The Memphis-based prophets Cloudland Canyon have gradually, over the course of myriad singles and collaborations the past few years, moved away from their hybrid form of apache anthems found on 2008's masterful Lie in Light and 2010's emotionally complex Fin Eaves, choosing instead to explore angular space, electro thrash, and gritty proto-techno (to awesome results). The Sonic Boom-produced "Prophetic Frequencies" is the latest to get a video treatment with the help of Chris Hontos and Tim Krause, who've juxtaposed nasty and beautiful basement punk show documentation with fractal galactic travel, Autobahn trace, and Kelly Ulhorn's celestial, thoughtform-laden mantras. Considering how aggressive Cloudland Canyon's brand of pounding hypnosis has become, perhaps slamdancing isn't that inappropriate of a response. (via The Decibel Tolls)
The Prophetic Frequencies 12" is available now via Monofonus!
Mark Nelson redefined American post-rock in the '90s with the underappreciated Labradford, and continues to pen exciting new additions to the drone/ambient canon via Pan•American. Cloud Room, Glass Room is Pan•American's first album in four years, and sees the addition of percussionist Steven Hess, providing that intangible human element that keeps largely electronic compositions from feeling too cold. The result is a new rhythmic muscle that could whet the whistle of fans of the presumably assimilated-by-the-Borg Boards of Canada. Lead track, "Project For an Apartment Building," features a muted yet fervent percussive backbone only a couple of steps removed from classic jungle breaks, while pulsing, cycling aquatic synth melodies swirl about, in almost mathematical fashion-- a canvernous and monlothic sonic space. Evoking images of distant lights and hypnagogic states, Pan•American offers up one of the best, most aerodynamic late night meditation anthems of the year.
Mercurial multimedia artist Roberto Lange perpetually keeps his spear sharp with interesting collaborations-- from the much loved Prefuse 73 project Savath y Savalas to last year's underrated OMBRE with Julianna Barwick. For his solo work, Lange truly couldn't have picked a better title than Helado Negro, which directly translates from Spanish as "black ice cream." To wit, Helado Negro's radiant sonic chill conduit is pretty dog gone nice for balmy summer nights.
Heavy shades of classic tropicalia, West Coast psychedelia, and analog-based electronica have always floated about Helado Negro's approach to subdued yet glitchy pop. His latest, Invisible Life, offers up a dash more cosmic funk. Propulsive lead single "Junes" broadcasts buoyant and loose aquatic space disco transmissions, capturing the nether-vibe between the space age bachelor pad and the club. As well, standout tracks "Lentamente" and "Arboles" showcase an even finer-tuned sense of songwriting, with instantly hummable choruses and a broader palette of celestial tropical meditations.
To complement Lange's persistent collaborative spirit, Invisible Life features Bear in Heaven's Jon Philpot (a return-of-favor for Lange's mixing of their sophomore Beast Rest Forth Mouth), Mouse on Mars' Jan St. Werner, Devendra Barnhart, Matt Crum and Eduardo Alonso. The result is a shapeshifting effort of both earthly and otherworldly beauty-- his best yet. (via The Decibel Tolls)
Are you familiar with You Are Listening? It's an online sound experiment that plants a bed of ambient music under police scanner chatter, providing a sort of experiential aural footprint of a city as a living, breathing entity. Imagine if you shifted the more aquatic tones of that experiment toward squealing, Albini-approved, sustain-heavy noise rock. That somewhat accurately captures the vibe of Teith's "Build Me a Tower and Give Me a Gun." The static of their native Chicago catapults velvety guitars and janky percussion miles above the grid pattern, flying high with the likes of Fly Pan Am and Rodan. Teith features the incomparable Trevor de Brauw-- of Pelican and Chord-- wife Lisa Shelley, graphic artist Billy Baumann, and Joshua Grubman, all of whom seem to have enough affinity for the near west side neighborhood to name their debut Humboldt Park-- a destination for buoyant space rock and good ass Mexican food. The catch with Teith is that they're not around anymore... this is a long awaited debut released after their 2010 breakup. I think I can appreciate the Tarantino/Nolan nature of this career trajectory. Enjoy "Build Me a Tower and Give Me a Gun," an instrumental that's both majestic and, ahem, has teeth (sorry I had to), and stream/buy the album via Migration. -- The Decibel Tolls
