Five measures of no wave and eight doses of coarse noise. Shake it well, and it will twirl your brain around for an infinite extent of time. Not to mention that Tonnerre Mécanique hail from Marseille, that it’s a trio, and that it’s not necessary after all to have that much information in order to let this phenomenal mess take over. An exclusively instrumental band, because a singer without Mapa gloves could have broken the momentum.
Old fogeys who cling on to ancient values will find some of the sounds to be quite Swob-ish, or feel the possible influence of the first Slug records. Other self-proclaimed Art and Noise specialists, slightly less impacted by the decline of aging, will probably classify Tonnerre Mécanique somewhere between Arab On Radar and Neptune. But even if this subtly disorganized mumbo-jumbo recalls the golden age when Skin Graft was king, the first thing that emerges from this 8-song EP is bewildering immediacy. Spontaneity and intricacy intertwine, yet it doesn’t mean Tonnerre Mécanique is all about free jazz, or that they act more Japanese than they actually are. There’s an underlying logic of deconstruction and reconstruction, followed by great optimism as well as an undeniable form of rubbery humor. You end up with an album that twists your joints, makes you swallow your tongue, tear your hair out, knock your eyeballs together, and fuel up with high voltage.
Le Dernier Cri took care of the screen-printed cover — in other words it’s beautiful — and the release is limited to 200 copies. It’s available at Katatak’s or Boom Boom Rikordz, and it’s way better than all the crap you last listened to on Spotify.
“Let us cross a great modern capital with our ears more alert than our eyes, and we will get enjoyment from distinguishing the eddying of water, air and gas in metal pipes, the grumbling of noises that breathe and pulse with indisputable animality, the palpitation of valves, the coming and going of pistons, the howl of mechanical saws, the jolting of a tram on its rails, the cracking of whips, the flapping of curtains and flags. We enjoy creating mental orchestrations of the crashing down of metal shop blinds, slamming doors, the hubbub and shuffling of crowds, the variety of din, from stations, railways, iron foundries, spinning wheels, printing works, electric power stations and underground railways.”
Luigi Russolo – The Art Of Noises (1913)
Noise, Noise Rock, Experimental Rock, Avant Rock, Industrial, No Wave, Avant Punk, Post Punk. A trawl through the internet produces the above genres to describe Brooklyn based trio Sightings. They are all these and more. Let’s add some Minimal Techno, Electronic Music and even a touch of Funk to the mix and you’re getting close to the sound Mark Morgan (guitar/vocals), Richard Hoffman (bass) and Jonathan Lockie (drums/electronics) have been producing since their inception in 1997 (Hoffman joined in ’98). I’d prefer not to pigeonhole them at all as Sightings are a beast that stand alone amongst their contemporaries like every great band should. Ultimately they have, over the course of 15 years, taken the traditional rock trio format and ran it through a future sound blender, consumed the contents, shat it out and made neo-glacier sized ice cubes from the stuff they couldn’t flush away. These modern shit cubes make the perfect addition to a glass of sub-standard beer served up at their frequent boiler house shows in North Brooklyn.
I first came into contact with Sightings in 2003 when my group Volcano The Bear opened for them at their first ever European show in Nottingham, England. We really didn’t know what to make of them and found them a daunting and confusing prospect. To be honest we didn’t like the music at all. A few years later I moved to Brooklyn and became friends with them. They are now my favorite NYC band by far and I try to see them as often as possible.
To witness Sightings live is an incredible sonic experience. Although they are very different musical personalities they each combine to create a singular monster of industrial proportions and I’m talking ‘Industrial Revolution’ size proportions. They sound like the future portrayed in the film Blade Runner but paradoxically like a vast piece of agricultural machinery from the mid-19th century, ploughing the living hell out of the land to make way for the planting and harvesting of forked lightning. A recent Brooklyn show I attended started with Lockie’s electronic drum pads producing what sounded like the crackle and hum of a menagerie of electric geese – then CRASH! – tight as my shoes feel after a transatlantic flight – Lockie’s convulsive machine gun drums and Hoffman’s helicopter blade bass pound out a dyslexic rhythm that’s almost impossible to figure out. Morgan starts to weave a tapestry of guitar textures and loops with finger work like a patient tailor sewing a suit of steel for Robocop and begins to vocalise. A narcotic drawl leading to ferocious vomit barking and back again (at times Morgan’s singing is reminiscent of Nick Cave). It’s manic but at the same time strangely therapeutic. There’s something undeniably sexy about Sightings live. Lockie’s pounding rhythms set the heart beating faster, pulses racing. Morgan’s pole dance with the mic stand as he shoots bolts of electric bliss and piss from the guitar. His sultry voice leads you on, teasing, while Hoffman’s unique fluid as fuck bass lines and ejaculatory facial expressions tempt you further. It’s stunning that a sound so caustic, fractured and violent can also be so erotic and strangely camp (great examples of Sightings campy eroticism can be discovered via their cover version of the Walker Brothers ‘The Electrician‘ from the ‘Though The Panama‘ album and their sleeve for their debut album ‘Michigan Haters’ which features Lockie in full drag. Tight red sleeveless dress, white framed mirror shades, fright white afro wig and a cigarette hanging from his pouting lips. Contrary to that on the reverse of the sleeve Hoffman and Morgan stand together in black t-shirts, arms folded, serious as hell and as hard as nails. Perversely, if they were each sporting a leather biker cap they could be auditioning for a Village People video! A Sightings concert is like a soundtrack to some fucked up cyber sex party from an x-rated Star Trek episode. Don’t get me wrong on that one. It’s camp like Iggy Pop, Lux Interior or Nick Cave is camp. You definitely wouldn’t want to cross any of these boys in a dark alley and pet their poodles.
