Friday, August 29, 2008

Emergency Room Swap Meet-- Sunday, August 31st, 2PM-all day

The ER is having a swap meet this coming Sunday and I have reserved a table to hawk my stockpile of CDRs, tapes and LPs that I have been wholesaling from labels across North America. Come on down and nab some copies of recent items from Not Not Fun, DNT, Night People, aRCHIVE, Goaty Tapes and numerous others. Almost all of these items are either out of print, unavailable in Vancouver record shops or both. Most of the recordings are doom, drone, psych, experimental or a combo of all the above. Got some Robedoor tapes/LPs, Raccoo-oo-oon records/tapes, Pocahaunted tapes/LPs, Family Underground LPs and many affiliated items. Come and get some.

Robedoor "Rancor Keeper" (Release The Bats) 2007

Perfect album to cap off this shite week of summer rain and bad news about a local venue. One of about a dozen releases last year from Robedoor and happens to be one of their finest and most unique. Inside this four track behemoth lay dark grey earth-enveloping doom clouds that shroud the listener in a black blanket of dread. Unlike most of their slowly unfurling drone releases, Rancor Keeper is a much doomier, stomping affair, dragging the listener to the top of blackest mountains only to drop them off the peak and beginning the process again. Get under a blanky and let the dread begin.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Weekend Review (belated)

Quick recap of a couple shows this last Saturday. The night started off at Anti-Social where The Rita was performing "his most important set ever." The Rita was given a grant by the Canadian Arts Council to recreate the sound of a motorbike engine using fuzz pedals and other electronics. If anyone read The Rita review I wrote in Discorder a few months back (I wouldn't blame you if you didn't), I compared his sound to a jet engine being revved. It's kinda nice to know that I was actually on to something. Anyways, the set started off with The Rita dialing in the electronics until they blended together to create a sharp, sputtering engine-like wall of noise. After that, The Rita hooked up contact mics to a motorbike engine, layered it with electronics, and, effectively, re-created his own sound using the engine. The location of the show (the small, cement backroom of Anti-Social) was the perfect spot, as maximum volume combined with the small confines melded together to create a full-body experience.

Seagull followed up with an amusing set where he flung around a supposedly malfunctioning microphone while a heavy blast of harsh noise enveloped the room. Great set from a burgeoning local noise talent. Check out his Wire/Byron Coley, Mimaroglu, Aquarius approved label, Ketchup Cavern.

Another local noise act, Taskmaster, followed with an unflinching tidal wave of brutal electronics. Very similar in vibe to The Rita.

Sick Buildings ended off the night and also had the last laugh. The set was composed of two tapes; one that had recorded crowd noise during the night and the other used to record snippets of the three previous acts. The effect was a disorienting, yet hilarious assault on the already bludgeoned crowd. As you can probably see from the photo below, Sick Buildings simply played the tapes and left the room, returning only once to grab his beer. Another great set from the ever-inventive Sick Buildings.

We quickly headed down to The Cobalt to check out Shearing Pinx and Twin Crystals (two local faves, in case you weren't paying attention) but only got there in time to see the last half of the SHPX show. Twin Crystals, for whatever reason, didn't play that night. Instead the crowd was treated with the return of Adjective (they haven't played since Music Waste) and the overrated Japandroids. Adjective were pretty sloppy and probably could have used a few more practices before heading back to the stage after a long hiatus. There is real potential in the band and I haven't written them off yet. Japandroids, who I have seen several times, failed to impress me, once again. Don't get me wrong, the two-piece is tight, they just don't do a damn thing for me and probably never will.

See you at the GZA tonight!

The Rita



Sick Buildings

Shearing Pinx

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tight Bro's From Way Back When "Lend You A Hand" (2001)

The shit weather this past week in Vancouver has had me dwelling in the basement and blogging dark drone records. Now that there is a spot or two of sunshine, I can't help but want to put on some tight-ass pants and kick out the jams. I came across this unheralded gem earlier in the week while sorting through some CDs and couldn't resist doing a quick post/upload on it. If you didn't know, TBFWBW have put out 2 records on Kill Rock Stars (this is their second, new one coming soon), reside in Olympia and work better than crystal meth for house cleaning. Yes, this is rock. Yes, this is hard. And no, this ain't hard rock. AC/DC and the MC5 are pretty obvious touchstones fer these fellas, but TBFWBW take these precious strains of rock and amp them up for the 21st century. Anyone at all interested in early Rye Coalition (there has to be at least a few of you) ought to check these mutha's out.

