Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rene Hell/ Three Legged Race "violin petal (auden)"/ "whipped secrets" (Arbor) LP

New waves from Beatty and Witscher. Lots of space in these class A constructions, but it is dealt with differently on each side.

Starting with the Three Legged Race; the guy knows how to build a loop. The first part (of a three part piece) swings clouds from the start evoking last centuries ambients from Satie to Frippertronics. Wafts of refined topicality curl around the edges and an extra dimension is being explored way underneath. Part two drops us into the slippery goop of Beatty's rhythmic synthesized undulations. For a second we are jamming with Keith Hudson, dubbed and dripping but somehow still doing 120 on the freeway. Part three picks up right there. Clicks and kick-backs, cell phone worship, ghost in the machine. This is techno if you can believe it. No seriously - it's techno. But it's hardly there and breaking every couple of bars. In other words, it is just what the doctor ordered. This world is fruitful. We're journeying between three tones here for a while, just living, picking apart, deconstructing, teasing, goofing. It's a gas. Then, a call from across the void inevitably sounds - the machine wants its own agency - and the laser guns come out. Beatty battles for control in a neo-western decomposition between machine and magic.


Part one of Rene Hell's (Jeff Witscher) four-part "violin petal" piece dredges psychedelic detritus from the retired landscape. I hear voices sometimes. I am vaguely stimulated. I get lost between lines. Which is impossible. Part two could be a Ducktails setup from the get. But rather than jamming a tune over the top, Witscher punches in the pentatonics and then hands over the controls. This stuff is more long-form, more landscape than "Landscapes", and decidedly darker. It never blows it's load, it just moves in and out in a blissful, cyclical march. Everything expands out from center, spinning around and around, influencing everything else in this small, wonderful, insular spot. Part three could be titled "Consequences" (it isn't), emerging out of the fog like a smug executioner. This is essentially a drone piece, but nothing is being "sat on" here. The seems are well joined and no one tone triumphs over the others. The record ends with "exit room 808" - a wonderfully wobbly Wizard of Oz finale wrap-up to warp your mind back into reality. After just one side with Witscher, you get the feeling that you have been changed permanently. I think I need to go outside.

Edition of 400. Available from Arbor themselves.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fat Worm Of Error - "Broods" (Open Mouth/ Ecstatic Peace) LP

I am always really surprised and impressed when I hear a record that is both dense, detailed and demanding and somehow, at the same time, still light and playful. The new Fat Worm record out last month from Open Mouth and Ecstatic Peace really encapsulates this balance. There is so much to get from this wonderfully produced crop of new songs that it is hard to know where to begin talking about it. One of the first things that comes to mind is the generous forays into electronic improv territory that pop up all over the place. I was pleasantly surprised to find breakdowns which venture off toward early electronic/tape land; Xenakis or Niblock (or something) sprinkled throughout and between. Of course, we also get plenty of the bizarro groovy gravy twang jamz that we have come to expect from FWOE - up the whazoo - thank God (or someone). Whenever the stretched-rhythm pulse starts pulling I can't think of anything other than Chris Cooper and his mustache - the image forever burned into my mind - yanking and popping the two strings that are left on his guitar like it's a bow and arrow, and jumping and kicking like Eddie Van Halen.

This is a truly free group of musicians. You actually have never heard anything like this before. And the only things that come remotely close are other bands that members of Fat Worm have participated in at one time or another - Deerhoof, Caroliner... I was interested to learn about just how much structure went into constructing these 'songs'. It makes perfect sense - these guys are no amateurs, they have all made their rounds with various projects of various styles and orientations, and they can all really articulate themselves on their instruments at this point. As far as I am concerned, it doesn't get much better than smart people, putting a lot of energy into making some really smart music, clearly having a lot of fun in the process, and in the end coming up with something that is utterly absurd. That is Broods.

The record actually has a great deal of space in it. With Broods, the band has found a way of making their seasaw - filling eachothers pauses - busted polyrythmic malflow work. Tempo? Ha! Neel Young (the drummer) learned to play from his dragging muffler. Tempo depends on what gear your in. No, but seriously, these guys are tight. That may sound odd talking about a band whose total goof-art-ness makes Captain Beefheart look like a Tea Party rally on Dramamine. But I can't find a moment throughout Broods that sounds sloppy. Sure the thing may leap from a Seinfeld bass fill to a Byzantine keyboard lick to a laughing/crying vocoded cryptic dream-poem, but it holds itself together.

Speaking of the vocals, Jess Goddard is almost as much fun to listen to on the record as she is to watch on stage. Well known for her homemade costumes and frequent (like between every song) costume changes in live performances, Goddard delivers speech impediments from the crack between command and inquiry. At one point in the record she shares with us some details about lunch: "The vulgar potentate has ruined my lunch, with septic debate and a nasty caramel. Techniques to rate scribble scribble as crum-yum then vacate, flush, undo, become." Waxing philosophical while simultaneously trying to clean up the vomit is the fuckus.

One of the things that I love about Fat Worm - which was more then evident at the Elevens on the night of their record release party - is how they bring people together. They are a feel-good band, and I mean that with the utmost sincerity. Whenever Fat Worm is playing the bill people seem to lighten up a little bit. Everyone laughs, giggles, maybe even dances a little and overall people have a good time. For that alone these guys are an absolutely integral part of the Western Mass thing.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Jon Lorenz - "interlayer" (GNS) CS

A couple of new GNS releases here. Lets get down to it.

Exactingly sick tape out of nowhere - well not actually out of nowhere - actually out of North Adams, MA on Nathaniel Brennan's (Cruudeuces) Ghetto Naturalist Series label. Jon Lorenz from Wasteland Jazz Unit lays down an hours worth of nasty-tight spare to the bone-scraping hit the horn creations on this c60. The tape starts bleak-city, as in: empty. As in: "Go ahead, knock the door down bitch cuz' their ain't no one home!" Dust for about forever before ol' Jonny starts in with his growl. And boy does he growl. This is not what you might expect from the guts-splatter horn in Wasteland. This tape is way more exciting than most Wasteland stuff because so much less happens. Instead of staring into the sun for long hours fixated by the glistening burn of 'truth', we are blessed with round after round of well-worked devotional brass forcings that would shut up even the most insatiable horn-addicted deconstructionists.

To say nothing of the ground! Meanwhile: surfaces of ocean hum and what sound like impossibly long and consistent comforting snare rolls dwell in the background. The stones outside my house are listening. They are eager to hear what this sage of ancient dull presence has to say. At times the 'space' of the cassette takes the fore and pushes Lorenz's horn behind it. But that doesn't keep his consistently engaging offerings from coming. Reduced to a lichen squeak, the horn at these buried moments keeps pace with the sound of the leaves falling.

