Posts Tagged ‘noise’

Gong Gong Gong – “Siren b/w Something’s Happening”

Beijing’s Gong Gong Gong tap into the tradition of bomb-bare psych blues. There’s not a drum in sight but the band is pounding that pulse as hard as Lightnin’ and John Lee. The pair herald the swell of a storm on lead single “Siren,” culminating in a feedback squall that’s not unhinged, but at the very least, unsettling. On the flip they let the floodwaters rip from the getgo, boiling their strings in a bath of fuzz and foam that’s thick as molten honey. Still the rhythm pulses and there’s a sense that Gong Gong Gong are either running from something sinister or running with it, bringing a deluge of doom to all who crowd their path.


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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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Ben Chatwin

The battle between electronic and organic has always been central to the Ben Chatwin’s compositions. While the emotional heft in his works is left to strings and brass that conjure the modern miracles brought to life by the likes of Max Richter or the late Johann Johannsson, Chatwin lets his electrics chew on the results in a way that brings to mind Ian William Craig, or Craig’s muse William Basinski. Over the course of his solo albums Chatwin is steadily evolving this approach to leaning on wind vs. wires. On 2015’s The Sleeper Awakes his infection of electronics was pervasive drawing on shoegaze in its obsession with peaks and swells. For 2016’s Heat & Entropy, Chatwin cleared out the noise floor a bit and put the focus cleanly on strings. Though, his vision of strings was still laden with soot, putting him in league with the dust bowl crumble of Evan Caminiti as often as he did those heavy hitting neo-classical types I mentioned.

On Fossils, Chatwin is using his proclivity for noise in the most effective means yet. The pieces have electronics woven throughout them, tumbling on pulse gripping beats sandblasted with static and teeming with swelling synths that aspire to the size of his orchestral ensembles. He’s roping in dub’s cavernous clatter to forests of cellos that block out hopes with a cloud of desperation and anguish. Each side of his approach is pulling its weight hard enough to make this feel like two equally adept genre studies melted together. Its either the best neo-classical album heard this year or the best e. Where his previous effort worked its way through Thrill Jockey’s post-rock to broaden the scope of classical, here Chatwin twisting his vision of modern composition through the prism of prime period Kranky output – positing the film scores that would’ve existed had Keith Fullerton Whitman and Stars of the Lid found their pockets stuffed with enough cash to outfit a full string section with their odes to sonic float and aural decay.

The record is harrowing to say the least, barely letting any room for relief flood the speakers. He grips the listener with writing that’s packed full of mournful resolve that often gives way to crushing walls of noise that feel about read to render the listener dust by the time he lets off the pedal. Not for the faint of heart, but certainly for those looking to run the emotional dial ragged for forty minutes.




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Matchess – “Of Freedom”

Whitney Johnson has been carving out niche for Matchess over the last few years with stints on Trouble in Mind, Digitalis and Monofonous Press. Her works are dark, meditative, and shielded from the outside world with a protective barrier of noise and a haunted hum. As might befit her collaborative work on albums for Circuit des Yeux, Bitchin Bajas and Plastic Crimewave Sound she’s not afraid to push herself to the edges of accessibility for sounds that reverberate through the mind and body on a tuning frequency set to shudder. Though Grouper comparisons might come fast and easy with Johnson’s work – the two artists both share a delicate core surrounded by an intricate storm of sound – on “Of Freedom” there’s more than just haze and haunt. The song clips along on a compressed air beat buoyed the sighs of strings, leaving Johnson’s voice to ricochet around the speakers in a delicately disorienting fashion. The track closes out her engrossing new album Sacracorpa which is due out July 27th on her old stomping ground at Trouble in Mind. If you’ve been missing Matchess up to this point then this might be a good time to start paying attention.



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Bend Sinister – Tape 2

One of the great, ink-black holes of interest in the pervasive Seattle music culture is A-Frames. The dirge-worthy noise punks were a black hole of chaos, tearing up S-S records and Dragnet before even they got themselves a Sub Pop deal and subsequently either delighted or deflated listeners looking for a certain Northwest sound. Long before there was The Intelligence and slightly before there was the idea of an A-Frames proper, there was Bend Sinister – the incubator of sorts for what would grow into a sprawling, narcotic entity. The band was built around Erin Sullivan, Min Yee and Josh Turgeon but later added in Steve Kaplan, who in turn left to make way for Lars Finberg. Lars, Erin and Min would go on to form A-Frames but it was in Bend Sinister that their love of noise punk produced some of the heaviest din associated with the region.

Named after a Fall song and professing love for The Electric Eels, Scratch Acid, Feedtime and Country Teasers, there’s no doubt that the band was about to gouge a few holes in the linoleum when they let loose. Homeless culls up a good chunk of the band’s ‘90s recordings on Tape 2, and it’s a must for fans of the A-Frames trajectory, but more than just a curio for Northwest collectors. Despite the relatively low-profile release status of a lot of the material here, it hammers pretty hard, not going for pristine power like some of their contemporaries but exchanging scrubbed audio for pure power in the end equation. Having missed out on Bend Sinister in its day, but loving everything that came as a result, this is a great primer and a peek at the seeds of what was to come.



