Archive for December, 2011

Track Premiere: Prince Rama, “Golden Silence (Mater Suspiria Vision Remix)”

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Tonight is the night. In just a few short hours several of your more adventurous mortal cohorts will descend upon your living space for a seance that will lead into a paranormal, polysexual orgy. In addition to the living participants, you are hoping to summon up guests such as H.P. Lovecraft, Anne Boleyn, James Dean, or whoever else may feel like reaching across the realms for some inner and outer body fun. All of the pieces seem to be in place, when you suddenly realize you have no clue what music to play! It just so happens that this new Mater Suspiria Vision remix of Prince Rama beams in from the cyber realm right in time.

When I saw that Mater Suspiria Vision had done a remix of the anthemic “Golden Silence”, off of Prince Rama’s phenomenal Trust Now LP, I couldn’t help but think of how Spin’s Jessica Hopper once referred to the Larson sisters as “the real sound of witch house.” The track is dramatically stretched here, and given the real dark wave treatment. It comes complete with warbled, slowed down voices, moans of ecstasy, harsh phone rings, bird sounds, and an ominous pulse. If it weren’t for the mantric chorus, it might not be so easily connected with the original track. However, as deconstructed as this is, it still captures the spirit of focus and ritual that is associated with Prince Rama. Listen to it often enough, and you are bound to summon the sort of spirit that will haunt you from your head to your loins.

Prince Rama, “Golden Silence (Mater Suspiria Vision Remix)”

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Words: Samantha Cornwell

Sightings: Julia Holter, “Sea Called Me Home” Video

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011


Video directed by Jose Wolf

I sort of love this clip for Julia Holter‘s “Sea Called Me Home.” Perhaps an intricate, artistic statement exists between the short video and the simple, fuzzed-out ballad it represents, but that isn’t why I enjoy it so much. For me, it beautifully represents the way I feel when I listen to Holter’s music — grabbing me by the brain and sending me somewhere else entirely. Just like her character in this clip, you may find yourself staring out at nothing in particular with intense focus. Or, maybe you walk around aimlessly. Perhaps you find a bench and sit down, but then some jarring key, or swirl of haze snaps you back to your feet. The experience can be a bit intense sometimes, but “Sea Called Me Home” — along with its video accompaniment — is pretty, warm and calming.

Words: Marc Picciolo

This track can be found on Holter’s NNA Tapes release, Live Recordings. Order the cassette here.

Sighting: Lantern x Dirty Beaches “Going Out West (Tom Waits Cover)”

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011


Last Spring, friend bands Lantern and Dirty Beaches played at show together at Glasslands. Dirty Beaches has been cropping up on some of the more forward-thinking Best Ofs at the end of the year for Alex Zhang Hungtai dour 2011 breakthrough Badlands, and I covered Lantern’s recent 7” release a few months back right here on Visitation Rites. Fans of either may be surprised to hear the results. The entire thing is now up for free streaming on Bandcamp, and the concluding track “Going Out West,” a cover pulled from Tom Waits’ seminal 1992 album Bone Machine, gives a good idea of the spooked, yelping sound that Lantern and Dirty Beaches conjure together. Although the collaboration is decidedly singular in its focus (the lengthy, improvised introductory track notwithstanding), it’s an inspired melding of Lantern’s guttural garage-rock appeal and Dirty Beaches’ brittle, Suicide-aping, disfigured anthems.

Lantern x Dirty Beaches “Going Out West” (Tom Waits)

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Words: Max Burke

Sightings: Steve Kenney, Live Lex LP

Monday, December 19th, 2011

As a chronic ruminator, I hear Steve Kenney’s Live Lex as an aural translation of my most hopeless anxiety terrors. But while I’m psychologically doomed to spin myself into the ground, Kenney drags himself on through the sonic bile of his own creation — bile which seems to grow deeper and more viscous with each step. On this reissue of live documentation dating back to a 2006 performance in Lexington, KY, he can stand it for just under thirty minutes. However, within that half hour, Kenney’s craft never feels repetitive, and though his tools are few (Pro-One and RE-301), his music never feels limited by this. Instead, it takes a decidedly human turn as his sharp improvisational instincts are broadcast unmarred by an exhaustive effects chain.