The depth of Sightings mission becomes much clearer on their albums. From the all out mud and punk noise assault of their early releases, recorded by the band themselves on a 4 track machine, to their more recent albums produced in the studio to thrilling effect. Their discography tells the story of a band in pursuit of a brand new way to play music. The first 2 self-produced albums, ‘Sightings‘ (Load Records) and ‘Michigan Haters‘ (Psych-O-Path / S-S Records) , both released in 2002 are completely raucous, distorted affairs. Incredibly noisy and energetic with both feet knee deep in a thrash punk field. Difficult listening but you can hear echoes of the group’s future sound on the tracks ‘ Chili Dog‘ from Michigan Haters and ‘Don West’ from the self-titled predecessor. ‘Absolutes‘ (Load Records / Riot Season) from 2003, self produced and recorded on 4 track again is a compositional step up from the first 2 albums. Part of the album still contains the riotous hardcore noise onslaught of the past but there’s a definite move to a more spacious industrial racket. The drums are different, more machine like. The guitars are more angular and controlled. It reminds me a little of early Chrome and despite it’s distorted nature it has a groove. I know the band are fans of minimal techno from labels like Kompact and Basic Channel and you can just start to hear that sound having an influence.
By 2004′s ‘Arrived In Gold‘ (Load Records) that minimal techno influence is much more apparent. There’s a much more industrial feel about this album, in parts comparable to Einsturzende Neubauten’s more abstract work. Entering a studio for the first time and relinquishing some control (the engineer is Samara Lubelski who also contributes some violin) Sightings were at last able to hear what they could potentially sound like. It shows! ‘Arrived In Gold‘ is a fascinating record. Remarkably different from their previous albums in it’s minimalist approach. It’s such a spacious record and very bold and successful because of that. The distortion and full on chaos of previous albums is replaced with a calm, mannered almost polite division of sounds. This division gives an order to the drums, guitar and bass as they move in and around each other to create one unified cell, no longer a trio but a combined futuristic sound machine. Subtle as fuck and an album any budding (or old in the tooth) experimental musician/experimental music fan should hear. The same year saw the release of ‘Gardens Of War‘ (The Smack Shire). A collaborative album with Tom Smith (To Live And Shave In L.A.) using a lot of post production with strange edits and digital fuckery. The music is great and typical Sightings with Smith taking over vocal duties. His voice is an acquired taste, sleazy but filled with character. ‘GOW‘ is a successful album and worth tracking down.
Post ‘AIG‘ Sightings hit a difficult period of a personal nature with Morgan moving out of New York to his home state of Michigan for a while. This is reflected in their next album ‘End Times‘ (Fusetron) from 2006. Featuring 3 tracks from a limited EP (2005) on the En/Of label and filled out with new 4 track recordings. ‘End Times‘ is a deranged and raucous affair, much like a combination of all their previous albums but lacking the subtleties of ‘AIG’. It’s angry and obnoxious with a quality fuck you attitude. The production is rougher than ‘AIG‘ and it’s a long haul at 52 minutes though it definitely has it’s energetic moments. One of the highlights is the stoned monster ‘Carry On‘ which sounds like The Birthday Party slowed down to a nihilistic crawl. Another is the epic Chrome-like ‘Only Below’.
The work ethic of Sightings is admirable. For most of their existence they have rehearsed 2 or 3 times a week. Constantly honing their sound and exploring their instruments and sonic ideas together. They are constantly composing and each time they play they always have new pieces to perform. They definitely don’t play the hits. This tireless approach to experimenting with their format reaped it’s rewards on their next 2 studio albums. In my opinion their finest works.
