“In Our Time”
Dr John C Taylor’s Chronophage Clock eats time. It slows down, it speeds up. Sometimes it stops completely. It’s a huge golden disk, swirling and numberless, with a giant grasshopper sat on top. To be honest, it’s pretty fucking ugly. Yet as a physical invocation of “Relative Time” — the notion that an hour in good company flies by, but a minute of pain will seem endless — it’s almost perfect.
Hookworms are very good company, and, for a brief minute on a walk around the National Museum of Scotland last weekend, “In Our Time” mapped onto the Clock’s circling profundity with a strange precision. I know, it’s horrifically pretentious to wander around museums in headphones, trying to find odd hybrids of music and spectacle, but I can’t help enjoying it. You should try it some time.
I probably brushed sleeves with these Hookworms lads on some similar wander, back in the day, staring-out the distortion pedal section at one of Leeds’ many tiny, inexplicably terrifying, music shops. While my teenage pounds went towards the packaging labeled “METAL” and “MORE METAL,” they were eyeing each other across the shop; one testing the screeching frequencies of a battery powered mini-amp, the other asking a bewildered shop assistant for something “you know… cavernous?” Luckily, they found a rhythm section who don’t so much drive as stall, a steady call for calm in the sometimes overly frantic world of “psych,” and the internet erupted in a tide of not particularly astute Spacemen 3 comparisons.
Paired with “The Correspondent,” the band’s tune on Sonic Cathedral’s tricolour 3D compilation from Dec 2012, Psych for Sore Eyes, “In Our Time” provides an addictive force for expectation, stretching further than any SoundCloud timer: new album Pearl Mystic comes out February 25.
Nae Troth [EP]
UK-based Hanetration has three EPs on his Bandcamp page, each of which are colder than an abandoned concrete hospital on an island off the Scottish coast. Past releases have carried a heavy IDM vibe, with drums skittering anxiously over palette-knife strokes of sound. But on Nae Troth (“no loyalty”), his latest, Hanetration goes fully sterile, forgoing any sense of rhythm entirely.
When listened to in succession, it’s clear that Nae Troth uses samples from the same bank as his Torn Heat EP, stretching melody-less swaths of sound farther into the nether. At 22 minutes in length, it’s entirely plausible Hanetration just took an older track — perhaps by himself, or even Justin Bieber — and just used Paulstretch to turn it into syrupy, grainy, drone goodness. At times while listening, I tried to imagine how some passages would sound if they were sped up. Perhaps it would resemble a lonesome ballad, with a french horn providing an easily hummable melody and twinkling percussion hits where there was washes of beach waves and the muffled breath of pitched noise.
Hopefully, hopefully, Nae Troth will sound like nonsense if it’s sped up. This way I can enjoy it for what it is in its current state: a great boat, traversing the ocean in the dead of night, breaking up the reflection of the stars on the water, breaking a gossamer membrane in space that creates a black hole that gorges on matter until time creeps to a halt and groans like the same ship pulling out of port.
• Hanetration: http://hanetration.bandcamp.com
Diamond Terrifier & Kirin J Callinan
“WAR ALL THE TIME//SHRINE FLU”
As a musical tool, extended technique is intended to alter people’s perceptions of what certain instruments can do. While the exploitation of various instruments’ structural anomalies has produced highly idiomatic and innovative works such as Penderecki’s ubiquitous Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima, these techniques have started to become slightly clichéd and almost commonplace in many branches of the experimental music world. At this point, it seems that the “true” vanguard of instrumental performance/writing largely comes from the performer’s/composer’s ability to combine extended technique with a healthy does of electronics and non-“academic” musical language in order to create something truly new.
Luckily, Diamond Terrifier (a.k.a Sam Hillmer of ZS) is just such a performer. More so than any of his fellow virtuosic sax-wielding peers, Hillmer is capable of turning his instrument of choice into something truly unrecognizable. Hillmer recently collaborated at CMJ with goth-pop crooner Kirin J. Callinan and the two produced some instrument-/genre-defying results in the process. At first, Callinan might seem to be a bit of an odd choice as a collaborator for Hillmer, but the way he subverts his usual style acts a foil to Hillmer’s subversion of his instrument. As a result, they manage to seamlessly meld their sounds together in an improvisation that delights not only in sheer blasts of noise, but also in the the melodies and hidden similarities within that noise.
