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Bill Orcutt, "Odds Against Tomorrow"

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cover imageBill Orcutt's career admittedly had quite an abrasive and chaotic start with Harry Pussy, but it has always been abundantly clear that he is one of the more idiosyncratic and explosive guitar stylists on the planet.  It was not until he started releasing solo albums, however, that I began to feel like he was some kind of outsider genius rather than a room-clearing noise maniac (though I imagine it was impossible to convey any emotion more subtle than "baseball bat to the face" with a human volcano like Adris Hoyos behind the drum kit).  In any case, Orcutt's late-career shift to more intimate, melodic material has been nothing short of a revelation and 2017’s self-titled studio album was the brilliant culmination of that evolution.  With this follow-up, Orcutt occasionally hits some similar highs, but Odds Against Tomorrow is more of an intriguing transitional album or lateral move than another instant classic, as he mostly dispenses with playing standards to focus on his own compositions and some very promising experiments with multi-tracking.

Last Updated on Sunday, 20 October 2019 15:02

David Berman, 1967-2019

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Our hearts go out to the friends and family of David Berman, a beloved cult figure who was one of the most brilliant and poetic lyricists of his generation.  He was best known as the sole constant member of Silver Jews, which he formed with Stephen Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich in the late ‘80s.  Though Malkmus and Nastanovich were soon drawn away by the demands of their other band Pavement, Berman kept the band going with a shifting array of like-minded collaborators (1996's The Natural Bridge with New Radiant Storm King is a personal favorite).  Throughout it all, Berman remained a deeply reluctant live performer with an open aversion to touring, though he occasionally did public readings of his writings.  Consequently, he surprised everyone by finally touring with Silver Jews in 2005 in support of Tanglewood Numbers.

Berman released one more album after that tour, then famously ended the band in 2009, vowing "to stop before we got bad" and planned to instead devote himself to undoing the influence of his lobbyist father ("I am the son of a demon come to make good the damage.").  Eventually, however, Berman was drawn back to music, unveiling a new project (Purple Mountains) that debuted on Drag City in July.  At the time of his death, the ensemble was poised to embark upon their inaugural US tour.

Many wonderful tributes have been written about Berman's life and work this week.  This is an especially fine one:

Last Updated on Sunday, 11 August 2019 10:46

Todd Anderson-Kunert, "Conjectures"

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cover image Compared to the first release I heard from Australian composer Todd Anderson-Kunert, Conjectures is a significantly different piece of work.  A Good Time to Go, from 2018, was an excellent tape of that drew from all different forms of abstract electronic sound art, from elements of rhythm and heavily processed sounds to more conventional synthesizer expanses.  For Conjectures, he takes a more reductive approach.  Using only the massive Moog System 55 modular synthesizer, the result is a very focused, yet dynamic work that showcases both the instrument and the artist.

Last Updated on Sunday, 20 October 2019 14:53

Mára, "Here Behold Your Own"

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cover image Following up the limited 2015 release of her solo debut Surfacing, Faith Coloccia’s (also of Mamiffer) latest work is in some ways a continuation of that, but also something new entirely.  With recordings dating back to 2015, Here Behold Your Own captures not only an artist, but a person in transition:  the material was recorded before and mixed after Coloccia gave birth to a son with her Mamiffer/SIGE partner Aaron Turner.  Like revisiting a photo album from many years past, she creates a perfectly somber, yet pleasurably nostalgic mood.

Last Updated on Sunday, 20 October 2019 14:49

Abul Mogard, "Kimberlin"

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cover imageThis has been an unusually eclectic and prolific year for Abul Mogard, as he has followed up his first ever remix album (And We Are Passing Through Silently) with his first ever soundtrack album in the form of Kimberlin.  On paper, the transition from Mogard’s usual fare into soundtrack territory makes a lot more intuitive sense than turning him loose on deconstructing Äisha Devi jams, but his innovation in bridging that stylistic gulf was a large part of why Passing was such an absolute left-field delight.  The pleasures of Kimberlin are arguably bit more modest by comparison, as it falls into more expected aesthetic terrain and feels more like an EP than a full-length (by Mogard standards, anyway).  In terms of quality, however, it does not fall at all short of his usual level of sublime mastery, culminating in a final slow-burning epic that can hold its own against any of his previous work.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 October 2019 06:57

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