“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
Zachary James Watkins
“Positively Right On (for Fred Hampton): Mvt. III”
Back in September, when Tiny Mix Tapes premiered “Black,” the second single off Black Spirituals’ Of Deconstruction , we (I) referred to the duo’s guitarist Zachary James Watkins as a “noise composer/sound artist.” You’d have to be excused for failing to realize that I meant ‘composer’ in the most literal sense. According to his CV, Watkins holds a BFA in Music Composition from Cornish College of the Arts, as well as an MFA in Electronic Music & Recording Media from Mills College, and currently serves as Adjunct Professor of Electronic Music at both The Art Institute of California - San Francisco and University of California, Santa Cruz. A lengthy list of his works, performances and exhibitions can be found here.
Despite these credentials, Watkins actually hadn’t released a proper full-length LP of his own until early last month. Issued by Oakland-based small press LAND AND SEA and limited to 100 letter-pressed, hand-stamped copies, Mixed Raced comprises two Watkins compositions (one for electric guitar and the other for strings) “focusing on harmonics and intonation” in an effort to “reveal and transform sound into pure energy.”
The first of these pieces, “Positively Right On (for Fred Hampton),” was performed by John Shiurba and Ava Mendoza on electric guitars, and engineered and mixed by Jonah Strauss with additional mixing by Watkins himself. It’s broken down into three separate yet wholly connected movements, which crescendo in a tuning fork frenzy. Streaming exclusively via Chocolate Grinder’s high resonance vibrations, “Positively Right On (for Fred Hampton): Mvt. III” proffers the kind of controlled chaos you’d fully expect to hear from a live improvisation but can hardly fathom having origin in written composition. “Listen loud.”
Awaken Next to the Great Salt Lake. You didn’t fall asleep here, no. This isn’t even a familiar location, you’re just lucky there’s a sign a few feet from your feet. The horizon waves like all the mirages you witnesses the night before. All of that was not a dream. All of that was a reality of self. All of that was out of your reality, self. Walking only bows your legs. Sweat that runs down your cheek tastes sweet. And it’s a cocktail of everything you took the night before. “Forever” is the loop. Jovontaes is your spirit guide. Follow the path of these slow-nodding jammers. They’ll lead you on a quest rarely taken so bumpless.
Find the Jovontaes’ Awaken Next to the Great Salt Lake on Night People today in the newest batch of tapes the label has to offer while listening to “Forever” streaming below:
Ill Winds / Swanox
“Vision” / “Bank Of The Orient”
Here we go again with that double-posting of Not Not Fun. Please, hold your applause until the last sound is heard.
First up is Ill Winds – an Australian trio currently residing in Berlin, Germany – who were picked up on tape through a suggestion by Olle of Moon Wheel. Following the same bizarre-of-bazaar vibe as Not Not Fun typically fronts, “Vision” is another glimmering gem on the discography, adding a preemptively paranoid and post-tense goth kick-step to the NNF linage. So tilt your head acute, lace up them combat boots, and slick back every hair you got: tonight’s a good night to stretch your black mesh fingerless gloves in honor of the long ride ahead:
Soon after Not Not Fun released Swanox’s Dawnrunner CS, I immediately found out they’re nowhere on the internet. Last year, Bezoar Formations popped off Tess CS, and peed just a little after gripping it anda Rangers CSx2 in the mail. Upon receiving news about Swanox’s debut LP Dayrunner, I cricked a smile in light of the title leading me to believe it’s sort of a equal, or follow up quest to the first tape. And Swanox has a subtle humor about them that dates back to the Dawnrunner j-card art too, which I love. Not to mention the samples and wildly blown sax above a dark-ish track tone in “Bank Of The Orient” being wildly exhaustive. Interwoven material in high plans of being:
Both releases out mid-December. Keep on that shop scan!
6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6
Presented with a blurred photograph, stretched into abstraction along the edges and funneled down to a clear center, we focus on the legible figures that found their way into the pinpoint of clarity — forms charged with additional atmosphere by their contorted surroundings. I listen to rock music (call it: [grunge], [lo-fi], [post-punk]) that possesses these rough edges — recorded, perhaps, with an array of room mics, and presented with minimal frills in post-production — and I hope that something in that haze shouts its way out with enough grain and character to justify the blur that surrounds it. The symbiosis between the central figure and the murk can elevate both to a new plane of focus and wonder.
6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6, the new tape on Bridgetown Records by St. Petersburg, FL-based trio Terminus Cursus, balances at the center of this lo-fi symbiosis. The band’s battering post-punk compositions reach us as if performed at the far end of an empty warehouse on drums and scuzzy guitars dusted with reverb and distance. At the focal point of these refracted rock bruisers, Patrick Mugan howls and snarls. His vocal attacks, alternating between open-mouthed bellows and menacing hisses, surge over the band at a level of conviction fierce enough to charge their mission with an almost holy emotional significance, as if the feelings channeled into these performances possess no other appropriate means of escaping their confined exteriors.