The Glass Trunk
Richard Dawson severs his discordant fingerpickings from the rest and gives us the beheaded remains; the larynx, the pharynx, the lips, and
tongue of his perfect (yes, perfect) Northumberland bellow; in two parts.
We sit in the front room of a friend’s Aunt’s cottage. I’ve just filled the bird feeder and can still feel the soggy bread and seeds on my soap-sticky palms. I’m reading Chuck Klosterman’s Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Pops aloud to my friends and we’re discussingkicking a Clydesdale horse to death. The answers very quickly shift from morality to practicality.
We are utterly unprepared for adulthood and yet realize that any recognition of this fact is one of the surest signs of adulthood’s approach. Such thoughts circulate pretentiously for some time.
The sense of place in Richard Dawson’s work is almost overwhelming. It’s not just in the clear love for stories, song, and community. It’s not the folk of enclosure or conservation, but of lived, shared, enjoyed experience. It can be messy, funny, and rambling, and it is all the better for it. Live, it can border on a gloriously comedic kind of communitas; on record, it takes on the kind of intensity and situated precision that eludes even the best tour guides or maps. But this shouldn’t be folk’s purpose — bird’s eye views and static places — and The Glass Trunk knows this.
We’re passing through Berwick-Upon-Tweed towards Edinburgh and a group of elderly American tourists lean over and ask, “So, how new is Newcastle castle?”
I’m not even sure.
Hospital Productions is growing more perversely diverse, best exemplified by Silent Servant’s Negative Fascination, the ever burgeoning output of Vatican Shadow, and now Tara and Mike Connelly’s new band, Clay Rendering. From Mike’s history with Wolf Eyes, Hair Police, and Failing Lights, you would expect some noise from this new project. And from Tara’s history with The Haunting and The Pool at Metz, you would expect even more noise, as well as a heaping helping of textural subtlety. However, gentle reader, this is pure 80s industrial/rock nostalgia. This is black leather jacket, aviators on at 9 PM, impossibly cool industrial grunge with a dash of “tying this camera to a balloon is probably a bad idea, but the shot will look super cool” excess. Below is the video for their song “Nature’s Confusion” (via FACT), which cannily demonstrates that getting in on the ground floor here is an excellent plan.
The two-track Vengeance Candle EP is available now digitally (although Boomkat has it listed as “Nature S Confusion” for some reason), and the physical 12-inch will be out “this summer,” which in Hospital Productions lingo is “sometime.”
Various Artists: XXL 2013's Freshmen Class
The Mixtape (hosted by DJ Drama)
Each year, XXL taps rap’s biggest up-and-comers for their Freshmen class — essentially, the genre’s version of first-round draft picks. The first class graduated in 2008, with Lupe Fiasco the undisputed valedictorian in a roster that included the likes of Papoose, Lil Boosie, and Young Dro. Since then, XXL has successfully projected many rappers’ ascent to fame: Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and even ~Based God~ were Freshmen one year or another.
The Freshman class of 2013 is the most diverse yet, geographically and stylistically. This year, Ab-Soul and Schoolboy Q finally join the ranks of their fellow Black Hippy members and XXL alumnae, Jay Rock (Class of 2010) Kendrick Lamar (Class of 2011). Their classmates include the expected rising stars (Joey Bada$$, Trinidad James), the much-buzzed-about (Angel Haze, Chief Keef), the culinarily-blessed (Action Bronson), and more.
XXL released the official Freshman mixtape recently, and it features a collection of tracks from this year’s honorees. Collaboration is common: here, Action Bronson and Joey Bada$$ team up for “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt,” a jazzy, Chuck Stranger-produced cruiser cut; there, Travi$ Scott struts around with T.I. and 2 Chainz on the bombastic “Upper Echelon.” The solo tracks fare well, too. Angel Haze dishes up some veritable Tumblr-core with a freestyle over Purity Ring’s “Lofticries,” an out-there choice that contrasts with bangers like Trinidad James and Gucci Mane’s “No Hook” and Schoolboy Q’s “Yay Yay.”
All in all, a pretty decent set of tracks, especially if you’re not thrilled by the prospect of sifting through the imposing 55-tack Funkmaster Flex tape that dropped recently.
