We had never heard of Chicago band Wrugs when we received their humble request the other day that we download their three-song EP, Braided Gas, and make it available to our readers; but boy are we glad that we gave it a spin! The mysterious cover image of a woman cutting her way through a tangled wood is what drew us in in the first place. Lucky for us, it forms a perfect introduction to the music inside: lush, overgrown, percussive, vaguely tropical, and addicted to the thrill of getting lost in the woods–without any intention of finding its way out.
Archive for August, 2009
In 1968, Walter Carlos (a.k.a. Wendy Carlos) and Benjamin Folkman turned John Sebastian Bach into a 15-minute pop deity by transposing a handful of his “greatest hits” to an early Modular Moog synthesizer, tediously recreating every lurch of the old divine sewing machine on a custom-built 8-track. Switched On Bach earned the old bewigged master three Grammy Awards, seventeen weeks on the Billboard Top 40, and the post-humous satisfaction of being the first classical composer to go platinum. To Carlos and Folkman’s great pride, it carved out a space for the synthesizer in the West’s pop musical imaginary, eliciting orders for Moog organs everywhere from cushy American recording studios to the Zodiak Free Arts Lab in West Germany, where synth-based krautrock acts Tangerine Dream and Cluster got together for their first group improvisations. Who cares if it needed to be paired with something as tried and true as the Brandenburg concerto for people to listen up? For a hot moment — just as every new technology has its “hot moment” — the pulsating, electronic revelation of the analogue synth was the sound of the future.
Though they didn’t go over too well with the mudslingers at Woodstock, The Incredible String Band were some of the biggest thrill-seekers in late-1960s psychedelic folk. Judging from the group photo on the cover of their third album, The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter, their lives were just as full of fairy-tale images as their music. In 1968, when The Beatles donned white kaftans and absconded to India to study transcendental meditation, Robin Williamson had already returned from Morocco carrying an oud, a gimbri, a sitar, a water harp, and a bag full of melismatic vocal licks. Though former bandmate Clive Palmer seemed lost to India and Afghanistan forever, Williamson reunited with rock guitarist Mike Heron and set up house in Pembrokeshire, Wales, where the Scottish duo experimented with communal living, ran around wearing Renaissance costumes, and mastered enough non-occidental string instruments to justify their towering moniker.
Introducing La Otracina’s “Beyond the Smoke,” from “Beyond the Smoke” Tour CD-R, Colour Sound RecordingsWednesday, August 19th, 2009
“Beyond the Smoke,” one of our favorite numbers from La Otracina’s live set, is simply too metal to be metal, and too prog to be prog. Our minds say caricature. Our bodies say apotheosis.
On August 8th at Lincoln Center, approximately 10,000 spectators rose spontaneously and inexplicably to their feet when the 200 guitarists and 16 bassists performing Rhys Chatham’s A Crimson Grail sucked them into a cosmic tornado of ascending tremolo scales. Notice the random acts of religious exultation beginning at 7’30.
Walk into any spot in New York City where guitar nerds tend to linger and you’re bound to hear someone talking about it: minimalist composer (and Visitation Rites astrologist) Rhys Chatham is back in New York for round two of last year’s rained-out performance of A Crimson Grail, and somebody you know–or somebody who knows someone you know–is probably rehearsing for it. Boasting the combined decibel power of 200 electric guitars, 15 basses, and a high hat player, Crimson‘s North American premiere presents a monumental orchestral slant on Chatham’s signature cross-fertilization of rock and experimental minimalism–dating back to an ear-opening encounter with the visceral punch of NYC punk in the late 1970s, and culminating in what many now identify as the world’s first incarnation of “noise music.”
SETH is a solo project by Excepter‘s John Fell Ryan, occasionally accompanied by partner/bandmate Lala Ryan, among others, on stage. Video artist Jon Williams informs us that the track title is a nod to Chistopher Lee’s 1959 horror film “The Mummy”, which makes an appearance in the video. See if you can find it!