Friday, December 23, 2011

2011 Year-End Post V : Prurient : Bermuda Drain

I had a strong feeling when I first heard the Many Jewels Surround The Crown single that the full length to follow would be my favorite album of the year. When the final product arrived some two months later, it was certainly not the album that I was anticipating, but that appealed to me in even more than if it had been.

In the promotional material for last year’s Llanos CD I wrote “The music and the noise have made peace” outlining the hybridization of these two sound worlds my primary goal. While Prurient’s musical taste is obviously quite different from my own, I still find myself in awe of the ease with which he merged those elements with his rich noise repertoire. The production is impeccable from track to track and the album as a whole sounds like the result of years of refinement, not the stylistic departure it is in actuality. (I’d like to take an aside here to recommend the demos on the cassette version of the album, which offer a little insight into the transition.)

I never approached noise from a darkened, bleak perspective. I found in it a cathartic joy I couldn’t find anywhere else. Over the years the sources of that joy have shifted, splintered and refined themselves repeatedly. This year no sound culled that raw emotion as emphatically as the feedback/crunch combo of Watch Silently. Hearing it now I still recall the first time I heard it. The stereo noise at the beginning of Myth of Sex has the same visceral burrowing effect. Prurient may be a much more musical project these days, but this noise is still of an unparalleled pedigree.

I won’t pretend to understand Dominick Fenrow. He is a uniquely warped individual in a uniquely warped world. The last time I saw him, he’d been on a tour bus for weeks and was desperate to talk to anyone about Masami Akita. (No exaggeration. He had purchased a small mountain of used Merzbow CDs on the trip and was looking to compare notes.) I can’t relate to a lot of what motivates him, but our lives and works have intersected repeatedly over the past decade and he is one of the people I’m most proud to know. The world is a better place because of Prurient and 2011 was a better year because of Bermuda Drain.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2011 Year-End Post IV : Stephan Mathieu : A Static Place

On A Static Place, some of the earliest and the latest playback and recording devices combine to create an album a hundred years in the making, one that is static and spectral in both senses of both words. Any of the four interpretations will work: little changes, white noise abounds, it is constructed with the works of long-dead instrumentalists, and said construction dances around much of the audible spectrum.

When listening I can’t help but think of the album tracks as movie stills, single frames. It is obvious an entire world has been created and captured, but we are only given these small windows of opportunity to peer inside and try to make sense of it all. Nothing really moves or changes, but the scenery requires scanning. Surely there are clues to be found within, but the scope of the work renders any that might actually surface all but irrelevant.

The macbook-via-gramaphone processing technique Mathieu has developed gives the album an indecipherable omnipresence. While much of the 78-rpm source material is concentrated into a tonal haze, bits of the original material occasionally slip through undisturbed. The result is as classic as it is modern as it is neither.

While much of album’s appeal can be attributed to process and source material, there is obviously more than mere technique at work here. The evidence of Stephan’s skilled hands and patient ears are all over. The layering and depth are remarkable, maintaining an excellent density without becoming too overwrought. Process-intensive records like this make it easy to overlook the investment of the creator, but I find it hard to imagine this collection of artisanal monoliths coming from anyone else. Lesser hands simply could not have produced this.

Monday, December 19, 2011

2011 Year-End Post III : Simon Scott : Bunny

Bunny has me thinking about exchanges, particularly the awkward ones. It is not an awkward record, but it is a wholly unique one, an alternate history in which the time and space of the latter twentieth century are mangled into a spirographic paradox. It is the kind of insanity that makes perfect sense, the answer to the question no one was asking. A vision this articulately warped could only come from a single being and that is what got me thinking about exchanges.

The people who offer their radical insights so freely are often marginalized. They are met with rolled eyes at best and complete disdain at worst. The artistic community is somewhat more open, but undoubtedly has its own parameters of expectation. So as the first bass notes of “AC Waters” are strummed, I’m sitting here contemplating the route one man’s handcrafted parallel universe takes to manifest itself in our collective reality and the steps along the way required to facilitate such a thing. What was it like when Scott’s wispy concrete-jazz-shoegaze creation was presented in the studio? When it was handed off to the label, sent off to mastering and mailed out on promo CDs? When each listener first dropped the needle or pulled it up in iTunes?

I can't imagine anyone who puts Bunny on for the first time saying to his or her self, “Oh yes, I was thinking the exact same thing.” It isn’t the perfect summation of anything. It is a collection of fragments that should not work together, but manage to regardless. They are lovingly constructed to resonate and illuminate each other in an undeniable manner as Scott himself plays the part of the superglue, tightly bonding the splintered shards. His personal investment provides the cohesion that makes the album so hard to resist and why it leaves most of these exchanges having thoroughly made its case.

Friday, December 16, 2011

2011 Year-End Post II : 15 Records

… that aren’t my three favorite records but very nicely round out my 2011. In alphabetical order:

Thomas Ankersmit & Valerio Tricoli : Forma II
This analog/digital/acoustic monster of a collaboration paired an old favorite with a relatively new name, one I’d seen in liner notes, but never heard in such a distinguished form. Prefer the crackling pulsing tracks to the harmonic material, but it’s all good.

Destroyer : Kaputt
My least favorite Destroyer record in some time, still better than just about everything else.

Lawrence English : The Peregrine
Lawrence’s most fully realized record to date. It has the potential to pass Kiri No Oto as my favorite.

Tim Hecker : Ravedeath, 1972
Another Hecker record better than the one before it. Will this guy ever hit his ceiling? Only the strength of the competition kept this out of my top three.

Jesu : Ascension
I don't really know what qualifies as post-metal, but I see the term used to describe Jesu a lot. If it all sounded like this, it might be my favorite genre.

Christina Kubisch : Magnetic Flights
Kubisch takes her electromagnetic recording devices to the airport. One weird frequency sweep irks me about 10 minutes in, snaps me out of my zone every time – a complaint often leveled against my Ichinomiya CD, so I’m sympathetic - otherwise this one’s near perfect.

Liturgy : Aesthetica
All the reasons people hate this record are all the reasons I love it. Guilty as charged.

Sean McCann : Sincere World
I hadn’t heard Sean before this year. Luckily I have friends who know my tastes and made the recommendation. Excellent LP.

