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The Monthly List: September’s Top 11

polo_grounds_imgLots of new music shows up on this month’s list. And though there’s a new Autechre EP on the way (out October 28th; some of you probably have it already), I went back to Exai all last month. Definitely one of my favorite records this year, and one of the best albums Warp has released in the last few.

I also spent a lot of time with some of the new Mystery Sea releases from Belgium. Both Philippe Lamy’s Drop Diary and (G)W(3) from the duo of Bruno Duplant and Darius Ciuta are excellent records worth seeking out. I wrote a review of the former for Brainwashed and hope to cover the latter soon. Both can be purchased on the Mystery Sea blog.

William Winant’s Poon Village debut—incredibly it’s his first solo artist record too—will be released shortly. I’ve been lucky enough to work with PV on the release of the album and have had the chance to hear it many times over the last month or two. It’s as good as the reviews make it sound and I’ve fallen in love with Michael Byron and Lou Harrison’s music because of it. Plus the presentation is pretty mind-blowing. A ton of work has gone into it and I’m excited to see how people react, so be sure to check it out. Sound samples are available online and there’s already a lot of press covering it.

Last but not least are two releases from Kevin Drumm; one from 2012 the other new this year. Keeping up with this guy is virtually impossible, but I keep trying anyway. You can read my review of Earrach here, and I’ll try to get a few words about Humid Weather together before long. With so much music to cover, I’ll probably end up writing a few brief summaries just to catch up. I desperately need more time to write.

Be on the lookout for more great music in the coming months. Erstwhile already has two more releases out that I’d love to cover as soon as possible, including one gorgeous looking double CD from Graham Lambkin and Jason Lescalleet. Lescalleet, like Drumm, is now on Bandcamp, and releasing new music there, as is Howard Stelzer and Intransitive Records. There’s also a new 3CD reissue of Eliane Radigue’s Adnos I-III out on Important Records, which is definitely a contender for reissue of the year.

As always, formats posted are the ones I own. Others may be available. If you like any of the samples I link to, please buy the album. You can find numerous retailers carrying these titles at the bottom of this page.

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The Monthly List: April’s Top 10

photograph by Kevin Baird

Solar Eclipse – “Ring of Fire” – photograph by Kevin Baird

The only new album on the list this month comes from the Phil Minton/Audrey Chen Quintet on Sub Rosa. Everything else is a reissue or a new collection of older music.

Impulse’s release of John Coltrane’s complete Sun Ship sessions snuck in right at the end of April, but didn’t make the list because I was too busy listening to MeditationsCrescent, and Interstellar Space to notice. Coltrane has been almost the only thing I’ve wanted to hear for the last two weeks and I don’t see any sign of that streak ending. Repeat plays of Crescent and Meditations were broken only by Human Ear’s reissue of Michael Pisaro’s Tombstones and Machu Picchu’s re-release of Inside the Shadow. Both are essential and I highly recommend seeking them out.

The first half of the month was also dominated by reissues. Recollection GRM’s Xenakis LP is outstanding, as is MCR’s treatment of Where’s My Towel/Industry Standard from Austin’s Big Boys.

As always, formats posted are the ones I own. Others may be available. If you like any of the samples I link to, please buy the album. You can find numerous retailers carrying these titles at the bottom of this page.

cover art for Pisaro's Tombstones

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Michael Pisaro, Julia Holter, and Jason Brogan: Tombstones

Wish I would have posted this earlier. Tonight—approximately 20 minutes ago, as I post this—Michael Pisaro, Julia Holter, and Jason Brogran will be performing Tombstones at Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral in Brooklyn. Tombstones is being called Pisaro’s foray into pop music. If that sounds odd to you—Michael Pisaro? Pop music?!—then check out this interview posted at the Issue Project Room website, which explains how the project started and how Julia Holter got involved:

Lawrence Kumpf: How did the Tombstones project come about?

Michael Pisaro: As you know, I often work with a group of composers, called Wandelweiser, and for some reason I started getting asked by them to write pieces for voice—songs or something like it—for concerts they were producing in Europe. I hadn’t thought about it for a long time and was initially tempted to say no, because I didn’t like the idea of taking some traditionally poetic text and setting it to music in the way that concert composers usually do. But then the idea raised another question—a really interesting question, at least for me anyway: Can you write experimental or indeterminate music that is still a song? So that’s really where the project of writing the pieces began.  With this kind of music, what would make it hard to sing in a normal circumstance is that you might not be able to predict where melodies and harmonies and rhythms and so forth come in. This is a situation that is quite common in Christian Wolff’s music; where sometimes you have the materials, but not the order in which they occur.

LK: I know the pop songs that you’re using for the compositions are not public knowledge but can you speak  to how you work with them? Can you elaborate a little on how the pieces are put together, how much interpretation is left to the instrumentalist and how chance functions in relation to the score?

MP: Virtually all of the melodies and the texts are what I would call found sounds—maybe a less polite term would be “stolen songs”. They consist in basically every case of a tiny fragment of some kind of popular, country or blues song.   Nothing comes from classical music, but these songs could be by anyone really—Robert Johnson, UGK/DJ Screw, David Bowie, the Beatles….

There’s lots more if you follow the link. If you haven’t already, you should also check out Pisaro’s essay Hit or Miss, where he connects the dots between experimental music, The Temptations, and baseball.

Michael’s Tombstones project has also been featured in the Village Voice and will be released on vinyl by HEM Berlin in November. You can listen to samples by following that link, or you can listen to the embedded Soundcloud sample from “Silent Cloud” below. Along with the new Scott Walker, this is one of the albums I most look forward to hearing.