Rarefied, Abstract Beauty
The Rubber Room column is a weekly look at recent and notable releases that don’t fall into the rubric of traditional reviews or reviewed material—namely 7”’s, 12”’s, 3” CDs, EPs, cassette-only, DVDs and MP3-only releases.
Detail from the Mountain Side
[Drag City, 2006]
Azita’s songs, full of melodic and dramatic flourishes, lend themselves to the narrative demands of the musical, so working with director Brian Torrey Scott on his Detail from the Mountain Side doesn’t feel like an out-of-nowhere gesture. Azita’s voice is still slightly sour, but in deference to Scott’s plot, she streamlines her tendency to pull the security from your foothold, sounding less ‘cagey’ than on her albums Enantiodromia and Life on the Fly. Instead, Azita returns to certain themes implicit in the musical, such as the mutability and cyclical structure of life, lending a graceful arc to the set. Though the liner notes state that ‘Everything is simple, yet easy to misinterpret’, the great pleasure in Azita’s music has always been finding illumination in the gap between understanding and misinterpretation.
[Die Stadt/Janet, 2005]
Bloom is the first disc in the Neither Speak Nor Remain Silent trilogy from Fovea Hex, the working name for singer/songwriter Clodagh Simmonds and The Hafler Trio’s Andrew MacKenzie. Simmonds’ voice has a slightly acerbic quality, and her melodies draw tartness from folksong, while MacKenzie’s post-production drops the songs into resonant chambers slick with condensation and fogged with reverb. The deep purr of viola and harmonium, banked up against choral vocal treatments, further destabilises Simmonds’ songs. Though in line with the Die Stadt ethos of rarefied, abstract beauty, Bloom also recalls the cryogenically frozen ‘sublime’ of 80s 4AD ethereality.
Future Pilot AKA
Eyes of Love/Changes
[Creeping Bent, 2005]
Sushil K Dade of Future Pilot AKA often fleshes out his recordings with guests from Glasgow’s music corps. Belle and Sebastian fans may only pay attention to “Eyes of Love” because Sarah Martin and Stuart Murdoch take the vocals, but they would be missing one of Dade’s most joyous compositions—a moving roots reggae track. On “Changes” Dade threads early music consort Concerto Caledonia through country steel guitar on another stylistic mash-up as affecting as Vic Godard’s sides from the 1980s. In his pursuit of a ‘healing music’, Dade writes songs that are completely unpretentious and benign, and then records them by intuitively following an egalitarian community belief system.
Portugal. The Man
"The Pines" b/w "The Devil" 7-inch
Portugal. The Man, who seems to be picking up some buzz on the strength of debut album Waiter: You Vultures!, have kept the punctuation on this limited-edition single thankfully simple. The songs, though, are anything but. A-side "The Pines" features several discrete sections, alternating between heavy, almost-prog riffing, and easier indie rock. The b-side unexpectedly opens with a John Lee Hooker groove, but pushes itself away from the sound with its synthetic splits. After a minute or so, the guitars and bass begin a slow crescendo, but the band keeps it away from the Rush levels it aspires to, making the track tight and unusual.
The Bloodshed Will Redeem Us All (CD-R)
[ Haunted Tape, 2006]
The first official release by Mein Kinder is a furious sixteen-minute blood drenched piece of vocal and noise maltreatment that successfully merges the deranged last announcement from a train hurtling unstoppably towards the end of the tracks with stripped and disintegrating power electronics grind. As feedback flows from bled-out source to vein, it becomes trapped in a locked groove outlining a brief bumping rhythm. And it all ends in shattered shards of teeth and a flickering winged thing heralding a trembling pulse and a dodgy voiceover that verges on the uncomfortable. Nasty.
Mondrian, but with Razor Blades (3” CD-R)
This is a duo recording by the fucked free noise jazz trio on the occasion of third member and cellist Hans Buetow having returned homewards for a Christmas break. There’s no holiday spirit apparent here, though, as John Olson and percussionist Ben Hall rip shit up in a gonzo bug-eyed exploratory frenzy. Gone are the midnight horror soundtracks of dirt shoveling, this is bent-wire curls of insane saxophone and rushes of percussion. There’s a voice in the background either bullying or cajoling the pair into blowing one more frantically chopped line across the plastic. There’s even a moment nearly fourteen minutes in where Olson manages to almost exactly replicate a crying baby. Palette leaching stuff.
Memory 75 (190206), Memory 76 (200206) and
V/VM’s 2006 mission is to release at least one free track per day until the eventual dissolution of the label at the end of the year. Throughout this project, Stylus writer Scott McKeating will highlight the best of the lot.
The Caretaker carries in the same vein of his Theoretically Pure Anterograde Amnesia free seventy-two track mp3 album by presenting two more walks down memory lane. “Memory 75” covers the rarely explored world of a drowning drone DJ Screwed to a blood cell destroying pulse, which comes out sounding mighty similar to fat chunks of kebab meat making their way through a major artery. Another worthwhile listen is the most purposefully and obviously fucked-with ‘Memory’ to date, “Memory 76,” which sounds wholly unlike the previous 75. This is a stop/start scratched piece of wind-up vinyl that has been so jiggered and pokered with that it begins verging on Electronica. It retains that degenerate V/VM vibe though; some of the high end sounds bring to mind a Bee Gee in mid-stroke. Are the memories getting clearer?
Towers of London
How Rude She Was (Single)
Towers of London have to be victims of some sort of botched brain surgery, yet somehow they're gradually making their way across the Atlantic. This single came out in the UK last year, yet most of the States hasn't been treated to this proper display of Spinal Tap-esque rock. It's utterly idiotic, from the guitar tone to the offensive lyrics, yet I can't really knock it because it's so successful at what it does—it’s the sort of song you put on repeat in your dorm room for hilarity’s sake. The title track's backed by "Novelle's Bordello," which is as tasteful as the rest of the group's public life. Two bonuses on this one: an acoustic version of previous single "Fuck It Up" and a video for "How Rude She Was." For Poison fans who need an updated version of "Fallen Angel."
By: Stylus Staff
Published on: 2006-03-02