Monday, July 30, 2007

Wooden Shjips Are Best Of The Bay Material.

The Wood Shjips made it into the San Francisco Bay Guardian's Best Of The Bay 2007 issue under the challenging category of Wavy, Hazy, Raging Jams - way to go dudes. Their debut full length album is due out on Holy Mountain label on Sept.18th. Until then you can catch the Shjips live on August 1st at the Hemlock Tavern in San Francisco, CA.

Best Of the Bay issue July 25th 2007

Some ships know how to glide in and commandeer a music fest. Exhibit A: Wooden Shjips at this year's South by Southwest, blowing minds and getting Rolling Stone worked up into a frantic, photo-snapping lather with raging psych-fugues and a perpetual guitar boogie machine. Led by guitarist Ripley Johnson, these fellas (along with local sensation Comets on Fire) are bringing sexy guitar solos back, big-time, for listeners who have long eschewed Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. Theirs aren't quite the unquestioned, inevitable jams of yore. Like others of their earache generation, Wooden Shjips were touched by the sharp, urban clamor of first-wave punk and hardcore; indoctrinated in the junkie garage toolshed of Velvet Underground and Nuggets; and then bruised in the mosh pit of Dead Moon and Mudhoney. Solos are undertaken less for posturing effect than to create a space for shrooming experimentation. Hey, that's just the way we like it - and we're not alone, judging from the cult of popularity that's bloomed around the group. Shjips, ahoy.

Friday, July 27, 2007

AHAAH Reviewed on

A Hawk and a Hacksaw and the Hun Hangar Ensemble
Written by Jonathan Dean
Sunday, 22 July 2007
Online review

This gorgeous package from the the Leaf Label contains eight songs showcasing a new collaboration between Jeremy and Heather of AHAAH, playing with a group of seasoned Hungarian musicians. Rounding out the cast are a few members of Beirut. What results is a brief but exhilarating extra-geographical jaunt through Hungarian, Serbian, Romanian and klezmer forms, as only AHAAH can produce.

At the inception of this project four years ago, one might have been justified to accuse Jeremy Barnes of a cynical kind of musical exoticization, borrowing heavily from Eastern European folk forms as a readymade repository of the surreal and evocative. For a musician who was previously best known for playing on willfully eccentric Neutral Milk Hotel and Bablicon albums, the criticism might have seemed to have some basis in reality. However, four years and several albums down the line, it is becoming much more difficult to level the accusation of audio tourism against A Hawk and a Hacksaw. Barnes, Trost, and co. have so doggedly pursued their particular soundworld that it is now impossible to see their elaboration and exploration of Slavic, Jewish, and Magyar musics as anything other than completely genuine. As the music becomes less about unorthodox cultural hybrids and more focused on faithful, spirited performances of these various cultural strands, it also loses any associations it might have once had with indie dilettantism.

I am noting all of this up front because this EP on the Leaf Label contains some of AHAAH's best recordings yet, and even though it is relatively short, it contains such a wide breadth of musical styles and moods that it might be accused of wanton eclecticism. This is very far from the case, however. Instead, this newly-extended musical collective uses their extensive knowledge of various folk musics to produce a breathlessly exciting and beautiful mini-album that is perfectly sequenced, weaving together original compositions with vigorous performances of traditional melodies. Opening with Heather Trost's composition "Kiraly Siratas," dominated by swoops of violin and the haunting tones of the cymbalom (a Hungarian dulcimer-like instrument), the atmosphere is established: joyfully dramatic, undeniably cinematic, unashamedly romantic.

"Zozobra" is the most energetic track on the EP, a fast-tempo slapstick combination of expertly played cymbalom, accordion and percussion. I've never been a dancer, but I found it difficult to resist the urge to jump out of my chair and manfiest bodily the joyful uptempo polyrhythms. "Serbian Cocek" is an ensemble piece, combining the full compositional abilities of all the musicians. Parallels will no doubt be drawn to the music of Beirut, because of the Mariachi-by-way-of-Budapest trumpets. Even with the big-band setup, the track is emotionally expressive and even impressionistic at times, an effect of the imperfect, slightly off-kilter playing. All of the performances captured here sound like just that: performances. Real human beings playing instruments, rather than clinical, surgically-edited and overdubbed studio creations. "Romanian Hora and Bulgar" is actually a live recording, but the only way that it differs from the rest of the EP is the smattering of audience noise, which merely serves to intensify the energy and drama of the performance. "Ihabibi" elaborates upon a peculiarly Balkan understanding of Arabic music, and is one of the most dynamic and beautifully textured songs on the disc. The EP ends with a trio of traditional songs, an ensemble piece ("Oriental Hora") featuring the trumpet of Zach Condon, sandwiched between two sparser pieces: one a solo on cymbalom ("Vajdaszentivany"), and the other a showcase for the Hungarian bagpipes, expertly played by Bela Agoston.

