Posts Tagged ‘Three Lobed’

Silver Scrolls

Silver Scrolls work to elevate the simple act of walking into a microcosm of introspection, providing a soundtrack to clear your head or parse the infinite. The band probably didn’t think the album would land this presciently, but here we are in the grip of 2020 and the walk itself has become a necessity in cloistered times while also transforming into a moment that’s more prepared for than impromptu. The band, which boasts ex-Polvo members Dave Brylawski and Brian Quast doesn’t take the predicted route in association with introspective space. When I’d first heard that the title was Music For Walks, thoughts of ambient headspace immediately cropped into view, but the pair crib from their wheelhouse of psych, math, and angled indie instead.

The album is hardly reduced to a shade of background music, though they work to employ a certain hypnotic quality in the riffs. While Polvo is the name that sticks out most on paper, Brylawski’s songwriting here might more align with the psych-blues of Black Taj, which had a short run on Amish Records in the early Aughts. Blending some of the textures of Polvo, with the exploratory blues model of Taj, he lets the album wind in a sort of steam of consciousness feeling that moves from heavy amplifier curdle to delicate finger work and introspective ruminations. I feel like (if such a thing as commutes existed anymore) this one would have made a good Music for Commutes as well. The centering quality is good for getting the head straight whether its for the numbness of Capital servitude or a good 40 minutes through the neighborhood. These days, any even keel is appreciated, and this is an asset for ballast.




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Silver Scrolls – “Walk Two (I – Nature’s Promise)”

Offering up a new cut today from the debut album from Silver Scrolls. The band is the latest work from David Brylawski (Polvo, Black Taj) and Brian Quast (Polvo) and centers around a meditation on walks, and their connection to free association and waking dreams inspired by The Christopher Bollas Reader. Gnarled and inherently rhythmic, the songs beat like an internal metronome, but spiral off into vibrating tangents of sound, both tense and amniotic. While some songs lean on the idea of walking as an escape from inner turmoil, some let that turmoil spill out into the streets and back in again. Honestly, its a rather prescient concept for a record in a time when movement is coupled with anxiety and allowable space has become a constant force in so many lives.

For this particular track, Brylawski explains, “The overall conceit is a person who goes for a city walk then anxiety comes in and (he) decides that a nature walk is what is called for – Nature’s Promise, a ‘Doom Blues’.  However, he realizes anxiety has entered this walk as well – nature does not guarantee tranquility, so (he) must seek something else.   This part of the album, the nature walk, was influenced by an actual walk my family took in Montana a year ago.  There was a sign saying ‘last bear sighting 5 days ago’ and someone had crossed that out and wrote ‘three days ago’.  My family started on the walk but as the path became more narrow and the forest became dense – my wife and I at the same time became worried about our kids and literally running into a bear so we turned tail and got the heck out of the trail.” The album lands July 10th on Three Lobed.



 

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Bardo Pond – Adrop / Circuit VIII

Oof, almost too late with this one, despite the LP having been released just last Friday, but there’s still time as long as good outlets hold out. Pretty sure if you’re landing on the shores of Raven Sings the Blues that familiarity with Bardo Pond is a given, but I’m not one for assumptions. Philadelphia’s reigning noise wranglers have fallen under many banners from psych to space to noise and experimental – each assessment is 100% correct and can’t be divorced from the other. The band is a force of nature and that force is on full display over this two-record reissue of their ‘06/’08 releases for Three Lobed — Adrop and Circuit VIII. Both records were part of CD series that the label put together in these respective years. Adrop was only available as part of the “Modern Containment” collection that included Hush Arbors, Kinski, Mirror/Dash, Mouthus, Sun City Girls, Sunburned Hand of the Man, MV & EE with the Bummer Road, and Wooden Wand and the Omen Bones Band. I believe it was that last one that brought me into the TRL awareness in the first place, but the set also opened up a world of post-Matador Bardo Pond to me that was more sinister and more visceral than they’d ever been on the mini-major.

Adrop works in movements and they push a cloud of static through the heart of a dying sun. The record saws at the consciousness and proves that the Pond is not an average psych band by any means, defying any usual metrics at the time. The following set, Circuit VIII is equally scorched and unsettled, having found its way into the label’s next series “Oscillations III.” This series found them alongside fellow travelers Bark Haze, Tom Carter, GHQ, Howlin’ Rain, Magik Markers, The Michael Flower Band, Lee Ranaldo, Vanishing Voice, and Jack Rose. Eschewing movements, but operating in much the same way as Adrop, Circuit VIII is one longform piece that travels from deep, volcanic growls to tender acoustic tears. It’s a record that, much like its predecessor, defies convention or categorization, but as any Bardo collector might surmise, also elevates the form of mining cosmic vibrations beyond what many of their peers were doing at the time. Side note: that “Oscillations III” box contains one of the very earliest Robert Beatty covers and is worth nabbing a CD copy for this as well. Nice to see the label pack these two back together and set them aloft on vinyl as well. Both of these CD series were pretty formative in terms of how RSTB came about, so its got a special place in my heart.




