Musée Mécanique

“O, Astoria!”

The starry-eyed gallop of Musée Mécanique’s “O, Astoria!” is a fine song to wake up to. After the first verse, when the brain will still be nodding between perceptive realities, the song kicks into a startling march. The snappy drums coax a sleepy trumpet solo, which appears again later, brighter and more vibrant. The trumpet and xylophone play colorful, circling motifs that add a sense of youthful wonder to the track’s solid chord progression. Very appropriate, since the Portland group’s Micah Rabwin and Sean Ogilvie lyrics recall a similar sense of wonder shared by pioneers of the Old West who came to Oregon searching for fortune and excitement (imagine a less politically correct time that doesn’t really acknowledge resentful natives and dysentery).

A fine song to wake up to, but an even better one to go adventuring to. Like Beirut’s Zach Condon or Colin Meloy, Musée Mécanique use a wide palate of instruments to accent their songwriting, as they do in the song’s first great build up. This sets them apart from similar folk acts who exploit Americana clichés to nauseating effect. They condense months of perilous trekking (“Oh what length we’ve waited for this place to seek us out”) into a four minute number triumphant at times, uncertain at others. The band traverses rolling hills, rocky mountains, and formidable rivers to reach its goal, and I smile and head into the kitchen to make coffee.

• Musée Mécanique:
• Tender Loving Empire:

Dustin Wong and Takako Minekawa

“She He See Feel”

On a scale of one to 10, how upset/anxious/annoyed are you right now? Are you ticked off by some stupid thing that your boss did or angry that your boyfriend hasn’t washed the dishes for months or perturbed that your roommate still has not paid the cable bill or sad because your parents’ marriage ended in a terrible, blow-out divorce? GOOD NEWS, then, because I have a cure that will make you instantly happier and instantly less pissy.

The antidote comes in the form of this new Dustin Wong and Takako Minekawa track, “She He See Feel,” which, in addition to being a tongue-twister not dissimilar to “She sells sea shells by the sea shore,” ALSO happens to be an off-the-walls, bouncy, jangly song that puts the clap machine to excellent use. We’ve still got Wong’s signature guitar loops in the mix, but here, they are amped up on steroids, faster and higher-pitched than usual, a pleasing background to Minekawa’s charming vocals. Apparently, the lyrics are about “quantum physics, human consciousness, and flying above a desert,” and they’re all written in the form of delightful puns, but I can’t really appreciate that since I’m not fluent in Japanese.

Listen to “She He See Feel,” which will be out on the duo’s next album Savage Imagination, below, and thank me when your therapy bills are a little bit lighter this month.

• Dustin Wong:
• Takako Minekawa:
• Thrill Jockey:


Systematic [excerpt]

As a part of every growth process on Earth, all life relies on the Systematic nature of consuming water. Every bead nourishing the chemicals on the inside has never been more of a goal in every living creature. Here at Yamaoka, we not only aim to please the thirsty, but with our new studies on sound and sonics, we’ve created music from our research, and brought about new spurts of buds within each droplet of H20. The necessity in listening to Systematic while it helps absorb the purest hydration is Yamaoka goal for inner and Earthly peace in everything.

Chemical Tapes know’s what they’re doing, and it’s growing. Yamaoka’s newest tape Systematic got heads bouncing and expanding at an amazing speed. Hitting your health hard and internet shelves either at the end of this week or next, so scope the [excerpts] below before the tape arrives:

• Chemical Tapes:

Wave Temples

“Deep Waves”

What if the Predator wasn’t a dick, and instead of destroying jungles with arm bombs, chose to explore the depths of the earth and watch life grow? And what if his heat vision got all altered and made everything look as if it did radiate heat, even if it didn’t? Well, if you’re curious as to what that might look like, the above clip for “Deep Waves” by Wave Temples gives you a pretty good idea. Created by broken machine films, this beaut mixes that zoned out alien vision with the deep, peaceful winds and tones of Wave Temples music, and the two work wonderfully together.

“Deep Waves” is a cut off of Wave Temples’ Sleeping Tortugas, recently released on Rotifer Cassettes. The rest of the album falls in line with “Deep Waves”, containing romantic streams of paradise life that quickly rise and fall and fade into each other. Imagine fine, white sand and satin sifted through cheesecloth, then poured into a tape reel already filled with melodically simple yet beautifully choosen keyboard lines, as well as tropical field recordings which withhold all traces of heavy storms or the stings of bug bites, allowing only the soft sprinkles of rain and the call and response of birds to validate one’s secret time under a palm tree, and you’d be close to what the tape sounds like.


Wave Temples:
Rotifer Cassettes:

Abe Leonard

Night, Late w/Out

For some time now, Abraham Leonard has been leaving giant conceptual footprints all over the hearts of NCers – ambling through either cataclysmic mountains of guitar drone or terse song-craft as a means toward stark emotionalism. Such, Night, Late w/Out has been a long time coming; as, folks have been BEGGING the dude to release recordings for years now. Of course, there have been the obligatory Bandcamp live recordings, which served as shadowy reminders to the 10 separate “moments-of-clarity” received during some woody, isolated house show that could have taken place any time during the past 5+ years. BUT FINALLY, Boone label New Body Tapes has stepped up to release Abe’s most definitive statement thus far, a work that sounds like it’s been stewing at the bottom of a well to collect more concentrated doses of poignancy (“you should not believe me”), weirdness (any of the “instrumentals”), and pure evil (“blood seed”).

When taken as a whole, Night, Late w/Out’s unrelenting sincerity is as hardened as two stone fists slugging you in the gut for hours, bent on turning you “soft” and getting you to sit down for a goddamn minute (in pain, or relief). Mainly, the work helps sketch out an impressive/alienating Appalachian landscape – drawing lines between all kinds of dislocated musicalities (and, yes, FEELINGS!) that have been buzzing around Blue Ridge valleys throughout NC. It’s an “authentic” mission, one that serves as a “heart-wrenching” reminder that such adjectives are, indeed, still applicable to musical experience, and to any individual will capable of identifying with the struggle or triumph of another.

Get “turnt soft” by listening to the full album below, or by gathering the tape from New Body Tapes:

• Abe Leonard:
• New Body Tapes:


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.