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mwalker on 05/14/2010 at 09:30AM

convergence for four

Wally Shoup at ISSUE (5/12/10). Photo by: Peter Gannushkin / DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET

Last Wednesday, stalwart free improv veteran Wally Shoup made a cross-country trip from Seattle to Brooklyn to preside over a more or less perfect session with New York's finest: trumpeter Nate Wooley (certainly no stranger to the FMA), percussionist Andrew Drury, and bassist Reuben Radding. Shoup’s playing is both arrestingly visceral and disarmingly vulnerable. While more than capable of both long, intricate phrasing and complex barrages of explosive skronk, he is at his most impactful when honing his energies on a single note. Obsessively holding a pitch across an array of timbral transformations, Shoup wrenches out every last drop of emotional resonance from a tone as if squeezing out a densely-filled sponge.

The quartet operates at a rare level of intuitive communication, shifting from frenetic chaos to hard-swinging rompage to doleful lyricism – all executed with a remarkable complexity of interaction and singularity of consciousness. The most striking moment, however, comes in the last five minutes as Wooley and Radding simultaneously establish a unified drone – erecting a soft but impenetrable, unwavering band of unified vibrations against which Drury and Shoup launch a transcendent assault of staggering depth before being absorbed, themselves, into the singular beam of sound.

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JoeMc on 05/13/2010 at 01:00PM

Herb for Life

Imagine the sombrero and bandito moustache.

Ever seen Carol Reed's 1949 thriller The Third Man? This is the film that takes place in a shadowy, dank and dangerous post-war Vienna, and climaxes with a famous speech by the slippery, silvery-tongued fascist/opportunist Harry Lime, played by Orson Welles:

In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had six thousand years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

You may also remember The Third Man's famous score, which was composed and played on the zither by Anton Karas, an unknown musician that director Reed discovered playing in a wine garden. Karas' oddly jaunty title theme plays ironically against the darker-than-dark themes of the film, and it became one of the biggest hits of 1949. You can hear it in your head right now, can't you?

Well, now imagine that The Third Man took place not in the doomy depths of Vienna at night, but instead on a sunny beach in Mexico. Harry Lime's speech isn't delivered on a dilapidated ferris wheel, but in a tijuana taxi, and the house band has umbrellas in their drinks and doesn't even know what a zither is. Got that?

I now give you Rat City Brass.

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seattle, kexporg
lizb on 05/13/2010 at 10:30AM

Wombnet experimentalia

Alongside her husband Peter, the sound collage artist Listen With Sarah created the Womb record label to publish her own releases a few years ago. The label released albums by the likes Ergo Phizmiz and Codex Machine, as well, but eventually Peter and Sarah became fed up with the music industry and decided to go all-digital, and all Creative Commons. Score for us!

Wombnet, as the label is now known, has uploaded a wealth of great music to the FMA. If you're a fan of barn animals, I suggest you dive right into "Zoo - The Animal Hop Remixes," a compilation featuring the likes of Vernon Lenoir, Naing Naing, and of course animals. You can hear Listen With Sarah's "Animal Gallop" from the compilation below.

You'll also find a few more of my favorite Wombnet songs below, including a short and strange experimental pop song by Steveless and Syd Howells (fans of Ergo Phizmiz take note), as well as a great beat-happy cutup tune by Codex Machine.

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jason on 05/12/2010 at 06:02PM

Providence RI's Baker St. Kollective

The Baker St. Kollective (BKRSTK) -- a group of musicians from Providence, Rhode Island -- recently joined the FMA to share music and video from the past two decades made by Barnacled, Alec K Redfearn (Eyesores/Seizures), V. Majestic, Amoebic Ensemble and more.

BKRSTK is coordinated in large part by Frank Difficult, an accomplished electronic artist in his own-right, who also performs in many of these projects including. After moving to Providence from Las Vegas, Mr Difficult helped form V.Majestic -- an instrumental, horn-laden kraut-rock/psych band with a penchant for soundtrackable music. Here's the title track from their 1999 release Dynamic Alloy, and the cover (at left) was screened at Fort Thunder by Paul Lyon (brother of Mudboy).

