It was a tepid month right up through the last week. Albums that I thought had promise I pitched out of my Tidal queue left and right. It felt hopeless until Black Midi finally arrived on the 21st. It’s a strange time in the music making world what with note-for-note reproductions of 70’s funk albums. Don’t get me started on Afro-futurism. New Age music being discovered by those too young to remember the first go around. Then there is the whole disco-electronica debacle that I hear coming out of some college radio stations. The last time the world seemed to coming apart at the seams the musicians responded with masterpiece after masterpiece. Responding with noise and anger in your music has also been done to death, although there will always be an audience who want to match despair with an aural violence. Perhaps the disco finds a place beyond irony. In vaporware we have the confluence of computer games with dance culture. A new word needs to be invented, as I am sure it will be. You might say “He likes a certain kind of thing” and I wouldn’t know what you were talking about. As I see it I’m a curator and there’s nothing more enjoyable than turning people on to great new music.
Black Midi: Schlagenheim
File Under: progcore
This has been on my radar for some time and it was finally released a couple of days ago to near instant critical acclaim or at least some a reluctant interest due to the fact that the critics can’t place them into a context easily passed on to their readers. God forbid a music critic has to think for themselves. Progcore is the only thing I’ve been able to wrap my mind around as there is a lot of subtle meandering through both prog stylings with an uncompromising hardcore edge. Lets just make a list then: art rock, prog, post-punk, post-hardcore and (gulp) a free-jazz ensemble. They supposedly won over the crowd at SXSW, even though there was a lot of muttering about WTF was that?
Urochromes: Trope House
File Under: a rare thing called rock
I know it’s a little old fashioned to be making experimental post-punk but sometimes it’s really great and something you’d like to see live. I would go out to see them play for sure. Their hidden weapon in Dick Riddick, who puts together an unhinged but highly catchy version of post-punk that is down tight experimental, trippy and pays homage to The Stooges with random elements thrown in. Not dead at all just another genre waiting for some wizards to kick it into motion with verve and a lot of raw power.
File Under: decayed analog 4th world
This one immediately wormed its way into my brainwaves and I was so glad that on the last day of the month I was able to add this tasty recording to my list.
Equiknoxx: Eternal Children
File Under: deep dub euphoria
With vocals for the first time. This is a first for this collective to all record together in Kingston, Jamaica for their own Equiknoxx Music label. There is an experimental side to Eternal Children, a focusing on bare bones dub in a relentless and propulsive recording. There are echoes of dancehall, classic song forms, hip hop, deep dub with it’s positive and poetic nature making an authoritative 8 track album. To not want to move or dance to this joyous album seems impossible. The Carribbeann diaspora is well served when they switch to the more Grime influenced “Manchester” which is there second home.
File Under: Probably a Mercury Prize winner
The project of classically trained (violin and percussion) Northampton UK-based sound sculptor James Chapman, Certainly the most ambitious of his recent projects, here he works the classical ensemble known as the Echo Collective, as well as a whole host of guest singers and players to set in on the sessions. It’s indie rock and British, so little reliance on guitars, but an orchestra’s worth of potential instruments like horns, violins and such. You might even consider this pop music in that way that early Cold Play created soundscapes and flirted with pop The first two albums, not the stadium rubbish that came later. Orchestral rock in that very British way that strives, not for the bitterness of irony, or the eccentric for its own sake.
Big | Brave: A Gaze Among Them
File Under: large scale minimal rock
It’s a massive sound, a hybrid of post-metal and moments of gaze. Emotionally resonant, lyrically defiant, the female lead singer roaring out of the mix and sharing the experience of non-white, non-male, non-gazed upon female power. In the tradition of Sunn O))) there are large expanses of drone/doom with an adroit sense of holding back and rarely breaking out into mayhem or doom cliches. this Montreal-based group is comprised of Robin Wright (vocals, guitar), Lousi- Alexandre Beauregard (drums) and Mathueu Bernard Ball (guitar).
Black Zone Magick Chant: Voyage Sacrifice
File Under: tantric, fourth world
If you’re looking for The Lost City of the Monkey God (read the book, its riveting and true) then you may have found the proper soundtrack. Maxime Primault is BZMC and is only the current name that he has recorded under. I like it when someone is really listening closely to the world as it is and all the sounds and blurred things that might illuminate your conscious mind with directed dreaming. Blissfully missing from this album of 10,12 and 22 minute takes is the recent infusion of gaming sound tracks into nearly everything but corporate pop. Voyage Sacrifice is made up of three songs, Lightness Mountain, Incineration of Thoughts and Where Will We Meet When our Ashes are Spread in the Wind? In this world of instant satisfaction and shape shifting reality I think we all need to let a record like this take us away from the world for 44 minutes.
Richard Skelton: Border Ballads
File Under: ANB (ambient not boring)
This falls somewhere within the aural landscape of drone overlapping with Modern Classical. Using cello, viola and piano, Skelton we get a sense of the rural, perhaps near the ocean vibration. A Place between places in a dark, near menacing liminal set of organic structures interwoven with care and an empathetic passion. He supposedly now lives in the middle of rural UK that is somewhere near the coast.
Turbine: Thanks Karen
File Under: recently repressed 20-year-old gem
Turbine is Scott Thiessen and David Barrett and this was originally released in 2000 and holds it’s place all these years later. A little Postal Service vibe, which might date it for some, although I wouldn’t question if someone told me that it was recorded last month. All songs have been remastered and there is a new track added to this variant as well.
Mike Donovan: Exurbian Quonset
File Under: A purely lysergic album without an octave of bitterness
The first song on Mike Donovan’s new album Exurbian Quonset feels like playing in a garage with mattresses as soundproofing. He’s certainly and explorer and seeks new paths. Used to be in San Francisco noise tock band Sic Alps. I enjoy a great rock record, as they seem to be on the endangered list, along with most everything else. I guess that makes me a a geezer to not want rock and roll to die a death in the bulldozer of OGST and Vaperware’s pretense to just another form of disco.
Videos/Singles of Note
File Under: Dickensian
Hatchi: “Without a Blush”
File Under: nice pop song
Bestie Boys: “Sabatoge” (David Lettermen)
File Under: HD classic