Nathaniel Young & Alex Geerken
“Growing Old (A/VMIX2)”
A few months ago, we posted the first audio/video mix from Portland’s Blankstairs label: a collaboration between Astro Nautico’s Michael Jukeson and the Blankstairs visual crew. This time, it’s Blankstairs’s own Nathaniel Young touching base with the Pacific Northwest’s video artist, Alex Geerken. The whole thing is like sitting on your porch, smoking and waiting for the thunderstorm to roll in. The video cracks like lightning as the song begins to drip all around you. A kind of empty tension starts rising and it never stops crawling through you. Another sign of good things to come from the Blankstairs collective, I think.
Headboggle / Vibrating Garbage
Headboggle & Vibrating Garbage
Tables and tables of gear laid out before them, two men hunch over to the point that their torsos are pretty much perpendicular to the knobs and knobs and knobs. Cords protrude firmly from sockets and then flop together into a tangle impossible to coil without serious unplugging patch sabotage. Squint at the markings on these chassis — Roland, MFB, Ciat-Lonbarde, Blippoo — and imagine the uninitiated throwing up hands and shoulders, like hieroglyphics to me man; what is this??? The idea of a gear technician in control of the machines, coaxing out exactly the tones he hears in his brain, complicates when some of that gear operates on principles of randomness, chaos theory, non-linear feedback, sudden and alien abstraction. Within rigid structures, unexpected elements lead a session into new zones that, even with the knobs and the hands and the cords and the sockets in the “right” configuration, will never be heard again.
Head Boggle, a.k.a. Headboggle, neé Derek, multi-multi-multi-instrumentalist behind infinite tape releases and 2012’s Headboggle LP on Spectrum Spools, pours out synth leads and textural beds. Vibrating Garbage, a.k.a. Black Thread, neé Greg, the prolific purveyor of minimal industrial synth-noise electronics and co-proprietor of Donkey Disk, shapes the rhythms and low-end. After some ace mixing and editing from Greg, the duo’s unpredictable, transfixing collab sessions to prep for a live show manifest as 23 minutes of magnetic tape via TMT über-favorite Beer On The Rug (the shadowy cartel behind a few recent classics). No physical release date yet, but you can stream one side below and buy the digital on Bandcamp.
It was recently announced that Dean Blunt and Inga Copeland, together known as Hype Williams, are officially no longer affiliated, but both artists have been active nonetheless — Dean Blunt especially. Just recently, Blunt did a fantastic interview with Interview Magazine (Russia), posted a couple videos from a casting call for an upcoming play (Boo’d Up, Winter 2013), and has been performing in select cities around the world, including this recent show in NY.
And now we have a new song, “King James,” the title of which references either this guy or this guy (or both or neither [or nothing or everything]). The MP3’s tags (which are in Russian) seem to indicate that the song is track 3 of a release called Island of Stone, but who the fuck knows. In any case, Blunt, over a cut-up sample processed through a sweeping comb filter effect, seems to be in yet another ruminative and inquisitive mindset à la The Redeemer. And it’s as raw as ever.
Stream below and download while you can.
• Dean Blunt: https://soundcloud.com/cplnd
Like the trippy composite on the sleeve of her Weird Universe LP, the music of Unicorn Hard-On’s got layers, buds, all of ‘em technicolor and dripping with detail: sky view, color field, the figure of a human female, dimensional folds. Each listen to a Valerie Martino session reveals 13% more striking elements than previously observed — another pocket of hi-fi synth bursts off in the left channel, another rhythm pounded out with deliberation between the pulses of the bass drum, another arpeggio conjured from nowhere and squeezed in alongside squalling siblings. Martino knows her way around a table crammed to capacity with Korgs. Three generations of Electribes (we’re talkin’ ER-1, EA-1, ESX-1) share beat duties and blanket the grid with enough input to sufficiently stimulate any number of hard-to-please mythological beasts, much less us.
I hear “Wet Pet” and right quick I think of the soundtrack for the Super Nintendo game Earthbound, all overlapping rhythms and squelchy leads and harmonically consonant good time vibes — but only because, after continual exposure back then, video game music supersedes all other touchstones in my brain. That arpeggio from 0:33 to 0:47, for example, screams “Jenova Theme” until it slips back into the rainbow goop. But that’s just me; I’m a geek. Look, e.g., at that semicolon. Choose your own lens, y’all: underground noise, Detroit techno, drone, contemporary synth composition. All of them lurk somewhere in here (and, like, kinda everywhere?), but it doesn’t matter when the beats hit and the synth voices heat up and start to fry. Quoth Martino: “What people used to call noise — now they call it the ‘experimental underground.’ At this point, I don’t even know what to call the scene or my music; I just want to make sounds that are beautiful and weird.” Word. You def got there, U H-O.
Weird Universe drops September 30 via Midwest America’s most reliable wormhole to the cosmos, Spectrum Spools. You can preorder the LP from the eMego site now.
New Camp Records could literally be a tongue-in-cheek reference to the music they release, considering they just put out a tape of choral loops by the amusing project Eola. Eola is just like any other rock & roll band, except none of the members ever learned how to play instruments, and they all wanted to be frontmen, so they all sing. That last line was purely speculation (a.k.a. I’m lying), because it’s just one guy. His name is Edwin Mathias White. I couldn’t find much information about Eola on the internet, except that they might be affiliated with Tonstartssbandht, a Florida band that recently both toured Russia and did a split cassette with Dirty Beaches.
Eola’s music is soaked in a blanket of vinyl warmth and reverb, applied liberally and in wide, sweeping strokes, like a bathtub full of honey. At times, it sounded like I was listening to a soundtrack for a flick that is all shots of horses trotting in the Alps, saturated with Swiss politics, the Russian national anthem, a grouping of solemn dwarves, Gregorian chants, and Fleet Foxes. Despite its reel-to-reel fidelity, Eola is not campy. Rather, it is full of wonder and spirit, like a silent film. Bold, gorgeous, and expressive. Listen below, and grip a tape today via New Camp Records.
“We’ve been and heard so much — what have we learned?
Not for one moment has the self been spurned;
Fools gather round and hinder our release.
When will their stale, insistent whining cease?
We have no freedom to achieve our goal
Until from Self and fools we free the soul.”
– فرید الدین عطار, The Conference of the Birds
I had to take my shirt off to preview this shit.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO TALK ABOUT DEATH GRIPS IN LOWERCASE?
I remembered some girl at some punk show 10 years ago telling me my “skin smelled like Clearasil;” it still stung.
BUT WHO WOULD GIVE A FUCK ABOUT THAT?
I thought about the shards of Zach Hill’s dismembered drum kit still doing the rounds on Twitter and how, with anger at Death Grips’ apparently premeditated no-shows in Chicago and Boston still palpable (not to mention publicity-fueling), now does seem a good time to unexpectedly drop a new tune.
BUT THEY DON’T THINK LIKE THAT?
I remembered that DG have never been a band to build a fanbase through conciliation or positive vibes. The Fourth Wall is always too strong for that, and these guys break it without even being in the room. The birds in Farid ud-Din Attar’s Persian epic” may find themselves, a group on pilgrimage, reflected where they had once hoped to see God; but Death Grip’s fans are given an empty stage, no matter how hard they want them.
AND IT’S HARD.
“BEST DEATH GRIPS SONG SO FAR GOD DAMN I HAVENT BEEN THIS FUCKING NOIDED SINCE THE MONEY STORE RELEASE SHITT”
– “Birds” YouTube Comments, Thursday 22nd August 2013
• Death Grips: http://thirdworlds.net