Tuesday, December 19, 2006

King Khan & BBQ Show Tour Europe

The two-man garage rock blitzkrieg the King Khan & BBQ Show will be touring Europe in early 2007. Known for their highly comedic stage antics (which recently got them booted off a Detroit Cobras tour) the duo will be providing quality entertainment for German, Dutch and French audiences throughout January and into February.

01/03 Hannover, DE @ Chez Heinz
01/04 Hamburg, DE @ Molotow
01/05 Groningen, NL @ Vera
01/06 Rotterdam, NL @ Waterfront
01/07 Harlem, NL @ Patronaat
01/08 Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso
01/09 Utrecht, NL @ DB´s
01/10 Köln, DE @ Tsunami Club
01/11 München, DE @ Atomic Cafe
01/12 Freiburg, FR @ Swamp
01/13 Vitry, FR @ L´Orange Bleue
01/14 Schaffhausen, CH @ TabTab
01/15 Konstanz, DE @ Contrast
01/16 Speyer, DE @ Flaming Star
01/17 Münster, DE @ Gleis 22
01/18 Braunschweig, DE @ Brain Club
01/19 Leipzig, DE @ McCormacks Ballroom
01/20 Bischofswerda, DE @ EastClub
01/21 Dresden, DE @ Starclub
02/01 Frankfurt, DE @ Dreikönigskeller
02/02 Stuttgart, DE @ Club 1210

Monday, December 18, 2006

Lanterna Sweeps Echoes Radio Listeners' Poll

The ballots have been tallied and the results are in for the Sixth Annual Echoes Listeners' Poll. Lo and behold, Lanterna's Desert Ocean took top spot for favorite CD of the year, beating out such heavies as David Gilmour, Boards of Canada & Keith Jarrett!

Echoes Listeners' Poll Results for 2006
Poll Results: The Listener's Favorite 25 CDs of 2006

#1 Lanterna Desert Ocean
#2 Bluetech Sines and Singularities
#3 Al Di Meola Consequence of Chaos
#4 Enigma A Posteriori
#5 Bombay Dub Orchestra Bombay Dub Orchestra
#6 Ah-Nee-Mah Ancient Visions
#7 Bodhi Trans Ukraine
#8 Paul Avgerinos Gnosis
#9 Marconi Union Distance
#10 BT This Binary Universe
#11 Hammock Raising Your Voice…Trying to Stop an Echo
#12 Robert Rich Electric Ladder
#13 The Album Leaf Into the Blue Again
#14 David Gilmour On An Island
#15 Boards of Canada The Campfire Headphase
#16 Keith Jarrett The Carnegie Hall Concert
#17 Amethystium Emblem
#18 R. Carlos Nakai Reconnections
#19 Sumner McKane Night Blooming Cereus
#20 Anthony Phillips Field Day
#21 George Winston Gulf Coast Blues & Impressions
#22 Ottmar Liebert Winter Rose
#23 Michael Brook Rockpaperscissors
#24 Banco de Gaia Farewell Ferengistan
#25 Kaki King Until We Felt Red

Friday, December 15, 2006

Beirut on Canadian TV

Last week Beirut Gulag Orkestar was suggested by Mike Miner (producer for TVOntario’s The Agenda and writer for various publications) as a gift idea for an "eccentric Aunt" on CBC's The Gill Deacon Show, which is apparently as big as Oprah in Canada. If you look closely at the above upper right photo of the guy in the brown sports jacket you can barely make out the CD laid out on a table before him.

Beirut's new five song EP Lon Gisland will be released on January 30th 2007

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Dusted Understands Darc Mind

Mason Jones gives a righteous review of Darc Mind's Symptomatic of a Greater Ill on Dustedmagazine.com.

The story behind this release of Symptomatic is all too familiar to followers of the music industry, one of those albums that was recorded and lost in the mists of time and screwed-up record labels. In 1997, after a couple of years of preparation, the album was swallowed in the collapse of Loud/RCA, leaving Emcee Kev Roc and producer GM Web D (a.k.a. X-Ray) understandably bitter. That the album should now be released by Anticon is very appropriate: some of the songs here predict the off-kilter aesthetic of the label's best-known artists.