And just when you thought it was over, Lorenz makes a final statement that rips open and lets out the last of it - like Dolphy at his most free. Incredible tape. He never looses focus and keeps me in the pocket for the whole hour.

Edition of 40 - great Riggsian art too by Thomas Gerendás. Sold out on the GNS website but you might be able to get it still at Flipped Out or somewhere.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

ISA CHRIST/CRUUDEUCES Split - "Human Error" (GNS) 7"

Isa wastes no time and totally murders on side A - definitely for harshies big time. Dark dark 2010. All over the map with snap backs and tubular zones, strings and escape routes into gripping thudcracks and falling off the rock wall when you were nine. Hints of power tool abound and a nice aroma of speedball-blitzed didgeridoo nipple sucking emerges from time to time. Overall a very balanced platter. Cut and dried. No domes left unturned. No homes left unburned.

The flip (cruudeuces) is just as mangled, but bears greater gifts to the more inquisitive listener. A roadway is laid out - thick and flat. It pulses with sameness-and-yet-not as we cruise down it. For a while we are accompanied by flying, screaming creatures. They soon die off. Accidental overtonology settles the stomach, the feet, the jaw. The same coddled memory recalled by our senior escort on this non-journey bellows out over and again. A peace results. And a decidedly interesting piece at that.

It is hard to place these guys. There is something distinctively northern about their grime. Long-form for sure, but enough action to keep you checking in. A lot happens on this 7". Pick it up at your nearest valley music store (I know Nathaniel dropped off copies at Feeding Tube and Mystery Train) or online at the GNS blog: Ghetto Naturalist Series

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

x.o.4 - "Exile" (Open Mouth) LP

This record has been a while coming. First recorded in 2008 and worked on for some time after that, it is high time that Exile makes its appearance. Nauseatingly austere compositions cover both sides of this near perfect record. At moments (like the way side A begins for instance) one hardly feels as if they are listening to anything other than the room they are sitting in, much less sound that has been organized intentionally, much less a musical composition. And then, out of the blue of this disarming zone, the x.o.4 trio emits meticulously framed slices and fragments of electronic intrusion. They come suddenly, these pieces - I don't quite know what to call them - samples or techniques - and vanish invisibly.

Side A rings true from the beginning. Breaking cleanly and spacious scuffling before the tide starts rising. Deep to chirp and infinitely suppressed explosions. And then the mouth starts. Jaws of electro-lust slobbering for pockets of air. We are drilled for a while, stretched, scratched and thinned. It is tempting to call it "textural" so that you know what I am talking about. But it is not "textures" because "textures" don't dig into your body and invade your mind like this.

This record marks decidedly new territory for x.o.4. The work here is obviously more refined, but it is also somehow more intricate, passionate and dangerous than their past releases. There is a terrible insect positioned just out of sight. It never strikes, but it kills sharply and accurately nonetheless. One becomes so transfixed, so utterly lost in the inevitability of death by insect (this particular one) that all hope is crippled and reduced to zero. The project of life is over. We've been kicked out. ...And then something changes. Suddenly that impossibly seductive tone is over and it has been replaced by a sound so thin, so fragil and irregular that it resists nearly every kind of contact. The group snap in and out of these singular zones, dragging our consciousness with them.

You hear people talk about the "space" of a musical composition - how such and such a composer sends us "from here to over there" or how this or that piece is "expansive". Well, I can catch that ride - I like the think about music in spatial terms. And one of the things that makes the material on Exile exceptional is the way in which these guys deal with perspective. I get the distinct feeling while listening to this recording that I am observing the inaudible world with a microscope. Things that appear too minuscule to be heard get amplified to the point where they become sizable structures full of detail and complexity - up close for the ear to examine. And then (to heighten this sense of perspective) events that seem as if they should overwhelm the composition are sent to linger in the background - compressed or filtered or squished so much that they are reduced to their bare minimum. What we are presented with feels both familiar and utterly alien at the same time.

Another thing that sets this record apart from other x.o.4 is the degree to which it is produced. From what I understand, Nace and Meginsky spent a good deal of time working with the sessions that they initially recorded to get the material into this final state. That, and the record was mastered by Bhob Rainey. Bhob's ears are all over this stuff. You can expect sustained focus on pure air, as well as various subtle deviations from pure air. And then be ready to have your mind suddenly opened. Blown.

Best of 2010.

Get it here: mimaroglu, RRR, Flipped Out

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Justin Rhody and Matthew Himes - "Romantic Love" (Lighten Up) CS

School has started up again (I teach at a boarding school) and that has meant that I have been flat out for the last two weeks. Reviews will be slowing down now for a while, but I am going to try to keep it going. I would like to be able do a couple a month. I would also like to really focus on things that are being produced locally - in the North East region - as much as possible. So that is where that is at. Now...

This is a tape from the good people at Lighten Up Sounds in Lake City, Minnesota. It was recorded, however, this past winter in Belfast, Maine - so I am going for it in the region.
Pretty desolate offerings here. Sounds like a deuzy of a day down Maine. Nothing to do, no where to go. The feeling of being inside your head for too long. Elements, thoughts, ideas float away without notice - never to return again. Others linger forever, drilling themselves a home between neurons. Dark zones for sure. I think about how some finger picking would be nice. So zoned that I think I hear it. Out of no where. Fingerpicking - there it is; buried alive. But it is actually in there. At points the sludge is so thick that it vanishes. Nothing left, then... straight rocky winter wave waylay. Picturegrotesqueness.

Hints of the Jazzfinger mode here: soothing harshness and open-ended tone-load. Also with a dose of Sick Llama stagnation. These two dudes (Rhody and Himes) are doing something right. God knows what it is.

Justice is served out back with ghost-crew wails; the church bell is being methodically rung and destroyed simultaneously. Feedback and intonation slathered on the walls of an ever expanding, empty room. And strangely, there is still some air in here - still some room to move around even. Hesitation and dwelling in difficult spirits persists. Textures lay naked despite the ongoing dim-hum pulse persuasion. Not drugged, but Debbie downer for sure. These jams (sounds like 2 pieces on side A, one on B) are really negative; and almost more so because of their lack of aggressiveness. Wallow city 2009. The sky is falling, the sky is falling, in Belslow. No seriously. Get down there.

After 24 minutes, the tape ends utterly unresolved - as quandarified as it begins.

