Michael Pisaro (feat. Julia Holter)
When one works with Michael Pisaro, it quickly becomes apparent that the man has an immense knowledge of various musical genres, despite his highly specialized compositional style. Although Pisaro is famous for his studies of silence as sound with the Wandelweiser collective, he’s equally fascinated by gangster rap, Prince, harsh noise, and The Rolling Stones, among many, many other things. In some ways, I think that all of these disparate sources are perhaps unconsciously present in a lot of Pisaro’s other works.
However, with Tombstones, Pisaro seems to address this part of his musical history in a much more explicit way. Tombstones is guided by two major ideas: (1) The question of “what happens to old political songs?” and (2) Taking “tiny fragments of old and not-so-old songs and [putting] them into an experimental music situation, introducing them to a kind of chaos, where the arrangement of the written-out material is up for grabs.” In this way, Pisaro creates a kind of acoustic/compositional sampling, but this isn’t a John Oswald-esque plunderphonics excursion. Nor is it Pisaro’s attempt to make an overtly pop move. Instead, Tombstones works beautifully because it takes a hidden element of Pisaro’s music and slyly pushes it ever so slightly into the foreground without sacrificing his aesthetic in the process. The result is a gorgeous deconstruction of both popular song form and a fascinating recontextualization of Pisaro’s craft in the process. Mad props to Pisaro’s ensemble (which prominently features the voice and harmonium of Julia Holter) for their great interpretation of this material.
Synthesizer ingeniero and friend of evil robots Oxykitten has dropped a free album’s worth of odds-and-ends on the Field Hymns Bandcamp. Righteously described as “killer but odd cuts,” almost all 15 tracks on Fugue State clock in around two minutes, which basically makes it perfect by punk rock standards. Despite this brevity, Oxykitten maintains a consistent attention to detail. Some tracks seem perfectly suited for interludes to longer epics, while others seem to fit nicely into the score of a sci-fi B-movie that is also a romance, a musical, an inter-dimensional thriller, and a porno.
The best track on this tape by far is “Bubblegum Face,” where halfway through the whimsical jammer some back-alley-robot scuzzball whispers “I’m going to rip your face off.” I was surprised and honestly a little frightened. Like, I didn’t do anything, and I wasn’t expecting to get my face threatened while I was listening to this. A little later in the song, the robot says “I’m gonna put your face back on,” so I’m not exactly sure whether he’s being serious or not but whatever — I wouldn’t risk potential face mutilation, you know?
N E P T U N E
After pumping out loads of purist vaporwave as MJ Linckoln and releasing abstract acoustic improvisations as Malibu Locals Only, the enigmatic producer is referred to as simply LINCKOLN on new ambient release N E P T U N E. Each track is named after a different moon that circles the freezing gaseous planet. From the flat and arid scenery on Despina, to the cold and windy climate of Galatea, to the treacherous rugged face of Larissa, to the icy terrain of Proteus, this digital drone tour of our neighbors on the edge of the solar system is a refreshing reminder of our current place in the universe.
• MJ Linckoln: http://linckoln.bandcamp.com
Ohbliv has just released his April contribution, keeping pretty close to the one-release-a-month trend so far this year. This one swings much more toward the public television soundtrack side of the Ohbliv catalog, filled with soft drums and and shallow synth melodies. And that Ohbliv compression flattens everything and keeps it close. Like, I just worked 12 hours at this job that I don’t particularly like and I just want this to ooze out of my speakers, not bounce around the walls.
Buy the 13-track Ritual Swing over at the Ohbliv Bandcamp page, work too much, and then see if this doesn’t put you in a good place afterward.
• Ohbliv: http://ohbliv.bandcamp.com
Destroy This Place
Horror flicks are enhanced by their DIY qualities. Villains coldly striding through the quintessential axe-murder steps toward their hapless victims are always enhanced by face-obscuring masks — and the more DIY the mask (say, chocolate-colored papier-mâché Elk-monster?), the better. And no matter how fast you run, they still keep pace — even while walking…
All that Detroit’s Destroy This Place seemed guilty of was reviving (while reinventing) the old American Underground indies of a certain shred-inclined, 1996-sanctified-era (Dinosaur Jr., maybe some Fugazi, or perhaps a Guided By Voices if it had its shit together and made sturdier, shit-kicking tunes standardized to three-minute pop stints), but our evil Elk doesn’t seem to like that. Nope. Like Laurie Strode or Nancy Thompson or even Ethan Hawke, they’ve gotta go! Slashers, or Elk, or whatever ominous antihero, never need motives, really.
Turns out, as the grainy camcorder-flecked footage unreels, we find this man-like monster is actually a FAN of nervy riffs, fitful rhythms, and anthemic rawk-pop ballads. Private party in the eerie Elk loft! Come check it out!
The band’s eponymous second album is out May 17 on Bellyache Records and features an array of low-chugging, kartwheeling, guitar-heavy kickers apt for spirited summertime road trips or breathless bike errands down to the local used vinyl shop. Destroy whatever place that suits you; get some aggression out with their rock-side of things; tear the wall down even. Then, let the sun shine in with their pop-side of things. Four out of five Elk Monsters approve.