Awesome cover of Joe Tex's Show Me (but most likely influenced by The Foundations' rockin' verision of it):


Read Julian Cope's review of their debut here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

RV Paintings "Trinity Rivers" (2008) Root Strata, Edition of 500

RV Paintings is the side project of Bryan Pyle, who spends most of his time with the mystic duo known as Starving Weirdos. He's apparently accompanied by his two brothers. Unlike most of the Starving Weirdos work I've heard, RV Paintings is a much more focused affair and doesn't feature too much of the childlike noisemaking heard on many SW releases. Instead we have dark, industrial soundscapes created with glasses, field recordings, african slitdrum, and, errr "fog-like layers", as well as the usual suspects of instruments (drums, guitars etc). The silver and black cover represents the music within quite well; dark, dreamlike looping drones that slowly layer themselves on top of one another, whirring and skittering above your head as you float down a black river of unease. Metallic squeaks and lapping waves juxtapose to create an environment of cold anxiousness. From the same label that brought you Barn Owl's "Raft of Serpents" and Grouper's "Cover the Windows and Walls." Highly recommended.

Buy here:
Root Strata


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Expo '70 "Animisim", "Audio Archive 001 and 002" (Kill Shaman) 2008

Expo '70 is the (usually) one man drone project of Justin Wright, who hails from unlikely Kansas City, USA. The man has been churning out CDRs for about four years now, and each successive release has improved upon the last.

Animism is the most recent full length from this one man drone juggernaut and is perhaps the darkest material he has pumped out yet. The album starts off in the shadowy mountain passages of Tangerine Dream but soon picks up and sets its sights for the dark matter of the great kosmiche in the stars. An amped up, more chugging version of Sunn O))) is an apt comparison for the middle section of the record. After an intense mid-section, Animism slowly unfurls in a mess of dark and droning synths, interrupted occasionally by drawn out and buzzy riffage. One can't help but be imagine floating listlessly in the cosmos when listening to this one.


Audio Archive 001

Audio Archive 002
The next 2 releases are collections of unused material from 2006-2007. If you check out the Expo '70 discogs page, one can tell that the man is busy if he has this much unreleased material from the last two years alone. These definitely aren't throwaways, however, the tracks don't gel together as well as the more thematic Animisim or his previous full lengths. Most of the tracks presented on these two releases flit between intense organ drone-outs, buzzing acoustic ragas, solo guitar space launches, and haunting voodoo theremin experiments, all of which show the vast range of drone styles that Justin has quickly mastered. Song titles like Summoning The Cosmos, Psalm Of The Universe, White Magic At Dawn and Ghost Vapors ought to give you a sense of what he's reaching for.

Expo '70 is hardly breaking any new ground, in fact he's treading on territory that has been explored for almost 40 years. What I think is impressive is his ability to pay homage to so many varying styles of the same theme while also bringing his own unique, updated touches.

Audio Archive 001 DOWNLOAD HERE
Audio Archive 002 DOWNLOAD HERE

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A&B Sound (Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love HMV)

