Director Nancy Jean Tucker's mesmerizing film frames the music of Simone
White, who's heard here performing a quite radical interpretation of an
old suffering tune by blues giantess Bessie Smith. White's version, which
was produced by Adam Samuel Goldman, is among a number of most worthy
covers of Smith's works compiled on an album called The Empress of the
Blues: A Tribute to Bessie Smith, out just this week on the Reimagine
The black & white film looks vintage though it's most likely newly shot.
It depicts a neck-tied man's rescue perhaps from the abyss of his life;
see the exhaustion and desperation on his face as he stumbles toward the
water; there, a small boat bobs slowly on the sea…the hills behind look
neither threatening or inviting…there is an indifference to the sea,
after all, it just keeps ebbing and flowing. A woman in the boat smiles;
she beckons, reaches out her hand and pulls the frazzled man to safety,
to something like home, to a future, or maybe just a respite from the
madness. She defies the cruel indifference, can clearly see the
importance of helping the man. So she does. And he accepts her help,
gratefully you'd assume, but then he has no choice…Or does he?
Pan camera up into the sun, which can bathe with warmth or burn holes in
the retinas if one stares at it too long. This film is a heavy dose of
mystery, psychology and oblique mood, perfectly matched and heightened by
Bessie & Simone's "Backwater Blues."
–– John Payne
The music of Jon Hassell is just about the only music I've ever heard that I wouldn't mind hearing
24 hours a day, seven days a week. I just never want it to end. It is music that soothes and stimulates the body and
brain, usually simultaneously. It is like all mystery, all beauty, wrapped together, enveloping and pulling at you,
probing you. It is seductive music. You bathe in it. It is electronic and organic, it is a whole-body / whole-mind / deeply
spiritual experience, and I don't throw that word spiritual around too casually, normally. It is a total-art unlike anything else on this planet.
I would never get anything done, really, if Jon Hassell's music were to swirl thru my every waking hour. In a better
world, there would be worse fates than never getting anything done.
If you're in L.A. tonight, please get offa the couch and drag yourself over to Los Globos to experience an
extremely rare local appearance by the great Jon Hassell, who'll premiere a new band and veritable loads of new, surprising ideas for
a new music in a new time in this new world in which we're all waking up. You will not regret it.
–– John Payne
There's a real toughness of mind and spirit in the way Alon Nechushtan grabs
hold of his music and hurls it into the air. Born in Tel Aviv, the New York-based pianist/composer
brings his Russian/Hungarian/Transylvanian/Uzbekistanian roots to bear in choice new jazz
meltdowns that pay their respects to the classical and folk strains of his forebears while savoring
jazz's freedom to, well, totally mess with ‘em. Nechushtan has gotten big props for his probing and
athletic piano in various jazz and klezmer groups (he leads the band Talat, which released a 2007
record on John Zorn's Tzadik label), and has composed for large ensembles in the U.S. and Israel.
Among a healthy heaping platter of other things, Latin, blues and a touch of gospel twine with
Ashkenaz/Sephardic and Coltrane-/Tyner-ish modalities on Nechushtan's new Venture Bound
(enja), a happily bold batch of tunes done with the aid of a ripping band including sax men Donny
McCaslin and John Ellis, trumpeter Duane Eubanks, bassist Chris Lightcap and drummer Adam Cruz.
In tracks like the opener "L'Avventura" you'll hear a post-post bop that kills so nice with its easy
flow of simply great chords, the melodies and harmonies going every which way (and seemingly in
opposite directions sometimes). The band fits Nechushtan's exploratory moods like they were born
to do so, hopping through devilish times and countertimes spliced into single lines with gleeful ease
It's great how nothing comes off forced or contrived in
the kaleidoscopic variety this composer wedges into his longer pieces such as "Snow Flow" and "The Gratitude Suite," the latter
hybridizing klezmer-aligned melodic lines with lovely Eberhard Weber-ish bass melodicisms and
one very fine trumpet solo. "Haunted Blues" is anything but as the band scales great pyramids of
harmonic/melodic/rhythmic interplay; "Snow Flow" and "F.A.Q." make even more clear Nechushtan's
disciplined compositional approach, which gives his pieces a satisfying (and helpful) sense of shape
and symmetry –– and he and his soloists thus make every note count. Nope, nothing drags on too
long in this new jazz, in tunes that are in reality quite short 'n' sweet but have the effect of having
really taken you someplace. Venture Bound is beautiful, invigorating music, smartly conceived and
joyfully played. Who could ask for more?
Alon Nechushtan is flying high right about now and
most likely nowhere near peaking. If you're in L.A., you owe it to yourself to catch him doing what
he does at these three performances: on July 10, 8 p.m., at the
Levantine Center; July 11, 7 p.m., at
Upstairs at Vitellos Jazz Club; and July 12, 8 p.m., at
Curve Line Space.
–– John Payne
By some semi-logical extension, singer-composer-actor Naama Kates occupies the same rarefied air of
women songwriter-performers who make beautiful-but-not-saccarhine, double- or triple-edged, life-affirming music that tickles
the brain even as it moves the heart and thrills the soul and all the rest of that sort of thing. Offhand examples of this kind of genius: Annette Peacock, Nina Simone, Carla Bley, Fiona Apple,
Sofia Gubaidulina. Now, why would I ghettoize these important artists as Women? Because they had to try twice or three times as
hard to get taken seriously, that’s why, and some of them never did, which is our loss –– theirs too, of course –– and which just goes to show you that we’ve all got some thinking to do.
Kates has a couple of new singles out that are remakes/remodels of songs she’d included
on her excellent King for the Day album of last year. “Airplanes” and “Beautiful Night” have been not just remixed but dramatically
transfigured renderings, with the aid of her longtime producer Cyrus Melchor a.k.a. Mount Cyanide. “Beautiful Night” is a multihued
kick in the pants, as uplifting a thing as you’ll ever hear as Kates breezes through the song’s tunefully twisty chord changes and
electronic things chirp, buzz and whiz by, and the great avant-jazz/new-genre guitarist G.E. Stinson applies his serpentine ornamental magic.
