Phalanx Ambassadors

Phalanx Ambassadors
Phalanx Ambassadors

Phalanx Ambassadors by Matt Mitchell; Bandcamp Link: Phalanx Ambassadors

I’ve been listening to Phalanx Ambassadors for the better part of 2 weeks and I still feel like I am still uncovering aspects of it with each listen.

Here are my notes:

“Pointillism, Zappa, A-harmonic, Harmelodics”

The ensemble is composed of keyboards, vibraphone, guitar, bass, and drums.

I say Pointillism as the melodic motif (such that there are any) are often divided between instruments, giving a feeling of spray.

It is super rhythmically dense, these players deserve goddamn medals, especially the drummer and bassist, for dividing and subdividing as they do here. Which reminds me a bit of some of Zappa’s work.

A-harmonic, as it feels like the pieces are more multiple melodies snaking through thickets of rhythm than a single melody with related harmonies.

Harmelodics, as Mitchell’s method seems a bit along the lines of some of Ornette Coleman’s ideas.

Which makes it sound a bit difficult.

And it is a lot to take in.

On the other hand, the tunes are not particularly dissonant, in fact the opposite, often quite tonally pleasant.

After a couple days, I started to think about who might enjoy this album most easily.

My conclusion, such as it is, is that probably a person familiar with modern classical music is going to be more likely to easily enjoy this album than a person who is stuck in the classic jazz rut. And maybe even a prog rock fan might be more easily entertained by some of these pieces, than a “Capital J” Jazz fan.

Try and prove me wrong.

#MattMitchell #PhalanxAmbassadors #MilesOkazaki #PatriciaBrennan #KimCass #KateGentile #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

Phalanx Ambassadors

Mandatory Reality

Mandatory Reality.

“Mandatory Reality” by Joshua Abrams and Natural Information Society; Bandcamp Link: Mandatory Reality

It’s was a super shitty and stressful week at work. The sort of week where you feel like your job squeezes every last neuron so hard there are no spare thoughts left in your brain.

Listening to this album all week, on the way to and from work, has helped me get through it. It has a calm resolve that is comforting.

Beyond that, I can’t think of anything else particularly interesting or insightful to say about Mandatory Reality.

Coming up dry.

I recommend you listen and decide for yourself.

Maybe you’re having that sort of week, too.
⁣⁣
#JoshuaAbrams#NaturalInformationSociety#MandatoryReality#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

The Wizard of East Dubuque

The Wizard Of East Dubuque
The Wizard Of East Dubuque

“The Wizard of East Dubuque” by Kevin Drumm; Bandcamp Link: The Wizard of East Dubuque

Last month Kevin Drumm discounted his whole bandcamp discography, something like 114 albums and EPs, at the low, low price of $23.10.

With such a cornucopia of albums available for my sampling, I hardly noticed that he hadn’t made a new album available since March.

However, we were getting close to June, and I started thinking to myself, “…wait a gol’ darn minute…”.

Fortunately, Kevin Drumm chose to slake our thirst with this new album, “The Wizard of East Dubuque”.

The first twenty minutes are what I describe as sound field work, I think the sound source is probably feedback. Spherical sound fields which start small, expand, and intersect with other fields. I was settling into my listening, “ah, this is peaceful, some room to think!” However, my reverie is interrupted by something like a shortwave radio blast. Out of the radio blast, guitar sounds appear and distorted voice coagulates to create a slightly sad, mournful segment for a period. Towards the end, what sound like keyboard based synthesizers come in to take us home, or to church, before fading out into silence.

#KevinDrumm #TheWizardOfEastDubuque #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

The Wizard Of East Dubuque

A Gaze Among Them

A Gaze Among Them
A Gaze Among Them

“A Gaze Among Them” by Big | Brave; Bandcamp Link: A Gaze Among Them

I’ve been listening to “A Gaze Among Them” by Big|Brave all this week.

Super distorted supreme heaviness, but none of the bullshit solos or ego driven masturbatory instrumental technicality typical of the metal genre.

Just songs conveying feelings performed with ardor.

I think the amazing guitar and bass distortion in the mid section of “Muted Shifting of Space” may be some sort of record for most overdriven sounds ever recorded.

Outstanding.

#bigbrave#agazeamongthem#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

A Gaze Among Them
A Gaze Among Them

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

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.

This (is what I wanted to tell you)

This (is what I wanted to tell you)

“This (is what I wanted to tell you)” by Lambchop; Bandcamp Link: https://lambchop.bandcamp.com/album/this-is-what-i-wanted-to-tell-you⁣

⁣For a while I had been resisting Lambchop’s experimentation with the tools of the 21st Century recording studio, (vocal harmonizer, electronic beats, etc.) but the songs on this new album are just so good that I can’t resist.⁣

⁣Slightly sad musings by a guy growing into middle age in the 21st Century.

⁣@michelektel was giving me a bit of a hard time, “Look at you listening to Lambchop! Are you OK?”⁣

⁣But, as she said, Lambchop is all about the “feels”. Even when you can’t quite remember the exact lyrics or the names of a songs, through a combination of music and lyrics, they are able to evoke a feeling that is poignant and unforgettable.⁣

⁣#Lambchop #ThisIsWhatIWantedToTellYou #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

This (is what I wanted to tell you)

All Time Present

All Time Present by Chris Forsyth; Bandcamp Link: All Time Present

Up to this time, Chris Forsyth, when recording with a band, has usually recorded under the name, “Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band”.

This album includes some people usually in the Solar Motel Band, (Peter Kerlin, Bass; Jeff Zeigler, sonics,) and a few other guests.

I always start a bit ambivalent about Forsyth, he traffics so heavily in 1970s rock guitar tropes, but after a while, on this album, he won me over. I can’t help hearing Tom Verlaine, Robert Lloyd, Robert Quine, and Neil Young in his playing, but it seems so honestly come by, and he is such a talented guitarist, that I think I just need to let go of my history and listen to the new things he is trying to create with those gestures.

It helps that this is a longer album. It gives him more chance to stretch out and noodle, play off his co-musicians, and more time for me to appreciate his voice, rather than hearing others in it.

#AllTimePresent #ChrisForsyth #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack