Tuesday, September 29, 2009

deep wave

the field mice - it isn't forever

a brilliant track from forgotten 90's UK shoegaze-pop outfit the field mice, "it isn't forever" welds early New Ordery elements like jangly guitar and heartbeat kicks onto tripped-out ambient textures and echoey vocals. Totally in the pocket. It's like new wave but more psychedelic, let's call it deep wave.

Monday, September 28, 2009

kurt vile - freak train

kurt vile - freak train

A standout from Kurt's latest LP, "Childish Prodigy," "Freak Train" sounds like Suicide took a ride to New Jersey, and dosed their electro synth-punk with Bruce-sized blasts of Americana, all the late-light longing, unrequited hopes and freak-train riding that one associates with the giants of Asbury Park, but stuffed into a lo-fi bedroom burner. Over a relentless drum-machine groove Kurt wails and cuts loose, highlights being a number of spat-out exclamations like "I've never been so insulted in my whole life! Shit!" It's uplifting, energetic, driving and mildly obscene, with a strong sense of street-smart storytelling and roots-rock pathos, yet also kind of out of control and messy like Royal Trux style. Kurt Vile & The Violators play Mercury Lounge on Oct. 7th.


seefeel - quique

forged in the early 90s, seefeel's hybrid sound of shoegaze and ambient techno remains without easy parallel to this day. Their arguable acknowledged classic Quique (1993) was rereleased in 2007. A beautiful, uncompromising record, its aesthetic distilled to crystalline perfection, Quique abounds with mid-tempo dub and techno beats combined with gorgeously processed guitars and vocals. In short, it's one of my favorite records ever, and every time I hear it I can't believe no one's really followed up on it. It's an exquisite wallpaper record, filling up background space when you play it at home, content to endlessly churn its shimmering loops and bass pulses, but full of microcosmic delights when you stop to listen more closely. Please enjoy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

concert review: blackened music series

9/23/09 - Blackened Music Series at Brooklyn Masonic Temple

Sunno))), Earth, Pelican, Eagle Twin

I had a twinge of hesitation going to the temple last night. I'd seen Sunno))) play before and hadn't listened to their records since, so affected had I been by the singular force of their live show. Going to see them a second time I was wary of having my experiences dulled by repetition. I considered myself more hyped for the rare occasion to see Earth live. The Brooklyn Masonic Temple is a complete no-brainer for hosting deafening demonry - a hulking Fort Greene fortress replete with black wood doors and red trim, strange chandeliers, and no sound limitations. After a set of competent if formulaic math-metal from Pelican, we were treated to Earth, who opened with the opiate majesty of "Miami Morning Coming Down." The beer guy was ecstatic. "I used to live in Miami!" he exclaimed, handing me a Budweiser. "I was a cokehead in Miami, this was my theme song!"

Having done their time as an earbleeding drone outfit, Earth is now a doom-country group. Little wonder that an earlier album, "Hex: Or Printing In the Infernal Method" is supposedly inspired by the novel Blood Meridian, as the doom-country sound feels very close in spirit to Cormac McCarthy's metaphysically desolate, elemental westerns. Led by Dylan Carlson, the quartet has perfected a playing style which derives its narcotic power from an almost impossible slowness, taking John Fahey-style melancholic guitar licks and dragging them out as if they're echoing across an infinite Texas plain in the dark.

Then something unpleasant happened: Earth stopped playing. Whoever the tenth-level puppetmaster is who runs things at the Masonic temple, he/she apparently is a set-time stickler, so despite all manner of enthusiastic applause and catcalls from the crowd, Carlson and crew did not return. Surprising and frustrating.

Which equally characterizes the first ten minutes of sunno)))'s show. Which opened with smoke filling every nook in the shadowy hall, until the sweaty horde of metal bros were bathed in an eerie purgatorial mist. An off-stage loop played: a low thump of Olympian proportions followed by some scattered metallic clatter. This went on for an insanely long time, without the band appearing on stage. The crowd became restless, it screamed, it clapped, it lost its cool. It seemed like maybe the band would never show.

Which was exactly the point where the show began to make sense to me. At the moment when I stopped expecting anything to happen, and took this impossibly long show-intro as a thing in itself. And saw the moment as an end in itself: the looming bass drum loop, the eerie mist with a crowd of shadows, the sauna-like heat, all gathered facing in the stage, caught up in fevered anticipation without release. It was more like appreciating a sculpture, or a room-installation art piece, much like works by artists like Olafur Eliasson or James Turrell, that stage some micrological material change on a grand scale, so that you become attuned to shifts in light, or sound, or temperature.

The title of Eliasson's exhibition last year for PS1, "Take Your Time," would be a good sunno))) slogan as well. Experienced live, their music is so elementally sludgey that there's little point almost in listening to it like a song or composition, it's more like a phenomenon unto itself, not headed in any particular direction. Sunno))) are thus like the first heavy metal art project.

