i think its about experimental music. .. ... .... ..... ...... ....... ........ ......... .......... ...........

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Derek Piotr: AGORA Regathered

An agora, in ancient Greece, was a place of open assembly where people would congregate for various reasons. It's also an apt title for Derek Piotr's remixed album: AGORA Regathered, released earlier this month on Bitsquare records. Remixes are the way that modern electronic musicians talk to one another, and make sense of our musically cluttered world. In an age where technology makes anyone a producer, but sometimes isolates us, the internet and sites like Soundcloud are kind of the modern Agora for musicians, a place to connect and share ideas.

Projects like AGORA Regathered are effective in the way they create such a sense of musical community. The album is a collection of remixed tracks from Piotr's first full length solo album, AGORA, a darkish electroacoustic soundscape full of jagged digital artifacts and vocal manipulations, partly produced by Finland-based artist AGF. The contributors include an eclectic array of electronic/experimental musicians, some known, some obscure, but all worth checking out: Ralph Steinbrüchel, HeeG, Twenty Knives, Zach Thorpe, Carlos Lemosh, Blevin Blectum, Chaircrusher, Salakapakka Sound System, Thone Halo, just to name a lot. It's an impressive gathering of experimental people and shows some ambition on the part of the young New York musician. “I carefully chose mixers from widely different demographics, both notable and obscure, but all of whom are dear to my heart. this echoes the concept of the ancient agora, by uniting people from various backgrounds into a single moment,” says Piotr.

The remixes, according to Piotr, are "essential extensions of the original ideas." “AGORA Regathered was a chance for me to expand on the initial concept of the AGORA record by gathering together diverse re-presentations of my work.” Many of the tracks indeed feel like they've retained some of Piotr's ethos, however re-arranged, re-interpreted, “re-gathered.” Blectum's version of “From Whiteness,” for instance, maintains it's cold feel (minus the apocalyptic lyrics) with it's percussive, industrial reverberations. In yet another version, Protofuse was able to sample and manipulate it into what sounds like locusts buzzing incessantly, yet rhythmically in the background. Perhaps the most distinctly different (and enjoyable) remix is “Winter Consummation.” The original feels like a romantic encounter on a lazy, snowy day while Thorpe's version is a little more frenetic and weird, with a kind of happy, pulsing rhythm.

You can compare both albums for yourself via Piotr's bandcamp. Be sure to support the experimental community by downloading AGORA Regathered. You won't be disappointed. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

EP Review: Robert Allaire – Sacrament

We recently wrote about Evan Dice, a musician who wrote for theater and dance ensembles throughout college and has since begun producing his own atmospheric, electric violin-driven sounds. Artist Robert Allaire is another music composition pro who just came across our radar, but unlike Evan, Robert continues to primarily hone his craft through pieces specifically designed for visual interpretation – on stage or on screen.

The L.A. resident (and CalArts MFA graduate), who has collaborated with multiple choreographers and experimental filmmakers, recently released the digital version of Sacrament. The five-track post-noise EP originally accompanied the dark, modern dance piece of the same name. You can check out a 90-second trailer of the stage version here, but it isn’t necessary to watch a second of it to notice the violent, futuristic themes in the music itself.

For example, “She Rises Without” offers a post-apocalyptic vibe that straddles drone and industrial, and brings to mind Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ forthcoming The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo soundtrack. Throughout Sacrament, Robert utilizes hardware and acoustic feedback loops filtered through sounds of his own heart beats and breaths. It effectively conjures up the age-old struggle between spirit and science – a struggle most pronounced in the closing track, “Deicide/A Thing Not Quite Remembered.”

Aside from composing, Robert also keeps himself busy as a keytarist in the chip music dance band, Beta to the Max. This group project, with its new-wave synth influences, could draw comparisons to a chiller Dan Deacon, and provides a cool contrast to Sacrament’s darker tones.

Sacrament as a choreographed performance will be returning to L.A.’s Highways Performance Space next March, but in the meantime, pick up or stream the album in its entirety via bandcamp:

--Elaine Ordiz

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Weird Australia 'Unpopular Music' Compilation

From New Weird Australia: The annual Unpopular Music event returns to Sydney this Saturday, December 17th, raising cash for FBi Radio (home to the NWA radio show) and featuring eight bands over two venues.

As a preview to the show, you can download a free compilation featuring all the artists playing at Unpopular Music 2011, including Brisbane psych-rock ex-pats Strange Forces (back on Aussie soil after tearing up a storm in Berlin over the last two years), Sydney drone-grunge four piece Zeahorse, former Brisbane residents Secret Birds (one of the last artists, and few Australians, to feature on Pitchfork’s now defunct Altered Zones blog), Scattered Order, Thomas William and Scissor Lock (launching their debut collaborative album ‘Jewelz‘), Melbourne’s Monolith, Und and Anna Chase.

