Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Public Eyesore Reviews, installment #2

The past few weeks have been particularly interesting for Disaster Amnesiac, on account of a herniated disc. I have been essentially on my back for almost fourteen days. This forced down time, while extremely annoying to me, has afforded plenty of time to listen to music. Along with getting reacquainted with Stoner Doom via the Cetralstodet cassette on Sky Lantern, Disaster Amnesiac has also dug into the recent Public Eyesore haul. These recordings merit and reward multiple hearings, and I have most definitely had the time to do so lately!

Tetuzi Akiyama & Anla Courtis-Naranja Songs; Public Eyesore # 127 (CD edition)
Consisting of four tracks of acoustic guitar duo interplay, Naranja Songs stays generally somewhat introspective in its mood. Akiyama and Courtis show their improvisational prowess and personal chemistry, playing twisty and spiked on Mind Mochileros, with its echoes of Towner's ECM offerings and Fahey-esque voicing. Springs and Strings speaks with low notes, deeply sliding harmonic glissando and funky, gritty low end/high end, almost Industrial sounding chatter. They return to the somewhat pastoral Fahey spaces in The Citrico Vibe, playing call and response tag, vibing off of each others' statements as they wend their way through those fields. The disc's closer, Los Frets Nomades, features deep extended techniques, the guitarists coaxing cool Electronic Music and cello sounds from their axes. Naranja Songs is a slow, stately ride into myriad possibilities for acoustic guitars.

Massimo Falascone-Variazioni Mumacs (32 short mu-pieces about macs); Public Eyesore #126 (CD edition)
Disaster Amnesiac is still not sure what exactly a mu piece is, but I am sure that this disc, with its mixture of Musique Concrete, Euro Free Jazz Poetics, and a surreal libretto, recited deadpan by Bob Marsh ("it's not like it used to be, but it's still the system"), is a compelling listen. Falascone takes all kinds of sounds and influences from about sixteen different players and mixes them with field recordings and said libretto, the resulting blend being a hugely diverse musical cloud. The gamut is run from solo pieces, to duets, to large ensemble movements within these Variazioni; the duel drumming of Filippo Monico and Fabrizio Spera sounds particularly cool to these ears. Falascone gets all manner of great Jazz sounds from his alto and baritone horns, too.  Things cross over the pond for a Monk cover, connecting Europe and North America with the acknowledged international language of Jazz, but this piece is really world-spanning in its scope, and Disaster Amnesiac would even go so far as to include non-terrestrial worlds therein. I'd also ask sound engineers to pay close attention: there are moments that bring the close mic'ing techniques of Stockhausen and Xenakis to the fore here, and they add to the intrigue of the mood, along with other discrete aspects of this very creative sound mixture.

Period-2; Public Eyesore #129 (CD edition)
Of all the  Public Eyesore music that Disaster Amnesiac has heard so far, it is Period's music that is the most challengingly heavy. Drummer Mike Pride and guitarist Charlie Looker  begin this corker of a disc with sparse duo action, tom tom ostinato pounding circles around crisp, abstract, and bravely clean guitar strumming ("no stairways to heaven", so sayeth St. Sharrock). It's often the case that these kinds of freedom pursuits have a kind of manic, dense activity within their process. Period manages to leave all kinds of sonic crevices within theirs, and yet to obtain a seriously abstract, otherworld feel. Disaster Amnesiac has felt, while listening to 2, that I've intruded on some private,  intense invocation. It just has that kind of weight about it. Vocalist Chuck Bettis joins the fray with his expressionist vocal techniques, sounding shamanistic and crazed with his glossolalia. Saxophonists Darius Jones and Sam Hilmer add No Wave melting tones and furious bleats, but also keep that kindled, spacious vibe going within this 21st Century Kabuki. Listening to 2, one may feel as is they are returning to some primordial cave. Intriguing wall drawings are indeed scrawled there.

Public Eyesore seems to be moving at a manic pace as far as releasing top flight Improvising/Noise/Abstract documents. If you're at all inclined to need those types of head cleaners, click on over to their page get gone with a few of their artists.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Centralstodet-Solkurva,Krok,En,Boj; Sky Lantern Records Tapes Series #002

