Another Language

This Will Destroy You came back to me in a major way when TWDY guitarist Christopher Royal King AKA Symbol dropped one of the best synth records of 2014 on Holodeck Records. Suddenly it all came back to me. This Will Destroy You. A band that could level you when you thought you had heard every single build-and-crescendo during that year where you listened to nothing but post-rock and could feel everything all at once. Those days are gone and the emotional acuity has been blunted. But This Will Destroy You has put out a post-rock record in 2014 that absolutely slays me, destroys me, pins me to the floor (or ceiling) and refuses to let up while exploring the impermanence of tape and creating some of the most thoughtful and interesting sounds of this year.

Eschewing much of the crescendo-core emotional slight of hands which treated the space between martial drumming and tremolo-picked guitar as a means to an end, much of Another Language is placid and shimmering, relying on droning synthesizers, guitars and echoing, dubby percussion to fill out ambient space full of decaying tape manipulation and glacial time signatures. TWDY somehow found a way to fold in the emotional heft of William Basinski's experimentation with tape decay and extreme patience into unfolding post-rock songs that swiftly (in Basinskian time) move from pole to pole.

When Another Language peaks, which it often does, it still raises the hairs on the back of my neck. If I'm listening to this on headphones and the drums kick in and the My Bloody Valentine shoegaze guitars are strummed with an unhuman level of violence after three or four minutes of wading in a sea of mournful sounds, there is this split second before the bedlam where I feel like I am floating, as if I have levitated just a few inches off the ground before being pinned between the shoulder blades with an incredible weight. I forget that I am a few months shy of 30 and my life is pretty good and I am tossed back into that time when wonder and sadness came in rapid cycles and refused to let me go until they could wring every last drop from me. Payments came in full journals with tiny, pressured handwriting and a film degree I have no idea what I am going to do with.

That is the beauty about something like Another Language. It is so transparent and bombastic yet maintains a near album's worth of restrained, patient tones, carving out space for it to really burrow into the tonality of a bell-like synth, a string arrangement, the half-closed crash symbol of the jazzy "Mother Opiate" without the pressure of rushing headlong into an intense crescendo. But when it comes they sell all and it is glorious and sad and beautiful and you feel like crying and running a mile in your work slacks because you just got off the bus that takes you to your first real adult job. God, this album is good.

"In an unsubtitled dream I saw the destruction and rebirth of a thousand worlds. I looked away when I realized I was responsible for it all."- something I probably wrote in a journal full of tiny, pressured handwriting.

Thursday, September 18th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)

Jerry Paper has officially parted the veil into how music/video production/everything works. There is nothing left to see or hear, ever. Now you know how it's done. Green screen. Teleprompter. CGI. Guitar. Drums. Bass. Synths. There is no mystery left anymore. Only the great vastness of whatever is beyond death. But don't go there yet. Chameleon World awaits. A place you can live forever through a gnostic reality of consciously constructed immortality and capability on the web. The stinkin' internet. Everything's on there, man. Big Pop for Chameleon World is out with our friends Orange Milk Records over there in Brooklyn, NYC. On the internet and in the lousy physical world.

Big Pop for Chameleon World Bandcamp

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)

Keiki - Living/Breathing (Live God, 2014)

Keiki's latest noise tape via Cincinnati's best outsider artist collective is a document of semi-improvised, brain-to-tape harsh noise that lives and breathes in a sort of stuck, liminal space made up of sweltering afternoons paralyzed inside, outside-looking-in observations of normal interactions that seem insane to you and those times when you want nothing more to bury yourself in a cloak of thick blackened noise. Living/Breathing provides the soundtrack for all your special moments. As a noise tape, one that is full of serrated metal-on-metal scrapings, these sounds of a computer vomiting up a full hard drive and the sound a building makes right before it collapses, Living/Breathing works very, very well. Beneath the surface there is a quivering, beating heart and a forlorn voice making its way out of the catacombs making Living/Breathing completely listenable. There is nothing assaultive on this tape, any ill-will is directed inwards and does not bash your face in. For example, tracks like "Always Wrong", which takes a strange 50's girl group meets Shankar Jaikishan bass-percussion line and marries it with melodic pulls of noise that corral and condense all of this harshness into a weirdly melodic line. This thick miasma of keys, contact mics and bass guitar is the kind of stuff that is crucial to sink into when you are at your worst. There is enough of a shimmering, golden edge that it offers an echo and a reminder that fall is around the corner and the god-awful humidity will subside for a season. Until then, sink in and live with it.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Public Housing - Public Housing (Torn Light, 2014)

