Archive for March, 2007

Liveblogging “ITDE” 3/31/07

March 31, 2007

Update: The full show download is available at the end of this entry!

I’m three tracks into this broadcast of “It’s Too Damn Early” already– sorry about that! I’ve been busy trying to get a few things set up, as I’m expecting the arrival of musical guests tonight! P.D. Wilder, and “Hotel, Hotel” bandmate Misco are supposed to join me sometime around 4 a.m., so I’ve had to go digging through the WDBX engineering room for cables, mics, etc.

And oh yeah, get the show going! I also felt compelled to get myself a Coke, haha.

I already played Darren Copeland, from the album “Perdu et Retrouve,” which I love; I am now playing from Knurl’s Harsh Noise release “Acidamide,” which I mispronounced for some reason. This is one of my favorite Knurl albums; it has a very spacious sound which I appreciate. I also believe this particular album has most retained the metallic qualities in the final sound that Alan Bloor is sourcing from his sculptures, at least among the albums I’ve had the opportunity to hear so far.

PD Wilder, AKA Chaos ~ Live at WDBX-FM, photography by DaveX

I’m really enjoying the Android in Motion material– especially that first track, the mix is really good, nice low bass that doesn’t wash out other material. Overall, “The Final Temptations” has a very unique dynamic among noise releases, with sounds where I’m not expecting them. It’s surprising in a very good way.Right now, I’m playing from the Ironing/Gaybomb split, on the Ironing side “Your Oxen Have Drowned.” Of course, it has a lot of speed manipulation on it, which had me checking the speed control on the turntable– but I know enough about Ironing to not have worried overmuch. Besides, it’s a 1200. It’s going to outlast every piece of equipment in this room, including me.

No sign of my guests just yet. I’ve been trying to set up a small tape recorder to get a board mix of the show tonight, but there doesn’t seem to be any way to accomplish this (at least in stereo) at the moment. I guess I’m going to have to be happy with recording the stream as usual. I used to be able to record shows to cassette easily, but someone broke the cassette deck, so this is no longer an option. Maybe I’ll remove it, and set mine in its place for tonight! Hmmm…

It worked, hooray! Now I’ll be able to get a nice board mix alongside my ordinary streamrip recording of the show. As for the recordings I’ve been playing… well, I decided to stick with Ironing’s Hymns Records label for a while, and play from the Andrew Chadwick release “The Acquisition of Language,” which is the sort of thing I really enjoy, a strange idea married to a talent for carrying said idea to extremes. Obsessive action is always rewarded on my show.

Pat P., AKA Misko ~ Live at WDBX-FM, photography by DaveX

Still no sign of musical guests. I imagine this awful weather we’re having is slowing them down considerably. If things don’t work out, I hope you are all not terribly disappointed. It’s only 4:41, though, so there’s still a lot of time. This Chadwick track “German Consonants” is all over the place in terms of levels. I think Chadwick “just” realized the recording level was too low, eek. I hadn’t noticed this before, but now its kind of bugging me. That first track buried the needles in the red! Oh well, I can ride a fader with the best of them.update: Andrew writes– “…The volume increase was actually intentional for the “German Consonants” track. I wasn’t thinking about radio play at all.” Fair enough!

Oh! I just noticed… another “ITDE” liveblog enthusiast! Check out his blog, “Hollow Tree Experimental Music Report.” You’ll have to google it for now– I’m too busy to find links at the moment. I’m playing— ah. There’s the door. Guests have arrived!

More in a moment.

Well, it looks like they’re going to play. They’ve got a bit of stuff to set up, so expect some live music around 5:30-ish.. After this Alio Die record finishes, I’m going to play from an unreleased PD Wilder disc, The Slowness That Produced Such Structures in the Background.”

I’m trying to keep this liveblog up, but there’s a lot of setting up to do at the moment. Give me a little bit of time– we should all be good to go soon. Getting levels now. Well, there are a couple problems with an amp– a portion of the spring reverb touching one of the tubes, giving off crazy noises. I think its worked out now… looking good for liftoff, haha.

Update: The show went great. Following the live set, I played “Solo Traveler,” a track from the Innova release of John Morton’s disc of the same name. I’ll be playing more from this disc next week, as well as finally getting around to some Ghoul Detail I’ve been wanting to play. Most likely, another few electroacoustic works will be broadcast as well. The complete “ITDE” broadcast recording for 3/31/07 will be available for download here by Monday  Tuesday morning– I apologize for the delay, but spring-cleaning duties call.

Okay, here it is– the full download of this broadcast, as a single 64kbps mp3 file. As always, I encourage you to seek out the recordings heard on this broadcast from the actual labels and artists. If you need help locating or identifying any of these materials, contact me for assistance. Thanks!