This generous set also includes a DVD featuring a 20-minute documentary about AHAAH, splicing together clips of the group in the studio and during live performances in Albequerque, in Hungary and all across the European continent. It's a very skillfully assembled set of clips that left me wanting more, but definitely clued me in to the intensity and intimacy of the AHAAH live experience, which previously I had only witnessed via the group's appearance on The Eye nearly two years ago. I have the feeling that the next full-length album from Barnes, Trost and co. is going to be a true masterpiece, if this stunning EP is any indication of the exponential growth-rate of this unique group.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Cleandenim Reviewed By Tiny Mix Tapes

Patrick Cleandenim
Baby Comes Home
[Ba Da Bing!; 2007]
Online Review

Styles: Motown lounge give Sinatra a pound and all that jazz gon' come around

Others: Scott Walker, Phil Spector, Elvis Presley, David Axelrod

Someone's always yapping at me about this concern and that importance — I get it from all angles. (It's all very geometrical.) Mr P is constantly harping on how "music and politics" are inseparable, chasing me around the office shouting the names of corrupt CEOs and other balderdash. My mother keeps on about this new Sinatra, this Michael Buble charmer. I saw him on American Idol — he was entertaining, sure. Vegas will be good to him. Then there's the whole indie music community, with their little pie graph slice percentage of avant-garde jazz supporters. It takes a lot of damn effort to get into that stuff. The last time I managed to get interested in it, albeit peripherally, was when Malachi Ritscher immolated himself in Chicago. Speaking of jazz, enthusiasts like Jack Kerouac, Lenny Bruce, and my high school music teacher have been telling me how great it is, how it's the one true American art form, and Mingus and Miles-this, Parker and Coleman-that. I enjoy it, sure — the allure of heroin addiction is pretty interesting in and of itself. But I think I'm too dumb to really learn it — to know why that blow is different from this one, to recognize bop from swing, fusion, or free (not to mention improvisation, syncopation, and polyrhythms aren't the easiest concepts to grasp). Basically, jazz is intellectual. Patrick Cleandenim is not. But he does relate to the aforementioned things, each to a varying degree.

Armed with a small orchestra and horn section, Patrick Cleandenim struts into your stereo. He swaggers, snapping his suspenders and swinging a pocket-watch. He sucks on a cigarette or the smoke of a revolver and lets loose his spacious vocals — meaning they have just the right amount of airy echo to them. We're talking about a cool cat here — the cat's meow, the catcall, the Cadillac, the cat in heat. Cleandenim is suave, sassy, charismatic — all cues that he shouldn't be trusted. He found a type of music that's yet to be truly revived. It's "jazzy." "Loungey," too. He sparkles like the sweat on a glass of vermouth. He sings of Valium and cigarettes and putting poison in your cognac and caviar. Unfortunately, though, Young 23-year-old Patrick's lyrics sometimes become, well, cheesy — the old, moldy mozzarell'. He's Rat Pack-ish. Characters with this image always come off a bit disingenuous. Patrick Cleandenim isn't reinventing jazz (not nearly), he's not rivaling any of our best lounge singers (whoever they are), and he's not technically or skillfully as endowed as an Axelrod or Scott Walker. But judging from Baby Comes Home, he can sit on plush sofas, swing from chandeliers, spin lovely ladies on ballroom floors, and hold his arms akimbo while sweet-talking bimbos. It's fresh enough for that. C'mon, though — Patrick "Cleandenim"? This kid definitely wears slacks.

by Chadwicked

Upcoming Cleandenim live shows:
08/01 New York, NY @ Sway
08/03 New York, NY @ The Canal Chapter

"So You Think You're Gonna Live Forever"

Monday, July 23, 2007

AHAAH in the NY Times.

