Posts Tagged ‘Experimental’

Fabulous Diamonds – G.B.H.

This is not a band I’d expected to return to the fore. It’s been seven years since Melbourne duo Fabulous Diamonds issued their sorely overlooked Commercial Music. They’re still crawling through the murk, turning creeping menace into dub-flecked ambient anthems. “G.B.H” is lost in a miasma of haze, pulling bits of twisted John Carpenter synth through a fog of fear and doubt and dread. The band has always threaded the outskirts of pop, finding doors in that no one thought to explore. This album sees the band jump to A L T E R, who are quickly making an imprint picking up all manner of experimental impulses at home and abroad. The band’s last was actually the subject of Ripley Johnson’s Hidden Gems, feel free to check that here. The new LP arrives September 20th.



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High Aura’d & Josh Mason

A new collaboration between High Aura’d and Josh Mason dips a bit of Florida burn into Ohio’s noise scene. Last found creeping around the RSTB pages with his psych-folk outfit Gemini Sisters, John Kolodij’s High Aura’d has remained a long-standing stain (in a great way) on the Midwest’s noise nooks and psych-folk circles. This time the he works with Mason to wind through the hushed corners of menacing silence — distant echoes, scrapes unseen, the mind playing constant tricks on the listener. Underneath the unsettling clatter, guitars seethe and kick at the amplifier, never bursting forth from their bounds, but pressing against the restraints with a physical presence. Opener “Rhododendron” howls — a trapped animal in full panic, hackles raised, poised to strike.

Further in the feelings are less feral and more fetal. “Silver” trims the fangs, and feels remorseful, shamed, not quite broken, but close. The arc of the record then follows to transcendence, coiling again into strength. The guitars on “Black” burn with a caustic tension that feels on par with Stephen R. Smith’s various convergences under the Ulaan banner. Here too there’s the sense of gnawing desperation and icy will that Smith has been able to imbue his works with all these years. The record draws to a close dug further into depths than before — alive but barely, breathing in spite of itself. There’d be a bit of relief in the final moments but the pair let just a glimmer of iris and a glint of fang show all the way to the end. Both artists are pushing their personal styles to the edges and coming out with a collaboration that’s riveting the whole way through.



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Chris Brokaw on Kevin Drumm – 1983 & Quiet Nights

If you traveled in certain circles in the ‘90s, in particular the kind that tipped towards the inward gaze of slowcore and the knotted tussle of indie then you’re likely already well versed in the works of Chris Brokaw. The artist spent years in the ranks of Codeine (drums) and Come (guitar), punching double on his indie-cred free coffee card with releases on Sub Pop and Matador in the same year. Throw in aughts favorite The New Year and a stint on Touch & Go and that indie rock bingo sheet is rapidly filling up. More recently Chris has been laying down down high quality solo spins that brush post-rock, jazz, and American Primitive, scoring for films, and occasionally flaying some brains in RSTB faves Charnel Ground alongside James McNew and Kid Millions. Just off the release of his excellent new LP for VDSQ Brokaw found time to kick in a pair of faves for the Hidden Gems series, giving the nod to experimental guitarist Kevin Drum’s run of CD-rs in 2013. Check Chris’ picks below.

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75 Dollar Bill

On their previous album, Wood/Metal/Plastic/Pattern/Rhythm/Rock 75 Dollar Bill scratched out a new high water mark, taking their austere setup (guitar and wooden crate) to new heights via repetition dropout zones of buzzing bliss. It’s four tracks packed more experimental rhythm riot than pretty much any other LP that year. It seemed a hard bar to hurdle, but the band’s not only bested that slab, they’ve soared far over its ambitions to create one of 2019’s most vital shakers. At double the length, and spanning four sides, the LP isn’t holding anything back. Rick Brown and Che Chen lead their troupe further down the wormhole of rhytmic wrangle than ever before with tracks stretching in excess of sixteen minutes, beset by locklimbed tangles of strings, stomps, skronk, and saw. It’s hypnotic in its execution and brilliant in its scope.

As with the previous album, whittling this just down to Brown and Chen is only half the equation. I Was Real owes just as much to its gathered ensemble as its predecessor, with a cadre of collaborators adding sax, viola, synth, contrabass, and additional guitars to the mix. The players summon a primeval boogie that resonates deep from the earth’s core and smelt it into audible heat. The band has made it adamant that they don’t consider this blues, but it’s a close cousin. When not doused in drones, the record is bursting with boogie – a kind of shaggy, euphoric, sweat sequined strain of boogie that’s more akin to the brokedown soulshake of someone like the name-checked Tetuzi Akiyama (see: track #3).

