Monday, November 15, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
this shit is still blowing my mind.
I really like Oneohtrix Point Never...
and I think that there is a sweet label that they (games?) made.
I don't care if they are about to ride the epic wave of hipsters.
Rifts is a good start and there's movies too.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
We’ve Been Living Too Long:
Dead Meadow ◊◊◊ Of Ornament and Tar
Between the St Kilda Road open plan office space where I’m presently located, and the car snaking under the Hollywood sign downtown of L.A. in which Steve Kille of Dead Meadow inhabits at this same time, a line of fractured communication reaching wide around the world briefly opens. Although it can be mathematically traced through a particular equation of triangulated cell phone networks, geostationary satellites in low earth orbit, and cell-tower monuments of the information age anchored to the tops of buildings, our conversation may as well be taking place across generations, ageless steppes and, potentially, chimera. The fact is, due to either the ambient level of this call centre’s harshing plastic polyphony taking place around me, or, the speaker phone mic transmitting the motor sounds of the City of Angels from Mr. Kille’s auto, or, some cosmic intercontinental static, the conversation that ensues is only marginally above the level of communicability required for two vastly different realities to be able to exchange a few words. Henceforth our present interview becomes more like a middling attempt at snatching Kille’s words through the fuzz.
While Kille espouses the kind of cool liberal hedonism that is required of the sub-culture pop star, the reality of the Washington D.C. band’s relatively low flight under the mainstream radar has meant that Dead Meadow have remained a constant band of heads that has now seen out two decades. Forming in 1998, Jason Simon (gtrs/vox), Kille (bass), and Mark Laughlin (drums), the band tapped into the type of retro rock’n’roll that was to become all the this-is-it rage in the new millennium through the expansive passage of prog / jam riffage and analogue delays. Eventually, they found themselves standing in a field featuring a particular combination of stoner / sludge and post-spiritualised grooves that easily transcended the local blues-rock jam band scene present in most all Western facing cities the world over. Post hence their influence on these all-pervasive scenes can now be felt no doubt in many of these cities, not least Melbourne. From the still green Buried Feather and the more northern Laurels to the kind of groundswell Australian bands such as Wolfmother and now Tame Impala seem to be riding / have crashed in on owes no small part to the dedication of Dead Meadow and their chosen sound, one that now expects the release of their seventh studio album, not counting the live, Anton Newcombe produced Got Live If You Want It! (Committee To Keep Music Evil) from back in 2002.
The impressive back catalogue of albums: from the self-titled debut (originally released in 2000 on Tolotta) through to this years Three Kings (Xemu) – a concept album that sees the band adopt the blueprint laid down by Led Zeppelin in The Song Remains the Same, cutting live footage from the final show of 2008’s Old Growth (Matador) album tour with new studio recordings and over the top phantasy sequences – charts a kind of particular history of the history of winding rock’n’roll that few would dare to follow. All the time the band have spent wandering this swampy landscape can weigh pretty heavy and this is something they balance with an emphasis on the lighter side of their predicament. The kind of tongue in cheek approach represented in the outrageous sequences that complete Three Kings as an audio visual package akin to Spindrift’s 2008 spaghetti-western homage The Legend of Gods Gun helps to give a conscious awareness to the trappings of heavy-psych jams and is something that Kille seems keen to highlight: the band’s ability to drift easily between sincere driving riff-chunk dirges and ethereal ballads over into Spinal Tap inducing harmonic solo’s and somehow pull through without emerging in sequined spandex jumpsuits (they seem to have drawn the line at hooded cloaks). This particular direction is the fine balance that the band has been honing in on since it’s beginnings in Tolkein inspired imagery and Lovecraftian paranoia. As Kille explains ‘we take what we do seriously, but also we want to laugh sometimes too.’
