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Autistic Daughters – “Uneasy Flowers” – [Staubgold]

lombard   2/24/2009   12-inch, A Library

On their 2nd release, “Uneasy Flowers” from 2008, Autistic Daughters create a moody atmosphere with their slow, quiet musical creations accompanied by emotional male vocals. Autistic Daughters is mainly a trio made up of New Zealander Dean Roberts (vocals, acoustic/electric guitars), Vienna’s Martin Brandlmayr (drums, vibraphone, computer based processing), and Werner Dafeldecker (double bass, electric guitars). There’s also some guest piano from Chris Abrahams and mandoguitar by Martin Siewert.It’s pleasant, yet raw with lyrical gems like “feral roses.” For example, the opening track (“Rehana’s Theme”) sounds sweet, but the lyrics belie that (“You’re a bunch of cunts the lot of you”), and create an interesting tension when punctuated by hand claps.

Programming Note: Language on Track 1/Side 1- “Rehana’s Theme”

Paine: Youngs – “English Channel” – [Sonic Oyster Records]

lombard   2/24/2009   A Library, CD

This is a collaboration between UK experimental musicians Andrew Paine and Richard Youngs on a 37-minute piece. This 2008 release on Andrew’s label, Sonic Oyster Records, is a wild journey that was apparently recorded in the dark, with vocals added later. It begins as a very quiet, spiritual style, with chanting, humming punctuated by the rattling of bells. It continues in a slow and languid manner, with the addition of some understated buzzing, like a very tiny motorcycle revving. Male voices come in, almost in “om”-like chants and the piece gets buzzier, dronier, as the listener’s meditation reaches a new level. There’s rattling and subtle wails of perhaps an accordion or electronics. Chatter turns into spookier, electronic sounds and creepy throaty noises and it all gets a bit more psychedelic. Then, back to minimal bells, more Oms, whistling noises like breath on an instrument, then more hectic, and quiet again. The whole thing has the effect of like hanging out in a haunted house with a crazed yoga practitioner. Definitely a far-out trip and well worth the ride.

Horde of Two – “Guitar & Bass Actions” – [Smarten Up! Records]

lombard   2/24/2009   A Library, CD

Indeed. This is some awesome guitar and bass “action” from Vancouver, B.C. duo Horde of Two. On their new, debut (2009) album, bassist Wendy Atkinson (performing on electric, double and acoustic bass) and Mecca Normal guitar player David Lester construct beautiful instrumental pieces covering a range of moods. Much of the release was composed while viewing a video of a murder scene in the Alfred Hitchcock film Blackmail. There’s also a live track (“the Knife”) that features an electric guitar played with a knife (you definitely hear the tension). “Stockholm” is a gorgeous, uplifting piece and “Conversation in a Berlin Train Station” introduces piano (along with double bass) and has an otherworldly, nostalgic quality with the twinkling keys.

Programming Note: Tracks 5 and 6 track (“Blackmail” and “The Knife”)

Last Winter We Didn’t Sing [coll] – [Thor’s Rubber Hammer Productions]

lombard   2/18/2009   A Library, CD

Winter finally descended onto California this week and it’s fitting that this compilation “Last Winter We Didn’t Sing” (a 2008 holiday sampler from Thor’s Rubber Hammer) bubbled to the surface of the review pile. All of the pieces on here are “winter-inspired” and include pretty guitar by Scott Tuma, a somber song with strings and female vocals from The Instruments, experimental solo improv on pedal steel from Susan Alcorn, and a few Christmas-related tracks. There’s some electronic fuzz and sampling of news broadcasts on the Greg Davis track “24 Hour News/Silent Night,” a piece which combines the beauty of “Silent Night” with the incessant chatter of the news in a battle for the listener’s attention. There’s also some lovely drifty sounds from Fabio Orsi. Bundle up….

Crazy Dreams Band – “S/T” – [Holy Mountain]

lombard   1/27/2009   A Library, CD

Crazy Dreams Band is a Baltimore outfit on the Holy Mountain Label. It’s chaotic, retro rock with a heavy psych flavor with caterwauling female vocals by Lexie Mountain. Rounded out with moog, guitar machete, harmonica, lap steel, bass, keyboard and drums, it’s definitely some full-fledged sounds.

Silent Land Time Machine – “&hope Still” – [Time-Lag]

lombard   1/27/2009   A Library, CD

Silent Land Time Machine is a solo artist from Austin, Texas, playing a variety of instruments on this debut release from October 2008 put out on Indian Queen Records and Time-Lag Records.

It’s a one-man band, home recording on this CD; with some guest vocals and instruments. It’s mainly instrumental (although some wordless and/or quiet vocals), atmospheric sounds created with strings, guitar, cello, electronics, accordion, samples, etc etc. Some tracks are glistening and optimistic, like the sun breaking through the clouds on a rainy day (track 2), whereas others have more frenetic, buzzy, and experimental touches. Mesmerizing stuff.

