ween - quebec

.:: How does one encapsulate the mischievous musical conceits of Aaron Freeman and Mickey Melchiondo, aka Gene and Dean Ween? Infinitely less self-conscious than the smirky They Might Be Giants, yet possessed of a downright Zappa-esque sense of the perverse, Ween returns here from the problematic, if illusory, mainstreaming that characterized 2000's White Pepper to embrace an artistic tack that seems as focused as an errant cluster bomb.

While eclecticism for its own sake has often yielded painful self-indulgence, G&D's is sublime enough to seem virtually pre-conscious. The white-trash thrash of "It's Gonna Be a Long Night" dispenses with the expected parody quotient early on, shrewdly clearing the stage for moody doses of psychedelia that are variously driving ("Transdermal Celebration"), dirgy ("Among His Tribe"), and languorously eerie ("Captain"). But, perhaps conscious of reputations to be maintained, those dreamy, chem-friendly spells are variously broken by the perfect '70s country-pop of "Chocolate Town," the pocket epic "The Argus," and tracks that somehow recall both Captain Beefheart and their own haphazard side-career scoring cartoons and other TV fare. There's something here for everyone, to be sure--but closer to Ween's antic hearts, something to annoy everyone as well. --Jerry McCulley

Prior to the release of its eighth studio album, Ween claimed that Quebec represented a return to the "browner side" of the band, an assertion that surely warmed the hearts of longtime followers. If you're not sure what the "browner side" is, it's their predilection for weirdness, both creepy and cheerful, that has largely been absent since expert studio-craft entered the picture with Chocolate & Cheese -- a record that had its share of strangeness ("Spinal Meningitis [Got Me Down]" is as unsettling as pop music gets, no matter how darkly funny it is), but surely exhibited their musicality.

Deaner and Gener are many things but liars they are not, and Quebec is indeed the strangest album Ween has made since Chocolate & Cheese, but the lessons of 12 Golden Country Greats, The Mollusk, and White Pepper have not been forgotten. This is Pure Guava performed with the precision and cleanliness of White Pepper -- perhaps a mixed blessing for some (those who long for the Scotchguard-fueled madness of The Pod), yet it's a sheer delight for those who patiently sat through the longest period between Ween albums yet. If Quebec has any faults, it's that it is more a collection of songs than a unified record and, sometimes, those songs seem to be included just to get things weird again. Then again, that's kind of the point of Quebec -- it's a clearinghouse of ideas, jokes, experiments, and jams that gains its own momentum through its lack of cohesion, not the least because it feels like they're stretching their legs now that they're on an indie label again (this is their first record for Sanctuary after nearly a decade on Elektra).

And make no mistake, this is the least cohesive album they have ever made -- such sprawling affairs as The Pod and Pure Guava were unified by their homespun sonics and adolescent irreverence -- but it really doesn't matter, because they're now working at a level where it matters not if they are consistent, because they now have a worshipping audience who will listen to this as a song-by-song record, eventually coming to appreciate Quebec for what it is: a hell of a fun, rewarding ride.

Like on White Pepper, the deepest moments arrive through vaguely psychedelic and proggy moments, but they're offset by light japes like "Hey There Fancy Pants," the warped "Happy Colored Marbles" (which is equal parts bubblegum and heavy prog), the sheer brilliant bizarreness of "So Many People in the Neighborhood" (boasting the welcome return of tape-manipulated voices), and the roaring Motörhead salute "It's Gonna Be a Long Night" that opens the album with guns ablazing. Quebec ends on the other side of the spectrum, with the apocalyptic dirge "If You Could Save Yourself, You'd Save Us All," and between those two extremes pretty much every other emotion is explored (even if tongue is firmly in cheek).

There may be no grand scheme, no unifying theme, but after nearly a decade of pseudo-concept albums, that's fine because the format of Quebec lets Ween run wild and indulge in everything the band does best, whether it's freewheeling humor or songcraft, and the results are utterly wonderful.

***this is indeed, an eclectic album… so eclectic, that you may get scared***

download: ween - quebec

jesu - conqueror

.:: Some albums grab you around the throat and bludgeon you right in the face. Others wind their way into you in a subtle way, taking a while to absorb their full impact. Jesu's latest effort falls into the latter category.

Conqueror is generally slow paced and even mellow at times, but still has moments of aggression. It combines beauty and angst, darkness and light, yin and yang into an album with a lot of emotional force. The songs have a doom metal vibe with slow, down tuned guitars. You'll also hear influences from the '90s shoegaze movement and some modern experimental metal and drone flourishes incorporated into the music as well.

One unfortunate aspect of underground music scenes is that all the exclusivity and strict codes meant to fend off clueless outsiders can lead bands to pander to their listeners. Like electronic, noise, jazz, and indie rock artists, metal bands have a firm grasp on what their personal majority demands: They recognize that the right amount of corpse-paint, Satanic imagery, blast-beats and amplifiers can lead to instant credibility. But knowing your fanbase too well can also result in albums so blandly tweaked toward the party line that producing interesting music takes a backseat to Staying on Message. So it's no surprise that one of the biggest dents smashed in metal's façade over the past few years came with Mastodon, whose prog/arena/fantasy hybrid merged metal's volume, technical aptitude, and playful escapism in all the places the genre typically kept virginal.

Justin Broadrick's ongoing quest to spend the metal-cred capital he earned in Napalm Death and Godflesh like so much blood money has been both compelling and damaging to purists' psyches. The noisy yet stubbornly melodic shoegaze anthems he creates as Jesu mercilessly drag his audience to an appreciation of a densely layered, deliberately emotional sound. For a good time, fire up some message boards and watch partisans tie themselves in knots over Conqueror's decidedly pop bent and feather-light vocals. Broadrick floats all over the place, but even the outraged can't help but worship the heft that keeps his whole production aloft.

For those who'll claim Broadrick's gone soft, "Brighteyes" pairs heavy delay and an earnest vocal line with a Sabbath-worthy, cleaving guitar crunch, then segues back to "Mother Earth", which some have already half-ironically noted might find a home somewhere near Depeche Mode or My Bloody Valentine. Over a rounded, triumphantly ascending progression, Broadrick tries three incandescent falsetto-vocal harmonies that cut through his planet-dense production like a lighthouse beacon.

The album ends with an orchestral flourish, stabbing out a symphonic line that sounds pulled off an underwater violin, opening out into bursts of pure, sustained tone. It's no coincidence that his lyrics throughout the album dwell on clouds, sunsets, sunrises, medicine and its dully narcotic effects; his music comes over the stereo like its own weather pattern, an experience with more layers and detail than even 10 or 20 listens can trace out.

