Yesterday was a great day for mixtapes. First, 18+ released their incredible third release, MIXTAP3, and then Susan Balmar, expert beat-/noise-/drone-maker, released his umpteenth mixtape/mini-album/.zip/whatever-the-fuck. While it’s never been 100% clear to me exactly the rationale behind Perry Trollope’s many monikers, his Susan Balmar pseudonym has been sticking as of late, with his CCG release having come out under the name late last year and now PALCNA, which is undoubtedly his strongest statement and most engaging release to date.
One could trace the songs back to other monikers — “cmcl / bail” sounds like Warm Thighs, “psl” like 0000-A70U-0075, etc. — but the continuities between the projects exist in such a way that formal distinctions, including genre ones, ultimately feel superficial and besides the point. The metallic soundscrapes; the stuttering, muffled beats; the idiosyncratic appropriations; the warm yet distanced harmonies; the cartoonish beat drops — they’re all here, and they all coexist in a wonderful, hazy stew of warped melodies, wavering beats, and a luminescent core that’s continually shrouded in hiss/noise/effects. In fact, not a moment goes by when clarity and production are not being paradoxically undermined by Susan Balmar’s modus operandi, which is to heavily process, then to awkwardly regurgitate, where beats are left to fend for themselves and textural remnants from the procedure come out completely and utterly scathed. Add the relatively seamless flow and at times collage-style execution, and PALCNA makes for a particularly compelling experience, one that feels less transitory, less sketch-like than his previous releases. Check it out here:
Meanwhile, look for Susan Balmar’s split with the mighty LAMPGOD coming soon on up-and-coming label Bootleg Tapes. And if you haven’t already heard his stunning guest mix for TMT, GLUED TO WALL AS HEAD, TAR BODIES IN AFTERLIFE, I suggest you do so now.
Amount to the hyphy of a language that doesn’t exist. Cane on the glass splinters into bare feet streaming a rush of blood toward destiny. Slip into the soul of dimensional aura and never ask for a second try. To lose is of a variety of openings seeping from color to brownish tinted yellow-mint. Violence acts out via staircase, bouncing a head on each step while spiraling to the floor. The nature of sound is nothing unless it uses a sidestep to that grind-ass beat: dick to crack to pushpin. He hisses, “Tite, yo. HhhaHhhaHhha, t’ss.” Stir the blisslessness. Continue feeding on. All. The. Right. Parts.
Melting stresses the divine presence of being. Art pretenses the creator of nothing. Nihilism whistles a similar song across the ninth floor hanging by its neck. Not pretending to be is the only way out. Sniffing into the oblivion of yayo. Dreams are a choice nobody becomes. Welcome to the dead zone of endless dismay. Color fleets as there is no vision to behold its birth. Tasting the decay of ancient skin curses the body of all nourishment. A punctured infant stomach. Falling from the bathroom window. The intestine hooked upon the exit. Length vs. distance: bur’ddur’werr’ddurSNAP *pop*.
The mystique of 18+ is impalpable. New MIXTAP3 (DOWNLOAD THIS, DUMMY!!!!!!) of theirs just dropped and will inevitably list under my top five releases for 2013.
Out of all the more academic experimental composers that I love, I often find it the hardest to talk about Eliane Radigue’s music. Works like hers are deceptively simple yet so gutturally affecting that it’s often hard to put into words why her music is incredibly powerful. Sure, there’s something to be said about the psychoacoustic nature of her sounds and the Buddhist philosophy that drives much of her composition, but ultimately, the spare beauty of her work and use of time is what’s truly remarkable. Radigue is fascinated with the worlds of sonority that each one of her drones create; as a result, her compositions are often monolithic in scope. There’s no way to truly experience her work, then, without completely submitting to the composition at hand. It’s only through experiencing and losing yourself in her compositions that one can even begin to grasp the hidden complexity and beauty of Radigue’s sounds.
Adnos is one of Radigue’s most epic compositions in scale. The recently reissued record features three discs that total more than three and a half hours collectively. That might seem intense to some listeners, but it’s absolutely worth it. Radigue’s work can seem simple at first, but each one of these pieces manages to go a number of places without feeling like they’ve actually gone anywhere at all. This constant ebb and flow of movement within stasis is unbelievably moving, so much so, that when Radigue shifts something just minutely within a slightly faster period of time, it feels like the grandest crescendo imaginable. At this point, I never want to fully understand how Radigue’s work unfurls; I just want to revel in the beautiful and subtly ever-changing drones she produces.
Adnos is available now via Important Records. You can watch a trailer with an excerpt of the record above.
