Thursday, September 29, 2005

Fursaxa Leidoptera (ATP)

Fursaxa’s (AKA Tara Burke) music sounds like vivid colors in the sky, shades of pink and blue reflecting in soft time-lapse clouds, fluffy clouds making wonderful shapes that slowly change over time. Just like the clouds, this is music that takes the time needed to get where it’s going. The ones who are willing to wait will be rewarded with transcendent and captivating qualities of drone and raga type music that dives deep into the pool of folk, psychedelia and subtle experimentalism.

I once used those words when describing the overwhelmingly psychedelic and hypnotic experience to see Fursaxa in the live setting, but that description works very well for her recorded material as well. After a batch of releases on prominent underground labels such as Time-Lag, Eclipse, Ecstatic Peace and Jewelled Antler, Fursaxa has found her way to the impressive ATP label and if that’s not a perfect foundation for spreading her mind-expanding work I am not sure what is.

Leidoptera could typically be described as song-based, though the songs tend to stretch out in minimalist style (fans of Nico will find some associations here), and often have a wonderful, simplistic character that relates her music back to the folk of the hill country. Burke's trademark falsetto is placed against a tapestry of organ drones, strummed guitar and farfisa and to describe the results, as anything less than transporting and hypnotic would be a grave understatement. You're tucked away, removed. You have a sense of the real action being elsewhere, although it’s actually right there all along.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Sea Donkeys Volume 1 (Abduction)
Alvarius B Blood Operatives of the Barium Sunset (Abduction)

Everybody loves everything Sun City Girls-related, right? Okay, probably not, but personally I'm happy to say they're easily one of the most consistently great and challenging bands on the planet. So it’s no surprise that their Abduction label is just as exciting, and their brand new LP releases from Alvarius B and Sea Donkeys are no exceptions to the rule. If I’d choose only one of these items I’d go for the Sea Donkeys LP, which strikes me as one of the most original recordings I’ve heard all year. Eclectic, pagan-inspired and oh so damaged free folk meanderings blends with disturbingly dark and fractured psychedelia seemingly created to describe the state of the fucked-up world we live in. I am pretty certain that’s not at all the intention with this strangely seducing document but it should tell you something about the atmosphere present here.

The press kit describes Volume 1 as the debut recording from an anonymous Seattle outfit of assembled misfits, sub-criminals, and castaways and I think that’ll give you a rough idea of what to expect. Imagine an edgy meeting between Comus, Spires that in the Sunset Rise, some unknown ESP Disk weirdos and Fursaxa on an old, weather-beaten wooden sailboat in the middle of Puget Sound on a particularly mist-clad day, and you’re getting close to the power and uncontrolled beauty of this album. By the end of it all I can see for my eyes how that boat finally makes a deal with the ocean, which slowly takes her down to the eerie depths.

Blood Operatives of the Barium Sunset is the first album from Alvarius B (Alan Bishop of Sun City Girls fame) in over seven years. Just like when we last heard from Bishop we get twisted Americana created by and for all the damaged souls out there that are searching for something honest, heartfelt and downright demented. The LP displays just about every sonic style just outside the folk/psych/rock conventions, but don’t expect to be able to sit back and know what’s going to happen, because this kind of music will turn the life around for attentive listeners. Just the fact that Bishop this time out is backed up by Eyvind Kang, Tim Young, Richard Bishop, Andrew McGinnis, and Randall Dunn is really all I needed to know. I believe that most of you have some shopping to do.


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Playlist #21

V/A Invisible Pyramid: Elegy Box 6CD Box (Last Visible Dog)

This is the only thing I am listening to these days. Perfect!!


