Clockwise

Clockwise
Clockwise

Clockwise by Anna Webber; Bandcamp Link: Clockwise

“Her new release, Clockwise, is an homage to some of her favorite 20th Century composers as seen through the lens of their works for percussion. For the project, Webber spent months researching and analyzing various percussion compositions by Iannis XenakisMorton FeldmanEdgard VaréseKarlheinz StockhausenMilton Babbitt, and John Cage, isolating particular moments that could be extracted and developed into new works.”

Pi Records

Wow! After listening to it for several days, I felt that this album had a lot of influences from 20th Century composers, but I didn’t realize the extent of Webber’s ambition until I read the Pi Records press! Holy moley!

Uh, anyway, that press release could be a little scary to, well, most people.

However, let me assure you, that, while this isn’t “easy” music, it is also not as “difficult” as some of its inspirations.

One of the things that stands out for me is the thoroughly modern and very enjoyable harmony writing for the horns. Sure, there’s some dissonance, but overall it is the melodies of the pieces that stand out for me. There is also some pretty amazing 20th Century music meets Bebop playing from both Webber and Viner, particularly on the title track “Clockwise”.

“Array” is another track which is super interesting, (featuring outstanding contributions from Viner, Garchik, and Mitchell,) which seems almost like a single melodic line which is stretched nearly to the full length of the tune, but split between the different players. Also, it very nearly almost swings.

Endlessly rewarding, and endlessly interesting, Webber’s Clockwise is some of the most ambitious writing and rewarding listening I’ve encountered for a modern jazz-ish ensemble in recent memory.

Anna Webber – tenor saxophone, flute, bass flute, alto flute 
Jeremy Viner – tenor saxophone, clarinet 
Jacob Garchik – trombone 
Christopher Hoffman – cello 
Matt Mitchell – piano 
Chris Tordini – bass 
Ches Smith – drums, vibraphone, timpani

Clockwise
Clockwise

Life Metal

Life Metal.

Life Metal by SUNN O))); Bandcamp Link: Life Metal

SUNN O))) is well known for making “heavy music”.

Life Metal, while heavy in every sense of the word, in the SUNN O))) canon, almost comes down on the side of the light.

Huge slabs of sound do brutalize your ears, but the detail and the texture captured within those aural sculptures twisting in space and time, are beautiful in their own way.

I just have to say, the mix and the production on “Life Metal” is particularly astounding. The first and the last song add acoustic instruments to the SUNN O))) sound and it is unbelievable the separation they found in the mix so that those delicate instruments could shine in the midst of a maelstrom of overdrive and distortion.

PS. This is a great article about the album, “2 Montana Natives on Recording with Drone-Metal Band SUNN O)))“. I particularly enjoyed this quote from one of the Montana Natives, Tim Midyett, “You might be living with whatever you do for awhile. So if you hit a wrong note, and you don’t get it right, you’ve got to figure out a way to adapt whatever you did to make it work, but ideally you want to hit them right in the first place,” which seems equally applicable to Life as to Drone-Metal.

#SUNNO))) #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #LifeMetal

Life Metal.

Crazy Doberman

Crazy Doberman

Crazy Doberman by Crazy Doberman; Bandcamp Link: Crazy Doberman

The difficult part about Crazy Doberman is keeping up with their releases. Not only do they seem to record 3 or 4 album a year, but countless singles, DIY tapes, etc.

If you haven’t dipped into the Crazy Doberman stream just yet, this self titled album is a pretty good place to get your toes wet.

For a Crazy Doberman release, it is a relatively mellow affair, grooves are started, maintained, then freaked out. Things get quiet again. Synthesizers moan.

It’s got a bit of a krautrock/psych feel going on, especially the first half of the first tune, “immortal hand or eye”. The second tune, “held inside/fragmented/kept close” is a bit more of a psychedelic journey, what with its guitar/flute combo, sparse percussion and panning organ-style keyboard washes. And, oh yeah, a recorder freakout towards the end.

Just let go and let it pull you under.

#CrazyDoberman #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

CrazyDoberman
Crazy Doberman

Pure Bud Silver Strands

Pure Bud Silver Strands
Pure Bud Silver Strands

Yunnan “Pure Bud Silver Strands” First Flush Green Tea, 2019 from @yunnan_sourcing.

“We have offered the “Silver Strands” 银丝 varietal green tea (a robust one leaf to one bud ratio) since 2005, but decided to also offer its first flush tippy “pure bud” counterpart.  Picked in the earliest part of spring (in Late-February) before the spring rains arrive, this pure bud pluck features small hairy silver tips with no leaf.”

Yunnan Sourcing

Darker green flavors, but with a minty aftertaste.

Expected this to be light, but those light flavors are pretty meaty/umami/mushroom in nature. Very little sweetness. Kept the water on the cool side, respecting the buds.

Aside from a bit of mint, not a lot of length, nor that strong for re-steeps.

