There’s something very disconcerting about field recordings turned into drone music, as if some serious lurking darkness is underneath everything. It’s like when the camera pans down through all of the dirt and bugs underneath the perfectly-kept grass of the Beaumont’s front yard at the beginning of Blue Velvet. Whatever™’s down there; it’s really slow-moving. It could be all around us, drowning us alive, before we even notice it’s there.
Whatever™’s No Au! is out soon on Exo Tapes.
• Exo Tapes: http://exotapes.tumblr.com
Last we heard from Kyle Field, front man of Little Wings, visual artist, and expert surfer, was on 2011’s Black Grass. Since then, Field spent most of his time either traveling or in the Bay Area, working periodically on a batch of songs that would eventually become his latest album, LAST. It was in the middle of recording when Field reportedly fell into a deep depression, an unexpected personal turn that has resulted in a work with a much darker side than anticipated.
“Bonus Fog” must have been written during this period. The track marries Field’s austere folk with a dragging hopelessness that’s equal parts devastating and sublime. Here, the protagonists of the story are stranded, trapped on an increasingly smaller area of land as they witness the world around them getting swallowed by the tide and blown away by the wind. The feelings evoked are anything but optimistic, with foundational truths uprooted and human impressions rendered obsolete by nature: “Another dusting of the lens through which we’ll try to make out any movement, any finger from the air to shake/ Tracing our outlines on the sand some wind will take again/ The dampest footprints melt back into what they were back then.” Throughout, Field is lethargically strumming on a nylon, verse after verse, not so much telling a story as revealing an unfortunate ending to a much larger one.
“Bonus Fog” is a reminder of how our emotions can be all-consuming from an individual vantage yet entirely transient in the face of larger forces, good or bad. Sure, it’s a bleak outlook (one that’s tempered elsewhere on the album), but it’s executed in utterly gorgeous fashion.
LAST is out February 5 on Field’s own RAD imprint, with distribution by Marriage Records.
• Kyle Field: http://www.kyledraws.com
• Rad: http://www.marriagerecs.com/shop2/524/_rad-distro_
• Marriage: http://www.marriagerecs.com
Water on Mars [album trailer]
Sonically and stylistically, Philadelphia’s Purling Hiss can be best be described as Dinosaur Jr.’s grumpy older brother: laid-back, but not afraid to punch you in the face if you try anything stupid. Their new record, Water on Mars, comes out March 19 on Drag City, and in anticipation, the band has unveiled a new album trailer, slamming together cuts from the album in a dizzying kind of promotional mash-up set to washed-out TV visuals. The samples of each song are short — 10 seconds or less — but put together, they encapsulate the sound of Water on Mars’ garage rock deep-fried in trippy goodness. Drag City warns viewers that this clip will “open a gateway of sorts from your cerebral noggin to an atmosphere removed of oxygen and air as we know it.” You’ve been warned.
LiL ≏ JaBBA
“CooL BReeZE. (SNiP)”
It’s 134mph down Interstate 5, flinging shopping bags out the window filled with feathers, and mayhem on the roadway returns in furious fashion. The skyline is greenish, a blue plume of smoke rises out flared nostrils, and grand theft auto becomes a purple Skyline. Being chased, or maybe not, but the backseat can’t complain: cooler full of money and jewelry, hostage/babe feeling the rush, and fine, dried, and massaged oiled leather interior. “Fuck it. Fuck it, nah. Fuck it. Here,” and the babe in the backseat takes the phone. Mmm, that “CooL BReeZE. (SNiP)” to: her yelling ‘bout the silhouette of all the buildings against the mixture of color, and wait — she can’t describe the color. Malicious laughter swells the Skyline as the windows are rolled up, and exhaled blue swirls smother the interior. This can be a life, yeah, “We can roll like this forever, darling.” Eye contact is made through the review mirror. Her yells become squelched momentarily, and-and she starts choking on smoke. Feet continuously fluctuating between break and accelerate, the highway is flooded, she passed out and is drooling on the cooler, and your 3D-glazed eyes won’t never pull over. Forever, working them feet. TeK LiFE criming.
Rhythm & Blues No. 2 [EP]
St. Louis’ Ou Où has been known to dabble in its share of dribbly rhythm, and their music has always kind of hung around a “blue” sort of tone. So it’s curious that there’s little of either of those attributes to be found on these “Rhythm & Blues” ambient releases they’ve been pushing through their Bandcamp page. This is the second of the series (the first coming out this past April, currently offered as a name-your-price download) and is yet another beat-less and warmly optimistic swathe of streaky synths. Bright and beaming rays of sound, the perfect thing on a cold January day when the freezing air nips at the brittle crust of your skin while a high and blinding sun can seem to heat your body from the inside out. You can almost see your breath in this music, wafting out alongside these gentle pulses of volume.
P.S. If you’re trying to figure out how to pronounce the band’s name properly, this video may or may not be helpful.
• Ou Où: http://ouou.bandcamp.com
One of the things that makes Monomakh stand out is his carnivorous flair for crafting remarkably involved and absorbing material before wrenching it through the lowest possible grade equipment he can get his hands on. At least that is what it sounds like on his latest abomination, Triptych. Through degrading the audio quality, it appears as though a perpetual loathing for any creative output is integral to the congenital artistic process; the final construct is required to undergo a state of self sabotage before being released into the public domain.
Indeed, Triptych is the second free release to come from Adelaide’s finest blackened death metal solo act in as little as four months. As with previous bombardments, any feasible detriment caused by external forces stands no threat of impinging on the artist’s innovative bent, for this sickening thrash of blood curdling noise is what made his debut, MMXII, such a barbed and challenging listen. Cale Schmidt, the man responsible for these malevolent undertakings, utilizes his apparently inoperative gear in applying a coarse and resilient texture to his music; the percussion is just as precise as the carefully crafted guitar riffs and gnashing vocals, but each track feels like it was recorded through a battered mic in a darkened corridor, with the musician thrashing these jams out in a boarded up apartment somewhere down the hall.
Whatever the procedure, both albums make for grand examples of what the metal underground has to offer right now and are well worth picking up, if you are into that sort of thing. MMXII and Tryptych are both available for free download at the Monomakh Bandcamp.
• Monomakh: http://monomakh.bandcamp.com