Shattered Dimension

Shattered Dimension.

“Shattered Dimension” by the Flying Luttenbachers; Bancamp Link: Shattered Dimension

The Flying Luttenbachers are Weasel Walter’s long running chimeric band. Stretching back to its earliest incarnations, in the early 1990s, many great players have participated in various incarnations of the Flying Luttenbachers.

This new iteration of the group is particularly potent, with Walter on drums, Saxophonist Matt Nelson, bassist Tim Dahl, and guitarist Brandon Seabrook.

Generally, the only constant is that the band explores the jittery febrile ground between edgy art rock and noisy improvisation.

A lot of times I’ll find myself listening to an album by an allegedly “edgy” group. Listening to insipid song after insipid song, with lyrics about “my girlfriend”, “my lover”, “my red solo cup”, or “my good dog watermelon wine”. Eventually, the band will get around to some sort of jam, and I’ll think, “Jesus, finally! They are kicking their shoes off and freeing themselves!” Only for the jam to fade out disappointingly in a few bars, just about when it seems like they are getting warmed up.

There are no songs about dogs on “Shattered Dimension”. Girls are not referenced. There are no lyrics at all.

Instead, what you get are 4 players freeing themselves of their hangups and pouring their guts out onto the floor of the recording studio.

#ShatteredDimension #FlyingLuttenbachers #WeaselWalter #MattNelson #TimDahl #BrandonSeabrook

Anji Bai Cha

First off, the name of this tea is a little misleading, it is called “Anji Bai Cha” which means “White Tea of Anji”, but the production method is that of a Green Tea. It is called “White Tea”, because the tea buds and leaf sprouts are very light in color, pale yellow to white.

Second, because of the light color of the leaves, it is sometimes called “Golden Buds” which might lead you to think it is a “Yellow Tea”, but again, this is just referring to the color of the buds, not the production method.

Finally, the color of the tea soup, because of the light green of the leaves, is bright topaz yellow. Again, not because it is a Yellow Tea, but because of the light color of the chlorophyll in the leaves and buds. It is a green tea.

If you research Anji Bai Cha, another thing you will find quickly are health claims related to the teas’ relatively high amounts of Amino Acids.

“Bai Cha’s pale jade leaves are unique in their high amino acid content, which contributes to the sweetness and calming effect of their infusion. Some studies have estimated that the Bai Cha leaves contain approximately three to five times the amount of amino acid found in any other green tea.”

Seven Cups

Another interesting point is that the two bushes which were found with the light buds characteristic of Anji Bai Cha, and from which all cuttings of Anji Bai Cha were taken, were only discovered in 1982! Anji Bai Cha, from Anji, is still a relatively lightly produced and thus somewhat prized and thus expensive tea.

Anji Bai Cha Green Tea of Zhejiang, 2018, via Yunnan Sourcing.

Anji Bai Cha Green Tea of Zhejiang

6g in 120ml Gaiwan, water at 185F/85C.

The first time I tried the Yunnan Sourcing Anji Bai Cha, it freaked me out a bit. I may have been a bit on the high side of that temp. Brewed in a Gaiwan, I found the flavor of the Yunnan Sourcing Anji Bai Cha almost too intense. There is a creamy umami core to Anji Bai Cha that I somehow concentrated with my preparation, the flavor reminded me a bit of hard boiled egg, or Chinese 100 year old eggs. Brewed as I did, there was a bit of bitterness in the aftertaste.

anjibaicha golden buds via Yin Xiang Hua Xia Tea.

Anji Bai Cha Golden Bud

6g in 120ml Gaiwan, water at 185F/85C.

The Yin Xiang Hua Xia Tea anjibaicha golden buds was a much less intense flavor. While the umami/eggy core is still there, it was less intense and the flavor more balanced. There is a lasting sweet impression and length of flavor that is more apparent with this Anji Bai Cha than the other two. You usually don’t think so much about length of flavor with Green Teas, but this anjibaicha has a haunting and very pleasant after taste.

Ming Qian An Ji Bai Cha Organic, 2018, via Seven Cups.

Ming Qian An Ji Bai Cha

2g in 12oz insulated Glass Cup, water just starting to come to simmer, should be around 185F.