Download for free on Bandcamp.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

One to Watch: Response (Evan Dice)

Properly “trained” musicians are generally welcome additions to the music scene – they tend to provide clear visions of where they come from and where their sounds fit in the grand scheme of things. Evan Dice, a.k.a. Response, is a new experimental artist who has been immersed in music since childhood. You can check out more than a dozen tracks via Soundcloud (including an ethereal remix of Zomby’s “Digital Rain”) and also download his new Desert Songs EP for free.

A classically trained violinist since age 5, Evan dabbled with music (electronic and otherwise) throughout his youth and spent college (he recently graduated with a music composition degree) writing for theater, dance and instrumental ensembles. He’s most inspired by experimental hip-hop, bop/jazz, 20th century classical composers, and world music (he grew up primarily in Zambia), which make for a wide range of touch points.

Despite those eclectic influences, what Evan has recorded under the new Response moniker never feels scattered or like simplistic explorations of beats upon pointless beats. The Desert Songs EP successfully layers live loops and electronic violin with other desert-inspired sounds (shakers, glass bottles, sand, etc.). His music is somewhat reminiscent of Laura Escudé (who is known for impressive performances that blend violin with Ableton-driven IDM), or even Deru. The tracks are “sectional in nature” and “closer related to classical and pop,” as he himself notes.

Evan’s only been recording and performing as Response since May, but is aiming to make bigger waves in Washington, D.C. (which he now calls home).

--Elaine Ordiz

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Corpse Lights (Three Track Single)

There is a Welsh folk lore about lights that signal an impending death. The “corpse candles,” or “corpse lights” were said to hover over homes where death was near and predicted an upcoming funeral. About as obscure as that reference, are the sounds of the two piece UK band Corpse Lights.

Formed in the fallout of their old band, Woe, Corpse Lights is distinguishable by strange, robotic, pitch shifted vocals over dreamy, effected synth sounds. They effectively create their own unique, ethereal environment with this combination, which is no surprise considering the pair's work in sound design for film and theatre. The tracks on their latest three track single however, also have sort of an indie dance feel (you'll recognize that popular retro clap sound), and there is a certain pop sensibility present, albeit heavily altered after the fact. Their work, according to their bio, is a product of “the environment in which they have immersed themselves; taking visions from Dungeons and Dragons, Varèse, early computer games, and modern Outsider culture” (now the name starts to make sense, given their D&D roots). The paintings and album art that decorate their website offer more evidence of their plentiful artistic surroundings...

Their three track release, which has gotten some attention in the blogosphere it seems, is available for download from their website or bandcamp. Check out Youplayaarp off that release:

Matt Ackerman

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Logan Seguin - Drone

How do you react to an artist who delivers an album chock-full of murderous references, who then concludes with a track asking if you could “try to be a little bit more happy?” That’s the challenge posed by 24-year-old Logan Seguin in the 8-track album, “Drone,” available via Bandcamp through Digitalis Recordings.

As the album title suggests, “Drone” draws upon the genre of the same name, and incorporates long, pulsating noises that could belong in a 2001: A Space Odyssey-type weightless environment where time stands still. However, “Drone” is not concerned with the universe beyond the stars; instead, it concentrates on the dark side of human nature.

The album builds dense buzzing synths around samples of dialogue primarily from horror films. For example, “Max Cady” is named for the villain in Cape Fear who terrorizes the family of the man responsible for sending him to prison. Track 3, “Dr. Loomis,” references the psychologist from the Halloween films, with the creepily slowed down speech describing “the devil” in Michael Myers’ six-year-old eyes. Similarly, “Mr. Grady,” “Annie” and “Patrick” incorporate quotes from The Shining, Misery and American Psycho.

While some sensitive listeners may require a dose of some happy top 40 to get the words from “Drone” out of his or her system, there’s something poetic about Logan’s decision to use such aggressive dialogue with minimalist noise. The deconstructed and exploratory nature of his music – where no shiny movie screens, fancy DP work, attractive actors, or popcorn are involved – makes hearing about stabbing, shooting, killing and dying all the more disturbing. Even ‘mainstream’ music seems to have desensitized listeners to such themes (how many people sing along to “Pumped Up Kicks” without thinking twice?).

The final “Drone” track, “Please…” is a departure from the rest of the album. This simultaneously sad and sweet ambient song offers up the only non-distorted voice pleading, “Would you please / just try to be / a little bit more happy with me / and one day maybe / I’ll be happy too.” In a way it’s as though Logan is taking five minutes to remind listeners that it’s time to cross back over into “normal” humanity.

