Load has dropped a warm totem pole of new guh, most notably the fourth release by Kites called Hallucination Guillotine/Final Worship. Kites is the solo sound art project of Providence, RI’s Chris Forgues and it’s always a curiosity where this cat is gonna land. His last record Peace Trials had him delivering weird and exciting song-based ideas but this one has him not so much returning to noise form as refining it in a more succinct, minimalist way. The musicality of harshness is achieved in an impressive and contemporary style. Kites is almost considered old school these days in the hyperventilating world of noise but this is some new juice.
Chris also has a new art book issued by Picturebox called Powr Mastrs which is the beginning of a ten-part journey through the mystic world of a psycho-warrior tribe. If you can dig the exquisite graphic vibe to his record covers then you definitely need to score this.
Another new one on Load is At All Ends by the West Coast duo Yellow Swans. It’s their most thought-harmonic release we’ve heard yet and we’ve heard quite a bit from these drone squall pups. Awesome sweet chug with considerable cooze flow.
Yellow Swans had an early autumn tour in the USA with Brooklyn’s magnificent Mouthus. Mouthus we continually rave about and their fistful of self-released CDs have been always welcome whippets of dense blacked-out snort tone but we were fully unprepared for the royal roar of their new Load load Saw A Halo. The heaviest of rock-mind meltdown engorged by buckets of brain fry amp smoke and experimental percussion in its most NOW of sound states. Proves Mouthus to be at the forefront of what we hoped and desired from a post-Dead C factory of art/magic. Fucking sweet.
The amazing slamming sweatpig sensuality of Ohio’s Sword Heaven is in full flesh-thumping effect on their Load LP Entrance. The duo of Aaron Hibbs and Mark Van Fleet is one of the most crucially hardcore bizarre performance ritual acts since post-early Swans intensity. Finally a record is out which captures their brutal meat. In excellent b+w gatefold sleeve.
“Television is great. The wind blows across a screen in Nevada, Utah. That’s great, greater than Utah…” – an excerpt from a collaboration between New York poet Ron Padgett with Larry Fagin and Bill Berkson, two contemporaries of Padgett’s and all three from a long history of late 20th-century St. Mark’s Poetry Project and beyond poetics. Continue reading →
C & D Two guys who will remain pseudonymous reason together about new music “product”
Originally published in Arthur No. 27 (Dec 2007)
DAN DEACON & JIMMY JOE ROCHE Ultimate Reality dvd (Carpark) C: State-of-the-art psychedelic film with music composed by electro-dance party joker Dan Deacon and visuals by Jimmy Joe Roche, two guys from Baltimore’s Wham City operation. It’s constructed from clips from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career—Conan the Barbarian, Terminator, Total Recall, Kindergarten Cop, Predator, Junior—collaged and layered and doubled together into something altogether overwhelming at 35 minutes in length. D: This is Arnold’s mind on drugs. Arnoldelic, baby! C: Absolutely gorgeous, seriously funny, weirdly poignant and possibly seizure-inducing. This is a landmark work. It’s the first time someone has taken the stuff those Fort Thunder and PaperRad dudes were (or are) doing—bright color-saturated, warped psychedelia incorporating pop iconography—and thrust it forward into a new realm of…of…beauty, really. Watching this right now is for me like seeing “Wonder Showzen” for the first time, or Chris Morris’s “Blue Jam”: a breakthrough on many levels, by somebody pretty much out of nowhere. D: [reading from Arthur Magazine office rolodex] Or Baltimore… C: [mischievously] Hand me that. Let’s make a phone call. [Dials on red phone…] Hello? [In Howard Cosell voice] Yes, this is Arthur magazine. We are seated here drinking kratom-powered smoothies having just watched “Ultimate Reality,” and we had a few questions for the filmmakers. [turns speaker phone on] So, Jimmy, what exactly is Wham City and you guys must know the Fort Thunder guys, right? JIMMY JOE ROCHE: Wham City—the space—was a dingy, insane warehouse, then another one. Me and Dan and Dina and Adam and some other kids lived together at SUNY Purchase, all graduated in 2004, and we had this sort of unfigured-out energy. We knew we wanted something, we had a vision undulating out of control, and those guys wanted to move to Baltimore, because it’s cheap as hell. It seemed like it was a potential void where someone could come in and do art, totally fresh.
Variety Arthur Nights (Palace Theater; 1,967 capacity; $24, one night; $80, four night pass) Presented by Spaceland and Arthur Magazine.