The “Airplanes” video shows us a pensive Kates riding to the airport, through sweeping orchestral swathes and the amber dusk and the flickering
lights of so-near, so-far Los Angeles. It’s not just the city that’s passing in front of her eyes. Our protagonist mulls her place –– her role –– and we can clearly see that she looks the part…then why
is she saying that she “can never, never be a star…”?
Kates will always disobey stardom, yet she’ll embody it. She’ll play at being a player,
and the results, to which both her physical image and her deceptively accessible music attest, will be deeply resonant.
“Airplanes” was shot by Luis Aguirre, who also took the cover photo for the singles; James Bautista did the singles’ design
Quirky can be irritating, and it can be fun, too, and in the right hands it can be something close to revelatory, or at least revealing.
Here’s a nice little slice of piano pop to wile away a rainy day, dripping an irony that tickles the mind with smart humor, and touching the heart with the
vulnerability that all that funniness hints at. Singer-songwriter/comedic actress Sarah Dooley crafts tunes with solid melodies and real hooky hooks,
and she loads them up with a wryness of vocal style and a lyrical content soaked in that special time in one’s younger years when things are possible
but achingly just out of reach. The Indiana native’s Stupid Things offers such witty stuff as the title track, which advises that “You’re allowed to
do stupid things when you’re young” (eat fatty foods, go gay for a day, bait cops, pee in public fountains, etc.), while “Peonies,” “Teenage Elegance,”
“Nine Inch Snow” and “I Want You To Wonder” further detail myriad angles on the essential loneliness of growing up, finding one’s place in life and perhaps
snagging someone to share it with. Dooley doesn’t deal in revolutionary themes, but handles the everyday uncertainties and small joys of her life
with unsappy aplomb. While there’s a trace of vocal contrivance –– you want to tell singers to sing it straight and
forget the mannered soul-schtick –– Dooley’s fine sense of musicality, including some choice use of bah-bah backup vocals and sprightly string sections,
gives the album an idiosyncratic charm. Uplifting stuff.
Recent times have shown a nice new gusto and a lotta fresh ideas for percussion music among a batch of younger musicians
coming basically from a rock background –– and it’s got nothing to do with 20-minute drum solos while the rest of the band has a toke behind the
amps, either. These rock-aligned drummers are evolving ways to expand the scope of the percussive arts, combining a punky heat with the more
pointyheaded aspects of whacking the tubs. A lot of this xlnt stuff is centered in New York, with experimental group
So Percussion leading the
pack; drummer Greg Fox with his Guardian Alien is another crushing polyrhythmic wiz, and then there’s this new album by Man Forever (with So
Percussion) coming out in April on the Thrill Jockey label, an entrancing, exhilarating set for drums and overtones. Man Forever is Kid Millions of
arty-rock thrashers Oneida; a.k.a. John Colpitts, the Kid tonight presents a program of percussion music in just intonation, in collaboration with
composer/experimental rockist/CalArts prof Ulrich Krieger, a multifaceted fella who among other things was that guy who transcribed Metal
Machine Music for chamber ensemble; they’re joined by Brian Chase of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, a fluid rock pounder equally adept in a
free-jazz/free-music style. So, “serious music” devotees: this show is highly recommended; open-minded rock pinheads: This is gonna
At REDCAT, 631 W. Second St. (corner of Hope St.), Los Angeles, CA 90012 Tuesday, February 4, 8:30 p.m.; $20
($16 student/member). Parking: $5 after 8 p.m. in the Walt Disney Concert Hall Parking Structure (enter on 2nd Street). For more info: 213-237-2800 or
Thinking again about this problematical situ between me and "jazz" recently. I mean, I've listened to it all my life, since I was a
wee shaver, and appreciated it; it turned my head especially with the special tonality that pops out somewhere in the midst of acoustic bass and piano
and horns and drums, etc. But now the very short version is: I hate “playing,” I hate soloing, I hate cuttin’ contests. I hate lima beans. As far as “jazz”
goes, we’re all far past all that tiresome technical showing-off thing by now, that’s my belief, though obviously a lot of “players” refuse to concede.
But what to do with this “jazz” thing that is so prone to stultifying cliché and, worse, complacent assumption of high, toney art. None dare call it corny ––
but it just is so much of the time.
Maybe another time for that particular diatribe. Right now I’m trying to describe my pure pleasure
at the sound and sight of drummer-composer Matt Mayhall’s new band, which includes Adam Benjamin on Rhodes, Tim Lefebvre on electric bass
and Tortoise man Jeff Parker on guitar; Charlie’s boy Josh Haden guests on vocals sometimes. This combo has yet to record, but they did a show at
L.A.’s great jazz/newthing nightspot Blue Whale in April and posted some ace clips of what went down at YouTube.
I want you to check this stuff real close when you get some quality time, and you tell me if they aren’t
onto something, like a genuinely new kind of music that is a meltdown of some though not all of the more intriguing purely musical concerns come
down the pike over the last half-century or so: simplicity / they’re actually listening to each other / everyone solos but no one solos (no gnat notes). I
feel privileged to hear this music that so exemplifies what it’s like for musicians to navigate their way across that mossy minefield of melody, harmony
and rhythm –– music, y’know –– and I think anyone with the desire can hear it, and can like it.
Music itself gets pushed forward; here is Matt Mayhall’s new band:
Watch their "Modern" video on MOCAtv. Change your life. Or stay as you were.
“You keep me modern / upbeat / out of control / I got beat up, but I’m laughing now."
Recently, the L.A. electronic/other-popart duo Hecuba created a jolting experience titled Apart. The album
surgically examined their union as lovers/bandmates, the agony & ecstacy of it as they stumble 'cross a minefield of
mental mayhem. The audio elements were ladled out in cruelly spare beats and curdling synths that both mocked and
enhanced blunt words like "I don’t care about you anymore”; dissonant horn samples and plaintive piano further
confounded and explicated the density of the couple’s matrix: crackling tension, shocked numbness, anger of
course, and real affection...There's a fascinating, embarrassing voyeurism at play here, that they should so blatantly
express The Need. “It’s over between us” –– or has it only just begun? And what will become of ME?
