A round up of some good things found on Twitter…

Bad Bat Records

I took some time to poke around the Bad Bat Records catalog today and, for no reason I can really fathom, decided to express my impressions in haiku form. Use these as you will to launch your own exploration of the Bad Bat. I think you’ll find music you’ll enjoy, and I know you’ll appreciate all the tremendous art work.     

“White Whale EP” by sea/berth                                          

Some glitch in the mix

Adds a new sound dimension

To this dreamy world

“Impressionable Youth EP” by Cloud Boy     

Classic tones and beats

Create some sunnier tunes

Retro synth visions   

“Concrete Sidewalks” by BenHavior     

A more techno feel

Keeping this party moving

Deep and concrete sounds

“Tide” By Asam

Head bobs to the groove

Late night jazzy and funky

While dark keyboard drives

    

Double Double - Aeons and Monuments and James Lawrence Wolf & Raven Bauer Durham

Double your pleasure, double your fun; I’m sharing to two, two-track releases today that I’m stuck on.

First up is “Helios” by Aeons and Monuments. This features two excellent longer tracks. The first, “Helios (out of the…),” is basically a three-part suite. The first section hits with heavy, distorted guitar; sort of post-rock with some black metal and crust-beat seasoning. As we move to the middle third of the song it almost sounds like it may be ending but, as the noisy guitar disappears, some heavenly synth takes over; it’s like we’ve gone through a storm and then suddenly hit clear skies. The last third last combines the elements of the first two sections of the song as it builds loud and dramatic, but ultimately reaches a peaceful conclusion.

“Zenith” is up next and at first seems like a completely different animal. It has a slowly shifting drone with a light pulse underneath until about halfway through when the distorted guitar comes back (this time sounding something like angry surf guitar) and moves to the fore of a very dense composition, including some yelled vocals low in the mix. Intense.

And extra shout out for the beautiful cover art as well (featuring my cousin Triangle).

Next up is “Building a Beehive” by James Lawrence Wolf & Raven Bauer Durham. These two tracks feature beautiful interplay between guitar and violin. The title track has gentle, rolling guitar lines bubbling underneath some slightly skittish violin. To me it sounds like the musical equivalent of the hive coming to life on a spring morning.  Maybe the violin represents bees on this track? The second song (“Île de la forêt“) is a slight bit darker and more dissonant. The production distorts the instrument sounds a bit into some ringing drone washes under a more unsettled violin; it’s not a drastic change from the first track but definitely sets a different mood. These songs are from a forthcoming album (hurray!) so we’ll soon get to hear more of this awesome collaboration.

                                    

ritaleite - "PBIUDS"

Everything about ritaleite is a mystery to me.

It starts with their enigmatic Twitter feed which averages less than one tweet per month over the last six years. And even those rare statements sent out into the ether have almost no narrative; it’s mostly broken SoundCloud and Bandcamp links along with varied and unexplained art. (To be fair, they probably weren’t broken links when first posted…or were they?) 

Well one day in February ritaleite went mad and issued two tweets on the same day, and I was lucky enough to catch them because they linked to new music. Specifically, a 4-track EP called “PBIUDS.” What does that title stand for? I can confidently say I have no idea. Nor can I decipher the song titles that include the likes of “gawwaxc” and “kjhjc.” Are they acronyms or maybe some sort of code? Again, I have more questions than answers here.

But what’s important for my purposes, as always, is the music. And that too is a bit hard to explain. Each of the four tracks is several layers thick and includes (at times) keyboard, distortion, drones, pulses, swells and harsh electrical noises. For me it’s all on the continuum between pure noise and pleasant soundscape, but never too far in either direction. Since I guess I can’t really explain any of this, I recommend you just listen and appreciate the beauty and mystery; sometimes it’s OK to just enjoy the enigma.

Whettman Chelmets - “Giant Eyes & Infant Steps”

I laughed when I saw this in my timeline:


Then I had two thoughts. First, this sounds right up my alley (they had me at “barely contains any musical content”) and second, challenge accepted, sir or madam.

(I also had a question: Why the capital “K” at the end of luck? Alas, we may never know.)

“Giant Eyes & Infant Steps” is the first 2019 release from Whettman Chelmets, apparently inspired by his newborn daughter (so congratulations WC). You can find it on Girly Girl Musik, including cassette or CD options.

It’s a six song EP-length offering with a variety of great sounds. The short opener starts with some electronic orchestral sounds and then hits some harsh noise. While that might not be our original respondent’s cup of tea, they didn’t give it a chance as the second song offers a bit of ambient keys and atmospherics. The economically named third song (“TFW it’s 400 am and you’ve been up 3 times already”) starts with some echoing guitar over drones, builds to some loud post rock, and then slowly calms down to the finish. Look at that, we’re only half way through and I already found lots of musical content.

The remaining tracks are each built over a drone base. “MRW I Drop the Passie in the Dark” has some subtle beats and whooshes, and eventually loud guitar kicks in. The title track has some hazy sounds behind the drones and builds an uneasy feeling. The closer again features a mix of sounds underneath the drones (some happy, some not), but a happy baby and daddy close out the track. All’s well that ends well.

In summary: really good stuff. And having had children myself, I can confirm it feels exactly like this music, all of it, at one time or another. Nice going Dada Chelmets.

Ceylan – “Les ages sombres”   

One of the tags on the page for this release by Ceylan is “ambient” but the title (“The Dark Ages”) and cover art (perhaps calming, but with a definite dark undertow) were clues that something slightly heavier might be in store.  In addition, each of the four tracks has an associated companion poem, and some of the words in those poems also hint at some other darkness – agitation, haunted, constraints – maybe summed up best by one line of the poem for “Obsession”: “I feel the weight of the shadow.”    

Opening track “Agitation” starts on a mellow wave but quickly gets more menacing as it unfolds, including a cool driving rhythm pattern for a while before everything settles back down. “Contraintes” kicks off with a sinister vocal which leads to some ominous industrial noises. Third song “Sommet” has many layers and provides a bit of calm before the closing track “Obsession.” The final song is the longest track and unfolds slowly. It includes the sound of wind blowing over open space and noises suggesting there’s something threatening is out there. Eventually the track resolves and we find we’re alone again back in the open space with only the wind (and maybe the weight of the shadows?). This whole package is really interesting and really good, so don’t be afraid of the dark.

 

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.