Darren Copeland — They’re Trying to Save Themselves
Darren Copeland — Faith Annihia
Knurl — Oculation
Knurl — Talopia
Android in Motion — Unearth
Android in Motion — Polarity Shift
Ironing — Your Oxen Have Drowned
Andrew Chadwick — German Vowels
Andrew Chadwick — German Consonants
Andrew Chadwick — German Dipthongs
My Cat Is An Alien — There’s a Flame… Sometimes
P.D. Wilder — The Slowness That Produced Such Structures in the Background
Chaos (P.D Wilder) & Misko (Patrick P.) — LIVE in the Hi-Life Room, WDBX
John Morton — Solo Traveler

Unexpected “ITDE” Event!

March 30, 2007

I just got off the phone with ambient/drone guitarist P.D. Wilder, who made a guest appearance on the 2/3/07 broadcast of “It’s Too Damn Early.” He was just getting ready to make the long drive from Austin to New York City with fellow Hotel, Hotel member Misco. So where does that put them around 4 a.m.?

Kicking off the tour at “It’s Too Damn Early,” of course!

Join me at 4 a.m. (or lately, 3:30…) for the broadcast. I’ll be attempting to liveblog the broadcast again, so you can obsessively refresh your screen every few minutes while you catch the show. Visit my show times page for the correct broadcast time in your area.

Joining Hotel, Hotel on this tour are the UK noise/dance quartet Revenge of Shinobi. Here’s the tour dates– I’m going to be lazy and leave them in that weird European dating format that always confuses the hell out of me– what’s the fourteenth month again?

02.04 – mo – danger!danger! philly, pa
03.04 – tu – somerset street. new brunswick, new jersey
04.04 – we – tea bazaar. charlottesville, va
05.04 – th – nightlight. chapel hill, nc
06.04 – fr – strangeland records. annandale, va
07.04 – sa – beers lecture hall. east stroudsburg, pa
08.04 – su – subrosa. danbury, ct
09.04 – mo – as220. providence, ri
10.04 – tu – monkeytown. nyc, ny
11.04 – we – goodbye blue monday. nyc, ny

14.04 – sa – 8th continent. denton, texas
20.04 – fr – trophys. austin, texas

Whoops! Forgot one…

March 28, 2007

I meant to add this to my flyer post earlier… but forgot all about it. The following flyer was taken from a cheap paperback “movie” book– “The Bastard,” to be precise. I never saw the movie, but it looks to be a cheesy costume drama of some sort. Seeing the book at a yard sale, I knew it would make for a fun flyer. Unfortunately, at least one member of my radio station didn’t think it was so much fun– and complained about what she perceived as misogynistic language “promoting rape”. I didn’t think her complaint made a whole lot of sense, but I figured I’d change the flyer at my earliest opportunity anyway… to THIS!

As a bit of background, the “Labkids” hosted a lounge radio show at WDBX at the time I made the flyer. As a talented design collective, Labkids flyers were often far more advanced than my own– glossy paper, unusual sizes, nice fonts, etc– so I’d reference them in my own art as a good-natured joke. “Cornelius” was one of the silly names used for a character who would open their broadcasts, and appeared on their promo spot. With his exaggerated English accent, I knew he was the perfect material to send up with stills from “The Bastard.”

Click to view full size, and be careful to follow my red arrows!

Comicbook Flyers

March 28, 2007

Following a nice comment about my flyer art yesterday, I decided to finally get around to scanning a few more of my “It’s Too Damn Early” promotional flyers. These three are all obviously constructed from cut-out comic panels– two from Archie digests, one from a cheap Marvel reprint of “The Mighty Thor” that I picked up in a dollar store.

I know it’s totally not cool, but I love Archie comics, and I don’t mind admitting it. I have a very difficult time explaining why, but they’re fun to read, and always seem to be available in big stacks at my local library’s book sales. I love how Archie comics have no canon whatsoever– I continually enjoy how Riverdale has no end of giant museums, ski resorts, oceans, etc whenever it is convenient.

Anyhow, here are the two Archie comic flyers. As I read through a large stack of Archies, Veronicas, Jugheads, Double Digests, etc, I would put little bookmarks in where I saw especially strange or music-related panels. I used these (out of order, of course!) to construct the two flyers seen here. As an added joke, I posted small “explanatory” text next to each flyer:

“In 1961, M. Silberkleit was commissioned by DaveX to create two lithographic advertisements regarding the experimentally-themed radio show “It’s Too Damn Early.” Drawing deeply from his part use of dramatic realism, the starkly-rendered lithos were a crude slap in the face to the cartoony, slapdash approach to radio marketing common at the time.”

Here’s the first and second comic flyers. You will need to click to view them at full size.

and…

I really enjoyed doing the Archie flyers, so I kept the idea in the back of my head for a while. As I’m not a big comic book reader, I didn’t have much opportunity to cut up comics, though. A few months later, I found a nice reprint of some vintage comics in a dollar store. After one of my “It’s Too Damn Early” broadcasts, which found me receiving one irate phone call after another, I created this final comic flyer. The line “I’ll still be drunk!” is actually taken verbatim from one of the callers. I have since updated some of the info on the flyer to include both the STARTLING MONIKER and ITDE website addresses.

