Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Virtual World

oystered 25: Arnold - Patio

Total running time 1:19:49
1. Fleas Don’t Fly (3:12) (from Fleas Don’t Fly CDs, Creation CRESCD 287)
2. Climb (3:56) (from Bahama CD, Poptones MC5 021)
3. Sun (2:22) (from The Barn Tapes CD, Creation CRECD 218)
4. You’re A Star (3:59) (from s/t Arnold CDEP, Lucky Pierre 01)
5. Medication Time (1:33) (from The Barn Tapes CD, Creation CRECD 218)
6. Catherine Day (2:52) (from Hillside CD, Creation CRECD 231)
7. Mickey’s Mother (2:22) (from Hillside CD, Creation CRECD 231)
8. Face (5:19) (version taken from Hillside CD, Creation CRECD 231)
9. Holly Lodge (2:29) (from Twist CDs, CRESCD 257)
10. Windsor Park (4:19) (version taken from Hillside CD, Creation CRECD 231)
11. untitled (4:08) (from The Barn Tapes CD, Creation CRECD 218)
12. Wild Colonial Girl (2:19) (from s/t Arnold CDEP, Lucky Pierre 01)
13. Hangman’s Waltz (3:09) (from Bahama CD, Poptones MC5 021)
14. Goodbye Grey (3:15) (from Hillside CD, Creation, CRECD 231)
15. Fishsounds (4:56) (from Fishsounds CDs, CRESCD 293)
16. Other Son (2:45) (from Bahama CD, Poptones MC5 021)
17. Oh My (4:08) (from Bahama CD, Poptones MC5 021)
18. Two Chairs (4:37) (version taken from Fishsounds CDs, CRESCD 293)
19. Hillside (2:37) (from Twist CDs, CRESCD 257)

20. Pavey Ark (15:38) (from Bahama CD, Poptones MC5 021)
Another stop-gap post until I finally get around to the massive undertaking that is turning out to be the “May 2007” mix.
Existing between 1998 and 2002, Arnold unfortunately suffered from a dubious band name and lousy timing. Signed to Creation during their heady Oasis years, Arnold’s lush compositions and complex arrangements we’re more in line with early 90’s UK shoegazers like Teenage Fanclub and Verve and US slowcore debutantes such as Galaxie 500 and Red House Painters. The band’s sophisticated melancholic sound mined the vaults of vintage soft-pop or what was brewing in SoCal circa the early ‘70s - the comedown after the turbulent, psychedelic ‘60s with artists like Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and The Beach Boys’ output at this time as well, along with Big Star or even Pink Floyd at their least proggy. This compilation features a few tracks from each one of their releases, except for a few single releases. I could have grabbed a half dozen more but they didn’t fit the mood (yes, they have a few “rockers”) or the length constraints of the original 80 minute CD I created a few years back. When I think about it, really one of my favorite bands. And that probably has something to do with the fact they never got the attention they deserved.

Some history from the band’s own MySpace page:
Arnold formed in 1996. Phil Morris, Phil Payne and Mark Saxby had all been in a band called Patio with one Rob Ward. This group made a fearful noise when playing live, akin to a large building collapsing according to Rob Ariss who had the good fortune to be an audience member back then. The set list included a smattering of future Arnold songs---Calling Ira Jones, Twist, On the Bus, albeit fairly unrecognizable even to the band members themselves.There was one gig however which was quite splendid, playing at a party to celebrate Yugoslavian New Year[which is sometime in the second week of January for some reason]. Recently a video of this gig has come to light and we'll attempt to put some clips up sometime soon.

After Rob Ward died, leaving his many friends distraught, Sax and the two Phils carried on as Arnold, naming themselves after Payney's dog. The music took on a melancholy twist. They played their debut at Hope Festival in sub-zero temperatures---again a pretty awful racket with a temporary drummer who was under the impression he was drumming with Megadeath. But the songwriting was getting really good and they gave some home demos to Des Penny who took them to Alan McGee at Creation. He and Dick Green came down to see the band rehearse, and left unimpressed but giving the band £1000 demo budget largely on the basis of their relationship with Des. The band spent the money renting a barn in the Kent countryside for two glorious summer weeks and recorded a bunch of songs on their 8 track. They knew the songs were good---Windsor Park, Face, Float My Boat, Two Chairs, Sun, Dog on the Stairs. Eventually Alan McGee knew this too and signed them to a nice fat record deal.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Meth of a Rockette's Kick

oystered 24: The Nectarine No.9 – Soldiers of Love

Total running time 1:28:31.
1. The Port of Mars
2. Constellations of a Vanity
3. Firecrackers
4. I Love Total Destruction
5. 22 Blue
6. Peanut Brain
7. Susan Identifier
8. Fat Mafia
9. My Trapped Lightning
10. Leonards Foam Kremolacone
11. Walter Tevis
12. I Am the Sky
13. Don’t Worry Babe, You’re Not the Only One Awake
14. It’s Raining for Some Cloudy Reasons
15. Hanging Around (Oct.1903)
16. Unloaded for You
17. Fibrecane no. 4
18. I Am Stop Taking Pot Managed 35 to Take On the Cake Decoration Living Instead Sign Here……
19. These Days
20. Lazy Crystal
21. Frownland