Chin Music, the debut EP from 27-year-old Long Island-based multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Andy Koufax is aptly titled because that’s where it hits you — right in that pretty little dimple of yours. And as you lie face down beside the plate, which up until a few seconds ago you so arrogantly and misguidedly considered your own, the starting pitcher is summarily ejected for his wanton disregard for human life, but he at least can hold his head high, knowing that the purposeful statement he intended to make has indeed left its mark, if only on one fractured jawbone.
An exercise in exorcism (of both personal demons and artistic inhibitions), Chin Music eschews giving a fuck about subtlety and sensitivity in favor of just plain going for it. Hence, we get Marvin Gaye and John Coltrane namedrops (on “Luna Melt”), extended Street Fighter metaphors about the protagonist’s love life (on “Unbelievable”), and a requiem named after the performer himself (“Andy”) followed by a stadium anthem cheerfully named for a local roller rink (“United Skates”), but written with all the lingering despair and succinct brutality of a Herzog film.
All of this, plus Koufax’s lush Logic-based production comprised of multilayered MIDI arrangements and equally ambitious instrumentation, is glued together by the mixing and mastering of maestro Willie Green, who is perhaps best known to us New Yorkers as go-to engineer for billy woods and executive producer of his magnum opus History Will Absolve Me. Also a talented drummer and beatmaker in his own right, Green, it would appear, was just the man to bring out the fullness and detail of these complex compositions, even down to their most minor minutiae.
Last week, Hall-of-Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax’s former team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, were rather ungracefully eliminated in Game 6 of the NLCS, a series in which some retaliatory chin music probably would’ve been warranted considering that Cardinals pitcher Joe Kelly fractured Dodgers star shortstop Hanley Ramirez’s rib with an inside fastball in Game 1.
That ship has sailed, but Tiny Mix Tapes is nonetheless delighted to premiere Andy Koufax’s own brand of Chin Music just in time for the Fall Classic. Batter up, bitches.
Like many other Holodeck releases, SSLEEPERHOLD’s Ruleth LP needs roughly three measures of playback to begin conjuring mental images of the approaching era when robots have taken over our society and routinely force us with gleaming chest panels and syringe-like appendages to carry out all the tasks we once gave them before the robopocalypse. José Cota’s solo sessions stretch out as swathes of engorged synth tones clashing with oscillator noise and cassette collage, all laid out atop a drum machine stomp, with just enough reverb on the bass drum to find that early industrial sweet spot on your cortex grid and prod it incessantly.
If you were expecting some kind of resolution to your stroll through the Conquered Lands after the robot uprising, you’re not gonna get it. Maybe you’ll find an undented can of Progresso among the ruins of a nice single-family home caught less than 40 kilometers from the blast radius, but it’ll be a small victory compared to the miles of post-urban ashscape you have left. As Cota’s tracks grind on, synth melodies manifest and pile together into bleeping counterpoint structures reminiscent of Wendy Carlos’s sorcery — a connection fully soldered into its titanium chassis by track titles like “Timeghosts” and “Dreamwaves.” But SSLEEPERHOLD’s grim restraint, the stoic pace at which new elements hit the mix, allows us enough time to revel in each analog drum or synth tone, with the kind of unbridled admiration that our electronic overlords can only dream/calculate of glimpsing in our fleshy little eyeballs. (“Will they ever love us, as we once loved them?” the RoboMonarch wonders aloud, gazing out upon the charred husk of a public garden.)
Find some comfort in the fact that even in the dystopian absence of telecommunications networks, intercontinental fiber-optics tunnels, and any reliable correspondence with other groups of human beings outside of your eyeshot, you still might one day happen upon a basement chamber in which SSLEEPERHOLD has plugged a 909 and a Walkman into an ethanol-powered generator and is still pounding out the jams for a semicircle of exhausted rebel commandos at a volume low enough to not bleed through to the surface.
• Holodeck Records: http://holodeckrecords.com
No, silly, not the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio or the Slavonic and East European Review; Seers are a nihilistic noise band. Ushered in by a ruthlessly elongated school bell, Pete Swanson and Gerritt Wittmer play with big slabs of noise (and the occasional hint of redemption) across these 12 minutes. Yet, this is merely an introduction to what is to become a collaborative beast in December on Wittmer’s Misanthropic Agenda. As per usual, it will be mastered by the most suspiciously prolific man in the prolific field of prolific electroacoustic composition: Giuseppe Ielasi.
• Misanthropic Agenda: http://www.misanthropicagenda.com