As a Case Manager I spend a good deal of my time in Cincinnati's public housing or public housing adjacent areas. From my experience and conjecture, if public housing (the physical structures) had sentient souls and phalanges and were given guitars, drums, oscillators and a feral saxophone, their album, also called Public Housing, would sound note-for-note like this. Or Rich Homie Quan (whom I love). OMG. "Type of Way Public Housing remix". Get on it. Public Housing echoes a lot of the bleakness and despair, while none of the vibrancy and community, that our most benignly named prisons for the economically depressed seethe with. Dragging its staggeringly slow BPM through a thick slew of ravaged guitar solos and intentionally sick sounding wheeze of drilling, buzzing and whining electronics, Public Housing is a supremely weird take on an almost Doo-Wop approach to slow and crashing percussion with distinct penchant for the vulnerability and verse-chorus arrangements of a severely fucked version of the blues. This is gut-wrenching stuff. Sheer Hellish Masala of harsh noise, sludge and no-wave skronk filtered through busted equipment and malicious intent. It is terrifying and monolithic, towering and ever-buzzing, a place not be around when the sun goes down, just like, you guessed it, a college dorm. Public Housing forever.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Sloths - Twenty Years (The Ghost is Clear/Don't Live Like Me/Illuminasty, 2014)

I became acquinted with the Portland three-piece Sloths via Kyle Bates shoegaze-drone project Drowse. I've gained immensely from blazing through their back catalog on an especially long run. Their latest EP, Twenty Years is their most assured and clarified statement of purpose to date. A lot of bands who do this really intense mathy hardcore with moments of major-chord brilliance, black metal and post-rock bridges have the dynamics all wrong. Instead of stopping the song dead in its tracks to get all twinkly and sappy in the name of dynamics (or dramatics) before gaining steam before an "epic" breakdown, Sloths are pretty consistent in keeping their songs focused and linear, utilizing tremolo-picked guitars to augment some particularly blistering chorus or some Isis-like bridge to give just enough breathing space by leaping into another jerky, mathy and HEAVY breakdown. Centered around the themes of loss and suicide, the EP comes to a final and ultimately hopeful note amongst beautifully crushing guitars, blast beats and guttural screams of acceptance of leaving the dead buried and living just to live. Included on the EP is a killer cover of Slint's "Breadcrumb Trail" that is a faithful recreation if I've ever heard one if those Louisville dudes listened to a ton of Neurosis.

Friday, September 5th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)

We here at the Tome have been big-time fans of Canadian video artist Rob Feulner for a long time. In fact, the whole Videodrone thing was started largely to feature video artists like Rob and his ilk who use the format of "music video" as a venture into collaborative art-making that bleeds together the boundaries of video art, montage and installation pieces into something startling and indelible. Feulner has put together an "advertisement" of sorts for the Goldrush Music Festival (which we at the Tome are busy organizing) featuring performing festival artist Eric Copeland's (of Black Dice) recent single "Masterbater" (DFA, 2013) paired with Feulner's incredible trove of cable-access TV shows, direct to VHS movies and visual ephemera picked up at yard sales and unclaimed storage containers. Feulner is a master and innovator in this field. Pairing the absurd with the pedestrian, Feulner uses scanning lines like brush strokes. Plus, this video is INFORMATIVE. Watch and the complete line-up with dates will appear. All will be revealed. Remember, Goldrush Music Festival 2014. September 13-14th - Larimer Lounge/Meadowlark. Denver, CO. Be there.

