Posts Tagged ‘RVNG’

Peter Ivers – Becoming Peter Ivers

There’s every chance that, even if you’re a fan of New Wave and punk, the name Peter Ivers has never crossed your lips. Even if you’re a David Lynch fan, Ivers’ involvement in Eraserhead may have escaped your attention. Ivers was more often known as a proponent of music than a writer of music. He had, in fact, recorded several albums – 1976’s Knight of the Blue Communion, 1974’s Terminal Love and 1976’s eponymous affair. Despite this, he was best known as a TV host, presenting the utterly essential cult classic New Wave Theater until his tragic death in 1983. The first album bears little resemblance to the songs on Becoming Peter Ivers. His first outing was threaded with jazz and blues, building to something more idiosyncratic in the future. Those other two albums were headed toward the New Wave he championed through a valley of singer-songwriterdom that was rumpled in the vein of Moon Martin or Warren Zevon.

Many of the songs here would wind up on those latter two albums, but here they’re stripped of any gloss. Demos seems a crude label, because it gives the impression that they weren’t up to snuff, but if anything the version of the songs on Becoming prove that even in private and without the intention of these versions finding their way to the audience, Ivers was still an undeniable charmer. Given his predilection for more outre visions on his show, its always been a bit at odds that Ivers’ own records were more in a lounge singer vibe, but he gives that genre a proper Lynchian feeling – the singer wrapped in plastic, alone at the piano, while a cadre of regulars ignore the emotional exfoliation going on upon the stage. The moments here feel private, like we’ve wandered into a closed session with Ivers. Its almost conceivable that we’re all intruding, until Ivers whirls around and gives a wink, letting us all in on the voyeurism for hire that he’s peddling.

Ivers was a singular entity, part Lou Reed, part Max Headroom. This era of music has been scoured and repackaged, but somehow there’s still a hole where Ivers once stood. His musical voice is a worthwhile addition to the strange bedfellows made of punk, pop, post-punk and ultimately new wave boiling under Los Angeles’ sanded soul. I’m eternally grateful that RVNG has made this available. Now someone issue New Wave Theater in its entirety for a viewing audience in need of a licorice strip search.



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Peter Ivers Anthology on RVNG, Intl.

RVNG Intl. is bringing long overdue attention an ‘80s icon with the release of Becoming Peter Ivers. There are probably a few routes to be familiar with Ivers, the highest profile being his collaboration with David Lynch for Eraserhead. The song “In Heaven” features at a pivotal junction in the film and the scene itself has become somewhat iconic. However, I was more familiar with Ivers from his work with New Wave Theater, which can be found floating around Youtube these days, but was a lifeline to night owls in my youth. Ivers served as the host of the show, starting in 1982, broadcast on LA UHF channel 18. Though it would eventually be rerun on USA late at night (that’s where I found it). It brought some well needed attention to punk and New Wave bands, mostly originating around the Los Angeles area. Ivers served as the nasal-voiced host and his skewed delivery and Dadaist sense of humor gave the show a direction that helped make it a cult classic. The show’s success was cut short when Ivers was murdered in his apartment in 1983, in a crime that was tragically never solved.

The collection gathers up the most complete account of Ivers’ recordings, many of them rough, but still full of the artists’ winking humor and engaging personality. The double disc set is out November 8th and includes a massive clutch of photos and liner notes by close friends. The first 300 also have a bonus 7” of additional demos. There are a lot of anthologies and reissues that come and go but I’ve got a feeling that few are going to be as idiosyncratic or vital as this one this year.



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Dylan Moon

LA via Boston songwriter Dylan Moon draws a line directly to the private press gems that haunt forgotten dollar bins. Picking at some of the same sores that fellow folk shut-in Dylan Shearer wore clean on his two quiet gems, Moon is likewise a bastion of bittersweet sighs. More than just Shearer, though, there’s also a good dose of the boarded bedroom hush that haunts the likes of Bobb Trimble, Carl Simmons, or Danny Graham. The slight mustiness of claustrophobia that hangs on certain tracks is more comforting than suffocating, but where Moon differs most from these peers is that while his recording itself feels sequestered, it’s clear that he spends his off time (and likely some of the songwriting time) out in the air, soaking in the pale afternoon sun or drying in the salted sea air.