You will definitely need to view this image at full size to read it.

DaveX interviews Matt Weston, somewhat disgruntled review recipient

March 27, 2007

Following my reviews of Matt Weston’s “Rashaya,” and “Resistance Cruisers” albums, I contacted him to find out if he would be interested to do a small interview– I had hoped that such an opportunity might provide some balance– and also allow STARTLING MONIKER readers a chance to further pursue some of the ideas raised in the original entry.

If it hasn’t become clear by now, I’m perpetually interested in digging deeper into topics. I have tried to make my approach to reviewing in general not one of simply saying that something is bad or good; and even beyond explaining why. Instead, I always attempt to place the work being reviewed into a greater context for readers, and though I sometimes fail, I hope that this intent at least “colors” my efforts.

While originally listening to Weston’s recordings, it did not take me long to realize that the interesting question was not why I disliked the albums, but how meaningful a review could hope to be, especially given the finite framework of a reviewer’s own experience and taste. I included examples of two reviews, each a dramatically different “take” on Lou Reed’s “Metal Machine Music” as illustration of how a single work could inspire multiple viewpoints.

Naturally, this led me to other questions– how important is external information for reviewer? How much info is a musician expected/needed/wanting to present alongside a work before it overshadows the work itself? If everyone is said to have their own unique vision, at what point in time does it become appropriate to judge this vision? In what way could something completely unique ever be judged? (more…)

Look over there! >>>>>>>>>>>

March 26, 2007

That’s it… just under the heading “Pages” you will now notice a new STARTLING MONIKER feature: “DaveX’s Favorite Posts.”

I have collected some of my non-review music and sound entries; now you won’t have to scroll back through months of reviews to get to them. Take a little bit of time now and read a couple you missed!

Increase your wordpower through blogging!

March 25, 2007

Dryblogging icon

I coined a new word the other day, and thought I’d share it with everyone:dryblog [drahy-blŏg]

intr. verb
1. To author an online diary or chronology of thoughts while offline, or unable to access a computer.

Useage: dryblogged, dryblogging

dryblogger n.

As I understand, this word needs to be in general use for the next five years to appear in the Oxford English Dictionary, so get crackin’. –DaveX

Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 3/24/07

March 24, 2007

Let’s try something new… Live commentary for this show. Why not? To begin with, I should mention that I didn’t have this idea until I started playing the Circle Six recordings from “Struk’Tur Sets,” so its not completely live. Will you mind?

Alrighty… I reviewed the “Proud To Swim Home” compilation from Back Porch Revolution yesterday, so there isn’t a lot more I can say about these first four tracks in the playlist. Obviously, they’re my favorites on the disc so far, though I am very much drawn to the Liteworks tracks as well– I might even play these later on in the show. This is the power of liveblogging, eh? You get to check me against myself.For the next set, and starting the show proper, was Grey Park’s “Gradient Descent of My Collective Mind,” which I also reviewed in the last few days. It’s a hell of an album. I always enjoy playing something like this (especially the last track “Heliosis”) and wondering what the average listener guesses is occurring at the station. Bandits? Dead host? If I could get anyone to operate a phone at this time of day, I could take a poll.

Circle Six was next up, from the album “Struk’Tur Sets,” which I blended with the last couple minutes of the Grey Park “Heliosis” track. It was nice to hear those birds chirping their way into the beginning of something else, rather than signaling the end this time around. After a quick break (and a drink of Coke!) I’m back at it, digging the sound of Ctephin and GX Jupitter-Larsen’s collaboration “The Shards of Turin/Second Coming,” which I also reviewed in the last couple days. Notice some synergy going on here? It’s not as purposeful as you might think– I just wanted to play these again, that’s all! Now I’m caught up– so it’s time to figure out what to play next.

You may not realize it, but DJs have quite a bit to do. Between writing this paragraph and the last, I selected the next piece of music (in itself an amazing thing in this modern day where DJs usually have NO control over what plays), read a little more about the composer, queued up two different minidiscs with underwriting announcements for the break coming up in the next six minutes, loaded a couple mp3 files on the station computer to play (since the original sound files are on DVD-A, which I can’t otherwise access here), and checked my sound on an external radio to make sure you’re hearing what I’m hearing. And now I have one 1’04” to go before “A Brittle Substance” ends.

I just finished underwriting annoucements and my little schpiel– as always, trying to get more people to participate in actively listening to the music presented on “It’s Too Damn Early.” For years, I have demanded an active listenership, and while I’d like to believe many do transcend the passive listening role forced upon them by traditional radio models, I suspect it is otherwise. Call me cynical.