A solid light tea, if you like them on the meaty side of green.

#Tea #Cha #YunnanTea #YunnanSourcing #PureBudSilverStrands #DrinkTea #TeaEnthusiast

Yunnan “Jade Snail”

Yunnan “Jade Snail” Green Tea from Mojiang, 2019, via @yunnan_sourcing.

“This “Jade Snail” 玉螺 green tea is a tippy one leaf to one bud pick but because it’s such and early spring tea the leaf is typically quite small.  The result is a balanced green tea with both robust and sweet attributes.”

Yunnan Sourcing

Thick body, light flavor.

The early flavors and scents are on the greener side, reminiscent of asparagus, but it’s a savory tea whose lingering grain-ish sweetness expresses itself the finish, rather than the early flavors.

There’s a little mid-tongue bitterness, that I can sense more than actually taste.

Just enough to keep it interesting.

Somehow, there is a lingering after-taste evoking dried fruit.

For a tea that seems simple and lightly flavored at first taste, it is surprisingly complex as the steeps progress.

Not bad resteepability for a green tea and thought provoking length.

Nice.

#Tea #GreenTea #JadeSnail #YunnanTea #YunnanSourcing #GreenTeaOfMojiang

Plastic Anniversary

Plastic Anniversary.

Plastic Anniversary by Matmos; Bandcamp Link: Plastic Anniversary

I’ve been thinking about this album for several days now and have been having a hard time gestating an appropriate write up.

I’ll start from the basics.

Matmos’ main modus operandi is to take found sounds, (recordings, samples, foley work,) and create new compositions from those sounds.

Generally, each of their albums will have at its core a theme or family of sounds which will dictate the choices for the album.

For example, on “A Chance to Cut is a Chance to Cure”, the core of the sounds were taken from various medical procedures. On “The Civil War” they used samples from vintage musical instruments. For “Ultimate Care II” they pulled the core of the sounds from their Maytag Ultimate Care II Washing machine.

In a way, they rebuild their orchestra from scratch for each album!

The theme of “Plastic Anniversary” is plastics. Most of the samples used to produce the sounds on the album were taken from plastic items. PVC Pipe, Plastic Buckets, Plastic Whistles, Vuvuzelas, a particularly tuneful pill shaped plastic container, etc.

While the theme of plastic, as it clogs our lives and waterways with nearly indestructible matter, is, at its core a bit sobering, the music is not.

For the most part is is fairly light hearted, reminding me a bit of Jean-Jacques Perrey’s early electronic music, as in the theme to the electric light parade, or more accurately, some of his more percussive work with Gershon Kingsley like “The Unidentified Flying Object” or “Spooks in Space”.

The final track, though, “Plastisphere”, is a nice contemplative change from the propulsive music of most of the rest of the album. Sounding like Matmos simply left microphones on in someone’s suburban lawn as birds chirp, the wind blows, and lawn sprinklers cycle, it is, in fact composed using foley work, and, created entirely using sounds from plastic sources.

It is a synthetic world.

The two primary members of Matmos, Drew Daniel and Martin Schmidt celebrated their 25th anniversary of being together while making the album.

#Matmos #PlasticAnniversary #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Plastic Anniversary.

“Bao Hong” Green Tea

Bao Hong Green Tea

Early Spring Yunnan “Bao Hong” Dragonwell Green Tea, 2019 via @yunnan_sourcing.

“”Bao Hong” tea is from Yi Liang county of Yunnan.  It’s leaf is quite small and it carries a high level of aroma.  The leaves are always picked when very small and fresh during a two hour window of time in the early morning of mid-February.    The aroma is intense and fresh.”

In the method of picking and processing, this is quite similar to Long Jing Dragon Well tea. If you looked at a basket of the dry leaves, I wouldn’t be surprised if you mistook it for a high quality Long Jing Dragon Well tea. That is, until you brewed a cup.

While it looks a bit like Dragon Well tea from Long Jing, the flavor of the tea is very distinct from it.

Green teas tend to fall along light and dark flavor families, lighter green flavors like asparagus and tarragon vs darker, meatier flavors like collard greens and seaweed.

While still super fresh, it is a 2019 first flush tea after all, this is on the darker side of the green tea spectrum, at least for bud heavy, spring teas.

There’s something in the flavors that is super familiar to me, but that I can’t quite place. It’s not an off or bitter flavor, it’s just a bit unusual in a tea for me.

My coworker described the aftertaste as a bit like the soft drink “Sprite”. I haven’t had Sprite for years, but I feel like I remember it was heavier on the lime than the lemon. And I kind of get that, there’s a bit of the sort of dark lime-like flavor which lingers on the palate, lightened by a sparkle of darker spearmint.

If you’re tired of the usual green tea suspects, the Bao Hong Green Tea is an interesting one to try to wrap your mind around.

#GreenTea #Cha #Tea #YunnanTea #YunnanSourcing #BaoHong #BaoHongTea