In this synchronized swim between electronic and acoustic instrumentation, Andrew Tuttle is able to coax out the most sonorous elements of both - riding that golden mean where the two become indistinguishable. This isn't cloud-based ambient music. Steel strings twang and diminish. Fingers press heavily on synthesizer keys. The fingerprints of mechanics are all over this. Rather, it is a deep tangle of roots. Tendrils weaving through city-funded concrete, finding and exploiting every crack to reach the virgin loam beneath. Deep below the city.
Andrew Tuttle - Brisbane, Australia - has been creating this interpretative electro-acoustic beauty under the name Anonymeye and his God-given one for quite some time. Splitting time between recording solo and with a whole host of collaborators (Matmos, Lawrence English, Mike Cooper, Heinz Riegler) and helping run Australia's true great import of experimental music - Room40/A Guide to Saints, Tuttle's affability and beautifully performed work have made him a true ambassador.
To claim a country as one's own is a luxury, however, that an ever increasing population do not have. All proceeds from "177" go to the Malindza Refugee Camp Library where your enjoyment of great experimental music goes to continuously fund the library that serves over 400 refugees from all over Africa who have fled their native countries of Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, etc...due to war, famine and genocide.
You may have noticed my less-than-prolific output here on the Tome. That, partly/mostly is due to the fact that Crawf and I have been in the throes of putting together 2015's Goldrush Music Festival taking place in Denver, CO Sept. 18th-19th at The Savoy at Curtis Park.
The initial line up is wild. Below you will find a link to the website where you can buy early-bird tickets. THIS IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. They will sell out. In this line up you will find several genre pioneers, at least one legendary band woken out of hiatus, three continents represented (Africa, Australia and Europe), street performers embraced by the avant-garde, up-and-comers that we couldn't be more thrilled to be giving stage-time.
The best part is...There is MORE TO COME!!
Tara Jane O'Neil
Make-Overs (South Africa)
Baby Birds Don't Drink Milk
The Space Lady
Married in Berdichev
Ryan H. and Haley Fohr go deep into exploration as a function of personality, origin stories (duh) and oddball 90's radio hits. Discussed: The Shaggs, Crash Test Dummies, Enigma, etc....
Crown Larks - Blood Dancer (Spacelung / Landbreathing, Already Dead, 2015)
Crown Larks are a Chicago sextet that create some of the densest, tightest psych, free-jazz jams, that, when broke open, unspool into some the most glorious strains of forever-ascending squalor I've heard all year. Blood Dancer, at 7 tracks feels massive. It is a record that I've only been able to take in single settings a handful at times. Taken in small chunks it easy to appreciate the lumbering, meaty rhythm sections that weave in and out of deft Kraut-inspired bass lines that gradually take an exit off the autobahn into the grimiest of Chicago neighborhoods where all hell breaks loose under the weight of three brass instruments soloing above that locked-in bass line and some of the best out drumming that is able to trade flashiness for brass-tacks before selling it all in an eight-armed pummeling as the track looses its moorings and leaves the city, the planet and all known multiverses behind. It is really inspiring to see a band deliver on the promise of some of the finest prog-influenced, noise-bred bands like $keletons, Clipd Beaks and ZS that gained traction in the late aughts and are now being delivered in massive ways by newcomers like Jobs and Crown Larks. Plus, I heard they might play at something, somewhere, that totally rules. But you didn't hear that from me....
P.S. When I googled, then google imaged "what is a six-piece band called?" I came across this photo, which totally unrelated to the review, is absolutely incredible. Please view.
Andrew Tuttle - Slowcation (A Guide to Saints, 2015)
As part of Andrew Tuttle's slowcation through the States from his native Brisbane, Australia, he made a stop in Denver during 2014's Goldrush Music Festival. I was thrilled to make the acquaintence of someone whose work I've admired while he recorded under the moniker Anonymeye as well as his work with A Guide to Saints and Room 40. Tuttle was gregarious and seemed equally thrilled to be at Goldrush, sitting through every set, making acquaintances with individuals he has had equal admiration through musically and kindling IRL relationships that exist because of the internet.Tuttle's output on his latest solo output was written and recorded mostly during this trip and is written for Tuttle's native banjo and manipulation of electronics. Tuttle's banjo technique has been written on extensively. Wringing minimalist lines played at hyperspeed make the steel strings of leather gut sound percussive, much like the ramping up of trance-inducing tribal ceremonial drums. The electronic compositions on Slowcation, a different animal in themselves, focus in on soaring, droning overtones while pitched micro-melodies run riot just at the threshold of our brain's ability to pay attention to several sounds at once. The album's most illuminating track "Post-Meridiem Construction", a collaboration between Tuttle and Matmos's M.C. Schmidt, finds both artists in conversation between Schmidt's beautifully augmented synth lines and Tuttle's elegiac banjo. The result is a fascinating electro-acoustic narrative of two men fully in control of their craft. That follows the course for much of this album, deeply-felt, emotionally resonant synth and banjo passages held at perfect tension with Tuttle's highly experimental, intellectually curious synth explorations that produce something that fires on all synapses on the musical pleasure scale for much of our readers.
