One thing I know about Jenks Miller: he contains multitudes. With his Horseback project, the multi-instrumentalist (and member of Mount Moriah) fuses tropes from black metal, US roots music, psych rock, and dark ambient into original compositions that overflow with ideas and juxtapositions. If his synthesis of croaked Xasthur via Tom Waits vocals and near Nashville-core studio lushness was his only contribution to contemporary music, he’d still deserve some kind of zoner blue ribbon — but the man’s catalog is already deep with killer collabs, three full-length LPs, and a handful of way-sold-out tapes and 7-inches and stuff. If you’re not on his level, which is to say inside a secret mausoleum chamber at least 12 feet underground at the center of a sacred and super-haunted animal burial ground untouched by other humans for generations, you should probably try to get there now.
His upcoming solo “solo” (solo) album Spirit Signal seems like both a solid entry point for a Miller neophyte and a welcome change of pace for a well-versed head. The album’s six loose, improvised sessions showcase Miller’s guitar upfront, accompanied by detailed drone voices and a whole lot of open space. In some moments, his playing fits into the post-Dead Man drifting Morricone vibe mastered by Dylan Carlson in his more recent output; but in others, like the title track below, his playing escalates into a tightly controlled twang closer to the melodic comping of Bill Frisell or Marc Ribot (Miller’s labelmate on Northern Spy). Coming from a man who can proficiently record anything, the restraint Miller displays in these beautifully dry mixes attests to his sense for extreme dynamics on both sides of the spectrum.
Pre-order Spirit Signals from Northern Spy, and it’ll ship around its September 3 release date.
The Night’s Gambit
After Ka released sophomore album Grief Pedigree to widespread acclaim in 2012, the DIY emcee/producer/cover artist/music video director gave a number of interviews in which he stated that he works very slowly, dedicating meticulous attention to each aspect of every project. In one especially revealing interview, he proclaims his desire to be “the hip-hop version of Sade” before going on to state, “I craft my music, it takes a long time. I do it and I think it aint right and do it again, and again. I’m looking for perfect rhymes.” Indeed, there’d been four years in between Iron Works and its follow-up, so it came as quite the shock when Ka announced a few months ago via Twitter that his third album, The Night’s Gambit, would arrive July 13, 2013.
One week after the release date, anybody who’s half as serious about listening to music as Ka is about making it still isn’t quite ready to deliver any definitive remarks about the album other than the obvious: the rhymes are ill, and the beats, also ill, evince that Ka’s sample palate has developed along with his skills and confidence as a producer. One still-forming idea I’ll bring early to the discussion relates to the album title itself and the entire chess concept, which runs throughout via dialogue lifted from Searching for Bobby Fischer and Fresh. It could be that this concept is not a concept at all, that it is merely a device tacked on at the last minute to add a final sense of cohesion to the completed work, but knowing how Ka operates, that is not likely the case.
Consider that chess imagery was previously employed by The Wu-Tang Clan, particularly GZA, who dedicated an entire album to the topic with 2005’s Grandmasters and owns the distinction of being the first universally respected MC to publicly cosign Ka, having featured him on “Firehouse” off 2008’s Pro-Tools. On that very track, Ka spits, “Fuck that queen, I’ll show you what a knight and a rook would do.” It seems he’s now making good on that promise.
• Ka: http://brownsvilleka.com
“In The Morning of the World”
I wonder how many Chocolate Grinder posts I’ve written about Monday. Like, writing about Monday totally bashes the blues out my brain, but I imagine, or at least whimsically hope, that the same effect happens to readers through the music I’m posting. This Monday, Tiny Mix Tapes is proud to premiere Big French’s video “In The Morning of the World.” From New York weirdo Quentin Moore, “In The Morning of the World” gives that slow-motion, on-and-off, softy-burnt feel, from light acoustic guitars, to buds and birds, backward-hat vocals, doing the laundry, and gradual harsh-fades. Reflections of reality in song and string, old and new, cream drops and head nods. What ISN’T going on here (both visually and audibly)? It tenses, as Monday mornings do. There’s heartache. Carpets and shadows and a dog maybe named May-Bee. “In The Morning of the World” is out in the open, yet confined to mirrored images. Then someone brings home the milk, and it all seems to turn out just right via closing-time/afternoon and a ripping solo.
