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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Red Remains Release and Roup Swap

In the middle of October the Dead Refrain played a show.  It was announced as the first "Roup Swap Event."  It was a fun show, but there could have been more swapping.  This album was also released:

The Red Remains by the dead refrain
 
The show started with an RJ Myato set on the floor.  He played for much longer than usual; I think people became bored as he went on and on.  RJ suddenly stopped after seemingly realizing that he had played for maybe over 20 minutes.


Afterwards we waited around for more swappers to show up.  In the meantime a new episode of Bread Purchases occurred.  I guess Bread Purchases is something where rouper Seth talks about what bread he bought recently; roupers Seth and RJ also helped out with the funnies.


After the strange segment of comedy Brian DiSanto continued the show.  His set started off with a singing of happy birthday for Ross Hardy, even though his birthday had happened a few days ago; it was midnight.  Brian's set was very energetic, even for him, using chairs and audience members for props.  He sang songs from his new album Pink Flamingo Fanfare and missed his wig from Little Italy Days.  "Temporary Magic Carpet" and "Fuzzy Bicycle Babydolls" proved to be intense sing-alongs.  Brian declined to sing a love song for Thurston and Kim; he's a real rebel.


We slowed down next for Burnout Warcry, Jim Storch's percussive improv project.  He hit cans and scraped drums, blew whistles and rattled beads.  His set was great and a weird follow up to Brian DiSanto.  The occultish sounds fit very well the lighting and atmosphere of the room.


Continuing on and in a similar vein was the still fairly newish Poor Kitty.  Seth played tapes of whirling machinery and music box sounds while Lucy told a story of a conversation between two people; a communal box of nails and tools served as the rhythm.  The beating on the box and the rattling of metal grew more and more intense as Poor Kitty's set went on.  By the end of the noir story there were nails covering the floor.


The Dead Refrain played last.  He started off with the excellent "Crook of My Arm" and went on from there.  Joe's new songs sounded good, but made me very sleepy; it was past midnight.  His set was considerably more folk and less noise than everybody else, some songs even with a country sort of twang.  Afterwards he handed out the new Red Remains album to everyone there.  It's really great, especially the song "Beast."


Monday, December 26, 2011

Hume at the Wherehouse

Skull Valley is still back in October; it's kind of like when stores put out Christmas stuff at the end of October.  Anyway on October 11th, I returned to the Wherehouse.  The show ended up starting much later than it was scheduled to and so there was a long improvised set a little beforehand.  The band consisted of myself on Stylophone, Sigh Meltingstar on keytar and vocals, Sam Young on guitar, and Ben (not sure of his last name) and Jackson Boytim on a drum kit made up of cans, water jugs, and even drums that the normal kids play (the drum kit was the best part of our sound).  We played for 40 minutes or so while Gangwish set up in front of Chris Mucci's recently installed artwork with a lot more members than I had ever seen before.  Get there's and Hume's sets here and listen while you read.

 

Gangwish's set was awesome.  The four member version was still held together by Sam Pace's skilled drumming, but everyone else contributed to the sound and helped make the long jams more interesting.  I wish that the drums had been more like the older one member Gangwish, more freeform with more effects, but their set got the multiplying crowd to really move.


After everything had calmed down for a bit Washington DC's Hume set up.  Featuring the same guitarist, and monstrous pedal board, as similar band Les RhinocĂ©ros, Hume played tightly constructed shoe-gazer music.  They reminded me of a noisier Blonde Redhead with waves of guitar turned synthesizer permeating the seemingly African/world music-inspired vocals.


Hume and Les Rhinocéros both have cool stuff on Bandcamp that you could/should check out.




Next up was resident artist Dean Cercone with a shorter set than usual.  His songs were especially mysterious tonight, his voice passing through from another world, while his instruments droned on the River Styx.  Despite seeming dazed or distant (channeling ghostly power?) Dean's set was really on the ball here and I hope that this trend continues while slowly improving over time.




Last up was Ivory Weeds with his guitar and voice, augmented with loops as always, along with his newly acquired cello.  Compared with Dean's more uncouth techniques, Ivory Weeds is much more like amplified acoustic music with ambient effects added in the background.  Here he went a little harder: his opening song was on cello and brought onto me a sense of impending doom.  Afterwards John returned to his softer side, but quickly went back to the noisier end of sound.  His set was largely juxtaposed in this vein, though it fit together nicely with everything having a similar ambiance.  This seems to be a good direction for Ivory Weeds to go in.