I’m writing this as I broadcast “Streams of Whispers,” by Darren Copeland. It is from his album “Perdu et Retrouve,” whose title I may have pronounced correctly last week, but did not attempt again this time around. Instead, I saved what little accumulated French lingual ability gathered this week to make my way– quickly, mind you!– through Pete Stollery’s “Un son peut en cacher un autre,” which I think I might have actually gotten right. I’m dumbfounded. But enough of me– how about these albums? Both are available through Empreintes Digitales, and I can’t recommend the Copeland enough. I’m looking forward to hearing how well the Stollery track “Shortstuff” flows into Copeland’s “Streams of Whispers,” as both have a percussive, transient quality about them. Being able to “sketch” on my broadcasts in this manner is one of the most rewarding aspects of broadcasting for me.

It appears I have liveblog reader(s). What a strange experience… something like having someone read over your shoulder, but without any unwanted breathing in your ear. I’m playing Emily Hay, Brad Dutz, and Wayne Peet right now, at least two of which probably took no small amount of teasing from classmates in elementary schools due to their last names. But let me get back to the Stollery material first– it didn’t transfer as well from the Copeland as I would have liked. Because I hadn’t broadcast these before, I wanted listeners to be able to hear them completely, but I should have gone with my instinct and blended at least a minute’s worth of the two.Back to this trio! “Bean Dip,” which I haven’t announced the name of yet, is a great track. Hay really gets into the vocal rhythms, you can tell she’s having a lot of fun with this album. I wasn’t really thrilled with the last stuff I’d heard from Brad Dutz, so I’m happy to find him on such a fun recording this time out. I felt bad that I didn’t play much of his last one– but I just couldn’t get behind it, and I won’t play something just to be nice.

I’m finding it difficult to believe that I have an hour of show time remaining. I love shows like this one, where I feel that I have had a sufficient amount of time to present everything I wanted to play. Nevermind the fact that I could easily DJ all day– but when I feel like I’ve had to cut something short, or missed out on playing something I really wanted to get around to, its disheartening and makes the show feel like somewhat of a failure. Underwriting is fast approaching now… less than 40″ to go.

Well, I’m overheated. With the transmitter more or less in the next room, WDBX gets hot sometimes! I’m going to have to open a window or something. I’ve got the Edgetone Records release of COMA’s “Ornamental Urban Shrubbery” playing now– great improv work from John Vaughn, Zone, and Dax Compise; the latter two I will have to look up, as I’m not familiar with them. There are so many names! I’m very sympathetic to COMA’s concept for their album, namely that there are many ornamental plants in any given city, quietly going about the business of beautification. However, it is rare that they are overtly noticed, regardless of their existence. Dedicating the album to “everything that goes unnoticed by most, and appreciated by way too few” takes the concept a bit further. It is not enough to see these things, as it is to appreciate them in some way– to make them a part of your life through recognition, comment, etc. This really goes back to what I was saying earlier about active listening versus the passive mode. Perhaps this lesson will sink in for a STARTLING MONIKER reader or two!

Next up is Ironing, from the Hymns label release “Let’s Fucking Go!” I always enjoy tape manipulations, so I’m looking forward to broadcasting a portion of this one. Next week, I’ll definitely be hitting the Hymns stuff harder. Also, not sure how much it bothers you, but I think the last COMA track is spelled incorrectly. As a Star Wars fan, I know the words Klaatu, Barada, and Nikto– the first two are skiff guards for Jabba the Hutt, Nikto is their species. And yes, I’m fully aware that this is an homage to “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” Gort, the robot from the movie, was also referenced in Star Wars– but in one of the books, so it doesn’t count. To hell with the Expanded Universe. Anyhow, I keep wanting to “correct” it in the playlist, since it’s driving me nuts. Is this incredibly geeky or what?

I think I’ve reached a stopping point now. I should take some time to straighten up the CD mess I’ve made before the next DJ shows up. I hope you’ve enjoyed my liveblogging. I’ll try to get a download of the complete show up later today, as well as convert some of this entry to links. Until then, enjoy the playlist! –DaveX

update: Here is the complete show, as a single 64kbps mp3 file. Because “ITDE” started 20 minutes early, approximately 10 minutes of the beginning was not recorded. The recording begins just inside the Archipelago material. It sounds much better than you’d think, but is not intended as a replacement for purchasing the actual recordings. If you need any help contacting an artist or label mentioned here, do not hesitate to ask for my assistance. –DaveX

King Ghidorah — Bring Me the Head of Michael Brown
Potpie — Blues for the Lower 9
Archipelago — The Earth Moves Five Ways
B. Killingsworth — Downed Powerline Blues

Grey Park — 10924M
Grey Park — Heliosis
Circle Six — Struk’Tur (Set 6)
Circle Six — Struk’Tur (Set 7)
Ctephin & GX Jupitter-Larsen — A Brittle Substance
Darren Copeland — Streams of Whispers
Pete Stollery — Shortstuff
Emily Hay, Brad Dutz, Wayne Peet — Bean Dip
Emily Hay, Brad Dutz, Wayne Peet — Filthy Washer
COMA — Tim-smiths’ Ballet
COMA — Ornamental Urban Shrubbery
COMA — Gort, Klattu Barrata Nikoe
Ironing — Let’s Fucking Go!

