For Kelly n’ Mark
Singled Out – revolutions of a 45 kind….
Soriah with Ashkelon Sain
Three words which basically sum up this monolithic masterpiece.
Of course we could and should have said transcendental, spiritual and majestic.
Arrived here via New York’s premier gothic, neo folk, shoe gaze, dark wave imprint Projekt courtesy of a recommendation from Chris over at Beta Lactam Ring whose recent VTB related and La Stpo have been the cause of much affection around these here parts of late – by the way thanks Chris. Its not the first time that Projekt’s wares have featured with much enthusiasm in these pages – several years ago I seem to remember an album by the then fledging Unto Ashes catching our affectionate gaze and since then sad to say diddly squat has come our way. Grumbling aside though this is a beast of a release and much deserving of a place in most right minded record collecting homes.
Of course Soriah is no stranger around these parts, we here are still scarred and cautiously unsettled by his ’ofrendas de luz a los muertos’ outing from a year or two ago which found a limited residence on – if I recall rightly – Beta Lactam’s eclectic Black Series sub imprint. Here teamed up with Ashkelon Sain, ’Atlan’ features a meeting of likened mindsets – Soriah’s primitively sonorous Tuvan incantations act as a perfect foil for Sain’s timeless melodic mantras – a craft brought to realisation by the blending of Asian ethnic string instruments, synthesisers and hand percussion impressed and informed by an ageless and archaic musical language traced back to the very dawn of time.
Eleven such ageless melodic monuments feature on this set, imparting a sense of the ceremonial, the monastic, the monolithic and the grand, ’Atlan’ captures the very essence of nature itself, free spirited and amorphous there’s something about its wares that touches deep and awakens something innate within the listener, both primitive and pre-natural in texture it provides a connection between ourselves and our oft forgotten deep spiritual being.
The set opens to the instrumental ’yoallicuicatl’ with Sain carving a formidable centuries old weathered wall of sound blessed with an Arabesque dronal décor that imparts a heady transcendental twist to the occasion whilst similarly recalling related techniques brought to bear by Ravi Shankar. Soriah’s entrance comes via ’Cehui’ – hinting at a latent regality, this dust scarred epitaph assumes a distinctly Tibetan prayer chant flavour, both cavernous and hypnotic Soriah’s parched incantations exact an unnatural calm to the proceedings with the imagery throughout one of wind flurries navigating wasted and barren landscapes.
At this point we ought to say that ’Atlan’ is heavy going on first hearing, both oppressive and grimly heavy with a doom tarnished touch, however persist with it and several plays in – once acclimatised to its little foibles and traits you soon become aware of its underlying lighter sub text and hitherto seductive qualities, none more so is this the case than on both ’tonacayotica’ and its sibling ’morgull’ – the former lending itself to a minds eye view of landscapes scorched and baked by oppressive suns with the underpinning melodies shimmering sensually metering out an exotically lush snake charming cortege while the latter an un-tethered, smoked and deceptively intoxicating glassy haze of waltzing native Australasian weaves. The Australasian reference markers are more readily encountered on ’Xopancuicatl’ wherein the complimentary nature existing between Soriah’s vocal feats and Sain’s arrangements are brought into a sharpened vivid focus, beautifully light in tonality and embraced of a softly stirring grandeur this quietly arresting gemstone is bleached and bled by bitterly sweet reflective opines with Soriah’s timbres cast into the mix wired with what sounds like a reverberating didgeridoo – quite frankly needs to be heard to be believed.
Elsewhere there’s a momentary mellowing mountain folk interlude courtesy of ‘temictli atlan’, some ethereal dream weaving deep drone via the monastically glazed apparitions found on ’borbak’ while ’tona atopyaatl’ has something of the Morricone epic about its wits albeit rephrased through the viewfinder of Set Fire to Flames. Best moment of the set for us is the title cut ’Atlan’ with its alluring dusting of lazy eyed Oriental riff mantras while ’Amo Cahuit’ wraps up the set in epic fashion touching the ticker tape shy of the 13 minute mark and for once veering into apocalyptic realms with its industrial pulsar matrix prowling in a way only Psychic TV would ever dare, add in some noir tweaked shimmering chimes guaranteed to have your spine a tingling, some amazing vocal contortions and end it all with a ceremonial gong and you have an album unlike anything else you’ll hear all year, a soul purifying ceremony far removed from the melee of commercialism, greed and bandwagon chasing and yes Dead Can Dance fans – you will swoon to it.
