I’ve always found the extras in David Lynch’s films to be his most memorable characters of all. You know, the ones who appear for only few seconds — or repeatedly over the course of a film — without any clear-cut narrative reason for being there: the cowboy slipping out of the party at the end of Mulholland Drive, the fireman waving hello to the camera in the opening sequence of Blue Velvet. Most of all, I am thinking of the middle-aged woman in the latter movie dancing Go-Go-style to Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” on top of a Cadillac, completely oblivious to the “main action” of the scene in which the Kyle McLaughlin is pounded to a pulp. (more…)
Scene 1, Off Air In which DJs Ivy Meadows and Visitation Rites arrive at the Newtown Radio studio ready to set up but are hypnotized by a 25-minute bongo-laden siren dirge — Dreamcolour’s “Spiritual Celebration” — at the tail end of Sunday Brunch with Chocolate Bobka. Unbeknownst to them, the song spills fifteen minutes into the beginning of their set.
Scene 2, Aside Meanwhile, Peter Pearson, Derek Muro, and Lorna Krier of Brooklyn’s Love Like Deloreans steal away from their home base — a renovated closet space in Bushwick containing some 20 synthesizers — load half of them into a Volvo station wagon, and appear at the station door, successfully breaking the spell that has been cast over Ivy Meadows and Visitation Rites.
Scene 1, On Air Still haunted by the specter of the siren from Act 1, Ivy Meadows and Visitation Rites attempt to communicate their experience by layering ambient musics from lands as far and wide as ‘70s Germany, early 21st Century Northampton, and present-day Canada into a single organic continuum.
Scene 2, Aside In which Love Like Deloreans set up all seven of the synthesizers they brought in the drowsy blink of a Sunday afternoon eye, causing Ivy Meadows and Visitation Rites to suspect that that they too possess supernatural powers. Love Like Deloreans do their best to assuage their fears, suggesting that they are simply “putting the punk back in punctuality.” Exeunt Chocolate Bobka.
Scene 1, On Air Love Like Deloreans perform the first half of their in-studio. Dancing, Ivy Meadows and Visitation Rites attempt to document the event through Blackberry photos, Tweets, and a FlipCam.
Scene 2, On Air Love Like Deloreans pause to participate in an informal Q&A with Visitation Rites, touching upon their origins as a group, their cohabitation of the classical world and Brooklyn DIY, their roots in New York minimalism and Kosmische, and why the best way to listen to their music is while traveling cross-country.
Scene 3, On Air, Love Like Deloreans perform the second half of their in-studio. Dancing resumes. Ivy Meadows films an excerpt of their set through the anamorphic lens of an oddly shaped water bottle, the results of which can be seen below.
I had been waiting a long time for the day when Brooklyn synth duo Blondes would hop on the Arthur Radio shuttle and send us bobbing our heads into far corners of the Milky Way; when they finally did make an appearance last Sunday, we were was there in heart but physically in another time zone. While DJ Harry Painter and I were prancing around in a freezing-cold sandbox in East Austin (Todd P’s SXSX headquarters), DJ Ivy Meadows was busy singlehandedly drawing a line of spiritual continuity between the electronic peripheries of ’70s krautrock and our generation’s very own New New Age. Sam Haar and Zachary Steinman of Blondes joined in with an unusually sprawling and downtempo set, reminding us that their music can take us just as far into the unknown if we undertake it sitting down.
In her image-dripping compte-rendu of the set, DJ Ivy Meadows recommends that you pause to read the following lines from the back of “The LYTE” — an early audiovisualizer from the 1980s — before clicking on “play.” Ivy Meadows says that they capture the way that this unusually retro-futuristic Arthur Radio transmission makes her feel. I couldn’t agree more, though after reading it a second time, I am tempted to say that it hits upon an even greater truth about music –and writing about music — in general.
“The written word cannot fully describe what the eye and ear can perceive. Tone by tone you see an exact, shimmering definition in light of what you hear. Exotic patterns are born, grow, contract and change shape through an infinity of dazzling complexity; each momentary image a precise electronic expression of the sound you hear…”
“Arthur Radio Transmission #10: The Blondes Episode”
Aaron Martin is a musician from Kansas who has released three previous solo full-lengths in addition to a number of collaborative efforts with Machinefabriek. On Worried About The Fire, Martin constructs an intimate sound world using a variety of instruments including harmonica, organ, and bowed banjo. Martin’s previous albums have been live-to-tape affairs, but Worried About The Fire utilizes editing and sound processing to great effect, enhancing Martin’s personal vision and vesting the record with a great sense of place and personality.