Sunday, September 25, 2005

Hush Arbors/Terracid/The North Sea s/t (Barl Fire Recordings)

The concept that a 3-way split release with Hush Arbors, Terracid and The North Sea appeals to me is not that surprising but that’s not going to stop me from giving it the praise it deserves. Hush Arbors starts things on a surprisingly minimal and droney note but fans of Keith Wood’s moss-clad folk structures don’t need to worry as each unhurried and glacially unfolding tone comes wrapped in a distant layer of fuzz-drenched folk minimalism. It’s all incredibly beautiful but at the same time holds the powers of some ancient pine forest draped in morning mist.

Australian Terracid (an integral member of the much praised musicyourmindwillloveyou collective) is more psychedelic and brings things forward with a stronger sense of improvisation and dislocation, but in these guys’ hands the outcome is still hypnotic and the love for the landscape that surrounds us is just evident here as in Hush Arbors’ music. But the real icing of the cake is the carefully sculpted ragas and the quietly warbling and deep-reaching folk transcendentalism of The North Sea. The North Sea’s ”Seamstress of the Sun Gods” is probably the most organically structured material on this all too limited CD-R but still the piece that despite its traditional characteristics, most successfully searches for conjunctions well outside familiar territories. This is nearly perfect meditation music for the Broken Face generation that obviously comes highly recommended.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Volcano the Bear review from the new issue of the Wire. Wow! Send me an e-mail to order this little beauty.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Australian goldrush part 4

There are a lot of exciting things happening in the Australian underground at the moment but I don’t think there’s anything quite like the musicyourmindwillloveyou collective. Self-described as a loose array of minds united by their art that through the manipulation of sound strive to free the minds of all their brothers and sisters in the animal kingdom. With that sort of plan you can’t really go wrong and this last batch of releases that got here the other week proves just that.

Soarwhole is a new project to me but is actually the oldest mymwly project, operating in various forms for the last 15 years. This CD-R offers two epic folk freakouts that consist of as much strummed guitar and abstract electronic washes as shards of droning feedback. All in all we’re served a highly psychedelic and complex sonic dish that definitely has qualities that will make it stand the test of time. Nada Baba’s Ambient Time Arm is equally psychedelic but has a more ancient feel to it, which probably has something to do with the ample use of heavily droning didgeridoo, intense percussion and all sorts of exotic instruments. This somewhat traditional (although experimental) and repetitious base structure is placed against a tapestry of spoken word, field recordings and samples. Nice.

Corsican Paintbrush is not an Australian combo but this Oklahoma duo’s brilliant Twilight Blue Skies CD-R recently saw the light of the day on the mymwly imprint. What we get here is subtly clattering folk ceremonies that sound like if they would have been recorded under water or at the very edge between a vast, red barked pine forest and a juniper-clad meadow with the first sunlight of the day reaching just over the treetops. If there ever is a sound that could be called timeless it got to be this and after playing this disk a cpl of times in a row all I can think of is to get out of the house and explore all the aspects I love about the fall. Lovely.

If you feel that all this sounds promising but you’re not quite sure where to start I know what you need to do. Make sure to get your hands on the massive double disc compilation Sound Surrounds Us Volume 2. It does not only display some of the finest mymwly artists (6majik9, Ffehro, Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood and Terracid) but also other parts (Davenport, The Golden Oaks and The North Sea) of a loosely knit worldwide community based around the Routesforwardandtravel mailing list. The same could easily be said about the label's other new compilation Charms Cut from Our Trees, that not might be as majestic but it’s still another great example of why I love these folks so much. Just the fact that the latter compilation includes tracks from Hush Arbors, Keijo, Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood and the aforementioned Corsican Paintbrush is really all you need to know. There’s so much more where all this came from but I’ll leave some of the exploring to you guys. Just make sure to get started and once you’ve heard one mymwly release there will be no turning back.


