Friday, February 29, 2008

Machinefabriek Bijeen (Kning Disk)

There’s been quite a buzz around Dutch sound manipulator Rutger Zunderveldt AKA Machinefabriek recently, which probably both has to do with the constant flood of releases wearing his name as well as the actual sounds presented. On Bijeen we get eight sweeping cinematic drifters that mostly stays on the ominous and radiant side of the drone spectrum.

“Borghesia Remix" is a hazy tidal wave of electronic drone abstraction wrapped in sheets of fuzzed out dreaminess aiming for the most introspective corners of your soul. “Piano.wav” displays a mournful melody of delicate piano notes that drift softly across a plane of barely there drones. It’s an almost perfect example of how to leave space between the notes and get every little segment of a recording to breathe and make a difference. Machinefabriek has an almost unequalled talent to move from whirring white noise to the sound of weightlessness. Dynamic is a word that often seems to come back in all kinds of music writing and in this case it’s actually true.
One could complain that this is a collection of compositions that span over a few years time and consequently covers a wide range of Zunderweldts different musical approaches, but as an introduction it’s difficult to imagine something better.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Jerry Johansson Next Door Conversation (Kning Disk)

It’s strange that we haven’t ever reviewed much from the Gothenburg-based Kning Disk label as pretty much everything they release is overflowed with exceptional visual quality and sonic artistry of highest possible caliber. I guess it’s just one of those things that happen, but that inexcusable fact is going to change right now. First out is Next Door Conversation, two engaging sitar ragas from Jerry Johansson. Both epic pieces are based around the sitar but there are enough lush string embellishments to keep things varied and to provide a slightly Scandinavian (and symphonic) touch to the otherwise Eastern proceedings. Johansson’s complex and innovative sonic expression is all about nuances that bends and disappears like the ocean ebbs and flows. Next Door Conversation won't appeal to everyone, as its repetitive tone undoubtedly will find the casual listener missing the unusual blend of otherworldliness and grace that the subtly shifting sonic colors provide us with. But if you're willing to let these aural structures seep into your skull, you'll find the company of Jerry Johansson meditative; with enough impressive organic features to make the hair on your arms stand up.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

V/A Musical Brotherhoods from the Trans-Saharan Highway
(Sublime Frequencies)

Sublime Frequencies is one of the most reliable labels in terms of exposing obscure sights and sounds from modern and traditional urban and rural frontiers. This DVD is a follow-up of sorts to the monstrous Jemaa El Fna: Morocco's Rendezvouz of the Dead Night Music of Marrakech. Like its predecessor it’s primarily a document displaying the nightly activities at
Jemaa El Fna, the central square in Marrakech

I wrote the following about the DVD mentioned above: “holy shit, this is raw Moroccan folk music, often constructed from various string instruments I've never seen anything quite like, hand drums and vocal chanting, is in itself incredible and the visual addition of seeing the people making it, the crowds watching the night shows take place is just so honest and soulful that I'm not really sure how to describe it accurately. On top of all this there's the sense of the extreme in the air, strange people moving in and out of what seems like Marrakechian normalcy at night, but I think what you see in the jamming, public tea drinking and record playing sessions will completely depend on where you're from and your own view on things.” That’s still very much the case. As a matter of fact this is one of the things my four-year-old daughter asks for on a daily basis. As long as that reflects her sonic taste I am indeed a very happy man.