I really wanted to get this one out a few months ago. Wanted this to be blarin’ from every boombox on burnout beach across the land. Any fan of classic Scottish pop bands like Orange Juice, Pastels and Teenage Fanclub or even U.S. underground luminaries as far ranging as Richard Hell, Television, Captain Beefheart and the Velvet Underground to more contemporary, ecstatic pop acts like Pixies, Pavement, Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, etc. should check this without further delay. Easily one of my favorite bands ever. I think if I were to ever get involved making music with people again, I would want it to be a cover band of strictly Nectarine No.9 songs. First, no one would even know you were playing covers, and second, everyone would think it’s the best shit ever. Now Davey Henderson fronts a new band called the Sexual Objects. Check out a few of their tunes here: http://www.myspace.com/thesexualobjectsmusic. Produced by the Boards of Canada?!? How’d that happen? The dude’s a genius.
Some history on Davey Henderson and The Nectarine No.9 via Epitonic and NME:

Formed in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1993, the Nectarine No.9 are actually veterans of the surreal pop business. Revolving around guitarist and vocalist Davey Henderson, who was an ex-member of both the Fire Engines and Win. Alan Horne, founder of Postcard Records, took great interest in both bands and Henderson's newest venture was one of his first signings on reactivating the label. Joined by Simon Smeeton (guitar/keyboards), Ian Holford (drums) and John Thompson(bass), the band's debut album reinstated Henderson's love of abrasive pop and quirky rhythms, inhabiting a musical world that was part-T. Rex and part-Fall. However, it lacked the focus of Henderson's previous work and critical reaction was muted. Guitar Thieves, which collected various BBC Radio 1 sessions, included versions of Captain Beefheart's "Frownland" and the Velvet Underground's "Inside Of Your Heart", as well as an original song, "Pull My Daisy", the title of which was drawn from a movie featuring Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac.
In 1997, the Nectarine No.9 backed former Clash associate Jock Scot on his spoken-word release, My Personal Culloden. The following year's Fried For Blue Material included their contribution to the Creeping Bent label's Singles Club, "Port Of Mars". In the new millennium, the band relocated to the Beggars Banquet Records label and released the excellent , yet experimental slab of cut-and-paste pop schizophrenia, Received, Transgressed & Transmitted. The album featured input from both Jock Scot and ex-Pop Group and Rip Rig And Panic member Gareth Sager. The band's second album release for Beggars Banquet, I Love Total Destruction appeared in early 2004. The Creeping Bent compilation released in 1999 is an effective reminder of Henderson's enduring presence on the margins of the UK music scene.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Atrocity exhibition

oystered 23 (apr. '07)

Total running time 4:33:47.
1. opsvik & jennings the last country village (commuter anthems CD/rune grammofon) (4:08)
tarwater world of things to touch (spider smile CD/morr music) (3:22)
bill callahan sycamore (woke on a whaleheart CD/drag city) (5:36)
deerhunter wash off (flourescent grey CDep/kranky) (5:47)
our sleepless forest the tinderbox (free the future mp3/type) (6:57)
6. organ eye tema #1 (organ eye CD/staubgold) (25:00)
7. senking mist (list/raster-noton) (4:48)
baby ford & zip the riverbed (glidin’ along the riverbed 12”/perlon) (9:16)
9. shackleton blood on my hands (ricardo villalobos apocalypso now mix) (soundboy punishments dbl CD/skull disco) (18:34)
10. moskitoo paddle (drape CD/12k) (4:18)
blonde redhead my impure hair (23 CD/4AD) (4:50)
islaja suru ei (ulual yyy CD/fonal) (5:15)
fursaxa clé elum (alone in the dark wood CD/atp recordings) (1:47)
grouper close cloak (way their crept LP/type) (8:45)
valet blood is clean (blood is clean CD/kranky) (4:59)
16. alessandro bosetti exposé #16 (exposé CD/die schachtel zeit) (28:12)
17. david toop falling light (sound body CD/samadhisound) (10:31)
machinefabriek stofstuk (stofstuk CD/machinefabriek) (5:30)
william basinski evening scars (shortwavemusic CD/2062) (8:36)
alva noto haliod xerrox copy 6 (xerrox vol.1 CD/raster-noton) (6:42)
erik enocksson with its dark tail curled ‘round the garage, pt. 1 (farväl falkenberg CD/kning disk) (2:09)
22. seefeel silent pool (quique [redux edition] dbl CD/too pure) (7:02)
23. nightcats inside (inside 12”/k2) (6:58)
24. reinhard voigt charge your dreams (charge your dreams 12”/kompakt) (6:15)
25. alex under extrapezlo (1, 2, 3 responda otrapez 12”/trapez) (6:53)

26. astral social club star guzzlers part 1 (star guzzlers LP/qbico) (19:08)
27. vibracathedral orchestra the sun balance (a3) (the sun balance/the open knot LP/qbico) (4:43)
28. vibracathedral orchestra rainbow whirlwind (wisdom thunderbolt CD/vhf) (12:37)
29. the fun years softy as stilts (life-sized psychoses CD/barge recordings) (10:09)
30. oren ambarchi lost like a star (lost like a star LP/bo’weavil) (14:41)
31. michael flower octave #1 (returning to knowing nothing LP/qbico) (5:41)
32. tarentel untitled (a) (home ruckus : double-sided air 7”/type) (4:47)

Atrocity Exhibition,
an epiphany: “Atrocity Exhibition” – the first track on Closer – was the first Joy Division song I ever heard. I begged my older friend to bring his record to school and let me borrow it for the night. He was part of this cool group of kids a year older than me who all had weird haircuts and quirky fashion sense—they thought, and everybody thought—they were punks. Einsturzende and Bauhaus t-shirts. These band’s logos looked cool and I was very curious. I was already digging New Order, and knew they came out of the ashes of the even more mysterious and anonymous Joy Division. I was tapping into the whole 4AD aesthetic as well, and their record covers looked very impenetrable and interesting, like some of the 4AD albums and 12” singles I had been buying.

