Jim O' Rourke has a new album, his first in 8 eight years. It's a single near 40 minute piece, like a sort of folk suite, or just a multi-movement work with many reoccurring themes (I have a problem with pop's use of the term 'symphony', which really refers to the use of the orchestra as an instrument). O' Rourke is an ex member of Sonic Youth, and an old stalwart of the experimental, free jazz and improv scene in Chicago (certainly the most vibrant place in the country for that music for the past decade). But he's also just as well known as a producer and mixer, having mixed Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and Joanna Newsom's Ys, and produced Wilco's Ghost Is Born and countless other records. This is an absolutely gorgeous record. The mixing is flawless: it's clean as a whistle, and don't expect to be able to listen at a low volume or vast portions of it will go unnoticed. One would miss not only the detail and thoughtfulness of the orchestration, which is stunning (check out the haunting horn section around 9:30 minutes, just to start), but also simply because O' Rourke hasn't compressed the shit out of everything. so like a classical record, there are sections that are very quiet and section that are quite loud. In form, The Visitor harkens back to a lot of John Fahey's folk classicism. But it dips into so many other styles and textures, and generally plays around so much, that it escapes the religious stoicism of some of Fahey's long form works. Currently my favorite section of the piece begins around 18:30, where out of nowhere a rolling, almost martial beat, a flourish of banjos, and a brass choir tear the roof off the barn, so to speak. Two minutes later, the arrangement has morphed into something so utterly nostalgic and prescient, it's hard to remember just how you got here, through all this twisting and turning, onto a plateaux of some kind, adrift. It's really a three movement work, with the first movement running through a gamut of themes and textures, trying them on for size, the second movement, which moves much more directly, beginning at 18:30 and running through a gradual wilting meltdown before eliding with the third mvt. at the the finger picking figure which picks up at about 30:00. The third mvt gains momentum, building into most exuberant portion of the whole piece before whispering off with a long piano postlude. For those of you with problems with something as overtly beautiful as this record, please drop your b.s. angsty posturing and curl up in bed, or laze in your backyard and listen to this full through, and then tell me it didn't soften you, just a little, in the hardest and most formidable of places.
Jim O'Rourke - The Visitor (link removed at the request of Drag City)
Posted by Peter at Monday, August 31, 2009
Friday Finds is back. Numero 8.
Highway Memorial Shrine - Nodzzz "illegally cute lofi garage"
Black - Dam Funk "LA's inheritor of all thing funkadelic"
true enemies & false friends (yesteryears suite) - Klimek "a brass fanfare in orbit"
Laughing Owl - John Zorn "Zorn made another lounge album, woot woot!"
tryouts - Javelin "soundtrack to your trip to the aquarium"
Girls - Doe N Reezy "in what club do girls get crazy to songs like this?"
Candy Girl - Trailer Trash Tracys "biggest snare sound ever, and heart breaker of a tune"
Open Up the Watergate (Let the Sunshine In) - Bert Jansch "who knew politics could sound this warm"
Apology To Pollinateurs - Karl Blau "psych funk, from a K records all star"
Don't Need No - Pink Dollaz "the anthem from LA's 'jerkin' scene"
Feel It All Around - Washed Out "dayglo beats from newcomer outta South Carolina"
Gold Light - The Pink Noise "android Fonzie posturing"
The Laurels of Erotomania - Cold Cave "the best new dark wave. FYI Erotomania is a type of delusion in which the affected person believes that another person is in love with him or her"
Last One Awake (Friend Version) - Memory Cassette "topical tropical"
Trap Goin Ham - Pill "...like two day old shit....nope, harder than that. check out the insane video"
No Hello - Illuminations "what the world wants old Wilco to sound like"
Madagascar - Lake "Jill's jam"
Download the zip here
Posted by Peter at Friday, August 21, 2009
White is the first name to emerge more broadly out of the "No Beijing" scene. The duo, Shou Weng (guitars, electronics, organs) and Shenngy (vocals, electronics, percussion) formed in Beijing and got picked up and by Einsturzende Neubauten's (one of the pioneers of industrial and experimental rock) Blixa Bargeld who produced the record in Berlin. White has plenty of kinship with Neubauten's sound; dirty electronics and metals, materiality mixed with a kind of spaced out minimalistic drive. White has gotten compared as well to many classical minimal composers, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Glenn Branca, and Alvin Curran, although I'm not so sure that the comparison should be made based on sonics as much as philosophies. White oscillates between a few different postures. There's a more industrial noise based vibe (see "Space Decay"), a minimal, synth driven tribalism that aligns them towards a more Japanese style of experimental rock like the more recent Boredoms, and OOIOO, or even more zen leaning experimenters Asa-Chang and Junray (check out the hypnotic post-dance album closer "Bai" and "47 Rockets (for Wan Hu)"), agitated drone pieces (is that an Erhu on "Spring House"?), and pieces that blend these ideas (the superbly badass "Conch Crunch"). Always with White there's a softer melodic underbelly to any of the more extreme gestures. There's a yearning, almost folk sentimentality that creeps in amidst this sort of hostile industrial sound world. It makes for an odd dynamic, something clearly distanced and analytic, the way Neubauten, or basically anything legitimately post-rock (rather than bands just tagging off its tropes) came off like a statement on culture rather than participating in a construction of it, mixed with something confidently placed in the shifting center of a burgeoning countercultural music movement in China, where seemingly the future of everything is being assembled. Check it out, or miss out on some truly new sounds.
White - Conch Crunch
White - Bai
White - 47 Rockets (For Wan Hu)
White - Spring House
Posted by Peter at Wednesday, August 12, 2009