Not unlike its beautiful cover art, which depicts a frozen forest blanketed in snow, Worried About The Fire can be cold on the surface, leading the listener to believe they are headed for one of those formless and faceless abstract electronic workouts of which there are far too many examples these days. As the record unfolds like a perfectly constructed experimental film, however — dripping with atmosphere, never tedious — Martin quickly allays such fears; indeed, he originally conceived it as a soundtrack to a short movie. (more…)
I have to admit that my favorite way to see Big Troubles is inside a darkly lit interior with the sound turned up just shy of shattering your ear drums. That liminal space between discovering yourself at the foot of a wall of sound the size of Stonehedge (replete with a secondary racket of screaming overtones) and no longer being able to hear anything at all (simply because the whole thing is too damn LOUD) is one the band wears well — especially since they manage to combine this effect with songwriting that that would already be something to write home to mom about, amplified or not. When they performed “Slouch” at the Micro-Pixel-Rites SXSW backyard showcase last week, I managed to find an invisible fault line across the center of the lawn where the sound funneled in a straight shot out of the amplifiers and into my ears. Seeing them for the first time in the light of day definitely spritzed some Sun-In on the whole Big Troubles experience, though I have to say that the Elysian setting somehow made their music even more inexplicably melancholic. Sigh. (more…)
Set-up time at the 2010 Micro-Pixel-Rites showcase flew by in a whirlwind of flying ice chips and quarter inch cables, but I do remember the moment when Big Troubles bassist Luka Usmiani squinted up at me from the concrete doorstep he was sitting on and quietly asked if he could perform an impromptu opening set as No Demons Here, his solo project. Sadly, I was on a wild bicycle chase after a renegade neighborhood taco stand when the showcase began and Luka stepped up to the mic, but the extreme close-ups in this video by Samantha Cornwell almost make me feel like I was there. I have to say: hiding beneath his sandy-brown forelock and seemingly taciturn demeanor is a wellspring of grumbling emotion that would make even Calvin Johnson weep. Never did I think I would breathe the words “Luka” and “roller-coaster ride” in the same sentence, but I think that is precisely what makes this rendition of “Cradles II” so riveting. On second thought, I guess it was already spelled out for me in the name. (more…)
Like the supremely chill afternoon of live music and bbq that the Underwater Peoples hosted at a cattle ranch outside of Austin the day before, Micro–Pixel–Rites’ SXSW debut on Thursday, March 18 was a family affair — and not only because it united a host of musicians, label people, and “blogger types” who were already acquainted either online and off. Even if you rolled up to a sea of strange faces, the afternoon was so long and the summer camp vibe was so strong that you were pretty much bound to leave feeling like you had known everyone there since you braved your first canonball off the dock. I know we are adults now, but it was just that kind of day. (more…)
SXSW 2010 was as blissed-out an exercise in excess as an exercise in excess can be. All in all, the Visitation Rites mobile reporting team (videographer Samantha Cornwell and I) probably caught more sun, saw more live bands, walked more miles, ate more tacos, drank more beer, laughed more, bickered more, took more photos, tweeted more tweets, shot more video, and reunited with more old friends than in all of 2009 combined. After five consecutive days of non-stop partying and documenting, however, we couldn’t help feeling a bit crestfallen when we realized that SXSW wouldn’t last forever. (more…)
Remember when I told you that Thursday’s Micro-Pixel-Rites SXSW showcase was inspired by an obscuro musical collab between none other than Annie Lennox and Aretha? Well here, coming at you just two short days before our very own Austin frolic of beer, bands, and babes, is Micro-Pixel-Rites’ official video homage to sisters everywhere, past and present, doin’ it for themselves. And also our brothers, of course. (more…)
This past Friday I made my way Downtown to see the evening’s show at The Smell. I’ve been living in Los Angeles for just under a year, so I can’t claim to have any sort of personal connection to the changes that have occurred in that part of the city over the last few years. However, by all accounts the alley way off of Main St. that contains the entrance to The Smell has changed quite a bit. Just a few steps away from LA’s most well known DIY venue, in what was once a pretty typical stretch of Skid Row, men and women who are dressed to the nines line up to gain entrance to a trendy club called The Edison. This sort of juxtaposition is quite common these days in Downtown LA. (more…)