I'm sure that by now most people in Vancouver have heard about the closure of the last 2 A&B Sounds in the city, including the downtown location (Seymour St.) and the Marine Drive location. For most of us, this is not a big problem, for A&B Sound had long ago lost it's appeal to Lower Mainland music consumers. I worked at the "flagship" location on Seymour Street for 5 years (2001-2006) and just barely caught the tailend of the glory years of that store and the chain itself. For over 40 years the downtown A&B Sound was the shop you (well, at least myself and damn near everyone I knew) headed to for the newest release in any genre. Not only because they were pretty much guaranteed to have it on the release date, but also because it was they were the cheapest. If you also include the depth of the catalogue in the store, the friendly, unpretentious staff, you have the makings for the best record store in Vancouver, which it was nominated for, and won through most of its history. Sometime in the early 00's, at the dawn of mass downloading and dwindling music sales, A&B Sound started to slip. In fact, it posted losses for the first time during 2003-04, and by 2005 they filed for bankruptcy protection. The chain was then bought out by Seanix, a computer company. For the first year of their tenure, they were pretty hands off, letting the music departments run their sections as normal. By the beginning of 2006, Seanix, with no warning, fired all of the management staff at almost of the locations, with no plan on replacing them or with a plan in place. Stores were shut down (Surrey, Metrotown, Hastings) and the Seymour location suffered severe shuffling, which included moving all of the music to the second floor, then moving it back downstairs, moving it back upstairs, and on and on. The store was being run by computer nerds and business men that had no clue how to run a record store, much less fix one in an industry going through great turmoil. During this time (spring '06), I was terminated from my position (buyer for first floor music and floor supervisor). My position was, basically, never filled. In fact, during most of 2007, A&B Sound stopped ordering new music all together. Even catalogue slowed to a trickle. Then, by 2008, they stopped ordering any music at all, later having a 50% off EVERYTHING sale. Basically doing everything but putting a closing out sale sign on the front door. For anyone who has stepped foot into an A&B in the last two years, it should come as no big surprise that A&B in Vancouver is done.

Despite the once great A&B Sound crumbling under my feet, I quickly landed a job at Zulu Records and found myself a much happier person. Something still irked me though. With A&B closing many stores, Sam The Record Man shutting down, Virgin calling it quits, it was/is quite clear that something was wrong with the industry. And not just in Vancouver, but across the globe. Tower Records, a giant in the industry in the US, closed all of it's locations and independent shops closed across North America and the UK. It was becoming clear that the people had spoken, and they wanted convenience. Where does that leave us now? There is good news and bad news. The bad news is that record stores are, clearly, still closing. The good news is that, while CD sales continue to plummet, vinyl sales are up, independent labels are doing better than ever and Record Store Day was a hit.

So where does this leave us now? My prediction is that the independent record store will act as it always has, which is a location for consumption of music for the open minded individual. And the internet (myspace, etc) and downloading will continue to act as a conduit for music exploration. Long gone are the days where an artist will be able to sell millions and millions of albums off a single radio/MTV hit, all of which kept the major label music industry afloat and made up for the losses of "failed" albums. No longer will the consumer have to spend 2 hours wage to buy an album with 1 or 2 hit singles, then only to find the rest as filler. Hopefully the industry is picking up on the demand for quality and will rectify the situation. It is now sink or swim for the majors and the big box stores, who, not coincidentally, have actually decreased the amount of music they carry. Has anyone actually stepped foot into a Best Buy in Vancouver? The music selection is atrocious, which makes it a real bummer knowing that Best Buy targeted A&B Sounds' music and DVD selection only to ease off on stocking it when they knew the chain was toast. My next prediction is that most big box stores will stop carrying music altogether, or at least only stock the new Lil Wayne or whatever album is blowing up on MTV or the radio. This should leave a bit more space for the little guy to breathe.

Speaking of the little guy, they still do need help. Drop by your local neighborhood record store and buy a damn record or 2. Trade in some old CDs and pick up some vinyl or some new CDs. Invest in a decent record player and hear the amazing difference between your ipod and a 180gr slab of wax. If people don't keep supporting their record stores, they will close, and you'll have no one to blame but yourself.

Please Visit:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Guide to Chicago Record Shops

Every time I visit a city I make sure to check out as many record stores as my time and wallet allows. You can always judge the "cool factor" of a city on it's record stores, and Chicago has an abundance of unique record stores. The sheer size of the city and the deep history of the local music scene should help to keep the independent record store alive and well for some time to come. Now, with than in mind, there have also been a many shops closed over the last few years, and, of the long list of shops I had discovered online, I was informed/discovered that many of them no longer existed and very few new ones had sprung up in their place. The same problem has occurred in Vancouver (not to mention across the globe), where over the last decade there have been many closures of independent record stores (anyone remember record row downtown?) and even a lot of the big boys have shut their doors (Sam's, Virgin, half the A&B Sounds). Vancouver is not doing too bad but it certainly isn't the record haven it once was. But I digress.