One might hope that others follow Broadrick's lead, but there's probably no surer way to convince him to abandon Jesu and its rush of pure ecstatic sound. If he could hear exactly what he wanted without having to make it himself, he most likely wouldn't make it at all.

download: jesu - conqueror

andreas meland / lasse marhaug - brakhage


.:: Beyond Grandpeople’s seductively psychedelic and explosively colorful cover art Brakhage is a split release by two emerging artists come together to pay homage to filmmaker Stan Brakhage. And with sass and brass these two men re-style this recording, originally performed live back in ’03.

The results permeate the listening space into an experience in instant solitude, as Andreas Meland wrangles through the six-part "Dog Star Man." It’s like sipping ether through a swirly straw, just bloating your head with an slow-churned eruption of blisteringly shaped white noise that tightly wraps itself over and over like an endless spool of twine. This is not sheer noise, its cultivated sound-art noise, with blowing whistles and a vibrant presence.

When Meland softens the tones there is an air of twitchiness, a nerve spasm, quiet but omnipresent. Lasse Marhaug’s (Jazzkammer) single ½ hour "The Act of Seeing with One’s Own Eyes" track opens with a passage that blurs at intervals and slowly adds textural surface noise. Quietly hypnotic as guitars are only hinted at, the track could illustrate a stagnant ecosphere, dried-up bodies of water and the wind just rustling through a long, shadowy canyon. A gurgling grind begins balanced by an itchy micro-beat. In all, it’s a pretty subduing ride into a dulling dense darkness.

"Melektronikk's latest gift to you is a split CD entitled "Brakhage". Noise titan Lasse Marhaug aka Jazzkammer, and debutant Andreas Meland shares the circle with very different and individual pieces. Both pieces were originally performed live in 2003 during a screening of classic silent movies by the legendary American filmmaker Stan Brakhage (1933-2003). Since then, both artists have reworked and expanded the live material extensively for this release.

First out on this CD is Andreas Meland's six-part piece 'Dog Star Man'. Through his work in Düplo, Sort Mel and Bokfink, Andreas Meland is considered one of the most promising talents of the new generation of Norwegian sound artists, though this is his first release besides very limited singles and CDr's. Andreas has been active in the Norwegian experimental music scene through many years with numerous memorable concerts and limited edition releases. He's also Melektronikk's very own label boss and an active concert and festival organizer. His music has been applauded for it's generous complexity and tasteful mix of warm, layered acoustic drones and electronics. In his homage to Brakhage, Andreas lets loose his guitars and organs and let them drift into woods of violins and worlds of whining balloons. Friendly electronic sparks light up the way. 'Dog Man Star' is by far Andreas' masterpiece so far, a warm and highly rewarding contemplative piece of hushed tensions and quiet beauty.

Lasse Marhaug has been one of the leading figures in Norwegian experimental music as a solo artist, in the seminal noise duo Jazzkammer and collaborations with Kevin Drumm, Merzbow, Paal Nilssen-Love, Maja Ratkje and numerous others. Though Lasse is known for re- inventing himself from project to project, we were very surprised when we recieved his piece, 'The Act of Seeing with One's Own Eyes': This is absolutely the most spine-chilling piece of doom we've ever heard; a subterranean journey of pure evil and soiled intimacy, so terrifying that it could make an eskimo zombie apply for a welfare apartment in Rhodos. Staggering bloodstained guitars and wounded feedback pile itself upon heaps of rotting digital debris and withering noise swirls. Gee, one never knew it felt so good to be dead!"

download: andreas meland / lasse marhaug - brakhage

pass: indie-ground.blogspot.com

pit er pat - pyramids

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.:: Pit er Pat is the Chicago-based trio of keyboardist Fay Davis-Jeffers, drummer Butchy Fuego and bassist Rob Doran. When approaching a title for the new album, the follow up to 2005’s Shakey, each member of Pit er Pat remembers coming across pyramids in various forms: in random images they encountered, in the course of personal reading, and even in their own drawings. Pyramids were everywhere it seemed, and the strength and symbolism of that shape clicked for the band with the themes of the new album and their nature as a three-piece.

Powerful rhythms provide the solid floor for ethereal melodies and layers of textural samples on Pyramids. Contemporaries describe Pit er Pat’s sound as distinctively modern and fresh. Doran and Fuego’s vocals often flit with Davis-Jeffers’ in an exchange evoking haunting innocence. Contrasts are also present lyrically. On the fatalistic “Time Monster”, Fay illuminates the misconceived promises of passing time.

While that kind of seemingly ominous imagery is repeated on Pyramids, there is also an equally heavy presence of openness and possibility uniting the dualities that this band has come to represent.

As with their last release, the 3-D Message EP, Pit er Pat recorded this album at Soma Studios with John McEntire. Pyramids was recorded and mixed in just 11 days – enough time for the band to fully develop their inspirations, while keeping things performative energetically and capturing the details often lost in the club PA. It’s clear that McEntire was very much in-tune with their musical ideas, reflecting the bands’ creativity back on itself in order to aid the full and fluid realization of their ideas.

Pyramids is Pit er Pat’s second full album and sixth release overall. Utterly unique and difficult to pin down with musical comparisons, it’s by far the band’s most comprehensive effort to date.

download: pit er pat - pyramids

pass: indie-ground.blogspot.com

to what end? - the purpose beyond

.:: "Wow, talk about emotionally charged, To What End? Hit me hard with "The Purpose Beyond", their debut for Crimes Against Humanity. "The Purpose Beyond" brings forth 13 anthems of white-knuckle hardcore/punk fury with great melodic flourishes and an intense crust punk edge. From the very first song, To What End? make their multi-dimensional attack dangerously clear.

The excellent vocal tradeoffs (both male and female vox) are one of the band's most poignant weapons, as both vocalists shout the excellent, socially conscious lyrics in a truly heart-wrenching manner. These guys and gal are also masters of skillful tempo changes as the songs stop and turn on a dime, balancing between midpaced moments of melancholy to unbridled aggression.

This is an all around essential punk release with top notch production by Mieszko Talarzyck (Nasum, Genocide S.S.) and the usual quality packaging by Crimes Against Humanity. This is an excellent release and one I highly recommend to fans of Tragedy, Bread and Water, Remains of the Day, etc. "The Purpose Beyond" is emotional, uncompromising and unforgettable. Nothing more needs to be said."

pass: http://www.myspace.com/mtnt

download: to what end? - the purpose beyond

acid mothers temple & the melting paraiso u.f.o. - grateful head

.:: Acid Mothers Temple & the Melting Paraiso U.F.O. (and subsequent offshoots) is a Japanese psychedelic band founded in 1996 by members of the Acid Mothers Temple soul-collective. The band is led by guitarist Kawabata Makoto and early in their career featured many musicians but by 2004 the line-up had coalesced with 4 core members and frequent vocal guests.

