City of Djinn – Ether and Red Sulphur

citydjinn

It’s just possible that when I’ve said that what I really like is psychedelic music, I may have meant what I really like is music that puts you in a trance. Trance music. But not as it is popularly understood. See, this is the problem with labels…

This is proper trance music, as in, music that puts you in a trance. I’ve been here before with people like Alif and Malayeen, and I also like to think of Hamza El Din in these contexts. This is a much more lo-fi take, as it sounds like it was recorded in one take in someone’s living room, fluffed and flat notes included. But I love it. I hope they do more music, and that I may get a chance to hear that too.

City of Djinn (link is to F***book page, sorry) is two geezers, Marwan Kamel and Micah Bezold, who frequently sound like more. They use a variety of instruments, possibly not at all the same time but then I’ve not seen it, merely heard it. It is a very spacious sound they make; very meditative. But these are not short pieces, so do set aside a bit of time in order to grok this fully.

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Muy Biien – Age of Uncertainty

muybieen

Back in the day, I used to discover music by listening to it on a thing called a radio. One of the many good things about this was that a disembodied voice, usually but not always called a DJ, would tell you the name of the artist making it. I took for granted at the time how useful a service this was. Because now I discover all new music by reading about it, or coming across it by chance but still relying on the written words to know a) what the artist is called and b) how the fuck you actually pronounce that name. Because more than 10 years after I discovered Oneida, I still don’t know how you pronounce that word.

Muy Biien join that illustrious list (which does have more than 2 entries) of names you need to hear someone else say and hope they’re pronouncing it correctly. They also join the very illustrious list of music good enough to become a Soundberg.

If you want a genre, I suppose you would probably say post-punk as the nearest. The opener actually has a groove and delivery similar to Violator-era Depeche Mode, like Michael Gira singing Personal Jesus (which was and is fantastic). Because I don’t listen to radios any more, it’s possible that there are a host of artists I could say for comparison as I keep getting nagging feelings of familiarity. But a definite reference is Magazine, and also some of one time member Barry Adamson’s solo work in the 90s, particularly where they take on the dubbier, groovier grooves. Also, if I still listened to radios, I would probably be saying that ‘Mara’ and ‘Moral Compass’ are flat-out hit singles, but I don’t listen to radios any more so I just get down with the fine songs that they are.

You can also hear some of their ambient roots of their beginnings in a few of the later tunes, a mixture which works really well. Although this album is definitely towards the more polished end of the spectrum of music that I listen to, the material is good enough to work in pretty much any context.

Goat – Requiem

requiemstill don’t quite know how to handle Goat, which may be a sign of genius on their part and/or stupidity on mine. I even wrote a 4-part opinion inspired by them not long after I started this blog. And continuing that relationship, I had this album in my Bandcamp wishlist prior to its birth and once it was out, I went to listen to it. After 6 songs, I removed it from my wishlist, but kept it playing anyway. By the end of the album I’d done a 180 and bought it.

What you may gather from that is that the best stuff is on the second half of the album, although my subsequent repeated listening has opened up many of the treasures to be found in the first few songs too. Not surprisingly, it’s the longer tunes that are my favourite; Goatband in particular emphasising a kind of Fleetwood Mac-having-a-jam feel, and is currently up there amongst my favourite tunes of the year.

The styles range from psych-tinged afro-pop to the aforementioned 70s behemoth approach, with occasionally hypnagogic moments to the melodies and regular snake-like rhythms. Indeed, one such rhythm it was that inspired my dive back into the Fela Kuti catalogue a few months back when it was the b-side on a recent single.

The back story might be a load of old bollocks, but the music is often great, as well as fun and thought provoking. I also think it would make a great soundtrack for dancing around campfires, something I need to do more often.

 

Horse Cult – Day Dreams & Night Mares

horsecult I don’t think I’ve listened to enough Neo-folk over the years. I mean, I love Espers and still play them often, and I’ve got an album by The Iditarod which is wyrd neo-folk, but either there’s not much of the stuff around, or I simply haven’t crossed paths with it.

Well I can now add Horse Cult to that small collection. This is really good stuff, as good as the aforementioned Epsers. The songs have a more traditional feel with occasional medieval/nursery rhyme type things going on. But there’s also drone, and experiments, and a dense atmosphere of acoustic guitars, flute, fiddle, mountain dulcimer and layered vocals, with a bit of drum. And they reference all the pretty little horses. Also, I once or twice found myself thinking of The Battle of Evermore. Again.

