10 October 2017

RECOMMENDATION #199 - SARA SOLTAU

SARA SOLTAU - SERIES 1.2: IN PARTS
auralgami sounds 2017, edition of 50

"Sara Soltau is rooted in classical music but constantly curious. Blurring genres and traditions, she experiments through her violin to understand the sonic world around us." - AURALGAMI SOUNDS

in their three years, AURALGAMI have accumulated an impressive range of sounds and styles - there's little that doesn't at least toe the line of weirdness -which is quite alright by me- but other than that there's no tellin what's next, their roster is a potpourri of garage punk, synth pop, world music, quirky techno - one tape sounds like it belongs on IN THE RED, another is a twenty-piece ensemble performance of TERRY RILEY's IN C - in contrast, tributary SERIES -an aptly minimalist title for their sub-label esque "solo compositions and chamber work"- runs a straighter course with a distinct vibe connecting the dots - carefully considered exposition of composition, experimentation and excellence, kinda like ENO's OBSCURE, catering to a close listening experience, outright rejecting the passive notion of "ambient" or "furniture music"

it's been more than a year since SERIES launched with inaugural cassette TEN SIMPLE PIECES FOR PIANO [REC #123] by ROB COLLIER, a most unassuming grand slam, and i would be lying if i said i didn't think there was a chance that SERIES might wind up a one hit wonder with a tape -that- damn good right out of the gate - but that was not my predominant sentiment, and certainly not my hope - i hoped for another tape half as good as TSPFP, but what i got was a tape that is -at least- as good

like COLLIER, it's on that immersed side of listening where SOLTAU wins big with her SERIES entry IN PARTS, a seamless patchwork of intimate interludes and stark stirring renditions of already stark and stirring works like BACH's SONATA NO. 2 and SAARIAHO's NOCTURNE, which, if you plot those two points you can determine the general heading, but there are crucial well executed deviations that include a revolutionary war traditional and DYLAN's HARD RAIN, both incorporated neatly into this surprisingly multi-dimensional masterpiece channeling a wide swath of "violin music" - not that SOLTAU is a chameleon on IN PARTS, but there is a host of influences drawn from centuries of classical composition and folklore, from BACH and SHOSTAKOVICH to BUDD and BRYARS to ATLANTIC's SOUNDS OF THE SOUTH and HARRY SMITH's ANTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN FOLK MUSIC - she's kinda like an american roots music informed COCKPIT ENSEMBLE of one, with a little help from her friends

there's not a lot i can point to in terms of my usual contemporary comparisons - there's some moody atmospheric saxophone overlap during the interludes with PSI LAB's own A MELBOURNE NOCTURNE [PL13] courtesy DAVID COLOHAN aka RAISING HOLY SPARKS, and perhaps some listening synergy with SOMNOROASE PASARELE's DEMO [REC #194] and some of OJERUM's most recent works (more on those later, if i can just find the time) - on the guitar side of things, i might point to JON COLLIN's THE NATURE [REC #197] and the ROB NOYES / ALEXANDER split [REC #195], perhaps BITTER FICTIONS' XXVII [REC #190] - but all of this is more in context of the high yield close listening experience - there is something at work behind the notes in all of these which i cannot fully explain - SOLTAU has the same quality, she just gets there by a path less traveled around these parts of the weirdo cassette blogosphere

i am most grateful that SERIES -and these artists- are there to deliver a no brainer top five tape each of the past two years, and i desperately hope they keep it goin - i'm surprised that this tape sold out as fast as it did - i turned around and it was gone - i know that COLLIER's was twice as many tapes but there are still a handful of that one left at the source, which, if you've bothered to read this far and you don't already have then you should absolutely snag while you can - anyway, i urge you to experience IN PARTS any way you can - stream it, or buy the download, or politely pester the label and/or artist directly -which i've done a time or two over the years- or GUESTROOM LOUISVILLE might even have a tape with your name on it

21 September 2017

RECOMMENDATION #198 - T HOUSE

T HOUSE - A HORSE AND I MUST KILL
endless 2017, edition of ?

"Various numbers recorded between then and now in various houses" - ENDLESS

a most impressive curio from one mr HOUSE, apparent head honcho of ENDLESS digital and diy lathe editions out of brighton (i think), who i'm thinkin is more likely than not THOMAS HOUSE, member of ass-kickin stoner power trio SLOATH courtesy home base RIOT SEASON where i first took notice, but they have a lathe cut via -you guessed it- ENDLESS, and also member of now defunct (?) CHARLOTTEFIELD, which, i'm listenin right now and it has a strong 90s vibe, via cursory perusal i identify some FUGAZI, KYUSS, SHELLAC and SLINT as likely influences, which also feed albeit in less linear ways into his weirdo tendency that by my estimation is quite deeply rooted and runs rather rampant, and for which ENDLESS is the outlet, or the relief valve perhaps