***Update*** Funnily enough, I have just learned that the A&B Sound on Seymour St. and the location on Marine Drive have both closed their doors. Working at the "flagship" Seymour location of over 5 years, I definitely saw this one coming. More on that in a later post.***

One of the best things about record shopping in the US is the cost of new vinyl. I thought it would be heaven for finding rare used collectors records, which in certain aspects it was, but the best part was stocking up on reissues and current releases, most of which were $10 or less. Working in a record store, I know the average cost of a record. The prices on new vinyl was well below the Canadian cost on most of the vinyl I picked up. It's no wonder that vinyl sales have gone through the roof over the last few years. Even shops like Wal-Mart are picking up on the trend.

Without further delay here is my guide to Chicago record stores.

Dave's Records
Dave's was the first that I got the chance to visit but only because it was three blocks from my hostel. Dave's is owned and operated by, you guessed it, a man named Dave. I always like going into a record store that has one owner and operator because they always know what they have in stock and just generally know their shit. Dave's stocked exclusively records, new and used, natch. The store was well organized and there were stacks of records from the floor to the ceiling, ranging from modern indie rock to jazz and classical. He even kept an audiophile section for heavyweight vinyl and had a large celebrity records section (who thought Leonard Nimoy had that many records?). Overall, the prices were great, Dave was very talkative and funny, and the shop was impeccably organized. If you make it out to the Lincoln Park area of Chicago, drop by Dave's.

Nice Strong Arm "Mind Furnace" ($1.99) Underrated Texas post-punk.
Eleh "Floating Frequencies/Intuitive Synthesis 1" ($11.99) this record has been out of print for a year and now demands a small fortune on ebay.

Rock Records
Rock Records is in the heart of downtown Chicago, which is an unfortunate waste of prime record store real estate because this is the worst record, errr CD shop in all of Chicago. The place was top 40 to the max but at inflated prices. The place is most likely going under, as everything in the shop was %50 off. I figured that I might find something worth buying, but, even with the great discount, there was nothing. Flipping through some of the bins I found that I hardly even recognized any of the bands, which all looked like pop drivel. I went to the Nirvana section jsut in case there were some rarities and to my surprise found a small selection of bootlegs. On closer inspection they were bootlegs of bootlegs. The covers had clearly been photocopied...badly. And they wanted $50 for them! Funny thing was they didn't even carry any of the legitimate Nirvana releases. I vacated the joint immediately.

Finds: NONE

Reckless (Downtown)
The Reckless downtown was a bit of a waste of time, as they didn't stock 1/3 the amount as their sister shops. Downtown was a big letdown for record shopping, so I advise all record hounds heading to Chicago to avoid downtown, unless you need to do some sightseeing.

This one was a bit of a surprise that I found on my way to another record shop. Funny thing was, despite the sunny weather, the blinds of the shop were shut, causing me to question if the place was even open. Nope, it seems that metal heads running the shop were not big fans of bright, cheery weather. Inside was a great selection of metal all broken down into sub-genres (grind, black, power etc), and included CDs and Records. The prices were a little out of hand, but any metal fan visiting Chicago ought to check this place out.

Laurie's Planet Of Sound
Laurie's was pretty far from where I was staying and wasn't exactly in a happening area, though I suppose that Laurie's does the trick for anyone living in the area looking for an alternative to Reckless. Laurie's carried a large selection of new and used records which didn't stray too far from rock and it's permutations. There was some jazz, country and hip-hop but the selections were pretty small. That being said, Laurie's may have been the cheapest record shop in the city, most likely due to their distance from the more expensive, hipper neighborhoods.

Del Jones "Positive Vibes" LP ($8.99) Great reissue of this obscure afro-jazz, proto-rap classic.
Eugene McDaniels "Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse" and "Outlaw" Reissues ($8.99 each)


You know you've stepped into a bad record store when you smell incense. Deadwax dealt strictly with used records and CDs...from your grandmothers' collection. If you're into mediocre exotica/lounge, bad country or classical then make sure you stop by this place. I did have one decent find...

