Archive for August, 2008

Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 8/23/08

August 30, 2008

Well, tonight is the night– I’ll be playing the world broadcast premiere of John Cage’s “Twenty-six with Twenty-eight & Twenty-nine,” one of the latest Number pieces to be released by OgreOgress. And of course, I have a lot of other great stuff as well, which you can discover as we move along.

I’ve practically been living with the Hazard material this week– for reason, it’s completely floating my boat, and I don’t mind the fact that I’ve listened to this album so many times in a row. I hate to minimize it, but it’s great packing music– sounds good anywhere in the house, and I don’t miss out on too much while busy with something.

On the other hand, I’ve been back into the electroacoustic swing of things as well. Lots more odd combinations of electronics, processing, and live work on my plate than usual. Always a nice thing! I’m quite taken with this Peter Zummo and Tom Hamilton album, “Sylbersonic Trombone.” It’s not much to look at, but the disc has got it where it counts. It’s on Penumbra, maybe you’ll go pick up a copy for yourself…

Matt Weston’s newest, “Not To Be Taken Away,” is pretty good work. The tracks are really free, unabashedly immediate, and full of surprises. I’ll definitely be playing more from this one next week. See you then!

Nils Bultmann, Roscoe Mitchell, Parry Karp, Paddy Cassidy — The Madness
The Lords of Outland — Dark Wanderer
The Lords of Outland — Do-gooders can run but they can’t hide
CJ Borosque, Robert M. — Luggage Lost in the Dissatisfied Machine
Val-Inc — @
Val-Inc — Damba
John Cage — Twenty-six with Twenty-eight & Twenty-nine
Offthesky feat. Florian Ferbacher — Midlight
Harmonia 76 — Vamos Companeros
Hazard — Stream
Hazard — Barrier
Peter Zummo, Tom Hamilton — Raging Ions
James Ross — Bell Meditiation
James Ross — Brick Saw II
Dan Stearns — Day Walks In
Istvan Peter B’Racz — Slide’M2
Matt Weston — “Millions of Yeah”
Matt Weston — “Something Sensational in Every Issue”

DaveX! Where have you been?

August 28, 2008

Sorry for things being slow around here lately– I was doing great with posting a review each day for a while, but I have to take a break for a while, as I am preparing to move. Don’t worry, I’m not going far, so “It’s Too Damn Early” will be uninterrupted. As for Startling Moniker, I just don’t have a whole lot of time for it right now… it looks like my days will be filled with packing boxes and arranging all the miniature details of transferring services from one location to another.

Not to mention getting ready for an upcoming yard sale, the John Cage world premiere set for this weekend, the Chicago Calling Arts Festival collaborations, and all manners of other delights. Until things get back to normal, you’ll probably just see me for an occasional “what’s happening?” and the usual liveblogged commentary.

Again, sorry about this– hope it doesn’t screw up your weekend, haha.–DaveX

A musical meme!

August 26, 2008

Scott, of the Musical Perceptions blog, came up with a fun meme– and since it’s a rarity that I have any reason to participate in these, I’m happy to run into this one via Classical-Drone.

“So I pose the question this way: what musical performance of the 20th century would you most want to either witness or take part in? Imagine performing in the orchestra for the Rite of Spring premiere in 1913, or being in the crowd at Stalag VIII in 1945 for Messiaen’s performance of his Quartet for the End of Time?”

Pretty good answers, I must say. Still, I’d rather go halfsies on Caleb’s time-cab:

“The original staging of Xenakis’ Perseopolis in the ruins of the palace of Darius, at night, played over a hundred loudspeakers spread through the ruins, with fireworks, choreographed torch runners, natural fire, and huge projectors. Kinda sticky politically, but still.