Goldrush Website

Goldrush Music Festival 2014 from Rob Feulner on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)

Grizzly Spectre - All of Them Witches (Self-Released, 2014)

What a difference a few years makes. Last time we checked in on Grizzly Prospector (now operating under Grizzly Spectre for this project) we heard an artist reveling in the tense and inflection of a bygone era: short depression-era folk songs that rarely ran beyond the two minute mark. 2014, the SLC-based Parker Yeats has stripped the entire apparatus down to brass tacks (literally down to sheer mechanical action of the downstroke on a guitar) and then stretched and slowed the entire composition to a fraction of its original speed. The result is a droning, ghostly masterpiece of guitar, voice and synths. All of them buried. All of them sunk. And a what a voice it is. Yeats voice floats up through the floorboards, reverberates through empty apartments and high ceilings/sealings. Echoes of Yeats' bellow creating spectre-ish doubles of each other. The synth work here donated by Michael Biggs sound impossibly organic, like a bowed cello under a thick blanket of reverb. Grizzly Spectre works well as a moniker for what Parker is doing these days. The album spectre-like in that ephemeral, barely-there connection between two planes of existence, but is also very much tied to the West. A sense of unhedged expansion and discovery, a landscape seldom seen. Grizzly Spectre: a lone pioneer crossing the plane.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Hakobune / Oliwa / Former Selves / Panabrite  - Oceanic Triangulation (Inner Islands, 2014)

This is the maw-fuckin' dream team right here. Three continents, four artists, two tapes, one hour of completely zoned relaxation. Enough on here get through a particularly dense and mind-numbingly boring textbook chapter on the "History of Supervision in Social Work". Can't make this stuff up. Srsly tho, look at this line up. The Japanese sound-sculptor Hakobune, whose tape Seamless and Here on Patient Sounds (Intl). is the most pleasant and beautiful piece of guitar music produced this year, starts the tape(s) off with a confident statement of purpose. An introduction glistening in golden reverb and far-away drones. Buenos Aires-based Oliwa, another contender for most transcendentally peaceful album of the year, follows up with a slow-burn, wandering synth track. A meander under a lush, thick canopy of thick, humid drone and meditative synthesizer played in some celestial key. Former Selves, who released a genius split with Original Flowering Earth on Crawf's Planted Tapes a while back has crafted a placid, tranquil pool of undisturbed beauty. There is an unspoken sense of tension floating somewhere below this track. Like the dams and lagoons in Swaziland guarded by a seven-headed snake that controls the weather (once again. Can't make this stuff up) this is something to be approached with respect and caution. Throw your coins to appease whatever ancient God lives below and bow out. Lastly, Panabrite (Goldrush 2012 alum represent!) is on to the most terrestrial of all artists. Starting out with the damp drip of a cave dwelling before launching into some truly virtuoso Bach-style fugue synthesizer shit before exploring more tranquil space before roaring (in the way these ambient-drone dudes do) into a crescendo of sorts with soaring guitar lines and textured synths ruminating below before fading out into field recordings of an open field. Incredible stuff on these tapes. 

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

 

Zach Zinn - The Spiral Organ (Live God Collective, 2014)

Continuing with the more meditative, New Age-y vibe of the first half of this Tape Haul (it is about to get real noisy real fast on the next edition) the furthest flung member of the impressive Cincinnati-based Live God artist collective, Zach Zinn (Olympia, WA) has created a beautiful collection of drone-based compositions that feature some lovely looped woodwind and thumping tribal percussion. On the heels of the excellent Time and the Diamond, Zinn joins artists like Les Halles in exploring how woodwind instruments (I think that is a processed flute...) can add a layer of density, texture and Mayan-like zen (although I doubt the Mayan was a very zen-like culture) to already dense and muggy loop-based music. The space Zinn finds is pretty miraculous. Never one to overcrowd his compositions, Zinn incorporates rhythmic looping of instrumental passages if minimal percussion (infrequent tribal beats or tape loops) are not already present. This gives the entire tape a hypnotic, slightly sea-sick lurch forward. Woodwinds ride the crest as a top-bar melodies or are folded into the frothy, roiling surf of other auxilliary instrumentation such as harpsichord, harmonica and guitar. The Spiral Organ is a confident next step for Zinn, one that I find myself returning to on a frequent basis.

