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

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.

#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

Devotion

Devotion by Tirzah; Bandcamp Link: Devotion

Number 21 in the wire magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 releases of 2018.

You got me on this one.

I must be missing some critical United Kingdom cultural context, ‘cos this just sounds like fairly plain lo-fi electronic pop music. I feel like about a million people are recording music pretty similar to this with garageband or on their phones every day.

It’s not bad, per se, I just can’t detect anything of note in the music, beats, lyrics, or production that would place it in this Top 50 releases of 2018.

#Tirzah #Devotion #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50

Pylon II

Pylon II by Nordra; Bandcamp Link: Pylon II

Number 20 in the wire magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 releases of 2018.

Odd, as far as I can tell, this album by Nordra was released in October of 2016, strange that it would be in the wire magazine best of 2018. Maybe it was initially released independently and got picked up by a label ?

Well, I missed it back in 2016, so a pleasure to listen to it in 2019.

Nordra is the project of Seattle musician Monika Khot.

This music was composed to accompany a multimedia performance Pylon II (there was a Pylon and there is now a Pylon III).

The music is pretty fascinating, it dances on the jagged edge, tilting between abstract electronic music, film scores, pop music, and dance music.

It is mostly instrumental, with the odd well placed sample. The self slicing brownie pan commercial provided a bit of levity, though it was playing against another slightly disguised home surveillance advertisement.

Another win for the wire magazine top 50 releases.

#Nordra #PylonII #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50

Imperial Dragon Well

Yunnan Sourcing Imperial Dragon Well Tea From Hangzhou Long Jing Tea 2018.

I believe I’ve mentioned before, there is a classic list of “China’s 10 Famous Teas”. There’s a bit of waffling about some of the 4-6 Green Teas usually on the list, but one that is always on, and almost always first, is Long Jing Dragonwell from Hangzhou in China’s Zhejiang province.

I’ve had a bit of a love/hate/fear relationship with Dragon Well tea.

I drank it almost exclusively for several years, accidentally super overdosed one time, and now am a bit nervous about trying it again.

The problem with highly regarded, highly produced, highly desired, and often expensive Chinese teas, is, you run the risk that the producers will use chemicals or you will actually not get what you asked for.

Like the fact that far more Olive Oil is sold as Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil than could possibly be produced in Italy, more tea is sold as “Long Jing Dragonwell” than could possibly be produced in that Chinese province. Most often it is simply green tea from another region made in the style of Dragon Well.

I sort of suspect the tea I had such an adverse reaction to may not have been actual Dragon Well and may have been treated with chemicals.

In any case, that is not this Dragon Well.

You can see the typical flattened spear shape and lighter olive green color.

Brewed well with water this tea expresses a wonderful nutty taste, chestnut is the flavor used to describe what it evokes, but I get a little bit of coconut. It has a rich broth, lingering flavor, and re-steepability beyond what you would expect from a green tea. There is a little bit of tannic sensation in the later steeps, but no bitterness at all.

I brewed it in a Gaiwan, though it is more typical to brew Dragon Well Tea in a pitcher or glass, refilling with water as you go along.

I’m glad I overcame my reluctance and renewed my acquaintance with Dragon Well, one of China’s Top Teas.

#Cha #Tea #DragonWell #YunnanSourcing #DrinkTea #GreenTea

IRISIRI

IRISIRI by Eartheater; Bandcamp Link: IRISIRI

Number 19 in the wire magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 releases of 2018.

I’d heard a couple of Eartheater, (not to be confused with the Swedish Sludge Metal Band Earth Eater,) songs when random shuffling, so I knew to a certain extent what to expect.

And, frankly, after a few disappointing albums, was really looking forward to something I would enjoy.

Thankfully, I did enjoy IRISIRI.

Eartheater, aka Alexandra Drewchin and associates, has a wonderful voice and an eclectic touch on arrangements and sonic environments. With Dub-like production techniques, the album feels alive, it is constantly changing, with sounds and events moving in and out of processing. I was continually surprised by this album, never knowing quite what was going to come next.

I particularly liked one track, which started with a harp solo and the musical track was slowly invaded by a seemingly unrelated electronic dance beat. It almost felt like you were listening to your friend practice their harp as an all night dance party raged in a nearby loft.

#IRISIRI #Eartheater #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #WireMagazineTop50