Like Akiyama’s Don’t Forget To Boogie the band deconstructs the heartbeat hum of ionic vibrations broadcasting from every environ and contorts them into shards of guitar that slice at the listener with a satisfying scratch. The band hammers on phrases, digging through Middle Eastern fuzztone and African Tuareg desert blues with equal hunger. The record is a sun ritual for a new age, dancing out the technological marvels of our time and crushing them into clatter matter, shaking their shambles along to the insistent beat and loosing all tethers in the process. As the title asserts, this is real – a tactile, turbulent, throttle that shakes up the last reluctant bones in one’s system and frees the listener from a life of stagnation. Get this on the turntable as soon as humanly possible.



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Padang Food Tigers

Its been a few long years since London duo Padang Food Tigers’ last outing, the sorely underrated album Bumblin’ Creed on Northern Spy in 2016, but they’re wafting back into view with a new record for Texan enclave Blue Hole Recordings. As ever, the works of PFT are hushed and delicate, built on their patient acoustic assemblages and the soft lap of field recordings nipping at the elbows of each track. Spencer Grady and Stephen Lewis are steeped in the traditions of Takoma, while showing equal reverence for the Jewelled Antler Collective’s crumbling vision of four track folk. The songs ache with life, cracking awake, wincing and weaving through the background buzz of life until the gorgeous moments peek through. For the rushed and ragged, these moments are likely lost. No time to wait through full minutes of hiss and hum, the harried listener would miss out on the slow opening of Padang’s songs. They lie in wait, as if so connected to the fragility of nature that they show themselves only to the gentle warming of the sun’s rays.

The band blends the wisdom of predecessors like Scott Tuma, Steven R. Smith, Kemialliset Ystävät, and the Blithe Sons into a record that’s spun like silk. It feels like even the gentlest nudge might upset these songs but breathing in the the rarified air around them bolsters the spirit and reaffirms the rightness of life. Each of the duo’s songs works like a vignette of bittersweet simplicity brought to sparkling life—like the whole-hearted whims of children presented in innocence but laid heavy with the promise of age, angst, and the alchemical loss of that whimsy. There’s sadness here, but also joy and in many moments they’re one and the same. Much of the befuddlingly titled Wake Up, Mr. Pancake feels like smiling and crying all at once—a heart breaking and mending on an endless loop, but the pair pull it off like the most accomplished aural artists. They paint delicate strokes on a complimentary field, but finding joy among the ridges and textures is endlessly engrossing. The album was worth the wait, but don’t let it slip by. This one won’t kick up a lot of dust, but once found it doesn’t let go.




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Weeping Bong Band – “Pattern of a Platitude”

Pioneer Valley’s cosmic nub Weeping Bong Band don’t throw a lot of confetti as they approach releases. They tend to slip out under the cover of night, content to creep through the mists, solitary and serene. The band’s last LP for Feeding Tube was a shamanistic wander along the outer edge of folk’s reaches and they offer up more of the same for the upcoming, and rather appropriately titled, II. The first track to see the light, via a quietly slipped MP3 on Feeding Tube’s page, is “Pattern of A Platitude.” Again riding the pre-dawn vibes, the track lopes through strings and sonorous drones with a patient pace. The song’s spectral tendrils drag out over fields parched of green, dry and itching for a frost. If you missed out on the previous LP, the label’s done you a solid and repressed that gem. Otherwise, get ready for round two.



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Nadah El Shazly w/ Karkhana + US Tour

Ahead of her upcoming tour with Iceage I’ve got a listen to Nadah El Shazly’s side of her recently released EP Carte Blanche (Unrock Records). The EP, a split with Sir Richard Bishop and W. David Oliphant, sees Shazly collaborate with her ensemble Karkhana. Said ensemble is comprised of top Middle Eastern and Mediterranean players including Sam Shalabi, Michael Zerang, and Umut Caglar. The tracks scrape at the psyche, focusing not on the fluid rhythmic styles associated with the region, but on an inverted vision of jazz, psychedelics, noise, and tradition. The songs for the EP were recorded while the band took up residency at Inter Arts Center in Malmö, Sweden, where the band also worked on tracks for an upcoming full length due later in the year.

For the tour Shazly will be backed by Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Thierry Amar, Shayna Dulberger and Luke Stewart on double bass along with saxophonist / drummer / synth player Devin Brahja Waldman (Patti Smith, William Parker, and Thurston Moore, Brahja, etc.). Dates below to see Shazly swing through your area.

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Fog Window

For those of you paying attention, Fog Window lives in the extended family of Devin, Gary & Ross, the bizarro psych trio who have been frothing in the fringes for the last decade or so. The players themselves have been on the horizon even longer. Gary Panter issued a single with the Residents, did design work for Pee Wee’s Playhouse, contributed comics to RAW and knocked out a Yo La Tengo cover painting and you barely thought to say ‘thanks.’ Panter hooked up with Devin Flynn, also a purveyor of fine comics and illustration (Y’all So Stupid, Adult Swim, Yo Gabba Gabba), as a duo LP on Ecstatic Yod/Feeding Tube in 2011 and eventually they pulled in fellow psychedelic traveler Ross Goldstein to the fold. The partnership set the scene for two LP’s of melatonin-mad psych-folk goo that’ll warp yer wagon if you let ‘em, 2011’s Four Corners and 2014’s Honeycomb of Chakras. They’ve absorbed a couple more campfire cosmonauts into the mix for the lovely sprawl that is Fog Window’s debut – with Lily Rogers and Curtis Godino of the band Worthless rounding out the roster here.

