Big Waves of Pretty

It Is A Sight He Never Forgets

Big Waves of Pretty might technically hail from Wisconsin, but their home is (the couch in your garage) {your absent roommate’s bed} [the corner booth of a highway diner] somewhere across America, location after location, gobbled up in single-serving portions before getting back on the road again. The group’s tour with Bridgetown Records founder Kevin Greenspon stretched past 100 dates in the course of more than four months, allowing them to woodshed new material before fresh faces in basements, bars, and galleries each night. I managed to catch them twice on this tour, and remember: six-string shred, hyper-precise drum battery, cacophonous gang vocalization, dozens of bells handed into the crowd, hair flopping, shirts coming off, gear set up on the floor, amps facing inward, eye contact, irreverence, spirit. The two shows blur together in my mind. I imagine +100 shows blur deeper for them.

But here we have a succinct 27-minute document of their energy in the form of It Is A Sight He Never Forgets, recorded in Minneapolis at the end of their journey. BWOP’s aural transience matches their physical wanderlust, as their convictions bleed from the speakers in an ecstatic blitz of fingers and throats pushed to the edge of reason for the sake of comrades, strangers, and each other. “Big Waves” offers just that, as washes of effected six-string texture fuse with bell percussion before the math-rock takedown hits with crisp arpeggios and tight snare rolls. “Feeling Stoned” and “Blissed” temper the Dead-meets-DonCab vibes of Akron/Family and contemporaries with bruising blastbeats, warp-speed riffing and turn-on-a-dime song structures. “Goldenrod” stretches into narcotic ballad zones with vocal harmonies and harmonica peals before “If You Not Going To Sparkle What The Fuck Did You Come For” caps off the tape as a manifesto of their varied strategies.

It Is A Sight He Never Forgets is available now from the newly revived (never dead) Bridgetown Records, or spring for the package deal of the whole Spring batch.

• Big Waves of Pretty:
• Bridgetown Records:

M.I.A. & The Partysquad

“Double Bubble Trouble”

Cohesion in art requires a certain level of restraint. The best form of restraint is economic. When an artist is bound to what little they have, or to some budget of some kind, the restraint forces creativity to a certain extent, if the artist obviously lets it. It forces them to get clever, get interesting, constantly moving. One’s focus becomes intense, clarity is gained. “Stay hungry,” in other words, and things start making sense, the art becomes itself. But more importantly, if one is successful in this manner, great is the artist who understands that the restraint is what got them there, not just some innate talent or skill as the ego implies.

So what happens if the artist cannot simply restrain themselves economically, by virtue of being at least decently off? Maybe they’ve become successful with their art. Maybe they married into wealth. Maybe they scored a windfall through a grant, winnings, something of that nature. Perhaps it’s a combination of some or all these things, among others. There is nothing necessarily wrong with these things independent of the context of creation. You have to live, somehow, and you got to have money, else you starve. However, without the lack of money being a form of restraint available, restraint becomes an internal discipline of the self, and creating something cohesive hinges on it. And discipline is a necessity. Otherwise, things fall apart and unravel.

Some artists try to maintain restraint by staying within the bounds of their genre. They expand only on the visions they already created. Others actually attempt to practice some form of discipline with their work. This is only successful to varying degrees, and leaves an overall middling experience.

Unfortunately, more often than not, the end result is that, once an artist chances upon wealth, they lose any sense of restraint, and rip loose. Subsequently, everything unravels. Everything they stood for, everything they were trying to do with their art, gone, along with any sense of direction. Even when they call back to those halcyon times where they could make a piece and it actually meant something, the response now becomes stale, and the artist looks like they’re flailing. There is nothing but loose scraps of what once was in the work.

That’s what this video feels like: clips of random smoke ring performance art, kids holding plastic guns (implied to be made from 3D printers, except they’re the same colors as those one finds in a toy store), cheap toy copters meant to be “peace drones” flying over what is essentially another repetitive Kollywood/breakbeat dance routine. A seizure-inducing shoutout to the beginning of one’s career for the last 30 seconds, intending to remind people the importance of the artist’s intent, comes off as sloppy and meaningless. “Yes We Scan?” “1984 Is Now?” What do they even mean, other than lazy appropriations of ideas that sound like filling gruel for a certain sect of the white population?

This would be just an acceptable act of laziness and weak vision, were it not for the fact that the artist is directing the video itself, despite years of crafting interesting and effective art. It’s as if the street, the prime source of material, is lost to the artist. It’s as if one’s place is mere window dressing, especially when the people one surrounds themselves with, from their spouses to their sponsors, are so above and beyond the street that their mere existence is simply to remind these higher-ups that there is such a thing as poor and marginalized people.

So, the question must be asked: Who the fuck are you anymore, Mathangi Arulpragasam? ?? ???

• M.I.A.:
• Interscope Records:


The Bible

GOD’s music is a great litmus test for what kind of hip-hop fan you are. If you’re a misguided purist who tunes out at the first sign of a trap drum, then odds are you won’t play The Bible long enough to hear GOD drop a gem or two you might otherwise appreciate. If you’re a casual listener who focuses mainly on the beats, you might enjoy The Bible but only for its aesthetic value, not its true substance. If you’re a yuppie blogger who turns to “trap-hop” or “party rap” to satisfy some bizarre, fetishistic impulse, but refuses to listen to intelligible rap lyrics, probably because they don’t jibe with your deeply ingrained racist notion of rap as a lower art form, then you’ll probably turn The Bible off and forget you ever listened.