The “Ming Qian” in the name of this importer’s Anji Bai Cha, means that the tea was picked before the “Qing Ming” festival in early April. Basically, this just means it is from the first flush of tea buds, not the secondary buds later in the spring. For what it is worth, all three of these teas are first flush.

The most common way to drink bud heavy green teas like Anji Bai Cha or Dragon Well is to steep them in a clear glass, using about 1g of tea per 100ml of water.

This is a relaxing way to drink tea, you have to wait for the leaves to drop to the bottom of the glass, or at least start to drop. While you’re waiting for them to drop, you can watch the ballet of the leaves as they float down through the water. Once you start drinking, you just add a bit more hot water as you drink down your glass. You can keep adding hot water until your tea tastes more like hot water than tea.

I made the Seven Cups tea first this way, but also went back and tried all three teas this way.

All three Anji Bai Chas were good.

The Yunnan Sourcing Anji Bai Cha is the most intense in its flavor and was a bit tricky to brew in a gaiwan. It’s flavor was good when prepared in a glass.

The Seven Cups Anji Bai Cha was in the middle of the three, not as intense as the Yunnan Sourcing, but not as elegant as the Yin Xiang Hua Xia Tea.

The Yin Xiang Hua Xia Tea was the most elegant and had the best length of flavor. I found myself thinking about the flavor most of the day after drinking it, craving it a bit. But, it is also the most expensive of the three. (They also sell lower priced types that more or less map out to exactly the same prices as Yunnan Sourcing or Seven Cups.)

If you are interested in Anji Bai Cha, I might recommend trying a less expensive version, but be aware that it may be a bit trickier to get a good cup of tea out of it than with the smoother, higher grade.

#Cha #Tea #DrinkTea #TeaOfInstagram #GreenTea #AnjiGreenTea #AnjiBaiCha #YunnanSourcing #YunnanSourcingTea #YinXiangHuaXia Tea #SevenCupsChineseTea #SevenCupsTea

Scott Walker

Scott Walker (born Noel Scott Engel; January 9, 1943 – March 22, 2019) left the earthly plane this spring.

I’ve never listened to his critically acclaimed solo albums, so I figured, perhaps a fitting tribute would be to listen my way through as many of his albums as I could (easily) find.

Scott Walker first came into the public’s eye as the front man for the American Pop Group, The Walker Brothers. Their two biggest hits were “Make It Easy on Yourself” and “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)”.

Scott.

After departing the Walker Brothers he launched his solo career with the album “Scott”, aiming a bit away from his mainstream pop music past, and more towards world weary Jacques Brel cabaret. In fact, his English versions of Brel’s songs were some of the highlights of his early work.

Scott 2.

His next album, “Scott 2” continued in the same vein, with even more Brel tunes and a bit of a folk tinge.

Funny, no matter how pleasant the musical arrangement or how mellifluous his baritone voice, he cannot resist twisting the knife of weirdness with his lyrics.

Also he really seems to like singing songs about prostitutes and brothels.

scott 3.

“Scott 3” is a far more consistent album than the previous two. Plus, I’ve had it on repeat all morning and haven’t noticed a single mention of prostitutes or bordellos.

It seems like this is the album where he first got everything together, there are some pretty great songs and very good vocal performances.

scott 4.

Oddly, “Scott 4” was actually Walker’s fifth album, but “Scott Walker Sings Songs From His T.V. Show”, his actual 4th album, is not easily available.

While Walker’s earlier albums felt like they could be made almost any time in the 20th Century, Scott 4 has its feet firmly in the 1970s.

On many songs he jettisons cabaret stylings for electric guitar and rock vocal tropes. “Boychild” and “Duchess” are the stand outs here. “Boychild”, in particular, provides a template for much of the record label 4AD’s early sound.

til the band comes in.

On the previous “Scott 4”, Walker had added a new voice/persona to his arsenal, that of the pop jazz vocalist. Unfortunately, he continues that persona for several songs on “til the band comes in”, sounding like a dime store Tony Bennett. Particularly bad are the songs where he attempts to imitate African-American speech patterns. Embarrassing.

That said, “The War is Over” is as good a song, and performance, as any other he had put to vinyl up to this time.

Climate of Hunter.

