Don’t get me wrong – I’ve adored the compilations that Sonic Debris Multimedia have been unleashing on an unsuspecting public every four to six months. But I’ve been very curious to hear what some of their affiliate artists would do when left to their own devices for the course of a full album. Lucky me – and all of us really – SDM have dropped their first two non-comp releases and they are spectacular. First up (above) is the new album by one man electro-freak Ras Mix. His album Adventures in Clown Town keeps to the playful spirit of that title, utilizing well-placed brushstrokes of oddball synthesized sound and beats that sneak into the bloodstream like a virus. You might recognize some of his antics as being dub-influenced, but only inasmuch as you could imagine Large Professor on a huge molly binge, trying to capture the sound of his cells exploding in real time.
Sister Mamie Foreskin’s sound plays a little closer to your usual pop song structure. It just takes its sweet time resolving what might be considered a verse or a chorus. As they wander, they devolve into a teeming mass of ideas that call to mind the finer hours of Mr. Bungle or the smash-and-grab aesthetic of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band. It’s a modernist group as well, squiggling their collective way through laptop composition and bending circuits in an almost telekinetic fashion. Once a proper instrument cuts through the chaos, it’s like shot of adrenalin to the heart.
The oddball, rarely-used keyboard key title of this EP should give you Autechre/Aphex Twin fans an idea of what’s in store with its three tracks. The jitterbugging beats and slushy electronics that Sun Hammer trucks feel positively life-giving, sort of like Ed Harris breathing liquid in The Abyss. Just heavy enough to feel strange upon your first inhalation, but then it becomes so much easier to let sink into the bronchi. Okay, it’s a strange metaphor, but that’s exactly what I envisioned when spinning these tracks the first couple of times. Give it a listen and tell me what images it dredges up in your mind.
Another PDX Jazz Festival has come and gone, and just as it is most every year, it left me both elated and deflated. The big ticket concerts that I was able to see as part of my day job were, for the most part, just good enough with moments of brilliance sparking up among a lot of lukewarm expressions. With a lot of festivals of this kind, the real moments of inspiration were found in the small shows sprinkled throughout the event – like this stunning avant jazz set by the duo of Elliot Ross and Scott Cutshall. This all improvised performance was captured for posterity at the unusual venue of a hotel bar in SW. See if you can hear the audience getting restless as this pair creates dark tapestries of often-Middle Eastern-inspired guitar, electronics, and marimba.
Here’s a nice treat I tracked down just yesterday – a collection of tunes that sound like the broken remnants of a pop song trying to reassemble itself before getting stomped back into pieces. It’s the creation of a gent named Peter Falkson, about whom I know absolutely nothing. And as a longtime fan of Jandek, I’m very much okay with being in the dark on this. Especially when the music is this good.
Speaking with Daniel Schultz about this project the other night got me terribly excited for its future and its impact on the noise scene. An unapologetic and heartfelt exploration of religion in the modern sphere through the lens of noise music. Schultz, who is the voice and spirit behind the label Apneic Void and the experimental project Troubled By Insects, debuted this project at last month’s Eugene Noise Festival and just unleashed its debut cassette for all to hear and purchase. I suggest you do both.
On a day when a famed fashion designer started his own record label and a certain high profile music festival announced that they were opening their arms even wider to Grammy winning artists at the expense of all the no name, little known bands struggling to be heard above the fray, and on a day when video has been released of art/music collective Pussy Riot being attacked by men with whips in Sochi…I was despairing quite a bit about the state of the world and the art that I love so dearly.
What shook me out of my malaise was this new collection of scatterbrained electronic sun flares created by Phil Rawsthorne under the name Lounge Gizzard. Punny name aside, this is the perfect salve to the system. A fucked up reminder that amid the chaos of our slowly devolving planet, there are sparks of brilliance, beauty, and daring that we can cling on to like a lifeboat. Give it a listen here and grab a hold; we’ll ride out this storm together.
Former Explode Into Colors drummer Lisa Schonberg spent some time last year exploring the dwindling habitat of the Hylaeus bees of Hawaii, insects threatened by pollution and the ever-encroaching modern world. Part of her efforts included using the trip as a musical inspiration for her current project Secret Drum Band. As you’ll hear from these three tracks, out on cassette via Curly Cassettes, some of that inspiration comes from field recordings of other animals and insects, including the coqui frogs. But the majority of it seems to come from some elemental force oozing out of the earth on the Hawaiian islands and from the percussion heavy rumble of music born of the state’s native population.
Sometimes the simplest of music is the most powerful. Take this long drone piece, played on viola by Justin Smith aka Information. There’s not much to it, just a slow layering of notes, but it creates this mass effect that is reminiscent of Jonny Greenwood’s work on There Will Be Blood or some of the more terrifying Ligeti choices that ended up in 2001.
Amazing music for an important cause. Marcus Fischer and Ted Laderas (aka The OO-Ray), two experimental musicians of Filipino descent, are releasing Tulong, a two-track digital single to help aid Humanitarian Response Philippines, a non-profit helping residents of the island nation rebuild their homes after the destruction wrought by Super Typhoon Haiyan.
It’s a mere $5—though they and I encourage you to drop a little extra cash in the donation jar—for two gorgeous tracks, one recorded live in 2012 at Beacon Sound Records and another recorded late last year at Fischer’s home studio.
The initial e-mail that I received about this project – a creation of Veritable Showers of Beauty member Steven J. Wilkens III – referenced the fact that there were 23 or so physical copies of this release “floating about the planet.” I like the idea of this weird, watery, intense batch of songs getting exchanged by folks around the globe, each one listening and taking some piece of inspiration from it before handing it off to another likeminded soul. I imagine this being used as background noise for meditation or as the ambient soundtrack to a store that sells incense and essential oils. I imagine this getting mixed into a dark, late night DJ set on radio or between sets at black metal show. I also imagine you poor souls sitting at your desk jobs, trying to get any work done while letting the creeping beauty and magic of this four song collection of processed field recordings and gamelan performances soak into your brain. Good luck with that.