Keep your eye out for several good-looking forthcoming releases on Lighten Up, including: THE SAVAGE YOUNG TATERBUG 10", CAETHUA/SHEP and ME split LP, and DAVE CINTRON CS

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wicked Fag - "Wicked Fag" (UUU) CS

Wicked Fag is wicked good, junk in the trunk of the cadillac, sleeper Buddy garage rock from Pittsfield, MA (for the time being). Now if you've never been to Pittsfield, there are some things that you should know...

Since sometime early in the 20th century, a well-known company called General Electric decided that Pittsfield, MA would be home to its transformer and capacitor divisions. They made transformers, capacitors, and regulators there, to be used in the power grid throughout the country. All well and industriously good, right? Sure. Until they starting using PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls, a man-made chemical manufactured by Monsanto, as a non-ignitable insulating fluid in its products. PCBs give you things like liver damage, rashes, lesions, irregular menstruation, lower immune response, and who knows what else. Well to make a long story short, GE was dumping PCBs into Silver Lake which lies in the center of Pittsfield and flows into the Housatonic River, which flows through Massachusetts to Connecticut. the mastermind behind Wicked Fag is Vincent Ditore. Who, as far as I know, grew up in Pittsfield. Now I'm not blaming GE or even the PCBs directly, but something is off in Vincent's head. Fortunately he likes playing rock music. The result is a subtly twisted, all together damaged, but then bent some more, set of songs. With titles like "[Don't] Dream + Drive!" and "Theme from Wicked Fag" it's clear that some synapses are making contact with each other, but don't be surprised if these tunes take you by surprise.

This is a demo tape with six songs, none of which go past the two minute mark. I've heard that Vince wrote these songs years ago and they have been decomposing until now. Well, I think they have resurfaced at the right moment. The summer of crunk'd ice cream truck jams, and haunted house funk. The time that I saw Wicked Fag play it was Vincent and some rag-tag bunch of scuzzed-out (I mean that with the utmost flattery) Pittsfield kids who called themselves the Prick Bastards. It was at a place called Rebel Sound Records (more on that later), and the "band" hung a big sheet with the words "Wicked Fag" scrawled on it behind them. I found a picture that indicated to me that this was not the sheets debut.

The tape starts off with a true classic of wonkery: "[Don't] Dream and Drive!" The drums are perpetually stuck, the bass is way too voluptuous, the riff pounds round and around, always the same, but never the same twice. Perfect groove. On the second track, "Amparo", Wicked Fag continues to deliver spartan butt fuzz jams with mumbledoubt ramblings about some dude named Amparo. Harmonica says "Hello!". All coated in dense strips of muted fidelity. Next up is the ever-more-jamworthy "Mr. President" - what can I say? Not quite the passionate call for reform that the title might suggest. The feeling here is decidedly more isolated, detached and incomprehensible. But brazen as all hell. This isn't rebel music, it is Survivor music... just got voted off of the island stuff. Wicked Fag is a law unto itself. And in it's own way, real catchy and filled with funk. Don't get me wrong, this isn't any of that Cavebears shit. These dudes may only know how to play half of their instruments, but the damage is addictive. And for that matter, its as dry as a hooker's... spit. Can you say Rocky Horror Picture Show? Mfffgooorrnshhhshhhnmmaa!!

Wicked Fag's myspace keeps getting deleted because of the offensiveness of the band's name. Whack attack. I think the tape is coming out soon on Triple U. For the time being, you can download it here. Triple U just released their debut Suuummuuur Sampluuur which you can download at their site. Keep your eyes peeled.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Altered States - "ROG" (Self Released) CS

Picked this one up at Strange Maine a couple of days ago. Bumped it for the late night drive home just now. Really solid stuff. My tape player was freaky fried and not letting the full sound of the synth through - but that didn't even matter. The deep groove conjured by April Camlin and Albert Schatz rang out far above technical difficulties (almost seemed like it was made for it) and well beyond the delineated song structures that they lay their sweeping fuzz on to.

There is very little that I could find about this tape on the internet. I guess Albert is/was a member of the Chicago group Bird Names which sound like more of a clattery, foot stomping, folk pile experience than this particular affair. I can't say that I've given a thorough listen to Bird Names though, so I'm not the one to draw any real comparisons. That aside, on "ROG", the Altered States duo deliver tight, driving popular-twinged songs that have been injected with a sweet, sweet psych wave long-time. We can dance to this. Sounds are split into drums, vox and synths; some that sound like glitter, and some that sound like Lightning Bolt bass. A thick grounded pound-it keeps pace throughout the recording. The drums snap tightish and journey like you want, and the envelops abound on the horizontal axis, as a nice range (sputter-to-gutter) of electronic sounds make the landscape appear and then disappear again.

An intriguing mix of bedroom intimacy and lush expansiveness. Delicate strength manifests with indecipherable lyrics about darkness and time. With the first song on Side A - "Now Eye Can See" - he gets high and she goes deep for some folky harmonies and Eno (Taking Tiger Mountain) weaving before the whole thing ends too soon - . Camlin delivers more than your run of the mill beats here. She plays the tone of the membrane. Definite glimmers of the BYG Actuel catalog, if not a little on the mathy side of things. ...And then some.

Second tune starts with a spaced intro. It could easily feel like dabbling, but it manages a nice focused burn-a-clearing prep for the intricate haunt that quickly follows. Complex percussion pushes and pulls and the half-hearted spook groove trips away for a jaunt and a half. Come back to me ballad. Side B is where the duo really hit their stride. The last song, aptly named "Paradox" perseveres and kicks us back to the 80's with a kind of Kraftwerk robo funk. An old chant with a totally new kind of syllabic emphasis offers these words of wisdom:

The Sun is a reflection of Earth
Death is just another kind of birth
Perception defies reality
See whatever you want to see

Okay I figured it out. They are jamming like they are Joe Zawinul U.S. Mapling Watermelon Man (and with all the guts) but it's only the two of them - in nowheresville. Big moves are made on small scapes. Less twisted, more zoned. By far some of the most on beat, off-beat stuff I have heard in a long time. Pretty much pretty killer. What can I say? Got me home quick and safe and with enough mojo to spit this out at 3:00 A.M.