Walker’s record label had been increasingly frustrated with the sales of his solo albums. After “Scott 4” and “til the band comes in” failed to chart, they saddled him with increasingly onerous producers and projects. When none of those worked out, eventually they dropped him. He found other labels and even participated in a reunion of “The Walker Brothers”. After a few albums from the reformed Walker Brothers, Walker dropped out of sight for about 10 years and didn’t release any recordings until 1984’s “Climate of Hunter”.

The first thing that struck me is the center of his voice has moved. On the early records he’s a chest/throat singer. On Hunter, his voice has moved to his head. Also, he is singing with a consistent persona, rather than flitting from one to another from song to song.

Musically, it reminds me a bit of Brian Ferry albums from this period, but without the backup singers. Interestingly, Evan Parker provides soprano sax parts on a couple tracks!

Lyrically, he has really found his voice, though I would be hard pressed to tell you what any of the songs are about.

The only distracting thing are a few horrible mid-1980s style guitar solos.

Overall, it feels more compelling, and, perhaps, honest, than any of his earlier albums.

Tilt.

I’ve been listening to “Tilt” exclusively for two days now and I don’t really feel any closer to understanding it.

It feels alien yet compelling. I’ve no idea what any of the songs are about, but the words seem to make some sort of dream-like sense.

The same with the music, light classical might be alongside samples of power drills or feeding back guitars.

Some sort of hermetic watershed or culmination of his work up to this time. Eerie and astounding.

The Drift.

Uh.

Someone really should have warned me about “The Drift”. This is one of the darkest pieces of artistic expression I’ve ever run across. Seriously. And I’ve read some dark shit.

This is going to haunt me.

I’m gonna be seeing the flayed and dismembered bodies of various animals out of the corner of my eye for weeks.

Reminds me of some of Ben Wheatley or John Hillcoat’s early movies.

Disturbing.

Bish Bosch.

⁣⁣The lyrics on “Bish Bosch” are nearly as opaque and gruesome as its predecessor “The Drift”, but somehow there’s an air of humor over the proceedings that makes it a bit less of a claustrophobic ordeal.⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣In fact, the longest song, “SDSS1416+13B (Zercon, A Flagpole Sitter)”, clocking in at over 20 minutes, is pretty much nothing but a series of, often unaccompanied, well, I hesitate to call them “jokes”, but, at least, shaggy dog stories. The stories in sequence, one after another, as not-quite-jokes, actually gets funny, after a while, in the way William S. Burroughs’ “Naked Lunch” is “funny”.⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣Maybe it’s Stockholm Syndrome.⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣Bish Bosch seems to bring together Walker’s early obsession with the world weary cabaret songs of Jacques Brel and fuse their sensibility with the gruesome black humor of his later work.⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣It’s not exactly pretty, but it works.⁣⁣

soused.

⁣I guess if you were only familiar with Scott Walker’s work with the Walker Brothers or his early solo work, you might be a bit surprised by “Soused”. Handsome “Pop Singer” works with bearded, robe wearing, drone metal dudes!?
⁣⁣
⁣On the other hand, if you’d only heard Walker’s Tilt, The Drift, and Bish Bosch, you’d be, like, why didn’t this happen sooner? It would have prevented those bad 1980s guitar solos on “Climate of Hunter”!⁣
⁣⁣
⁣Anyway, this is mostly Walker, with the Sunn O))) boys providing the correct atmosphere for his bleak, gruesome songs. Pretty Great, if you are a fan of Walker’s later work or Sunn O))).⁣
⁣⁣

Xinyang Mao Jian Green Tea of Henan

Xinyang Mao Jian Green Tea of Henan

Imperial Xinyang Mao Jian Green Tea of Henan, Spring 2018 via @yunnan_sourcing.

Mao Jian Green Tea is another sometimes included in lists of “Big 10 Famous Chinese Teas” (十大中国名茶)”.

Imperial Xinyang Mao Jian is a bit similar to Bi Luo Chun from Suzhou, really tiny buds. Seriously, look at this teeny bud!

Xinyang Mao Jian Green Tea of Henan

The main visual difference in the tea form from Bi Luo Chun being the Bi Luo Chun is twisted twice to give it the snail shape, while the Xinyang Mao Jian is only twisted once.

Clean, bright flavors of sweet grass. Thick soup. Not as nutty as Dragonwell or Bi Luo Chun, more of a leafy, meaty, green flavor.