ENDLESS didn't ping my radar until rather recently, but before this one, with IRMA VEP's THE CAKE WON'T EAT ITSELF EP, which i very quickly discovered in the wake of year long year end heavyweight contender NO HANDSHAKE BLUES [REC #186] - at that time i only briefly perused some of the available catalog, and though i heard plenty of stuff that i liked, nothin reached out and punched me in the face - i guess HOUSE was just saving up for a late round rally with the incredible flurry here on A HORSE AND I MUST KILL

sonically this is kinda all over the weirdo map - in typical fashion, i might try to simply the equation by narrowing likely influential confluences, as A HORSE AND I MUST KILL sometimes falls somewhere between THE FALL and SLINT, other times somewhere between DOCK BOGGS and JANDEK, armed with some (un)holy scuzz that splits the difference between DINOSAUR JR and EARTH - it looks rather scattershot on paper, i know, but it works - a potent cohesive alchemical compound that separates from the pack of outer limits song-driven weirdness - DAN MELCHIOR might be a fair not-too-distant contemporary (and predecessor), but that only goes so far here - AHAIMK echoes weirdo singularities CHARALAMBIDES and PUMICE, channels post XPRESSWAY kiwi dementia akin to MAD NANNA (though they are from melbourne i think), invades a headspace vaguely triangulated by RAFI BOOKSTABER, HERBCRAFT and BLAINE TODD, with some proximity to current year outsider songwriter frontrunners BUFFALO VOICE [REC #189] and IRMA VEP [REC #186], but AHAIMK is further off the deep end, for sure

worth noting- it's a lathe cut to order, only available this month, which is cool, but it's $60 postage paid to the states - admittedly i had think about it, but after a few spins it's easily one of the best things i have heard all year so i said what the hell and went for it

15 September 2017

RECOMMENDATION #197 - JON COLLIN

JON COLLIN - THE NATURE
early music 2017, edition of 225

"Acoustic slide guitar improvisations accompanied by external arbitrary sounds, natural and otherwise; recorded in and outside, with and without electricity, in Stockport and Stockholm, 2016–17. 'What sounds tend to get silenced in the production of a record? Sounds are a perpetual and dynamic property of all landscapes but the walls and circuits of music studios largely exclude biophonic, geophonic and anthrophonic ambient sounds. If the unintended silencing of organisms by a myriad of human activities provides yet another indication of our impact on the planet's ecosystems should we be concerned about the role of music in normalising this silence? Collin's conscious broadening of presented sound, most prominently the inclusion of ambient birdsong, sirens, and aviation noise, is not novel and it is not necessarily a response to this question. However, his guitar playing acousmatically smashes the taxonomy of sound used above. It shares palettes and forms with vocalizing and stridulating animals, wind, rain, thunder and electromechanical devices without aping them or labouring under the conceit that it might meaningfully communicate with them. It is, however, attuned to the fact that a soundscape is necessarily made up of interfering and integrated signals. This approach choruses, without clarion calling, the quandary and challenge of collectively accepting responsibility for our species' impact on the stability of ecological systems whilst understanding that we are not external to them.' – Jon Marshall, 2017 -- Edition of 225 copies – comes with paste-on two-colour risograph-printed sleeve and single-colour risograph-printed insert." - EARLY MUSIC

"deeply affected sparse flickering improvisation merges monastic meditation and appalachian lonerism like nothin i've ever heard, to be sure this is fringe music, a profound gem found well off the beaten path of 'solo acoustic guitar music'" - that's how i described COLLIN's music two years and a day ago concerning EARLY MUSIC [REC #67] --the album, not COLLIN's sub label of the same name responsible for this, his latest long player-- and i now say the same of THE NATURE, but with more conviction, both as an ever increasingly fanatic fan and because i regard THE NATURE as COLLIN's best solo work yet, better than anything and everything in or around COLLIN's catalog except for his rapturous foray with IRMA VEP and TOM SETTLE [REC #110] - but, i think of that being of an entirely different universe, so this might as well stand as thee album in the style of what i've come to describe as "fringe folk" that any unfamiliar or otherwise curious listener should hear, as it does an excellent job of expressing and encapsulating the style and also strikes a balance between accessibility and abstraction - there's something particularly special in the ways and means presented here i think, that makes THE NATURE most likely to succeed for fans and newcomers alike

THE NATURE comes with a purpose-driven overtone elaborately spelled out in the write up, kinda like ANDREW WEATHERS ENSEMBLE's BUILD A MOUNTAIN [REC #196] - but in THE NATURE's case it doesn't translate quite as completely in the music - the extent of "biophonic ambient sounds" included and their significance, both to the music itself and as a statement or tenet of a certain ecological social psychology (?), though duly noted and empathized, are a bit overstated by my measure, but honestly i'm kinda glad the "birdsong, sirens and aviation noise" came in under the line, as somethin like that can go overboard in a hurry

THE NATURE's perfection is what i've come to expect from COLLIN, fringe folk meditations, inspired improvisation, avant american primitive, perhaps? well, by way of stockholm, by way of manchester --i think that's right-- with some sort of eastern thread somehow woven in this gordian knot, or some vague approximation thereof, often landing in a way out twilight zone somewhere between BASHO and JANDEK - experimental, spiritual (?), visceral, whatever you care to label it, THE NATURE is absolutely brilliant - there's just somethin about COLLIN's music, his style, his approach, his vibe - he's the best there is, no question about it