Performers: Devendra Banhart, Bert Jansch, Espers, Buffalo Killers, Jackie Beat, Axolotl, Grouper, Yellow Swans, Belong, Numero Uno DJs. Reviewed Oct. 19, 2006. Also (with different line ups) Oct 20-22.
By STEVEN MIRKIN You have to hand it to the publishers of Arthur Magazine. The (more or less) monthly [solidly bimonthly, actually-Ed.] is not only one of the most interesting reads out there — a consistently surprising mix of truly underground music, politics and art — but in a little over a year (with an assist from local club Spaceland) they’ve become a force on the Los Angeles concert scene, staging three multi-stage festivals that impress with their almost impossibly broad and well-chosen line-ups.
Arthur Nights is their latest offering, and the four-day event (held on two stages in the somewhat decrepit grandeur of downtown’s Palace Theater) once again covers a wildly eclectic range of music, with Thursday’s opening night line-up focusing on the “freak folk” movement the magazine has championed. As Noah Georgeson, producer and guitarist for headliner Devendra Banhart told the young and rapt aud, “We’re seriously laid back.” The evening’s three most intriguing main stage acts — Philadelphia psychedelic folkies Espers, guitar legend Bert Jansch and Banhart — rarely raised their voices or pushed the tempo, but each managed to make a distinct and satisfying impression.
With Meg Baird and Helena Espvall’s wispy, ethereal harmonies, Espers often has an eerie, otherworldly beauty. Their songs (from their most recent album “II” on Drag City) build slowly, almost imperceptibly, turning freer and more psychedelic as they go on; stretched out, they reach for a raga-like transcendence. At other times, when Greg Weeks adds his voice and plays the recorder, the songs sound like a stranger Jefferson Airplane crossed with touches of Fairport Convention and the Stooges.
They were followed by Jansch, who played the most satisfying set of the evening. His captivating mix of traditional folk and modern styles hasn’t changed much — the songs on his latest, “Black Swan” (Drag City) sound timeless. His playing looks almost effortless, but lattice-like interplay between his finger-picking and the movement of his left hand on the fret-board creates a cascade of notes is so sweeping, the counterpoint of melody and accompaniment so intricate, it’s hard to believe that the sounds are coming from one man.
Jansch was warmly received — members of the aud even whooped and applauded when he changed tunings on this guitar. A good deal of the credit for Jansch’s revival can be laid at the feet of Banhart. Jansch repaid the compliment and joined Banhart for two songs during the latter’s set, and “My Pocket’s Empty” had a focus and energy that was missing from most of the headliner’s set.
Banhart is an intriguing figure: with his long hair and beard he could have stepped from a late ’60s Laurel Canyon photo, and the early portion of the show, with three guitars and four-part harmonies, didn’t stray too far from folk cliches. But his music has a much broader reach, although the often feckless presentation blunts his ambition.
With his quivery, high-pitched vocals and Georgeson’s squirrelly guitar, the music often feels like a less jazzy version of Tim Buckley’s “Happy/Sad” (or, in the case of “Heard Somebody Say,” John Lennon’s “Oh My Love”), with Banhart presenting himself as a shamanistic seducer. In “At the Hop,” he wants his lover to “pack me your suitcase/cook me in your breakfast/light me with your candle/wrap me with your bones.”
The latter part of the set, when he stands up and straps on an electric guitar, starts to move further afield, as the music takes on touches of reggae, rock and, in a cover of Caetano Veloso’s “Lost in the Paradise,” bossa nova. But the entire set feels too meandering and laden with ideas that are too coy for their own good, including bringing up a member of the aud onstage to perform and an impromptu imitation of Al Jolson.
As might be expected from an Arthur evening, there were other styles of music to explore. Buffalo Killers opened the main stage perfs with a set of well worn, if well-played sludgy blues rock; an update of ’70s dinosaurs Mountain or Cactus. But they could surprise with a cover of Neil Young’s “Homegrown.” In the upstairs loft (accessible by an ancient manually operated elevator or a twisty staircase right out of a ’40s film noir mystery) Axolotl played an intriguing mix of tribal sounds with treated guitars and Grouper — a man [Actually, Grouper is a woman-Ed.], a guitar and a fuzz box — initially sounded like a noisy blare but his layers of feedback slowly built to something quiescently lovely.
