Laughing Eye Weeping Eye

a2331277226_16I really don’t know where to begin with this.

And that is a good thing.

This is where drone, folk, what is probably a harmonium, and tarot cards meet. This is particularly good for me, as these are all some of my favourite things, although by way of a disclaimer, I should point out that I have many, many favourite things. It’s one of the very best things about getting older.

I mean, I’ve labelled it ethereal, and in many respects it is, but it is also an amazingly material sound. There’s a density which complements the obviously etheric inspirations. If I was a ‘proper’ music critic, I’d be trying to think of a new genre name now.

And it sounds like absolutely nobody else I’ve ever heard. Again, in a good way.

The website of the main player, Rebecca Schoenecker, is here. She’s about a lot more than the music. Have a look at this video for a tune that isn’t on the album I’ve embedded:

Probably the best thing I can do is stop typing. Probably the best thing you can do is listen.

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Seven That Spells

It was towards the end of last year I discovered these ‘dogs of the Western Jazz society, looking for dope,’ probably around the time I got into the Villagers of Ioannina City – not that I was consciously going after rock music from the balkans; sometimes this stuff just happens that way.

svnspWhat we are hearing is a kind of prog-psych fusion, at least to my ears. The meat of their music is repetitive, heavy and long, with doses of chanting vocals thrown in – there’s something very masculine about it all. What is more, they are single-handedly seeing to the death AND resurrection of krautrock, a decidedly dangerous task only to be even contemplated by the hardiest of musical shamen.

All their stuff is worth hearing, but my personal favourite – and hence the one I’m going to embed – is the collaboration they did with Kawabata Makoto of Acid Mothers Temple, called The Men From Dystopia. Imagine what I’ve typed above but with added space noises and freakouts – now go away and clean yourself up, dirty boy.

This one really is not for the short of attention span, but if you’re familiar with AMT then I don’t suppose shortness of duration is part of the expectation, anyway.

Expect trance, firsthand.

Destruction Unit – Negative Feedback Resistor

DUIf you like your music obnoxious and gnarly, but not necessarily short, then Destruction Unit are for you. Roaming similar sonic alleys to those frequented by Puffy Areolas and Narcosatanicos (but without the brass), Destruction Unit are very much at home in your face.

I really like their manifesto, you know. Let me quote a line I really like: “This is crazed-psychedelic-freek-noise guerrilla warfare and these are our streets.” Elsewhere, they exhort the breaking of chains and the seeking of your personal freedom, themes this blog wholeheartedly endorses.

But they also provide you with the sonic energy to help fire up your will to achieve said results. They give as they play, they’re on a mission. What sounds like chaos is just them rendering all the bullshit into its constituent parts and giving it back to the listener in a much more highly useful form. We owe these warriors, let us give them their due salutations.

Evil Blizzard (Gig review)

(I genuinely intended to never do gig reviews)

If Alan Moore and Chris Morris had teamed up in the 1980’s and made a satirical documentary about the future and had a scene where their protagonists went to a gig, they would have chosen the look, the style, and the music of Evil Blizzard. Everything about it screams dystopia, the masks and costumes, the repetitive head nodding music, the exhortations to ‘sacrifice!’ and the demands to know how ‘evil’ you are. ‘This is the future of your underground music,’ they could have said, ‘be afraid!’eblizz Of course, to be fair, this probably is that very future. Hence Evil Blizzard.

I went and engaged with that future last night at a pub in Leicester. My previous exposure to Evil Blizzard was their contribution to a split with Mamuthones that they did earlier this year – the aforementioned tune ‘Sacrifice’ had me hooked, and I had a more than passing awareness of the fact they had an album coming out around now. But beyond that, I knew nothing.

So I was a little surprised when the five middle aged blokes who’d been setting up onstage disappeared and were replaced 5 minutes later by blokes wearing masks and outfits. I was even more surprised to see that not one of them picked up a ‘standard’ guitar – 4 of them picked up a bass guitar, the other one played some drums. However, it’s amazing what kind of sound you can make when you use 4 basses and a shitload of effects. And when they all hit the low end together, the resultant sound was heavy as fuck.

Quite simply, they have brought glam and theatre to the world of psychedelic rock, and that is a Good Thing. They throw shapes, they don’t take themselves too seriously and they engage with the audience. And they play some rather fine music. I found myself wondering whether their real faces behind the masks unconsciously took on the expression of their outward mask – if so, I particularly felt sorry for the bass player. His face may end up a rictus. The whole thing is entertaining, yes, but it is also quite shamanic (there must be a better word than that but I can’t think of it just yet). Probably a whole thesis could be written on the uses of masks in performance, the effect this has on both the performers and the audience and so on. This is not that thesis.

Off the basis of last night’s gig I shall buy the aforementioned new album (they didn’t seem to have merch or I would have bought one last night). In many ways I don’t care whether the CD matches the gig (recorded music never matches up usually – even my favourite release of the year doesn’t match up to its live performance). Even if the CD is rubbish, I’ll go and see them again. And again. Assuming they play Leicester again, that is. Or somewhere nearby.

I think they enjoyed it too. It was the bass player that gave it away.

People of the North – An Era of Manifestations

eraIf I’d have been doing this blog thing back in 2009/10, then pretty much every second or third post I’d have been looking to find an excuse to reference Oneida the way I have this year been finding any excuse to reference Hey Colossus. In the world of my music taste, Oneida are amongst the Gods, primarily for the masterful Rated O but also the incredible consistency they have demonstrated across their catalogue coupled with the fact they don’t take themselves too seriously. In fact, all the Gods in my musical world exhibit almost identical traits to those just described. It also helps when you can drop a tune that is as outrageous and awesome (and I mean that word in its true sense, i.e. wonderful and a bit scary) as Sheets of Easter.

Oneida have, technically, been a bit quiet over the last few years, but what they’ve really been doing is stuff other than Oneida. One of those things is People of the North, whose new album is some seriously top grade psychedelic medicine. Sonically we’re in the areas of their recent explorations, but this is much more free form as you would expect from improvised situations such as these, and very close in spirit to the free jazz musicians. This is much more than just some blokes walking up to their instruments, expressing themselves freely and then walking away again – this is some blokes walking up to their instruments, playing freely whilst also listening to what is happening around them and constructing a glorious sonic world in the process, yo.

I consider this album basically unclassifiable, but that may mean that I am ‘uneducated’ in this realm as much as anything else. I think the best albums always are a bit unclassifiable though. Part of the problem with using words to describe something that isn’t words, I suppose.

Words, eh? Can’t live with ’em…

Alif – Aynama-Rtama

 alifThere’s something about the music made in and around the mediterranean area which seriously appeals to me, from the desert blues of North Africa (some of which I shall bring you at some point) to the wonderful Malayeen who I mentioned earlier this year, and many stops in between.

 The story for this album is detailed on the bandcamp page so I shan’t rehash it here. What I shall say is that I like this album so terribly, terribly much. It obviously sounds like the area it comes from, but there are also hints of Hamza El Din (could be the oud playing) and a certain bluesy feel, reminiscent at times of the why-weren’t-they-household-names Little Axe. Some of the tunes aren’t afraid to incorporate western rock leanings, too. It is yet another album that has me floundering for descriptors, which proves to me that this is the real stuff. I’ve got something brewing about that.

Love the album art, too.