‘Through The Panama‘ (Load Records / Ecstatic Peace!) from 2007 was their most ambitious studio recording to date produced by long time friend and associate of the band Andrew WK. It’s a step up from the minimal ‘AIG‘ with much more electronics courtesy of Lockie’s electronic drums (he plays a mixed acoustic/electronic kit). The minimal techno feel is back and coupled with Hoffman’s bass they provide some serious grooves for Morgan’s searing guitar work. But the major difference with this album is Morgan’s vocals. At last they are at the front of the mix and surprise, surprise, he’s a great lead vocalist! Up to this point all the previous releases had the vocals way down in the mix or were performed in such a way as to make them indecipherable. Now installed higher up and clearer in the mix the band is raised to new heights and the songs achieve greater depths and significance. The sounds on ‘TTP‘ are so clear and precise you can hear every nuance. The bass throbs like a WWII bomber plane while the crisp drums and electronics fire rapid machine gun crackle through the air raid guitar. Electric pterodactyls do battle with airsick helicopter techno typewriters as the disturbed vocals lure you like a siren to perish on those metal teeth the police use to burst the car tyres of villains on the run . Perfectly executed and sexy as an alien invasion surfing in to the sea shore on a tsunami wave. ‘TTP‘ is Sightings matured. The album means so much. I don’t know what it means but I believe it without doubt.
‘City Of Straw‘ (Brah Records) from 2010 is almost as good as it’s predecessor. Again it’s a studio recording. Recorded by Shahin Motia and Kid Millions from Oneida at their studio in Brooklyn. It’s in a similar vein to ‘TTP‘ but a little more dirty sounding. The drums are less powerful and precise in the mix but on tracks like ‘Tar And Pine‘ and ‘We All Amplify‘ Lockie’s electronic percussion add another level to the sonic interference. It’s still a superb album with some of Morgan’s best guitar work featured. A claustrophobic album, very dense and humid in parts. Like being trapped in a steel room floating on a boiling lake. Through the small porthole window you can see the desolation of a post-apocalypse world outside.
Sightings last album, 2011′s ‘Future Accidents‘ (Our Mouth Records) is a vinyl only release. A collection of tracks left over from the ‘City Of Straw‘ sessions. Side 1 is typical of later Sightings but with less electronic rhythms and more acoustic drum work. It’s not as immediate as the previous two albums but still excellent. Side 2 is a very different beast altogether. ‘Public Remains‘ at almost 20 minutes in length takes up the whole of the side. It’s quite unlike any Sightings track. It’s a very meditative piece, looping and droning. It could be an old Faust jam. It’s definitely got a krautrock vibe. Pat Murano (NNCK) guests on this track on keyboards (he’d played keyboards with the group on a couple of ‘COS’ tracks and has recently played with them live). Like a lot of Sightings material the album is futuristic sounding and highly unique. A post-apocalyptic future. As an over populated world comes to terms with a perpetual energy crisis feeding environmental disasters and oil wars Sightings provide the soundtrack to our decaying industry and infrastructure. Luigi Russolo would have been proud.
When I feel like giving up on life, I think of a handful of people and Jesse Hlebo of Swill Children is one of them. Jesse takes the hard road, never cuts corners, and sees things through to the end every time. This and his massive talent as an artist and designer keep me collecting all his releases. Swill Children is an independent record label/book publishing company from Brooklyn NY that has released music by Lucky Dragons, Guardian Alien, W-H-I-T-E, Nü Sensae and Okie Dokie among others. They’ve also published books by Grant Willing, Bryan Kruger, Ryan Foerster and Taraka Larson. All the books and Vinyl are printed in house on a Risograph (high-speed digital printing system).
2. Pdf version of the first book published by Swill Children: Jesse Hlebo & Hannah Racecar – I Tried To Take A Picture Of The Moon Because It Was So Big or The Math Drinkers(right click/save as)
Jesse Hlebo and Hannah Racecar collaborated on a zine in which they took pictures and wrote poems once a day for six days, leaving up to chance the content that was to be produced. The result is a brief glimpse at lives full of frustration and loneliness.
3. Go spend some valuable time on Swill Children’s website.
The swill children projects suggest a narrative but there not linked together are they? How far ahead do you plan?Do you have an arc in mind for Swill Children?
There is an arc for Swill Children but it’s more spontaneous than engineered for a particular future. I never know what will happen next month or next year. I try and respond to what came before and keep moving forward. Each release references sorrow or jubilance in a manner that converses with the last. I sort of viewed this last batch of releases as a unit, though they are very distinct from one another. I haven’t done that before.
Can you tell me a bit about your relationship with NYC?
I’ve never been to a place that was as inclusive as NYC. The time in which it took me to get involved with the music scene was not only quicker than any other place I’d lived, but was far more passionate and heartfelt. It’s the first place I’ve lived for more than a year since I was 17 but has yet to become dull in any way. Not that things are ‘comfortable’, things just fit. I don’t know if I could live anywhere else.
Who is Jesse Hlebo?
I spend a large part of my day trying to figure out this question. I’m not sure if I’ll ever know.
On your website you have the Sopa Petition pop up. What’s the deal?
SOPA (Stop Online Privacy Act) is an act that the USA government has been attempting to pass that would, in short, introduce a very highly controlled haze over the internet that doesn’t currently exist on such a massive scale. It is an outright attempt at censorship and authoritarian control. I’m really glad the internet has continued to be as ‘wild-west’ as it has for so long and think it should stay free for as long as possible.