Fripp/Eno "Evening Star" ($5.00)

Dusty Groove

If you're looking to get away from many of the rock-centric record shops in Chicago, Dusty Groove is calling your name. Specializing in global, hip-hop, soul and jazz, Dusty Groove is a beat-head haven. New and used records and CDs were stocked and priced to move. Most re-issues of classic records from any of the above genres ran at about $10 or less. Aside from being inexpensive, Dusty Groove stocked tons of hard-to-find re-issues (most seemed illegitimate) that I haven't been able to get through work or online. Long out of print Just-Ice CDs and impossible to find Sun Ra LPs are the order of the day here. All crate diggers who don't mind buying re-issues for 1/10th the price of an original need to make a stop here. A class A joint with amazing stock, prices, and organized immaculately. A perfect record store.

Showbiz & AG "Runaway Slave" 2LP ($10.99) Hard to find re-issue of one of the all time greatest.
Just-Ice "Back To The Old School" CD ($9.99)
Doug Carn "Revelation" and "Adams Apple" LP reissues ($8.99 each)
Ed OG & The Bulldogs "Life Of A Kid In The Ghetto: Demos and Rarities" 2CD reissue ($11.99)

Reckless Records (Ukranian Village)
Reckless Records is a Chicago institution and haven for music nerds across the city. Three locations across the city means that you never have to travel far to cop whatever new release yr after. They also stock used LPs and CDs so it's always worth the trip to flip through their daily new arrivals. The prices are fair, not too high but not the cheapest either, but the selection at this location (and the Lincoln Park too) make it worth spending the extra dollar or two.

The Coup "Kill My Landlord" CD ($7.99) Impossibly rare debut album
Eleh "Homage to the Squarewave" LP ($19.99) Small pressing (500) of this drone masterwork that was hardly offered outside of the Important website.

Permanent Records
Made it out to the highly recommended Permanent Records on my last day in Chicago and it was well worth the wait. Permanent, while carrying yr regular indie releases, had a wide selection of experimental LPs, CDs and handmade tapes. In fact, Permanent was the only store I found that sold DIY tapes. They also had a wide selection of local artists releases that you simply could not get anywhere else in the city. The best part was the clerk who knew a little bit about each of the local tape releases and was even able to recommend some local drone artists. They stocked new and used and even had helpful handwritten descriptions on the more obscure releases, of which they had a lot of. The shop is a little out of the way but well worth the trek.

GZA "Liquid Swords" LP ($28.99) Original UK pressing, NM. Without a doubt this is the best find of the whole trip. The record goes for about $60 on ebay, that is, when it actually appears on the site, which is rare.
Robedoor "Shrine to the Possessor" LP ($19.99) Now OOP LP from these drone-masters.
John Maus "Songs" LP ($16.99) Long OOP record from this one time Ariel Pink and Panda Bar associate. Bizarro love songs from this overlooked troubadour of space-pop.

Reckless Records (Lincoln Park)
The largest and best of the three Reckless Records in Chicago. Same idea as the other two but almost twice the size. My only complaint with Reckless is how they stock their used CDs, which is by taking the booklet out of the case and putting it in a plastic sleeve with a paper card backing. While I'm sure this saves them floorspace, it also makes them impossible to flip through. You basically have to grab a stack and shuffle through them, making it an incredibly tedious exercise. Also, you can't look at the back of the CD to see the tracklisting to make sure you have the right album. Nonetheless, there were still a few great finds on CD and LP at this location.

Nirvana "Roma" CD bootleg ($16.99) Best recording of their last ever concert
Main Source "Fuck What You Think" CD ($7.99) Rare second album from this underrated hip-hop crew.
Diamond D "Stunts, Blunts and Hip-Hop" 2LP ($10.99) Another classic at a jaw-dropping price.

Hard Boiled
Tiny little shop in the Roscoe Village area that is run by one guy. The store was haphazardly kept and the records mingled with used comics, books and a bunch of other junk that seemed pulled from the owners' bedroom. He was incredibly helpful in pointing out a few other record shops that I didn't know about. Outside of that, the shop was not worth the trip.