I think I need more neo-folk / dark folk / heathen folk in my life. There seem to be some references here I might follow up. Any other suggestions would also be welcome.

Narcosatanicos – Body Cults

bodycultsI’ve been looking forward to this, having been properly into their debut, so much so that they’ve been one of the few acts I check in on every now and again to see when something might be coming. This does not disappoint me, being more of the same but more so, and also a bit different. It is continuing proof of my conviction that the merger of brass and heavy guitar freakouts is a thing of great beauty.

I referenced Monoshock and Puffy Areolas first time up, and they still hold true. But I would also add a strong Stooges groove, occasional Hey Colossus sludge, an occasional veer into Bad Seeds-esque territory and they sound familiar with Swans recent work.

In other words, it is loud and it is aggressive, it is not for the faint hearted, and, oh yeah, I really, really like it. Also, it was available to buy a week before the date on the page, because that’s when I bought it.

 

 

Karina Vismara – Casa del Viento

coverI’ve been reading Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits during my lunch breaks at work (a very good book, by the way, easy to get back into when I haven’t picked it up for a fortnight or more, but still with a phenomenal amount of depth to the narrative).Coincidentally, I’ve also discovered another South American person, this time a woman who plays guitar and sings excellent songs.

This is one of those really lazy ways of saying that I discovered a whole two artists based in South America and I think it’s a Thing. After all, it’s hardly the first time I’ve found artists from the continent that do good things to my soul (Jodorowsky, Borges, Os Mutantes, Coelho, Rakta… and they’re just the ones off the top of my head as I sit at the usual enquiry desk at work…) But actually, there is a similarity of atmosphere, in a way I cannot possibly put into words. (sidebar: does something exist if there isn’t a word for it?)

Karina Vismara is a singer-songwriter from Argentina who seems unreasonably young for one with such music, though I say that with admiration rather than envy. Her voice is strong and expressive, and her guitar playing is seriously good with some gorgeous passages of droney finger picking finding their way into the songs.

The opener, Tied up Tight actually puts me in mind somewhat of Led Zeppelin’s Battle of Evermore. Also you might want to consider Joni Mitchell. Most of the references I could think of (they always leave my head when I sit in front of a blank blog post) also date from the late 60s/ early 70s folk revival. And of course, she’s from the same country as the wonderful Juana Molina, who you know all about, obviously.

 

Black Bombain and Peter Brötzmann

black-bombaim-and-peter-brotzmannBlack Bombain seem to me to be born collaborators. Their live jam from late last year was a seriously good piece of music, and if you haven’t heard their collaboration with Gnod, then you should know that Black Gnod’s Innerspace recording comes with the highest possible recommendation from Soundbergs Towers.

This time they’ve teamed up with free jazz maestro Peter Brötzmann, himself no stranger to the collaborative arts, resulting in a superlative work of one of my favourite sub-mashup-genres, saxophone psych. There should be more horns and brass atop these swirling guitar maelstroms generally, and I speak as a guitarist who never used to like brass at all. Brass is the one class of instrument I absolutely cannot play at all, which may be related; however, it adds a tonal element to the ‘psych-rock’ mix which complements it superbly. A whole field with relatively few visitors.

It fascinates me how music that quite obviously came together on the spot can nevertheless sound so coherent and, you know, purposive. Having done some improv over the years (all the best Itto tunes came into being that way) I have an idea; it’s like tuning into some music and being the vehicle of its expression rather than ‘separate’ beings somehow all being creative in the same way at the same time. Maybe we receive before we can transmit? On a very basic level, that is exactly true – you have to listen to your collaborators (receive) if you want to complement the overall sound (transmit). However, there were times when all of us suddenly changed direction at the same time without prompt – you can’t put those experiences into words, and neither can you take the idea of a flat universe seriously anymore.

The music comes with the guarantee that it is good, not that it will make you think mystical things, although that may happen if you are so inclined. You can score it from shhpuma or Lovers and Lollipops

Fantasy collaboration time: imagine Valerio Cosi collaborating with Oneida? (drools like Homer Simpson…)