“I don’t like music and art to be over-explained, and I don’t think it should be,” Alex Cobb recently said to Resident Advisor, who featured his Students of Decay imprint as their “Label of the Month” earlier this year. The most recent album to emerge from the label is Cobb’s very own Chantepleure, which is presented, on the one hand, as “his most optimistic and sanguine musical statement to date,” while also having been recorded “at a time of heartache, isolation and emotional upheaval.” But to take Cobb’s advice, it might be more appropriate to forego an analytical approach and just immerse yourself in the album.
This also goes for the video for “Anselin,” which we have the pleasure of premiering here. With Cobb’s achingly beautiful music paired with John Davis’s nostalgic imagery (fun fact: Davis released the stellar Ask the Dust via SoD in 2013), one might be confident in pinning down the mood here as one thing or the other. But like the album itself, it’s perhaps best to take this seven-minute video as a perceptual experience.
With a host of projects that would certainly overwhelm less ambitious and/or organized human beings, Trevor P continues to eke out his kosmische niche (kosniche) in the US experimental underground. As head of the Fire Talk label, he curates a roster of rock- and ambient-leaning projects that range from the fuzzed-out squall of Brooklyn’s ADVAETA to the kaleidoscopic solo compositions of transient six-string shaman Drew Gibson’s Katrina Stoneheart project. As a member of Denver -> Brooklyn ensemble Woodsman, he pounds out hi-fi psych shred charged with tight two-guitar interplay and meditative expanses of kraut rock rhythm. His solo work under the Gem Trails moniker focuses the surges of cosmic drone texture characteristic of Woodsman’s driftier moments into discrete songs that each offer their own abstract miniature narrative.
“Aux Meadow,” our first preview of Gem Trails’ forthcoming Apartments For Lucy (due July 14 on Fire Talk) showcases Trevor P’s evolving approach to layered solo composition, offering some of the project’s most crystalline production flourishes on record. Electronic percussion that borders on contemporary hip-hop (see: stuttering hi-hats, tuned 808 toms, reversed bass drum bursts) sits at the forefront of the mix, juxtaposed against lingering walls of chordal comping. Lead phrases bubble out of the fog into the upper register and compound into an arrhythmic patchwork of recursive melody. Echoes of what could be vocalizations fill the gaps with distorted traces of human presence. Instead of competing for our attention, each of these elements gently files into its region of the wide spread — yielding a session whose density never smothers its weightlessness.
“So.” / “não” / “-” / “+”
For someone who releases tracks at a relatively reserved pace, these four new songs from Seattle based beat-builder dil withers come as quite the surprise. Uploaded periodically throughout the last three weeks, I get the feeling that these are all new creations, proving to us listeners that the muse has once again appeared before ol’ dil’s eyes. Then again, he could have been sitting on a few of these, obsessively tweaking and tinkering them until they were just right. Regardless, this is the stuff we beatheads dream of.
“So.”, the most recent of the four, mixes his signature crisp drums with inspired, soulful vocal loops, light horn stabs, and a few spoken word vinyl scratches. It’s 2:02 time frame feels too short, yet also eternal. Like, put-that-shit-on-repeat-and-float-off-this-disintegrating-planet kinda short/eternal.
“não”, the smoothest cut out of the batch, features a distinctly latin-tinged drum loop alongside some Fender Rhodes chords and note twinkles. And let me tell you, it’ll get your body swaying in that night midnight air. For real.
”-” is yet another example of dil’s impressive skill of flipping jazz guitar samples. Employing taste and judgement like Atticus Finch (or something like that), he always lets the loop do it’s thing, while still chopping it into a unique little ditty, separate from it’s original source. And “-” is no different. Plus, birds!!!
Finally, there’s “+”, with it’s subtle, quiet background treasures and light head-bobbing pace. Dig deep with this one, because the faintest flourishes get uncovered with repeat listens. Prolly why it’s got the most listens out of the four. That, or because it’s the oldest. Who cares…
Anyway, thanks for the recent flood of tunes, dil! We appreciate it. :)
Voice, Vol.1 (Loop Series)
Ohhhhhhhh, nobody else can charm a chant akin to a Pegan ritual, or that scene in Eyes Wide Shut, like Rob Magill. The boy is engulfed in fire. Voice, Vol.1 (Loop Series)’s sort of experimentalism is strictly for the feelers. The whole release is that moment in 2001: A Space Odyssey you realize the movie is rated G, and then you think about the innocence of it, rather than the more heavily implicated gestures. This is Rob Magill on Rob Magill. It’s the meditation mantra for the energy-full. Creative fuel in terms of vocal interpretation. There’s no language here, but song. Voice, Vol.1 (Loop Series) puts Rob Magill (yet again) into a totally different realm that he’s every traversed. Tackling entirely vocal projects like this gives C. Spencer a run for his money. Or a run to get Rob Magill on a bill when coasting California.
I’ve been having a STRESSFUL last few minutes, so I’ll be repeating Voice, Vol.1 (Loop Series) by old Bobby Mag-pies for the rest of today in anticipation to build my creative self and completely forget reality. You can too:
While life grants some lucky few the freedom to live according to their own will, death permits no such volition. Most people don’t get to choose when they go and no one can decide how history will honor their memory, if indeed they are remembered at all. The truly fortunate among us have their lives immortalized in music that matches their own worldly glory. From the ballads of medieval bards to the symphonic homages of the classical era to the 1990s output of R.E.M. and Puff Daddy, artists throughout the ages have felt compelled to confront the specter of death with the life-affirming fusion of melody and memory.
Then there are those who eschew such sentimentality in favor of an unsettling funeral march. One such dirge comes to us courtesy of Mike Lisk, better known as Associate Producer (A.P.) Mike on The Best Show with Tom Scharpling. On last Tuesday’s installment, Lisk was given the floor to premiere “Michael Perry,” a tribute to a fallen friend composed of Lisk’s shaky voice reverberating on top of a spare acoustic guitar accompaniment (provided by collaborator Jesse Elsener). Over the course of three and a half minutes, “Michael Perry” presents the title character as a dice-eating, dick-obsessed weirdo. These are the bygone memories of Lisk’s childhood when he knew Michael Perry as the “hellbent” kid in the neighborhood who thrived on being revolting.
Sadly, the song’s opening lines make clear that Mr. Perry is thriving no longer, his life cut short “last week” when he drove his car through the front of a 7-Eleven. Although Lisk described the track on air as a parody of the confessional style of singer/songwriter/dummy Mark Kozelek, “Michael Perry” is far more fascinating when considered outside of this context. Because while the tune certainly lies under a sad shade, its sinister, repetitive riff and shuddering vocals have more in common with Throbbing Gristle’s terrifying “Hamburger Lady” than most things in the Sun Kil catalog. It’s even odder when you consider that Lisk isn’t a musician at all: one day he simply felt compelled to ascend his own tower of song and this is what he walked down with. It all makes for a curious piece of outsider rock that makes one wonder who is stranger: the song’s subject or its singer?
R.I.P. Michael Perry. Long live A.P. Mike.