Sometimes I get stuck on one genre/sound, listening to broken drum beats through tape hiss and vinyl crackle, or trying to hear chord changes through walls of feedback. I forget that one trend doesn’t overtake all music. Usually just consists of the small corner of my active listening. As an audience, we follow sounds like we follow artists.
Salt Lake City’s Gothen is a breath of fresh air, considering all of the beat crap I’ve been obsessing over. It’s as if I’ve forgotten things can be beautiful without first being broken and repurposed. And this Gothen quality of folk-like currents flow full of sparse moments. Shoot, the breathing room is practically an instrument in itself.
Gothen’s self-titled debut is available now as a digital download, though I expect to see that under the heading of a label real soon. Music of this quality rarely goes unnoticed through the connected transparency of the internet age.
• Gothen: http://gothen.bandcamp.com
“The Old Straight Track”
Lights dim, limbs relax, and abdomens begin to move as if on their own as new material from Ricardo Donoso breaches the blood-brain barrier. If last year’s masterful Assimilating the Shadow swayed with the listener through the last stages of the night’s festivities — eyelids drooping, all drums absent, tendrils of light stretching out over the horizon — the forthcoming As Iron Sharpens Iron splinters the timeline off into an anxious stroll home, with long hours and miles ahead before dawn. Donoso’s utilization of more percussive synth patches this time around punctuates his wide mixes with the onset of each new voice: squelches spasmodically pan between speakers; rushes of noise static segue between passages; bass phrases hammer through the bottom of the stereophonic spread. The attention to tonal detail aligns his lengthy pieces as much with the drone/noise underground he explored with other projects (Perispirit and Ehnahre) as the psytrance antecedents on the “club”-“friendly” side of the electronic spectrum.
As Donoso stacks syncopated rhythms across his grid, “The Old Straight Track,” premiering below, gathers the momentum to break your nocturnal reverie for a moment and beckon you down the right alley to the fire escape stairs behind your apartment. You catch a glimpse through a window on the way up of an LED strobe spot pulsing quick R -> G -> B -> R &c. across the wall in a candlelit second floor back room historically still alive this time of morning with a bass drum and moving humans, left oscillating on accident. No one in sight, no music. Guess they all already crashed. Maybe they went out to find food still open. You expect them to get back home five minutes after you slide into bed — kick open the door, turn on the PA, resume with volume lowered to maybe like 6/10 (from 8) but still enough to keep you up, which is fine, actually — but it never happens. It looks like you might have to try to close your eyes and go to sleep, or something, like as if right now it’s even p os sibl e — “…” (You’re already out.)
“The Old Straight Track” appears on the first of two 45 RPM 12-inch releases from Donoso, which together constitute a proper full-length: As Iron Sharpens Iron / One Verse Sharpens Another. Both volumes arrive via the ever-mind-altering Digitalis before the end of 2013 — As Iron on October 28, and One Verse on November 18. Keep your eyes on the Digitalis webstore and all your favorite distros for the moment to grip.
Guest Mix: M. Sage
Sunday Is Raining
The greenest greens are the colors that make your feet twitch when you think about them on the sofa. There is nowhere to go, because outside it’s dreary and inside it’s cheerful. We’ll stay here two, maybe three groups of hours. We have plenty of time. Sooner than not, it’ll be sunny outside, and we’ll pack a wax and go sloshing about on the streets only to get caught in the loose droplets underneath the trees. The tallest ones always taste the sweetest and the most surprising. It’s raining and it’s Sunday in Washington; what more can you except?
This mix was tastefully donated by experimental Fort Collins-based artist Matthew Sage, who is the proprietor of the Patient Sounds imprint and who likes Tape the band, which is good. It is very good, in fact, because I get very weak-kneed for Tape, and they are impossible to find on the internet. M. Sage’s latest cassette is called Scatter the Cabal, out now on Mirror Universe. Now, enjoy your rainy day. It’s raining right now.
Stream below, and subscribe to our podcast here.