Paul Dutton – “Oralizations”

March 23, 2007

“Oralizations” is vocal sound artist Paul Dutton’s second collected album of sound poetry, released in 2005 through Ambiances Magnetiques.  Combining works identifies as being along the “speech” and “music” continuum, “Oralizations” is a fascinating catalog of Dutton’s unique vision.

With the exception of one piece, “Wolf Chant,” Dutton utilizes only voice, with the occasional overdubbing of additional self-made vocal sounds. The album covers a lot of ground, too– Beat word-worship of the highest order on “Kit Talk,”  faux pormanteau in “Mercure,” glottal grumbles and Tuvan whistle on “Sonorality,” and what sounds like meth-induced chatter with “Time.”

Dutton is obviously the sort of guy who’d agree with me that words like “goulash,” and “finagle” are great– and who might even have a recording of them stashed away somewhere. His enthusiasm for what he is doing is infectious, though it may not inspire me to follow him into what is surely a spit-soaked endeavor.

Nevertheless; for fans of Jaap BlonkJoan LaBarbara, Beth Anderson, or even Maja Ratkje, “Oralizations” is something that must be heard.

Backporch Revolution Records – “Proud To Swim Home”

March 23, 2007

Shifting easily among sparse electronics, extravagant synth works, dub, noise, and quiet field recording-based elegy; Backporch Revolution Records 2006 compilation “Proud To Swim Home” presents the side of New Orleans usually obscured by the huge, tottering head of Wynton Marsalis.

This is the music you just knew had to exist in New Orleans– vibrant, growing, and collectively possessed of its own “flavor,” as much a compliment to the artists as to New Orleans itself. What makes “Proud To Swim Home” even more interesting is the fact that it would not have existed but for the dedication of these musicians to both their own work, and to their city; for the recording represents the artists’ work in the post-Katrina diaspora– in temporary studios, or shortly following their return to the still-beleaguered city.

And while some compilations have at their heart a gimmicky theme, this one is no joke. Even with a tin ear, listeners can hear the affection and agony in Potpie’s ambient “Blues for the Lower 9.” King Ghidorah call for vengeance with “Bring Me the Head of Michael Brown,” an overdriven blast of drone guitars referencing the former FEMA “fashion god.” Archipelago conjures a darker version of Davenport’s free-folk/drone jams as they scrape the 12-minute mark with ‘The Earth Moves Five Ways,” a track suffused with low drones, dramatic vocals, and immediate drumming.

With the exception of one track by The Buttons that seems a bit out of place, this is a fine compilation, and one you should check out at least to familiarize yourself with Backporch Revolution Records.

Monotract – “Live in Japan”

March 22, 2007

As musically cracked as it is visually disturbing, Monotract’s seven-label release (seriously– thank Public Eyesore, Carbon Records, Gold Soundz, Imvated, Humbug, Breaking World, and Audiobot) throws Monotract into the same aural deep end as listeners.

Simply put, its a seriously weird album. I could add a lot of different adjectives, but “seriously weird” pretty much covers things. In just over 30 minutes, Monotract belches out an incredible array of electronic noises, kooky beats, shuffling nonsense, and improvised vocals– much of it in random Japanese words.

Don't peel and see. Just unfold gently or it will rip!

I’ve heard stuff like this done before, but usually it’s coming from the other direction. This might very well be the first band to stand the American fascination with “Engrish” noise acts on its head, and in Tokyo no less.

No review of this release would be complete without some comment on the artwork and package. Upon first inspection, I was truly amazed. Despite my familiarity with Public Eyesore’s tendency towards fold-over packaging, I actually tried to peel this one open by the corners first. Then there was a small period of standing around thinking, “huh!”

I finally figured it out, and was rewarded with a tremendous ovate spectacle rendered in hot pink marker and ink. (above, duh) The opposite side contains the most frustratingly difficult liner notes ever– if you’re dyslexic, or do not wish to become dyslexic; watch out– this stuff could make Stanley Mouse go blind.

For you lucky folks in the Bay Area…

March 22, 2007

Tomorrow– Doctor Bob (with Bob Marsh, cello/voice; and David Michalak, lap steel) and Eddie the Rat live at 21 Grand!

Eddie the Rat, duh. I mean.. really! The frakkin' picture is NAMED Eddie_the_Rat, right? lol

21 Grand is located at 416 25th Street (at Broadway) in Oakland. I have added it to my list of numerical nightmare addresses, but would still appreciate hearing from those able to attend!

