Archive for April, 2010

The Sun Araw Zone: An Interview with Cameron Stallones

Friday, April 30th, 2010

I would describe the experience of doing an interview with Cameron Stallones of Sun Araw as both thrilling and nerve-racking. Thrilling in that you’re likely to end up with something really thought-provoking and surprising. Nerve-racking because considering how much care Stallones puts into his output, I knew that I really had to bring my A-game. After several hours of bleeding over questions, several spirited email exchanges, and much anticipation, I am at last able to present to you the interview you see here, along with the track “The Stakeout: Reprise” off of ON PATROL, Sun Araw’s latest album. I don’t know about you, but I think this song could be the soundtrack to the buddy cop movie that exists somewhere in my subconscious.

Samantha Cornwell: I know that you do all of your own album art work for Sun Araw, and seem to have a pretty clear vision of how you want your music to be represented visually. How do you feel this aesthetic unity effects the Sun Araw experience and sets it apart from other musical projects that you are familiar with? Have you applied a similar rigor to previous musical projects of your own?

Cameron Stallones: I want the zones to flow all the way through, start to finish, eyes to ears, brainpan to inner visions. That’s really powerful and important to me. I just can’t help but get stoked about the object-creation side of it anyhow, such a heavy scene! Not to mention the ability to physically realize for others the inner-zones that you’ve been dwelling in so long while recording. Thankfully, in most of the other bands I’ve been in, people have been down and had similar goals. In Magic Lantern the artwork is always a collab, but those dudes like getting down into it, making something really thorough. I guess those are complicated ways of saying I can be super picky, though. But a lot of the bands I idolize are those that were super singular in their aesthetic visions as well as their music. I just see it as preparing the way for the jams, folding them in love.

Sightings: Guilty Ghosts, “Grand Illusions”

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

I can speak from experience that if you make it habit of listening to every single MP3 that drops into your inbox, somehow the universe will always reward you with a little scuffed up gem like “Grand Illusion” by Guilty Ghosts. (Trust me, we try as hard as we can; if you don’t hear back from us about a track that you truly and honestly believe would be right up our alley, do not hesitate to give us a second poke). Each time I press play on this here email missive, I feel like I am being pulled straight into the delirious downward spiral in the opening credits of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, unable to resist the sinister end calling out to me from the mysterious smile of Carlotta Valdez. As though he were fundamentally oblivious to the laws of gravity, Brooklyn’s Tristan O’Donnell rests a heaving two-note monolith of melting guitar fudge atop the most paper-thin casio beat I have heard since I scored my first drum machine and tried to cover Le Tigre. No wonder the whole thing makes me feel like I’m plummeting downwards — and loving it every step of the way.

Guilty Ghosts, “Grand Illusions”

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The Market Hotel Project: Todd P Outlines Plans to Make Market Legit

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Following a mysterious cop raid two weeks ago and the announcement — earth-shattering for some — that Market Hotel would be closing its doors until further notice, some 60 Brooklynites gathered in the venue’s signature triangle-shaped ballroom this evening to discuss the future of the borough’s flagship DIY concert space. For those of you who have never been to Market Hotel, it was the kind of place where you would pack in along with 500 other people to see a band that in any other town might be lucky to draw 75. For those of you who do remember sweating straight through your clothes and chatting outside the bathroom with a tall boy of Coors’ banquet and an arm around a friend, you probably learned a few cool new things about Market if you attended.

The history of Market Hotel, for example, does not begin with the music venue Todd P founded with the So So Glos in February of 2008. In fact, the building was constructed in the mid-1870s, when it housed the offices of a local bank (remember all those boarded-up windows along the sides? Those were designed to keep the whole place flooded with light, pre-electricity style). Among other historical nuggets, it is also rumored that the ballroom was used as one of the location’s in the classic ’80s film Ghost (specifically, as the fleabag abode of the “bad” ghost in said film), though I think I am going to have to go back and watch it again before I can vouch for that 100%.

Sightings: Pure Ecstasy’s “Alexandria,” live at the Tortilla Factory in Bushwick

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Pure Ecstasy – “Alexandria” from Elise Oh on Vimeo.