Actually, there were several Stockhausen events to make me yearn for time transport. He played a series of concerts in the caves of Jeita, Lebanon, where he placed 180 speakers among the rocks and played his electronic and intuitive music in the inner dome of the caverns…”

As for me, I know exactly what places I’d hit– first off, John Cage and Lejaren Hiller’s 1969 performance of “HPSCHD;” the simultaneous outpouring of seven harpsichords, multiple tapes of noises, outer space slides, films– all in the University of Illinois Assembly Hall. After this, I’d part ways with Caleb for a few months, and use some of my future money to clear out the record shops (vinyl, baby!) and bide my time until December. Of course, I’d have New Year’s Eve plans… for any Hendrix-phile like myself, the chance to take in all four Fillmore East Band of Gypsies shows is just too tempting.

By this time, I’d have the whole McFly bit down pat, so I’d be ready for travels a bit further back… 1914, to the London Coliseum, for some of Luigi Russolo’s performances with his Intonorumori. Time travel most likely being rather expensive, I’d defray my costs with some minidisc bootlegs, making for a lovely limited-edition boxset to finance the trip upon my return.

Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 8/23/08

August 23, 2008

I’ve been in a relatively low-key mood for this broadcast. DJ Mo has been helping me get the station ready for the arrival of her guest DJ friends– they’re covering Kids Kamp in the next time slot. As I announced earlier, I played from the John Cage material made available to me by the OgreOgress label; these are recordings from their upcoming release of Cage’s “Twenty-Six with Twenty-Nine,” “Twenty-Six with Twenty-Eight & Twenty-Nine,” and “Eighty”… I’ll be hosting the world premiere for “Twenty-Six with Twenty-Eight & Twenty-Nine [Eighty-Three]” next week. Obviously, this is a pretty big deal for “It’s Too Damn Early,” and I’m proud to be part of Cage history in some small way.

Otherwise, I’m just trying to do the good volunteer thing– sprucing up the station a bit, since I’m relatively sure some of Mo’s friends have never been here before. WDBX has to make a good impression, you know? Also, The Land Of has me flustered! I screwed up the artist/album title last time I played The Green Kingdom’s disc “Laminae,” switching them up… and I did it again! Let’s hope Google cache didn’t nab me. Either way, it’s a really good album, and the package printing is lovely. Some of the Sweet Action guys were fondling it earlier. Had to suggest they find their own copy, thank you!

Alec K. Redfearn and the Eyesores — The Perforated Veil
Alec K. Redfearn and the Eyesores — Queen of the Wires
Alec K. Redfearn and the Eyesores — Myra
Alec K. Redfearn and the Eyesores — Blue on White
Alec K. Redfearn and the Eyesores — The Radiator Hymn
The Green Kingdom — Late Summer
The Green Kingdom — A Hidden Stream (alternate)
The Green Kingdom — Fuji Apple
John Cage — Twenty-six
John Cage — Twenty-nine
Choi Joonyong — Hold (entire)
Robert Dow — Steel Blue
Robert Dow — Burnt Umber
Robert Dow — White Water (airflow)

BIG news, last minute– OMG JOHN CAGE

August 22, 2008

Feel like hearing some rare John Cage material? The folks at the Ogre/Ogress label have furnished me with some ONE-TIME ONLY material for tonight’s show– you definitely won’t want to miss out!

The best thing? This is only a WARM-UP for next week… I’ll have more details on Monday, unless I get excited and spill the beans tonight.

DJ Mo will be keeping me on my toes, though, as she readies herself for Kids Kamp. This week, yours truly is providing a cover for Mama C, and will be bringing all sorts of pre-teen craziness into the studio after my normal broadcast. Yeah, that’s right– it’s an invasion!

Returning DJ superstars Mo and Melts join with rookie platter-spinners Milky and Marbles for an all-out overload of kids’ music.

Even if your own tastes run a bit more extreme, strap the kiddies down for this one. It’s way better than Saturday morning cartoons! Feel free to call in at 618-457-3691.

Everyone likes free stuff, right?

August 21, 2008

In lieu of another review today, here’s something you can download and enjoy for free. Who needs someone always pointing out awesome music to buy when you’re just trying to eat, anyhow?

Today’s freebie was recorded earlier this month, during Dan Godston and Eric Glick Rieman’s live set at WDBX-FM. As guests of my show, they turned out a wonderful 60 minutes of improvisation– a set made briefly even more fascinating when some local birds decided to fly in the door to dig on the music.

