24.11.08

James Blackshaw Videos Live @ Aquarius Records 02/05/08

Incredible guitar player.

Have yet to hear Litany of Echoes but I can say with no doubt in mind that Blackshaw's releases (Personal favourites include Sunshrine and O True Believers) up this point have placed him firmly next to Fahey, Basho, Sandy Bull and the likes. A man who when he plays the guitar looks like a duck in water.

Enjoy these videos of an in-store at Aquarius earlier this year (Just stumbled upon this). Oh, and I was in San Francisco that weekend but the show happened to fall on the day I was leaving so I missed it. Sad, sad day that was.
The camera works a bit shaky at times but my guess is that it was packed in there, so no blame is cast.







20.11.08

Collapsing Lung, Ejaculation Death Rattle, Nocturnal Puddle Reflections @ The Western Front 11/14/08



The Western Front is on East 8th Avenue and it faces south.


Has it already been a week since this show? time does fly by. I was expecting to see a lot more recognizable faces last Saturday but the only ones I did recognize were those of the performers. So, if you were thinking about going to this show but had something better to do that night, maybe this post can provide you with the illusion that you were in two places at once.

Nocturnal Puddle Reflections


I've decided to start with the headliners first and work my way backwards, because if the world revolved around me, that's how the night would have unfolded. In actuality, the world would more likely revolve around the ten (nine? eleven?) members of this meandering free-jazz outfit as a direct result of their combined mass and gravity and...ya. Unfortunately, as the night progressed I kept wanting to hear things become less maximal. I guess that's why I've decided to go backwards.



First off, super groups aren't usually my thing. I will, however, admit that these guys are creative. There set was equipped with extended free form compositions, more structured musical scores and they even did a piece in honour of the UFC match that was on that night, where the performers play fought musical jabs as they mingled about the stage like busy ants; a weird improv comedy jam that managed to suck out a few laughs from the "polite" crowd.





Ejaculation Death Rattle



This was the third time I was going to see EDR live. The first was at Vivo during the noise fest earlier in the year and the second was a Fake Jazz event. This is another big band, they had 7 members that night and I think they had closer to 10 at the Fake Jazz thing, although my memory is hazy. With some interesting acoustic and electronic noise dabbling they pretty much met my expectations. I think these guys have a lot of potential and they play weird instruments. One of them clips what I think are pick-up mics into his mouth that are then fed through a computer where he manipulates the sounds from his mouth. Nice set, although I wish they would have stretched out some of the more ethereal moments, but that complaint has been tattooed to my tongue and doesn't mean much anymore.


My favourite photo of the evening


EDR Live @ WF

Collapsing Lung



My favourite set of the eve. Stephen Lyons (Fond of Tigers) on guitar+ish and Lee Hutzulak (Dixie's Death Pool, and solo releases) on Califone record player ala scrap yard tinkery. Stephen was going nuts at times agitating his guitar with an array of things in the same vain as sprockets and gizmos and at other times simply running his hands up and down the fret board in a manic deranged-robot-seizure kind of way. I liked it. The highlight of the night though must have been when Lee dragged a small piece of wood along the surface of a spinning record. The sound traveling through the Califone and out the amps was indescribable. I won't even try. Good set. Insert tattooed complaint and good night.


Lee


Stephen

16.11.08

Installation Series, Part 1: Workshop Broadcast .


I have long been interested in the idea of location specific recording and installation work. This is my first installation, and although very basic, I believe it embodies important ideas of the effects of sound in work environments and raises light on the question of how these sounds effect worker interaction and overall emotional states . I find this especially pertinent to shop, labour, and warehouse work where the repetitive nature of factory sounds become a routine stimulus for employees.

I work as a (trainee) pump service technician for a company called Canadian De-Watering. The pump department is just a small corner of what is a massive shop (It would probably take up close to a city block) and for eight hours a day I am fully engrossed in the most stimulating sound world; forklifts, shop cranes, welding, hammering, lathe work, painting, running engines, yelling, generators, running pumps, etc... all providing a unique hum or buzz that perfectly blends with all the other hums and buzzes in the shop. I felt immediate inspiration the moment I stepped foot into the shop.