Back in Art History 101, I remember being slightly distressed when my professor pulled up a slide of Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Teresa in the Santa Maria della Vittoria and I detected a strange twist of agony in the figure’s marble expression. According to my textbook, the statue is a representation of a 16th century Italian nun who experienced a combination of spiritual epiphany and bodily pleasure when she was visited by an angel and stabbed in the heart with a long golden rod. The French postmodernists like to read it it as a cloaked allusion to the female orgasm, which it may very well be, but I am unable to get past the fact that Saint Teresa doesn’t really look all that ecstatic at all. In fact, to judge from the nun’s own journals, I think it is fair to say that she was unable to experience all that ecstasy without simultaneously experiencing an equal amount of pain — or, perhaps, that the two are actually one and the same thing.

The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it.

So what does Saint Teresa have to do with Pure Ecstasy playing a set at a Tortilla Factory in Bushwick? Not all that much; though I think you will find, in this glorious video by PIXELHORSE, something lurking beneath all those those blazy afternoon bliss vibes resembling ecstasy’s oh so bittersweet underside. And it’s not just the way Nate Grace’s face contorts when he sings, the scorched caresses of guitar, the debilitating throbs of bass; it’s the way Pure Ecstasy’s songs make us feel. Bypassing all the art historical jargon and cutting straight to the meat, “Alexandria” just hurts so damn good.



Monday, April 26th, 2010

Departing from the premise that the Internet’s greatest strength lies in its power to foster dialogue, and that two distinct entities can join hands in solidarity while still remaining fundamentally themselves, Visitation Rites has teamed with Underwater Peoples Records for a weekly web radio series on Newtown Radio in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Like Underwater Peoples, Visitation Rites, and the third and larger entity we create when we band together, the umbrella concept of “Underwater Visitations” breaks down into three detachable units: an hour of DJing by the UPs, and hour of DJing by VR, and an intermediary hour of cross-fertilization reserved for in-studio performances, interviews, news updates, conversation, and more.

Have no fear: we are not looking to start a micro-corporation, or eradicate the distinction between a record label and a blog. If it seems like we are crossing some invisible ethical line, channeling some stinky disorderly conduct on the superhighway of information, then that is kind of what we are trying to get at. The music industry of the information age is positively overflowing with crossed lines, economic question marks, and uncertain journalistic values, and that is precisely why we need to get together and powwow. The subtitle of Underwater Visitations, therefore, is “The Music of the 21st century, and the 21st century in Music”; keep in mind, however, that it could just as easily be “technology in music,” “the recession in music,” “music writing in the blogger era,” or “the changing face of DIY.” Expect panel discussions, chat-ins, Chat Roulette escapades, and flat-out arguments.

For our inaugural episode, we were joined by pastiche voyager and seasoned train-hopper Run DMT, who rolled up at the station with nothing but an acoustic guitar and a dream. DMT, who informed me that he “used to be a bard,” kicked off his set with a phone call to his mother, then launched into a cover of “Angie” by the Rolling Stones, a musical interpretation of a live journal, and a song he used to play while begging for money outside of a Whole Foods. Stream the entire episode below, or download it here.

Stay tuned for our second episode next Thursday 4-7 EST, with a live in-studio by Ducktails and an extra-special all-tropical DJ set by Brooklyn’s own Bryce Hackford.

“Underwater Visitations Episode #1: Run DMT Plays Acoustic Set, Calls Mom”

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Playlist after the jump.

Unofficial Backyard Memories, Installments #7 & #8: Pill Wonder and Campfires

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

To conclude this year’s coverage of the Micro-Pixel-Rites showcase at SXSW, which only lasted one day but has somehow filled up over a month of retrospective blog time, I thought I would point out that Rangers was not the only one-man recording project that had mysteriously blossomed into a full rock band by the time they touched down in Austin. After reading Sawyer Carter Jacobs’ most lavish and writerly description of the new Pill Wonder record on the Underwater Peoples blog, I half expected main-man William Murder/Murdoch to climb up on stage and pound away on a toy drum kit, mac n’ cheese boxes, and a triangle for half an hour. Instead, he rolled up with an live instrumental powerhouse consisting of two drummers, a bassist, a lead guitar player, and a multi-tasking, bespectacled fellow “on” two laptops and a synth.

The signature vocal merry-go-round that we hear on the album version of “Wishing Wonder” was lost slightly beyond earshot, but this rendition made pretty much everybody in attendance as giddy as six-year-old on Christmas morning. When you catch a band for the first time and every third person in the audience seems turning to his neighbor and breathing an awestruck, “Who are they?,” it’s hard not to feel a little shiver here and there. With Pill Wonder, that shiver felt collective.

Pill Wonder from Samantha Cornwell on Vimeo.

