Like the trippy composite on the sleeve of her Weird Universe LP, the music of Unicorn Hard-On’s got layers, buds, all of ‘em technicolor and dripping with detail: sky view, color field, the figure of a human female, dimensional folds. Each listen to a Valerie Martino session reveals 13% more striking elements than previously observed — another pocket of hi-fi synth bursts off in the left channel, another rhythm pounded out with deliberation between the pulses of the bass drum, another arpeggio conjured from nowhere and squeezed in alongside squalling siblings. Martino knows her way around a table crammed to capacity with Korgs. Three generations of Electribes (we’re talkin’ ER-1, EA-1, ESX-1) share beat duties and blanket the grid with enough input to sufficiently stimulate any number of hard-to-please mythological beasts, much less us.
I hear “Wet Pet” and right quick I think of the soundtrack for the Super Nintendo game Earthbound, all overlapping rhythms and squelchy leads and harmonically consonant good time vibes — but only because, after continual exposure back then, video game music supersedes all other touchstones in my brain. That arpeggio from 0:33 to 0:47, for example, screams “Jenova Theme” until it slips back into the rainbow goop. But that’s just me; I’m a geek. Look, e.g., at that semicolon. Choose your own lens, y’all: underground noise, Detroit techno, drone, contemporary synth composition. All of them lurk somewhere in here (and, like, kinda everywhere?), but it doesn’t matter when the beats hit and the synth voices heat up and start to fry. Quoth Martino: “What people used to call noise — now they call it the ‘experimental underground.’ At this point, I don’t even know what to call the scene or my music; I just want to make sounds that are beautiful and weird.” Word. You def got there, U H-O.
Weird Universe drops September 30 via Midwest America’s most reliable wormhole to the cosmos, Spectrum Spools. You can preorder the LP from the eMego site now.
New Camp Records could literally be a tongue-in-cheek reference to the music they release, considering they just put out a tape of choral loops by the amusing project Eola. Eola is just like any other rock & roll band, except none of the members ever learned how to play instruments, and they all wanted to be frontmen, so they all sing. That last line was purely speculation (a.k.a. I’m lying), because it’s just one guy. His name is Edwin Mathias White. I couldn’t find much information about Eola on the internet, except that they might be affiliated with Tonstartssbandht, a Florida band that recently both toured Russia and did a split cassette with Dirty Beaches.
Eola’s music is soaked in a blanket of vinyl warmth and reverb, applied liberally and in wide, sweeping strokes, like a bathtub full of honey. At times, it sounded like I was listening to a soundtrack for a flick that is all shots of horses trotting in the Alps, saturated with Swiss politics, the Russian national anthem, a grouping of solemn dwarves, Gregorian chants, and Fleet Foxes. Despite its reel-to-reel fidelity, Eola is not campy. Rather, it is full of wonder and spirit, like a silent film. Bold, gorgeous, and expressive. Listen below, and grip a tape today via New Camp Records.
“We’ve been and heard so much — what have we learned?
Not for one moment has the self been spurned;
Fools gather round and hinder our release.
When will their stale, insistent whining cease?
We have no freedom to achieve our goal
Until from Self and fools we free the soul.”
– فرید الدین عطار, The Conference of the Birds
I had to take my shirt off to preview this shit.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO TALK ABOUT DEATH GRIPS IN LOWERCASE?
I remembered some girl at some punk show 10 years ago telling me my “skin smelled like Clearasil;” it still stung.
BUT WHO WOULD GIVE A FUCK ABOUT THAT?
I thought about the shards of Zach Hill’s dismembered drum kit still doing the rounds on Twitter and how, with anger at Death Grips’ apparently premeditated no-shows in Chicago and Boston still palpable (not to mention publicity-fueling), now does seem a good time to unexpectedly drop a new tune.
BUT THEY DON’T THINK LIKE THAT?
I remembered that DG have never been a band to build a fanbase through conciliation or positive vibes. The Fourth Wall is always too strong for that, and these guys break it without even being in the room. The birds in Farid ud-Din Attar’s Persian epic” may find themselves, a group on pilgrimage, reflected where they had once hoped to see God; but Death Grip’s fans are given an empty stage, no matter how hard they want them.
AND IT’S HARD.
