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 What album would be improved by re-arranging the tracklisting, cutting tracks, or adding in B-Sides?
Sigil’s Music Journal (2018-09-28/2018-10-04)
Kaja Draksler Octet – Gledalec (2017). I’m not really sure what to do with this record. It was released last year on Clean Feed, but I don’t remember much about it, other than that I was intrigued by it’s free mix of classical, choral, opera, and jazz tropes. Unfortunately, the beginning always feels like it drags, probably in part because I’m never able to devote as much attention to it as it needs. Listening this time, however, by the third track, “Bîzdîbocul” things start to get interesting, with a cello carving out a deep racket. By “A Promise is a Promise,” it’s starting to sound like a typical free jazz record. And then the last track on the first disc, “Omlettio Ad Absurdum” is a goofy slow swing thing about breaking eggs. The second disc is more mellow. It’s a good journey. 7/10
Harevy Milk – Special Wishes (2006). Bathes in that rattling bass. Outstanding, really. Harvey Milk was a mid 90s Athens band that was always weird. They disbanded in 1998, but then randomly came back in 2006 with this album. Slow, low, and weird they’re a curious mix of sludge metal and a smoke stained basement. This album came on two records despite only being 40 minutes long. I would guess that’s to let the grooves be extra thick and grimey. 8/10
Francis Plagne; crys cole – Two Words (2018). This just came out on Black Truffle a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know much about either one of these artists. I had first heard of Crys Cole when she was mentioned as sort of working in the same sphere as Vanessa Rosetto on the Free Form Freakout Podcast back at the beginning of August, when the podcast had a feature on both Rosetto and Matthew Revert. Cole herself had her own feature back in February Anyway, that actually doesn’t have a lot to do with this release. That podcast emphasized a sort of lowercase found sound element to her work, but this is more droney with a persistent organ line throughout. At least that was my understanding when I first bought it, but it turns out the second side introduces voice as well. Specifically Plagne (I presume), reading a very long list of two word phrases. That’s a very prosaic way of describing this, of course. It’s quite good, actually. 8/10
The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love (2009). The Decemberists followup to their breakthrough (?), The Crane Wife was a disappointment to some people, as it went too hard on the Prog elements that The Decemberists had been flirting more and more since 2004’s The Tain EP. Personally, the bigger disappointment was that their follow up to this 2011’s The King is Dead wasn’t even proggier. As it stands, I really like this record, but it seems a bit half-baked, or perhaps three quarters baked. In essence, this is a concept album that combines a couple tropes and narratives that can be found in some of the ballads Francis James Child collected. Notably, at least for me because I started writing a novel based on it in Undergrad, many of the plot points echo those found in Tamlin. The best parts about this album, certainly come from the The Forest Queen, played by Shara Nova of My Brightest Diamond. Nova offers her usual powerful voice and is accompanied by a sick guitar riff. Awesome. I’d just also like to mention that I bought this on vinyl when it initially came out and it is a phenomenally shitty way of listening to this. The side breaks are fine, I suppose, but this seems more directly composed as one multipart song, and it doesn’t quite work when broken up. Also, Capital, in their infinite wisdom, just jammed the lyrics onto the inside gatefold in the standard font they chose which makes them practically unreadable. And, of course, since its from a major label, the pressing sucks. Blah. 7/10
Aşıq Nargilə – Yurt Yeri (2016). Nargilə is a Georgian ashik, a type of Turkic musician, who came to the attention of people in the UK through Ben Wheeler and Stefan Williamson Fa’s ethno-musicology project Mountain of Tongues, which has been documenting music in the caucasus. Nargilə is unusual within the ashik tradition who are usually male. She plays the saz on these recordings, which are traditional melodies with lyrics inspired by traditional stories. It was recorded at Cafe Oto back in 2014. It’s really damn good, with changes in melodies and timing that sound totally alien to western music. Nargilə also bends her voice and timing in seemingly odd ways. Totally worth a listen. 8/10
Heather Leigh – Throne (2018). Theoretically this isn’t coming out until the end of the month, but Editions Mego released the files early on their Bandcamp page, which they seem to do a fair amount, for whatever reason. Heather Leigh is a pedal steel guitarist who seems to approach traditional songs by gripping them by the heart and pulling them inside out. Her last record on Editions Mego, I Abused Animal is one of my favorites, so I was anticipating this new album and was not disappointed. It’s a different approach than I Abused Animal, the themes and focus seem to be more on masculinity and sexuality here, and it almost comes off like a sinister deconstruction of ‘bad boy’ songs. I’ve only had a chance to listen to this once or twice, but it’s proving to be one of my favorite of the year. 9/10
Derek Monypeny – La Tortuga del Alma (2010). This is a pretty damn obscure one. It was originally released on Weird Forest in an edition of 50 two cassette sets. It’s a collection of seventeen or so solo recordings using guitar, oud, electronics, etc. Monypeny would go on to tour in Sir Richard Bishop’s Freak of Araby tour, and release a few more solo recordings. Currently he’s in a band called Alto! which released its fourth album in August of last year. His approach tents to focus on Middle Eastern musical figures, but there’s a long drone piece (dedicated to Folke Rabe) on here that is entirely electronic, from what I can tell. It’s an insanely ambitious debut thing, but it works pretty well as a whole for the most part, spreading good to great moments across all 100 minutes. 7/10
Scammers – Cover You (2013). I had first heard about Scammers when Orange Milk Records released American Winter in 2014. That tape was kind of a weird mixture of lounge and electro and irony. I started looking into the project a little more and discovered this album from the previous year. Scammers is a one man project kind of has that sleazy lounge singer vibe over liberal samples or electronic beats. I think I enjoyed it at some point, but I’m kind of over it, now. 4/10
Hekla – Á (2018). Well this rather came out of nowhere. I got this on Bandcamp, last friday. I believe someone had it in their collection and I found the cover intriguing, so I checked it out. I’m glad I did! Hekla plays the theremin, and sings in a quiet almost hesitant voice. She also uses loops to accentuate her playing and singing, which adds some depth to some of the songs, but it’s dark and eerie throughout. I don’t know much more about her beyond that. This just came out in September, and it’s one of those releases that you really wish other people would latch on to. Like, I want Pitchfork to pick it up and see it explode. 9/10
Keith Fullerton Whitman – Dream House Variations (2009/2017). I don’t even know where to start with this one, to be honest. Originally released as a four cassette set in 2009, the intention was similar to the Flaming Lips’ Zaireeka in that you would play all four cassettes at once on four separate players. However, in this case, the variation element of Zaireeka was taken to a more extreme point. None of the tapes had the same length, and the listener was supposed to set up their cassette decks to loop the cassettes as they played, listening to them for however long they wanted. So each iteration would be unique, as the tapes would take longer than 4000 years or something to start playing in their original positions. When Whitman decided to release this on his Bandcamp page last year he went all out in including any number of different iterations, resulting in 12 hours of music. From what I understand, the first 52 tracks are the ‘sessions,’ different tape manipulations that make up the material that originally appeared on the cassettes. Tracks 53-56 are the four tapes. Track 57 is a mixdown of the four tapes, looped to about four and a half hours. And then track 58 is a two hour recording of some cassette decks playing the tapes in a room. So it’s not really 12 hours of unique music, but it is 12 hours. I’ve never really gotten through the whole thing… I’m not really sure how you do get through the whole thing. I’m glad I have it, though. 8/10
Release of the week: I’m going to go with Hekla, mostly because I think the release deserves more attention. Otherwise I’d go with Heather Leigh. In any case, two of my favorites this year… I think.