The Mountain Goats : All Eternals Deck
Full-band version of TMG finally fires on all cylinders. The production is tight, the Darnielle is the Darnielle.

Toshimaru Nakamura : maruto
The album most likely to cause physical discomfort (or comfort depending on what you’re into) here. The pseudo-hanko design on the cover makes it clear: Nakamura’s primary goal is to leave a permanent mark on your psyche.

Noveller : Glacial Glow
Is it possible to be anthemic and hypnotic at the same time? Apparently, yes.

Bill Orcutt : How The Thing Sings
How, indeed. Words fail me on this one.

A proper studio album from this duo would have been preferred, but the live sets here are a pretty excellent consolation prize.

Jozef Van Wissem : The Joy That Never Ends
I apparently have a fondness for the lute that I did not know about until this year.

Kurt Vile : Smoke Ring For My Halo
A more polished effort than I was expecting from Mr. Vile, but one that I found nearly irresistible regardless.

Here's audio from all fifteen of those clips being played at once:

Next week I’ll be back with Mon-Weds-Fri posts on my top three of the year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2011 Year-End Post I : Introduction-Advertorial

I’ve decided to once-again reformat my end-of-year summaries. This year I’ll be doing a series of five posts: This explanation, a list-format post with ten favorites, and three individual posts on my top three albums.

Now that that’s out of way, I’d like to start this off with a brief spiel about a release I have to exclude from my favorites due to minor conflicts of interest, Joe Panzner’s Clearing, Polluted.

This is one of the most adventurous offerings of 2011, but my exceptionally close ties to Joe (in a scene where close ties are fairly commonplace) make it hard for me to accurately hold it against other albums I enjoyed this year. To say it is one of my favorites would be a vast understatement, but that comes from an admittedly biased position.

If you're still willing to take my word after all that, I definitely suggest you head over to Copy for Your Records and grab a copy. If you are interested in my work, the Scenic Railroads project Joe and I have together, or harsh computer works in the style of Haswell, Drumm, and Ottavi, please check this album out.

Monday, December 12, 2011

(Monday Night Noise)

Tried to record some sparse noise tonight, but the beast wasn't in a mood to be tamed. This won't work for the project in mind, but I felt like sharing it nonetheless.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ten Songs

A certain blog asked me to throw a list of ten songs together this summer. I was happy to oblige, but it was never published and all attempts at communication since submitting have gone unanswered. I guess they weren't very into my selections. But I am happy to share them with you.

John Coltrane : My Favorite Things
I am by no means a jazz fanatic, but there are a select few artists I hold in the highest esteem. The way Coltrane flips this showtune on its head floored me from the first time I heard it and sent me on a mad hunt for as many versions as I could find during the early days of online file-sharing.

Harry Pussy : I Started A Band
I bought “Ride A Dove” sometime in the late 90’s with a vague idea of what this band was all about, but was unprepared for the life-altering catharsis that is “I Started A Band” to come kicking and screaming out of my speakers. Harry Pussy redefined everything I considered noise rock at the time and continues to be the stick against which all others are measured. [Sorry I couldn't find any audio online.]

MT. Forever by Party Of Helicopters on Grooveshark
Party of Helicopters : Mt. Forever
I was lucky to have Kent, OH, a college town with it’s own internationally-known scene and sound close by when I was teenager. Harriet the Spy and POH defined an era for me and Mt. Forever, with its soaring guitar and chorus of “Handsome is a tall boy … like way”, was a personal (if misguided) anthem for a few years.

Autistic Daughters : Uneasy Flower
Autistic Daughters opened doors I didn’t know existed. Using their backgrounds in minimalist improvisation as a starting point for their spectacularly produced songs, they bridged a gap between two very specific and different genres that I loved and made me reconsider ways of structuring diverse and seemingly conflicting sounds.

Some Glad Day by Brian Harnetty & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy on Grooveshark
Brian Harnetty & Bonnie “Prince” Billy : One Glad Day
Brian is a fellow Columbus musician who’s made a name for himself by cherry picking some of the finest archival Appalachian recordings and layering them with his own unique compositions. His collaboration with Will Oldham is a thing of beauty and if it had come out on Palace or Drag City would likely have gotten more of the attention it truly deserves.

Sonic Youth : Diamond Sea
If it weren’t for Sonic Youth, I would probably be playing generic rock and making top ten lists of Smashing Pumpkins and Weezer songs. Their controlled chaos steered me into the inferno of the noise scene, guided me through a decade in its murky depths and walked me out a changed man.

Beth Orton : Conceived
I sought out “Comfort of Strangers” primarily to hear how Jim O’Rourke and Tim Barnes complimented Ms. Orton. I didn’t have high expectations, but the album blew me away and quickly became a favorite. It was released while I was living in rural Japan and became such a fixture that even now I can picture the mountain ranges and rice fields I would walk by while listening to this. Once, early after returning to the States, I even broke down because it made me miss Japan so much.

Oren Ambarchi : Remidios The Beauty
The only people who play guitar like Oren Ambarchi are people blatantly ripping off Oren Ambarchi. The five-minute intro to “Remidios”, with its looping clicks and glitchy riff, is unique in his mostly tonal and abstract discography and I often find myself craving its distinct blend of melodic abstraction.

David Sylvian : Snow White in Appalachia
I first encountered Sylvian on Fennesz’s “Venice” and was not into his vocal style at all. But I didn’t stop listening and little by little it slowly grew on me to the point that I eventually bought some of his solo work in the last year have become completely, unabashedly obsessed.

Eddie Marcon : Sayonara
I figured the bulk of my time in Japan would be spent hanging out with the members of the noise and improvisation communities. That did happen to a certain some, but the artists who became my best friends and took my wife and I in like family were the members of the avant folk band Eddie Marcon and the psych rock trio LSD March. Eddie (actually a female, who was also in the band Coa) has one of the most amazing voices I’ve ever heard and the rest of the band knows how to perfectly accompany her.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Meadowbathers and Seagulls Now on Bandcamp

Stream away.

Or if you're feeling generous, purchase a download.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sufferers Digital Versions

The extended version of Sufferers is available as a digital download from the likes of iTunes, Amazon, and Boomkat.