Okay, so this was like 1985—I know, I know, it’s all a bit embarrassing, but you can’t help when and where you are born, right? So anyway, getting back to Closer, and, namely, “Atrocity Exhibition.” My friend brings the album to school, I promise to him I’ll take good care of it and bring it back to him the next day. So, I have no idea what to expect—no “Love Will Tear Us Apart” or “Disorder” or “Transmission” under my belt—and all of a sudden this dry, dubby lead bassline comes out only to be followed by this persistent, tribal, triplet drum pattern and what’s this? next – jungle sounds? Monkeys, tropical birds—no, wait, that’s the guitar?! What’s going on? What is this I’m subjecting myself to? This is punk? Sounds more like jungle to me. Until that voice comes in. That voice.

It takes a while, but Ian Curtis finally enters the song and it’s the worst voice I’ve ever heard up to that point in my life. Why in the world did they let that guy sing? I was stunned. Stunned and let down. My expectations were so high for this (that album cover, those older kids with the cool t-shirts…) and at this point I’m seriously thinking this isn’t for me. I’m wasting my time. How can I get to like this? Those cool kids can’t possibly like this. They say they do to be cool. Right?

By the end of “Atrocity Exhibition”—and this is a long track folks, maybe their longest, not counting their live version of the Velvet Underground’s “Sister Ray” on Still—when Curtis’ delivery is getting more and more demanding, and maybe more off-key with, “This is the way/Step inside, This is the way/Step inside,” and the drum triplet goes up an octave or whatever drums do and the guitar and bass are making the whole thing a cacaphony—I mean, did they practice at all?—I had to put it on again to make sure of what I just heard. Convince myself this was no good. And then again. Well there is a groove there isn’t there? And again. And those guitars sure do sound exotic. I’ve never heard a guitar like that before. And again. Heck, that voice isn’t so bad. Punk though? More like funeral music for the dying (well, not that far off there). And again. How totally and utterly unique this was! I was hooked. The rest of Closer is far more normal sounding in song structure, in fact, the next track “Isolation” is practically a New Wave Euro-pop Top 40 hit compared to what my ears and head were just put through.

I figured, at first, I just wasn’t getting it—whatever Joy Division was all about. Through years of continued listening I finally am (still figuring it out, that is). And, in hindsight, I think I started out with (one of) their most difficult song(s). Now of course, “Atrocity Exhibition” is one of my favorites, probably for the test the band put me through that night nearly 25 years ago. And of course weeks and months and years of repeated play. “Atrocity Exhibition” was definitely a “gateway song” for me. Just check out this post for further proof of that.

One of the tracks that might have that “Atrocity Exhibition” affect here is Alessandro Bosetti’s “Exposé #16.” I’ll admit, it’s a tough but compelling listen. It’s not noisy, but is it music? I listened to the album a week straight trying not to hate it. Now I love it. It’s one of those you’re “rewarded for your patience” tracks. I don’t know if I was more happy listening to the song or happy that it was over, or proud of myself for sticking it out for nearly a half an hour. But now there definitely is a meditative, calming quality to it for me. There’s some other “difficult” tracks on here, but there’s also some real immediate, indie-pop cuts and some real beautiful slow-burning ecstatic droners. Some long vinyl only cuts as well. This post is definitely over ambitious. Maybe even atrocious for its over four-and-a-half-hour playing length. It’s taken months to get through all the music and figure out a way to put it all together to make some sort of sense or flow. Hopefully it can keep all of you entertained for at least a fraction of the time it took to assemble it. Cheers.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Here come the warm jets

oystered 22 (mar. '07)

Total running time 3:39:28.
1. jasper tx a (d+a 3” CDep/self-released) (9:59)
2. gui boratto beautiful life (chromophobia CD/kompakt) (8:31)
3. axolotl forclusion (memory theatre CD/important) (8:45)
4. lcd soundsystem someone great (sound of silver CD/dfa) (6:26)
5. svarte greiner a night without harm (a night without harm MP3/type) (18:19)
6. lawrence english end game (for varying degrees of winter CD/baskaru) (7:15)
7. pole düsseldorf (steingarten CD/~scape) (4:26)
8. the field the deal (from here we go sublime CD/kompakt) (10:03)
9. burning star core the universe is designed to break your heart (blood lightning 2007 CD/no fun productions) (11:13)
10. rafael toral portable amplifier 3 (space solo 1 CD/quecksilber) (8:01)
11. andrew chalk untitled #1 (goldfall CD/faraway press) (22:50)
12. jörg burger polyform 1 (polyform 1 12”/k2) (5:56)
13. machinefabriek splinter 1 (splinters MP3/machinefabriek) (0:53)
14. jens zimmermann tranquillité (tranquillité 12”/k2) (12:19)
15. panda bear good girl/carrots (person pitch CD/paw tracks) (12:42)
16. jasper tx some things broken, some things lost (a darkness CD/lidar) (21:23)
17. low belarus (drums and guns CD/sub pop) (3:18)
18. dominik eulberg klangteppichverleger wolle (heimische gefilde edit) (heimische gefilde CD/traum schallplatten) (4:49)
19. the high llamas boing backwards (can cladders CD/drag city) (0:45)
20. machinefabriek zucht 1 (slaapzucht CD/root strata) (13:27)
21. arve henriksen glacier descent (strjon CD/rune grammofon) (7:31)
22. pantha du prince saturn strobe (this bliss CD/dial) (7:28)
23. stars of the lid the daughters of quiet minds (and their refinement of the decline 2CD/kranky) (13:22)

