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
In spastic paced motion, Sun Araw teases you to just reach out and get a “GRIP.” Reality is awaiting your special impromptu touch. Seep into visions of the unseen, wash yourself of all sin, and fan out the gills you’ve grown to swim in the waves of thought. Relax the core breadths of all chemical fission within your mind’s eye, and follow the light you find brightest. The thickness of life eventually sheds weight, and peace will stir between the linings of your most pleasurable sphere and sit among collective matter. Entry of cells. Flotation jet pathways. Super 8 film. Flickers of what you consider a soul. Retreat back to The Inner Treaty. Find out your beginnings. Videoed through the deep eyes of Daniel Brantley. BAKE!
• Sun Araw: http://www.sunaraw.com
Some of my favorite music is the result of experimental musicians deciding to explore pop songwriting. There’s something irresistible about the combination of traditional song craft filtered through the minds of more “forward-looking” composers. This music often subverts tonality/structure while rendering the abstract accessible when framed within a new context. It’s for this reason that I constantly return to the works of Jim O’Rourke, C.S. Yeh, John Cale, Blue “Gene” Tyranny,” Julia Holter, Richard Youngs, and other like-minded artists who recognize the potential for both pop and experimental music to grow with tasteful cross-genre pollination.
In recent months, Joseph Raglani has posted several tracks to his SoundCloud that clearly show his craft moving further into a pop territory while still incorporating or acknowledging his status as a synth guru on Editions Mego. Of course, Raglani is no stranger to dabbling in pop music, given tracks like his slice of robo-pop bliss “The Exploded View” (from last year’s Real Colors of the Physical World) and the frequent song-like structures that even his most sprawling works take. However, these newer tunes have progressed into full on forays into folk/pop music. First, there was Raglani’s gloriously fractured electronics and voice take on Big Star’s “I’m in Love with a Girl,” then the Richard Youngs-esque “I Can Only See Your Face,” and then the spare folk tune “Three Days A Week.” With each one of these tracks, there’s been less and less reliance on the electronic elements that permeate the composer’s most well-known works, but there’s always been an element that’s indicative of his world in some form or another.
“Start Over” is Raglani’s self-proclaimed attempt at “a Leonard Cohen thing,” and while there’s an element of that present, the tune is more reminiscent of fellow Cohen disciple Simon Joyner’s more recent work and the similarly pop/experimental mixing Leafcutter John. At first, “Start Over” may seem like a far cry from Raglani’s electronic world, with its gorgeous multi-tracked vocals, layered violas, and looping guitar figures, but listen closely and it becomes apparent that Raglani is using these elements the same way he uses synths. The arpeggiated guitar figures could just as easily be burbling synths; the violas could take the form of lush electronic pads; and “Start Over’s” chord progression is just as modal and beautiful as the harmonic language of Raglani’s experimentally-minded works. It’s always exciting to see artists transmogrify the structural/technical aspects of their craft into something that’s stylistically new, and Raglani’s forays into the folk/pop world have whet my appetite for a full-length of this stuff.
Listen to “Start Over” here:
• Raglani: http://www.soundcloud.com/raglani
“All I Wanna Do Is Live”
What we have right here is good. Because all I really wanna do right now is hear a beat. It’s funny, because earlier my buddy was coming by and he asked what to bring, and I texted him jokingly saying I need some “beats” because I’ve been sorta-kinda starved for that shit lately. Sometimes I’ll turn on a step sequencer and let it lull me to sleep, but it’s never the same. Anyway, my phone corrected beats to “beets,” and my confused friend stopped off at the farmer’s market for me on his way. Cool guy, right? Beets aren’t exactly beats, and it’s not easy to substitute one for the other, but I was stoked either way, partly because I was trying to be accommodating.
It wasn’t until he left a little while later when I plugged in Flaamingos’ new slice “All I Wanna Do Is Live” and got a little busy, beating my hands against the couch in rhythm and stuff. Vocalist Jerry Narrows has a nice thick baritone that, in a revisitation of post-punk groups (Majical Cloudz?), helps to remove all the unnecessary fluff from their sets and leave austere bass lines and slow waves of Kubrick-level synth strings. This is a pretty good thing, and Flaamingos are doing it well, even though their band name is clearly *ahem* spelled incorrectly (who does that?).
Despite the feeling I get that Flaamingos are young and ambitious and trying to force their ambitiously drab demeanor on me, they manage to make “All I Wanna Do” a good song by texturizing it in the right places, such as at the very end, where they allow the string part to drag ever so slightly. It isn’t too busy, and it’s not too unnecessarily bleak to the point that I would rather just die than listen to a song about wanting to die. I love dark, depressing music a little more than most, but it’s important for people to realize that getting carried away with the drab-ness can wear a song thin, to the point where it’s possible to see straight through it. Narrows and guitarist Daniel Koontz, however, have made me excited to hear their upcoming album, which is out August 27 on Felte. And kudos for “wanna” becoming a real word now. Like “thru” in all those Spiderman comics.
EGYPTIAN SPORTS NETWORK
Holy moly! This “NECROPOLIS HIGHLIGHTS” by EGYPTIAN SPORTS NETWORK (Charles Berlitz & Matt Mondanile) just bugged out my dog hardcore. Here I am, thinking about what to write, something maybe about the boys wind-surfing to and playing squash to, but these high-frequency beeps in the track got my dog thinking there was an intruder at the front door. Or some extra terrestrial life tryna beam us both off our couch and into another-other. All jood, doh. Was talking to Charles Berlitz awhile back about putting on Lieven’s Canto Arquipélago for my pup while I went to bed. His reaction: “Whoa, dog thoughts!” <3
Anyhow, the Pacific City Sound Visions site is in FULL effect, with loads of back stock on old Monopoly Child and Vodka Soap releases, as well as a hefty travel section and an “Also Available” section, bringing that harden mystery into the mind of Clark (who?) himself! Meanwhile, Matt Mondanile’s New Images remains pretty much thriving on its standard set of releases, which is just as chill because Girlseeker and TOMUTONTTU and PC Worship are MAXX jammers.
Scope “NECROPOLIS HIGHLIGHTS” by EGYPTIAN SPORTS NETWORK on their new 45 INTERSTITIAL LUXOR immediately on New Images or Pacific City Sound Visions. Feel the future of you!