“BEST DEATH GRIPS SONG SO FAR GOD DAMN I HAVENT BEEN THIS FUCKING NOIDED SINCE THE MONEY STORE RELEASE SHITT”
– “Birds” YouTube Comments, Thursday 22nd August 2013
• Death Grips: http://thirdworlds.net
Within this dome shall the ethereal take shape. Such as imagination. Such as the creation. Of what creation can the imagination form? Focus now and mentally encapsulate all memories at once. Witness life again and again. Follow the play-by-play of everything that beholds humanity as a transformed state of being. Fading in and out of moments in time, something imagined in the past comes to fruition and the shock of memory lapse, while momentum rattles the memories you once had. As if this dome were the dream-maker of reality, one could walk in a hobo and come out a millionaire. The theory goes that if you swat a fly after traveling back in time, that kill could potentially have a huge effect on what could have happened. So does the misinterpreted thoughts within this dome, but only of thought, cause, c’mon, time travel? Nahh! But this dome, right? One “Stray” memory can lead all creativity into excreting itself in front of you, pounding the side of this dome with your fists, curing its visions for showing you the Earn you’re placed in upon your inevitable demise.
On the real, outside of that dome are 300 copies of Earn’s new record Hell On Earth on which the track “Stay” is featured. Vinyl is white, and you can grip a copy through Bathetic Records.
In St. Cuthbert’s Time [excerpt]
It may seem odd to say that field recordists have a distinctive style, but it’s undeniable that they do. A lot of this has to do with the implicit intentionality of each composer and recordist’s work and how they approach editing their unaffected natural sounds into a streamlined listening experience. This is an issue that Will Montgomery addresses in his essay “Beyond The Soundscape,” in which he sets out to note the different approaches that various phonographers use and how these techniques ultimately create a particular aesthetic. For instance, there’s Toshiya Tsunoda, whose work tends to focus on the sonic properties and literal vibrations of objects in nature, whose work sounds markedly different from the psychoacoustic field recording explorations of Jakob Kirkegaard.
And then there’s Chris Watson, whom Montgomery argues is concerned with creating narrative through unfiltered recordings. The concept of narrative is indeed important when looking at Watson’s work as a whole, and his latest album In St. Cuthbert’s Time is no exception. Much has been made about the conceptual narrative behind In St. Cuthbert’s Time, which is Watson’s attempt to recreate the soundworld of St. Cuthbert in 700 A.D. However, what hasn’t been discussed nearly enough in most reviews of Watson’s work (including In St. Cuthbert’s Time) are the sounds of the work itself. While the narrative underpinnings of the phonographer’s work are indeed fascinating, the outstanding qualities of Watson’s recordings and his ability to make listeners experience even the most obvious sound source in new ways is a feat worth discussing.
In St. Cuthbert’s Time consists primarily of various birdsongs intermingled with gentle oceanic tracks, and while these two sound sources may seem like the most rote of field recordings, Watson manages to make them seem consistently interesting and new throughout the course of the record. On the track “Winter,” various bird songs create a slightly cacophonous counterpoint that could almost pass for granulated or processed sound, while “Lechten” captures an amazing song-like call and response between creatures. Of course, Watson’s perfectionist recording methods are a large contributing factor to the three-dimensional sounds presented here, but the sheer length of the tracks on the record also serves to defamiliarize them from the listener’s normal associations and experience them from a sheer sonic level. In St. Cuthbert’s Time, like all of Watson’s work, is immersive and hypnotic, and it’s through this aural detail that the world of St. Cuthbert is created. Even when removed from its concept, Watson’s recordings create a tangible environment and are worth hearing for their ability to re-contextualize sound alone.
In St. Cuthbert’s Time is now available via Touch. You can listen to an excerpt of the record courtesy of Experimedia below:
Music For Keyboards Vol. IV: “Blackout”
Last year, Montreal-based artist Chris d’Eon released not only his second full-length, LP, but also three installments of Music For Keyboards series. Today, he drops the fourth, courtesy of Hippos In Tanks. Titled “Blackout,” the release is another “exercise in tonal relationships,” music for “when electronic sounds will only be imagined and not heard.” Like the others in the series, d’Eon intends for the installment to be written and released without the cultural influences that come with the typical 21st-century cross-promotional, ad-centric music-releasing process, an attitude that, yes, is ultimately shaped and defined by these very forces, but one that at least attempts a “market”-free approach to an otherwise sticky web of monetizing networks.
Download Music For Keyboards Vol. IV: “Blackout” here and stream it here: