Music Discussion Thread #10: Listening Projects

Let’s discuss any and all music here. You’ve got a new artist who’s rocking your boat that you want to talk about? Post a video! Found out about that unearthed Coltrane album that has the jazz freak in you losing your mind? Lay it out for us! Do you have a theory about what your favorite band might do for their next album? Let’s hear it! Anything and everything music-related goes here, but do please remember to also pay attention to the more niche threads; if your post would either fit better or equally well in one of them, please post it there as well. I absolutely do not want to steal traffic from those threads.

Prompt for this week Sometimes, I have paralysis when picking music to listen to. Sometimes, I just get stuck in a rut. In any case, there have been many moments in my life where I’ve felt the need to frame my music listening around a ‘project’ of sorts: listening to all my albums alphabetically, or chronologically, or chronologically by artist. Does anyone else do these sort of ill-advised projects? What have been successful ones, what have been unsuccessful ones?

Sigil’s Music Journal (2018-09-07/2018-09-14)

83Tower.jpg83 Motorpsycho – The Tower (2017). The second best album called The Tower that was released in 2017. This is yet another double album by Motorpsycho, clocking in at a fairly lengthy 84 minutes. Motorpsycho has never been shy about packing in the length. They’ve been around for nearly 30 years, and seem to release a new album once a year. They are at their best when they let the shredding take the lead. I’ve never really enjoyed the vocals of the lead singer, Bent Sæther, as he has a sort of nasally light voice. So when they play a ballad like “Stardust” on here, it just thin and uninteresting. But then they follow it up with “In Every Dream Home” which has a great chugging guitar solo in it. Consequently, the longer tracks on here “A Pacific Sonata” and “Ship of Fools” are the best as the extended time gives the band plenty of opportunity of stretch out and jam. 7/10

Bonus Discs
I’ve been seriously buying way too much music recently. I don’t know why. It’s a problem. But, in order to feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth I’m going to listen to it all this week and catalog it here:

Hennix.jpgCatherine Christer Hennix – Selected Early Keyboard Works (2018). An archival release from this pioneering electronic artists. To be completely honest, I had not heard a lot about her, before this was coming out, but she’s apparently been busy for the past 40 years. This is a rehearsal and consists of a pair of pieces for Fender Rhodes with a sine wave generator, and another piece for synthesizers and an accompanying Sheng player, and a final piece for… Fender Rhodes again, I guess, but it doesn’t sound like it. Brainwashed pointed out that the Fender Rhodes piece kind of sound like Bitches Brew era Miles Davis without the funky bass line, and they totally do. The other pieces are more atmospheric. I really like this early electronic stuff. This isn’t as meticulously played or planned out as a lot of the ‘art’ music was, but it’s very evocative and very good. 8/10

Tid.jpgHeidi Mortenson – Tid (2016). I don’t remember how I heard of this musician, but I came across this album about a month ago and was immediately struck by it. It starts out with autotuned vocals, but this isn’t your usual pop album. Well, first of all it’s sung in Danish, so there’s that, but beyond that the instrumentation feels colder than  you would usually get on a pop album. I don’t know, I really like it, but I’m not sure why. What I don’t like is that I bought this on bandcamp, and for some bizarre reason the first track is truncated to 15 seconds. That’s really too bad. I emailed them to complain. We’ll see if they care. 9/10

Auspices.jpgErica Dicker – Taking Auspices (2018). A rather desolate record; the label page says that Dicker “employs original compositions and improvisation to evoke desolate environments and postindustrial landscapes,” and she largely succeeds. This is a solo violin record, and Dicker allows a lot of space. The first track, especially, plucks, crackles, and squeaks in a fairly sinister lonely way. The later tracks have more traditional spiccato, but the evocativeness of the cover is appropriate the whole way through. I had heard of Dicker only because I made a record for Anthony Braxton’s Trillium J on MusicBrainz and she was one of the many artists I had to create a record for. So now I get notifications if anyone that I created has another released attributed to them. And someone entered this record. Which is nice. 7/10

blackstabat.jpgHedvig Mollestad Trio – Black Stabat Mater (2016). I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, the vast majority of ‘Bonus Discs’ that I’ve been listening to have been by women. For some reason, I made a pact with myself that I wouldn’t buy any music that didn’t have a woman in a major role. On some level I thought that would cut down on my music purchases, but it’s actually expanded them. Now I want to explore as many female musicians as I can. Hedvig Mollestad has been making music for a number of years, but her Trio (with Ellen Brekken on electric bass and Ivar Loe Bjørnstad on drums), as a major focus. It’s largely instrumental rock, but it’s improvisational nature has garnered a lot of fans from the jazz realm. Indeed they often tour jazz festivals. Still, the sound is mostly heavy metal centric. This album starts out with some hard hitting guitar work, but things slow down considerably at “-40” (at the temperature, too), where the tone switches rather drastically to acoustic atmospherics. And then, the final song, “Somebody Else Should Be on that Bus” changes things again and just straight up dooms everything to oblivion.  Apparently this album is a bit of a departure for the trio. On the same day that it was released, they also released a live album that apparently traced some of their past approaches. I can’t really comment on how well that works for them, but I will say this is a good release 7/10

evil.jpgHedvig Mollestad Trio – Evil in Oslo (2016). And that live album is called Evil in Oslo, and now you know the rest of the story. Anyway, this one has a lot more energy than Black Stabat Mater. There’s a lot of bright guitar parts here, and it sounds amazing works really well as an album. On some level, the measure of the success of a live album probably has something to do with how much it brings to old songs. I can’t really say as for sure as far as that goes, since I’m not familiar with the older material here, if it even is older.  This rocks pretty hard though. I enjoy it, overall, more than the Black Stabat Mater. 8/10

Herta.jpgHertta Lussu Ässä – Hertta Lussu Ässä (2011). A “supergroup” of sorts formed from three female Finns: Merja Kokkonen (Islaja), Jonna Karanka (Kuupuu), and Laura Naukkarinen (Lau Nau). Islaja and Lau Nau were both on Fonal for a while, a label that I remember getting quite a bit of press at the turn of the century. Kuupuu is a bit more of a mystery and she released mainly CD-Rs on various labels. But she seems mostly in the same ‘freak folk’ vein as the rest of the people here. This is fairly relaxed and non-commital stuff, with loops, echoey voices and some light instrumental lines. It doesn’t really grab hold of you, but it’s quite nice anyway. This is not a record that is indicative of its origins, however. All of the previous projects have dabbled a bit more into tunefulness than what’s produced here. It’s a bit of a beguiling record; one of those records that makes it difficult to remember what you’ve just listened to. 7/10

Lazuli.jpgHilde Marie Holsen – Lazuli (2018). An absolutely stunning full-length debut from this Norwegian trumpet player. I see a lot of comparison’s to Arve Henriksen, which are very apt. She has that same breathy style, accented by soundscapes and drones that Henriksen tends to focus on in his solo recordings. This is the type of recording that almost makes me sad, because I’m not sure if I have the time or isolation to properly give it it’s due. Listening to it on headphones and work is fine, but it feels like something that should be played over a fjord from a well hidden sound system, while you sit bundled up under a parka. 9/10