Dream Magazine #8

Issue eight has longtime contributor Mats Gustafsson (late of The Broken Face) doing his inimitable interviewing journalistic thing on Los Angeles brotherly duo Antique Brothers, and New Zealand’s singular Rory Storm. Ned Raggett talked to guitar genius Ilyas Ahmed. Steve Sawada interviewed Portland, Oregon’s Plants. Brian Faulkner talked to Tom and Christina of the Charalambides, Mark Dagley chatted with Natalie Rose LeBrecht aka Greenpot Bluepot. I interviewed: The very wonderful Damon & Naomi, tripped-out vocal adventurer Dredd Foole, great guitarist Sir Richard Bishop of the late lamented Sun City Girls, legendary Japanese guitarist Michio Kurihara with translation by Alan Cummings, the deeply beguiling husband and wife acid folk duo Arborea, American singer songwriter Stephen Yerkey of the late great Nonfiction, Argentinian sonic explorer Anla Courtis late of Reynols, the great Swedish psychedelic band The Spacious Mind, the unique and brilliant British composer and vocalist Johnny Parry, I talked to Myc James lead vocalist of Nevada City band of yore Absalom, psychedelic home-recording Brit madman Reefus Moons, singer songwriter Lys Guillorn, ambient masters Stars of the Lid, Sacramento Valley’s own psych-pop wizard Anton Barbeau, and the truly wonderful The Handsome Family. We also feature artwork by the stalwart Peter Blegvad, the charming Andrew Goldfarb, and myself.

We recieved exceptional pieces for this issue’s complimentary CD from: Arborea, Rory Storm, Anton Barbeau, the Slow Poisoner, Natalie Rose LeBrecht, Rory Storm, Lys Guillorn, Reefus Moons, Absalom, Anla Courtis, Antique Brothers, M. Jarvis / A. Jarvis, Powell St. John, The Spacious Mind, and Ilyas Ahmed.

112 pages perfectbound$12
postpaid in the United States.
Payable to George Parsons.

George Parsons
Dream Magazine
P.O. Box 2027
Nevada City, CA95959-1941



Friday, February 22, 2008

Fricara Pacchu Midnight Pyre (Lal Lal Lal)

We were quite overwhelmed by one of these Finnish cats early cassette releases a few years back so it’s a pleasure to find them in the CD format. Not that I dislike tapes but for some reason I rarely tend to come back to them after those first few listening sessions, and this is indeed music that I want to come back to. We get groovy soul junk in the form of motorik krautrock, gurgling electronics, psychedelic techno and mind-puzzling polyrhythmic structures. It’s a grainy and buzzing mix of swirling thunderclouds and bubbly effects that oozes from corner to the corner of the room and really benefits from turning up loud late at night. Compared to the previous things I’ve heard from Fricara Pacchu this is a whole lot more electronically inclined and dare I say, extrovert and even catchy.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lead Sister II Interplanetary Craft (Ikuisuus)

The mysterious Lead Sister II sounds like a bunch of Tower Recordings intros that never switch direction in the middle of a song like those New Yorkers often used to do. That doesn’t mean that this isn’t entrancing. On the contrary we get a bunch of weird percussive elements glued together to a whole that’s repeated over and over again and has an incredibly calming, even healing effect on the mind. The outcome could from afar be considered a pretty fucked up racket with its eclectic instrumentation (including but not limited to the electric mailbox, weed eater violin, bicycle horn reed powered trumpet, bed springs, bobby pins and hacksaw blades) and unorthodox whims if it weren’t for the aura of beauty and far-reaching meditative ambitions that comes with every hypnotically repetitious note.

For whatever reason Interplanetary Craft is detached from reality in a way that it perfectly illustrates some twisted dream full of abstraction, improvisation and moonlight trance. It’s a kaleidoscopic pattern of aural illusions and stumbling drum circle folk that plots a quite remarkable track through the outer regions of damaged folkscapes, ghost symphonies and forested drones. Whoever Lead Sister II are they have found their own enigmatic niche of stoner folk, somewhere on the trajectory line between The Tower Recordings and Kemialliset Ystävät.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Terrastock News - February 2008

Just one last quick reminder that Terrastock 7 tickets are available for just $55.00 per person until the end of February. This increases to $85.00 on March 1st 2008. The event is taking place in Louisville, Kentucky USA on Thursday June 19th to Sunday 22nd, 2008. Tickets are on sale NOW.