The new video was shot entirely on an iPhone 5:
JEFF PARKER TRIO
feat. Chad Taylor and Chris Lopes
at Blue Whale, Los Angeles
TONIGHT! Thursday, May 16
Not to get too, too pedantic about it, but here again we rag you big-time on an essential new sound that smells
vaguely of jazz but has long since veered off into more fertile pastures. The superbly progressive Chicago jazz scene has long boasted
one player in particular, Jeff Parker, a simply ace guitarist whose work with that city’s “indie” champs Tortoise brings a sort of Jim Hall-ish /
Wes Montgomery-esque tone and feel to the band’s ungodly mix of arty rock, dub, electro-funk, systems music and so much more. Tortoise
was and is you might say jazz-aligned, as improvisation plays such a big part in their performances; Parker’s choicely melodic sound in the
Tortoise context gives the group a very special warm/chill resonance, an inviting sound that derives from the great jazzers of yore –– and
which you can just hear Parker and crew itching to move way past as fast as possible. Parker’s longtime trio features Iron & Wine and
Chicago Underground Duo drummer Chad Taylor and bassist Chris Lopes, who collaborate with Parker on his latest solo album Bright
Light in Winter (Delmark), and both of whom join Parker for this set at Blue Whale in L.A. (Parker’s new hometown, by the way).
Ths is a sharply drawn and deeply moving doc detailing violinist Bronislaw Huberman's creation of the Palestine Symphony
Orchestra circa 1933-36. Without undo bathos or any kind of unnecessary heart-strings pulling, director Josh Aronson tells the story of the legendary
Polish violinist-turned-political activist's courageous drive to save 1,000 Jews from Nazi occupied Europe on the brink of World War II. Huberman's
four-year rescue mission not only helped preserve the musical heritage of Europe in that time of the insane trashing of Europe's cultural foundations, he ultimately saved the lives of many, many people.
Orchestra of Exiles features interviews with musicians including Joshua Bell, Leon Botstein, Zubin Mehta, Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zuckerman, and there's fascinating archival footage and photographs shot in Germany, New York, Poland and Israel. Huberman the virtuoso, Huberman the superstar, was an extraordinary thinker and feeler who had this to say about the nature and purpose of music itself: “I had to descend into the furthest depths of my soul to find the hidden link between my impulse towards art and my impulse towards politics, and then I made a huge discovery. The true artist does not create art as an end in itself. He creates art for human beings. Humanity is the goal."
It'd be hard to wreck a beautiful tune like Bowie's "Warsawa,"
'cause some tunes are just like that, the melody is so indelible, the structure so solid, etc. English analog-electronics trio
Metamono have taken the elegaic, well, seriousness of the original '77 "Warsawa" and not exactly deconstructed it, more heard it differently. Metamono's version ––
created with their collection of thought-moribund vintage synths, e-perc. thingamabobs and sundry other non-digital variables –– is hugely satisfying on one level for its fat dollops of ear-friendly
electronic sounds (not too high-endy, nicely rounded off) and colder distorted "far-off-in-the-distance" string textures (not samples) in the mix, along with your kind of puckish drumbox
clanks, rattles and thumps. All well and good, but this particular "Warsawa" is not just a fun thing to hear, it's interesting, too, because if you dig a bit you can see how Metamono's version turns corners away from Bowie's probable intended emotional/psychological terrain for his "Warsawa"; Metamono stumble upon minefields of other moods and things to see and think about that were either already contained within the original's notes, chords and progressions, or, more interestingly, weren't. By the way, as this thing's magnetic tapes were edited with an actual razor blade, analog can be heard here trumping digital or any other music-making means once again for the way it forces creators to take the TIME to get the music right.
Vancouver garage-soul beat busters Chains of Love return with
"Follow Me," the first video from their second LP Misery Makers, which'll be coming out summertime 2013 on Manimal/FKLG and which was produced by a raft of true heavies such as Felix Fung, Alonzo Vargas and the legendary Richard Gottehrer. Please grok this particular rock and roll, savor how it says everything that needs to be said, plus a few things you didn't know you wanted to know about. Chains of Love are playing your town, here are the dates:
April 10 Jackpot, Lawrence, KS w/ Beach Day
April 11 Moon Room, Denver, CO w/ Beach Day
April 13 Neurolux, Boise, ID w/ Beach Day
April 16 Bunk Bar, Portland, OR w/ Beach Day
April 17 Sunset Tavern, Seattle, WA w/ Beach Day
April 20 Rickshaw Stop, San Francisco, CA w/ Beach Day
April 21 Fulton 55, Fresno, CA w/ Beach Day
April 23 Bootleg Theatre, Los Angeles, CA w/ Beach Day
April 26th San Diego CA The Void W/Beach Day
Here we have an intriguing new video that gives you a small hint of the
splendrous audiovisual pleasures of dubby-electro masters Free Moral Agents. The track is called
"Chaine Infinie" and it's the title tune from the combo's third full-length record, which will be
available April 16 via Neurotic Yell Records. FMA was formed by Isaiah "Ikey" Owens, longtime
co-conspirator with many of the more advanced garde of the new rock crew, seekers like
The Mars Volta, El-P, Mastodon, Saul Williams, Jack White, Crystal Antlers and Dave Sitek of TV On
The Radio. And the Neurotic Yell label, by the way, is an imprimatur you can trust for much
more than just a high standard of standardness, having gifted us with some of the very best
in fresh-angled pop & rock of recent vintage, such as Brass Tax, Jail Weddings,
Swahili Blonde, Raw Geronimo and Amanda Jo Williams.
You have a plethora of unusual things going on here. First, there is
the phenomenon of the mere wondrous existence of an ensemble called Gnarwhallaby.
Apparently, a gnarwhallaby is, roughly, someone or something trying to fit in but having a
hard time doing so, thus speaks loudly or tries to draw attention, deserved or otherwise.
The very interesting small chamber group bearing this excellent name is an L.A.-based
quartet that formed to revive and perform repertoire composed for unusual instrumentation
and other contemporary classical-aligned works. Tonight they'll perform a couple of pieces by
Danish composer Jacob Kirkegaard that were originally recorded for the crucial Touch label.
