Friday, December 31, 2010

Favorite E.S. Posts of 2010

Because, well, why not?

1. Amplified Tecate
Speaks for itself, this one.

2. Kudler & Shiflet Live on KUSF
My favorite bit of free audio from the year. Jesse kills it.

3. Sunday Afternoon
I listened to this drone on for about two hours before finally recording a few minutes for the blog.

4. So Many Seashells, So Much Porcelain
This track has always stuck with me. Nothing exceptional stands out, you can hear the beginning of the axis's shifting.

5. Theodore & John
Awesome men. Awesome words.

6. ((Noise) (5.12.10))
If you paid attention, it's pretty obvious where this eventually ended up, but the noise track itself is still quite a beast.

7. Nishikawa, Olive, Shiflet : Bridge
Osaka improv. Fun fact: as I had a several hour commute to Osaka, I would frequently listen to Love Me Two Times on my to meet up with Tim & Bunsho.

8. Joe Colley
I just love these photos.

9. Short Video from INC Columbus
First live version of Corrugated.

10. 2.4 Seconds for Christmas
Sneaking in at the last minute, Christmas eve audio.

Thanks for the continued support. All the best in 2011.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 Favorite Live Performances

My top ten live performances of the year :

1. Nick Hennies : Rancho Panzner, Columbus, 8/1/10
If it has not been witnessed personally, the effect a single woodblock being struck ad infinitum can have on one’s jaw, inner ear and skull base is hard to convey. The small room’s supreme resonance gave Hennies the extra bit of assistance he needed, ensuring the ringing would last a few days and the memories long after.

Wittmer Knowles 3.21.10
2. Gerritt Wittmer & Paul Knowles : Now That’s Class, Cleveland, 3/21/10
Two Mormon-looking fellows hit the road with Sissy Spacek and dropped one of the heaviest psycho-acoustic performances in a long while. Their Cincinnati performance (which I missed) caused a friend, and true harsh noise afficianado, to collapse and even the Cleveland drunkards and their sneers couldn’t topple Gerritt and Paul’s mesmerizing black tie frequency circus.

Joe Colley 8.24.10
3. Joe Colley : Terminal, Oakland, 8/24/10
Despite a long admiration and several years of friendship, I’d never seen Colley live. He refused to play my last trip through the Bay, giving some self-deprecating excuse or another. I pretty much expected him to cancel this one at the last minute as well, but he showed up and delivered ten times over. He performed two pieces, one CD player and one for microcassette, each with a heavy dose of suspicious electromagnetic interference and hints of spectral processing. Either alone would have left me speechless, combined they were downright paralyzing.

Keith Rowe, 3.12.10
4. Keith Rowe : Fairchild Chapel, Oberlin College, 3/12/10
There are times for hanging out in the back and acting cool and there are times for admitting that even if you look like the dorkiest fanboy in the room, you are better than the music school nerds and have every right to be up in the first row pew. Only downside of this show was the inability to talk to Rowe afterwards due to the rush of students and straightforward guitarists who’d just had their brains scrambled and were clamoring to talk shop.

5. Jon Mueller : Robinwood Concert House, Toledo, 9/7/10
Two solo percussion performances in my top five? What? Mueller absolutely destroyed when I saw his Physical Changes tour in Cincinnati last year and I was eager to see how he followed it up. As with Hennies above, this performance benefited greatly from a small room which the snare and tape gnarl blanketed and devoured from the outside in, fighting for every cubic inch of space before burrowing into the earholes of the 25 or so in attendence.

6. Noveller : It Looks Like It’s Open, Columbus, 8/19/10
I caught Noveller two evenings in a row in August. I have to say the second edged out the first by way of being slightly more intimate and also having a vent directly above Ms. Lipstate. With her hair blowing in every which direction, she had a real Slash-in-November-Rain rockstar vibe as she strummed and looped her way through her glorious set.

7. Pavement : LC Pavilion, Columbus, 9/16/10
I saw Pavement in Cleveland in1997 and would say without hesitation that is my favorite concert ever. This year’s stop in Ohio was remarkably similar and I was surprised they put nearly as much energy into their performance as they did back then. I figured I’d let my teenager brain put an aura around that show that was never really there, but I was wrong. They brought it then and are picking up exactly where they left off. If I cared half as much about Stephen & co. as I do about resonating woodblocks, this one would be much higher up the list.