In our correspondence, Logan, who hails from Michigan but moved to Los Angeles two years ago, alluded to frustrations over the sporadic completion of various projects. However, he is working on a new album – inspired by the pending birth of a friend’s child – that will be “positive and more upbeat” in opposition to the vibe of “Drone.” It seems that Logan Seguin is still honing in on what sound he’ll ultimately be known for, but at least he’s demonstrated that he’ll make the exploration worthwhile for listeners.

--Elaine Ordiz

Monday, November 14, 2011

EP Review: Finger Fangs – Nine Species

There’s a portion of “Teutonic Mythology,” a literary resource for German and Norse mythology, which refers to “nine species of holden.” The bad holden are described as elfish beings that “waste away the man at whom they are aimed.” It could just be a coincidence that the Brisbane-based experimental Finger Fangs named its free four-track EP “Nine Species,” but either way, the title fits this eerie collection of ambient sounds, field recordings and otherworldly soundscapes.

The opener, “Jackal Emperor Down on Earth Blues for Sale,” utilizes animal-like grunts, minimalist guitar instrumentation, whistling (which could also be interpreted as a monotone shriek) for an overall ghoulish effect. The ghostly “Pink Rainbow” offers up far-away howls and muffled voices -- the sounds of a mist-filled graveyard waiting to suck you into the depths (or a good old-fashioned scary haunted maze).

The clanging metallic noises and empty hallway feel of “Enwebbed” immediately brought to mind Emika’s “Cooling Room” (from last year’s Ostgut Ton Fünf compilation, which also incorporated found sounds); but instead of being ushered into an empty warehouse club, Finger Fangs listeners are ushered into the ninth circle of hell.

Not too long ago, Soundcloud posted the “What Is Sound” video, asking other musicians and sound artists to describe how they relate to sound. It was another reminder that “there’s music in every sound.” Finger Fangs clearly holds this concept to heart with “Nine Species” – it’s just that in this case, the music is dark, creepy, and if you dwell in it too long, it may just waste away at you.

--Elaine Ordiz

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sarongs – Prison Art/Velidoxi Tape

It’s taken a little bit of time for news about the short-lived Syracuse band, Sarongs, to cross the country, but their post-punk sounds have now seeped in here at Caliper. In September, the now-defunct act (which formed in fall 2010 and broke up this spring) released a self-titled 7-track tape via Prison Art that proves quality always trumps quantity: the Sarongs debut grabs you, shakes you around, smashes you into a wall, then expects you to beg for more.

The album kicks off with “Pedestrian,” which drifts from fuzzed-out “evil surf punk” to piercing chaotic garage rock. “North Face” is all swagger and growl and fierce percussion courtesy of Wes Garlock, with singer Lindsey Leonard (who at times brings to mind the Ettes’ Coco Hames) breaking out into a sing-songy voice to ask, “Do you love me, do you really love me?” (Note: it’s not a love song when vomiting sounds are involved).

It’s unfortunate Sarongs broke up prior to the rise of the Occupy Wall Street movement in their home state – they could provide some seriously defiant, kick-ass rallying songs. For example, “Mineral” is an art rock commentary on the War in Afghanistan, and “Pixel” accuses “you bastard child of the glitzy corporate / fermenting my sour grapes to celebrate / spitting and slurring / with that / trashy postmodern inflection.”

With so many shifts in tempo and genre (and even Lindsey’s vocal range), the album can be a challenging first listen. This is not background noise for a hipster coffeehouse, it’s not totally danceable, nor is it a 100 percent “I’m-angry-and-need-to-rage” banger. However, guitarist Andrew Nerviano’s unconventional riffs, combined with the rest of the band’s frenetic energy, should appeal to fans of math-rock/post-punk/psychobilly who like a side of sharp, smart lyrics.

The album concludes with a slow-burning cover of Q Lazzarus’ “Goodbye Horses,” made infamously disturbing by its use in Silence of the Lambs as Buffalo Bill dances in front of the camera. Like that scene, Sarongs seems to be saying: “You know you can’t take your eyes off of us, even though you want to … you’re just as twisted as us, aren’t you?”

In Sarongs’ brief stint, they’d garnered decent buzz in Syracuse for their wild live shows. However, Lindsey recently moved out to L.A., so West Coasters like myself can only hope that she finds a new project to help shake up the local punk scene, like Sarongs had started to in New York.

--Elaine Ordiz

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Co La: Dialtone Earth/Fugitive of Leisure

For those of us who are in denial that the end of Halloween just marked the beginning of the winter holiday season, a dose of musical escapism may be in order. Co La, the solo project of Matt Papich (founder of Ecstatic Sunshine and mainstay of the Baltimore experimental music scene), is the man willing to provide your fix. Co La’s "Dialtone Earth" (essentially a 48-minute mix), and "Fugitive of Leisure" (a four-track EP), both available via Bandcamp, are just right for warming up ears as the weather cools down.

