Called to Leave
No Kings: the name of the label itself signifies quality. From Lee Noble and Motion Sickness of Time Travel to Dan Svizeny and Secret Birds, No Kings’ lo-fi, half-reclaimed National Geographic/half-deco artwork and aesthetics of longing and happiness found in dark, sketchy places provide many a beautiful piece of tape.
Stephen Molyneux is no exception. His folk ballads are visceral and tactile, aided in part by the stark recording conditions (a single microphone, according to the website). On Side A, Molyneux squeezes seven songs into 11 minutes. Saving no breath, he allows the steady strum of his guitar to dictate the pace by which the tape progresses. His voice, the only other instrument present (for a while), mesmerizes with its unapologetic imperfections and boldly audible lyrics. Pairing folk images of ghosts, mountains, gold mines, legendary characters, and fruitless journeys, Molyneux is charming and engaging in his vocal delivery.
When “Of Ghosts” appears at the end of Side A, it signals — via time-tortured organ chords — the transition from the oddly jubilant air of discovery to the cold reflection on death of Side B. Here, the tape hiss threatens to overwhelm Molyneux’s singing, which is reduced to barely a gasp in a silent attic. Just as the rivers of Tennessee provides life and sunlight — birds, delicate beauty — straying far from it can lead to wasteland. There is recovery from the darkness in “Of Labor,” which is perhaps a darkly tongue-in-cheek eulogy to the hopelessness of rural poverty, where work and toil are only ever substituted by sleep.
Layers upon layers upon layers upon layers upon layers. Our memories, our emotions, our neuroses are just layers upon layers. Nothing is black or white. To me at least, there always seems to be an ethereal filter or psychedelic effect turned way up on the amplifier of life. [Almost] all music is made of layers upon layers. A gentle voice rests upon an expansive rolling lawn of reverberating guitar ramblings. The subtle echo begins to grow, swallowing up the sustained airy vocals, creating a comfortable bed (which has many layers itself) of ambient undertones.
This is what is going on with White Poppy’s upcoming release Drifter’s Gold: layers upon layers. It’s certainly what is going on with the visual accompaniment for “Daydreaming,” a track off the cassette that’s due July 2 on Constellation Tatsu. The video features layers upon layers of color-soaked footage of foliage and wilderness, serving as the backdrop for Crystal Dorval (the solitary creator behind White Poppy) and her heavenly voice to fade in and out, but never quite disappear — just like on the record.
The Drifter’s Gold cassette released by Constellation Tatsu next week is in anticipation of a full-length self-titled LP to be released by Not Not Fun in August. Exciting!
Oneohtrix Point Never
“Still Life” [excerpt]
The video for Oneohtrix Point Never’s “Still Life” in many ways mirrors the aesthetic that Daniel Lopatin employed on his new album, R Plus Seven. Like the video, the album is implicitly structured, but there is no cohesion, no resolution. Instead, the music suggests form, but rarely commits to any clear shape, often leaving tracks in a suspended, disembodied state while still relying on semiotic convention for tone. The resulting moods, then, feel disconnected yet assuring, synthetic yet transcendent. And on “Still Life” — one of the darker tracks on the album — we get an eerie desolation, a state that’s underscored in Nate Boyce’s fantastic video by the confrontation between a futurist sublime and the rooted aetheticization of branding, the liquidity of its imagery offset by a fetishistic, staid consumerism. And keep in mind this is just an excerpt! (The original track length is 4:55, and it doesn’t actually start in this video until 1:13.)
Oneohtrix Point Never’s R Plus Seven is out October 1 on Warp.
Dismembered Cattle Fireworks
All God’s Children are Terrible
As grindcore songs are often shorter than the :02 silence that typically separates tracks on a CD, grindcore albums are often made or broken by their sequencing. Sometimes the tracks are so short they sound like fragments of a larger movement, to the point where, done correctly, an entire grindcore album plays like one violenty spastic song. Recognizing this, the most astute grinders assemble their works accordingly, sequencing songs not only by length and sonic buildup, but also by title and theme. Case in point: All God’s Children are Terrible by Dismembered Cattle Fireworks, one of the latest from Grindcore Karaoke.
This 40-song assault clocks in at 15:16. Its longest tracks run 1:37 and 1:35, its shortest 0:01 and less than 0:01 (Bandcamp lists track 11 as 0:00). Thus, it actually takes longer to say the title of the shortest song, “Churches are the real faggots,” than it does to listen to said song. Expectedly, churches are targeted again on songs 23 and 24, “I was going to burn down a church (but then I got high)” and “I got drunk and now that church is on fire,” and once more with the album’s final sequence of holy book burners, but they are not the only victims of DCF’s wrath; others include PETA, Dave Mustaine, Varg Vikirnes, and just about every other human being living or deceased. All this is accomplished in less than 16 minutes by parsing the album into 7 mini-movements, each bookended by a harsh noise interlude or “CULL” playfully titled by the subject at hand, be it “Religion” or “Humanity” or “Food.”
Stream All God’s Children are Terrible below or buy it on cassette for $3 from Neural Discord Recordings.
• Neural Discord Recordings: http://www.neuraldiscordrecordings.com
Has there ever been a pop band with the word mountain in its name? The word always implies something bigger. On Strange Mountain’s Slow Midnight, you don’t hear the recording techniques or the studio in the music: you hear something else entirely, and it’s the size of the universe. And as such, no individual sound can be grounded or minimized into something our brain interprets as an instrument or note or melody. These soundscapes are all movement without time. And by the end of these five tracks, you will have been both everywhere else and exactly where you started.
Slow Midnight is out now on Chicago’s always excellent Lillerne Tapes.
“Felony / Stalker 7”
What a weiiiiird state of music here. Not only is a pal of mine going through exactly what Dean Blunt is singing about on “Felony,” but it’s deep on an enjoyment level. I think I listened to the first minute of “Felony” three times before hearing the rest of the song. Dean just gets his money hard. Stares straight in the eyes without making a move and you bleeding. The music and video both reach out and grab you by the face, eyes, and ears. Look what you’ve done to him. Facing the opposite direction of a blind turn while walking backward: reckless. Dark hat, shirt, pants, shoes… taped up bumper. The fellah rides low-light. Lays it out raw. Keep doing this to him. His music is kind of needed in a lot of people’s lives. I also heard from no reliable source at all that James Ferraro shot this video. Oh, and “Stalker 7” is the narration of my life following Dean Blunt’s works. It’s the picture of this post. The lingering Nike or Livestrong slogans. This man IS a mission. Visions striping his eyes. Fury bubbling/sizzling cross his brain. This is Dean Blunt.
• Dean Blunt: http://www.youtube.com/user/pollyjacobsen