8. Joanna Newsom : Southern Theater, Columbus, 3/29/10
Have One on Me is still growing on me, mainly because end up listening to it in such disjointed chunks, picking up on side D a week after the fact, squeezing the final side in between two drone long players, etc. So I felt rather fortunate to spend a few hours with Ms. Newsom and her band of merry makers in the lovely Southern Theater here in town as they made their way through downsized arrangements of tracks from the new album and scattered classics. Front row balcony seats were definitely a bonus.

Sightings 4.21.10
9. Sightings : Skylab, Columbus, 4/21/10
Dear noise rock bands everywhere, Listen to Sightings and step your fucking game up. Pointlessly dicking around doesn’t cut it in 2010. Sincerely, Mike Shiflet

10. Ignaz Schick : Skylab, Columbus, 4/10/10
Ignaz came through town on his North American trek and performed as part of an evening of experimental turntable works. His set of bells, velcro, paper plates, styrofoam plates, and I believe even a few records was the standout that evening. I’d come from a friend’s wedding, played a set myself, and was in just the right zone – equal parts tired and eager - when Ignatz finally did his thing and floored everyone.

And ten others (alphabetically) :
Clang Quartet, David Daniell & Douglas McCombs, Emeralds, Failing Lights, Brad Griggs & Mark VanFleet, KBD, Leslie Keffer & Scott Martin, The National, Rangda, Adam Smith

Friday, December 24, 2010

2.4 Seconds for Christmas


20/10 : 2010 Year-End Favorites

Here's my year-end list. This year I opted to throw everything into one list rather than I put the first twenty in order, threw in ten others, and scribble a few lines about the top ten. The writing isn't particularly deep or insightful, but I felt like sharing.

Here are the top ten:

1. Ricardo Dillon Wanke : to r.s.

Wanke is a new name to me and his work (both this and his 2006 release Caves) came out nowhere and floored me. His guitar drones are so purely tonal they could easily be mistaken for sine waves and when he incorporates the acoustic or piano, his dense layers take on even more life. The closest comparison I can come up with is an extremely stripped down, exceptionally raw Oren Ambarchi. I can’t get enough of this.

2. Superchunk : Majesty Shredding

Superchunk wouldn’t rank in my top ten bands of the ‘90’s. Probably wouldn’t even crack the top twenty. I have no idea why this one stuck such a chord with me this year, but it did. Perhaps it was the timing of its release, as it definitely made for great summer driving music. With excellent songs and outstanding production throughout, it makes me wonder what some of the bands I truly loved 15 years ago would sound like in the studio now.

3. Jefre Cantu-Ledesma : Love is a Stream

Much has been said about Jefre’s shoegaze-drone monolith and the bulk of it is spot on. I don’t know if I can add a unique perspective, but more than anything else on this list, I do feel distinct relationship between Love is a Stream and my own work this year, a distant cousinship perhaps.

4. Oval : O

This is album I had the hardest time classifying and when I was still toying with doing two separate lists for pop and experimental lists, I had to include it in both. I’m still not sure where I’d file it, but it is a stunning work regardless. Equally head-bobbable and -scratchable, it’s parts combine to form a rather glorious whole.

5. Deerhunter : Halcyon Digest

Brendan Murray first turned me on to Deerhunter during our 2008 tour and I’d enjoyed everything I’d heard previous to Halcyon Digest, but it really solidified their work in my eyes. The clutter was stripped away and the scattered bits of genius were finally collected and molded into a cohesive and undeniable beast.

6. Noveller : Desert Fires

If I hadn’t seen Sarah Lipstate perform these tracks on back-to-back nights in August, I’m not sure I’d feel as strongly about this album. But I did and I do. This album is a collection of excellent composition akin to that of my favorite electronic/noise perfomers, but with the unmistakable beauty of the guitar (the Fender Jazzmaster, specifically) at the forefront.

7. Chris Abrahams : Play Scar

Another album I have a hard time describing. I guess the running theme here is that if it confounds me, it moves up the list. I’m not a fan of Abrahams’ group the Necks so I don’t have much of reference point coming into this one. I know that organs, pianos, and synths make up the bulk of Abrahams’ sound world and when he gets in the studio and starts layering/chopping, things get very interesting. It’s a little all over the map, but the skill, attention and focus are consistent throughout and matched by the outstanding production.

8. Joe Colley : Disasters of Self

I like this album. Quite a bit, obviously. That said, I don’t understand why people are so head-over-heels excited about it. As good as this album is, I don’t think it can hold its own against Psychic Stress Soundtracks or Waste of Songs. New Colley is better than new most other things, but when compared to his past accomplishments, I found this one harder to get excited about.