Skein, The: Andrea Parkins and Jessica Constable – “Cities and Eyes” – [Henceforth]

lombard   1/27/2009   A Library, CD

The Skein is the duo of Andrea Parkins (electric accordion, effects, samples & live processing, synthesizers, piano, and voice) and Jessica Constable (voice and electronics). Their debut album “Cities and Eyes” starts with a crazy racket of clanging, buzzing, and percussive noises punctuated by wailing, feline-like female vocals. Other pieces (like track 2’s “Nothing/Otherwise”) are more dream-like in places, with softer vocals and spacy keys. It’s all improvised, with some more jazz-like moments, intriguing samples (even operatic male vocals), and an experimental feel throughout. It’s an out-there ride with these talented musicians.

High School Record [coll] – [Self Release]

lombard   1/6/2009   A Library, CD

Having grown up on John Hughes movies, the brilliance of “21 Jump Street,” and the cheesy fun of “Degrassi Junior High” (and all of its progeny); I’m always excited to hear about more teen-themed flicks. “High School Record” is a fictional film about high schoolers in Wisconsin, done in documentary style using mostly musicians as cast members (folks from Mika Miko, My Little Red Toe, etc.). I’m always a sucker for anything with a high school theme to it, so I was intrigued.

This CD release, “High School Record Audiotracks”, is not a soundtrack per se. It was produced in limited quantities for a small number of radio stations, so it’s a nice little gem to have in our library.

It features a range of sounds, including upbeat pop, rock, some rapping on the Scream Club track, a beautiful instrumental piece from Brokeback, an uncredited DIY piece called “Qween of the World” that will take you back to the days of Beat Happening, cool strings on the Tugboat track, and even a jazz piece from Chicago Underground Quartet.

Electric Bird Noise – “Le Vestibule – Vestibule Transitoire ” – [No More Stars Records]

lombard   12/16/2008   A Library, CD

Electric Bird Noise is the project of Brian Lea McKenzie. On this 4th release, originally performed live on CFOU in Quebec on the radio show “Le Vestibule,” he creates mesmerizing atmospherics using guitar, loop machine, and effects. There’s a bit of a progressive influence at the start, as well as cinematic leanings and spacy drones. In places it’s spooky and you’ll hear what sounds like a large slab of quivering metal. Excellent music for mental journeys.

Tiny Concept – “For Tiny Bullshits… ” – [None]

lombard   12/16/2008   A Library, CD

Recently in town for some tour stops, including a live mic at KFJC, Tiny Concept is a one-woman band from Bordeaux, France. It’s fantastic, minimal rock with pronounced drum (machine?) and wispy female spoken vocals in a low-key 1980s vein, with similarities to Free Kitten’s sparer moments. This was recorded in Nashville in summer 2008 by Sikhara‘s Scott Nydegger.

Handsome Family, The – “Drunk By Noon ” – [Carrot Top Records]

lombard   12/9/2008   7-inch, Country

On this 2008 7″ single from the Handsome Family (husband and wife duo of Brett and Rennie Sparks) we get some lovely country tunes, with a dark edge. Recorded in their home studio in Albuquerque, New Mexico, “Drunk by Noon” is a wonderful cowboy tune from their 1996 album “Milk and Scissors.” Its dour subject matter (beautifully written lyrics by Rennie) leaves the listener pondering inebriation, cancer, and mortality. (We actually have this track in our library on a “Little Darla” compilation, as well as a Sally Timms cover of it).

“Drunk by Noon” is a bit more upbeat and poppier (with male and female vocals) than the “AA” side’s “The Blizzard,” which is a cover of a 1964 Jim Reeves song.

“The Blizzard” is a heart-wrenching, depressing tale about a finding a man frozen on the plains “just 100 yards from Mary Anne.” You can hear the wind blowing, and sense the sadness of the lonesome, snowy trail and a lost love.

Sequin Trails – “Slumber Beneath The Leaves ” – [Earth Angel Art]

lombard   11/25/2008   A Library, CD

Sequin Trails is the project of Oregon artist, musician, and mystic Janina Angel Bath. On this gorgeous self-release, wrapped in a gold fabric bag adorned with a stitched line of sequins; the imagery and the song titles (“Mudra,” “Incantation,” “Celestial Doors”) reveal much about what you can expect from the music. The music is infused with mysticism, folk psychedelia, and magic. Beautiful washes of sound will hypnotize you, taking you on a journey with Ms. Bath. Schooled in piano, Native American flute, and Indian classical vocal music; Janina (flutes, keyboards, vocals, percussion and bells) and Nick Bindeman (guitars, percussion, effects, viola, bells) create a lovely soundtrack for meditation, with the pleasant instrumentation and chant-like vocals.

Brotzmann/Lonberg-Holm – “Brain of The Dog In Section, The ” – [Atavistic]

lombard   11/25/2008   CD, Jazz

Jazz and improv powerhouses Peter Brotzmann (alto/tenor sax, B-flat clarinet and torogato) and Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello/electronics) collaborate on this energetic release. Hectic saxophone, wailing cello, bird-like tweets, and various blips and beeps punctuate the party. This is a live recording from last year (November 28, 2007) at Chicago’s Hideout. This is excellent screeching and scraping for the free jazz lover.

