Archives for posts with tag: vinyl

Drahla Silk Spirit video BW stillHere’s PopLib’s 4th send as a gift tip for the month – the sonic blast of Drahla’s “Form of Luxury” from their just-out “Third Article” EP.

“Form of Luxury” is from a one-sided 4 track 12″ (a half-album?) and, as with all things Drahla, the music bristles with intelligent menace, partly from the discordant sheet-lighting of the opening guitar fury, but later through the withering dead-eyed delivery of the lyrics by Luciel Brown.

“Form of Luxury” rumbles through twists and turns, the Leeds trio’s exploration of underground noise pop ebbing into reflective oddness before ending with more destructive guitar. It’s exhilarating.

Drahla’s “Third Article” EP is recommended to send as a gift to the discerning post-punk guitar-noise art-rock fan in your life.  It’s also available in LP format.

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Motte 2017Here’s our 3rd tip for giving the gift of music this month – “Bathhouse” from the album “Strange Dreams” by experimental neo-classical violin+synth sound artist Motte.

As noted here on PopLib back in February: “There’s also adventurous modern classical music (eg: “Bathhouse”) that at times fleetingly evokes the spirit of  Ralph Vaughan William’s “The Lark Ascending” although addition of unusual impressionistic synth tones and percussion textures keeps it well towards the experimental end of the classical spectrum without sacrificing any of its luminous musical qualities.”

“Strange Dreams” is recommended to ‘send as a gift’ via Bandcamp to anyone with discerning taste, adventurous ears, and an interest in contemporary experimental classical and electronic music. Also a perfect gift to send to friends overseas to remind them that NZ is still a diverse and original music-making laboratory.

Motte’s “Strange Dreams” is also available on LP  from Christchurch label CocoMuse Releases.

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Port Chalmers with seafog

Reminded of Seafog today because the meteorological phenomena caused by warm moist air passing over cool sea has been hanging around the coast near Dunedin all day and because of an afternoon trip to Port Chalmers, which is the home town of the trio called Seafog. Came home and played their very fine 12″ EP/ mini album released earlier this year on Zelle Records called “Dig It On Up” and this track “Division” stood out.

If you love Dunedin music, or NZ guitar rock you really (and I mean REALLY) need this EP/ mini album. It has that kind of Velvet Underground “I Can’t Stand It” propulsion, but filtered through The Clean’s motorik fuzzy strum.

Lyrically it is a typically delightful existential treat reflecting on friendship and memory, referencing back to NZ’s fascination with Joy Division in the early 1980s.

“Unknown Pleasure” album was #1 in NZ’s album charts in 1979 and “Closer” was #3 a year later. Single “Transmission” was #2 in the NZ singles chart in 1979 while “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and “Atmosphere”/ “She’s Lost Control” were both #1 singles in the NZ singles chart in 1980.

A street art memorial from 1981 dedicated to Ian Curtis has persisted in Wellington despite repeated attempts by the Council to paint it over.  Seafog would approve.

Drahla October 2017“Silk Spirit” is a brand new track from Leeds based trio Drahla, previewed on their Bandcamp page ahead of the release of their first EP “Third Article” on 24 November:

The “Third Article” EP is 4 new songs, available on a one-sided 12″. If you are late to the Drahla party there were two glorious and essential 7″ singles “Faux Text” and “Fictional Decision” released in the past year.

“Silk Spirit” continues the promise of those singles – mystery, noise, melody and another intriguing talk-sing stream-of-consciousness from guitarist/ vocalist Luciel Brown, as if recalling a detailed fever-dream.

AJ Sharma

“Red is the Colour” is a wonderfully odd, unsettling and dark track from the new album “Tabla Diablo” by Dunedin avant-folk musician AJ Sharma.

If very early Bonnie “Prince” Billy/ Palace Brothers is your thing, or the singular vision of Dunedin’s Alastair Galbraith, step right into the world of AJ Sharma. He’s a fellow traveler in fractured and direct outsider music, played simply, obeying no rules save the ones he makes himself.  Guitar, voice, and the atmosphere created by those sounds vibrating the air in a room, as recorded expertly in its raw honesty by Forbes Williams.

“Red is the Colour” features an additional vocalist adding a kind of ghostly backing vocal. It sounds like a very small child. It’s more unsettling than cute though, possessing the song with an disturbing otherness. Perfect of course for the atmosphere of an AJ Sharma album, described by label CocoMuse Releases as: “An assemblage of real life characters all dealing with death in their own way: Art Teachers, Outsiders, Rock-Gods, Poets, Prophets, Trees, Stars, Tortoise, Bar-Flies, Friends, Family, Cosmic Forces, Visionaries and the Unknown.”

I have a 7″ lathecut by AJ from over 20 years ago, recorded in Invercargill, release 1994. In between times he has been part of the fabulous late 1990s/ early 2000s Dunedin band Jetty and released an album called “Santo” in 2008 “The Road Back” in 2010 and “You are a Traveler” in 2013.  There have been other small run lathe cut singles and tracks on compilations… usually hard to find.

AJ Sharma’s “Tabla Diablo” album (LP) is available in Europe from Zelle Records and in NZ and the rest of the world from CocoMuse Releases.