• XXL Magazine: http://www.xxlmag.com/
Ekin Fil is Istanbul-based multi-instrumentalist Ekin Üzeltüzenci. After the 2011 release of her arresting debut album Language — a stew of synth claustrophobia, claw-hammered guitar figures, and hushed vocal mantras — Üzeltüzenci stated in an interview with Foxy Digitalis, “I don’t think I will make another album all about electronics or I will totally abandon them.” Her self-titled album, released by San Diego-based label Students of Decay, delivers on her assertion, offering us a brightened series of compositions that fuse folk with organic ambience.
The influence of Grouper looms large here: the enveloping wall of delay, the angelic voice ‘verbed into ambiguity, the atmosphere of unease spawned by a spiraling chord structure that never seems to find a resolution. Indeed, an opening slot for Liz Harris on a bill in Istanbul in 2009 connected Üzeltüzenci with the Root Strata label and the concurrently developing ambient-folk scene on America’s west coast. But Üzeltüzenci’s cavernous stereophonic mix contains a tad more detail and tonal fidelity than many of Harris’s willfully desaturated compositions.
“Anything Anywhere” finds synth lines and electric guitar chords intermingling behind a curtain of gentle feedback drift. Üzeltüzenci layers vocal harmonies over breathy melodic phrases as layers of static build around the edges of the mix. By the end, only the vocals remain, lulling us into a heavenly stupor.
Ekin Fil is up for preorder. It ships May 14.
EGYPTIAN SPORTS NETWORK
As the planets align, framed by a bent arm, stars swell and surround the setting sun, and windsurfing at dusk becomes a thing of the now, here on EGYPTIAN SPORTS NETWORK. Catching the rip and pulling the slalom board, Rider ONE casts a deeply gazed shadow onto our cameras, baring likeness to the levitation activity reported being seen on the eastern mountains earlier this week. Yet, today we trek on into the sea activity, catching that natural path of tidal current, while mist is blown in a breeze, likely moistening attendees’ shades, and — no doubt -— speckling rainbows in their view. Today’s rides are truly visions in reality.
On the thrones, we see the transcendent form of Charles Berlitz, at his realest Matthew Mondanile, and laughing as always Christine Amanpour. Pensive in the moment, yet joyous after every wave run, the three judges throw up their scores in hand gestures. *hang loose* *double peace fingers* *thumbs always up* *mashed potato* *raising the roof* *gotta smoke* Sometimes they just point and smile. Catch it now on EGYPTIAN SPORTS NETWORK: “INTERSTITIAL LUXOR.” When you thought everything was right there; reaching out and gripping the 45 encapsulates your imagination, beyond.
“In Search of the Miraculous”
Guitarist/composer/loop god Mark McGuire has released enough music alone and in collaboration since the mid aughts to fill a whole shelf of your collection, but we haven’t had a proper solo album from him since 2011’s Get Lost. In the wake of Emeralds’ last album and subsequent dissolution, McGuire took time to flesh out his DJ Road Chief moniker, offering us remixes of Zapp and Dawn Richard that served as compelling looks into his soul/R&B fixations and developing studio practices. With upcoming full-length album Along the Way, it seems like McG fans can expect material more in line with his deep canon of guitar-driven work — though with some notable additions. Synths and electronic beats popped up in the little heralded, excellent pair of EPs he self-released in late 2012 — Nightshade and Surrogate Channels — but the recently surfaced “The Instinct (Extended 12” Version)” pushed his expanded palette out of the Zone and into a dance-floor friendly territory of 80s electro/arena-rock worship. If that track exploited multi-instrumental overdubs in pursuit of a maxed-out, nocturnal euphoria, “In Search of The Miraculous” finds McGuire utilizing the same tactics in a more focused, intimate session. He coaxes a wide array of tones out of his expanded rig: a bed of chiming guitar loops, koto-like pentatonic plucks, gurgling synth sequences, and low-end pads to fill out the backdrop. McGuire has sung on record before, but his vocalizations here feel more natural than ever, owing, perhaps, to their placement in the mix as a melodic buffer behind other developing leads (catalog highlight “Dream Team” features similar vocal strategies).
McGuire’s strongest suit — aside from his infinite capacity for cosmic shreddery — has always been his attention to structure and pacing. As in his most memorable compositions, elements fall into place here in such a satisfying sequence; hear, for example, the overlapping distorted leads that hit halfway in, pushing everything up into the realm of the sublime. By the end of the track, the accumulated tones breathe together with a bright, consonant energy, and I’m left here hoping that the album sees the light of day real soon, maybe even before summer hits.