Key tracks –
http://www.myspace.com/herryowen haven’t a clue what’s going on here, in fact I’m not entirely certain whether its actually legal to mention whatever is going on, ‘herry owen’ sounds to us like acts of bestiality involving Chipmunks and varying degrees of self immolation, anyway they (Herry Owen) hail from Batesville which sounds about right – apparently a district of Mississippi just in case you were wondering how to avoid them, quite frankly they make Volcano the Bear sound positively poppy, a surrealist operetta of sorts or else some form of wired corrective treatment that vaguely embraces Stockhausen-ian, Python-esque and La STPO elements the latter of course in their more obtuse sounding persona, really is strange and dare we say creepily unsettling in a no wave performance art type way. Any vestiges of hope that ’forget about deer’ might be a little friendlier are soon rendered hopeless in fact the inclusion of brass only makes it appear more out there in a Inside Ov a Butcher’s Shop type way, the grunts the screams the shrieks and that’s just the listener – only joking – really is wired until somewhere around the two minute and 18 mark a kind of Miles Davis / Gershwin moment before briefly blossoming and retiring into a parting milky ambient haze.
http://www.myspace.com/vertexgerm – happened across this site while taking a spot of time out to have a root through my space, hailing from Mexico, Vertex Germ is the solo project of a certain Mario Umberto Quiroga who to date appears to have posted a solitary CD entitled ’Alphatoxin’ which if ’psilocybe mazatecorum’ is anything to judge by is deserving of immediate listening attention. Operating on the distant parameters of ambience, Quiroga or Vertex Germ to give him his chosen identity crafts atmospherically minimalist baubles carved in glacial detail, part eerie and deceptively enchanting, this particular track – 10 minutes in length – is a frosted sonic canvas of bowed ice tipped chimes tenderly underpinned by softly trod glitch flickers and flitters, teasingly transcendental and lullaby like in texture its backdrop framed with the sound of ghostly chatter casts upon it a serene sense of a moment captured in time. Mind you that said we did jump the gun a tad fast because, here’s us expecting more of the same courtesy of ‘voyage of the beagle’ – a more acutely contrasting pairing you could ever wish to hope for, this caustic imp near sandblasted the side of my face such was the frictional force of the scalding power electronics at work here – brutal, unforgiving and unrelenting akin to being flung head first into a violent white noise skrre storm with the added though concerning bonus that it melts speakers. Undeterred – that aforementioned album is still high on our wants list.
Five minutes in and we are loving this. Sure enough its giving us a headache and has had us all a spin trying to keep up with its persistent want for pulling the rug from beneath our feet and embark on momentary detours that are all at once dippy, deranged and shall we say a tad demented. But then what did you expect of something cultured by the finest minds of the Elephant 6 Collective.
Welcome to Will Cullen Hart’s world – baffling, bewildering and beautifully bonkers, more Walrus than Alice for ’Signal Morning’ pretty much encapsulates all that was worthy and notable about the Elephant 6 Collectives legacy – a dream-scaping kaleidoscopic mirage in 17 parts that freewheels through a heady melodic myriad of skewed bubblegum pop, playful power pop, glam rock, skittish psychedelics and lysergic buffoonery.
Aided and abetted by former members of Hart’s previous charges Olivia Tremor Control (so that’ll be more fuzzy pop sparring with Bill Doss then) and Neutral Milk Hotel, ’signal morning’ has spent the best part of seven years in an incubatory like stasis following Hart’s revelation that he was battling with multiple sclerosis, its very appearance alone under such a life changing diagnosis is itself a testament to its authors refusal to withdraw and see through to completion what is perhaps his finest moment which as fans of Olivia Tremor Control will attest is not something said likely.
And when we say ’signal morning’ is all over the shop its meant as a compliment for ’signal morning’ is all over the shop in fact several and all at the same time, its fuzzy, frazzled and frayed around the edges and due for release on the eve of the Beatles much publicised re-masters roll out, a coincidental point that’s not we’ll admit lost on us and something that becomes more apparent when we say that overall ‘signal morning’ at times sounds not unlike it was ripped from a frozen framed moment within the Fab 4’s ‘magical mystery tour’.