For your immediate gratification, here are separate links for the audio and video recordings of the performance. Please note that due to Glick Rieman’s instrument being electronic, the video actually captures acoustic sounds not heard by radio listeners, as these were being sent directly to a mixer in master control.

Two takes on the same set. Enjoy, and be sure to leave a comment!

Here’s the audio of the show:

Dan Godston, Eric Glick Rieman – Live at WDBX-FM, “It’s Too Damn Early,” 8/9/08

And the video:

Robert Dow – “Precipitation within sight” & “White Water (airflow)”

August 20, 2008

Often, I receive promotional copies of an artist’s work that are not intended for general distribution: live sets dubbed as a single track on CDR, pre-mastered works in-progess, or compilations of selected works that could be broadcast but are not necessarily to be considered a proper album.

A while back, I was sent such a compilation by Robert Dow, director of the Soundings... festival of electroacoustic music and a researcher in the area of electroacoustic composition and performance with the University of Edinburgh. Although Dow’s knowledge of electroacoustic works far exceeds my own, I still thought it would be nice to write about one of the pieces for you– consider it half introduction, and half review.

“Precipitation within sight” is an interesting composition; generally, due to Dow’s willingness to allow natural sounds to remain unobscured by processing; and personally, as it ties closely with Miya Masaoka’s “For Birds, Planes, & Cello” which I have been enjoying recently.

Like Masaoka, Dow chooses natural sounds as both a focal point and a springboard for studio performance, constructing complimentary percussive sounds which often conjure the spacial properties of this work’s center– Smoo Cave in Durness, Scotland. Generous field recordings taken at Smoo Cave feature throughout, with indoor and outside events in evidence. Of particular beauty are Dow’s recordings of splashing water and children, appearing just prior to a bursting noise of some sort, rather like stones thrown upon a metal surface. I’m not sure what to make of the electronic whinnying that proceeds thereafter, underscored by a low rushing sound, and gradually taking aural focus… perhaps Dow is suggesting the feel of coming to the surface of water?

In his program notes, Dow states that he is interested in the “strong associative pull of such real world sounds and their tendency to create specific contexts,” which seems to be thought of as a problem among many electroacoustic artists in their rush to manipulate and obscure every source recording. Taken in this light, a reading of “Precipitation within sight” might include themes of motion as both physical movement and de/constructive energy, many of the associated emotions conjured by a journey through water, and possibly even our lingering human connection to formative natural spaces such as caves. There’s a lot to consider, so I won’t attempt to offer a conclusive summation here. Rather, I intend to whet your appetite– Dow has a release pending on the fine Russian label, Electroshock, so this might be a good time to become more acquainted with the composer.

Took the words right outta my mouth!

August 19, 2008

Maurice Garland (XXL mag writer, hip-hop blogger @ The Rezidue) laid out what’s been running through my head for the past week or so– something I wasn’t expecting from his blog, by any means.

To continue, simply substitute “noise artist” every time Garland has written “rapper”.

“We need more dentists. We need more doctors. We need more economists. More truck drivers. More chefs. More store owners. I need a teacher for my unborn child. A rapper? No, I don’t need or want another one of those.

Of course, to some, rapping is merely a hobby. Some people paint, some people build model cars, some people rap. Cool. If thats how you pass your time, do your thing and keep it just that a hobby. But as far as more cats trying to “get on” no, please stop the madness.

Its almost as if rapping has become its own language. Its damn near equivalent to speaking English…because everybody does it. Its like rapping is the 6th Sense. Seeing, Hearing, Touching, Tasting, Smelling….Rapping.

I probably should have set if off in there last night now that I think about it. Giving someone a low score probably didn’t contribute to starting the Rapper Cut-Off Line. Hell, that shit probably got interpreted as “hating.” And you know niggas do with their haters! Make them their motivators, cause they on the grind, son!!!!!

From now on, I think I’m either gonna start throwing shit on stage or come to these showcases with stacks of various job applications. Maybe a couple school applications too. Something to show cats that there are other things that they could be doing and striving for.”

