Albert E. Trapezoid

 

An round up of some good things found on Twitter…

Noise, Manipulation and Non-Trad-Jazz

Let’s start off with a little noise; well, actually, a lot of noise in the form of “Demagogues and Charlatans on the Lash” by WeaklingChild. If that album title isn’t enough of a hint about the general theme, the cover is a manipulated and uglied-up photo of US President “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.” But there’s some comment here for politics on both sides of the pond (see opening one-two punch “Stable Genius” and “Brexit Means Brexit”).

The first three tracks are pure noise, including some underlying manipulated vocal samples. Then a  surprise: “BoJob” starts off with an almost bucolic sound – is that birds chirping? You will realize it was not as the track evolves with its speeding tape sound manipulation. “Lament for Damo” follows in a similar vein, but this one sounds to me mostly like nap time at the zoo among the big cats. But just as you may be lulled into a more peaceful frame of mind, the last two tracks bring back the noise to bookend this release, including sped up tapes of vocals where I think I may even hear President Voldemort on part of “Strong and Stable Leadership.”

Playing this loud will help drown out all the bad “outside noise” and you may even find it cathartic if you’re carrying around negative feelings about the current state of things.

Next up is “Let's Break Things” by The Blank Holidays released by the Strategic Tape Reserve label (so, as you might guess from the label name, you can get this on cassette too). On the other hand, although you might not guess it from listening to the title track which is a bit more experimental, overall I would describe this music as lo-fi (mostly) acoustic guitar led songs with complementary instruments, elements of noise, and production manipulation to keep things interesting. It’s a great mix of lovely and weird sounds. It also sounds like the unnamed person behind The Blank Holidays had a lot of fun making all this music, and that comes through.

There are a couple stand outs for me. “No, These Are the Notes” has a title line repeated as it, along with simple picked guitar, gets more distorted as it goes along. Later, “Major Blues” travels from fairly straightforward guitar, including what sounds like bowed bass embellishment, to more distorted and aggressive as it moves along, before resolving to a calm end.

Last up for this installment of Twitter Feeds is “Contra​/​Fact” by the Matthew Lux's Communication Arts Quartet released by Astral Spirits. This is, at its heart, a jazz album, but with lots of less traditional electronic and production touches mixed in. You can pick out many possible influences (Dolphy, Davis, Threadgill, Sun Ra, and Eno, to name a few), but it’s not derivative by a long shot; this is original sound with lots of interesting elements that rewards repeated listens.

Opener “Camisa Sete” pulled me in immediately, driven by its funky drumming.  A couple later standouts for me are “Paw Paw,” which sounds a bit like Albert Ayler being produced by space aliens, and “C.G.L.W,” a song that starts out with some strong but disjointed percussion and evolves into a relaxed free jazz collage (a bit à la John Cage) that takes its time to unfold. But really you can’t go wrong with any of the music here; it’s all great stuff.

And a special shout out to the Astral Spirits label. Not only do they make lots of wonderful music available, but I really like the aesthetic of their album art for most of their releases over the last year. They have their own unique but consistent style with sort of a retro vibe to them. Well done.

Makunouchi Bento - Bodrog OST

Makunouchi Bento is back with another interesting collaboration. This time it’s to soundtrack a film called “Bodrog” from first-time feature film director Mihai Salajan. I can’t say much about the film because I’ve only seen the trailer (watch it below) but it is described as “an almost-horror mockumentary.” It certainly looks intriguing, and I suspect there are many more interesting elements than this taste lets on…

        

What I can talk about is the music. To my mind, Makunouchi Bento’s electroacoustic soundscapes often create little worlds or stories. [See their album “Swimé” for one excellent example.] They are a great fit for soundtrack work, and create a very effective and enjoyable sound tableau for “Bodrog.” Standouts include the wonderfully off-kilter “The Last Supper” and “Pine Quiz,” as well the anchor for this whole production - a long track called “Summoning Iosif II.” This song is dominated by beautifully haunting piano, of course embellished by MB production. At several points the piano seems to be trying to break free, and eventually does as the entire thing slowly disintegrates.

Rounding out the soundtrack album are a handful of songs by Selfmademusic (which is none other than “Bodrog” director Mihai Salajan in his musical guise), including the trailer music. The Selfmademusic  tracks actually fit very well with the MB tracks, maybe with slightly more aggressive instrumentation at times. There is also a bonus chiptune track from Nagz (yet another MB collaborator) that frankly doesn’t really fit the mood of the other music here at all, but it’s a fun and catchy bonus nonetheless.

Boxes, Cults and Manipulation    

Sascha Müller - Untitled Box​-​Set     If you like interesting physical presentation to go along with your interesting music, this is a set for you. Sasch Müller is sharing his music here through vinyl, cassette, floppy disc and CD. It looks amazing, and the generous sampling of the music he offers on his Bandcamp page sounds amazing. Electronic sounds ranging from straight ahead driving techno to more experimental pieces. Very limited availability, so don’t wait.

  

Moune – The Legacy of the Sun     There’s a wonderful one man show on display over this 5-tracks of this reggae EP. Moune is a young French artist who handles all the instruments and vocals here. For a relatively short set of songs, there is much breadth to what’s included - from the mellow groove “La Root” with its melodica and acoustic guitar notes to the heavier vibes of “Fight For Your Rights” and the dubby “Eclypsia;” each track has something unique to offer. The last track is called “The Moune Cult” and by the time I got to it I was ready to join.

 

Infinite Sustain - instainae     This is a fascinating work by Ashley Shomo, who has also released music under the name Cyclopsycho. For this set of songs all the sounds have the same source: Ashley’s (usually heavily manipulated) vocals. The result is a captivating set of what I guess I’ll broadly categorize as electronic music. The titles of most of the songs don’t seem to be actual words; I suspect they are all intended to be a visual representation of how this music was made, creatively using letters of the album title and artist name (with a little manipulation) as a basis, just as infinite sustain is likely used as a production tool to create this music. Regardless, the results are wondrous.

Shuffles, Drones and Deep Sounds

I’ll start this edition with David, one of my favorite Tweeters. He leads the always solid Calling All Astronauts and tweets…a lot. But he’s always fun and/or interesting and has lots of nice interactions with his followers. CAA posted a new video recently for their really catchy single “Life As We Know It.”  They always seem to come up with something interesting and new for their videos but, honestly, mixing CAA and some shuffle dancing would not have occurred to me. I’m glad it occurred to them:

Another nice surprise was the New Year’s Day release of “Drone Echoes” by the talented and prolific Wolfgang Merx. I’m a big fan of Wolfgang’s consistently compelling output. This collection includes some tracks recorded during work on his “Drone Trilogy”; some were “starting points” for songs there and some are newly released. Overall, it’s a nice mix of sounds; it starts with a longer form “classic” drone track “Interstellar” (which, for me at least, brings to mind early solo Klaus Schulze) but also has tracks with other noises including more spacey keyboard noodling, pipe organ, and even a track with some more harsh industrial/machine sounds. More good news if you like this one: The similarly sourced "Drone Variations" will be released later. 

Related family side note: When I was playing the track “Forest” my son Rhombus said it reminded him of “Sequential Circuits” by Panda Bear. Definitely different, but I can hear it.

  

The newcomers to me in this little group today are 57 Down. Think of them as the revenge of the rhythm section. Two basses, one drummer and a singer; no “cheesewire monkeys” as they refer to guitarists. They come hard and heavy on two tracks posted to SoundCloud. We need more…but more is promised on a future debut album on Blackened Death Records.