With the deeper bench the band expands the notions of psychedelic drip that and DMT satellite transmissions that DG&R have molded into shape over the last few years. The record is hard to pin down (as might be expected) and the styles shift like colored oils under glass. Rogers adds an ethereal touch with her high register folk fawning, giving Fog Window a dreamy quality on shimmering tracks like “Time in Miles” and “Hippie Girl.” Don’t get your head set on where this is going though, the band won’t sit still for your dream-folk fantasies. The tone shifts to campfire clatter, humble and hummable, and then slides through the silt into spoken word workouts that are half-remembered through the haze of substance, reality, and time.

They drop out of the dream entirely by the time we roll into side three, amping up the ozone past more than a tickle in your throat and knocking a bit of cosmic sense into the listener with a toasted blues shuffle that could take a tête-à-tête with Endless Boogie and come out sauntering. While I appreciate the whole of Fog Window’s mercurial madness, this side hits me just right. “Landing Gear” sets the tone for the second half of the album, which seems to slide further off this crumpled coil and into the wet ink wonderland of the band’s rubberized hallucinations. By the time the fourth and final side is upon you the ground’s gone gummy and started to rise like quicksand, but if feels natural. It feels right. Fog Window are there to hold your hand as you tip off the edge of this shoddy temporal existence. They’re sonic Sherpas for end times shepherding us all into the smoke on the horizon.

Check out a stream of the LP below. Double gatefold comes with a bonus newsprint zine featuring art by the band.



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Spiral Joy Bad

Spun off from the din of Pelt, Spiral Joy Band has served over a decade as a parallel universe in which Mikel Dimmick, Patrick Best, and Troy Schafer can experiment further with the drones and zones that capture their attention. Originally envisioned as an acoustic counterpart, the band’s embraced the electric impulse over time and with their latest for MIE, they continue to open a portal to a haunted hollow beneath the earth’s crust. As with Pelt proper, SJB have a patient creep to them – embracing drones that float like fog a la Heldon or Ashra, while scraping some high plains guitar moan from the stones in the manner of Barn Owl and Charalambides.

On Summoning the similarities with the latter are cemented even further, with vocalist Dani Schafer’s incantations thrumming on the same cosmic wavelength that’s long driven Christina Carter. On centerpiece, “Starlings in Deerwood,” her vocals crack the cosmos and give the band’s guitar clash a run for its money in terms of holding the listener rapt. Then the band shakes the world tree with a clattering, mossy menagerie of drone, dirge, rattle and hum on the 20 min closer “Down the Lane the Park is Still and the Water Chill.” Fans of any of the aforementioned touchstones or Pelt for that matter have plenty to unpack on this limited press platter, perfect for the hibernation months ahead.



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Rattle

Nottingham duo Rattle throw out the pop formulas in favor of a percussive ping pong between members. The pair, Katharine Brown and Theresa Wrigley, weave a tapestry of hypnotic dance and percussive patter, both picking up the sticks to spar rhythmically with each other with only occasional forays into vocal volley. Sequence drops the listener into a trance, playing off of subtle shifts in ever evolving patterns, with each of the four songs on the record stretching towards the ten-minute mark. The songs have the effect of stripping away the surroundings of the listener, like a sonic suspension in sensory isolation, or in this case suspension in the rarefied air of rhythmic thrum. The record is best listened to in dim surroundings or with eyes closed altogether. Let the rhythms play over the mind, pushing accompanying brainwave patterns to the beat that the two women pluck out of thin air. In that environment Sequence begins to toggle the tumblers of the mind into new positions.

When vocals do arise in the mix, they’re often wordless – cooing, humming and moaning entwined with the insistent, ecstatic beats. They finally break into discernible phrasing on “Signal” but even then, the pair are all about repetition, turning their words into mantras that eventually push meanings to the background in favor higher states of consciousness. While the record is propulsive and even at times frantic, the overall effect is absolutely soothing. There’s a sense of natural evolution to each song, each player anticipating the other completely, and that ingrained trust is passed through the speakers to the listener. Brown and Wrigley are spirit guides, sonic Sherpas, clatter-packed chiropractors come to align your vibrations to their natural thump.

It’s a shift from the usual dose of post-punk and that drops from the bucket at Upset The Rhythm, but the DIY spirit is just as punk as anything else on the roster. Brown and Wrigley are working the crease between jazz, post-punk and drone and it works as a feast for the ears. Highly recommended as a background beat to get your own weird Birdman-esque mania working for you, or just to drop out in the negative zone for forty-odd minutes of float. Either way Sequence is a damn delight.


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