Yup. That pretty much sums it up. Instant chart-topping funky fresh freedom psych travel jams from the great lakes region. No idea how many of these are out there. No idea where to get a copy. Other than here. Keep an eye out for these guys - seriously!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Martonomous - "Epiphone Drones + Casio Tones" (Self Released) CS

Got this one in the mail today. This is actually a release from last year which I have been hearing bits and pieces from since it came out. Psyched to be giving it the full ears now. This tape is real fun. Some kind of strange blend of The Books, J Dilla and the hyper chilled-out hypnogogia that has been dominating across zones as of late. Sample heavy and super groovy, sounds here are not just beats (though that is definitely the general vibe). With carefully chosen spoken word samples, and cheesy AM bass lines, Martonomous (Martin Zimmermann) establishes a particular environment. The crackle of a dirty R&B LP folds into reverberant low tones and a plate of pure sound is explored momentarily before sliding off into a dream-time flute meditation. Charge the chariots - ready for the future - here we go - helmets on - Steely Dan's Beckman himself feeding us with illustrious riffage. This stuff is right on the cusp. It's dusty fog keeps me down. Yeah, I'm down.

Side A ends with a nicely handled warped tone drone zone. After the flip, I'm looking over my shoulder for Seal to come soaring in with his honey sweet melancholy voice. Zimmermann works on this lead for a bit, deconstructing into different times and coating everything in tasty licks. Yes friends, today we are having grilled cheese for lunch. Smoked indeed. With the works: Campbells Tomato Soup and all. How many can you get in your body? Once you break the seal, you just can't stop poppin. Its a dairy and dough feast, and we're lovin' it. Good Ol' American Cheese!!

This c60 just cruises, never feeling sluggish or heavy, even through atonalities and more experimental zones. "It's easy. It's like breathing." Says the suspiciously comforting voice of the sample before letting us off in the middle of nowhere at the end of the tape. Suddenly chamber improv-ville into nothing. Click. Noteworthy tracks include the blissed-out "When Will It Be?", and the Casio loaded "Change That Tone!" on the A side, and the more whacked-out "Drone Out" on the B side.

Free download here. Or you can request a tape or CD from Zimmermann himself:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mountain Man - "Sun Dog" (Underwater Peoples) EP

"All of them, all of them have pushed into the air"

The truth is that this record is absolutely beautiful. The other truth is that it was overshadowed by the release of the full-length LP "Made the Harbor" on Partisan. All the songs on "Sun Dog" are on "Made the Harbor" but they are recorded quite differently. Instead of drawing a comparison between the two records, I'm just going to talk about this one. The voices of Amelia, Alex and Molly come across through my speaker with the utmost clarity and texture. I can hear each one of them singing as individuals - which makes the collective sound (they sing all of their songs together, with idiosyncratic harmonies sweeping through each other) wonderfully rich. The sound of their voices is less "bell-toned" then dust, chalk and wood. Each word is distinct here. The friction breaks in an instant and a gust of song blooms. And silence explodes just as quickly.

Mountain Man formed at Bennington College a couple of years ago. Their story has been written about all over the place recently so I'm not going to cover it again here. This NPR interview does a good job though. The group consists of three women who sing songs about nature, sexuality, fear, hope and a sensation that can only be described as "summer in Bennington".

The Sun Dog record, released on Underwater Peoples last month, rescues into delicate oblivion of word and sound. "Let us sing a song to thee, oh my sweet honeybee. You are the one we've been waiting for. You are the dark, you are the buoy." Naked with chance from new voices singing old songs. Songs that don't exist but in the bodies of folks and family. From supple sexy pouting (Dog Song) to majestic yearning (Animal Tracks), this record delivers quite a range of material - sonically, lyrically, and spiritually.

All of those beloved traditionally American musical influences can be heard loud and clear. Sacred Harp, Lomax et al., The Carter Family, etc... And then you also have some Shirley Collins and a bunch of more contemporary influences like Joanna Newsom and Bjork. At the end of the day though, it is just Alex, Molly and Amelia in the Blue House singing and falling in love with each other. Emma is in the kitchen, Drew is at Mightyfood. Later we'll go to Paran.

It is very difficult for me to find the song that I am most taken by. Perhaps because each one feels so completely immersive and inescapable. All of the songs here are free. They drop reference point without hesitation, throw arms open completely, and quiver undying with crazy affirming surrender. Yes. That said, I would highly encourage a close listening of "Mouthwings", the first track on Side B. The version on this record is stunning. In fact, it is worth buying the record for.

Very limited edition of 300 pressed on 180 gram blue/green marble vinyl. Only available at Underwater Peoples and on tour. Artwork by Alex. Get it here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Spine Scavenger - "Plays the Writings of Commander X" (Hanson) CS

Spine Scavenger (appropriately) comes at Commander X from a military point of view -- more or less claiming that he knows where the greys -- those small, nasty, aliens -- have made their homes. Some of their underground bases are located in the vast synthesized tunnel systems, while others are side by side with the underground facilities being shared with the New World Order* or Secret Government. This is an important addition to the ever-increasing library of subsurface material on subsurface activity.
*aka: generation of total blast-off from order-structure-structure : 1:2:2:1:2:2

After listening to this cassette, I became paranoid. I didn't realize it at first (which I guess is normal with paranoia) but after a while it became increasingly clear that I was not perceiving everyday anxieties normally anymore. They had become more like invasive psychic species, paranormal free radicals, here to convert and abduct me from the inside.

This hour long tape feels like slowly, but frantically ascending acu-pressure up your back, toward your skull. It is slow-burn, long-term dark infusion for real.

Spine Scavenger is Aaron Dilloway (former member of Wolf Eyes). Deep in the muck now. Remember that time we spotted Charles Burltiz off the coast of the 4th tip-center of the Bermuda triangulation vortex? Chuck leaned outta his UFO and strangled out a big "what-up" to the homies going about their confusing lives down below. We were still between earth and sky then. Thank you Spine Scavenger for liberating us, showing us that we are truly free beings. We are grateful for having our spines ripped out. How else would we realize our loose nature?

Highly recommended!! As Dilloway says on the Hanson Recs site, this is ambient.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Schurt Kwitters - "Schurt Kwitters" (Open Mouth) LP

Offered here is a solo effort from Fat Worm's Jess Goddard. Goddard is the performative punctum of that band, dressing up in fantastic shape-shifting costumes at shows (often changing between several different ones throughout a set) and wiggling around amidst the rest of the band (who are all also wiggling usually) while conjuring up and laying down vocals from various subconscious realms.
Goddard's sounds, and structural creativity on this record however, reveal a patience and a discernability amidst the disregard and playfulness that so fortunately characterize Fat Worm as a group and Goddard's role within it in particular. This record feels concentrated and crafted. It is wonderfully stripped back, and full of energy all over the place.
Goddard has worked her way into the circuitry of her sewing machine(s?) and in conjunction with parts of analog synth boxes, manufactures all the sounds on this record. The variable pulse of sewing machine (in addition to whatever mods it is making on circuits of synthesis) is quite apparent throughout side A. It provides rhythm, cycles and a whole range of percussive opportunities which Jess explores thoroughly. The opening section rides along atop a minimal acid-houseish pulse of fat clip static. Small, manageable space-craft pass by each other and wave. Tone here, tone there, teleport. Next piece. A high pitch test whistle is blown from near and far before the seasons change. Autumn patchwork counting and "lets go look underneath these dead leaves" danger. Abduction. Still running - the machine. Etc... Water-soaked woodblocks like lonely buchla mods trying to find their way back to the family crawl, stumble, fall - it's a penetrating needlecraft massacre.