So this post’s centerpiece is Andrew Chalk’s “Untitled #1” from his gorgeous release, Goldfall. To me it’s a combination of Stephan Mathieu’s blurred electronica, William Basinski’s opiate A Red Score in Tile, David Sylvian’s landmark Approaching Silence and the sound of well lit and manicured Hollywood swimming pools at night. And this whole three-and-a-half hour set revolves around it. Makes me wanna get everything Andrew Chalk’s put out on his own Faraway Press imprint.
The first three tracks’ running order is meant as an homage to the Spiritualized Ladies and Gentlemen-era live show that started with their cover of Staple Singers’ calm yet building intensity of “O Happy Day” into “Clear Light/Clear Rush”’s ecstatic release and “Shine A Light”’s comforting come down. After that one-two-three knock out punch you almost thought the show was over. But it was just the beginning. So too with Jasper Tx’s scorching sunrise “A,” Gui Boratto’s euphoric “Beautiful Life” and Axolotl’s noise-lullaby, “Forclusion”–with three hours still remaining in the mix. That’s what I was aiming at anyway, somewhat successfully I think.
You might say things sort of “die at the knee” with track five, Svarte Greiner’s “A Night Without Harm,” but given the subject matter of the previous song, LCD Soundsystem’s “Someone Great,” the empty, ghostly vibe is fitting.
Things sort of start over, with Lawrence English’s winter ode, into Pole’s comeback dub and The Field’s hypnotic maximalism.
Panda Bear’s “Good Girl/Carrots” is another peak here. I refused to listen to it when it came out two years ago, amidst all the “album of the year” hype but it still sounds better than most current styles today. Person Pitch is a wild combination of The Beach Boys (you’d be forgiven if you actually thought that was Brian Wilson singing), African Highlife, Jamaican dub and European dance. This genius diamond of a record harks back to Mercury Rev’s over-the-top Boces.
The set’s closing hour-plus is meant as a slow evisceration of itself, with little signs of life along the way—Low’s sole take on electro-pop, The High Llamas’ interlude, Arve Henriksen’s falsetto vocals on “Glacier Descent, ” Pantha Du Prince’s classically tinged heartbeat techno… After listening to Stars of the Lid’s And Their Refinement of the Decline two-plus hour opus a number of times trying to single out one of its many worthy tracks, the name for the post came to me, as their droning half-melodies reminded me of summer vapor trails and Brian Eno’s own ambient work. Sorry to give it all away. I feel better. And I can’t believe there’s two consecutive posts with songs simply titled “A.” Nuts.
Oh, I don’t know if anyone’s noticed, but I’ve decided to ditch the somewhat redundant sun/nature shots. I’m not sure if I have an eye for capturing what I’m really seeing/feeling. Instead, I’m taking back covers and inside sleeve art from one of the recordingsDon’t’cha ever wish sometimes the artist would have chosen the back cover to be the front cover? Works for me because I’ve always thought back covers and sometimes inside sleeve art get neglected. Buy Cocteau Twins’ Victorialand for a perfect example of what I’m talking about.
Photo credit: inner sleeve to Arve Henriksen’s Strjon CD (Kim Hiorthøy). Previous post’s photo credit: inner sleeve from Rafael Anton Irisarri’s Daydreaming CD. Previous post’s photo credit: back cover to Reuber’s Südpol CD. Thanks!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hung up & hanging out to dry

oystered 21 (jan./feb. ’07 – pt.2)

