Monday, December 16, 2019

Some Releases That Have Come My Way

It's been an admittedly slow year for Disaster Amnesiac. Life has gotten busier in some ways, and slowed down in others. Both of these dynamics have made it a bit more tough for me to feel the kind of mental focus needed for the pairing of listening with reviewing, but recently some releases have just sort of shown up. When this happens, I feel it to be a kind of necessity to try my utmost to do both. Here are some thoughts on these fine recordings.

Arc-Monument 35; eh? Records casstte #100, 2019
Before the music even started, Disaster Amnesiac was enthralled by the lovely cover art for this cassette, along with the very mysterious vibes that it exudes. Just dig on that quavery orb! Inside the J-card, that opaqueness continues as four phases of the piece are listed, along with several of what appear to be initials of people that would appear to be "the 36". Definitely the kind of graphic design that I've always found to be quite compelling, as it leaves a ton to the imagination.
Imaginative as well is the music of Monument 36. For the most part, the sounds emerge from what could possibly be synths or laptops, calmly eddying out from their sources. Long form drones are established and occasionally seasoned by small percussive clanks and chord sounds, eventually joined by what I think are viola and bowed cymbals. The longer tones of Arc's playing blend into lovely, room filling waves that tend to freeze Disaster Amnesiac in place; I find my mind floating along within their contemplative, pulsing aural streams.  
Monument 36, with its wide, quietly moving phases, has all of the qualities that make Minimalism such a cool approach when it is paired with attentive listening. Kudos as well for the stellar engineering here, from sound capture to mix to mastering. It sounds really well crafted on all of those fronts, too.
Put this tape on and allow

Coims-The Realisation That Someone Has Been Stood Behind You Your Entire Life; eh? Records cassette #111, 2019
What does Coims mean? Is it an acronym? A surname? Quite mysterious, as is just about everything else on The Realisation That Someone Has Been Stood Behind You Your Entire Life. When Disaster Amnesiac first took in the cover art, I was expecting some kind of tribal music or something, but was instead treated to four tracks of somewhat lo-fi Electro-Acoustic sounds. All kinds of instrumental interplay is at work on The Realisation.  Primitive synth tones merge with mic'd metals, feedback pulses drone and warble, drum machine beats get all glitchey, stringed instruments are plucked and processed, odd voices intone atop the din, and drum kits interact with squalls of electronics. It's a fantastic ride, notable for the very cool meshing of said elements into coherent pieces that do not fail to surprise the listener with their unexpected turns. Coims seem to be onto some kind of as yet unnamed Fusion music, and Disaster Amnesiac considers himself very much on board with it. They have taken the last 50 or so years of truly underground music and blended their elements into a singularly cool statement. Really fun, fine stuff here.

Sean Hamilton-Table For One; pfMentum Records, 2019
If Disaster Amnesiac could find a few more solo percussion recordings, Sean Hamilton's Table For One would certainly be part of a long overdue Up Half Known Roads installment. The peripatetic Hamilton is making his mark within the instrumental music underground with his astute solo percussion statements, of which Table is a fine example. Sean coaxes all kind of sounds from his drum set, which is often enhanced with what sound like small gongs for cool melodic effect. As I've listened, I've marveled at the pinpoint precision of the stick and mallet striking that goes on within the matrix of these compositions. Musical layers emerge from these kit pieces, and interspersed with them are quieter, more meditative actions that feature only one sound source, which set up the more frenetic ones nicely. Sean Hamilton is busy developing his unique solo percussion language, and fans of the genre should be delighted with Table For One.

zBug-Splitting Glass/Twilight Sunrise; SoundToPeople Records, 2014
SF Bay Area stalwart improvisor David Leikam has had his band zBug going for quite a few years now. On a recent Sunday, Disaster Amnesiac was happy to catch their set at Temescal Arts Center in Oakland, at which time David graciously gave me a copy of Splitting Glass/Twilight Sunrise. What one gets on this CD is basically two versions of each of these titles: one full version and one that is edited. Smart move, really. Radio stations would probably be more inclined to jam the latter, while fans of improvised music would likely dig on the former just as much. And there is a whole lot of sound to dig. David gets really wild sounds out of his Moog and electric bass. He builds these huge walls of sound that are "based on architecture". The percussive vim of Sheila Bosco pushes the music forward with great energy, and guitarist Fred Malouf gets all manner of texture from his axe. Splitting Glass/Twilight Sunrise is a heavy blast of what Disaster Amnesiac keeps thinking of as Industrial Jazz as I've listened. Surely this term has been used before, but it definitely describes the sound of zBug. They're a band that packs a real whallop live, and David has bookings for 2020 set up. Get on out and support them!