Intentionally or not, Goddard is raising ideas about domesticity, arts and crafts, utility, industrialization, gender, and agression. I would be curious to hear her thoughts on these associations.

Side B: Some silences surround tid bits of wisp-sound-wrangling to start, before making the move for more drilling territory. Sewing-machine ins and outs, static anticipations (that grow into chants), and vague erased and neglected melodies trying to be heard bundle up in short spontaneous compositions throughout the side. Eventually the material settles on a very satisfying, if not a little hesitant, slow cooker jam of sorts - interpolated by quick sew-burning and high-end analog whistling. The side ends quite beautifully, and I just want more and more.

Originally released in 2008 as a tape on Open Mouth, the Northampton based label run by Bill Nace.

Beautiful b/w screen printed collage packaging. Edition of 200. One time pressing. Get it while you can.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Keith Fullerton Whitman - "Generator" (Root Strata) CS

Jammed it long and hard with my bros last night. Interrupted by a flight cancellation phone call which resulted in my flight being rescheduled to later in the day. Needless to say, the long, hard jamming resumed. On the plane to Chicago now. From there I'll continue westward to Portland for a little over a week. Really looking forward to picking up some music there.
Lots of new stuff to review. Things have been pretty crunchy lately with the end of term here at the ol' skool. TIme to get back to it:

The first up is a relatively new tape from Keith Fullerton Whitman, synthhead extraordinaire, experimental & electronic music encyclopedia, and founder of Mimaroglu Music a vast resource of interesting music and non-music alike with one of the nicest merchant websites around. "Generator" is a selection of seven pieces recorded and composed last fall with Whitman's unique hybrid analogue/ digital modular synthesizer system.

"I have long been obsessed with the tenets of Process music & Systems music. These 'Generator' pieces all stem from a desire to produce an 'automatic' variant, with little in the way of 'performance' and/or any sort of mid-stream composer/ performer intervention." - Writes Keith in the blurb inside the tape.

I too have long been intrigued by the possibilities inherent in the Process music and System music credos. Actually I have been thinking about it a lot lately. I have been dreaming about systems that reach a certain level of internal complexity (a bunch of things all modulating, triggering, constraining each other) such that they grow and shift in ways that are utterly impossible to predict ahead of time (as in too many possible outcomes to even generate a list of probabilities). "Machine Music" as Keith calls it. Or labeled otherwise: "Frankenstein Music".

This tape is very exciting. Right away (with "Generator 1") we are placed in modular cruise nowhere mode. Hot and cold layers together - mixed up in a bubbling brew of syntha-fresca. Super fresca. I can't help being reminded of the first time that I listened to 'Music for 18 Musicians'. Whitman's constructions definitely evoke the cascading repetitiousness of minimalist composers like Reich, but his vibe is decidedly one-guy-in-a-room-full-of-music-machine. It is stripped back-er, genuinely spontaneous, much more unpredictable than those guys. He is working with much less actually. At times the frequency variation is closer to the micro-tonal mappings of Percy Grainger than the tight, yet expansive gushings of Reich or Glass. All of this is to say that his sound comes just as much (if not more)(yeah definitely more) from the academic computer science legacy(s) than the minimalist composer set.

The second side opens onto an impossibly pure-toned panning and half cycle exercise. The sounds here come across as inevitable, the variations necessary. It sounds like circuit therapy - the oscillators are working through some serious drama. But in the end, the particulars drift away and the send-recieve-send-receive message becomes transcendent. There is no hesitation here; no forced significance. This stuff just sort of grows from the deep end of a neglected swimming pool somewhere in Somerville or Newton. Hypnosis sets in quickly on this side and Morpheus rules with an iron fist. There is no making sense of what is going on; we are in zoner-ville now and it is very difficult to escape.

The blissful tone juggling does get subverted at certain moments along the way though. As Keith explains in the notes, the incidental sounds of preparations and alterations (patching etc...) have been intentionally left in. Instead of thinking of these as mistakes, Whitman embraces their quality and the connotations ("ad-hoc 'Acid' jam session") that they bring along. It is hard to place, but I suppose that this element assures me that this is not a closed system; there is in fact a man behind the curtain. ...But what distinguishes him from Oz is that Keith Fullerton Whitman is a real wizard. Only a man of magic could coax such precise and confused progressions (more like neurotic ruminations) out of a few dusty old boxes.

It is a subtle satisfaction that comes from hearing a side track or a crack in something that is (on the face of it) relatively procedural. The world of science music is usually very clean, often austere, and unfortunately often overworked. The world of 'psychedelic jam-town' - as we all know - is usually pretty under-worked, but nevertheless often expansive, emergent, and cosmic man! Perhaps one of the most enjoyable attributes of psychedelic music though, is how little there is at stake. It's easy listening chillers 1972. Take me to the valley bro. And then take some time offfffffffffffffffffffffffffff.

I don't know if meditating on these modular tunes will elevate you to a higher mind state, but you might end up meditating on the singularity that is really fucking near. This tape is nothing less than a record of the emergence of a new super-communicative species; with an ability to talk with and understand its fellow units like none before it. What if we take seriously the idea that this is music for machines? After looping it through on headphones a couple of times I am beginning to feel pretty damn programmed. But I am also in an airplane which probably doesn't help.

Smooth, rich synth lines, percussive electric sounds, spare textures and effects that seem to have leaked out somehow and sketch and dance throughout the rest of the sonic environment (which is nothing short of flocks of birds or schools of fish interacting. And then there are these wonderful excursions, after you have lost track, that take you across the land and into the old world "blow-the-battle-horn!" style. The bubbling pulse kicks it low-key-low in the mix, while these wonderfully pleasing long, triumphant tones ring out on top. Not to mention the empty parking lot jam in there. Pretty empty at one point. Overall a super tight tape. Perfect cover too.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Vic Rawlings/ Liz Tonne - "Truck Krone" (Semata Productions CS)

This split is apparently the first solo material to be released from these two (both long time members of the Boston Sound Collective). Both sides come from the same austere family, but are also very distinct from each other.