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Wet Tuna

When Wet Tuna first unspooled their debut last year, they tapped into a primitive blues soup dipped strait from the swamp. It’s a humid, boiled record that folds one song into another with barely time to swipe the sweat before each groove subsumes the next. The band was built on the stage and they brought the deep zone groove nexus into the studio with surprising success. On the follow-up they still keep the cosmic tapestry intact, but they’ve begun to thread a few new strands into the tattered tap as well. The record is still living on midnight fuel, formed from their own admitted tendency to let the substances settle for a few hours until the balance is right and the clock slips past the uprights into the pre-dawn hours.

They channel this time-slip pseudo-seance onto a two-inch proof of purchase – a haunted haven of dank grooves to get lost in and vaporized boogie that cures the soul. Matt and Pat have boundless roots in the psychedelic pantheon, but collectively this is probably one of their most pure and primal discs. Water Weird is the cosmos captured, the burnt mind made good and projected through three layers of psychic meniscus into the ever after. Water Weird is the night made manifest and given flight over the horizon of infinite ink. There’s something ineffable, intangible, and alchemical about Wet Tuna and it all comes to a head with Water Weird. If this isn’t sitting atop your year end, then I’ve got some serious questions about priorities to discuss with you.

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Wet Tuna – “Cowpath 40”

The steam off of this upcoming Wet Tuna record continues to rise and the band gives another inviting glimpse into the world of Water Weird. “Cowpath 40” slinks forward from the depths, slow and silken, yet covered in an algae slick that gives it a dank, earthen smell. There’s more than a little of the Midnight Tripper in the veins here, the bones of Louisiana sprung to life hundreds of miles north, swamped and sodden, but never soggy. Valentine and Gubler are skulking through a permanent 3AM tilt and it feels like the only right time to be out when Tuna’s on the speakers. New record lands October 11th, and the band is hitting Hudson for a stacked bill at The Half Moon. I’d highly suggest getting some Wet Tuna in your life.



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Wet Tuna – “Goin'”

Couldn’t be more excited to have a new Wet Tuna up for grabs this morning. The last one hit hard, or it least it should have if you had the right kinda ears last year. This time the pairing of Matt (MV) Valentine and Pat (P.G. Six) Gubler is back to track your midnight ride into the subconscious, sub-dermal subject matter. The vibes are heady already as “Goin’” wafts into the room — the kind of molasses-milked twilight track that can hit just right when the brain’s in balance and the air is still. This is the core of Tuna — a humid seep of sound, a breath on the air that realigns the vibrations in the ether. “Goin” gets into the pores and never leaves.

Matt gives a little insight into how the track rose to the surface, “WET TUNA is wild & fun place for me. Pat & I have a language that seems to be unique to us…we don’t really talk about it and i reckon in many ways that’s what makes it cool. Anyway, that’s how it went down, via the jam, and how most of our music flows, we turn on the tubes and the tapes roll. I distinctly remember doing 3 “takes” of “goin’” — all with John Moloney on drums — he and i have been preserving it for a long time and the couch is flambeau comfy. He brought a pretty skeletal kit to the session, which was at my “Green Extension Studio B” in Vermont, and we left a lotta space. It’s a tight room. We tracked guitars live with drums and kept everything. Pat used a synth wah effect, I plugged in a Vox repeat percussion and Mutron. we used Gibson & Fender amps, did the vocals together in one or two takes. The lyrics came to me in a semina vision. Pat dubbed mellotron. it was around 4:20 in the afternoon, seriously, but it coulda been round midnight. Sunshine winter warmer…we had some Guinness in cans outside the window in a hanging pot from the night before, code name “water the plant” to grab a round. Pretty sure there were two left and we poured ‘em slow.”

New LP, Water Weird hits the shelves October 11th from the incontrovertible crew at Three Lobed.

