Friday, December 28, 2018

Saying No But Meaning Yes, Bluebirds & Survival Sex


reviewed by Shaun Lawton 

from Sunflower to Obituary LIVE Sleepytime Gorilla Museum

Weathered flowers breathing open amid ripened fruits laid slain and strewn across the ground
like the many broken pieces in an infuriated child's playing room floor or the regular suits
heaving through tunnels flowing into subways leaving unspoken memories trapped in box
cars left diminishing behind down the drain of our rear view mirrors always looking forward
over our shoulders toward the next smoke break or lunch time and arriving back home
to the familiar comfort that is your corner tucked away and hidden into the interior world.

Welcome to the outlandish live presentation of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, largely compiled from the archives of Matt Waldron. 

"These small gatherings are the seeds of a tree whose leaves will fall in silence on a land peopled by the children of our ghosts." ~ Lala Rolo, 1919, in a letter to Ikk Ygg 

Listening to this eclectic recording of 16 live tracks from Oak village in California really rings out and dredges up all my most personal lived-in memories of the past thirty years. It's more than just a spiraling series of coincidences, there's an emergent synchronicity recognizable in the pattern of frames stacking up the pictures. They come bubbling up in the form of SCA memories in period garb throughout most of the nineties at festivals across the country drinking from my bull's horn and fighting in medieval warfare live role playing games. They arrive in breathtaking dioramas of past plays and presentations I've participated in since having developed an interest in theater from an early age. The alter egos and multiple personalities engaged with over the years reel around me on a mirror plate of crystal clear characters etched in the back of my mind's eye. Various princes from Thorn to Viridian abound among the spectrum of roles stretched out since my high school years until today. These personas coalesce into Thornswrath (now on twitter and youtube) when I entered the underground scene here in salt lake, encountering during my midnight excursions the wraiths of metal warriors haunting the late night streets and back alleys of this rock'n'roll town.   

Before local legendary clubs such as The Zephyr and Club DV8 got themselves burned down to the ground, these were the sorts of places Sleepytime Gorilla Museum used to end up playing, and before they arrived here in town from the village of Oakland on their Green Tortoise bus, I'd receive posters from the band for their upcoming tour and plaster them around the city in record stores and coffee shops. This is how I usually got in to see their shows, as over the years, their music grew to become another layer of my own woven soul armor. Check out this hour-and-a-half video below of a performance at the Metro in Oakland Sleepytime Gorilla Museum conducted fifteen years ago, back in 2003, when propellers were actually necessary and it didn't matter whether you had a cell phone.

Those days are long gone of course so now it's super extra nice to lose one's self in the still echoing hauntings of these deranged pranksters of musical merriment and mayhem. If you care to keep up with their ever evolving sonic antics accentuated by visual presentations ordinarily unaccustomed to perusal by the masses, be sure to check out Free Salamander Exhibit, merely the latest chrysanthemutation of this flowering beast of post-chimerical molten mineral music. They still put on a terrific, one-of-a-kind show that remains much better experienced than described. You really have to be there to understand what I'm talking about. Suffice it to say I haven't been keeping up this blog and there's a ton--actually two thousand pounds--of vinyl in my collection I have to catch y'all up with. In the meantime track down any of the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum albums and get ready to have your head cleaned out with a subatomic blast of sonic soothsaying. If there's any earwax left in your skull after listening to these guys, maybe you haven't turned the volume knob up high enough. Be sure to check your head that you're not already dead. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Behind The Shadow Drops


The new album from Takaakira Goto (of Japan's preeminent post-rock outfit MONO) is now out from Temporary Residence and I made sure to order my clear die hard smoke streaked edition (just 18.00) not a bad deal and now that it's arrived 

I can say I'm very happy listening to it the more I hear it the better it gets
there's an aspect of constantly raining showers blending in the wind's memory
or old photographs slowly getting clearer even as they're on the verge of being forgotten
It's hard to describe exactly what it is that I feel while listening to this music but its soothing
and haunting and I like the way it evokes a personal reaction in me as if by association of the intensity of the feeling, I don't know exactly, I just like to follow where ever Taka wants to take us along for this sojourn summoning dreams from the well of memories. 

In some of the sequences I'm reminded of the collaboration with World's End Girlfriend,
one of my favorite recordings, Palmless Prayer/Mass Murder Refrain.  While this latest offering with John McEntire, percussionist for Tortoise, among other guest musicians, glides in and out of that territory, it does so in a fresh context that sounds interesting, to me.  Just listen to in on YouTube.

That's what I'm doing right now.   I'm on the song Utopia. Each track successively bleeds into the next, furthering a progression captured in its own unique way with each song. I'm digging it the more I listen to it, but I gotta be honest, the first few spins weren't doing it for me, but by now, this album is really getting ahold of me and I can feel it carrying me away down the course of its own dark river.

Taka -  Thank You   for  bringing your music to our ears.    There's a lot to consider with this album.
The end of day dreams. Trace of snow waltz. Utopia. Positive shadow, negative light. Sonata. Harmonic. Ether. Warm Light. And a reprise of Utopia.   It's classified as  'ambient, post rock, trip hop,' and I'm ok with those designations anyhow, so I'd only add that it's very much in the vein of soundtrack music, inasmuch as we have a tendency to visualize music across the screens of our mind's eye. This album just comes across like a sophisticated documentary that I suppose might be construed by wild degrees of variance across different people, but due to the eerie image of the album cover, which appears to be an ape with outstretched human hands, triggers associations with Stanley Kubrick for me, and with that being the primary driving factor, as I shut my eyes and fall back listening to these tracks, the Sonata carrying me further along the lullaby creek bed into dream land, then crosses over into the Harmonic, I'm left with plenty of impressions to consider as the echoes fade away.  Here is an album of delicious mixtures in the let's keep it simpler and call it post-darkwave department. There seems to be an evolution of passing through the various phases of a spectrum to these tracks.  I like the use of piano in the Ether section and the various moods fit together into the ambient atmosphere very well, overall.  One of those albums one slowly grows to love over time, the more one spends with them, as it should be with the greatest music.  This album will keep me happy choosing a diving off point throughout October, if nothing else good is released.

