“You’ve Always Meant So Much to Me”
You’ve seen Simon Fowler’s drawings on record sleeves, walls, and particularly badass torsos, representing the cream of the contemporary doom/drone metal crop: sunn 0))), Earth, Boris. JR Robinson, composer/leader of Chicago-based ensemble Wrekmeister Harmonies, recruited Fowler for the drawings that accompany the forthcoming You’ve Always Meant So Much To Me LP — both on the sleeve itself and the video you see above. In an exercise of time-lapse tension-building, Fowler’s hands flit around the frame with a fast-forward stutter, detailing a flowing geologic mass somewhere between a cloud of vapor and a chunk of the Earth’s mantle striking through the crust. Watch cross-cut shots of the black and white image burgeon into finely shaded complexity as Robinson’s sounds swell from silence into severity.
Robinson demonstrates mastery above all in conceiving an ambitious composition and uniting a cast of collaborators — Fowler included — to realize it. The labyrinthine structure of the one-track album You’ve Always Meant So Much To Me juxtaposes passages of atmospheric electro-acoustic drift with bursts of doom metal that maximize the talents of some of Chicago’s extreme music luminaries (Wrest, Sanford Parker, Bruce Lamont, Mark Solotroff, Mind Over Mirrors, etc.). The 11 minutes excerpted for this video begin in an elegiac haze of oscillator drone and ritualistic chanting, but then progress into a bruising segment of down-tuned guitar sludge, demonic howls, and drum battery — all of which interweave with the violin and cello phrases floating in the high end of the mix. It’s difficult to discern which collaborator plays what here on record, but it’s easy to imagine Robinson’s grey-bearded visage overseeing the proceedings from atop the crag sketched out before us, his hands stretching down through the layer of mist to align the tones pouring from his cast into one cohesive statement.
Thrill Jockey releases You’ve Always Meant So Much To Me in a vinyl-only edition on June 11. You can preorder it now. Meanwhile, JR Robinson will reunite many of the album’s musicians for a performance in Chicago’s Bohemian National Cemetery on June 22.
”// LIVER DONOR //”
Anonymous asked: “What is the deal with ORGAN DONOR? Who is he/she? And where could I get a copy of his/her stuff? I really dug what you guys posted on SoundCloud.”
Dirty Tapes responded: “NOT EVEN SURE AT THIS POINT.. ITS ALL UP IN THE AIR, LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE ON THIS ‘LABEL’ - SUPER LIMITED COPIES OF ORGAN DONOR WILL BE AVAILABLE ON CASSETTE, HAND DUBBED, PRINTED, AND NUMBERED.. WHEN THEY WILL BECOME AVAILABLE, WHO KNOWS –”
Tape labels. You gotta love ‘em. Like, “Hey man, I ordered a tape from you two months ago, and it still hasn’t arrived. I just wanted to make sure you received my payment. Thanks.”
But anyway, it does look like this ORGAN//DONOR will be receiving the coveted Dirty Tapes cassette release, of which there has only been four, all of which have been incredible, and this one will, by no means, be dropping the ball.
Keep it up, Dirty Tapes. Whatever merit history deems this cassette tape revival worthy of, you’ve got it figured out now.
“The Railroad” [Lee Hazlewood cover]
Some of my favorite moments on Modest Mouse’s records are the forays into folky territory and/or the idiosyncratic use of orchestration. It’s not that I don’t love their bashy guitar rave-ups, but there’s something wonderfully strange and infectious about Issac Brock and co.’s incorporation/interpretation of the aforementioned idioms. For these reasons, it makes sense that Brock would be a fan of the constantly underrated Lee Hazlewood due to the latter’s strange take on folk/country music that frequently incorporated lush orchestration while messing traditional song forms. With his cover of Hazlewood’s “The Railroad,” Brock seems to be drawing a direct line between his use of folk music and Hazlewood’s. For both artists, folk/country may be a starting place, but the end product often winds up resembling something else entirely.
Brock’s interpretation of “The Railroad” features a circus-like Hazlewood-esque arrangement, but instead of adopting a faux croon, Brock plays up the quirks of his own voice and alternately growls/yelps in a near-Tom Waits-ian fashion. In the end, Brock makes “The Railroad” very much his own, and the booze-soaked lyrics could almost pass for something off of Lonesome Crowded West. Hazlewood’s style suits Brock well, and it’s interesting to hear him acknowledge and warp his songwriting influences while working with very new arrangements.