Symptomatic's opening and closing tracks are perhaps its most distinguished, and opener "Visions of a Blur" is easily the winner of the batch. Its simple beat snaps and rolls, providing momentum without crowding things, while super minimal bass and guitar are merely ghostly accents. Over it all is Kevroc's ahead-of-his-time flow, laid back and smooth, literary and imagistic words winding in and around the beat in such a steady stream that the song demands multiple listens for any hope of catching it all. At the album's opposite end, "Outside Looking In" boasts a similar flow, words like a rollercoaster, carrying you up one beat and down the next with a similar thrill.

Songs like those place Darc Mind somewhere outside time when it comes to comparisons within the hip hop continuum. It's difficult to think of other artists doing anything similar in 1997, and given the political and social commentary issued by Kevroc, the field grows even narrower. Granted, there are other songs here with clearer connections, like "Seize (sic) the Phenom" – a rainy night feel with a clattery snare rhythm and piano breakdown that's reminiscent of Eric B. and Rakim – and "Bmoc" – swinging, clashing cymbals and snare with a Public Enemy whistle. But there's no doubt that if this album been released when originally planned, it would either have made a significant splash or, perhaps, have been greeted by general bemusement.

A moot point of course, except that now in 2006 Symptomatic still stands out as an imaginative, strong release. The hip hop landscape from 1997 to 2006 has changed significantly, but not for the better; formulas being laid down 10 years ago have ossified since then, and labels like Anticon are obviously the exception, not the rule.

As a result, songs like the noir-drenched "Covert Op" and the fast-moving head-nodder "Fever Pitch", despite being 10 years old, sound fresher than 99 percent of what's being released today as hip hop. Ironically, while artists like Snoop Dogg continue to attempt to relive their past, Darc Mind's past turns out to have been more interesting in the first place.

As a final note, this album also identifies itself as a product of earlier times by its length. Rather than filling up 70-plus minutes with every extra piece of crap available, the 43 minutes here are unpadded, no unnecessary remixes or tired skits clogging up the works. Bravo.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Brian Turner dissects the far out sounds of Daniel Higgs on WFMU blog

Brian Turner reviews Daniel Higgs Ancestral Songs on WFMU blog.

Daniel Higgs - Ancestral Songs (Holy Mountain)
Higgs is a member of the Pupils, but better known for his activity in Lungfish, where he instantly defined himself as somewhat of an enigma. You see a lot of people in this crazy muzak world flying the freak flag, but I've rarely seen/heard someone who's overall identity of extreme weirdness encompasses their music so much in a way that you know that the music itself is just one of many extensions of creative activity. And yeah, Higgs' visual art certainly reflects the same twisted imagery as his sounds; and the sounds themselves are stunning. Somewhat in the realm of the occult, but oddly positive and uplifting, using lo-fidelity and abstraction to great effect but never distorts the mirror of what's happening in this guy's mind. Ancestral Songs is a mesmerizing document of some far out musical shit, blaring jews' harp goes against toy piano "Moharsing and Schoenhut" both approached with total conviction (Higgs actually issued a disc of purely jews' harp recordings a few years back), there's resonating guitar that sounds nothing like a guitar, his voice modulates from whispers-plugged-direct into the soundboard to distant cosmic chants. Yes, America has gotten "new" and "weird" in these modern musical times with everyone under the sun donning ponchos and cranking out CDRs wrapped in leaves, but Higgs brings true eclecticism to the table and creates a great documentation of art rather than vagueness cloaked in a riddle. As puzzling as these sounds may be (half the time you cannot even figure out what the instrument itself is the way it's distorted or processed) you can clearly discern the purpose that exists behind them.

Snow Patrol dude digs Beirut

From Dec. 11th Observer magazine, which comments on the best music of the year...


Gary Lightbody, Snow Patrol
Gulag Orkestar by Beirut is eastern rhythms lapping against mariachi
trumpets and Zach Condon's swooning tenor. One review said 'best album of 1879'. There's not a better way to describe it.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

New York Times Reviews Terry Riley Reissue

Last Sunday's New York Times featured a review of Terry Riley's recently reissued Poppy Nogood And The Phantom Band All Night Flight album.