Gnarwhallaby will interpret Labrynthitis, a fascinating interactive piece comprising sounds
generated in the players' ears (tritones and general harmonic distortion, basically), which
then create individual sort of contrapuntal responses in the ears of the audience.
http://fonik.dk/works/labyrinthitis.html.) Kirkegaard's Church II is based on
ambient recordings made in an abandoned church within the radioactive zone in
Chernobyl. Located in L.A.'s West Adams Historic District, the venue itself is a wonderfully
arcane experience on its own: an exhibition hall, theater and garden, featuring the history
of 360-degree "panorama" paintings of the 18th and 19th centuries. In fact, tonight's event
will be entirely three-dimensional. 1122 W. 24th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007.
Free of charge. http://betalevel.com/2013/03/22/jacob-kirkegaard-and-gnarwhallaby
Here's quite an extraordinary double-bill that you and those who love you
will miss at your peril. Lisa Germano is the so, so different singer-composer-multi-instrumentalist
first spotlighted as a member of John Mellencamp's touring band in the late '80s and early '90s;
she's also recorded and toured with your big rock and pop stars including Eels, David Bowie,
Crowded House, Philip Selway (Radiohead) and Giant Sand. All of which is cool and great, but
Germano is better known for a series of savagely honest and musically intrepid solo albums that
commenced in the early '90s, including the melancholy Happiness in 1994 and the
sexual-warfare-running-amok Geek the Girl, also from '94. A series of follow-up records
found her exploring with widening musical palettes some of the farther reaches of the scary
rock-as-catharsis world. no elephants is Lisa Germano’s new album, and it is a quietly
devastating masterpiece, a deeply felt music whose dulcet charms offer resonantly oblique
lullabyes that, Germano says, often have something to do with how the natural order of this
world has been so messed up by the human race, especially in how we treat animals and the
earth itself...And then there’re the bees, she says, whose magical dance of pollination is being
challenged by the interfering vibrations of the digital non-communication devices we humans
clutch so fiercely to our quivering breasts. Now, close listeners, Lisa Germano wishes to probe
her self and those she loves in a cathartic, cutting way; she seeks as well to comfort. She decries
joykillers, she condemns the torture of animals, and, re surviving as people must in such a
bizarrely alienated world, she has at least one other pertinent message: We are all alchemists
when we make something beautiful out of something ugly.
Then we have an appearance by LoveyDove,
comprising indie hero Azalia Snail and her psych/pop MVP partner Dan West. Snail is the
20something-year veteran who’s released more than a dozen albums of radiantly unclassifiable
sort of psych-folk-rock, including the recent and utterly gorgeous Celestial Respect.
West has his own choicely melodic and tastily harmonized Sidewalk Society, whose recent
Venus, Saturn and the Crescent Moon album you need to seek out right away, don't delay.
All proceeds of this show go to animal-related charities. Please attend, you won't be disappointed, and you might even learn something. El Cid is located at 4212 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA (323) 668-0318
The more things change, the more they stay the same, and the more they change again and again and again. And sometimes things aren't what they seem to be, except when they are exactly as they seem to be. Spirit Vine is an L.A. band who've got this track called "Pluto Why," in which some of the above thoughts seem pertinent: Girl meets boy, girl meets girl, cigarettes are smoked, drinks are poured, feelings get bruised, and all concerned learn a few things, perhaps such as that a taste of sleaze can be good for you, and then again too much of it is just –– what, empty? No, it's not that simple, couldn't be. Watch the song's video, directed by Karri Bowman; your thoughts? Spirit Vine will have a new LP out (produced by Icarus Line / Giant Drag man Joe Cardamone) this summer on Manimal/FKLG.
Arriving Angels is the title of a worthy and unusual new album by cellist Allison Chesley, whom we shall call Helen Money, 'cause she does. Recorded and mixed by Steve Albini and graced with behemoth bin-bashing by Neurosis drummer Jason Roeder, this album sounds like the end of the world –– in a good way. On the one hand Chesley slays all comers with a rifftastic, hard-chopping ultra-distorted and avantly filter-tweaked metallic mayhem that sandblasts the face and inspires signs of the cross and trembling in the boots; a more sort of minimalist, darkly ethereal olde classicism coils its serpentine way thru for a bit of relief, beautifully conceived little interludes that quiver under the terrible weight of the raging ragnarok of surrounding sound. At Permanent Records, 1583 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock, L.A., CA 900. Starts at 6 p.m.; absolutely free; easy parking, even. Go.
Former Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore’s evolution from badass ax-slinging rock demon to, well, only slightly less badass ax-slinging rock demon in a quasi-New Age
medievalist mode might for some be a bit hard to fathom. But his turn in recent years toward the music of the Renaissance with his Blackmore’s Night group makes a kind of sense when
you consider that that’s long been the direction he’s headed in anyway, going back to the earliest days of Purple. While at least tinged with Amercian blues and pop, Deep Purple were for the
most part far more immersed in the melodic and harmonic schemes of European classical forms, such as you might have grokked from Jon Lord’s Bachian organ solos and especially in
Blackmore’s similarly shaped guitar bewitcheries.
Recorded on an autumn’s eve live at the Grand Opera House in York, England,
A Knight in York finds our “matured” Ritchie Blackmore and his troupe featuring singer Candice Night briskly blasting through a generous batch of recent material and old fan faves, and the good news is that these really are decidedly hard-edged and surprisingly expanded takes on the traditional English melodies and rhythms. Crystalline, dextrous vocalist Night shines on tracks like “The Peasant's Promise,” “World of Stone” and “Dandelion Wine,” and throughout we witness this sort of explosively tight ensemble in full galloping steam; Blackmore-as-ax-god fans will bang their heads in joy at “The Circle” and several other tracks that feature long, prime slices of the trademarked fiery guitar wickedness that only this man Blackmore can provide.
Ritchie Blackmore remains a guitarist of nimble invention and real, yes, rock authority, which comes through loud and clear on A Knight in York.
And let’s face it, this "band of minstrels" dressed in medieval garb could too easily have come off rather twee and liteweight. Happily, their spirited
take on the sounds of olden times bristles with a tough-minded intelligence that make it a joy to experience.
A Knight in York is available in multiple formats including DVD/CD/Blu-ray Digipak, audio CD, double vinyl 12" LP
(gatefold), digital downloads for both audio and video and a special, limited edition "fan package.” Info at www.udr-music.com
This is when it starts getting interesting. You have this Turnbull Green,
and it's like File Under ??? More and more, this is a good, relevant thing, befitting the times in
which we live: manifold, variegated, a bit confusing and potentially explosively wonderful.
