Monday, August 22, 2016

Leonard/Day/Jerman-Isinglass; eh? Records #89, cassette ed. 2016

As promised in a recent private message, Public Eyesore/eh? head honcho Bryan Day has made some more recordings available to Disaster Amnesiac; it looks like he's ramping up production again! I'm happy and honored to be the recipient of so much great sound and music from the label.
It may be that I'm going out of sequence here, but the Leonard/Day/Jerman tape, Isinglass, had my immediate attention. Anything with Cheryl's deeply aesthetic organic/electric hybrids grabs Disaster Amnesiac pretty hastily.
Across seven pieces, put to tape over one year's time, this trio concocts soundscapes of deep, very organic nature. As I've listened, what at first sound like big slabs of sound reveal these great crenellations and nooks, small pockets to be delved into and investigated. One gets the sense that Leonard, Day, and Jeph Jerman put a lot of effort into letting the pieces unfold at within their own pace. Leonard's sound processes seem to act as guides, walking point into the exploratory auditory zones, while Day's invented instruments give some tonal and percussive action and Jerman's household objects color and comment. Disaster Amnesiac's favorite piece has to be the cassette's side one closer, during which feedback sounds jet out from the slow moving maelstrom. Among the other pieces, there are also fun sounds from bottles touching, strange whistles from who knows what, and all manner of curious tones, meshed together with a kind of delicate forcefulness. 
Disaster Amnesiac would advise the potential listener to don headphones for listening to Isinglass. Though calm on its face, the sounds that this trio makes have the deeply moving impact of massed mental glaciers or tsunami, oozing into the listener's perceptions with wide strokes that reveal hidden bits to be savored for their subtle surprises.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Ben Bennett/John Collins McCormick-Pluperfect; eh? Records #87, 2016

Second up for review from the recently received eh? Records batch, Pluperfect, and Disaster Amnesiac will warn: be careful if you listen to it early in the morning in your car. This is what I did, and the opening high pitched scrawls from Bennett and Collins McCormick gave me a pretty hardcore ear blast to start an AM commute. Being a fan of Noise and experimental forms, even as I'm waking up, not like it was a bad thing to have happened, but....most definitely a shock!
Once over all that, and after repeated listening, I have found Pluperfect to be a fascinating trip into the unique sound worlds of Ben Bennett and John Collins McCormick, one that seems to unfold at a pace totally under the control of these two musicians. The method seems to something like this: smaller, quieter themes are brought forth from various sound sources, then expanded upon in rhythmic form, then folded up and back into silence, from which a new theme emerges. What Disaster Amnesiac has enjoyed immensely as I've listened is the duration of those second aspects; Bennett and Collins McCormick do admirable jobs of controlling the pace of these various emerging themes. This pacing is admirable and deeply moving.
From a more technical point, the way in which John embeds laptop electronics within the overall sound field is really cool; often times it seems as though laptop generated sound starts to trump acoustic instrumentation, but this does not happen on Pluperfect. Disaster Amnesiac has mentioned how incredible Ben's stick control is, and it's utilized herein. Some of my favorite moments when listening to the disc have featured what Bennett drumming on what I believe to be a type of barrel drum, seen at Berkeley Arts Festival a year or two back. Pluperfect's two tracks, More than Perfect and Hadn't, clocking in at about an hour's length, provide these and obviously many more experimental sounds. I only wished that I'd been there at the recording, listening as their vibes bounced off of the walls of Marlboro College's Regal Hall!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Daniel Wyche-Our Severed Sleep; eh? Records #86; 2016

There Disaster Amnesiac was a few weeks back, lamenting the fact that I'd seemingly been dropped from the Public Eyesore/eh? mailing list, and along came a mailer with a batch of new releases from Bryan Day's prolific label. If Bryan had decided to pass on the potential Disaster Amnesiac review treatment, I would not blame him: I've reviewed probably only half of the discs that he's sent to me. That said, ANYTHING that's on Public Eyesore/eh? is worth multiple listens. Mr. Day knows what's up re: experimental and improvised musical forms.
The first of this most recent batch that I've had the pleasure of delving into is Daniel Wyche's Our Severed Sleep. Comprised of two almost twenty minute apiece tracks, Sleep covers all kinds of musical ground as Wyche on guitar and Ryan Packard on drums blast, plow, scrape and just really fucking play. Modern Electronic Music, Free Jazz, Doom Metal, Disaster Amnesiac has heard them all on this disc as I've listened, and much more to boot. Especially cool are the ways in which Wyche sets up these incredible sound ballasts, comprised of long, minimal feedback tones, upon which Packard displays his tremendous chops and musicality. Ryan can seriously play his drums and cymbals! A favorite example of this action occurs late in the first piece, I Give My Language To More than History, in which there's this slow-motion, almost Bill Ward playing. Yes, HEAVY!
The guitar playing of Wyche is inventive and creative as well, and his talent for composition is amply evident on William's Song, with its patient pacing and dramatic results of such. Disaster Amnesiac has also really been digging his opening riff on the first piece, a minutes-long electronic squall, which is delicious in its noisy blasting.
Our Severed Sleep features a solid amalgamation of sounds and influences, all expertly entwined into a very enjoyable forty minute head cleaner of a disc.  Reconnect, wake up, and listen!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Sparkle In Grey-Brahim Izdag; Old Bicycle Records, 2016

