The Honeymoon Workbook
I remember finding the Good Willsmith Is The Food Your Family Eats Slowly tape at a record store in Seattle. It was one of those small, focused record stores where you won’t find a single Linda Ronstadt or Herb Alpert record, the kind of place where you have to sift through everything. And in a single box of tapes near the register was the Good Willsmith cassette from the band’s own Hausu Mountain label. It was the first and only time I can remember finding a contemporary music tape at a store. The format, for all its analog loyalty, is ironically reliant largely on computer screens as storefronts. I excitedly tried to explain all of this to the guy at the counter as I bought the tape, mostly just thinking aloud. He didn’t seem impressed, but thought the band name was kind of clever.
Discovering the tape unexpectedly seemed an appropriate way to “find” their music. Good Willsmith has always had a kind of researching feel to their music, and I’m not just referring to their 14 Years of Desperate Research release. The progression of their sound from song to song, show to show, or album to album has always paralleled a form of rhetorical analysis, wherein the recording and editing of the music itself is another step in the discovery of its own sound space, rather than an attempt at capturing an idealized song. In this regard, there is often little difference between the band’s live performance and recorded output. It’s a testament to the instinctual quality of improvisation between individual musicians creating in symmetry toward an exact common goal, a final filling of a song’s combined sound space occurring simultaneously with the musical artifact reaching the hands of a listener and being heard by outside ears in any format.
The Honeymoon Workbook, the new album from the Chicago-based trio (which includes TMT’s own Mukqs on low-end manipulation), steps closely in the footprints of the improvisational qualities of previous releases, but with a kind of cyclical nature that crests like the changing of the seasons, leaving its listeners in a kind of seasonal cognitive dissonance from the same seasons they’ve grown to expect and know. Still feeling the effects of chilly interludes as synthetic, spring colors melt anything piled beyond its own means, and the sun begins to create new colors in skin. And it feels like it could stretch out forever, but we all know its timeline. It’s written in the calendars of our computers, and it tells us what to expect when we look out the windows on this date, as if years of experiencing March weather hadn’t written expectation into our internal clocks. No matter how much we experiment and research, spending hours and days and years with the same objects, everything will always occur differently enough to hold our interest to the specific inconsistencies hidden underneath its persistence.
It’s an entire measure of the value in improvisation: that nothing really occurs twice, despite any attempts at mimicry through the setting of the knobs on the equipment, whether it be the oscillators on synthesizers or the settings on the chain of effect pedals carrying the softly strummed harmonies from guitars. The Honeymoon Workbook is an experiment, and what we hear is the results, written between the understanding of time-based variables, as something that exists from a datebook of events, every one of which held the potential for writing a natural law, but only as a pattern of numbers describing its findings within the overall sum of experimentation.
No one is in charge of their awkwardness like Luke Leavitt of Denver’s newest and 100% best-est weirdo keytar solo project Cop Circles, and this fresh video for the lead track on his latest EP, which is now available as a name-your-price download, is straight-up proof of that authority. The video captures not only the general weirdness of his music’s insatiable, hook-laden nerd-funk, but also the sheer aggressiveness and unbridled confidence Leavitt manages to consistently bring to the stage in a live setting. Sum total is the kind of thing that, while certainly confrontational, is also doubly effective as an invitation to get close. Real close. Uncomfortably close. Scrape-your-cheek-on-his-braces-close. And once you’re in there, the lower half of your body may have a tough time controlling itself. But that’s completely normal. Just go with it.
P.S. Stick around for one of the more memorable music video credit sequences in recent memory at the end, featuring Colin Ward of Alphabets.
• Cop Circles: http://www.copcircles.com
One thing that overwhelms me the most about New York City and walking around and finding locations (late, typically) is all the people. Not in an agoraphobic way, but more like an attack on my creativity. I’m just constantly challenged with thoughts of what people do who I pass; where they’re coming from or going, their family life and roots background, what kinda skeezy The Wire shit people deal in on the daily, etc. This here tape Source Localization by Karmelloz is not only super pinnacle to the kid’s career in analog, but it’s also an excellent access to excising your thoughts. There’s plenty of drips in the up-and-down climax arena, but it’s nice to think that Karmelloz is challenging your thoughts, then breaking speed, pumping blood, and then lingering in a corner.
When I typically see people huddling in the crevasses of the street, initially am taken off-guard by the unusual act of it, but now that I think about it, these people are actually brilliant. Thus, Karmelloz’s Source Localization CS will be a part of my fiancee and my weekend picnic adventures to people watching spots in the city. We’ll totally bring MORE cassettes – especially Sarah’s Rocks and M30 – but Source Localization will definitely settle itself while we’re in the city light: off that tilted church by Penn Station or a Time Square metal table or around Pier 11 or maybe even uptown around the West Side highway. You can experience Source Localization for yourself below, but I imagine this ain’t Karmelloz’s last tape, so grip it quick!
I’m getting tired of chloroforming myself every day and losing whole afternoons in an effort to temporally inch my body closer to the release date of the new Ben Frost LP. I wake up in the bathtub like, “How the hell did this shit happen, oh baby?” and then I remember the wet rag, the overhead light dimming, five years of Frostlessness flashing before my eyes. Sure, he offered up those soundtracks last year to tide us over. And we’ve got some details: the forthcoming album is called A U R O R A, and it features the likes of Greg Fox (Guardian Alien, ZS), Thor Harris (Swans), and Shahzad Ismaily (Secret Chiefs 3, Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog). But honestly, knowing this makes my wait even more excruciating. Maybe the answer has been right in front of my eyes this whole time: cryogenic freezing. It worked in acclaimed documentary Austin Powers, so it can work IRL. Excuse me while I fall into an ice drift, retreat into fetal stasis, and fast foward two months until…
Damn. “Venter” plugs two world-class drummers into Frost’s intricate grid of drones, bells, and glacial synth figures. Their organic tom pulses carve out the low-end, propelling us blindly across the tundra as Frost’s production flourishes churn their way through the haze alongside us. At the four minute mark, we’re treated to a passage of maximal sonic stimulation such that only Frost can provide: charged with ethereal melody, mixed down to the finest detail, sparked into new harmonic grandeur with the onset of the cyclical bass tones under the ongoing detonation. If I listen to “Venter” about 13000 more times, it will be May 26, when Mute and Bedroom Community drop A U R O R A into my eager mitts.
Thee Oh Sees
Welp, thank goodness Thee Oh Sees got a new album coming out April 19 and I’m glad we’re all considering the word hiatus as “a mere lapse in live performances.” So, following along the same lines as “Minotaur,” the last track off their 2013 album Floating Coffin(TMT Review), Thee Oh Sees takes another quite exit with their new single “The Lens.” Here in the video, it looks like an Heinz Edelmann remix of that muffled vision in everyone’s 21-century life. I ‘effing missed an Heinz Edelmann exhibit practically 15 minutes away from my spot and kinda got sad, but figured, “All you need is love,” right? WRONG. Today’s living is meek and instant. “The Lens” lays it out easy. Follow directions!