Read Garland’s full entry here.

Alan Courtis – “Unstringed Guitar & Cymbals”

August 18, 2008

I love finding artists who can find new ways to squeeze a few more interesting sounds from their instruments, especially when the results are able to stand in their own right. With the Blossoming Noise release of “Unstringed Guitar & Cymbals,” former Reynols member Alan Courtis unearths a wellspring of sound possibilities both novel and surprising.

Through three long tracks, each titled for a common spice found in curry, Courtis thoroughly explores the aural limits of a stringless (and judging from the digipack photos, rather broken) hollow-body guitar. Processing is employed throughout, resulting in far more than percussive noises– Courtis finds waterfalls of humming and squealing, carnival organs, windchimes, and blown-glass swan calls within this tortured axe. “Coriandro” finds Courtis at the center of a swarm of surreal birdcall noises, alternately calling to them with water gong and nose flute sounds… obviously, this is some wild stuff.

Of course, I’m thrilled at the possibilities Courtis presents. As with so many of my favorite albums of his, a democratic and egalitarian approach shines forth– anyone may not be as talented at generating or arranging these sounds, but they’re definitely within reach of many potential sound-sculptors no matter how indigent. Furthermore, as someone who spent a lot of time playing guitars, its fascinating to hear so many new voices tumble from the instrument.

Naturally, the guitar is not the only recipient of Courtis’s attention, or the title of this disc might be somewhat different. Making excellent use of a cymbal’s lengthy release, Courtis fashions layers of shimmering washes, a perfect environment for “Cardamomo’s” rising and falling guitar clarion to inhabit. It’s a much fuller sound than I would have expected, which is also a pleasant surprise.

Overall, this is a very good disc, and might go down well with those who enjoy the explorations of Derek Bailey, Ferran Fages, or even Boris. I’m not exaggerating– that sort of range is easily represented here. Blossoming Noise generally has very good quality production for their discs, which is fully evident here. Definitely, “Unstringed Guitar & Cymbals” is one I recommend.

“Unstringed Guitar & Cymbals” is available from Blossoming Noise as release “bn034″.

Don’t believe DaveX? Here’s someone else’s review!

Mike Khoury, Ernesto Diaz-Infante – “Hymns for New Fathers”

August 17, 2008

An opportunity for a long-distance collaboration has prompted me to start pulling out many examples of such work from my shelves for re-examination. There’s no shortage of folks working through e-mail, but the fact that it’s even more of an imperfect science than ordinary improvisation means a good lot of it is somewhat lacking.

That’s why I’m happy to report the general success of this 3″ CDR from Mike Khoury’s “Detroit Improvisation” series. A rough-edged little thing, it features twelve untitled sketches of violin and guitar. As is his custom, Khoury employs a variety of techniques for playing his violin; Diaz-Infante often contrasts Khoury’s more blunt approach with a layer of ringing and droning guitar.

The sound quality is better than you might suspect, with interesting stereo effects adding greatly to the overall enjoyment for listeners. On the eleventh track, Diaz-Infante’s pluckings bounce back and forth across the stereo field, while Khoury takes up residence in the middle. The final track explores instrument resonance, with a thrumming pulse spread out before the staccato pops of like a crackling radio tuner.

Initially available in a small run of 50 copies, “Hymns for New Fathers” may be difficult to find. Cross your fingers, and contact Mike Khoury directly to see if there are any copies remaining.

The Listenerd is gonna plotz

August 16, 2008

Long-time Bono hatin’ Listenerd will love this:

U2 manager Paul McGuinness, who wants file-sharers to be disconnected from the Internet, has something else to complain about today. Four songs from U2’s upcoming album ‘No Line On The Horizon’ have been leaked online after Bono played them too loudly on his stereo – and a fan recorded them.

U2 Tracks Leak After Bono Plays Stereo Too Loudly | TorrentFreak.

