that are extremely idiotic…one of them is the generation gap…the notion that we are supposed to be adversarily related to previous generations. It’s like, it doesn’t do anybody any good. And it was marketing, it was basically for youth marketing…It really makes Rock music a less serious thing…If people only read books by people 19 years old! It would be miserable. It would be the worst. People don’t read any books by 19 year olds. Hardly at all, I would imagine.”

Well, this is a pretty interesting album by a 20 year old. Samples from the media over hip-hop type beats. A bit like a funkier negativland.

The subject matter is that of living in the modern day surveillance state.

But, it is hard to tell where the creator is coming from.

I am reminded that there is a sort of reverse confluence among the conspiracy theorists of the far right and the far left; anti-vaxers, tin foil hat theorists, flat earthers, etc. Those who believe that the government is conspiring against them and their ability to live their lives as they choose.

One of the voices I recognize among the samples is that of InfoWar’s Alex Jones, and I don’t think it is used in a satiric manner.

So, there’s that, take it as you will.

#BlackHelicopters #Agnarkea #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50

Talk in a Bit

Talk in a Bit.

Talk in a Bit by Hannah Silva; Bandcamp Link: Talk in a Bit

Number 25 in the wire magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 releases of 2018.

Hannah Silva is, “an award-winning writer and sound poet known for her innovative and virtuosic vocal performances.”

This is her debut recording.

This is Poetry informed by the modern cultural landscape. It is Post-Black Mirror, Post-Hannibal, and, especially, Post-Fleabag poetry.

Which is to say, her imagery is often disturbing and she is very frank about sexuality.

Two songs are about women as sex dolls, the term “fleshlight” comes up multiple times. One of those songs starts about a prostitute wearing a corset over a puffer jacket, segues to Barbie, then to a life size sex doll. After that she seems to transform into a sushi bar on “gyno row”.

Another songs seems to be about the pleasure and (mostly) pain of S&M.

A couple others may or may not be about serial killers.

As a performer, aside from her poetry, her fixation is with de-composing her communication into the basic elements of language; vowels and consonants without the burden of meaning.

About her poetry, I am ambivalent.

Putting herself out there is brave.

On the other hand, it feels a bit like a woman talking about herself through what she imagines are the mouths of men and wolves, rather than speaking for herself.

But I do enjoy her vocal performances.

#TalkInABit #HannahSilva #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50

Talk in a Bit

Everything’s Fine

Everything’s Fine by Jean Grae X Quelle Chris; Bandcamp Link: Everything’s Fine

Number 24 in the wire magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 releases of 2018.

It might be that this album is targeted at me, from the comic book and movie references to the comedian guest appearances, but I really enjoyed it.

The poetry is super clever and often funny, the beats are funky, the music and production are very complicated and inspired.

Spoiler Alert: Everything isn’t fine.

#JeanGraeXQuelleChris #JeanGrae #QuelleChris #EverythingsFine #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50


Tahoe by Dedekind Cut; Bleep Store Link: Tahoe

Number 23 in the wire magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 releases of 2018.

I had thought Dedekind Cut was a sort of combination of ambient and goth.

I don’t know if Tahoe is representative, but if so, it is more of an ambient drone.

Digital reverb soaked keyboard washes, occasional early music vocals, the odd field recording, and quasi-Asian keyboard noodling are mixed in a static casserole of sounds, baked at 375 until bubbling, then refrigerated. Reheated the next day on a paper plate.

It reminds me of Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks music or a low rent Popol Vuh.


#Tahoe #DedekindCut #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50

Biluochun Green Tea

The second (or sometimes the first ranked) green tea almost always included in the classic list of “China’s 10 Famous Teas” is called Bi luo Chun, from Suzhou in the Jiangsu province of China. Suzhou is a two hour drive North from Hangzhou, the home of Dragon Well tea. Suzhou is closer to Shanghai, basically directly West from there. This Bi Luo Chun is from Yin xiang hua xia tea and I believe it is their “Fresh Bi Luo Chun”.

Bi is green, Luo is Snail, and Chun is spring, so the tea’s name translates to Green Snail Spring. The sort of double twist that the tea is shaped into is said to resemble a snail out of its shell, (though it is harder to tell with these fine buds than it was with the coarse Bi Luo Chun from Yunnan.) It is very green, especially when Fresh, and it is only harvested in spring when the buds are smallest.

Bi Luo Chun is a much more delicate tea than Dragon Well. This is a particularly fine version, almost entirely the tiniest buds with very few leaves.

It reminds me a bit of the Ai Lao Mountain Jade Needle White Tea, though it does have some of the same nut character as Dragon Well. It is almost light enough to be a white tea, and it is certainly as bud forward as the Jade Needle tea was, though, of course, the Yunnan tea had much larger buds than these tiny things, which are barely bigger than your fingernail.

For being such a light tea, it is suprisingly re-steepable, with a clean refreshing broth and very long lasting aftertaste.

#Tea #Cha #DrinkTea #YinXiangHuaXiaTea #GreenTea #BiLuoChun

Brace Up!

Brace Up! by Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt; Bandcamp Link: Brace Up!

Number 22 in the wire magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 releases of 2018.

Chris Corsano is a drummer who lives in the North Eastern United States and Bill Orcutt is a guitarist who lives in, or near, San Francisco. Chris Corsano has a diverse recording history, from Björk (Volta) to the skronkiest free improvisation with Paul Flaherty and a little of every thing in between. Bill Orcutt has been mining the black seams at the edges of punk, folk, and improvisation, for the better part of 30 years, first gaining notice as the guitarist in the band Harry Pussy.

Some of Mr Orcutt’s records can be contemplative, edging along the sort of work that John Fahey did, reinterpreting American popular and folk traditions.

Brace Up! is not that sort of work.

Mr Corsano’s playing is almost always propulsive, sounding like an octopus has been dosed with meth and let loose in the pantry.

They complement each other well, each pushing the other further than they might go on their own, but in different directions.

Corsano keeps Orcutt skittering, barely letting him get a footing before taking off with another idea. Orcutt pulls Corsano down a bit, making him dig more repetition than he usually does.

It’s a great album, though, obviously, not one to put on if you’re looking to relax and take a nap.

#ChrisCorsano #BillOrcutt #BraceUp #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50