Philadelphia-via-Indiana's Honey Radar spread their wings a bit on "Per Schooner Agro," a cut from their new 7" The Rabbit's Voice. Where the band got in and out in around a minute on many of Chain Smoking on Easter's tracks, "Per Schooner Agro" lets loose (comparitively) with an extended, building intro and a bluesy, "agro," several-dozen-second outro that takes the song to the minute-forty-five mark. Although the Guided By Voices comparisons are inevitable (and unlike many such comparisons, deserved), "Per Schooner Agro" gets its spirit from further back, from the slightly-demented pop sensibilities of The Kinks. Dan Graham ascribed a sense of "agoraphobic emotion" to that group, calling Ray Davies ultimately "moony (poetic) and drawn toward the home." Feels about right here too.
Let me start by saying that the FRKWYS series by RVNG Intl. label is one of the best collaboration series on the planet right now, where various modern experimental electronic musicians meet their predecessors and musical trailblazers to create new exciting composition. The newest installment in the FRKWYS catalog is We Know Each Other Somehow, an exercise in harmony and unity between the acoustic guitar shaman turned synth wizard Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe (who did some serious folk magic with his Lichens) and New Age pioneer Ariel Kalma, responsible for the 1978 progressive electronic/field recording masterpiece Osmose. Recorded at Kalma's home in Byron Bay, Australia, the album collects meditations by the two spiritual minds emanating from synthesizers, reflecting the warmth and intimacy of the Australian paradise. The grainy, black and white 8 mm video for "Strange Dreams" comes from the full-length film Sunshine Soup, directed by Misha Hallenbach and Joey Rashid, which accompanies the album.
Harrisonburg, VA’s Buck Gooter occupy a special place in many underground music fans’ hearts. The bizarre industrial blues duo have made a name for themselves touring hard on the East Coast and beyond, becoming a favorite in DIY circuits and experimental noise scenes across the US. Late last year, they quietly released their fourteenth release, The Spider’s Eyes, and a stream of videos following. The latest is for “Fun In The Sun,” where, over squealing theremin and bruising drum machine, guitarist/singer Terry Turtle presides over a ruinous toxic wasteland, steadily growling “ya motherfuckers have fucked shit up.” Humorous, disturbing, and fucking weird. Check out the video above, via Youtube.
Schott answered a few inquiries by e-mail about the creation of the video and the creative path that led to Captain of None.
How did you come to work with Naoko Tanaka on the video?
Cécile Schott: Naoko contacted me a couple of years ago for a possible music commission to go with a performance of hers. I wasn’t available as I was still in the process of working for my 2013 album The Weighing of the Heart, but that first contact enabled me to discover her work: I was really impressed with how she managed to work with shadows in live performances, using everyday life objects which she managed to transform into slightly menacing, surrealist moving images. Later on I saw a live performance she had done for German musician Oval using a different technique and I thought that was even more amazing, as it produced images that reminded me of x-rays or underwater creatures. When the time came to choose someone for the video for “Captain of None”, I knew that the lyrics, which deal with the human brain and heart, would need to be illustrated in a non-figurative way, one that would hopefully preserve the sense of mystery that is at the heart of the song.
Was it a collaborative process or did you more or less give her a commission based on the song?
CS: Naoko is not a music video director but an artist in her own right, working at the boundaries of several disciplines such as performance, scenography, installations, so when I commission someone like her, it’s definitely because I want their own specific input and because I trust that they’re truly talented artists who will come up with great ideas because they’re completely in control of their own field of creation. So my input was super minimal: I just told Naoko that I was 100% comfortable with a totally abstract video and that I had been really struck by her imagery for the Oval live work, so that it would be nice to go in that direction, perhaps using the blue color since that would echo the album cover’s artwork. That was about as directive as it got, and when she sent the first draft it was already 99% perfect!
There was a very long gap between your previous two albums, but Captain of None has come out relatively quickly after The Weighing of the Heart. Is there a particular reason this album came together quickly?
CS: I think that everything works in cycles and I’ve definitely been riding a nice creative wave since 2012 when I started to finally find a new path of music-making that led to The Weighing of the Heart. As I was rehearsing for shows for that album in 2013, I just naturally started new songs and everything just seemed to fall into place very easily, because somehow everything had been leading to this: I knew that I wanted to focus on the treble viola da gamba and my voice because I was having a great time working with these two instruments. I knew that the lyrics would mostly deal with the human experience because that’s what I had wanted to write about when I had started to try and write lyrics in 2010. My love of Jamaican music which had turned into an obsession towards late 2012 really pushed me to try and experiment as much as possible in the studio. I think it’s those three factors put together that made the album come together so quickly (I finished recording it in July 2014!)
Do you have any specific plans so far for your American concerts this June?
CS: I will be playing the whole of Captain of None minus one song which is just impossible to play live (“Eclipse”), as well as material from The Weighing of the Heart and a couple of cover versions from film music that I love. Playing a whole album live is a first for me because until now my albums had always involved a variety of instruments and arrangements that were too complex for me to replicate live as a solo show, and since I’ve never wanted to go down the route of having a band. I used to basically play a mixture of songs from albums and songs that were exclusive to the live shows. This album however is a lot more compact in terms of the instrumentation used, and also relies more heavily on looping and delay effects, which totally fits the live setup I have right now: treble viola da gamba, my voice, a floor tom and all my sampling and delay pedals, which I consider as instruments in their own right. Playing the album live is very demanding in terms of live sampling but it is also incredibly fulfilling and exciting for me, so I’m really looking forward to all these shows. The US tour especially, since I haven’t played live there since 2008!
Will there be a visual accompaniment to the live shows?