GRKZGL – “Antitulé”

August 16, 2008

After Monday’s debacle, you’d think I might never review a GRKZGL release again. Whatever. “Antitulé” was on the pile, and unlike the hot mess Brise-Cul let slip through the gate, this one is pretty damn good. In fact, it’s a very good example of why I first got excited about GRKZGL’s work in the first place– nice detail, great sense of dynamic, and a general unwillingness to be purposeful or evocative of some greater message.

Similar to his more recent work on the Neus-318 release “Drain,” this 3″ cdr finds GRKZGL working dexterously among multiple layers of low-end signals, with fine results. Headphone listeners will appreciate many details all but the best speakers may miss, such as the minute additions of high end sibillance occasionally coloring a more noticeable block of sound, or the fluttering subsonics exiting just before truly coming into aural focus.

Then again, my speakers sounded pretty good too, and you’d be a fool to not experience this one rumbling your insides from the next room.

Of course, long-time readers will be advised of my predilection for the 3″ format. GRKZGL puts it to excellent use here, playing to the format’s strength with a single track tightly focused on material worth thoroughly exploring for an extended period of time.

“Antitulé” may not be easily available at this time, please contact GRKZGL directly to inquire.

Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 8/16/08

August 16, 2008

I didn’t have a tremendous amount to say on this week’s show, at least not verbally. For those of you who tuned in, I did a lot of source-mixing which I think turned out very well. Please note the inclusion of my good friend Tony Youngblood in the playlist– his new album is finally out; I encourage you dig on it later today.

I got into a mood earlier today to hear Ernesto Diaz-Infante after reviewing an old 3″ cdr he collaborated on with Mike Khoury. The review isn’t live until Sunday, but duh– I like it a lot. Anyway, that’s why EDI is all over this playlist.

Warm Climate — 19th Century Blessings
Warm Climate — Can’t Forget To Know You
Tony Youngblood — On the Parking Lot
Brainiac — Juicy (On a Cadillac)
Mike Hallenbeck — 2 Turntables and a Microwave
Mike Hallenbeck — Elephant
David Rosenboom — Portable Gold and Philosophers’ Stones
Asher — Intervals (1-3)
Tom Hamilton — London Fix (excerpt)
GRKZGL — Antitulé
Ian Yeager — Music For Guitar + Computer
Mike Hallenbeck — Leaves Pressed Around a Microphone
EKV — Purification
Ernesto Diaz-Infante — Antithesis
Ernesto Diaz-Infante — Untitled track 1 (from pr90259)
Ernesto Diaz-Infante — from Henry who just wrote
Ernesto Diaz-Infante — Untitled track 3 (from pr90259)
Ernesto Diaz-Infante — Untitled track 4 (from pr90259)
Preston Ari Swirnoff — For A Room Full of Organs
Maurizio Bianchi — Sretsulkyz
Lx Rudis, Andre Custodio, Ernesto Diaz-Infante — Crashing the Russian Renaissance, Live @ Luggage Store Gallery, 6/27/02
Livestock — Lawndrop
Coin Gutter — Lift With the Knees

More Videos Friday

August 15, 2008

Another installment of More Video Friday– let’s see if WordPress lets me add the vids this time around, since it always screws up for some reason. Our first video is the weirdest thing I’ve seen all week, and that’s saying something. I have no clue what’s going on here, and if I attempt to explain it, things will be worse:

Next up is an Eric Glick Rieman solo work, “Snail Score 3″. It looks a lot nicer than the video I shot during the show, which I’ll share with you soon.

I ran the idea of getting WDBX involved in the Chicago Calling Arts Festival with my station manager, who was concerned about the questionable fidelity of a phone-to-phone linkup. Guess I should have showed him this:

Zbigniew Karkowski, Damion Romero – “9 Before 9″

August 15, 2008

Zbigniew Karkowski and Damion Romero do a great job of winnowing out potential listeners with “9 Before 9,” a sort of low-end endurance test aimed at the unlikely combination of underground noise enthusiasts with the coin necessary for possessing not only high-end equipment to reproduce subsonic audio, but also for purchasing an album where nearly two-thirds of the material is just not that interesting.