In addition to extended play time - from which Axle Grease particularly benefits - these versions did not need to be mastered to vinyl specs and feature a little more punch at the extreme ends of the frequency spectrum.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Open b/w Enemy [ESDS]

The second in the Editions Shiflet Digital Singles series, Open b/w Enemy presents two excerpts from live shows in September. It's debut was slightly delayed because of the Sufferers release a few weeks ago, but it has now fully ripened and is ready to be savored.

Download (ZIP file, 17.7MB)

(ESDS #1 can be found here if you missed it this summer or are new to the blog.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Upcoming Shows

A few opportunities for Ohioans to catch me live in the next couple weeks:

Lost Weekend Records, Columbus
Solo set and duo with Ryan Jewell
7:00, free

It Looks Like It's Open, Columbus
Marotta, Jewell, Shiflet trio
opening for String Gone Deaf
8:00, donation suggested

Cave Fest, Akron
Solo set. More details as they come...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sufferers Available Now
(plus backstock)

Sufferers, my new LP on Type, arrived Friday and is ready to be shipped to your waiting doorstep and/or PO Box for $16 ppd. An audio sample can be heard here and the video for Blesed and Oppressed is up here.

I also have the following items available:
Llanos CD : $10
Split LP with Keith Fullerton Whitman : $15
Omnivores LP : $15
Ichinomiya 5.3.6 CD : $8
Burning Star Core Papercuts Theater 2LP : $15

Bundle any two of the LPs for $25, any three items for $30.

All prices are ppd in the USA. If you are outside the US and only looking for Sufferers, it probably makes more sense to buy from Boomkat. If you'd like to get a bundle, please write for shipping costs.

Email/paypal to ms -@-


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Blessed & Oppressed

Video I made this weekend for a track from the forthcoming (any day now) Sufferers LP on Type.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

More Titles Than Tracks (September)

More Titles Than Tracks:
An Excuse to Pillage the Scenic Railroads Vaults

Each month this year I'll be posting unreleased works by Scenic Railroads, my duo with Joe Panzner. Some will come from scrapped projects, some long-forgotten recording sessions, some may even be new. Despite only publishing a handful of releases over our eight-year existence, we've actually been quite prolific in the studio and I look forward to sharing these works.
This month we feature a new track recorded with several guests. Our friends Jesse Kudler and Chandan Narayan came through town in August and brought with them our new friend Chuck Sipperley. The five us immediately took to the basement and captured this beauty, Without Ryan Jewell:

Download (20:26, 256 kb/s, 39.2mb)

See also:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Long Autumn Weekend [Part II of II]

… St. Paul …

I wake from a great sleep and feel absolutely amazing. Jason runs out for eggs and bagels. He’s stayed with Bruce and Anne before and knows their little nook of Logan Square pretty well. While he’s out, Bruce shows me where the magic happens and offers some of his fine label’s stock. Breakfast is eventually consumed among talk of workout routines, bike paths, and Wisconsin campsites. Unfortunately this breakfast is consumed in the back of their apartment and my phone is up front, buzzing away as Jason Zeh attempts to tell us he is in the vicinity. Eventually I remember I should probably have my phone on hand and notice Mr. Zeh on the porch where he informs me he has been sitting for a good half hour. Whoops.

We rearrange the car to accommodate the infusion of new gear and are soon on the road. I accidentally run through an I-Pass on the toll road – kinda hard to merge across four lanes to the one cash-accepting booth on such short notice – but otherwise the ride is much smoother than yesterday’s. Talk mostly centers around Zeh’s recent move to Indiana and how he’s dealing with splitting time there and his native Bowling Green, OH. When we get tired of talking, we listen to “Metallic Overdrive ‘85”, a gift from years ago that truly keeps giving. (Thank you, John Schoen.) After the raging, banging and a brief appearance from the Poser Death Squad, we find ourselves in downtown St. Paul an hour earlier than we expected. Despite our early arrival, our host for the evening, the wonderful Jesse Goin, is in the vicinity and we are able to quickly load in to Studio Z. Dinner options are discussed and I am relieved to avoid a fourth night of Mediterranean food in favor of some Japanese noodles.

After dinner everyone gets right down to business. Sounds are checked, people start filing in and before I know it, Jesse is giving a brief overview of the night and introducing Jason Zeh. Zeh’s set has taken a unique turn, discarding the cassettes and focusing on the sounds of the decks themselves. Dense layers of mechanical drone and electric hum swirl around the room for twenty minutes or so and it is absolutely enthralling. After Jesse’s introduction for Jason compliments the diverse fields in which Jason Kahn operates, Mr. Kahn proceeds to hammer the point home with another foray into harsh synth noise, not quite as loud as Columbus, but much more aggressive than Chicago. There are some amazing moments of radio synchronicity – “Now that’s how we party!” – but they aren’t enough to win over the crowd. I wrap things up (no opportunity to atone for last night’s duo this evening) with a set designed especially for the crow. After a frenzy of detuned guitar bowing, I play some non-improvised pieces, “Omicron Meditation” and “Omicron Serenade”, and both go over pretty well. At the last minute I decide to pull up an old patch from “Ko” as well because Joe from Small Doses is in the crowd. It’s my best set of the weekend even though it’s the one I least prepared for. Listening to the recordings umpteen times has hardwired them in the brain I guess.

There’s a bit of post-show scrambling as the twin cities seem to be repaving 70% of their streets. We eventually land at Hard Times Café and grab some delicious late night grub. Their vegetarian biscuits and gravy set the bar pretty high, their choice of grindcore for ambiance not so much. We get the food to go. We renavigate the construction maze and soon find ourselves at Jesse’s place. And he has a garage! (Not sure, but this may be a first in my decade-plus of touring.) No unload tonight. We can get straight to annihilating the take-out, conversing and passing out.

9.18 . 9.19
… Milwauke . Chicago . Home …

Jesse’s wife Allie procured breakfast foods in advance – even grabbing some vegan yogurt for Zeh – so we’re able to relax in the morning. Before we take off we get a chance to meet their pitbull who had stayed the night at a neighbor’s house. The prepare-for-the-worst warnings seem downright comical once Bodhi comes in, gives us each a sniff or two and proceeds to curl up and ignore everyone.