The band have a reputation for phenomenal live shows and releasing frequent albums on a number of international record labels, including the Acid Mothers Temple family record label which was established in 1998 to document the activities of the whole collective.

Offshoots and permutations include: * Acid Mothers Temple & The Cosmic Inferno, * Mothers of Invasion, * Acid Mothers Temple SWR, * Acid Mothers Afrirampo, * Acid Mothers Gong, * Acid Mothers Temple & The Pink Ladies Blues

Acid Mothers Templr & The Melting paraiso U.F.O. :
Cotton Casino : vocals, synthesizers, beer & cigarettes
Tsuyama Atsishi : monster bass, vocal, cosmic joke
Higashi Hiroshi : synthesizer, harp, voice, dancin' king
Koizumi Hajime : drums, sleeping monk
Ichiraku Yoshimitsu : drums, kendo-stick
Yoshida Tatsuya (Ruins) : drums
Kawabata Makoto : guitar, piano, voice, RDS-900, speed guru

pass: deadhead

download: acid mothers temple & the melting paraiso u.f.o. - grateful head

omar a. rodriguez-lopez - a manual dexterity: soundtrack volumen one

.:: Even odds say Omar A. Rodriguez-Lopez's favorite flick is Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man. The Mars Volta and At the Drive-In guitarist/songwriter dives into Neil Young experimentalism headfirst on his solo debut, A Manual Dexterity, a half soundtrack to a work in progress and labor of love that Rodriguez-Lopez has been filming on and off since 2001.

As the opening credits roll, the squealing axe of "Around Knuckle White Tile" grinds arrhythmic anthems through chaotic drums and swirling noise. Each track a new scene, "Here the Tame Go By" adds confusion to sadness with a deluge of delay. One lonely, sad riff becomes electronic, and the track slowly builds confidence. "Deus Ex Machina" is exactly that. From instrumental surrealism comes a Latin dance number, a twist in the fabric of the whole. Mars Volta echoes throughout, as on typewriter-ridden "A Dressing Failure" and the sci-fi prog rock of "Sensory Decay Part II."

Avant-garde doesn't begin to describe the wild and wooly imagery in this music. It's dreams and nightmares, fear and elation, fatigue and hyperactivity. As Cedric Bixler-Zavala's trademark yowl reverberates over closer "The Palpitations Form a Limit," it's something some white-haired genius would be proud of. We can only hope the film reaches the same bar.

.:: En el sureño mundo que rodea a esta pareja de genios que son Omar Rodríguez-López y Cedric Bixler-Zavala (líderes de At The Drive-In y The Mars Volta) nda funciona como uno espera. Ni a la hora de escribir canciones ni a la hora de sacar discos. Un claro ejemplo de lo segundo es el 'album en solitarios de Omar "A Manual Dexterity: Soundtrack Volumen 1", la banda sonora de una película aún sin terminar. Como se intuye en el título, esta es la primera de dos entregas.

La película en cuestión "A Manual Dexterity", corre a cargo de Rodríguez-López, que se embarcó en el proyecto en el 2001, tras la separación de At The Drive-In, antes de que The Mars Volta empezara a tomar forma. Para grabar la banda sonora Omar entró en un estudio acompañado de amigos dotados con una mentalidad musical abierta y vanguardista. El resultado, en su mayoría instrumental y de casi 60 minutos de duración es puro caos adrenalínico (en el mejor sentido) que no entiende fronteras estilísticas. Como no podía ser de otra manera, tratándose de este Rodríguez-López

download: omar a. rodriguez-lopez - a manual dexterity: soundtrack volumen one

thelonious monk and sonny rollins

.:: Thelonious Monk created some of his most innovative music during the period in the early '50s when he recorded for Prestige, and Sonny Rollins was in the forefront of the few musicians who could respond to Monk's challenging compositions and sharp-angled, dissonant comping. It's apparent in the way the two transform the standards "The Way You Look Tonight" and "I Want to Be Happy," Rollins soaring through the former and bringing wry wit to the latter. Monk's "Friday the 13th" is heard in an extended performance with Rollins and French-horn player Julius Watkins (challenging, probing music). --Stuart Broomer

These five tracks, recorded in the 1950s and reissued in 2006, feature Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins (two of the era's most progressive musicians) on the stand together. The interplay between Monk's skeletal, idiosyncratic, yet strangely logical playing and Rollins's full, rich tone and adventurous harmonic explorations complement each other beautifully on both standards ("The Way You Look Tonight") and Monk originals ("Friday the 13th"). "Friday the 13th" is the highlight of the set, featuring plenty of stretching out from Rollins, Monk, and French horn player Julius Watkins. This is a fine addition to any Monk and/or Rollins collection.

download: thelonious monk and sonny rollins

tom petty - highway companion

.:: Four years after he took Elvis Costello's advice and bit the music/radio biz hands that have simultaneously fed and frustrated him for decades on the scabrous The Last DJ, Tom Petty returned to the studio with more personally introspective matters on his mind. Reuniting with producer/Wilbury sideman Jeff Lynne sans Heartbreakers for his third solo release proper, the veteran doesn't so much retool his trademark sound here as allow it the freedom to roam.

The sonic landscape here is bluesier ("Saving Grace's opening shuffle, the haunting "Turn This Car Around") and more country-fried (the twangy energy of the blue collar lament "Big Weekend"), a return to familiar roots that produces subtly different results this time around. That sensibility now seasons songs as different as the stoned-elegant languor of "Night Driver" and the playful "Jack," where Petty and Lynn give a knowing nod and wink to the contemporary pop milieu. The stately, pop-perfect closer "Golden Rose" may lean on the Beatle-y side of their familiar sound, but it's a cliché the duo use both sparingly and shrewdly throughout, forging one of the veteran's most free-ranging and warmly satisfying efforts in a decade. --Jerry McCulley

In a career that has now reached its thirtieth year, Tom Petty has never made a bad album. Some flirt with greatness, others simply deliver the goods (his last release, 2002's The Last DJ, was actually one of his weaker efforts, weighed down by its grouchy theme), but the man's consistency is pretty astounding. Highway Companion not only keeps his winning streak intact, it even rates above average by these standards.

The album is Petty's third release under his own name, minus the Heartbreakers. Curiously, while his band is among rock's sturdiest units, his previous two solo albums, Full Moon Fever and Wildflowers, were arguably the best Tom Petty discs of all. Highway Companion doesn't reach the towering heights of those two knockouts, but it shares their combination of stylistic range and rock-solid songcraft.

