Ryley Walker
“Clear The Sky”

Ryley Walker dropped The West Wind EP at the tail end of 2013 to tide over the heads across the world pining for his shred. I bid those heads to rise and look over yonder, for lo! It is Walker: gig bag over shoulder, rollie in mouth, once again darkening the horizon. If “The West Wind” hinted that the Chicago-based guitarist/songwriter has put in his 10000 hours with the catalogs of Richard Thompson and Bert Jansch, his forthcoming LP All Kinds of You expands into a diverse survey of 20th century folk styles, culling vibes and performance tactics from the progressive strains of the UK as much as the ramshackle roots music and American Primitive traditions of the US. If you’d like to call this “revivalist” music: alright. Do your thing. The vitality of Walker’s songwriting and the level of fingers-on-fretboard prowess necessary to channel his chosen forebears speak for themselves, elevating his project from an homage into a nuanced vision of past-meets-present composition.

“Clear the Sky,” premiering below, leads off with a passage of loose, raga-inspired solo guitar characteristic of the Fahey/Rose lineage (double RIP). His ensemble drops in, establishing a loping rhythm gilded with snare runs and lush string phrases, and Walker sings of nature, the mountains, probably time in general, maybe an unnamed flame: “So lay your body on down.” His delivery and the space between his lines generate a mood between work-worn fatigue and optimism, like a shift in the lumber yard drawing to a close with the sunset. His playing continues to astound without crossing into showboat territory. Each of his strident hammer-on runs and chiming arpeggio phrases serves the song’s harmonic structure, resulting in a chord progression that feels more like a tight lead line accounting for every sixteenth note. The tension between this precision and the rubato passages that pleasantly disrupt it stretches “Clear the Sky” beyond the [man + guitar] [singer/songwriter] [folk] paradigms into a modern hybrid of ideas, with Walker’s sense of song structure and arrangement as the lynchpin.

All Kinds of You arrives on April 15 via the Tompkins Square. Check out their site for his upcoming tour dates with both Wrekmeister Harmonies and Cloud Nothings, and keep your eyes out for ordering info.

• Ryley Walker: https://soundcloud.com/walker-ryley
• Tompkins Square: http://www.tompkinssquare.com

Woo

“1001 Decisions”

“1001 Decisions” might not even comprise one day in a given lifetime. Yet, with the visuals/photos here in Woo’s newest video, listeners and viewers can witness nearly “1001 Decisions” between the Ives duo’s lives together. Having gathered a remarkable story throughout a bunch of “still-life” pictures, Woo really brings their track a visual birth of life that is merely just a window into the performers’ journey on Earth.

Shoot, my pal Landon really pinned me to Woo a few weeks ago when he forwarded me the delightful track “It’s Cozy Inside” on a Tuesday, and that really made my weekday brighten. Pretty much all Woo’s tracks sound like a time of being when things were warm. As if they’re physically emitting a wave of energy. Adapting an aura of memory and pleasantness to your school/office desk, yet taking you away to pure comfort paradise. “1001 Decisions” is from Woo’s first record in a quarter of a century called When The Past Arrives. Analog release versions available March 17 on Drag City and Yoga Records. So feel the fuzzy below and grip that physical Woo on the 17 this month:

• Woo: http://www.woo-music.co.uk
• Drag City Records: http://www.dragcity.com
• Yoga Records: http://www.yogarecords.com

Virtual Flannel

“Afternoon Boom”

Like a heart-shaped Elvis face brightly flashing in the sweat of a dozen spotlights: it’s the in-between that’s most important, no? Having it been too cold or wet outside. Curving around two p.m. Caressing that “Afternoon Boom.” It’s a brand new box of tissues today. Today, nothing really happens, so embrace the feeling of solipsism. Of being all around us covered in Virtual Flannel. A spastic weaving and waving of mircowires embedded at the root of architecture. All architecture. Beat pulp-less. Beyond smitherines. But float, yo. FriFri continues to get ripe with that good-good. No partying. Pool hall tonight. First round is on the Hello Kitty looker that sits behind you.

It’s chill, yeah, but Virtual Flannel is everything but practical. As the illusion stabilizes itself in your foreground, so much is happening –in-between– “Afternoon Boom.” But from what I’ve heard, this is just a sip of what Virtual Flannel has in store for us this year. That Canadian bird be hoardin’ beats like they canned food in the apocalypse. So tease on this “”Afternoon Boom” in the mean time below:

• Virtual Flannel: http://virtualflannel.bandcamp.com

Bob Bucko Jr.

