Combo Chimbita – Ahomale

ahomale

Because I don’t know how to begin describing this album, I’m instead going to write about the book I’m re-reading at the moment, The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester. Bester is amongst my favourite authors ever, even though I’ve only read 4 novels by him (he didn’t do many more than that). The sheer scale of invention, the pace of his stories, the utter imagination on display – I’ve not read his match in those regards. In many ways, he was the true Godfather of the whole cyberpunk thing, so it is fitting that the next book I have in the queue is the Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson, a book I haven’t read before but I have read Snow Crash by him and that is really, really good.

Using the creative fusion that inspired Alfred Bester as an analogy for Combo Chimbita’s latest album Ahomale is not actually the non-sequitur you may think it is. The name comes from a spirit that singer Carolina Oliveros says accompanies them during their sessions, which is also not as crazy as some people may think it sounds. I have one too, and I call it El-Ronus Mariachi, though I don’t plan to name an album that in any future.

 

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Abronia – Obsidian Visions / Shadowed Lands

abronia

In the first place was the winner of the people chase, a lank haired fox named Orville, who won because of the magic imparted by his evil anvil. Orville, who counted several devils amongst his drinking accountants, promptly took his previous second best certificate and rolled it into a ginormous reefer which hit him harder than his hammer and he had to put it down. The people got away again, thus setting up a new race, this one won by His Majesty Gumley St. Helene-Trouser Slew, whose corpulent incompetence was passed through the ages to a present that neither knew nor cared as now is the time and cares nothing for tradition because tradition is history and history doesn’t exist. So the people got away again, the shackles giving up in a wimp of smoke and this time the moguls went after them – by this and by that they did keep gesticulating, transforming life into matter and then selling it as the status they craved. But the moment ignored them – after an enlightening experience it takes long persistences of abuse to make one forget that light but it only takes one instant flash to undo all that damage and see all the abuse for what it really was.

Anna von Hausswolff – The Miraculous

avhSo, at the beginning of the year I did a compilation post of my favourite stuff of the year preceding. The two final entries on it hadn’t been featured on Soundbergs, although Pridjevi subsequently got one, and now Anna von Hausswolff too… actually because these two albums have been the most heavily played of this year.

There’s a write-up about the album here which goes into some of the philosophy behind it, but doesn’t mention anything about a story running across the album, which I most certainly hear. Wonder whether that is me projecting? Serious resonance, anyway.

Musically, it’s heavy. Not in the Metal sense, though guitars get crunchy and beats get poundy in a couple of songs, Swans have been invoked when that happens. But its heavy because the organ sound is so intense, because Anna tells such a story that fits it perfectly, because of the images it conjures, because it actually has the ability to completely possess the soul when you give yourself up to this album. The word awesome is often used wrongly (i.e. people say ‘awesome’ when they mean ‘quite good,’ when the word is actually meant to refer to marvellous things that are also a little bit overwhelming, scary – its a biblical word, dammit!) but can and should be used right(eous)ly when describing The Miraculous. Not to mention the vocals, which aren’t afraid of pyrotechnics, but are always tasteful and appropriate.

You know how you wake up, and there’s a song in your head? Well, the other morning I somehow managed to wake up and have this entire album in my head. Impossible to describe something like that, although it’s also true that it is impossible to describe music anyway. The only description that matters is this: IFL this album.

 

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.