But their show isn't just all high-brow drone-capades, at least not anymore. These days, additional instruments and a bigger concert budget have resulted in a kind of dadaist update of Wagner. The group did everything possible not to play a concert but stage an event, with over-the-top grandeur straight outta Bayreuth.

I took to the upper level seating area to take in the show. Unlike the endless sea of churning drone I had witnessed during their last concert, Sunno))) had put together a kind of futuristic drone-opera, with movements, ranging from lightning-rod guitar feedback bursts to solo demon groan to almost-pretty horn sections, and characters on stage, who emerged from the impenetrable mist to mime on stage. There's a definite goofball metal-show theatricality that was being played with, but like certain metal music cliches, like pummelling riffs, the band had taken this stage-show theatricality, like you'd see at Gwar or Kiss or Priest, stripped it down to its skeleton and then displayed this skeleton in full-scale minimalist-maximalist overload. Towards the end of the set I went outside and found several of my friends chilling on the curb. Turns out no one else had seen the most over-the-top show element of all: a ten-foot Robocop kabuki demon, of glistening steel, who had emerged to, I am not making this up, shoot red LCD lasers in a grid-formation into the crowd. Then we had diner food and I got lost for a brief spell, sometime around 3am, making my way from clinton street back to flushing, past the navy yards, through the winding streets of Hasidia, and finally to withers and manhattan.

Friday, September 18, 2009

in the throes of summer's end

edgar froese - pinnacles (baldelli edit)

A gorgeous edit by baldelli of a solo track by ex-tangerine dream member froese, blissful midtempo cosmic which baldelli sped up and added female vocals to.

Been meaning to post this for a while and was reminded when I awoke from a nap on that small hillock of grand street ferry park, where it was blaring through a PA on a shimmering sunday down by the river, in the throes of summer's end. Boats and bridges caught by the glaring light of late afternoon.

The pinnacle is the place where everything can be seen and nothing can be done. To catch sight of the world as a whole, one must be far away, where the things of the world can't be touched. On the peak, one is like a lord without any powers, but at the same time, one can taste again a certain fount of strength that sometimes becomes obscured by the world's noise. The binds of life, its habits, its inertia, its routines, slacken their grip, and one can for a time move freely among them, measuring, evaluating, seeing them with noble disinterest. Summer is the pinnacle of the seasons; when it finds its end, one is again at the foot of the mountain, far from the peak, down again among the things of man.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

NIN/Health/Gary Numan - "Anthrax" (live)

Trent, Gary and the boys from Health do a searing cover of "Anthrax" by Gang of Four during the NIN/Health tour stop in LA. Awesome.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I got the abbatoir blues

nick cave and the bad seeds - abbatoir blues

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

brutal with the millimeter

nitro deluxe - let's get brutal

A milestone in classic house, instantly recognizable not only for its peppy 80s synth riff but for its nonsensical vocal sample, "brutal with the millimeter!," "let's get brutal" is perhaps a fitting track to cap off a summer spent dissertating in Germany. For who else gets more brutal with the millimeter than Germans?

Why are Germans millimetrically brutal? Because they're afraid of disorder. The German consciousness, particularly in engineering, design, and politics, is palpably sensitive and fearful about chaos, about waste, negativity, about shit. Go to any residential German courtyard - the site of ten different trash bins for all the various subcategories of waste should be evidence enough that they are serious about shit, about calculating and containing it. Germans are brutal with the millimeter because they have a slippery-slope mentality: if things start to get a little out of hand, it's only a matter of time before they plunge headlong into the flames. This explains larger political gestures, like the government attacking Scientology, as for good reason the Germs are rather wary of cultish, power-hungry ideologes, as well as smaller gestures, like never ever jaywalking ever, or when passersby call to you when you're biking, to indicate that you are in fact biking on the wrong side of the street. It's not about the particular instance, but the fear of the inevitable spread of social decay that your particular transgression will no doubt contribute to.

Why are German milimetrically brutal? Because it's fun. Ruthlessness gives them sadistic pleasure. Take the bouncer at Berghain, last time I was there. I rolled up with a female friend from the States and two Argentinians named Nico. My friend attempted to make a casual, flirtatious joke, the kind one imagines American bouncers would warm to courteously. The Berghain guard in contrast remained glacially serious, before replying with all the threatening weight of a military officer during interrogation: "You've made a joke, but it's not funny. Look, no one is laughing."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jay Goes Cosmic

What's the opening sample on Jay-Z's "Blueprint 3," you ask? Why it's 'spirit' by Frederic Mercier, of course, from his 'Pacific' LP, a late 70s french cosmic-disco steam-roller with a head-nodding beat and glistening huge synths and, needless to say, a daniele baldelli secret weapon. Enjoy.

frederic mercier - spirit (RE-UP!)