Back on the highway a discussion that starts with ins-and-outs of each other’s sets moves onto strange internet/social phenomena and eventually concludes with a story about ridiculous blog comments. Rain does its best to complicate our travels, but we still make it to Milwaukee earlier than expected. We’re dropping Jason Kahn off here for a few dates with Jon Mueller before he heads west. We eat, have some unfortunately brief hello-goodbyes with Mr. Mueller and part ways with Mr. Kahn. The rain comes down even worse between Milwaukee and Chicago, but we manage to arrive in a timely enough fashion. Jason transfers his gear and immediately heads back to the turnpike.

The three(-ish) mile drive from one end of Logan Square to the other is the only traveling I’ll do alone all weekend. It’s nice, calm, and too short. I quickly return to the apartment we dropped our passenger off at Friday evening and am handed a beer immediately. The drinking had been pretty restrained all weekend and I make up for it by keeping some form of alcohol in hand until I find my way to the sleeping bag several hours later.

I feel surprisingly good in the morning, but it’s a fake out, my stomach goes wobbly after I’ve been up an hour or so and I make my way to the bathroom to atone. I drive us – two non-musicians for the ride home, a grand trio – out of the city and then promptly hand the keys over, opting to sleep in the backseat instead. The next thing I know, we are in West Lafayette on the Perdue University campus. It seems like a great town, one that will require investigation at a later point. After "Korean fusion" lunch, we hit the Indianapolis bypass and the downpours start again so I retake the wheel. We make one last stop (post-lunch ice cream craving) and let Kanye West and Das Racist guide us the rest of the way. I’d like to say I finished the crossing line in some grand fashion, falling into my wife’s arms, but I am home no more than a half hour when Bruce McClure calls wanting to meet up to discuss the plans for his show tomorrow evening. Frying pan, fryer.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

[commercial break]

Part II of the tour diary will be up on Monday. It is finished, but I left the file on my work computer. I half-heartedly apologize and sincerely hope you on the edge of your seat after sick cliffhanger. (Do I die at the end? Find out Monday.)

In the meantime I will use this space to announce that the Mike Shiflet/Ryan Jewell collaboration Hysteresis is now available a digital download from Carbon Records. All the noise, none of the clutter. That's a savings of over 3 cubic inches of fresh air. Go ahead and breath that in.

Thanks for the continued support.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Long Autumn Weekend [Part I of II]

… Columbus …

I wake up and run four miles. With four nights of drink & days of highway ahead, I need to move while I have the chance. Upon return, I squeeze in one last round of setup tinkering, a bit of packing, and head to the airport to linger in the baggage claim. Kahn arrives in good spirits. We hit the coffee shop in my neighborhood (juice for me, thanks) and have a relaxed afternoon before rolling to Lavash for some falafel – a repeat of my dinner the night before – and then on to the venue. Adam Smith, the third act for the evening, arrives shortly after us and the talk is of children – Adam’s wife is about to give birth to their first and Jason has plenty of experience in this area – and percussion, which is of great interest to both but neither will be doing any of tonight.

A great crowd of a dozen or so (quality, not quantity) arrive and I kick off the evening with an acceptable set riddled with a few guitar flubs and the minor technical issues that rear their heads when six weeks pass between performances. It’s hard to tell if anyone notices, but I know. I KNOW. I learn quickly that Jason doesn’t like to perform late. He will mention the possibility of playing first each night, but no one will allow it. He settles for second this evening (as he will at the other shows) and proceeds to blow minds. The brutal aural assault he provides is not what I was expecting at all. Radio, field recordings, contact mics, and magnetic devices are combined and run through a synthesizer feedback system in a jarring, whisk-to-the-brain-lobes fashion. Everyone is knocked on their ass. Adam then proceeds to restore sanity and a return to normalcy with a set of floating tape manipulation and delicate ARP accompaniment. Jason and I perform a duo to finish off the night, but I have a hard time keeping up with his frantic style. I’d prepared for something much more reflective and have to make a last minute adjustment into the realm of the frantic and blistering. I do my best, but am unsure of the results.

It’s the first show at 13 East Tulane in which I have to perform and act as host. We end up sticking around at the venue longer than I’d usually care to stay making sure everything is in order and we’ve properly tidied up. Afterward we partake in some fresh date bread wifey made that afternoon – thanks, hon – and crash early, hoping to get an early start in the morning and beat Chicago’s rush hour.

… Chicago …

The early start doesn’t start as early as we’d like, but we pick up an additional passenger and hit the road around 10:30. The passenger in question is a non-music friend who we proceed to bore with conversations that offer little entry for sound-nerd outsiders. I’ve driven this route so many times I could probably do it sleeping and the scenery all but encourages it. Lunch is mediocre and takes too long, both of which were expected given the options that central Indiana provides. We cross the massive wind turbine farm(s) as we head north. I find them absolutely astonishing. Jason thinks they’re a blight on the landscape, but he’s outnumbered.

After the late start and extended lunch stop, we manage to beat the worst of rush hour, but still end up in a stop-and-go crawl for an hour or so. We drop the passenger off and somehow manage to find convenient parking in Wicker Park; the best spot possible actually, right between Enemy and Reckless. The good fortune continues as load-in and soundcheck are quick and painless, but we hit a speedbump as Jason realizes his cat allergy is going to make it impossible to stay at Enemy and we don't have much in the way of backup plans. We’ll have to figure it out during the show and no one likes to have that sprung on them last minute. Nothing to do about it now though, so off to dinner. We go around the corner to Sultan’s and it’s falafel and hummus for the third night in a row.