Autechre "Draft 7.30" LP ($12.99)

Pitchfork Fest Record Fair
Ok, not exactly a record shop, but the 20-odd tables made this one of the best record shopping stops of the whole trip. Several local major-indie labels had tables (Thrill Jockey, Touch and Go) as well as other labels like KRS and Merge also had tables, along with plenty of local merchants and record shops. The best part about the labels' booths were how inexpensive new LPs were. I managed to cop 3 LPs for $25 at most of those tables, and was able to fill a few gaps in my collection for cheap. Most of the other merchants had some great collections and were all willing to bend in the price with the right sweet talking.

Sand "Dynamic Curve" LP ($12)
Royal Trux "Radio Video EP" 12" ($7) One of their best releases. OOP for too long.

*As usual, all photos courtesy of me. The list of finds is only a partial list and only used to set an example of the records/cds you are likely to come across.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Barn Owl @ Hokos w/ Aerosol Constellations, Orlando Magic, ahna & V. Vecker

Excellent night of West Coast drooooone took place at Hoko's earlier this week. If you missed it, here's a quick recap.

Aerosol Constellations
Aerosol Constellations is the space-dream-drone unit formed by the drummer of Shearing Pinx and the drummer from Stamina Mantis. Seems ironic that beatless music is what you get when you throw two drummers into a room and let 'em have it with an array of pedals and electronics. Great, short set of tense dronescapes from these Fake Jazz regulars. Buy some of their merch next time you see 'em, as they always have a ton of great looking/sounding CDRs fer sale.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic were a last minute add to the bill, and, admittedly, stuck out a bit on this all-drone bill. That being said, the kids came to crush. A ten-minute set of tightly wound no-wave instruMENTAL took the mostly laid back crowd back a bit, but sounded pretty darn good to these ears. Couple more shows under their belt, and these fellers oughta be on to something.

ahna, apparently, is a rotating cast of musicians all hell bent on drone-improv. The only member I recognized was the violinist from i/i, Anju. Their set was particularly satisfying, as their lean on drone tended to be a lot more grating than most of the acts on the bill, which I definitely dig. Don't get me wrong, I love me some transcendental drone, but my pain hungry ears appreciate the harsher side of things just a bit more. Anju's violin was an electrified grind on the ears and was the captivating force in ahna. I recommend checking 'em out soon...

V. Vecker
V. Vecker, whom I have written about numerous times in this here blog, played the highlight set of the night. Justin from Mutators/Emergency Room infamy seems to be a permanent addition to V. Vecker, and his presence is quite welcome. Keith, the guitarist (duh), brought out his two huge, loud Sunn stacks and began to pummel the room with his punk rock version of Sunn O))) riffage. Justin then ran a contact mic along his drums, which picked up the vibrations sent out from the amps and turned it into a harsh, static noise, that was then fired into the crowd. After an intense build up, Justin grabbed his sticks and pounded along with Keith. This is my fourth time seeing V.Vecker and I highly recommend them to anyone even vaguely interested in seeing one of the most innovative noise/drone/whatever bands in the city.

Barn Owl
Barn Owl came all the way up from San Francisco to drop some serious drone science on Vancouver. The two laid back fellers, complete with California Cool, were all business on stage, and set up a mesmerizing set of slowly shifting drone that washed over the crowd. Well, at least the part of the crowd paying attention. It seems that word got out that there was a show at Hoko's, and just before the band went on, some people who maybe thought Barn Owl were a rock band or something, showed up and filled the room with chatter, which became difficult to filter out during Barn Owl's quieter moments. So a special note/fuck you goes out to the kids making the scene that night: Maybe do a quick myspace listen before leaving the house, especially if your only intent is to go out to a loud rock show with some friends and get fucked up at Hoko's. Nonetheless, I'm sure that the promoter, Kris, appreciates your patronage. Hopefully, after losing a bit of money on the Grouper show, he recouped some cash. Got some extra copies of the Barn Owl LP on Not Not Fun for those that didn't cop one at the show.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Barn Owl "Raft Of Serpents" (Root Strata) 2008, Edition of 120

Barn Owl is playing their first Vancouver show tonight at Hoko's, which is brought to you by the same team that put on the Grouper show last Saturday. The ever-inventive V. Vecker, ahna, and Aerosol Constellations will be opening. Guaranteed to be a a great night of experimental music. And, if you just can't get enough, head down the road for some Fake Jazz afterwards.