9. Darksmith : Total Vacuum

One thing I dislike about the bulk of music criticism is the idea that liking (A) conflicts with any attempt to like (B). That said, this Darksmith album is another reason I just couldn’t flip out over the Colley set. Combining principles of Colley (or maybe more specifically Crawl Unit) and his cohorts from the 1990’s California noise scene with hints of Schimpfluch, Alga Marghen, and Graham Lambkin’s work, this one hits all the right notes. Anyone who loved the Colley set or the Lambkin/Lescalleet collaboration, but did not hear this, needs to rectify that promptly.

10. Philip Jeck : An Ark for the Listener

I was nervous about this one prior to its release. I thought Sand was a major misstep for Jeck with some interesting concepts probably seemed good at the drafting table, but just didn’t seem to work on record. Fortunately An Ark for the Listener is a return to form, solid from start to finish. His live performances (recordings) that I’ve heard this year have been top notch as well.

And ten others...

11. Jon Mueller : The Whole
12. Joanna Newsom : Have One On Me
13. Mark Fell : Multistability
14. Kanye West : My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
15. The Fun Years : God Was Like, No
16. Gerritt : Portions of Hell
17. Emeralds : Does It Look Like I’m Here?
18. Graham Lambkin & Jason Lescalleet : Air Supply
19. Fennesz / Daniell / Buck : Knoxville
20. The National : High Violet

And ten others (alphapbetical) with some cheating :

Thomas Ankersmit : Live in Utrecht; Failing Lights : Failing Lights; Gerritt & John Wiese : Panoramic Glass and Mirror; Joseph Hammer : I Love You, Please Love Me Too; Jason Kahn & Jon Mueller : Phase; Brandon Nickell : And if You Set This Mind of Mine Afire…; Michael Pisaro : [various releases]; Rangda : False Flag; Rene Hell : [various releases]; Time & Temperature : Cream of the Low Tide

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The City Is All In Your Head

CDR released on Celebrate Psi Phenomena in 2004. The brief liners sum it up nicely (though the term drone is used rather loosely):

excerpts from a 12 hour performance at BLD Spring Aktion accompanying a sonic sculpture installation by Sven Kahns. All non-drones are sounds of the installation.

5 tracks, 46:54, 192kb/s

Download here. (63 MB zip)

Just Outside The Liminal

A few more Llanos reviews.

Brian Olewnick, possessor of two of the finest, most respected ears in the e.a.i. world, offers his musings at Just Outside:
Though divided into six tracks, I tend to hear "Llanos" as an enormous block of sound with a complex, sponge-like structure that allows for a huge amount of spatial/aural perceptive activity on the part of the listener
Read the full review here.

And in what is my favorite of the straightforward/standard format reviews thus far (right up there with Jesse Goin's feature), Tom Lecky at The Liminal really hits on a lot of what I was trying to convey:
Memory pervades the distorted, oscillating static: fragments of melodies behind the buzzing surface, memories from a past that is now present only in contorted form. Imagine looking at an album of photos of yourself in childhood through a cracked window smeared with grease. [...] This will cleanse you, but you’ll feel more like you do an hour after you left the mud puddle and were sitting on the tree stump
Read the full review here.

I'll have another post this evening with an album from the vaults.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ecstatic Peace Sale

Go grab the 16 Bitch Pile-Up / Mike Shiflet Split LP (or some other gunk if you are so inclined) and throw in that coupon code when checking out. It's that easy.

The Abstract

Apologies. It's been a minute since the last update. Here are two of the more unusual Llanos reviews.

Hallock Hill, whose unique take on the KFW split was previously posted here, is back with more:
On the other side of the river, at the base of the Palisades. A field of rock that has been stripped from its face forms a garden. One large rock is angled back away from the water towards the rock. From it the blue sky crisply breaks the jagged line of the top of the cliffs. Jet trail crosses. Behind, in the water, is an inverted boot, floating. To whom was it attached? And when?
Read the full review here.

George Bass at Coke Machine Glow refuses to be outdone, invoking the UFOs on a track review of Web Over Glen Echo:
The theory runs thus: after a flying saucer has passed overhead and finished abducting/drawing corn circles/being mistaken for SR-71 Blackbird planes, a fine fibrous residue collects on the ground, looking like a faint jelly cobweb. Sinisterly naming itself after a brand of luxury pasta, angel hair has been outsmarting the more open-minded conspiracists for years. Is it alien silk? Dandruff from heaven?
Read the full review here.