CS: No, I’m very much of the opinion that when the music is really good, there is no need for visual accompaniment unless that’s specifically part of your artistic intent: as far as I’m concerned, it’s all about the music and I feel that with my viola, my singing, my feet and hands, there’s already quite a lot to watch!
In modern hardcore, especially in NYC, Dawn of Humans serve as something of a contemporary crust blueprint. They’re brash and chaotic, yet heady and psychedelic, turning monstrous garbling and claustrophobic counterpoint into a captivating razor-wire wash. They’re revered and active in the community (lead singer Emil has lent his hand on a multitude of instruments, most notably drums, to several bands in the area), but their music remains a tribute to the outsider in an age of crushing visibility. One can see some parallels with old Northern VA hardcore outfit United Mutation, but more reminiscent of and reliant on anarcho sound and drum technique.
Slurping At The Cosmos Spine is their first full-length LP, and thus the first time you have to confront their bizarre personae for longer than an EP’s worth of tunes. They thrive in the expanded space, offering bits of more classically thrashing DOH tracks (“Painful Mountain”, “Mangled Puzzle”) alongside wallowing, stalking slow jams (“Horse Blind”, “Fixation”). The centerpiece is “Secretion / Grapitudonce of Hinsenctor,” successfully fusing their many sides into one progressive statement. You can stream the whole thing below via Bandcamp.
Exploding In Sound Records have led a modern indie revival on the east coast that includes notable releases from Pile, Porches, Krill, Ovlov (RIP, Go Stove), and LVL UP among many others. Two Brooklyn mainstays in their roster, Flagland and Washer, have teamed together for a split 7” co-released with ECB&B (East Coast Basements & Bedrooms), the label co-run by Big Ups, Flagland, and Washer. This is the third in a revolving series of split 7”s by the three bands. “Joe” is a track from Washer’s side— a brisque, spare arrangement of guitar, drums, and harmonized yowl that’s distilled to its most aerodynamic. You can stream it below via EIS’ Soundcloud.
Since 2012, Michael Hann’s Reject and Fade label has provided crucial documentation of the UK’s deep underground scene. Releasing his own work under the Rejections label (as well as the wilder Marreck pseudonym) alongside like-minded artists such as rkss, Reject and Fade’s slow drip of releases has complimented the onslaught of releases from the aesthetically kindred Jehu and Chinaman label.
Hann is streaming the latest Rejections release, One Machine, through Bandcamp. However, he has also opted to distribute the physical cassette incarnation through a variety of galleries and venues worldwide that he has identified as aligned with his own goals. I asked Hann to speak about this unique release strategy and his creative process generally. The result is an essay/mission statement about what it means to create music at the margins in 2015. The essay has been edited for length and clarity:
What I want to do with the Reject and Fade label is encourage (because at the end of the day it isn't just me involved) experimentation. Not just in terms of the music and concepts and ideas behind the music but also the artwork, the engineering, accompanying material.For example, we put out a zine with the rkss release.
When we last heard from Gel Set, Laura Callier was foiling Stacian’s brutally frayed techno with her own blissfully isolated synthesizer music on the Voorhees split 12-inch issued by Moniker last summer. Callier and the Chicago-based imprint team up once again now with Human Salad, Gel Set’s debut LP. Featuring ten tracks of wiry and seductive mutant techno, Human Salad establishes Callier as the sonic torchbearer of artful electronic experimenters Chris & Cosey but with a lo-fi toolset rather than high-price gadgetry. “Ether Or” closes the LP in a frigid fit of mechanized minimal wave, automating a distant sensuality that was simmering just below the surface of the LP's nine preceding tracks. As a series of rhythmic, industrial ephemera forms the song's austere groove, Callier layers her urgent but detached refrain, asking “Why can’t we just be together?”
Human Salad is out July 7 on Moniker Records. Check Gel Set's tour dates with Matchess after the jump.
D.C. has historically been regarded as one of hardcore and punk’s more influential cities, but in the last few years its had a resurgence of exciting young bands: the NWODCHC, or New Wave of DC Hardcore. Though they remain somewhat indebted to the aesthetic and culture of their home city’s past, this crop of bands (Red Death, Misled Youth, Public Suicide, Javla, among others) is producing a new style that’s more modern, more worldly, and doing so with an enthusiasm that’s difficult to ignore. At the center of this new wave is Pure Disgust.
In an interview with Sean Gray (who runs Accidental Guest Recordings and has been an early champion of the NWODCHC), Pure Disgust’s singer Rob Watson described his own band as an “Oi!-type band with D.C. influences,” and the description is pretty apt. Since their 2013 demo the band has straddled the line between catchy and crushing, as reliant on British street punk riffage as they are on DCHC overdrive. Their recent EP, Chained, is the culmination of their last few years of development.
Lead singer Watson stands tall against a systemically racist world that’s done everything to try and put him in a cage. Though it’s lyrics revolve around politically relevant issues like the Prison Industrial Complex (“Caged Profit”) or the disproportionate amount of jailed minorities (“Guilty”), it remains a highly personal account as told by a lone wolf at his breaking point. In songs like “I.D.O.Y.S.” and “Race War,” Watson seems unphased by stacked odds, ready to fight against mountains themselves. You can stream the whole EP below via Bandcamp.
Death Vacation is a four-piece hardcore band from New York who play quick and heavy hardcore songs with raging vocals. On "Wet," from their new EP Through Your Head, the track is rounded out with the declaration: "I never get wet for a person like you!" Death Vacation is putting out their new cassette on Serenity Now Tapes, the punk/hardcore branch of Mirror Universe. They play several shows in the next month, including one at the Acheron on May 2 with Vulture Shit and Clean Girls.
Stream the A-side of Through Your Head below. It's available now on tape and digitally on Serenity Now Tapes.