Listening to “Dialtone Earth” is like unfolding a desert island soundtrack to a strange mix of movies. Take the first third: bubbly instrumentation that could belong in the 1950s (soaring strings included), fused with subtle reggae skank. It’s Pleasantville meets Pulp Fiction – innocent until you scratch the surface and find a bored housewife ready to dance her way to a drugged-up stupor.

The vibe is definitely by design: “Dialtone Earth” is interspersed with readings from Thomas Pynchon’s 1966 novel, “The Crying of Lot 49,” a book full of hippie satire and conspiracy theories. The mix’s psychedelic feel is punctuated by the final 20 minutes, which comprise ‘80s synth sensibilities, a splash of island calypso and swishy dark ambience (think Emeralds popping Ambien while on a Caribbean vacation).

Co La’s “Fugitive of Leisure,” released in September, takes the dreamy state of “Dialtone Earth” and makes it heavier and sexier. If the video for the first track, “Blood Orange Crush,” doesn’t make you feel a little (or way) hotter on a cold day, I don’t know what will:

Co La - Blood Orange Crush from Co La on Vimeo.

Another track, “Blanketing Marrakesh” fizzes and pops like some steamy international adventure, and the last song, “Manhattan Possessions” twists up the blues then sticks it underwater. Personally, I prefer this latter EP overall, since I’m a fan of wonky and frenetic beats – but I’ll fall sleep tonight listening to “Dialtone Earth.”

--Elaine Ordiz

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

EP Review: mangulicaFM – Third Eye

A lot of attention has been heaped this year on young basement DJs and hip-hop prodigies who have successfully leveraged the newest tech toys and viral word-of-mouth to their full advantage. While those artists’ skills are of course impressive, sometimes it’s just more interesting to hear from a producer whose inspiration comes from somewhere slightly deeper than a swimming pool of “#firstworldproblems.” Enter 22-year-old Serbian producer Luka Papic, a.k.a. mangulicaFM, who grew up in Belgrade – a longtime focal point of political and economic upheaval. His new six-track EP, “Third Eye,” is available now as a free Bandcamp download.

You can see history’s influence on the album cover (a counterculture nod to the Bulgarian flag) and the song titles (“Crnjanski” presumably honors the social-political poet/diplomat of the same name). More importantly, you hear it in the tracks, which build upon Serbian samples and folk themes (song 2, “Hromi Daba,” is the name of a Slavic deity), then layer on dark synths, a smattering of vocals, and chopped up dub reggae-like beats.

Regardless of how much (or how little) you care about mangulicaFM’s roots, “Third Eye” is an aural treat for any experimental beat junkie. It’s like something Burial or DJ/rupture might make if they had grown up in the woods vs. endlessly rainy cities, and had shorter attention spans (all the songs are under three minutes long). “Naputuholesterola” (don’t ask how it’s pronounced) may be the most accessible: this closer is a serious head-bobber that could easily fit into a Forest Swords mixtape or Flying Lotus DJ set.

mangulicaFM, who cites Tom Waits, RZA and Monolake as key influences, recently moved to Hamburg, Germany to study film. Hopefully, this just means someday he’ll be able to deliver a full A/V set that incorporates the Serbian folklore that inspires his decidedly modern sound.

--Elaine Ordiz

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Walter Gross and Lost and Found Sound Split

Starting in Baltimore and moving to Los Angeles, Walter Gross has been making dark, ambient tape loops and beats, along with album art and his own brand of video montage for quite a while now. His latest release is a split with the Arizona artist Lost and Found Sound. The album contains ambient medleys and soundscapes from Gross, a collection of sounds that combine to create a different world of experience and new meanings. In the opening track: Poor Man Blues, for instance, re-contextualized samples of a black folk tune, over dark, moody bass and drums give a different feel to the familiar blues track. A sample monologue from the film Slacker comes in and the idea becomes clear: the benefit of struggle, finding what your made of, etc. Other tracks are more minimal, using nature sounds, instruments, mixer feedback, samples, effects, etc. that, together, seem to hint at something distant and dream like. Side B features unique tape/electronic hardware manipulations from Lost and Found Sound.
The album can be purchased from Gross's website, where you'll also find all the cool videos he produces. He also has a Soundcloud and Bandcamp page with past work that are worth checking out.