There’s an undeniable lonesome quality to the album, but that lonesomeness brushes against humanity rather than hides from it. Moon is a parkbench observer, a coffee shop lingerer. His junkshop drum machines shuffle with a worn mockasin slipper softness, but his guitars sparkle like the sun off the sea. Perhaps that’s what makes Only The Blues so affecting, it’s full of yearning from the edges, a feeling that most find themselves projecting at one time or another. It’s a folk-pop album at heart but the dust and scuffed veneer that Moon applies make the songs solidify into a sepia-toned sizzle.

At times the record feels like tossing faded poloroids out the window of a borrowed car, letting them fall where they may to inspire the finders to craft their own story from the baked-on vingettes. This is a great LP for the last gasp of summer since it’s ingrained with just the right amount of lament, a pang that speaks to the soul. It’s a Sunday depression that’s eased with each passing minute by the Tecate and lime used to mark the passage of afternoon hours, and Moon is right there with the listener at the other end of the bar, watching the patrons work through their own small sadnesses — islands adrift in the same sea.



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Craig Leon – “The Gates Made Plain”

Craig Leon continues his exploration of imagined extraterrestrial information left behind in early African civilizations and spread across the globe. Volume 2 of “The Canon” expands on his 2014 collection of interplanetary folk tales that coupled his groundbreaking work Nommos with its follow-up Visiting. The new collection is vibrating on the same brainwaves of resplendent bliss and shimmering meditative psych and new cut “The Gates Made Plain” captures the essence of what Leon’s been building over the years. The track is draped in drones, pulsating with a ripple of percussion, and hung high with a sense of inching anticipation. The new volume is out May 24th from RVNG, Intl. Check out the video for the track below, which features visuals from Leon’s touring show directd by Milton Melvin Croissant III.



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Greg Fox

So the backstory on this one has to do with Fox rigging up software (via Sunhouse) that reacts to to his drumming, breathing the life from his motion into virtual instrumentation. Frankly, we’re pretty much all out of our depth on the physics here, but the emotional response is much further reaching and harder felt. The Gradual Progression nods to the free flowing works of Don Cherry and Pharoah Sanders while tugging at the the slightly more reigned moments of Sun Ra, but Fox doesn’t merely paint by erratic numbers in the shades of his heroes – he updates the free jazz workbook with a few moves that are distinctly his own.

Where “Catching an L” hums with the same sax energy that would be roundly reminiscent of another age of dissocitative jazz, Fox’s beats crunch with a sound that plays to his post-rock connections, bludgeoning with precision and bite. And that song actually stands as an outlier of defined pound among an album riddled with drumstick bullet holes and cascades of rhythmic ripple that fling themselves far afield of anything that feels moored to solid ground in the stream of consciousness. Fox’s pieces aren’t just complicated drum primers for NYU undergrads looking to notch their way into a teacher’s field of vision. Fox wields rhythm and his associated action painted tones with a scientists aim and an artist’s heart.

The album is dazzlingly complex, but never suffers from feeling weighted down in technology. Far from it, the album’s synth tones breath with wonder worthy of OMNI documentaries, the percussion – even when electronically generated – tumbles in ecstatic bursts that feel alive with human emotion, struggling to contain the joy and pain that Fox channels to his chosen surface. In The Gradual Procession, Fox has created a modern mountain of emotional work that transcends the touchy tags of free jazz and experimental electronic to become simply essential listening.




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Anna Homler and Steve Moshier – Breadwoman & Other Tales

Strange origins and stranger sounds come from the grooves of Breadwoman. Homler was a student of performance art and while on a trip through California the artist conceived of the character of Breadwoman, concocting a language of chants that seem so close to real tongues its hard not to believe Homler’s tales of divining an ancient language and acting as a vessel for the spirit of Breadwoman, a woman so old she’s turned to bread. Homler recorded her chants to handheld cassette and eventually found a musical patner in Steve Moshier, a fellow experimental traveler and member of avant-garde chamber ensemble Cartesian Reunion Memorial Orchestra.

Moshier took the transcriptions of Homler’s chants and composed a musical landscape for them that fit their loose cosmic nature. The results of these two halves of Breadwoman & Other Tales is a light source beamed in from space, sounding unearthed from an ancient civilization that’s left these recordings as a track record of their time here. For her part, Homler succeeds wildly in making Breadwoman feel like a real spirit, and with the help of Moshier’s analog inventiveness, her story crawls into the realm of psychedelic classics that have to be experience to be believed.



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