From the minute ‘woodpecker greeting worker ant’ crackles and hisses into view with its shuffling fuzz laden goofiness your immediately sucked into a hallucinogenic sub space where what passes for fact and fantasy cross weave, the fracturing motifs engage a curiously reeled hybrid that pits Glitter’s ‘rock n’ roll’ with the day glow elements of Traffic and Tomorrow and relocates said gathering into a goonish – yep you guessed it – ‘magical mystery tour’ welcoming fanfare. As in the finest tradition of albums in the past prior to the onset of the CD and the pursuing and prevailing download again, ‘Signal morning’ is track listed as having two distinct sides – side one being the disorientating half of the whole with Side 2 – I guess you could refer to as – the more sedate and the all the more together sibling.
As said opening to the fuzzy glam overtures of ‘woodpecker greeting worker ant’ Side 1 is the albums more scrambled persona, there’s a disjointed quality that suggests ideas born of an overcooked and fertile creative phase being laid in some ad hoc manner, obviously the psyched out carnival that is ’this morning we remembered everything’ is ripe for cherry picking here as it hiccups and fades in and out of view amid clouds of dissipating mirages and wonky off kilter splutters while radiating briefly through apertures of phased west coast dialects. Then there’s the fractured euphoria on the power pop surged ‘overjoyed’ to contend with while ‘tiny concerts’ after something of a deceptive false start soon emerges sleepy headed and blossoms into a lilting and mooching softly tendered twinkling psyche folk gem that soon finds itself surrounded and serenaded by impish noir jazz tags, the theme continued happily without any further incident of the sweetly mellowing woodland flurries within ’the breathing universe’. elsewhere there’s the fizz, crackle and fuzz of the freakish ’round again’ while the teasingly brief (all 23 seconds of it) ’news from the heavenly loom’ skips excitedly as though its just waltzed of a Dolful Lions debut.
Side 2 as said previously is the rather more sedate side of the equation, its relative intimacy framed elegantly by the lazy eyed rustic ramble of the lilting ‘I you we’ which itself calls to mind a reclining Tunng. If anything this side nods in the general direction of a youthful early Animal Collective (who one suspects if truth be told may well have been inspired at one time by the as was then latent E6 experience) none more so is this the case than on ’particle parades’ and ‘blasting through’ – the former equipped with head spinning shifting dynamics, floral fancies, booming brass opines, general all round flightiness and mind warping fracturing with the latter belying a tendency to evolve and emerge from a cocooned crooked clumsiness into something truly inspired and radio digestible. Does it for us whatever the hell it is. A gem albeit an uncut one in case you hadn’t already gathered.
Key tracks –
This morning we remembered everything
Woodpecker greeting worker ant
http://www.myspace.com/wiredfortranscendence – aside revealing that they / he / she hail from Glasgow there is alas absolutely no information about the excellently named Like Apes Wired for Transience with which to impart upon your dear selves other than to say its been noted with interest that among their friends the name Fruits de Mer appears which as regular observers to these meandering musings will duly note is a label that can do no wrong in our eyes. Mind you lack of info aside there’s no doubting that they / he / she have a firm grasp of the electronic vocabulary because this showcasing set literally acts as an entry level introduction that spans variously elements of the weird to the wired – incorporating VdGG prog electronics – as on the mind expanding meltdown that is ‘low conflicts’, and if for some strange reason VdGG aren’t your particular bag then there’s always ‘first reproduce’ which sumptuously shifts from primitive prog accents to funkily chilled down tempo smooze in the blink of an eye taking with elements of Goblin, White Noise and La Dusseldorf. Those of you preferring your electronics something approaching transcendental, house-y and of the euro disko industrial dialect may do well to hook up to ’earth shaped gap’ where it seems you’ll find Moroder’s ’I feel love’ template being rephrased by a collaborative mindset as were made up of Front 242 and Sven Vath. ’gather round’ on the other hand impressively toys with the darkly primitive analogue arrangements much in presence on the early career work of Add N to X while the psychotropic acid house vibes of ’the trap’ very much dips its toes into territories more commonly associated with Wagon Christ albeit as though tinkered, trimmed and re-sprayed by those impish Tigerbeat6 souls. Which leaves the parting ’connect correctly’ to crookedly see you on your way though not before rewiring your headspace with some acutely deranged Dadaist dementia which at one point had us momentarily scrambling for our Cabs c.82/83 releases before blitzing our brainwave patterns to mush. And before you ask – yes please – more where that come from if you don’t mind.