“Up On The Sun”

Like a river rising to white water tides during the rainy season, or drying to its sandy base, the depth of Bob Bucko Jr.’s (BBJr.) musical style is vast. The first time I saw him play, he was blasting dying animal noises through a saxophone as part of a pick-up band performing John Zorn’s COBRA composition; the last time being a mess of white noise as his gear distorted and decayed in the middle of his set. He’s a hard guy to follow. Bucko’s own tape label, Personal Archives, is in itself a reference to a kind of categorizing system for tracking his constant musical output. And then there’s “Up On The Sun”, a Meat Puppets cover, leaving the original song remarkably intact, considering Bucko’s tendency for doing things however the fuck he wants.

Listen to the track below, and catch BBJr. all around the Midwest on his March tour. Thanks to Ad Hoc for the heads up (on the sun) on this one.

• Bob Bucko Jr.: https://soundcloud.com/bbjr-bob-bucko-jr

Slava

“Better”

That photo of the alluring, svelte male seemingly zipping himself up. The dewy and curiously erotic wet hands connecting at what might be a futuristic pregnancy test. If you’ve spent any amount of time browsing the bottomless chasm that is the internet, and specifically paying attention to those sections that elevate electronic music, then you’ve probably encountered these images. If you’re more than the incredibly naive internet user archetype just described, (no shade to the off-the-grid), then you’ve got strong empirical value already attached to these images – pun intended, you’ve got feelings too. Behind these motifs is the wizard himself: Slava. The Brooklyn-via-Moscow producer has taken the inter-waves by storm, through a tightly conceptualized visual aesthetic that reigns via his distinctly preeminent musical capacity. His footwork-ghetto-house-genre-label-etc… revisions were particularly resplendent with earlier work, namely his debut LP Raw Solutions. Followers of Slava engage with a particular idiosyncrasy that seems to ooze effortlessly from all aspects of his movement. More than just house or dance reinvigorations, Slava’s music broods and garbles from a refreshing source.

Again through the acclaimed Software Label, Slava is prepping for the release of a new EP, Comma Sutra. The artwork, by Analisa Teachworth has a translucent deep maroon dildo and a banana on it, continuing, perhaps more bluntly, with modernized themes of sexual ambiguity and exploration. Lead track, “Better”, is a 5-minute deep house immersion. Staccato 4-part-harmony chords flange and shuffle over fulfilled, acidic and juicy bass grooves. Red hot, sexy leads and quick vocal chops flutter about. It’s a familiar atmosphere, but it’s refurbished and renovated. The walls are shiny and moist; the mood is fervent. For a second you might guess that your viewing a PS1 installation, but then Slava emerges from the other room of his home, offering you a clear drink.

Slava’s Comma Sutra EP will be available March 25, via Software. Listen to the “Better” below:

• Slava: https://soundcloud.com/slava
• Software: http://www.softwarelabel.net

subnaught

Oscillations

I often find that one of the most difficult things to write about in music is beauty. There are times when I can completely break down a particular harmony or sound I enjoy to its base theoretical components and recognize it as something that I’ve enjoyed in the past but that doesn’t necessarily get at why I find it to be so particularly lovely in the context of a work as a whole. Subnaught’s Oscillations is full of moments like this.

On a theoretical level, Oscillations utilizes simple mathematical ratios that create a particular brand of just intonation as a result of modulation. Each track focuses on a particular drone and then seemingly seeks to explore the different harmonics of that sound through the process of modulation. However, that hardly explains why these minimal drone works are so beautiful and entrancing. This is wonderful reduced music in the vein of Eliane Radigue and Nicholas Szczepanik but unlike the sometimes austere textures of those artists, subnaught’s drones manage to be completely warm and inviting. Above, the artist’s webpage for the record, there’s an epigraph about how “music therapy, since it is never done in just intonation, has never been tried.” With Oscillations, subnaught has created a mesmerizing work that manages to turn the work of his fore bearers into a near therapeutic experience.

Oscillations is out now via bandcamp. You can stream the record in its entirety below:

• subnaught: http://www.subnaught.org

  

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CHOCOLATE GRINDER is our audio/visual section, with an emphasis on the lesser heard and lesser known. We aim to dig deep, but we'll post any song or video we find interesting, big or small.