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Music Reviews

Como Mamas, The – "Get an Understanding" – [Daptone Records]

aarbor   4/14/2021   12-inch, Soul

In 1959 Alan Lomax visited Como, Mississippi and recorded some “porch sessions” with Miles Pratcher and his friends. In 2005 3 guys returned to Como on a trip to the South to film a documentary about local musicians. They discovered the angelic voices of Miles Pratcher’s granddaughters Della Daniels and Angela Taylor who with their friend Ester Mae Smith became The Como Mamas. This live recording was made on June 4, 2005 at their church. The stories of these 3 women are classic: poverty, hunger, clothing from flour sacks, ruined dreams… their singing helps them deal with the trials in their lives. They sing like angels. AArbor

Kjetil Brandsdal – Untitled – [Drid Machine Records]

Max Level   4/13/2021   7-inch, A Library

Wobbly layers of gently ambient Norwegian noise with an insistent beat. Evidently it is to be played at 45rpm (although it doesn’t actually say that on it anywhere) to give you a nice concise three-minute experience, but I like it better at 33rpm, which offers a more dragged-out and woozy perspective. This 2019 release is a one-sided 7″ on clear vinyl with green and pinkish dots silk-screened on the reverse for a cool see-through effect, and the cardboard sleeve is printed on the recycled cover of some unknown record album. I love offbeat art-damaged stuff like this.

Gravkvade – “Grav|Aska” – [Avantgarde Music]

whngr   4/13/2021   12-inch, A Library

In the village of Uddevalla, Västra Götaland lies a terrible beast. Veiled in darkness, misery seeps from its horrible maw, declaiming the brilliance of mercy and espousing the merit of suffering. No quarter will be asked… nor given.   The black metal of one Ezra Nattkaos (Nihilistic Pain) is cold, unrelenting, and isolated. Dreary atmospheric interludes cling to the tracks like frost on the skeletal limbs of ancient forests forgotten by man. 

Released in 2018, with chilling shrieks provided by Domedag (Svältvinter, Vomitrot, On the Altar).

The mirthless tale of Grav|Aska is bleak and sorrowful. An empty landscape where despair reigns evermore in a twilight realm of bottomless woe. 

Cedars of Lebanon, The – “Archive” – [Limited Warfare]

whngr   4/13/2021   A Library, CD

Dark, harrowing ambiance with Middle Eastern influence.

Where a haunting spell is left to bleed the saint and to propel the Imam through an atmosphere filled with exotic spice, myrrh, and the prayers of the pious to a remote and vacuous space where God is honored amid the oceans of sand and waves of heat. Nearby a concubine eats pomegranate and watches the Eagle-Owl in its ornate geometric cage made of gold and olive wood while she waits for the arrival of her Sultan. However, he won’t be coming. His thickening blood seeps into the elaborate robes he wore for the hunt, his body swaying back and forth inside the palanquin on the party’s return to the palace having been slain by a great marauding cheetah, or alfahd, that sprang from concealment in the dry, wispy grass before being killed herself in a chaotic eruption of musket fire. The Sultan’s soul will never again cross the threshold of his qasr, where the rusty gate swings morosely in the wind.

Sorrowful viola, dulcimer, lilting guitar, drone, bells, samples, abstractions, a myriad variety of percussion (could be anything), and echoes everywhere.

Cedars of Lebanon are, Anthony Couri ( Lake of Violet), Jamie Drier (on You, The Swan King), and Mike Ricketts (Dismiss, Larva, onYou, Planes Mistaken For Stars). Recorded June 18, 2001 in the Platte River tunnels of Colorado.

Blood Rhythms – “Universe Spills Out of a Spider’s Bowels, The” – [No Part of It]

whngr   4/13/2021   A Library, CD

Released in September of 2020, Arvo Zylo lays down some harsh heavy drone with meaty durations and song titles I look forward to back announcing.

Unnerving themes to nightmares. Slipping out from a synthetic cocoon woven with the itchy fibres of psychosis. Fissures, machines, terror.

Unfurl your dusty wings and fly like Icarus toward the brilliance of your imminent demise. The instrumentation is irrelevant. Close your eyes and die.

