Kemialliset Ystävät - Himelli Kutsuu Minua
Kemilliaset Ystavat is a Finnish group I saw for the first time in a basement in Jamaica Plain, MA playing with Danny Lopatin (Oneohtrix Point Never) and Taylor Richardson’s (Sunburned Hand Of The Man) short-lived project Infinity Window. I fell in love with these dudes because they showed up and I’m pretty sure every single one of them was wearing Birkenstock’s with their socks on and carried some of their effects pedals in Birkenstock boxes. Haha. I remember thinking it was really funny and totally bizarre. Then they got on the ground really quietly with all these tiny little instruments and did their thing…which was pretty entrancing. They use little toys, strange acoustic instruments with contact mics on them, flutes, and do bizarre chants over the top. They perfectly blend acoustic instruments and electronics to make something that feels wholly organic; but, like, if organic robots were a thing. Their records are total mindfucks - think Black Dice meets John Fahey meets Woo meets your grandad’s mystic tool shed.
Sun Araw - Belomancie
I first met Cameron Stallones in Austin, TX when my band Quilt and his project shared a stage in the basement of a radical-political bookstore that also had books on cyberhumans. He is an artist that continues to inspire me in many many ways. He’s just someone who I really look up to for both his artistic ethics and his consistently progressing output. His latest full-length Belomancie is a masterwork. The title track is the one I’d like to share here just because his use of panning and time in this composition is next level. The full-record is incredibly cinematic. I really suggest buying the record, placing two speakers on opposite sides of a room and just sitting in the middle; attentively. Again, the blend here of acoustic and electronic elements destroys me. The rhythmic synths that surface and fade away give rise to flutes and samples that recall some of David Behrman’s best work while bringing a whole new set of items to the table.
Tirath Singh Nirmala - Mananam
John Clyde-Evans - For Love
When I was in college I was introduced to the work of Tirath Singh Nirmala by my friend Andrew Connor. I was told he was a guy named John Clyde-Evans who had recently became a Sikh and changed his name to reflect his new life and work. His music is a sort of ‘devotional noise’. In both the recordings under his new name and as Clyde-Evans he consistently takes tropes of eastern classical drone and meshes them with aspects of a western noise / experimental vocabulary. What you get is a mix of drones, rhythms, and environments that are deeply comforting, complex, and at times viscerally intense.
Pelt - True Vine
I grew up around a lot of eastern music and when I started to hear western artists who were mimicking aspects of this through a western-experimental lense I fell in love. There is a rich history of this from Terry Riley, La Monte Young, and Tony Conrad through group’s like this one here; Pelt. Pelt have a real knack for accessing the dark parts of the eastern sound; the eerie squeals and pulsations of some channeled mysticism. Jack Rose was part of this group for a while and they have hosted other deep cohorts among them playing at weirdo festivals around the US and abroad. Their album Ayahuasca is the one that I had on repeat for years when I was living in Boston. It scrapes, wails, and aches you into some state of transcendence if you listen for long enough.
Odwalla88 - Cool Beat
My housemate Jessica introduced me to Odwalla88 recently. For a while I felt like all the best newer experimental music I was hearing was non-lyrical and centered around staying away from words. Yet, I’m a lover of words so I’ve been really psyched to see some new artists re-positioning the role of words and poetry in a musical context. Odwalla88 is doing some really interesting work with language, samples, and attitude. They should be getting a lot more attention than they currently are.
Ariel Kalma - Les Etoiles sont Allumées
I know this recording itself isn’t technically ‘contemporary’ but I had to include it just because I haven’t been able to stop listening to it since RVNG collected and reissued these tunes last year. Kalma is still performing and making works, but this collection of some of his earlier recordings has really done me in. I am especially attached to some of the tracks in which he is speaking in his over his drones. His voice is tangibly potent, rhythmic, and entrancing. This record is non-stop glory.
Arecaceae - Observatory CG II & III
When I was 17 and thinking about where I was going to go to college I visited my friend Russell in Boston to check out what it was about. I had two days there and we visited the school I would eventually attend, The School of The Museum of Fine Arts, where I saw a young woman throw a cow’s heart repeatedly against a white wall as a performance and then wandered around the cold city a bit. While there Russell told me we were going to go to a show in Chinatown. When we arrived outside the building where the show was happening we heard a distant drone coming through one of the 4th floor windows. We rang the buzzer, walked up the staircase, and reached the top floor where we were greeted by some sort of insanely loud distorted-chanting and a giant green Tiki mask. As we continued into the loft where the show was happening I saw 4 people laying face first on the ground with mics in their mouths and a ramshackle crew of musicians around them creating a tidal wave of sound. My mind was blown. I felt like I walked into another dimension. My friend told me the group’s name was The Skaters and that they were playing along with Sunburned Hand of The Man that night. After that I became a Skaters devotee and would see them whenever I got the chance. This one here is an offshoot Skaters project; Arececacae, which is the closest of their recordings I have found to the sounds they made that night.
Russian Tsarlag - I’ll Walk Through It
I luckily had the chance to host a show for Russian Tsarlag once in the basement of my old house, The Butcher Shoppe, where I booked shows for years in Boston. I’ve followed his work for a few years as I love his mish-mash of performance art, theatre, and music. To me his recordings sound like visceral drawings. Lost comics of some sort. They use textures, rock & roll, poetry, and continuous repetition to create something of it’s own completely. The live show is a whole other world where Carlos invites you into his alien mind. True dystopian poet-wave.
Vibracathedral Orchestra - Let Steam Rule and Luck Lose
This is the kind of jam band I like. Droning synthesizers, slamming guitars, random use of tambourines, silly chants; this is insane people music. I’m pretty sure this group has been pretty fluid over the years with people coming in and going out. I found out about them around the same time as No-Neck Blues and other bands that have a similarly loose construction to them. It's noise, but it’s not; it’s melodic, but it’s not; it’s rhythmic, but it’s not. It’s just the Vibracathedral Orchestra.
Lucky Dragons - My Are Singing
This is another really inspiring group to me because they are constantly flipping definitions over on their heads. They are equal parts art project and music project. They mostly use computers to make their music, but most of the sounds are from organic sources. They perform largely in museums and institutions that aren’t ‘clubs’. And they make nice sounding music. Check out their project ‘Make A Baby’ - it’s pretty unreal.