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Music Reviews

Messiaen Et Autour De Messiaen For Onde Martenot and Piano [coll] – [Rer Megacorp]

Cousin Mary   9/30/2009   A Library, CD

Here is an opportunity to hear the onde martenot ??? an early electronic instrument with a sound of its own, sometimes reminiscent of a sitar or a theremin. (Good notes in the liner about this instrument.) These compositions are absolutely exquisite ??? very good pairing of a piano with the martenot ??? some are somber, others minimal, others suggest impressionist music.

Unearthly beauty, unlike anything else ??? will appeal to both modern classical and electronic music fans.

– onde martenot (owned mahr-te-noh)
– Olivier Messiaen (oh-LEE-vyay mess-YAHNH)
– Carpentier (Car-pon-tee-ay)

Qwel & Maker – “So Be It” – [GALAPAGOS4]

Max Level   9/28/2009   CD, Hip Hop

Super reliable underground hip hop music. Qwel (emcee) and Maker (beat architect) have been working together for a while now and it shows; the two fit together like a fist and a glove and a punch to the face. As usual, Qwel lets his raw wordy rhymes fly while Maker ransacks the record bin and drops in big beats for just the perfect accompaniment. “Back Stage Pass” kicks the thing off in high energy style, but my favorite track is probably “Lunch Money”, a tribute to poor families trying to get by. This here is a pre-release sampler from Galapagos4 with alternate versions and a couple of bonus tracks: #13 is a DJ Bizkid preview mix of the tracks, and #14 finds Qwel delivering some serious rhyming over a Graham Nash(!) sample.

Gun Outfit – “Dim Light” – [PPM]

humana   9/25/2009   A Library, CD

This is truly great. Caroline Keith on guitar, Dylan Sharp on guitar, and Reuben Storey on drums put together some magic when they jam. It rocks, it infuses you with energy, and as Dale would say, they have some moves. The lyrics are snappy and smart, the male and female vocals in conversation with each other are reminiscent of the B52s, but this Olympia, WA band is its own brand of fantastic.

Winters In Osaka – “Molded to Crawl” – [Haunted Hotel Records]

cinder   9/25/2009   A Library, CD

Another noisy release from the Winters In Osaka trio, who are actually from Chicago. For this release, they’ve got the help of a few friends (members from Spazz, 7000 Dying Rats, Brutal Truth, etc…) Starts off with a 17 minute horrific epic of power electronics! Complete with moaning wind tunnel sounds and screeching metal scraps. Tracks all start with some awkward hidden conversation. Track 2 gets a little PYSCHO circus on you, with hints of a demented music toybox. A great fucked up melodic tune, with a sitar (?) and bubbling lava too! Ends abruptly. Track 3 gets you going on the subway tunnel from hell. Lots of windy sounding rails, and a mysterious flute. The final one alternates between being in a moshpit, to sitting in the middle of a fire scorched desert on Mars. Noise, in fragments for sure.

Vivian Girls – “Everything Goes Wrong” – [In The Red Records]

humana   9/25/2009   A Library, CD

Cassie Ramone, Kickball Katy, and Ali Koehler of Brooklyn are back with their fast-paced garage rock and vocals that are hazy but harmonizing in a pretty way when you listen hard enough. Drums, bass, and guitar almost overpower the melodies of the voices, but the lyrics sort of go with the title of the album. If you like the Vivian Girls, you???ll love this.

Buckley, Tim – “Live At The Folklore Center, NYC – March 6, 1967” – [Tompkins Square]

humana   9/25/2009   A Library, CD

Folk: This is literally a slice of Tim Buckley???s life, from his folk phase. Izzy Young had the good sense to turn on the tape to record this concert that 20-year-old Buckley gave at Young???s Folklore Center in New York City. No microphones or paraphernalia, just Buckley???s high-pitched voice and guitar recounting stories in a way that calls to mind Peter, Paul, and Mary and Jesse Colin Young. Lovely tracks all, evocative of times passed and definite proof of the talents of this artist who died too young. Read the informative liner notes.