My coworker described it as, “oaty and flowery at the same time”. He also declared it his favorite tea I’ve made for him so far. I don’t know if I’d go quite that far, but it is very, very good.

#Tea #Cha #GreenTea #YunnanSourcing #XinyangMaoJian #MaoJian #HenanTea #ChineseTea #DrinkTea

Fancy Grade Bi Luo Chun

Certified Organic “Fancy Grade Bi Luo Chun”

Certified Organic “Fancy Grade Bi Luo Chun”, Spring 2018 from @yunnan_sourcing.

“This is a classic “Robust” style Yunnan Bi Luo Chun (rolled) Green Tea, with a mix of 2 leaf to 1 bud plucking style.”

Yunnan Sourcing

Which is to say, you won’t mistake Yunnan Bi Luo Chun for the classic ethereal Bi Luo Chun from Jiangsu known for its tiny buds. These leaves abd buds are hearty Yunnan-style, some of them are downright huge.

This is a hearty green tea with a thick soup and pleasant outgoing vegetal character. It is relatively forgiving of careless brewing, but rewards care, exposing layers of green flavor in the main tastes and mint in the aftertaste. Gongfu style brewing, this tea will stand up to several steeps and just keep on going.

It is a great, organic, reasonably priced, perfect tea for an every day green tea drinker.

#Cha #Tea #OrganicTea #GreenTea #BiLuoChun #YunnanTea #YunnanSourcing

“Long Tang Gu Shu” Old Arbor Raw Pu-erh Tea Cake

2018 @yunnan_sourcing “Long Tang Gu Shu” Old Arbor Raw Pu-erh Tea Cake.

“We are proud to invite you to experience our first ever production from Long Tan Village (龙塘 Dragon Pool)!  Long Tang village is a small village in the northern part of Jinggu county at an altitude of 1500 meters…Our Spring 2018 production is from tea gardens of two families and is picked from 80-200 year old tea trees.  The total production for both families being around 50 kilograms.”

Yunnan Sourcing

The flavor is deceptively mild for a young raw/sheng Pu-erh. Flavor is clean, but on the savory/briney side, with a very long aftertaste reminiscent of certain incense. There is a bit of appetizing tannic grip which you can sense on your tongue after drinking the tea, but little bitterness.

Given the mild, clean character of the tea, there is quite a lot of complexity to turn over in your mind as you drink. I can only think it will get more interesting as it ages. And, who can resist a tea from “Dragon Pool”?

Very strong, clear, chest based buzz (cha qi).

#Cha #Tea #PuerhTea #YunnanSourcing #DrinkTea #PuerhCha #RawPuerh #ShengPuerh

Tai Ping Hou Kui

Tai Ping Hou Kui Green Tea from Anhui, Spring, 2018 via @yunnan_sourcing.

So, right from the start, this has a very distinct look! The individual spears of tea are 3-4 inches long and nearly completely flat. Another very unique, and labor intensive process, is used for this tea!

” Our Tai Ping Hou Kui is grown in Hou Gang village near Huangshan Mountain in Anhui.  It was harvested in mid-April (first flush) from a decades old tea garden at about 300 meters.  The tea is hand-fried in a wok for several minutes (kill-green) and the roasted in a four drawer system at progressively lower temperatures.  This roasting is achieved in about an hour, after which the tea leaves are laid out by hand on a smooth piece of paper or fabric and then pressed between the paper and using wooden blocks. Finally the tea is low temperature roasted one more time to further reduce moisture content so that it can be stored sealed to maintain freshness. “

Yunnan Sourcing

The dry tea has a distinct sweet, grass like smell. Brewed, it shows strong tarragon/mint character, with lingering sweetness and a bit of citrus and fruit in some of the later steeps.

Brewing in a gaiwan is a little odd, you kind of have to add water and then press the tea down as it softens, a bit like making spaghetti with not quite enough water. An easier way, and possibly more attractive, would just be to put some tea in a tall clear glass, then add warm water, as you would brew dragonwell.

A bit similar to Liu An Gua Pian “Melon Seed” Green Tea, also from Anhui, at least in the tarragon/mint character. Though, I think it is an even lighter tea, with a bit less vegetal character and perhaps more sweetness and aroma. Though, if you think about the sweetness, it is more like the sweet smell of a freshly mown field of hay, rather than sugar cane type sweetness.

Fast, strong, chest based buzz.