When it comes back to the music, the general workout the band dedicates to the ride cymbal/s ensures a wash heavy form of psych-blues that can be enclosed within the antiquated heavy trinity of Blue Cheer, Black Sabbath and Red Zeppelin. The Grateful Dead are another name that I can check over the line as Kille states the intention of the band’s onstage noodling and amorphous and moving song clusters. However the contemporary intent to persist in past forms, left abandoned and out-moded by cutting edge advances and flash-like trend gives Dead Meadow the kind of Stoic romanticism that instantly identifies with the alternative wanderer experiencing the kind of vapid distaste for the current state of the world that often manifests itself in the brandless, op-shopping dilettantes looking for the un-adulterated potential of an escapist reality, even if it means leaving earth completely for a few minutes, or hours. However the focus on recording techniques aiming at the classic sounds of Abbey Road era Beatles is something that Kille sees as connecting Dead Meadow more with contemporary outfits like Belle and Sebastian rather than simple throwbacks to the ‘classic’ era, in that a careful approach to the sound ensures an engaging and often timeless impression of popular music’s trajectory. The use of vintage and analogue equipment in the studio (repeatedly an old farm in the American backcountry which makes me think of the picture of Neil Young and the Gators on the back of the Harvest LP) coupled with Kille’s production skills – he has helmed the production of three of Dead Meadow’s albums, including the ageless classic Feathers (Matador, 2005) – favour the warmth and space of fuzz and reverb that creates the kind of aural high that often leads to uninspired critics writing the band down as simply being lysergic and pyschedelic. While these may not be entirely unflattering terms, there is definitely more to Dead Meadow than just a hypercolour veneer, with subtle and hypnotic repetition and use of oscillating frequencies underneath carefully constructed melodies and complex rhythmic patterns, the bands records often find you listening deeper and closer with each repeat turn.
The fact that the band retains many of its earlier songs, often reinterpreting and reinserting them in various guises into later albums – somehow even the track ‘Everything’s Going On’ from 2001’s Howls from the Hills (Tolotta) found its way in Wolfmother’s path, becoming the song Pilgrim on their second album – gives the impression of a lazy confidence that can only come with the experience and reality of having to constantly tour songs that have still not become tired to the guys in the band themselves. When I bring this up with Kille the enthusiasm for the live set is easily measurable through the crackly connection, playing the songs live is something the band clearly lives for.
Dead Meadow’s impending Australian tour – the band’s second in as many years and the reason for this somewhat unfocussed interrogation – sees the return of original drummer Mark Laughlin, after the drummer who replaced him in 2002, Stephen McCarty departs under mysterious circumstances. While the band swelled to include a second guitarist in Corey Shane for Feathers, the return to its original line-up is something that Kille seems to remain positive about. For a band that often features heavily extended instrumental interludes / segues / wig-outs the change in line-up could have foreseeably thrown the band off-kilter. Not so, according to Kille, who believes the return of Laughlin was seamless in its revival of character building past experiences, “Mark and Jason and I got so used to some of the songs that when it came to playing them again with Mark it came back together in no time.” While band leader Jason Simon (apparently the nephew of The Wire creator David Simon) launches a solo LP this month on Tee Pee and has booked some smaller side shows to showcase this side of the music while in Australia, the prospect of seeing Dead Meadow, in all their middle earth glory at the Forum during the Melbourne Arts Festival is indeed a exasperating predicament to find oneself in in October 2010, the year of the golden tiger.
Giles Simon 14sept2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
WHO’S LEFT ALIVE? / EVE OF DESTRUCTION
If the streets of San Francisco could play today, maybe they would make a sound not unlike the Wooden Shjips. The primitive sounds of this musical experiment, led by bearded cult figure Ripley Johnson seems to have captured the soul of southern Californian counter-culture from the 60’s and rolled it up with the sounds of select garage and kosmische influences up to the turn of the century.