Turnbull Green is the purveyor of a new single titled "Numbnose Badbrains" that's available
thru Take a Record / Daylight Curfew; the single is culled from his debut album The Wolf in
You, coming out March 26. "Numbnose" is a good example of the best new music/art/etc.'s
evolution, call it, where one owes it to one's self to check in on how music itself is so radically
recontextualizing, as the art critics might say. Turnbull Green's pulsing bass massage and
severely warped synth damage dart with obscure motive amid heavenly choral melody and
myriad other electronic/multi-instrumental distractions much like the contemporary nervous
system does, and how presumably the heart does, too; the most amazing thing about
"Numbnose" is the seemingly inexhaustible emotional/psychological mine field it battles
through before it finally touches that twinkling light in the distance… Listen:
Drummer/composer Dylan Ryan is a young veteran muso in the call it
exploratory mode who’s collab'd with many movers spanning the avant-rock, post-jazz and
alternative zones; he's best known as the mainman in the prog-jazz sextet Herculaneum.
Ryan's also got his L.A.-based trio Sand, which features guitarist Timothy Young
(David Sylvian/Beck/ Fiona Apple) and bassist Devin Hoff (Nels Cline/ Xiu Xiu). While Sand
is a jazz band of sorts, it's that sort of jazz that's coming from skewed-different places.
Ryan says, "It reflects the fact that I am playing jazz, but that I wasn't born in 1945."
So check his excellent new record, Sky Bleached (on the Rune 357 imprint via the superfine
Cuneiform label), where we find this unpredictably fiery trio in beautifully woven
free/composed spontaneity that, somewhere in the back of Ryan's mind at least,
derives inspiration from moods and textures, shapes and colors he found in the music of
Black Sabbath, the Cure, Jaco-era Joni Mitchell and free jazz. Mainly, this is music of
thrilling juxtaposition, genuinely new-sounding forms and, best of all, just constant surprise. Blue Whale is located at 123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. (213) 620-0908
L.A. people: Come on down to Largo tonight and catch the Wood Brothers,
you won't regret it. The Bros. are Oliver Wood (vocals and guitar) and Chris Wood (bass guitar and
harmony vocals); Chris you might know about as a member of rad avantish jazz trio Medeski Martin
& Wood. Along with drummer Jano Rix, these three fellas straight outta Colorado play the kind of
real American roots stuff you can sink your teeth into, even if you don't particularly give a toss
about all that Americana-roots kinda thing. This is an old-tymey revival aesthetic that stomps
its boot heels around some hugely creative slide guitar work and gospelish singasong singalong,
intercutting with some just very, very tasty swamp funk and quite thrilling vocal harmonies from the
boys. They've got two new live albums out, Live, Volume One: Sky High and
Live, Volume Two: Nail & Tooth on Southern Ground Records. Largo is located at 366 N La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048. (310) 855-0350
Sweet and brainy, sensual and modern: the best of all musical worlds. If you're in the vicinity this weekend, you've got
to check out this performance at Skirball Cultural Center by Brazilian singer/composer Vinicius Cantuaria and guitar explorer Bill Frisell, who'll
be L.A.-premiereing songs from their wildly praised album Lágrimas Mexicanas. Cantuaria's song cycle drew inspiration from the heady repertoire of
Spanish-language musicality emanating from the streets of his adopted home in NYC, where Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Colombians, Venezuelans,
Mexicans and other Latin American groups form such a nice big cultural stewpot. Cantuaria and Frisell's is a true collaboration in the spirit of
the bossa nova movement of the '50s-'60s (e.g. American sax man Stan Getz and Brazilian guitarist Laurindo Almeida), where trad Latin rhythms
and poetic lyrics are enhanced and reshaped via improvisational jazz aesthetics.
This performance is part of the Skirball’s new music series “Journeys and Encounters,” which showcases collaborations between musicians of
Sunday, January 20, p.m. at the Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90049; FREE on-site parking; the Skirball
is also accessible by Metro Rapid 761. Advance reservations: www.skirball.org or (877) SCC-4TIX
are nice boys from Chicago. They've made this album, their second, called The Funny Papers, and it's a mere 22 minutes long, though it should be noted that this is an extremely densely sonic-info-packed 22 minutes, kid you not, with a grand total of 11 tracks squeezed in on this thing. Now, we don't like to be lazy about it but we will anyway, because this "thing" is kind of hard to describe without ref'ing certain familiar rulebreaker-type and possibly like-minded bands, so: Paper Mice are by default though perhaps by choice an unholy hybrid of Devo, Beefheart, Gentle Giant and Henry Cow! Which is possibly funny, since maybe these guys couldn't care less about any of that old gobbige. Whatever the case may be, Paper Mice, while waxing lyrical about dogs, hamburgers, Wall Street and other timely items, have made a herky-jerky toe-tapper of a hyper-hyper record that is FUN to frug to because it contains approx. 10,000 surprising twists, turns, double-backs, triple whammys, head-butts and bee stings to the nerve ends. The record came out on the 31G label (The Locust, Blood Brothers, Cattle Decapitation), a trademark of quality, and the comic artist Paul Hornschemeier graced the album’s cover with his art.
Here now is a choice sampling of Paper Mice:
Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood is the title of John Cale's new album; it's on Domino Records' Double Six subsidiary.
John Cale as you might know is the former Velvet Underground violist/composer/singer/producer/conceptualist/etc. John Cale is
Welsh; his hair blows in the wind. Cale, seriously, is a very important part of a stream of contemporary music that is Bluefat thru
and thru: bridging high and low art, or embracing both, or obliterating both, for reasons of his own setting a very personal course
for a music that is all and none of the above –– music that is the right music to do. Cale made the new album in his studio in Los
Angeles; he used the recording equipment and various rhythm generators, computer software, piano, viola and a touch of
acoustical head room to aid the process of digging up songs; at one point he got Danger Mouse in to help make the opening track,
"I Wanna Talk 2 U." The results are thrilling, actually, because you can hear the old oblique majesty of this man's work,
a liberated and liberating ambiguous directness in the words and the music that has characterized Cale the person and his
greatest music down through the years. John Cale does write and perform very melodic, stately, beautiful songs, but he
likes to do new and surprising and noisy things because the nice old things have already been done.
