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

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