Chocolate Grinder Mix 97
House of Leaves
As the epigraph of his labyrinthine masterpiece, House of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski invokes Beethoven’s Muß es sein? And, Es muß sein! responds House’s compelling four to the floor beat. Yet at the same time, house was initially, and remains for some in spirit, a melancholy place, one which, for the queer dancefloors of the late 70s and 80s, was a space of safety and display in a hostile world, while at the same time containing, in its echoes and sensual whispers, precisely the knowledge that the world is dangerous and unwelcoming.
The very existence of such a space proclaims this, and thus undoes itself; a teetering tension between celebration always already ending yet insistently refusing to be silenced, and an impermanence based on being hatred’s object no less than being a being bound to time’s arrow – a tension which is the essence of melancholy. House is haunted: a queerly haunted doll’s house. Presently, it’s haunted not only by this foundational-yet-crumbling constitution, but also by its temporal distance from its origin, and by the memories it conjures of a time before and during the AIDS crisis.
So the house we hear today is doubly cracked – the infinitely time-stretched fall of the House of Usher. This uncanny (lit. unhomely) house breathes heavily in the dark, reaching across time and space: “God God – whose hand was I holding?”
Yet in every haunting there is not only fracturing and fear, but sadness, a lingering gone-ness, an unresolution. If Danielewski’s novel was a house of leaves – one in which the semi-hypnotized subject is bound to go deeper and deeper into the echoing unknown, the space beneath – we have here a house of beats, a promiscuous mingling of the exhibitionist public and the sentimental private in the service of unfulfillable desire. From Octo Octa to DJ Sprinkles and – our destination – beyond, it’s been a lucky (20)13. Allow me the pleasure of telling you a story, one in which we poke around corners of this edifice overgrown and sun-dappled, forlorn and sublime.
“The house is history and history is uninhabited” – Zampano
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[00:00] Ejeca – “Akrobat”
[05:17] Orson Wells – “Jungle Warrior”
[10:48] Fort Romeau – “Jetée”
[16:14] Tar Feather – “Gravel”
[21:23] John Grant – “Black Belt”
[22:19] Les Level – “Fever Baby”
[27:18] Xosar – “Gone Is Yesterday”
“Watch over Stillness - Matters Principle” (excerpt)
Reaching the stratum of contemporary experimental music occupied by the likes of Stephen O’Malley (Sunn O))), etc.) and Mika Vainio (Pan Sonic, etc.) — call it, say, the Tier of Champions — requires years of deep focus: guiding principles and philosophies long since hammered out; gear known backwards and forwards; a catalog of classic albums under the belt, each a labor of tonal and structural dedication; a network of trusted musicians, engineers, producers, label humans, and booking agents making parallel efforts. Having climbed that mountain and constructed their bone-encrusted thrones at the peak, O’Malley and Vainio live as legends of extreme music because they can’t help but sound like themselves on every record. We know their sonic signatures by heart — the towering walls of guitar-derived drone, the noise-spattered drum machine rhythms — and have followed them for years with our fists in the air, galvanized by every tone that bruises our eardrums and reshapes our perceptions. We don’t want them to change, as if that’s even an option at this point. But to collaborate? Yeah, we want that.
O’Malley and Vainio finish off a solid 2013 (see Exhibits A, B, C, D, E) with Through A Pre-Memory, a 2xLP of duo recordings as ÄÄNIPÄÄ, which might be the Finnish word for the playback head on a tape machine. Preview one of the album’s four mammoth side-length sessions, “Watch over Stillness - Matters Principle,” below, and revel in the tones you’ve come to expect from these masters. O’Malley’s ‘verb-drenched guitar wails between iterations of a pure sludge chord progression. Vainio’s muffled analog thuds and electronic noise creep and swell through the mix. When I first heard this, I wondered “Which one of them is vocalizing? Who’s pulling off that Alan Dubin rasp?” Turns out… it’s Dubin himself (!!), he who demands silence while he strips bone, lending additional dissociative terror to the occasion.
Through A Pre-Memory is available to order now from Editions Mego. The album’s extended pieces evolve through a number of movements and atmospheres, so a sample snippet can only tease at the depth of the full sessions — but you can scope out more preview material at Experimedia.
Perfection should by default be considered something suspicious, and that’s mostly because it simply doesn’t exist. This Thursday morning at my office, for example. Sure, it may seem just fine from an outsider’s perspective (that’s you, dear Chocolate Grinder patrons [Editor’s Note: <3<3<3<3]). I've got my coffee here, Pitchfork announced its new print edition... things couldn't get any better, amirite? iamwrong. In fact, my coffee tastes horrible, I forgot my lunch at home, and I have a pile of billing sitting next to me on my desk that I need to get through. The point is that the perfect is never perfect because it is constantly covered, shrouded and clouded with distortion on the periphery.
And this is the kind of vibe that PHORK (an acronym for “People’s Higher Order of Royal Kinship”) nails to the wall for the aptly titled “Paradise Stress,” from his new cassette release American Tao on Noumenal Loom that follows outings with NNA Tapes, Orange Milk, and Opal Tapes. The track presents a serene and pristine Boards of Canada-like synth refrain, surrounds it with nervous noise, and balances itself upon a platform of unstable bass that rumbles like thunder. It’s at once a beautiful environment while also unsettling, dark, and mysterious — the type of place that could be a wonderful dream or a terrifying nightmare depending on your perspective. And perspective as a theme translates to the visual realm with Mateo Marquez’s hypnotizing video accompaniment as well, offering up a cornucopia of color, sliced with shadowy grays into a shattered frame of revolving hues. But no matter from which angle you look at this thing (or listen to it - headphones strongly recommended, of course), it’s pretty mesmerizing.