Ernesto Diaz-Infante-For M.F.; Pax Recordings, 2018
The deeper that Disaster Amnesiac goes into this post, the more it is realized that I could go on for a while, but you have my word that this will do it. Ernesto Diaz-Infante gave me a copy of For M.F. some months back at a bookstore in SF, and I've since marveled at the quiet control of this recording. Diaz-Infante spends about an hour getting very intimate with an acoustic guitar on For M.F., playing a quite minimal set of notes with intense focus. This is music that will surely put the listener into a moods of calm or even entrancement. I've driven with it on the car stereo, spent time puttering around the house to it, and have been blown away by its serene yet intense vibes. This is music that has all of the quiet majesty of, say, Indonesian Gamelan and the heaviness of any number of the current Drone Metal scene. All emanating from the fingers of one man man, mind you. And that cover art! Spooky!

In closing, Disaster Amnesiac wants to thank all of the artists who've supplied me with this music. You folks' music is loved and appreciated by me. I hope that this post will get a few more heads to feel the same way about it.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Two New Youth Chairs Songs!

David Winogrond and his pals in Youth Chairs continue their interesting Renaissance this year with two new tracks of classic Pop Rock jangle!
First up, we have the the gritty guitars of Larry Jacobson pairing with sweet vocal delivery from Kim Dart Hurwitz and Gabriele Morgan on I Want You Different. Disaster Amnesiac really digs the way Youth Chairs utilize both of their vocalists on this tune. What an astute move, both personally and creatively. Regarding the latter aspect, it just works on a harmonic level. It just strikes me as a neat bit of flexibility in the case of the former. Different's 1:49 duration swings by with a classically Los Angeles Pop sensibility, showcasing a sweet little solo riff and a tom tom pounded bridge. Wall of Sound fans, take note, as it checks all of the boxes from that particular aesthetic. Really good stuff, Disaster Amnesiac just wishes that it was a bit longer!

Ho, ho, ho!, and next up, Youth Chairs present a Christmas song! On Santa's On Vacation, we get more of that 1960's straight up rhythmic slide, propelled by higher bass notes from John Richey and Dave's propulsive high hat riding. Morgan's lyrics have Mr. Claus heading south for surf and chicks; why not, the guy's worked so hard for so long. Surely Amazon has given him a run for his money, too? Disaster Amnesiac is really digging the brief instrumental break, which is squeezed tightly into the very well crafted tune. Again, a very Los Angeles bit of sunshine Pop is featured here to great, toe tapping effect.

Fans of Power Pop take note: Youth Chairs continue to hone their considerable skills within that genre. Wax up your boards, fire up your Woodies and dig the beats of Winogrond and company!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Goodbye Ginger Baker

This morning Disaster Amnesiac spent some time listening to Ginger Baker's last album, Why? Dunno if you've heard it, but for me, it brings to light the diversity of musical expression that Ginger was able to wring from that aspect of his crazed life.
He started out with Jazz, moved on to the Blues and Heavy Rock, then began to incorporate the music of West Sub-Saharan Africa, and this only the first half of his career! The second half had him surprising Punk Rockers as he slammed beats for John Lydon, developing incredibly unique Fusion music with Bill Laswell and finally returning to his beloved Jazz, that last move probably being incredibly sweet for him as he was greeted with open arms by several of his musical heroes for it.
It's no secret that the man had a completely bonkers tack to his personal life. Surely there was much personal damage, alienation, and outright neglect towards those closest to him.
That said, Disaster Amnesiac has always marveled at his drumming skills, especially on releases like Album by PiL and his incredible 1989 Middle Passage. It's that unmistakable sound of his tom toms, paired with the incessant 2 and 4 click of his hi-hat that has me coming back often. Ginger's drumming surely isn't everyone's cup of tea, but Disaster Amnesiac has loved it for years, and will continue to do so.
Goodbye Ginger. May your spirit travel to where it needs to go. Those of us who were touched by your sounds will continue to bob our heads and tap our feet at your downbeats, as reliably consistent as the days are long.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Goodbye Robert Hunter