But first, let me say some nice things, because both Karkowski and Romero are well worth our attention. For starters, this is a well-produced set of recordings. Simply being able to put these sounds to disc undoubtably required serious effort, as evidenced in the liner notes, where the credits noteably mention both mastering and re-mastering. This album probably would not be possible on vinyl– my guess is that you’d sooner cut holes through the record before achieving these results.

“9 Before 9″ also benefits from a significant care taken in the compositions– while there ultimately isn’t enough to engage me fully within the first two tracks, there are at least a few moments where I know Karkowski and Romero were at least doing more than letting the low-end simmer while having some lunch. I suppose it’s the same problem I have with Sachiko M– I really want to like the material, but despite my sympathy, there’s just not enough to connect with.

I hate to be a one-note reviewer this week, but the hyperbole surrounding most noise releases has got to stop. While it’s entertaining to read a writeup with yet another reviewer enduring some sort of self-inflicted torture in our stead while listening to the latest album, how truthful is it? I listened to “9 Before 9″ straight through a couple times on headphones, and had given it my initial listen on some decent monitors at the radio station. I wasn’t feeling like anything particularly evil occurred, and I survived without incident. I ate a banana during “Part 3″ and didn’t once feel like throwing up, or that my head had been made into a kick-drum for the gods.

If anything, it’s more interesting to wonder why these sort of reviews exist? Is it lazy writing, or is there some underexplored psychological need to witness harm on others that reviewers unwittingly fulfill? I think these are questions outside the scope of this review, but certainly very interesting.

Back to the disc in question– and let’s skip straight to “Part 3″. After all, the first 36 minutes of the disc don’t get interesting until just a couple minutes before “Part 3″ cuts them off anyway… The last 18 minutes are decent. That’s right, decent. Nothing mindblowing happens, but if I’m willing to wholeheartedly enjoy Phill Niblock, I’m not going to lie to you and suggest I need constant action in my music. Karkowski and Romero get some beating waveforms together; a good portion of this section sounds like very large (and very physical) objects crowded into a small area. It’s a good reminder of the more corporeal aspects of sound, and provides a welcome and fleshy contrast to the more ethereal portions filling the bulk of the disc.

My recommendation? Avoid it unless you have the capacity, equipment-wise, to really give the disc a chance to shine. Neither Karkowski or Romero are artists to sniff at, but the combined attack of speaker shortcomings and a somewhat minimal disc are too great an obstacle for all but the most committed listener.

“9 Before 9″ is available on Blossoming Noise as release bn035.

Don’t believe DaveX? Here’s another review!

Mystified – “Skywatchers”

August 14, 2008

With “Skywatchers,” the ever-prolific Mystified brings a sense of slow and graceful movement to his often gloriously sessile work. Although the sense of direction could hardly be described as linear– indeed, tracks like “Anomaly” seem to trace the patterns of smoke in the air– “Skywatchers” seems to abandon the use of more obvious loops that characterized his previous “sound designs” in favor of increasingly organic phrasings and ambient progression.

Like all of Thomas Park’s Mystified releases, there’s not a lot of deconstruction that needs to be done on the listener’s end. “Big and Round” is a good example, and accurately titled. Gradually descending in pitch, the piece works as a giant “reveal” of the underlying rhythmic structure before letting listeners loose in the free space of “Dark Shimmer.”

It’s not drone music by any means; Park’s evident care and delicacy of design negate this possibility quite completely. Rather, “Skywatchers” is ambient done right, with Park as the go-to guy for listeners wanting more from their soundscapes than is customarily offered.

I also have to mention that the packaging is superb. Previously, I had only a passing familiarity with the Small Doses label, but now they have my full attention. The torn-paper landscape packaging for “Skywatchers” grabbed my attention from the moment it arrived in my post; the use of the actual disc as lunar element in the scene is simply perfect. Whoever is running things at Small Doses looks to be doing a great job.

“Skywatchers” is available on Small Doses as the 28th release.

