Thursday, January 29, 2009

TSB - Yeah, I still do that

The Silent Ballet is a great gig, and with writing a review every two weeks it allows my writing to get a lot better. It is music criticism perhaps, but I've improved my approach and recently have gotten more creative with how to describe music. My most recent reviews reflect this, if you're into reading them. The Klaus Nomi review was voted "review of the week" on the site:

Angel - Hedonism - Noise
Klaus Nomi - Za Bakdaz - space kabuki countertenor
Breasts - Breasts - acid psych-lounge
Amateur Takes Control - You, Me and All the Things Unsaid - generic post rock

Comatone & Foley - Trigger Happy - Awesome electronic debut
Bohren & der Club of Gore - Dolores - Album of the year
Fjordne - Stories Apart From The World - top ambienttronic artist
Skeletonbreath - Louise - dark folkiness

Growing - All The Way - not great (which is fun to write about)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Tamagawa - L'Arbre Aux Fees

I am back in action. 2008 was a hard year for me to write in. The process of watching my best friend grow a human, give birth to Everest and then adapting to taking care of this crazy animal is exhausting. And just reading that feels like an understatement to me. So with great pleasure, I return to the fold of talking about unknown or awesome music.

This entry revolves around an artist named Tamagawa. I have noticed that many of the Japanese artists I enjoy seem to title songs and albums in languages other than Japanese. I can't read Japanese so that's nice of them. Fjordne is one such artist, using a name that sounds, well, Scandanavian. Tamagawa is/are apparently French but uses a very Japanese sounding moniker. I don't understand where these names are coming from, but it's keeping me on my toes. You just don't know who is who in this world wide web of anonymity.
Tamagawa go through a label called Basses Frequences. Yes, that is spelled correctly. And the dude who runs it has kids and is passionate about music. Plus the site is a dot-Org, so simply by that alone it can be deemed safe and wonderful to deal with. All the releases (including a few Aidan Bakers) on this label come in unique packages, such as metal tins, but Tamagawa have taken it to a new place, forcing me to ask, What is an album, and how can it be presented? This music comes on three mini CD-Rs, so it's a whole album's worth of music (and such lovely music it is) spread out into three suites. The whole album itself comes in a giant plastic sleeve, with a paper sheet donning images of an on-stage lantern which you can cut out and piece together as the carrying box for the little CDs.

With so much digital information serving as "albums" now it's usually common to have ONE image to "describe" an album for, what seems, eternity. No one will remember the back cover to, say, the latest Coldplay album. It's that front cover only. The whole "3 mini CDs in a box" phenomenon is delightfully stubborn on this front, especially when it comes in the mail and you really don't know what to expect from it as you flip through the little cards that also come with the music and paper doll box. The music on these discs is drone-driven, but the drone is really just home base for Tamagawa to play with lots of styles and sounds. A little post-rock even rears its pretty head amongst this noise. The thing that binds it all together, though, is the warmth of the sounds. Even when it gets really loud (one of the cards strongly recommends playing this music loud) it is not abrasive. It's warm. Fuzzy and glowing. Crystalline in tone but without hard edges. Hypnotic, tranquil, all things I want out of drones. It's one of those sound collections that can be highly engaging or very helpful in aiding a meditation session. If you like your sound blistering and warm and friendly, here you go. Apparently there's only a few copies of this album left for sale, and after that they are gone forever.

PS. Tamagawa is on tour in the US and Canada, so check that myspace page. New York gets a bunch of hits. Jim? You know need to hear things that you aren't working on in your studio.

Angel - Hedonism

Read my entirely strange review at The Silent Ballet.

Hedonism is a fascinating and raw barrage of industrial environments and textural found sounds. Pregnant women and people who are ill may react violently. Listener feels subjected to a medical experiment. Advanced listeners uninterested in "safe" music will have much to explore. Album feels devoid of emotion at times. Occasionally annoying to listen to. More often feels vivid. Requires full immersion and trust in Angel to bring you somewhere you have never been before. Listener will be challenged. Potentially very rewarding. Headphones a must.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Klaus Nomi - Za Bakdaz

  • Read my entire review at The Silent Ballet.

  • Za Bakdaz is a posthumous operetta. If you have never heard Klaus Nomi, please go listen to him right now. It is unlike anything you have ever heard. While there have been a number of countertenors (men who sing in a higher range; in this case soprano), no one compares to Nomi's range or thespian mystique. His stage persona was like a kabuki robot from the Weimar Republic's golden era wearing a monolithic bow tie and was as much a part of Klaus Nomi as the music. To be in the same room with him was transformative and other-worldly. And fun! It's been twenty five years since Nomi died of AIDS-related complications in 1983, so Page Wood and George Elliot, Nomi's consistent collaborators, decided to un-duct-tape the old shoe boxes of tapes and takes, piece together fragments from the Eighties and capture a semblance of Nomi's vision for his epic, unfinished space western!