Back From the Archives: A Minimalist Classic and Its Rock Child

Published: December 3, 2006

"Four years after writing “In C,” the composition that amounted to a minimalist manifesto, Terry Riley was playing marathon concerts by himself, using soprano saxophone and organ and tape-delay mechanisms. He recorded a number of them, and released them on LP. One, a show from March 1968 at the State University at Buffalo, billed as “Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band: Purple Modal Fire Strobe Ecstasy,” became fairly well-known over time but dropped out of print. A new label, Elision Fields, has made it available again, the first of a projected series of discs from Mr. Riley’s archives. (The CD’s title is “Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band: All Night Flight.”) Mr. Riley’s stamina was amazing. He improvised on saxophone and organ over cumulative tape loops, via one reel of tape and two tape recorders, one set for recording and one set for playback. The sound grows more massed, the pulses and drones bigger, more insistent and polyphonic; and though it is one unbroken piece of music, the CD track markers are set at opportune shifts of action. Here is a musician totally in charge of his material. Though he wasn’t a virtuosic saxophonist, Mr. Riley manipulated the horn cleanly within the parameters of his idea. The music is beautifully executed and, amazingly, never spreads itself too thin..."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Andrew Douglas Rothbard takes the front cover of the SF Weekly Nov. 22nd issue

California Psychedelia
Andrew Douglas Rothbard channels classics through his laptop
By Mike Rowell

Nov 22, 2006
The new CD from San Francisco's Andrew Douglas Rothbard, Abandoned Meander, is one of those captivating, outta-nowhere masterworks. Recorded over three years on Rothbard's PowerBook, the album is trippy, lulling, and euphoric, with hints of everything from vintage Beach Boys and Tyrannosaurus Rex to Brian Eno-meets-Radiohead pop experimentalism. The echoey vocals mesmerize, with impressionistic, inscrutable lyrics.

Released on Halloween by local label Smooch, the album has already garnered glowing praise. Both San Francisco's Aquarius Records and Piccadilly Records in Manchester, England, made it a featured pick. A Swedish music Web site went so far as to say that Abandoned Meander "is without hesitation one of the absolute highlights of this year." Packed with traditional instruments such as guitar and keyboards as well as tape loops and effects galore, Rothbard's 13-song disc parallels the current freak-folk scene and such artists as Devendra Banhart and Six Organs of Admittance. According to Rothbard, that's just a coincidence.

"I don't listen to contemporary music," the self-taught multi-instrumentalist says during an interview at his Haight Street apartment. Instead, Rothbard's project is inspired primarily by obscure '60s psychedelic pop. Looking around his living room, it's not hard to believe this; among the various exotic percussion instruments, vintage effects units, and his 1966 Fender Coronado 12-string, there are several large stacks of vinyl. They're mostly of the California bubblegum psych variety, including key Meander influences such as the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, the Peanut Butter Conspiracy, Millenium, and Sagittarius. "I started getting into these softer, studio psych, '68-style records," says Rothbard. "There's a synthetic beauty to these recordings, and a lot of them were just kind of created in these studios in L.A. The idea of making a studio psych recording that was beyond just a singer and his guitar sort of started germinating."

Rothbard, now 30, started playing in bands around Boulder, Colo., when he was 15. He played bass and keyboards with the VSS, an aggressive, innovative outfit that relocated to San Francisco, then broke up in 1997. Three of the VSS band members went on to form Slaves, which became Pleasure Forever, a group that recorded dark, cabaret-tinged rock for Sub Pop and toured heavily before disbanding in 2003. Burnt on road life, bad opening slots, and the music industry grind, Rothbard was ready to bail. "After about 12 years of being engaged in the mechanics of that [record/tour/repeat] process, I wanted to invert it," says Rothbard. "I just wanted to break the cycle, and make a recording for the sake of recording."

In an e-mail, drummer Dave Clifford, who played with Rothbard in those earlier groups and is now in Red Sparowes, calls Rothbard's new album "a beautiful cacophony of psychedelic folk mantra." "Abandoned Meander is an incredible undertaking that seems like the culmination of all the ideas that he's been working toward realizing over the past decade," writes Clifford. "It's amazing to hear what he's created without any interlopers."

