It is occasionally so that at times of great political struggle and cultural upheavals throughout history some of the most enduring works of art spring to life. For Koudede and the Tuareg people, maybe it is not seen in this manner. I must admit there is something lost in translation here, or lack there of rather. Much has been made of how modern times have all but isolated and marginalized the nomadic way of life that the Tuareg are traditionally known for. As a result the blues infused track "Alam-in" comes off to the uninitiated listener a somber yet uplifting energy from the music. Whether through the group harmonies, swinging upbeat tempos, and guitar sinews weaving a melodic swirl around the listener.
Koudede is not content to stick with a traditional acoustic. While working in the full band setting he is able to let the guitars buzz around the rhythm section, including full drum kit, in all directions. The 7" is the newest entry in the now legendary Guitars From Agadez series which brought to many people's attention other bands from the region such as Group Inerane & Group Doueh. Though the culture and people behind this music are experiencing some of the greatest upheavals and struggles in their entire history as the unacknowledged nation state of Azawad faces an extremely uncertain future. What this will mean for the Tuareg people and their tremendously moving song forms is another questions entirely.
This is some classic fuzzed out pop right here, the kind that New Zealand and Australia seem to have a patent on. There are some usual suspects that come to mind when it comes to upbeat sunshine jangle op from below the equator, but we won't get into that right now because it is a hairy subject and we don't need to tangle up the situation here.
The group's "Sunsetter" combines just the right amount of jangle and pop finesse to allow everything around you to breeze on by. It's like seeing the world through some paisley sunglasses for a minute or too. Maybe kick back a little on the way somewhere. Does that make sense? So it goes I always say. Ghost Wave meet their peers at eye level while providing their own spin on a contemporary "classic" sound.
Welcome to part two of a feature on the Ekhein label's most recent batch of cassette releases. The LA based label operated by Matthew Sullivan (aka Earn) has been exploring the depths of contemporary composition with a special focus on cassette releases has quickly become home to a large swath if contemporary music's post-noise underground. You can find the first half of the feature here.
If the dull metallic clang of some factory nearby makes you stop and listen then this one will be a scorcher. Geoff Mullen's cassette Alone and In A Room is a strong brew of live instrumentation and tape collage all mixed up in an improvisatory precision. The music is taken from a variety of live performances but by the sound of things it would be hard pressed to separate the live and prerecorded sound.
This is not necessarily miles away from what Matthew Sullivan and Sean McCann have been up to. What makes Mullen's work stand apart is his seeming obsession with the gritty side of things. Throughout the album swells of percussive chaos continuously bang about in every direction & the electronic hiss resonates through out. Almost like listening to a condensed version of the industrial revolution.
The Accidents Demo Color may be the further removed from the rest of Ekhein's current group of releases. It is miles away from the sonic sludge assault of Matthewdavid, Geoff Mullen's purcussive industrial din, or Matthew Sullivan & Sean McCann's new music ambience. Blasting off with synthesizers & drum machines at full blast sequenced into a sci-fi new wave paradise. This is not all a kosmiche journey though as spoken word collage pieces and some general sonic mischief follows in due course.
Somewhat surprisingly some rather pleasant sounding new age-esque guitar work enters the picture. Sure it is mixed with a variety of effects loosing up the proceedings with dashes of "weird" here and there detracting any notions of playing it straight here. Most surprising are the easily digestible track lengths averaging around 2:30 minutes, a first in the rest of the releases being discussed.
The Compass Rose may be the perfect bridging gap between The Accidents and the rest of Ekhein's summer 2012 releases. The cassette is soaked in the mythology of cyber punk literature and the bleak dystopian future put forth by Industrial music. I'm not going to necessarily say I follow whatever narrative there is to be had here, but it's probably not too far off from the last transmissions from a poetic scientist on the precipice of disaster.