Disaster Amnesiac figures, that if you're reading, or have read this blog, you're familiar with the feeling. At some point in your listening experience, you've gotten into a certain style or approach to music making. You delve headfirst into it, gobbling up as many recorded examples, taking in as many shows, reading as many articles as you can find. You REALLY dig it. Than, however many months or years later, you realize that you're a bit tired of said style or approach, and drift off to new interests and obsessions.
I bring this up, simply because Centralstodet's recent cassette on the Sky Lantern label, Solkurva,Krok,En,Boj has me really digging the Stoner Rock sound again, after many years away from its heavy, darkened vibes. The band's twin guitar instrumental attack from Daniel Johansson and Ulrik Lindblom chugs forward at nice mid-to-sludge tempos, always retaining the colorful psychedelic feel that seems so important an aspect to that genre's overall mood, working from almost Folk-ey melodies as they spiral upward into Space. The rhythm section of Joni Huttunen on bass and Jonas Fridlund on drums pounds generally spare and simple, pushing the guitar explorations with heavy footfalls.
The six tunes on this cassette put the listener into a nicely tranced musical world, mixed full Blues, Rock, and Psych, and Boogie influences.  The absence of vocal allows the band get right down to the business of jamming them out, plowing forward through them with skill and aplomb.
If you're interested in finding some groovy, raw Stoner/Doom stuff, seek out and find Solkurva,Krok,En,Boj and rip off a toke or two of its gooey musical buds.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Grateful Dead-Dave's Picks 10: Thelma, Los Angeles CA, December 12, 1969; Rhino Records 2014

Judging from the sound of Dave's Picks 10-Thelma, Los Angeles, CA December 12, 1969, Pigpen and the boys were caught during one of those quintessential runs, in which all of the elements of the Grateful Dead gestalt were mixing just so, the polyglot voices of what, for that weekend, was their High Psychedelic Masters Septet blending into one eloquent, elegant sound.
Did I mention sound? Why yes, and it's justified. Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect that Disaster Amnesiac has noted while listening to Thelma is the mix, the actual full sound. It just seems very different from the Bear-fried over the top ballroom blitzes that characterize so many of the other 1969 recordings that I've heard. From what I gather, the club called Thelma, on the Sunset Strip in L.A., was a mid-sized one (maybe the same size as the Straight Theater in S.F.?). I don't think I'm wrong in guessing that the amps may have been turned down just a bit, that the cymbals may not have been slashed quite as hard as when they were playing at the Fillmore East or on Haight Street. Even the Feedback sounds somewhat delicate here, before tucking into a lovely And We Bid You Goodnight.
Another possibility that Disaster Amnesiac has entertained while digging into this most recent Dave's Picks is the highly possible scenario that there were "industry types" in the audience on the evening of 12/12, and that the band were playing to their tastes somewhat. I'd argue that the preponderance of Pig tunes here (very much not a bad thing any time, anywhere) gives evidence of this. Ron's masterful showmanship, sounding slightly restrained yet very professional, is highlighted on a great, languid Easy Wind,  and straightforward takes of Hard to Handle and I'm a King Bee, dynamic Lovelight and a an almost Steve Reich-sounding (at least from Phil's vantage) Caution (Do Not Step on Tracks) marathons. This is not to say that he does the Industry Pussyfoot, mind you. He and the rest of the Dead most definitely get down. There's just a feel of them maybe attempting to put on a somewhat more understandable (for the linear types) presentation on these tracks. And, with Pigpen at the helm, it works, naturally.
As Disaster Amnesiac has listened to and enjoyed the newest offering in the Dave's Picks series, the idea of change keeps coming to mind. It seems likely that even the most casual of fans of the band will be appraised of the  Grateful Dead's penchant for change. Change was the lifeblood of the Dead. As I have ruminated from that point, it strikes me their aesthetic demise can probably be directly linked to the logistical barriers that arose with their Super Star Status later on, barriers that seemed to have made it impossible for them to go all I Ching on their affairs.
Way back in 1969, though, the Grateful Dead harnessed the high power of willful change with abandon and succeeded often. Thelma most definitely gives off that energy. Along with Primal Dead chestnuts (roasted) such as Cold Rain and Snow and Alligator, major stylistic signs of Change such as Black Peter, Casey Jones, Uncle John's Band, and Cumberland Blues are broken out. The band sounds as if they are enjoying the discovery of these slightly more inward-looking musical spaces; the playing often sounds as if they are collectively kindling these spaces, as opposed to just dosing them and blowing them up. The move away from Avant-Garde abstraction and into master songwriting is in full effect. After all, these may well have been among the last shows with TC! These tunes and others carried the band for a few years, and it's definitely fun to hear them as they were emerging, signaling new musical spirals, slightly more well crafted, in which they could collectively dance.