Kenney’s purity of vision and persistence is admirable; it seems he has been consistently honing his skills within this medium for the better half of a decade (collaborations with friend Nate Young as Demons are of special note). If, on paper, a six-year-old live recording seems an unusual choice for a vinyl debut, it’s because in most cases it would be. But Live Lex’s reissue on vinyl is earned in that this is an uncompromising live document by an expert of his field. When the motor in his RE-301 struggles to keep up with a swift acceleration Kenney has just administered, the Space Echo doesn’t whimper, it screams. Let’s cross our fingers for another LP soon.

Steve Kenney, Side A excerpt

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Words: Sam Franklin

Live Lex was released this fall on Nostilevo in an edition of 149 copies and can be purchased from Mimaroglu or Fusetron.

Sightings: Arches, “Nowhere to Go”

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Philadelphia psych-rockers Arches impress again on their new EP, Enough. Just like Wide Awake— their release from earlier this year — Enough crams melancholy and swirling desperation into steady rhythms and crashing guitar lines. Closing track “Nowhere to Go” puts these traits on full display. A steady, unassuming drumbeat putters along while guitar and bass weave around heavily processed vocals. Underneath all the reverb and echo, “Nowhere to Go” seems to be a song about going back, presumably because there wasn’t any place to go in the first place. In that, it  recalls the last LP’s tales of a would-be drifter– of needing to escape, but being terrified of what to do once you’re free. This one forms  the perfect accompaniment to a late-night winter walk– cigarette in one hand, ipod in the other, and a mess in your head.

Arches, “Nowhere to Go” (Enough, Treetop Sorbet)

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Words: Marc Picciolo

Order Enough on cassette from Treetop Sorbet, or stream/download the EP from Bandcamp.

Sightings: Quicksails, “Walking Through Rain”

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Otherwise known as the drummer in the seriously awesome Chicago free jazz band Tiger Hatchery, Ben Billington goes deep on the less harsh side of noise as Quicksails.  “Walking Through Rain,” from the NNA-released A Fantasy In Seasons, goes beyond our initial sounds-of-the-rainforest association. In fact, I believe there to be some sort of “universal language” type of communication between the organic and the synthetic occurring here. Hard industrial bombastic drums machines signal the beginning of what could be a Dionysian affair between the more exotic animals of this planet and those existing beyond the astral plane—their voices a myriad of percussive sounds (both organic and inorganic), non-dance floor electronics, well-placed samples,and  gut-wrenching negative spaces. I’m not certain for which season this sort of fantasy-in-harmonium was intended, but I’m pretty sure I could get into this any time of year.

Quicksails: “Walking Through Rain”

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Words: Mary Katherine Youngblood

A Fantasy In Seasons is out now on NNA Tapes. Check it, and the other two of three 2011 Quicksails cassettes from Deception Island and Digitalis Limited

Sightings: Sean McCann & Matthew Sullivan, “Vanity Fair”

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Imagine that as the night begins to take hold, you set out on a journey.  It is a frigid evening, and you are very much alone, but you feel the urge to venture out.  Fresh snow is on the ground, and the blocks around your dwelling are desolate. At moments like these, you feel like you are the only living organism left on Earth. Your mind is almost entirely blank, but little hums, fidgets, and crackles invade your mental state. Is someone or something lurking, carefully placed out of view? Your imagination runs wild, but you simply press on. Inevitably, you find your way to the city center. As chimes go off, everything feels more urgent. The city zoo is a short walk away, and its animals make frantic cries in the night, as if to say “I’m alive!” Clouds of somber music vibrate through the walls of buildings, fighting their way towards your ears. This sudden frenzy of sounds momentarily brings you into the rhythm of your average city dweller. That rhythm, however, does not sustain itself. A bell rings, and your mind goes back to blank. This adventure will amount to a circuitous route back home. Foolishly, you believe that you forged this path on your own. Little did you know that Sean McCann and Matthew Sullivan (Earn) were your guides for its duration.