Jeff Tweedy of Wilco gives props to A Hawk and a Hacksaw in his "what I've been jamming" list for the New York times.

Online feature

A Hawk and a Hacksaw
I followed this band because Jeremy Barnes used to be in a band called Neutral Milk Hotel, and I loved their records. This group has made at least one or two other records. "A Hawk and a Hacksaw" (Leaf) was a collaboration with the Hun Hangár Ensemble. It has a cymbalon, which is like a piano played like a hammered dulcimer. I actually bought a cymbalon in Hamburg, Germany, on tour and had to find a way to ship it back home. It has a broken string, so we're still looking for someone who could repair it. I listen to a lot of folk music from around the world. I don't know the background of everyone in this group, but the music has a freshness to it. Just love that cymbalon, can't get enough of it.

AHAAH summer live dates:

07/27 Emmaboda, SWE @ Emmaboda Festival
07/29 Krems, AT @ Krems Festival
09/04 London, UK @ The Luminaire
09/05 London, UK @ The Luminaire

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Cherrystones Reviewed On Dusted.

Artist: Cherrystones
Album: Word
Label: Tlön Uqbar
Review date: Jul. 13, 2007
Online review

There’s a lot to be said about mix tapes, but you’ve likely heard it all before. Where the conversation gets interesting is that point where DJs are asked to choose their favorite songs, unmixed, for a modern collection, available for the enlightened thousands to hear. Cherrystones, a.k.a. Gareth Goddard, a man who’s been fortunate enough to ride out a path on little but taste and abilities, has walked this path before. He’s a member of the B-Music collective, a group of like-minded record sourcers and cultural excavators who have tapped into a pathological streak of wild records from foreign cultures whose flashbulbs burned out decades ago. Beyond hip-hop, the beats they mine are twisted vamps, hirsute rave-ups, European appropriations of American funk, mined through the largess of progressive rock. Turkish folk singers gone nuts with a flange pedal, soundtracks to obscure Czech cinema, dollar-bin refugees whose studio-tightened grooves collapsed against the tidal shifts in the music industry and carpets of dust; all find a home under B-Music’s deft fingers and patchwork mantle. Anyone with a decent budget and an understanding of music past Serge Gainsbourg’s Melody Nelson album could likely pull off what they’re doing, but the fact remains that they’re doing it, and not shilling to the troll-like collectors’ market in the process. The results of their search are quite visible and open to all who have the senses to appreciate them, via zines, websites, and a troika of reissue imprints dedicated to getting this music back in the limelight.

There’s not a whole lot of room to move in the rarefied space these gents have developed. Cries from an embittered peanut gallery of vinyl hoarders have lambasted the collective for popularizing their vinyl fetishes, and forging further competition in an already narrow market. One has little trouble comparing this struggle against that episode of “The Twilight Zone” where Burgess Meredith survives nuclear holocaust, only to break his last pair of reading glasses. As a further affront, they get away with a successful run as club DJs, airing out sides of triple-digit value to the perils of pub life and party fouls. They roll like rock stars, answer all questions asked, even allow patrons to check out the vinyl they’re spinning. To the curmudgeon, “that’s not fair at all.” But it’s precisely how they’ve developed the social element that makes the amount of ground they cover so easy to take. They’re not hard men to like, perfectly willing to get on the level of their fans, and able to support musical re-education through chemistry.

Pitched between Andy Votel’s and Dom Thomas’s coriander-scented offerings, David Holmes’ soundtrack abstractions, and Gerald Jazzman’s primo funk and soul excavation, Cherrystones is afforded a fairly wide berth with respect to his rediscoveries. Quite simply, he’s their rock guy. When he’s not making music under his own name, or as Godsy, he’s busy digging and compiling tracks of an overtly powerful and psychedelic nature, bridging post-punk’s most manic howls to the rambunctious uptick of ‘60s French pop, the flamboyant codicils of glam rock, and the dirty grunt of hard-charging rock. Wild youth, eyes reddened with mischief and amphetamine, envisioned gleeful destruction to these sounds decades ago. He’d sussed these sounds out previously on Rocks (2002), cataloguing the Niagara and Pugh breaks that DJ Shadow staked a career off of, and the jaunty Hidden Charms (2004), from which David Holmes plucked Dynastie Crisis’ rarity “Faust” for the soundtrack to Ocean’s 12. After a pair of “promotional use only” mix CD-Rs, Word is his latest paean to the lost art of the past, and surprisingly trumps his previous offerings – for now.