So who does that leave to experience GOD’s latest trapscendence?

The rest of us, I guess … oh, and Sean Michael Daley, better known as Slug of Atmosphere. He likes GOD, too.

Where do you stand?

• GOD:

Richard Pinhas & Tatsuya Yoshida / Richard Pinhas & Oren Ambarchi

“PART TWO CORE TRAX (Excerpt)” / “San Francisco T2V2 (Excerpt)”

Squint toward the horizon and you’ll notice the second or fourth or twentieth wave of avant/electronic rock pioneer Richard Pinhas’s career barreling toward you, clocking at like at least fifty knots, gathering foam and growing higher by the second on its path to obliterate your pathetic little body on the shore. Pinhas tore strings and opened minds in the mid-70s at the helm of French experimental ensemble Heldon — a project whose ahead-of-its-time catalog (synth programming + live drums + looped guitar improv?) has been revived out of hyper-rare-OOP limbo by way of Superior Viaduct’s reissue campaign. But the mind of present day Richard Pinhas — wizened by his subsequent decades of philosophizing, performing, and outright living — continues to expand in new directions alongside a growing network of acolytes-turned-collaborators.

After the surging gang warfare of last year’s Desolation Row, which found him spurring a crew of avant gurus into deep space synth improv, Pinhas toured internationally and linked up on bills with the likes of Wolf Eyes, Aaron Dilloway, Keiji Haino, and previous partner-in-crime Merzbow (scope this legend-studded lunch pic). For his two upcoming full-length albums on Cuneiform Records, Pinhas formed duos with two journeyman experimentalists from this new(er) generation of collaborators: Tatsuya Yoshida, and Oren Ambarchi. Each disc casts Pinhas’s chosen accomplice as the multi-instrumentalist foil to his extended guitar exploration — which flits from chiming ambience delivered straight from the “The Heavenly Music Corporation” to chaotic lead shred, all funneled into loops that wind through each jam’s overlapped vortexes. As a testament to their versatility as improvisers and their interdisciplinary live capabilities, both Yoshida and Ambarchi match Pinhas’s fire with maximalist performances on guitar, electronics, and drum kit. Never content to let their looped phrases or repeated riffs linger too long in the mix, Pinhas’s partners propel the extended sessions through disparate atmospheres and clear transitions, building into dramatic structures that organically decay and reform around the core of Pinhas’s six-string output.

Tatsuya Yoshida’s catalog with the continually inventive Japanese duo (sometimes solo [<-Seriously though… Wow]) project Ruins and the virtuosic opera prog-gasm known as Koenji Hyakkei casts him in a mastermind-behind-the-drum-kit role directly inspired by Christian Vander of Magma: leading each group through his metrically complex compositions while vocalizing melodies in the ecstatic nonsense language of Zeuhl. Just as Ruins and related projects couple Yoshida’s focus and performative discipline with his sense of abandon, the sessions with Richard Pinhas documented on the upcoming Welcome In The Void find him stretching out into passages of unrestrained electronic drift between his bruising drum beatdowns. Stream an excerpt from “PART TWO - CORE TRAX,” premiering below, for a taste of the duo’s live alchemy, propelled by manic snare rolls and a recursive haze of upper-register guitar texture.

Oren Ambachi has sketched out a singular vision of drone composition and performance through his modern-classic-laden solo catalog, and collaborations with the likes of Sunn 0))), Jim O’Rourke, and Merzbow, to name a few. On Tikkun, Ambarchi complements Pinhas’s cosmic delay trails with both his own searing guitar performance and the deep grooves of kraut-informed percussion we’ve come to love from his performances in Keiji Haino’s crushing power trios. The excerpt of “San Francisco T2V2” catches Ambarchi in a prickly distorted tone not far from 2012’s Raga Ooty LP, as his and Pinhas’s guitars bite and claw at each other in a cloud of layered tremolo picking. When Ambarchi gets behind the kit, the session blasts open into a molten rock rhythm, anchored by steady ride cymbal splashes and tom patterns, over which Pinhas ascends higher and higher into interstellar space.

Both Welcome In The Void and Tikkun arrive on May 27 via Cuneiform Records.

• Richard Pinhas:
• Tatsuya Yoshida:
• Oren Ambarchi:
• Cuneiform Records:


“Crutch - Of - Society - Mix”

So, what OTHER way does Alex Gray start off his European tour with Sun Araw & Laraaji? By releasing a 26-ish minute mix for Concepto Radio, duh! It’s like starting the first three hours of your full-time job for the day playing games. And the title “Crutch - Of - Society - Mix” really gets you thinking. It sounds more like a LIVE mix than anything D/P/I driven on CS/CD as of recent too. But you can hang. It’s nasty stuff. Mmm, I’m saying, it get’s deeper and layered and filthy, as usual, so you wont miss a beat, nahh. “Crutch - Of - Society - Mix” by D/P/I is below, so fuck Thursday:

• D/P/I:
• Concepto Radio:


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.