Middle America [album stream]
Ah, Middle America. It’s so easy to fall into the slow-paced lifestyle that prevails between those rolling hills that guide you on the long stretches of highway between college towns. If you don’t fall into the lifestyle, you just end up bored most of the time, which is how so many Midwest kids become vandals and pyromaniacs. What else are you going to do?
Netherfriends (a.k.a. Shawn Rosenblatt) seemed to reach that plateau of boredom at a much younger age than most prolific Midwest kids. He was probably sitting around some huge bonfire in a corn field somewhere thinking to himself, “How about instead of doing this, I just tour the entirety of this country in one year and record a song in every single state?” And the real kicker? He actually did it. I can’t tell you how many ideas I’ve had for bands and music projects that haven’t survived past the hour or two of conversation I got from sharing the idea with a few friends while we shot off fireworks and vandalized things. Oh well, you can take the kid out of the Midwest, but you can’t always take the Midwest out of the kid.
Stream Middle America, Netherfriend’s nine-song musical companion to growing up in any of the included nine Midwestern states, and buy the digital version from Kilo Records. There are 41 more where this came from, so keep your ears open all you coastal kids!
Fatima Al-Qadiri is one of a recent outcropping of soundmakers who increasingly blur the lines between pop music and multimedia installation. These pop conceptualists are more likely to refer to themselves as “multimedia artists” than musicians, and their work is often illegible without reference to their visual and textual components. Sure, you could choose to listen to last year’s Genre Specific Xperience EP in a vacuum and ignore the associated video pieces and experimental web art, but that would be missing the point… no? Maybe not. Al-Qadiri also released the Warn-U EP under the Ayshay moniker last year, and it stood on its own quite well. Still, you are much more likely to catch a FAQ performance at PS1 or the New Museum than Glasslands or Zebulon.
The point is that FAQ is up to something a little more tricky and complex than your average beatmaker, even though her beats are pristine and her command of generic tropes is impressive. For evidence of complexity, look no further than GSX Remixes, released this week on UNO. Here’s what FAQ has to say: “I really liked the idea of the remix album — a polarizing, commercial format that became popular in the 90s. For me, it was a way to explore the concept of genre as a commodity further.” These remixes present the listener with an unorthodox marriage: hyperreal musical virtualities by a conceptual artist, rewired and transformed by forward-thinking producers of largely non-conceptual electronic music.
Listen to three of the EP’s seven remixes below. Just be careful not to disappear into the infinite regress of meta-cognitive levels of commentary.
“With Out Her Hood”
I’m not the kind to wear headphones when I ride my bike. It’s dangerous to fall into the rhythm of a song when your safety depends so heavily on adapting to the rhythms of all the cars and stop lights and holes in the road. The layering of these sporadic rhythms is a soundtrack of its own — the crescendo of buildings and streets falling off into gaps of space allowing cropped pieces of noise and conversation room to play between the layers.
“With Out Her Hood” from the mysterious Sleep Fern, sounds like a field recording from the industrial-laden areas of inner southeast Portland, where only half of warehouses are still used for their intended industry purposes and the other half have been filled with artist studios and music venues. Pieces of mundane conversations breathe in and out between the waves of industrial noise and static bouncing between buildings and the soft guitars echoing out from alleyways and loading docks.
Listen to “With Out Her Hood” below, and buy the tape directly from Sleep Fern.
• Sleep Fern: http://sleepfern.blogspot.com
“A Place Where I Feel Calm”
Don’t try to ask me why this band is called 2muchachos instead of, oh, I don’t know, “Tres Friendos,” since there’s three of them. It makes even less sense given that they’re from Cherepovets, Russia. Anyway, these fellas have been doling out little gems over the past couple of years (a free EP here, a full-length CD over there, another free EP back over here, etc.), and now they have a fresh long-player on the way. Here’s a snuggly preview, a track with some chilly vocals wrapped in a blanket of intertwined guitar melodies amid a wooshy backdrop that is altogether super gorgeous (how typical, you muchachos, you):
No real release details have yet been shed by the band for the new album, but this track is also gently nestled into a lovely compilation of home-made Russian music called Be My Friend Again & Again from Russian Adults.
• 2muchachos: http://2muchachos-stuff.blogspot.com
“Ignore Dub” / “Molle”
A couple years back in a land far, far away (Canada), Constellation released an impeccable 3LP set called Musique Fragile 01, which featured full-length albums by the likes of Khôra, Nick Kuepfer, and Les Momies De Palerme. But we’ve since been spoiled by the label’s historical warfare and animal-tonguing, and so we wanted more. More albums, more sets, more everything.
And now Constellation seems to in fact be giving us everything they’ve got. Having already released several stellar albums this year (particularly Tindersticks’ The Something Rain), the Montreal label is set to release the second volume in the Musique Fragile series. And it looks SEXY. The set will be available as a digital bundle and as a limited-to-500, 180-gram vinyl box, featuring customized jackets for each record, three pull-out posters, and a screenprinted slipcover box, all hand-assembled and designed. And, of course, there’ll be music too, with albums by Pacha (percussionist/composer Pierre-Guy Blanchard, member of Black Ox Orkestar and Land of Kush), Hangedup & Tony Conrad (Hangedup is Montréal duo of Eric Craven and Gen Heistek; Tony Conrad is a god), and Kanada 70, the project of Toronto’s Craig Dunsmuir (Glissandro 70).
Check out Constellation’s mix of two tracks from Kanada 70’s entry, titled Vamp Ire. The two songs, “Ignore Dub” and “Molle,” showcase Kanada 70’s ability to go from serene, elongated stretches of atemporal drone to dissonant, fractured loops without losing aesthetic cohesion. Listen closely. This is music for the blood-sucking, for the unscrupulous extortionist, for the reanimated corpse:
Dawning the Image name as a solo affair, Scott Davis shit out deuce new tracks at the beginning of this month. Here’s the B-side track, “The Captain,” which — along with the A-side — was recorded in Scott’s home studio. And good for him, you know. Because fuuuuuuuuuuuck know’s we all just want to give up. It’s just all so fucking distant and never there. Quasi-ritual shit always making itself known and known, and nobody cares no more. Existence isn’t this or that. Existence is the word existence matched with whoever else cares about it or, or… It’s just distant. Distant in nature. Never there in reality. Constantly badgering thought. Pulled ashore by “The Captain,” he mouths to your mouth, and you mouth out water. Laying there on your side, you don’t reach out or ask for anything; you just feel like molding to the surface and staying stagnant forever.
• Images: http://www.images.bandcamp.com