Tom Petty was always slightly hard to peg. When he first emerged from the Florida swamps, it wasn't clear if he was a classic-rock stoner or an edgy New Waver (on his current tour, the opening acts include the Allman Brothers Band and the Strokes). Highway Companion comes out of the gate with this versatility intact -- the opening ZZ Top/John Lee Hooker boogie of "Saving Grace," the first single, is followed by the spare, delicate "Square One." His songs are filled with images of motion, travel and the road; the sharpest writing appears in the cryptic, evocative "Down South," describing a journey that includes plans to "see my daddy's mistress," "sell the family headstones" and "pretend I'm Samuel Clemens/Wear seersuckers and white linens."

The biggest surprise is Jeff Lynne's production. For once, the Electric Light Orchestrator (and Petty's one-time bandmate in the Traveling Wilburys) avoids his signature airless walls of sound and keeps things relatively simple and clean. The album runs out of gas a bit toward the end, with a few too many songs in a row stuck in a midtempo Neil Young-ish lope. But for most of the ride, Highway Companion is worth the trip. -- Alan Light

.:: Después del brillante embite contra la industria musical y radiofónica más comercialoide que Petty había realizado con el previo y estupendo “The Last DJ”, el rubio de Florida asentado en California abandona en los créditos a sus Heartbreakers (aunque Mike Campbell co-produce y toca varios instrumentos en el álbum) para grabar con producción de Jeff Lynne este “Highway Companion”, un disco de trayectos en carretera con transiciones vitales, memorias familiares, introspección, estampas de amores rotos, viajes sureños con citas a Mark Twain…a base de rock de raíces que tanto se inspira en el blues, el folk-rock, el country-rock o el pop, con remembranzas tanto de Bob Dylan como de los Byrds, Neil Young, Beatles, Bo Diddley, The Band o Roy Orbison.

Un artista crecido, nada nuevo en el oficio, y que ofrece una música acorde con su estado de madurez... Éstas son las conclusiones que se pueden sacar una vez que se escucha un disco como Highway Companion, que tiene un sonido apacible y crea atmósferas de melancolía a base de guitarras acústicas. Pese a ello, "Saving Grace", que abre el lp, lo hace con una cierta intensidad la cual se va incrementando hasta alcanzar un sonido más rockero.

Después de este comienzo de fuerte pegada comienzan a llegar los temas lentos con "Square One", que si se escucha estando bajo de ánimos hará que se caiga la lagrimilla. La delicada voz a que nos tiene acostumbrados Petty en los últimos tiempos contribuye a crear todas esas emociones. El comienzo de "Down South" arrastra con una pegadiza melodía con un ritmo poco temperamental, pero sin llegar a una triste lentitud. Otros temas, como "Big Weekend", rezuman aires de country sureño; es una canción que bien podría ser de carretera, recuerda a muchas de sus influencias y a su gusto por esta música tradicional... hace aquí uso de sonidos con slide para guitarra o la armónica.

La colaboración en el disco de algunos Heartbreakers hacen que no suene muy diferente a sus obras anteriores. Aunque no es una grabación altamente destacable dentro de su amplia discografía, merece más de una atenta escucha. Sólo para oídos exquisitos, es un buen acercamiento al músico

download: tom petty - highway companion

hella - hold your horse is

.:: Hella is amazing. They have the ability to leave listeners baffled and enthralled at the same time. The timing of their songs can confuse the hardiest person and their melodies can please the most jaded. We love Hella. Controlled chaos at its best.

"Through heavy guitar composition (courtesy of Spencer Seim) that's so intricate it sounds like six people playing instead of one, and the well - versed - in - the - double - bass drummer (Zach Hill), Hella creates the perpetually hard-hitting cacophony you'd expect. But the band doesn't rely entirely on musical prowess and audience exhaustion--Hella writes some pretty melodies that flower up from the assault like little gifts." --julianne sheperd / The stranger.com

This band is clearly light years ahead of it's time. If you consider yourself to be "in the know" when it comes to music then you already have this cd. if you consider yourself "in the know" and you don't have this cd, then you aren't really "in the know", you're just faking it.

.:: ¿Quién les ha otorgado estas habilidades técnicas a este dúo entonces? El último trabajo de los de Sacramento confirma su inmenso estado de inspiración. Es cierto, si no estás acostumbrado a oír bandas en las que la importancia recae en no dejar ni un segundo de respiro a tus sentidos, si no has pasado antes por grupos en los que eres incapaz de contar los cambios de ritmo empleados en cada tema, o simplemente no disfrutas de formaciones que hacen de la complejidad estructural su bandera, posiblemente no pasarás del segundo corte de este LP.

Pero si por el contrario estás ya acostumbrado a no perderte entre idas y venidas métricas, e incluso disfrutas sumergiéndote por caóticos laberintos, exprimiendo al máximo esos momentos en los que parece surgir un tramo melódico, bienvenido seas al sonido de una de las bandas más exigentes consigo mismas.

Los chicos de Hella crean un impresionante bloque con un engranaje macizo, siendo este conjunto de temas el verdadero núcleo en el que se sustenta el último trabajo de estos muchachos. Treinta y cuatro minutos que se te escurren entre los dedos y que llegan a su fin sin que hayas podido echar el aire. Y ahora, imagina un concierto de estos dos…

download: hella - hold your horse is

diamanda galás - malediction & prayer

.:: One of the most startling artists of our time, Galás creates haunting gospels of despair, desolation and redemption that leave the audience shaken and transformed. For some, the things of which she sings are too much to bear; for Galás, it would be unbearable to remain silent about them.

Galás treats her piercingly beautiful multi-octave voice as an instrument whose sound defies description, penetrating like wind to the bone, resurrecting the dead in the living. She stands alone by virtue of her extraordinary technical accomplishment and her passionate commitment to the principle that the personal is the political. The themes she addresses are universal-a ferocious grieving of real and immediate loss-taking material from a wide variety of cultures and eras. The sorrow of which she sings addresses in chilling recollection, man's inhumanity to man, songs of life and death, redemption and damnation, of human pain and suffering which is experienced directly by the audience.

You'd have to look long and hard to find a more unclassifiable artist than Diamanda Galas. Her mesmerizing voice sounds something like Tina Turner, something like Janis Joplin, and something like Jessye Norman. It's hard to pay attention to what she's actually singing at first; Galas's voice is that compelling, from the deep, heavy notes of "Iron Lady" to the high, shivering pitches of "The Thrill Is Gone." She takes everything from French writer Baudelaire's "Abel et Cain" to legendary bluesman Son House's "Death Letter" and makes them her own, the thundering chords and deep growls of her piano complementing her astounding voice perfectly. Love her or not, Diamanda Galas will provoke a deep-seated response such as few vocalists can aspire to. --Genevieve Williams

.:: Si los autoproclamados "góticos" estuvieran mejor informados, fuesen más radicales o tuvieran coraje para ir a la esencia en lugar de perderse por las ramas de la estética, ella, Diamanda Galás, sería su reina indiscutida.