Since I'm feeling lazy this morning (and running out of time), here is a review I copped from Aquarius.

Hot on the heels of their recent From Our Mouths A Perpetual Light lp, comes this super limited (only 120 copies) repress of a tour only cd-r, available again briefly on Jef from Tarentel's Root Strata label.
This SF duo (featuring new aQ employee Jon!) brew up dark swirling druggy drifts, the guitars languid, hovering and buzzing in wide open expanses of slow slithery ambience. Bands like this usually revel in loooooooong songs, but here, 5 of the 6 tracks are just over two minutes, the longest, the 6 minute opener is the most fully realized and song-like, guitars shimmering and wet with effects, the result is like some incorporeal 16rpm Spacemen 3, drumless, and with the propulsion-level set to near zero, leaving just weightless clouds of haunting metallic reverberation, steel stings vibrating in a gorgeously washed out blur. A track like this should take up all four sides of a double lp, druggy and deliriously dreamy, a soft fuzzy musical opium den.
The rest of the disc are brief little glimpses into some fuzzy alternate universe, where guitars glimmer like stars is a blueblack sky, long tones weep and moan like wind winding through desert canyons, melodies surface and fragment, sink into the murky abyss, rhythms coalesce out of creaks and thumps, voices materialize into ghostlike melodies, keening and mysterious, krautrock like grooves fall to pieces, bits of steel string Appalachia give way to barely there minimal guitar mumble, the shards and tendrils slowly grow into some languorous disembodied ghostly blue grass, a sea of soft slow motion twang, finishing off with a brief spate of sun dappled drone and warm melodious forestfolk drift, all smeared chimes and blurred tones.
Gorgeous stuff. But almost frustratingly brief, every one of these tracks would sound fantastic expanded to 10, 20, even 60 minutes, so for now, we'll just have to make do with these way too brief glimpses of the druggy dreamy sounds these guys are capable of...
LIMITED TO 120 COPIES! Packaged in a super striking metallic gold ink on black tri-fold sleeve!


Monday, August 4, 2008

Ora Cogan, Aja Rose Bond, Grouper @ Hoko's

Aja Rose Bond

After a month of build up (thanks for getting this thing going, Kris) Grouper made a rare appearance in Vancouver. She doesn't tour much, so this may have be the only opportunity to catch her. It proved worth waiting for. She played a few tracks off of her newest release, Dragging a Dead Deer Up A Hill, but kept the set fairly short. Saelan has done a much better review of the show than I could muster up, so i'll leave that review to him. He did, however miss Ora Cogan and Aja Rose Bond.

Ora played a heart-wrenching set of modern folk that kept half the crowd enraptured but seemed looked over by the other half, who, as they had every right to do, seemed more intent on gobbling up sushi and conversing. The quiet intensity of Ora's set may have come across a little better with the crowd's full attention.

Aja Rose Bond, whom I have written about before in these here pages, followed next. Aja proved to be a great warm-up to the ethereal music of Grouper. Her creative use of electronics, random objects and an electric guitar held up great and even commanded the full attention of the audience. Aja began by rubbing a small metal slide on her heavily treated guitar, which was laid flat on the stage, and produced intricate sounds of delicate distortion that transfixed the crowd. She later began dropping a small rubber ball on the strings, letting chance take over. The set was brief but mesmerizing, and provided a great set-up for Grouper.

To my surprise, Aja and Gabriel have released another collaborative effort and were selling it at the show. This is an incredibly small edition of 40 on tape and features some great packaging. Oh yah, the music is great as well! Pick it up this Thursday at VIVO, where you'll be able to catch Aja play with her other group, Ahna.