Pump Department

Details:
Sometime during the first week I captured a 2 hour field recording of the work environment. Initially, I only wanted the recording for personal listening enjoyment, and to maybe incorporate it into some of my own music. Later that week, however, I discovered that the shop stereo had an eighth inch to RCA adapter cable plugged into it. This gave me the idea of patching my recording through the stereo and playing it in the shop, giving the illusion that the shop was busy with work.


The problem I was faced with was that I wanted to play the recording in it's entirety without having to compete with the present work sounds. Fortunately, I was one of maybe eight people scheduled to work on Remembrance Day. Because most of the employees were at home and there was little work to do that day, this was the perfect day to broadcast. For a 2 hour span the shop was filled with week old work noise. And even though the recording was playing at one small corner of the shop, it was not confined to that area. The high ceilings and large open space allowed the sounds to reverberate and travel great distances, solidifying the illusion of "work". A success I believe, but the most rewarding part must have been the confused look on the faces of the employees that were present that day. One guy finally realized it was a recording, but for a moment there thought he had gone completely crazy. "I thought I heard a forklift backing up, and I'd stop what I was doing and look around and think where the fuck are these forklifts?!".

Shop (South)

Shop (North)

Download Sounds

14.11.08

Omake and Johnson "Headiferous Unctabulum" Cd-r


Been really into this lately. As far as I can decipher this is the first and only release by Seattle based Omake and Johnson, which, is actually the moniker of Matt Shoemaker, who's "Spots in the Sun" release (Helen Scarsdale) was one of my favourites of last year, and David Knott who had a couple of things available through the now (unfortunately) defunct Anomalous Records. I had the pleasure of seeing Matt Shoemaker perform at this year's Elevator Bath ten-year anniversary celebration in Seattle. It was truly a surreal experience to say the least, as I had hastily whipped across town by bus in a city I was unfamiliar with just making it there as the first performer was commencing. I dragged myself through the Chapel space doors exhausted and dripping with sweat but so relieved to have made it. Oh, I also lost my passport earlier that day. When I reflect on it now the setting sun's rays gently beaming through the windows as the room filled with delicate drone was well worth all the hassle of getting there.


With that said, here is my take on this great album. Headiferous Unctabulum is a twisted ride of industrial-neo-free-folk-drone wrapped in analogue tape hiss and reverberated field recordings. The album treads many paths but somehow maintains a consistent core. At times metallic drones pulse in and out of gaps of silence but at other times they build atop one another forming a layered wall of muted fuzz. The introduction of acoustic guitar is brilliant. Movements of minimal and repetitive Fahey style finger picking seem to allude to a post apocalyptic world filled with android gunslingers roaming the now desolate rubble of what were once prospering cities. And hey, with the economy the way it is, anything could happen, right? All in all an awesome listen. Nice packaging too, the printed cd-r and insert tucked inside an over sized dyed envelope sealed with a blob of wax. So worth it and so limited. 40 copies. Found out about it through Aquarius, try them, you just might get lucky.

11.11.08

Infectious Sound: A Rod in the Spokes of the Inner Workings of my Consciousness


Will I wake up deaf tomorrow?

I can't pin point the time I started noticing the ringing in my ears, I can only vaguely narrow it down to a six month time frame around two years ago. But as soon as it started I began tracking it's progression, like a radio show that I've been constantly tuned into. A wild and scary ride that has fucked with not only my senses, but also my well being. Apparently there are many possible causes for Tinnitus and it is sometimes hard to determine those causes, unless, of course it's painfully obvious. Some people are even born with it but I have no doubt in my mind that mine came about because of repeated exposure to noise in the "intolerable" decibel range (70dB and up). Who knew all those loud sounds were bad for me?

A related memory

I distinctly remember a day in high school that might have screwed me over without me really knowing it until now. I had given Ryan Gordon my CD player to listen to a (Get up Kids? yes, I liked that stuff) song. At that time I felt really comfortable listening to my music at, say, 60% volume or so. A comfortable, non detrimental level. Well, he blasted the song on full volume while preaching to me that this was the only way to listen to music. I guess I believed him. I listened to that disc man with ear buds at full volume for at least 2 hours a day for 4 years. This, compounded with the fact that I never wore earplugs to shows, only proved to be a catalyst for future suffering. So, that's how it started.

