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