Doctor Bob goes on at 8 p.m., with Eddie the Rat following at 9 p.m.

Grey Park – “Gradient Descent of My Collective Mind”

March 22, 2007

I remember the first time I heard Grey Park. I was listening to a promo that had come in the mail, a compilation from the Negative Foundation label entitled “Halogen Ball.” Sitting in the parking lot of a local hospital, at least a couple years before it would close down for good, I popped in the CD in my Discman and practically had the top of my head ripped off checking out the noise and drone I was in no way prepared to hear. And while my favorite track on the disc ended up being Mnem’s hot-noise therapy “Genocide Mobile;” the last track of the four, Grey Park’s “10 Dollar Habit” grew on me with each listen. With layers of delayed voice, beating CD skip rhythms, disembodied speech, and random electronic artifacts, it was just the sort of track that could keep me coming back to what would otherwise have been just another “various artists” compilation in a growing pile.

Unfortunately, I lost touch with Negative Foundation, or they lost touch with me. I can forgive myself; putting any effort into DJing presents a steep learning curve with lots of artists, aliases, side projects, and labels one tries to keep straight.

So here I am, trying to reconcile a 1999 Grey Park with the 2005 incarnation, on their self-released “Gradient Descent of My Collective Mind.” Why now, and not two years ago? I have no idea– but I’m not the only one confused. According to their own webpage, they were expecting this album to be released earlier on the Nature Tape Limb label, but it never showed. Considering that they’re in Finland to boot, two years isn’t such a bad lag, is it?

But let’s get back to the album. First off, it is far more subtle than the “10 Dollar Habit” track provided for Halogen Ball. The quiet reverberation of machinery, for instance, is all the rhythm needed for the track “10924M,” a chiming drone of clear electronic tones and the occasional buzzing wash. Far beneath even these layers, I can detect some human sounds– a newscast, perhaps. Is this track breaking incredible new territory? No– this is a neighborhood settled some time ago, and Grey Park is just one of the older residents.

Of course, this works to the album’s benefit. Instead of taking an obvious path, listeners can check out some really neat touches a less mature sound could not provide. The unexpected birds in “Heliosis” are a great example. Easily mixed with the grinding gear noise, they are just the right amount of organic element to free up the track as a whole. Excellent.

Mike Hansen – “At Every Point”

March 21, 2007

With his 2006 Etude Records release “At Every Point,” Hansen presents a sparse, starkly arranged collection of electroacoustic work. Although the credited instruments only include a prepared record player, guitar, and percussion; this is clearly not the case– avoiding the overt use of the studio as instrument is ignoring a tremendous elephant in the room.

On tracks like the album’s opener “The day before the day,” Hansen arranges numerous smaller sounds as acousmatic tableau; metal punctures alongside scraping swing-sounds, before rubbed drums signal an oncoming slow-motion crash of cymbals. Unless Hansen has developed a second pair of arms, its clear a lot of editing is going on here.

Don’t believe for a second that I think this is a bad thing. In no way do I feel tricked, or disappointed. Rather, I am quite happy to find a recording combining so many elements I enjoy: the prepared turntable (which Hansen is well-known to utilize), the obsessive quality of sound placement common to electroacoustic recording, and the finicky attention to detail only available to those willing to spend a significant amount of time whittling at digital recordings.

In passing, this is not an album that grabs you right away. Almost everything about it is low-key to the casual encounter. Instead, this is what I internally refer to as a “growing” album, a slow-burn that gathers steam with every time you press “repeat.” Whereas the metallic bowed-string noise of “Tidying up after” seem rather monolithic at first, upon examination, they surely resolve into layers of alternating tones, growing amongst one another as crystals. And how long it takes to notice the underlying crackle of vinyl when concentrating on scraped rust events, the single tap of glass, and the nervous, nearly-arrhythmic drumrolls!

For all the studio effort Hansen surely put into this album, it is most striking, then, that it develops as much organic flow and real-time improvisatory qualities as it does. I can imagine this work being played as a trio or quartet, as it is not burdened with effect-trickery. Recommended for headphones, or rather loud speakers.

Ctephin & GX Jupitter-Larsen – “The Shards of Turin / Second Coming”

March 21, 2007

One good thing about a Ctephin release– or in this case, a Ctephin and GX Jupitter-Larsen release on Roil Noise— is that you have a handy excuse to do some weird reading. Here, Ctephin and Jupitter-Larsen put their heads together to come up with a tribute of sorts to chemical microscopist Walter C. McCrone, among the very few scientists allowed to analyze the Shroud of Turin.

It is appropriate then, that this release should feature so much in the way of exploded sound; where everything is seemingly stretched into atomic form. This is an album that really couldn’t exist outside the digital world, either. What listeners end up hearing is the rhythms created by the literal gaps in the sampling rate. With multiple layers, some of these beating rhythms can become quite intense.