Bonus Disc Bonanza!!!!
Seeing as I've never bothered to review the bonus discs that come with the second quarter of each Dave's Picks year, I figured a bit of spieling is in order now. 2012's 1974 offering featured some really nice Wall of Sound jamming, with a great Nobody's Fault But Mine thrown in. Last year's bonus gave some hot 1969 Fillmore Auditorium jams, notable for one of those rare Mason's Children appearances. As for 2014's edition, recorded 12/11/1969, the listener finds the Dead in a bit more of an expansive psychedelic mode, with a a Dark Star that features lovely tones from Jerry and out into a pretty Feelin' Groovy Jam, a solidly played, after some initial sour notes, Saint Stephen and a nicely transitioned, ride cymbal swingin' The Eleven. From The Eleven's East Indian tala, they jump right into the West Virginia Appalachian stomp of Cumberland Blues. After a break, That's It For the Other One gets a nice, long, twenty five minute romp with a great tandem drums spot before the full on ensemble dynamics. The set ends with a snaky version of Cosmic Charlie, the band wants to play more, Jerry says "fuck it", and that's that! Good '69 stuff here, but good luck trying to find a copy at this point! 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Public Eyesore reviews, installment #1

After Disaster Amnesiac's recent review of the Sondheim/Carter CD, Public Eyesore honcho Bryan Day got in touch. It turns out that he currently resides about ten minutes from chez Amnesiac. We spent a nice afternoon together recently, drinking some coffee and talking music, life, and time. Along with his good cheer, Bryan brought a stack of Public Eyesore releases, and graciously left them for me to check out. One thing about the music of Public Eyesore: it requires listening. One can't simply put these recordings on as background while one washes dishes or reads the paper. Disaster Amnesiac has slowly waded into the stack, trying really hard to really listen attentively. Needless to say, I've only scratched the surface, but here is my first installment.

Music For Hard Times-City of Cardboard; Public Eyesore #128 (CD edition)
Music For Hard Times consists of Tom Nunn and Paul Winstanley. Nunn has been developing, building, and playing musical instruments for many years now, and Winstanley has dedicated himself to developing all manner of extended technique for the electric bass guitar. Nunn focuses heavily here on his Skatchboxes, from which he gets scraped, ping-ey tones from amplified combs and nuts that are glued to cardboard resonators. He also plays his Resonance Plates, Crustacean, and Harmonic Rods. Winstanley matches him with his rig, and, by matching, I mean to say that it's pretty much impossible to tell who is doing what at times; this is a good thing, if one loves mystery and imagination emanating from the music that they're listening to. The sounds on Cardboard are generally somewhat quiet and mysterious, as the duo clearly pay close attention to what each other are doing as their improvisations unfold in real time. Disaster Amnesiac would compare the listening experience to the act of picking up a large rock and peering into the strange world that is heavy with previously unseen activity, or the summoning up of a deeper visual focus as one's perceptions delve into an abstract expressionist painting. In other words, Music For Hard Times never hit the listener over the head in order to get their attention. They simply get down to the Zen of their other worldly duo exchanges, and, if one is inclined to go along, one will surely find much intrigue. Kudos too, for the really neat sculpture which graces the cover, designed and built by Nunn and Winstanley for this release.

Cactus Truck-Brand New for China; Public Eyesore #119 (vinyl edition)
Very much playing yang to the yin of groups such as Music For Hard Times, Cactus Truck revel in thier highly energized Free Jazz blasting concept. Up in the frontal attack zone, reedsman John Dikeman blows with passion and abandon, his controlled tone often reminding Disaster Amnesiac of Archie Shepp. Dikeman gets all over his horns, going from low growls to high pitched yowls. Pushing the attack horns is the Jasper Stadhouders/Onnon Govaert rhythm section. The former gets any and all manner of Post Punk wailing and strumming from his electric guitar and bass, while the latter goes for the energetic multi-limbed freedom strut with his traps. These two play with such locked precision, it's pretty clear that they have spent a ton of time locked in rehearsal rooms together. We're talking extended slabs of deeply focused locked groove here, upon which the horns cry freedom and sex. Day suggested to me that this LP's title what supposed to say something else, which has a lot to do with randy musicians, ah, exploring as they road trip from town to town.........