The gentlemen of TV Pow arrive at the venue shortly after we return from our dinner and several other friends start trickling in right behind. Everything between then and show time is a bit of a blur, but meeting Olivia Block for the first time stands out. TV Pow begin the evening and are in classic mode right out of the gate with an array of field recordings and pure tones. It takes some interesting turns from there though as Michael Hartman’s Moog Phatty Slim guides the set into some more polished synth terrain, a nice evolution of their sound. Jason follows with a less-harsh, more focused set than the previous night. Or perhaps it isn’t scaled back all that much and the fact that I’m braced for it affects my perception. I’m third with a set of processed guitar drone flailing about and running wild through some resonators before dissolving into a field of pulses and crackles. It feels better than the Columbus set. Jason and I close it out with another collaboration and this time I’m ready. We are firing on all cylinders until I unwittingly unleash some jarring feedback and, thinking it is Jason’s (because he’d unleashed no small amount of it himself the past two nights) let it run for far too long. Outside of the mass hearing damage, blown recording levels, and feeling of utter stupidity, it goes pretty well.

As the crowd dwindles, sleeping arrangements are finally made and we head to the home of Bruce and Anne Adams. They own cats – as everyone in Chicago apparently does – but it’s an environment less hostile to the lungs and sinuses. There’s some brief conversation and record collection browsing, but the long drive and time zone change have done a number on us and it’s quickly lights out.

[Part II in the next day or so]

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Upcoming Performances

Phi Phenomenon Tour
Cafe Bourbon Street
2216 Summit St., Columbus, OH
with Laundry Room Squelchers, FUN, several more...

It Looks Like It's Open
13 East Tulane, Columbus, OH
with Jason Kahn and Adam Smith

1550 Milwaukee, 3rd Flr, Chicago, IL
with Jason Kahn and TV Pow

Studio Z
275 E. 4th St., St Paul, MN
with Jason Kahn and Jason Zeh

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mike Shiflet & Sven Kahns:
Carabar 08.10.11

Two weeks ago Sven kahns and I performed as a duo at opening for Circuit des Yeux at Carabar here in Columbus.

Last week the Columbus Alive said a few kind words about both the set that evening and the rest of my recent output.

This week I'm posting the set for your listening pleasure. One track is streaming and the entire set is zipped below. Peace.

Download (zip file, 32.9mb)

Monday, August 22, 2011

More Titles Than Tracks (August)

More Titles Than Tracks:
An Excuse to Pillage the Scenic Railroads Vaults

Each month this year I'll be posting unreleased works by Scenic Railroads, my duo with Joe Panzner. Some will come from scrapped projects, some long-forgotten recording sessions, some may even be new. Despite only publishing a handful of releases over our eight-year existence, we've actually been quite prolific in the studio and I look forward to sharing these works.
The August installment is a track that utlizes a few key edits to harness the power of several different sessions. The result is quite a beast. Body Linguists:

Download (14:42, 256 kb/s, 28.2mb)

See also:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Columbus | Sounds

As a follow-up to yesterday’s posts about Columbus bands, here are a few of my favorite experimental artists from around town that you might not be familiar with. If you’ve been reading this for any amount of time, you should already be familiar with David Reed, Ryan Jewell, and Joe Panzner. Here are a few more of our city’s gems:

Brian Harnetty

Brian is probably best known for his recent collaborations with Will Oldham, but he’s been composing his dreamlike Appalachian-inspired works for as long as I’ve known him. One of my favorite performing experiences was playing glockenspiel with him in a trio that opened for Paul Flaherty and Chris Corsano.

Ben Bennett

One of our preeminent scrapers, Ben is a percussive cohort of Ryan Jewell. The two of them were jockeying for and pushing each other to creative extremes for a couple years, but they’ve nestled into slightly different niches at this point with Ben concocting a collection of unique breath- percussion-rooted handmade instruments. Always down to throw in a major curveball or two, he is one of my favorite live collaborators.

Rocco DiPietro & Larry Marotta

This is kind of a two-for-one special. Rocco and Larry are the forefront of avant composition and improvisation (respectively) in town, but they are in the streets with the rest of us scumbags. In the last month alone, Larry performed a trio with Ryan Jewell and I and Rocco schooled the Monumental Documents crowd on Bruno Maderna.

Brad Griggs

Noise youth! Despite a lack of releases, Brad never ceases to kill live. He’s easily the best harsh noise artist here and there is no close second. Now if only he’d get his act together and throw some tapes or vinyl out there for the people…

Face Place

This husband-wife Sword Heaven side project is so under-documented and un-google-friendly that I had to dig up a six-year-old clip from the GMBY archives. It’s hard to go wrong with tapes, junk and oscillators, but it’s also hard to hone in on a unique voice that rises above the crowd. These two floor me so much that I’m even willing to post a link to Myspace where you can hear another track.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Columbus | Music

I'll be honest, I am not that big on local music (and it's not particularly big on me either). But when I went record shopping this weekend and came home with a couple LPs by Columbus acts and nothing else I realized there are a handful of truly great things going on here and figured I should share a few of the acts I do enjoy with all of you.

The Black Swans

Frontman Jerry DeCicca spent years alienating people with his deep voice and extreme melancholy. Only after making sure everyone in town had chosen a side of the fence did he tear it down and force everyone to reconsider. He now seems to get his kick putting together bills that are as perverse as they are diverse and watching his audience squirm. My kind of guy.

Time and Temperature

If you listen to any of these songs and think "this is a girl who would do weekend tours with Jason Zeh and Mike Shiflet and is head over heels for Hair Police" then you are a much more intuitive being than I. Congratulations.


These gentlemen are an insanely tight unit. If more metal sounded like this, I would like more metal. Though he is far more popular around town for his wild on-stage persona, I usually manage to catch guitarist/vocalist Adam Smith in far more low key settings manning a mountain of 8-track players and a Moog. And those sets are just a tech & tight as the Deadsea. No slop.

Moon High

With male-female harmonies, excellent production/arrangements, and just the right amount of twang, this four-piece offers up a lot of what I want to hear. Their record sounds so massive that it's hard to believe it was recorded in a little house a few blocks away. Props to David Fowler for his excellent recording and post-production work as well as his in-band duties.


Brainbow are prone to getting epic and I have no problem with that. The band also features one of the three (I would say biggest, but I'm not sure there are more than three...) Oren Ambarchi fans in Columbus and that same gentlemen (Mr. Chris Worth) first turned me on to Tim Hecker years ago, so there's that too.

And of course...

Times New Viking

Odds are if you've heard of any band on this list, it's TNV. They have always been supportive of me and the experimental scene in general, which is icing on a cake I would have happily gobbled up anyway.