Pero como los "góticos" parecen más centrados en asuntos de maquillaje, guardarropía y estilismos varios, Diamanda (da vergüenza escribirlo después de una carrera ya tan extensa) sigue siendo uno de los secretos mejor guardados de la música actual. Si a un "gótico", incluso a efectos de mera apariencia física, le resulta más inspirador el personaje de Robert Smith que esta genuina dama de las tinieblas, apaga y vámonos. Pero, en fin, ya que ni los periodistas-gurú del pop ni los templos de la lírica convencional abren las puertas de su entendimiento a esta soprano inabarcable, rindámonos algunos al poder terrible de uno de sus dos trabajos dobles de 2004.

Diamanda Galás posee los recursos de la ópera convencional, pero también las claves estéticas del expresionismo alemán, la facultad transgresora del verdadero cabaret, el secreto de utilizar su piano alternativamente como una caricia o como una metralleta, la terquedad de seguir, insobornable, transitando por un camino que casi nadie comprende ni aplaude.

Maldita y bendita, atormentada y visceral, la californiana de origen griego Diamanda Galás ha permanecido desde comienzos de los años 80 como una inquietante y soberbia voz dentro del espectro musical moderno. A medio camino entre el blues, la ópera, el canto espiritual, el jazz, la música experimental, y el “dark-folk”, Diamanda Galás ha demostrado poseer, además de una excelente habilidad con el piano, un rango vocal de impresionante cobertura, de erizantes efectos sobre la audiencia. Su intimidante música y las pocas concesiones que ha realizado a lo largo de su carrera, la han mantenido injustamente al margen de la industria musical.

Desde su primera aparición en público en 1979, en el Festival d’Avignon, Francia, Galás ha estado continuamente redefiniendo los parámetros de la interpretación y el “performance” vocal, usando un variado arreglo de técnicas que van desde guturales gemidos hasta aterradores gritos, pasando por momentos de genuina melancolía, produciendo diversos y muy extremos estados de ánimo en el oyente, retándolo continuamente.

Después de haber ganado notoriedad en Europa, Diamanda Galás hace su debut discográfico con The Litanies of Satan, en el cual aparece la espeluznante “Wild Women with Steak Knives”. A partir de 1984, el trabajo de Galás se ha visto influenciado por los horrores del Sida, tema fundamental de A Plague Mass, una especie de requiem para aquellos atrapados por la muerte, una obra dividida en cuatro partes: The Divine Punishment (1986), primero de esos capítulos, desafía los efectos producidos por la homofóbica respuesta al Sida a través de la subversión religiosa; The Saint of the Pit (1986) utiliza el martirologio como una metáfora para aquellos que sufren, signada por el contagio de su hermano durante la grabación; con You must be Certain of the Devil (1988) Galás busca la redención mediante los salmos y cantos espirituales negros.
Estos tres primeros trabajos del cuarteto fueron recopilados en Masque of the Red Death (1988), antes de ser editada la cuarta y última sección de A Plague Mass (1991), esta vez en vivo, con títulos tan devastadores como “There are no more tickets for the Funeral”.

En 1992 se edita The Singer, un magnífico compendio de piezas extraídas del cancionero popular norteamericano, y poco tiempo después aparece Vena Cava (1993), así como Judgement Day (1993), un estético trabajo audiovisual que captura a Diamanda en una memorable actuación. La voz de Galás ha sido requerida por los cineastas Francis Ford Coppola para la versión del clásico Drácula, y por Oliver Stone para la frenética película Natural Born Killers.

La carrera de Galás no se detiene, y es así como nos sorprende con el más rockero de todos sus discos, The Sporting Life (1994), una colaboración con John Paul Jones, ex-bajista de Led Zeppelin.

En 1996 aparece Schrei X, alternando vocalizaciones cargadas de energía con momentos de silencio, a manera de confesión. Con su más reciente ofrecimiento, Malediction and Prayer, un trabajo desbordante de emocionalidad, con piezas cantadas en inglés, griego, español e italiano, Diamanda demuestra una vez más su inmensa versatilidad vocal y su apego a lo arriesgado.

A Diamanda Galás se la puede odiar o amar. Su voz pura, potente, cristalina y emotiva, penetra nuestras fibras hasta llegar al alma. Permanecer indiferente es una tarea imposible ante el poder seductor de su música, permanentemente confrontada con el lado corrupto y descompuesto del espíritu humano. Diamanda Galás es un instrumento de inspiración y un arma de tortura para los enemigos de lo auténtico. --Juan Carlos Ballesta

***si te late la onda del indie bonito o lo "arriesgado" de The Killers y tu "artista secreto" es Velvet Underground… hazte y hazle un favor a tu cerebro… NO LO BAJES !!!***

download: diamanda galás - malediction & prayer

john tavener - celtic requiem

.:: This work for soprano, children's choir, chorus and orchestra was commissioned by the London Sinfonietta. the first performance was given by them in July 1969 at the Royal Festival Hall with the London Sinfonietta Chorus and Children from Little Missenden Village School, conducted by David Atherton.

In 1968, the London Sinfonietta asked me to write a work for them. I wanted to write a requiem but could not forecast what form it might take - or how long it might be.

I first thought of calling my new work CELTIC REQUIEM because the idea of it came to me while spending some time in Ireland, and I wanted to set early Irish poetry. But on completion I discovered that it had become a theatre piece for children, wtih a background of Irish and Latin words, and the original title seemd less meaningful. However, I have stuck to this title, because I like it and I owe a debt to Ireland for the genesis of the spirit of the music.

The work is scored for three instrumental groups, including Irish bagpipes, A flat clarinet, bass trombone, piccolo trumpet, grand organ, piano, strings, percussion, three choirs, soloists and rather young children's voices. The music is a gigantic decoration of the chord of E flat major. Three different canti and three differen rhythmic groups embellish this chord, and the words of the mass are always allotted to whoever is bearing the 'canti'. The whole piece may, at any given point, be related to the chord of E flat. The work falls into three main sections: Requiem aeternam, Dies Trae, and Requiescat in pace.

Key words of the Requiem Mass are sung by the adult choirs, in conjunction with early Irish poetry, which is nearly always allotted to the extremely high soprano soloist; but all these things stand as 'adult embellishments' to the children's games about death and courtship. These games are the most important thing in the piece, reflecting or commenting on what the 'adults' are singing.

Much has been done to corrupt children, and television and comics have hardly helped. As David Holbrook writes in his introduction to 'Children's Singing Games', 'We have offended our little ones, and ought to have millstones hung around our necks'.

