Archive for May, 2012

Barn Owl Double Vision

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Over six months on from the last proper Barn Owl release, aftershocks from 2011’s drone monument Lost in the Glare are still reverberating. When I last spoke with the ever-prolific duo of Evan Caminiti and Jon Porras, they clarified that it was merely a coincidence that so many solo and side projects were being released at the same time. An auspicious release schedule is once again in the air this Spring, as both members are set to drop solo records within a few weeks of each other.

Jon Porras’ Black Mesa is out now on Thrill Jockey. The above video documents the performance of an unreleased live piece and gives a good indication of the material on the new record. Although fleshed out with additional instrumentation on record, the focus is on long-form structure, anchored by pronounced guitar parts. The album is not your typical tape-dump of noodly sketches that typifies the output of many small-run underground labels of late (the philosophy being, “If you press it on limited vinyl, they will pre-order it”). Rather, Black Mesa may be Porras’ most cohesive solo work to date, a brooding, late-night creeper of a record that succeeds by filtering the fundamentals of post-rock dynamics through Porras’ distinctive, blurred Nor-Cal guitar tone.

Caminiti fills out the more atmospheric end of the Barn Owl equation with this video for a song off his forthcoming Night Dust LP on Immune. Caminiti put the visuals together himself utilizing the now-ubiquitous YouTube found footage montage method. The result is an effective, understated visual accompaniment, with long-shots of the sun hanging in the sky over placid horizons to compliment the bottomless, droning haze of the tune. This isn’t confrontational, abrasive noise; instead, Caminiti unpacks layers of feedback into the infinite abyss, a shimmer of light floating above the murk.

Ad Hoc Co-Premiere: Ezra Buchla, “Black Rabbit”

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

One thing that has always stood out to me about Ezra Buchla‘s music is its timeless quality. So much of what bubbles to the surface from the contemporary underground (is there still an underground?) seems to be a fun house mirror reflection of our current mass culture, or the mass culture that was prominent when this generation of artists were coming of age. Although Buchla (who happens to be the son of Don) has some traces of grunge in his aesthetic, he seems happily removed from the tide of the current electronic subculture. If you’re lucky enough to catch one of his performances at LA DIY haunts such as Dem Passwords or Pehrspace, you will likely be struck by the quiet power of his meditative violin and his haunting voice, which are often employed in unison. He is a master performer, but not a bombastic showman. The mastery lies in his ability to pull the audience into his dream world through an atmosphere of feedback and echo, and the vulnerable, oratory nature of his voice. These elements are often looped a few times over, creating a textured sound space. “Black Rabbit”, the track posted below from his split 7″ with Whitman, is an excellent representation of the ambiance of his live sets. It builds from a murmur and a whisper, to a rich storm of electrified tones and schizophrenic chatter, slowly fading back into a more subdued state. Buchla might not be placeable in the musical trends adopted by his peers, but the emotional impact of his music places him in the non-temporal tradition of folkloric singers and song writers.

Words: Samantha Cornwell

Ezra Buchla, “Black Rabbit:
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The Ezra Buchla/Whitman split is available now from Folktale records

Ad Hoc Co-Premiere: Heavy Cream, “The Jam”

Friday, May 4th, 2012


In August 1974, sixteen year old Victrola James had started to feel a sudden malaise with the Sunset Strip scene.  Those nights at Rodney Bingenheimer’s English Disco, decked out in her latest glittery ensemble pressed against the lips of some vapid rocker boy no longer possessed that feeling of magic The music, however, still made her go wild, and she couldn’t help but lose it as Mick Ronson’s guitar tones vibrated across the dance floor. Timmy, her hippie brother, had given her an electric guitar as a birthday gift, hoping that her love for chasing rockers might transmute into a love for being one. However, the thing had been collecting dust for the last month in a remote corner of her bedroom. Blaze, a boy with a fake British accent, whom she had snogged on her last English Disco visit had promised her that if she came with him to the Whiskey A Go Go that evening, he would introduce her to Iggy Pop. He claimed that he and Pop had engaged in an affair that had taken place in the deepest chambers of their minds, and way out in the astral planes. Victrola didn’t know if this was true, but she did know that they were on the guest list, which was good enough. However, despite Blaze’s assurances, she didn’t see Iggy anywhere in the glamorous chaos of the club. As Blaze’s mouth ran with a myriad of excuses, a cloud of purple, glittery fog faded into the room, and surrounded the stage. In a flash of black lightening, a group of young rockers appeared on the stage. The three girls and the male bass player launched into a stirring ejaculation of Rock n’ Roll. It had everything that Victrola loved, from dagger sharp electric guitar tones, an urgent pace, and snotty, tough vocals, which in this case were delivered by a female singer who was only slightly older than herself. The musicians said very little, but from the rumbling of the crowd she was able to pick up that they were called Heavy Cream, and their song was called “The Jam”. Apparently they had been beamed here all the way from Nashville, TN in the year 2012, and their song had been produced by someone who called himself Ty Seagall. She didn’t know what any of that meant, but the sounds awoke a deep primal instinct within her that could not be controlled. A magical force catapulted her towards the foot of the stage, where her body erupted into convulsions. After a three minute sonic assault, the band faded into the purple myst, presumably returning to their own era. Kim Fowley, who had been lurking near the stage in the hopes of getting the group to sign their souls over to him, stormed off after this. Blaze suddenly emerged, announcing that he had at last located Iggy Pop. Victrola informed him that she no longer cared, and abruptly left. She had an electric guitar at home, and a meeting with Heavy Cream in the astral plane.

Words: Samantha Cornwell

Heavy Cream, “The Jam”

Heavy Cream’s self titles LP is coming soon on Infinity Cat Recordings

Sightings: Triad God, “I Never Told You”

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

I found my way to the Temple of the Triad God by way of Friendship Bracelet‘s Ian Paul Roger Nelson. Nelson, who is releasing TG’s album NXB on the UUU Tapes imprint, entranced me by declaring that he could only reveal limited information on the artist behind these sounds. His name apparently is Vinh Ngan, and he is half Vietnamese and half Chinese. Many of his tracks feature him speaking a combination of Cantonese, French, and Vietnamese over samples that draw in everything from Opera to R&B. “I Never Told You” is the one track that is mostly in English, and for that reason I feel conflicted about singling it out. However, its ability to be both uplifting and bittersweet make it stand on its own. Ngan is channeling the same mainstream pop sensibility that made Britney Spears’ Blackout both club friendly and refreshingly vulnerable. This is melancholia for the YouTube/Camera phone generation.

Triad God, “I Never Told You”

NXB is available for free download, via UUU Tapes