Monday, August 1, 2011

More Titles Than Tracks (July)

More Titles Than Tracks:
An Excuse to Pillage the Scenic Railroads Vaults

Each month this year I'll be posting unreleased works by Scenic Railroads, my duo with Joe Panzner. Some will come from scrapped projects, some long-forgotten recording sessions, some may even be new. Despite only publishing a handful of releases over our eight-year existence, we've actually been quite prolific in the studio and I look forward to sharing these works.
This month we reverse the trend of the past few posts and step of the way back machine, instead offering a piece not only from this year, but recorded this very month. Without further adieu, Deconstruct a Sammich.

Download (13:06, 256 kb/s, 25.2mb)

See also:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Twin Karen Carpenters
b/w The Trap

Starting a new series of digital singles and am proud to offer up the first. I haven't figured out if there will be any regularity to the uploads or running theme for the content. Time will tell. For now, Twin Karen Carpenters.

Download (ZIP file, 17.9MB)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

More Titles Than Tracks (June)

More Titles Than Tracks:
An Excuse to Pillage the Scenic Railroads Vaults

Each month this year I'll be posting unreleased works by Scenic Railroads, my duo with Joe Panzner. Some will come from scrapped projects, some long-forgotten recording sessions, some may even be new. Despite only publishing a handful of releases over our eight-year existence, we've actually been quite prolific in the studio and I look forward to sharing these works.
For this month's offering, we reached as deep as we possibly could, to the oldest Scenic Railroads session we could unearth. (Was there one prior? The jury is still out.)

Apologies for the delay. June was a bit crazy for both myself and Mr. Panzner. Continuing the 2003 trend we started in May, here is another track from our innaugural session together, Dedicated to the Staff of Cracked Magazine.

Download (11:59, 256 kb/s, 23mb)

See also:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

On The Brain

1. Agent Cooper's Dream

My wife and I have been watching Twin Peaks on Netflix and while some of it is hopelessly dated, those moments only make the slivers of genius seem that much better in comparison. This is easily one of the best scenes to ever air on network TV.

2. Chris Watson

I could listen to Mr. Watson's field recordings for days straight. Can't recommend his session for Touch Radio, in which he narrates his recordings from the South Pole, enough.

3. The Tigris River

An article on Baghdad in this month's National Geographic got me thinking about this river's rich and intense history, for example:

In the winter of A.D. 1258, when the Mongols sacked Baghdad under Hulegu Khan, great destruction was visited upon the city and its inhabitants. The Bayt al Hikma, or House of Wisdom, was plundered, its contents thrown into the Tigris—philosophical tracts and treatises, art, poetry, historical tomes, scientific and mathematical works—the intellectual wealth of centuries. When the Mongols were done pillaging, it's been said, the Tigris ran black with ink.

4. Pinball FX2

I wish I could afford to house a real pinball machine, but these Pinball FX virtual tables are far from settling. The physics engines running on these are pretty amazing. The majority of my non-cookout time this weekend was spent bouncing back and forth between recording and pinball.

5. Mountain Goats : Outer Scorpion Squadron

"Fools rush in and the doors slam shut." Such a great arrangement. I've recently taken to looping this while setting up in the studio.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Rare Frequency Podcast

During my east coast trip last week, I was excited to stop into WZBC in Boston and perform on Susanna Bolle's Rare Frequency show.

Susanna is an excellent archivist, so you can listen to (or download) my entire set here and view a few more photos here.

Full Neon Marshmallow Set

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

June Performances

Mike Shiflet

Hitting the road for two short trips this month. A few dates this week and a flurry of shows at the end of the month. The festival dates had been alluded to earlier, but here is the full itinerary, including two radio appearances.

Thursday, June 8th
Magnetic South
Bloomington, IN
1305 S. Madison, 8:00
Facebook Event

Sunday, June 11th
Neon Marshmallow Festival
Empty Bottle
Chicago, IL
w/Morton Subotnik, The Rita, Pulse Emitter, More...
1035 N Western Ave., 6:00
Neon Marshmallow
Empty Bottle
Facebook Event

Thursday, June 23rd
Live on Rare Frequency, WZBC
Boston, MA
WZBC Online, 7:00-10:00
Rare Frequency

Friday, June 24th
Boston, MA
w/Geoff Mullen
48 South Street, Jamaica Plain, 8:00
Facebook Event

Sunday, June 26th
Ende Tymes Festival
Silent Barn
Brooklyn, NY
w/Gen Ken, Damion Romero, Jason Soliday, Cowards, More...
915 Wyckoff Ave., Ridgewood, NY, 9:00
Ende Tymes
Silent Barn
Facebook Event

Monday, June 27th
Live on The New Afternoon Show, WNYU
New York, NY
WNYU Online, 4:00-7:00
The New Afternoon Show Archives

Monday, June 27th
Vox Populi
Philadelphia, PA
319 N 11th., 3rd Floor.
Vox Populi

More info on that last date as it develops. Look forward to seeing some of you out there.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Guitar, 6.3.11

Putting in a little prep work for shows next week


Thursday, May 26, 2011

More Titles Than Tracks (May)

More Titles Than Tracks:
An Excuse to Pillage the Scenic Railroads Vaults

Each month this year I'll be posting unreleased works by Scenic Railroads, my duo with Joe Panzner. Some will come from scrapped projects, some long-forgotten recording sessions, some may even be new. Despite only publishing a handful of releases over our eight-year existence, we've actually been quite prolific in the studio and I look forward to sharing these works.
For this month's offering, we reached as deep as we possibly could, to the oldest Scenic Railroads session we could unearth. (Was there one prior? The jury is still out.)

Despite its 2003 timestamp and the fact that we'd known each other for a few months, the majority of the session was surprisingly coherent and not entirely dated. Here's a clip, Sidetracked in the Hairfield.Hope you enjoy.

Download (10:29, 256 kb/s, 20.1mb)

See also:

Friday, May 13, 2011

Editions Shiflet Mixtape 07:
Exsiccated Deliverables

After a long silence, ES Mixtape series has returned. It's hard to believe 06 came out before the release of Llanos. That seems like eons ago.