Stay tuned for news about Diamond Terrifier’s new solo album The Subtle Body Wears A Shadow, and check out this collaboration between him and Kirin J. Callinan (who are playing together tomorrow at The Bowery Electric), courtesy of Terrible Records:
“T.U.” (feat. Audio Push, Problem, Hit-Boy, & Juicy J)
Hit-Boy’s latest track is further proof that the California producer/rapper is incapable of unleashing anything less than Sarlacc-sized earworms. Then again, seeing as how this is the dude behind “Niggas in Paris,” “Goldie,” and “Backstreet Freestyle,” you wouldn’t expect anything less. At first, with its barebone beat and four-note groove, “T.U.” sounds like the cockier cousin of an artifact from the days of snap music (Side note: What are D4L doing with their lives now? Did “Laffy Taffy” ever get them any royalties from Willy Wonka?). But, as usual, Hit-Boy refreshes the model: occasional bursts of brass liven up the minimal landscape, eventually overshadowed by the frightening, blood-curdling screams that comprise the central hook. Guests Audio Push, Problem, and Juicy J all show up to pay their respects to Bacchus, epitomized in a dope(y) refrain (“I’m fuck as drunk/ Wait, I’m drunk as fuck”) that will soon, inevitably, be heard in frat parties across the country. It may not have the goofy grandeur of his greatest hits, but with its array of featured guests and quirky samples, “T.U.” manages to impress nonetheless.
• Hit-Boy: http://houseofhit.com
Palm Highway Chase
Some of the more interesting aspects of hypnagogic pop are the questions that the artists implicitly ask with their music. In many cases, these questions take the form of “what if” statements that ask what would happen if a particular musical fad or style was carried to its logical extreme and modernized. For example, the new single “Desert Driver” by Palm Highway Chase seems to be asking “What if the 80s film soundtracks of Vangelis, John Carpenter, and other like-minded composers were written for a film that only existed in the listener’s head?” Given the band’s history for penning soundtracks to imaginary Rocky films, the question isn’t too far off. Couple this with the Escape From New York-referencing artwork on the track’s SoundCloud page and things get interesting.
When listening to “Desert Driver,” I’m reminded of Olivia Tremor Control’s Music From the Unrealized Film Script: Dusk at Cubist Castle; not in sound, but in intention. With this work, Palm Highway Chase take the “what if” notions that underlie their aesthetic and force the listener to participate in filling out the “unrealized film script” of their personal Escape From New York. Of course, their direct references to existent works highlight the oft-discussed role of memory in hypnagogic pop, which results in the end musical product being “new collective memories that incorporate parts of the old model but at the same time [shaped] into an entirely new creature.”
Palm Highway Chase’s debut record will be out sometime in the coming months via Spectrum Spools. Listen to “Desert Driver” below:
• Palm Highway Chase: http://www.palmhighwaychase.bandcamp.com
• Spectrum Spools: http://www.editionsmego.com/releases/spectrum-spools
The Great Order
Every time I hear one of Cory Allen’s releases, I’m always amazed that he’s not more of a household name among drone/electronica lovers. For years, he’s been releasing wonderful drone-based works on his excellentQuiet Design label, and like many of the more well-known artists that his label’s released (among them Duane Pitre, Sebastien Roux, and Alvin Lucier), his releases have frequently struck an admirable balance between academic technique and emotional resonance. His newest release, The Great Order, follows in this tradition with the unique exception of being Allen’s first release to feature exclusively acoustic instruments (all recorded live in the studio, no less). Allen created a self-organizing structure/set of rules to guide these two side-long pieces in order to achieve a near homogeneous deep-listening-esque soundworld with his ensemble. The results are pretty gorgeous and vaguely reminiscent of Duane Pitre’s latest work with its seamlessly staggered entrances and robust harmonies seemingly based off of the harmonic series. It’s an impressively ambitious composition that shows off a whole new side of Allen’s aesthetic and will hopefully nudge him further into the vocabulary of drone lovers everywhere.
The Great Order is out now via Quiet Design and you can stream excerpts of the album below.