For the record, this tea is sometimes included as “one of the “Big 10 Famous Chinese Teas” (十大中国名茶)”.

Overall, another fantastic green tea which opens my eyes to the variety of shapes, smells in the tea world.

#Tea #Cha #GreenTea #YunnanSourcing #TaiPingHouKui #AnhuiTea

no. 2 rougui

No. 2 rougoui from @white2tea.

The last of the seven Wuyi Yancha samples from the white2tea January tea club.

“The name rougui literally translates as cinnamon, one of the most famous varieties of yancha [rock oolong].  From early May 2018, this tea had four roasts, but the flavors of the flame have receded by the time of its release to reveal the flavors and aromas of dark fruits and deep mineral character within the tea.”

white2tea

Punching slightly above my weight class with this Oolong.

As I’ve only tried these seven Wuyi Oolong in my life, I’m at a bit of a loss as where to start with this exceptional tea.

Also, I’m a bit emotionally traumatized by listening to Scott Walker’s album “The Drift” on the way home from work.

It’s a tea that does reward careful drinking and preparation, turning over the different aspects of the flavor and scent in your mind as you savor it, and as it evolves through the course of a gong fu session. The roast character, the mineral character, the fruit, and the long lasting sweet aftertaste.

#Cha #Tea #WuyiYancha #white2tea #Oolong #RockOolong #DrinkTea #GongFuCha

Spice Flower

Spice Flower from @white2tea.

“Spice Flower is an oolong tea from the Fujian province of China. Roasted to a medium light level, the floral sweetness and spicy character of this tea shines through the roasted character.”

white2tea

Some times when I taste a tea, I kind of wonder if I have the right one.

In the case of white2tea’s spice flower, I am totally wondering if the bag was mis-labelled or if my taste is just off today.

To me, the roast is totally dominant, especially in the early steeps. I get the creamy/milky character described in the tasting notes, and in later steeps, it does seem quite sweet in character, with a lingering floral, light character. It does seem less oxidized than some of the other white2tea Wuyi Yancha.

The lingering scent in the share cup reminds me a bit of watermelon and soft berries.

I gave a cup to my coworker and he described its primary character and flavor as “ash”.

So, I dunno. The problem with single dose samples is you only get one chance to brew and if you screw it up, there are no second chances.

The buzz is on the zippy side and it is a very tasty tea. It just doesn’t seem to match the description.

#Cha #Tea #White2Tea #WuyiOolong #WuyiYancha #RockOolong #DrinkTea #Oolong

Liu An Gua Pian “Melon Seed”

Liu An Gua Pian “Melon Seed” Green Tea from Anhui via @yunnansourcing.

“Liu An Gua Pian (六安瓜片 also known as Lu’an Gua Pian or Melon Seed) is one of the “Big 10 Famous Chinese Teas” (十大中国名茶), and is grown in Da Bie Mountain Liu An area of Anhui province. (大别山六安市安徽省).  Liu An Gua Pian first became popular during the Qing Dynasty.”

Yunnan Sourcing

Liu An Gua Pian is an unusual tea in a number of ways.

The first way that it is unusual is that it is picked later than most first flush teas, so more mature leaves are used. The second way that it is unusual is that no bud or stem is included in the tea, only a single leaf is rolled.

This makes it incredibly labor intensive to produce, (Well, actually, all tea picked and processed by hand is incredibly labor intensive!)

First the stems and buds are removed from the picked tea leaves. Then leaves are allowed to wither briefly. Then they are quickly processed in an open wok-like oven to “kill green”. Then they are passed through the wok-like oven again and each individual leaf is formed into a cylinder with a brush-like device. Finally, the formed tea is repeatedly heated briefly over open flame neutral flavored charcoal to dry it.

Since it is larger leaves, the flavor is incredibly clean and light.

It’s funny, a lot of times green tea is compared to the sweet flavor of fresh asparagus, and most of the time I don’t really agree. However, on Saturday I made the first asparagus of the year with meyer lemon, olive oil, and tarragon. With Liu An Gua Pian, I totally get the asparagus thing, and even a little bit of tarragon and mint in the finish.

Definitely the perfect tea for a beautiful spring day.

#Cha #Tea #DrinkTea #YunnanSourcing #GreenTea #LiuAnGuaPian #LuanGuaPian