This is some heavy stuff and in the times (or is it always like this?) of "dark" this and "wave" that The Compass Rose stand apart. It is as far as I can tell the overall industrial attitude that sets it apart, almost vintage in it's feel. I don't think many would argue that Monte Cazazza meets J.G. Ballard. At one point sinking into a mantra that could define this entire batch of releases;"It consists of a variety of colorful arrangements intended solely for my aesthetic approval". This may in fact be the certain mantra which has guided Ekhein's progression as a label, though I would venture to say the only color present here is grey.
Ekhein's summer 2012 batch of tapes is available now via their website & select distributors,
Matthew Sullivan has been releasing music under various pseudonyms for a number of years now. Originally releasing some harsh noise as Privy Seals while eventually mellowing out a bit and stripping back the aggression with Earn the moniker Sullivan has been using since 2008. He hasn't been silent with this project by any means and maintains an ever growing back catalogue which all seemingly led up to last year's A Following Shadow full length on the LA based Post Present Medium.
During all this time he has also been operating the label Ekhein, with a focus on releasing music via cassette and CD-R and has quickly come to be home to a large swath of the contemporary music's post-noise composers. The label's current crop of releases continue on Sullivan and companies winning streak offering a diverse group of artists presenting a rather cohesive aesthetic aim. In this first look into the label's current offerings the subtle hues of grey really come alive.
The first album up is Sean McCann and Matthew Sullivan's Jackpot. On this outing the duo have essentially left all notions of genre behind. I would almost dare to say ambient or possibly post-ambient, but that is just ridiculous. Jackpot consists as a "document of sketches and collages" according to the press release making it almost a necessity to view it in light of the duo more official or completed works such as the recently released Vanity Fair full-length on McCann's Recital imprint. This new cassette was recorded around the same time as that album so it's hard to escape it's elder releases shadow.
Jackpot ventures down the same dusty path as it's fore bearer. A mixed bag collage that is full of subtlet hints of artistry and composition many people in the "underground" seem to be lacking. The album contains enough shifts of emotion and texture to negate tags like 'drone' as well. It seems like the closet possible cousin would be something akin to Smegma or quite possibly LAFMS.
Matthewdavid turns up two sides of long form compositions compromised of a thick fog-like atmosphere that's hard to navigate through. Some sort of constant motion is happening underneath, or on the other side, of all this tape hiss and hum but it's form is difficult to make out. A slow slurp in one headphone and some sort of cosmic tripped out synth in the clouded distance.
It's a fitting entry into the Ekhein catalogue and a little bit of a departure from Matthewdavid's more beat oriented work. There are still elements of a classic mixtape heard in the crevasses of Destin but they are too difficult to discern from the sonic grey matter taking over here. Something that's not necessarily a bad thing in this case.
Ekhein's summer 2012 batch of tapes is available now via their website & select distributors. Stayed tuned for Part Two of this Ekhein label feature.
Sometimes things just fall into place, into a groove if you will. Hitting the kind of spot only a slushy can touch. Something to cool you down in the increasingly hot weather and provide a sweet sugar rush. Oxford, Mississippi duo ILLLS pretty much do just that in a proverbial sense. "Teeth"taken from their debut EP Dark Paradise is a hook laden track that seems to just keep getting better. Just with all sugar coded gems some dental work down the road some accompanying dental work will be needed.
The video sees the duo wondering around jamming and making some disgusting entree. A little off putting considering the general upbeat and pop-oriented of the tune, I guess the hints of psychedelic weirdness permeated throughout have landed thfese guys somewhere else. In between there gross recipe we see the group in some dramatic setting hinting at the anthemic nature & strength of their music.
LA Vampires By Octo Octa's newest single "Freedom 2k" sounds like a manifesto or sounding bell of victory for 100% Silk. The scene & aesthetic have been closely cultivated since the label's inception last year, riding heavy on a smooth and sexy style of four-to-the-floor house the label also spreads it's wings with a grab bag variety of 90's dance musics sure to bring back bits of blissful nostalgia.
