Muyassar Kurdi

“I’m Not Really Here I’m Just Going Through the Motions”

Multi-instrumentalist Muyassar Kurdi flits across the Chicago scene as a benevolent fixture of DIY shows, informal house jams, and magick rituals, glimpsed in the corner of a dim room swaying under a veil to the rhythms pouring from the PA. Her own solo output under her given name and the Humminbird moniker spans a wide range of drone, noise, and ambient experimentation, animated by her keening vocal delivery and the tones of her autoharp processed into sheets of reverbed caterwaul. Her irregular tunings and heavy effects manipulation render the autoharp an atonal self-accompanist, possessed of fine-grain details and a mix-consuming dynamic range that fixes our attention somewhere between claustrophobic discomfort and liberation. Kurdi’s voice escapes in a theatrical bellow that evokes Diamanda Galás’s plague mass invocations as it floats over the din in clear and ringing tones.

“I’m Not Really Here I’m Just Going Through the Motions,” a cut from her forthcoming full-length White Noise, matches Kurdi’s voice and autoharp with the clattering percussion of Michael Kendrick, sinking deeper into a rarefied gloom with each chanted phrase and burst of blown-out strumming. The track’s video, directed by Julia Dratel, places Kurdi in a forest habitat, and twists her physical form into a collage of overlaid bodies that each gesture to us from a different temporal plane. Kurdi betrays no self-consciousness in her movements as she spirals in place, strokes a mirror, and strides off into the distance. She treats the natural landscape as another instrument, tracing long nails across branches as if each fragment of bark removed constitutes another note cast into the abyss.

• Muyassar Kurdi: http://muyassarkurdi.com

Color Plus

Reworx

There’s an interesting dynamic between modern technology and at-home creativity. You can take now any genre of music, find its most esoteric song, along with a production/mixing program (both the song and software FOR FREE), and then fuck on some musical zones people have yet to even fathom. But Color Plus has took this bootleg idea to the next level in Reworx. Sure, production and mixing has been around for decades, but not technology and media has not been this readily available. Thus, what this relay Swim Team crew member has been jungling and post-clubbing and dropping out is nothing short of a completely new way people can dance.

Let’s be honest here: music was initially made for entertainment, then it spun into how people can dance to it. Color Plus is pretty much what your grandmother kept an ear out for on the radio back when dance styles were being made up DAILY. So then what’ll be your next move at the monthly Swim Team event run by Trans Pecos? I told my girl she gotta dance that butt all OVER me next time. I’ll just lay on down, Color Plus can flare off more edits and bootlegs and Reworx, and if he’s feeling it… lay down beside me? SCOPE:

• Color Plus: https://colorplus.bandcamp.com

Rob Jacobs

“Walking Outside And It’s Dark”

Rob Jacobs, leader of the devotional trio Wei Zhongle, is a rare personality operating within the aged style of vocal experimentalism – an organic breath that recalls the latent spirituality of musical processes. The man pools secret knowledge into deep wells of tight songcraft; he’s engaging, powerful. Whereas his work with Wei Zhongle is perhaps more exploratory and visceral, his solo ventures develop an interior spirituality that calls to mind Ouspensky’s fourth way. I will develop this comparison here:

Wei Zhongle consists of three members: Rob Jacobs (vocalist, violinist, guitarist), Sam Klickner (percussionist), and John McCowen (clarinetist). Their individual roles directly parallel George Ivanovich Gurdjieff’s esoteric paths of self-development. Firstly, the power and presence of Klickner’s drumming manifests “The Way of the Fakir,” a path that deals explicitly with the physical body – his playing roots the trio in the propulsive rhythm. McCowen’s reed-work is the cerebral element outlined in “The Way of the Yogi”; the dissonant harmonies and syncopation outline the mental, scholarly path. In trio form, Jacobs’ voice demonstrates “The Way of the Monk,” the path where the solitary voice masters emotions through devotional prayer.

