Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Music: Minimalogic "Irritant" tape (mp3)

Alright I'm breaking my self-imposed exile from reviewing digital albums in order to write up this (impossible to find) gem.

Minimalogic was, best I can tell, Nashville's very first Noise/"experimental" band. Citing influences such as Throbbing Gristle and The Residents, D.A.C. Crowell, Greg Killmaster (surely not his real name?) and Charlie Newman produced a gnarly sound-world out of pulsing oscillators, heavily effected guitars, tape-loops of found audio and strangled vocals that would sound absolutely at home at a Keffer-organized Betty's show some 16 years later. Noise ages well? "Irritant" is their sole album, released on cassette in 1984.

The creeping A side includes ring modulated monk chants, distorted drum machines, detuned vocals and otherworldly sound effects that are all the more disorienting for their uncompressed presence. Metal pings strike at your temples over a churning guitar/synth loop that gradually falls apart, leaving these incredibly anxious out-of-sync puzzle-pieces.

Later there's heavy storm-ambience over which a weird-whistle synth makes bird calls into the ether. Dramatic Darth Vader string-synth patterns undercut the atmosphere and a gurgling low frequency rolls in, evolving into a cutting pink noise buzz, filter-waffles, and cuts out.

Side 2 opens with a slowly-rolling low synth with Arto-styled detuned guitar chimes and random LFO chirps. A dissembodied semi-falsetto sings about Minimal Love: "Minimal love/ is cuming in silence," while clicking anti-rhythms feel like footsteps of a stalker in a dark alley. It's roughly as creepy as Throbbing Gristle's best work, and really it's hard to imagine this band was working in the weird-vacuum of Nashville Intelligence Report days, alongside so so much rehashed punk (Jason and the Scorchers, Cloverbottom, et al.)

About a quarter thru Side 2, the track ends and we're presented with a nastily melting, bright square wave arpeggio. It's academic Minimalism thrown to the dogs of punk: entirely unsettling and strangely beautiful. And its warped beauty lasts a long time, gradually reforming as a metallic bulb-worm, then ripped outside itself, computer-guts hanging out of its android skin. Almost thirty years before the Nashville Symphony commissioned an original work by Terry Riley, this is maybe the first Minimal piece to originate in Music City.

It's certainly the first piece of "harsh noise" to come out of a town where feedback loops and heavily distorted electronics would eventually flourish.

Good luck finding the cassette. (And if you have one for sale, please let me know.) I'll be happy to share mp3 files (with C. Newman's blessing,) to interested parties if you email me. Highly Recomended!

Music: Sparkling Wide Pressure "Previous Openings" tape

2011 release from Sprakling Wide Pressure's Frank Baugh, prospering in the cassette underground, seemingly.

Jeez this thing starts out beautifully with a sequenced sine wave and fretless bass lead. Add rusting guitar drone to fill out the chord progression, man is that something a lot of this so-called drone music lacks? Chord progressions? Is that antithetical to the whole idea of drone? Is it pop-drone? Heady resonance sweeps into the synth program, delay-cluster ending... acts as track's end, but liners tell me Side A is all one: "Crestland I".

A bass-arping synth, no it jumped an octave, then back down, it's alternating under machine-grade guitar reverberation, plus some light-picked single-note solo, trippy styled, oh god there's a wah pedal! Man, if you put a wah pedal onto so much of this fucking drone I'd dig it a lot more!

Crusted over machine, factory floor, industrial revolution: prettier than Eraserhead, less horrible, for one thing because it ends, and you know it's going to end. Soon enough we go back into some light-wah guitar-chordery, very nostalgic and bleh, if you're me. Like, dude is really feelin' it ya know? Like, head back, wind-blown silk scarf... Jimi-feelin' it, ya know?

Machinery comes back in for a moment, (really just a mic-on-the-ground, phaser and delay pedals.)

Side B starts with just a little of this interstice before a heart-felt folky strum + meandering electronics vibe-field takes over. This is "Crestland II" and I give it just a little credit.

Some background caterwalling and about three minutes later we find ourselves at "Battleground", the slowly loping percussion loop-and-bass guided track that sounds like an Eno ambient thing rendered with recognizable instruments. There's a guitar and some synth stuff too, plus eventual scraping electronics which provide the only tension. Slow-build, very nice background stuff, better than a fucking fridge, at least.

C-32 on Diatom Bath Tapes out of Ashville, NC. Another nice Ab-Ex cover and I'd generally recommend this for your Facebook-philosophy-discussing dinner parties over cous cous and red wine, or any time you wanna get so stoned and stare at your bookshelf. Recomended!

Music: Cypress Rosewood "Isle of Wyrms" CD

This CD represents a live concert event performed for the opening ceremonies of the Summer Festival 2007 at Cathedral, a part of the Isle of Wyrms continent in Second Life.
So here we have an earnest, not-tongue-in-cheek document of hyper-reality in action. This is the parody-fodder James Ferraro drools over, if you could call what JF does parody... But this thing is of a completely separate mindset than the "Vaporwave" phenomenon, I think... Ultimately with out the ironic distance of the cassette-bound Neo-New Age set. Unencumbered by "Everything Time's" self awareness-worm hole. It is unafraid to not make a joke, and that is laudable.

The liners go on to state that the music is performed by Tony Gerber (profiled extensively here,) and features the "Native American flute".

An ancient instrument, thoroughly decontextualized by the virtual platform of hyper-modern role-play. In Second Life, authenticity absolutely just doesn't exist. It's a hang-up we can live with out.

The flute is swathed in reverb and not dissimilar to the flutes you hear while wandering around Gatlinburg-esque mountain-tourism centers, played by real mostly-Natives hawking cheaply produced CDs, paintings of eagles, leather vests and the like.

The flute is surrounded by arpegiating synths and effect pedal-coddled, often Ebow-ed guitars. The effect is ambient electronic/New Age music not unlike that of Nashville out scene-mainstays 84001.

This is sleepy, meditational and/or background music for the online presence. Office-working suburbanite avant garde. It's heart-felt experimentalism within the rigid constructs of a non-present other-world.

Low-res artwork on cardstock, factory printed disc. I can't quite recommend the music, but it's an interesting concept.

Music: Mass at Dawn "Trimutation" 3" CD-R

Ignoring the fact that the three-inch CD-R is easily the most insufferable medium on which modern "underground" music is released, and that this, like most Mass at Dawn releases, seems slightly guilty of placing vintage-gear-credibility ahead of actual musicality, this thing is really pretty good.

Soft distorted drum machine opens "Cycle of Movement", track 1, over which octave-arping, gently losing focus synths play, all unruly like. It's all head-nodding, out-of-phase club music for doctoral students in ethno-linguistics or post-Lacanian psychology. It's cold and unnerving, but human in its imperfection. The beat is sort of front-loaded, too heavy on the 1, which only becomes apparent by the end of the track. It's a creeping imperfection that's nice once you notice, eye-opening, even.

Track 2, "Demons of Fire" starts with a gnarly drone, passed down from that cycling analog octave-jump on track 1, but more muddled. Then beautifully distorted drums and Dylan Simon's psychotically distorted monotonal narrative enter and from here it's just a wrecklessly thought-out mess of of dirty 60s nightmare. Synth patterns are dominated by the slow-charging drums and it's head-back-Manson Family ICK.

Maybe it could be a little more dynamic, but analog purity gets the best of MaD. If well-mastered, this could be 7" of the year.

Nice packaging from Kimberly Dawn, but again, it's a tiny little baby CD, so have the foresight to rip it into iTunes before it gets lost under your couch.