After Ivory Weeds I talked to some people and left soon afterward.  It was a really fun show, though it possibly should have started and ended sooner.  Hopefully there will be more shows to come at the Wherehouse, even if we can't relive the great summer nights already past.

Friday, December 16, 2011

VIA

From the fifth to the ninth in October the big VIA Festival happened in Pittsburgh.  Surprisingly I don't have a single picture from it.

The first day was on the Southside and featured a lot of stuff that was kind of boring to me.  Most of it was dance stuff with visuals that were kind of cool (mostly like polygons spinning around like strands of DNA).  I wanted to see Wolf Eyes but missed them, though I did get to see Battles who played for a long time and were not as interesting as I thought.  I wish Battles would have been heavier and less dance, but I did like their visuals a lot (ice cream mountains and people talking).  I only paid $12 or so to get in so it was still worth it.

Day two, and the rest of the days, were in East Liberty.  I spent some of the time distributing fliers ineffectively so that I could go free.  I missed Extreme Animals, who I wanted to see a lot, but got to see Light Asylum who were amazing.  They were gothic, new-wave kind of stuff with only two members; the vocalist was intense.  Araabmusik was impressive, but he got pretty boring after a while.  There is only so much loud music consisting of a guy hitting electronic drum pads with his fingers that I can take.  He also had a hype man who just stood around 90% of the time.

Saturday, day three, was the best day.  I got in for free because I won a ticket on WPTS.  The festival was like 12 hours, but it was great.  Centipede E'est was in a much different form (or at least a different sound) than when I had seen them previously.  They were like a more world music based later-era Sonic Youth.  Raw Blow was kind of cheesy and went on for too long, but it was interesting how they had adapted the blues to the 21st century.  Using samplers and older song lyrics is a lot like how old blues musicians would adapt the songs of others as their own.  Peanut Butter Wolf was really energetic and fun; some little kids got up to dance with him.  Zombi was awesome and Underground Resistance ended the night with political fury (it could have been a little shorter).

VIA was over all pretty cool.  There were also some cool things for sale like a weird hallucinating visor and a kit to make a pencil theremin; again there was free vitaminwater.  We also got to watch some weird short films that looped forever.  Even with all of this stuff I really don't think that it would have been worth it to pay for the whole thing.  The music was pretty cool, but I think that I would enjoy it a lot more if it was not in a concert setting.  I don't know if I'll be going next year.

Electroluminati #7

Electroluminati is a monthly showcase of "electronic" music that happens at Howlers Coyote Cafe every first Sunday of each month.  The seventh featured my friends Luxe Robotica, Negative Witch Goddess, Poor Kitty, and Wasp Nest Head Dress and happened on October 2nd 2011.  Jake Lexso (formerly Ground Zero Mosque) of Triangle & Rhino was also supposed to play, but he had some other stuff come up that prevented him from being there.


Luxe Robotica was first to play and features Jordan Weeks of South Seas Sneak, Thin Sketch, OC Feef, and other assorted bands usually also including Greg Cislon (who is not in this band).  Jordan Weeks played guitar, which alternated between noise and more melodic stuff, and Spencer Luxe played keyboard(?) and samples of some guy yelling about heavy metals in his water source along with broadcasts from a Massachusetts radio station.  They went on for half an hour, which was a little too long, but I'd definitely see them again (if they would play out more).  Luxe Robotica's set was a lot different from most things that I've seen.


Next up was Roup band Negative Witch Goddess featuring RJ Myato on electronics and Autumn Zwibel on vocals.  Compared to their no-wave-ish set at the Wherehouse earlier this year, this time Negative Witch Goddess was much more gothic.  RJ created waves of static while Autumn shrieked eerily.  Sometimes feedback would consume the whole of the room for a moment or two.  Everything was covered in darkness; you could only see the shadows of heels clacking about on the stage.  Definitely a great set.



Continuing the same trend of male+female, noise+vocals, S+M, Roup bands was Poor Kitty.  Seth made noise and played tapes while Lucy told a story/recited a poem.  It was awesome, even better than their set at the Experimental Variety Show just a few days before.  Poor Kitty played an amazing set not unlike Early American or Ghost Bitch by the early Sonic Youth.  This was not melodic, but rhythmic, powered by vocals alone while the sound of wind tore through the room.