http://www.myspace.com/lilgizzelle – something else that we happily tripped across on a recent trawl through my space world, frankly this is stunning as it features the most precocious vocal talent that is Lil Gizzelle. Word has it she was spotted fronting a working band doing the usual brand of punter paying cover treats by Wild Records, the band apparently average where very much a side show to the drop dead alluring vocal talents of a certain 19 year old Mexican girl by the name of Gisselle. Blessed with tubes of such soulful purity and tonality Gisselle has the unerring power to seduce and humble in the same delivered frame, not quite achieving Etta James stature just yet but give her time, there’s no doubting of the Brenda Lee meets Sister Rosetta Tharpe chemistry pouring forth within, equally at home to turning her sights on solid gold slices of r n’ b (and here we are talking of that bearing a classic standard not the wishy washy diluted brews found littering the limp and staid end of today’s pop universe) as she is on torch ballads, she’s possessed of something unnaturally spiritual, raw and untamed – and while normally we’d be gagging on her treatments of the uber sassy and sultry ‘baby, please don’t go’ and ‘fever’ we suggest you immediately retune yourself to the rough mix of ‘try me’ and prepare for heartache aplenty. Apparently there’s a full length entitled ‘devil or angel’ plus a smattering of 7 inches kicking around – we will investigate further.
Personal Space Invaders ‘not my boyfriend’ (mattone). Swear we’ve featured this lot in previous despatches though by way of several anxious ridden sleepless nights I’ll be buggered if we can nail a link to prove the case. Anyhow they are a three piece based in London and do a disturbingly tasty turn in melding a Spartan brew that comprises of deranged skewiff electronics, proto punk nuances, dub-tronic drills and drum n’ bass manifestations to which under their off kilter like arrangement wizardry mutate into a club scene romping beats overloaded floorshow that recalibrates a faintly familiar hybrid language whose roots and pre-history finds its bloodline sourced directly from late 70’s era Pere Ubu and Talking Heads. ’not my boyfriend’ here found re-routed by way of three mixes – ’radio edit’, the ’on your bike mix’ by DJ Men in Masks and the Lethem remix is a strangely amorphous beast, the original ’radio edit’ once free of its initial blood rushing attrition racked intro soon slipstreams curiously between light and dark shades that summarily find themselves hot wired into flat lined austere primal electro funk shrilled vibes and the kind of minimalist club floor informed playfulness that marked the onset of Heaven 17’s career. Supplement with swirling spacey additives and you have yourself something that tenaciously terra-forms through the generic divides to terrorise your turntable. DJ Men in Masks rewire the core matrix with a deliciously out there Detroit chassis re-spray, all hiccupping rhythms, kooky hip shimmying funk kissed motifs and spatial underpins though for us it’s the parting Lethem mix that had our pulses arrested with its deep set and heavy mutant dub-tronic curvatures which unless our ears do deceive had us imagining a studio face off between Depth Charge, Wagon Christ, Swimmer One and Dreadzone. Think that covers it. http://www.myspace.com/personalspaceinvaders
Wire #307 – very quick mention for this months edition of the highly authoritative and immensely readable Wire, you wouldn’t believe the hours we spend trying to chase up their recommendations. This particular issue features David Sylvian as its cover star while inside he’s the focus of this issues centrepiece interview, a rare chat indeed while not to mention being brutally frank wherein he discusses amongst things his self imposed reclusive existence in New Jersey and life after Virgin records. Elsewhere the Invisible Jukebox rounds up on William Basinski while both sound artist and collaborator with Alan Licht and Loren Connors – Aki Onda and Julie Tippetts are invited in for a rare fat chewing session. Add to this all your usual taste factoring reviews and recommendations for the month as well as a chance to grab yourself a limited edition Bruce Russel T-shirt.
