Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Antique Brothers Bears in the Woods, Volume 1 (House of Alchemy)

House of Alchemy is a new micro label from Buffalo, New York and if you ask me it’s pretty much impossible to kick things off in a more impressive way than with this lovely deluxe packaged CD-R. I don’t know an awful lot about these brothers but I do know that we’re immediately thrust into a kind of parallel sound universe, a sonic equivalent to a forest exploration on a particularly hazy summer morning.

The sound, constructed from guitars, drums, flute, tambourine, tapes, moog, chord organ and voices, is not always easily described since the moss-clad folk melodies at hand are more like a chaplet of different tones and colors than actual songs. Antique Brothers continuously get lost in a beautiful maze of acoustic improvisation, corrosive drones, ragas and string-clad melancholia. But don't get me wrong, this isn't the sort of dire dish that only will appeal to apocalyptic folk freaks, it just happens to hold elements that tend to nourish the contemplative side of your mind.

Bears in the Woods comes wrapped in a stunning kind of intimacy, which might or might not come from the ragged looseness of these improvised folk ramblings. What’s certain though is that this material sounds personal in the way that Matt Valentine and Six Organs of Admittance does – not as intensely disconnected or subterranean, perhaps, but as personal and distinct. Beauty and inspiration rain down like tiny droplets in these sessions, recordings both wonderfully focused and distilled, yet free. Essential to say the least.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

After the goldrush #20

Akhet is the trio of Brad Rose, Eden Hemming Rose and Michael Donnelly; three names that are likely to be familiar to pretty much every Broken Face reader. What they do on Tehka (musicyourmindwillloveyou) is much what you would expect as they deliver a blend of almost tribal folk eruptions, raw blues exorcisms and the occasional free jazz wig-out. This is beautifully stumbling free music that incorporates the clattering psychedelic folk inflections of these musicians' previous work. Fans of the musicyourmindwillloveyou collective, No Neck Blues Band, The Lost Domain and Sunburned Hand of the Man don’t need to look any further.

Paeces’ Psychic Tables is another CD-R from the same Australian that probably aims for a similar place but which yet doesn’t reach quite as far. Although sharing the love for demented folk structures and sparse sound abstraction this one is more based in skronk rock and remains slightly more difficult to grasp. I do like what I am hearing though and these Melbourne cats does indeed show a lot of promise so I’ll make sure to keep an extra eye open for what’s coming next.

We’ve showed our love to the Clear Spots before and despite the fact that I initially found myself a bit surprised by the sound of the sprawling Electricity for All (Deep Water) the main content of such love declaration is not likely to change anytime soon. The heavy slabs of rural spastic noise from the previous outings are occasionally replaced by a more acid-tinged sound, bathed in all sorts of fuzzy space rock riffage. The Clear Spots’ muddy psych meanderings still rely heavily on repetition and distortion but the usage of stratospheric bliss and spaceouts in general have never been this frequent. I don’t think I will return to this beautifully packaged double disc set with the same kind of regularity as to Mountain Rock and Mansion In the Sky but if you’re coming from more of a space/psych background than I do this is probably the perfect way into the band’s most mind-expanding repertoire.


Friday, October 06, 2006

The Lost Domain An Unnatural Act (Foxglove)

When I first discovered Australian underground veterans the Lost Domain a few years back I was lucky enough to catch up with one of their key players, John Henry Calvinist almost immediately. He was kind enough to send me pretty much their entire back catalogue, which included almost a dozen different recordings. It was amazing to sit back and listen to the development of a band over such a long time and do it pretty much in one sitting. Going straight back to their debut release (from 1990), An Unnatural Act from a 2006 perspective won’t only make you surprised it will make you question if you even put the right disc into the CD player. An Unnatural Act is so unlike everything else these cats ever have done, but if you listen closely to their entire back catalogue it’s also very logical and will make you understand where they’re coming from.

Massive concrete walls of fuzz-drenched, scorching guitars, dense layers of dusted feedback and violently crushing percussion builds up to a monotonous but yet detailed sky-high and swirling mass of electrified noise. This one explores the same kind of deranged sense of melodies that some of the semi-legendary NZ fringe outfits seemed to have a monopoly on back in the days. Looking back you realize that these guys were doing a similar thing at the very same time.

The icing of the cake is that we get an additional track that wasn’t included on the original recording, a Samuel Beckett piece with Frankie Lee’s most extreme ever noise mandolin playing on it. The frantic results are so incredibly electric that you can see the wavelengths move right in front of your eyes. Not for everyone but most certainly for me.