The progression

past-it started out as a dull and barely there low end fuzz that I would only notice in complete silence. I'm sure that most people have a form of this. At this stage I would marvel at the sound of my ears ringing after a loud show and laugh about it with my friends because by morning it was always gone. Happy days, care free and ignorant.

more recent past-one day that low end fuzz just changed. Well, it didn't exactly change, it became dynamic. I could still only hear it in silent environments but now there was a second tone, a consistent high pitched pulse. It was as if the longest drone movement in history was revealing itself inside my head, and I was the only one who could experience it. Interesting article in The October issue of Wire magazine in which Kawabata Makoto discusses his Tinnitus and how it's changed over the years. Apparently he was born with the ringing and over time it started sounding layered and musical-sort of like what's starting to happen to me at this point. And when he was younger he used to think that the sounds in his head were UFO transmissions. hah...

Kawabata Makoto

Excerpt of Wire article


present-things have taken another dramatic turn over the last couple of months. The experience is now more physical. The ringing is gone but in it's place is a slow dense throb that is more felt than heard. It is all encompassing. When I say that I feel it, I mean that it feels like my head is in a vice. I like to imagine a tiny boy living in my brain who freely uses my eardrums as balloons, constantly inflating and deflating them at his leisure. The son of a bitch is relentless. He doesn't sleep, doesn't eat or take any breaks. His whole life is devoted to blowing the balloons and tightening the vice. And I don't know if it's related or not but my ears are also plugged all the time. Because of this I've developed a quick-inhale-jaw-loosening technique that clears them up for about 30 seconds until they get plugged up again. The whole process has become involuntary, I'm not even aware of when I do it anymore. Realistically, If I had to guess, I think I do the quick-inhale-jaw-loosen thing 70 times a day. This, I can only assume, has birthed a clicking in my jaw that becomes audible when I walk. Basically, my head is a circus.

Really, all I can do is take care of myself. I'm thinking about investing in some custom ear molds and maybe seeing a doctor about all this. Really it's not all that bad, the whole thing is part annoying and part entertaining. And besides, every good artist is either depressed or has some weird ailment right? I'll make sure to update my condition as it unfolds, and Below- so that I feel better about all this- is a list of some famous people who have Tinnitus, taken from this website. (I can't vouch for the validity of the site but either way it's interesting) Friends of Mine

NEIL YOUNG - Possibly the reason for his "acoustic" period in the early 90's.
Sure, or maybe that's where his artistic mind lead him.

BRIAN WILSON - Father hit him in the head with a board at an early age causing him to go deaf in one ear.

STEVE MARTIN - Developed Tinnitus after a pistol scene in Three Amigos.
Funniest thing I've ever heard.

KEANU REAVES

ROGER MILLER of Mission of Burma. He had to wear firingrange headphones during shows so that the band could still play at a blistering volume without killing him. Nuts.

etc...

The question remains: will I wake up deaf tomorrow?

8.11.08

ACRE -Portland's Tone Purist Provides a Lesson in Hypnosis

It's always great to see a musician use unconventional instruments to create music; vacuums, hair dryers, cutlery, belt buckles, random pieces of scrap metal, toothbrushes, and staplers are all a great example of this, and it's equally as great to see a musician use a conventional instrument in unconventional ways. Unfortunately, more often than not I'll come across some obscure noise or "freak folk" release or hear about a local noise show only to be left disappointed by the lack of concept. Sure it's great every once in a while to diddle your guitar strings with a Phillips screw driver, but after a while it begins to look like an ape trying to use a graphing calculator. All do respect to those bands like Sunburned Hand and NNCK and to most of the fonal projects for honing their skills and developing a fan base, but if you break it down, the kitchen folk sound can only be re-hashed for so long until the whole genre just feels, well, re-hashed.