It stands to reason that had Disaster Amnesiac been blogging back in 1995, there would have been a "Goodbye Jerry Garcia" post from me. Seeing as that Robert Hunter was in many ways Jerry's creative twin brother, it seems fitting to give him a quick goodbye post.
Robert Hunter's words very much defined the lives, times, and world views of millions of people. One would be hard pressed to find a poet whose writing reached and effected as many people. Walt Whitman? Jack Kerouac? Disaster Amnesiac can't think of too many more. If you can, please do comment. Sometimes these words strike me as deeply sublime, at others times some of them seem kind of dopey. They always do leave an impression, though.
Robert Hunter strove for, and really did achieve, a uniquely American literary vision, one that reflected the striving, heartbreak, and foibles of the people that have walked the North American gauntlet. The Grateful Dead's lyrics, courtesy of Hunter, for better or worse broke down the somewhat naive visions of the scene from which they achieved notoriety and gave a much more honest view the human condition, particularly in regards to humans in the U.S.A.
Disaster Amnesiac always appreciated this, along with Hunter's non-blinders wearing views towards his brother Jerry, especially in the wake of his final demise. Robert Hunter kept it real, always.
Goodbye, Robert Hunter. Surely there are a lot of people that are grateful for your taking up Jerry Garcia on his proposition to help out his band with lyrics so many years ago. You truly helped more than you hurt. 

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Black Flag-Ace of Spades, Sacramento CA; 9/6/19

Honestly the last thing on Disaster Amnesiac's mind while at Black Flag's performance at Ace of Spades in Sacramento was doing a blog post about it. I was just there to enjoy the feeling of being in the same room with Greg Ginn's guitar tones. That being said, on the 60-something mile drive home, it became increasingly clear that it just HAD to be done.
Why, you ask? To put in bluntly, Black Flag DESTROYED! The band were whip smart and tight as a drum; clearly, all of their recent touring has got them seriously gelled.
The new rhythm section were heavy when they needed to be, propulsive when the tunes required that. Disaster Amnesiac did not catch the bass player's name, but I feel strongly that he's Black Flag's secret weapon. How he anchored everything! Just great.
Mike Vallely does an awesome job of singing songs from all eras (save the 2012-13 version, for obvious reasons). I felt as though his understated presence during Ginn's solos was in really good taste, too. Mike delivers the lyrics and gets out of the way for his man Greg.
Speaking of Ginn: he was ON FIRE at Ace of Spades. Holy crap it was great to hear him take those mind bending solos. Disaster Amnesiac still remembers first hearing his guitar sounds, and how they changed how I heard music, permanently. It was THAT Ginn that was on display in Sacramento, with all of the wild, expressive bordering on chaos control that so endears his music to me.
Especially cool was the extended version of Slip It In, where I swear he threw in some Taylor Texas Corrugators licks, the delightful treat of I Can See You (had the 1980's Black Flag ever played that one live?), a nice, choppy version of Bastard In Love, and a throttling, emotional Rise Above. Hell, there was not one dud in the set. The early stuff was driving, the later stuff was oozing.
Black Flag's current iteration remains a divisive topic among a certain set of music fans. I for one find it to be an incredibly ass kicking band.
Greg and Mike, can you please cook up some new songs with your new bass and drums pals? Lord knows y'all have got plenty of talent to do so.

