Shams is the kind of producer who'll throw something out into the world, let it gestate for just the right amount of time, and then send it back to the chopping block where it can be broken apart and reassembled again. It's kind of a touchy process, but it's one that that sustains his output as he continues to swerve right out of his noise background and further into house and techno. "Nest" is no exception, a brooding little number that up ends his sunshine-tinted Piano Cloud release on 100% last year and flips his sound from day to night. Quite literally, in fact, with this visual treatment, a low-budget pastiche of fire and driving montages, leaving vocalist Murphy Maxwell just a hair's breadth of being swallowed whole.
"Nest" is out now on HOSS.
SHAMS-NEST from SHAMS on Vimeo.
Sam Hillmer (Zs, The Oracle DJs) describes his DIAMOND TERRIFIER project as an exploration of "the potential positive qualities of destruction as mediated by noise/drone sheets of sound music." The usual result: dense drones woven from Hillmer's brutal saxophone contortions. On "CASTLES," however, Hillmer forgoes formal drone to travel the more "psycho tropical" climate he mapped for FADER earlier this year. His saxophone yelps and screeches, as usual, but over a rippling synth sequence provided by M. Beharie. Vocalist Eartheater, of Guardian Alien, appears on the track as a digital deity, one who "dictate[s] the bitrate... create[s] the update." Several transcendental practices emerge simultaneously: free jazz, trance music, chanting, surfing the Internet.
"CASTLES" can be streamed via DIAMOND TERRIFIER's SoundCloud.
This is the intro to AdHoc Issue 3. Buy the issue for a dollar or subscribe.
This year was one of the musically richest in recent memory-- with daring, excellent releases from seemingly every corner-- yet one of cultural and societal tumult. In turn, AdHoc Issue 3 takes on 2014 in a plural, roundabout manner: it covers DIY entropy in Brooklyn, this year’s offerings in Americana and left field dance music, and more.
Of course, the musical wealth of 2014 must be leveraged against one of its great tragedies, the untimely passing of DJ Rashad. When AdHoc spoke to DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn in September 2013, Rashad remarked on Chicago’s dwindling number of dance parties. “Nowadays they don’t want you to do shit in Chicago... They’re shutting everything down.” But Spinn added, “We tryna change that. We don’t wanna brood on the sad parts right now. We try to make music that escapes that shit.”
2014 has been an interesting, confusing year for those involved with “underground” music, and the fact that it seems absurd to not put that word in quotes speaks volumes. The terms “underground” and “DIY” have been used and abused to the point that they ring hollow. Yet, they refuse to disappear from the music-cultural lexicon, implying that, maybe, we still respect ideas inherent in them. People around the world continue to work towards that utopian creative community even when change and uncertainty make it seem like every avenue to modest success has been pissed on, deemed illegal, or proven futile.
The “doing” part of DIY has a higher purpose. In the most concrete sense, doing will entail (as it always has) helping to form a scene and demonstrating that people care about cultivating culture on their own terms, for one another.
The musical language of Baltimore’s Horse Lords is more subversive than their rock music signifiers might at first let on. Their songs twist rock’s repetitive impulse into long-form instrumental structures, packing them to the gills with restlessly evolving parts, the guitar and bass typically turning over one chord for the extent of a song. Like that of many of their NNA label-mates-- Guerilla Toss or Blanche Blanche Blanche Blanche, for example-- Horse Lords’ output challenges the limits of Western music of the last 50 years. But they do this in a more controlled form, pushing from a revisionist reflection on rock music. Their musical language is as in tune with a lineage of disparate of regional techniques ranging from Mississippi blues to Ugandan polyrhythms, as it is with an academic awareness of the methodical movements of twentieth century minimalist composition. This exposure to lesser known, traditional forms of music opens the group’s musical lexicon up to a kaleidoscope of techniques that have little precedent in contemporary Western music.
Unwashed and probably rude, Sediment Club are a brash Providence-based "rhythm and noise" band. Drawing from no wave, Amphetamine Reptile-style noise rock, and even a little Captain Beefheart, the band makes misanthropy sound like blast. "Rotten Roll," the first single from the band's new cassette with NNA Tapes, jerks nonlinearly between stuttering bass grooves, dirgy marches, and inscrutuable hysteria in just over two minutes. The song is exhiliratingly disorienting-- a mess of thumping bass and bright caustic guitars-- kept just barely cohesive by the band's infectious energy.
30 Seconds Too Late is out today on NNA Tapes.
Brian Blomerth is known for making adult dogface comics, brutal noise collages (as Narwhalz of Sound), and participating in what was perhaps the greatest Judge Judy episode of all time. Needless to say, the last several years of exploring his output have proven to be an unpredictable experience. Always, though, a quality of craft belies his deranged subject matter. The one real constant in Blomerth's work is dogs-- lots of ‘em, though none more beloved than his own pomeranian Slippy.
