Astral Social Club
Come now, come now, have a seat — yes. The first thing you might notice about my apartment is that all of my walls, ceilings, and furniture are constructed from physical media containing Neil Campbell’s music. You know Neil Campbell, yes? Omnivorous drone/noise/electronic musician who has built a remarkable catalog across more than 20 years in the UK experimental underground, both solo and in a number of ensembles? Quite right. If you’d like to begin a tour of my Campbell collection, I refer you to the stool on which you sit now, cobbled together from early 00’s CDr releases, both mini and normal-sized. I see you eyeing my Vibracathedral Orchestra-themed dining room, complete with a petite chandelier sculpted from the melted vinyl of the first self-titled 2xLP on VHF that I wore out from constant playback. If you doubt the table’s structural integrity, I assure you that those keystone cassettes contain primal drone/psych sessions ferocious enough to support the weight of any Easter feast. On your left, you’ll find the door to the Astral Social Club parlor… but I can’t show you in at the moment. The external wall is nearly complete, save for one glaring tape-sized hole that remains in the façade.
What’s that you say? NNA Tapes has released a new Astral Social Club cassette entitled Destiny SNFU and you have a copy on your person at this moment? Before we complete the wall, may we have a listen? “Wet Chemicals” tumbles across its running time as a stuttering ‘podge of drum machine thuds, corrupted Casio wails, and static interjections. If one branch of the many-splendored ASC catalog finds Campbell stacking many layers of guitar-based drone and hi-fi electronic bleeps into an impenetrable wall of tone, Destiny Snafu errs on the “minimal” side of his output: synth voices have space to breathe and decay between beats; discrete pulses hammer through the mix and fade back into the garbled backdrop; each burst of pitch-randomized noise reaches our ears in full detail. No, I can’t accept your copy to use in my Campbell-based home. You hold on to yours, and I’ll just buy my own.
OvO feat. Carla Bozulich And Evangelista
“Fly Little Demon”
I’m gonna be real with you guys: Carla Bozulich is one of my favorite artists. Her work frequently strikes the perfect balance between song-craft and cathartic experimentation, and albums like the excellent Evangelista (TMT Review) connect the lines between noise and folk music in ways that are still largely unparalleled. Needless to say, I was pretty bummed when I heard that Bozulich and her band Evangelista were leaving America to focus on work in Europe. I was afraid that we might hear less of Bozulich’s recordings as a result of this move, but if this track with Italian doom metal duo OvO is any indication of what Bozulich and her collaborators are up to, then consider my fears assuaged!
“Fly Little Demon” is a slow burning study in apocalyptic kraut rock, and while the members of OvO and Evangelista play their instruments with an equal amount of restraint and pandemonium, Bozulich’s vocals characteristically steal the show here. Bozulich’s voice has got to be one of the most distinctive and versatile instruments in contemporary music. Her past work has found her using it equally to sweetly croon and summon guttural dread. On “Fly Little Demon,” she pulls out all of the stops, alternating between a gorgeous twang and near black metal screeches, dueting with Stefania Pedretti’s heavy guttural tones. In many ways, “Fly Little Demon” serves as an equally excellent showcase for Bozulich’s vocal prowess as it does for OvO’s instrumental minimalism. The whole thing reminds me of some of the more abstract moments in Can’s discography and whets my appetite for more collaboration from both Bozulich and OvO.
Dean Blunt meets James Ferraro
“Watch the Throne 2”
Since we’re essentially a Dean Blunt and James Ferraro blog now, we of course had to post this bootlegged performance between the two last month at Unsound Festival in Kraków, Poland. The unannounced, impromptu jam session, titled “Watch the Throne 2” (the follow-up to their equally bizarre 2012 collaboration), lasted over 40 minutes, with Blunt on Rhodes/vocals and Ferraro on the venue’s house piano. Like last year’s performance, the two meander about on their respective instruments, with no clear scale or unified trajectory to anchor the sounds. Save for a few moments of melody and progression, it barely hangs in there for the majority of the time, its (mostly) modal, impressionistic explorations ultimately serving as background music for a chatty audience, occasionally punctuated by abrupt cheering from audience members who mistake sparseness for endings.
