Saturday, February 24, 2024

Live Shot(s) #108!

 From the Golden Saguaro, Tucson 2/23/24. As show booker John described it, an evening of word to song to drone. 

Below: poet Johanna Skibsrud blended her writing with loops of female voices that inspired her. A new book of Johanna's poems will be out this year. 

Above: Dao Strom. Portland OR based troubador. Lovely, delicate guitar sounds and well considered adeptness with pedal effects. 

Below: Maiiuwak. Drone bliss! Hopefully they'll be playing out a lot, it's a winner for Tucson aesthetics.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Setting-Shone a Rainbow Light On; Paradise of Bachelors Records, 2023


A month or so back within Disaster Amnesiac's timeline, I had the astonishing experience of hearing Setting on WFMU. Yes, the astonishment was palpable. Hearing this group's advanced form Electro-Acoustic Drone on that day was for this listener akin to digging up a beautiful crystal out in nature, or perhaps to paraphrase from Shone a Rainbow Light On, seeing an unexpected rainbow emerging from the ether. This trio, made up of Nathan Bowles, Jaime Fenelly, and Joe Westerlund have concocted a document of such regal beauty and mystery and it's blowing my mind with each listen. These guys go deep over the record's four tracks, their instrumental blends stunning, striking, and moving throughout the duration. Obviously, Setting are group that listen to each other as they play, that honor the vibe of their current moment, and that stay aware of the sonic spaces that they find themselves within. The proof is all over Shone a Rainbow Light On. It's within the entrancing drone figures and the non bullying percussion and the enticing stringed sounds. It's within the mind of the attentive listener as these sounds caress the brain. It's within the way that Setting quite clearly produce music that is neither overbearing nor pretentious, but simply emerging from some higher place, attainable to those that remain tapped in to their true creative process. Shone a Rainbow Light On is simultaneously epic and humble. Many years ago, Byron Coley wrote about what he called "the Spirit Wind" while describing a William Hooker album. Disaster Amnesiac would like to posit that Setting were enveloped within this selfsame wind during the production of this album. This stuff is High. A friend of mine mentioned that Setting is touring out to the West Coast soon. Guys, please come to Tucson. I feel like the Sonoran Desert would be a perfect setting for Setting. Think about it.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Live shot(s) #107!

 Three shots from a Desert Drone show at Groundworks, Tucson 2/15/24. There were four acts on the bill, but after three Disaster Amnesiac's ears were kind of ragged and I had to bail. 

Below: Grayson. Laptop Noise/KVLT/Garage blending. Fugazi samples for the win! 

Above: Ball Gag. Maximum density achieved.

Below: Frame Lilt. Tucson's RIO. Really cool. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Tony Oxley-The New World; Discus Music Records, 2023


Awareness of the mortal passing of British master percussionist Tony Oxley reached Disaster Amnesiac late last month, fully one month after he'd transitioned to whichever incarnation or non-incarnation his spirit would attain. I'd actually just ordered a copy of his record from last year, The New World, when I found out. Recorded in 2022 with percussionist Stefan Holker, it's a slow and steady burn over six pieces that all run together for a little bit over an hour's worth of subtle musical dialogue. It's no drum battle recording from Tony and Stefan. Instead, they dialogue with their drum kits (no photos of them on the cover, sadly), creating spaces that are filled with the more gestural techniques famously pioneered by the former and quite obviously well-studied by the latter. It's no hyperbole to say that Tony Oxley had a direct hand in inventing this type of drum set aesthetic. On this, what I'm assuming was one of his last sessions, he evinces said mastery for anyone with ear to hear it. Oxley's sound always struck this listener as having a deep visual appeal, in that it was easy to imagine structures such as abandoned factories or trellises, those sorts of things, as I listened. Across The New World's duration, Tony goes to those types of places again and again, abetted by his spare, simplified electronics sounds and Stefan's obvious simpatico. This duo lights a low key flame and kindles it as they move from zone to percussive zone, not in lock step but sounding out a deeper entrainment, one of zones and even regions, pulled from drums and cymbals an all of their varied contours. The New World feels like a reverent send off for a highly important improvisor. Check in on it, and let's hope that Tony Oxley's new world, whatever that may entail, is treating his spirit well.

