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

27 August 2017

RECOMMENDATION #195 - ALEXANDER

a humongous triple (quadruple?) recommendation

"As alexander, Shapiro improvises and writes acoustic guitar numbers for fans of Fahey, Connors, and Rose. Balancing equal parts Americana, blues, jazz, and avant-garde, and always maintaining the intimate qualities of home recording." - C/SITE

ALEXANDER - ELEXTRIC 1
self released 2017, edition of 100

DAVID ALEXANDER SHAPIRO has been around, as member of drone duo NAGUAL since the start of this decade with CABIN FLOOR ESOTERICA releasing a side in 2014 -my first exposure to his work- and parallel/satellite projects primarily connected by way of STEFAN CHRISTENSEN's C/SITE label which dropped fringe folk bombshell NORTON ST [REC# 130] on me last summer, which i metaphorically praised as "FAHEY doin a legendary one off session for CORWOOD INDUSTRIES" - he fired off a volley of cassingle style extended players in NORTON ST's wake that continued the theme of street named works "documenting a brief time, at a particular place in this transient artists ever-winding journey"

ELEXTRIC 1 is SHAPIRO's first break from this theme, and it's a hard break - this is kinda like a tangible artifact left over from the freak intersection of parallel universes, someone crossed the streams and this singularity is the sonic residual manifestation of that event - any due indication or recognition of influence or similitude is annihilated - any preconceived notion best be checked at the door - there is no FAHEY or ROSE, no ALVARIUS B or LOREN CONNORS - this is a new page -if not a new chapter- in the frontier duality of no wave guitar and fringe folk improvisation, electrified, drenched in white hot fuzz and blasted with amp melting feedback, like a single ecstatic guitar line isolated in the chaotic bliss that is BURNT HILLS, building on principles outlined by demigods like TOM CARTER, reflecting japanese psychedelic noise proliferation in the wake of LES RALLIZES through an american primitive FUN HOUSE mirror like RON ASHETON armed with J MASCIS' entire big muff collection recording a one off cassette loaded with "l.a. blues" style freeform freakouts, imploding like JON COLLIN set on fire and shot out of a cannon - this is unhinged bombed out basement solo guitar destruction of the highest possible order




ALEXANDER - THE PALE LIGHT OVER THE DARK HILLS
self released 2017, edition of 100

PALE LIGHT is a rather dramatic turn, particularly on the heels of ELEXTRIC 1, but also in the wake of all previous ALEXANDER tapes since (debut?) CELESTE ARIAS, toward a blissfully non-dramatic form - SHAPIRO goes all out traditional american primitive, straight up and down fingerpickin, seemingly effortlessly on par with contemporary greats like GLENN JONES and SARAH LOUISE, more on the back country front porch relaxation side of things, clear skies, no worries - SHAPIRO is in no hurry here, which i know clashes somewhat with my taste for folk guitar music - i typically prefer brooding, pensive, raw, urgent, and definitely weirdo - PALE LIGHT is none of those things, but it has an undeniable earnest and intimate no frills roots flavor delivered with a well reserved high level of skill and talent, which is probably what surprises me most here on PALE LIGHT - you can tell that SHAPIRO knows his way around the acoustic guitar on previous street-named cascading freeform folk excursions, but i would not have necessarily inferred this level of mastery and presentation in this deceptively simple style where it is more difficult to pique my interest let alone have me ready to go again as soon as it's over - i could listen to this tape all day long




ROB NOYES / ALEXANDER - SPLIT 7"
c/site 2017, edition of 300

"Solo acoustic guitar music has certainly had a little time in the sun lately, and with fine players sprouting and blossoming, why not? On this split single two of America's finest come together for an exhilarating and cerebral affair. fresh off the tide fanfare from 2016's all-too limited 'Feudal Spirit' on Poon Village, Noyes brings a breakneck paced, attention demanding number. Noyes finger work is stunning, fills space with a particular density and heaviness. Entrancing and hypnotic passages give way to powerful melodies. And the melodies sparkle through - clear and soaring, as spellbinding as they are soothing to the ears. Alexander has been quietly amassing a sizable catalog of miniature press cassettes over the past few years. Many of those cassettes have brought to mind the work of Alvarius B, in their homespun improvisational style. However, on this split a different side of Alexander is on display, as he eases into a coy and sentimental tune. Deceptively quick while allowing the air to breathe between the notes, Alexander's keen grasp of both intricacy and minimalism cement him as a top player in a time of heavyweights. A preview of what promises to be one of the most compelling albums of the year." - C/SITE

well i'm not sure there's much left to say, but i'll try -- a leap forward in SHAPIRO's technique, to my ears - i think part of what makes the greats especially great is that they continue to find ways to improve -- FAHEY sounds perfect to me on DEATH CHANTS, yet AMERICA is clearly in another class in terms of development and scope -- what i mean is SHAPIRO's cut sounds more advanced than i might expect, coming just weeks after PALE LIGHT - he's been a badass all along but he doesn't play that card with bravado or theatrics - huge plus for SHAPIRO

if incredible (traditional) talent wasn't obvious on his weirdo tapes then leave it to a proper vinyl debut to set the record straight - here the straight laces of PALE LIGHT are loosened a smidge, allowing for more elaborate emotional expression - i won't get ahead of myself and say that SHAPIRO's AMERICA is just around the corner, but then i don't really have to because the label write up delivers sufficient hype in stating this is only a taste of an upcoming debut vinyl full length that "promises to be one of the most compelling albums of the year" - i would have been way on board anyway, but after hearing this split, i have no doubt it will be

i kinda don't want to sneak in an overlooked half-ass rec for ROB NOYES' FEUDAL SPIRIT vinyl debut from december last year, but 1. it's a classic casualty to late late in the year-ness, and 2. it's a classic, full stop, stone cold, no question or hesitation - i managed a final copy from NOYES in late december when it was already gone elsewhere and by january the secondary market price was skyrocketing - thankfully it has been repressed with a "new EZ-open jacket for the OCD/record collector set" which i get, but i'm a collector who is ocd about original pressings, so if the original has an annoying jacket that requires some destruction to actually open, then yeah, not only can i deal with it, i actually prefer it --anyway

FEUDAL SPIRIT is a boon, some of thee best solo folk guitar music i've ever heard - this guy, apparently some punk in a number of punk bands since the mid 2000s, who is this guy? a self released debut cassette in 2014 that i'm sure will now forever be too rich for my blood and then this one lp that became scarce in a matter of days - i'm not sure it adds up - it's kinda like ABUL MOGARD, it's kinda too good to be true, but i don't really care