 

i e crazy 2017In a country where the Prime Minister said “our literary heroes may never challenge the glory and respect given to our All Blacks” our music heroes generally fare worse than our authors.

Claire Duncan, the person behind i.e. crazy, is a literary music hero I’ve respected for several years. I’ve been been waiting for – “Non Compos Mentis” for a while. Waiting in fear and trepidation mostly to be completely honest. And with good reason. Here’s “Closed Case” from the album.

“Closed Case” begins with a recording of the emergency call made by the surviving member of a Dunedin family murderded in 1994 about 500m away from where I’m writing this, looking out across Anderson’s Bay and the trees of Every Street below. It was the scene of “…events so bizarre and abnormal that it was impossible for the human mind to conceive of any logical or reasonable explanation” according the Judge in the original trial of that surviving family member charged with the murder of his two parents and three siblings.

The convicted murderer was later acquitted on a re-trial and freed after 14 years – the case found by a jury to not be proven beyond reasonable doubt (criminal law standard of proof). However a judicial review of his case for compensation for wrongful imprisonment found he was probably not innocent on the balance of probabilities (civil law standard of proof). It’s a case that still divides NZ, and also one that continues to cast a dark shadow, perhaps because of that dark and troubling “impossible for the human mind to conceive” aspect of the now unsolved and eternally unsolvable case; the only other suspect being one of the dead.

“Closed Case” does not seem to be specifically about that case, but a more abstract meditation on the kind of mind capable of conceiving of such an act. The song is brimming with dark Gothic unease, the sound of a scraping shovel adding a further nerve-jangling to the tense and chilly atmosphere. The arrangement shovels further layers of funeral melancholy upon the song, as woodwind and brass add their downbeat textures to the song.

The musical arrangements throughout “Non Compos Mentis” are another unconventional but very effective part of this album’s artistry. Utilising anti-pop collaborators Seth Frigthening and various members of Muzai Records label mates Girls Pissing on Girls Pissing, i. e. crazy finds the perfect off-kilter sea-sick uneasy-listening soundscape for these tales of everyday horror of the human condition.

While “Closed Case” is dark, it’s actually one of the more conventionally listenable songs on “Non Compos Mentis”.  Some of the album projects voices that are deliberately provocative… but the warning is in the i.e. crazy name and the album title (translating from the Latin as “of unsound mind”).  The words, as always, are powerful, rich with imagery, each song like an experimental short story in which reality and fiction are blurred, shifting things depending on the perspective of the narrator and their reliability. In other words, there’s a lot here to unpick, and that will take some time.

It’s a bit of an understatement to say this is a dark turn off the track that Claire Duncan’s previous musical vessel, the literate dream-pop Dear Time’s Waste, was taking. In turning off the track, she’s plunged down a steep bank into tangled undergrowth and a stream bed; the water putrid with dairy farming effluent, the ground littered with rusting discarded shopping trolleys and the odd dead body. Welcome to New Zealand everyone!

“Non Compos Mentis” is a difficult, challenging, sometimes confronting album. The history of music is full of difficult, challenging, confronting albums, the history on NZ music perhaps less so. Music, after all, is entertainment, something to sing – and drink – along to here, before and after another inspiring All Blacks rugby football match recharges our warped sense of national pride. Or shatters it when they lose.

The day before I listened to this album in full I played another difficult album, one I hadn’t played for years. Michael Mantler’s “Silence” is a Harold Pinter play set to music and featuring the voices of Robert Wyatt, Carla Bley and Kevin Coyne. You won’t be playing either record at your next party.  “Non Compos Mentis” and “Silence” share a lot in common – deeply unsettling and unconventional, dialogue between damaged minds, observations on everyday things through a different lens. Both present music as theatre, literature as lyrics, and music as the atmosphere to sustain the world created.

In a recent interview Claire described the new direction as a chance to agitate and pick at a scab. Disillusionment with the ‘industry’ and the over-riding value placed by NZ society on commercial potential of music and seeking solace in artistic expression instead is one aspect. Personal mental health challenges and the unhealthy state of NZ society at present for the young and poor is another.

I started this talking about heroes. Let’s not forget another musical hero – Muzai Records. Any label releasing All Seeing Hand, Girls Pissing on Girls Pissing and i.e. crazy is taking courage to a whole new level as a New Zealand record label (even if it is now based in Leeds, UK).

The LP of “Non Compos Mentis” can be ordered here. 

 

Ben ChasnyThere’s a new Six Organs of Admittance album out called “Burning the Threshold” and “The Adoration Song” is a fine example of what the album contains.

The album has very little of the soaring electric guitar explorations found on earlier Six Organs of Admittance albums. Rest assured there is plenty of the kind of detailed, intricate, ornate, interwoven guitar pattern-work as we’ve come to expect from Ben Chasny, the modern-day master of hexadic psychedelic guitar music, just delivered almost exclusively on acoustic guitars this time.

As a result the album’s intimate psychedelia and gentle song-craft is accessible and the pastoral, meditational atmosphere achieves a kind of cosmic music for the mind and body. Even when the heavy guitars are brought out for the sole heavy-psych piece “Threshold of Light” the hypnotic groove is build upon acoustic guitars. It’s an album well worth seeking out.