The music leaves you less with the expectation of groundbreaking pop and rather lifts the listener to transcend the trappings of musical hipsterdom, getting back to that instinct for rhythm and melody built into us all. The post-millennium apocalypse that never happened – well, almost in September 2001 – left the fading America with not much left to do but look back to old times for inspiration. This resulted in bands whose sounds were more indebted to previous generations than representations of their own. This musical escapism reached its zenith with Wooden Shjips who effortlessly capture the essence of rock’n’roll in their bone-shaking rhythm and trance inducing vocal melodies.
Talking by phone to Dusty Jermier, bass player and sometimes trumpeter for the dirge-hypnotic sounds of the San Francisco soul-collective, is not unlike a summary shake-down of the decade that will be remembered more for global conflict and social upheaval than united movement towards a collective experience of the future. Joining the band around 2005 after receiving a 10 inch record the then bandless Ripley was giving away, Dusty was drawn to the music. “I really liked that song Death’s Not Your Friend, I still do,” he explains, “What I liked about this band is that it was very primitive, I had to play one-note essentially for like ten minutes. And that is a challenge, in a way, that I like.” The three other members provide essential rhythm and drone to guide Ripleys soaring guitar lines and delayed vocals, “It’s very meditative, it’s trance inducing, especially if your playing with the drummer, whom I’ve known for a long time too, just playing together and locking together and just drifting away off into the ether is a really nice getaway.”
The name of the band may be more than a passing reference to the song of (almost) the same name composed by David Crosby and Stephen Stills (of Crosby, Stills and Nash fame), and Paul Kantner of the Jefferson Airplane. The apocalyptic climate of the times the song was composed in – the height of the Vietnam War – links its point of origin to the post nine-eleven America in which the band Wooden Shjips was born. Dusty neither confirms nor denies my theory over the bands name and quickly shifts attention to the idea around the bands inception. Ripley, the bands longest serving member and front-man originally conceived the band to be comprised solely of non-musicians although Dusty is quick to point out this may not be the right term exactly: “It’s sort of unfair to say about anyone that they are a non-musician. The original intention of the band was to have people with a fresh mind.” After the original line-up failed to surface onto the Bay Area live scene a change was needed in order to get the live band rolling. “I think what he found is non-musicians don’t really want to play music.” Dusty continues, “so it didn’t really hold together so well.” After evolving the line-up to include more steady members – non-musicians are non-musicians for a reason, just as musicians are musicians you see – Dusty, Nash (organ) and Omar (drums) rounded out the line-up, Nash being the only member to stick with Ripley through from the original project.
Now three LP’s in, the band seem only to be gathering speed as they continue to refine their sound both on and off the stage. The bands most recent album, last years Dos, marks the bands most consistent performance yet. The lead track Motorcycle wastes no time in setting out the bands intentions. An earlier single Dance, California is self explanatory. The Psychedelic / Trance / Garage genre label that the band boasts on its Myspace page are all that you need to know about the bands musical predispositions and Dusty explains further that for him personally it is more the smoky haze of American counter-culture that has continued to pique his interest in the transcendent potential of this particular lifestyle choice over mining obscure bands for ideas. “I’m not as aware of music culture as a person might have guessed. In my personal life I play music, read books and I’m a technician.”
If the band have contemporaries its more in the sense of community they feel playing with like-minded bands. Dusty recalls a show with The Oh Sees – who recently beat the Shjips to visit our long highways, touring late last year – at San Francisco’s Eagle Tavern as being a recent favourite. It’s a mid-sized club he compares to Thee Parkside, where Ripley has curated the ‘Frisco Freakout’ festival the past two years. Described as a psychedelic dance party it has featured bands such as Heavy Hills, Crystal Antlers, Greg Ashley and Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound as well as the Wooden Shjips themselves. Another festival the Wooden Shjips played at the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur is described by Dusty as “beautiful and dreamy”, with people on blankets “watching the stars through the tree tops” while Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, Gang Gang Dance, Dungen, Kurt Vile, Vietnam and Farmer Dave Scher played to the people on the lawn.