As much as I dig the good neo-freak-bedroom-whatever-folk, that's not really what this stuff is about. Acre is, however, about using conventional instruments in unconventional ways and utilizing whatever electronic detritus he can get his hands on; broken tape decks, samplers, mixers and a fist full of pedals. But instead of creating folk, Portland's Aaron Davis is conjuring up some powerful walls of oceanic drone that are so layered and perpetual that they are guaranteed to set your mind a drift while simultaneously nailing you to the floorboards. Take a look at these past and current set-ups.

past

current

Look at all that stuff, seriously. I wish this guy came to fake jazz a while back like he was supposed to. I think there were border problems but I never really did confirm that. Equally impressive to his live set-up is the amount of music this guys been producing over the past 10 months. He probably has over a dozen releases thus far, mostly consisting of tapes and 7 inches. Most of it is really limited and sells out fast. Here is the stuff I've been able to get my hands on.

Monolith. LP, Arbor 72.

Two side long behemoths that churn a distorted undulating molasses, the A side stopping on a dime and the B is a gradual fade. Davis has an impressive way of making his compositions incredibly simple yet dynamic in their undertones. Nice thick vinyl and vivid print. The first and only 12' thus far. More large format wax to come I'm sure.


A Shield of Air/Born of Light 7"
Eolian 04.


A - A fragmented drone that sounds like it could fall apart at any second but manages to keep shape over the duration. This is what I imagine a silent tape loop turned up to full volume and patched through 12 distortion pedals would sound like.
B -One of my favourite tracks. A muted scree that's too gauzy to be lumped with skullflower and the likes, yet really abrasive and mechanical at the same time. A ripping chain saw tackling the largest tree on Earth. warrants a million listens.
300 copies

Acre/Mongst/Default Jamerson 3 x 3" cd
Isolated Now Waves #150


Let me start by saying that this is some of the most creative packaging I've ever seen. Three spray painted 3" cds attached to some random 7" with those foam hubs that keep them in place. Screen printed hands on the reverse and a nice accompanying insert. The Acre stuff is solid as usual. A thick pulse. I listened to this on headphones and I recommend it, you can really pin point all the subtle shifts as the piece builds to a semi-climax then abruptly cuts off and you're left stunned. Nice to see his stuff on a local label.
100 copies

1/2 Alive C24
Soundholes #012



Now onto the tapes. Davis has put out a slew of tapes on all sorts of small labels out of the Northwest and around the world. This one is on Scottish label Soundholes who have this really nice thin lettering DIY punk aesthetic, black and white photo copies that reveal detailed textures. The A side is a bit toned down (pun intended) for Davis but it suites him really well. In fact, I always prefer my drones sloooower. It's great, supper layered and thick, just put it on and lean back. The B is much more intense, huge waves crashing around you from every direction, a distorted wind swept pummeling. Is it just me or is the mirrored cover tempting you to perform some cunnilingus? intentional? check out the third pic. Oh, and No Synths!
81 copies.

Volcanic Legacy C40
Bone Tooth Horn #28


My favourite of the Acre Tapes. The A is a slooow build. Starts off as a rumbling low end and climaxes as an endlessly layered beast of a track. This is what the Acre sound is all about for me, so long and so good. The B treads a similar path but has a bit more of an electronic feel. Sounds like a synth cord set to stun and tremolo creeping beneath the surface, that is, if he actually used synths.
Limited, probably 100 copies.

Bleeding
I Just Live Here #?


A little different approach to this one. Hard to tell which is the A and which is the B side but I guess it really doesn't matter all that much. One side starts off with the usual Acre-esque wall of sound. But at about the 3 minute mark it suddenly cuts to a high pitched muted scree that is eventually washed out by an arsenal of low tones. Really good and much more conceptual than past releases. According to the myspace, this cassette was recorded shortly after the new set-up of equipment, which, I guess accounts for the new direction in sound. The B side is also pretty dynamic, cutting and introducing tonal variations throughout. Well done.

Other releases by Acre

candyflipping cdr
painless cdr
17:34 cdr
Artifact cass c34
physicality cass
split acre/pulse emitter cass c30
split acre/haunted castle cdr mini
split acre/honed bastion cass c32

Links
Myspace