Capping off the evening as the sun set over the city, Jeff Walls Campfires project — here, reincarnated as a traditional four-piece — rocked us out of our cumulative ultra violet stupor with a few high-energy song bytes — not dissimilar to the compact musical “short stories” he channels on recent cassette Burning Rivers, TV Flickers, Drifting Off to Bed (Leftist Nautical Antiques), but suddenly more vivid and three-dimensional, as though those stories had died and come back to life.

Campfires from Samantha Cornwell on Vimeo.


Unofficial Backyard Memories, Installment #6: Coasting, “Same Old Same Old”

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

Coasting from Samantha Cornwell on Vimeo.

These days, I’m starting to come around to the view that it takes a lot more talent to write a simple melody than a complicated one. Building epic pop songs out of simple combinations of notes — and still managing to make those tried and true intervals sound fresh — is something I’ve found the Brooklyn duo Coasting to be particularly good at. “Same Old Same Old,” a number they played at the Micro-Pixel-Rites showcase this year, is one exhilarating joyride of a case in point. Though perhaps the magic lies in the energy and inflection.

Visitation Rites Webatorial Summer Internship

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

Hey dudes and dudettes. Visitation Rites is currently seeking a summer webatorial intern to work out of our North American HQ in “sunny” Williamsburg, Brooklyn. For someone who is interested in learning how to build a music blog from the ground up, this should be about as hands-on an internship as you can get. We are looking for a happy camper who knows and cares about at least 50% of the artists featured on this blog, who believes that music will save our souls, and who is able and willing to help out in one or more of the following areas: writing and copyediting for the web, video, photography, web radio, and “curating” shows.

If you are interested, please drop us a line with a little bit about yourself and some samples of your work, whatever the medium. We are looking for a time commitment of at least 2-3 half-days a week. In exchange for your labors, we can provide you with coffee and snacks, concert tickets, demos, college cred (if applicable), oodles of crazy experiences to write home about, and most importantly — a killer time.

Email visitationrites [at] gmail [com], with subject, “Webatorial Summer Internship.”

Sightings: Laurel Halo, “Metal Confection”

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

I kind of wish that I were not sitting alone in my cramped North Brooklyn apartment right now, because it would nice to have somebody here to pat me on the back and tell me that I not crazy. I have been listening to “Metal Confection” by a woman by the name of Laurel Halo pretty much non-stop since I discovered it in my inbox this evening, and each time I listen to it it sounds like an entirely different song. The synesthetic images (or pseudo ones, I guess) remain the same each time, but they occur in a different order. In the most memorable sequence, the one that I am best able to tie into a concrete narrative, we start with the preternaturally sexy splay of Kate Bush’s hair on the cover of Hounds of Love and zoom in through a giant Hubble kaleidoscope, filled with glass emeralds and plastic rubies the size of plums.

Focusing on the small spirals of mane rotating slowly through a pool of pink water, we watch them bloom outward into the baroque water gardens in Kenneth Anger’s Eaux D’Artifice, then outward still more into a satellite photo of smog spiraling around the earth. Finally, at maximum close-up, we behold a cathedral of stars. The well-oiled techno-utopia Halo channels with nothing but her voice and a few programmed arpeggios is that sweeping and macrocosmic, but it is full of small microcosms — sparkles, muted explosions — too. Watch out, Ms. Bush; if I were you, I would smear on an entire tube of lipstick and get ready to contend with my own 21st century avatar.

Laurel Halo, “Metal Confection”

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Unofficial Backyard Memories, Installment #5: Alex Bleeker and the Freaks

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Alex Bleeker and the Freaks- “Getting By”- Live- Micro-Pixel-Rites BBQ- SXSW- Austin, TX- March 18, 2010 from Samantha Cornwell on Vimeo.

Seeing Alex Bleeker and the Freaks live is kind of like opening a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get — but at the same time, you kind of do. For one, you can count on them channeling something as perfectly all-American as Forest Gumps’s metaphor; but the group of people doing all the channeling changes every time. When Bleeker rolled up the Micro-Pixel-Rites showcase with the other three members of Real Estate in tow, we were delighted to experience an unusually rhythm-centric incarnation of his revolving casts of Freaks: Martin Courtney riding a deft and bouncy bass line, Matt Mondanile behind the drum kit, and Etienne Duguay pattering away free-style on a pair of stand-up bongos. Visually, they struck a striking silhouette; musically, however, they sounded as humble and quietly hopeful as driving away from what might have been heartbreak, looking up at night sky, breathing in the ice-cold desert air, and thanking the universe that you are just “getting by.”

Video: Samantha Cornwell
Words: Emilie Friedlander