Apr 27, 2008

THE EMPEROR'S NEW CREW Shadow Music of Thailand LP, Sublime Frequencies

It's a fifteen minute drive home from the grocery store. At the store, I sell cigarettes, lotto, and cater to dissatisfied consumers who want to know why their moldy tomatoes cost $5/lb, but mostly just handle Western Union transactions. All the while, a sequence of perhaps 100 songs taken from the last 16 years of ass-pop blurt over the loudspeakers. When it's time for that drive home, past African fields and lonely water towers, I watch for deer, try not to smoke, and think about what will swab out my ears best.
There were some moments on those Bored Fortress singles I really liked. But to be honest, I'm not sure I can wholeheartedly recommend any one of them. The best bits are curious; they resemble that good ol 45rpm handshake you want from some shit you ain't heard 'fo. But otherwise, who really cares? All them acts will be (or have been) heard by the likes of many folks who look like me. They didn't need my help; I tossed my piss into the crowd because you don't read a lot of smack about the New Queered America contingent, even though I know many are thinkin it.
And to keep up the honesty racket, I ain't read much of anything about this LP from Sublime Frequencies. I saw the cover, I realized what it meant, peeped the label, and laid down the cash. No chance taken; they had me at "sawatdee."
Then again, I haven't tried to read what the hoi polloi think about because I don't care. I know where I stand and I'm smiling there. The moment the needle drops, you forget all the English touchstones the name inspires, because you realize you're hearing things like...fuzz and farfisa with imperial percussion. That's all I'll give you and, really, that's too much. Any more and I'll have totally robbed you of all the thrills this slab offers.
You can find it in stores where people don't pay attention. You can also probably get it from the chummy chums at Aquarius Records. Other than that, this finna slip into the night. Don't let that happen. Pay the 30 bucks before you have to pay 300. If you don't like it, send your copy to me and you'll be reimbursed. Trust.

Apr 22, 2008

BE SURE TO WEAR FLOUR IN YOUR HAIR - Bored Fortress Round-Up (So Far)

The o'fishul Not Not Fun blinky place tells me the Bored Fortress Singles Extravaganza of 2008 (it's third year, I believe) is closed. However, that don't mean these tidy little slices of currency (for better or...ahem, worse) won't be hitting ebay the moment the last package is mailed. I signed up cuz I was cashy and a few of the bands excited me. & c'mon, who doesn't love a surprise in the mail--except for the flaming sack variety.

1. Magik Markers/Vampire Belt
I'm a MM hater so I'm going to skip talking about them altogether to keep everyone happy. Now, I'm not sure I love Vampire Belt's half, but it's a grower. They come at the rumbly noise world from a NYC loft-jazz angle and they've got a drummer who doesn't sound like he was on Load Records! They might even be listening to each other! Get these guys a slice of cake; they might make me hold onto a record with the Magik Markers on it.
(The cover sucks, though.)

2. Slither/Moore+Flaherty
Slither sounds like "The Education of Lars Jerry" if it had been released on one of them lost German tape labels. Seagull saxophones pulled apart like fresh bread and cast into the ocean. I'm lacking the proper touchstones to make it read like anything less that snooze metal, but I was impressed. I might even wanna hear more! Who knew a singles club could be a window onta new ground? Ha!
Thurston and Pauly do their best to sound like they can keep up with the kids, but c'mon. You don't want Moore crankin the out-jazz. I'm okay with Flaherty and if he's the only free jazz titan my home state has produced ('ceptin ma uncle, Joe Morris), well all the more power to him. The man can blow, if nothing else. If this'd been [Wayne] Rogers + Flaherty, I'd be sittin pretty. They coulda named it after Tolland County and we'd all have a good laugh. Instead it's called "Western Mass Hardcore Rules Ok" and I'm struggling to smirk.
Once again, only half good. And, again, the cover is dumpy.

3. Skullflower/Axolotl
The best thing about Skullflower is the transformation of time. Every album feels like a few stitches in a cosmic tapestry, compressing miles of strings into infinitely dense thread. It might be, paradoxically, the busiest drone you'll ever hear. This one is only the length of a single 7" side but feels like it could be hours. You want it to be hours long. It's no small feat to make 8 or 9 minutes feel like a beautiful eternity.
Now, I'll admit I know nothing of Axolotl, except that I see the name scattered everywhere and I get them confused with Avarus, for some reason. I like Avarus; it's the same every time, but it's a great formula and they know how to edit.
What distinguishes this from the Skullflower side, seeing as they're both preoccupied with sustained chords and chiseled feedback, and much like Avarus, is editing. This doesn't stretch time, so much as magnifies it. It takes a long-form, Birchville-style structure and cuts it down to a curt 5 or 6 minutes. Hey, if Mr. Kneale can pull it off...well, so can these cats. And if you dig 'em, go check 'em out in Baltimore on the 18th of May with Blues Control, Daniel Higgs, and Cluster and/or 6 days later with Skaters and some of my favorite Fins, Kemialliset Ystavat. No, I didn't book those; yes, I wish I had.
I'm okay with the cover, but the record inside is better.

4. Charalambides/Pocahaunted
Apparently Christina & Tom Carter dig those cute lil spinsters, because they've been working together everywhere. Oh well. It's not like a half-good seven-inch is any kinda surprise at this point.
First up is the Texas twosome. The tune and lyrics are simple, a strange mix of hypnotized and desperate--a Texas mark of quality, if ever there was one. In someone else's hands, this might be forgettable.
Charalambides have heart.
Pocahaunted have t-shirts with hearts on them. You can talk all you want about the Amon Duudling that goes on throughout side B, but I ain't buying. They're hucksters.
I like the sleeve, though. It would look good on a dinner plate.