Total running time: 2:00:46.
a1. mokira i was her may 15th 1995 (the bum that will bring us together 7”/type)
a2. aril brikha winter (winter 12”/kompakt)
a3. times new viking love your daughters (present the paisley reich CD/siltbreeze)
a4. christa pfangen tiding up, getting out (watch me getting back the end CD/die schachtel zeit)
b1. oren ambarchi guitar motor (stacte motors LP/western vinyl)
b2. rafael anton irisarri wither (daydreaming CD/miasmah)
c1. half hawaii into you (into you/out of you 12” / perlon)
c2. anders ilar a (abc 12”/audio.nl)
d1. ateleia bridget riley (formal sleep CD/xeric)
d2. metope breep (braga breep 12”/areal)
d3. the alps autumn rhythm (jewelt galaxies/spirit shambles CD / spekk)
e1. fennesz endless summer (endless summer CD reissue/emego)
e2. deerhunter strange lights (cryptograms/kranky)
e3. rameses iii honey rose theme iii (honey rose CD/important)
f. hush arbors if there be spirits, let them come (under bent limb trees 2xCD reissue/digitalis)
I decided to combine the two months (Jan./Feb.) since historically January is notoriously slow for new music. So here’s the sister mix to the previous post and I think I enjoy this one more.
Mokira is one of Andreas Tilliander’s aliases, probably his most beatless, ambient, blissed-out guise, and this track is culled from one of the Type label’s 7” series of releases’ B-sides. The A-side was in an earlier post as it was previously released on the Mitek label 2CD compilation, Do You Copy? Aril Brikha’s “Winter” is ripe with Detroit flavor—as well it should be—and is the first release on Kompakt from a Detroit producer. 180° in the opposite direction, Times New Viking, a three-piece at the forefront of the nO-hio scene, combine the best bits of early Pavement and Superchunk, and I’m sure it’s tracks like “Love Your Daughters” from the Siltbreeze released Present the Paisley Reich that got them signed to indie-behemoth, Matador. Christa Pfangen was Nico’s birth-name, but here it’s represented by Mattia Coletti and Andrea Belfi, the latter of which was part of Italian super-improv-post-punk-rock group, ¾ Had Been Eliminated and is mastered by none other than Giuseppe Ielasi. Christa Pfangen’s entire album, Watch Me Getting Back the End is a real treasure of fractured, ecstatic pop—a futuristic version of Gastr Del Sol? Brilliant.
Oren Ambarchi continues his Stacte series of releases, this one being the follow up to his $100+ record for the German En/Of boutique, Stacte.4, and “Guitar Motor” sounds like the dark-twin to that record’s A-side white-knuckle ride, “Stacte.4a.” This one burns just as hard, just in a different way. Kupei Musika’s label owner, Rafael Anton Irisarri’s “Wither” is one of seven tracks from his Miasmah label debut, Daydreaming; a beautiful set of piano based songs rife with nostalgia and that foggy half-awake feeling—everything I always wanted Harold Budd to be but rarely was.
Half Hawaii is a collaboration between German based Perlon label co-owner Sammy Dee and Northwest based electronic musician, Bruno Pronsato. “Into You” fits the minimal mold of Perlon perfectly with its quirky sounds and implied melodies. Anders Ilar’s run of releases continues with a 12” for one of his first label homes, Netherlands’ based Audio.nl, and “A” from the A-side of ABC finds Ilar in more acidic territory—not too squelchy, but not lacking any electro-momentum either.
Ateleia’s sound palette is slightly more aggressive and sinister in tone than most of the musicians I’m interested in from the experimental-ambient-electronic field, and although “Bridget Riley” almost embodies a hint of 80s gothic pop (I can’t quite put my finger on it), there’s a melancholic intensity to the track’s second half that gets me every time. Metopekiller techno full-length in 2005, Kobol, and “Breep” is the B-side to that album’s follow up release, Braga/Breep. Japanese label, Spekk, jointly released Jefre Cantu-Ledesma’s solo record and collected his other group’s (other than Tarentel) first two efforts on one CD at around the same time. The Alps’ “Autumn Rhythm” is a brief, acoustic-based song fitting for that season’s abundance of grey days.
Emego (the revamped Austrian Mego imprint) “reissue(d), repackage(d) re-evaluate(d) the songs” for Fennesz’s landmark release, Endless Summer—and dare I say the true follow-upMy Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, or was that Jan Jelinek’s Loop-Finding-Jazz-Recordsboth from 2001? o, how can that be?! – (comment if you’re interested in discussing this further)—replacing, what I thought at least, was pretty fitting artwork from Tina Frank, with new (and of course, always welcome) artwork from possibly my favorite photographer, Touch’s Jon Wozencroft. And who am I to pass up an opportunity to add a Fennesz song to a mix? Deerhunter stormed onto the scene in ’07, and “Strange Lights” reminds me of Better Can’t Make Your Life Better-era Lilys for some reason—one of the most underrated, unknown post-shoegaze bands of all time. They (Lilys) always seemed to release a record on a label that was going under at the time or something. Anyway, Rameses III collaborated with The North Sea for a Type label release in 2006 (see one of my earlier posts for that as well), here they are soundtracking music to Suityman, a film directed by Jon Spira. “Honey Rose Theme III” unfolds like an endlessly drifting summer breeze, and a perfect segue into Keith Wood’s Hush Arbors free-folk track, “If There Be Spirits, Let Them Come,” 20 minutes of shifting bird-song, droning harmonium and acoustic guitar figures taken from his double disc reissue (“repackage, repackage”) of 2004’s Under Bent Limb Trees.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hanging out & hung up on the line

oystered 20: (jan./feb. ’07 – pt.1)

