Friday, July 27, 2007

Heavy Winged - Hunting the Moon CDr (2006, Ruralfaune)

What we have here is yet another platter of sonic mayhem issued from the increasingly mighty Ruralfaune camp. This time around, it’s a disc of distraught weed whacking and hardcore-tribal skin desecration from Brooklyn boys Heavy Winged. In three tracks over 45 minutes, this trio of sensitive thugs unleash a massive wall of cathartic heaviness that straddles the line between 700 punches to the ribs and the raw beauty of a black eye. Three dudes (and I say ‘dude’ with utmost respect to the men of Heavy Winged) with only guitar, bass and drums succeed in wrangling a mother load of sonic intensity through sheer improvisation and mastery of instruments that must melt in their hands.

Opening salvo “Concrete Glass” is the superstar here; a 20-minute blowout of ghostly yet intense guitar/bass improvisatory riff and drone with a maddening drum assault courtesy of jackhammer Jed. The fact that all of these songs were improvised live to 4-track leaves me dumbfounded as to how these guys can keep such a high level of intensity going for such a long time. “Concrete Glass” begins and ends with the same brutal force: no slow build-up and no wimpy ending. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart. “Death Instinct” features a bit of a groove, and a taped conversation that invokes the feeling of certain dread. The final track, “Last Forever” is an uplifting romp that is probably the most straightforward thing these guys have ever released. The proverbial weight is lifted from our shoulders as the boys provide us some breathing room.

Unfortunately, I heard through the grapevine that Heavy Winged is no longer, as drummer Jed has moved across the country to Portland, Oregon. It’s a damn shame, but hopefully there’s a ton of archival material waiting to be released. There’s also a heap of other releases available on an assortment of micro-labels worldwide to keep us fixed. That being said, I guess we’ll have to wait a decade or two for a Heavy Winged reunion tour. 9/10 Review from Digitalis.


Double Leopards - Out of One, Through One and To One LP (2005, Eclipse)

To find a more apt title for this record would be all but impossible, as this is the most unified DL album to date. No one needs to be told that NY’s Double Leopards have mastered the drone, but here they redefine and recontextualize it, giving it new life and a single-mindedness of purpose that can be soothing, terrifying and exhilarating all at once.

This offering, one of several group projects this year, further hones established skills to absolutely mesmerizing effect. It is fair to say that the DL trademark drone is often simultaneously rhythmic and arrhythmic. Like late Trane, it lives comfortably in both worlds, rendering the group name appropriate for the overall sound. Halve Maen, the group’s masterpiece, clattered, buzzed, melted and throbbed with jungle and industry, the pairing never seeming incongruous and the drone always present just behind any foregrounded texture. Now, all that’s left is drone – all-encompassing drone – from the lowest rumble to a sound so high it can be felt with the eyes and face, penetrating my listening space with three-dimensional clarity.

Each of the two side-long nameless tracks on this LP are one huge slab of soft but powerful trance-induction. Like Theater of Eternal Music of the early 1960s, the drone is the message, but where La Monte Young, John Cale and company sometimes employed awkward microtonal changes to create an ephemeral sense of motion, DL has refined the effect. Like any good orchestral playing, the ensemble sound is unbelievably focused and each minute transition is well-executed. Even DL side projects, such as Hototogisu or the peripherally related Sunroof never sounded like this. Hototogisu’s volume and brute force sets them apart, and Sunroof often has rhythm at its heart. Somehow, it seems that this is the ideal Double Leopards piece, the sound they’ve been looking for from the beginning. What next? Review from Dusted Magazine.


Birchville Cat Motel - Cranes Are Sleeping LP (2000, Ecstatic Peace!)

Birchville Cat Motel/Black Boned Angel is the music of New Zealander Campbell Kneale. An ever-changing, gently unravelling, ball of pure sound, sometimes beautiful enough to make you weep, sometimes ferocious enough to rip the gravel off your driveway. Moved among other things by '60s minimalism, musicologial field recordings, religious music, doom metal, and Appalachian music, and crafting his ecstatic blur-scapes from delicately caressed pieces of electronic junk, Birchville Cat Motel has gained international recognition as one the bright shining lights of what music journos have dubbed 'drone-music'. Verging on the ultra-prolific, a large number of Birchville Cat Motel albums have been made available to the public through some of underground musics snappiest dressed labels as well as through the international cassette/cdr underground.

"I just want to make beautiful things."
Campbell Kneale

Description from 20BuckSpin.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pelt - Six of Cups CDr (200?, no label)

It is said that "The Six of Cups repersents an orgasmic rush of feelings, a wave of ecstasy." Surely Pelt was experiencing this sort of feeling upon their sixth anniversary as a trio, and decided to mark this occasion with, among other things, this compilation (also sometimes known as "Odds And Sods") featuring one previously-unheard track from each of the past six years. It was a limited eidition of 30, so if you weren't at one of the anniversary shows, you missed out, sorry... Description from Klang.


*In somewhat related news Jack Rose will be touring the east coast and midwest. Check out the dates here.*

Jackie-O Motherfucker - Change CD (2002, Textile)

Jackie O Motherfucker make the kind of emotionally developed experimental music half of the so called "post-rock" crowd can only dream about. Creating layers of sound often dominated by Jef Brown's saxophone, at times Change sounds like a free-form jazz version of Godspeed You Black Emperor. But there is much more here. While Brown places crescendos of fluttering saxophones above scratchy violins and electronic samples on tracks such as "777", cofounder Tom Greenwood is one minute teasing gentle harmonics from his guitar above country twanged vocals ("Everyday") and the next throwing out Velvet Underground-esque guitar hooks above reversed beats ("Sun Ray Harvester"). And if that isn't enough of a pointer, check out the beat poetry sample on "7" or just listen to the drunken bluesy slurs on "Bus Stop". Change is an album steeped in a multitude of Americana influences. As a result Jackie O manage to side step the formulaic nature of much post-rock quite nicely. Let's hope others take note. Reviw from