The 15 tracks collected here come from different countries and decades, including the ‘80s, a barrier that many DJs of his ilk fear to cross. That’s alright, though, as the mania stoking the flames beneath these tracks can easily be viewed as torn off the same blotter. In form and function, Word cuts closest to Cherrystones’ DJ sets, where time and place are tossed to the wayside in favor of the flashing lights of unknown artists’ unbridled mania. This isn’t a collection of dance music, or breaks, or genre, but rather drug music, plain and simple. Word merrily runs the 3 A.M. choogle of Dead Moon (to which he likens Can’s “Mother Sky”) up against the basement bomb blast of George Brigman and Split, happily sandwiches the mid-‘80s glam of Roger C. Reale’s raucous cover of the Troggs’ “I Can’t Control Myself” in between the elliptical oddity of Fusioon and Kontakt Mikrofoon Orkest. His universe finds a place for the extraterrestrial chitin of Chrome and the careful French prog of Lard Free on the same disc. Through careful track selection and sequencing, he makes it all seem like this music was meant to live together. The only caveat is the exclusion of Jacques Dutronc’s “A La Queue Les Yverlines,” a needling French belter that appeared on the since-deleted Poptones import pressing of this disc.

If it all feels like a stunt, well, it partly is, but that’s why you’re here – to be amazed. With Word, Cherrystones achieves what his previous offerings hinted at – the illusion of safety to leave behind one’s own personal tastes and let said self be guided by another’s. And if you can put that sort of trust in the selector’s hands, imagine what you’ll be able to find on your own.

By Doug Mosurak

Angels Of Light Lead Review In The Wire.

Angels of Light take the leadoff Soundcheck review in the August issue of the Wire Magazine. The CD version of We Are Him streets on August 28th, double gatefold vinyl will follow in late September.

The Wire, August 07
Soundcheck - This month's selected CDs and vinyl
By Keith Moline

The fifth album by Michael Gira's Angels Of Light achieves its mythical depth and range with trance-fuelled abandon.

Angels Of Light
We Are Him
Young God CD

Michael Gira continues to suffer from having each new album, each new fugitive direction he takes, compared with his early work, produced in just a few short years in the early 80s. While his group Swans made some of the slowest, heaviest and most grindingly relentless music ever created on albums like Filth (1983) and Cop (1984), for more than a decade of their lifespan - Gira disbanded the group in 1997 - their work was multifaceted, sweeping and often acoustic. As for his later work under the Angels Of Light banner, the unremitting moroseness that Gira has often been accused of - perhaps not without justification when you consider lines like "God damn anyone that says a kind word" (from 1988's "God Damn The Sun") - has for the most part been replaced by honest simplicity and generosity of spirit.

For this fifth Angels Of Light album, Gira has again recruited acid pastoralists Akron/Family to realise his songs, which are usually composed on acoustic guitar. Some of the musicians featured on early releases New Mother (1999) and How I Loved You (2001) have returned to flesh out We Are Him's arrangements. Gira has in the past bemoaned his difficulty in resisting the temptation to obsess over sonic details, but those who found the last couple of albums a little too dry and sparse will surely enjoy this one's lusher textures. We Are Him is the most widescreen Angles album to date without ever spilling over into the production excesses of Swans; further, it retains the freshness and immediacy that is a hallmark of Akron/Family's work. Nothing feels superfluous; the instrumentation, though compellingly mercurial, in never intrusive or overwrought, allowing Gira's songwriting to command centre stage.

And a superb set of songs it is. His early work explored the narratives opened up between each repetition of a single riff or line of lyric, and how abjection, violence and blank nihilism could multiply exponentially with each hammerblow drum kick or solemn acoustic strum. The younger Gira may have been loath to admit to any
weakness - by his own account he could be a nasty piece of work - but at the heart of all his music lay vulnerability and a longing for transcendence. Such yearning was heightened rather than crushed by his monolithic musical constructs.

The difference with We Are Him is that he has become adept at expressing it all with such candour, precision and economy. Certainly repetition still plays its part, as on the opening "Black River Song", in which a monstrous blues riff cycles around on itself until the album's first chord change, which arrives about ten seconds before the song ends. But the repetition has nothing to do with bludgeoning monomania; it's all about trance-fulled abandon and release.

