“So You Want to Be a Slug”
I think I can give you this gist of this video. I’ll try, at least. (If you hate spoilers, I recommend actually watching before you take in the following prose).
There are exactly two main advantages to being a slug. The first is the fact that slugs, outside from being squished on the sidewalk, are rarely intentionally murdered by people. The other advantage of being a slug is that they are very gross.
If you don’t get it, I don’t exactly blame you, but there is hope. A little background might be useful: This here is a video for a track from the new record by Sam Kulik. For this project, the New York musician and Talibam! collaborator has written several compositions in the style of the song poem, which is a form popularized decades ago by magazines, comics, and tabloids wherein amateur poets would send publications a set of lyrics, to which the magazine would respond by hiring a semi-professional musician to compose and record a song set to the submitted words. They would print the recording either in single copies (typically on 45 RPM records or cassette tapes) or include them on larger compilations. The music, which was often produced in single takes, would come out pretty shoddy, use recycled melodic material, and feature whoever happened to be in the studio at the time of the decision to use any given lyrical submission. The idea at once seems like a lazy attempt to give hopeful authors a false sense of importance in exchange for a quick buck on behalf of the publications. But the results, to Kulik, were certainly more artistically and culturally fruitful than just that. Hence, we have this incredibly weird record, Escape from Society.
Kulik based his music around submitted lyrics as well, and though the tunes carry a similar sort of carefree whimsy, the conscious adherence to the approach in and of itself makes his recordings sound much more careful and composed. In the specific case of “So You Want to Be a Slug,” which features lyrics by Steve Hockensmith, Kulik uses a hypnotic scale to give this simple riff an intensely heavy Sun Ra dose of psychedelia that is extremely effective, even more psychedelic given the deadpan nature of the performance, mirrored in Kulik’s serious stares throughout the clip. The whole thing slaps you in the face with exactly what it is and what it’s about, over and over again: An insane trip of self-referentiality/spiritual discovery. And a lot of slugs.
There’s much, much more information about the record on Kulik’s website and a really interesting podcast with detailed explanations of the tracks that appear on the record, the influence behind each, and insight into Kulik’s obsession with song poems. Highly recommended.
• Sam Kulik: http://www.samkulik.com
Not that band names always signify what that band will sound like, but it seems that Wampire is finally embracing the undead aspect of their name. First of all, this song is called “The Hearse.” And then you press play and that creepy organ begins wobbling from your speakers. It isn’t until the crunchy, driving drum beat comes in when you can even recognize it as a Wampire song, and even then it takes all of these eerie twists and turns like a jam band playing a Halloween house show. But by the time that final chorus kicks in and those cold-wave synths toss us into the setting of The Lost Boys, “The Hearse” has summoned us so far into its Bad Vibrations atmosphere that we find ourselves suited in black, dancing along with the funeral procession, and wondering how we ended up here. Lots of blood and fog, I think.
You can check out “The Hearse” below and buy the 7-inch now from Polyvinyl Records. The full-length, Curiosity is due in May.
Diamond Terrifier and The Black Ceremony
Traveling across land and sea, our brass-bellowed hero returns with “Ascribing Essence” to a chilly home front. Yamantaka Vajrabhairava, the Diamond Terrifier, turns with many faces to accept ritual with Black Ceremony, breathing life into the inanimate and dimensional, exhaled into warped winds of wonder, tapped upon by the mighty fingers of manipulation and notion. Journeying beyond the beloved Zebulon, Diamond Terrifier seeks ritual refuge at the Mega Fortress. Awaiting his arrival, Mega Fortress glimmers in layers of glass and ice, sirening stutters of “My Favorite Girl” yet shattering frost in spurts of vocal glory. Upon Diamond Terrifier’s entrance into the Mega Fortress, witnesses will experience the blending of PRACTICing spiritual forces ascending planes of existence to here and there and where you farewell.
A.K.A.: ZS are back from Japan, so kicking off Sam Hillmer’s new PRACTICE space at Public Assembly, he and Mega Fortress will be conducting a (sure to be) MONUMENTAL collaboration Monday, January 28. Bring your grandma or a new friend, and listen to their track “Ascribing Essence” below:
“Six Improvisations for Computer and Guitar”
Brisbane’s Andrew Tuttle (no relation, as far as I know) has recently issued a 3-inch EP of guitar and computer exercises that… well, that is just lovely. Each note carries with it a fluttering, feathery tail of sound that spirals clear off into the distance from its humble origins. Even with audible edits happening at various junctures, the stream of consciousness never feels broken or interrupted, making the digital elements truly as natural for Anonymeye as is the friction between the skin of his fingertips and the metallic strings of his guitar. That is, though nothing here feels especially revolutionary, nor is any of it technically (or technologically, for that matter) mind-blowing, Anonymeye’s approach still seems even more fully-integrated than just being electro-acoustic music — it’s as if the computer really is an acoustic instrument to begin with. Of course, this isn’t how the physical world allows for us to observe what actually goes into music like this, so I guess we’ll just have to close our eyes and imagine. Which, upon a single soothing run-through of this short, breezy-and-easy sampler, seems to be the best way to do this thing anyway.
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