Ron Anderson/Robert L. Pepper/David Tamura/Phillippe Petit-Closed Encounters of the 4 Minds (Live at BC Studio); Public Eyesore #116 (CD edition)
Wrapped with a sumptuously painted cover image by Alec Dartly, these eight tracks were laid down, live in one take, in NYC about four years back. This group conjures up great Electro-Acoustic blends. They are often heavily rhythmic and strangely melodic, with Tamura especially leading the charge with his sprayed saxophone riffing. Sampled voices and bleeping bloops, worthy of those great old 1970's LPs on Nonesuch, float in and out of the field, non-treated (very clean sounding, anyway) guitars get played by Anderson, and the whole ensemble gets down in a completely psychedelic way, like the next evolutionary step from the sounds of Death Comet Crew or something. Graff for the inner ear and mind. Disaster Amnesiac has no idea whether or not these gentlemen explorers are basing their operations within East Coast musical academia or grinding out meager existences playing music in the City, but, either way, they're breaking great new ground with their improvised Free head trip. Closed Encounters is a freaky good time skull fuck of a listen. Put on headphones and jack in!

Disaster Amnesiac will stop with the Public Eyesore spieling here (for now), and just reiterate-if you are inclined to want to seek out and enjoy odd music made by really talented musicians, you really must stop by at the Public Eyesore website and explore their myriad caverns of creativity. Please expect a few more of these Public Eyesore posts!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Disaster Amnesiac SF Giants April Roundup

Disaster Amnesiac is not the biggest fan of Gary Radnich, who does mornings on the SF Giants flagship AM station, KNBR, but one of his lines has resonated with me for years. It's been a while since I heard him enunciate it, so paraphrasing is in order: baseball is like a friend that you hang out with for several months, providing intrigue, interest, and some form of companionship over that long stretch of time.
So far, the Giants 2014 has been surprisingly stellar. The team is not scheduled to play today, May 1st, but they are starting the month off in first place, 1.5 games up on the heavily favored LA Dodgers. It's a long season, and who knows if this will last, but Disaster Amnesiac really wants to chime in on what I've seen so far from the Orange and Black.

Pitching:  So far, the Tim Hudson pickup has looked like a pretty genius move. He's been downright competitive in every start, eating up innings with his mature, crafty style. We'll see how far into the summer he can go, but, his wounds from last year seem to be a non-issue. As for the rest of the rotation, Bumgarner and Cain are their usual winning selves, even if the latter has been somewhat shaky at times. I'm sure Matt will get his rhythm going nicely. Lincecum and Vogelsong remain, just as it was last season, wild cards, and Giants fans will never be sure what they're going to get out of them, performance-wise. Games that they have started have been nail biters, if not outright massacres. It seems likely that we'll have to resign ourselves to absolute uncertainty with Timmy and Ryan on the mound. The bullpen has been outstanding: Sergio Romo has all but erased the hurts of Brian Wilson's departure. When the Banda music plays at AT&T during the top of late innings, Giants fans certainly feel alright.

Batting: Disaster Amnesiac has to say: THANK HEAVEN FOR MIKE MORSE! The Giants, after years in the wilderness in the power hitting department, finally have a guy who can hit for both power and average. It's also thrilling to have Angel Pagan back. His lead off prowess has been breath taking. Brandon Belt has gotten off to a great start, too, even though he's streaky. Buster Posey seems to be getting his batting chops to work, also, which is really no surprise. As for Pablo Sandoval, I can't figure out if he's slow to warm up, or if the NL just has THE BOOK on his proclivities in a definitive way now. Giants fans seem frustrated with him, now more than ever. What will Brian Sabean do with him? Lower in the order, Brandon Hicks and Hector Sanchez have come up big more than a few times, and Brandon Crawford is finely consistent. It feels safe to say that the Giants have real hitting in 2014!

Fielding: Errors have dogged the G-men somewhat so far, especially in San Diego. That said, the Hicks/Crawford tandem seems to be working really well generally. Posey is still masterful at stopping steals of second base; if only Hector Sanchez could learn a bit more from him! The rest of the infield is doing OK, even with Sandoval's inconsistencies. Morse's fielding is not great, but Bruce Bochy has been making astute moves when subbing for him in later innings.

Managing: It appears as though Bochy is pretty well pleased with his 2014 crop of Giants. Disaster Amnesiac can't help but wonder if he wants to bench Sandoval outright, and, at this point, give Yosmeiro Petit a guaranteed spot in the starting pitching rotation. He's known as a players' manager, but he's also dedicated to winning. It will be interesting to see what kinds of moves he makes within those two situations.

As the season moves into May, the Giants have to run a real gauntlet: the Braves, Pirates, and Dodgers will all play host. Every one of those teams could easily win these series or worse. That said, it's clear that the Giants are not to be taken lightly, even on the road. Hopefully Disaster Amnesiac's May roundup will not have me lamenting early May as a cataclysm for the Orange and Black. I want to hang out with them deeper into the summer, after all.