The history and function of tape trading is something we’re very interested in at Decoder Magazine. To that end, using the stock from our tape label Crash Symbols, we’ve been conducting a series of “guided trades” with other cassette imprints. Part of the advantage we perceive in this treatment is the ability to identify and talk clearly about a more structured notion of “eclecticism” – the idea that many beautiful things can work with and enhance one another so long as they are all beautiful. In the case of art objects or furnishings, they needn’t be made in the same style or by the same craftsman. The same can apply to albums. A record label’s catalog might draw more or less from one or more particular genres, but it need not of necessity. As curators, many label owners would sooner maker their catalogs a reflection of themselves. Considering that a fair number of these people are avid collectors of experience, information, and tapes or records, their imprints begin to share in the same academic and operational rigor that motivates their other passions, so it seems meaningful for us to talk about their catalogs comprehensively.
More importantly, trading tapes underscores a positive way to cultivate coherent and self-sufficient communities, independent of the kind of praise that we admittedly make every effort to lavish on labels in our recurring Tape Trade feature at Decoder. To some consumers, labels are a thing worth reaching out to, and for some label owners, an imprint is something to communicate with; this sometimes plays itself out in the common perception of imprints as too aloof, but also too friendly, depending on what angle you use to scrutinize “the scene”. The difficulty with really evaluating tapes and tape culture is the extent to which it has become a fundamentally voluntary and participatory culture. Paradoxically, many cassette labels have distinguished themselves through an honest and effective leveraging of support through social media.
So, that’s the big idea. This is our fifth tape trade – you can check out some earlier ones here and here) – but more than being your requisite 1,000+ words worth of random music reading today, we hope that this will inspire you to reach out to friends, bands you love, or labels you admire and offer to trade. If you hit us up at Crash Symbols, God knows we’d be psyched to arrange something.
Without further ado, Field Hymns of Portland, an imprint focused on experimental electronic music, with significant helpings of kosmische, prog-rock, and even a little bit of skwee (which I for one can always use is greater quantity than I’m getting).
A third album for Extra Life, New York aesthete Charlie Looker’s band, and the first with a three-piece line-up. Their bass player left over a year ago, which resulted among other things in the significance of keyboards and 80s synth wave in the 2011 EP Ripped Heart. Extra Life had retained their medieval facet, but they also seemed to have softened.
Dream Seeds foreshadows something similar (but it will later prove to be a fallacy), with Charlie Looker’s focusing on vocals and keyboards, playing just a little acoustic guitar. Meanwhile violinist Caley Monahon-Ward gathers momentum as he deals all by himself with the electric guitar, the violin, electronic manipulation, and sometimes synths and backing vocals. His role in Extra Life has become essential and the band now appears as a perfect entity, a triangle with three equal sides – the extraordinary drummer Nick Podgurski is just as noteworthy –, an entity of which Charlie Looker is the base and the mastermind, the enlightened composer.
Dream Seeds starts out quietly with No Dreams Tonight. A wonderful ballad, medieval as can be and in keeping with the spirit of Ripped Heart. Actually Dream Seeds may sound more dreamy, and less rhythmic than the genius Made Flesh (2010) or Secular Works (2009). Little One is also filled with delicacy, wonderful violin layers, and a soft piano which manages to spare us sentimentality and pompous conceit – a pure moment of grace and levitation. Even a track like First Song proves to maintain this enveloping and chilling softness despite the complex rhythmics. Extra Life is a special band, they are elsewhere.
Yet, Extra Life have sustained their ardour, except it is now channelled differently. Discipline For Edwin and Righteous Seed both reconnect with Extra Life’s two major features : the wonderful and lyrical tension on the one side, and the captivating, quasi-religious fervor on the other side. The splendid guitar backgrounds and the indecipherable but direct rhythmic patterns are still there, dominated by Charlie Looker’s out of season singing, and additional synths as support or counterpoint. The album ends with two bravura pieces : Blinded Beast followed by Ten Year Teardrop, both reaching a near quarter of an hour in length and representing Extra Life’s darkest, but also most lyric and stunning side. The whole musical range of the trio is brilliantly represented, reaching noise and madness – you have to hear Charlie Looker shouting « I Love You/I Love You/How I Miss You/I Buried You/We Buried You/We Buried You/I Love You », on Ten Year Teardrop. The band’s alchemical splendour is there, chiseled into its purest shape, at a level approaching magic.
