Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mourn their passing

While strolling through my collection this morning, I came across an album I hadn't listened to in some time: Grab That Gun by The Organ. Now I know the band name sounds dirty (you pervs), but the music is great. Imagine an audio cocktail of equal parts The Smiths and The Cure with added dashes of Joy Division and The Go-Gos. Combine this with a creative sound that is their own and you've got The Organ. If you don't believe me, check these out.

There Is Nothing I Can Do
No One Has Ever Looked So Dead

See what I mean?

Anyway, I dragged the CD with me to work and am thoroughly enjoying it. I came across these ladies back in 2005 when I saw them with The Raveonettes and The Dirtbombs at Southpaw here in the Land Of Brook. I'd been looking forward to seeing them again, but they headed off to Europe and did considerable touring over there. Listening to their CD again, I thought I'd checkout what they were up to. Leaping instantly onto the Information Superhighway, I discovered something sad.

They've called it quits.

Yes, their website announced in December of last year that they were breaking up. It's really too bad. I was hoping to hear more from them. It's always a pity when great music dies an early death (The Organ, 3rd Bass, My Bloody Valentine, etc. etc.) while stuff like The Stones and Aerosmith continues to roll on.

Such is the human race.

Keeping me from dying early:

The Organ - Grab That Gun
(twice as bright, half as long)

The Haunted - The Haunted
(step back or suffer the consequences right now)

Entombed - Left Hand Path
(monumental death metal monument)

Terminal Sound System - Watcher
(bleak, dark, and glittering)

Tom Waits - Bad News Out Of A Pretty Mouth
(why pick and choose when you can have it all)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

New chunes

Creativity is a thing of peaks and valleys; inspiration and motivation, fleeting. Fact is, I've been experiencing quite the dry streak of late; months of occasional half-hearted musical fiddling, manifesting itself mostly as going over older, half-started stuff in hopes of finding that spark. Manifest excuses always seem to include "too busy", "too tired", and the eternal favorite "just don't feel like it".


My plan last weekend was to go to Atlanta to surprise my mother for her birthday. I have not seen her since she move down there months ago. However, Mother Nature (or "Mother Fucker" as I call her in this case) saw fit to drop a load of snow on the fair denizens of New York City, causing untold panic (and subsequent cancellations) amongst the airlines. Suffice to say this resulted in two cancelled flights and no Atlanta pour moi.

(BTW, I've rescheduled the trip for this coming weekend, but Mom reads my blog every now and again, so let's hope she won't see this one until after I've surprised her on Saturday.)

Anyway, as I found myself essentially housebound over the weekend, I thought I'd take a crack at finishing the mastering for my latest Abstract Audio Systems release, "Poems For Innogen"...

And I'll be damned if inspiration didn't strike.

I essentially spent two solid days working on a bunch of different tasks related to this new CD. Firstly, I re-mastered the tracks, tweaking the EQ here, adding some gain there, etc. Secondly, I determined the song sequence and created the packaging. Thirdly, during the course of setting the sequence, I discovered that one of the tunes just did not fit the overall feel and flow of the album, so I chose not to include it. This track will no doubt show up on some subsequent EP or some such, but either way it left me with a gap; a gap I filled... with an entirely NEW TUNE. Yup. I'd been toying with a few bits and pieces in the preceding weeks, but I guess the creative juices were flowing the right way that day, resulting in a completed song. Lightning struck and luckily I was holding the kite string when it did.

Having completed all this, I burned a bunch of copies and shipped them off to CDBaby, so the album should be available through them at some point. Factor in shipping time, setup time on their end, etc. and we're talking a couple of weeks. However, if you'd like to take a listen now (and maybe BUY A COPY), you can hear samples on the official Machine Tribe Recordings website. You can also check out all of our other releases.

Pretty neat, huh?

So I'm feeling quite pleased, really. Hopefully this creative streak will continue and I'll be composing steadily. I know hardly anybody listens to my stuff (although hopefully we will come to a tipping point eventually), but I still love putting it together and perhaps those who do get to listen enjoy it just as much.

Slammin' jammin' to this crunked up junk:

Various - Quatermix
(15 downlow track from those fine folks at Quatermass)

Various - Global Cuts
(vintage 90s techno, R&S style)

Godflesh - Godflesh
(like lava: slow, implacable, and utterly destructive)

Various - Interiors
(heavy duty dark experimental shiznit)

Averauschen - Symbiote
(oh, the noise, noise, noise, noise)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

In praise of friends

Everyone knows that life can get crazy busy and it's during these times that you lose touch with people. You're concentrating so hard on the situation you're in that you don't have the time (and sometimes the inclination...) to keep up with folks. This especially holds true if the friendship is long distance; even more so if you've never met the people face to face.