But this wasn’t intended to be a “concert” at all. Before the performance, Blunt encouraged the audience to chat, to socialize, to be as rude as possible. With no center, no spectacle, no channeling of violence or desire, we’re left somewhere in the middle, drifting aimlessly and hopelessly between concepts and percepts, our gaze frustratingly directed to nowhere in particular and our ears continually expecting a resolution that never comes.
Among the shredded medal scraps covering the newest Charlatan release Night Circus rings the title track “Night Circus,” and it’s just about the only surface-dweller still breathing among the seven sonic excavations that make up the album. Glowing bleeps and bloops spin outward like bottle rockets screaming out their life’s story before bursting into dark clouds of smoke fading back into a sulfury night sky: a celebration of the light that still burns somewhere though you no longer feel it’s warmth.
• Digitalis Recordings: http://www.digitalisindustries.com/music
Slow drippin’ into your horizon, Bastion Void (a.k.a. Homeowner, a.k.a. Joe Bastardo, a.k.a. one-half Diamond Chevrolet) increases each bit of electronic batter in his newest cassette on Chemical Tapes, Phonics. Upon individual listen/contemplation, one can muster up imaginings of the universe Bastion Void breathes within: metal shelled, portal windows, slow pulsating lights, knobs on everything, and a nose/mouth tube to respirate magic. As this tank finishes its journey to the bottom of the darkest ocean, Bastion Void begins motion via sound, managing to discover the most alien of sounds in the deepest crevasses of Earth. And as the trail of said “magic” emits, so does the reflection of engulfed majesty in the noise of new reality.
Joe, on the other hand, has a more nostalgic point of view: [(potential) liner-notes]: “Warm daylight, myself at age 8, sitting in computer class. Circuits and pine trees. Views out various bedroom windows. The research laboratory down the street. Atari in the basement. Wood paneling. Office buildings. Power generators sitting in the forest. Light shapes cast on walls. Science class. Old computer games. Leaves and educational video tapes.”
Grip at the new reality of Phonics by Bastion Void over at Chemical Tapes today, and listen to the cassette in its digital entirety below:
The Room Outside
The Room Outside
Many years ago, I played violin with the Room Outside’s Karrie Hopper at a few of her solo shows and on a track for one of her records. What struck me about Hopper’s music even then was how she managed to make extremely difficult harmonic progressions and melodies sound like the most natural things possible. I can remember realizing this when trying to figure out how to play some of her other songs and being blown away at how difficult they were, despite their seemingly simple sonics. Back then, Hopper’s work mostly consisted of classical guitar and vocal works that were occasionally adorned by minimal arrangements. I always wondered what her music would sound like if played by a band, which her new self-titled record as the Room Outside finally answers that question.
The Room Outside’s debut record is a lovely slice of minimal twee pop. Hopper’s songs are still as structurally strong as ever, and it’s amazing to hear how great they sound fleshed out with minimal power trio accompaniment. Luckily, the band still keeps things pretty stripped down on the record, which makes the additional instrumentation on tracks, like “Once Upon a Time” and “Heaven,” sound huge when compared to the minimalist production elsewhere. The Room Outside also taps into another trait I’ve always admired in Hopper’s work: the ability to make something new sound completely familiar. Throughout the record, I’m reminded of a million different pop bands, like the Bats and Ashley Eriksson, but despite these initial surface level similarities, the Room Outside sounds distinctly like their own band.
The Room Outside is out now on the group’s Bandcamp. Currently, The Room Outside are on tour and you can find a list of their remaining tour dates on their Bacebook page. You can stream the record in it’s entirety below:
• The Room Outside http://www.theroomoutside.bandcamp.com