The accompanying video sees a stoic knit crew of fashionably dressed voguing at their best. Amanda Brown, aka LA Vampires, is spellbinding in her utter sincerity. Her dance moves and constantly rotating outfits and hairdos never make her blink an eye, something which seems like it would have been hard at times. It's hard to maintain a serious composure when what you're creating is at once it's own statement while also a painstakingly obvious look back into dance music's past. Yet Octo Octa's beat keeps things moving and engaging as beat drop in and out tastefully building and relieving tension with ease.
It's about that time of year for a new Wet Hair album and low and behold the gods have shown down upon us. Spill Into Atmosphere sees the group on their 4th album and generally keeping at what they do best. The core duo of Shawn Reed and Ryan Garbes are joined by the addition of Justin Tye on bass. Tye manages to add just the right amount of melodic low end to keep things moving and embellish the simple keyboard hooks and krautrock chug of Garbes drums.
Lineup changes and the like aside drastic stylistic shifts is not what Wet Hair are about. Over the course of their multiple full length albums, cassettes, and splits the group have been subtlety shifting towards an increasingly more refined state of new ware pop goodness. They still use the same basic ingredients but somehow each album manages to retain something unique to each, little markers that identify their overall sound and how the newest can differ from the last.The video for "Camouflage" leaves the song title at arms length exploring the natural world of ocean and plant life in a neon overlay glow. Something that leaves the viewer in the right mode to soak in the tune.
100 Albums seems to have an underlying thematic intention here of taking on traditions. Throughout the "White" EP aspects of old time singer-songwriter craft, blues structures, and some other odds and ends of Americana seem to infiltrate and guide how the music unfolds. When the the distant and woozy track "Cleo" hits it all starts to make sense, I'm telling you.
It's not that this one track that reaches such nostalgic heights, it just says it much quicker. The unfortunately named "Two Coons" and "Red Rays Aim" have the sort of vibe I don't think leaves this continent very much. It could also be tru that 100 Albums self-titled EP is a little aimless like some half baked metaphors to open roads and vast landscape that always seem to be floating around. And just like that landscape it should be taken as it comes as it;s not that long of a ride at about 20 minuted long.
The Prefab Messiahs come at you like a gritty inside joke leftover from a college acid trip. You were either there or are trying to catch up. A strange brew that mixes together sarcastic 60's counter culture rhetoric, new wave goofiness, and some of the best lo fi Casio drum machine rhythm tracks you're likely to hear. The group's music has been lovingly resurrected for contemporary ears via Gary War & Taylor Richardson's Fixed Identity label.
It's easy to place an "outsider" label on The Prefab Messiahs and there is some ample evidence pointing to why. The group formed in the college town of Worcester, MA 1 hour outside of Boston, it's a town not exactly known for a fertile music scene. When you combine this with the total weirdo nature of the group, their ties to other musical freaks of the scene, & the fact that their work from the time has essentially existed outside of any mainstream or fringe circles for near 30 years. Though this is due in no small part to the lack of available recordings of the band. It's now time to dig in and there's no time time like the right time which is now.
The group are preparing for their 30 year reunion and in celebration have planned, a Massachusetts heavy, "micro-tour" around their home in the north east US. New England psych-folk legend Bobb Trimble, a occasional producer of the group, will be coming along for the ride too making these dates a little extra special. Last Nights has been fortunate to present the New York concert at Death By Audio in Brooklyn, which should be a spectacular night. You can find more info and dates for the tour below.
6/6 - Cambridge, MA @ Middlesex Lounge w/ Jesse Gallager
6/7 - Northampton, MA @ The Sierra Grille w/ Sore Eros
6/8 - Brooklyn, NY @ Death By Audio w/ Spectre Folk, Weyes Blood and the Dark Juices
6/9 - Worcester, MA @ The Firehouse w/ Secret Lover