Gira's words continue to conflate opposites of sin and redemption, good and evil, hope and despair. In the past this bordered on the gratuitous, a blunt undercutting of positive potential by sheer boundless cynicism. But here it feels like an attempt to synthesise something strong and true, as if they aren't opposites but mirror

"Black River runs, beneath the ground/Receiving the days that feed the night/Black River flows through the belly of everyone/Fading, growing, fading, flowing."

In Gira's world, the breath of artistic inspiration, the memory of departed friends and family, personifications of love and cruelty, vengeful and forgiving gods, all
of these intermingle, coursing through the land, the body and even the blood, though he is never explicit as to whether this is cause for celebration or terror:

"There is no place to run from Joseph's truth/His hands are on your throat but feeding you" ("Joseph's Song").

If this all sounds like serious stuff, you're right. Yet there are some sparkling pop songs on We Are Him. The title track is built on a joyous glam rock stomp, bursting through a folk-drone intro and never letting up, while pastel guitars open and close "The Man We Left Behind", a waltz time confessional that crosses gossamer Byrdsian Country rock with the offhand gravitas of Leonard Cohen. "Not Here/Not Now" rides out on some inspired Western guitar twang and "Sometimes I Dream I'm Hurting You" features goofy Nuggets-styles garage rock organ, while "Sunflower's Here To Stay" even boasts a coda that recalls The Turtles' "Happy Together" (though the title might indicate that Gira actually had The Beach Boys in mind).

Generally, though, the mood is one of calm reflection. In the past Gira's famed intensity has felt a bit too pat, his victories too easily won; here, the power of a song like "Star Chaser" is heightened by the restraint of its arrangement. It's another wrenching waltz that recasts autobiographical detail into a kind of modern tragic folklore. Gira has characterised himself as "the type of person that
immediately abstracts experience as it occurs" (in The Wire 233), and it's this gift (or curse, perhaps) that imbues his work with a near mythical depth and range. Nothing on We Are Him will startle like old classics such as "Raping A Slave" or "A Screw", but these songs will get under your skin (to use a recurring Gira image) and remain with you for a long time to come.

Footage of "Nations" from 2001.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Rio En Medio on La

Check out Rio En Medio doing to some impromptu busking throughout the streets and under dwellings of Paris on La Blogotheque. Stream footage of "Girls On The Run", "Everyone's Someone", "Le Petit Prince Et Le Renard", and "Through The Little Window" here:

Rio En Medio will be opening a handful of dates for Devendra Banhart this September.

09/10 Denver @ Ogden Theater (Native American benefit)
09/12 Omaha @ Sokol Auditorium
09/13 Lawrence @ Liberty Hall Theater
09/15 Minneapolis @ First Avenue
09/16 Milwaukee @ Pabst Theater

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Made Out of Babies Summer Tour.

Neurot Recordings artists Made Out of Babies have just hit the road on a two+ week summer. Check out an e-card featuring tour dates and a full stream of their most recent album, 'Coward', here:

Kurihara Review On Tiny Mix Tapes

Michio Kurihara
Sunset Notes
[20/20/20; 2007]
Online Review

Styles: psychedelic rock, indie rock, post rock

Others: Ghost, Boris, Damon & Naomi

Only just past the halfway mark of 2007, it might already be fated to go into the record books as the year of Michio Kurihara. Though a markedly modest fellow, his talent with the guitar has played a crucial role in two major indie releases. First, his "regular" gig as guitarist in Ghost had him floating into netherregions of psychedelic bliss on the group's In Stormy Nights. Second, he more recently collaborated with cult sludge rock heroes Boris on Rainbow, an album that shows that even a doom metal band can soften its posture in the presence of gracefully meandering six-string wizardry. Now adding to the momentum, Kurihara's first solo album, Sunset Notes, is being released on Damon & Naomi's 20/20/20 label.

Granted, this stateside release follows two years after its initial appearance overseas, but this is music for which the "timeless" label is entirely appropriate. For those of us who have admired from afar Kurihara's fuzzed-out contributions to recordings of bands like Ghost, Damon & Naomi, White Heaven, and The Stars, among others, this is a genuine opportunity to fully bask in his considerable musical prowess. Although tied together thematically by the conceit that each piece is inspired by Kurihara's experience of a specific sunset, what becomes ever more clear with this album is that his talents are inescapably protean in nature, with each track forging a path new and different.

