Sunday, June 26, 2011

Shabazz Palaces - Black Up

And one of the MCs from Digable Planets (previous post), Ishmael Butler, has a new project. This is hip hop way out of left field, with strange production and odd vocal effects here and there, though it never veers into "weird for the sake of being weird" territory. The whole album just has a strange feeling about it, like its some kind of afrocentric aliens work or something. Really cool album though, one of the more interesting releases of 2011.

Black Up

Digable Planets - Blowout Comb

Some of the smoothest, chillest, grooviest hip hop I have come across. Seriously it's like they heard Tribe and thought "nah those guys need to chill a bit more". Of course, the production is excellent, with great jazz samples in abundance, but everything just comes together so well to create a good vibe.

This album is just "mmmm".

Blowout Comb

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Autechre - LP5

Been digging these guys so hard over the last week or so. It's like the penny has finally dropped, and my opinion of them has changed from 'they are a highly respected duo, for good reason', to plain old 'fuck these guys are good'.

This, as you may have guessed, is their 5th full length, and sits right in the middle of discography stylistically. Not as intense as Confield or Draft 7.60, yet more experimental than the earlier Tri Repetae ++ and Amber. I would place this in my top 3 favourites from them, and it's their most 'beautiful' album as far as I'm concerned.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Evil Invaders III

Last weekend, after just finishing my written exams, I made the trip up to Sydney to go to the mini-festival Evil Invaders. What ensued was two nights of metal, beer and manliness. Ok, maybe not so much the last one.

Spread over two nights, the line-up was full of underground Australian metal (now there's a tautology for you). Kicking off proceedings on the Friday night, I witnessed what I am assuming was one of the first shows Innsmouth had performed. Due to a late flight time, I missed a bit of their set, but no matter. They had a decent set, with tracks from their She-Goat 7" being the better, but they seemed a little sloppy. Perhaps once they gig more frequently they will tighten up a little. Next up were fellow Melbournians, Ignivomous. Their uncompromisingly heavy old school sound translated well to the stage, and although that crushing bottom end found on Death Transmutation was cleaned up a little, the powerful vocals made up for it. Highlights of the set included 'Hedonistic Pain Ritual', and a couple of new tracks 'from the new album to be released early next year'. I am expecting great things.

Trench Hell were up next, and like the other handful of thrash bands over the two nights, I felt quite indifferent to them on the whole. Some of the bands were tight, and got the crowd going, but failed to keep me from wandering off to the bar most of the time. Seemingly all of them had only two objectives: thrash hard, and say 'cunt' as many times as possible.

Nevertheless, nothing was going to take away from the experience of seeing the live ritual of one band in particular: Portal.

Dressed in a black Papal outfit, The Curator seemingly appeared out of nowhere at the side of the stage, signifying the beginning of one of the most intense 40 minutes of my life. The wall of sound conjured forth by those 8-string guitars was almost overwhelming; the acrobatic hand movements of each guitarist certainly was. Each song was incredible, most notably 'Sourlows', the ridiculous opening moments of 'Glumurphonel', and the duo of 'Larvae' and 'Illoomorpheme' to finish off. Also, they played what I'm guessing is a new song, considering I can't find it on any of their releases. According to their set-list, it's entitled 'Curtain'. Very promising stuff indeed.

The strangest part about seeing Portal though, is seeing the members go on stage to set-up looking like regular people, and walking around the pub chilling with their friends. While it does bring a little more humanity to their music, The Curator definitely kept the other-worldly atmosphere.

* * *

Beginning late Saturday afternoon, Grave Upheaval kicked off the second day in the filthiest way possible (to a fairly poor crowd, sadly). This trio, featuring a couple of members from Impetuous Ritual, blasted out sick and filthy tunes for a good half an hour until unfortunately, their set met an abrupt end with the guitarist breaking a string. After a moment of confusion, they finished off with 'So, uh... that's it. Thanks.' and promptly left the stage. It's a disappointing way to finish, but I thoroughly enjoyed what I saw.

I didn't feel like thrashing too hard for another night, so I wandered off in search of nourishment, while a couple more bands did their thing. After finding an awesome pizza joint up the road, I deemed this decision wholly worthwhile.

Continuing on with the filth were Impetuous Ritual, an act I was looking forward to immensely. As mentioned before, they share members with Grave Upheaval, and also Portal. Quality-wise, they fit somewhere in between. Their twisted form of de-tuned destruction was absolutely crushing, creating a monolithic wall of sound similar to Portal, with added aggression. It was quite a relentless set, though I failed to get any good quality photos...

Bringing back the old school were another Melbourne band, Black Jesus. I wasn't sure what to expect, as I had come close to purchasing their demo once, but for some reason neglected to listen to them. They put on a solid show, while not being the filthiest or weirdest or whatever. I'll be sure to keep my eyes open for any more local shows they do in the future.

A few slots later, Cauldron Black Ram played to a very enthusiastic crowd. While they were obviously a crowd favourite, and did perform very well, I just fail to see what is good about them. The worst part of it is, they were a replacement for Witchrist, who I would have loved to have seen. Oh well, there's always next time.

Finishing off the weekend, to everyones joy, was D.usk, the reformation of old death/doom titans diSEMBOWELMENT. Playing tracks from Transcendence into The Peripheral, that many, including myself, thought they would never see live, they were guaranteed a good reception, though they got more than that. They seemed to appeal to everyone there; old, young, death-heads, thrash-cunts, etc. They were also the only band to make good use of the lights on offer, and brought the event to a close in style.

Considering it was $30 a ticket, this was incredibly worth it, but considering it was in Sydney and cost a few hundred dollars in travel and expenses...

yeah it was still worth it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Freedom and Sound

The last time my soprano saxophone was overhauled, the new pads had been given a special coating intended to keep moisture out of the leather. The instrument has been awkward to play ever since. Half way through a sweaty concert the pads start sticking to the tone holes, and I’m forever having to clean them. It will soon be taken back to the workshop. But last February I played a concert in a quartet that included no-input mixing desk expert Toshimaru Nakamura. The music was extremely quiet, and after a while I stopped blowing into the instrument and worked instead with the sound of the pads as they audibly unstuck and then leapt open under the spring action. This sonic material seemed to interact satisfyingly with the other musicians’ input, and had a surprising vitality. The previous week I’d played in the same venue, Cafe Oto in Dalston, with Matthew Shipp, the American jazz (in the broadest sense) pianist. Sticky pad sounds would have been a ridiculous contribution. Equally, most of what I found myself playing in this duo would have sounded nonsensical in the Nakamura quartet. So, what can the free in free-improvisation possibly mean?

Really great essay, written by free improvisation artist John Butcher.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

John Coltrane - Sun Ship

So this is the 27th album from Coltrane that I have heard, and god damn why did I wait so long to check it out. This is one of his better post- A Love Supreme efforts, and the quartet play with an incredible amount of fire. The whole thing is just a roller coaster ride through free territory.

Somehow I'm still finding great material from Trane, it's just ridiculous.

Sun Ship