Last up was Wasp Nest Head Dress.  Broken toys and oscillating noise fused to create space/laser type sounds.  Often it was as if something was descending from orbit and quickly crashing to the ground, writhing for a short time afterwards.  Later on Eric did some death metal growls.  This was top notch stuff.


The show concluded with a collaboration of all of the bands.  It was very noisy.
The collaboration can be downloaded here.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that I got kicked out right before anybody played.  Don't ask for a glass of water without yr ID kids.  If you do, make sure to come back in after like 10 minutes through the loading door for bands.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Small September Update

Here's a smaller update to wrap up September stuff.


On the 11th Stare Case and Nautical Almanac played at the Shop with White Reeves opening.  Stare Case played a tense set with bass and brass/woodwind instruments.  Nate Young recited poetry/talked over the other sounds.  It had a very New York punk attitude.  Later Nautical Almanac made a tent in the darkness and projected videos onto it and another screen while they created dissonant synth sounds and played some found percussive instruments.  Nautical Almanac played for a while (half an hour seeming like even longer) and it got tiresome sometimes, but it was also like being transported to another dimension or something.


On the 14th Voltage Spooks, featuring Keith Rowe of AMM, played at the Shop.  The first local band to play was Host Skull, but I missed them because I got there late.  I'm sure it was some sort of dual guitar free jazz with Dave Bernabo.  Next up, and the first for me, was Michael Johnsen, who played a whole floor of hand-built electronic devices.  He made a lot of squishing/snot/squirming sounds for nearly half an hour.  Over all it was really interesting, but since his set was not very dynamic it could have been much shorter.  Finally Voltage Spooks set up opposite the stage and played even longer than Michael Johnsen!  Their set was 45 minutes, but everyone was glued to the Voltage Spooks the whole time.  The Voltage Spooks were composed of the hum of machinery, the static of the radio, and the crackle of electricity.  Gears turned and knives cut at other times.  It was really great and totally immersive.


The show the next day ended up being pretty similar to the show on the 14th, however the mood and music were completely different.  Dead Rider, famed for including the guitarist of US Maple, played at the Shop with Brown Angel, Oryx Horns, and Carousel.  Again I missed the first band (Carousel).  David Bernabo returned to play second as a member of Oryx Horns who sounded a lot like Gangwish used to.  Clean drums met with computer synthesizers to create some cool instrumental dance music.  It was awesome.  Next up was Dead Rider who were very chaotic and confused me a lot.  I kept thinking that the guitarist was staring at me or something and at some point they had some sort of band fight and walked off for like six seconds.  It was similar to the US Maple stuff I've heard, but with some different instruments (more synth stuff).  After Dead Rider shredded Beefheartily, Brown Angel st up in utter darkness.  A noisy doom metal band, they sounded a lot better than the previous time I had seen them at Gooski's.  Lots of chunky riffs and Melvins style sequences; occasionally the guitar turned into screechy feedback.  At other times the guitarist produced some really cool warbly/cavernous sounds that reminded me of the Art of Noise before quickly turning into monstrous growls.  It was really cool, but I think the guitarist got mad when I took a picture with the flash.  Too bad.


Finally on the 23rd I saw Viper and Wasp Nest Head Dress open for Horse Bladder and Weyes Blood at Garfield Artworks.  Wasp Nest Head Dress is Eric Ross, all the way from Washington, PA, playing circuit bent toys mostly and doing some distorted, unintelligible vocals.  Viper is Joe Roemer of the legendary Macronympha playing solo harsh guitar noise that can get sort of psychedelic at times.  He also slams his amp around for spring reverb sounds.  After each had played, Eric and Joe teamed up for a while until the touring acts got there.  Horse Bladder played some Nico type stuff.  It was a lot less druggy and droning and also more poetic; I like Nico better.  Joe Roemer kept asking her about Northampton, MA for the rest of the show.
"Hey how's Thurston?"
"J Mascis, is he still around"
Finally Weyes Blood played acoustic guitar through a bunch of effects and sang.  She looked super young.  Her vocals seemed really professional and her guitar playing was sort of like celtic/new age stuff.


Here are some September sounds as we slowly get back to the present.