Here's a beautiful video clip made by Walter for "Alone" off of the split:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Ed Wrzesien - "Choas Atlantis"

Ed Wrzesien's new project, "Choas Atlantis," is a generative music program developed by Wrzesien that uses oceanic data to create ambient music. Ed explains: "My idea was to pull ocean marine data from the NOAA data buoy website and feed that data into sound generating algorithms. I ended up using the music programming language, Supercollider, to create the sounds. Starting simple, I began using the water and air temperatures to choose the tonic pitches of my tone arrays. If the air temperature was 79.4 degrees Fahrenheit, I would multiply 79.4 * 10 to get a tonic pitch of 794Hz. I used the water temperature similarly to control the pitch of my more “noisier” sounds. The wait times between notes are divided by wind speed. For example, some sounds wait 5 seconds divided by wind speed before another sound is played; the higher the wind speed, the faster the tempo of the music. The dominant wave period is used to choose from several arrays of multipliers that make up different tonal scales. The wave heights are used to control amplitudes of oscillators in a variety of contexts. In short, this is a combination of data sonification and chance operations. All of it is steered by real time weather events."
It may just be the knowledge of how these sounds are created, but one gets the sense there are forces at work that are outside of our control, giving the music an almost ominous feel. Here's a soundcloud excerpt:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

True Aristocrats - "Susurrus"

The two piece prog/experimental band from Fort Collins, True Aristocrats, have an interesting handful of EPs and albums (one of which, Haruspex Cremisi EP, was made entirely in 24 hours). Their latest release is Susurrus. From ethereal electronics, furious metal rhythms, quiet, dark acoustics, to noisy guitar-effected ambiance and back again, Susurrus is like riding a sonic roller coaster made of right angles.

While a direct comparison would not be fair, fans of Mr. Bungle, The Mars Volta, and maybe Hella would do well to have a listen. Their catalog can be streamed and downloaded (name your price) from their bandcamp page. Here's a track off of Susurrus:

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Wax Fingers - "Pierre Fauchard" Video

I think this was kind of eclipsed by the Radiohead video I posted the same day. So, here it is again... because I can do that.

Wax Fingers - Pierre Fauchard from Aaron King on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Solo project of Toronto composer Joey Hoyda, Apperception is an ambient guitar project distinguished by experimentation with polyrhythm, melody, and musical ambiguity, playing with the perception of the listener. It has it’s roots in a concept explored previously by Hoyda in a quintet. In that project, according to Hoyda: “a single repeating note pattern was orchestrated with an indefinite feel and time signature, allowing the listener to focus on different musical cues and create their own time signature depending on the object of their attention.” In some pieces, like Zappa Memorial BBQ, one main melody seems to stabilize the piece, which you eventually forget is there and begin to focus on all the counter melodies, while the percussion moves you through different phases of the composition. Other times, it is unclear what melodies are leading, and different rhythms seem to be fighting each other, but it all blends together in a beautiful, spacey ambiance.

More information, a link to purchase the CD and a free download of the album are available at the homepage. Check out the trippy fractal video made for Zappa Memorial BBQ:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Interview with Pete from Wax Fingers

I talked with Pete from the band Wax Fingers a while back about a range of subjects: musical influences, the difficulties of collaborative song writing, and making a name for themselves in the Portland music scene. Refer to the original post on them for more info and links.

Matt: So how long have you guys been at it?

Pete: About five years... Our first EP with a bassist was in 2008. He left immediately after, and this was after we had sort of been searching for a long time… after he left we kind of said “fuck it, we’re done looking for bassists” and that was when I started incorporating electronics into the show. We incorporated more looping and more samples and then bass tracks and things like that and it’s really dramatically shifted the sound to what you hear on the new album.

Matt: You guys actually did pretty good without a bassist. I didn’t really notice…

Pete: Our bassist is a computer or one of us on guitar using a pitch shifter, or playing bass lines on synth. There's definitely a low end on that album… Some of it is triggered samples. Sometimes live we have to play the pre-recorded tracks.

Matt: Ok, so how did you guys all meet originally?

Pete: We are a craigslist band… Tommy, the drummer, and I were both putting up craigslist ads looking for people. He was finishing up school down in Eugene and he was putting up ads for when he moved back to portland and the two of us kept answering each others' ads. It was like: “oh it’s you again…” and the two of us played. It was great. Then I played with Zac, the other guitar player, and just hit it off. It was kind of like, effortless…

Matt: Are you guys all from Portland or surrounding areas?

Pete: Tommy is a Portland native, I grew up in Ohio and then spent some time in Chicago, I was in Chicago about four years and then moved to Portland. Zac is from Florida, grew up there. So, both Zac and I are transplants.

Matt: It seems like the idea that Portland is like this indie rock haven or whatever is growing in popularity. Did you move there for that reason or….?

