Friday, December 28, 2007

Top Ten of 2007: Tusk - The Resisting Dreamer

Julie Christmas's side project Battle of Mice released one of my favorite records last year in the form of 'A Day of Nights'. blending the harsh, dissonant metal of bands like Isis and Neurosis with a one of a kind female vocal performance, it was a side of metal that i had really never heard before. basically most post-metal is distinctly monotone in the vocals. Isis' Aaron Turner may sound tortured, but he is basically like a guitar without any effects; he can be distorted or clean. Julie Christmas essentially put that idea to rest and let out one of the most terrifyingly, volatile vocal performances ever. imagine the squeaky voices of Bjork and Joanna Newsom thrown through the vocal linguistics of Diamanda Galas. Christmas lets you feel her pain on 'A Day of Nights' through her unabashed, charismatic, story telling and cries for plea. the guitar playing behind her on 'A Day of Nights' is unsurpassed in its simplicity. the rhythm section, a slow plodding monster that beautiful accents, Christmas' variety of howls. anyways, the point is nothing ever really sounds like 'A Day of Nights' and i wasn't expecting anything else to. it was one of a kind its pure emotion involved with a very metal performance. of course, this was all before i had heard Tusk's 'The Resisting Dreamer'.

battle of mice's 'a day of nights'
'The Resisting Dreamer' is a collaboration between former Breather Resist vocalist Evan Patterson and Kayo Dot front man Toby Driver with the back up of 3/4ths of Pelican playing behind them. where A Battle of Mice was very devoted in making a certain kind of atmosphere with 'A Day of Nights', Tusk seems holy been on forming a trinity between The Jesus Lizard, Pelican and Kayo Dot. i only say Kayo Dot, because of Toby's tortured vocals on track 2 which are interestingly enough very similar to Christmas' on 'A Day of Nights'. Tusk is totally noisy and epic all over 'The Resisting Dreamer' and the even manage to pull off a sixteen minute noise track without making it seem boring. these two bands are obviously pushing for a more interesting take on the long overdone post-metal. Battle of Mice with their strangely anthematic atmospheric metal, and Tusk with their forways into making post-metal less sterile and over produced and turning it into something raw, almost reverting back to a simpler more 'hardcore' time.

tusk's 'the resisting dreamer'
both of these records have had tremendous replays in my collection. excellent with any form of psycho-active and just all around heavy, stoned reflections on various perspectives of life. they both share a common line in their mix of very serious music with almost childish perspectives in terms of their vocals. Tusk is clearly one of the best records of the year with it's obtuse take on post-metal and if you have any interest in the versatility of metal, i suggest you take a look at both of these albums.

tusk's 'the resisting dream' (2007)
battle of mice's 'a day of nights' (2006)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Top Ten of 2007: Charles Mingus - Cornell 1964

the most beautiful thing to me about audio production is the broad varieties of rawness that appear on various records. if Spot of SST fame was involved in your debut 12" you'll know it simply because of how Spot used his complete lack of knowledge in the field to create some of the most simple and emotional releases ever. 'Cornell 1964' has some of the best produced jazz sounds i've ever heard. although that should come to no surprise what with the line up of Mingus, Dolphy and Byard. all brilliant performers in their respective ways and all in a variety of ways. while Mingus mostly dealt in realms of composed beauty (see his masterpieces: 'Blues and Roots' and 'The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady'), Dolphy was known for his intense devotion to the free form avant garde sound that he'd help basically patent (see Andrew Hill's 'Point of Departure' and Dolphy's own 'Out to Lunch'), Byard was sort of a meeting point between the two who turned in great work with Sam Rivers and Mingus himself.

charles mingus
perhaps, the most important factor of 'Cornell 1964' is the way it treads the line between the new and old of jazz at the time. surely Mingus and Dolphy's incredible interpretation of the song "Meditations" isn't something you'd hear any of Mingus' teachers play, but his devotion to honoring his elders is clearly seen in Fats Wellar's "Jitterbug Waltz". where Mingus embraces the more playful side of jazz with his takes on folk songs and old classics, in his own band's compositions there is an intense feeling of seriousness. "So Long, Eric" and the previously mentioned "Meditations" are all intensely intrinsic performances that define the players skills and also their ability to present emotion.