Monday, September 05, 2005

White/Light S/t (Rebis)

From time to time a friend of mine confronts me with what he calls the limitations of the drone scene and the fact that everything sounds the same. It goes without saying that he’s way off base on this one but as to illustrate this I think I’ll play him White/Light the next time he’s around, because I don’t think I’ve heard as many drone styles present on a single recording in quite some time. The opening “05:57” displays darkly contemplative drone webs while “01:43” is almost inaudible if you don’t turn it up loud. “28:43” is a minimal tone excursion that kicks off with high-end frequencies and sustained drones that slowly shift and eventually build into a storm of sound whistling through a narrow tunnel of claustrophobic beauty. Other tracks maintain the magically resonating damaged soundscapery but at the same time pirouettes into something a whole lot more minimal and surprisingly organic. The last track even has a distant folk feel to it, which comes as a big surprise given the rest of the album. Despite the fact that White/Light covers such a wide range of drone terrain the duo manages to nicely hold things together. It’s a challenging but also very rewarding listening excursion these Chicago residents invite us to attend


Sunday, September 04, 2005

Explosions in the Sky How Strange Innocence (Temporary Residence)

Explosions in the Sky has proved to be the uncrowned masters of building their sound from a whisper to a roar, and although that not might strike you as the most original sonic formula in the world these guys offer a stylistic twist to the recipe that very few bands have examined this closely. No matter all that, this is different cup of tea altogether as it’s a reissue of these Texans’ debut CD-R from year 2000. At this time the band had no drummer, which makes the end results sound utterly different, which is yet another proof of drummer Christopher Hrasky’s importance to the band. That doesn’t mean that this is any less interesting but it certainly is less aggressive and has a stronger sense of improvisation attached to it. How Strange Innocence gives us the best of two worlds, somehow managing to be equally quiet/haunting and loud/chaotic. It actually has more in common with the dreaminess of fellow Texans in Bedhead (easily the best Dallas band in existence) than the heavy thunderhead of slithering guitars of Kinski or Mogwai. Maybe it’s just me hearing things but this really makes me want to dive deep into my Bedhead collection and if that’s not a compliment I am not quite sure what is.


Saturday, September 03, 2005

For Against December (Words on Music)

I am not that great at describing music like this, but I do know that there’s something about this sort of capable post punk/dream pop confections that appeals to me. For Against was initially formed in Lincoln, Nebraska back in the mid ‘80s but they resurfaced a cpl of years back to release Coalesced, their sixth full-length release. December initially saw the light of the day in 1988, and it’s not hard to date this recording as it overflows with those times’ trademarks: repetitive Joy Division-esque bass, circling guitar lines, droning rhythms and dark, heartfelt vocals that all comes wrapped in a murky post punk production. Nice.


Friday, September 02, 2005

Caroline Where’s My Love (Temporary Residence)

Temporary Residence is one of those labels that I have mixed feelings about. There are killer releases like Tarentel, Eluvium and Explosions in the Sky but there is also filler material. When it comes to Caroline (last name: Lufkin) there’s nothing that sounds like anything I normally like but there's something truly magical about her take on subtle electronica, and her delicate, almost child-like vocal delivery (some people could probably notice a resemblance with Joanna Newsom) is definitely something to write home about. This is only a CD-single and I am not sure it would appeal to me in the full-length format but as it is I find myself playing the title track over and over again. Mix equal parts Portishead and Björk and you’re in the right ballpark.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

Masaoka/Jeanrenaud For Birds, Planes & Cellos (Solitary B)

I am not sure how many times I’ll listen to this disc but just the idea of combining field recordings of birds and planes with heavily prepared cello is enough to win me over. As a matter of fact I really like the darkly timbral textures present here, but it’s just that they really demand a very attentive mood of the listener. The real problem is that it’s pretty much impossible to turn it off once it’s on as its slowly unfolding drones and chirping birds just sucks you in like flies to a jet motor. The unexpected blend of bird sounds and airplanes flying overhead is more a contradiction on paper than in reality as they operate together in a spectacular way. I am not quite sure how it’s done but I couldn’t care less when the results are this mesmerizing. Before proceeding you should note that this requires patient listening and it’s certainly not for those with short attention spans but the more I think about it I am pretty sure this disc will get more stereo time than I initially thought.