The 10 tracks presented here span from 2006 to recent and soon-to-be-released recordings. There are two excerpts from my latest cassette releases, two tracks from forthcoming releases, two live clips, three tracks from the vaults, and one recent recording that just didn't fit in anywhere, but I thought made a good closer here. Enjoy.

01. Honeyed Crest (excerpt)
02. Young Ghosts
03. Live Excerpt [Chicago 3.4.11]
04. Seagull (excerpt)
05. Grey Magick Micro (remix of Wiese material)
06. (Sufferers)
07. Meadowbathers [Panzner Mix] (excerpt)
08. Grazing [live collab with Ryan Jewell]
09. Airmail from Phil
10. Untitled Synthesis

Download HERE.

And if you're looking for more... 06, 05, 04, 03, 02, 01.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Omen Chaser [Digital], Bandcamp Sale

A few quick notes this morning.

First off: I've uploaded one of my cassettes from last year, Omen Chaser, to the Bandcamp site. Listen, stream it above and if you feel so inclined download/purchase it over at

Additionally: I've created a coupon for 50% off all download purchases from the Bandcamp site (physical goods are excluded) for the next week. Enter the code may when checking out and your order will be discounted. The offer is good until May 15th.

And lastly: In free download news, ES Mixtape 07 is about 85% done and should be available here later this week. The mix is done, it just needs chopped into individual tracks and converted to mp3. Look for it soon.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Peeling Back Some Labels

The more I strip away, the more I enjoy the results.

Beer label
Beer label
Beer label
Beer label

Monday, May 2, 2011

Neon Tymes

In June I'll be playing both of the above festivals. (And as as of now I'm the only act playing both. What a rich scene.) Neon Marshmallow, Chicago, runs from June 10-12. Ende Tymes, NYC, will be from June 24-26.

Sites for info, lineups, tickets, etc:
Neon Marshmallow
Ende Tymes

I'll be planning stops en route to each of these as well. More info on those as the dates draw nearer.

Monday, April 25, 2011

More Titles Than Tracks (April)

More Titles Than Tracks:
An Excuse to Pillage the Scenic Railroads Vaults

Each month this year I'll be posting unreleased works by Scenic Railroads, my duo with Joe Panzner. Some will come from scrapped projects, some long-forgotten recording sessions, some may even be new. Despite only publishing a handful of releases over our eight-year existence, we've actually been quite prolific in the studio and I look forward to sharing these works.
This month we didn't even have to dip into the title vault. Instead we're offering our performance of several Cage & Cardew works from last February. The stream is a brief excerpt from Treatise. Click to download the zipped file which includes the full version of that as well as Variations I & III (simultaneously) and Duet for Cymbal.

Download (3 tracks, zipped, 94.2mb)

See also:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Kevin Drumm

Sorry for the radio silence. It's been a hectic month of recording, which is going pretty well if I do say so myself, and shows, one of which was with this gentlemen:

I'll have some new noise for you shortly (this month's Scenic Railroads installment should be up before the weekend) but please let that video hold you over until then.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Just a quick note to inform you that I have sold out of the Corrugated and Seagulls cassettes.

I do still have copies of the NNA Tape, Honeyed Crest available, $7.00 ppd. US, $9.00 International (until postage goes up this weekend (another post about that coming shortly)). ms -@-

Monday, March 28, 2011

More Titles Than Tracks (March)

More Titles Than Tracks:
An Excuse to Pillage the Scenic Railroads Vaults

Each month this year I'll be posting unreleased works by Scenic Railroads, my duo with Joe Panzner. Some will come from scrapped projects, some long-forgotten recording sessions, some may even be new. Despite only publishing a handful of releases over our eight-year existence, we've actually been quite prolific in the studio and I look forward to sharing these works.
Apologies for the delay in posting this month's MTTT. I'd shelved it to keep focus on the Earthquake Relief Effort and let it slip through a couple cracks afterward. At long last, Smug Timbre/Adequate Vibrations.

Download (23:06, 256 kb/s, 44.4mb)

See also:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Honeyed Crest CS on NNA Tapes

Another week, another cassette. Because NNA is so quick with the turnaround, this is not only my newest release but also my most recent recording. It's pretty rare when those coincide. The quote which I pulled the titles from sums it up better than anything I could say:

The noble ones praise the slaying of anger
-- with its honeyed crest & poison root --
for having killed it you do not grieve.

- Samyutta Nikaya II, 70

Sample below is from the b-side Poisoned Root.

Cassettes are avaialble for $7.00 ppd. US, $9.00 International.
Or you can pair it with either the Seagulls or Corrugated tapes for $10.00 US, $13.00 International.

Paypal / email to ms -@-

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Shiso Epilogues Download
for Japanese Earthquake Relief

Shiso Epilogues on Bandcamp

I uploaded the three-disc set I recorded as I prepared to leave Japan to my Bandcamp site yesterday. The set is available for a minimum $5.00 donation with all proceeds going to Shinji Masuko's Earthquake Relief Fund. Additionally, I will be matching as many donations as my checkbook will allow.

Please consider purchasing this. The people of Japan were so wonderful to my wife and I while we were there and I'd like to give back what little I can in their time of need.

Here's what I wrote on the Bandcamp page:

Three-disc set of introspective works recorded in 2007 as I prepared to end my two-year stay in Japan and return to the US.

Each disc featured a single track (ranging from 50 to 70 minutes) reflecting on various aspects of my time in Ichinomiya (Hyogo, Kansai).

Available now for a limited time with ALL PROCEEDS GOING TO SHNIJI MASUKO'S JAPANESE EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUND. Additionally I will match as many of the donations as I can.

Support our Japanese brother and sisters, have your donation doubled, and get three hours of music to show for it. Onegaishimasu.

Shiso Epilogues on Bandcamp

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Grazing (Jewell/Shiflet duos)

Last month I went a filmed the bison at one of our local Metro Parks. On March 3rd, Ryan Jewell and I performed a live soundtrack to film. Below are some audio (room recording) & video excerpts synced up:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Antrim Video

I put this video together for a live performance of Antrim and last night decided to sync it up with the original track. Enjoy.