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Mary Lattimore & Mac McCaughin

While there’s barely a raised eyebrow at the thought of Mary Lattimore helming a collection of neo-classical minimalist compositions there’s a bit of an ear perk when Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan gets thrown into the mix as well. The pair have teamed up for a collection of movements called New Rain Duets, with Mac helming the synthesizer as a foil to Mary’s poignant plucks. The pair are working in an Eno womb of sound – appropriately evoking the grey-skied sighs of the album’s title. There’s a feeling of cabin fever, bone chill brooding, and eventually a resigned despair to the record. The pieces, set against actual field recordings of rain, begin by lapping at the windows of the soul in a deflating drizzle, rather than wild torrents of sound. There’s isolation vibrating between the notes, a yearning to connect doused by nature’s icy fingers.

As usual Lattimore’s playing remarkably pulls the heart from its chest and massages an ephemeral ache into every inch. As the record wears on, though, MacCaughan’s synths become less subsumed into the walls and reach a rising panic- the feeling of isolation, fear, and anxiety pushing aside Lattimore’s emotional balms. The caged demeanor moves from home windows to car windows, with the rain slicking the streets and a storm lacquering danger onto every minute. There’s still that unmistakable pang of sadness – the feeling that if you can just get through this deluge it’ll all work out all right. In the throes of the second and third movements, the light of exit doesn’t seem so close, however.

I’d love to say that the fourth movement brings a feeling of peace, but its more relief. The gnawing of anxiety and inertia is left behind in a long sigh, but the break in the downpour only seems to leave the world damp and dour. It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking record, that doesn’t let the listener off easy. While its an unexpected output from these two musicians, its nonetheless a masterfully constructed chrysalis of pain and panic.



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RSTB Best of 2018

So, it seems that 2018 is finally coming to an end. It’s been a hell of a year by most standards, but musically its been damn entertaining. Perhaps its fair that there’s some bright spot in all the chaos. Not to diminish the chaos, but when the negativity is at an all-pervasive fever pitch, its feels good to have something to hold onto. I’ll choose to remember 2018 as a banner year for music and for the birth of my second daughter rather than the year that page refresh politics threatened to give me an ulcer any day. Below are my favorite albums of the year, taking care to highlight some that might otherwise get forgotten. They’re in (quasi) alphabetical order with no other particular weight on the list. Keep your eyes out for a few more year-end features this week before I reset for the new year. As always, thanks for sticking with RSTB for these 12-odd years or so.

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Meg Baird & Mary Lattimore

That Mary Lattimore and Meg Baird haven’t constantly crossed paths as collaborators is a bit of a conundrum. Both artists spent time in Philly’s verdant folk wave and both have found themselves circling a good cross section of the same musicians over the years. They’re both constant collaborators in general. Lattimore finds herself skewing to the experimental subset, appearing with Jeff Zeigler, Chris Forsyth, and Elysse Thebner. Baird on the other hand has leaned psychedelic, taking up posts in Espers and Heron Oblivion outside of her collaboration with her sister Laura. Now the fates have intervened and Baird’s effusive folk is married to the sympathetic strings of Lattimore’s harp. With voices billowing around the headspace in an otherworldly flow, Ghost Forests, it seems, is an apt title. The album rises out of the mists with an intangible softness – streaked by sunlight, tangled in the wind.

The pair weave subtext and nuance throughout the album, eschewing overt declarations for hazy perfection on a great many of the songs. While there are themes of nature and nations, art and anxiety even the most straightforward songs like “Painter of Tygers” or “Fair Annie” are still subsumed by a disorienting haze that renders every moment of the album beautifully serene. Its Lattimore’s harp that pulls the listener out of the maze each time, though. As with any of her own works or previous collaborations, Lattimore’s talent for adding a bittersweet sparkle to any track remains true. She’s a master of restraint, plucking and prodding songs along with a gilded touch that’s never busy, but always brilliant.

The record builds towards strength, with the first few tracks loping along quietly, doused in a morning serenity. By the time the pair lead the listeners to the closer, “Fair Annie,” the sun has almost burnt away the billow, leaving an ache of longing in its place. The duo’s first outing for Third Lobed immediately leaves the listener wanting more and hoping that this isn’t the last time the women grace each other’s presence.



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Meg Baird & Mary Lattimore – “Painter of Tygers”

Kindred spirits Meg Baird and Mary Lattimore have connected for a collaborative release that’s delicate and haunted. Anchored by the sun-squinted folk of Baird, the first track from the duo’s upcoming Ghost Forests lays a film of noise over Baird’s voice like dust on windows. Baird calls out from behind the din, slowly receding into the Kodachrome ache of time while Lattimore’s harp is upfront and present, sparkling in full color and framing the song’s heartache hues brilliantly. A true partnership elevates both songwriters and this pairing seems like such a natural extension of what both women have been cultivating in their own works that it feels like a band that’s been playing together for years bringing forth their best work. Keep an eye out for the album on Three Lobed this November.



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