charles mingus sextet with eric dolphy - 'cornell 1964'
'Cornell 1964' is such a great release and to think that it has only been heard by the masses this year is mind blowing. clearly a definitive mark in Mingus and Dolphy's careers and in terms of jazz in my life it is just a great record that embraces the various kinds of jazz i love. very few times do i connect to a jazz album as personally as this one and the slight irish undertones in honor of St. Patrick's Day that are present give me even more of an interest in this record. one of my top ten releases of the year and for good reason.

charles mingus sextet - cornell 1964 (disc 1)
charles mingus sextet - cornell 1964 (disc 2)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

ghostface killah - ironman

i guess you could say that i enjoy a decent amount of bleakness in my music. from John Frusciante to Andrew Hill all of my favorite composers have been involved music that even at its most accessible still was stuck in a realm of darkness. i guess the definition of hip-hop completely goes against that whole mindset since hip-hop and rap are essentially an updated version of funk. still, i find myself relating to records across the board and dwelling in their menacing and almost sinister quality. El-P's "Fantastic Damage" comes to mind and interestingly enough the artist this post is based on collaborated with El-P on a track for a Prefuse 73. Ghostface Killah is certainly known for wearing a variety of masks, but as with all of his other clan members his best involves a certain producer and seven MCs. The Wu-Tang Clan is in my opinion the most flawless rap group to release a record and in many ways there members do little to disprove that fact with their classic solo records. perhaps the most ambiguous of these solo releases is Ghostface's own "Ironman". basically, the record is a mash up of the synth heavy choruses found on GZA's "Liquid Swords" and the mafia infused darkness of Raekwon's "Only Built 4 Cuban Linx".

dennis coles aka tony starks aka ghostface killah
"Wildflower" is obviously the moment of mastery on this record. a verbal slap to a past flame of Ghostface Killah's the song reminisces about previous encounters ranging from sipping yoo-hoo to breaking furniture while fucking. basically, this is emotional distraught Ghostface which is completely odd considering the years before this release all you had heard from the members of the Wu was essentially about how strong and bad ass they were. "Wildflower" is certainly not sensitive but in a way it is, at least on Ghostface's part. that some girl could effect the same person that has dropped lines like " don't laugh / bag the cash / grab the hash / don't forget his stash / grab the tear gas /and place it in his face fast " in the same way that every man has by a girl, made Ghostface human. is this the reason for Ghost's looming success as a solo artist and his solid credibility since the release of "Ironman"? i can't really say. what i do know is that a man that can express his sadness over losing a girl who he was "the first nigga that had you watchin flicks by DeNiro" in the same way as Ghost does on "Wildflower" must be sincere in a way few are.

ghostface killah's "ironman"
"Ironman" is in a sense Ghostface's coming out party. his love of soul, his intense metaphorical lyrical content, and his personal stories are all shown on this album as they would be on every one that flows it. but something is different on "Ironman". sure, you could blame it on RZA's traditional technique being basically all over it, but i think it is something more. after "Cuban Linx" Ghostface's conceptual edge seemed to be full exposed and so he may have unintentionally made the most "human" Wu-Tang album in attempt to have his debut be different from Raekwon's. where RZA and GZA are obviously poets in their delivery of their stories and beliefs, Ghostface is an every man talking about what every man wants. guns, pussy, and drugs. how can you not dig that?

ghostface killah - ironman (1996)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

infidel? / castro! - bioentropic damage fractal

there are very few records that introduce something new to me today. sure, i can discover a record like Ghostface Killah's "Ironman" that really is everything i've ever wanted in a rap album, but it is still a Wu-Tang production which is something i've obviously heard before. i'm sure Kayo Dot's new record will probably reorganize these thoughts just because all of their previous ones have done that but, how can i be sure of this? its sad to me that i can place most contemporary music into a box, so whenever i find a band that completely redefines my notion of what music it is i usual take notice. Time of Orchid's has been able to do that with their last two releases ("Sarcast While", and "Namesake Caution".) and Birchville Cat Motel did help revitalize my fetish in the genre of "noise" with their masterpiece "Beautiful Speck Triumph". but perhaps the only band to redefine my notion of what music can do after Kayo Dot is Colin Marstin's Infidel? / Castro! a dazzling blend of post-rock, electronica, and Calculating Infinity era Dillinger Escape Plan.