07 September 2017

UPDATE - PL17 SAMPLE 1

artist submissions are still coming in - it will be a few days before i get everything lined up and prepped for duplication, but here's a sample of the upcoming boxset targeting "new weird american drone" - one artist per side, with most sides in the 20-25 minute range - this sample includes JEFFREY ALEXANDER, GREG GORLEN, LEAAVES, NONCONNAH, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, SISTER GROTTO, SKITTISH ARM and ANDREW WEATHERS

03 September 2017

RECOMMENDATION #196 - ANDREW WEATHERS ENSEMBLE

ANDREW WEATHERS ENSEMBLE - BUILD A MOUNTAIN WHERE OUR BODIES FALL
full spectrum 2017, edition of 300

"The last project Weathers began before decamping from his home in Oakland, California and resettling in the desert climes of Littlefield, Texas, the initial sketches that ultimately formed the bedrock of Build a Mountain Where Our Bodies Fall were written in summer 2016 with Andrew's cohorts in the Real Life Rock & Roll Band. They laid down the first tracks, which would be taken by Andrew to North Carolina. There, he linked up with the East Coast wing of his Ensemble – Eric Perreault, Erik Schoster, Rin Smith and Austin Glover – to capture their contributions and overdubs.

All told, the expansive sound displayed on the final LP only took two months to capture and construct. The result is an odd melange of cosmic psychedelia and utopian idealism, all bound together by Weathers' recent obsession with the Industry Workers of the World Little Red Songbook. A collection of union songs and anthems about reclaiming the means of production in an ongoing effort dismantle capitalism, the Little Red Songbook is an odd starting point for such immersive music; but considering Weathers' current trajectory as an artist obsessed with regaining his sense of identity in the face of late-period capitalism, it comes as little surprise he would take inspiration from such a well.

'The album is an attempt to embody the transition I'm going through in Texas,' explains Weathers. 'It's an extension of the more moderate life-thru-death zone of Fuck Everybody. There are themes of intuitive symbolism – in that we create symbols for ourselves and constantly uncovering their meanings. So, I was drawing from markers in my own life as well as more traditional symbolic structures like those found in tarot. There's also this narrative of ritual disembowelment, like a splitting up and burying of my symbolic body to reassemble the parts anew.'" - FULL SPECTRUM

i typically abridge lengthy write ups into an aperitif of sorts to concisely contextualize my buzzed blurbs and rambling incomplete sentences and formulaic phrases, but left this one intact, a discourse on identity and meaning which offers compelling insight supplemental to the music, if that's you thing, which for me it rarely is, as i don't venture much beyond the listening experience -music is more like a drug for me- but it seems clear that this music strives for something beyond the notes, beyond the syntax, beyond the junkie's listening experience, and even i am moved by it, so credit where credit is due

"an odd melange of cosmic psychedelia and utopian idealism" - that's a lot to unpack, i'll tackle the latter first - i tend toward the dystopian by way of skepticism, which i don't think would surprise a regular reader - but i don't think i need to manage a temporary cessation of my shrug-full embracement of the KEYNESIAN truth "in the long run we're all dead" in order to reap the benefits of this album - am i trying to dismantle capitalism? no, but the music is still incredibly vivid and it cleanses my mind -- it's an oasis in the desert - you may enjoy any spectrum of meaning or symbolism you might care to attach to it and its discovery, but you can also just enjoy the oasis, immensely

i'm more confident in my evaluation on the "cosmic psychedelia" front - BUILD A MOUNTAIN is to both traditional folk and minimalism, separately yet simultaneously, somehow, like what IAN WILLIAM CRAIG's CENTRES is to modern pop music - it's incredible - it's most (all?) the same personnel from 2015's F*CK EVERYBODY, which didn't hit me anywhere near as hard as this does - and if that one was "obsessed with looking outside of itself to synthesize a deeper meaning" then BUILD A MOUNTAIN is the fruit of that labor, everything clicks into place

consider GLOVER and PERREAULT's FREIGHT 1110 THROUGH GREENSBORO [way back REC #9] and also BLAINE TODD's DILLINGHAM [REC #58] -both top shelf tapes via WEATHERS operations FULL SPECTRUM and LITTLEFIELD, respectively- i think their styles and influences are better integrated, seamlessly folded into the mix - traditional appalachian sounds and songcraft spirited away into modern folk experimentation - AWE seem major (indie) label ready in the best possible way - here's an album out of nowhere(ish) that unexpectedly and understatedly yet brilliantly connects the dots between WILLIAM TYLER's move to MERGE and TIM HECKER's to 4AD - maybe think EARTH meets SUN KIL MOON, both served sunny side up alongside PHILIP GLASS and PHAROAH SANDERS on muscle relaxers - elegant countrified minimalism with a nice desert fried texas flavor, with a contemplative post rock atmosphere a la ZELIENOPLE, occasionally overlapping weirdo folk like TUCKER THEODORE sober and lost in deep thought

this could very well be the best album of the year right here