Posts Tagged ‘Thin Wrist’

Patrick Shiroishi

There’s a heaviness to Patrick Shiroishi’s solo debut for Thin Wrist — both in the music itself and the inspiration behind it. The artist began the project with a focus on Japanese internment camps during the second World War, ones in which his own grandparents had been held. The bridge to the present was not a far one to cross, tying the border camps of the current administration to those since regretted and admonished for public record. Doesn’t seem like the lessons of the past carry a long enough shadow, though and Shiroishi turns improvisation into a conduit for feelings too overwhelming to plot out in advance. Tying in American homegrown hypocrisy to atrocities abroad — “The record is a representation of how I had been processing the horrors of the present…the sadness of the loss of life not only in the states but through the genocides in Sudan, Myanmar, Iraq and Syria, says Shiroishi, and it’s clear that within the pieces frustration wells up to the point of physical pain.

As a player, Shiroishi is a consummate collaborator, having found himself among ranks with Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Danketsu 10, Borasisi, Nakata, Kogarashi; Komeshi Trio, and leading Womb, Oort Smog, and Upsilon Acrux among others. Here, though, the only focus is Shiroishi, his sax and a smear of electronics that submerge the strident blasts from his instrument in a mire of undulating despair and euphoric release. Descnecion is a visceral listen and Shiroishi seems to have planned it as such. The pieces are laid out in the order that he recorded them, improvised on the spot and only framed by the embellishments later on. The rest is an outpouring of grief, anger, broken trust, shame, frustration, and resilience. The Nation is currently bubbling over and more than a few are reaching a breaking point. Shiroishi’s vision is just a few months ahead of the wave, but his historically charged context holds as true as ever for an expression of disillusionment with the structures that are inflicted upon us and institutions that carry out crimes in our names. This might well be the soundtrack of the summer.




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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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75 Dollar Bill

NY duo 75 Dollar Bill meld an obvious love of Tuareg guitar twines, desert electro-blues and the kind of Japanese broken boogie noise that’s getting fewer and further between these days. Wood/Metal/Plastic/Pattern/Rhythm/Rock builds four pieces into towering walls of drone and snakes of guitar winding through desolate alleyways of percussion. They’ve been studying up their Ethiopiques, feasting on Arabic modality and pinning both to a dirty boogie beat that gores the heart of dance out of a ragged and frantic trance. The big step here is that Che Chen and Rick Brown are no longer alone in their excavation of the psychic heartbeat at the center of the Earth. For this record they’ve brought on a wealth of collaborators, Cheryl Kingan on baritone and alto saxes, Andrew Lafkas on contrabass, Karen Waltuch on viola, Rolyn Hu on trumpet and Carey Balch on floor tom.

The menagerie of sound adds to the chaos and clatter of their ragged stomp and its definitely the puzzle piece they’ve been looking for. Wood/Metal/Plastic/Pattern/Rhythm/Rock is euphoric in its search for the knife edge between noise and nuance. Chen’s guitars are brittle and bruised, sounding like metal twisting over on itself time and time again. Brown, for his part, finds rhythm wherever it lies, using a wooden crate to create a cavernous thud that’s omnipresent on the album and working his way through an arsenal of shakers and beaded rhythm sticks for a sound that’s organic in its street band aesthetic. In the end, the band has hammered all of their moving pieces into the shape of a record that can’t help but feel soulful, ferocious and raw.

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