Of course, the one cohesive element is Kurihara's playing, which takes a position of prominence throughout the album; yet aside from one truly solo venture, "Canon in 'C' (C is for Cicada)," this album is a collaborative affair. You Ishihara, Kurihara's co-conspirator from White Heaven and The Stars, appears on several tracks, as does percussionist Ichiro Shibata. There are even two vocal contributions from psych-chanteuse Ai Aso on the aptly named "Wind Waltzes" and "The Wind's Twelve Quarters." Using Aso's gentle voice to the utmost, these are the lightest and airiest moments. In total, what we get is a gorgeous assortment of sonic meditations from a master who rarely takes the spotlight. While Kurihara and his various cohorts may have even more up their collective sleeves for 2007, in the wake of Sunset Notes, it will all be icing on the already lovely cake he's served us.

1. Time to Go
2. Do Deep Sea Fish of Electric Moles?
3. Wind Waltzes
4. Pendulum on a G-String/The Last Cicada
5. Canon in 'C' (C is for Cicada)
6. Twilight Mystery of a Russian Cowboy
7. The Wind's Twelve Quarters
8. The Old Man and the Evening Star
9. A Boat of Courage

by Dave Gurney

Monday, July 09, 2007

Essie Jain Gets Heady With Hesse on Daytrotter.

Joining Jarvis Cocker and Ade Blackburn of Clinic, Essie Jain recites a passage from her favorite piece of literature on

Essie Jain Reads The Opening Passages of Hermann Hesse's "Gertrude" Stream

Whatever the lovely Essie Jain is doing, you cannot help but to pull yourself closer and to listen as intensely as your body can possibly listen. Her songs resonate with ache and you are thusly brought to the water’s calm edge, like a thirsty fawn. Her music comes from as deeply within as it can and it qualifies as kissing. It qualifies as skinny-dipping. It qualifies as shivering and hovering. We Made This Ourselves is a masterpiece, pure and simple. Here, Jain reads from Hermann Hesse’s “Gertrude” and the close listen picks out the children playing on the playground outside her open apartment window. It’s so her. — Sean Moeller

AHAAH & Kurihara On NPR's Weekend America.

Songs from both the new A Hawk And A Hacksaw and Michio Kurihara albums were played as bridge music on the nationally syndicated Weekend America program: Stream Broadcast.

Blastitude Gives Holy Mountain the Full Treatment.

The not easily impressed spares some kind words for all the latest and greatest releases on the Holy Mountain label.
Full online article.