“Soporific, glazed” (sez ‘The Wire’) Texas psych, part of the Imaginational Anthem tour
10:50 MAIN HALL
TAV FALCO & THE UNAPPROACHABLE PANTHER BURNS
Charlie Feathers, Alex Chilton, Rural Burnside and more…The truly legendary ‘Dorian Gray of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ from Memphis–admired by rock n roll luminaries like Spiritualized’s Jason Pierce, The Cramps and The Black Keys–in his first L.A. appearance in a decade!
Japanese doom/rock/blissout superpower trio in performance ahead of the Halloween release of their devastating new album-length collaboration with dronekings Sunn0)))
Saturday October 21
4:00-on FOURTH FLOOR
SCHOOLHOUSE DROP-INS: “Visit the geodesic tent as the 9 Sundown Schoolhouse residents present projects to partake in, forums for engagement, acts of interaction, thoughts for collective inquiry and general happenings.”
Stomping West Coast high-energy rock attack unit who blew us away at loast year’s ArthurFest.
5:10 MAIN HALL
galactic dance-dub heroism from local ensemble
5:30 FIFTH FLOOR
mercurial, provocative, prolific folk-rock dude in a solo turn
6:10 MAIN HALL
righteous word jazz elders
6:25 FIFTH FLOOR
noize proj from Comets on Fire’s echoplexist/drummer Noel Von Harmonson and guitarist Ben Chasny
7:10 MAIN HALL
always imaginative keyboardist/music man–best known for co-writing work with Beastie Boys
7:10 FIFTH FLOOR
MIA DOI TODD
L.A. singer/instrumentalist on guitar, vocals and harmonium
8:05 FIFTH FLOOR
Folk singer-songwriter, a real child of the ‘60s canyon scene, introduced at Big Sur Folk Festival in 1967 by Joni Mitchell –She wrote “Windy” and so much more–now returning to live performance at age 62!–she lived the ’60s and she remembers it
8:10 MAIN HALL
SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE
apocalyptic free-mind guitar & voice from Ben Chasny
8:55 FIFTH FLOOR
MICHAEL HURLEY & JOSEPHINE FOSTER
Hurley is a legendary mellow bard with a hint of wry
Josephine – you gotta hear this woman sing! “She’s a genius” – Joanna Newsom
9:10 MAIN HALL
long-awaited return of Mira Bilotte’s NYC-based unclassifiable folk band, new album out next month; this perf will feature Dirty Three drummer Jim White!
10:10 MAIN HALL
return of Bay Area metal trance/mind expander duo who laid peacewaste at this spring’s ArthurBall
11-piece Arkestra still going deep, now led by the great Marshall Allen
~12:30am MAIN HALL
NUMERO GROUP DANCE PARTY
“Misplaced soul/funk hits” dance party DJed by the 20th-century pop archaelogists of THE NUMERO GROUP label from Chicago… They’ll be spinning throughout the day, with special sets before and following the Sun Ra Arkestra….
Sunday, Oct 22
4:40pm in the Main Hall
John Szymanski, David Shettler and Marty Morris –rawk n roll from Deeetroit on the Alive label
5:30pm on the Fifth Floor
local cosmic California country rock
5:30pm in the Main Hall
THE NICE BOYS
grade-AAA glam rock from Birdman recording artists
6:15pm on the Fifth Floor
THE COLOSSAL YES
Comets on Fire’s Utrillo’s brilliant piano pop proj
6:20pm in the Main Hall
THE SHARP EASE
Paloma Parfrey-led liberation rockers featured in current issue of Arthur
7:05pm on the Fifth Floor
CHUCK DUKOWSKI SEXTET
L.A.’s own… featuring Ms. Lora Norton – Vocals, Mr. Chuck Dukowski – Bass (Black Flag), Mr. Lynn Johnston on Horns, Mr. Milo Gonzalez – Guitar, Mr. Tony Tornay – Drums (Fatso Jetson)
7:10pm in the Main Hall
ARCHIE BRONSON OUTFIT
sharply shaped rock music from new English four-piece
7:55pm on the Fifth Floor
all-female experimental/noise combo
8:05pm in the Main Hall
extremely rare solo set from the TV on the Radio singer-guitarist–he’s flying in from the Darfur benefit show in Philadelphia
8:55pm on the Fifth Floor
solo electric guitar hotwork set from prog-metal-avant maestro Mick Barr
9:15pm in the Main Hall
THE FIERY FURNACES
justly acclaimed thrill-a-minute brother-and-sister-led clever combo, gifted with pop sense, improvisational chops and conceptual ambition
10:45pm in the Main Hall
COMETS ON FIRE
Quite possibly Earth’s greatest living rock ‘n’ roll band–see present issue of Arthur for more details