Hidden Persuaders - Elegies and Curses (A Giant Fern, 2015)
It is fitting that the Hidden Persuaders' name also shares the title of a book detailing how corporate psychologists play on our fears and desires to sell us stuff we don't really want/need. At the tail-end of late-era capitalism our fears and desires aren't ours anymore, rather, part of a collected subconscious no longer manipulated by symbology and totems that chart our developmental progress but manufactured by the book/movie representations to sell products that help us achieve/eliminate said desire/fear. I've felt a lot of things while listening to music. There have been very few that approach genuine fear. Elegies and Curses gets close. Glacially slow Black Metal played over and between excellent sound art/collage that has punctuated Hidden Persuaders' earlier releases. The space between plodding bass riffs and the next distortion-filled riff are filled to their breaking point with menacing drones, black syrup synths, stabs of contact mic static and the undeniable sound of a fist through glass...perfectly synchronized to fall on the downbeat. Elegies and Curses is a masterfully heavy, downright disorienting release that skirts the outer edges of metal and plays it back through a filter that is somehow even more scary and fucked up than the trumped up tropes that it has come to embody. Highly recommended.
Our Love Will Destroy the World - Carnivourous Rainbows (Ba Da Bing Records, 2015)
"NZ noise royalty" was the descriptor from Ba Da Bing for Campbell Kneale's latest release under the moniker Our Love Will Destroy the World. Honestly, nothing could be closer to the truth. To break that down, New Zealand has a storied history of releasing skewed versions of pop and noise to the world at large, a cursory glance at Flying Nun's back catalog or, you know, the Dead C reveal a crowded list of notable weirdos. Royalty, although having nothing to do with meritocracy (which the sole factor behind Kneale's repute), gestures towards being an ambassador to other countries, representing the best of your home. Kneale certainly has done that. On Carnivorous Rainbows, Kneale's glorious knob-twisting, guitar-mangling, tone-wrangling is on full, glorious display here. Not leaving a single space available for quiet reflection, songs on Carnivorous Rainbows are filled to the brim with the tail-end or mid-thought gestation of million great ideas. Building, tribal percussion on "FUZZ LEGION MAJESTY" is joined by upper-register tonal fluctuations that squawk like tropical birds spooked by an ancient tribal ritual. Bleeding-out guitar attacks smear across the sky like bloodthirsty, chemtrail rainbows given, not as a promise, but as a warning that we are held at the capricious whim of an old god who would rather wipe us all out than course correct. Percussion shows up a lot of this record, sometimes as the backbone on tracks - see "FUZZ LEGION MAJESTY" - or explored in auxiliary roles, flitting in and out of the polyrhythmic (but not tempo-less) "MINIATURE BAMBI SUPERLAND". On the epic closer "HADES IRON HORIZON", fully-developed guitar drones and - what sounds like a bagpipe played on a KORG MS020 - lap gently like a congealing, molten sea while lone piano notes succumb and eventually suffer and die with the rest of us, completely submerged and burning in a sea of endless bliss...Our Love will Destroy the World.
