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 Xenakis, Morton Feldman, Edgard Varése, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Milton Babbitt, and John Cage, isolating particular moments that could be extracted and developed into new works.”
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
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
I’m getting a bit behind on my Kevin Drumm listening.
For an album named “Murder”, this is strangely contemplative.
Drones, sounding like choral noises, or perhaps, distant prop planes, provide the base. Within those continuous sounds, ghosts of melody and voice flit in and out, perhaps just overtones or perhaps intentional.
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.
Solitude by King Midas Sound; Bandcamp Link: Solitude
King Midas Sound is currently Roger Robinson, Words & Voice, and Kevin Richard Martin, Sound.
Stripped down to its essentials, King Midas Sound is now just spoken word poetry over floating, echo drenched sounds.
Robinson’s voice is low, his words are sparse, and his poetry bleak.
Martin’s echo drenched sound palate is as bleak and sparse as Robinson’s voice. Often he will build a semi-industrial drone for several moments before the voice starts. Seldom does anything build to a melody and only a couple songs manage a beat for a few minutes.
‘Bluebird’ is maybe favorite. Starting with low squealchy feedback drones which are then met by a supremely overdriven slow bass line, plodding downward, ever downward.
“The Bluebird in my heart is tired of trying to get out, he sleeps all day now, his feathers are shedding. The Bluebird in my heart doesn’t eat much, he’s lost his appetite, he’s losing weight, he can’t drink like he used to and can’t fly like he wants to, and my cigarette smoke makes him cough and makes his eyes red. Sometimes he hold his head in his wings and mumble, ‘what’s the point, what is the point?'”
Everything about Solitude is about capturing the decaying half life of an obsessive relationship. “You Disappear” starts the album by describing how the couple live together, but not together, and ends the album with “X” describing an imaginary get together where all of a woman’s ex-partners through the years get together to talk about her, gripe, and in the end, “divvying up the bill and the tips, I hug them all, and to each I whisper softly, ‘I still don’ miss her,’ and they all whisper back, ‘me too’.”