RIP: Benjamin Curtis of School of Seven Bells, Secret Machines, Tripping Daisy

RIP: Benjamin Curtis of School of Seven Bells, Secret Machines, Tripping Daisy

From The Dallas Observer:

We here at DC9 at Night are extremely saddened to report the passing of Benjamin Curtis. Last night in New York, Curtis lost a year-long battle with cancer at the age of 35.

Though a native Oklahoman, Curtis was a Dallas resident and treasured member of the local music scene from the ’90s well into the 2000s. In the mid-’90s, Curtis and his brother Brandon were members of local rock outfit UFOFU with Joe Butcher, before Ben left to spend a few years playing drums for Tripping Daisy. In 2000, the Curtis brothers started the spacey three-piece Secret Machines. Their debut full-length project, 2004’s Now Here Is Nowhere, broke nationally to much critical acclaim. It will long be remembered as a Dallas classic. […]

• School of Seven Bells:

RIP: Zbigniew Karkowski, noise musician

From SPIN:

Zbigniew Karkowski, a Polish experimental musician whose work amplified the boundaries of noise music — and also its volume — died today, according to his friend and collaborator Anton Lukoszevieze. He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just 10 weeks ago. He was 55.

Karkowki was regarded in experimental-music circles as one of noise music’s most fearlessly extreme practitioners. Stories circulate that his music once cracked a toilet at San Francisco’s Bloody Angle Compound studios; a 2001 performance at Montreal’s FCMM, playing needle-nosed sine waves tuned to the resonant frequency of the room, sparked a fire in a speaker and sent chunks of the ceiling tumbling to the floor. But he was also known as one of noise music’s most contemplative thinkers. (When a reporter asked him if he was afraid of damaging his hearing, following the FCMM performance, he replied, “Sound is like a wild animal; it will only hurt you if you are afraid of it.”)

• Zbigniew Karkowski:

RIP: Akifumi Nakajima a.k.a. Aube, experimental musician

From experimental musician Eric Lanzillotta’s post on I Love Music (via The Stranger’s Line Out blog:

I have gotten the sad news that my old friend Akifumi Nakajima passed away in September. It seems the news is only just creeping out and took a while to reach everyone outside of Japan. Nakajima was probably best known for his work under the name Aube, which was one of the more prolific, and for me most interesting, noise acts from Japan in the 1990s. He had an impeccable sense of design and appreciation for the materials, taking packaging beyond just using regular old paper. His label G.R.O.S.S. presented an impressive selection of international artists and was an important part of the Anomalous Records catalog. I could really go on and on about his achievements and biography, but I think it is well documented online.

I would just like to add that I always appreciated his support and friendship, and greatly respected his honestly and commitment to quality. In 2004, I spent two weeks in Japan. Eight of those days were in Kyoto and I saw Akifumi almost every day. Seeing the temples and shrines, as well as record stores I would have never found on my own, with him gave the city much more depth than I would have found there on my own. It is heartening to know that he has left a vast recorded legacy for people to appreciate, but sad to lose such a good soul.

In memory of him, I want to share the recording of our one live performance together:
This is a little different than the noise music some may associate with him, and I suppose points forward towards the analog electronic revival that started to appear not long after this concert.

Unfortunately, this also comes in a wave of other deaths in the experimental community as albrecht/D., Bernard Parmegiani and Sten Hanson have also left this world. All three had long and productive careers. These are just more reasons to appreciate those that are still with us!

• Aube:

RIP: Stan Tracey, jazz pianist and composer

From The Guardian:

Stan Tracey, the jazz pianist and composer hailed as the godfather of British jazz, has died aged 86.

Tracey was perhaps best known for Under Milk Wood, his 1968 suite based around Dylan Thomas’ radio play. His pioneering work helped British jazz forge its own sound rather than imitate the sounds coming over from the US. In particular, Tracey persuaded many British jazz musicians to move away from cover versions in favour of developing their own original material.

The news was announced on the official Stan Tracey Appreciation Facebook Page in a post that read: “It is with deepest regret that I must announce the death of Stan Tracey OBE, CBE today, at the age of 86. After a struggle with illness, he passed away having recently celebrated his 70 year professional career as a jazz pianist/composer. He is survived by a family who love him, and will miss him profoundly. His legacy is the generations of musicians young and old, past and future who have his influential example to look to. Many thanks to all those who have shown him such love and support over these many years.”

• Stan Tracey:

[Photo: William Ellis]

Mutual Benefit announce January 2014 tour, but, by then the stores won’t even be selling egg nog, so who cares?

Everything great ends. The Roman Empire? Gone. Stanley Kubrick? Deader than dead. KISS? Still around, but listen here: they ain’t nothing without the Space Ace. Currently, though, we are living in a golden age. Grocery stores are selling egg nog. If you have two American dollar bills, you can be enjoying egg nog this very evening. By January, that kind of deal will be nothing but a fond memory. By January, egg nog will be gone and love will be dead. At least folk-pop outfit Mutual Benefit will be going on tour that month. For some, that will ease the blow. For others, nothing will.