Ken Camden - Dream Memory (Kranky, 2015)
In an album that blurs the line between guitar, synthesizer and voice, Dream Memory pulls together sounds that have their origin wholly outside of this world, or, at least, explores their organic origin beyond all recognition. To start with voice, Dream Memory has quite a bit of it. However, once you get past the album opener "Adenosine" you begin to lose track of it. That is because that track -whose wholly unique vocal sampling Camden pulls from Angel Olsen and Emily Elhaj - stitches together samples of the human voice transcribed to tonal variation and then plucked out, on what I imagine, is a synthesizer keyboard or a fretboard on a guitar interfacing with a synthsizer...this whole thing gets very confusing. But to track the subjective, lived experience of this record is pretty straight forward. The analog warmness of this track is stretched throughout the entire album, illuminating an album that, on its onset, shines with a cold metallic hue. This couldn't be any further from the truth. There is nothing robotic about this album although in its tonal range we find hints and remnants of sci-fi experiments in sound from old 50's classics played in black and white late into the evening. It pulls and coaxes voices from a variety of sources (human and otherwise) that hit a tonal sweet-spot that is above species consideration, or instrumental origin. It exists, somewhere in the haze between intellectual scrutiny and the subjective feeling of light and warmth that it brings.
Rob Mazurek – Vortice of the Faun
Rob Mazurek just made a cassette filled to max capacity with 80 minutes of screaming, whirring, squelching, swarming electronic sounds filtered through the mind and deft fingers of a legendary coronetist and collaborator with just about every notable musician who we care about here at the Tome. 2004, when the last (and Mazurek’s first) solo electronic album came out on Editions Megos, seems like ages ago for me, mostly because this type of shape-shifting, ambient texture-weaving in and out of hundreds of electro-acoustic samples wouldn’t have registered in my newly-out-of-high-school listening experience as worth noting or music at all. But now, more than 10 years later, practically hugging the speakers, I am sinking deep into the sounds of a radio slowly drowning, reading its last rites before succumbing to a watery, static grave. As a member of the Chicago Underground Duo, Exploding Star Orchestra and the Sao Paulo Underground, Mazurek has subversively utilized electronic music as frontier-pushing element to further the experimental and improvisational nature of jazz and free music. Untethered from any live acoustic instrumentation, it is fascinating to hear how Mazurek channels and decides where sounds and textures go on a highly composed tape that sounds like it could shatter into a million pieces of improvised squalor at any moment. Instead, Vortice of the Faun spends equal time in harsh chaos as much as softened droning passages that are easy on the ears and psyche. It is a tape worth wasting an entire afternoon in.
Mike Majkowski – Neighbouring Objects
Not since Simon James Phillip’s brilliant 2014 record Chair, have I heard someone use natural resonance to create stunningly huge, harmonious tones out of an acoustic instrument just by the power of mechanical motion. Pulling tension-filled passages with fluid motions across the thick, taught strings of a double bass, Majkowski creates ghostly auditory doubles that sound as if they are coming through the walls or from the bottom of an abandoned pool. Notes hang in the air, drone and hum layers deep in the dark recesses that live in both sides of the tape that make themselves known only in their absence, in the rare moments when Majkowski's steady hand isn't culling and coaxing sonorous lines from deep within the wooden body of the instrument, natural resonance carry it out and acoustics from the room absorb and release the collected sounds into tiny fractals beneath the ruddy, bowed lines. Deliberately plucked piano, some accordion and percussion find their way into these recordings creating and sustaining a needed dynamic and resolve for an album constantly building tension to ever-moving breaking point. Fantastic record.
SSBT - 247 Main
247 Main is a totally out, 3 saxophone, electro-acoustic attack on the senses. SSBT, hailing from Austin Texas, have roots in experimental music that run deeeeeep. Parham Daghighi, Chris Cogburn and Steve Jansen all come from disparate traditions (Jansen played in a touring version of Sissy Spacek and is in a sick band called War Boner) but each find communicate in a crystal-clear channel of ESP. Totally improvised, Side A of 247 Main focuses on the more outre elements of free jazz, each member finding ample room for each player to find a middle and gravitate towards it. Saxophones co-mingle with electric guitars tuned to a tape machine in the middle of a seance to percussion ricocheting like bullets from a henchman with lousy aim in some sort of steel refining factory. Side B explores deeply felt electro-acoustic explorations into noise and ambient textures scraping and pulling themselves through fields of jagged teeth. Nothing gets too harsh for sake of listenability and the pacing of Side B is astounding. Long pulls and breakdowns into sustained tones sound meticulously curated and planned with reams of paper, rather than a single glance and a collective feeling it is time to turn down. Fans of Sult and out-rock duo Rivener should take note.
For this podcast I sit down post-show and talk to Stephen Molyneux and Frank Baugh (Sparkling Wide Pressure) about Frank's Wild (Goth) Years, being big in France and the joys of meeting people IRL you've cultivated relationships with online.
