“Four Years Later” [excerpt]
Okay, I’ll be honest. I throw the terms “life-changing” and “greatest thing ever” around way too much, but if there was one experience I’ve had that was actually both of those things, it was seeing Alan Licht play live when I was 16 years old. The form of his set that night is permanently embedded in my mind; it started with a beautiful slow burning EBow drone that built up for nearly 20 minutes before the dude put down his guitar and proceeded to completely annihilate his initial soundworld by delicately attacking his massive array of pedals. It was my first real introduction to the world of noise/drone music, and I was hooked from that moment on.
Licht has been pretty quiet in terms of solo releases in recent years, probably because someone has to play guitar with Lee Renaldo and write books about Will Oldham. Luckily, Licht is back with a brand new release for everybody’s favorite label Editions Mego!
Four Years Older seems to be the closest I’ve heard Licht capturing the brutal onslaught of a set that I witnessed back in the day. In this excerpt, Licht’s guitar is characteristically warped beyond belief into a delightful frenzy of electronic tones and feedback, before giving way to a beautiful pitch-shifted chord progression at the end. This is made all the more impressive by the fact that Licht recorded these pieces live without any additional overdubs. Even though Licht has apparently been playing this piece live for four years, let’s hope that he decides to tour it so he can continue to corrupt/convert the next generation of teenagers to the wonderful world of experimental music.
Four Years Older is out April 15 via Editions Mego.
Real-life nightmares are rarer than people perceive them. We use the word “nightmare” to describe situations as frequently as we’d use the word “epic” to describe what we really enjoy. But nightmare isn’t the cold during spring. Epic (is but) isn’t any movie I’ve seen in the last… ever. Nightmare is when you cross between dream and reality. Like, like going through a wasted-high writing crisis, hearing the type writer taunt you in “Springingtime,” turning on the Nite Lite, and contemplating why the mirror’s image of your face never changes ever. But the audio and visuals are completely distorted through paranoia, lack of sleep, stress, and euphoria, and the nightmare is being there conscious enough to emotionally respond to your mind crumbling.
Ehh, but shit’s been a MESS since ol’ Phil French left the label game. However, I’m infatuated with all the “writing” he’s posted about each song. There can never be enough paragraph quoting; there can be WAY less “meaningful” one-liner quotes. Yet, Phil and his sig-nif Myste have been traveling the Desire Path since last year to give all our ears the candy that is Megrez , recorded everywhere on Mt. Tabor in Oregon. Only 300 LPs were printed and I’m buying the rest of them, so get to it before me, oh… OH!! Too late. You can still try over at Desire Path Recordings, but…
Free Structures: What We Thought When We Though The World Was Shifting Under Our Feet
Have you ever imagined — while walking on the sidewalk or hiking up a trail — that you are not simply moving across the surface of the planet, but that you are spinning the Earth under your feet with the mere strength of your legs? Kind of like a log-rolling contest on a much different scale. If not, you should try it next time you’re strolling about (it’s particularly fun to imagine while jogging or ingesting hallucinogens).
Vividly titled Free Structures: What We Thought When We Thought The World Was Shifting Under Our Feet, the newest release from Seattle drone musician Emuul imagines a similar sensation. Rumbling tones fuel the machine that rotates the ground beneath fleeting piano melodies and fluttering guitar riffs within the tender 35 minutes of this cassette. Now that it’s spring, it’s time to bust out the sweatbands, pop this sucker in your Walkman, and do your part in spinning this rock beneath us.
“Cave Mountain Stream”
Zomes, I thought you were my rock. I thought you were my glacier. I thought, “No man is an island, except Asa Osborne — that man is an island. That man is a continent.” I thought there was a chance you’d hypnotize me with your ecstatic mantras and swirling organ improvisations until the end of time. But with the addition of Swedish vocalist Hanna Olivegren to your project, things might have changed: Zomes is now two people (even three on tour), and Zomes might very well be playing “songs” now, as opposed to brief sketches of eternity. Have Zomes abandoned that glorious stasis? I check out “Cave Mountain Stream” from the forthcoming Time Was LP to find out:
Mr. Osborne, can you forgive my moment of doubt? I realize now that you’re still our avatar of Forever; you’ve just found a broader way to express it. Miss Olivegren’s gorgeous vocal lines layer together and overtake the mix, heightening the trance state induced by the thick keyboard progression and drum machine crawl. If this is a song — even “pop,” on some level — it’s only because it happens to end after four and a half minutes. In terms of tone and atmosphere, Zomes, you’re as deep as you’ve always been. I cross my legs, straighten my back, and close my eyes, prepared to let the track loop. I’ll make sure I snap out of it for a little while when Zomes (as a trio!) plays a show near me and when Thrill Jockey releases Time Was on April 16.
• Thrill Jockey: www.thrilljockey.com
l’esprit depart (literally = mind departure) :
The moment when you are sitting in a taxi after a long night on the crawl and you begin to feel the tape loops in your mind becoming fuzzy and drawn out. There is a feeling that displaces the band you watched play soothing synth jams in Bar A to Bar B, where in fact there was no band, but instead a DJ spinning hypnagogic reel-to-reel tape constructions. The out-of-place-ness of the fractured memory gives you a headache, and the imagining of the two together further splinters other memories of the night — standing next to a dancing girl and feeling a slight bristling of skin every time her hair brushes across your cheek; popping a pill in the bathroom with your mate because he tells you it will help you relax; standing out on the street corner and feeling that for the first time you can embrace the cold of the night as an internal warmth; at the apartment with your dog waiting for the gang to arrive so you can go out and have a little fun — into a soup of common hedonism that slowly rolls away into blackness as you watch it.
The physical process of forgetting what has happened because your brain is over-stimulated.
So the taxi rolls. And you find a gradual beat that comes with the rolling stops and the street signs and the weird, outdated pop playing on the radio. In a state of disconnection, the world becomes music, and you listen intently, realizing you have stumbled across something new.
Vondelpark’s excellent debut LP, Seabed, is out today on R&S Records.