Dream Seeds’ double themes (dream and childhood) are pregnant in Charlie Looker’s introspective and personal lyrics. In the booklet, a quote from Paracelsus, a rebel mind and Swiss Renaissance visionary, alchemist, astrologer and physician, sums up Dream Seeds’ demented and contagious content: « Blessed is he that is born during sleep ». Dream Seeds is already one of the most prodigious and bewitching album of this year.
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.
Texture, timbre, mood, vibe: today, music journalists and musicians alike tend to keep the bulk of their eggs in this well-padded basket of aesthetic signifiers. These amorphous musical elements don’t lend themselves very well to language, and so their privileged status in music writing is a little ironic. When the fascination with aesthetic categories swells to the point of eclipsing the more tangible tonal, structural and lyrical aspects of songwriting, writing ostensibly “about” a specific piece of music finds itself in the absurd position of holding the indescribable above the inscribable. Similarly, musicians captivated with aesthetics face some pretty limited prospects for developing novel material if the possibilities of musical novelty are relegated to an abstruse realm of effect and intention.
All this to say: what happens if, instead of resorting to “fifth-dimensional namecalling” by attempting to stabilize unstable aesthetic signifiers so that writing makes more sense, you hone in on the representable, repeatable, linguistically communicable content of a piece of music? What happens when there are no rules but structure still matters? What happens when there are no rules but a C# is still a C# except it’s arguably happening more like a Db right now, or you’re playing in a nonstandard tuning so it’s a C# on the fretboard but an A on the stroboscope?
What happens is this: you write some music infused with your engagement with the event of this language. I don’t care if C# is any more “real” than the “suburban vibe” of the new Real Estate record; I don’t care if you name and remember your chords or write down your melodies (I usually don’t). Sure, the premise that C# is any more ontologically stable than timbre is indefensible; both are theoretical as far as I’m concerned. The difference lies in the availability of pitch to the interactivity of language. As Socrates said to Theaetetus, “the notes, as every one would allow, are the elements or letters of music.” And as soon as you hit that C#-on-the-fret-but-A-in-pitch on the fretboard, you are dealing with a multivalent empirical phenomenon: that C# and that A are characters you get to respond to, favor, position, make speak, or deny, etc., all the infinite dramaturgical possibilities fostered by the God Position and the corollary Position Of Worship. Privileging tonality in music doesn’t mean presuming to answer the question of knowledge, of objective forms, etc.; instead, it opens up 1000s of ways to frame those questions.
Chris Weisman: “Pitch Noise is the aesthetics of Noise — shock collages, maximum sensuality, letting the materials speak in their own tongues — but focusing on pitch relationships rather than timbre, texture, costume. What seems reactionary — but is radical by virtue of 1) being unpopular 2) requiring an education in theory and analysis — is the privileging of exactly the elements that were traditionally hierarchically higher in Western Classical music. For example Debussy believed timbral and decorative elements were awesome but must serve the higher powers of cadence, form, tonal drama; that the real music is what can be captured on the notated page. You know like you can read a poem aloud in all these different ways — and those ways make a difference — but the poem is really somewhere else; it can be real all these different ways but ultimately the poem is unreal, abstract, like geometry or math or a game. These are the star systems I try to encounter. When I bring them to earth I might try a pedal but the real work is already done.“
American civil rights attorneys suing the state often worry about inducing “bad law,” i.e. when legally uncontroversial cases based on clear precedent are heard in districts spellbound by the unshakeable ideology of pro-government, anti-plaintiff cronyism. The danger is that a ruling will prove influential, either with respect to the merits of the particular case or by introducing concepts that constrain future litigants seeking redress for violations of their constitutional rights.
During the Tang dynasty, kung-an (公案) referred to something like the precedent resulting from a legal ruling. You know it now as koan. Lin Chi said, “If you want to get it, you’ve already got it — it’s not something that requires time.” Because the practice of writing songs is time-consuming and characterized by intense focus and deliberation, there is always the danger of creating a bad public precedent! Let me try to explain what I mean.
