New History Warfare Vol.3 [preview]
On New History Warfare Vol. 2, Colin Stetson perfected a style that took the otherworldly sounds of extended saxophone technique and used them to create largely tonal slices of minimalism that structurally and harmonically had more in common with the language of Philip Glass than Stetson’s extended saxophone forefathers Anthony Braxton and John Zorn. The album’s ability to take rigorous academic technique and render it accessible by imbuing it with strong melodic sensibilities and driving rhythms made it a pretty complete artistic statement, and as a result, Stetson was faced with two options in the album’s wake: (1) push the alteration of his saxophone sound even further by incorporating more electronics and even more unconventional playing styles, or (2) perfect his initial sounds and find a way to make them even more musical.
While I’d love to hear Stetson choose option number one and go even more bat-shit crazy on his instrument than he already has, the composer/performer has instead chosen option two, and it seems pretty alright too! Belgium station Radio Scorpio recently previewed four tracks off of Stetson’s New History Warfare Vol. 3, and while the new material follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, there’s a much clearer sense of harmonic and melodic movement in these tunes that outshines even the most accessible numbers on Vol. 2.
Of the tracks Radio Scorpio premiered, two feature Stetson’s bandmate bro Bon Iver on vocals and two feature solo Stetson shred. Of the Bon Iver tracks, “Who the Waves are Roaring For” is the real jam, with Stetson’s fuzzy through-the-saxophone singing mixing with Justin Vernon’s trademark falsetto in beautiful counterpoint. The solo Stetson tunes are familiar-sounding barn-burners that find the trademark sounds of Stetson’s previous recordings sounding beefier and catchier than ever before. Stream the audio courtesy of Belgium’s Radio Scorpio here:
New History Warfare Vol. 3 is out via Constellation Records on April 30.
“Hold Your Form”
“Andante” describes tempos between 73 and 77 beats per minute, or “at a walking pace.” Whoever set up that naming system was one slow-ass walker. I clock “Hold Your Form” at a taught 120 BPM, and to my feet, that’s just what I need to get off my lazy ass, put away all that beautiful ambient/drone for a minute, and pound the pavement along to a crisp four-on-the-floor like the one Test House laid out for this extremely satisfying little number. Too bad they never made a portable 7-inch player… I had my little weights and sweatband all ready to go. But hey, dance clubs have turntables right?
This banger comes from Georgia imprint Geographic North, the ninth of their “You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever” singles series (which also includes previous entries from A Sunny Day in Glasgow, Landing, and Windy & Carl). Although the frame of the song is built with solid bricks of melody and rhythm, the strobing and streaking synths break things up, almost chemically. The result is an enveloping, evaporating swirl of a pop tune that is to be inhaled, that will infect, that will alter. And I guess that’s what the video Elizabeth Skadden directed is all about too: pitting the group as vessels of the smokey stuff that is the very song they created.
By the way, Test House is one James Elliott (ex-Bear In Heaven, ex-School of Seven Bells) and one other Peter Schuette (ex-Silk Flowers, ex-Psychobuildings). Also by the way, dammit if that isn’t the catchiest chorus of 2013 yet.
Vanessa Rossetto / Lee Patterson
Temperament as a Waveform [excerpt]
One of the most intriguing aspects of working with field recordings is the potential to capture chance natural occurrences that produce their own inherent rhythms and/or harmony. Recent recordings by everyone from Graham Lambkin and Jason Lescalleet to Dolphins into the Future have taken this concept and used processing and/or additional instrumentation to further bring out the hidden musical nature of found sounds.
Vanessa Rossetto and Lee Patterson are two artists who have very much made this notion a large part of their own musical aesthetic, so it only makes sense that they would eventually team up. The title of Rossetto and Patterson’s collaboration, Temperament as a Waveform, carries on the discussion of musical material emerging out of found sound but goes further to suggest that mood and emotion can be translated into a pure soundwave itself.
In this extract of the piece from Another Timbre’s YouTube, it becomes apparent that the duo plan to apply their thesis primarily to the realm of frequency. Within these five and a half minutes, Patterson and Rossetto take an unidentifiable field recording and, through processing and the layering of Rossetto’s violin, move from piercing highs to guttural lows and finally to a warm mid-range-y drone. It’s a wonderfully mixed and intriguing preview of how the register and timbre of natural sounds can affect our perceptions of emotion.
Temperament as a Waveform is out via Another Timbre later this month. You can preview the track below.
