The Slow and Painful Birth of Nehemiah St-Danger [album stream]
Nehemiah St-Danger is well-equipped to work with others. Not only has he played music with members of Pocahaunted, Silver Jews, Psychic Reality, The Gris Gris, and more, but he’s also a member of Arrington De Dionyso’s amazing Malaikat Dan Singa, which in my book automatically puts him into the TMT Hall of Fame. Hell, he even had a (very) brief stint at this here rag! But Nehemiah can do it solo too. His debut release, The Slow and Painful Birth of Nehemiah St-Danger, almost didn’t see the light of day (short story: poverty, three hard drive failures, re-recording/restructuring sessions), but after years and years of waiting — since 2005, to be exact — Nehemiah St-Danger is all set, all ready, all geared up to finally unleash this slow-motion birth of an album.
The album, however, doesn’t sound slow-motion at all. This 15-song, 4-track-recorded set is as melodic, restrained, direct, and inviting as it is dissonant, epic, complex, and challenging. From the stuffed-nose vocals and c(h/l)unky guitars to the weirdball structures and choppy keyboards, the album is clearly articulating a particular aesthetic from a particular songwriter. But this album, an “autobiographical meta-operetta about Post-9/11 America, Antediluvian Mysteries and Self-Aggrandizing Myth,” screams spirituality, not individuality, a fuzzy transmission from a strange, fractured dimension of conspiracy-theory, freedom-bible, hypnagogic dadrock. Listen to The Slow and Painful Birth of Nehemiah St-Danger here:
The Slow and Painful Birth of Nehemiah St-Danger is out September 11 on Post-Consumer Records.
“Magick With a ‘K’” b/w “I Could Kill You Any Time”
Couple of janglies with this little two-song digital single. Ew, what did I just say? Sorry, I wasn’t really paying attention… volume too far cranked on these janglies I guess. Loud and obnoxious and perfectly perfect is the kind of tune Manchester’s Temple Songs makes, at least on this sampler. There are lots more great tunes on a full-length released earlier this year that I discovered through a very fine writeup by my friend the Dewd-hurst over at Foxy D.
P.S. The band also has a Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band cover album on cassette. That seemed worthy of a mention.
• Temple Songs: http://templesongs.bandcamp.com
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.