If it may seem that I am using the theatrical prop of 'child sentiment', then I can only say that the ideal of the piece is inseperable from the music. I do believe in a very strong connection between death and children; and that their enacting of the mysterious 'rite of death' in street games is very moving. The children's songs are untouched (apart from all being transposed into E flat major), and are given a context within the framework of sections of the mass that I have used. There is a central character, Jenny Jones, a little girl who is picked as a victim at the outset to undergo the rite of death. It is over the corpse of Jenny Jones that the children dance at one point in the 'Confutatis maledictis', swirling bull-roarers to scare away evil spirits. This, though handed down to children, has its origin in a funeral rite in the lowlands of Scotland. In origin, hop-scotch represents the path through life to death, or purgatory to paradise - which perhaps is the same thing. (Incidentally, Peguy's description of Paradise contains a reference to children playing hop-scotch.) The children play a very slow, rhythmically articulated game of hop-scotch during the 'Tuba mirum', and then later combine this with swinging games to release a soul from purgatory by attempting to pluck something off the front of the swing. Priests in Bolivia used to swing on gigantic swings for 12 hours on All Souls' Day for the same purpose. The chldren swing to nonsense rhymes such as, 'Die pussy die, shut your little eye, when you wake find a cake, die pussy die'. This particular rhyme is changed as the swing 'dies' at the end of the the 'Recordare' section of the mass. The mock resurrection of Jenny Jones which comes after the 'Confutatis maledictis' serves as an outlet of escape from the claustrophobic atmosphere of death and mourning. Jenny Jones jumps up and chases the other children away as they shout 'The Ghost'.

Courtship games also took place at funerals, and children have preserved this rite (in certain parts of Ireland this continues to the present day). In a way that the children enact by pantomime the apparent random nature of gods choosing a victim for the rite of death, so in courtship the girl who has to choose a lover is random. An echo of the 'Lacrymosa' ends the 'Dies Irae' in conjunction with 'Poor Mary what are you weeping for on a bright summer's day?'

The final second, 'Requiescat in pace', contains much symbolism. Briefly it is a prayer to the Blessed Virgin put into the mouth of a mourner, 'that I may keen with you your own dear Son', set against the Latin text, Henry Vaughan's 'They are all gone into the world of light', and Cardnial Newman's hymn 'Lead, kindly light'. The idea of using this hymn, which I love more than any other, must have had its origin in the memorial service for Mahatma Gandhi held in St. Paul's Cathedral. Indian classical music was played by indian musicians up by the alter, and magically this music terminated as 'Lead, Kindly light' started, sung by the choir at the other end of the Cathedral. It was deeply moving, not only because of the juxtaposition, but also because of the innate dignity of the music just heard. During this last section, the children sing their own parody of 'Mary had a little lamb... her father shot it dead', and they begin to dismember a toy lamb as 'Mary sits a-weeping' in the centre of a ring. The children later put the lamb together again as all the forces gradually converge on the chord of E flat, and giant toy tops in E flat are started. Humming tops were used in primitive Christian practice on Easter morning to proclaim the risen Christ. The ghost of Jenny Jones reappears, touches Mary, who is 'weeping for a sweetheart', and the game Jenny Jones starts all over agin with the girl who was Mary before as Jenny.

I have compiled the libretto of THE CELTIC REQUIEM myself. The words are taken from the Missa pro Defunctis, poems of Blathmac, son of Cu Brettan, a poem by Henry Vaughan, a hymn by Cardinal Newman, a whole mass of children's singing games and nonsense rhymes mostly written by children....

CELTIC REQUIEM was first performed on 16 July 1969 by the London Sinfonietta, The London Sinfonietta Chorus and children from Little Missenden Village School, conducted by myself at the Royal Festival Hall, London.

John Tavener 1969

.:: El Réquiem Celta, escrita en 1969 para coros de niños, coros adultos y orquesta sobre textos de diversos autores. Su contenido ofrece una macabra comparación entre un juego infantil y el rito de la muerte. Hay un personaje central, la niña Jenny Jones, que es utilizada como víctima ficticia para este juego, pero afortunadamente el simulacro fúnebre concluye con su supuesta resurrección y escape de un clima mortuorio realmente claustrofóbico.

La versión del Réquiem Celta que presentamos es aquella grabación realizada en 1970 por el coro y la orquesta London Sinfonietta más la soprano June Barton, voces infantiles de la Little Missenden Village School y el propio John Tavener en órgano. La dirección general está en manos de David Atherton.

***lo prometido es deuda***

download: john tavener - celtic requiem

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fred frith / stevie wishart / carla kihlstedt - the compass, log and lead

.:: The Compass, Log and Lead is a feast of string instruments: Fred Frith paints wonderful colors on his acoustic guitar, Carla Kihlstedt (USA) plays violin and the nyckelharpa, a Swedish folk instrument, and Steve Wishart (Australia) has turned the hurdy-gurdy into a modern instrument. For one of Fred Frith’s strengths has always been to tie together unbelievably beautiful folk harmonies with free improvisation, something already heard in his band Skeleton Crew or in the soundtrack to the film Step Across the Border. This is also a strength of this trio.

The music on this record is improvised. What we bring to each performance is who we are and all that we have learned so far. None of us is involved exclusively with improvisation. We each have experience playing composed music our own and other peoples’ – and we’re involved in a wide range of other musical activities. We write songs, use electronics, work in recording studios, collaborate with artists from other disciplines, compose scores, and much else besides. For us, improvising is the sum of our personal musical histories intertwined, a place where we can meet on equal terms and discover things we never knew, or hear what we thought we knew in a new light. It’s a conversation, an exchange. There are no rules, other than to listen well and act accordingly. --Fred Frith, 2005, Liner Notes

Fred Frith: acoustic guitar, lowry organ, violin
Carla Kihlstedt: violin, nyckelharpa
Stevie Wishart: hurdy-gurdy, electronics, violin

***yes, the same Carla Kihlstedt from Tin Hat Trio, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and many other projects, so what are you waiting for??? GET IT !!!***

download: fred frith / stevie wishart / carla kihlstedt - the compass, log and lead

coldworker - the contaminated void

.:: Sweden's COLDWORKER storms out of the gates with it's debut The Contaminated Void. Conceived and created by Anders Jakobson (of the legendary NASUM) and his hand-picked selection of burgeoning metal players, COLDWORKER's razor-sharp attack is destined to send shockwaves through the international extreme scene. The Contaminated Void's fourteen tracks swarm with equal parts crushing riffs, blazing speed, and menacing vocal onslaughts. Outrageously agile guitars balance melodic leads with relentless aggression. From start to finish, The Contaminated Void burns with a ferocity and intensity rarely seen in any genre of metal. Simply stated, COLDWORKER and The Contaminated Void is among the finest Scandinavian metal this side of the 21st century.