Monday, September 1st, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)

Scrolling through my facebook feed this morning left me supremely bummed out. Ferguson, friend-of-a-friend shot in his car for no reason, violence and all the justifications for violence. Then this showed up in my inbox. This piece of positivist jamn. A reconnaissance into the void of human spirit, report back: "it gets better". Sometimes you gotta ride that sine wave to its deepest pitch for the corresponding high. Anger turns into catharsis only if it channeled appropriately. CLIPD BEAKS has been my divining rod for a few years now.

Listening to the Oakland-based CLIPD BEAKS track is like watching a knot unwind itself in reverse. A focused, stereo-panning, bass line joined by sea-bird calls of angled distortion, until shortly after the drums kick in, all hell breaks loose. "FKWRK" turns into propulsive, limbs-a-flailing crescendo of dosed, Hoarse Loads-era noise with the openness and expansiveness off of anything off their latest tape Lost Offering. A Gordian knot of voices and mantras petitioning an empty sky.

Heligator is unspeakably honored to have CLIPD BEAKS donate a track to the cause. Every dollar spent at Heligator Records goes directly to the Malindza Refugee Camp Library in Mpaka, Swaziland. The proceeds from Heligator go to maintaining the library (literally keeping the lights on) and providing a small stipend to the volunteer, refugee librarians. The library is home to over 1,500 books, two computers as well as English and French classes taught by refugee volunteers. To learn more about the Library and where your money is going please visit the Library's blog at:
malindzarefugeecamplibrary.blogspot.com
There's nothing like donating to a good cause, getting incredible music to replace the bum jamz happening around the world. Maybe even more satisfying than dumping a bucket of ice water on your head. IDK. FKWRK, tho.

Thursday, August 28th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)
Across the Mountains: A Macedonian Ambient Music Compilation

This, more than anything, is to let you know this exists. I've really dug into this compilation of ambient artists from Macedonia with what started as native curiosity. What exactly does ambient music from Macedonia sound like? I've been burned before by pretty bad Eastern European electronic music when I listened to three hours of the stuff on the Underground Alliance series for another publication I write for. I'm really happy to say that this stuff is legit. Silber Records must have some pretty strong sway in the Balkans, because a lot of this would not sound out of place on Silber's fine repertoire of great drone records. Really engaging ambient music that runs a broad gamut. From wandering synth and field recordings by Dimitar Dodovski, to a sprawling 15 minute aleatoric piano piece with huge clouds of gathering static and ominous guitar crackle by fydhws, billowy projections of soft guitar-based droning by Amplidyne Effect, plus plenty of pulsing, Nu-New Age crystalline synth by Sherafedin Kurt. Sound_00 and Airless Project hold down the dark-ambient side of things bringing some much needed noise and darker synth tones into this otherwise all-lights-on affair. Without the sticker shock of this being imported from Macedonia, I would be just as wholly impressed and grateful to have something to take with me as I study. 