Rawlings' side listens like a to-do list of 'what is that coming out of my speaker?'. Entitled 'The Middle Of Three Days', the items delivered here are sparse, distinct, decible-defying detritus that seem to have been swept out of their pre-magnetic contexts and into the room. And there Vic's sounds appear, and appear, and appear. The stuff doesn't go anywhere, but it somehow doesn't accumulate either. Moment to moment, pieces occur in their fullness (or lack thereof) demanding the attention of the listener.
The room itself is ever present in the sonic vocabulary of this side. We hear coughing, the rustling of musical preparations, traffic (sirens) passing by outside. The result (paradoxically) is a phrasebook of sounds that seems as if they have their own agency, independent of the human being who is creating them.
Apparent in his choice to work with the circuitry of open-backed pedals, Vic seems to want the music to happen to itself, or perhaps even for it to argue with his intentions. One gets the sense that he is simultaneously 'hacking' and 'breeding' his electronics - ripping them apart in order to let them live.

Tonne's side is two pieces - 'B' and 'Arsonist' which run together into one stop and stark, extended vocal technique placement. Like Rawlings' side, Liz leaves room for the room to breathe. We hear a lot of 'other' sounds - from beginnings of beginnings to vocal pipes drying off. The result is a recording with a wonderful depth of field underlying cut cord, stutter-spurt singing that comes at you very directly. I'm sorry, did I say 'singing'?
Tonne's instrument is completely naked here. It moves, at times, to extremes and screams that push the fidelity of the tape, transforming the texture of her tones into hard brass or electronic territories. But for the most part we get to see and feel (up close) the small tensions that she is constructing. Her sounds are at once exceptionally precise and frustratingly incidental. Each short phrase lasts forever.

The material exported by the BSC (now 10 years old!) and the many projects in that projects orbit, always beckon to the ears that receive them. They put you on the spot, and elude the television zones that people have come to expect out of their excessively-stimulated sensorium. By no means a new kid on the block, this absolute way of making music is an oldie, but a goodie (at least the way that the these Boston based free-improv peeps serve it).

Friday, May 21, 2010

Black Hippies - "Laughing Sickness" (Animal Image Search CS)

Been jamming this tape a lot as of late. Two 17 year old explorers hailing from the great lakes region - Minnesota - blasting and frying their way through crucial groove after crucial groove.

Empty open metal roads toward the circle. From there you realize you left your left foot outside the vehicle before you embarked. It's a gutter-jam-fest from now on to track two (NO SUICIDE DUB). Chock full of Skaters-esque trickle-down percussion and brain mushin'. NO PARTY, enter: the vaguely worldly shaker with bloop-gone-thin but blown out synth collisions on top. The makings for a perfect i scream sunday… afternoon.

For lads as young as these ones are, they certainly have their points of contact pinned. As stated in this interview last month, they are consciously working a bunch of angles - from DNA and The Hospitals to Augustus Pablo to Nam June Paik and This Heat. Enumerating these notably because these guys are necessarily so distant from all of said artists/ bands that their connection to them is more than thread bare. That is not to say that these influences do not surface in the music - they do. And if anything, I think that the distance at which Black Hippies is associated with their antecedents makes them more compelling rather than less so.

These duders grew up in the mid-west, somehow getting their ears on a magical musical mystery history, and gleaning from it whatever they could - what they did - what we hear here. Some sort of transmission has taken place, despite the lack of a comprehensive immerger. = kosher basement jam-town.

For some reason these guys are pegged (apparently by themselves) as a "drone duo". I think - not so much. I am not trying to sort out a proper classification, but Black Hippies should not be considered comparable to any types of music where adjectives like: dense, slow-paced, or continuous are used. These guys are having much more fun than that. And the result is a tape that is a hell of a lot of fun to listen to. Lots of different zones, lots of fresh breaks of old broken potions. Perhaps most exciting of all though is the patience that is exercised here.

The tape is out on a new label called Animal Image Search - which I know nothing about, but from a glance they seem to have some cool stuff - notably a release from the swedish duo SMYCKEN.

BUY the tape! Check out the label. Support these up and coming gangsters.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Paul Flaherty & Bill Nace - "An Airless Field" (Ecstatic Peace LP)

Wow, more than a month since my last review. That's working full time at a bustling boarding school for you. Learnin' em good - yessir. This is a review that I have been meaning to post for some time now. Picked this one up from Nace at a show in Albany, NY at the Flipped Out House - aka "Helderberg House" (check out Flipped Out Recs if you haven't - especially if you live in the area). He and Flaherty put on a superb show with the Italian Jooklo Duo last month. The night ended with Virginia Genta (tenor sax) joining Bill and Paul for an all out gut ripping tumescence of brass and feedback. Killer vibes.

"An Airless Field" is a long awaited arrival from the ecstatic duo. Their last release together was a trio with Thurston Moore - which killed, of course. There is no question that these two guys are both pillars of the northeast free improv scene. The sound of Flaherty's sax bites hard into the tenor tradition of spirituals like Ayler and badasses like Brotzmann (though more on the Nipples side than the Balls), and Nace, well... fuck. = vampire belt, buddies, x.o.4, ceylon mange, nothampton wools, etc... Charms the electric gutair into many different far out territories.

The record opens with a cooled-out melodic drone from Nace that clears the space and beckons to Flaherty's tenor sax. After a minute or so Flaherty appears with a lullaby for the strong at heart, before taking the plunge.

These guys are amazingly controlled players. They deliver distinct sections of duet material here, moving from one zone to the next in a progression that is well-paced, fresh and expansive. Flaherty manages his notorious blow-your-brains-out sound on this release, while at the same time maintaining a distinct sensitivity. He seems to bring anything and everything out of the tenor sax - including sweats and smells. When he wants to, the childhood-repressed demons flood by the dozens and make the situation utterly airless - truly airless. But on this recording we get to hear Flaherty in a slightly different mode than he is in when he plays with - say - Corsano, where it is just balls to the fucking walls. With Nace, Flaherty picks his battles. One such battle starts just after Nace's solo midway through the first side. Their planes of sound collide together distorting and reorganizing everything that we hear. Though they seem not to lose track of each other for an instant throughout.

Side 1 ends with an abrupt stop. This time a full stop. The only thing left is a barking dog (presumably from the neighbors house). The lone wolf of Hadley, MA answering to the lunar call of this invincible duo.

Another such battle starts off side 2 of the lp. Silver screams and high dive pin-heads abound from Nace, while Flaherty digs "I think I'm gunna throw up" with his brass tool. The-One-With-The-White-Beard burns holes in the sky, never to return again. Global climate change. Two distinct sonic textures exist mainly apart from one another for most of the most here. Its brain stem glistening, kids. The abrupt endings on all of the pieces (there are 4 tracks in all) make for definitive statements. No matter how far out from each other's sounds they soar or sore, these players manage to land their tricks just before the drop-dead point.