You can stream “The Railroad” via YouTube below. The track will be on SideOneDummy’s Hazlewood tribute record Thriftstore Masterpiece: Trouble Is a Lonesome Town, out July 9.
Kawaii Boys (Dustin Wong, Mark Mcguire, & Ken Seeno)
“Japan Tour 2013”
From May 8-18, 2013, Dustin Wong’s tour with Mark McGuire united two of the free world’s dopest live-looping guitarists — the young men behind this and this — on the same stage for a series of dates in front of Japanese fans who better know how good they had it, because — WHAT — Ken Seeno is the third member of this posse, and the two halves of Ponytail’s rainbow guitar assault have reunited — all three of these guys together — awww daaaamn!
If I were at Unit in Toyko on May 10, I would’ve been up front trying to witness the click of every pedal, the well-timed turn of every volume knob, every lead whammy’d into a shriek, every loop recorded and played back — BUT luckily someone filmed it from way up close and and synced it to high-quality audio so I can pretend I was there and appropriately nerd-out here in my own home. When confronted with these dudes shredding pentatonic melodies through heavy delay for 15 minutes and looping the output of three guitars into a giant glistening cloud of like 30-guitars-worth of ecstatic soloing, 95% of you will be at least somewhat-to-totally all like “Yeah! Fuck yeah! かわいい ボーイス!!” The other 5%, the ones who consider this “wanky” or “overblown” and sneer and namecheck The Edge derogatorily, I don’t know what to say to you.
Bill Orcutt & Chris Corsano
“The Raw and the Cooked”
The photo you see above stretches across the inner spread of Bill Orcutt and Chris Corsano’s The Raw and the Cooked LP. Each man’s mid-shred image occupies a whole half of the gatefold stage, their eyes connecting across the jacket’s spine, which lines up with the mic stand in the middle. The gloss from the paper, or from the printing process, or from some aspect of the camera, or from the sweat gleaming on these men — one or all of these soften the photo into the object. With the needle dropped, nothing is softened: strikes of the E-string correspond with cymbal crashes; both players reach the end of a winding phrase and stop on a dime before swinging into a new barrage; shouts rise up into the room mic; a guitar is picked with such speed and savagery that it seems to both diverge into too many discrete voices and spiral into itself as if it could chew into the vinyl (the MP3 will probably be fine); a snare drum is struck hard enough, you think, to split it. This is the sound of two minds and four hands striking in every direction and covering the mix in treble shrapnel.
You know Bill Orcutt from dozens of releases with now-defunct Miami noise legends Harry Pussy (including the recent One Plus One 2xLP comp on his own Palilalia Records, and the reissue of Let’s Build a Pussy via Editions Mego) or from his skull-obliterating solo acoustic guitar work. If you’ve seen him live, I bet you know him as one of the most memorable guitarists you’ve encountered.
You know Chris Corsano from dozens of releases with collaborators in the avant/free-jazz/improvised music scenes, as one third of Rangda, or as improviser-in-residence at Hopscotch 2012. If you’ve seen him live, I bet you know him as one of the most memorable drummers you’ve encountered.
The Raw and the Cooked LP documents their duo performances on tour from August to September 2012. Hear an excerpt of the 10th track below. You can still find copies of it at Mimaroglu, Forced Exposure, or Fusetron. Better yet, you can see them live in front of your face on tour this June at these dates.
“瞧！那個人！wie man wird, was man ist” [prod. by Magic Nanna]
Aristophanes 貍貓 (a.k.a. Li Mou) is a young Taiwanese MC who has been posting tracks online for about a year now. Her latest, “瞧！那個人！wie man wird, was man ist,” is by far her strongest track yet. Produced by Austin, TX beatmaker Magic Nanna, the song finds Aristophanes 貍貓 rapping in Mandarin about Laozi, a philosopher of ancient China and founder of philosophical Taoism, meeting Nietzsche at a mountaintop. The track was made in part for the Indelible Niche Collective, which therefore links this Chinese rap track with US beats and German references all the way to Puerto Rico, from a Taiwanese artist whose name references Ancient Greece. Holy shit.