Shortly after collecting the ashes of perennial bar darlings, John Wilkes Booze, and noise thrashers, Hot Fighter 1, Bloomington's Apache Dropout traded in garage grease for a seat on the Donovan and Vashti Bunyan cross-country caravan vision quest-- all while participating in some light prophesying of #occupy. Though the oft-lauded soul-imbued boogie punk of Bubblegum Graveyard captured the attention of the blogerati, their under-the-radar early cassette releases showcase a mercurial and mystery-laden cosmic outfit, convenientlly collected on Magnetic Heads. Evocative of the murky outsider folk of Alexander Skip Spence and Holy Modal Rounders, Magnetic Heads conjures the cultish flavor of outsider psychedelia that's equal parts intimate and unsettling - without taking itself too seriously. Ignore the goofy album art that could almost pass for a NOFX poster and take a trip, tune out, and flip off the institution that got us in this danged mess in the first place with "Don't Trust Banks." The rerelase Magnetic Heads jumps from tape to limited edition vinyl via Family Vinyard February 5-- The Decibel Tolls
School teacher by day and architect of angular space sounds by night Connor Bell has politely offered his vision of hi-fi (read: it doesn't sound recorded under water) bedroom pop under the moniker of Shedding for just under a decade. In that time, Shedding has shifted in and out of sonic consciousness, toggling between the type of meditative ambience that earns high marks amongst the Hecker School graduates-- such as his 2010 release on HometapesTear in the Sun-- and a hook-heavy psychedelic amalgam of resonant synths and acoustic noodling. Bell's latest, Demography, falls clearly within the latter, but with an acute eye toward the mathematical rat race of the Autobahn this go round. The four-track EP tastefully borrows from the rigid cyborg-folk scrolls of Faust, prog propulsion of Tangerine Dream, and tuneful astral projections of Flying Saucer Attack to deliver an organic, supersonic, beautifully patchwork saucerful of secrets for the iPod generation. Though a fully fluid, cohesive effort, "Total War" is a stand-out introduction, and one of the best songs Shedding has laid to tape yet. For best results, pull on your most comfortable snuggie, make believe you're eating astronaut ice cream with Felix Baumgartner in the Red Bull Stratos capsule, and vibe victoriously. (via The Decibel Tolls)
The original culture jammer People Like Us, a.k.a. WFMU's Vicki Bennett, is back after last year's masterful Welcome Abroad with Matmos and Half Japanese. Now, Bennett is pursuing a surreal and tastefully campy large-scale video project with collagist and radio producer Ergo Phizmiz called The Keystone Cut Ups, sifting through bountiful treasures in the 1920s avant garde vault. The "Moon" 7" and video above offers a taste of what you can expect from the DVD, which just came out via Illegal Art. (via The Decibel Tolls)
Behold a Golden Throng, the massive 21-song release from The Research Triangle's feltbattery, provokes a remarkable sense of wonder. On the one hand, the compositions of Benjamin Trueblood summon the tropes of the apocalypse, making prodigious use of field recordings with bees, locusts, and frogs. On the other hand, much of this loose concept record about the parallels between colony animals and human behavior transmits a prismatic, fantastic channeling of natural splendor through electronic static-- not too disimilar from the approach of Boards of Canada or The Focus Group, yet with an angle all his own.
"Bivouac" opens the album with the ambient soundscape of nature films and scientific instruments before launching into loose, rhythmic birdsong on "Beat Harvest" and an omnious swarm of crawling samples and textures on "Coronation." Throughout, Trueblood showcases a unique accumen for using tonality and sound sculpture to overtly and accurately replicate the living world. At times a playful kaleidsocopic collage ("Sun Cycle," "Tiny Hairs") and at others a suffocating ("Woman With Skeps," "Drona") and sinister swirl of awe, Behold a Golden Throng is both an extremely adventurous listen and also one of the most accessible noise albums since Black Dice's Creature Comforts. Highly recommended. (via The Decibel Tolls)
feltbattery's Behold a Golden Throng is available now on CD-R and MP3 via Migration Media.