So apparently this disc is the last release from Old Bicycle Records, and Disaster Amnesiac has been mulling on just how to review it for several months now. There's been a digital copy floating around in my iTunes mix for some time, and over the weekend a hard copy, beautiful in its Sharpie Primitive artwork, landed in my snail mail box, direct from Italy. The internal debate started after repeated listens, during which the question would arise: "how can I do justice to such cool, complex music without sounding like a boring professor or a jaded music writer". Western problems, right? After a few days, and a few more spins, though, Disaster Amnesiac just has to take a shot.
Brahim Izdag revolves around three lengthy pieces, Iurop Is A Madness, Gobbastan, and the title piece. The first paces itself at a Dub stride, with really cool recitation of a Linton Kwesi Johnson piece. The language sounds to me as if it's Arabic, but I could be wrong. Really strong drumming from Simon Riva on this one; his lock with bassist Cristiano Lupo allows for some really cool violin and guitar from Franz Krostopovic and Alberto Carozzi, respectively. Second on the list, Gobbastan, runs from electronic atmospherics to further Dub feel, with sweet percussion on what sound like djembe and shakers. Both of these pieces are played in modes that give the listener a somewhat somber, reflective feel. As Disaster Amnesiac has listened, I've wondered if they're at all reflections of Europe as it appears to an outsider these days: struggling with turmoil of changing demographics and shifting mores, along with the seemingly endless financial crises. If so, this music most definitely would provide mental comfort to those that may be suffering. Last of the multiple-part pieces on Izdag, its eponymous piece fuses Eastern modes with more whip tight drumming and cutting solo guitar tones before going into further atmospheric zones, driven more by violin and nice electronic coloring from Matteo Uggeri.
Bracketing the longer songs, we find disc opener Samba Lombarda, with its snappy grooves and hopeful, happy feel (brace yourselves, people). It is followed by an astute update of the Clash's White Riot, changed by Sparkle In Grey to Grey Riot and given an Irish jig feel, and then the haunting Tripoli, with its somber horns and violin lines being accosted by machine gun fire. Post Classical/Post Free Jazz Chamber interactions are featured on Song For Clair Patterson, and finally, Minka Minka, dances proudly with its Old Mediterranean/Slavic cadence. Sly and the Family Stone's There's A Riot Goin' On is listed, but it seems to only last for four seconds of absolute silence. Make of that what you will!
Along with the physical copy of Brahim Izdag, Old Bicycle Records sent a handful of tape releases. Disaster Amnesiac hopes to carve out time to listen to and review these as well. I suspect that Brahim Izdag will be joining me on my commutes in the interim. Sparkle In Grey are producing some really compelling music. Go west, guys, and please hit California when you do.

Monday, June 13, 2016

ICUMDRUMS-The Girdle; digital download via Bandcamp, 2015

If for no other reason, the internet is great for bands. Seriously, any newly formed group is just a simple mouse click or two away from knowing whether or not any considered moniker is taken or not.
Disaster Amnesiac figures that ICUMDRUMS really didn't have any issue as a possible duplication of name. Thankfully, there's also a really original sound to be found there as well.
For this fan of drum-based music, this project is seriously compelling and awesome. The Girdle features music that fuses many disparate Underground feels into a bracing ball of energy. Kicking off with some tom tom flourishing worthy of Tommy Aldridge on No Love, drummer Kris Kerby fuses electronics and percussion in a pummeling, heavy, seven song, maximum impact set. What's really fun about The Girdle is the way in which the electronics pair up with drums, as is done in On The Way and Down South. The latter features some really fine rudimental snare work, to boot. Disaster Amnesiac has felt these tunes to be some new kind of distorted, distinctive Drum 'n' Bass at times. Despite their heaviness, these trax are dance-able! Also enjoyable, if at times disturbing, are the Kvlt vocals on For Her and While She's Smiling. Both also have tightly played Blast Beats that underpin the squalling electronics and schrei, to boot. Beautiful, messed up heaviness therein! Everything seems to march its way to the title track, which ends the set with half-time distorto bass tones, whirling electronic noise, and really fine ride cymbal work, all embellished with fast tom tom fills. Kerby gets mightily clinical here on this last, raw kick to the ears, yet it never feels like he's showing off. He's just going for it, and pulls it off in a really fine manner.
If you're starting a band, please consider a bit of on-line perusal before you choose your name.
If you crave some hardcore creative fusion music, you might want to find ICUMDRUMS's Bandcamp page and give a listen or two. Deliciously bent sounds to be found therein, as mentioned, only a mouse click away!  


