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Bill Orcutt, "Bill Orcutt"

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cover imageLike many, I picked up Bill Orcutt's self-released solo guitar debut (New Ways to Pay Old Debts) back in 2009 and was completely floored by its idiosyncratic primitivism.  There was nothing on earth quite like it, as it captured visionary art in its rawest, purist form: Orcutt was a virtuosic dervish violently attacking a four-string acoustic guitar, howling and moaning along when the mood struck him.  It sounded positively feral.  It also sounded like it was composed spontaneously and recorded into a boom box (it was even periodically disrupted by ringing phones and passing trucks).  In a perverse way, it was almost too perfect–I never got around to picking up any of Orcutt's follow-ups on Editions Mego because it seemed like there was nowhere to go from the demonic possession supernova of his first salvo.  As it turns out, I was wrong about that, as Orcutt has spent the ensuing years moving in a more melodic direction.  This latest release is a culmination of that evolution, as Orcutt picked up an electric guitar, headed to an actual studio, and recorded a suite of originals and standards.  If that sounds tame, it is not: Orcutt's biting and percussive renditions of chestnuts like "When You Wish Upon A Star" are every bit as explosive as I would want them to be, but the (slightly) stronger emphasis on melody goes a long way towards making Orcutt's vision a bit more conducive to repeat listening.

Last Updated on Monday, 19 June 2017 07:29

Ecstatic Music Band, "Approaching the Infinite"

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cover imageWhile this latest album from the 10 person collective may feature only three of its members (Ezra Buchla, John Krausbauer, and Agnes Szelag, recorded in 2012), that reduced personnel is hardly perceptible from the sound.  The subset trio create an unbroken noise squall of over 40 minutes that channels the best of truly minimalist compositions while at the same time it is reminiscent of the most chaotic (and therefore most amazing) of psych rock freakouts.

Last Updated on Sunday, 11 June 2017 18:48

Christian Meaas Svendsen, "Avin"

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cover imageSvendsen's most recent work has been either in the form of concept-heavy improvised jazz performances (as Nakama) or as solo excursions that feature him bending his double bass in any possible way to make sounds the inventor never intended.  Compared to that, Avin is a drastic departure.  What is so drastic is that, with a cadre of Norwegian virtuosos, he has created a significantly more intimate, singer-songwriter type record that maintains his edge for the bizarre and experimentation, which is superficially "normal" but hides much strangeness.

Last Updated on Sunday, 11 June 2017 18:50

Daniel Menche, "Sleeper"

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cover image Daniel Menche's latest work is a bit daunting on paper:  a three disc, three-plus hour work of 12 pieces, ranging between 10 and 25 minutes each.  However, this is not the Menche of old, who was an adherent to that old school noise blast mentality that was so heavily the focus in the early days of the noise scene.  Instead, there is rich variation and diversity on Sleeper, and the range of moods he creates is fitting the somnial implications of title, capturing the soundtrack to the most pleasant of dreams to the most terrifying of nightmares.

Last Updated on Sunday, 11 June 2017 18:45

The Inward Circles, "Scaleby"

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cover imageThis digital-only sister release to And Right Lines Limit and Close All Bodies is a suite of comparatively simple, warm, and straightforward drone pieces, which presumably explains why its companion warranted a physical release while Scaleby did not.  That lack of fanfare makes sense, as Right Lines Limit is a far more complex and ambitious work that expands the limits of Skelton's vision while this release is merely nine variations on a theme firmly within his comfort zone.  I happen to be quite fond of that comfort zone though, as these bleary, churning reveries play much more to Skelton's strengths than some of his more cosmic, universe-chewing excursions of late.  While the recurring Inward Circles' theme of obfuscation is still in full effect (there are no recognizable stringed instruments to be found), Scaleby nonetheless carves out its own lovely niche of languorously vaporous, dreamlike beauty beneath a patina of shifting crackle, grit, and hiss.

Last Updated on Saturday, 17 June 2017 14:49

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