Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Iron Kite No Eyebrows (Twilight Flight Sound)

I’ve liked the Austinites in The Iron Kite before but this new release on their own Twilight Flight Sound imprint is actually even more accomplished and rewarding in every single aspect I can think of. We only get one epic track but the way it develops makes me think it sounds more like three or four. It kicks off with mind-disturbing improvised patterns of free folk percussion that lands somewhere between Sun City Girls and Sunburned Hand of the Man, but before you know it the driving ethnic rhythms evolves into righteous slow-crawling, but still very worthy guitar jamming. At times the acid-streaked cosmic voyages, oscillating improv workouts and howling wash of distortion and feedback makes me think of Comets on Fire and Acid Mothers Temple but The Iron Kite is never quite as over-the-top as these two, and there are also quite a few sections with the sort of quietly spiraling improv that characterized the predecessor. If you already find your self knee-deep in modern psychdelicised improv waters this is definitely for you.


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Psychatrone Rhonedakk Disturbs the Air (Black Plastic Sound)

Psychatrone Rhonedakk has been mentioned in these pages before, but I strongly believe that nothing I’ve heard from this one-man ensemble before has been this accomplished and exciting all the way through. Things start as expected with electronic percussion set against a tapestry of repetitious Sonic Youth-esque guitars but already the second track clearly states that this is not quite like any of the earlier Psychatrone Rhonedakk releases. “Can You Travel in the Dark Alone” is an introspective and stark rendition of the Gandalf song, and I can’t help but to think that this particular track in a ghostly precise way wraps up the feel of the entire album. There’s this sense of self-awareness but also doubt and hesitation that comes wrapped around every spacey note. “Procession East” is perfect procession music for the psych/space/drone generation while the epic title track delivers gloomy keyboards that wrestle gently with waves of ambient synth experimentalism. The following “Attic Toy Space” is a bell-laced folk/space floater that quietly asks for your attention and if you’re anything like me you’ll find yourself playing it over and over again. Besides all this there’s also more structured pieces with class guitar tunesmithery and dark, ocean deep vocals aiming for the most downcast corner of the psychedelic stratosphere. If you ever have wondered if you could travel in the dark alone or if you just dig all sorts of far-reaching psychedelia then this is for you.


Saturday, August 27, 2005

Tape Mort Aux Vaches (Staalplaat)

It should come as no surprise that I rank Tape’s blurry memories of rain-soaked landscapes, organically evolving improvisations, acoustic drones and pastoral soundscapes as some of the best music coming out of Sweden in recent years. Their new Mort Aux Vaches CD for the always-impressive Staalplaat imprint is no exception as it overflows with melodic yet abstract soundscapes. Despite its hushed tone and gentle mood, Tape’s music is all about contrasts. On one side there’s the foundation of folk music that just sits quietly in the background and on the other there’s a strong sense of musical inventiveness and experimentalism. The same sort of contradictions is just as evident when it comes to urbanity versus ruralness and also regarding the instruments in action. But no matter chosen direction Tape walks the tightrope beautifully and never lets one side take over the show completely. Mort Aux Vaches is late night music that fills the clear sky with emotion, striking beauty and sadness. More importantly it’s an album I strongly believe I never will be able to play too many times.


Friday, August 26, 2005

Australian goldrush part 3

The Newcastle-based Spanish Magic imprint does what they can to prove that Australia currently is a country with an endless row of fascinating artists. Their It’s Over, We Don’t Care compilation proves just that but it’s in fact worth the price of admission alone for the opening track by Hi-God People. Regular Broken Face readers will be familiar with this combo but I am not sure we’ve ever heard them quite like this. “Egil Rotunda Mural” is a never-ending loop of Krautrock grooves that are destined to have your head spinning or at least moving up and down until it's all over. The rest is not far behind, with music ranging from organic drones, free folk, tape manipulations, noise and fluttering distorted electronic ambience to downcast folk-laced pop melodies. What I like a lot with this compilation is that it includes material from well-known Australian underground heroes such as Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood, Pimmon and Anthony Guerra as well as totally new names. Keith Mason, North Atlantic and Castings are three relatively combos that I’ll make sure to keep an extra eye on from now on. It’s Over, We Don’t Care both serves its purpose of introducing new artists but in the process it also displays stuff we already like. Recommended.