...And who is that lovely young maiden on the cover?

Bill, Paul and Virginia @ Helderberg House

Monday, March 29, 2010

NMPERIGN W/ JAKE MEGINSKY - "Selected Occasions of Handsome Deceit" LP (Rel)

Have been meaning to write about this one since it was given to me last month. A very attractive single-sided vinyl release from the people at Rel. Eli and Ashley clearly know what they are doing.

Not your typical nmperign set here. Meginsky (x.o.4) pushes Greg and Bhob into more expressive territory than they usually inhabit. Some of my favorite parts are the sudden cut-to-the-corner-of-the-mountain builds that sweep up the whole murky foundation that has just been laid and replaces it with an in-the-clouds outlook on lost and found. That is not to say by any means that the record is without the constraint that one expects to find on an nmperign release. Lots of angles and textures, lots of space, lots of listening going on here. The session moves in and out of crawling excursions, lifts, and utter cut-it-loose drop-offs into high flood and pitch wail on the ground zones. All three of these musicians have the ability to come in and out of positions with the utmost clarity and commitment, while at the same time maintaining the freedom to go wherever the other two are taking them. The stakes are high - no question - but the overall tone is collective rather than being adversarial. Consistently surprising.

Plenty of space here for the sonic alchemy to do its thing, but matched with an equally strong presence; an aggression and timbral blending that beats in and out from organic/wet to fine/dry to straight electronic. Don't be mislead, this is an acoustic set with all hands on main guns (Meginsky - Percussion, Kelly - Trumpet, Rainey - Soprano Sax). But the recording nevertheless conjures the ethos of electronic music. The sharp cut-offs seem mechanical at moments, the out-of-nowhere slices of sound float in with a purity of tone that is uncanny. At points the recording sounds invaded by burnt circuits, ever so gently humming or buzzing in the frame. Sometimes nmperign sound like they are sampling environmental sounds. But of course, they are just playing their instruments (the way only they do). Yes, these guys are that good.

And at the same time, they manage to side-step the treacherous pit of acoustic chamber improv cliche completely. The work here is visual - child swinging on the rusty solo swing at the back lot after a lot of rain - strange, careful stockhausen monsters looking on at dawn, or is it dark, it all works whatever; but it also works on the, "just what it is, cut and dried, no strings attached, flat, fragrant sound" level too.

14 minutes of really, really good music.

Pressed on 160 gram copper plate mastered vinyl, cut to 45 for Maximum Dynamic range. (For a slightly more chillers vibe, try it on 33. It is pretty phat there too.) Cover designed by Eli Keszler, printed by Ashley Paul. A light blue fold-over paper is integrated in to a heavy picture disc sleeve, screened notes are featured on the inside. A one-time edition of 300 copies.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Jazzfinger - "Gates of Failure" c60 (Gods of Tundra)

Jazzfinger is the Newcastle, UK based duo of Ben Jones and Hasan Gaylani. They have been releasing material since god knows when. I haven't listened to too much of it, but what I have heard I have been really impressed by. Lots of different sounds, often surprisingly laid-back in its approach, always compelling.

Pretty fast moving stuff here at first. Side A (Pursue The Voice) starts in with a rusty see-saw scream, soon surrounded by muchos scrapes. The sounds are cut with sharp edges - they definitely penetrate deeply. But for all the free sheet-metal gliding that goes on above, there is an equal element of brooding fog drone-tap-in-tap-out FF bellowing below.The moments when these two planes slide together and bustwash fuzz portrait of preexisting golden genes are the best. When the jams get locked into all out spirit war underneath the audible surface and only the overwoofed buzz-mist floats through is when it really gets cookin'. Honey, we burned the butter. Yummy smell for an hour. She smacked his steel plate repeatedly. Did you listen? Or did you listen to the days news? Some kind of trans-obliteration, La Monte would be pissing his pants.

Almost Skaters-esque tape-up plug-ins and outs all of a sudden. Marking time with the occasional cyber scream, liberty bell, or spoken transmission. Somehow, I can still hear my shirt rustle. Sort of casual wear.

Side B (Brink of Infinity) comes in on a much more limited spectrum. More of a classical drone composition. Slowly augmenting the sound with mixing-ins of higher frequencies. This is best subdude, maxed-out crud jams for real. Almost nothing to orient oneself with. Diving in and out of baskets of overloaded drone drizzle, with the occasional static solo sketching on the roof. Long-time cultivated, cultivators of long-ended land magnets. It takes its time. There is no fucking rush. Oscillating between earth and sky, sinking and flying, a movement here, a fried overtone there. A very generous offering.

Sure this stuff is some bleak inner/innerer groove, but it isn't utterly without contact with the outter-space. It is committed. It doesn't come up for air because it doesn't have to. Get comfortable with the see no nothing lifestyle, because it is blackened windows and blackened glasses on this rip-roar of a good time pulse interference tape.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Robert Beatty - "Solos" (What The...? Records LP)

"Solos" is a record of live solo electronics sets by Robert Beatty (Three Legged Race, Hair Police) ripped out of the middle of shows he did with Burning Star Core (C. Spencer Yeh) during a tour in April 2009. The work offered here is really damn good. Beatty manages to squeeze and push an unthinkable range of electronic sounds out of a limited set-up consisting of a space echo, synthesizer, mixer, question boxes?? and whatever else electronic he could find, etc...

One of the things that thrills me the most about this record is how dry and naked it is. I feel like I can hear every decision that is being made as it is decided, and that it is always a moment to moment journey. There is no question that Beatty is a hardcore improvisor, and that he is in it for the sonic explorations. You will find no cliches here, no recycled sounds, nothing remotely recognizable really (unless your a Bülent Arel aficionado, in which case you are primed and ready to be blown away by Roberts explorations as it is).

These solos are experimental/FARC-fucked and some might want to describe them as avant-guarde-yourself-against-avant-guarde, but one thing that Robert doesn't have a shred of is pretension. He doesn't shy away from a dank groove when it presents itself, and he isn't interested in undermining any world-views.

The packaging consists of a few b&w photocopies of Robert (in various situations - eating, sleeping, with a VHS copy of Michael Christian's "Hard Run") and his equipment.

This is straight alien waffle-babble. Give the circuits the time and let them do the talking. This is the kind of shit you want with your morning coffee. It's a good crawler or a glazed stick - you kinda know its gunna fuck you up for the rest of the day, but you down it anyway and are soo glad you did. Some moments come close to electronic congo jams and then sweeptwee into the back corner pocket... of the solar toaster system.