The “In The Morning of the World” video was shot by Weston Currie. The track is from the new Big French LP Downtown Runnin on Wharf Cat Records, out tomorrow July 23. Eighteen tracks of pure mania, with members of Blanche Blanche Blanche and The Great Valley for supreme WOWS in listening.
I know what you’re thinking. I’ve got the same feeling. It’s underneath my tongue though; it’s a little rough and metallic-y, like I just swallowed some pennies, and there they go, clinking around down in my chest when I walk. Johnny and Josey tried inhaling that dry ice stuff awhile back; I know because he told me. He could hardly speak though; he kept glancing over his shoulder. Was beginning to make me feel nervous, too. He said it was like an espresso shot from hell that made his heart pump at half the speed, and he was just getting used to it, and he was trying to deal with the shapes he sees at night, and that was the hardest part. I sort of leveled with him on this front. I had seen the shapes, it’s true, but not because of the dry ice. I saw the shapes because I followed them, back down the staircase that emerged from his closet and spiraled into intense heat and blinding light. I followed close, because it was easy to get lost once you reached the labyrinth, but followed far enough back so that they couldn’t smell me. I was beginning to feel really woozy, my once sense numbed by the odor emitted from the plants that grew along the walls: great prehistoric hanging fern. My body began to sway back and forth; I took steps, counted shapes, counted shapes, same number; everything will be alright, that’s for sure.
One great thing about Aloonaluna (Lynn Fister) and Motion Sickness of Time Travel (Rachel Evans) is that they will always kick ass when it comes to making music. Seriously, they’re like tag-team bosses at the end of a Super Smash Mortal Tekken Bros. Anyone’s ass. I know TMT is so hot for D Lopes that this claim will probably not stick for too long, but level with me: this is some moon cheese-level music on this split tape for Constellation Tatsu. Both artists — one operating in a conceptual, song-based structure, the other exploring a juicier slice of jam — display incredible consideration on their respective sides, combining tastefully sampled vocals and unobtrusive synth lines in a grainy soup that massages the ears rather than beats neural connections into them. If you were to break open this cassette, you’d find healthy, fibrous roots dripping with sap, repairing the wound you freshly cut with lashes of vine and verdant sunlight. The deep tendrils are the result of the adept cultivation that is so frequently lacking in more callous ambient music.
“Champagne Dance Scene”
The long wait is over: Dean Blunt has finally released a preview of his forthcoming movie, The Rhinestone Bezel!! Okay, okay. We had no idea he was releasing a movie. In fact, we don’t even know that it’s a movie at all. (Can’t forget too that Dean Blunt isn’t even his real name.) But according to the SoundCloud description of a newly released track called “Champagne Dance Scene,” it seems as though TMT All-Star Dean Blunt might be releasing something called The Rhinestone Bezel that is apparently due “in cinemas Winter 2013.” Check out “Champagne Dance Scene” below, a moody, foreboding creeper — separated into two sections by four and a half minutes of silence — that drags itself slowly and hypnotically to no specific end.
So, Sacred Bones Records sold their soul to ABC, but they’ve kept consistently good with their picks to press: Pharmakon, Vår, Case Studies, etc. But what’ll end my life this year is the new T-Buggins and Crystal Stilts album Nature Noir. Russian Tsarlag’s “Become Solid” has been emotionally hard enough this year, but “Star Crawl” gives that same sort of desolate abandonment, only more on the local garage-rock show hosted by the hobo who lives in the empty mill at the end of town. Only 10 people are there, swaying, one crying; the hobo is yelling out of his tent; two guys are making out slowly on a pile of plastic bottles; and lots of different kinds and colors of smoke collect in a cloud, chimneying out, as the mill has no roof. Nobody sees. And then it starts to drizzle, sparks flicker off Crystal Stilts’ equipment, only searing a more scrum-driven sound of fuzz into the patrons’ ears, either passed out on the ground soaking or slowly sway-grinding into a mess of wet.
This is the first release from Crystal Stilts since all dat shit they birthed in 2011. Their new album Nature Noir pops on Sacred Bone Records September 17th. Happiness!