Slippy is now the mascot and namesake for Blomerth’s latest project: a craft vapor company named Slippy Syrup that he runs along with Kate Levitt (another key player in the infamous Judge Judy prank). The company, based in Far Rockaway, NY (specifically at house venue and noise zone Red Light District) launched this past summer, spurring an accompanying 40-page comic by Blomerth entitled Understanding Nicotine, “the first comic ever made about alternative nicotine intake theory,” focusing on injection. The comic was a collaboration with Dr. Ispib Osnotkitchi (Japan M.D.), perhaps the only human being that has ever actually injected nicotine. What the fuck.
Dr. Osnotkitchi recently starred in a new Slippy Syrup informercial scored by Shawn Kemp (an alternate producer alias for Lil’ Ugly Mane, who also has his own Slippy Syrup flavor, Lil’ Ugly Mane’s Courtroom). You can stream the informercial below, and check out the Slippy Syrup website here. Video by Max Eilbacher of Horse Lords.
"Please respond Sean. we miss you Sean”, reads a desperate comment on from 2013 on Sean McCann's Last.fm page. McCann has radically limited his output after a continuous stream of low-press releases for several years, a development that must have been a shock to some. Of course, McCann hasn't exactly stopped, with 2013's Music for Private Ensemble, released on his own label Recital-- which is curating some of the most sophisticated underground new music and ambient artists at the moment-- and second with a brand new release, titled Ten Impressions for Piano and Strings, coming early 2015 via the Root Strata label. On the track “Sense of Life”, McCann recovers ghostly sounds from underwater string ensembles, crafting his trademark multi-layered sound. Once again, McCann stuns the listener with lush, meticulous sound design and an all-enveloping, inescapable mix which cocoons with soft foam.
Ten Impressions for Piano and Strings are out January 16 on Root Strata.
From the ever-curious and highly prolific Moon Glyph label comes the third and final release by Ian Ferguson's Calidonia County. The label describes the album, called The Ghosted Years, as having been "leisurely crafted over the span of two years." As one might expect, Ferguson's unhurriedness reflects in his craft, which tends to fall on the ethereal end of the modern synth/ambient spectrum. If ethereal is the operative qualifier here, then there is no better launch point than "Totality." More neoclassical than hypnagogic, "Totality" feels like a take on William Basinski's Silent Night. The track loops in a series of notes that hum softly along a wave of spectral flutter and subdued psychedelia, bringing one right back to that faithful first spin of Music for Airports, and gently reminds us why we keep coming back to this stuff.
The Ghosted Years is out now as a limited cassette on Moon Glyph.
This is an article from AdHoc Issue 2. Purchase this issue or a subscription, and pre-order AdHoc Issue 3.
"At dawn, sit at the Feet of Action.
At noon, be at the Hand of Might.
At eventide, be so big,
that sky will learn Sky."
— Alice Coltrane,
“Jagadishwar” doesn’t so much begin as continue, its nearly imperceptible opening hum growing, vibrating into the ambient noise of the room. The source of the sound is hard to place, not just because it’s so quiet and ripped from its cassette with intriguingly low fidelity. This is music without relational qualities: unbounded, expanding in every direction at indeterminate rates. The voice that proceeds to enter the mix evades description: it’s not “good” or “bad” or “deep” or “light” or “soulful” or “mellifluous.” Rather, it drifts around and through that underlying hum, using repetition to guide listeners to their own message. After six-and-a-half minutes, the piece doesn’t end. It instead vibrates away—leaving a brief mauna, or silent interval—until “Jai Rama Chandra” arrives to fill the void with a slightly different set of paranormal hums and tones. The way the songs begin and end so subtly allows for the on-a-loop listening that such spiritual music requires.
This is Turiya Sings, an album by Alice Coltrane-Turiyasangitananda, released by her own Avatar Book Institute in 1982. It now exists as an impossible-to-find cassette and, thankfully for people like you and me, a digital rip. It was Coltrane’s first musical release on this imprint, and her first solo record in general since 1978’s excellent Transfiguration. Turiya Sings, of course, doesn’t sound too much like Coltrane’s previous records.
Long-form music website Wondering Sound, which was founded earlier this year, is scaling back its operations. As of now, its future still appears to be unclear, but it doesn't sound great unfortunately. There was an outpouring of sadness and support today on Twitter in response to the news, and for good reason; Wondering Sound is one of few music publications offering in-depth, critical coverage of a wide range of forward-thinking music-- and they do it consistently well. Head over to the site now to check out their ongoing year-end coverage, among other things.