Click here for more information and purchase options: http://www.terrascope.co.uk/Terrastock7/main.htm

The full line-up of confirmed bands is as follows: Acid Mothers Temple & The Cosmic Inferno (Japan) + Antietam + Bardo Pond + The Bevis Frond (England) + Black Forest / Black Sea + Damon and Naomi + Grails + Hush Arbors + Ignatz (Belgium) + The Insect Factory + Kinski + Sharron Kraus (England) + Linus Pauling Quartet + Major Stars + Marissa Nadler + Dead Maids (England) + MONO (Japan) + Motorpsycho (Norway) + MV&EE with The Golden Road + Tanakh + Oneida + Tara Jane ONeil + Paik + Parlour + Pelt + The Photographic + Plastic Crimewave Sound + Jack Rose + Sapat + Rob Sharples (England) + United Bible Studies (Ireland) + Windy & Carl + Wooden Shjips

Terrastock 7 is located at the Mellwood Arts and Entertainment Center, 1860 Mellwood Avenue, Louisville, Kentucky USA. The building is is a refurbished industrial plant turned creative environment, housing over 180 artist studios, retail shops and more. There are THREE stages (2 indoors, 1 outdoors), and over 40 booths featuring record shops, visual artists and unique retail vendors.

There are unrivalled opportunities for setting up merchandising at Terrastock 7. Click here for more information: http://www.terrascope.co.uk/Terrastock7/Merch_Rates.htm

As always, we will be producing an exclusive Festival Program for Terrastock 7, which is being designed for us by our good friend Jeffrey Alexander - you may remember Jeffrey as the principal behind Terrastock 6. This is a fantastic opportunity to advertise and to help get news of your band, label, fanzine, website or other creative efforts out to thousands of like-minded music fans. Here is a link to the AD RATES along with payment options: http://www.terrascope.co.uk/Terrastock7/Advertising_Rates.htm

Phil McMullen (curator, the Terrastock Festivals)


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Son of Nailing Smoke to the Wall - 2007 in Review

If you’re interested to know what music that got Kevin Moist, Lee Jackson, Tony Dale and yours truly excited during 2007 you should point your clickers to the Deep Water site.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

After the goldrush #43

Cane 141 is the music of Ireland’s Mike Smalle. Lost At Sea (Micropolis Records) is an atmospheric and quite evocative sound affair that originally was recorded to accompany an installation by visual artist Roisin Coyle. The apt title of the album is very much present in the music where we find snippets of spoken word about the vastness of oceans placed against a patchwork of swirling electronic textures, field recordings and delicate acoustic elements. There's a stark beauty to Cane 141’s frosty drones and oceanic minimalism that’s fragile and emotional enough to sink to the eerie depths of the Atlantic and set out to evoke the feel of a mist-clad Irish harbor at dawn.

Brad Rose’s amazing Foxglove CD-R series is no longer, but if I understand things correctly Digitalis Limited will play a similar role, serving us limited edition releases in handmade/silk-screened/painted covers. Anyway, some of the Foxglove releases are still available such as the self-titled disc from the lovely baptized The Magick Travelling Backpack Band out of Finland. What we have here is another Finnish underground super combo (with personnel from Uton, Vapaa, Keijo etc.) that invites us to attend a primitive forest manifestation circling around repetitive percussive patterns that will do what they can to make you loose your sense of location and direction. They’re actually quite good at it, building a kind of mysterious, skronking brand of psychedelic folk music that seems to be as much about ecstatic disorientation and primitivism as an invitation to a weird dream.

More on the same label comes from Dopo, a bit of mystery to me as I’ve never heard about them before and I haven’t been able to track down much info on who they are. I guess that doesn’t really matter as long as the results are this pleasing. Echoing guitars, organ, wordless vocals and probably more make up a sound world that is gentle and complex but the overall impression is definitely the one of floating above and about all things spacious.

