In the context of more adventurous musics, any appearance of melody kinda feels like a compensatory gesture, a way to temper the emphasis lately on things like texture, juxtaposition, and sound quality. Perhaps this is why Jodis’ 2009 debut, Secret House, felt so unexpected, especially for a group that featured Aaron Turner (ISIS, Mamiffer, Old Man Gloom, Lotus Eaters), James Plotkin (Khanate, Khlyst, Lotus Eaters, Phantomsmasher), and Tim Wyskida (Khanate): instead of heavy dirges and visceral dynamics, we were treated to minimal riffs and plodding rhythms that served to accentuate a melodious center. This approach is expanded on the group’s forthcoming follow-up, Black Curtain: here, Jodis don’t just play notes to fill space; they create space itself, allowing the elongated melodies to not only breathe, but also coexist with the instruments, a non-hierarchical marriage whose elements come together with both precision and deliberateness.
“Silent Temple” is an exemplary track. Turner’s deep, unaffected melodies don’t really “float above” the music; they’re embedded in a way that highlights their textural qualities. Any embellishments on the sort of dragging repetition and suspended aesthetics of this music would only detract from its monolithic qualities, proving that subtle, minimal dynamics can have just as much impact as the kind that jump up and down for attention. But rather than evoking a towering sense of elevation, Jodis keep things on level ground, aiming for clarity over complexity, mood over narrative, immersion over confrontation, all while articulating the tension between bleakness and hopefulness with an uncanny knack for the sublime. Listen here:
Black Curtain is out October 2 on CD/LP via Hydra Head and October 16 on 2xCS via SIGE.
William Fowler Collins
I am staying in a room at an aunt’s house. Her dog sleeps in the backyard. Last night, I looked out my window, into the dark, and found myself, with a jump, starring into glowing eyes. The phenomenon has a name, eyeshine: tapeta lucida . But naming a phenomenon doesn’t neutralize the affect of the glowing presence of eyes emerging from the dark.
Tenebroso, William Fowler Collins’ newest album, derives its name from Caravaggio’s method of “dramatic illumination,” in which darkness dominates so that bursts of luminescence can be brought to the fore. “Part of the theme,” Collins wrote to me, “relates to my music and how it emerges slowly from silence…”
Maybe that’s the easiest description I can think of for Collins’ wonderful, uneasy electroacoustic compositions on Tenebroso: vague textures emerging from the silent dark. Sometimes with eyes, and sometimes with less.
Tenebroso, the follow-up to last year’s The Resurrections Unseen, will be released tomorrow, August 21, by Handmade Birds as the third installment of the Dark Icons Series. Listen below to his “Tapeta Lucida” emerge:
Glad to see Tropa Macaca stepping it up. Love their creep-beats. Makes Demdike Stare look like kindergarten Candy Land. Errm, dunno if that’s a good analogy. Just saying, Tropa Macaca seems to seamlessly pull off very, well, stone-gaze tracks. In the digital sense. OR tribal digital. Always felt like they more holodeck dancehall [slash] you wish you were in a club TNG-era Federation grade. And it’s all doin’ slick-nasty out there in Software land. Slava bouncing off with “I’ve Got Feelings Too;” radically opposing that strong West Coast-sampled dancing. Worst part of visiting Software was noticing peeps had to scrill up for some zine. Zines should always remain free. Fuckinn, fuck them haters: WAHH’MP.
Free yourself via Tropa Macaca’s newest 12-inch EP Ectoplasma when it ships this Tuesday, but buy it meow from Software. On your way, reads this weiiiird interview. WOOP!!
Dirty Beaches make the kind of music you expect to find on a phantom radio station, one that you stumble upon on a summer evening but can then never find again. Fortunately for us, Alex Zhang Hungtai’s music stays put, locatable, for your repeated aural pleasure.
