“Black Sea of Trees”
I’ve long believed that adjectives in music criticism are a waste of my time and yours. This is why, in my two years at Tiny Mix Tapes, I’ve deferred (with very questionable success) to lists, theses, and annotations to get the job done. So what might seem like a clever ruse to you is, for me, simply an attempt to avoid telling you what something sounds like and, instead, how it made me think or feel.
And yet, it was after reading Cory’s superlative ridden, Northumbria praise-fest at The Inarguable that my ears perked up. Specifically, it was after reading description after description after description that I thought to myself, “Nathan, you have to hear this band.” So maybe (maybe) I’ve been wrong this entire time. Half-wrong. I don’t know.
Never mind that, though. Because right now I need neither clever ruse nor description to sell you on Northumbria. I need only for you to scroll down to the video below and press play. I need you to venture into the black sea of trees and dwell in your own descriptions. I need you to emerge and tell the world what you experienced. Because this is one band that doesn’t deserve to be lost to obscurity (or my ruses and descriptions), and soon enough, you’ll know it, too.
• Northumbria: http://northumbria.bandcamp.com
This is how far we’ve come: language. However, what of the language in song? No words. Only sounds. Looping, blocking, patterning. It’s all at once understandable, but could totally be taken the wrong way. This sound gets you Foodman. This is the makings of 「IROIRO」. This is you listening incorrectly, and now you’re in the back seat making out with your gym pack. OOPS, read that wrong.
Regurgitate like a bird or Ferengi. Don’t chew your music. Recycle it. Melt 「IROIRO」 and let Foodman feed you the rest. Consume in vast quantities. Satiate your deepest gut desires and feast But, digitally, because Digitalis Recordings is fresh out of the tape. His Orange Milk tape is still available, though. So munch on as much as you can!
I’m usually wary of any composer who claims to be appropriating/utilizing another culture’s music in their own work. One of my main issues with this practice is that it’s often done more as a forced gimmick rather than the natural culmination of interests and practices. However, when this convergence is the result of stylistic impulses coming together, the results can be stunning. Luckily, Duane Pitre’s latest record, Bridges is in the latter category and manages to merge key elements of Pitre’s distinct style with early “church” music and Eastern tonalities.
Over his last few releases, it’s become clear that one of Pitre’s chief interests is in the manipulation/utilization of the harmonic series. Using microtonal intervals created through the natural acoustics of this series, Pitre creates wonderfully sprawling continuous works like last year’s excellent Feel Free. Where that piece created a constantly changing pointillistic, minimalist texture with Pitre’s material, Bridges is notably less active at first glance. However, this is not a Phil Niblock-esque drone piece like his Quiet Design release ED 09 for String/Wind Ensemble. Instead, Bridges’ slow harmonic movement and counterpoint are reminiscent of modal church music, except that the makeup of these modes is composed of Pitre’s microtonal intervals, which are harmonically used in a manner much closer to Indian classical music’s language than what Pitre has used in the past.
It’s also notable that this seems like the least process-based composition of Pitre’s. While ED 09 and Feel Free had the sense of a musical action being set into motion by the composer, Bridges sounds distinctively formal. This shift in Pitre’s structure becomes apparent during the album’s first half, when the gorgeous folk-like material that occurs about two and a half minutes in returns during the piece’s final minutes. There’s a nice structural ebb and flow throughout, and it’s entirely possible to hear themes and development within each movement of the record.
Even though Pitre clearly incorporates a number of new, unexplored influences into this work, the album still sounds distinctly his own, which is particularly impressive when you realize that the singular Bhob Rainey played saxophone on the record. Bridges is a testament to Pitre’s ability to synthesize both his influences and the aesthetics of his chosen performers into a world decidedly his own.
Bridges is out now via Important Records. We are streaming the album in its entirety, but only for one week.
“The Loneliest Bitch”
Nahhh. It’s not worth it. I know it. Don’t play this game. It’s in January. Assuming so; I mean, it’s at 20%. And I’m glad it’s that way. No PR. Straight fuckery. “Coggery,” yes. I should be asleep. I shouldn’t be drunk. Don’t worry about it. Hit up work on that hangover [NOTE: my stomach has a depth, and it’s tomorrow/today]. Let’s play that branding trading card game. “Like them nude cards people pass out in Vegas?” I got that yuuung Randal Nayrodian. Play it at coke level max. “30% unemployment”: scare tactics. I’m talking like 100% extreme red-eye, bed-to-drive-to-work-by-noon-style scare tactics. Oh, but okay. Let’s go to bed. Pretend you’re reading this. Act like you didn’t have a-one-too-many. She’ll smell it. She’ll wrap your everything around a circular cut hole in wood and make you beg for it. Where you going? Won’t you listen? This “The Loneliest Bitch.” And she just want what you can give. Express yourself. Get offline. Become one. This a Goaty Tape. Help the everything. THIS is Shark Attack Deathmatch. Evolve from Moppy to Chicklette.
• Goaty Tapes: http://goatytapes.com
Shield Your Eyes
Live in Nantes
In my personal poll of “seemingly underrated contemporary British Guitarists,” the top spot would be subject to a Deliverance-style dual between Steph from Shield Your Eyes and David Tattersall from The Wave Pictures. Despite my own predilection for such jousting, the two of them would no doubt reject any forced competition, instead joining together for some lengthy blues guitar jam (the good kind, don’t worry) over a few bottles of local ale and a decent curry.
I’ve spent countless hours blasting Shield Your Eyes’ last full-length, Volume 4, air drumming with my arms, air guitaring with my feet, rotating my neck like a broken Terminator. They’re the kind of band I find it very difficult to write about in any witty or interesting way, because there’s a part of me that just wants to write “Shield Your Eyes are so fucking good” repeatedly until the text box gets full or my fingertips get tired.
I realize this is lazy journalism, but sometimes greatness instills laziness.
Here they are live in Nantes anyway, with a new album apparently on its way for the fall.
Shield Your Eyes also have a load of free stuff for download at their website.