Yet, in solo form, Jacobs clearly channels Ouspensky’s “Fourth Way,” the spiritual choice to embody oneself directly in the world, within the processes of ordinary lived experience. Such, his new piece “Walking Outside And It’s Dark” is a introspective escapade into the emotional, physical, mental spiritualities possible when embarking on the lonely walk. The track’s elegant simplicity – a jaunty guitar pluck, bass dip, and cymbal tick – all anchor his meandering voice directly in the essential, basic phenomenon of being. His sagely presentation of the sacred within such a direct scene helps to remind us of the personal visions that may originate in everyday observation.

• Rob Jacobs: http://robjacobs.bandcamp.com
• Wei Zhongle: http://weizhongle.bandcamp.com

Magic Fades

“Ecco”

Like the same kitsch of an air-brushed Myrtle Beach muscle shirt, braided pink extensions in tight rows, and sandals with bottle openers on the soles, Magic Fades’ new album Push Thru is the equivalent of these features adorning a dolphin splashing out the ocean and perfectly arcing it’s body over the sunrise. In my prior post, I wrote about a specific piece of subtly in the new Magic Fades’ cassette on 1080p Collection, and I’ve figured it out: humor. There’s a lighthearted tongue-and-cheek sense of humor Push Thru employs in the lyrics that play satire to boy-bands like One Direction, or even Backstreet Boys, while diving into the common silliness of modern tropes in American language and phrasings. This subtle sense of humor is very well utilized in the album, and also super hidden until that one lyric (varies per person) strikes you, and then you like, “Wait, WTF? This is filthy-good. MORE!”

CUT TO: the newest Magic Fades video for “Ecco” – a title that’s a flagrant nod to ecco/vaporwave musicians currently treating the genre as a karaoke studio in Koreatown. In the Chris Cantino directed video, Magic Fades visually shows their humor a bit further with a nice lil storyline and borderline homages to Ghost and Puff Daddy’s “I’ll Be Missing You.” Scope “Ecco” by Magic Fades below, grip Push Thru on 1080p Collection ASAP, and check out the album release party this Saturday in Portland!

• Magic Fades: https://soundcloud.com/magicfades
• 1080p Collection: http://1080pcollection.net

Moonsicles

“Slow Owl” / “Coyote Pretzel”

I’m really obsessed with the idea of rock bands forming to make music that is largely divorced from any traditional notion of rock music. This isn’t entirely a new idea but in recent years, there’s been a huge influx of bands like Zs, Horse Lords, Sunn 0)) and others who have created works that continually challenge exactly what a rock band is. In many instances, these artists use extended technique and processing to blur their instruments into new textures much in the same way a Ligeti or Stockhausen piece would. However, artists working in this “band as ensemble” mode also choose to warp the formal structure of typical rock/pop music and that’s where the Austin based Moonsicles comes in.

Instead of concerning themselves with complex suite-like forms, Moonsicles revels in an icy stasis unlike both doom metal or kraut rock while still containing elements of both these genres in their sound. This music isn’t concerned with either drone or groove as much as it is with additive textures that sometimes coalesce into slow pulses and flitting melody/harmony. Take for instance, “Slow Owl”, the leading track off of the recently released Creeper where burbling synth textures gradually give way to slow moving drums and lovely two chord riffing before collapsing back into the sustained ripples that begin the song. Similarly, “Coyote Pretzel” exhausts a single chord while gradually building in texture. What’s notable about Moonsicles’ compositions is that unlike most bands mining similar minimalist territory, their music truly revels in beautiful stasis that develops without dynamic climaxes or radical structural changes. It’s lovely band based ambient music that comes across as a synthesis of Earth’s recent work and the slow changing compositions of Nicholas Szczepanik.

Creeper is available now via the band’s website. You can stream both tracks below:

• Moonsicles http://www.moonsicl.es

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.