What images do you come back to again and again?
Maurice Ronet looking into a mirror before committing suicide in The Fire Within, directed by Louis Malle. The fire and crickets scene from Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven. Gordan Matta-Clark’s documentation of Splitting: Four Corners. The elephant-trampling scene in David Lynch’s The Elephant Man. Tauba Auerbach‘s Static photographs of television static. The first time I saw Richard Tuttle‘s work at MoCA in Los Angeles. Fireworks exploding in a panorama around me while laying on my roof in Brooklyn. Childhood best friend rolling over a brick and cutting open leg, blood seeping through his pants and dripping on ground while running. Skateboarding in Union Station in Los Angeles while drunk, falling on my face, bleeding everywhere, and peeing in a urinal while blood dripped into the water. And running on gravel between trains in Klamath Falls at 4am while being chased by a railroad officer.
What projects are coming up?
Paperweight -a primarily online-based organization dedicated to furthering a dialogue on independent publishing- is about to launch on Thursday the 12th of July. We’re participating in Brooklyn Shelf Life, a year long project with a total of 48 publications. New releases in the coming months from _ Quarterly, Andrew Laumann + Jesse Hlebo, Peter Sutherland. We’re participating in Printed Matter’s NY Art Book Fair at the end of September as well as the Sculpture Center block party at the beginning of September.
Third Lp by this crazy Detroit outfit and in all probability their last, because the bass player moved to LA. Druid Perfume played some of the weirdest rock music I ever heard and I fucking love them for it.
While their previous release was somewhat calmer than the rest of their output, this second Selftitled album gets pretty manic again. When I listen to this record I think of a circus in which the singer of the band functions as announcer. The band backs up the acts with music. Jimbo introduces every act with a drugged out slur while barely being able to stay up on his feet. It should go without saying that his circus ain’t your ordinary circus and this is more than apparent as the opening act makes its entrance.
The clowns are clearly strung out on hallucinogens as they climb the stage drooling, howling and hitting themselves in the face. One is having a bad trip and curls up on the floor in fetal position whilst screaming he’s dying. He then begins to cry and calls for his mother in a childlike voice. In the meantime a fellow funny man has started undressing. He invites the audience to do the same : ‘Free yourselves! Throw off your chains!’ In the background another clown’s eyes get splashed by a flower pinned to a colleague’s chest. He runs around the arena blind. It was battery acid.
Next up are the lion and his tamer. The king of all animals is in no mood to jump through burning hoops no matter how hard his master whips him. The creature eventually loses its patience and tears off the tamer’s leg. In the meantime a drunk cord dancer has entered the stadium and is climbing one of the poles. Her first step from the plateau is about a foot away from the cord she’s trying to walk. She falls all the way down to the ground. Fortunately her fall is broken by some stuffed animals stainedby questionable substances. Things are about to get wrapped up with the human cannon ball act. Too much gun powder has been stuffed down the barrel, causing a giant explosion in which the human cannon ball burns alive. As the tent catches fire, the audience try to escape the flames that reach out for everything that isn’t ablaze yet. Parents flee in blind panic leaving their kids behind to function as fuel for the fire. Children’s screams of agony and cries for help fill the night sky as the band keeps playing. The announcer shouts one incoherent sentence after another throughout this grand finale. What a perfect ending for a perfect band.
WHAT Headwar are wild children from Amiens. They also happen to be the best french live act for a few years: love of dissonance, no-wave/punk guitars, dementia shriekings, frenzied avalanches, crushing bass, hammered tribalism, ear-drilling synth. Plus something which reveals the Beast laying in each of us. Headwar generate a creepy golem out of sound and then they tame it, control it, alter it, caress it, until it is unleashed and swallows everyone. And then people return to a primal state, sweat, bleed, climb on each other, bite each other (it actually happened to me. I was the victim). Headwar is the Monolith and we are a gang of monkeys discovering fire.
Here is a video recording of their full show at Grnd Zero in 2009. Watch it full screen. Entirely. If you don’t have the time or if you’re suffering from interweb’s attention disorder syndrome, download it and keep it for later.
WHERE Khedive is an unlikely venue, right accross the street from the very official Botanique. The owner tries to make a living of it, but doubtless the place doesn’t reach any safety standards and he really seems elsewhere. Frequency of good music: No idea, first time I went there. The Headwar show was organized by a friend of them. Other remarks: Probably won’t last long if they continue to leave the door open while noisy rock roars and neighbours are sleeping not far away.
6/20/12: ZEA + KING AYISOBA @ ATELIERS CLAUS
WHAT Zea already wrote about King Ayisobarecently on A&D, and we mumbled a few clumsy words about Zea too, so I’ll be brief. Zea = pop-punk anthems, african guitar riffs and cheap drum machine colliding (+ delicate folk side). King Ayisoba from Ghana = KILLER, with at least half a dozen persons living in his head.