Lenguas Largas – “I Feel 7″” – [Tic Tac Totally]

humana   9/24/2009   7-inch, A Library

This debut from the all-male Tucson band is intriguing. Side A is an uptempo number with hazy lyrics, a definite psychedlic vibe,.and hint of Hawaii at its start and end. B1 is even better, but B2 is the winner with its discordant guitars and percussion and winning title, ???Just Because I Can???t Divide Don???t Mean I Can???t Multiply.???

Ligeti, Lukas – “Afrikan Machinery” – [Tzadik]

Cousin Mary   9/23/2009   A Library, CD

Composer/improviser/percussionist Lukas Ligeti plays a Marimba Lumina, invented by electronic pioneer Don Buchla. He mixes this with electronic samples to produce music inspired by his time in Africa. Very energetic and bright, mesmerizing, absorbing textures of sound. Challenging and likable at the same time ??? check it out!

La Barbara, Joan – “Shamansong” – [New World Records]

Cousin Mary   9/23/2009   A Library, CD

Three 20-minute-plus pieces by composer/sound-artist La Barbara.

(1) Shamansong was originally composed as a soundtrack for Anima, a dialogue-less film about a woman???s journey into the desert.
(2) Rothko was inspired by the Houston???s Rothko Chapel, a non-denominational retreat and inspirational work of art. Bowed piano and voice, minimal.
(3) Calligraphyii/Shadows was written for a Chinese dance company and uses voice and Chinese instruments.

Beautiful, spare, unusual and ultimately very moving. Recommended.

PGM Track 2 begins and ends VERY quietly.

Pefkin – “Possible Confusion Species” – [Pefkin Music]

lombard   9/22/2009   A Library, CD

Former Electroscope member Gayle Brogan is the lady behind Pefkin. It’s a solo release (although John Cavanagh adds clarinet on one track) that came out in 2008 on Ruralfaune. Apparently limited to just 73 copies, it feels very DIY with the inclusion of a small twig and a piece of gold-paisley-adorned hand-made paper. It’s very pretty, with gorgeous tinkling percussion, breathy female vocals, and some spooky moments with crashing waves. Strings, bells, a rain stick, and simple plucking of stringed instruments are part of the gorgeous tapestry woven by this talented musician from Scotland.

Rose, Jack & Black Twig Pickers, The – “Jack Rose & The Black Twig Pickers” – [Klang Industries]

ArtCrimes   9/22/2009   12-inch, Country

The Black Twig Pickers have been playing old-time traditional (and new songs in that style) for a few years. Although known for his solo work in improv-oriented expansions of John Fahey’s “American primitive” approach, Jack Rose has also played a more traditional repertoire with Twigs member Mike Gangloff for both recordings and gigs, and in this recording (made in 2008), he integrates himself into the Black Twig Pickers lineup, adding his solid fingerpicking (with some slide work). They do several trad. blues and old-time tunes here, along with a few new versions of Rose’s original instrumentals… but nothing too exploratory; they play his tunes largely as if they were traditional. Not all the songs are done with vocals, but the vocals that are here are very much done in an old-time style as well (although the first track has a somewhat distorted vocal sound that could have been intentional). Rose has always been a forceful player in his solo work, but it’s also interesting to hear him serve as the rhythm section much of the time here. (((crimes)))

Flaming Tunes – “Flaming Tunes” – [Life and Living Records]

lombard   9/22/2009   A Library, CD

Originally released as a cassette in 1985, this self-titled release by UK-based project Flaming Tunes sounds as intriguing in 2009 (this reissue came out in April) as it must have sounded nearly 25 years ago. The main players are Gareth Williams and Mary Currie (along with many others) and this project was meant to be a departure from Williams’ previous experimental project This Heat.

Although at times it seems clear that this was created in the 1980s, much of it feels timeless. Depending on the track, you might hear bleeps, buzz, piano, clarinet, casio, guitar, drums, whistles, fiddle, bells, tape, flute or voice. Some pieces are a bit peppier with warbling vocals; whereas others seem deeply influenced by Gareth Williams’ travels in India (especially “A to B”). “Raindrops from Heaven” is infused with sounds of not only raindrops and insects, but also prominent percussion. It all ends with a pretty piece, “Generous Moon,” with male and female vocals that was inspired by the writings of Sylvia Plath.