Pete: I moved out here, 7 years ago, I guess, now… I had just always wanted to move to the west coast. Chicago was not turning out to be what I wanted it to be as far as music anyways. I was busting my ass and looking for people to play with and nothing was coming together really and Portland, there’s the music scene, it's one of the cheaper cities that you can live in on the west coast… and I got here and within a year I was playing with these guys I’m still playing with… Its been exponentially better than my time in Chicago. Zac would probably say the same thing… So, we moved here looking for something.

Matt: How have you guys faired in that music scene, because I feel like you guys have more of a progressive, almost experimental edge. How does that go over up there?

Pete: How does it go over in Portland? Uuh… (laughs), not as well as we’d like it to. We bitch about the scene here. We love Portland but I’d say there's a lot of regurgitation of the same sort of material over and over again. The same music with different cued instruments, you could say, (laughs). I don’t want to bad mouth the scene too much, but we have definitely run into a hard time, even with the newspapers and media here… They celebrate a lot of bands, and its been hard to get them to grab on to our stuff… Actually, recently, we’ve heard, there’s been a lot of rock bands and bands that are doing some more experimental stuff and it’s been kind of exciting. Not all of it is necessarily experimental but it’s just bigger and louder… We need more of that I think.

Matt: You guys seem pretty eclectic to me. What are your various influences?

Pete: We all like a lot of different stuff but Animal Collective definitely had a big influence on all of us, with Sung Tongs and Feels… combined with stuff like Don Caballero and Battles. We’re definitely big fans of Battles. In my mind, I think a lot of what I hoped to do is sort of combine some of the new pop elements that have been introduced by bands like Animal Collective with some of the more math rock, experimental, rhythmically jagged stuff, from stuff like battles. We’re big fans of Tortoise and Radiohead, and Tom Waits too. We like Raunchy stuff as well.

Matt: Interesting, I don’t think your style is easily pinned down, but if you had to think of a weird genre name, what would it be?

Pete: Uum, (laughs), we get called all sorts of weird stuff, psychedelic math rock I guess… experimental math pop, (laughs) I don’t know! It’s becoming less weird as far as time signature is going. So we’re, in a lot of ways, leaving the math rock thing behind.

Matt: Talk about your creative process a little bit. Do you guys share the song writing responsibility?

Pete: It’s pretty collaborative. I’ll often bring an idea or Zac will bring an idea and we tend to sort of tear it apart and put it back together again… I tend to be the one that sort of comes with a full song idea, and then Zach will tell me what sucks about it. (laughs), We’ll arrange and move it around at practice. Inevitably, it just turns into something completely different than what it starts as, because Tommy is such an aggressive, crazy drummer, that sometimes the beat just changes the mood in such a way that you’ve got to adjust the way that your going about playing what your playing ya know? And the same thing goes for Zac’s parts. He does a lot of the weird pedal and effected guitar stuff that you hear. And sometimes… it’s like well “fuck, this is a completely different thing,” and now the song needs to go to this place instead. It’s really unpredictable in that way and it definitely ends up being more than any of us can pull off on our own.

Right. It sounds like you guys use a lot of effects. Do one of you guys have a discount at Guitar Center or something?

Pete: (laughs)… I try to avoid Guitar Center as much as I can, but we buy and sell gear. Most of what we buy is used just because shit is so expensive these days. Zac and I both recently got two new crazy effects pedals, Eventide effects pedals. I got the Pitch Factor and he got the Time Factor. I imagine that they are going to have a pretty big impact on our sound for the next year or two.

Matt: How long did it take you guys to finish recording the album? That’s a big accomplishment: recording a whole album.

Pete: About 9 months. We recorded the first batch of songs, and overdubbed and built the whole thing and then scrapped, I think, two songs, and recorded two or three more. So, the whole process took about nine months, with shit being recorded and mixed and built up on top of it for most of that time. A lot of it… changed in the recording process. There’s stuff that we do a lot differently now, live, because we didn’t know exactly what it sounded like or how it was supposed to be until we recorded it.

Matt: Did you guys record yourselves or work with someone in a studio?

Pete: I recorded all of it, pretty much. We did it in basements and living rooms around Portland Oregon, (laughs). I would love to be able to go into a studio and have a producer but so much time gets put into it, so much time screwing around with different sounds, different melodies, different things… this album didn’t become what it is until we got to build on these songs and make them all into what they are, and none of that would have happened if we had been working in a studio, because, ya know, $300 a day…

Matt: Got it. What was the biggest hurdle, or thing you had to overcome to get this album done?

Pete: … There were a few tunes on the album that just weren’t working… Because it is so collaborative… we need to wrestle with each one of these tunes, for two or three months sometimes before they really feel complete… We didn’t have a huge batch of songs and so I think the challenge was getting the last two or three of them up to par. Abacus was a big to do. (laughs) We fucked around with that song forever to get it to where it finally went.

