Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Verlaines - Juvenilia (1987)

I'm posting this record because I've been obsessed with the long phrase that makes up the verse of the first song. That chord progression relentlessly forces all of my hairs to stand on end. If I can ever write a pop song that has a similar melodic effect, I will just pee in my own pants all day because that is all that there is left to do.

This is a collection of The Verlaines early EPs, and is chock-full of that good, nice, wonderful & catchy white-guy rock. Those Flying Nun white guys were really cranking it out in the 80s. Get obsessively into it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lisa Gerrard - The Mirror Pool (1995)

All of my readers should already have all of Dead Can Dance's releases, so here's Lisa Gerrard's first solo album which really just sounds like another Dead Can Dance Record. My recent musical exploration has taken me to look into solo works of artists that I like (Paul Westerberg, Bob Mould, Brendan Perry, Lisa Gerrard, Sisqo, etc).

The melodic possibilities of harmonic minor and its modes are explored in fascinating detail here. The songs are less "song-like" than a lot of Dead Can Dance material and function more as melodic adventures over droning backgrounds. I wonder how much of this is improvised, and I wonder how many cues Lisa took from Kind of Blue and how many she took from Indian classical music. That said, shit still sounds medieval as fuck, so blast this Lisa Gerrard album and this youtube video simultaneously and enjoy the best that life has to offer.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Demigod - The Slumber of Sullen Eyes (1992)

What makes this Scandinavian death metal release special is the darkness & murkiness that it shares with bands like Incantation & Immolation. Some of the melodic leads tend in a direction typical of Swedish death metal, but the dirges and mid-paced parts weigh the atmosphere down. For a perfect example of what I'm talking about, consider about four minutes into "Embrace the Darkness/Blood of the Punished." There is a nice melodic lead over a weird0 wobbly super low frownfest riff; love this juxtaposition of different sides of the death metal spectrum.

Demigod are willing to let a riff ride, which is a very admirable trait when riffs are good. This restraint is particularly admirable amongst riff-happy death metal bands. Phrases are often longer than the standard two measure melodic arc, and slight variations in percussion give motion. What a good way to write songs. Man although the one riff on the record that makes me go insane every time I hear it (the thirds with the backbeat about halfway through the title track) gets shorted a bit. Dang!

In conclusion, this Finnish band makes me think of sinking into a swamp more than any NOLA sludge ever has. A bog flows from my mouth, a bog flows from my mouth, a bog flows from my mouth.

Guest Mix Volume 12 - Nick Donahue

Nick is really funny. Nick is good at drums. Nick loves music. We have long talks when I drop him off from band practice (we are in PAGAN YOUTH aka DIAPER together). Nick also plays in CANADIAN RIFLE and sometimes in CIVIC PROGRESS. This dude wrote a lot, so I'm only gonna write a little. You know what it is, load it down.

Hi, and welcome to Nix Mix. I put this together in the style of a CD sampler, the most enduring and provocative format for compiled music to date. If you like Wimbledon, please stick around. You're in for a treat! A lil' something about the music:

Some of these songs were prophetic at the time they were written. Consider the way Big Black's "Passing Complexion," from the 1986 album Atomizer, anticipated the way it would sound if the theme music for all twelve characters from Street Fighter II (a game released a full five years later) were layered and played simultaneously.

David Axelrod's 1970 album Earth Rot, where the selection here is from, is a lot like that song "God Hates the World" (adapted from the pre-Auto-Tune original version of the supergroup charity single "We Are the World") recorded by the Westboro Baptist Church a few years ago. It tries to get you squirmin' by making you feel like you're taking a bubble bath on a cloud, and then the cloud starts singing to you about how you're gonna die. The primary difference is that Axelrod's presumed god isn't the celestial embodiment of a far-right militia on a murderous rampage. Still, I think it could be played through massive, Jonestowny stereo equipment around the world and serve as the sonic nudge needed to make things feel really apocalyptic for half an hour.

Making a mix can be a mournful process. For instance, I'm crying right now. But seriously, folks...

I want to say something. Whether you're playing on clay, asphalt, grass, or carpet, inside or out, it remains true: there's nothing wrong with playing the game of life and ending up with "love." I hope these songs help you on that path. Game. Set. Match.

. Wipers - Taking Too Long
2. Skull Kontrol - Camouflage
3. Big Black - Passing Complexion
4. Minutemen - Paranoid Chant
5. Polvo - Feather of Forgiveness
6. The Rats - Defiance
7. Zomes - Petroglyphs
8. Louie Lasky - How You Want Your Rollin' Done
9. Willie Colon with Hector Lavoe - Que Lio
10. Ruby Andrews - You Made A Believer Out Of Me
11. Gal Costa - Cinema Olympia
12. Magazine - Cut-Out Shapes
13. David Axelrod - The Warning Talk (Part III)
14. Cold Sweat- Nightmare
15. The Fix - Cos The Elite
16. United Mutation - Final Solution
17. G.I.S.M. - ABC Weapons
18. Rudimentary Peni - Sonia
19. Born Against- Five Dollars An Hour
20. Condominium - Barricade
21. Billy Bao - Factory of Repression
22. Masta Ace, Inc. - Boom Bashin'
23. O.V. Wright - He's My Son (Just The Same)
24. Richard & Linda Thompson - The Calvary Cross
25. Geechie Wiley & Elvie Thomas - Last Kind Words Blues
26. The Breeders - Oh!


Monday, May 10, 2010

International Harvester - Sov Gott Rose-Marie (1969)

This record starts out with an ominous theme stated amongst bird songs. Unlike much of the psychedelia of this era, the myth of a flower-coated noble savage does not exist here. Similarly, progress and refinement are rejected, and the dark side of nature is embraced.

A droning version of song structure is applied throughout and creates a hypnotic effect. A theme is repeated until it reaches atmospheric saturation and it begins to tickle ritualistic impulses. These are rich melodies filled with just the right amount of whimsical trippiness to mold your imagination into a beautiful, Stravinskian pagan scene.

And don't think for a second that just because there's a clarinet on one of the tracks that this is useless music dressed up with surface level "interestingness." Bizarre instrumentation and sound effects supplement textures and structures perfectly capable of standing on their own.

I would hesitate to draw too solid of a line between this release and the Norwegian black metal scene of the early 90s, but I will say that Scandinavians writing droney, minimalistic music that lashes out against modern civilization is one of my favorite things.


This review originally appeared in Jettison Quarterly.