Colin J Marston

"Bioentropic Damage Fractal" is a vicious cycle of insanity and solace. beautiful tracks like "Bedridden" and "Temporarily Dissolving Into Plasma" placed in between the idm blast beats of "Bedsores (For GWB)" create a tense, schizophrenic journey of epic proportions. very few albums resonant like this album in an emotional sense, which is strange because most of their recordings are simply based on samples of noise and the steady layering of minimal electronic guitar playing. there is obviously very little of the cartoony tech metal of Marston's other head project, Behold... The Arctopus. in a recap "Bioentropic Damage Fractal" is simply just one of the most original and creative records ever made and its strong sense of crescendos and climaxes places it amongst the greats of this kind of music like Kayo Dot or Time of Orchids.

infidel? / castro!'s "bioentropic damage fractal"
"Bioentropic Damage Fractal" came to me in the midsts of a hard break up that left me not being able to sleep, etc. etc. this record was so beautiful that it basically gave me something to look forward to during work and other boring activities. obviously that is a very trite story, but this album just has the power to bring out statements like that. i remember one of the original things that pointed me towards it was a ten page analysis on the album on the website it was an excellent review and probably one of the most comprehensive ones i have ever read. obviously i can't recommend this record enough to those interested in the avant garde. highly recommended. a classic.

infidel? / castro! - bioentropic damage fractal - disc 1 (2005)

infidel? / castro! - bioentropic damage fractal - disc 2 (2005)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

navio forge - as we quietly burn a hole into

from the opening hi-hat rolls you can tell this album is going to be different. Navio Forge's "As We Quietly Burn a Hole Into" is probably emo's best kept secret. an incredibly personal and heavy record, few hardcore bands could say they replicate the kind of noisy fury that Navio Forge was prevalent in. contribute this to Aaron Arroyo's pounding bass lines, or Mike Kirsch's insistent background vocals and signature guitar playing. Navio Forge was important to me because they gave me the first record from the "early emo" scene that i truly fell in love with. every song on this record is an emo classic, but "Haloed Eyes" is the obvious highlight and we will discuss that later. another important fact about this is record is as i said before it has Mike Kirsch on it. as those in the hardcore scene know any project involving Kirsch whether it be the brutal aggression of John Henry West that is most similar to Navio or the spaced out, sample heavy Please Inform the Captain This is a Hijack! is going to be worth your time. well, in all honest Navio Forge is probably the best project associated with Kirsch even if it doesn't seem to be of his own creation.

"As We Quietly Burn a Hole Into" can essentially have its purpose explained by just the listening of its final track, "Haloed Eyes". an emotionally dynamic hardcore epic that completely personifies the entire genre as well as shows off an incredible vocal performances for Navio's vocalist, Sean Lynwood. the closing minute with Lynwood's unparalleled pleas of "cripple me" and "never move" are some of the most tense in the history of hardcore. in other words "Haloed Eyes" is the finest hardcore song, i've ever heard and while the rest of the record certainly doesn't achieve that same glory, it still surpasses most hardcore release released in the 14 years since "As We Quietly Burn a Hole Into" was first released.

navio forge's as we quietly born a hole into

Navio Forge can be considered a foot note in my own progression of emo, but that doesn't lessen its impact in times of emotional turmoil. this is a record for people that are not content. music like Navio Forge's was a key factor in helping to shape who i am today and for that i'll always consider it one of the finest emo releases ever.

navio forge - as we quietly born a hole into (1993)