There is something deliciously sparse and comfortably jaded about the Courtship Ritual's debut album, PITH. Clocking in at 26 minutes the cassette feels perfectly suited for an introduction to the group. It is so rich with atmospheric hooks that it’s hard not to immediately play it again. The band is comprised of two California natives, Jared Olmstead and Monica Salazar, but the record is certainly influenced by the JMZ trains looming over Bushwick’s trash-ridden streets. That being said, this is music for night drives down Big Sur along the coast of California as much as it is for stoned night strolls through Brooklyn’s industrial parks. Each song hovers like a smiley face plastic bag swept in the overdriven headlights of an onrushing eighteen wheeler. It is sometimes reminiscent of Beach House but there’s more Venus in Furs, more leather, more studs, more sinister Eno inspired synth textures crafted to maximize the vaporous nitrous oxide between each note. It’s a lit cigarette in the mouth of a beautiful punk. It’s a flashlight in a cavernous abandoned building.
PITH is out now on Godmode.
Tallesen is a Hudson Valley visual artist and electronic musician whose experiments with ambience and melody speak to his fascination with composition as a means of crafting experience. Tallesen-- the recording name of Cayman Johnson-- will soon be releasing his full-length album Stills Lit Through on electronic music label Software. "Strike Silver, Love Green" is a cut off the new record which collages and loops shimmering sounds and textures lead by a bass line, making for beautiful results. The song has been shared along with a video made by Serena Forghieri.
Watch the video for "Strike Silver, Love Green" below. Tallesen's Stills Lit Through will be available on October 7 via Software.
Baltimore noise rock hooligans Dope Body are gearing up to release their new full length, Lifer, this fall. "Hired Gun" is the first taste of the band's new material, and, boy, is it a sweaty one. While the track has its fair share of odd guitar sounds, they don't disguise the song's estatic melodicism and swagger. "Hired Gun" hearkens back to early British punk-- sounding at once snotty and heroic.
Lifer is due out October 21 via Drag City. Check out Dope Body's tour dates below.
Do you remember hearing about how the Pizza Underground were chased off a Nottingham stage 2 months ago by a hail of bottles? No? Well, then it’s probably worth reminding you that Macaulay Culkin’s pizza-themed, Velvet Underground cover band set off on a European tour in May, and they were so rapturously received that one UK crowd spontaneously thanked them for such seminal classics as "All Pizza Parties" and "Pizza Day" with an unsolicited round of (what we can only hope was) beer.
Besides providing us with an opportunity for a little schadenfreude, this episode and the tour cancellation that followed reintroduced us to the murky phenomenon of “non-musical” celebrities turning their hand to music. Arguably, this isn’t anything to be welcomed, but extracurricular bands like 30 Seconds to Mars (featuring Jared Leto) and 30 Odd Foot Grunts (featuring Russell Crowe) have something valuable to teach us about music and its reception. Quite apart from gifting us with cautionary tales against mediocre songwriting and narcissistic megalomania, the scorn enjoyed by these luminaries indirectly serves as a reminder of how we demand that our art and artists be authentic-- that is, to be true to who they are. Clearly, this is an imperative that could hardly be met by million-dollar Hollywood actors aping genres and styles that originated with the disaffected, disenfranchised and dispossessed. However, as the following paragraphs and their roughshod history of celebrity bands will argue, such opposition is not simply punishment for a lack of genuineness and honesty but a defensive mechanism, an attempt on the part of the music aficionado to deny any connection between moonlighting pretenders and all the suffering, painfully sincere bands that can't even get a record deal.
For almost a decade now, Chattanooga outsider Rick Weaver has been slogging away at his singular mix of haunted, lo-fi noir and theatrical, junkyard clatter. Whether recording and performing all by his lonesome (Dinner Music) or with other like-minded schizoids (Form a Log, the New Flesh, Human Host), Weaver’s work emphasizes concept, often sprawling well past LPs and cassettes and into experimental video and near-performance art. The latest chapter in Weaver’s multimedia campaign is Black Medicine, a film cycle that includes sounds from three albums: last year’s Black Medicine, The Perfect Man, and an upcoming LP entitle Blue Sky. Filmed in St. Louis and Chattanooga and processed with a frayed sense of degradation, the first part of Black Medicine is a dread-laden crawl through its drawn-out death sequence. The vignette follows its subject to his ultimate demise, but his story doesn’t end there. As Weaver explains, “Future videos in the cycle will follow, nonlinearly, the dead protagonist, as he moves through transformative states and visions of permanent violence.”