Earlier this season, the season of nog, Mutual Benefit put out their debut album Love’s Crushing Diamond through Soft Eyes. Now, that album has been re-released by Other Music this week — prime nog time. Once the nog is gone (and along with it, the country’s soul), that same album will get a vinyl release from Other Music. Specifically, the vinyl will come out on January 7, but by then, will anyone even feel feelings? Write your congress person. Make nog yearlong.

Mutual Benefit dates:

12.14.13 - Brooklyn, NY - Converse Rubber Tracks (The Pitchfork Review launch party)
01.13.14 - Boston, MA - Great Scott
01.14.14 - Montreal, QC - Il Motore
01.15.14 - Toronto, ON - Drake Underground
01.16.14 - Grand Rapids, MI - The Bird House
01.17.14 - Chicago, IL - Lincoln Hall
01.18.14 - Minneapolis, MN - Turf Club
01.21.14 - Vancouver, BC - The Cobalt
01.22.14 - Seattle, WA - Barboza
01.23.14 - Portland, OR - Bunk Bar
01.25.14 - San Francisco, CA - Rickshaw Stop
01.26.14 - San Diego, CA - Soda Bar
01.28.14 - Los Angeles, CA - Centre for the Arts - Eagle Rock
01.29.14 - Phoenix, AZ - Rhythm Room
01.31.14 - Austin, TX - Mohawk
02.01.14 - Houston, TX - Fitzgeralds
02.03.14 - Atlanta, GA - The Earl
02.04.14 - Chapel Hill, NC - Local 506
02.05.14 - Washington, DC - Black Cat
02.06.14 - Philadelphia, PA - Boot & Saddle
02.07.14 - New York, NY - Mercury Lounge
02.08.14 - Brooklyn, NY - Rough Trade

• Mutual Benefit:
• Other Music:

Guardian Alien had a Spiritual Emergency; we’re just grateful Thrill Jockey was there to put them in the astral ambulance

Spiritual Emergency, which sounds an awful lot like something someone in a Woody Allen movie would have when they had to miss a meeting with their analyst in order to visit their estranged lover in upstate New York, is now also the name of a Guardian Alien album. That’s why I put it in italics at the beginning of the paragraph. It’s called foreshadowing, reader. You learn something new every day, am I right? Pay attention, and you might learn a thing or two more. Like, oh, I don’t know, when the album is coming out (January 28, 2014). Or maybe even what record label it’s out on (Thrill Jockey). Or wait, maybe you don’t even know what a “Guardian Alien” actually is outside of its literal interpretation of an alien that stands watch over some ancient treasure? Well friend, it’s a rock & roll band from Brooklyn. You honestly couldn’t sort that one out for yourself given the fact that I was talking about albums and record labels and this is a music site? In that case, when we’re done here, I’ve got a bridge to sell you in Florida’s swampland.

Before we get to the bridge transaction, though, more on the album and the band. Spiritual Emergency is the follow up to Guardian Alien’s 2012 release See the World Given to a One Love Entity (TMT Review). Guardian Alien is led by drummer Greg Fox (ZS, Liturgy, etc.), and on Spiritual Emergency he’s joined by Alexandra Drewchin, Bernard Gann, Turner Williams, and Eli Winograd. The album was also mixed live by Wharton Tiers (an engineer who has worked with the likes of Sonic Youth and Glenn Branca) so it would sound more like an actual spiritual “emergency” instead of just a spiritual “let’s see what it looks like in the morning and then decide if we want to go to the general practitioner” type of thing. Describing themselves as “anti-genre explorers,” the band sought out and decapitated the last person who tried to put them inside a genre box, so I’m just going to go ahead and say that they play “music.” Pre-order the album here, and catch the band on tour with Pontiak throughout December. In fact, if you’re in Florida and still interested in the bridge deal I mentioned, we could hang out after you sign the papers later tonight at Look Alive Fest and see Guardian Alien alongside the likes of Wolf Eyes and Chronic Youth.

Spiritual Emergency tracklisting:

01. Tranquilizer
02. Mirror
03. Vapour
04. Mirage
05. Spiritual Emergency


12.06.13 - Miami, FL - Churchills (Look Alive Festival)
12.07.13 - Tampa, FL - Crowbar
12.08.13 - Orlando, FL - Will’s Pub *
12.09.13 - Gainesville, FL - The Atlantic *
12.10.13 - Atlanta, GA - 529 *
12.11.13 - Asheville, NC - The Mothlight
12.12.13 - Charlottesville, VA - Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar #
12.13.13 - Philadelphia, PA - Kung Fu Necktie

* Pontiak
# Great Dads

• Guardian Alien:
• Thrill Jockey:

[Photo: Cheryl Georgette Arent]