WHERE Ateliers Claus holds its name from his owner, Franz Claus. Weird, isn’t it? If you blink very quickly you can see a subliminal fresco of his face behind the stage. At first Mr Claus was hosting shows in his living room, but then the Brussel’s city council wasn’t happy about it and there was a dispute and then they played Rock-Paper-Scissors and the city council lost so they lent him a new place. Frequency of good music: Around a third of great shows in Brussels happen there. Other remarks: The barmaid, after years of practice, still doesn’t know how to pour a beer. Tech guys are über competents (one of them is Deerhoof’s sound enginneer when they tour europe).
6/20/12 – DON VITO @ RTT
WHAT Don Vito are a spontaneous, concise, dense and disruptive trio from Leipzig. They navigate with dexterity between structure and chaos, and none of their tracks last more than the time to smoke half a cigarette. Their music is nifty like math rock, ferocious like punk, boiling over like free jazz, and it makes everyone dance like spuds.
WHERE RTT is one of my favourite venues in Brussels. The building mainly hosts artists’ residences, but sometimes shows take place on the 1st floor. No security guards, (very) cheap entrance tickets and drinks, you can smoke, bring your own booze, there is a garden, shows finish late… Crust heaven on earth. Frequency of good music: Good (expect mainly punk, noise, math-stuff) Other remarks: Feels like home (if your home is messy). Will close on summer 2013, boo boo.
06/21/12 ANDY MOOR & YANNIS KIRIAKIDES @ RECYCLART
WHAT Andy Moor (The Ex’s guitarist) and Yannis Kyriakides (macbook laptop from Hell and various bleep bloop machines) play LEGO with rebetika music, the “blues” music of the Greek diaspora of the early 20th century. The record they made and the liveshow are both stunning.
Andy Moor & Yannis Kyriakides – Vamvakaris
Get the record via Andy and Yannis’ label Unsounds.
WHERE Recyclartorganises parties, concerts, art exhibitions, debates… Frequency of good music: Sometimes. Fantastic non-western music shows happen there (from Omar Souleyman to Shangaan Electro). Other Remarks: the place, located in an abandoned train station, is gorgeous.
06/23/12 IGNATZ @ MICROMARCHE/DIY Day
I know it is unfair, but when you’re an inconspicuous redhead with a beard, some people will always think you just escaped from Lord of The Rings. But as soon as Ignatz/Bram Devens sits down, picks his guitar & pedals and starts to sing his fractured blues, no doubt is allowed : he comes from Mount Olympus and has the power to suspend Time, to reveal the Secrets of the Universe, to make hearts of mortal men vacillate and beat stronger while feeling simultaneously doleful and happy and lonely and surrounded with love and wasted and straight-edge. Praise him.
Ignatz – Dance For Two Hundred (Or A Drink)from I Hate this City Lp
Ignatz – The Blue & Windless Dusk (Right click/Save as) from Selected songs from cassettes 2005-2009
Get his last Lps here (Conspiracy records) and there (Kraak records).
WHERE DIY Day is a out-doors festival where post-hippies gather and play djembe and fiddle necklaces and do bodypainting while schmoozing about social participation, cultural exchange and environmental approach (actually I didn’t go and only bad faith allows me to write this). Micromarché hosted a bunch of experimental shows during this DIY Day event. Hundreds of people came but 98% of them stayed in the courtyard drinking beer in the sun. I agree it is a reasonable occupation, but they missed the epiphany occuring inside. Frequency of good music: Sometimes. Problems with neighbours have limited the amount of shows happening there. Other remarks: Micromarché is above all an art/blahblah market where various creators sell their stuff, and a restaurant.
6/25/12 TENNISCOATS @ LA BEAUHAUS
WHAT I met Saya, Ueno and Tetsuya a few years ago, when we hosted OneOne at Grnd Zero in Lyon. OneOne is the project of Saya and Satomi from Deerhoof, but Greg Saunier (Deerhoof’s drummer), Ueno and Tetsuya accompagnied them for this tour. The result was an euphoric and energetic rainbow pop show. This time the set up is totally different, they play without any mic or amp. Saya walks around, sings and plays melodica. Ueno plays acoustic guitar. Tetsuya plays altered sewing machine, ventilator, beer can, loaf, water pot… Sometimes he takes a stick and wanders about. The result could have been vacuate and simple-minded but instead they kept walking on a tightrope of absolute grace. Below is a video we were sent of the song Oide No Umi transcribing 1% of the magic that transpired. I’d be ready to give a lung to see again the song they played right before this one. But everyone was crying, and it ain’t easy to hold a cam in these conditions.
