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Eli Keszler, "Last Signs of Speed"

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cover imageEli Keszler's Cold Pin was easily one of most remarkable and inventive albums of 2011, but he has largely been working under my radar ever since, steadily releasing a flow of live recordings and small-edition vinyl-only collaborations.  Consequently, I was delighted to discover that he was finally ready to unleash another solo opus.  Last Signs of Speed, the inaugural release from Berlin's Empty Editions, is inherently a bit less radical than Cold Pin, as it is sadly not built from a motorized string installation.  It may as well have been built from a motorized percussion installation though, as Keszler's hyper-kinetic free-jazz-inspired drumming is compellingly inhuman and unpredictable.  There is also some music: the album description intriguingly references both Scientist and Iannis Xenakis as key influences, but that dub influence is a damn subtle one.  Instead, Last Signs generally sounds more like Xenakis mixed with a truckload of drumsticks being fitfully poured down a long and winding flight of stairs (in the best way possible).

Last Updated on Sunday, 05 February 2017 20:00

Ghédalia Tazartès/Andrzej Załęsku/Paweł Romańczuk, "Carp's Head"

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cover imageI am not fond of tossing the term "weird" out to describe music.  Not only is it a vague and somewhat stigmatizing label, I do not consider a lot of what I hear to fit that term.  I mean, I have albums of car crashes (GX Jupitter-Larsen), noise made by a ballerina’s performance (The Rita), and on stage improvised masturbation (The Gerogerigegege).  However, Carp’s Head is hard to describe in any other way.  With painfully guttural vocals by  Ghédalia Tazartès, percussion by Andrzej Załęsku, and everything else by Paweł Romańczuk, it is like an Eastern European folk album vomited on an electro-acoustic work and the two were just mashed together with purely malicious intent.

Last Updated on Sunday, 29 January 2017 20:26

Expo Seventy, "America Here & Now Sessions"

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cover imageIt occurred to me the other day that there was an incredible wave of great, experimentally minded solo guitarists several years back (Area C, Black Eagle Child, Talvihorros) that has either gone completely silent or moved into very different territory and that no one has quite risen up to replace them.  Thankfully, however, the wildly prolific Justin Wright has not gone anywhere and continues to be a tireless torchbearer, both through his Sonic Meditations label and his own Expo Seventy project.  Given the sheer volume of Expo Seventy releases, I tend to only check in on the major ones and this one fits the bill: recorded as part of a three-week art event in Kansas City (America: Here and Now), Wright was able to assemble a like-minded quartet featuring two drummers to back his slow-burning psych-rock pyrotechnics.  At its best, the results are surprisingly accessible and anthemic, like a time-stretched and deconstructed Black Sabbath jam experienced through a heady fog of drugs.

Last Updated on Sunday, 29 January 2017 09:14

Nakama, "Most Intimate"

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cover imageGrand Line, Nakama’s last release and the project’s second overall, was a sometimes-chaotic mass of free jazz improvisations held together by a structured sense of composition that seemed to be at odds with the music itself.  Most Intimate has a similarly focused conceptual foundation, but rather than the grand gestures of the last album, here they are much more personal, with the quartet members each writing parts for one another to play.  The concept is admittedly complex and convoluted, but in execution it works in more ways than just being a novelty.

Last Updated on Sunday, 05 February 2017 15:23

HEXA, "Factory Photographs"

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cover imageXiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart and Lawrence English are not two artists that I would have ever thought to pair together, but a shared appreciation for David Lynch is probably as solid a foundation for a collaboration as any.  Also, HEXA makes perfect sense given the circumstances:  Xiu Xiu recorded an incredible Twin Peaks homage,  Brisbane's Gallery of Modern Art assembled a major retrospective of Lynch’s work, and Lawrence English is one of Australia’s most prominent and distinctive sound artists.  Notably, however, this commissioned accompaniment to Lynch's photographs of abandoned factories sounds almost nothing like either English or Xiu Xiu.  Instead, it sounds a hell of a lot like an artfully restrained and simmering noise album.  More specifically, Factory Photographs is industrial music in the most literal sense of the word, resembling nothing less than the troubled dreams of a ruined and long-deserted factory.

Last Updated on Sunday, 05 February 2017 15:31

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