My stack of MONO wax is one thick slab, and near to complete as I could hope for. I've seen them enough times live to have acquired a small stack of my albums signed by them. They are my favorite band of modern times. I'm really digging this little side excursion into the darker corners of a labyrinthine hidden underground carnival H A R M O N I C Taka cooked up with the help of the Tortoise drummer and several other amazing musicians, it's like the musical equivalent of lying on a tropical beach under a full moon at midnight where the only sounds are the waves breaking along the shore into the distance and the wind sighing through the coconut trees. It's about disappearing completely into the environment without leaving a trace.  It's music that rewards whether listened to or ignored. A proper sound track for our times. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

January 11 at 11:10pm ·

It's a post modern amalgamation of avant garde jazzmanship stirred into a potent rallying call for transgressive artistry worldwide. All seven songs push the envelope of the commercial mainstream past the shattering point. Each one does so in its own way. Some by virtue of their musical conception and length. Others for their savage lyrical attack which leave virtually no stone in our frigid culture unturned. Hearing it the first time my senses were so sharpened I swear I thought I caught subtle cues and references from blind pariahs like Kanye to lost jaded sirens like Beth Gibbons. I was born upside down. I was born the wrong way round. We're all Blackstars. We're not new stars. We're not wandering stars. Man she punched me like a dude. 'Tis a pity she was a whore. 'Tis my fate I suppose. That was patrol. That was patrol. This is war. 'Tis a pity she was a whore. Man I'm so high it makes my brain whirl. Dropped my cellphone down below. Ain't that just like me. Here's an album crafted with all the elements of classic records of the past. One twelve inch vinyl platter. Seven cuts from start to finish. I'm still marveling that he managed to consecrate this album to eternity just two days after his sixty-ninth birthday. I heard recently from someone that if you make it past your sixty-ninth, you gain another twelve years or so. Something tells me this must be true. Major Tom took this exit route through the Tannhauser Gate. There's something too canny in the way everything lined up. Hold on Side 1 just ended. I've got to go flip the record over now and listen to Side 2 again. The new version of Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime) is truly a jump forward into progressive popular funk blending and twisting into a sinister symphony awash in creepy beats stirring up a steady downbeat rhythm flowing on in weird and inventive ways. The original version released last year was a modest exercise in sophisticated noir jazz, all shadows and fog. On the album proper it sounds as if it were beamed in from outer space by a radio transmission from a distant exoplanet. I could listen to the music on this album forever. Bowie's crooned narration on this song borderlines on malevolent intent and blurs the murderous with a lovelorn longing I don't think I've ever heard elsewhere. When I first heard the beginning of Girl Loves Me I could not believe my ears. A song sung in Nadsat how about that. Where the fuck did Monday go. Talk about horrorshow.      #Blackstar    

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Okay, so listen up, punks. I'm listening to Eno's latest ambient album REFLECTION right now. I couldn't find it on the normal channels online, so I logged in to Spotify and found the four minute and twenty-one second excerpt--and am listening to that on repeat. *(Click the image above to link directly to the Reflection excerpt on Spotify)

I just wanted to set the record straight here. In the previous section of this diptych on Eno's latest release, I waxed on about some ridiculous notions concerning the potential for his ambient music to evolve radically over an indefinite period of time; for it to potentially mutate into an unfamiliar form. While such fancies make fun notions to suddenly jot down by the ends of my fingertips whilst madly blogging without a care in the world, I return in this sobering sequel to reassure you all that no such thing could possibly take place insofar, at least, as the original tape loop recordings Eno pioneered 42 years ago. (I assume the technique which yields REFLECTION to be analogous to that, only in digital format.)

The point being, if you set up the original different-length tape loops to play endlessly, yes they'd never quite repeat the exact same configuration of sounds yet rest assured the exact same level of tonality and texture would remain consistent throughout all eternity.   This is the answer we'd expect to hear from Mr. Eno, were he required to explain the nature of his ambient tape loops. I feel Reflection to most likely be constrained within the same inflexible parameters which allow the digitized loops to interplay--producing endless sonic configurations--while remaining relatively consistent in tone and texture.

I've been getting increasingly intriguing glimpses into the full potential of the Reflection app from having listened to various differing snippets of Reflection.  Namely, the four sides of the 2LP vinyl (which I more often than not select to put on the turntable randomly, as if the four tracks were on shuffle) and now this endless looping four minute, twenty-one second excerpt on Spotify unspooling gently in the background from my office computer here.

Given the observation that even this limited four minute snippet loop doesn't get old after multiple repeats, it widens the album's vista into a dimensional fourfold.  I think of the album as a folded up, sonic hypercube now. That renders the app as the spaceship that will catapult the listener into warp drive. This is your spacey dJ & vinyl junkie Thornswrath signing off for now, reminding you that we are well underway into the unfolding Technological Singularity.