A Tenniscoats’ classic:
Tenniscoats – Marline (Right click/Save as) – from The Theme Of Tenniscoats – Majikick Records – 2000
They will release a new album, All Aboard! July 6th on Chapter Music. Here is a track:
Tenniscoats – Mosha Mosha Mo
WHERE La Beauhaus is a micro-venue (30 square meters), organizing art exhibits and shows, notably run by our friend Max (also playing in the band Hoquets and running the Matamore record label). Even if I hated Max, i’d have to admit this place is great. Frequency of good music: Excellent (expect accoustic/experimental music) Other remarks: Way too small.
6/26/12 XXL @ ATELIERS CLAUS
XXL is Xiu Xiu teaming-up with italian band Larsen. Well, it was just Jamie Stewart with his tanned skin, skinny shirt and penetrative look, as Angela stayed home so he could enjoy naughty sightseeing in London. XXL delivered a Loud (they blew a speaker in less than 10 minutes) and angry rock scattered in multiple directions (psychedelism, wistful 80′s pop, experimental digressions). An unknown person Felicité of A&D said we could deduce their sexual behaviours from the way they move on stage: Jamie’s probably consists of whips and twirls, Fabrizio (guitar, dildo) starts softly then becomes a fierce grizzly, while Il Bue (drums, but he missed his True Destiny: acting in Oz), Paolo (synth, accordion) and Roberto (guitar) are more the stoic-but-virile-powerful type. Most of the tracks were instrumental, although Jamie granted us three songs with his delightful agonizing goat’s voice. The show was exalted and staggering, my only problem being that Fabrizio, who also has an enchanting croony voice, didn’t open up his throat.
XXL – Vaire (from Düde, to be released July 2nd on Tin Angel records)
You can download another mp3 (Disco Chrome) and buy Düde on Tin Angel records’ website.
The air conditioning is out at my destitute suburban townhome. Every ceiling fan is on. The jazz tobacco’s nearly gone. The sound of summer’s construction encroaches upon the neighborhood. Oftentimes, I find myself listening to music that corresponds to both my mood and environment, and I have a record for this sort of languid, humid day. Shuffling through a crate of LPs, I recognize the distorted, pixelated palm tree that adorns the cover of The Hospitals’ Hairdryer Peace, perfectly foreshadowing the sounds to be heard. Imagery that evokes the spirit of being burnt-out and sun-baked has been en vogue over the past several years, but The Hospitals, based in San Francisco, were one of the few bands to articulate the dreary reality of life on the tropical living room sofa.
Dropping the needle, listeners are soon greeted by Adam Whitestone’s strained vocals. “I feel queer”, he shouts, amongst blown-out guitars that erupt into the sort of psychedelia-damaged noise splatter that may one liken to Ramleh circa Hole In The Heart, but more ostensibly acid-fried. Following the opening tracks bout of noise is quite possibly the Hospitals’ catchiest jam, “Getting Out Of Bed”, an affirmation of the bands ability to make the distance between pop and noise almost seamless. “Getting Out Of Bed” isn’t Hairdryer Peace’s only instance of something that resembles a song; “This Walls” starts on a post-punk foot before fading into an assemblage of found sounds and grainy feedback. Besides the two aforementioned tracks, the Hospitals opt for episodic song structures, which pits the tape recorder against their inhuman wall of noise. Tape smear and manipulated feedback as song-craft becomes integral to Hairdryer Peace, yielding their most distinctive recordings as a band without resting upon their amps. The miasmic tumult of “Animals Act Natural”, for example, marks the band at their noisiest and their most cathartic; Whitestone’s drums are frantic and the guitars are ham-fistedly pummeled, syncopating to the hi-end skree weaving in and out of the mix before ultimately imploding. “Rules For Being Alive”, the most psychedelic cut off the album, is nearly folky at the track’s onset before the Hospitals employ layers of noise, bringing the song to its paranoid conclusion. The last tracks on the album finish the album on a more abstract note, often opting for ominious guitar textures that rumble and scream throughout the mix. “Dream Damage” features a dilapidated chord structure that repeats itself, never straying from its staggering point of origin.
Hairdryer Peace found The Hospitals in the sorts of territory occupied by noise rock deconstructionists such as Royal Trux, Jim Shepard’s Vertical Slit, and The Dead C. Not unlike the seminal rock terrorists of the past, The Hospitals managed to find a way to bridge absolute discordance and the lowest common denominators of rock songwriting, creating the sort of manic din of Twin Infinitives while managing to remain more coherent and succinct (which doesn’t happen quite often when bands attempt to flip the rock hierarchy of reason/communication over noise/ritual). Principally, the band is able to articulate their ethos perfectly well (the lack of a given fuck is palpable) while managing to proffer thematic tidiness. Hairdryer Peace’s lyrical content reflects the same sense of disorientation created by the music, a mix of hazy comprehension and burnt-out bluntness. “BPPV” for example, is a delirious performance of several simple lines, “Where are you now?/ you’re upside down/your face looks smeared…/I feel dizzy/I feel stoked”. The band also shows an interest in the dichotomy between impulse and silence (“You’re afraid to do what you’re required to do”, “Animals act natural! It’s all been so hard for me”, “Kids, get out of bed!”), yet the band bends toward the discordance associated with noise music’s release of internal tensions. In this way, Hairdryer Peace functions as a primal scream, rendering the mundane (whether social or chemical) as a catalyst to complete disenchantment. Beneath the aforementioned disillusion, however, is a well-wrought noise that announces its presence as something urgent, important. Stockpiling and repetition continue to dominate the consumption of music, but Hairdryer Peace seems to want to point in the other direction. If, as Jacques Attali proposes, music is becoming more and more about silence (the exclusion of musical codes that don’t conform to the contemporary musical standard of hi-fidelity, intelligibility and perfection), an album as explicitly damaged as Hairdryer Peace explores the aesthetic of composition-contra-automation, the juxtaposition of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” against the terrifying backdrop of unorganized sound and tape shrapnel. The Hospitals might’ve created the manifestation of the arid, listless, monotonous afternoon that cannot help but to incessantly recur.