When asked about the ‘psych’ tag that seems to be applied to most everything musical these days he responds somewhat philosophically: “What is Psych? A lot of what I hear sounds like rock-n-roll to me.” He continues: “One of the most ‘psych’ bands I ever heard was called Down River here in San Francisco in 1996 or so.” Remembering their album ‘Horse Thieves Proxy’ he goes on to note “that was pretty great but not as mind altering as seeing them live.” He then checks himself, concluding “’Psych’ does not necessarily mean “mind altering”… I hope I’m always open to changing the way I see things.”
With local label Mistletone likening the band to Japanese rock-terrorist underground-noise heads Les Rallizes Denudes – a pretty exciting comparison – all we can hope for is that the levels on the mixers VU meters stay in the red while the band blasts away the cobwebs of the last forty years of rock’n’roll.
– Giles Simon
And at the National, do you want to dance?
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
These guys make some good music, and they are playing in Melbourne soon. They even sound better live, perhaps.
1 - Intro
2 - Long Was The Year
3 - Echo's Answer
4 - Where Youth And Laughter Go
There are some other Peel sessions around too, from Ha-Ha Sound / Pendulum era..
Friday, July 16, 2010
This is a great band from Melbourne who normally play really loud. (It's their thing.) On a particularly quiet evening in the north Zond allowed me to reach below the white noise.
Not too shabby.
I feel this boot may be of a higher representative mirror to their recorded material.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
This is from the Tote about one whole year ago. I had the gain up too high so it sounds pretty outrageous. But that is the way I like it. Around the time the swine flu pandemonium scare festival was in full humor.
For those of you who don't know, a brief: Gaslight Radio: Out Of The Wilderness : Mess+Noise
Although I do believe they remain in the wilderness perpetually. Hitch on the Leaves is a great album. I'll post that one day. Im sure they wont mind too much.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Here is a booted leg that I snapped when the local Teddie's blew the ditch Bats back across to NZ. The staff at the East held my parmigiana while I watched them play at the late-dinner unfriendly time of 8.30. Then I ate post. Only a snatch, as I ran out of space.
Later this 2010 I saw the Chills playing in Sydney at the OAF. On a more positive note for the flying nuns cool factor(y mark II), Martin Phillips et al. were decidedly uncool and therefore, totally cool. They were actually amazing, I did not record this show however.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 2010
While I went to the desert Sahara with my friend Lauren, I heard this and captured it. Just young folks jamming like you or I. I guess they are like Berber folk songs.
There is more of this to upload...
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Here is Somaloha! playing in the sound installation I made for a show that was on during the State of Design Festival 2009. It was called 'Ladies and Gentleman We Are Floating In Space' and was severely indebted to the work of Alvin Lucier. My friend Vijay wrote the MaxMSP code for me. Vijay is xenosine. Somaloha! consists of Duncan Eastey from Melbourne prog/sun-psychers The Sun Blindness and myself. The work essentially transformed a disused basement on Bourke St. in Melbourne into a big reverb tank / delay machine. It was fun while it lasted.
Also here is one audio cycle of the Opening.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
The Master Musicians of Jajouka,
Brian Jones Presents The Pipes of Pan At Jajouka
From 1968, these recordings captured by Jones and his cabal documents the Moroccan musicians status as hip influencers of the late sixties pop world continuing right through to the now (Lee Ronaldo who performed with them in 2003). Discovered by Brion Gysin and Paul Bowles in the fifties through Moroccan painter Mohamed Hamri, Gysin introduced Jones to the sounds in 1968 and the Musicians held sway at the beat hangout The One Thousand and One Nights in Tangier during the times. Recorded on two-track during the very dionysian festival for Pan, full of manic, panic inducing rituals, goat-sacrifice and intense, repetitive music, Jones took the recordings back to ol' blighty and duly fucked with them until they sounded pleasing to his warped reality (completing the project just before his death in '69). This album is apparently the first 'World' music record to be released. Good onya Jonesy.
Check it out. Here
For sweet Julianne