If you are able, brave this release with headphones. There are a number of much lower and less noticeable sounds underneath the obvious electronic rush. I hear twittering noises in parts, small crashes, and even melodic elements. They are faint, and maddeningly transient. When using a microscope, it is one’s ability focus that is perhaps most important for yielding good results. The same is true for this album– listeners unable to penetrate the initial cacophonous “forest” will never perceive the trees.

Kotra & Zavolonka – “Wag the Swing”

March 21, 2007

Always lush, but only part-time melodic, Kotra and Zavolonka’s Kvitnu release “Wag the Swing” is an often-fractured continuation of many ideas the pair began with their earlier collaboration “To Kill the Tiny Groovy Cat,” from Nexsound.

Constructed with bass, record players, blank CDs, voice, and “other machines,” much of “Wag the Swing” lurches from one place to another– and while everything sounds great, the brevity of many of the tracks leaves listeners little time to “inhabit” each of the strange presentations before moving on to something else. Although many tracks could easily take listeners along for quite some time, only six of the total twenty-four go beyond three and a half minutes.

Still, there are a lot of interesting sounds, and the production values are to be commended. “Swing Me, Swing You” pits a simple bass line– almost a portion of a bass line, really– against whistles, gravel scratches, popping cable noise, and a near-random pseudo-waterphone sound. The track doesn’t come together as much as it is forced to get along. Before four minutes has passed, you’re dropped into “Silver Poem,” which at barely over a minute long, is little more than a sniff of static, feedback, buzzing, and flapping strings. This might work inside the relatively common harsh noise “hit ’em hard and retreat” aesthetic, but there’s nothing harsh about this release. Despite the abundance of clipped glitches, splintered bass, and sauntering crackles; “Wag the Swing” avoids painful territory. Think Oval, not Merzbow.

Nevertheless, the times where this album fails is more due to the sheer number of new ideas being presented than any musical drought. Ironically, with so little time for listeners to adjust to the next new idea– and the subsequent array of new sounds– these incredible differences become somewhat similar, confused and mashed about in your mind; a sort of clamor unheard.

Before I finish I really have to mention the cover art for this release, which looks like a graphic score illustrated by a space-age retro enthusiast. The image you see here does it no justice– this is a gorgeous cover, with metallic inks, raised lettering, the works. It matches the extreme level of detail heard on the album, and begs to be prominently displayed.

How Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider saved my life!

March 19, 2007

Back in 1997, my wife and I took a road trip from Southern Illinois to San Diego. With little more than gas money, a near-endless supply of Coca-Cola– thanks to my incredible luck with bottle-cap sweepstakes instant-win games; and my wife’s uncanny ability to actually read the text upside down reflected in the soda itself– and a camera we headed to “America’s Finest City,” a ballsy assertion if there ever was one.

It was a fun but frantic road trip. With a court date to release some insurance money to my wife fast approaching, we had to move quickly to get to San Diego on time. As the only licensed driver between the two of us, the driving fell to me. Luckily, I was up for it– a long drive has always been one of my favorite activities, if you can call ruthlessly commandeering a vehicle’s stereo for thousands of miles an “activity.”

On the second day of driving we traveled from Shamrock, Texas to San Diego (nearly 1,200 miles!) with only the requisite stops for fuel and Coke. Sleep? Forget about it. We arrived in San Diego almost totally broke, and in need of a place to stay before the next morning’s court session to get my wife’s check. Since rest stops had worked so well for us on previous road trips, I suggested to my wife that we “check-in” at the nearest one. As any native of Southern California probably knows, this isn’t exactly the safest thing to do. My wife’s advice was to at least head for Palm Springs, look for a rest area there, and enjoy the peace in comparison to the truly scary rest areas in San Diego.

This all sounds easy enough, right? However, when you consider that I was going on two days with no significant amount of sleep, that I was hopped up on Coca-Cola, and finding myself inside an El Nino-influenced monsoon– well, let’s just say that I was in no shape for driving whatsoever.

Both my wife and I were fading fast. I can vaguely recall asking her to talk to me to keep me awake, but realizing that she was already passed out. I watched as a trucker-album nightmare unfolded before me– white lines blurring, eyes crossing, sudden head jerks when a semi would pass– but when I finally got to the Palm Springs exit, it was closed due to the heavy rains. I knew that I would have to drive nearly an hour out of my way and re-approach from another road.

By this time, the wipers were totally ineffective. The rain was so heavy, and traffic so dense on the eight lanes that I could do nothing but soldier on as best as possible. In my memory, I can only picture the blinding gloss of high beams off the rain-slicked pavement. However, what happened next is crystal clear–

Dee Snider saved my life.

It is very strange. I looked through the windshield and no longer saw trucks, rain, or the glare of headlights. Instead, Dee Snider’s disembodied head– gigantic, actually– filled the sky, floating in the dark clouds. And then he spoke.

