Posts Tagged ‘Experimental’

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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Charalambides – “Proper”

There are no real applicable labels for the medium in which Charalambides operate in. Like fellow Northeast luminaries Tower Recordings they’re rooted in psych and folk if you want to simplify, but you probably shouldn’t. They’re rooted in traditions of experimental songform and quite often delving into drone, but they typically tap into something ‘other’ and intangible. There’s a primal nature to their music that’s always felt like rites, spirituals without the burden of carved beliefs. This side of their songwriting is on full display on “Proper,” the latest peek into their upcoming eponymous LP. Over spectral tones the band’s Christina Carter intones high and holy, vibrating on a sympathetic tone with heavy metals in the surrounding soil. She cries for the Earth’s scars as if she can feel its pain.

The band’s Tom Carter expands on their process, confessing that the band “considers songs not as layers, but as stark utterances of elemental figures, the voids those figures define, and the unnamable emotions with which our minds fill the emptiness. Notes emphasize the silences between, loops pry apart tonal intervals, ghost-filled spaces open and slowly freeze shut as they fade to distant crackles. ‘Proper’ embodies all of these elements.” The new album is such a heavy, meditative piece that its hard to pry it apart into pieces, but “Proper” is a good entry point for the cosmic traveler. For the true Charalambides experience, the band is also taking this record on the road. Prepare to be ground into dust listeners East Coasters / Midwest settlers.

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Maher Shalal Hash Baz – “Switch Back”

Not long ago I was comparing Yuzo Iwata’s spare and bracing record to the works of Maher Shalal Hash Baz and at the same time wondering what’d become of that group, quiet for so long. Well as fate would have it Tori is back with MSHB and splitting time with the equally missed Little Wings on a new 12”. Got a first listen here of “Switch Back” from the upcoming EP and it’s as haunting a piece of folk as he’s put together in the past. The track tumbles over itself, strips bare any sentimentality and plays folk for the parched husks of crops picked apart by crows. Then he twists the psych staff and rolls it backwards skipping through time and space. The split is out August 21st on Moone Records and the fist 100 copies come with a hand-drawn postcard from Little Wings’ Kyle Field.



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Daniel Bachman

For his latest album Daniel Bachman has embraced space – space between notes with runs that amble rather than ramble, outdoor space via field recordings and headspace through some of his most challenging and experimental sides yet. His last album embraced an Appalachian folksiness, pock-marked by some clangorous diversions that kept it from becoming an exercise in gazing through the wrinkles of the past. While Bachman’s always been reverent of the past, he’s never been tied down by it. As he lays into The Morning Star, though, he’s torn tradition apart and glued it back together in his own vision.

For an album created by one of the great technical talents of our age, there’s a surprising shift from flashy fingerwork here to a much larger emphasis on environment and tone. Through a series of longform drones, flickering and sinister vocal samples and meditative plucks, Bachman drives the album with an air of contemplation. The Morning Star absorbs and ingests the chaos of modern matters and slows them down, picks them over with the eye of a patient woodcarver and sends out the artist’s interpretation – his rough edges and jagged hand adding a craggy character in purposeful acts of degradation.

The album is not eclipsed in total darkness, the nervously hopeful “Song for the Setting Sun III” gives a slight break in Bachman’s cloudbank compositions, but overall, it’s one of Bachman’s darkest works to date. It’s also probably one of his most accomplished. From Fahey to Richard Bishop, there are those who have infused fingerpicked folk with an experimentation that’s palpable and potent. In fact, this might just be Bachman’s America, its just that his own America has slipped its axis quite a bit from where Fahey found it. If you’re looking for lush technicality that’s born to sooth, sway towards the excellent album from Nathan Salsburg, also out this month. If you’re ready to pull the strings until they break the skin and burn the bone, Bachman’s your man.




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Chaines

Blending orchestral scrapes with back alley ambience and an alternate dimension lounge approach that slaloms through dirge infested seascapes, The King is, needless to say, a singular record. The work of Cee Haines alongside regular contributors Oliver Coates and Mary Stark, the record also makes use of the London Contemporary Orchestra to flesh out Haines’ stark vision to new heights. The record jellyfishes its way through genres, floating in an incandescent hue with menace and creeping calm. Haines pins anxious strings to the quiet creep of jazz winds then litters the path with scraps of noise that blow with ominous portent. The record is haunted and cinematic, though the kind of film that could accompany Haines’ vision feels like it might occupy the chasm between David Lynch and Jodorowsky – a rotting corpse rendered beautiful in shades of cyan slow motion.

As The King rolls on the elements of electronic influence become more pronounced, not merely content to play a background part in the proceedings. The beats creak out of the shadows and thump like frightened hearts underneath the mechanical clank and scrape of Chaines’ strange heat. Then out of the humid wreckage of the first six tracks a human shape rears its head – bound by static at first (“Mary”) and then soaring in embryonic ebullience, ambiguous and pained as the album comes to a close (“Eraserhead”). The evolution towards this torch song ending feels organic but jumping from the first to last track seems like a world has been traversed and a world that you’re quite sure you might not be able to find your way home from.



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