“If you do not see what I do not see, then it is quite natural that it is not a thing. Why is it not your self?” When it is taken up in thought rather than lived, the concept “pitch noise” is a pedal, too, only available to be turned on after the work is done. The institutional many-face of music may ask, “do you want to play the changes or do you want to change playing?” But you don’t have to list your sources in citationless anthropology. Participant observation is the name of the game, and if you’re doing it right, the one you’re watching looks back, failing to see not having to try.
Temperature’s surely rising in Atlanta this week as we say goodbye to our 48hr springtime, so this sticky slinger & I been drinkin from the same bottle. Turns out this is an archival callback from the Breakdance the Dawn label that kickstarted a shit-ton interest in latter-day Aussie noise-making, but I’d been thinkin this was an unearthed reel from The Silver anticipating Sun City Girls’Torch of the Mystics. How they might’ve found themselves in the Charles Gocher Desert I have no earthly notion (I never had field trip chaperones quite that good when I was a buck). But from whatever dimensional transport these cats was belched, Majora or Breakdance the Dawn, both would seem to a first timer familiar yet unimaginable. Hell, the landscape’s ’bout the same! Through all 4 tracks, Girls Girls Girls bat sleepily at the toes of punk and private psych just enough to make you think they some woozy kittens, then wail away like you spooked em. Prepare yourself for cymbals that sound like plastic bags and guitars down in the basement with mother. Which is to say, this is the kind of band we all could have if we had half a brain (no, like, literally one lobe each) & just as much fun. Lay on, ratcatchers!
2nd Breakdance the Dawn reissue to come down the Little Big Chief pike (originally in some single-hand CDr edition) is just as much an edge-piece to the Aussie crud puzzle as the aforementioned. This feast, however, gets a little more loose in the waist. Served up is a whole heapa predigested basement sludge and amp defiance choking on cave cinders. Think Stone Harbour’s Emerge gummed up in an oil-stained underpass and yer gettin warmer. Track two, “Sweet Love,” has the instantly recognizable wheeze of a battered VHS to remind you “fidelity” will forever be a relative tag. That and the other 3 A-side cuts hiccup in and out like an Alex Chilton take, but the nearly-eponymous B side, “Citie On Flame,” is my favorite long burner so far this year. Time, love, and meds seem to do Xwave just right. After a good five minutes of pea soup-thick grumblings, what sounded like a Circle of Ouroborus boot dropped in to yank out my hampsteads slow-like, all the time askin’, “Is it safe?” This was immediately followed by a mounting hum in my forsaken jaw and a dreary march toward a thankless sun. Twas time to hop back on the Shetland & ride, bunkie. Check the crossed out price tag on the sleeve for additional bindle punk desperation.
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.
I’ve recently discovered the brilliant, brilliant composer and cellist Okkyung Lee. It is always a terrific and terrifying experience, reaffirming that there are endless numbers of incredible musicians, musicians who you (read: I–but probably you too) would love if you only knew they existed, and each with lush, exciting back-catalogs: infinite music. There’s simply not enough time… But, at the end of the day, at least I can say that I did finally find Noisy Love Songs (released by John Zorn’s label Tzadik in 2011).
An easy comparison here is with fellow cellist, neo-classical composer, experimentalist (and Forest Gospel fave) Aaron Martin. However, while Martin has perfected sad-gorgeous melodies and sparse-but-effective sound samples, electronic flourishes, Lee’s work takes on a more animalistic, almost feral quality. There’s a move into more contemporary, improvised territory with Lee (perhaps they’re not so comparable after all). The album’s beautiful by nature of the cello, but that doesn’t stop Lee from pushing the boundaries of her instrument and the musical territory we’ve come to expect from it.
Noisy Love Songs is certainly verging well into avant garde territory, but Lee manages experimentalism that doesn’t all-together abandon what is obviously a high level of classical/compositional training. The album skips back and forth between “love songs” content, simply, to stretch and heighten one’s back fur to those bent on obliterating everything into a primal, beastly huff. It’s a very dynamic record and, I must say, Lee has me totally smitten. Brilliant, brilliant work.