NEXT TIME: ELECTROLUMINATI #7

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Autumn is Dead

On September 30th my friend Autumn had her 21st birthday party.  It was cleverly juxtaposed as a funeral.  Originally a lot of the people at Roup were wearing suits and long dresses, and the living room was covered in red light with foreboding music.  I wouldn't be reviewing this kind of thing normally, but it was also a show.  There were no touring bands; things got kind of sloppy at points.
Here's the cake:


In the basement Negative Witch Goddess played a cover of "I Put a Spell on You."  I don't think anyone knew this at the time.  RJ's bursts of junk metal noise as Autumn shrieked and slurred covered in delay.  It was very much in the spirit of Screamin' Jay Hawkins minus blues.  This set is on the Negative Witch Goddess tape on Roup Records available here.  It was sexy.


Next, in the living room, Drikks Nuns, a new band composed of John Chriest (Ivory Weeds) and Chris Mucci (Sundogpeacehouse), did some ambient stuff.  It was long, though not as long as a certain upcoming guy's set, and drawn out with lots of looping and undecipherable, angelic vocals.  Tribal drums beat as harmonies floated around the sky.  John played an electric guitar (?!) and a cello while Chris sang and twirled some knobs.  The room was covered in a dusky red light and the music seemed as if it descended from the Aurora Borealis in the Arctic frost.


Seth did a short interlude in the foyer afterwards.  He put an alarm clock and some fruit in a box and told a story about waking up and going to work at Right By Nature.  It was pretty funny.  The party continued for an hour or so onwards.  When that hour had passed, Dean Cercone had set up his gear in the basement.  Everyone packed in; he began to play.  In another hour he was finally done.  Many people left during the set because it was so drawn out and very late.  Dean was fine as usual, but I wish he hadn't played his entire discography.
Here's Dean being Shakespeare in a rock pose:


After everyone left, including weird dudes that nobody knew, and there was a weird argument in the basement, Greg Kolls and Brian Hecht played the Magic Band to Brian DiSanto's Captain Beefheart.  I jumped in shortly after they had started to make up for the fact that I didn't get a set earlier (it didn't really matter because I forgot my Boomerang Phrase Sampler and a few other necessary things).  While we played some ultra-dissonent stuff RJ rode his amp around, threw stuff, and shouting some poetry or something into my recorder.  I think he also tried to play a chord organ.  See if you can hear it all:
Here is Wax Text's first show.

Happy Birthday Autumn

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Experimental Variety Show

Immediately, as in the next day, after Little Italy Days and the Weird Paul/Manny Reunion this happened.  This was a show that my friend North booked to benefit some sort of charity.  She asked a bunch of different noise/experimental people to play, including me.  There was some sort of theme about space and time travel, and I guess bands were supposed to play under different names with costumes on.  I didn't play because it was 21+, but a bunch of other bands did while a montage of old sci-fi movie clips looped throughout.

First up was Layne James and the Gang Bang which is a weird parody country band.  I guess that they are sort of a gay version of western machismo.  It was interesting, but sometimes they became sort of incoherent with whoops and hollers.  The accents were kind of cheesy and the sex jokes got old after a while, but it was pretty cool.  They had an "ass smacking" contest and played some songs with only two acoustic guitars and vocals.  It could have been a little better put together and I'd like to see them in the future and see if they improve.

Next up was this crazy psycho called Thunder Genie (usually known as Brian DiSanto).  His set was great with all of the normal antics and enthusiasm thrown together with awkwardness and super short songs.  The first problem of the night arises here, however.  It seems that Belvedere's sound guy had issues doing his job, possibly because of complaints or maybe a lack of knowledge.  He kept turning Brian down and then turning him up again when he was asked to.  It was very strange and happened halfway through some of the Thunder Genie's minute long pop blasts.  When Brian tried to correct the problem by standing in front of the speakers so that he and the audience could better hear the sound, the sound guy told him that he couldn't stand there.  Lame stuff.

The third band to play was sort of Hunted Creatures.  As always they were great, though Darren was replaced by another person who I think was named Jeremy and they ended up being called Hot Wife instead of the usual name.  Their set ended up being very dark and synth heavy with sounds of moving gears and bangs and thumps.  It fit well with the dark, mysterious room, but it was maybe over too quick and was a little too subdued.