Russom, Gavilan Rayna – Secret Passage – [W.25th]

cinder   4/9/2021   12-inch, A Library

Gavilan grew up in Providence, Rhode Island in the 70s and 80s. This release is recorded in remembrance of East Side Rail Tunnel, which ran for one mile underneath the city, and the people she spent time with there (the names included on each track). It’s synth heavy, in the experimental, explorative way. Woven throbs, haunting undertones, tape hiss, pulsing swells and echoed swirls. The tunnel had a bend in it, creating total darkness if you were to get to the middle of it, which often resulted in hallucinations as you lost sense of any surroundings. The acoustics also played a big part of her liking – “long natural delays and harmonic reinforcing reverberances.” Unfortunately, the tunnel has been inaccessible since the 90s, the result of urban development and gentrification….booo.


fun facts!:

Is the synth player from LCD Soundsystem

Played/jammed a lot in the earlier years with Brian Chippendale of Lightning Bolt (track 4 is for him)

Came out as transgender in 2017

Did a few releases with Delia Gonzalez on DFA

Pierson, Dax – Nerve Bumps (A Queer Divine Dissatisfaction) – [Dark Entries]

cinder   4/7/2021   12-inch, A Library

Underground Oaklander, Dax Pierson’s debut solo release. He lives life as a quadriplegic, but that doesn’t stop him at all at slaying the electronic sounds! The vibes here are like a mash of gurgled up computer processed bloops and bleeps, with vigorous rhythms, semi cinematic flairs, shards of trap style beats, and tough edges. A bit of Pantha Du Prince meets Autechre… last track turns the notch down a bit and voids out. Cover art by Pierson’s partner, artist Chuck Nanney, and the back is a photo of his wheelchair.    


*’Dax’s guiding mantra throughout this journey has been a quote from choreographer Martha Graham: “No artist is pleased… There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”’

Ah-mer-ah-su – "Star" – [Dero Arcade]

aarbor   4/7/2021   12-inch, A Library

Ah-Mer-ah-su is a (Black) Transgender Woman from Oakland. This is her debut release from 2018. It’s 13 tracks: 3 spoken word and 10 music. The spoken word tracks are 3 different (trans? pre-trans?) people talking about how they feel about who they are and how life has treated them. The album showcases Ah-Mer-Ah-Su’s imagination, audaciousness, and her personal journey to self-acceptance. She says: “I think the true issue is that trans people are often dehumanized, and our experiences are Othered. People in power choose not to disseminate [our] message to wider audiences, because they don’t see themselves in transgender creatives. They believe that music from LGBTQ artists are specifically for LGBTQ people. Once people realize that they can identify with someone else’s experience, regardless of their differences, we will have more diversity in the music industry.”

The spoken word tracks are very authentic. The music is a bit heavy-handed, not subtle at all. The record itself is beautiful raspberry colored vinyl. AArbor FCC on track A1

Here’s a Billboard interview with Ah-Mer-Ah-Su: https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/pride/8468535/ah-mer-ah-su-interview-star-album/

Spectrometers, The – "Dead Soul Music" – [Decasian Records]

aarbor   4/7/2021   12-inch, A Library

The Spectrometers is Fred Duverge. This is his first release from 2008. Curiously it is the only release on Decasian Records. Discogs describes the music as: leftfield, electro, experimental, minimal, industrial. Leftfield – which btw means unusual, quirky or weird – yes definitely, not like other artists. Experimental, minimal, industrial – yes. Electro? – occasionally. I liked the B side better – slightly more tonal. What do you think? AArbor

Kompakt Total 18 [coll] – [Kompakt Schallplatten]

aarbor   4/7/2021   A Library, CD

From 2018 another very fine compilation from Cologne, Germany’s Kompakt label (based in a record store of the same name and owned by Wolfgang Voigt, Michael Mayer and Jugen Paape). What I like about these compilations is that usually each artist gets only 1 track – so they’re picky about what’s included. There are artists who are already in our library (Gui Boratto, John Tejada, T. Raumschmiere, Terranova plus the label owners) and ones I wasn’t familiar with. Dig in and enjoy! AArbor

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