(I hope to have another video up before the end of the week as well...)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Seagulls CS on Hyperdelic

This weekend I received copies of my new Seagulls CS on Hyperdelic. It's 20 minutes of swirling, modulating and fluttering with meandering melodic disturbances. (Sample below.) I'm really happy with the two pieces.

Cassettes are avaialble for $7.00 ppd. US, $9.00 International.
Or you can purchase both the Seagulls and Corrugated tapes together for $10.00 US, $13.00 International.

Paypal / email to ms -@-

Audio Sample (I couldn't get this file to embed. Sorry.)

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Future of Everything (2004)

Last week I was reminded of this mp3 single I threw together a few years ago. I am not sure, but I think the tracks were Xenakis Youth outtakes. Whether that's the case or not, there are some great textures and oscillations going on and these two tracks might even hold up better than that album.

Jan M. Iversen's TIBProd was a bit ahead of the netlabel curve and posted a wealth of great mp3 singles. I am excited to have contributed this.

Download (14.6 MB zip file)

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Tonight I had a public performance of and Q&A about Llanos. One of the highlights for me came after all was said and done and one gentleman in private conversation compared the track Sunbathers to Edward Hopper's People in the Sun (above).

I wasn't familiar with the painting before, but am glad it was brought to my attention. They do make quite a pair.

This also works to nicely set up another blog post I have in the works, but I'm still trying to gather all my thoughts and properly express myself on that one. Hopefully I'll have my head together by the weekend.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


What an excellent gift.

Monday, February 7, 2011

More Titles Than Tracks (February)

More Titles Than Tracks:
An Excuse to Pillage the Scenic Railroads Vaults

Each month this year I'll be posting unreleased works by Scenic Railroads, my duo with Joe Panzner. Some will come from scrapped projects, some long-forgotten recording sessions, some may even be new. Despite only publishing a handful of releases over our eight-year existence, we've actually been quite prolific in the studio and I look forward to sharing these works.
Here is the second installment of our 2011 archive clearing house, the 35-minute epic Negative Afterlife.

Download (35:39, 256 kb/s, 65.2mb)

See also:

Friday, February 4, 2011

On Pitchfork, In the Out Door

Marc Masters was kind enough to include me in his piece covering several of the finest contemporary drone exploiters (Szczepanik & Jenks, RV Paintings, Young & Olson to name a few) in the most recent The Out Door on Pitchfork.

The paragraph about myself and Llanos is at the bottom of the page.
Warm waves drift into scratchy dissonance; daunting roars melt into soothing shafts of air; autumnal meditations forge scary power.

Head over there and read the rest. Have some excellent mp3s lined up for next week including the next installment of More Titles Than Tracks.

Friday, January 28, 2011

It's National. It's Public.

The NPR All Songs Considered blog has done a nice profile on yours truly. Here's a snippet:

What is llanos? Does it have anything to do with the sound or creation of the album?

The original title for the album was Pink Meadow, which I kept as a [song title] but felt was too generic for the album and thought might be too overbearing with cover art... a little obvious. I tried a few variations on the "field" theme, but none quite fit, and that has been done repeatedly by ambient and drone artists. But I somehow stumbled on the llanos, which is Spanish for grasslands or plains, and it felt right. Though there is apparently a specific geographic area in South America that uses it as its proper name, and some reviews have assumed that was what I had in mind.

Read the rest here.

Major thanks to Lars Gotrich for the excellent questions.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Llanos in The Wire

January issue of The Wire finally made its way to Central Ohio. Here's a scan of Dan Warburton's Llanos review. Click for high resolution version.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Right Place

When we have our body and mind in order, everything else will exist in the right place, in the right way.
-Shunryu Suzuki

Reading that line concerning posture in practice this morning, I immediately thought back to a tweet I'd posted an hour or so before describing my set last night as pretty good. Though the mistakes were few, they were there and each one of them could have easily been avoided with a little more preparation.

Parallels have been drawn between experimental music and meditation since the days of Cage (with varying degrees of surface-glossing and racial profiling) but one comparison that is rarely made is the amount of personal, unseen work each take to do properly. Neither comes as simply or intuitively as the first glance would have you believe.

It isn't just closing your eyes. It isn't just plugging in pedals.

Eventually I'll find that right place and I look forward to it. But it is impossible to organize things if you yourself are not in order.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Q & A

The Fine Art of Destroying Everything has questions. I have answers.

They also offer some kind words about Llanos (both the album and the track).

Thursday, January 13, 2011

More Titles Than Tracks (January)

More Titles Than Tracks:
An Excuse to Pillage the Scenic Railroads Vaults

Each month this year I'll be posting unreleased works by Scenic Railroads, my duo with Joe Panzner. Some will come from scrapped projects, some long-forgotten recording sessions, some may even be new. Despite only publishing a handful of releases over our eight-year existence, we've actually been quite prolific in the studio and I look forward to sharing these works.

I'm pleased to present the first in the series, from a 2006 session while I was temporarily back from Japan, Gauntlet Closure.

Download (16:20, 256 kb/s, 31.4mb)

More next month.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Corrugated Cassette

In the all the holiday melee, I forgot that a box of ripe cassettes had arrived several days before Christmas and had been filed off out of the way. Having caught my eye and resurfaced, I am pleased to announce that I have copies of my Corrugated tape on Banned.

I first performed Corrugated at the International Noise Conference last Spring as a tongue-in-cheek response to their no laptop policy (what could be less 'laptop' than a single piece of cardboard?) and have closed a good number of my shows since with variations of it.

This cassette is a C20 with a three- and a seven-minute track on each side. Sample below.

$6 ppd. USA, $8 international. Paypal to ms/at\

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Mike Shiflet Bandcamp Page

I spent my spare time over the holidays getting this Bandcamp site together. My main plan for it is to release make copies of the digital masters (not rips) for OOP cassette releases available to buy/stream.

I've started with four tapes: Cannibal Frequencies; Cycles; Disrobed, Spitting Blood; and Gutter Divas; and have put two of 2010 solo releases, the Omnivores LP and Llanos CD, there as well.

As an introductory offer, if you purchase anything from the site this month, I will send you a free download of Gutter Divas to keep your good times rolling.

Thanks for the continued support. Rest assured there will be much no shortage of free music posted here in the weeks and months to come. Have several posts lined up already.