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F/i – “Space Mantra”

I’m always game to expand my catalog of records that fall under the Space Rock tag and this reissue from Wisconsin’s F/i is a long undersung piece of the genre’s puzzle. The band started with a focus on noise, jumping off from Throbbing Gristle’s innovations and beginning to move towards guitars by the time they recorded a celebrated split with their brother band Boy Dirt Car in 1986. They’d full cement the sound as they embarked on their 1988 album Space Mantra, which would serve as their breakout, and become heralded as a lost classic in psych and noise for years.

Now the record is getting a proper issue on Sorcerer records, cut to the same specs as the RRRecords original. The record is swathed in noise, chugging industrial storms that swirl around, nodding heavily to their earlier work. They take those storms and pin them under the sway of groove and that’s where the record gets interesting – finding a nice mesh of Hawkwind, Neu, Popul Vuh and the aforementioned Gristle. They wind up in similar territory to fellow travelers Loop and its easy to see a long, lingering influence in bands like Moon Duo and Föllakzoid. The band continued on through the early ’00s with several augmentations to their lineup, but this album still remains a high water mark for both the group and the genre.




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Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

On his last album for Mexican Summer, veteran noise sculptor Cantu-Ledesma took a step towards accessibility. The album was still steeped in decaying waves of noise but it squinted into the sun every so often with a kind of shimmering beauty that let in a crossover of fans of shoegaze or more straightforward brands of electronic music. He doubles (maybe even triples) down on the concept for the follow-up and with On The Echoing Green he creates his most overtly pop album yet. The step towards pop is properly enabled by Green being his most collaborative work in a long time.

Chief among those collaborators is the siren call of Argentinian singer Sobrenada, whose voice fades in and out of the compositions on On The Echoing Green, blinking between the beautiful shards of Cantu-Ledesma’s sonic ruins. The album bleeds into the shoegaze world wholeheartedly this time, no half-measures. The slow, contemplative builds of the songs use noise as a trowel to shape their wall of sound, rather than seeping some shimmer in through the cracks of a house of noise, as was the case with A Year With 13 Moons. The result is a gorgeous, fragile, and tender record that occasionally lets itself be lacerated by Cantu-Ledesma’s past.

While there are some contenders, this might be the headphone record of the year. Cantu-Ledesma’s horizons of quaking bliss wash over the listener like a cocoon of lost emotions. He’s always been a master of soundcraft, but here he proves that he can let a little sun shine in without letting his carefully curated world crumble.

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RSTB Best of 2017 (so far)

Is it already six months into 2017? Could that be possible? Though it seems there are a hundred other things to distract these days from musical output, it’s been a banner year in terms of albums meeting high expectations and some new surprises sneaking their way into rotation. Somehow, despite plenty of talent bubbling through other genres, it’s just felt right to embrace the blistering squall of psych, noise and punk these past few months. So, as usual, here are the albums that have spent most time on the turntable here. Presented in alphabetical order, its a pretty good roundup with six more months left on the clock.

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Robedoor

Somehow it feels prescient that Robedoor have returned with a load of anxiety crusted psychic fallout in the midst of 2017. What could convey the looming cloud of dread and disgust better than L.A.’s preeminent purveyors of noise rattled knuckle biters? Britt and Alex Brown took a devil’s sojourn of four years between their last noise nugget and New Age Sewage, ostensibly so that Britt could focus on his noise/dance empire of Not Not Fun and 100% Fun, but it seems like old times on the new album.

The record is, well let’s not say cleaned up, but somehow there’s a clarity to their vision of hi-bias distortion paranoia. It’s booming through louder than ever, but while the tape hiss may have tempered, the fountain of filth keeps flowing as steadily as ever. Sickly swaying through a wasteland of rusted metal beats and radiation vibe synths, the record is slightly less evil than they’ve felt in the past, but no less apocalyptic. This time around they seem to be less the purveyors of ritual blood lust and more the reflecting pool of what they see around them. In any year, Robedoor feel like a scream into the abyss, but this year, we’re screaming with them.




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Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – “A Song of Summer”

Very excited to hear a new cut from Jefre Cantu-Ledesma this week. The track is the first from his upcoming album, On Echoing Green, out June 16th on Mexican Summer. The track features vocals from Argentinian singer Sobrenadar and pushes Cantu-Ledesma’s needle slightly further from the crackled noise that he’d been engulfed in on 2014’s A Year With Thirteen Moons. That’s not to imply that he’s emerged totally from the din, there’s still a gauzy glow around the artist’s synth and guitar work, but this time it’s far less impenetrable, arcing closer to shoegaze than noise. The track bristles at the edges in waves of glorious energy and burns with a glow that’s quite like squinting into the sun. Cantu-Ledesma won’t be accused of making pop by any measures here, but fans of My Bloody Valentine may have found a new obsession in this one.



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