KOOL ONE HUNNA
SUPER LONG VIBES
Throbbing around 78 rpms per bit. Floating has always been this easy at 420 day rentals. And no late fees makes a cigarette add seem ethical. Just like Ferrari Jackson whipping around corners, KOOL ONE HUNNA is quick to spark and slow on that drag. Infinitely, in a loop hyphy-fi romance, spirals of tie-die neon flicker and signal off in eyes sponged of red. The love affair with SUPER LONG VIBES triggers an energy of smooth truth. “Sizzle-sizzle and maybe,” might be the only rational explanation when people bug out on all fours. Connection is a commitment that can never cease in existence.
Flare off like you ain’t got a pair. Why we always in this tango of cheap? Buck and a quarter? Buck FIFTY? Nah-nahhh. At Blockbuster Records, everything survives on chill vibes. Being cool is just an inspiration of social emotion and it’s totally never been researched. Maybe. Kinda like reefer. Also, maybe. But KOOL ONE HUNNA is like the fingerless leather gloves of musical masturbation. Only to touch. Just the tip of it all. Climax by edging. Wet on an all white wardrobe. Three-way with SUPER LONG VIBES via your left ear, your right ear, and your mind for the ultimate 2013 Blockbuster Records experience with the pre-pillow talk of KOOL ONE HUNNA. BeLOW!!!!
At this point, I’m pretty convinced that Nicholas Krgovich is one of the most overlooked pop auteurs of our time. Various Krgovich projects, such as P:ano, No Kids, and Gigi, make it abundantly clear that the dude has a deep understanding of a myriad of pop genres and knows how to warp their harmonic/formal structures in consistently beautiful ways. On his latest solo record Who Cares?, Krgovich manages to combine a number of the various styles that his bands have mined into a subtle coherent whole that perfectly illustrates his songwriting craftsmanship.
Who Cares? is entirely centered around Krgovich’s voice and ukulele/guitar playing with minimal synths, bass, percussion, and backing vocals popping up on each track. This is perhaps the sparsest recording Krgovich’s done since P:ano’s minimal masterpiece Ghost Pirates Without Heads and there are definitely moments on”Loser,” “My Song,” and “A Reverie” that recall the folky work of that album. However, lots of Who Cares? falls very much in line with Krgovich’s explorations of warped contemporary R&B with No Kids and 50’s girl groups with Gigi. While both No Kids and Gigi’s records often explored their respective styles through production/arrangements, Who Cares? manages to reference these signifiers through Krgovich’s chords and vocals alone, illustrated impeccably in tracks like “Baby Blue Tutu” and “Party With Lewis.” Krgovich’s vocals throughout the record are particularly remarkable. While he’s always been a strong singer, Who Cares? finds the songwriter displaying an impressive range and his ability to evoke so many stylistic references with such a minimum of materials is largely due to this new-found emphasis on crooning. All of this musical subtlety works beautifully to underscore one of the most bummed out and bleak narratives that Krgovich’s structured his records around.
Who Cares? is out now on vinyl via Jaz Records. You can stream the album in its entirety below:
DJ Dog Dick
“Grease That I Got”
Based on a casual perusal of Twitter, certain factions of the world (i.e., ■’s) aren’t ready to accept “DJ Dog Dick” as a moniker, much less as their personal psych-synth faux-hop slime-noise messiah — but I’ve been ready, and you have too. If a little context would better ease DJDD, born Max Eisenberg, into your sweaty lovin’ arms, here it is: the Rockaway-based multi-instrumentalist has been releasing limited edition cassettes and 7-inches under the moniker since the mid-oo’s; he put in years of stage and studio time with noise legends Nautical Almanac, formed the duo Dog Leather with fellow industrial/noise DGAF prodigy Sewn Leather, and has recently been performing with Pictureplane (as Dickpic, natch [full-length coming soon]). If scientists invented a new machine to more accurately approximate the number of fucks given by their test subjects and locked the device in place right above DJDD’s sternum, the needle on the gauge would never rise above zero. Conventional notions of “taste” or “genre” or “quality” don’t factor into his output. I ask you now as a listener to renounce these constructs and come hang out with me in DJ Dog Dick’s metal-strewn, stinking alley full of piss.
You can find “Grease That I Got,” streaming below, on DJDD’s The Life Stains (available now on LP, CD, and CS from Hoss Records) along with twelve other bursts of toxic sonic mania (like this one and this one). I invite you to make up your own far-fetched comparison while listening to “Grease,” but please be sure to name check at least four disparate musical projects. Here’s mine: Green Day doing whippets with Culturcide in GX Jupitter-Larsen’s basement while Bruce Springsteen peeks disapprovingly through the window. “What about the guitar solo?” Oh, does Springsteen not cover that? Uhh, ok, Snakefinger is there too.
Put down your computer, pick back up your computer, and order The Life Stains now.