An Unholy Fountain of CD Albums From HOLY MOUNTAIN
That's right, so far in 2007, Blastitude HQ has received SEVEN brand new CDs from the Portland, Oregon based Holy Mountain label. I could be totally predictable and say that the best one of the bunch is the s/t by Blues Control, because everybody loves Blues Control, and it is another goddamn good album by them. It's not as perfect as Puff, of course, but that's a good thing, because not having to be perfect allows the band to goof around a little, have fun, change things up. Not only are they are able to open this self-titled album with the self-titled title-track "Blues Control," a 2-minute broken/stupid distorto bass and drum sample groove with absurd imitation-talk-box fog-vocals, they are able to follow that goofery up with one of their finest works ever, the languid and utterly pleasant instrumental murk-pop of "Boiled Peanuts," a perfect '2nd album' lead-off single. (See the band's MySpace page for other 'singles' and 'B-sides.') They're having so much fun on this album that they not only title a song "The Blue Sheep," they make it sound like the kind of keyboard-led cheese sandwich that someone would sing karaoke over at a restaurant/bar actually called The Blue Sheep -- and it's still a killer psych track. "Frankie's Problem" shows up again, maybe or maybe not the same version that was their MySpace 'debut single' and/or on their first cassette. Is this song gonna follow 'em around forever? Has it always had those insane clocktower bells in it? And just when you think they've tried everything, along comes album-closer "No Sweat," a 9-minute multi-suite epic in which they try everything else, complete with surprise two-minute astro space drums coda. So yes, out of all these new Holy Mountain releases, Blues Control covers the most ground -- but it's the self-titled disc by White Lichens that digs the deepest. This band is the Chicago trio collabo between Lichens, the heavy drony solo guise of Robert A.A. Lowe, and White Light, the absurdly heavy drone duo of Matt Clark and Jeremy Lemos. Not that the results are summarily heavy on this disc -- the musicians are smart enough to pull back a little and let the bombs detonate in slow motion. Take the moment from the track "Stolas, or Stolos" (don't ask, they're all named after demons from an occult book, with entire pages reproduced for the track listing) when, after almost a minute of huge silence, someone plays a chilling and crawling slide guitar riff that kinda makes the whole album all by itself as a sort of centerpoint, a locus of control for everything before and after. Too bad the track is only 4 minutes long, but at least opener "Cimejes, or Simeies, or Kimaris" and closer "Bael" are both well over the 15-minute mark, and both made up of exquisite low amp burn tone blend, with more where that came from..... And for a whole different way of mining the vein of extended heavy rock jamming, there's the Zodiacs and their album Gone, so raw-fi and obvious in its lack of pre-composed music that at first I was surprised that an actual label released it. But on my second listen, I could no longer deny that what the guitar and organ were doing had some serious burn/fire/damage metaphorical capability. The sound is basically maxed-out biker blues and who cares if the players (James "Wooden Wand" Toth, Keith "Hush Arbors" Wood, Clay "Davenport" Ruby) actually ride motorcycles or not, there is metaphorical motor acid in this music and it will fuck you up when you metaphorically drink it..... The Shining Path (San Diego, CA) and La Otracina (Brooklyn, NY) have also served up albums of fried and heavy mega-extended jams for Holy Mountain this year, but where Zodiacs come at it from 'biker rock' these two are more 'krautrock' and 'fusion prog', respectively. The Shining Path are the "rock" guise of the experimental duo Monosov/Swirnoff (who have records on Eclipse), and from the experimental world they import a lot of twisting thickets of strange electronics. Of course it's mostly backed up by plenty of pedal-to-the-floor highway-star drumming, because this is a "rock" project. That's why the LP edition also comes with a free copy of the CD inside, because "it's what you'll want to listen to wielding a golf club with your upper body outside the sunroof of your car as you steer with your feet." Their music does fly the freak flag, with memorably loud electronic settings driven by various rockin' beats, edited into five or so medium/long crusher/scorchers, no problem there -- it just errs on the side of 'great sounds, no songs', without the frothing commitment of the Zodiacs. La Otracina, on the other hand, have got the sounds, songs, and the froth, and they've really gone for something massive with their album Tonal Ellipse of the One. Not only is it far more composed than the Zodiacs and Shining Path CDs, it's composed in an extended/exploded 'fusion jazz' sense that ends up being just as wrecked. These five long tracks are credited to the duo of Adam Kriney on drums and Tyler Nolan on guitar and bass. They are joined on every track by Ninni Morgia on guitar (if I'm understanding this interview correctly, his parts were overdubbed later), and a couple other musicians on a couple other tracks, but it all really rolls together as one constant duo/trio prog jam, with the band taking great care to develop its transitions, and also willing to play around with some rather thrilling Teo Macero-style edits. Nolan's bugged-out heavy echo-bass guitar plays slowed-down Keith Emerson riffs that grow into melodic-prog drool crescendos, which Morgia wails over like some sort of wild Richard Pinhas Jr on a made-for-cable film soundtrack. Meanwhile, Kriney bats it all along with unflagging fiery-muso free-jazz drum accompaniment, and it builds and builds into a big oceanic bubblebath of prog excess with appropriate titles like "Nine Times The Color Red Explodes Like Heated Blood" and "Sailor of the Salvian Seas," and I'm telling you, it all really grows on you. 3rd best of the batch, to say the least.... and two more to go, both in a more classic song-based style: Mammatus with some progressive hard rock songwriting from the Santa Cruz scene, and DJ Cherrystones, aka Gareth Godard of London England, with a DJ mix of various bad-ass pop/prog/psych eclecticities from the last 30 years. These are both very enjoyable albums, though The Coast Explodes, the second album by Mammatus, did take a couple listens to grow on me. At first I was comparing 'em to their wild and loose neighbors Comets on Fire and Residual Echoes, and they sounded a little stiff to me, their long and weighty compositions requiring more rigor and patience than I expected. But pretty soon I caught on to the intelligent intricacy of their songs, and how they balanced it with a steady beach-stoner rock undertone that stoked the familiar. And finally, as you may have guessed, the Cherrystones Word compilation by DJ Cherrystones is tons of fun. His liner notes are great fan testimony, like when he talks about playing some Lard Free during one of his sets and making the on-tour Wolf Eyes guys do double takes. There are also lovingly selected tracks on here by Dead Moon, The Deviants, Chrome, Nosferatu, 1980s George Brigman (just to prove that it's as good as 1970s George Brigman), and other epic progressive bands that I've totally never heard of before, like Fusioon, Roger C. Reale & Rue Morgue, Kontakt Mikrofoon Orkest.... you get the idea. Hot stuff from one record lover to many others, and the same goes for all of this generous fountain from the Mountain. (And for some more Holy Mountain-related record love, i.e. fan testimony, dig all the 'playlist' style record reviews Mr. HM has been posting in the "news" section over at