Our beloved and trusty hand-held devices are of course the greatest thing
since sliced bread, but increasingly one of the bigger problems we're facing is how to download
and store ever-higher quality audio in smaller amounts of storage space. It's no joke, we need our
devices to store more and bigger sound and video files, and we need to get those downloads faster
and faster. So we've checked out a lot of the available solutions, and found one that seems most
excellent: It's called Max Sound, or MAXD, and it's an audio process that super-compresses the
size of audio files and manages to boost the sound quality way, way up at the same time. And
how does it do that? Well, if you want to get technical about it, it's like this: When audio files
are compressed, the files are converted into square waves, which tend to irritate the ears and
in fact can eventually cause permanent hearing damage. Max Sound converts the square
waves back to their original wave formats in the same compressed space, regenerating the
waveform in such a way as to restore both frequency and dynamic range, from 48K down to
MP3 or AAC. The guy who invented it is named Lloyd Trammell, best known as one of the
original developers of MIDI for Korg (and for designing the first working surround sound to
Hughes Aircraft). MAXD can be used for music, movies, audiobooks, video games and television,
and, yes, your vital communications on most any mobile devices will be vastly improved. Get all
the deets right here: maxsound.com.
Attention L.A.-area good-music fans:
In a world of approximately 6 billion stix-wielders who can play, play, play goddamit their highly
trained tails off, Toronto drummer-composer Harris Eisenstadt can easily hold his own, no problem
and no biggie. The man can play; better yet, he can write and arrange, and he’s thinking forward,
not backward, in his thrilling blends of trad jazz form/flavor with the newer nonboring strands of
densely hairy improvised new music, the Africa-sourced, jazz-aligned kind, for which he assembles
various bands to kustom kraft it all as his far-reaching vision sees fit. Eisenstadt’s all over the jazz
polls in all those best-of / king of / rising young lion etc. type categories, honors that he richly
deserves, and which can be better understood when one checks out his dual 2012 releases
Canada Day Octet (482 Music) and Canada Day III (Songlines). He plays an “educators” set with
bassist Mark Dresser, flutist Nicole Mitchell and bassoonist Sara Schoenbeck at the Blue Whale in
Little Tokyo in downtown L.A. on Thursday, November 15. Tix/info: (213) 620-0908,
Study the pic, right, and check the clips below, get a taste of what's up from Australian bard Gareth Liddiard of the Drones.
His debut solo album is called Strange Tourist, it's on ATP Recordings, it's out now pretty much worldwide and it'll make its official debut in the
USA on November 27, on CD / 2xLP / digital download. Well, you will notice a certain fuckitall intensity in this young man's face, a fated-like persona
strangling and cajoling a wooden guitar and a lotlotlot of words, bold ones, rude ones, and he's got that nothing-to-lose look in his eye. Liddiard is
widely revered as Australia’s most celebrated contemporary songwriter, for his pithy poetics as the frontman in the Australian Music Prize-winning
Drones, such as his "Shark-Fin Blues," which was named the greatest Australian song ever written by a panel of musicians down under. Drawing
heavily on Australian history and folklore so as to more deeply electrify his scathing takes on contemporary social and political affairs, Liddiard's keenly
observed Strange Tourist is a dangerous thing, an opinionated and self-centered and generous thing, of course quite angry and rather despairing and for
all that: exhilarating! Strange how music works that way, isn't it?
Chris Lawhorn loved Fugazi. He played drums in a Fugazi-esque band called Cataract Falls.
Things didn't work out too great for them, though, their tours were always a shambles and they never really got on a roll. So then
Chris tried his hand at being a solo artist, with, he says, only so-so results. He had to earn a living, of course, so he did some grunt
work like entertaining drunken fratkids as the staff DJ at a spring break company, and he briefly became a rapper, too, recording the
album Pole Position. Oh yeah, he was also the resident DJ at Marie Claire magazine. The last two years of Lawhorn's life have been occupied
with creating this fifth album, Fugazi Edits, which is sort of related to what all he had going on before but is also coming from a
bit way out in left field, which in our opinion can often be a very good thing. So, out October 30 on Case/Martingale Records, Fugazi Edits is
22 instrumental tracks stitched together using samples from every song in Fugazi's discog., mashed-up, splintered-out, enhanced/freaked upon
with all manner of special FX and in general shellshocking punkrocking in a most relevantly updated way. (And yes, righteous punk brethren, you'll
want to know that Fugazi kingpin Ian Mackaye has authorized the album's release.) Lawhorn's project is very cool, too, because the profits from
its sales will be donated to a pair of worthy charities, one that works with senior citizens in Washington, D.C., and another that provides aid globally to people impacted by disaster and civil unrest.
October 19, 8:30 p.m. (sold out, but couldn't hurt to inquire) and special
late show at 11 p.m. (act now, don't kick y'self)
It seems that no less an authority than Julian Cope has declared, "There is no band more mythical
than Faust," and while we know for a fact that Julian Cope often gets his facts horribly wrong, in this
case, all right, he's spot on the money. Notwithstanding the gargantuan accomplishments of their
compatriots Can and
Kraftwerk, the rock/anti-rock/new-non-genre methodologies of Faust during
the initial waves of the late-'60s/early-'70s Krautrock scene were radical, groundbreaking, even.
These postwar German kids just wanted to make a sound, basically, and they knew they'd never
rock like the Brits or Americans, so they didn't bother trying; but then, they were fed up with dried-up
modern art and new-music/contemporary-classical blah blah, too. So: They made something new,
which –– uh, rather than waste time reading our weighty art-history analysis of it here, seek out a
copy of the thrilling (truly) Faust Tapes and hear this "band" spontaneously blast industrial noise,
lumpy nonfunky kinda-grooves, stunningly widescreen stumbled-upon ambient pastures and just
allsorts, in a wonderfully unbiased kitchen sink of styles and facets and textures and tones which
are exploded-viewed by cutting it up and patching it all back together for maximum
resonant-juxtaposition effect. None dared call it musique concrète, and why should they have,
'cause it wasn't, exactly; it was "music" like smashing atoms/colors head-on to release a billion
other, infinitely more complexly beautiful hues/particles...Well now, as noted above, you really
should stop reading this soggy tripe, get The Faust Tapes and, if you're in Los Angeles, grab your
tickets for these rare U.S. performances. Original Faust members Zappi Diermaier and Jean-Hervé
Péron are joined by Geraldine Swayne and Amaury Cambuzat of Ulan Bator.