Mint. This is suitably disastrous. Hopefully Ignatz will share their record with Shepherds so I can put the rest to bed.

Next up: ????????????????????????????????

Apr 19, 2008


While the lass is away, I been cuddlin close to the spinning music makers, stacking the empty matchbooks ceiling-high, and eating whenever the crumb tray in the toaster feels cashy. The latter two don't have much place on this thing, so I'll home in on the first. Brace yourselves; I got a lotta wind to blow.

Dan Melchior Und Das Menace - Christmas For the Crows (Daggerman LP)
Danny Boy's an other-day-find for me. I try not to hate on shit outright, like the ladies tell me, but it's hard. I live in New England. If you don't have a slice of misery on your plate, people start asking, "D'ja eat?" So before I stuck Mr. Melchior in my ear, I had to do all kindsa exorcisms (like smudging the cable modem) or it woulda been oogly. Too many folks I never met telling me what's what cuz they got a label or a new pair of socks...well, it wears me out. I worry some days I might be whispering in people's ears myself with this thing, but that's doubtful. Anyone who can wade through the snake-oil I hock about island solitude and midnight brandy stumbling to get to the actual musicspeak is committed in a way I have a hard time understanding. Maybe they just need to be committed. Like, to a place.
Anyhow, post-hopping-the-hate-hurdle, I've come to like everything this Daniel bloke's laid out. This new LP on Daggerman (also home to the Hubble Bubble reishes!) is all kindsa swank. On this one, Melchior seems to be narrating a neighborhood like it's a bunch of contingent stories. They've all got their moods and movements, like folk got faces and rumps. I love the holler down an alley feel to the uptempo numbers. (Crank the loud and you'll wanna crank the ABV, too.) And, per usual, you can expect some mint lines and creepy-creaky production. In the proper musicspeak segment you'd normally read about the cheeky Brit loner-psych dudes Melchior might dig, but I ain't got it in me for another list of people you either know or don't. It doesn't matter anyway. Find them and find this--no matter which comes first, you're in for a few good MEN.

Graham Lambkin & Jason Lescalleet - The Breadwinner (Erstwhile CD)
I was thinkin today about Chris Watson's Outside the Circle of Fire and Stepping Into the Dark in relation to this record; about how Watson wields the mic like a telescope. In those burping rhinos is a galaxy. That's great & all, but what's funny is that his past in Cabaret Voltaire would make you think he still considers boredom and everyday happenings to be the crucible of great art. But what's everyday about hiding in the bushes in Madagascar with a $10,000 boom and a mini-disc recorder? Kinda changes things. Suddenly, listening to Chris Watson puts you in his head rather than the other way 'round.
So who's carrying the flag?
Well, what review are you reading?
Salmon Run sneaked in the backdoor both literally and figuratively (but not in the hey-that's-exit-only sense, y'know?) on the heels of some Idea Fire Company collabs & a few group efforts && stole my mafuckin heart. On The Breadwinner, Lambkin & master-unwinder Lescalleet coax magic out of humid rooms, muddy boots, distant fireworks & filled glasses. Those boys know how to make the mundane sing like nothin else running, but that should come as no surprise.
Speaking of surprises, if you find a chill tickling your ankle when the door creaks or the thunder cracks, then you'll know you've let this album in. I speak from experience, cuz that's all I got. Good show, y'all.

Next time: the Bored Fortress 08 Singles Club (thus far). I come bearing teeth and laurels alike.

Apr 9, 2008

A SCREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN Blues Control - Self-Titled CD, 2007

Blues Control's first LP, Puff, has been kindly reissued by Fusetron, much to the oblige of many folks who mighta missed out on the wax the 1st and 2nd times around. So, in light of this, and considering I already spilled my seed about Puff earlier in the life of FYC, I thought it might be good to talk a little about their strangely less-publicized plastic debut on Holy Mountain.
When someone tells you remarkable slop is gurgling out of the Brooklyn/Williamsburg contingent, first you doubt...then you're curious..and finally you bite. And of course, you're met with the kind of fashionably meandering schtick that too-often follows the hyperbolic swill of music critics. What can you do, really? In the zeal for platinum, some people will settle for fool's gold.
Blues Control is fool-proof.
Over the course of Puff's A & B, BC stretched out ideas and notions until gossamer, hypnotic, nauseating and ultimately kinda beautiful. Same went for the Riverboat Styx tape. But on their self-titled CD, Blues Control lay down songs. Not songs like most folk know'em; songs carved from the Faust mold. Blues Control seem to think of a song as a sequence of steps. There's a feeling of travel that comes with this disc. Not layovers and hostels travel; more like the distance between the bodega on the corner and the laundromat down the block. In between are all those cracked windows, passing cars, opening and closing doors. It's the sound of chances, of glancing encounters. Even the recording seem to place their sound everywhere at once, glowing under a million tiny spotlights.
I'm sure they have influences, some of which probably include illegal substances and assorted second-hand Svenska. Whatever. Some of my influences include chatpata relish, Mantronix, and pro-wrestling journalism; don't really say a lick about what I do, do it? So rather than gettin tangled in the roots, get yer maw around the fruits. I can think of at least two Brooklynites who'll be tickled plaid if you did. Go ahead. Ask any neighborhood man.