Well, this took everyone by surprise, including the label! At the beginning of this month with little to no fanfare, Jessica Bailiff gently offered At the Down-Turned Jagged Rim of the Sky to everyone before scurrying away again. It's Jessica's first album in six years, undoubtedly her most expansive work yet, and honestly, her best to date.
For the uninitiated, as Bailiff won't be gracing the covers of any New York Mags anytime soon because the world is unjust and jacked-- her dusty stack of home recordings first saw daylight after befriending Low's Alan Sparhawk, who welcomed Jessica into the Kranky family. Since then, Bailiff released four full-lengths of spooky fuzz-folk and collaborated with a roster that basically reads as a who's who on the hitmakers list: Flying Saucer Attack, Rivulets, Odd Nosdam, Casino Vs Japan, Boduf Songs... badasses, the lot of 'em.
Jessica's last album, 2006's Feels Like Home, coupled light touches of rural psychedelia and ominous slowcore-shaped folk into a heady, beautiful listening experience. The crystalline new effort provokes a much more hopeful and luminescent atmosphere; her whispy, melodic, reverberated vocals hovering over cavernous, atmospheric folk painting the canvas of the deep still just before the break of dawn. Grouper owes Jessica no small debt of gratitude, #realtalk. "Take Me To The Sun" masterfully balances the somber and uplifting with a haunting, soaring three minute light flight into territories both known and mysterious, as washes of eerie echoes and rumbling, sludgy, intricately fuzzed textures wash the lingering fog away.
Forgive the flowery language please, but this song, and At the Down-Turned Jagged Rim as whole, provide a moving experience. One of the year's best, and I hope that doesn't go unnoticed. What an excellent surprise. (via The Decibel Tolls)
At the Down-Turned Jagged Rim is available now on Kranky.
In the fall of 2010, the perennially weird and beautifully piecemeal Cropped Out launched their inaugural fest at a musty, virtually untouched country club-cum-resort on the banks of the Ohio River. It boasted a forward-thinking line-up that predated the typical festival zeitgeist by at least two years (JEFF The Brotherhood, Julianna Barwick, Moon Duo). The following year brought a more adventurous lineup, plus a more taunting presence in a large Butchertown warehouse space that saw the accidental arrest of Scratch Acid/Jesus Lizard's David Yow by Louisville's finest. Later this month, Cropped Out will return to the campy, eclectic resort from whence it came, serving up a lineup that truly encapsulates, in theory and practice, everything strange, meta, and punk-- combining the analog tape hiss of outsider artists, the gritty wherewithal of DIY, and the hive mind of true Internet lulzery.
Reclusive outsiders Jandek, eccentric home recording godfather R. Stevie Moore (whose documentary was posted last week on Ad Hoc), Tim and Eric public access protege David Liebe Hart, and the unequivocally uncategorizable Eugene Chadbourne will all be on hand to make you feel weird. The shapeshifting Ian Svenonius as Chain and the Gang, Tampa's Merchandise, free jazz freaks Michael Zerang with Darin Gray, Dutch lute composer and Jim Jarmush collaboratorJozef van Wissem, and (a very special hometown appearance from) David Pajo as Papa M all aim to twist the vibes toward the cathartic. America's Funnyman Neil Hamburger is gonna do some cool jokes. And lest we forget a rare (in both senses of the word) Midwest appearance from deconstructionist Lil B, among a staggering swath of the country's most intriguing subterranean dwellers. I can barely believe this is actually a thing. How unbelievably stoned our creator on high had to be to allow such ridiculousness to unfurl is beyond me, but it's real and, if you're within at least a day's drive, it's the chance of a lifetime to attend what is quite possibly North America's most excitingly strange festival.
Cropped Out 2012 takes place September 28 and 29 at American Turner's Club in Louisville, KY. The September 30th show takes place in a cave, seriously. Good tickets still available at Ticketfly or the Cropped Out website. (via The Decibel Tolls)