Gareth Williams died in 2001 and upon the reissue of their Flaming Tunes release this year, his former band mates have been sharing stories about him and their musical projects on the Flaming Tunes website.

Das Black Milk, “The Purple Parade”, [Summersteps Handmade], CD

ophelia necro   9/21/2009   A Library

Out of West Scranton, PA DAS BLACK MILK is a 5 piece garage rock band of guitar, vox, bass, organ, drums, sound manipulations and programmed effects.12 tracks including hidden noise track beginning 5:38 into the track. Straight ahead Rock and Roll but they refer to themselves as “now blues”.

Language on #12.

Pioulard, Benoit – “Flocks” – [Blue Flea]

humana   9/20/2009   7-inch, A Library

Benoit Pioulard is the pseudonym of Thomas Meluch, who hails from Oregon. Side A starts and ends with atmospheric mystique, but is modulated by Pioulard???s echoey voice adding melody to the weirdness. At the end it sounds like someone is scootering away. Side B is noise untempered by vocals–is it a train? Or a ship???s engine? The sounds are dense and captivating and make you wonder.

El-G – “Armelle 7″” – [Le Vilain Chien]

humana   9/20/2009   7-inch, A Library

French folk songs, each of which tells a story if only we knew how to translate it. Side A is a pretty song rendered by two sweet voices over strumming. Fresh and youthful. Side B features a male voice singing a more jaunty, weird melody, also over strums that crescendo and then quiet down again. Unique and worth a listen.

Searching For The Now 6 [coll] – [Slumberland Records]

humana   9/20/2009   7-inch, A Library

Pop/psyche: Side A is The School, a girl-fronted pop band from Wales. Bouncy, upbeat and bubblegum sweet–female vocal over keyboard rollicking melody with tambourine and other instruments. At least 2 false endings. Side B is George Washington Brown offering heavier rock on B1. B2 is more psyche sounding with slow and fast parts, with chaotic sounds appropriate to the ???Twin Towers??? title. A and B2 are my preferred tracks.

Searching For The Now [coll] – [Slumberland Records]

humana   9/20/2009   7-inch, A Library

This 5th offering of pop in the Searching for the Now series is brought to you on gray and black, beige and black vinyl and features two Swedish bands. Liechtenstein is a female three-piece, and their ???This Must Be Heaven??? is indeed heavenly, with angelic voices layered over each other, harmonizing over a fast-tempo snare, guitars, and bass. The Faintest Ideas are a male four-piece, with a hardcore approach on B1, but much more upbeat and impressive guitar and bass work on B2, with vocals less menacing and more understandable.

Pulse Emitter – “Oppressive Nature” – [Digitalis Industries]

cinder   9/16/2009   A Library, CD

Starting out like a Cessna with a ‘tude, Portland’s Pulse Emitter (Daryl Groetsch) soon explodes into a full flaming fire of skin melting modular synthesized electronics. Hissing and growling, and of course, pulsing. Near the middle of the piece (track 3), it gets super low and rumbling, almost sounding like a farting, frothing tuba, whereas track 4 takes you down a minimalistic tonal drone, complete with frosty wind chills at the end. Check Pulse Emitter out on Live From The Devil’s Triangle 9 too!

Dudu Geva – “Retrovulva 2003” – [Le Vilain Chien]

ophelia necro   9/16/2009   12-inch, A Library

Dudu Geva is a collective out of France (they are originally from Chile including members of Oso el Roto Oso). They got their name from Israel’s most famous cartoonist (who died of a heart attack back in 2005). The material on this album was recorded between 2005 and 2008. They are friends with Les Clubs Des Chats and are also on the Vilain Chien label. They are a weird mixture of psychedelia and punk rock influenced by the like of Caroliner and Os Mutantes with vocals that at times sound like someone is torturing a cat in heat. French import of 300.