Punkt: Live Remixes Vol. 1 [coll] – [Jazzland]

lombard   11/25/2008   A Library, CD

Punkt is the moniker for both a team of Norwegian musicians and producers (Jan Bang and Erik Honore) and for the annual festival that they produce. A big component of the fest is live remixing, of which this album is a product. During the festival performances happen on a main stage, with live remix sessions happening in a separate room immediately following. On this album, Sidsel Endresen (voice) and Jon Hassell (trumpet) remix separate performances, joined by Bang and Honore doing live sampling and percussion.

The first two tracks are singer/composer/poet Sidsel Endresen’s live remix of a 2007 performance by Sweet Billy Pilgrim. Track One is 20 minutes in length and is the most avant-feeling of the pieces. It begins with Sidsel’s voice, which is manipulated and reworked, at times sounding like backwards utterances. Bits and pieces are understandable (“I don’t want to be alone here”) and as the track progresses, it’s at times haunting, layered, and song-like. Minimal electronic sounds and effects hover in the background throughout the piece. Track 2 is a bit prettier, beginning with spare acapella singing with almost a traditional folk feel.

On the final 2 tracks, trumpet player Jon Hassell works with Bang, Honore and Audun Kleive (percussion) to remix a 2005 performance by Merriwinkle. These are pleasant, washes of sound, yet with the trumpet they are closer to jazz in style than the other pieces. Sidsel’s vocals also make an appearance as she was a part of the original Merriwinkle performance.

Hrsta – “Ghosts Will Come and Kiss Our Eyes ” – [Constellation]

lombard   12/4/2007   A Library, CD

This is a gorgeous release from HRSTA (pronounced HER-SHTA), who’ve been around since 2000 with various musicians-notably founder Mike Moya of Godspeed You Black Emperor and Set Fire to Flames. This fall 2007 release is spooky and drifty with prominent organ for a very atmospheric and haunted, dirgy feel to many tracks. Mike Moya’s vocals have a similar feel and intensity to Kendra Smith and Marianne Nowottny. There’s a nice cover of the early Bee Gees psychedelic song “Holiday.”

-Cynthia Lombard

Chaos Butterfly + Biggi Vinkeloe – “Live at Studio Fabriken” – [Eld Records] (CD)

lombard   11/30/2005   A Library, CD

Chaos Butterfly (Dina Emerson doing vocals, wineglasses, harmonica & computer AND Jonathan Segel on guitar, violin & computer) collaborates with the sax, flute, and vocal skills of Biggi Vinkeloe in this live recording from Sweden circa March 2005. The female vocals are usually wordless utterances, getting crazier on track 3–on which track the sax is particularly hectic too. Clicks and scrapes and beeps make for an intriguing experimental release with improv jazz moments.

-Cynthia Lombard

Phosphorescent – “Aw Come Aw Wry” – [Misra] (CD)

lombard   11/30/2005   A Library, CD

Matthew Houck is the guy behind Phosphorescent and this is their 3rd release. He has a pleasant, cracking vocal style and the music has a slow, somber feel to it, with the nice addition of horns, pump organ, piano, pedal steel, and accordian. Aspects of this also have the emotional grandeur of Neutral Milk Hotel, while still retaining the folky core that is Phosphorescent.

-Cynthia Lombard

Mi and L’au “self-titled” [Young God] (CD)

lombard   11/30/2005   A Library, CD

Beautiful, spare folky music can be found here, created by this couple who resides in the woods of Finland. Mi (short for Mira) is Finnish and L’au (Laurent) is French. When they sing together I’m reminded of some of Bill Callahan’s collaborations with girlfriend-at-the-time Cynthia Dall, as the tracks have the same sense of isolation.

-Cynthia Lombard

Mudboy – “This is Folk Music” – [Last Visible Dog] (CD)

lombard   11/10/2005   A Library, CD

Raphael Lyon plays a modified organ and operates from Providence, Rhode Island under the moniker of Mudboy. This release is experimental, but with nods to classical composition along the lines of Philip Glass (or even Tangerine Dream). The organ makes it feel more spiritual and mystical. It’s all instrumental and very moody, yet it doesn’t verge on creepy electronics that you’d hear in a haunted house or at a carnival, as his playing has an inherent optimism to it.

-Cynthia Lombard

Bunyan, Vashti – “Lookaftering” – [diCristina] (CD)

lombard   11/10/2005   A Library, CD

What a treat to hear a new release from British folk artist Vashti Bunyan. After the buzz surrounding the reissue of 1969’s “Just Another Diamond Day,” she was sought out by many labels interested in her beautiful voice and folk sensibility that had attracted many new fans. On this 2005 album she sounds just as fresh as in the 1960s. Joanna Newsom also guests on harp on a few tracks. Gorgeous!

-Cynthia Lombard

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