The untimely demise of vocalist/producer Mieszko Talarczyk in 2004’s tsunami disaster in SE Asia sent shockwaves throughout the entire international extreme music scene. Among his many contributions to this music, none stands prouder than his work with the best of the second-generation grindcore bands, NASUM: a group whose existence was cut-short by this tragedy. Almost two years later, in Mieszko’s indomitable spirit, the remaining members have begun to explore and pursue new projects and the first among these - COLDWORKER - will be releasing their debut album, The Contaminated Void, through Relapse Records this fall (in Europe, US release is slated for early ’07). The brainchild of drummer Anders Jakobson; COLDWORKER finds the skins-man joining forces with a group of younger, less-experienced musicians to form a fresh musical vision that begins with the scathing grind that was NASUM’s trademark but then combines it with elements of catchy Swedish death-metal and epic, chaotic hardcore to produce a sound and a fury unmatched by many current contenders in the international scene.

Of course, jumping right back into music was a cause for great turmoil for Jakobson and it wasn’t until January of 2006 that the drummer felt the urge to grind return. “2005 was a very dark year for me music-wise. I almost didn’t play at all. Probably six months passed before I even touched my drums. I had a constant feeling that my days being a musician were up because I didn’t see myself going anywhere near a new band or project.”

download: coldworker - the contaminated void

john tavener - the whale

.:: Tavener attended Highgate School (where a fellow pupil was John Rutter) and later studied at the Royal Academy of Music, where his tutors included Sir Lennox Berkeley. He first came to prominence in 1968 with his dramatic cantata The Whale, based on the Old Testament story of Jonah. It was premièred at the London Sinfonietta's début concert and later recorded by Apple Records. Other works released by Apple included his Celtic Requiem.

In 1977 Tavener joined the Russian Orthodox Church. The Orthodox theology and liturgical tradition became a major influence on his work. He was particularly drawn to its mysticism, studying and setting to music the writings of church fathers such as St John Chrysostom.

One of Tavener's most popular and frequently performed works is his short unaccompanied four-part choral setting of William Blake's The Lamb, written on his nephew's third birthday one afternoon in 1985. This simple, homophonic piece is usually performed as a Christmas carol.

Later prominent works include The Akathist of Thanksgiving (1987, written in celebration of the millennium of the Russian Orthodox Church); The Protecting Veil (first performed by cellist Steven Isserlis and the London Symphony Orchestra at the 1989 Proms); and Song For Athene (1993, memorably performed at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997). Following Diana's death he also composed and dedicated to her memory the piece Eternity's Sunrise, based on poetry by William Blake.

Later Tavener left Orthodox Christianity to explore a number of other different religious traditions, including Hinduism and Islam. In 2003 he composed the exceptionally large work The Veil of the Temple, based on texts from a number of religions. It is set for four choirs, several orchestras and soloists and lasts at least seven hours.

While Tavener's early music was influenced by Igor Stravinsky, often invoking the sound world of the Requiem Canticles and A Sermon, a Narrative and a Prayer, his recent music is more sparse, uses wide registral space and is usually diatonically tonal. Some commentators see a similarity with the works of Arvo Pärt, from their common religious tradition to the technical details of phrase lengths, diatonicism and coloristic percussion effects. Olivier Messiaen has also been suggested as a strong influence on his earlier work.

In 2000 John Tavener was knighted for his services to music.

It was the appearance of 'The Whale' in 1968 that catapulted the mop-haired prodigy to fame. 1968 was a year of discovery and innovation in the pop as well as the classical world: Tavener had six significant new works premiered, among them 'The Whale' which made his reputation. It was the inaugural concert of the London Sinfonietta at the Queen Elizabeth Hall that saw it's premiere under David Atherton.. It uses the then highly fashionable collage, pre-recorded tape, amplified percussion and a chorus using loudhailers: an Iconoclasm which Tavener has since turned his back on.

The Beatles began to take note: Ringo Starr was given a tape of 'The Whale' and Tavener met John and Yoko for a dinner and music evening in Kensington - the next day Lennon had decided to issue Tavener's music on the newly formed Apple label. The Whale, Celtic Requiem, Coplas and Nomine Jesu were issued on LP.

.:: Música sacra, música sagrada. Lo sagrado en la música. No solamente tenemos la tradición cristiana, heredada desde los primeros tiempos y afianzada en la actualidad con el furor por los cantos gregorianos.

Actualmente, los compositores contemporáneos vuelven a acercarse a esas modalidades de la música. Hubo un tiempo durante el cual lo importante era la música por ella misma y se descalificaba cualquier intento de dotar de significado (semantizar, en palabras del esteta musical Enrico Fubini) al discurso musical. Hoy en día tales consideraciones comparten territorio con la necesidad de transmitir un mensaje, siendo la música el más adecuado vehículo para ello.

Los nombres Arvo Part (Estonia, 1935), John Tavener (Londres, 1944) y Henrik Gorecki (Czernica, 1933), por mencionar a los más famosos en el ámbito internacional, han dedicado en la actualidad lo mejor de sus neuronas a la composición para la gloria de Dios. Advertencia: esto no implica que sean los únicos.

Actualmente conocemos a John Tavener como uno de los exponentes de la corriente que se ha denominado como neo-misticismo. Sin embargo, pocos recuerdan que su adhesión a este tipo de estilo, que evoca la música medieval y renacentista, se inició recién a mediados de la década de 1970, después que el compositor abrazó la religión ortodoxa. Más aún, antes de sufrir ese giro estilístico, Tavener había escrito varias e importantes obras, pero todas seguían un lenguaje bastante más experimental.

La primera de ellas, la cantata dramática Caín y Abel, fue compuesta mientras estudiaba en la Royal Academy of Music y le permitió obtener el premio Príncipe Rainero de Mónaco en 1965. Luego vino otra cantata bíblica, titulada The Whale e inspirada en la leyenda de Jonás, que alcanzó un éxito tremendo en Inglaterra, tanto que fue grabada en 1970 en Apple Records, la recordada compañía de The Beatles.

Y fue en ese mismo sello donde Tavener editó su siguiente obra, el Réquiem Celta (obra que subiré tan pronto como me sea posible), escrita en 1969 para coros de niños, coros adultos y orquesta sobre textos de diversos autores. Su contenido ofrece una macabra comparación entre un juego infantil y el rito de la muerte. Hay un personaje central, la niña Jenny Jones, que es utilizada como víctima ficticia para este juego, pero afortunadamente el simulacro fúnebre concluye con su supuesta resurrección y escape de un clima mortuorio realmente claustrofóbico.