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)

Drowse -Songs to Sleep On (Television Records, 2014)

During my time working in the mental health field (somehow my credentials say QMHS - Qualified Mental Health Specialist - really means nothing) I've seen a lot of people - clients, patients, friends - take a deepening plunge into mental illness. On the other end sometimes comes resurgence, death and more often than not a knowing sort of acceptance that this call of the void will always be a part of their life. Kyle Bates, on his first solo EP (Kyle plays in a pretty awesome band called Sloths), Kyle filters a couple years worth of suicide attempts, breakups, lithium prescription, depression and psychosis in a 15 minute EP that somehow covers an incredible amount of breadth. These dark, churning, chopped drone-based songs narrate and translate the loosening of associations, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that come with a slide into depression. But more than anything, this is a statement of placid acceptance. The light counterbalances the dark. Angelic guitar tones in the upper register are a ceilingless response to the darkness churning beneath, adjacent drum patterns mimic the human heart beating with a will to live. This is a pretty heavy but ultimately life-affirming piece of music to briefly contemplate that void while waiting for a bus or some domestic chore. A PDF comic narrates the process. I wish all my clients had making shoegazey, drone-pop songs coping skills. 

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Botanist - VI: Flora (The Flenser, 2014)

Just listen to the first movement of this record. A triumphant one-two punch of drums, hammered dulcimer, shimmering guitars and synths before delving into black metal driven blast-beats, incredibly moving and glacially-paced guitar riffing with spectral spools of synths arcing gracefully towards the light over distorted, screamed vocals low in the mix. All this under the one-minute mark on 2014's most forward thinking, avant-garde and straight up accessible metal album. No surprise it is on The Flenser, which has been shattering expectations of heavy music and releasing some truly catholic and large-tent versions of what heavy music can do/be. This is Botanist's sixth album in the series narrating the eventual demise of the world and a miserable botanist alone with his plants imagining a utopian post-apocalypse in which the natural world will take back what is theirs. While indicators of black metal are found throughout this record, Flora takes a decidedly expanded sound palate to explore the world of the fecundity and balance of plant life through the use of a 12-string bass and harmonium, worlds away from the stereotypical vision of black metal as a one-man show of tremolo picked guitar and blast beats. Flora is a measured balance between darkness and light, these two aspects often battling it out in the same song or precise musical movement. One of the best albums of the year.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Hey Mother Death - Highway (Snake Power, 2014)

Highway is anchored by a snaking, ever-gliding bass lines, dubby rhythm sections, ever-ascending synth and guitar lines that give way to squalls of no-wave guitar chatter that the sultry, slinky, bilingual spoken word of Laurence Strelka effortlessly floats over. That voice has the seductive powers to guide motorists to their death like some roadside siren. The duo of Strelka and Denma Pelsinger reside in both Paris and Halifax, Nova Scotia and have created a hypnotic, sexy, downright unstable mix of rythm that is motorik and laser-focused on one hand and unpredictable and esoteric on the other. The two collide in tracks like "The Hills" which an incessant bass line is interrupted by exploding, shrapnel-laden distorted percussion or on the album's most dub-heavy track "Bad Sex" which draws as much on funk and early hip-hop communiqués out of dub's jet-engine suck of every sound surrounding it. With the minimal set-up and easy to describe musical output, Highway covers an amazing amount of ground and is endlessly listenable. Suitable for late nights for lovers in some sort of liminal Blue Velvet/Twin Peaks style club. All crushed velvet everything.

Hey Mother Death website

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Mamaleek - He Never Said a Mumblin Word (The Flenser, 2014)

An expansive, bleak album skirting transgressive black metal, lo-fidelity electronics and middle-eastern motifs that make this an ultimately spiritual affair. Spiritual in cleansing, self-flagellating, radical guilt siiiiinnnnk into redemptive despair and holy anger. "He Never Said a Mumblin Word", the eponymous leading track is a marvelous pairing of heavy, slow riffing, plodding drums, angelic choirs bathed in pure celestial light being played in some adjacent higher heaven while the Mamaleek brothers (a mysterious San Francisco duo) scream and cry out in petition or protest. Guttural vocals from heaven's sub-basement. The guitars, however, are wrapped in a sheen of muslin feedback and fuzz, while drumming never quite reaches blast-beat frenzy, instead is programmed to the pitch of a cartridge of compressed air being punctured at frightening regularity. Landscapes of clanging, avante-terror, rainbow bridges of light offering passageway into the briefly glimpsed celestial tones only to fall to ribbons at your feet. Shards of light bouncing off the stoney, terrestrial plane you are doomed or blessed to spend eternity on. Breathtaking polarities in this relatively short album. The Flenser can do no wrong.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Matt Nida - Explorer (Hel Audio, 2014)