Talugung aka Ontario resident, Ryan Waldron is another interesting new name on Foxglove. Waldron emits a controllable volcano of exotic ethnic instrumentation (including some of his home-built ones) floating together to an impressive lava flow, interesting not only for its mind-puzzling polyrhythmic structures, but also for its organic and perhaps surprisingly melodic characteristics. Out comes a kaleidoscopic pattern of aural illusions and dreams that are bound to leave you on the floor with a hypnotic grin glued to your face perfectly matching your blank stare of approval.

Whilst shopping from Foxglove you have to make sure to treat your ears to the last two volumes of the Wailing Bones compilations. As usual we get a bunch of long-format contributions from artists and bands on their way to something even grander. Favorite cuts this time from Danish Elektronavn and Stone Baby, but to tell you the truth all these are well worth your time and will make you want to track down some of the band albums so if finances is a problem, please tread with caution.


Monday, February 04, 2008

Ulaan Khol I (Soft Abuse)

When you expect something to flat out blow you away it's not uncommon that you initially find yourself a bit disappointed. That wasn’t at all the case the first time I listened to Steven R. Smith’s new project, entitled Ulaan Khol. This a is a monster release that contrary to lots of other important music hits you already on the first listen and just continues to grow.

Steven R. Smith is a long-time fave here at BF headquarters, a reliable provider of some of the most spectacular underground music out there in the last decade or so. He was a key member of the incredible San Francisco noise/improv group, Mirza, whose Iron Compass Flux (Darla) remains a high-point in the genre, and he has continued to help re-chart the map of improvised psychedelia and fractured ambience as a member of the beautifully baptized Thuja. Smith has made contributions to the Knit Separates, as well as Glenn Donaldson’s Bird- and Ivytree releases on the Jewelled Antler label. Inspired by his investigations into ethnic and world music, Smith’s even made his own instruments and delved deep into Eastern and Central European folk music under the name of Hala Strana. But if you like us has followed this gentlemen through his solo career and enjoyed his contributions to bands such as Thuja and Mirza you’ll probably know that what we get is a somewhat droned-out and improvisational variety of the style. On top of all this there’s his solo records that are filled with beauty and mystery, meandering instrumentals spiraling through a withering topography of sound. Often driven forward by timeless guitar chords but always with scrapings, hums and drones from unidentifiable instruments drifting in the periphery.

Given his vast sonic background it’s somewhat surprising that Smith returns under a new name and goes even further out of his way to create something that connects to his previous work but still take things into an entirely different realm. I is comprised by bleak and dissonant guitar/drums/organ excursions that moan and crumble through its nine untitled tracks. Sure, this is experimental and primitive in its nature but the feedback attacks are presented in such an atmospheric, melodic and even melancholic way that it despite its heavy origins strikes me as very emotional. The multi-layered organic beauty of the closing organ ode feels like the sound of being in the middle of the ocean without a sign of land in any direction.

Ulaan Khol offers amazing music that sounds like an unholy mix of Fushitsusha, Smith’s solo work and Roy Montgomery at his most abrasive. Candles flicker in the night to help us remember the ones on the other side. Memories slowly fade away but just like the sun they'll keep coming back.


Saturday, February 02, 2008

Terrastock 7

I just bought my plane ticket to Louisville and the Terrastock pass. Can't wait! See some of you in a cpl of months time...

Here's the current line-up...

June 19, 2008 - June 22, 2008: Terrastock 7 @ Mellwood Arts Center - Louisville KY with....Acid Mothers Temple & The Cosmic Inferno, Antietam, Bardo Pond, Bevis Frond, Black Forest / Black Sea, Damon and Naomi, Grails, Hush Arbors, Ignatz, Kinski, Sharron Kraus, Linus Pauling Quartet, Major Stars, Marissa Nadler, Dead Maids, MONO, Motorpsycho, Tanakh, Tara Jane ONeil, Paik, Pantaleimon, Pelt, The Photographic, Plastic Crimewave Sound, Jack Rose, Sapat, United Bible Studies, Windy & Carl, Wooden Shjips