Earlier this year, Charlie Looker (Extra Life, ZS)’s Seaven Teares project released its debut album, Power Ballads. With the help of Amirtha Kidambi (Sequins and Skeletons), Robbie Lee (Howling Hex), and Russell Greenberg (Yarn/Wire), Looker had crafted a curiously hypnotic, boldly anachronistic blend of English folk and Early Music, with touches of dark ambience and modern composition serving as both an aesthetic reminder of its modern reach and a signifier of atemporal themes like violence and transgression.
But of course, Power Ballads opens with perhaps its most conventional song, “Meet Me.” Contrasting Greenberg’s heavy, thudding downbeat with the playful, impressionistic sounds of Lee’s portative organ, the melancholic track foregrounds Looker and Kidambi’s vocal arrangements, the forceful acrobatics of which obscure the song’s seedier plummets. Here, Seaven Teares drop lyrics like “Meet me where you blush, meet me at your skin/ Kiss me through the bars, unsmiling in pleasure” next to lines such as “The more I grab at your hated parts and search you like a corpse” and “Bars of coke await us there and then we’ll flee to separate rooms to cry,” juxtaposing its superficially wistful aesthetics with something much darker and more emotionally challenging. It’s a difficult listen if you want it to be, a testament once again to the complexity of Looker’s unique approach to music-making.
Check out Seaven Teares performing “Meet Me” here:
Power Ballads is out now on Northern Spy. Watch the band perform live on Sunday at Northern Spy’s Spy Music Festival (of which TMT is a sponsor) at 285 Kent.
A constant flickering happens before your eyes, and you can’t tell if it’s 5 or 50 feet from you. Then the illusion or hologram smiles in pockets of your vision, beckoning you to follow it, so you start running. And in spurts, it slows down to flirt with blinks, but still you’ve no vision of where you’re running to and maybe this light is something of a heart attack? Yet, you feel the burn, and actually running and stopping over and over again really gives that pump your heart needs. Them eyes feeling your body up and down. You getting curves. Sweat drips from where fat once was. Oh, wait, this is just a workout post! And the intensive here is both going hard and going NOT hard. Run and walk. Strength and endurance. Same with lifting: max out weight and the max out endurance. Go 150 lbs. one day at 6 to 8 reps each, then 100 lbs. at 15 to 30 reps each. Grind it! Just as my favorite 2013 dance cassette Hands Together by Cosby does it. Goes hard. Goes HARDER. Gives you a water break. GET’S FUCKING DEEP. Then eases into it. And “Swap” is just an example.
The tape is limited to 100 editions on 100% Silk, with a new style design from their old style, so act as fast as you can. Keep up!
“Wring the Rag”
Lee Noble is such a major d00d. For years, Noble has been releasing consistently excellent records full of drone-based bedroom pop experimentation through a myriad of labels — including his own No Kings imprint — and his latest, Ruiner is undeniably among his best work. Ruiner’s nine tracks marry doomy synths/electronics/tape collage to folk-like forms, creating a brooding yet beautiful work of lo-fi isolationism. When listening to Ruiner, I’m often reminded of other isolationist touchstones such as Arthur Russell’s World of Echo, early Smog, Andrew Chalk, and even Grouper’s recent work. While there are musical elements from each of these artists present in Noble’s sound, they’re most unified by mood: Noble’s compositions conjure the same sense of a solitary individual playing into the void.
This feeling of expansive desolation is perfectly captured in the video for Ruiner’s “Wring the Rag.” The track is one of Ruiner’s sparest, and the austere, grainy footage of various landscapes parallels the song’s sonics while providing a representation of the record’s isolated abyss as a whole.
Ruiner is out now via Bathetic Records. You can watch the video for “Wring the Rag” above.
Lil Ugly Mane
“On Doing An Evil Deed Blues”
After flooding Bandcamp with almost two hours of “Instrumentals and Unreleased Shit” in the form of the sprawling THREE SIDED TAPE VOLUME ONE and TWO, Lil Ugly Mane’s trudge to the hip-hop finish line continues with the release of the first single from what he says will be his final full-length. The Richmond-based MC/producer’s 2012 epic MISTA THUG ISOLATION slides its grimy tentacles deeper into our consciousnesses with every spin, still eluding classification in basement discussions and iTunes libraries everywhere (“sludge-trap?” “noise-hop?” “really frightening”). Now he sits before his Tascam MF-P01 Portastudio with a mic in hand, tracking verses straight to the tape that will serve as his swan song, PRELUDE TO PANOPTICON/EXIT TO EUPHORIA(PATRIOTIC DRYHEAVE).
The eight-minute “On Doing an Evil Deed Blues” encapsulates the bittersweet vibes of this moment on the LUM timeline. The sweet: a knotty song structure, front-loaded with a collage of D.I.T.C. lines that blossoms into multiple hooks and lengthy verses; a beat that coasts along on a wispy vocal sample above bone-thick bass drums and unhinged hi-hats; the Codeine Demon in full-on Golden Age reminiscence mode, “spitting Raekwon bars to the mirror just to hear it.” The bitter: his taking-to-task of the rap game for trends of violence, hedonism, and greed; his deep Things Done Changed mentality RE: his current notoriety vs. his previous pressure-free obscurity; his declaration that “rapping ain’t my grind/ I just used to like to rhyme.” We can all share in the massive bummer that some of Lil Ugly Mane’s most honest, ferocious moments on the mic to date — stripped of fantasy and horror-core affectation, for better or for worse — reach us as part of his goodbye.
• Lil Ugly Mane: http://liluglymane.bandcamp.com
“Contractor Corpses Hung Over the Euphrates River”
Usually foreplay should last a little longer, but today it’s straight to the hurtin’ and squirtin’. We already know that the new Vatican Shadow album Remember Your Black Day will be airdropped upon the previously unsuspecting world come October. The question on everyone’s lips now is, “What will it sound like?” Are we in for more of the reliable VS doom, dirt, and beats? How consistent can an artist be before people start to get bored and want novelty beyond new track titles obliquely referencing world events?
The good people at Fabric have an answer in the form of “Contractor Corpses Hung Over the Euphrates River.” This is Vatican Shadow in true form, back with the dust-caked synths to bring oppressive, Middle Eastern heat to your living space. Consistency is great, and this is endless entertainment at its finest, but where is the fire of a VS live performance? At what point does the seething resentment of this messy modern world spill over into the kind of rhythms that can pound you to your knees on a dance floor while forcing a view of modern warfare and politics in front of your face?
Maybe it is here, buried a little deeper? Maybe it’s on the accompanying When You Are Crawling EP that’s been scuttlebutting about. The best thing to do when you’re crawling is try to figure out how many drinks you have had and find the nearest unoccupied toilet. Sounds like a helluva night. Keep your fingers crossed that that is what’s in store for Vatican Shadow followers. For now, just put this track on repeat and let the future crawl and/or boogie towards you.
• Hospital Productions: http://hospitalproductions.net