Meander is actually the first of a five-album suite, based on an arcane concept called the law of fives, which correlates to the themes of Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis, Parenthesis, and Paralysis. Rothbard has started work on the second one, Rainbeam Sunbow, the Antithesis to Meander's Thesis. He's also beginning to play live again in a band called Godseye, with his girlfriend Michele Hanningan on sitar. Rothbard seems genuinely enthusiastic about the band and his recordings, both of which might contain some unexpectedly dichotomous surprises in the future: He's been incorporating a lot of drum machine sequences into the current crop of recordings as well as into Godseye's songs, in an effort to create a kind of past-meets-present electronic psychedelia. "I really am excited about technology advancing further and becoming even more of a tool," Rothbard says of forthcoming endeavors, "while at the same time I'll be discovering my latest holy grail from the '60s."

Grave words for out music

Stellar review of Aufgehoben on Noiseweek.com

The always-reliable Holy Mountain (now based in Portland after a buncha years in S.F.) is not exactly a noise label, but one of the many great things about their impeccable selection of psych-rock, stoner-rock, and sun-baked-folk is that it almost always comes with an outer lining of noise. My favorite recent example is Residual Echoes, whose jammy psych frequently pushes into destructive red levels, but historically speaking, no one on HM has made rock outta noise and vice versa like the god-like Steven Wray Lobdell and his Davis Redford Triad. So many of the tripped-out, long-chorded DRT CDs blur the cracked line between rock and noise, to the point where Lobdell's best moments split the difference perfectly between Hendrix and Haino. He's been a bit dormant of late but I'm sure he's still out there grinding away, at least in his mind; hopefully he'll do so in mine too soon enough...

All of this has little to do with British improv outfit Aufgehoben, except for the crucial fact that their fourth record, Messidor, is their first for Holy Mountain, and as such represents the label's farthest swing toward the noise banks of the rock-noise river. Not that Aufgehoben don't display a lot of rock elements, at least in abstract: crunchy distortion detonations that sometimes resemble guitar riffs, shimmering high-end sheens that sometimes sound like distended cymbals, pounding time-cutters that often sound like imploding drums. But, whether it's due to sheer volume, logic-testing recording techniques, or the way these guys rework their own improvised recordings before committing them to final tape, the noise side of noise-improv-rock is well-attended on these seven super-forceful tracks, and the result is pretty cranium-reshaping. I can't quite get my finger on what makes this so mammoth-sounding - the band has this massive crunch and skeleton-shaking, air-depressing sonic footprint that feels like it's pushing hard against your chest, kind of like what I imagined when I heard Peter Brotzmann had a guitar-playing son (not that Caspar isn't great himself, but his stuff doesn't quite have the force of Aufgehoben's clanging dissonance).

Anyway, I'll spare you the rest of my internal fumbling to figure out what makes Messidor so inhumanly strong, and just tell you that it is. I especially the dig the way it has a slight Euro free-improv feel too; the drums especially are semi-jazz-ish in their loose, rolling quality, but the scorching noise makes them sound like they're on fire, kind of simultaneously metallic and digital (not far from the guitar-drum battles of Ascension, but with more crunch). Mostly I'm floored by the way Aufgehoben can both unleash and contain their sound - there's certainly no holding back here, yet everything is totally viewable and unblurred, as if the extreme distortion actually clarifies the pummel, kind of the way that Sightings' insistence on pushing the limits of their recording equipment paradoxically shapes and defines their noise instead of squashing it. HM's press kit mentions New Directions Unit, Throbbing Gristle, and This Heat, and while I can't argue with any of those, I love the way Messidor feels grimier and more basement-worthy than those hautier precedents. Sure, a Wire writer and a well-established improv type are involved, but still this album sounds like it'd fit better on American Tapes than Emanem.

There's lots of great stuff to choose from here (and a few sampled on the band's own page), but if I can have only one, I'll take the album-ender, "Ends of Er": a great example of Aufgehoben's ability to make silence sound loud and loudness sound subtle. About halfway through is the noise sweet spot, but every section here offers some sonic liquid nitrogen to dip your head firmly into.