Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk
A little over a month ago, Chicago’s Baby Birds Don’t Drink Milk played a show in the chapel on the Reed College campus in Portland, Oregon. The old, rarely used chapel by night seems a perfect venue for “Little George,” the eerie opening track to BBDDM’s new Lillerne’s Tapes cassette, Soda. “Little George” begins with a stab of indiscernible noise, which quickly fades into a bed of heavenly-light-through-rain-clouds-style ambiance and chanting. It’s ritualistic. I expect to hear this from rows of hooded monks, not a few Midwest dudes thrashing on guitars and keyboards run through mountains of pedals. What amazes me is how appropriate this one can feel billowing out from behind an altar in some chapel, while still managing to fit the setting of a poorly lit, concrete floor basement.
Listen to “Little George” below, and buy the cassette over at Lillerne Tapes.
“Gmaj7 (Miracle Chord)”
Chord. Indeed. This is one of those.
Defined (via Webster’s): noun \ˈkȯrd\ three or more musical tones sounded simultaneously
Oof, that makes it sound pretty boring. Here’s how Chord the band, which features members of Pelican, X-Bax, and Sacred Cities, explain their performance of the Gmaj7 chord:
This G rooted non-dominant seventh chord presents itself as a major/minor seventh consisting of root (G), major third (B), perfect fifth (D), and major seventh (F#). The appearance of movement is created here by emphasizing different diads present in various voicings of the chord, yet the chord itself is always used harmonically rather than melodically.
But however arranged, however it works, many may not be able to fully comprehend the theoretical conditions set up that make this chord so wholly absorbing. “Gmaj7 (Miracle Chord)” features many tones. There are tones inside the tones, and outside of them, too. These simultaneous tones last for nearly 40 minutes, and not a second feels wasted. But one thing bothers me: the meager applause at the end. This thing should have drawn an earthquaking howl. Where ambient plows its way into the arena of rock, that’s where we find this chord. This chord — guitars, drums, searing feedback, and all — could fill the Super Dome. And all the spaces between the thousands of slack-jawed onlookers, too. Up their nostrils, under their nails, between hair follicles.
Certainly, a chord is more than just a chord. And with “Gmaj7 (Miracle Chord),” it’s even more than just Chord (the band, note the capital “C”). For this performance, Chord were joined by Miracle Condition, supplementing the already-super group into a kind of mutant super-super group called Miracle Chord. Both this track and another lengthy live version by Chord alone can be found on an album called Gmaj7 (Empty Bottle 11/20/10), which is available for purchase on its own or as a bonus download for buying the LP edition of Chord’s new studio album, Gmaj7. All versions are available here starting today.
Wooshie is a perfectionist. His new EP, Boyfriend Material, originally slated to drop on May 10, has been pushed back to a June 12th release, simply because Wooshie — a.k.a. Dylan Michel — wanted to master the tracks yet again. In the meantime, the Australian instrumentalist’s label, This Thing, has unveiled a new clip for his track “Codependence.” From a visual standpoint, it’s nothing too groundbreaking — mostly grainy VHS footage of random guys smoking weed, interspersed with a few trippy glowing pot leaves. But set to the eerie, mechanical drone of Wooshie’s track, the video becomes much more unsettling. At one point, during a shot of a man giggling on his couch in a munchies-induced stupor, I was convinced a zombie would appear from out of frame and devour his brains. A little Twilight Zone, a little D.A.R.E., and a whole lot of Wooshie, “Codependence” is the type of enigmatic clip that will leaving you scratching your head for weeks — or at least, until Boyfriend Material arrives.
Gary War makes his triumphant return this summer with his third LP, Jared’s Lot. The mysterious New York musician has crafted another set of earnest progressive synth-rock tunes that wouldn’t sound out of place in an 80s space shooter. “Superlifer” surges along in a futuristic frenzy, powered by propulsive 8-bit bass and clanging guitars. The vocals, meanwhile, are digitized to a robotic sheen, adding to the extraterrestrial epicness. If you’re the type of person who considers the soundtracks of Japanese RPGs to be equally essential as any Yes record, Gary War might just become your new musical obsession.
Jared’s Lot comes out July 24 on Spectrum Spool.
“Fruiting Bodies / Liberty Capped” [excerpt]
UK duo Pausal may have created the musical sigh of the year. I’m not sure yet; this is only an excerpt from their forthcoming sophomore Barge release, Forms (a follow up to 2010’s exquisite Lapses), a partial of what could very well be the most blissfuly airborne dream-state any of us might have the chance to exist in for a long time. I recommend it. Much better than the ground I was on when I started writing this post. Float away, folks:
Some of you who already know Exitmusic might disapprove of their music in advance, by virtue of demographic. They’re a “celebrity band,” you see. I believe, however, that this is a moot point. For those of you unfamiliar with Exitmusic, read about it yourself: send your probes into the first few hits of the Google Machine and you’ll see that the story of Aleksa Palladino and her husband Devon Chruch is the hook for every article about the band. But who cares. In my humble opinion (now foisted upon you, meek reader!), Exitmusic’s product thus far has been too excellent to be relegated to mere Palladino “side project.” At this point, I would not be stunned to see Palladino’s primary career become one of the stage rather than the screen.
What’s most remarkable about Exitmusic is how they can flirt with aesthetic peril yet escape unscathed. Their first music video, for “The Sea,” consisted of a collage from Andrei Tarkovsky’s The Mirror, which could have come off as presumptuous and damning. Preposterously, it works; it triumphs, even. Meanwhile, the video at hand, for “The Night,” has a second or two that treads mighty close to last year’s Lars von Trier film Melancholia. A lesser band would look foolish openly mingling with such mighty auteurs (see Thrice’s silly album Vheissu, which attempts to make something of Thomas Pynchon’s V), but Exitmusic manages to fend for itself, which is due in no small part to Palladino’s strangely saintly, though gruff, performance. And as for Devon Church, we see that he is a master of reverb here — an epithet he duly earns — and manages to frame his wife’s voice in a well-conceived and purposeful vision.
What’s also nice (and, indeed, possibly due to Palladino’s acting pedigree) is the clarity and confidence of the video itself. Directed by WIll Joines, the video is of unabashedly high production value, which may put off some modern children of lo-fi fuzz, but the images bear the clarity well. Let’s thank Aleksa’s acting chops, and long brown shocks, for that.
Exitmusic’s first LP, Passage, was recently released by Secretly Canadian.