Posts Tagged ‘MV & EE’

Matt Valentine

It’s been a bang-up year for Matt Valentine, with his searing second album from Wet Tuna landing last month and now the arrival of his 8-years baking solo LP, Preserves headed down the dock from Beyond Beyond is Beyond. The latest takes every incarnation that Valentine has inhabited over his years and throws ‘em in the blender, but don’t go thinking this is a hodge-podge, unfocused affair. MV grinds those sounds down smooth and viscous – melding psychedelic folk, with electronic swamp gas and lighting it on fire with the frantic freak foam of brain-bending guitar. This is Matt as his most potent, burning from the core and set to singe. The album blends midnight séance shivers with alien radio ripples, sounding like the FM waves have been hijacked and are picking up some sorely needed psychotropic solace from across the cosmos. Songs blend into one another without seams. It’s all one big batch of Preserves, steeped and sweetened for your pre-dawn consumption, gelled together into 40-odd minutes of melt.

The record calls up every acquaintance Valentine’s brushed against over the better part of the decade with longtime compatriots like Erika Elder, Pat Gubler, Willie Lane, J. Mascis, and Samar Lubelski making their way into the psychic seep of this one. The guests siphon and out Valentine’s sonic stew, giving the record a communal careen, but at the core is simply MV communing with the quasars one more time for good measure. It’s quite possible this might be the perfect companion piece to this years’ Water Weird — a moonburned coda on that album’s smoke-soaked blues. The two fit together into an extended fever dream hunkered down in sauna surroundings, sweating out the evil ether for all the transcendental sinners out there. Don’t just take my word though, the whole album’s streaming below and you’re welcome to get a taste of it yourself.


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Matt Valentine on Takehisa Kosugi – Catch Wave

I’m steadily working through the great wishlist of artists who have shaped the path of Raven for the Hidden Gems series and this week we land on another. Along with Erica Elder, Matt Valentine’s tenure in MV & EE and its various incarnations was instrumental to the aughts psych-folk wave. In his stewardship of the great Northeast label Child of Microtones he’s given a home to The Tower Recordings, Samara Lubelski, Ash & Herb and Dredd Foole among others. And just this year he’s carved out yet another classic with PG Six as Wet Tuna. So, it came to pass that I asked Matt to pick out a record that had perhaps eluded the grasp of the masses all these years. Coming on the heels of the news that Taj Mahal Travellers’ August 1974 has found its way back to LP, Valentine’s pick from the band’s Takehisa Kosugi – his 1975 album Catch Wave – seems quite fitting. See how this record found its way to his life and what impact it’s had on his own works below.

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Mixtape: We Bleed Love

Its been a few months since the last mixtape and seems about time for another genre dive. This time the recent reissues of Ivytree and Skygreen Leopards material had me nostalgic for some of the very records that started this site over a decade ago. At the time the unfortunate ‘freak folk’ term got thrown around a lot by, well mostly writers who just couldn’t think up a better term. The ensuing resurgence of psychedelic folk and free folk (see that’s better) delved into the CD-r and small press worlds to see several of the home taped community elevated to indies like Jagjaguwar and Drag City, while carving out new ground for Young God, Language of Stone, 5RC, Gnomonsong and Three Lobed. I’ve scooped up an overview of some of my favorite moments from this movement of the early aughts and a prefect primer to the oncoming summer months. Check out the tracklist and listen below.

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Wet Tuna

Doesn’t take much more than the lineup here to peak my interest in Wet Tuna. The duo is comprised of longtime psych flayers Matt “M.V.” Valentine and Pat Gubler, better known to the double spool grind as P.G. Six. The pair have been living the Wet Tuna lifestyle live for a while now and posting some tantalizing sets up on their Bandcamp, but now they’ve wrestled the expansive experience down to a debut full length and it sees them flesh out the sound with a full band feeling, adding keys and percussion to the pair’s guitar divinations. Taken on their own (or even with his other duo in Valentine’s case) these are two mighty pillars of post echo-location soup to deal with, both riding high on damp and dank guitar licks that burrow psychedelic smolder from the ground. Together, though, they’re definitely working on an alechimical level to mind-meld their way to new levels of endorphin-chompin’ brain float.

The band isn’t messin’ around out of the gate, filling the first side of this platter with the twenty-minute scorcher “New York Street,” making a case for high-mountain firelight blues chug as a state perfect being. The album grabs hold of the ghost, lights the fuse and never brings the listener down below the horizon line. Even when the guitars cool the strings to the touch, as on the shorter bits here, there’s still a buoyant calm that keeps Livin’ The Die sublimated and gaseous, beaming in on a transistor beacon from deepest space while leaving behind an aroma that’s straight from the soil. That’s the beauty that Valentine and Gubler have wrought, the woven riffs are mossy and humid, their vocals float in a memory haze of stuffed-cotton caverns, and when the coils glow an incandescent amber, the album takes flight with a solid-state shot of sulfur and smoke that lingers on the tongue. It’s a high point in both artist’s catalog, which for two such prolific beings, speaks high of Wet Tuna’s legacy.



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Ash & Herb

A heady new project from Herbcraft’s Matt Lajoie, Ash & Herb pairs his psychedelic haze with partner in crime Ash (singularly named it appears), who provides some haunting vocals and lycergic instrumentation of her own. Not wholly divorced from Herbcraft’s earlier works, before they hit a heavier rock vein, the album wafts in on a puff of shamanistic smoke and settles down to craft temples in the woods. Picking out half ragas, divining rain spirits and then sublimating into a fine ether; the pair have captured themselves in some real improvisational glory. They catch the same spectral breath as Charlambides or Pocahaunted before them, finding solace in their own sense of time and place.

Tracks build up out of the clatter of percussion, feed on guitar and crumble away before they can imprint, occasionally picking up a lost transmission of blues scattered somewhere in the ionosphere. Lajoie’s early work as Cursillistas comes into play here, a band delighted in creaking and gnawing at the world in ecstatic bursts. He communes the same spirit for Ash & Herb, augmenting it into a smother smoke curl and pleasing some apparent Earthen gods with Ash’s harmonious call. There was a time when psych-folk went deep and there were plenty of folks poking around through the beautiful bliss of cacophony. Now, it’s fewer and further between, but Ash & Herb, like MV & EE, who head up their label Child of Microtones, prove that there’s still more to till in that soil.



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