The Cinematics ‘new mexico’ (orchard). Scarcely over the after shocks still reverberating these here parts left by their recent formidable ‘love and terror’ single, the Cinematics return quickly to the fray to amp up the tension with another hastily released heart heavy opus in anticipation of their second full length also called ’love and terror’ scheduled to hit the racks later this month. ’new mexico’ culled from that set is an emotion draining tour de force, pinned to a lush wide screen production and air brushed with a tear streaked euphoric glaze this beauty wounds and woos in equal precision honed measures, a veritable trembling rollercoaster ride of turbulence and tenderness designed to cut you to the quick and leave you all at once hollowed, humbled and healed. Nuff said. http://www.myspace.com/thecinematics
Here’s the band captured in the studio doing an acoustic version of the cut…..
And from the Cinematics to the Cinema Skeletons – and you thought we just cobbled these things together and hoped for the best didn’t you – hours of careful planning go into these musings I’ll have you know, the sleepless nights the stress, oh alright you’ve seen through the bluffing and huffing – cobbled together it is then…….
http://www.myspace.com/cinemaskeleton – now this is a curious thing, the work of a certain Scott Edward Fowler an LA based musician who heads up the Indie Vibes Records imprint on which you’ll find his recently released ‘funeral at sea’ set appear – a selection of cuts from which you can find on his showcasing my space player. Its all deeply engaging stuff, Fowler engages in a most disarming song craft that appears adverse in its want for continually shedding its skin and mutating, it’s a style that seems happy to fall between the cracks of generic classification from the quietly stately Gothicism of the threadbare ‘bottle of emptiness’ to ‘goodbye goodbye’ with its warping drone opines imparting an industrial shoe gaze glaze and a lo-fi treatment much recalling ‘jack’ era Moose as though undergoing a face off with Rose of Avalanche’s ‘LA Rain’ with a suitably laid back Suicide twiddling about on the control decks – its certainly something that should appeal to fans of imprints such as Paw Tracks and 4AD – the former for its off kilter qualities the latter with regard its subtle goth precision. Elsewhere there’s the bitter sweetly beauty of the ethereal dream weaved ‘the deepest green’ with its bruised and hollowed spectral décor recalling a ’Seduction’ era Danse Society albeit as though turned on to the mantra like mistrals of Roy Montgomery while ’Ciudad’ counters a mind warping odyssey of spacious ambient mirages. That said for us the best moment by some distance is the ice dripped strum shuffles and the ghostly atmospherics of the slacker-esque ‘decadence’ which unless I’m seriously off course recall a Scott Walker inspired Beck meets chilled Bang Bang Machine. Strangely stunning.
http://www.myspace.com/gonweb- its been way too long since we had anything by Dreams of Tall Building delightfully peppering our listening space, so long in fact that we had to go a seek out their my space page to see what exactly they were up to. Alas did you really expect an ensemble as mysterious as DoTB to advertise their comings and goings when its been clear to all who’ve known and followed them that they only ever make the occasional special guest appearance upon pop’s landscape. Likewise – their output has maintained a collectors appeal, most arriving in ultra limited pressings in various shapes and guises that have invariably involved them arriving as mummified cassettes, wooden blocks, credit cards, floppy discs or accompanied by specimen bags. Alas we’re a little light on their last two outings ‘terminal point’ via Static Caravan and ‘silver triangle’ via Great Pop Supplement though word has it that plans are afoot for two special collaborations with Paul Oliveros and Arve Henriksen of Supersilent fame. For now though a selective trawl of this most eclectic of minds is available via a quartet of cuts courtesy of their my space page. Its all about mood and atmospheres – the haunting chamber tingle of the abstract noir halos that liberally decorate ‘death of a friendship’ eke out a hollowing spectral fog bound woodland disquiet that’s part snoozing part eerie, Autumnal in texture and delivery and very much nodding in part to those oddly off set orchestral backdrops that used to underpin those east European animations so much a part of children’s TV schedules of the early 70’s. ‘my hand covered the mountain’ – a spellbinding mantra replete with hypnotic loops and snake winding montages all dutifully sprinkled with a decidedly enchanting and becalming aura of an ornate Japanese garden liberally festooned with wishing trees. Elsewhere through the dreamlike haze the entwining relationship between the sedate and timeless monastic montages, the primitively cultured mountain side ethnic spell charms and the sound of a contented owl endows a strangely beguiled aspect to the proceedings while ‘slow boat away from here’ sounds like some mournfully opining campfire croon re-touched and relocated to some hymnal quiet spot deep in the Tibetan wilderness.