***A companion concert titled "Art/Rock/Orchestra" featuring Derde Verde, the CalArtsOrchestra
and a short set by Faust is presented at the Wild Beast by CalArts' Herb Alpert School of Music on
October 20, 7 p.m. For tickets and more information, see
REDCAT tix/info: 213-237-2800, or www.redcat.org
631 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles CA 90012
Stunning slab of stonerdoom psych-rock metal melange for your
headbanging pleasure / enlightenment! In September, Brooklyn combo Heliotropes will
issue their heavyduty The Dove album on the choice Manimal Vinyl label, meaning
that you need to be looking into it. Heliotropes are: Nya Abudu, Cici Harrison, Amber Myers and Jessica Numsuwankijkul
With a trillion bucks you still could not buy cool, and that's just the way it is,
'twas ever thus. Such an issue, anyway, is kinda moot for someone like this immaculately cool young
gent named Seth Sutton. Seth's from Nashville, and he calls his new musical aggreg Useless Eaters;
Seth's been around for a stetch, has released three records on various labels from 2009-2011, and
has toured with Ty Segall + White Fence and Jeff The Brotherhood. You want some more context?
Okay, Seth's first bass player and producer was the late Jay Reatard. Useless Eaters' new EP
Black Night Ultraviolet will be released via the cred-heavy Manimal label on July 31; a full-length
will be released in winter 2012/2013 via Manimal, too. But listen, the Black Night EP is ace, really
ace, and you wouldn't get kicked outta bed for saying it's like Wire getting chummy with the Method
Actors, what with all this supra-minimalist punk rocking tight-tight bossbeat and itchy-fly guitar
buzzing round the head and far, far up one's pants leg –– meanwhile all the aforementioned getting
Seth's flat-toned (that's a good thing, not bad) and just maybe sardonic vocal effect for maximum
rock & roll authenticicity. Yeah, that's it, authenticity. Thus when Seth says, "Let me get close to
you baby, you are truly fascinating..." you can choose to believe him or not, but you stand no
chance not feeling it.
Please enjoy "Malfunction" from Black NIght Ultraviolet right here:
Please dig into this intriguing new music video by CAMERAS.
It's the Australian band's new single entitled "June" from their debut album In Your Room
on the excellent Manimal Vinyl label in the USA/Europe and on Speak N Spell Records/Inertia for
Australia/New Zealand. Yes, it's available right this very moment through
For CAMERAS news visit http://www.camerasmusic.com/or
CAMERAS are Fraser Harvey, Eleanor Dunlop, Ben Mason and Mike Morgan
Arty punk bassist Watt
(Minutemen/ Stooges/billion others) meets up with “gonzo” journalist/poet Meltzer and members of Japanese electronic-poppers Cornelius for some rudely choice interface of sound and the spoken word. Watt and the Cornelius crew jammed out the jazzy/ funky/ambient tones in Tokyo, then chopped it all up and incorporated cranky Meltzer’s scabrous and not-so-oddly moving rants/observational horsepoo, wherein “I walk with my penis, I talk with my shoes, I eat with my nose, I fuck with my teeth…I ask for nothing!” Savor 63 itty bits of these cunning stunts and you’re asking, like Meltzer does, “Why can’t the fucking universe cooperate?”
Veteran Indian film-composers let their hair down for some seriously skewed funk, deformed disco and rickety wrong-rock in scores for Bombay horror films. Heavily reverbed bongos, twangin’ guitars, tooting horns, rinkydink synths and creaky vintage electronic FX graced scenes of vampyrs, slashers and creatures from the inky depths. Given the freedom afforded by the context, apparently (these films would never be seen outside of India), venerated names like R.D. Burman and Bappi Lahiri deliver tracks that come off like every one of those extravagantly lush Bollywood musicals all squished into one, then hacked with a machete, taco sauce spurted on it and torched.
Indo-Canadian artist Kiran Ahluwalia’s fifth album, Aam Zameen : Common Ground, is just out on
Avokado Artists Recordings. While Ahluwalia’s previous albums mixed sounds of her native
India with Portuguese fado, Celtic fiddle and Afghani rhubab, her new one finds her jamming with the hard-hitting Malian Tuareg band Tinariwen in a seriously intoxicating swirl of Indian rhythms and Saharan desert blues. Ahluwalia and Tinariwen are joined on the record by fellow Tuareg tribesmen Terakaft and Gambian ritti player Juldeh Camara. By the way, did all these supposedly disparate cultures find "common ground" in the music they created together? They did –– but wouldn't it be interesting if they didn't? Just a thought.
Avos is an album of quite choice and unusually harmonized guitar duets by James Elkington and Nathan Salsburg.
The title of the album comes from the Russian word for confidence in the face of the unknown, and in theory there is
here some kind of potential frisson between the styles and histories of each player's respective countries of origin
(Elkington's English, Salsburg's American) –– though really it's all about a more resonant rubbing between the duo's
somewhat different but sympathetic personalities. The pair together come up with new pieces, don't attempt to
rehash the trad stuff in well-intentioned covers, and their source materials of Euro baroque and pastoral classical,
American country-blues and ragtime and arcane points in-between serve as richly fertile soil for a new kind of acoustic
string music that feels and sounds respectful but not overly reverent about (chained to) the great music of the past.
Future folk, you might call it. Typically beautiful Tompkins Square packaging job on this release, too, you'll want to
hold it in your hands as you listen; also available as limited-edition vinyl LP.