Since the record is a bunch of pieces collaged together, it really moves. It never dwells and gets soggy. It is always dirty. It is always on the run. I think Robert is not often given the attention that he deserves. This comes as highly recommended as anything! Only 166 copies out there.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cruudeuces - "Bird Calling In The Ghetto" (Wet Merchants)

Freakish and frequently blasted guttural rumblings and ramblings emerge out of Cruudeuces "Bird Calling In The
Ghetto", one of the new tapes from a batch of releases on the fresh "Wet Merchants" label. The first side opens with a pitchin' bitchin' rattle and a trotting giant beckoning in the tired moan that works on the soft parts of your grey matter throughout. Don't be fooled by the fry, this is careful stuff. Nathaniel Brennan throws down as many thin slices of sound as he does slabs, and it just keeps coming. The buzz grows fuzz on it, never breaking from its initial impulse. This release manages intensity as well as a kind of simplicity and hoody-up, head boppin' to the smell of burning watt blow-outs chilldom. The lobe shattering on side A continues with visions of day to day life... too busted to hear its own footsteps. Layers fuse together and then split apart again. It is hard to tell, but most of the time it feels like he is working with just a couple of pieces of sound at once, which makes for a very direct transmission.

Side B opens with a duet between said bird and a stoned bumble-bee. The rattle bitches a little, and then an orator sweeps through. This is straight tape music, but served up in the best way. What sound like horns, move like worms, burrowing through the dirty drone and then suddenly hitting upon something worthy of a holler. The resounding call of???? Think: Dune. The drone continues and gets colder and colder, descending into sub-terrestrial zoner land - accompanied consistently by wrecked commentary. The final bit of stripped down syrup smear jams, moves away from the cyclical, rhythmic groove just in time for you to put your pants back on.

The sounds here are surprisingly organic. The way that Brennan attends to rhythm and pulse and where he chooses to place his layers, allow the piece to grow on its own in a really free way. There is no question that he is guiding this ship - but it is one hell of a jungle ark that he is steering through the streets.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sick Llama is Heath Moreland from Michigan. He flings Fag Tapes.

"Heath aka Juice aka Fag Heath aka Morellama is just a ball of huge eyeballing goodness... how can you be mad at him? We used to have heavy skate shred sessions with the goofball and he would destroy the streetz, and still be smiling at the end, never breaking a sweat. You want this dude on your team."
- John Olson

"No one sounds like Heath--almost feel like he's managed to grab that whole basement aesthetic and take it into some twisted, psyched out land, welcome to the stone zone style."
- Henry Smith (Ear Conditioned Nightmare)

"I mean it's electronics, tape hiss, and ....?????? Heath really doesn't get any better or more refined, just....... stranger and more strange. My man Connelly says every Fag Tape has at least a 30% 'hands off' factor, meaning, seems like Llama has a nice mutant groove going on and then just jets for 10min, leaving the machine motionless. If you can tell what the hell is going on inside these grooves...bottle it and sell it, it would be ideal to have on could be like taking a skinny dip inside the caverns of a black pool filled to the brim with soul-frying electricity waves."
- John Olson

A Thousand Colours Blaze 6xC60 boxset [Gods Of Tundra, 2007]
Sick Llama's 30 minute tape side from this epic boz tape 3, side e

...And some more really cruddy constructions here on this 2003 Sick Llama release from Olson's American Tapes imprint. Sick Llama - Put Down

Moreland also decays, twists and distorts ad nausea in project called Slither. They describe themselves as follows: Slither is the brutal collaboration of Chris Pottinger (Cotton Museum) and Heath Moreland. Both reside in the Metro-Detroit area and both conjure sonic demons using horns, electronics and effects.


Side A
Side B

Stay stoned.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I want to kick off this blog with a post about a guy who I have been listening to a lot recently. His name is Christopher Riggs. He plays guitar. You can glimpse his stuff here.
Riggs and Hall (Trauma) in Cincinnati at the Art Damage Lodge

Here are some other chunks/ slabs/ fragments of his: brainwashed, dead in michigan side A, side B.

Here is a review of the Dead in Michigan tape: Ear Conditioned Nightmare.
Henry (the guy who runs ECN) writes about Riggs quite a bit. His ear is frightening and his coverage is definitely equivocal in the best sense of haze.

John Olson on Chris Riggs:
a brief history of the ax=6-string jump: d. bailey - dancehall jazzbox player from the jump heard webern and got it in his idea box that he could get the same timbre fx (=constructing a melody by switching instruments every note) by treating harmonics, fretted notes, open strings all equal and then lays a slab o anton's trichords over top. killer. joe morris up next. does the opposite. total post-bop style. only fretted notes. staying in one left-hand position = gradual timbre changes within the tone-row. two mugs on opposites side o the same wavelength. outta they mindz. keith "fancy a hunder?" rowe comes along and fucks it up. disregards technique, says "fuck you" to the paradigm set up by d. bailey and joe "joe" morris, and opens the door for hundreds of fuckin copycats who love buying fx pedals on ebay. bullshit but it had to happen. looked like it was time to say r.i.p. to the 6-string. nothin new outta that mugg. then comes along chris "nacho" riggs. thinks he can resurrect that dead horse with an fx pedal-less 2-string (side a has just 2 strings on it?!!?!) guitar all the while applying lachenmann's obsession for extendo technique toward the goal of sounding like a dillo tape loop. root scoot

- olzone

Personally, I am a sucker for the searching/ going no-where absence of epic sounds that guys like Riggs and Heath Moreland (more on him later) go for. I think what "olzone" is smacking towards up there is that Riggs does not use effects pedals. His sound is refreshingly free of the oceans of reverb that so many are drenching their shit in these days. It comes at you literally without delay, it is strangely present for a drone from wierdo twangs-ville, dutsy robot pony-ride down to yesterday. He is not fucking around while he fucks around.

Riggs' label is called holy cheever church. It doesn't stop at Riggs sounds. He puts out heaps of metallic medicinal offerings. Here are a few that I think rise to the top: Ben Hall, Lifetones, Skingraft, Analog Concept .
Riggs sometimes plays in Graveyards, a Michigan based experimental/ new music/ free jazz group consisting of Ben Hall, Hans Buetow, and John Olson.
Graveyards @
Poster (above) ... see more olson artwork at art by john olson... which is connected to the hub label of the Michigan experimental scene of which Christopher Riggs is a part: American Tapes
Movie of Hall and Olson (below)

But you probably know about Graveyards already if you are here reading this.