“Dave,” he said gently. “Dave!”

I looked up at Dee, totally accepting of the situation as if this sort of thing happened to me all the time. This was not the frightening make-up Dee Snider of Twisted Sister days, but a kinder, more compassionate Dee who authored his “Teenage Survival Guide.”

“Hi, Dee,” I said sleepily.

“You shouldn’t be driving, Dave. You need to get off the road,” he said.

“I know, Dee. I know,” I said softly, resignation in my voice.

At this point I saw Dee’s arm coming through the clouds, as long as the horizon, and pointing to my right.

“Why don’t you stay at my house, Dave?” he said; and I now noticed that he was gesturing to a beautiful, glowing mansion. I even noticed that it was on Dee Snider Avenue, located conveniently off the highway with its own private exit road.

“Thanks, Dee,” I said, with genuine gratitude.

“Anytime, Dave,” Dee said, as he vanished.

I pulled off the highway, and drove up to Dee’s house. I can still recall his circular drive, which I thoughtfully pulled to the side of before falling asleep.

When I awoke, I was surprised to find myself well off the highway, in some sort of factory parking lot, behind the building. In fact, I could not even see the highway from the car. Still a bit groggy, I checked the nearest street sign, which was Ocean something– definitely not Dee Snider Avenue!

We did end up making it to Palm Springs, and spent some additional time sleeping there before being woken up by a crazy man intent on me driving him to Yuma, Nevada. I know he was crazy, because my lame excuse that I was meeting a police officer actually convinced him to leave. The picture below is from this rest stop, taken with the knowledge that I nearly died to reach… this. Later that morning, my wife got her money, and we promptly checked into a hotel for more sleep.

To this day, I have no idea why my brain would choose Dee Snider as my personal highway savior, but I suppose you can’t question these things too closely. I find a healthy amazement at my ability to apparently drive while actively hallucinating, but its not an experience I care to have again. Since that day, I’ve been far more careful while driving, and now hope to only encounter Dee Snider on land.

Commentary for “ITDE” 3/17/07

March 18, 2007

This week’s show was very nice, and a little longer than usual. With no DJ present when I arrived, I took advantage of the extra 30 minutes prior to my usual broadcast time to play the Dimitri Voudouris “Praxis” recording I had promised last week. With the long format now apparently stuck in my head– “Praxis” is about 15 minutes long– I decided to spend most of the show with longer recordings, or at the very least, blocks of recordings by single artists.

Original digital art by DaveX

Sandoz Lab Technicians album “The Western Lands,” now available on Last Visible Dog Records, was up for the first proper set. I had been putting this album off a little bit until I was in the mood for it. “The Western Lands” is very nice, but finicky. I find that I have to be in a very specific headspace to enjoy it, a mix of clearheaded calm and dissolved focus seems to do the trick. It is attentive music, with a surprising number of wonderful water sounds– more than field recordings, it seems they really went to some effort in-studio to record these. (more…)

Thanks, PZ!

March 18, 2007

After an interesting mini road-trip this St. Patrick’s Day, I finally ran into just the excuse to write a “thank you” blog entry for PZ Myers, author of Pharyngula, who recently added me to the illustrious ranks of his blogroll. Thanks, Dr. Myers! Keeping company among respected scientists, semi-respected politicos, and general “deep thinkers” is no easy feat for an experimental music blogger. In the spirit of reciprocity, thus follows one of my rare non-music-related entries…

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Tuft – “Bathory”

March 16, 2007

It’s rare that you see a label’s catalog describe a release accurately. When something is piss-ant whiny– well, that’s “emo”. “Boring” becomes “howling terror,” and “unleashes” does double-duty for “they farted this disc out.”

Naturally, I try to avoid reading these descriptions before actually listening to a disc for the first time. But I’m human, and I occasionally make mistakes. So yes, I read the catalog entries for Medusa Head Records label owner Kristofer Lee’s “Tuft” project well before the discs arrived in the mail– and oddly enough, when he describes the Tuft album “Bathory” as “tactile,” and “textural”… he isn’t kidding!

Lee claims to have used overdriven guitars, but the slithering, back-and-forth sounds happening throughout the album made me think he had some sort of gigantic, gooey squeeze toy running through a stack of amps. Something like this, but hanging from a crane:

A visit to the doctor revealed these pre-cancerous growths in Britney Spears' womb.

At proper volume, the title track sets up an aural tide, rushing towards shore before sucking you out to sea in a heavy rip-current. This isn’t a work of tremendous variation to be sure; but is instead a visceral document that can give listeners a new experience, and will reward those with the patience and fortitude to attend to detail.

As for recording quality, everything is perfectly fine. I’ve heard worse even from Boris; sometimes a sound this dense doesn’t translate too well onto disc– but I’m having no problems here. The addition of Lee’s creepy artwork is also a definite plus.