***si disfrutas de la intensidad de Krzysztof Penderecki este album es para ti… no lo dejes pasar y bajalo***

download: john tavener - the whale
alt download

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the jim yoshii pile-up - picks us apart

.:: In a world infatuated with the sound of broken hearts, who will bear witness to the breaking of minds? Enter the Jim Yoshii Pile-Up with Picks Us Apart, a sonic universe gently compressed into a moody snow globe. The tone is set from the first thuds of "A Toast to the Happy Couple," a sparkling suicide note telling family and friends to go to hell. "You are all hereby formally indicted," vocalist Paul Gozenbach declares against steely bursts of guitar, as if demanding payback for the wrongdoings of everyday life. Villains and victims abound in the echo-laden beauty of this album, with songs like "Jailhouse Rock," an allegory of sexual abuse that manages nods to both Elvis and doomed British mobster Reggie Kray. Driven by a flawless call-and-response of vocals, the melodies build to a bridge that will one day find itself on a movie soundtrack.

Righteous indignation established, gears switch quickly to songs like the gently strummed "Heart My Home" and the helpless romantic abandon of "Black and Gold." "It's true that you can love someone you hardly know," Gozenbach whispers over the gentle crash of cymbals and almost gothic harmonies. "The Mind of God" follows suit with a fuzzy chime of guitars that recall the Cocteau Twins at the height of their powers. For an album composed of lost souls, Picks Us Apart never loses its way, weaving quietly between passion, pain, and ultimately, hope. "You and I will be the silt that joins the Pacific Rim tonight," "Beach Glass" promises with its sweet, shimmering layers of noise. An unflinching celebration of the small, gray moments of life, Picks Us Apart is the Jim Yoshii Pile-Up's finest moment, and clearly one of the best albums of 2005. (Kate Izquierdo)

download: the jim yoshii pile-up - picks us apart

the united states of america - the united states of america


.:: Fueled by the avant-garde sonic ammo of keyboardist/composer Joe Byrd and the haunting vocals of Dorothy Moskowitz, the United States Of America found a way to permanently hard-wire space-age electronic music to the heart of rock and roll on their highly desirable, self-titled 1968 debut. Byrd’s kaleidoscopic musical excursions and Gordon Marron’s searing violin orbit around the icy vocals of Moskowitz, who—with a passing resemblance to early Jefferson Airplane belter Signe Anderson—remains the group’s center, steady as a rock. This heady mind-trip is reissued with the participation of both Byrd and Moskowitz, sports 10 amazing bonus cuts, comprehensively fascinating liner notes by Byrd, himself, and—newly mastered from the original analog source tapes—has never sounded better.

.:: The United States Of America fueron una de las agrupaciones mas arriesgadas y brillantes de la historia de la psicodelia, un grupo de estudiosos del sonido liderados por Joseph Bird, graduado en composición musical y colaborador en el departamento de Etnomusicología de UCLA, donde investigaba los cantos de los ritos indios y entro en contacto con estudiantes que trabajaban en la experimentación del sonido. Así nacieron The United States Of America, a Bird se le unieron el violinista Gordon Marron, el percusionista Craig Woodson, que se había especializado en el estudio de los ritmos africanos, el bajista Rand Forbes y la cantante y poeta Dorothy Moskowitz. Su único disco es un trabajo arriesgado donde las guitarras son sustituidas por un violín eléctrico, cargado de sintetizadores y osciladores que forman un muro sonoro que arropa el enorme fondo pop del álbum, y esta es posiblemente la mejor virtud del disco, la capacidad para calibrar la experimentación y conseguir que no acabe desbordando el hilo melódico del disco. La edición que he colgado es la especial, con bonus y temas que en su momento no fueron editados. Un álbum único e irrepetible.

download: the united states of america - the united states of america

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thee silver mt. zion memorial orchestra & tra-la-la band- horses in the sky

.:: While some still think of Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra-La-La Band as an offshoot of Godspeed You! Black Emperor (the group shares both membership and label affiliation), the group has certainly cultivated an aesthetic that is related to but distinct from their sister group. Whereas GYBE tends toward creating accumulative compositions that start softly and build to thrilling, roaring climaxes, Thee Silver Mt. Zion (for short) often emphasizes group singing in addition to towering and slow-building arrangements. Constellation artists are often politically progressive in their sympathies, and thus are probably frustrated as hell after the reelection of George Bush. While this is certainly evident in the lyrical themes dealt with by the band, there is also an exhilarated quality evident on Horses In The Sky that correlates with Thee Silver's clear enthusiasm for collective music-making.

"God Bless Our Dead Marines" (three guesses from which war) features Eastern-flavored dance music, a sardonic satire that combines whimsy and acid commentary all in one. "Teddy Roosevelt's Guns" is a standout track. It features one of my favorite articles from Silver Mt. Zion's bag of tricks, a long call and response vocal canon. The instrumental arrangement is also deftly planned, almost orchestral in design. It begins slowly and then swells to a yawping culmination; distorted guitars and thunderous drums accompany Efrim Menuck's plaintive wailing to an emotionally charged conclusion. "Mountains Made of Steam" also begins chorally, only to have voices replaced by a squalling storm of electric guitar. The title track is more reserved, featuring a delicately hued arrangement that is considerably attractive.

While the message is still portentous on "Ring Them Bells, Freedom has Come and Gone," one can't help but feel an ecstatic revelry in this extended and expansive composition. Soaring guitars, dancing instrumental passages, emotive singing, and a feedback-drenched coda makes this a fitting conclusion to a compelling album. --Christian Carey

The band says: We recorded some of it next to a campfire by the river, and the sleepy birds even chirped a little there beneath the moonlit trees; "yes we are oh yes we are thee silver mt. zion memorial orchestra and tra-la-la band"... troubled fingers strive to knit upward ladders, joyously; THESE SONGS ARE STICKY, WORRIED KNOTS--- everyone sang and handclapped too---(we learned to play these songs on the road mostly...)

"THIS IS OUR TORCHED ESTATES" = 6 busted "waltzes" for world wars 4 thru 6, or the sound of our nervous unit collapsing across sing-song eruptions of anxious light and clumsy heat, "mysteryandwonder, messy hearts made of thunder," tape recordered at thee mighty hotel2tango for all the GENTLE dreamers to cradle or discard... the politics of it is just love thy neighbour mostly, or heartbroken temper tantrums for grumpy refusers, or saucy anthems for all the stubborn dumbass resistance cadres maybe...(first song's about war and drug addiction, fourth song's about kanada, and the rest of it is all love songs trulytrulytruly...) the indignant critics amongst us should note that as usual there's more questions than answers here, more complaints than solutions, and at times the group singing is a little out of tune; the name of the record is "horses in the sky", and we thank you all for still listening

download: thee silver mt. zion memorial orchestra & tra-la-la band- horses in the sky
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