Staying with Dreams of Tall Buildings for a second – we received an email from Darren DoTB telling us about two projects that he and Justin are involved in – those being Geography of Nowhere and……
http://www.myspace.com/toyorch – modified toy orchestra should be no strangers to regular readers of these missives, they’ve featured on numerous occasions here courtesy of limited releases coming via Static Caravan, headed up by Brian Duffy they’ve to date released a plethora of 7’s and two albums ’toygroup’ and their latest recent opus ’earth one’ both of which to the incessant babble of gnashing teeth have eluded are usually carefully trained radar. Anyhow grumbles aside the collective promise electronic sounds borne of dusted down and tinkered children’s toys and are keen to stress their refusal to apply midis, sequencers, samplers or any other solid state sound device in their melodic processing. A handful of tracks feature on their my space showcase players with ’this is the monkey’ proving to be something of a listeners favourite having cooked up so far over 20,000 hits – agreed we to love its diode DNA splicing of Add N to X and Basement Jaxx and austere tipped off beat mechanised funkiness as likewise we are a tad fond of the strangely blissful Fireball XL5 in ice cream van heaven ‘fantastic little blue world’ – but in truth they’ll pail into the background when compared to ’up above the world so high’. starts of like some mooching death disco shape shifter before re-evaluating and repositioning itself in some deeply lush and ethereal sub cosmos, like some dream weaving operetta the unnamed female vocals very much shimmering soft and seductively recalling Heather Duby – the melodies framed in an orbiting cortege of sublimely sugar dipped opines which along the way impishly nod to Ultravox’s ’thin wall’ and B-Movie’s ‘nowhere girl’ are alluringly cast amid opulent pools of celestial entrancement. A gem in other words.
As to Geography of Nowhere – this is Justin’s solo project alas no sound files as yet but his first releases comes courtesy of the First Fold imprint – whose roster also includes outings from such luminaries as Magnetophone, Papa November and Spunkle and whose releases are available to order via Cargo distribution – copies of which we’ll endeavour to pick up if we remember (and we will) when we next pay a visit on a forthcoming record raid. Anyhow Geography of Nowhere’s debut release is a five CD entitled ‘inheritance of jackals’ no doubt ridiculously limited and a description of which we’ll leave with the GON / First Fold folk who say of it –
Inheritance of Jackals is a gentle yet deeply atmospheric album, created for people willing to spend time engrossed in considered listening, its beauty lies not in its immediacy but in its carefully measured sounds and richly layered textures. Geography of Nowhere describe it as ‘smacked out Eno, an interface, a response to the current denaissance, cultural mountains now as waste land, a phonic narrative’
Each individual release comes with a unique slide donated by the Lipton Foundation, a last Will and Testament from Jackal himself and a unique drawing by Justin Wiggan and his son Leon Roman Wiggan.
So expect future mentions when we finally nab a copy as our own. http://www.firstfoldrecords.com
And back to DoTB – we’re reliably informed that the duo have recently signed up to Voiceprint records whose rather varied wares you can gander in the comfort of your own home and in your own time at http://www.voiceprint.co.uk while if you head over to http://www.dreamsoftallbuildings.com – you can navigate yourselves to the bands own Museum label which promises to stock all forthcoming DoTB releases – the first of which will be the eleven track ‘light from a vacant house’ set due any day now. In addition there will also be a ’museum souvenirs’ counter within the shop that will occasionally unearth and place for sale rare one off releases from the bands extensive and highly collectible back catalogue.
And that’s it for a day or three – as usual much gratitude to all who’ve somehow aided and abetted unwittingly these musings and most of all to you for dropping by and casting a fond eye upon them.
Addresses for communications –
Snail mail –
Till next time – take care
originally published September 2009 via http://www.losingtoday.com