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’.”
Bloody Sirens by Musarc & Neil Luck; Boomkat Store Link: Bloody Sirens
Number 49 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.
I had to skip this one yesterday, as I hadn’t figured out a way to listen to it in the car. It’s only available from the Boomkat Store and not on any Streaming Platforms. Actually, I’m a bit surprised that only one album, (well EP,) ended up being a slight problem. There were a few that were only available after purchase on Bandcamp, but this is the only one taking the true high road of no streaming at all.
Also, woo! The last album of the Wire Magazine Top 50 Albums of 2018!
Bloody Sirens is a work of Neil Luck, a British composer, or as he puts it.
“I am interested in live performance, fallible bodies, the pathetic, theatre, the esoteric and the unesoteric. My music is concerned with sound, of course, but resonates with other live and fine arts practices. “
Bloody Sirens was also a work of the UK based “choral collective”, Musarc.
Bloody Sirens sounds like it was as much a performance for vocal ensemble, as it was a composition.
3 shorter songs and one longer song.
The texts of the pieces are often composed of the sonic and or textual debris of the 21st Century.
The pieces are whimsical, curious, serious, and funny. Often they are declamatorily about themselves, with the vocalists informing on the actions in the pieces as they are happening.
The main piece, “Bloody Sirens,” appears to be based on a very loose understanding of American Baseball along with a coincidental relationship/pun relating to “perfect pitch”.
That is about as close as I can get to describing what goes on here.
If that sounds at all interesting, I recommend checking it out yourself.
Number 48 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.
Along with For by Kate NV, Communion is one of the more pleasant surprises of Wire Magazine’s Top 50.
Park Jiha is a Korean musician whose primary instruments are piri (double reed bamboo flute), saenghwang (mouth organ) & yanggeum (hammered dulcimer). She is joined on this entirely acoustic endeavor by woodwind player Kim Oki, vibraphonist John Bell, and percussionist Kang Tekhyun.
The pieces have a super intimate feel, influences for the compositions seem to come primarily from Western contemporary and classical music, despite the unusual instrumentation.
It is a sort of chamber music, though it often sounds like it might have been recorded outside or in nature.
Park Jiha is an incredibly expressive player and a gifted technician on all the instruments she plays. Her piri playing, particularly for me as a woodwind player, is truly inspirational and moving.
Ecce Homo by Ipek Gorgun; Bandcamp Link: Ecce Homo
Number 47 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.
“Born and raised in Ankara, Turkey, Ipek Gorgun is an electronic music composer currently enrolled in the doctoral program of sonic arts at Istanbul technical university’s center for advanced studies in music.”
On the pleasant side of noisy, Ecce Homo often uses looped bell-like sounds to create environments in which to explore with synthesizer and samples.
I enjoyed most of the songs on Ecce Homo, however, for whatever Gorgun felt the need to sample from Alex Jones, of Info Wars infamy. She pulls extensive vocal samples from Jones’ largely incoherent anti-semitic rant about “infiltrating” the Bohemian Grove, The Bay Area’s legendarily exclusive retreat for the rich, famous, and influential.
As with Agnarkea’s Black Helicopters, I am unclear about the intention, and also embarrassed that assholes like Jones have become megaphones for the worst of America’s impulses.
3 extended pieces of Jazz adjacent music from this amazing Guitar, Sax, and Percussion trio.
It has, unfortunately, been 12 years since Berne and Torn recorded together on Torn’s Prezens.
However, time has not dulled their chemistry, if anything, it has sharpened it.
Sun of Goldfinger is at turns as beautiful as a sunset and as ugly as a car crash.
Often I’ll hear a sound and wonder if it is Berne shattering the altissimo register of his horn or Torn feeding back a screeching shard of tortured strings.
The trio is augmented slightly by strings, keyboard, and an additional guitar for “Spartan, Before It Hit”, (not that you’d particularly notice at first listen given the eclectic sonic alchemy Torn deploys with his guitar,) but the true white knuckle piece is the trio’s “Soften The Blow”, in which Smith’s drums builds tension on top of relentless tension as Berne and Torn squeal and shriek above, peals of thunder and slashes of lightning rolling into the aether.
For me, the first Must Listen album of the year.
Catch them touring this spring, including a date at the Freight and Salvage tomorrow night, 3/12.
Number 46 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.
Jon Hassell probably first came to everyone’s attention through the Brian Eno and Jon Hassell album “Fourth World, Vol. 1: Possible Musics” on the E.G. Music Label.
At the time, Hassell defined “Fourth World Music” as, “a unified primitive/futuristic sound combining features of world ethnic styles with advanced electronic techniques.”
He had come up among the New York minimalists, (Terry Riley and LaMonte Young,) then studied Indian classical music techniques, trying to apply what he learned from that to his trumpet playing.
This album is largely an electronic/ambient work and actually charted at number 34 on the UK Dance Album Charts in 2018. He plays his characteristically gnomic trumpet over a variety of digital loops and samples, bending, spindling, and mutating with great abandon.
Number 45 in the Wire Magazine (@thewiremagazine) Top 50 Releases of 2018.
Gaye Su Akyol is a Turkish vocalist.
Her music, primarily, mixes Psychedelic Music influences, Surf Music influences, and Turkish folk scales and motifs.
I’m just gonna put an extended quote from her album notes here and leave it at that.
“We are masses moving within a huge chaos. We are the disaster seeds of a cultural collapse which infiltrates the human mind and inhibits dreams. In an age when we are forced to forget dreaming, as societies we become weak signals of the barren mind. We are descendants of unqualified herds that follow grunts. We are the miserable, standardized, un-rebellious and unfounded robots of the new world.
“What could be the one thing that could separate us from this herd, these masses, these crises of ambition ground down by the things we memorize?
“This album is in search of the great crisis of existence, the assorted peculiarities that you are subjected to when you refuse to get used to and are alienated by things such as war, or death, a sudden separation forever from a loved one, dreams for instance, the nature of species, what we look for in this weird planet, what we are not able to find, what we call real and what we turn down as dreams.
“Dreams keep you awake and it is time to wake up!”