Seek out the re-release of the first of Vas Deferens Organization's two collabs with Medicine/Steaming Coils/Electric Company kingpin Brad Laner. Transcontinental Conspiracy
(Niklas Records / Monotype Records) really was/is one of your avant-rock biggies of the '90s, an audio verite explosion of electronics, breakbeats and quarky sonic laffs minutely edited into extended suites;
it's The Faust Tapes redux, maybe, with loads of Can wafting in and about. The album has been remastered, with a bonus track, along with beautiful new packaging design. FYI: Eric Lumbleau of Vas Deferens Organization is a co-author of the fantastic Mutant Sounds blog. That might give you a better idea of the wide-ranging aesthetic we're talking about here.
Hollywood homeboy Jesse Hughes fronts garage-art champs the Eagles of Death Metal, where Hughes makes ludicrous refs. to all things dumbo rock & roll. A primo hook man and pop-trash dumpster diver, Hughes gives his glammy dance-rock solo debut as Boots Electric a hectic stomp strewn with a ‘50s-rock & roll melodicity: ELO and T Rex hump Funkadelic, Ultravox and The Big Bopper. “Boots Electric Theme” and “Love You All the Thyme”’s new wavey synth sleaze, buzz-guitars and big fat beats bump bells, steam organs, violin solos and warped special FX, and Jesse’s lyrical purview? That’d be baby-take-me-back, sexy trannies and running with the devil; thar be no saving of baby harp seals here.
Serene, relaxing and cleansing are not words we generally like to employ in our super-erudite observations on the heady art of music.
But this album called Elevation by Alejandro Santoyo is nothing if not serene, relaxing and cleansing, and it's just plain undeniable. And that makes us think...If we say we're not exactly wild about New Age music –– and it's not because we're snobs…tell a lie, we are terrible snobs –– that's because you just don't go there, you being all you similarly erudite and intellectual music experts. Yet this is nothing but another prejudice, of course, and an example of how music critics and musicians who claim to stand for the highest ideals in the musical arts seldom fail to fall prey to their own self-imposed orthodoxies. The truth is, music is music, and it's the composer's purity of intent, really, by which it oughtta be judged. To wit, Santoyo's music, which is indeed the essence of New Age in thought, word and deed, with no apologies about it. Airy electronic orchestral and choral textures grace his delicate piano and guitar melodies, which are simple and quite effective, and very, very pretty, without veering too much into the saccarhine. A Bach-like elegance of form, arrangement and execution is Santoyo's forte; the title track is especially entrancing, as is a radically reharmonized "Air on a G String."
The Fiery Furnaces, as you know, comprise siblings Matthew Friedberger and his little sister Eleanor.
The FF make an extremely varied brand of sort of power-eclectica that, one might argue, is in fact the smartest
pop on the planet. I mean, you could make a good case for that, since it sounds better than most anything else...Well,
the pair are taking time out from FF to do solo things currently, and we'll get to Matthew's next week. But Eleanor,
now, she is a singer, and an excellent one, and she plays guitar, and in FF she's required to spew out like glossolalia a
tidal wave of complicated and usually piquant and funny lyrical spew that –– how does she memorize it, and how
does she make her mouth move so fast and keep hitting all the right notes?
The hugely charismatic and seemingly fearless Eleanor is it said likes Led Zeppelin and Jorge Ben, and Carole King
and Todd Rundgren, and she sings in that pleasingly alto-ish register not unlike the great MPB star Simone from
Brazil (though the comparisons should end right there) and she's now got a bunch of her own self-penned songs
grouped together in a solo album called Last Summer, just out on Merge Records.
Swedish/Danish artist Christine Owman has this new album out called Throwing Knives (Revolving Records/River
Jones Music) The music is a combination of fever-dream folk, anguished distortion and out and out noise. So you will hear:
very rude guitar sounds, yes, but also ukulele, cello, violin, banjo, keyboards, saw, harmonium and lots of other old-tymy
things. The effect is unsettling, usually, even quite chilling, sometimes because she seems so fiercely determined to do things
her own way whether you might like it or not. Again, what could possibly be better than that? Musically, that is...?
Inspired by the visual arts, film and documentaries, Owman makes movie projections of all her songs. See for yourself:
Rare vintage psychedelia from all corners of the world has been creeping out over the years through the
yeoman efforts of fanatical collectors. We’ve seen them dig up a lot of from-the-vaults type obscurities in the
rock, soul, funk and cosmic folk-type genres from various European, African and South American countries, but
not so much from the Middle East. This compilation of Iran’s 1970s rock star Kourosh Yaghmaei fills that gap in
supreme style. Singer-composer Yaghmaei was and is the big daddy of Persian rock and psychedelia who along
with his brother, guitarist Kamran, created sounds that, while bearing resemblance to some of the more well-known
Middle Eastern rock artists of that era (in particular Turkish fuzz-guitarist Erkin Koray and Syria’s Omar Souleyman),
brought a uniquely Persian perspective and sound to their moody and meditative songs. The set focuses on Yaghmaei’s
very rare 7-inch singles, recorded in the mid- to late ’70s but never officially released and, post-Revolution, having
been largely forgotten about outside of Iran and its diaspora. These tracks are intriguing stews of cultural
hybridizing/meltdown, bearing traces of the rock and funk and studio freakout influences that found their way to
1970s Iranian ears, laced throughout with a distinctively Persian melancholy, played out in twanging minor-key
electric guitars (clean and distorted) often couched in tuff-funk drums and bass and Kourosh’s own infinitely
soulful vocal warbles through indelible melodies –– the loneliest sound ever heard. The double-CD compilation is a
beautifully packaged thing as well, with loads of pics of the artist, band and original record sleeves circa ‘70s, lyrics and
informative comment by Now-Again’s Eothan Alapatt.
1980 in Soho was a richly soiled place of perveridly passionate young no-wave punks putting serious geometry into their awkwardly inventive stabs at fusing some kinda "funk" with a lotta pointyheaded arty pop and rock, etc., etc. You know about DNA, Teenage Jesus, Contortions, Suicide and that crowd, but then too there was a downtown band called Social Climbers. They didn't go nowhere, and fast, and that's too bad, 'cause they took the post-punk-funk format of big-butt bass, guitar, drum machine, squarking vocals and chintzy organ into beautifully idiosyncratic realms, like the mirror's smashed and they're piecing the shards together in an all-wrong way. Which is exactly the right thing to do. The esteemed Drag City label has just reissued the band's one and only album, Social Climbers, and one really ought to seek it out asap.