Total running time: 2:03:20.
a1. luciano somewhere near his heart (no model no tool 2x12”/cadenza)
solovyev al-brah (stadtmusik 2xCD/onitor)
hug tiny stars (heroes CD/kompakt)
explosions in the sky catastrophe and the cure (four tet mix) (all of a sudden i miss everyone 2xCD/temporary residence)
starving weirdos harry smith (harry smith one-sided LP/root strata)
mira calix protean (eyes set against the sun CD/warp)
zelienople the ghost of someone nice (enemy chorus CD/time-lag)
jefre cantu-ledesma aberration of starlight (the garden of forking paths CD/spekk)
portable bubble world (speak out 12”/süd electronic)
reuber steppengraskrieger: i. geist ii. steppe iii. zuhaus’ (südpol CD/staubgold)
onur özer orion (red cabaret 12”/vakant)
mark templeton pattern for a pillow (standing on a hummingbird CD/anticipate)
gustavo lamas ilusos (stadtmusik 2xCD/onitor)
I can’t decide whether to write more or less for each of these blog entries. I remember as a kid, buying a record, taking it home, putting it on, sitting on my bed looking at the front and back cover, and the insert, always hoping for lyrics but most of the time just getting the usual rock star photos. So I guess I’ll do whatever I have time for. And since this music’s hard to find—or for that matter even grasp sometimes upon first listen—I might as well say as much as I can about particular artists or track or why it’s here or what I especially like about them.
Starting out on a real weird note—Luciano, known mostly for his elegant, minimal techno, (mostly) vinyl only imprint, Cadenza, confounds with this extended dream-mare, Floydian/Orb-like “Somewhere Near His Heart.” Solovyev, the boss of underrated Kompakt-like techno label, Onitor, picks up the pace considerably with this first of two tracks culled from his double-disc collection of thematic 12”s, Statdmusik, where each release focused on artists from a particular international city. The other cut from this rather outstanding compilation, the last track in this post, "Ilusos," from Gustavo Lamas is absolutely gorgeous—a perfect balance of melancholy and bliss.
Swedish producer John Dahlbäck, going under the name Hug for Kompakt apparently has over 100 releases to his name. Truthfully I think he’d be better with a little self-editing. I really liked a few tracks, “Tiny Stars” being my favorite, but Heroes was just okay to me. Although I don’t own any Explosions in the Sky material, the limited bonus disc from All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone is truly special—comprised of remixes in the same running order as the original album with contributions from Jesu, Adem (Fridge), Eluvium, Four Tet and Mountains. All of them are pretty great and it was really hard to choose from the set, but I kept coming back to the Four Tet mix for the strong, recurring guitar line.
Starving Weirdos are new to me, and “Harry Smith” probably isn’t the best representation—look for more of the Weirdos on upcoming posts. For now though, at best this track’s second half reminds me of something from Main’s Motion Pool-era, so that’s never a bad thing. Breaking things up nicely, South African native Chantal Passamonte a.k.a. Mira Calix’s “Protean” is the perfect palette cleanser from what came before.
Smack dab in the middle of this mix and hailing from the Windy City, Zelienople—again, I’m having a hard time describing what these guys sound like—Shayne Carter from New Zealand’s kiwi-pop group Straitjacket Fits fronting Virginia’s hillbilly-theatre-of-eternal-music outfit, Pelt, anyone? Anyway, “The Ghost of Someone Nice” seems like it’s going to dissolve into the ether at any minute but slowly and surely catches an elliptical groove, however opiated, and is another fine example of a truly great group deserving a lot more attention. Root Strata label owner and ex-space-post-rock group Tarentel / current Alps member Jefre Cantu-Ledesma has been perfecting his droning skills for a while. “Aberration of Starlight” is a nice, early example from his Spekk (Japan) CD The Garden of Forking Paths.
Süd Electronic owner, and another South African native, Alan Abrahams a.k.a. Portable a.k.a. Bodycode has releases on Perlon, Background, Spectral Sound and ~Scape to name but a few, but returns to his own label for “Bubble Up” from the Speak Out 12” that preceded his Powers of Ten full-length. A strange direction for him—incorporating more machine-like/future-human vocals—resulting in less effective rhythms and melodies in my opinion. Not enough good things can be said about the next artist, Reuber. His style is a perfectly honed take on Kosmische musik of the ‘70s, combining electronic and acoustic/organic elements very naturally for a real vintage sound every time. Always far out and highly recommended!
Onur Özer is Turkey’s answer to Villalobos and “Orion” is just that—a tight minimal groove with occasional disco stabs. I could have chosen any one of the ten tracks on Mark Templeton’s Standing on a Hummingbird full-length but ended up with “Pattern for a Pillow” for it’s subtlety and implied melodies along with that digital crackle imbuing a nostalgic warmth not unlike old vinyl.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Perfect sound forever