Friday, February 2, 2024

Live shot #106!


Dancer Amy Lewis and unknown guitarist (possibly Alex Cohen?), Berkeley Arts Festival Building, ca. 2015. Not sure how this photo ended up edited as such, but I like it.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Live shot #105!


Mostly the bassist for Tucson-based the Framps, here playing guitar on a song written after being inspired by William Blake! Groundworks, Tucson 1/26/24. The Framps have a scene of fans that love their music. Nice to get out and see a slice of youthful music production here.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Bad Brains-I Against I; SST Records, 1986


For the past few weeks Disaster Amnesiac has been doing a deep dive/obsessive listen to Bad Brains late 1986 I Against I, and has desired intensely to write about it. That being said, the question has arisen, over and over again: just exactly how can such an incredible album be given justice with mere words? I've been spinning it with a fervor much like the one myself and others that I knew did upon its initial release way back in the Reagan Era, resonating with its righteous intensities and pondering any and all manner of its messages, both musical and lyrical. Spinning it on the player during the day, spinning it within my perceptions at night, over and over again and again for days now. This third prong of a masterful trifecta (ROIR tape to Rock For Light to I Against I), it stands, obelisk-like, and seems to defy attempts at any kind of adequate description. As its sounds whirl within the ears and the brain, another question emerges: how in the hell did Bad Brains produce this singular and absolutely unique set of tunes? We all know the back story of how a group of D.C. kids began their musical career by obsessive study and practice of Jazz Rock Fusion, followed by a pairing down of their approach necessitated by an awareness of Punk Rock and its vital primitive shock to established thinking. Additionally, we all know how volatile a group Bad Brains were. By the time of I Against I's release, this groundbreaking Hardcore band had already disbanded under clouds of indignation and God knows what else at least once, had already become legendary, exalted by many and disdained by many others. HR's vocals on Sacred Love were recorded via the phone bank at Lorton Federal Prison, and let's just say that he was not on the visiting side within that awful place when he did so. Can you imagine the kind of stress that he and his brother Earl, along with Daryl Jennifer and Dr. Know must have been feeling during I Against I's production, with factors such as Federal imprisonment adding to their burden? It's no damn wonder that this album's more Hardcore tracks such as I Against I and House of Suffering burn with such palpable fury. Across all of the years, that fury still burns intense and brightly in ways that leave most of the more generic sounds which Bad Brains inspired in the dust. The music which came into being as a direct result of Bad Brains inspiration often sounds dated and one dimensional; this is not the case on tracks such as these. Yes, Bad Brains were Hardcore, but they were also something completely different from Hardcore. Find the proof of that on Secret 77 and Hired Gun. One can hear the Go Go of the District and the Funk of Minneapolis, but these elements are just that, elements within a unique, self-created voice of a singular band. She's Calling You could have and should have been a massive hit in 1987. I was listening to Pop music at that time, and the song fits in nicely with the actual hits of that era. From Dr. Know's guitar phrases to Earl Hudson's tight, minimal beats and HR's vocal delivery, all of the elements are present. And I ask again: how did they come up with this? Here in 2024, a track such as Return To Heaven is probably more needed for its desperate, Biblical subject matter. Re-Ignition? Its style has not even been explored by others yet, and, let's be real, others probably just can't cop that, try as they may. That question arises once more. Who were these men, and how in the heck did they cook this stuff up? I Against I, please let me go for a while! There are others records that I want to play! 

End Note: for years now, Disaster Amnesiac has wanted to see HR put together a cosmic, Sun Ra Arkestra type of project. It's high time that he, along with the other Bad Brains, go completely Free Jazz. Could you imagine how unhinged that would be? C'mon guys, give it a shot!