Sean McCann & Matthew Sullivan, “Vanity Fair”
Sean McCann & Matthew Sullivan – “Vanity Fair” by Recital

Words: Samantha Cornwell

“Vanity Fair” comes from a full length of the same title, which will be available on January 27, 2012 from Recital.

Sightings: Flower Man, “Inversion Fortuite”

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Flower Man is the moniker of Chris Bush, half of Caboladies, one of my favorite electronics duos working today. Until now, this guise has appeared strictly on limited cassettes and CD-Rs. His vinyl debut, Inversion Fortuite, is a four-part suite pressed onto one side of a 10” record. The extended piece vacillates between ominous soundtrack ambiance and buzzing, plaintive electronic recitatives. Like Caboladies best work, there is a compositional sophistication on display here that sets Flower Man apart from the avalanche of contemporary solo drone operators. Drone is a misnomer in itself: the music here is far more restless and engaging than that overused descriptor would have you believe.

Flower Man: “Inversion Fortuite”
Inversion Fortuite by Flower Man by Monofonus Press
Words: Max Burke

Inversion Fortuite is now available from Monofonus Press.

Sightings: Sam Mickens, “At The Mountains Of Madness/Ebb Tide (C. Spencer Yeh remix)”

Friday, December 9th, 2011

With no four-on-the-floor, no loops, no EQ sweeps, and little in the way of added effects, C Spencer Yeh‘s re-organization of Sam Mickens‘ “At The Mountains Of Madness/Ebb Tide” really has it all. Having obliterated any sort of song structure, Yeh presents us instead with naked configurations of truncated stems. He is auditioning his ideas, and the packed house so respectfully enraptured with the most tender moments of Mickens’ Billy-Mackenzie-goes-Flamingos original has been invited back to witness the workshopping.

At first, they applaud any recognizable shred of the song they fell in love with; quickly, they learn to keep their silence as Yeh expertly reduces the piece to a series of melodic vignettes. The result feels impulsive yet patient, and it’s the kind of beautiful re-imagining that deserves repeated listens on its own while also drawing attention to the thoughtful nuance of its source. What I heard as an audience may sound to you like the “ebb tide” of the title, or Yeh crumpling up his ideas and tossing them over his shoulder, or something else, and that’s a testament to the open-ended versatility of this track and Yeh’s masterful compositional chops.

Sam Mickens: “At the Mountains of Madness/Ebb Tide” (C Spencer Yeh remix)

Words: Sam Franklin

Sam Mickens’ Slay & Slake LP is out now on Shatter Your Leaves

Sightings: Raw Thrills, “Makin’ A Change”

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

As Raw Thrills and one-half of Greatest Hits— a “pop” band with experimental roots– Brooklyn’s Zak Mering makes pop music. On “Making A Change,” a track from his forthcoming Sick Steez LP, his vocals carry exaggerated tones over deliciously dulcet, almost-dance beats. An exceptional arrangement of candied percussion, deep-walking bass lines, and Fantasia keyboard melodies peaks up from low in the mix, making way for a turned-up, arena-style virtuoso guitar solo. Raw Thrills possesses the perfect amount of eccentricity, appealing to way-out ears without alienating the less preternaturally inclined.

Raw Thrills: “Makin’ A Change”

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Check out the Natalie Rodgers-directed video for “Both Ways,” from Raw Thrills’ Shakedown LP, released earlier this year on Sixteen Tambourines

Words: Mary Katherine Youngblood

Raw Thrills will be performing his first-ever-show Dec 10 at Tribeca Grand for the Ad Hoc, The Pop Manifesto and GUNK TV party. Free with RSVP to: events@grandlifenyc.com. Click here for more details.