Black Medicine is out now on MORE Records. The Perfect Man is coming soon on Bezoar Formations.
Oberlin-based Hanson Records (run by supreme cool guy, Aaron Dilloway) has a nice little offer on their web portal: a bundle that bundles picture discs of Adrian Rew's Slot Machine Music and an alternate version of Dilloway's limited 2013 LP, The Beauty Bath. Rew's record is a dizzying array of field recordings recorded in American casinos, which he describes in pretty awesome detail in this essay from The Wire that you should read. Originally released by Rew himself on his Ergot label, Slot Machine Music was re-mastered by Jason Lescalleet for Hanson. Dilloway's part of the bundle, meanwhile, is the first American edition of The Beauty Bath, but according to Dilloway, about half of it's been changed from the original. You can listen to excerpts from each below if you're not already typing in your PayPal password.
Slot Machine Music and The Beauty Bath are out in September on Hanson, but you can pre-order them now and, in doing so, get all kinds of extra swag-- and a chance to win $100.
ISSUE Project Room, one of Brooklyn's premier avant garde performance spaces, has announced its intention to start a publishing imprint called Distributed Obejects. The imprint, which is currently seeking funding through a Kickstarter campaign, will publish "recorded and written documents focused on emerging artistic practices." These releases will draw mostly from the work of participants in ISSUE's Artist-In-Residence programs. The inaugrual release will be a double LP entittled The Hant Variance, a collaborative project between sound artist and composer Sabisha Friedburg and Peter Edwards.
You can learn more about the project and its planned releases on the Kickstarter. Watch the promo video below.
It's a peculiar fact of the abstract music world that the DIY and art institutional/academic realms rarely mix. Perhaps this is just an incident of how those communities operate, but it's hard to shake the impression that there is a fruitful exchange of ideas just waiting to happen when a bridge is drawn between the two. This is the mission of Bánh Mì Verlag's vinyl split series, in which label head Jack Callahan curates a juxtaposition of hardline experamentalists with similar aims regardless of sphere. His first is a split between composer Michael Pisaro (here with some heavy computer music) and Matthew Sullivan, Los Angeles jammer and head of Ekhein. Future split LPs include Peter Ablinger with Luke Moldof and Jürg Frey with Network Glass.
The Michael Pisaro/Matthew Sullivan split is out now.
Following up the goodie that he dropped in celebration of his birthday on July 17 last year, Kyle Hall has released a half-hour mix with no tracklist, reminding us all that the true gift is in fact giving. Little info is available about this mix, track-wise or other. Hall was recently featured as KMFH on Hyperdub 10.1, with the funky, insane "Girl U So Strong." Happy birthday, Kyle Hall. Make another LP now.
It’s not breaking news that reissues are in; they’ve been an integral part of the 21st century vinyl resurgence, and their prevalence has been well-documented over the course of the last several years. There are different kinds of reissues, sure: deluxe editions of well-loved albums, simple re-presses of out-of-print favorites, pressings of left-field obscurities or “lost albums” that no one (at least these days) has ever heard of. It’s hard to say what makes a “good” or “necessary” reissue, although we and many others tend to favor that third category: the albums that went unnoticed upon release and came back with a vengeance when some dorky (awesome) label owner does the requisite digging, mentally and physically, to reissue them. And in this category specifically, there are some definite trends in terms of what kind of musicians’ records get reissued.
One pervasive iteration: mysterious, loner-type men. Crazy guys, reclusive guys, sidemen, dead guys, whatever. For the past decade, with no signs of slowing, we’ve seen a constant stream of reissues by these mythic, solitary men from past decades who’ve been “re-discovered” or “found,” and subsequently brought into the public consciousness-- a place they never were before. Just this year, there’ve been notable reissues and fresh archival releases from Lewis (a mystery), Craig Leon and Harald Grosskopf (behind-the-scenes guys), Dane Sturgeon (maybe a little crazy), K Leimer and Peter Walker (recluses, under-the-radar), Bruce Haack (an outsider, a visionary), and many more. Each one has a story, and the story is often a necessary complement to the music. But, sometimes the reception of these reissues lets the story overtakes the music in importance. There’s cultural capital, after all, in being able to say, “I bought this record by this crazy dude who recorded in a bunker during the Cold War,” then reciting what you’ve read in the liner notes, even more capital than knowing the tunes to the songs.