Below: Black Flag laying waste to Ace of Spades

Monday, August 5, 2019

Mitchell Feldstein-Pretty Boss; Flag Day Records cassette/digital, 2019

Holy Reptile House, Batman, what do we have here? Why, yes, it's new Lungfish related product! Disaster Amnesiac is stoked to be hearing this new offering from Mitchell Feldstein, Pretty Boss.
Across the duration, roughly, of a standard poetry reading, the listener is treated to 16 tracks of Mitchell's great writings, delivered by the man himself. What a delight it is to hear his Philadelphia/Baltimore accent as he intones stories of life lived within the cracks and crevices of worlds both physical and temporal. Aging, death, frustration, insights from strangers and intimates are espoused in these pieces, and all are given a glistening dignity from the control that Feldstein obviously has over his craft. There's a Beat grittiness to these poems. Their scenes and the people within them, including the author, are very relatable.
Adding to the wonder of Pretty Boss is the musical accompaniments of Matthew Dermond and Zane Kanevsky. This duo repeatedly conjure up some absolutely perfect sounds that gird, smother, and support the readings. Electronics buzz and whirr, odd scratches break out, keyboards get pointy and funky, all just perfectly placed as they mix with Mitchell's incantations. The closing track, When She Told Him She Was In Love, with its repeated guitar riff and plummy bass picking, will have Lungfish fans weeping if I dare say so. It's just got that sound.
Much like Hammerin' Hank Aaron, one of the poetic subjects that appear on Pretty Boss, Flag Day and Mitchell Feldstein have hit a home run here. Be sure to bring your glove, as you'll want to catch it.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Alan Sondheim-Future Speed Future; Public Eyesore Records #143

Of one thing you can be certain with the worlds of art and music: there will always be a race against time. Creative people seem to be particularly afflicted by the mental horror of this race. Musicians and artists spend so much of their time unseen by anyone but those closest to them as they learn and hone and finesse their chosen crafts.
Disaster Amnesiac mentions this because these dynamics are well to the fore on Alan Sondheim's newest CD, Future Speed Future. As I read the self-penned liner notes for the disc, I often get a feeling of sheer terror as Alan mentions the psychic and physical pain that arises from his method for the songs collected therein. In his own words, the "...[F]ast as possible improvisation/not repeating/shape-riding sonic worlds..." are sources of discomfort as he performs them.
Thankfully for the listener, it's not so much raw pain as beauty that will be encountered from them. As his fingers do indeed skitter incredibly fast across the necks and bridges of acoustic guitars, sazs, oud, dutar and viola, one is treated to lovely micro-tonal phrases that fly around the perceptions like exotic butterflies or fast moving celluloid art. It always strikes Disaster Amnesiac that improvised music presents the listener not so much with songs to be sung along with but interior/exterior worlds that must be worked toward to be truly appreciated. Sondheim has spent decades working them in and out of his menagerie of stringed instruments, and on Future Speed Future he for the most part pushes the pedal to the metal, full speed ahead. Fingers fly across the frets and strings, and if one is paying attention, these acoustic sounds resonate in most delightful ways. Again, if one does the mental work, the aesthetic riches are there for the taking.
Alan's long time partner Azure Carter provides a bit of counterpart with vocals and lyrics on three tracks, as her approach is much more measured. It's almost as she Azure is reminding Alan that it's alright to take a breath; meanwhile, Alan plows forward, and these contrasts are stunning. Sondheim will not rest, and let's just hope that he finds ways to cope with the pace that he's chosen.
Back in June of 2018, Disaster Amnesiac got to spend a few delightful hours in Alan Sondheim's presence, and I left that encounter realizing that anyone who is interested in true Art and Creativity would benefit immensely from spending time with his straightforward and wide ranging insights. If one can't get out to his current home of Providence, one should grab a copy of Future Speed Future and start learning from him there. Can you keep up?

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

APR-The Furies Inside Me (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack); eh? Records cassette, 2019

Pivoting away from Jaap Blonk's Dada moves now, Disaster Amnesiac finds myself immersed in the heavy as hell instrumental power trio dynamics of APR. Across nine tracks of guitar/bass/drums storming, The Furies Inside Me has drummer Bobby Previte leading the way with some of the fiercest playing that I recall hearing from him. He drives guitarist Peter Aaron and bass player John Rosenthal with a combination of Free Jazz stamina and Heavy Metal (just pick your subset of it, he's got 'em all down) precision. Disaster Amnesiac realizes that people have been doing this for decades now, but holy smokes does Previte have it down.
The string players answer fantastically with their scorching tones that blast from amps which sound seriously turned the fuck up. Aaron and Roshenthal are not holding back in the wake of Previte's pummel.
The Furies Inside Me contains the kind of instrumental music that demands and holds the attention of a listener with its metallic squalling and head over heels ensemble gallops: they're here for the delight of any fan of this kind of fused music.
I've not seen this film, but the playing from APR has me wondering how its images can compete with the fire that it its soundtrack; just like all great soundtracks, The Furies Inside Me stands up as an individual statement. Disaster Amnesiac is sitting here dreaming of APR doing a live gig with the film playing simultaneously. I guess it'd ruin any dialogue that the film might have, but this tape and its great sounds have convinced me to seek out some kind of home copy of it, anyway. How could it not rock as hard as this tape from eh?