Hungtai’s proclaimed inspirations are primarily films — cinema that features the phantoms and amorphous emotions akin to Dirty Beaches’ style. Specifically, Hungtai has cited Lynchian proclivities, which, indeed, were at the core of his 2011 debut album Badlands. Think dark highways, ladies in thin skirts lit by tobacco-colored headlights, and dotted lines stretching to oblivion. Think Elvis on burn-marked videotape.
But as even Wikipedia reports, Hungtai also sees an aesthetic father figure in the brilliant Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai. So far, “Elizabeth’s Theme” is the Dirty Beaches track that shows this affinity best (or at least, so far as this meek blogger has heard). It’s more Malibu than middle of the macadam, evokes more melancholy than menace. Surely, Wong Kar-wai could — should — stack some silent slow-mo to this single and envision a sleek neck kissed with languor and longing. Whether Dirty Beaches will support an entire full-length with this mood and theatrical scope is yet to be seen, but we sure can hope.
According to Pitchfork, “Elizabeth’s Theme” is part of a singles club release by Kingfisher Bluez, to be dropped on October 9.
Thee Oh Sees
“Flood’s New Light”
So good to know your favorites are still kicking. Nothing like that pre-fall/dying-summer smell by adding a dash of that ole timin’ rock-the-fucking-roll with your pals Thee Oh Sees. “Flood’s New Light” sounding legit (same as their new Putrifiers II — out September 11 on In The Red Records — and way better than that Castlemania trashh). And it’s liike a wayy poppy version of “Long Wave Goodbye.” Also, I’m sure-sure you’ve not only heard this track (or even this album) a million times by now, just… yo, back up. But all this has been all that. Makes feeling “back to school” so much more FUCK IT. Another day, another dollar — that is, for the rest of us. Everyone, first day of school, be good on the road, please. Chill out to “Flood’s New Light” in the realest of ways: morning music high. Coffee at your location. And when’s Burger Records poppin’ the tape version of Putrifiers II. I WANT ANSWERS<<<<<<
Phil Elverum of Mount Eerie has two key foci, which he returns to repeatedly with remarkable success. The first is noise (any casual fan can confirm that he’s a maestro), and the other is landscape. Geography. Elverum makes no secret of his interest in space and shape, as many of his songs — not to mention his albums — are titled after features of the land and sea. Even the method he uses to move through his oeuvre is thus organized: from album to album or song to song, he’ll frequently revisit those spots or features he’s shown to us before, as if they were favorite perches or old haunts. See song “The Glow,” which lent its name to the brilliant and storied album The Glow Pt. 2; see The Microphones’ album Mount Eerie, which evolved into the band Mount Eerie; see “Through the Trees” on Mount Eerie’s 2009 album Wind’s Poem, which was reprised as “Through the Trees Pt. 2” on Clear Moon (TMT Review) earlier this year. Just as the world is full of terrain that we revisit under different weathers and different moods, under different skies and different stars, the places on Elverum’s musical map are to be passed through again and again, to varying effects.
This said, Elverum’s music has done much to empower the concept of The Album, as his own albums are journeys, nearly as spatial as they are sonic. Each leg seems unreachable without the trek that came immediately prior. So in listening to this, the title track of upcoming album Ocean Roar, note that this is the album’s second track. Trust me when I tell you that the real ROAR cited in this title appears in the song preceding. It’s an incredibly inventive maneuver: the song you’re hearing now isn’t the ocean roar itself, but the wake of it, the memorialization of it. You can hear proof in the remnants of that previous song as this one begins: that descending, drowning, winding-down of pitches.
Alas, you may have to wait until the album’s drop in September to hear/see the two track suite in full panorama. For now, you’re looking at the shore while the ocean’s still hidden behind a veil of fog. It’s soothing, yes, but believe me: it’s nothing like the full effect of the plunge.
Ocean’s Roar will be out from P.W. Elverum and Sun in September (but you can order the vinyl now!).
• P.W. Elverum and Sun: www.pwelverumandsun.com