Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ildjarn - Det Frysende Nordariket (1995)

Huh, I've only posted one black metal album so far? This strikes me as odd, since I am grim and hateful (I just got my ears pierced at Claire's). However, after a bit of consideration, it makes a lot of sense, since black metal, as a genre, has very few recordings that are actually worth listening to. It's extremely easy to make albums sound like Hvis Lyset Tar Oss or Transilvanian Hunger without even understanding anything at all about what is actually great about those records. This perfect form, no substance phenomenon is also quite prevalent in genres such as hardcore and shoegaze.

That said, Ildjarn, although a kindred spirit in minimalism, doesn't sound much like Burzum or Darkthrone. Binary pairs of Discharge riffs have evolved syncopation and chromaticism through sliding fifths as a feral response to agrarian decadence. Drums provide a loose tempo structure, a blundering pulse with too many errors to truly achieve the ambience of some of Ildjarn's more technically skilled peers. These are the sounds that your firing synapses make as you imagine running off into the woods; this is the rawest, most primitive, most emotional music.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Lil Rascal - Like a Grown As Man (1995)

Ok first, everyone check out how I hacked my layout for three columns. If you use Google Reader or whatever, click-through and feast your retinas. It took me like a few different searches to figure out how to do that. Also, it's come to my attention that some of my friends have been using the internet like regular caveman (usually this is cool, but not this time). Listen guys, go to http://reader.google.com/, and you can have all of the blogs you read in one nice little place. A truly efficient way to navigate the information superhighway!

Enjoy how Lil Rascal often raps in a nice swing (first song, One a Day, for a good example), accenting the same beats as the hi-hat in a typical blues shuffle (Here is a fruity guy teaching how to play a blues shuffle on the drums). Even though much of contemporary rock and hip-hop employs a straight quarter note hi-hat pattern during most backbeats, the shuffle feel is ubiquitous. Rather than using the hi-hat to provide the swing, the kick drum serves this purpose. This is particularly obvious in the sparse beats so prevalent in early 90s New York hip-hop. Let me think of a good example um um um: stab your brain with your nosebone. Then you start to realize that syncopated kick is just absolutely everywhere.

Anyway, this Lil Rascal album is a great slice of G-funk influenced Texas rap, and dude doesn't just hugely, massively bite 2Pac.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Buddy Holly - The "Chirping" Crickets (1957)

Yesterday, my parents took me to see The Million Dollar Quartet for my birthday, which was cool because dudes got to yang around and pretend they were cool rockstars for a few hours. I can relate to this, since I played in a Slayer cover band. Anyway, this whole experience reminded me of a time that my parents took me to the same theater to see a play about Buddy Holly. It turned out that this play was actually performance art because it was just some dude dressed as Jackie Kennedy with lipstick smeared all over his face repeatedly throwing a model airplane into the ground. My dad was quite cross with the whole experience.

What I'm trying to say is that going to a play with my parents reminded me of Buddy Holly. Avid readers & fans may recall my post about Skip James, in which I discussed compositions based upon the twelve bar blues. Many of Holly's compositions follow in this tradition, even if they may vary from the exact chords of a standard twelve bar. Consider Oh Boy. The point of this song is the hugely catchy "All of my love, all of my kissin, you don't know what you've been missin!" which then continues through the twelve bar form. This phrase is offset with a view different bridges. These are techniques that make me excited to write songs. In conclusion, fuck blogs, write songs instead.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Crumbsuckers - Life of Dreams (1986)

This weekend, someone affiliated with art school hated me for inventing the cool new thing, which is push-ups followed by a shot of whiskey with protein powder in it. The feeling was mutual though, since I hate people who aren't strong. Anyway, I learned that this guy is involved with a kind of spazzy moshy band, and I couldn't help but wonder: Why would you want to be in a spazzy band when the Crumbsuckers exist?

The intricacy of the phrasings on this record could very easily get lost in the "relentless thrash attack" or whatever. The Crumbsuckers use the tonality defying flurry of power chords to construct their riffs, typical of hardcore punk, and, by extension, metal. However, the Crumbsuckers tend to stray from the structuring patterns expected of say, a Discharge song, in which two simple riffs exist in binary, and the gestalt created from this pairing provides the thrust of the song. Rather, many of the phrases on Life of Dreams are narratives in themselves, which moves the song beyond binary minimalism into more complicated structuring relationships. Also, when I've posted about extreme music in the past, I've discussed breaking the enveloping atmosphere of the d-beat for hard hitting rhythmic emphasis. This usually occurs as a third option, breaking up the Riff A, Riff B, Riff A, Riff B structure.

However, in Trapped, the phrases of the verse and chorus each resolve their own motion into this sort of emphasis. It's very easy to hear in the verse on the lines: I'm All Clammed Up - Tell Me Shut Up

The chorus is an interesting variation on the verse, in that, although the melody changes significantly, it keeps a lot of the same rhythmic ideas, but puts them in a rather herky-jerky framework. It's tough to discuss this in terms of actual meter, since the d-beat is more of a "feel" than an actual, writable rhythm, but you can count the first part of the chorus in nine, then the second part in twelve. Resolution into a hard-hitting quarter notes closes each part, before finally putting us back on safe ground with a return to the verse or a transition into a straight backbeat.
Also, if you want me to like something, have a part like at 0:30 in Face of Death.

Hey, who remembers that fascinating post I did about The Gordons a few months ago? It turns out that a venerable blogger offered a link to their extremely difficult to locate second album:

I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet, but given the body of work that dudes have put together as The Gordons, and then later Bailterspace, I'm almost as excited as you are to hear it.