A sword in the sky.
I leap beyond all this into the water at night,
Disconnected, mentally wild. Mind made this.
Coals glowing on the wet ground.
In the morning coming into a clearing
Out past beyond all waking moments
With all dreams burning off, as if
Lightning has struck here. I hold this.
Sauna by Mount Eerie is out February 3rd via P.W. Elverum & Sun
• Mount Eerie: http://www.pwelverumandsun.com
With the release of his second full-length album Primrose Green on Dead Oceans at the end of March, Chicago’s favorite progressive folk songsmith / unofficial American Spirit spokesman Ryley Walker stands poised to become another Great New Hope for the future of ‘Murican guitar music. Salty pundit types IRL and online will tell you that the “guitar is dead,” or at least “lame,” or “like, bad.” You’ve heard this. These people do not deserve a rebuttal, and know nothing. To sit here and list a roster of Walker and his visionary contemporaries that continue to recontextualize the guitar — even within compositional structures and ensembles that could be considered, on some level, [traditional] [retro] [nostalgic] — would unduly stoke the fire of the “guitar is dead” argument. Walker silences the haters with a simple twofold strategy: 1. breeze ‘em out; 2. keep shredding.
Jam “Primrose Green” and you’ll notice an evolution from 2014’s All Kinds of You in terms of both Walker’s tightly structured songwriting and the interplay of his accompanists. The track balances a chord progression built over flitting hammer-on phrases and ascending melodic interludes with the band’s push-and-pull backdrop of harmonic accents and rhythmic rushes of activity. Chicago jazz/avant-crossover heavyweights Anton Hatwich (bass) and Frank Rosaly (drums) breathe together as a single entity, rollicking through transitions and bouncing squarely back into place for each chorus. Brian Sulpizio’s guitar and Ben Boye’s keys gild Walker’s arrangement with swirling phrases that manage to sound off-the-cuff despite having been honed over months of touring. Walker, of course, constitutes the core of his own fantasy. He sits cross legged among his friends, pours out streams of precise sixteenth notes, and belts out his lyrics about, you know, getting high on seeds in the woods, with more confidence and clarity than we’ve yet heard from him on record.
“We Plough The Fields And Scatter”
Over the course of several months, Áine O’Dwyer was given access to the pipe organ in St Mark’s Church, Islington while the cleaners were at work. Primarily a harpist, this was a rare opportunity to grapple with the “king of instruments” and apply her sense of melodic, structured improvisation in a very different context.
No matter if you’re in the middle of nowhere or the city, atmospheric sounds surround us all, and the more you focus on them, the more demanding and overwhelming they may become. Thus, the improvisational intention Áine O’Dwyer keys out while recording Music For Church Cleaners vol. I and II live, submits both her audience AND those listening to the recordings to her art. Picture it the opposite way: you and some pals are on a hike and stumble across a church being cleaned, while it’s also emitting sounds, not realizing you’re being recorded. All you really hear is this organ from the church, and it becomes tedious and potentially directionless, so in astounding silence you and your pals just listen, becoming absorbed within the moment. This is the same effect Music For Church Cleaners vol. I and II has over it’s listeners by “employing” players to the recording.
Áine O’Dwyer’s scaling, repetition, and versatility are the absorbing properties of “We Plough The Fields And Scatter” for listeners, drawing them into listening beyond the pipes, picking up clattering, chattering, laughing, vacuuming, and potentially clock setting – which is what I heard, but am not sure there are clocks in chuch – all being conducted spontaneously (or one could say modern life inspired improvisation) by these players. Now, the listener is who sits in the field with their friends, witnessing a masterpiece of fate; “Oh, these people are just folk of the area. Tyrese with the vacuum does the chili booth during the fall fest. Nancy outside with the kids doubles as our childcare expert and pub keeper. The two whispering to the priest are the Lamar twins back from college.”
MIE Music inspiring the imagination, like always, but it’s a little more public in Áine O’Dwyer’s We Plough The Fields And Scatter, out on 2xLP January 19, pre-order here, and listen to “We Plough The Fields And Scatter” below:
• MIE Music: http://mie.limitedrun.com
DIRTY TAPES MIX 2
Now wait just a minute. I’m no clod. I know things. I know the moon is made of cheese, I know most barbers are really cobblers by trade who have had to adapt with the times, and I know I’ve already covered a mix SEENMR did for Dirty Tapes. So what’s going on here? What’s the big idea? Wait, what’s that you say? He does indeed have a SECOND mix for Dirty Tapes? Of completely different material? Well, boy, do I have egg on my face!
The Chicago #based sound manipulator (as well as his YOUNG HO COLLECTIVE) seems to always bring the goods, whether it was asked of him or not. Get this. Once, at a party, we needed some dip, and I called MR. SEENMR up and said, “Hey pal, think you can bring some dip over, you know, for the chips?” He replied, “but of course,” and no more than six minutes later there was a knocking at my door. Sure enough, it was good old SEENMR. He had forgotten the dip, unfortunately, but he did bring along a megamix that rocked the party all night long. Told y’all he brings the goods.
My friends and I use the word “pervy” to describe music we find particularly fucked-up, skewed, or divorced from reality in a way that both disturbs and entertains us. The people who make this kind of music are, of course, “pervs.” This is a high compliment. If a given artist rejects convention and forges his or her own insane personal vocabulary, I am all ears. (NB: Life is hard when your entire body is made of ears.) Some prototypical uber-pervs off the top of the head: Beefheart, Gary Wilson, The Residents. Modern high order pervs: Foodman, Dilloway, Container. May musical perversion, as an institution, never end.
Japanese multi-instrumentalist Ryoma Maeda twists a wide variety of sounds and styles into the individual cogs that make up his overarching experimental (see: perved-out) aesthetic. His 2014 opus Rhapsody In My Life, for example, splinters solo piano performances into minutely detailed cut-up compositions flecked with glitchy stutters and half-remembered ambient field recordings. Though the tangible results of this process prove to be gorgeous, the process itself reveals an urge to corrupt traditional forms with fresh compositional perspectives. Rewind ~10 years and scope out 2005’s in beach,side ill-spot under the Milch of Source moniker to witness Maeda’s corruptive tendencies in full swing, as he twists circus-core fanfares, battering drum programming, and abrasive synth blasts into a grotesque and/or beautiful vision of maxed-out electronic performance. (This album has assumed a sort of perv holy grail status for me at this point.)
Back to the present day: 2015 finds Maeda collaborating with a crew called The Romantic Suiciders, which he describes as a “synthesizer garage punk band.” Great. Press play on our first taste of this ensemble, “Never-Ending Perversion.” Smile and wonder along with me: “What the hell is going on here?” Bumping synth lines and funked percussion from the Nakata Yasutaka school of proggy J-pop float under warped auto-tune vocals that exist somewhere between vocaloid pop and the outsider stylings of, say, Chief Keef and Farrah Abraham (TMT All Stars). The juxtaposition of the winking pop production and the vocal mutation — or more specifically, the use of a typically corrective software to achieve further disfigurement — carries Maeda’s history of first-class perversion into some twisted future that I, for one, am ready for.
• Ryoma Maeda; http://ryomamaeda.com