After Hot Wife we are confronted by a goggled, jumpsuit clad figure similar to the part in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory involving shrinking machines except instead of chocolate we have synthesizers (chocolate synthesizer?).  I had just met Attention Deficit Evil earlier in the night.  Just as in person, on stage he was a nervous sort of geeky guy.  He played some sort of samples using his keyboard as a remote control or something.  His set consisted of original electro-pop stuff, like an awesome song about a friend lying about being a champion break dancer, with a medley of covers at the end including that song about the blue alien in the blue world or whatever.  Attention Deficit Evil didn't play the keyboard itself too often which was weird, but his set fit very well, at least on the surface, with the themes of time travel and space flight.

After our foray into dance/synth/pop a mysterious girl sat on the stage and read jokes in a hilarious deadpan style.  I can't remember any of the jokes at this point, and I didn't actually record this set, but it was very, very dry and very, very funny.  She wore a wig and makeup and a sparkling dress, looking very much like a space alien.  I think that her name is Gunner and that she is possibly connected with Cyberpunk Apocalypse.

Next up was Wake Project, a noisy collage of samples and weird sound effects.  I had thought that Wake Project was just Jay Dowl, also of Mustache Required and Middle Children, but here he was accompanied by an unknown figure.  They played a bunch of Ghostbusters samples.  It was sort of a guerilla performance due to the discrete nature of the set; they basically just took to the stage with no announcement or any dialogue.  At some point I think Jay said something into the microphone, but it was hard to understand.  It may have been a "fuck you" kind of phrase and possibly referenced my Little Italy Days incident.

For number seven we have Ken Painter, with beatnik dress and a silver face, summoning the spirit of Sun-Ra from Saturn.  He mostly told stories about Sun-Ra's life; no one seemed to understand this at all even though I think everybody really did.  Unlike Ken thought, I'm pretty sure most people there knew who Sun-Ra was, but he ended up trash talking the audience due to their ignorance.  Perhaps it was on purpose?  Maybe not?  I have no idea, but his voice was soothing and ethereal in the hazy fog of the darkened room.

This x'ed sheet produced the best set of the night.  Behind the big painted x of anonymity, the band Manson Girls, consisting of Gena Salorino on guitar/feedback and Kyle Vannoy on drum.  It was as if Sumner Crane and China Burg had entered the room instead of Sun-Ra; wave after wave of pounding tribal drumming and screeching guitar noise.  They only had two members and a tiny amplifier and no visuals, but clearly this was one of the greatest bands that I saw play that night and also the most unknown.

As the night drags on we have Dream Weapon,, who I had also never seen before, playing a very cerebral noise (or noize apparently) set involving laptops, metal tubes, and acoustic guitars.  He had a quiet, but fierce precision to his work; work is what it appeared to be.  He seemed to have a very clear goal and a method to get there correctly.  There appeared to be very little improvisation or randomness to his methods.  I liked his set a lot, but something about it was kind of off-putting and perhaps formulaic(?).

Things were getting closer to the end of the night here folks.  North read a transmission from the the Rogue Messengers, which I guess is some kind of satyrical yippie group that she is a member of.  By group we are talking about maybe 10 people total.  Her message here seemed to touch on themes about universal consciousness and an all engrossing life force.  It was kind of new agey, but it also seemed very beautiful and peaceful.  Things were winding down.

After a short discussion about who would be last, and an exasperated and tired RJ Myato, a new Roup band set up.  This was the fabled Pet Rennaissance, now called Poor Kitty, that I had heard of for months.  Consisting of Seth LeDonne on electronics/noise and Lucy Goubert on vocals/poetry, Poor Kitty played an amazing set kind of like Contre Le Sexisme, but much more freeform.  While Seth pounded on homemade noise boxes and played tapes Lucy chanted the "hello" non-musically.  Poor Kitty was and still is a great band and may have a ··— album coming out next year.

 Finally the end.  Darrell Workman had been MCing the whole night and now the disenfranchised Steal City owner was about to play.  His set was not really at all what I was expecting.  Darrell gave a pseudo-ironic meditation vocal and breathed deeply and creepily.  At times it would become like white noise, but for the remainder his set was calm and eerie, like talking to a convicted serial killer locked away in an apparently calm mental institution.  The lame sound guy wouldn't let him really cut loose when he wanted to, but Darrell had everything set to the limit to compensate.  Over all I think it worked and the night ended with his attempted accessible noise.

You can check out some of the more obscure sets here without the expertise of Belvedere's sound expert.