Taking a leap out of the incredibly fertile Provo/Orem, UT experimental-electronic kinship of musicians, London's Matt Nida creates a wonderful pastiche of sci-fi soundtracks (think John Carpenter's Dark Star), Fabric/Warp sonic territory of forward-thinking techno and dance all under the strict guidance of vintage analog synth and hardware. The way these tracks unfold over the course of the tape, big, bright beats, punchy, clean snares and ascending/descending arpeggios running all over the keys. This type of sci-fi homage has been road tested in many DJ residency at clubs across UK when it takes unnoticeable twists and turns into danceable grooves. Hot love in outer space. Hel Audio has been one of my favorite labels to arise in the last few years. Love the aesthetic of each tape, logo and obsession with laser-guided melodies of experimental electronic music.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

No Lands - Negative Space (New Amsterdam, 2014)

No Lands is the moniker and main artistic outlet for Michael Hammond, an intriguing Brooklyn artist who effortlessly melds forward-thinking pop maximalism with fearlessly broad strokes of severely fucking around with tone and pitch in a normative pop template. Except, this isn't a normative pop template, but rather a map of a pop song. You can trace a line between verse, chorus, bridge, etc...And these are executed brilliantly. Big, bright, hooky choruses that swell and diminish only to be picked up again with greater ferocity. But in between these poles is a street view of the city Hammond is occupying, pitches dovetail into extremely high and low frequencies, making this one of the most thrilling headphone experiences of this year. These same explorations in frequencies are often applied to Hammond's heavily processed vocals, filtering them through some sort of strange wind tunnel directly into your brain. These are strung between elegant, crystalline guitar lines and subtle, Faith-era Cure bass lines. Bright, shining synth lines ring out in shimmering spools of incandescence. Bright chemtrails of fluorescent light in beautifully timed intervals. All of this leads to a logical end, but in the twists and turns, the angled and impossible architecture, a new skin is laid across old frames of barren cities. A glowing warmth radiates through sewers and canopy-lit glow behind skyscraper glass. An inner glow that lights everything from within. That's what guides these songs. Drop a pin. You'll find your way there.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

 

Memorials of Distinction - V/A How to Organize your Life and Get Rid of Clutter (Memorials of Distinction, 2014)

I've been listening to this tape obsessively since I got it last week. Memorials of Distinction is a newly minted label out of Brighton, UK. This compilation serves as an entry point into what (I hope) will be a long and fruitful career of putting out weirdo, lo-fi jams for the masses. How to Organize Your Life and Get Rid of Clutter starts with an interesting premise. Stitching a handful of bands onto a comp. recorded over a corporate motivational training tape by a dude named Ab Jackson. I've been giving the name "Ab" a disproportionate amount of thought since I got this tape. What is that short for? Abe, which is short for Abraham? Alvin Brian Jackson? Who knows. The self-help tape is a humorous (practical!) piece of ephemera back to a time when computer information was saved on floppy disks (which you should always color code for improved organization). Across this sage advice is a cross-section of beautiful lo-fi compositions from around the world from UK, Sweden, Mexico and the U.S. Notable standouts include the lilting, raw, straight-into-laptop mic of Porridge Radio, swirling, soft-psych of Smiling Disease and Mad Kid Library Trap, the clomping idiot beats of Estamos Fritos and the field-recording/post-punk miasma of Satanic Ritual Abuse are bright standouts. Shambling indie-rock/hip-hop of Mewlips hits a bit too close to home, often sounding dangerously close to Yoni Wolf's impressionistic talk-rap drawl. This is a pretty grand start to a tape label whom I am hopeful will be a vibrant source for continued warped tapes and further guidance on how to organize my cluttered desk/mind.

