Wednesday, February 21, 2007

More bad news

There seems to be no end when it comes to bad news these days. My condolences to friends and family.

"With deep regret, we must announce that Charles Gocher passed away yesterday in Seattle due to a long battle with cancer at the age of 54. He is survived by the two of us who adopted him as a brother 25 years ago and his many friends around the world. He will be missed more than most could ever know. Our thanks to everyone for their support and encouragement during the past three, very difficult years. Many of you were not aware that Charles was ill and that’s because he wanted it that way. Details of a memorial in his honor will be announced soon."
---Alan and Richard Bishop


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Astral Social Club s/t (VHF)

Leeds' finest drone machine operator Neil Campbell recently decided to quit the consistently amazing Vibracathedral Orchestra. Long-time fans of his work will be happy to hear that there are a number of Campbell-related releases in the pipeline though, including a few under the Astral Social Club moniker.

First out is a self-titled disc for VHF that compiles Campbell's favorite tracks from some of the long out of print CD-Rs under this name. We get an hour of music that truly defies most existing genres, coming off as a strange mix of shimmering loop-laced electronic drones, psychedelic ambience, techno pulses, rousing noise mantras and the kind of thick lava flow of radiant free music that characterizes the aforementioned VCO. This disc offers a blurry (and fascinating) gate to a new corner of the UK drone/screech/fuzz/hiss universe.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Mike Tamburo and His Orchestra of Pituitary Knowledge
The Ghosts of Marumbey
Music Fellowship/New American Folk Hero

This starts with lingering guitar notes seeping out of the speakers like smoke rings slowly spreading in the air. All sorts of guitar sounds are key ingredients throughout but don’t let the subtle, delicate start fool you to believe that this disc offers nothing but meandering reflection. As things progress more and more effects and droney experimentalism are added to the mix. Grace and business side by side, like tumbleweeds approaching urbanity. I’ve only listened to this complex sound affair a few times but I already know that this is one of those growers and definitely on my retrospective top 2006 list.


Saturday, February 03, 2007

Roy Montgomery Inroads: New and Collected Works (Rebis)

There are probably only a handful of bands and artists that I’ve been truly obsessed with, and one of them is unquestionably New Zealand folk/noise/drone guitarist Roy Montgomery. Given this it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this collection of singles and unreleased tracks works as true balsam for my soul. After receiving this disc a week ago or so I’ve been thinking about what it is that makes Montgomery’s music hit me so deep, and after reading Bill Meyer’s liner notes for this double disc release I think I know the answer. Meyer writes that “Roy Montgomery’s sounds do the trick because he’s infused them with the power of his own memories and emotions, by drawing on his, he summon yours.” It’s obvious that you don’t share his memories but that doesn’t really matter as the minimalistic guitar explorations run through a squadron of effect boxes does an impressive job at transporting the listener wherever he or she feels it’s necessary to go.

As for myself these two discs makes me see two entirely different things, first of all the heart and soul of a friend that recently passed away. He shared my love for Montgomery’s music and to hear these classic singles played again is like walking on a vibrating guitar string straight to the place where he currently is. It’s saddening but also powerful and intensely beautiful. On a happier note these sounds makes me revisit the dramatic natural vistas that my wife and I explored in New Zealand in the late ‘90s. Until we find the time to go back to what simply has to be the most beautiful part of the world, I am happy to relive those scenes from the south island and memories from the rugged coastline through the eyes and ears of Mr. Montgomery. Or as Meyer puts it: “This music carries a fade-resistant charge, it’s ready to spark your own mind and help you map a life with sound. Time to hit the road.”

Hototogisu Chimärendämmerung (De Stijl)

Matthew Bower and Marcia Bassett’s power duo Hototogisu shouldn’t be a new name to most of you although I believe that I (surprisingly) never have written anything about them in these pages. Given their background in bands such as Sunroof!, Double Leopards, Un, GHQ, Skullflower and Total you can probably guess the overall theme of these recordings, the one of being repetitiously thrown into a hotpool of boiling psychedelic waters. Roaring guitars wrestle with cascading viola tones (and overtones) in a tunnel of electronic claustrophobia. We get extensive explosions without any obvious beginnings and ends. Just like with Bower’s Sunroof! the one thing that pulls me in time after time is the monolithic mantras at hand. This is repetition in its most damaged and fascinating form.


Friday, February 02, 2007

The Servant Sun Cold Harbour (House of Alchemy)

The Servant Sun is an underground dream project including Peter Wright and Brad Rose, which sounds like ghostly folk whispers and nature-clad drones hovering like mist over urban meadows. Peter Wright’s music has always struck me as oceanic while the aural pictures of Rose often have had more of a forest feel to them. I guess you could say that Cold Harbour is a combination of both and in that way this is indeed a very successful collaboration. Majestic frozen lakes and abandoned settlements by the sea are placed right next to juniper trees and meadows packed with blossoming flowers. It’s in the midst of these scenic contradictions that you’ll find the true beauty of this somewhat limited gem. This is yet another proof of these guys’ talent and the fact that House of Alchemy is one of the most interesting micro-labels around.