Sunday, August 14, 2005

Australian goldrush part 2

G55’s 2 (Kindling) is probably destined to be one of the most overlooked masterpieces of 2005. This three-headed, Lost Domain-related combo is so incredible it’s even hard to know where to begin. It would be easy to dismiss them and their massive guitar/drum/casiotone/sax squalls as a mere Dead C rip-off, but what about those endless dense tapestries of modulated and articulate drones a la Vibracathedral Orchestra? And what about the first cpl of tracks, that sounds like an unholy amalgam between Volcano the Bear and Bablicon? And you don’t have to listen for very long to hear that G55 is just as influenced by krautrock repetition as noise rock, or whatever it is that Dead C is called these days. Add to all this elements of free jazz punk, post punk, kraut beats, formless layers of damaged psych, broken shards of droning noise and no wave primitivism and you’ve got yourself seven perplexing improvisations that rocks in a surprisingly organic. Essential.

To be continued…


Friday, August 12, 2005

Australian goldrush part 1

It would be an exaggeration to say that Australian music means as much to me today as New Zealand music did back in the late ’90s, but no matter that I still find myself listening a whole lot to Australian underground music these days. The last week has been quite remarkable in this regard. First out was Eugene Carchesio & Leighton Craig’s Community of Opposites 3” CD-R (Kindling) that offers a dreamy slice of trance-inducing keyboard minimalism and ultimate atmospheric drones. These two sound architects provide a deeply felt kind of minimalism that stretches out into solemn arcs of tonal beauty where naked emotions drift earthward with each sustained tone.

I first heard Fractions’ Barometer 3” CD-R (Kindling) when I spent some time in Brisbane around Christmas last year and I remember saying that “I’ll love this” something like 30 second into the first track. Stuart Busby and the aforementioned Craig recorded these tracks late at night in a house perched over the ocean on a rainy weekend at the beach right after their kids had went to bed. Due to these circumstances the whole thing was recorded on a considerable low volume and you can really sense how these conditions have effected the playing in a very positive way, the ear for details is just stunning throughout. Manipulated cycles of Busby’s delicate trumpet playing wrestle gently with bubbling synth sounds and all sorts of distant scrapings from things found on the beach outside the house, thus maintaining a distinctively organic aura. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop playing this one.

To be continued…


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Philip Gayle The Mommy Row (Family Vineyard)

NYC-via-Houston-based guitarist Philip Gayle’s The Mommy Row clocks in at just over 72 minutes. Getting so much of this sort of arrhythmic, atonal, free-improvisatory guitar playing demands a lot of patience and attention from the listener but after my initial reservations I find myself knee deep in Gayle’s strangely seducing sound all the way through. In terms of feel this reminds me of sitting through Loren Mazzacane Connors’ majestic four CD set Unaccompanied Acoustic Guitar Improvisations but although being stark and deeply emotional this is still a whole lot easier to get into. With the aid of 12-string guitar, prepared toy piano, ukulele, cymbals, classical guitar, gongs, metals and probably more Gayle applies an aural palette seemingly equally influenced by Derek Bailey, Sun City Girls and Harry Bertoia. I wouldn’t be surprised if you think that’s not making sense, but this is on the other hand not a regular disk either. Inattentive listeners should definitely tread with caution but the rest of you will definitely want to give this one a spin.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Jeremy Kennedy proto-type (fmsmprc)

This cassette is probably one of the most abnormal recordings I’ve heard all year. If I am not mistaken pretty much all of proto-type consists of improvised one-take drumming. Sure, there are some effects in action here but it’s the percussive structures that are the truly interesting thing here. Free jazz percussion dances elegantly with complex noise/improv characteristics in an equally peculiar and interesting way. It’s not quite as stunning as some of the other Fuck Me Stupid Mountain Princess Recording Collective releases but if you’re placing an order you might as well add this one as well.


Monday, August 08, 2005

6Majik9 The Human Hand (musicyourmindwillloveyou)

Broken Face has praised the Australian musicyourmindwillloveyou collective before and this relatively new combo with members from the mighty Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood is not going to change a thing. The Human Hand is a somewhat schizophrenic outing that walks through bushlands of tribal acoustic folk in one second and wonderfully fried fuzz crescendos in the next. Experimental noise gives way to vocal snippets, swirling down-tempo sludge and distant free jazz characteristics. Add a considerable dose of highly primitive Krautrock grooves to all this and you’ve got yourself a very capable effort from some of the finest experimental/noise/psych/folk musicians around.


