Recently, L.A. modular synth maestro M. Geddes Gengras and Calgary-based musical anthropologist/electroacoustic troubador Barnaby Bennett teamed up for an audio-visual webpage installation entitled “Oblique Quantumization.” The piece consists of 18 short modular synth pieces synced to visuals, created using Datamatrix in Max for Live and played in a randomly generated shuffle sequence every time the page is refreshed. Recorded in 2012 in L.A., both the audio and the visuals faintly bring to mind the strobey, seizure-inducing immersion of Ryoji Ikeda's Test Pattern and is most effective in full screen (and in the dark). Below is a screenshot; check out the live webpage here.
M. Geddes Gengras recently released New Lines, under his Personable moniker, via Peak Oil. Barnaby Bennett's last album, Shadows and Reflections, was released on Umor Rex in 2013.
Mount St. Helens in Skamania County, Washington is a Pacific Northwest landmark; a beacon of grand beauty and scale, as well as being the location of the most catastrophic and fatal volcanic eruption in the history of the United States. Occuring on May 18, 1980, St. Helen's erupted seconds after a 5.1 magnitude earthquake that triggered the largest debris avalanche ever in recorded history. 57 fatalities were reported, with over 250 homes destroyed. The eruption and debris avalanche cast an immersive smog across the unintentionally post-apocalyptic landscape, covering the surrounding area in a dense, suffocating thicket of aesthetically pleasing but fatally deadly haze.
Within this haze is where you'll find Helen and their debut record The Original Faces. Originally formed by Grouper's Liz Harris, Eternal Tapestry's Jed Bindeman, Eat Skull's Scott Simmons and "Helen" - with help from Justin Higgins and their friends Nick and Chris - as a thrash band, the actual sound brings to mind the Pacific Northwest (where the members reside) and the suffocating haze and unintentional beauty of such volcanic catastrophy in that region; natural catastrophy punctuated by the tragedy of the human experience. The first single "Motorcycle" pairs melancholic but sunny, cathedral-like vocals overtop an overwhelming pile of distorted, rhythmic debris. The cover also appears to be an antiquated Mount St. Helens guidebook with all the title blacked out except for "Helen". It's a fitting accompaniment to a sound that rectifies the raw, power of nature and soft, human intimacy with a force and clarity that both sounds like destruction and healing at the same time.
Helen's debut LP is out September 4th on Kranky, listen to the first single "Motorcycle" below
The last record we heard from Montreal blues-deconstructionist Drainolith-- Alexander Moskos of Dan’l Boone and formerly AIDS Wolf-- was 2012’s Fighting!, a highly schizophrenic but groovy take on coldwave, no wave, and delta blues. Moskos returns this year with a follow-up LP, Hysteria, via NNA Tapes, and he has ditched the industrial dust bowl for a Fear and Loathing fun ride through deconstructed '70s rock and free jazz, '80s doom metal, and twisted new wave pop, giving Hysteria a melodic steering wheel that’s been missing in most of Mosko’s output thus far. Lead single “No Name (Dany Kane’s Blues)” sounds like a Buñuel short film about a fictionalized meeting between The Doors and Fushitsusha where The Residents show up unannounced and hypnotize everyone in the room. All the while, Moskos croons about the late Dany “Danny Boy” Kane, a gay Hells Angels biker-turned-informant who supposedly committed suicide in 2000, apparently under the pressure of mounting guilt for betraying his criminal brethren.
Hysteria is out June 2 on NNA Tapes.