Matt: So that one took forever huh? I like that one.

Pete: Yeah (laughs), we can barely pull that one off live because it took so much work after the fact.

Matt: Interesting. I always find it amazing that a band is even able to come together and agree creatively on what it is (laughs) that they are trying to do… To me that’s the hardest thing: the politics of art or music… trying to agree on your vision. How do you think you were able to do that, or do you think you were able to do that?

Pete: Yeah, we bicker and stuff. I think I tend to be the most sensitive (laughs), about the music I make, its like I bring this thing to the band and I think they are supposed to fucking love it or something, and half the time it just gets torn apart. Zac is the one that kind of digs in… And I go home and stu on it a bit and figure something else out and it ends up getting better. I think we’ve found a good Balance. I don’t think it is very common. I think all three of us in this band have more creative input than most bands do. In other bands, it’s usually just one person calling the shots and everyone just kind of agrees that this is the person calling the shots, so everyone else does what they’re told. And our band is not at all like that, and we were just sort of lucky enough to have found each other… We all have the same feeling about what is good and what isn’t… We still bitch about stuff and get on each other’s nerves, but it’s also why we can’t find a fuckin bass player (laughs). We always talk about: “aww man if we just had one other person to hit those notes on the synth or shake that thing or beat on this drum pad or play this bass line…” We always talk about how we want this auxilary person… and every time a fourth person walks in the room its fuckin akward (laughs). Its like someone watching you have sex with your girlfriend or something (laughs).

Matt: (Laughs)… Any recent commercial successes to talk about?

Well, there’s this guy who writes for this blog called Caliper Music who really took a liking to our music (laughs).

Matt: (laughing) ok…

Pete: ... We got asked to play a music fest North West, which we were really fuckin excited about. We had to, very sadly, turn it down because of a wedding… we got picked up by this small booking and management agency called Octopus Entertainment. They really took a liking to us and have helped make some of our more recent gigs be more successful… We’ve been shopping around, sending this thing out and doing our best to get people to care. We’ve made some fans but as far as commercial success goes, we’re still waiting.

Matt: Are you guys planning any tours or anything like that?

Pete: We’re gonna do a short little northwest thing here in the next few months but it will just be Seattle, Olympia, Bellingham, Vancouver, maybe Boise or something like that. Just a small little thing and then probably next spring we’ll head out and do a bigger west coast thing.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

"False Awakenings" (a video by Celeste Byers)

A trippy short video by Celeste Byers, a visual artist based in Los Angeles, False Awakenings was made using live action time-lapse photographs and features music from Disappearing People (a side project of the bay area Psychedelic prog band Moccretro).

FALSE AWAKENINGS from Celeste Byers on Vimeo.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Religious Girls - Midnight Realms

Although I just stumbled upon the bay area band Religious Girls recently, It’s been a couple of years since 2009’s Open Your Heart to Fantasy. Their follow up EP, Midnight Realms is more psychedelic synth melody drowned effects, zealous chanting, and pulsing rhythms with the occasional change up. It's worth a listen. This track is available for free download on their bandcamp.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wax Fingers

A unique and eclectic band hailing from Portland OR, Wax Fingers recently released a self-titled debut album that brings together some pretty diverse contemporary styles: experimental, math rock, progressive, psychedelic. “Animal Collective with a math rock edge” seems to be apt at first listen, but stay tuned and you’ll find it’s far from simplistic or contrived. There’s an authenticity to the album that makes the stylistic blend seem like their own, with jagged yet understandable rhythms, dynamic and practiced vocalization, artful use of electronics/effects, and sometimes spastic guitar riffs. Even styles you wouldn’t expect to hear seem to rear their heads (“Pummel Horse” has kind of a Klezmer, “Strange Days” sort of feel to it). While its probably too early to call them auteurs, solid musicianship paired with an interesting creative vision makes Wax Fingers one to watch. The Album is available to stream on Soundcloud (including a couple of free downloads), or it can be purchased on their homepage.

Sticky Bees by waxfingers

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pink City - Pitcher (from "Designing Women")

Somewhere between punk and noise, between the US and UK, Pink City, the duo from two different continents, has a heavy, degraded sound, with some monotron and samples mixed in for nuance. As ear-splitting and gritty as it is, however, there’s also a bare honesty and passion, felt especially in the uncompromising vocals of Mike, that makes the music instinctually accessible, yet almost scary for the same reason. Their debut album is Designing Women and is available for download on Bandcamp.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Ernie Althoff - The Way I See It/You've Got the Option

From Shame File Music: Ernie Althoff is a Melbourne sound artist and instrument maker active in the Australian experimental music scene since the late 1970s. He is unique not only for the original textures and sonic elements he creates, often tempered with wry humor, but also for his practically continuous contribution to and participation in the Melbourne experimental music community for over three decades. Shame File Music is very proud to present online reissues of each cassette, complete with cover art, original liner notes and Althoff's thoughts on these recordings today, all for free download/streaming, or on CDR with basic artwork if you prefer.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Zorch - E​.​M​.​F.