Kill West - Smoke Beach (Dismal Niche)
Day-uuummmmnnnn. Argentinaian psych-rockers have the dense, pulse-light emitting drug haze of a summer record on lock. Buried under a pall of reverb so thick you need a gas mask to get through Side A, Smoke Beach is one of those petal stuck on motorik groove, windows down, black leather tassles flowing #projectbadass tapes that get stuck in your tape player because outside of native climate - stopped at red lights, hands drumming on the steering wheel to each fill - it will whither and then evaporate into the thick steam it has been emitting from your console for the past 30 minutes because each track is a burner. A small sample of some of the amazing music coming out of South America as of late that has found a good home on one of our favorite labels, Dismal Niche.
The Funs/Sad Horse - Weirdos (Manic Static)
Picked this tape up from The Funs / Sad Horse show (complete with beer koozie) with Ampline in Cincinnati. Looking at the size of pedal boards of each respective duo tells you a little bit of what to expect from each side of the split. The Funs Jesse Rose Crane's pedal board was a neat, pristine box of blinking potential which she uses to cloak wistful pop songs under a pall of soft-water noise that is corralled from all-lights on to a melodic lead guitar line or is used to seriously fuck shit up as all out war against your defenseless inner ear. Sad Horse's rig is austere and essentialist as their spiky, flailing art-punk on their side. I think EV used a fuzz pedal...once. Likewise their songs on this split are stripped down to the brass-tacks. Emotion and dynamic are dictated by speed, tempo and how long a drive it was to (blank) city. Crucial art-punk jams from Chicago and Portland, respectively.
Dustin Lovelis - Dimensions (Yellow K / Porch Party Records)
Time-warp harmonies that draw from equal parts late 60's tempered psych and brittle satisfaction of Flying Nun New Zealand pop. Dimensions finds the multi-instrumentalist behind an array of crunchy, reverb heavy guitars, lock-step drums and swirling synthesizers that play in harmony with Lovelis's sweet, sun-baked harmonies. It's hard not to listen to these songs without cracking a smile. Summer will end, time will gnaw you into a Doom-influence-Drone stretch soon enough, but while we have the light and the heat and tape players in our parents' cars lets roll the windows down and let the confused, bittersweet young man petition the gods of an almost-Aquarius age with an offering of their psych-pop put through a mortal lens, like fire was our attempt to steal lightning.
Heligator Records is a non-profit record net-label created by Ryan H. to help continously fund the Malindza Refugee Camp Library in Swaziland, Africa. This is our 21st release.
This piece of living, breathing drone and voice comes to us from Kiev, Ukraine based Creation VI. A longform piece that moves from lush sustained tones to augmented woodwinds, harmonica, field recordings from the Black Sea and those haunting, exploratory vocals that search endlessly for transcendence between pitches of operatic highs and monastic lows. Taken from a live set Creation VI performed in Moscow, this track is an ideal opportunity to blissfully explore some inner-space before hectic workdays or post-weekend recovery. All proceeds from the sale of this track will go to help sustaining the Malindza Camp Library, which, I am happy to report is on the up-and-up. Just got a proposal to put in lights so students can study after dark. Your proceeds make this happen.
Thanks for listening. Donate if you can. Enjoy the positive vibes even if you can't.
Back when music blogs actually seemed to have some clout in predicting and in some cases driving musical trends, I had a go-to that I read on a daily basis that informed my music listening more than anything to this date. It was there that I read about Basinski, Natural Snow Buildings, Jasper, TX alongside reviews of more mainstream releases on major-ish indie labels. That blog was Forest Gospel run by husband-wife duo Nick and Erin Potter. As luck would have it we both lived in Salt Lake City and quickly became very close friends. Six years later Nick and Erin are still incredibly dear to my wife and I and in this podcast I sit down with Nick and begrudgingly (on Nick's part) parse out his influence on my writing and desire to start a blog, qualities of experimental music that are attractive to both of us as listeners, our shared religious histories and discovering music in the early 00's.
Nick and Erin still post about art and music on Forest Gospel: http://forestgospel.blogspot.com/
Nick's Tumblr page with illustrations and comics: http://nickfrancispotter.tumblr.com/
The Potters' Etsy page where they sell their screenprinted show and movie posters: https://www.etsy.com/shop/potterpress