Perfect Sound Forever by B. Neptune on Mixcloud

oystered 19: memory gongs
Total running time: 1:06:53.
fury things flame (love sick 12”, 1990/cheree 7t)
the telescopes cold (7th # disaster 12”, 1989/cheree 4t)
my bloody valentine sugar (7” flexi-disc presented free with issues of The Catalogue, feb. 1989/creation cat067)
whipping boy switchblade smile (whipping boy 12”, 1990/cheree 8t)
swervedriver deep twang ("raise" bonus 7”, 1991/creation crefre 009)
the sugarcubes christmas (birthday 7”, 1988/one little indian 7tp11)
sweet jesus peach (phonefreak honey 12”, 1992/rough trade 2840)
ultra vivid scene mercy seat (mercy seat 12”, 1989/4AD bad906)
papa sprain rich (flying to vegas 12”, 1991/h.ark! 1244)
disco inferno second language (second language 12”, 1994/rough trade 3150)
a.r.kane up (up home! 12”, 1988/rough trade 201)
blind blown away (generator 12”, 1992/holistic vibe 1)
loop sunburst (arc-lite 12”, 1989/situation two 64t)
The term “shoegaze” doesn’t even repulse me anymore. It used to. Now, when something’s being described as shoegaze, you just gotta ignore it and move on. When it was first coined, it was referring to a group of blissed-out noise-pop artists who were all pushing the pop envelope by incorporating layers of guitars and effects and adding distortion, feedback and noise while, at the center of it all, buried deep somewhere was still the actual song. It was a very exciting time for pop music, and in hindsight, still could be considered the last creative movement in rock ‘n’ roll. This never really made much of an impact in the US due to the parallel “grunge” scene taking up most (good) American airwaves. These “shoegaze”/pre-space rock) bands surely shared a love for The Velvet Underground, who, at the time – 20 years or so past their creative peak - were still relatively obscure. Now nearly 20 more years on from the first generation of “shoegazers” (sigh), shoegaze has come to the point of watered down, soft pap with no bite or strong songwriting or anything new and exciting to offer on the noise front either. Please, everyone, stop referring to anything new as sounding “shoegazy” – you’re doing yourself a disservice. Glad I finally got that off my chest.
Other important touchstones, or forerunners to the shoegaze sound were Cocteau Twins, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and American groups Husker Du and Dinosaur Jr. This set provided here compiles some of the more lesser (more lesser?) known artists and cuts – all taken from vinyl – some of these were available on CD, but most were not. A few of these songs might not have ever been considered shoegazy (Papa Sprain), or part of The Scene That Celebrates Itself, but bands such as Disco Inferno and Bark Psychosis almost singlehandedly went from shoegaze to becoming early progenitors of the whole post-rock movement rampant in the late 1990s and beyond to the guitar/laptop based ambient electronica movement that’s so popular nowadays on labels like 12k, Touch, Kranky to name just a few.
This is just the first post – of hopefully many more to come – compiling rare tracks, mostly taken from vinyl, that, I believe, should not be forgotten, and most importantly, are still fun to listen to, and somehow “fit” with each other.
A few specifics: yes, the My Bloody Valentine tune is a real rarity, taken from a flexi-disc that was given away with issues of underground UK mag, The Catalogue. And The Sugarcubes track is also a real treat – a stellar version of arguably their best song, “Birthday,” re-done with The Jesus and Mary Chain. Wow.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Snow your thirst and sun your open mouth

oystered 18: sunrise at four below (dec. ’06 addendum #3)

Total running time: 2:33:11.
a1. destroyer rubies (destroyer’s rubies/merge) (9:25)
a2. tv-resistori serkut rakastaa paremmin (summer and smiles of finland/fonal records) (2:41)
a3. lilys black carpet magic (everything wrong is imaginary/manifesto) (4:34)
a4. the fiery furnaces police sweater blood vow (bitter tea/fat possum) (2:54)
a5. the red krayola when she went swimming (introducing/drag city) (3:55)
a6. broadcast still feels like tears (the future crayon/warp) (3:41)
a7. stereolab plastic mile (fab four suture/too pure) (5:12)
b1. wooden wand and the sky high band rolling one sun blues (second attention/kill rock stars) (3:39)
b2. white magic the light (dat rosa mel apibus/drag city) (3:29)
b3. bonnie ‘prince’ billy untitled (the letting go/drag city) (5:12)
b4. vetiver no one word (to find me gone/dicristina) (6:13)
b5. mark kozelek tiny cities (little drummer boy live/caldo verde) (3:45)
b6. joanna newsom sawdust & diamonds (ys/drag city) (9:56)
c1. califone the orchids (roots & crowns/thrill jockey) (2:58)
c2. the howling hex this planet sweet (nightclub version of the eternal/drag city) (7:51)
c3. comets on fire lucifer’s memory (avatar/sub pop) (7:04)
c4. the flaming lips pompeii am götterdämmerung (at war with the mystics/warner bros.) (4:22)
c5. psychic ills another day another night (dins/the social registry) (8:09)
c6. liars the other side of mt. heart attack (drum’s not dead/mute) (4:46)
d1. six organs of admittance torn by wolves (the sun awakens/drag city) (1:42)
d2. espers mansfield and cyclops (ii/drag city) (5:57)
d3. charalambides two birds (a vintage burden/kranky) (12:40)
d4. bardo pond cry baby cry (ticket crystals/atp recordings) (4:56)
d5. brightblack morning light amber canyon magik (brightblack morning light/matador) (4:54)
d6. zelienople mary celeste (ghost ship/pseudo arcana) (12:43)
d7. mv & ee with the bummer road big deal (green blues/ecstatic peace) (7:49)
d8. f.s. blumm koffer dill (summer kling/morr music) (2:57)
Massive ending to 2006. There’s surely no reason for me to do a track by track analysis for this post, especially since you can just hear it for your self with the click of a button. Needless to say, this is the year-end “rock ‘n’ roll” oriented post. I must say, I did wrestle with finding a Flaming Lips track worthy of addition, and although I think they've pretty much lost the plot at this point (too much time for Coyne and co. to live on papa Warners' dime perhaps?), "Pompeii am Götterdämmerung" seems pretty good, however un-original sounding it is. Lots of stuff from Drag City. Fell in love with MV & EE back in '05 and they just keep getting better. Great Beatles cover of "Cry Baby Cry" by Bardo Pond. Brightblack Morning Light is sure to please just about everybody. And found the F.S. Blumm CD at the eleventh hour (like, just a few days ago) so I had to add "Koffer Dill" for the perfect ending.