Hairdryer Peace was self-released on vynil in 2008 and is now out of print. A cd version was later released by Meds (imprint of excellent Portland record shop Exiled). Some indie stores still have a few copies of this cd version (here or there).Other albums can be bought directly from Load and In the red Records.
(1) The New Yorker is an American magazine that publishes reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, cartoons, poetry and fiction. Originally a weekly, the magazine is now published 47 times per year with five (usually more expansive) issues covering two-week spans.
(2) The New Yorker is a melodic punk/post-hardcore band from Northwest Indiana.
Now that you’re all sad about Raw Nerve being gone, have yourself a listen to this slice of Chicago/NW Indiana melodic hardcore. Members of this band are also in Lord Snow and Expendable Youth, and one was in Raw Nerve. Furious bass playing, harmonic feedback tunes, and drums that sound like a roll of M-80s going off. The melodic chord changes bring to mind the late Witch Hunt, or perhaps Syracuse, NY’s Shoppers. Fans of those, or emotional hardcore in the vein of Rites of Spring, will dig this record. The ten songs are all about a minute-ish long and the whole thing runs through so nice you’ll listen to it twice.
Acolytes is (Mysterious first name) “Boseman” (Mysterious last name), a friend of Russell of The Pheromoans. Actually I met him on Soulseek, this P2P culture-sharing network is litteraly crowded with musicians/activists. Boseman is supposed to do a duel interview with Russell for Amour & Discipline, but it will probably take him 7 years as he would rather do nothing or just sit and listen to grime like a fucking chav. However, his first EP on Savoury Days, Known Nonsense, is a true jewel of “creepy and complex psychedelia, an updated take on 80′s DIY eclecticism, from the likes of Gareth Williams, Prominent Disturbance or L. Voag, with a hint of futuristic proggers such as Heldon” (Russel’s words). Yes that’s a lot of name dropping but Acolytes deserve it and I can’t wait to hear his first full album. Life is short and we’re all gonna die soon in a awkward way so you should stream now the whole A side just below (three songs: The Music of Eric Zahn, Syncopated Sleep and The Agreement) and then swiftly spend all your money there.
I can’t get bored of the new Zea 7″ with clarinet player Xavier Charles. Zea is known for his booty-shaking pop punk anthems, but here he’s showing his sensitive side with Bourgeois Blues (a cover of Leadbelly) and two new songs. Buy it directly from Arnold here.
Does anyone know why there is sometimes such a disgraceful big blank after the song names on Soundcloud players?If you can show us the light please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Gay Anniversaryis a noise punk band from Athens, Greece and I’m gonna rip-off their own description. They sound likeanother boring clone a credible reincarnation of Bick Black. Scratching guitars, Pounding drum machine, Robocop bass, Barked vocals, Wild excitation: everything is in its right place. Why not take a look at their Bandcamp page? Some members also play in Bazooka, you can admire their poetic skills in “I Want to fuck all the girls in my school”. Both bands respectively released a LP and a 7″ on the excellent Slovenly Recordings.
Gay Anniversary – American Yard
Gay Anniversary – Choke This
Bazooka – I Want To Fuck All The Girls In My School
Dan negociating ice cream flavors with wealthy indie labels.
Dan Deacon hasn’t sent us his contribution to A&D webzine yet but we still love him, because he wrote a great Grnd Zero support letter to the Lyon’s City Council (thanks a billion times, dude), and also because he just spread a vigorous track from his forthcoming America LP over the interweb. The lyrics of this new album are supposed to advocate the destruction of capitalism or something but according to reliable sources far-fetched rumors he SHAMELESSLY BETRAYED Carpark records because Domino offered him more strawberry ice cream. And yet I can’t wait to hear it and fight big corporations and see him live again and feel as if I will be four years old forever.
B) We don’t care about the release date anyway (non-2012 records)
Noise-duo Yellow Swans (and Pete Swanson solo works) deserve to have a whole book written about them but for now let’s just say their music was, in their own words, “a constantly evolving mass of psychedelic noise that is both physically arresting and psychically liberating”. This surprising emo-pop track comes from the 2007 tape Deterioration, one year prior to their separation. It is out of print too so you know what you gotta do.