Warm Climate – “Mangler Redbeard”

August 13, 2008

Normally, I do all my listening sessions for review purposes with headphones. I’ve got a nice pair that set me back far more than a person of my limited means should be spending, but I get a lot of use out of them. Today, I had to take them off. “Mangler Redbeard,” Warm Climate’s newest release on their oldest Robert Barry Construction Associates label, simply had to be shared with my daughter.

She was drawing pictures of dogs, but seemed game.

Seth Kasselman’s sublime “19th Century Blessings” rebounded off the walls, his voice eeirely filling a space between David Bowie and Roger Waters. Isn’t this guy from Los Angeles? Whatever, it’s perfect. The best thing is that this is one of the more straightforward cuts– check out “Can’t Forget To Know You,” which transitions abruptly from high-speed flayed-drum pounding into something like I’d imagine Steve Ignorant fronting an electronic version of the Lost Poets would sound like. Twin stereo vocals complicate matters before the headlong rush towards the end kicks in. It’s absolute genius, and no doubt will be sitting on my year-end best albums list.

“Snake Procession” is another gem, taking the same sort of amazing musical leaps I loved so much in Warm Climate’s “Forced Spring For Rising Tide,” but in completely different directions. Field recordings, church bells, and a dissonant wind section set the atmosphere for Kasselman’s “lion keeper” character to describe a serpentine parade-and-feast. Weird stuff, but wonderful.

Although Warm Climate’s lineup tends to shift somewhat, “Mangler Redbeard” is essentially a solo Kasselman effort. Sometime-contributer Nick Schultz shows up for drum duty on a couple tracks, which benefit from the live feel, but lose some of the incredible weirdness on Kasselman’s more baroque constructions.

The glam-rock feel positively saturating this album was inevitable, I guess. With what seems like every bearded guitarist alive claiming musical inheritance from Roky Erickson, how long could it take before the fertile (and to my ears, under-explored) territory of glam started looking like just the right place to plant one’s flag? George Korein may have beat Kasselman to it with last year’s “Another Corpse,” but he’s going to have to play Leif Ericson to Kasselman’s Columbus.

“Mangler Redbeard” is available as Robert Barry Constuction Associates release number 14.

Don’t believe DaveX? Here’s another review! (Foxy Digitalis)

Val-Inc – “On”

August 12, 2008

In this seamless and freely-structured chain of compositions, Val-Inc puts forth a series of powerfully emotional and psychic waves, constructed of fugue-state assemblage and chance synchronicity. Mostly putting her considerable talent for sound design and collage to work over her own percussion efforts, Val-Inc’s self-described “Afro-electronica” is both poetic and evocative.

“Sinz” is a terrific example, and probably my favorite track. With only Val-Inc’s drums, processing, and keyboards; and poet Parker Sargeant, “Sinz” is relatively simple. A sweeping phase sound moves slowly among a slowly pounding beat, while Sargeant layers sinister vocals throughout, alternating between strong declamations and hesitant question. Although the listing of the world’s woes– “pornography of the mind,” the military, genocide, inequality– can be a bit obvious, I’m prepared to forgive it due to Val-Inc’s complete success in terms of creating a moody and impressionistic environment.

Val-Inc’s inclusion of live and sampled poets goes a long way towards assisting in the creation of these environments. The fourth track, “@,” makes wonderful use of Anne Sexton’s poem “Her Kind,” alongside someone reading from Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech.

“I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.” –Anne Sexton

It’s always nice to find a musician so willing (and literate enough!) to integrate poetry as a part of their work. Contrasting Sexton’s intimate verse with Truth’s heartfelt words– not to mention the slow heartbeat Val-Inc lays out on drums– is a bit of perfect ambience. You can imagine how fantastic this all sounds, especially as it flows into the more relaxed lingual-workout of “Damba,” with cut-up samples from a diction improvment record mixing with flowing synth washes and Caribbean drum patterns.

Although releasing label Innova Recordings gives her a bit much as “one of the most original and cutting edge artists in the experimental music scene,” there’s little doubt that Val-Inc possesses a strong capability for creating unique work, and that all efforts should be made to secure a copy of “On” quickly, as Innova often releases discs in a limited number.