I've regaled you with this little tidbit because I myself have been guilty of this with my Oregonian friends, Austere. As you may or may not recall, I've been in touch with these guys for several years now via the glory of the internet. Hell, we even did an album together (which was a ball, BTW).

For those unfamiliar with the Mighty A... they create some of the best ambient music around using a host of different techniques (it's all very hush hush) and have also managed to manifest themselves in two side projects: The Mystifying Oracle and, more recently, Freq. Magnet (that's "Freak Magnet", kids).

Anyway, I succeeded in falling off the map with these guys for quite some time. So imagine my surprise and joy when I received a couple of emails from them, one of which informed my that Freq. Magnet was releasing their sophomore offering, "Etoiles Du Couvercle". According to their description, the album is a tribute of sorts to Stars Of The Lid, a favorite band of both Austere and myself; in fact, the title of the CD translates to... Stars Of The Lid.

Well, not only did Austere get back in touch with me, they were also kind enough to send me a copy of the CD (along with the DVD companion to FM's first record; more on that later). I've listened to it a couple of times and am more that dutifully impressed.

Often "tribute" albums simply sound like bad rehashings of the original artist's material. This is definitely not the case here. Freq. Magnet has created a fantastic piece of work that hints of Stars Of The Lid, yet retains its own unique identity and sound.

While the vast majority of the album was created with guitar, you'd never guess this was the case. Through the masterful use of gear (including the ever present Space Echo), the melodic strums of Freq. Magnet's Fender Squire are stretched, twisted, and embellished until they sound like something else entirely and while guitar is the primary instrument on this release, each track retains its own feel.

The album begins with what sounds like a snippet from an old radio serial, quickly followed by the first instrumental piece, "Gravitational Pull". This is deep space drone at its finest, featuring an echoing guitar that almost sounds like a cello. If you close your eyes, you can feel yourself getting lost in the huge spaces inside your head. This isn't a frightening feeling, however, as the music gently wafts you along, cradling you as you look down and out across the universe. The sound of the guitar begins to morph near the end of the song into something darker and more vast and then is joined by what sounds like distant satellite transmissions.

The album then launches into the mammoth "Ballasted", an epic 47-minute foray into drift. There is a distinct womb-like feel to the beginning of the track, a feeling that you are floating somewhere dark and warm. Again, this isn't frightening, but somehow deeply comforting. The sounds of this song gently shift until the drone sounds like waves breaking on a distant shore. At about the seven minute mark, a shimmering guitar appears in this huge, echoing space and builds slightly, but never becomes overpowering. One of the most perfect moments of this massive piece occurs about twenty-two and a half minutes in as the music almost drops out around an Apollo 11 broadcast. This brilliantly placed sample of the astronauts drifting above the surface of the moon sounds as if it has been bouncing around the cosmos for decades. This hypnotizing composition eventually fades slowly into nothingness. Breathtaking.

The fourth, untitled track takes a vintage sample of "The Prisoner" and then cunningly manipulates it into something new. Excellent if all too short. Still, it is an excellent introduction into the final track, "McBride". This is perhaps the most melancholic piece on the album, beginning with a slightly muted and distorted piano that is quickly coupled with a soothing, backwards loop. Again, there is a very mellow, comforting feel to the entire affair, like lying in bed and looking out the window on a rainy day. Very satisfying.

So it is in your best interest to pick up a copy of this exciting release. Rumor has it that it will be available through Hypnos soon, but you can contact Austere directly to snag one immediately. You should, trust me.

Headspace piloting with:

Freq. Magnet - Etoiles Du Couvercle

Abstract Audio Systems - Poems For Innogen
(coming soon to a CDBaby near you)

Opeth - Morningrise
(acoustic and death metal; two great tastes, etc., etc.)

Horace Andy - Dancehall Style
(everyting iree, mon)

Bobby McFerrin - Simple Pleasures
(best cover of "Suzie Q" ever)

Friday, March 09, 2007

Pottle kettle black

Newt Gingrich has finally admitted to having an affair during his attack on President Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky thang. The balls on these guys! The hypocrisy of some folks just boggles the mind.

Still gonna run for Prez, Newt?

But I got better:

Aphex Twin - Selected Ambient Works 85-92
(not really ambient, but you won't catch me complaining; classic)

Armin Van Buuren - 10 Years
(shoulda started listening in 1995)

Sublevel - The Mechanics Of Coping
(because sometimes ya gotta kill)

Tom Waits - Bad News Out Of A Pretty Mouth
(many of my Waits faves)

Rollins Band - Weight
(weights of a different sort entirely)