The Grimy Awards
With appearances by Shabazz the Disciple, Lil’ Fame of M.O.P., O.C., Cormega, Q-Unique of The Arsonists and el-p, and production credits including Psycho Les, Large Professor, Pete Rock, DJ Muggs and DJ Premier, the guest list for Ill Bill’s fourth studio album reads like a who’s who of 90s NY hip-hop, which, depending on who you ask, could in 2013 be a positive or a negative. On one hand, many legends have arguably tarnished their legacies by putting forth sub-par efforts in their later years; on the other, several greats – including A.G., Raekwon and Q-Tip among others – have continued to build upon already brilliant discographies with works that live up to, and in some cases surpass, the high standards they previously set for themselves.
Bill’s been recording since the early 1990s, but his formal debut didn’t come until 1999 so he probably shouldn’t be considered a “‘90s rapper.” Still, he’s been around for a while now and many of his recent ventures into rap-metal territory have been… well, at least for me, straight-up unlistenable. So, I was pleasantly surprised to find that The Grimy Awards is not only entertaining, but really, really good, probably Bill’s best work since his days in Non Phixion, possibly even his best to date. This is the maturation of a rapper whose past work focused primarily on government conspiracy, Satanism and drug use. All that’s still present, but both the rhymes and the perspective are refined.
As for the crowded guestlist? Fortunately, it doesn’t bog down the proceedings a bit. If anything, it enhances them. Just about every guest comes correct, on topic and with a style that organically complements Bill’s own. As a result, instead of a compilation disguised as an album, The Grimy Awards sounds like the album William Braunstein, the artist and fan, always wanted to make and hear.
I haven’t seen a “Kraut Rock is Dead” t-shirt or beer koozie yet, but I imagine there’s a disgruntled posse somewhere that believes we’ve reached a saturation point of swirling, arpeggio-overloaded motorik jams. These scrooges are out there, man, at the show complaining about the band’s “nauseating repetition” or something and being all “do you know how easy this is to play?” I’ve seen this. These soulless husks of humans hear a boom boom KA boom boom boom KA boom boom boom KA boom boom boom KA and also a dee doo Dee doo dee Doo DEE doo Dee too and they just sit there unsmiling, as if these sounds aren’t drops of mana tossed earthward by a lavishly mustachioed Zeus ca. 1976.
Chicago’s Bitchin Bajas bring the tones to silence the haters. The two 17-ish-minute journeys that comprise their new Krausened EP (on Permanent Records) swell and crest beautifully, locking into long straight grooves for just long enough to zone us out before steering into a new beat or lead voice. Minimal rhythmic elements bop along as Cooper Crain (also of CAVE) and Dan Quinlivan layer repeated organ, synth, and guitar phrases through long trails of delay. Crain’s accumulating organ trills are the finest form of Terry Riley worship, while the arrival of cascading flute melodies from collaborator Rob Frye solidifies the perfect “Ruckzuck” redux vibe.
Farfetched Metaphor Alert: To krausen (kroiii-zen) beer is to combine a half-fermented batch with a fully-fermented batch, resulting in a crisper, more flavorful Frankenstein brew. So… yeah: 1970s Germany is the fully fermented stuff, Bitchin Bajas are the half-fermented young dudes wallowing in it, and the pleasure we get from listening is the natural carbonation.
There exists, if you know how to find it, a secret TV station that was created in the 1980s as a way to test out government-made algorithms for discerning questionable content and patterns in human faces. The algorithms were intended to analyze CCTV cameras to detect evidence of illegal activity.
This channel, only accessible by tuning the television set to a specific frequency, acts as a dumping ground for the thousands of hours of data that have been corrupted during the analysis process, resulting in a 24-hour, amorphous loop of random clips from the history of television, some bent beyond recognition into splashes of random colors and blistering sound static, while others are haunting pictures overlapped on soundtracks from entirely different stations. When a plane passes overhead, the show — called Cittakarnera by the cult-like following that watches it — degrades into a mountain of crumbling sound. Cell phones further disrupt the signal. Each time an image repeats, bits of pixel have peeled off, and each day thousands of hours of television simultaneously playing over each other are added to the queue like a airborne garbage yard. Nature programs, classical music concerts, news broadcasts of fires and murders…
And now, thanks to sound artist David Kirby, a one-hour selection of some of Cittakarnera’s greatest moments are collected on convenient compact disc! Available from Copy For Your Records, Cittakarnera is a can’t-live-without compilation of classics. Imagine all your favorite documentaries piled on top of one another and run through The 80s Shredding Machine. A must-have for any music fan.