“On” is available as release 698 on Innova Recordings.

GRKZGL – “C’est de la Marde”

August 11, 2008

I suppose the title should stand. It is shit– just three tracks of “harsh” noise indistinguishable from practically anyone else toiling in the increasingly narrow confines of the genre. GRKZGL is loud, busy, and wading about in deleriously distorted sounds– but for anyone who remembers his earlier release “Esque” on the Angle Rec label, “C’est de la Marde” is just the noise made by GRKZGL setting the bar a bit low.

Although I fully recognize that the sheer number of available recordings is one aspect of noise, (it’s just another type of volume, see?) this definitely isn’t where I’d want a new listener to start with this artist. For all of releasing label Brise-Cul’s hype that “C’est de la Marde” is “so harsh that it is ridiculous,” and “so meticulously recorded and mastered” the noise genre remains a game of limits, not unlike speed metal. These bold statements invite listeners to make comparisons, with the result that “C’est de la Marde” doesn’t stand in any such category.

Brise-Cul, having over 100 releases, should know better. Like DJs, the folks who run labels get a birds-eye view of music the public isn’t afforded– turning out some old spray-painted CDR that sticks to its cheap plastic slipcase and turns over no new ground is an abuse of the buyers’ goodwill, and hardly serves to do anything but falsely inflate the artist and leave much of the label’s catalog suspect as well.

It’s bad enough that experimental artists relying on CDR labels will have tremendous amounts of product spread across innumerable imprints and still receive little more than a handful of copies to sell on tour, but when these labels neglect their responsibility to help positively shape the music they love, we all lose something.

GRKZGL’s “C’est de la Marde” isn’t the only example of this, and by no means is Brise-Cul the worst offending label. Still, we’d deserve whatever we get if these sorts of things weren’t pointed out.

“C’est de la Marde” is available as the sixth installment of Brise-Cul Records‘ “Red Series.”

Hong Chulki – “Without Cartridge, With Cartridge”

August 10, 2008

Fantastic turntable work from the Balloon & Needle label boss Hong Chulki, who has lately joined my personal pantheon of favorite turntable improvisors. One of these days; he can join Otomo Yoshihide, Christian Marclay, and Martin Tétreault for a box set and I can die happy.

Until that day, there’s “Without Cartridge, With Cartridge,” which surely goes about as far as one can with a turntable. Packaged uniquely on either side of a cardboard disc, this double 3″ CDR keeps the “haves” and “have-nots” separated– very nice for those of us who like to contrast the two.

Starting “Without Cartridge,” Hong still manages to generate a surprising variety of sound. As Hong’s full approach for both discs is to play without records, I’m assuming these are all produced from dragging the tonearm remains across the turntable itself in some fashion… though in the end, I’m unable to fully understand how many of these sounds arise. Regardless, it is a much more full sound than I would have guessed– in some ways, even more interesting than the “With Cartridge” half!

Track two goes a long way toward explaining why– these electronic shrieking noises are incredible! Filled out with ringing tones, like bowed glass at high volume, this is a torturous ride. The third track is equally absurd; at some point, listeners just have to sit back and let Hong skullfuck both earholes.

For the “With Cartridge” disc, a more usual gamut of possible sounds are explored– needle drops, slipmat scrapes, fingers against the needle, even electrical problems become “opportunities!” There’s also a good range of more unexpected noises– the intense blasts of screeching metal-on-metal sounds near the end of the second track, for instance. At times, I wonder if Hong is employing anything but the tonearm itself, as the circular looping nature of the turntable seems to vanish. Perhaps Hong has liberated it for play on other surfaces?

“Without Cartridge, With Cartridge” is a surprisingly vital set, not only due to Hong’s instrumental prowess, but for the quality of the improvisation itself. What could have been a cold documentation of the technical limits of the turntable-as-sound-source is instead a well-structured work in its own right, and worthy of more than listeners’ simple curiosity.

“Without Cartridge, With Cartridge” is available from Balloon & Needle as release bnn18.


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