Monday, August 18th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)

Campo-Formio has been one of my favorite finds of 2014. It isn't so often that unsolicited e-mails lead to rich and fertile relationships with artists. But so it is with this Puerto Rican surf, punk, prog threesome eternally riffing on some sweet, golden mean between the three. Then there's this video. A perfect approximation of straight-toVHS classics where guys in open collar shirts scream at each other on over-sized cell phones and wait endlessly for boats coming in with drugs or guns. In this case it's guns. And Campo-Formio and havin' none o fit. Until they get what's coming to them. It's not pretty. Enjoy at maximum, ear-bleeding levels.

Pick up the 2014 2xLP here.

Videodrone brought to you by Ryan H.

Friday, August 15th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)
Mirror Cave

Let's take a look at what is happening in and behind the scenes on Spires in the Sunset Rise's newest tape on Perfect Wave, because this is an album that demands and deserves this sort context giving. First, Mirror Cave is an extension of the musical partnership between between Kathleen Baird and Taralie Peterson whose paired down membership did nothing to pair down the incredibly expansive doom-folk of 2012 album Ancient Patience Wills it Again. This musical kineticism and intuitive partnership are responsible for boldly steering Mirror Cave's knotty compositions into unexpected places. Unexpected is the operative word to describe this album. It is bold and bombastic. It shakes out STITSR's typically melodic and drama-filled compositions into some compelling, declarative, foaming-at-the-mouth explorations into a strange liminal place between literature and music. 

Mirror Cave, according to Perfect Wave's press sheet (and to be quoted in every blog as exposition) is a "conceptual album in 8 movements based on Italo Calvino's short story 'Sword of the Sun' interspersed with excerpts from Shinkichi Takahashi's 'After Images: Zen Poems'. In a face-off with the ego, Palomar (Kathleen Baird) observes, reacts, contemplates, struggles and finally transcends how the “sword” of the sun’s reflection on the ocean always appears to stop exactly at his very own eye. Taralie Peterson represents some other dimension of reality—”the sensation that you are here but could not be here in a world that could not be but is.” This tape is accompanied by a beautiful 28 piece booklet designed by Providence-based artist Erik Ruin

In these 8 movements Baird and Peterson cover a lot of ground. Baird's voice (often multi-tracked and pitch-shifted) dips and dives through spoken word passages, often delivering them in a lilting, sing-song approach or with a quivering, dread-filled baritone that ranges from blank-eyed deadpan to freak-the-fuck-out evocative. Behind these strung together passages of poetry is a swirling tarpit of Peterson's clawing, stalking, firecly bowed cello whose tenor and voicing is often neck-in-neck with Peterson's frentic delivery. Much of Mirror Cave's compositions are augmented by the use of a bevy of electronic/pedal-based manipulation and instrumentation. Electronics bubble and boil, squeak and wash and break over speakers like waves. Baird's flute is often modified to take her eastern-influenced melodies into aural space somewhere between the reedy, earthy sound of the instrument and internet dial-up sounds in a Kanye West auto-tune solo. Peterson shreds in the tune of 50 electric guitars.

I wonder why more literature isn't given this treatment? The inherently surreal images by Calvino and Takahashi are illuminated, given some kind of compositional structure and are augmented and unleashed making them even more vivid and lived-in. For those who do not wish to be led or guided, who want to batter down albums with their own intention and expectation, will find this album tedious. For those who approach Mirror Cave as they would as a piece of literature, this album is an all-encompassing, audio-visual experience into some pretty expansive space. A place where is little room for ego. A puppet-like state of suspended animation. A "dead man's float" in a sea of troubled instrumentation.

Did I mention that booklet? This thing is beautiful.

Order with limited-edition booklet here

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014 | Add New Comment (0)