Back in the ’06, when neptune records had just closed, I sent some of you a couple of CDs that looked similar to the playlist above. Although all the artists are represented from those two CDs, I did change some of the tracks themselves. The tracks from Bardo Pond, Six Organs of Admittance, The Howling Hex, Wooden Wand and The Fiery Furnaces are all different – with a bunch more here that never made it onto those two CDs. So, to those of you that got copies of those CDs there’s still plenty here that’s “new,” and to everyone else, well, I hope you just enjoy the jams during these cold summer months. The next post is going to be a big surprise before delving back into the monthly madness, starting with January 2007.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Fell from the sun

oystered 17: space blues (dec. ’06 addendum #2)

Total running time: 2:20:10.
1. deaf center levende (levende/type) (44:41)
2. biosphere from a solid to a liquid (dropsonde/touch) (5:19)
3. greg haines arups gate (slumber tides/miasmah) (10:41)
4. christopher willits love wind (surf boundaries/ghostly international) (2:23)
5. kawabata makoto son (inui/vhf) (21:45)
6. dag rosenqvist & rutger zuydervelt gräs som bryts ock går av / gras dat knakt en breekt (vinterkmusik/machinefabriek) (5:17)
7. tom recchion underwater girls (sweetly doing nothing/schoolmap) (10:05)
8. stephan mathieu & janek schaefer the planets (hidden name/cronica) (19:37)
9. tim hecker norberg, sweden (norberg, sweden/room40) (20:25)
Stunning ‘drone’ based set featuring some real hard to find cuts from the likes of Jasper tx and Machinefabriek (credited above to their real names, Dag Rosenqvist & Rutger Zuydervelt, respectively), Los Angeles underground purveyor Tom Recchion, perennial favorite Stephan Mathieu with Janek Schaefer and Tim Hecker (kranky, mille plateaux, alien8).
The Deaf Center track is an MP3 only release from the Type label – one track, nearly 45 minutes long. Classic in that dark, ambient, Dead Can Dance, mid-‘80s 4AD sort of way. Just let it play, you’ll see what I mean. Next, Biosphere released a really beautiful looking, but somewhat disappointing full-length for the Touch label. Unfortunately many tracks were marred by jazzy drum sampling. “From A Solid To A Liquid” however, is not one of those tracks, and overall Dropsonde is a worthwhile endeavor, especially for the extra-long last track, “People Are Friends.” Greg Haines was one of those no-name surprises of 2006 - appearing on Erik Skodvin’s (one-half of Deaf Center, otherwise known as Svarte Greiner) Miasmah imprint – and “Arups Gate” is one of those cloud-parting / heavens opening wide tracks – really overwhelming. “Love Wind” is a short, blissed-out excursion from Surf Boundaries, a surprisingly poppy record (with vocals even!) from folding guitar specialist Christopher Willits (12k) and featuring Medicine guitarist Brad Laner. Acid Mothers Temple main-man Kawabata Makoto has his first (of four I think?) Inui records reissued in 2006, and “Son” is a gorgeous, eastern, sunrise meditation. Overall, one of my favorite posts thus far.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Dancing in your head

oystered 16: unwashed and somewhat slightly dazed (dec. ’06 addendum #1)

Total running time: 1:30:54.
1. herve ak my favorite smile (part time/k2) (5:38)
2. pepe bombilla harmonics crashes (yamore (remix)/harmonics crashes / cadenza) (11:58)
3. robert babicz my blue car (martinez remix) (my blue car/barbarella) (7:59)
4. superpitcher enzian (speicher 35/kompakt extra) (9:32)
5. giorgos gatzigristos skip tutorial (skip tutorial/k2) (6:44)
6. lee van dowski & tsack nanospec (unicare/defrag sound processing) (7:02)
7. pantytec maybe (maybe moriomelo/perlon) (9:17)
8. bang goes hicksknips (stola/bruchstuecke) (5:21)
9. peter grummich jack d’amour (rave d’amour/shitkatapult) (8:05)
10. joris vermeiren en senjan jansen mijn bernina (versii) (mijn bernina/discodesafinado) (6:01)
11. kangding ray dadaist (stabil/raster noton) (5:58)

12. philippe cam un salon dans le ciel (deadbeat remix) (somewhere between here and there/musique risquee) (7:25)
First post of the new year and it’s an old one. This is the first of three posts to round out the year 2006, compiling tracks left off the monthly post mixes. This first one, titled “Dancing in Your Head,” yes, a nod to jazz great Ornette Coleman, focuses on leftover techno tracks for the most part, and rightfully so. Big ups to EB for ripping all this vinyl, and to CFRIII for the Kangding Ray – top notch warm, dubby, glitchy minimalism with a strong sense of melody throughout – highly recommended from the Raster Noton label. Most of all, gratitude goes to RG for without whom this whole endeavour would not be possible. Thanks for keeping me sane.
Of course I like all the tracks in the mix but sure highlights include opener “My Favorite Smile,” from Herve Ak, one of the many Kompakt sub-label K2 artists that continue to surprise. Robert Babicz’s “My Blue Car” was also a keeper, from the relatively unknown Barbarella label. Babicz used to be known as Rob Acid, but has reinvented himself much in the same way as Baby Ford perhaps, updating his style, with recent recordings for K2 as well. The last four tracks are really fun, starting with the always on-point technician Peter Grummich, even if it is on the sketchy T. Raumschmiere (Marco Haas) curated label, Shitkatapult, followed up by completely unknown (Spanish?) artists Joris Vermeiren en Senjan Jansen with a dubby minimal cut not unlike classic Thomas Brinkmann. How could I have forgotten this last track? Philippe Cam (Traum, Kompakt) released a beauty of a 12” featuring two new cuts and remixes respectfully – one from Akufen and the other, the one that appears here, from Deadbeat – a great way to finish out the year in techno.