Friday, August 05, 2005

Various Artists Blank Field (Alien8)

Blank Field was a program of experimental music curated by Francisco López for a sound event in Montreal a cpl of years back. Thanks to the fine folks at the always-intriguing Alien8 label there’s now a sonic document of what took place. This compilation features segments from that night, including pieces from Oren Ambarchi, Daniel Menche, Merzbow, Shunichiro Okada, Manon Anne Gillis and Michael Northam. The live material has later on been edited, mixed and mastered by López, and maybe that’s why the whole thing holds together so well. Just like a lot of López’ solo work most of this is music that pushes the listener into a state of mind where attentive listening is necessary. As a matter of fact I’d go as far as to say that the sort of grayish very organic drones, static minimalism and low-end rumble that characterizes the first half of this album is completely pointless if you’re not fully focused on what’s going on. Merzbow’s densely layered noise and Okada’s wash of crunchy power electronics might work on another level as well but the true highlight here is unquestionably Oren Ambarchi’s epic contribution. The way this Australian builds his gently swaying dream tunnel of expansive tone clusters is simply delicious. Almost weightless gossamers of gentle drones and electronics are places against a tapestry of beautifully plucked strings. This track is actually worthy the price of admission alone, and the rest is by no means uninteresting.


Thursday, August 04, 2005

Ilk Canticle (VHF)

I have yet to be disappointed by anything Richard Youngs-related. This new duo release together with Andrew Paine under the Ilk moniker is no exception. Canticle is the long promised follow-up album to Ilk’s 1998 album Zenith, which was released on Youngs’ own No Fans label. Previous work from Youngs has sometimes hinted that classic UK progressive rock probably was an important influence growing up, but the results have never been this clearly affixed to this specific style. Ilk builds their music around folk melodies, but the way they’re presented with thick beds of soaring guitar, rock arrangements, whooshing synth and cosmic vibes in general have more to do with UK progressives than folk music. Despite what I just said the dominating feeling when listening to Canticle is still beauty. This might have something to do with Youngs’ haunting vocals, which I just don’t seem to be able to get enough of. This is the kind of release that probably will divide the Broken Face readership in two equally sized groups so some of you might want to tread with caution. As far as myself goes I quite like it.


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Lichens The Psychic Nature Of Being (Kranky)

Lichens (AKA Robert Lowe) is a new name to me and when hearing his Kranky debut The Psychic Nature Of Being for the first time the other day I thought to myself that this very well might be the discovery of 2005. That might or might not be an exaggeration but Lowe's fingerpicked acoustic guitar, hazy improvisations, desolate electric guitarscapes, strummy ambient blur, beautifully looped, wordless vocals adds up to an amazing listen. We get An epic 3-part suite of spacious guitar music that finds it own little secret vista somewhere between Scott Tuma, Charalambides and the most reflective side of the Jewelled Antler collective. Lichens plays simple, repetitive guitar figures that loop and drone, seeming to go on forever with crystal clear melodies often hidden in the eerie depths, but every now and then it all gets up to the surface and it’s at these occasions the tension between complete darkness and skeletal beauty reaches lordly heights. The sound is blurry and hypnotic, tranced out and serene, slowly weaving between gorgeously simple instrumental parts, dark dissonance and cloudy aural landscapes. If you listen closely you can actually see the music swirling right before your eyes and if that sort of comment doesn’t give you a rough idea of how effective The Psychic Nature Of Being is at creating moods I think you’re in the wrong pace. Words like evocative and forlorn comes to mind while listening to all this, but most of all it’s simply stunning, epic and totally timeless. Highly recommended.


Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Birds of Galapagos s/t (Yellow Mica Recordings)

Birds of Galapagos is a relatively newish duo out of Gothenburg, Sweden that shows a lot of promise but who yet not might have perfected their sonic formula. There are a few standout tracks on this EP though, such as the hymn-like opener “We Are Holy, Not Even Earthly,” which sounds like music for riding along dusted Appalachian country roads and then there is the slightly Jewelled Antlerish “Morning Bird.” The latter is an elegantly crafted outsider psych/folk number that is subtle and warm, organic and downright mesmerizing. Acoustic guitar wrestle gently with found sounds and drones and if this one is any indicator where these guys are going next I am definitely not going to miss out.


Monday, August 01, 2005

Downloads from the Lost Domain

Those of you who yet haven’t heard the music of the Lost Domain (an amazing avant-folk/drone/jazz/improv ensemble out of Brisbane, Australia) should check out the Shytone website asap. It has a substantial page of free downloads for you guys to try, and actually has tracks from nearly all of their albums, including Broken Face/Digitalis release Sailor, Home from the Sea.