As a kid in the 80s, my favorite Baby-sitters Club book was natch “Boy-Crazy Stacey – it was very! “Boy Crazy” Lydia on the other hand, echoes the likes of Deetz and Lunch, and fronts less of a Valley girl and more of an alley girl ring in this little Loveless ditty. Specifically, a dark alley behind some bar during the early hours. Which is appropriate for Loveless’ sex-positive, romance-negative, and take-no-prisoners country punk lyrics: “I wish I was his wife/ Not really, though.” AND her eponymous EP Boy Crazy also features a song about Jeffrey Dahmer called “Lover’s Spat.” Fuck me gently with a chainsaw!
Barnett + Coloccia
“So, How Much Do You Know About Me?” [dir. Daniel Menche]
Four AM is an ungodly hour. Nothing good happens at this time. Exhaustion kicks in. Things that don’t exist cast flashes of shadow in your peripheral vision. Walls appear, faintly, as static under the fluorescent lights. Thoughts race around slow moving words. In winter, here, the temperature doesn’t settle. In this building, I occasionally hear patients scream into the night. It’s not the place for me to be listening to anything from Blackest Ever Black, but I do — often. I just like music to make sense in particular situations.
Since it was just yesterday that Taylor wrote about the coming collaborative album, Retrieval, by [Alex] Barnett + [Faith] Coloccia, I don’t feel the need to waste words. I have a different privilege, anyway, which is premiering the video for “So, How Much Do You Know About Me?” [dir. Daniel Menche]. Both the song and the video are perfections of absence. They each suggest, ultimately, that whatever we know about what is there, it’s only (really) enough to second guess ourselves: faint static, something half-conscious, a shadow flash. Anyway, if you need a soundtrack for dark hours, this is among the best I’ve heard this year.
Retrieval will be released December 2 on Blackest Ever Black.
• Mamiffer: http://mamiffer.bandcamp.com
• Oakeater: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Oakeater/248563928505272
• Blackest Ever Black: http://www.blackesteverblack.com
Fronted by cousins and native New Yorkers Henry and Nate Terepka on guitars, vocals, and keyboards, and backed by Pablo Eluchans and Mike Lawless on bass and drums, respectively, Zula is a case in curious and, perhaps, imaginary unique musical contrasts. The songs on the four-piece’s recently released album This Hopeful can be accessibly melodic, yet elusive enough in their studied experimentation, the production is tight and exact throughout, reminiscent of Radiohead’s developing sound with Nigel Godrich, yet their compositions are every bit as colorful and varied as those of pre-Forgiveness Broken Social Scene, and they’re a rock band, to be sure, yet atmosphere and ambiance electronics figure largely in their sound, which for its part is minimal yet lushly evocative and modern, similar in spirit to post-Soft Bulletin/approaching-Yoshimi-era Flaming Lips.
Moreover, the Terepkas and Co. don’t shy away from range, even as they draw — in a rather indirect way — from a seemingly wide variety of sources for their music on This Hopeful, and, forgetting comparisons and references, this is what makes them so distinct. For lack of a better word, this is pop, sincere, offbeat, and playfully and unassumingly experimental: you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone else that sounds like them, or as musically and effectively fulfilling.
Listen to Zula’s This Hopeful below and you be the judge:
Sure, NASA’s Voyager Golden Record time capsule was really great and all. Everyone can rest easy knowing that an alien race will someday recover those probes and rock out to Laurie Spiegel, Kesarbai Kerkar, and some primo Gamelan sessions on their ∅-grav turntable setups. But I advocate that we take this gesture to the next level: a living, breathing musical ambassador, rocketed spaceward on a mission of interstellar cultural exchange.
“For his many years of commitment to the art of cosmic synthesis, and his endless stream of dope tape and vinyl releases, the NASA Fine Arts Committee has unanimously selected Mr. Daryl Groetsch (a.k.a. Pulse Emitter) to represent humankind on a musical pilgrimage into the unknown.” Montage: the last beads of sunlight through the front windows during Groetsch’s farewell show at Little Axe; he sets up his intricate rig of modular and vintage synths, arpeggiators, and sequencing elements in the designated instrument area of the shuttle’s bridge; NASA staff raise flutes of champagne as Groetsch shakes hands with John Serrie and JD Emmanuel in the loading bay, “A few decades ago, we would be right up there with ya. Knock ‘em dead, kid;” 10-9-8-etc. ->> Blast Off.
Groetsch sets up the patch to play “Enceladus” just as the shuttle streaks by Saturn’s sixth largest moon. The composition’s steady bass sequences unfold against bursts of delay-smeared melody and chiming high-frequency blips — all of which register immediately on the sound sensors of extra-terrestrial scouts at the edge of the solar system.
Transcript of the subsequent alien conversation:
∴ “Rarely have I heard such harmonic sophistication in the context of what these humans call ‘synth drone.’”
∝ “Certainly, and have you noticed how the tones of each synth voice continually fluctuate across time in an organic system of interlocking motifs?”
≡ “I’m astounded by the interaction of diverse textures: flat, 3D, warm, squelchy, bulbous, muted.”
‡ “Should we engage?”
⊄ “Let’s leave him for now and see what he comes up with next.”
Back on the shuttle bridge, Groetsch transcribes an idea to paper for a new composition. The dark side of Saturn looms large in the central viewfinder for a few moments before receding into the black void of cosmos.
Crater Lake, Pulse Emitter’s stunning new full-length album, arrives November 12 on LP and CD via Immune Recordings. It’s available for preorder now.
Although Nicholas Szczepanik often plays with different timbres and textures, the one element that is always prevalent in his work is stasis. Szczepanik is fascinated with what happens when a single sound is very gradually altered during an extended period of time. This basic concept has permeated all of the composer’s work, from the queasy monolithic beauty of Please Stop Loving Me to the warbly miniatures of We Make Life Sad, but the recently released Sueños may be the sparest and most transparent illustration of Szczepanik’s musical process yet.
Sueños’ four tracks work with oscillating sine waves and microscopically shift in tone/texture over long durations in a manner very similar to Eliane Radigue’s work. Throughout, the transparency of Szczepanik’s process allows the listener to fully revel in the shifting stasis of his gorgeously minimal drones.
• Nicholas Szczepanik http://www.nszcz.com