“Loving The Drift”
“We’re pro surfers, man. We don’t have to pay the cover. You’ve never heard of us? I guarantee some chicks in there will recognize us.”
The bouncer looked at our IDs. “California. Yeah, alright, we need some more bodies in there anyway.”
“Thanks, man.” We walked into the London dance club, trying not to seem overly excited that the pro-surfer line worked again. Our hair was sun-bleached after spending several weeks on the beaches of Spain and Portugal. We emphasized our Southern California slur, using “dude” at least twice in every sentence. The surfer lie was perfect.
As I parted the velvet curtain to enter the club, a shiny empty dance floor beamed reflections of the lasers into our eyes. Maybe this surfer thing wasn’t all that powerful; this must have been the lamest club in London. A solitary man danced alone as if he were leading a congo line around the club. Several silhouettes of hunched-over bodies hovered by the bar. There was no one worth introducing our fake identities to, but the club was all ours.
I hustled over to the DJ to request that M.I.A. song I had stuck in my head. “It’s electro night, chap. No hip-hop,” the DJ screamed over the blaring drum ‘n’ bass music. “Okay, whatever.” So we danced our little Californian hearts out, like a double-act Bacardi commercial — or the video above from Maxmillion Dunbar’s newest release House of Woo from RVNG Intl. Records.
Stream the whole album over here.
Aaron Dilloway & Kevin Drumm
I Drink Your Skin
It’s time to kick Jay out of the apartment. You’ve known this since the moment last week when he called your other roommates, named Giant Pile of Aaron Dilloway Physical Media and Giant Pile of Kevin Drumm Physical Media, “useless wastes of space” that “take up two whole rooms, and for what?” You’re pretty sure Giant Pile of Aaron Dilloway Physical Media didn’t hear anything, but Giant Pile of Kevin Drumm Physical Media has been unusually quiet all week long. Yesterday, you found the Sheer Hellish Miasma 2xLP eMego reissue just lying in the middle of the bathroom floor, all depressed-like. This can’t go on any longer.
You realize what you need to do: replace Jay with a new roommate. Someone who understands. But who? You remember that Dilloway’s Hanson Records just reissued the long out-of-print Dilloway/Drumm collaboration cassette I Drink Your Skin on CD.
You listen as Dilloway snatches bits of a Drumm session — originally delivered to him on a mini-disc “caked in spilled coffee” — and funnels them through his 8-track into looped oblivion. You hear Drumm repurposing Dilloway’s gnarled manipulations of English prog band Renaissance into his own odyssey of hiss. You order seven of the 500 copies of I Drink Your Skin and lay them out on the coffee table when they arrive. You introduce your new roomie to the old one before you send him packing: “Burgeoning Pile of Physical Media Featuring Both Drumm and Dilloway in Collaboration means more to me now than you ever have, Jay.” He walks out. Domestic equilibrium restored. The family is complete.
• Hanson Records: http://hansonrecords.bigcartel.com
While in college, I took a course on the history of jazz. The teacher was a musician named Hofbauer — if you’re him, what up, thanks for the A — whose final included an essay question that went something like, “Why isn’t jazz as popular as it used to be, and how can it regain its popularity?” I distinctly remember my response talking about how jazz musicians used to cover more pop songs and how one option might be for modern jazz artists to do the same, while also re-incorporating elements of the newer musical genres that’ve borrowed so heavily from jazz, namely hip-hop and electronica. Of course, collaborations between jazz artists and hip-hoppers are nothing new — see Miles Davis’ Doo-Bop and Guru’s Jazzmatazz for a few prime examples. But jazz musicians covering rap songs or looping riffs and dropping tempos to the point where their tunes sound like beats? These phenomena I hadn’t witnessed until recently, with groups like BADBADNOTGOOD. In the words of Mr. Pink, “I’m not saying they weren’t there, I’m saying there were there, but they didn’t move in till…”
Whereas BBNG has their fun soloing electrically along with the chord progressions of hit songs like “Brooklyn Zoo,” “Lemonade,” and “Earl,” Black Chamber goes another route, their muted trumpet, stand-up bass, and drawn-out drum rhythms holding a moody streetwise conversation that sounds like the kind of defeat and despair you find only in damp, dark alleyways or abandoned buildings. It’s not bright and fun, but scorched and spectral like a Western ghost town. Their cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” manages to somehow simultaneously add some soul and suck out any semblance of hope the original had to offer. It’s like old Portishead with no vocals and more attitude. All attempts at objectivity aside, this album fucking rules, and I really hope you not only check it out, but tell all of your friends about it too.
• Black Chamber: http://www.blackchambermusic.com
While the vast majority of England’s folk-pop exports cajole around in sunny wheat fields, wearing the latest Victorian peasant attire and melting down their Grammy awards into soles for their leather brogues, British songstress Marika Hackman is carefully, quietly spinning stories of love, death, and mutilation.
Although her cloppy, quirky instrumental arrangements and honeyed, Nico-esque coo stir up a sense of intimacy and comfort, Hackman is essentially the musical equivalent of a Grimm fairy tale villain: enticing us with understated hooks and softly-stirred rhythms, painting images of pupils “as deep as wells” and “black as crows,” and lulling us into a bemused calm, one so soothing that it can be easy to overlook the heavy dread hanging over a song as beautiful as “Retina Eyes.”
I wish I had that attention to dynamics at the microscopic level when I was 19. Hackman’s highly-anticipated “mini-album,” That Iron Taste, comes out February 25 on Dirty Hit Records. Joanna Newsom, you’ve got yourself some competition.
“Painting on a Corpse”
Tier 1: OMFG guys, did you hear about this new SuperGroup called The Pearl Ensemble or something??? It’s the dude from Sun Oh and some japanese dudes and I think also some dude related to Werner Herzog?? I’m not really that into this sort of thing but I know you love this droney baloney bullshit — you def need to check this out.
Tier 2: Ensemble Pearl is truly stacked, man. Stephen O’Malley (sunn o))), Khanate, KTL, innumerable projects) on the Travis Bean reverb worship; Michio Kurihara (Ghost, Boris) tape delaying treble-blasted leads into oblivion; Atsuo (Boris) in full-on doom dub crawl percussion, delay on the snare, plus some gong atmospherics; Bill Herzog (Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter) keeping it all grounded with steady, mountainous bass work. You know you’re going to love this, man — like, it’s basically the Dead Man soundtrack on crack.
Tier 3: Four musicians who have proven themselves masters of contemporary extreme music apart and in previous collaborations get together in Japan to hash out a soundtrack commission received by O’Malley. The project, however, evolves into another beast entirely: a quartet experimenting together in the studio, their idiosyncratic tones combining into compositions of the most elemental variety. On “Painting On A Corpse,” our first taste of Ensemble Pearl’s self-titled album on Drag City, we hear isolated guitar leads swell and collide across spacious mixes, inhuman drones coaxed from sound sources we thought we knew so well, a rhythm section rattling out a perfectly ill-at-ease backdrop, maximum atmosphere yielding maximum results.
Pre-order Ensemble Pearl from Drag City. It will ship to your home on or around March 19th, and you will fall deep into it.
• Stephen O’Malley: http://www.ideologic.org
• Atsuo: http://fangsanalsatan.com
• Michio Kurihara: http://www.discogs.com/artist/Michio+Kurihara
• Bill Herzog: http://www.discogs.com/artist/Bill+Herzog?noanv=1
• Drag City: http://www.dragcity.com