“Pazuzu, Lord of Fevers and Plagues, Dark Angel of the Four Winds with rotting genitals from which he howls through sharpened teeth over stricken cities….” (William S. Burroughs, Cities of the Red Night)
A recent PEW/Psychedelia American Life survey revealed that Astral Travellers spend between 10-15% of their off-Earth time inMUTWAWA.
MUTWAWA is an acid Rorschach blot (bloat?) for seekers & questers.
Some samples have been brought back from the Astral Plane, and decomposed into their constituent parts by dark-side-of-the-force chemists.
We know what MUTWAWA is made of, but not how or why.
The Association for MUTWAWAN studies held its last congress at the summit of the Great Pyramid of Cholula. No agreement was reached about MUTWAWA’s Ontology and Ontogeny.
Several theories vie for supremacy:
MUTWAWA is the ectoplasm of the ghosts of the victims of 20th Century imperialism jacking a séance convened by Green Velvet.
MUTWAWA is the conventional-direction-of-time-countervailing-ripple produced by the achievement of consciousness by military drones after entering contact with ancient Balinese spirits, aka the future echoes of a Jodorowsky-class singularity.
MUTWAWA are Wolf Eyes squashed at the revolutionary disco.
MUTWAWA are being trained up by Add (n) to (x) and Gibson’s Digi-Loa to go into the black fibre wastelands of the matrix, and whip the floor with the Lawnmower Man’s ass.
We look forward to the hypothesis testing & methodological developments that will be afforded by the release of their new cassette, ‘Lamashtu Pazuzu’, where some have already pointed out that they have their ‘Dinosaur X Moment’.
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.
Volcano The Bear is a brilliantly and seriously messed-up british band blending improvisation from Mars, sailors’ folk, acousmatic music and dadaist rock in a weird but efficient mix. I’ve read Golden Rhythm/Ink Music is their first studio album in six years, which would imply its direct predecessor is the magnificent Classic Erasmus Fusion (2006, on Beta-lactam Ring Records). Let us not forget Volcano The Bear also has published, during this six-year period, live recordings (Egg And Two Books), more or less obscure cd-r (Grande Pfungst), ultra-limited vinyls (Volrudolf), salutary reissues (such asThe Mountain Among Us) and oldies’ compilations (Catonapotato) – besides, the excellent Admidst The Noise And Twist (2007, on Beta-lactam Ring again) also is a proper album.
Liner notes inform us that parts of Golden Rhythm/Ink Music has been recorded in 2008 at the Grim in Marseille: Volcano The Bear is a band who know how to take their time. So yes, Golden Rhythm/Ink Music is a true studio album, published by the well-recognized experimental music label Rune Grammofon. The artwork of Kim Hiortøy is for that matter a doomed-to-failure attempt to conciliate the visual identity of previous Volcano The Bear releases with minimal and austere aesthetics of the Norvegian label. It doesn’t prevent Golden Rhythm/Ink Music from being a very accomplished album.
It is also the most openly influenced by This Heat, and we won’t complain about that. Aaron Moore and Daniel Padden – assisted by some pataphysical interventions of the irreplaceable Clarence Manuelo, too bad he’s not touring with the band anymore – pay a beautiful tribute to the music of Charles Bullen, Gareth Williams and Charles Hayward, but they do it in their own way, with a humour and a finesse which belong to no one else but them. Buffalo Shoulder, then the terrific Baby Photos, the first two tracks of the album, are the best achieved from this point of view.
However, contrary to This Heat, Volcano The Bear exclude all traces of confrontation and urbanity in order to privilege their own musical language (moreover, one can sometimes wonder in what language the band is singing), with a penchant for the incongruous, the unexpected and the uncontrollable that so many others haven’t managed to shape. Just like their shows, the band’s recordings aren’t devoid of a few wavering moments, due to abrupt and sudden bifurcations. However, what we’ll retain above all is the farcical terror, leading to an unfeigned melancholy which, in turn, has to be diverted. Let’s get rid of concepts and assumptions, and just listen to the wonderful Fireman Show.