After several 7″ and tape releases Brown Sugar released their first 12″ and it’s a mighty fine record in my opinion. “Brown Sugar Sings about Birds and Racism” delivers nine songs. What makes Brown Sugar unique is how flawlessly they incorporate so many ideas and styles into one coherent sound. The band definitely changed over the years. Perhaps I should say ‘grew’, but that sounds so pretentious… There is more tempo changing on this record compared to the band’s early days. Back then it was basically all fast. These days Brown Sugar takes the time to write slower parts in which the band extends their songs by adding jammy parts with guitar solos that border on the psychedelic. One moment you’re listening to a classic guitar solo and the next you’re back to a fast three chord riff again. Fuck, they even make a saxophone solo sound punk as fuck. There’s so much happening at the same time on this Lp and yet there’s not a moment you could argue that it isn’t a hardcore record you’re listening to. It’s hard to pick favourite songs, because they’re all good and make for a coherent full length. If I had to pick a few though I’d list the opening track “Funkland”, which should actually be called “Fuckland” if you read into the lyrics a bit, “Black and White Panther Party”, although I don’t really understand its lyrics, and “I wanna be a Somali Pirate”, because of its funny lyrics. Those who’ve been paying attention to this band from the start might recognize the song “Blow” from the ‘Deportation’ Ep, but the Lp version is way slower, funkier and zoned out. This makes the line “I don’t like this place no more” the more believable. Returning topics in Eduardo’s lyrics are not understanding and not wanting to be part of the world around him, but he words these sentiments with a lot of wit, which is refreshing. What Brown Sugar did on this record is no small feat. How many bands haven’t left hardcore behind for “creative reasons” only to turn into something absolutely atrocious? I’ve lost count of the times I’ve read “faux coinnoisseurs” say that hardcore is a limited genre that can only be stretched to a certain point, a point reached long ago according to many. This record is like a thick load of phlegm straight into those people’s eyes. Who would have thought a hardcore band could be this diverse without losing any urgency, rawness or fun? Few, but Brown Sugar pulled it off.
This Buffalo band released a pretty awesome Ep way back in 2008. Although pretty much ignored at the time, it was a personal favourite of mine – yes, I’m that special. The three songs on that Ep were angry, snotty, mean and nihilistic, but fun in some twisted way as well. Odd yet perfect punk rock basically. After that record things went quiet – except for the “Boner Beach Ep” shtick from Murray Bowles Maximumrocknroll column in April 2010 that probably no one bought but me. This hiatus was due to Plates’ singer’s departure for Korea. During his absence it was unclear (to me) whether Plates’ days were over or if the band would get back together once their frontman returned. It should go without saying that these months were incredibly tough on me, but my sleepless nights turned out not to have been in vain; Plates returned on the scene last year with two new 7”s. The band had already recorded enough material for a full length in 2008, but at the time no label was interested in releasing it. With the band back together however Big Neck Records offered to do their Lp and here it finally is. Plenty of reason to rejoice indeed! This Lp is in line with the band’s previous material. Lately Plates seems to get labeled as a noise rock band, but that doesn’t make sense. Although slow dragging bass lines and simple pounding drums do form the foundation of all the song on this record, putting Plates next to bands like Killdozer and the Jesus Lizard, or Rollins band like MRR recently did, is just crazy. Those noise rock bands always sounded way too professional to my ears and Plates are anything but. Instead they sound like a bunch of weirdos playing music for the hell of it. I guess the vocals make all the difference. They add a lot of character to the band’s sound. This guy sounds desperate! The ten songs on this Lp are both fun and depressing at the same time, which might sound crazy to you but it makes perfect sense to me. The band serves a Gun Club cover on the B-side, which I thought was kinda cool considering Plates don’t sound anything like the Gun Club. The artwork is pretty non-descript just like their previous releases. I guess they like it that way. My only complaint is that there’s no lyric sheet. I would have loved to read what their singer’s screaming. I’ve got a feeling some of it is pretty funny, but I might be wrong. This is a great punk rock record for those who aren’t afraid to stretch up their notion of the genre a bit.
The brilliant Northern Spy record label will soon host the second SPY MUSIC FESTIVAL, “a sprawling music marathon running from June 29th through July 15th featuring 46 sets of music presented at 7 venues across New York City”. Tickets are cheap, sponsors don’t suck (Tiny Mix Tapes, Jump Arts…), people will get to drink a special Northern Spy brew, and most of all the line-up would even arouse Besse Cooper.
But if you don’t live in New York, don’t be sad. First, don’t forget this city is full of dreary insecure anxious human beings who rent 17 square meters apartments for 1000 dollars a month. Second, Northern Spy made a delightful thirty-seven track compilation bringing together most of the bands playing at the festival.