“Don’t Forget Who Sent You”
Mouthguard88, comprised of Amnon Freidlin (Honnda, Normal Love, ex-ZS), and singer/designer Diana Joy (Slime with Lightning Bolt’s Brian Gibson), self-describe themselves as “soil pop thrashers,” but they’re more like glitch-rap hooligans — two energetic (and overeager) MCs rapping along to their favorite video game soundtracks, faintly preserved on banged-up, sun-fried cartridges. The duo’s tortured party jams are disorienting, to be sure, but there are enough vestigial bits of 80s cheese-ball pop to earn the distinction of Freidlin’s most dance-floor-ready set of tunes yet.
“Don’t Forget Who Sent You” is the creepy, catchy first single from Mouthguard88’s forthcoming album, accompanied by an equally attention-grabbing video. In the clip, a group of prisoners slowly trudge along a dusty road, heads buried in their smartphones. They are clothed in jumpsuits that simply read, “Verizon;” at the same time, we see a brutal fight between two men who appear to be WWF superstars. The two scenes crash and collide, teasing at connections but never giving anything away; the costumes, designed by Joy herself, are some of the most interesting we’ve seen all year. It’s a headscratcher, but also fodder for a good head walk after the fact.
Listen to Yard and think,”We’re getting there, somewhere, and I think it’s pretty nice there.” And then, “Maybe this is taking control of my brain.” Maybe things evolve. It could be the mix getting busier, or it could be us noticing more of the mix. Certain moments catch us and send our heads spinning in nice little crescent moons waiting for the next shift, which maybe never comes. But we’re down. The reality of the next part never coming –> the realization that the little flecks and scrapes and blips that brewed on the edge of the beat for the last two minutes, those were the thing. “The ticket.” The vivid synth bass that oozes and slinks all over the lower register, definitely another ticket. The haze that shrouds an upper register into which vague lead phrases burst and float and then deflate again into the rhythm is a beautiful symptom of the medium and of the mind harnessing it.
In Waiting is Chris Jones’ second tape under his Yard moniker on Further Records. One hundred physical copies of the release exist. All of these things happened in Seattle RE: this tape: the programming, the turning of the knobs, the keys pressed, the creation and the layout of the typeset, the consideration of the promotional materials, the uploading of the files to the internet (it took me up through the first two minutes of “Disco Belle” on Bandcamp before I clicked the Order button), the shipping of the tapes, the living of lives in which beats and loops and synth patches play no small part and can seem in certain moments more like symbols of something larger than what could be feasibly explained, the listening back.
One thing you can expect from 3:33, aside from the finest in noisy beats and dark ambience, is insanely detailed, often tapestry-like cover art and layout by graphic designer/digital illustrator Kevin Vitella. From the Satanic symmetry of The First Thousand Days and Live From The Grove to the earthen machina In The Middle of Infinity, Vitella has provided more than just poisonous eye candy. These tableaus are like lyrics for the instrumental hip-hop 3:33’s owl-guised aliens hoot. (Of course, to fully appreciate them, you’ll have to buy the physical copies.)
3:33’s latest, Bicameral Brain, takes the concept of slightly broken symmetry a step further with two discs, which, according to the press release, represent “the two sides of this primitive state of consciousness, the commander and the commanded.” The first single, “BB2-1” (disc 2, track 1) starts off with a waning drone left over from disc 1’s “auditory hallucination” before falling in step with a militant breakbeat march. From there, corpses pile.
Stream “BB2-1” below and bisect the Bicameral Brain October 29, just in time for Halloween.
• Parallel Thought: http://pthought.com
Aster (Ashley Paul and Eli Keszler)
“Secrets and Lies”
I once saw a Michael Pisaro concert that involved a piece for bowed crotales and sine tones. One of the piece’s goals was to produce a psychoacoustic beating effect between the relatively stable high-frequency drone of the crotales and the constantly modulating sine tones around it. However, during this particular performance, a loud rock band was playing across the street, and occasionally their performance would cut through and blend with and alter the close register beatings of the frequencies. Instead of hindering the performance, I found that this chance occurrence turned the piece into something else. The juxtaposition of the rock band’s rhythm and harmony was gradually blending in and out of the pulsating drone, almost as if their distant playing came out of the beatings itself.
Eli Keszler and Ashley Paul’s second collaborative release as Aster comes across as something of a fully realized version of the aleatoric acoustic phenomenon that I witnessed at Pisaro’s performance. Many of the pieces on their forthcoming Things That Just Happen album involve the exploration of high-register beatings through the use of crotales and various woodwinds, but the duo use this textural template to allow genuine harmonic movement to emerge from the psychoacoustic effects of their playing. Of these pieces, “Secrets and Lies” is the most removed from the high-frequency work, but listen closely and the wails of Paul’s clarinet and the subtle squeaks of Keszler’s percussion draw a clear line to its place in the midst of the duo’s impossibly successful psychoacoustic song cycle.
The concept of intimacy has often been discussed when examining Paul’s work, and “Secrets and Lies” definitely continues to develop that theme. Even though the track clearly involves overdubs, the duo create an atmosphere that is at once claustrophobic and expansive. Paul’s voice and clarinet often sound like they’ve drifted in from a room over the course of the track’s close-mic’d acoustic noise. In this sense, Paul and Keszler create a space where the roomy-sounding melodic/harmonic components of the work seem to emerge from the microcosmic world of their warped instruments. Of course, Keszler and Paul acknowledge this emergent nature of their compositions both with the album’s title and by allowing songs/melodies to develop out of their psychoacoustic explorations. As a result, they’ve managed to make a record that recreates the contingency of various spaces and styles interacting in real-time.
Things That Just Happen is out October 22 via Rel Records. You can listen to “Secrets and Lies” below.
Paul Revere V rides his bike into the hot late-August night. Summer is almost over; middle school starts again next week. This year, he will be in eighth grade. He soaks in the last lazy rays of freedom and smiles at the future. Biking as fast as he can along the buttery suburbia sidewalks, his ass never touches the seat. His Discman blasting golden era rap classics. His hoodie fills up with the humid summer air, and suddenly he feels just like his great-great-great grandfather, wearing a big velvety cape and a braided ponytail, riding a horse through the night, and waking up the sleeping city.
Midnight Ride, the newest Fortune 500 product from artist Video 2000, is chock full of ghetto jams that are all lathered up in warm, foamy vaporwave goodness. A ridiculously perfect accompaniment to the last days of summer break. Whether you are skimming the last half of East of Eden or busy shopping for bulletin board boarders to decorate your classroom, enjoy the final days with Video 2000.