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Bad Company-Live1977 & 1979; Swan Song Records, 2016

Admittedly, and in light of the recent law suit by whoever runs the Randy California estate vs. Led Zeppelin, Disaster Amnesiac felt a bit cynical upon hearing about this release. I just imagined the financial team at Swan Song (is there such an entity?) casting about for new revenue streams in order to pay back that filthy lucre gained from Plant's least favorite wedding song. It seems as though Zep may have prevailed, though, and, luckily for Hard Rock fans, we still get this great release of two stellar shows from the mighty Bad Company.
There is a photo in the CD booklet from Live 1977 & 1979, featuring recordings from Houston TX and Wembley, UK., that is instructive: it features the four members of Bad Company, live on stage in pretty close proximity. All of the elements of the composition show a really stripped down approach, and, indeed, that's really what the band is famous and/or notorious for. Oftentimes, their sound feels skeletal to the point of Minimalism, and oftentimes this is what people either love or are annoyed by.
Disaster Amnesiac is in the former camp, all the way. What I love about Bad Company's sound is the amount of room that they always left for the listener's perception to fill in. The band keeps that vibe going on both of these sets. What seems to be important documentation here is the way in which their tunes had gained in strength after they'd become a heavily touring band. Tracks such as Burnin' Sky, Shooting Star, Bad Company, and others have this additional weightiness to them herein. All of their signature tunes groove with more depth as Simon Kirke adeptly shows how much a restrained approach can move a band's sound. Mick Ralphs really shines as well. Disaster Amnesiac has gained new appreciation for his playing as I've listened to 1977 & 1979. The tones that colored his riffs were deep and quite tasty. Both Ralphs and bassist Boz Burrells' sounds feel so much bigger and meatier in the live context. Speaking of beefy, one must really hear Co.'s incredible version of Hey Joe. All that is great about Paul Rodgers shines brightly on this version, captured in Washington D.C. on a "special occasion". His emotive, masculine croon is bolstered by a way gone solo, as his pals pound the song home behind him. Rodgers is one seriously talented Rock Star, and much of the joy of hearing Live 1977 & 1979 comes from digging on that fact.
The 1979 portion features a few tunes that were relatively new at that time in Oh, Atlanta and Rhythm Machine, and these feel somewhat underdone. However, the also new-at-the-time Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy totally redeems them. What a kick ass song! Disaster Amnesiac is old enough to remember when it was a hit tune, and has always loved it. Again, showcased within the live setting, it features added weight and groove, and absolutely slays.
Times are tough all over, even for the Giants of Heavy Rock, presumably. I'm not sure that the blokes in Bad Company or Swan Song are all that desperate, though. Still, if you're a fan, your initial monetary investment in Live 1977 & 1979 may pay off big in aesthetic dividends.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Ross Hammond/Sameer Gupta-Upward; Prescott Recordings, 2016

Upon receiving Upward, Disaster Amnesiac felt just a bit of trepidation regarding reviewing it. Any music that features tabla gives me a feeling of hardcore reverence, and there was definitely worry that I'd be amiss in describing the tals and tones from Sameer Gupta's playing on the disc.
Thankfully, those fears were swiftly allayed by the sounds of Upward. The music that Hammond and Gupta make together is so warm, inviting, and easily enjoyed, there's just no way that a listener could feel many other emotions than joy when its sounds are spinning.
Along with Sameer's tablas, Ross plays 12 string acoustic guitar, and the combination is incredibly beautiful. The eight tracks that comprise Upward all share a generally calm and magisterial feel. The duo sound as if they're not so much playing to impress as they are to really communicate emotional depth, one that pulls from any number of musical streams. Disaster Amnesiac has often felt as if I were privy to an eloquent, learned conversation as I've listened; indeed, my emotional landscape has been lifted upward by their duo exchange. Not to say there isn't some fiery playing: when Hammond hammers down with great slide tones, it's as if lightning were hitting the Punjab (or Oklahoma) Plain, and Gupta's statements on Being and Becoming feature so much of the diverse sound and incredible complexity that make tabla drumming somewhat daunting for this listener. Still, an overarching feel of aesthetic wisdom, one that seems to disregard overt shows of prowess, instead focusing on deeper, much more musical interaction, takes the day. These two just know, and their sounds on Upward leave no doubts about that.
Thanks for pushing me up and out of my comfort zone, Sameer and Ross. Hopefully your sounds will lift up many other listeners as well.