Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Trying to remember stuff from the last couple weeks:

Low "Christmas" mp3s
Phil Spector "A Christmas Gift For You" CD
Vince Guaraldi Trio "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (multiple spins) CD
Knocked Up DVD
Anakrid "UnoDos (Father/Rapture of the Deep)" 2CD
Social Junk "Dirty Cloud" CDR
John White "Mogwash + Balloon Adventure" CD
Vapaa "Hum Hum Hum" CD
Gianluca Becuzzi & Fabio Orsi "Wildflowers Under the Sofa" CD
Son of Earth "Pet" LP
Occasional Detroit Gaybomb LP
William Basinski "Melancholia" mp3sWilliam Basinski "Disintegration Loops" mp3s
Popol Vuh "Aguirre" mp3s
Roxanne Jean Polise "We're Alright" 3" CDR
Katchmare "Acid Test" CDR
Grey Daturas "Dead in the Woods" CD
Temple of Bon Matin "Flower Footed Ghost" CD

I really don't like Christmas itself at all -- I don't like the weather, I usually have a cold, my work gets insanely busy and doesn't let up until at least January 1st, I'm the worst gift-giver in American history -- but I do have a thing for Christmas music. When I first heard Low had a Christmas disc I thought it was a great idea, and now that I've finally heard it, yes, it is, and as usual they don't play it entirely safe. For example they open it up with a couple originals, the Phil Spectorish and surprisingly uptempo Mimi-sung "Just Like Christmas," which is awesome, and the dour Alan-sung "Long Way Around The Sea", a little more predictable but their cover of "Little Drummer Boy" is like washed-out and psychedelic keyboard shoegaze, Mimi's "Blue Christmas" is awesome, they both sing "Silent Night" and of course it's great. As for the Spector and Guaraldi albs, those are mega-staples that I have been known to listen to all year long..... Laughed my ass off at Knocked Up. The plot & motivation stuff was a little contrived and implausible but everything in between was so good, the characterization, the grace notes, the sociological commentary. The scene where Paul Rudd walks outside singing "Happy Birthday" after being called a shitty father makes me choke back tears. Great to see Nick & Bill from Freaks & Geeks, all grown up and repping hard. Holy shit, the bouncer scene! And Leslie Mann turned in the best performance in the whole movie -- as far as uptight power mom characterizations go, 1000 times what Tea Leoni did in Spanglish. (A movie I actually liked, but Leoni was kinda absurd and tone-wrecking).... the Anakrid, at least the Father disc, has been around for a few years, first as a single CD, then as a limited-run LP... it's interesting noise-scapery, with relatively calm psycho-electronics and a surprising 'gamelan' undercurrent in a few places. Not blown away, but a pretty cool 2-disc reissue (Beta-Lactam Ring puts out nice CDs) and I'll get back to you after I check out disc 2. Never heard of Social Junk before, but I think I've heard of the label its on American Grizzly. It's a good disc -- weird stuff powered by driving percussion and aggressive tape loopery, mutant vocals, intangibles... more later?..... the Last Visible Dog label puts out so much stuff and it's amazing how consistently good it is. Of the three in their latest batch, the real standout is the one by the unknown Italians, Gianluca Becuzzi & Fabio Orsi. It reminds me of another amazing disc LVD released by an unknown Italian a few years ago, Hoarse Frenzy by Renato Rinaldi. Slow-developing and calm psych-folk that is pastoral and bucolic on the surface, but burnt around the edges, and when you poke at it, it can give mild electric shocks. I wanted the Vaapa disc to blow me away with its press-sheet comparisons to "early (quiet) Ash Ra Tempel", and it does have that vibe but it doesn't carry the same threat that Ash Ra did, the threat, nay, the implicit certainty that the quiet haunt/haze would soon give way to lightning and thunder and monsoons. The band never really leaves the haze, and sometimes haze alone is not enough. John White is a singer/songwriter who lives in Germany but is from New Zealand. This is the most 'indie rock' CD that LVD has ever released. Extremely pleasant soft melodic balladry that reminds me of some MOR celebrity that Pitchfork writes about whom I can't name because I've never heard his music. Actually almost every song on here reminds me of that 70s radio song that goes "I need you... like the sun needs the rain..." What's that song called?? Yo Soft as Fuck, can you help me? Son of Earth album still rules, so restrained and subdued but constantly threatening to rip at its shackles.... I don't think I can write about the Occasional Detroit Gaybomb LP right now. I do enjoy it but its "crazier than a bag of angel dust," to borrow a phrase from Russell Simmons. It looks great, purple vinyl with no cover, just a plastic sleeve. Label is Isle of Man, run by Gaybomb.... I was joking that William Basinski calling an album "Melancholia" is like Iron Maiden calling an album "Power Metal" or Willie Nelson calling an album "Country Music." I like all the Basinski I've ever heard, including this one, but I still haven't heard anything that tops that very first hour-long Disintegration Loop... was suddenly struck during this listen to Vuh's Aguirre that it's a total German precursor to Gas (Konigsforst, et al), especially the track "Aguirre III". Same massed choral/chordal classical drone shifts on top, same clicky pulse on the bottom. Of course, with the Vuh the pulse is acoustic and not electronic.... Roxanne Jean Polise might tie with Raccoo-oo-oon for 'worst name in underground music', and they both start with "r", huh.... so does Raperies With Draperies but like Bull Tongue said, that is "either the worst or best" name, and I agree. Anyway, Roxanne Jean Polise is now called Warmth, which is a better name -- this 3" CDR (on Apop Records' absurdly packaged petri dish series) was one of the later RJP releases, and it sounds a lot like Warmth, thick slowly massing clouds of soft near-shoegaze noise/sound. His sounds are always ace but I never really feel any direction... better than shitty sounds with too much direction I guess... Katchmare I don't remember much about but it was somewhat intriguing. Kind of a mix of noise/weird/experimental styles, perhaps even all over the place -- I only listened to it on shuffle with 4 other discs so I'll have to get back to you. Kid from somewhere in downstate Illinois, though...fuck, it's hard to write about this many discs.... Grey Daturas I was impressed with. I had heard mixed reports about their live shows -- for an Australian band they have toured in the States quite a bit over the last couple years -- but this disc is heavy in a lot of good ways and it shows a versatility (without being over-eclectic) you don't always get in this milieu. Some of the same thick drug-rock low-end sounds as Bardo Pond, but less single-minded.... the new Temple of Bon Matin has spent a lot of time in the player. It's a really long disc, well over 70 minutes, and every track is about 10-12 minutes long, and they're all really loose, flowing, rickety assemblages, which kind of runs together and perhaps loses steam after awhile, but the feel/vibe/sounds are excellent. Ed Wilcox is a veteran, he knows what he wants, and the first song "Born Down" is an instant roots-psych zoner classic.

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