Not to be confused with the electronic U.K. band from the seventies, this duo from Austin Texas produces dense omnichord melodies, catchy, dynamic compositions, soulful vocals, and an all together weird/fun vibe. Their latest EP is Cosmic Gloss​/​E​.​M​.​F.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sparky and the Random Band: Making the Strange Things Happen (Everyday)

Patrick and Jami, the husband and wife duo out of Minnesota known as Sparky and the Random Band have been making free form experimental music and videos for about a year now. Ambient and bizarre, their music, as well as their videos, create an alternate sensory experience. Listening to the music, I find myself asking: “what’s making this noise?” Then I watch their videos and ask: “what am I seeing here?” Eventually I give up trying to guess how they made that weird sound and I’m simply absorbed in it like an acid trip. Its amazing that they are able to achieve this other worldly quality considering their material is improvised and recorded live in their basement, with an old multi-track recorder. "It's based on free form jazz and beat poetry but made with effects pedals” Patrick says. "We make music, make videos and then post them to the internet… sometimes all in one day.” The instruments range from an old Conn organ, Moog theremin, didgeridoo, vocal samples, and even their cat Ozma, all of which are diluted with effects until they sound like something else entirely. Always adventurous and experimental, they try to “make the strange things happen (everyday)” as their tag line goes. Their new EP is called "Organza." It is available for free download along with their other albums on Vibedeck. They also have a blog with a little more info including a completely true story about how the band started. And make sure you check out all their weird videos. Like this one:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Ladies (Zach Hill + Rob Crowe)

Thought I'd check up with Zach Hill to see what the busiest drummer alive is doing. Turns out: not much, but I realized I never listened much to The Ladies (the collab with Rob Crowe from Pinback back in 2006). They make a good two piece. Crowe's soulful yet somewhat mellow vocals and distinct melodic picking style is a good counter to Zach's furious, unconventional drumming:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Big Spider's Back - Black Chow

It's amazing what one can do with some old logging video and a sense of irony. I like all the trippy dissolves in the beginning. It goes perfect with the chill wave kind of vibe.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Halloween Swim Team - Science Fiction

Sorry people, haven't updated in a while. I've been working on other stuff, including the new Twitter account (which you should follow... now!). Anywho, I'll try to update more frequently. Here's a little track from the LA band Halloween Swim Team. I like the retro synth/electronic sounds they are so fond of. They also did a cover of David Bowie's "Look Back In Anger" which is worth checking out.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Noise Room

The compilation, Noise Room from Sonig, has a lot of excellent electronic/experimental stuff from artists like Black Dice and Kevin Blechdom. Definately worth adding to your library.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tickely Feather - Trashy Boys

Philadelphia's Annie Sachs, better known as Tickley Feather (on Animal Collective's Paw Tracks records) achieves an almost eerie, ethereal yet fun and catchy sound, which is impressive considering it's all home recorded. This track, for instance, could easily be a pop hit from any decade depending on how you play it, but washed in effects, it takes on another, stranger quality. The video is kinda trippy/funny.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Fractal Music

If you don't know about fractals there's some cool videos on youtube you should watch, but basically they are "self similar" patterns found everywhere in nature from plants to cell phone chips. I learned about fractals a while back and wondered about their possible application in music. I had my own ideas, but here's how some scientists in the late 90's went about it. They used a method involving L-systems, which is explained on their website much better than I could break down for you. They produced many different midi tracks using methods such as this, which one might say are more interesting than enjoyable, but I think there's definitely artistic potential here and it depends on the artist using these methods and how they use them.
Fractal Research (Hazard, Kimport, Johnson)-Erie chords by howlingcaliper

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Religious Girls - Delora

I like their sample heavy, Animal Collective(ish) kind of sound. They are doing a free show today in Potrero Del Sol park in San Francisco today, along with some other good bands. Check out the line up.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Kevin Blechdom - Airplane

I like the use of little samples, tediously sutured together to create something completely alien, and elegantly succinct.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dustin Wong

Hot and cold don’t begin to describe anything.

Disto by Dustin Wong

More from this artist

Saturday, February 5, 2011

How To Wreck A Nice Beach

Dave Tompkins, former columnist for Wire magazine has written a book on the history of the vocoder called How To Wreck A Nice Beach. Dave and Monk One have made a mix of their How To Wreck A Nice Beach track for The Wire. You can download on Wire's blog post.. Pretty Kewl...