[00:05] Thanksgiving - “Welcome”
[04:21] Padang Food Tigers - “Pymers Mead”
[06:53] Six Organs Of Admittance - “Home”
[11:10] Keith Freund - “He Noticed Im Alive…and Other Hopeful Signs”
[13:37] Chihei Hatakeyama - “Towards A Tranquil Marsh”
[18:16] Tape - “Sponge Chorus”
[23:06] Biota - “Life Like Our Own”
[24:55] Fjordne - “After You”
[30:00] Hedia - “Apnoea”
[37:45] Olafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm - “A2”
[41:45] Panabrite - “Janus”
[46:00] Sacred Harp (Daniel Bachman) - “Rappahannock (jr)”
[50:01] Bexar Bexar - “Oil Thumbprints”
[52:48] Seven Fields Of Aphelion - “Wildflower Woods”
[57:29] Weathering - “Gather Dust”
[60:05] Bonnie “Prince” Billy - untitled (from The Letting Go)
“Blues for Ian M. Colletti”
Brooklyn-based songwriter and “long music” improvateur Ben Seretan, who recently organized and played at Silent Barn’s week of predawn performances, brings us a new one from his forthcoming album, slated for next year. Seretan just released some 60 minutes of glacial guitar ambient from Alaska on Standard Issue Press, but “Blues for Ian M. Colletti” reflects his songwriterly side. Flush with a backing band of cello, percussive rattling, flugelhorn, and female vocal foils, the typically solitary guitarist sings and fingerpicks his way through an ode to waking up not alone. Seretan wrote it in the basement of Vaudeville Park, the much-missed BK venue raised by Colletti and felled by “rent and bad neighbors.” Currently, you can hear him as he’s touring the East Coast with the Portland band Alameda, the dates for which can be found here.
• Ben Seretan: http://www.benseretan.com
Possessed By Paul James
“Where Does All The Time Go”
Do you need to take an all-night Greyhound bus trip? Do you need to plow your fields? Do you need cathartic bluegrass punk to accompany your red Marlboro-smoking, angry and lonely whiskey-drinking nights? Do you wish you had more music for your air tambourine? Well, then this is where you thank me (and my pet eagle).
It’s been three years since Konrad Wert — the one-man band behind Possessed By Paul James — released any new material. It appears he’s been spending some time with his family, kids, farming, and teaching — you know, all that truly legit bluegrass-Americana-alt-folk stuff. But he’s finally back (!!!!) and continues to be as emotionally intense as ever. So, I’m gonna go ahead and guess he’s a Leo [Update: I checked. He’s a Leo]. His new track is aptly titled “Where Does All The Time Go,” which will be featured in his upcoming album There Will Be Nights When I’m Lonely. And it’s sad music that you can dance to, which is my favorite type.
Possessed By Paul James makes me feel American (even though I’m not). But I believe in America. And my pet eagle is named Lil’ From, which is a mash-up of liberty and freedom. I believe in being Possessed By Paul James.
Form A Log
The Two Benji’s
Open up your heart, clear out the sooty atria, and make some room for Log Culture. Your mouth asks, “Who is Form A Log?” Turns out, your ears somehow knew it all along: three men who make music from the playback of 4-track cassette players, having laid out their recursive rhythms, synth-noise abuse, and spoken-word sample fuckery onto individual swathes of magnetic tape. With 12 channels available to mix and match between them, Form A Log performances find Ren Schofield (Container, I Just Live Here), Noah Anthony (Profligate), and Rick Weaver (Dinner Music, Human Conduct) overlaying their streams of technoid chaos into a generative mire that pulses enough to occupy your body as it reconfigures your synapses. Spend time with Form A Log, and designations like “primal” or “underground” or “lo-fi” crumble under your complete certainty that these men are doing everything perfectly right and perfectly wrong, feeling their way through new permutations of improvisation and composition, and conjuring a din unlike any you’ve heard before.
You have questions. “Who are the men that adorn The Two Benji’s with Cup Noodles dangling from mouths and plants covering torsos?” “How can I sink knee- or shoulder- deep into Log Culture before it’s too late?” “What does anything mean anymore at all?” I don’t have the answers you need. Maybe no one does. Though the Log boys maintain a laconic “mum’s the word” policy RE: the details of their burgeoning basement empire, any time spent with their music will nullify your anxieties. Scroll down, stream a few tracks from The Two Benji’s (previously self-released on cassette), come back, and tell me you’re not a little transformed.
“But where can I grip it???” I know the answer to this one: Decoherence Records kicks off its catalog by pressing this first piece of Log wax, and 500 copies hit the street on November 5. Pre-order it now, and when the record arrives, throw some Benjis in celebration:
1. Raise fist.
2. Extend and separate index and middle fingers.
3. Deed done.