Monday, March 2, 2015

Three discs of "huh?" from eh?

Much like any other citizen, Disaster Amnesiac has an abiding fantasy as to what exactly goes on in America. For me, a large share of my projection upon the good ole U.S.of A. entails scores of creative music composers, laboring away, Ives-like, in the heartland and on the coasts, cooking up odd electronics and weird Jazz. Of course, the reality of the situation must be wildly divergent from my imaginings, but labels such as Public Eyesore and eh? are hard at work, making available diverse and divergent sounds for the rabid consumption of the likes of me. What can I say, I still don't care to listen to singer-songwriters or the newest ironic cover band.
I recently came in to possession of three more discs of underground sounds from eh? Here are some impressions.

Gary Rouzer-Studies and Observations of Domestic Shrubbery; eh? Records #81, 2015
Emerging from the ether wrapped in an elegantly simple brown slip case and decorated with Bryan Day's cool asemic writing, Studies and Observations of Domestic Shrubbery presents four pieces that click, chatter, and drone. Composer Gary Rouzer utilizes cello, clarinet, and cardboard as sound generators. Disaster Amnesiac puzzles over which sounds are emanating from the cardboard, but thinks that it may be these kind of scrape-ey whooshes that arise from the mix. The cello sounds are much more easily appraised, as Rouzer pulls long tones from them to produce said drones, along with percussive bowing techniques on the strings and possibly the body of the instrument. His clarinet sounds are generally high-pitched signals that arise from the the low stuff of cardboard and cello. Perhaps the most striking aspect of Studies and Observations is the ways in which Rouzer uses silence: long pauses in the action provide drama inducing tensions, before leading into new exploratory spaces. Far from being Harsh, the Noise that Rouzer cooks up is full of these spaces and their attendant release. Four really enjoyable multi-tracked observations, here.

Venison Whirled-Tetragrammatones; eh? Records #82, 2015
Disaster Amnesiac is familiar with Venison Whirled mostly by way of Bill Shute's Kendra Steiner Editions (go buy some of this product!), and news of her eh? release was highly exciting to me.
Shute has told me that Lisa Cameron is a great trap set drummer, and coming from the long-time underground music fan and supporter, I believe it; that said, if it's normal beats or rhythms that you want, these Tetragrammatones are not necessarily the droids you're looking for. Instead, Cameron utilizes contact mics on snare drum and berimbau to create long, standing wave drone tones.Three of the tracks of on this disc are, per the liner note, directly inspired by a fourth, Sea of Air, and all of them have the auditory quality much akin to infrasound if played loudly. By this, I mean that they establish internal organ quaking tones that rumble mightily. At any volume, one's musical payoff is commensurate with how much one listens. As is the case with so many other Minimalist forms, the amount of attention paid is directly equivalent to the amount of aesthetic satisfaction delivered. While listening to Tetragrammatones, Disaster Amnesiac often had similar thoughts as those experienced from staring at amethyst crystal arrays. This one has real power, especially when cranked up high!

Chefkirk & Andrew Quitter-Keiju Manifestos; eh? Records #83, 2015
Not to give the wrong impression, because Disaster Amnesiac loves all three of these new eh? discs, but, so far, this one has been my favorite. As I listen, I figure it has a lot to do with the two man interaction between Chefkirk and Quitter. Of course, for all I know, these two may be one in the same entity, but Keiju Manifestos certainly has a more group dynamic feel. It was recorded in Eugene but has the aesthetic impact of some inter-dimensional cosmic war going on, with all of its high end blasting and explosive sounds, especially on tracks such as Spacial Surface, Plastic Synthesis, and the absolutely bonkers closing track, Recreation, Multiplication, Expansion. Things do even groove a bit on Gesundheit, but for the most part this disc features the sounds of worlds, hell, galaxies for that matter, colliding and exploding. The things that Chefkirk and Andrew Quitter do on this disc would appeal to fans of Industrial, Power Electronics, weird old independent synthesizer cassettes from the 1980's, but Disaster Amnesiac feels a bit like I'm pigeonholing them with that statement. Their sounds are unique and clearly by their own designs.

To get back to my initial statement, and after spending some time listening to these new three discs from eh?, Disaster Amnesiac can rest assured that there are indeed the myriad composers here in the U.S.A., working away at and documenting their individual craft. Given the current malaise of our shared economic situations, I'm not sure how many people have that much time to pay attention, or the psychological liberty necessary to expose themselves to these kinds of "risky" cultural moves (it seems to me that during periods of tremendous societal transition, the masses can't help but become reactionary, even when they're of a Utopian political construct), but I for one take heart from knowing that they're out there, and want to hear as much of them, as often as possible. Label head Bryan Day, along the artists described here, would probably take heart from receiving a bit of financial remuneration for their efforts. Go ahead and grab yourself some eh?! Perhaps, after listening, you'll love America just that much more, if for no other reason, than for knowing that we're still producing Ives types within our historical churn.

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