Monday, April 22, 2019

Jaap Blonk-Joyous Junctures; eh? Records #107, cassette; 2019

Recently at the high school where Disaster Amnesiac works, our World History class has been delving deeply into World War I. Along with marveling at just how much of a waste of people and resources that debacle was, I've also been thinking about how dada was really the only sane response to such an absolutely insane pursuit.
If you're thinking that Joyous Junctures, the recent cassette from Jaap Blonk on eh? Records, also has Disaster Amnesiac thinking about dada, you'd be right. The playful, willfully skewed nature of the music on this release is certainly worthy of the moniker. The ways with which Blonk bends computer sounds, voices, and tones from other sources has my mind pinned to the existential floor as
I imagine those that experienced the ontology emanating from Cabaret Voltaire must also have felt. Approached for a more linear vantage, Joyous Junctures may not do much for a listener, but if heard with a bit more of cyclic one, the songs on this cassette having the kind of surreal atmospheres and modes that really are delightful. Electronic squiggles merge with whirring and burbling tones. Metallic sounds scrape and trill. These then find themselves serving as the backdrop for vocal experimentation from both human and AI. Glossalalia and written texts are both found and explored by Blonk and his robots, sometimes within the same piece. It all adds up to an hour of delightfully odd, fun and often quite funny sounds.
If you're in need of escape from the every day mundane, Joyous Junctures will surely do the trick. Its dada will likely have you laughing and marveling simultaneously. It's art for the living, so spend some time living with it, human!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Patrick Shiroishi/Arturo Ibarra-LA Blues; eh? Records #105; 2018

Hey there! It's been FAR too long since Disaster Amnesiac has posted anything. Suffice it to say, I've been very busy with other aspects of my life. That said, when Bryan Day comes a callin' with promo packages delivered to chez Amnesiac, I just have to get off of my butt and get to describing and enthusing.
This brings me to 2018's LA Blues, a righteous duo set of Free Improvisation from Patrick Shiroishi and Arturro Ibarra. Keying off of lessons learned from Japanese guitarist Masayuki Takayanagi, Shiroishi and Ibarra set down some seriously locked in interplay for alto sax and electric guitar.
Projection 8 sets the tone for the tape as the two wail and scream at all surrounding entities. It's very heavy, the way that their blasting tones leap right out of the gate, with zero letup for the duration. Upon first listen, Disaster Amnesiac was sure that the sax was a tenor, and this should show the raw power of Patrick's lungs! Arturo's guitar sounds wonderfully free of effects as he draws these giant chords from the strings.
Side A's second track, Projection 14, starts off with a bit more space being given between the players as they chatter together. Eventually the conversation picks up steam as Ibarra and Shiroishi ramp up the energy. This one is based upon Takayanagi's concept of "gradual projection", and its somewhat more stated minimalist elements definitely show. When they start throwing the tones around, though....worth the wait for any Free Jazz fan.
On the flip side, we get Projection 3, another gradual one on which Ibarra starts off with a cool line, over which Shiroishi floats some more of those lower notes on the alto. It's not long before the lines get more intertwined and the listener finds their ears following the fast ideas streaming forth, albeit in a slightly more restrained manner. Still, there's much sound to be digested as this duo gets down to the action of playing. A real sweet ending statement from Shiroisi, too.
Last up is another "mass projection", much like LA Blues' opening track, Projection 58. As the liner note describes it, it's "...marked by bombast, [and] intensity...." Ibarra and Shiroishi slam and tear at the air on this one, with the former sounding especially keyed in to some higher directive. The latter responds accordingly, and the result is a feast of energetic, storming Free Jazz that splatters and coats the brain with delicious sonic colors.
Let's face it, it takes some balls to call your release LA Blues. Putting your stuff on the level with the fabled Stooges skronk masterpiece should not be done lightly. Patrick Shiroishi and Artuo Ibarra rise to the challenge in ways that would surely put smiles on the faces of Steve Mackay and Ron Ashton. LA Blues delivers in much the same way as the song that it takes its name from did. Powerful stuff here.