Monday, July 02, 2007

Young God Reviews & Free MP3s

Recent YG reviews from along with links to free MP3s.

Lisa Germano - Lullaby For Liquid Pig Double CD / Reissue, Young God

Free Paper Doll mp3 here.

We got chills when we opened this package. Ahhh...such pleasant memories...
Way back in April 2003 we reviewed the original release of Lullaby For Liquid Pig. It was an obvious top pick and it caused us to fall head over heels in love with Lisa Germano's music. Her 1990s albums were obviously great...but this was in another league altogether. While In The Maybe World (her most recent release) is probably Germano's most emotionally powerful album overall, Pig is most definitely...the oddest. This album fell through the cracks when it was originally released, went out of print, and disappeared into obscurity. Thanks to Michael Gira's Young God label, Lullaby For Liquid Pig has now been properly reissued as a deluxe double CD package. And what a package it is. The first CD is the original album itself. We already reviewed this in 2003 but...suffice to say that these peculiar, sparse, slightly hallucinogenic lullabies would not sound out of place as part of the soundtrack to Eraserhead. This album marked Lisa's return to recording...and at that point she obviously wasn't interested in playing by anyone else's rules. Killer cuts include "Nobody's Playing," "Pearls," "From A Shell," "Lullaby For Liquid Pig," and "Into the Night." The second CD is a true bonus disc...a collection of home recordings and live tracks. Not surprisingly, when presenting her tunes in front of a live audience using nothing more than a piano or a guitar...Lisa's songs are just as strong and substantial as her original recorded versions. (We can't believe how quiet and polite the audiences were...although our guess is that they were probably hypnotized.) More than any other twenty-first century artist, Ms. Germano seems to speak directly to her listeners' subconsciousness. The music is heavy lyrically and sometimes difficult to digest...but it always causes you to think. Few artists will ever reach the heights of Liquid Pig and In The Maybe World. Once again, this album is highly recommended...even more so this time around because of the extra CD. Love the slick tri-fold digipak sleeve and lyric sheet. We can't wait to hear...what comes next...

Angels of Light - We Are Him CD, Young God

Free Black River Song mp3 here.

The fifth album from Angels of Light...the project created by Michael Gira after the Swans disbanded in 1997. During his lengthy, influential, elusive career, Gira has recorded a wealth of material that has somehow mostly escaped our consciousness up to this point (with the exception of one or two releases that we heard only briefly). For whatever reason, while others were having their minds totally blown away by the intensity of Swans music...we never got our greedy little hands on any of the band's best releases. Thus, though recorded late in his career, this is the first album by Gira to receive our full attention. We Are Him is an intriguing, multitextured collection of tunes that are puzzling and strangely calming. In many ways, We Are Him reminds us of Brian Eno's Here Come The Warm Jets album. The vocals are strikingly similar at times...and, like Warm Jets, the arrangements are obtuse and unfamiliar. Michael invited some underground heavyweights to help him arrange and record these tunes...contributors include Akron/Family, Christoph Hahn, Bill Rieflin, Eszter Balint, Julia Kent, Paul Cantelon, Steve Moses, David Garland, Siobhan Duffy, Larkin Grimm, Phil Paleo, Birgit Staudt, and Pat Fondiller. Although this album is difficult to describe and/or explain...there is something obviously rather substantial going on here that extends beyond the normal boundaries of pop music. This is easily one of the most intriguing releases of 2007. Puzzling and peculiar...and yet somehow familiar and reassuring...