Barnacled is an avant-jazz supergroup who performed live on my radio show in 2008, on the heels of the launch party for their ESP-Disk' release Charles. Several members returned to WFMU in 2009 to play live with The Seizures, a new project from accordionist Alec K Redfearn. In the 1990s, Redfearn led the legendary Amoebic Ensemble, which featured strings, brass, accordion, mandolin/ bouzouki and 2 percussionists. Here's a track from their 1995 release Limbic Rage

>> check out BKRSTK home page and BKRSTK on the FMA for more music and video, like the one after the jump...

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longrally on 05/12/2010 at 09:00AM

Jooklo Duo meets John Blum Live at WFMU

Jooklo_group I was pretty excited when I had the opportunity book the tenor sax/drums band Jooklo Duo for a live session at WFMU. I've been a fan of their excellent Qbico releases and while together and separately Virginia Genta and David Van Zan have collaborated with many radical free jazz players working today, they seem a bit under the radar for how visceral and intense an experience they deliver.  That might be partly from living in the Italian countryside where they're free to develop their raw and constantly searching musical methodology away from sucker influences of the urban elite.  If the throw-back version of scree seems outdated to some free music fans, it's their loss; the holy ghosts of ESP-Disk' and BYG/Actuel live in Jooklo's sound, style, and unrepentant forward thrust, a stop-and-you-may-die kind of spiritual commitment to this music and lifestyle.  Don Cherry's '70s global wanderings and Taj Mahal Travellers' zoned benevolence may be more appropriate touchpoints to Jooklo Duo, who are open to unruly and authentic musical experiences wherever they happen to occur and in whatever context. 

When Virginia asked if we had a piano in WFMU's studio, I wasn't sure what to expect, but was pleasantly surprised when they brought John Blum along for the tussle.  John has released records on Ecstatic Peace, Eremite and the German label Konnex, and played extensively with heavyweights like Milford Graves, Bill Dixon, William Parker, Sunny Murray and Denis Charles. I expected a physical approach to the keyboard but did not anticipate the full history of jazz influences in his playing. I heard the likes Cecil Taylor and Muhal Richard Abrams, yes, but also Jaki Byard (a personal fave) and even all the way back to Art Tatum, Jelly Roll Morton and James P. Johnson (I swear, listen for the stride!).  This was the first time these three played together, which was a surprise to learn.

I asked Virginia about the origin of her tenor sound, tough and upfront, but also melodic and unpredictable. She was reluctant to name her favorite sax players.  No matter, the playing on this session speaks volumes.  Please enjoy!

A few pics up on the playlist, and visit Jooklo's label Troglosound.

Thanks to Mark Koch for engineering.

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doncbruital on 05/11/2010 at 12:48PM

Cold Reigns On

It may be getting warmer, folks, but there's no use taking such developments for granted. Just as in the Roman victory parades--during which a slave'd be sure to whisper "Memento mori" to the triumphant general, reminding him that everything fades--I'm here to task you with some remembrances, keep things in perspective, like. What I mean is this: just because the coming summer allows us to undertake a new lap in the Fun & Happiness parade doesn't mean that dread wintry Cold, meanest of all and prone to sneaking up, won't do just that before we know it.

To offset any unpleasant surprises, I hereby offer the following pre-summer weather-warding coldness mix, in handy playlist form to keep by your bedside any night you think you might be getting too close to taking what ought to be a killer summer for granted. Most of the songs dip into realms of cool distance via instrumentation and stylistic reference points, while others retain that dour wintry subject matter. Still others are simply spooky, in a way that actively shirks pleasant warmth. Each song points, thanks to the invaluable network that is the FMA, to a universe of further hits and cold-recall-joggers, so seek them out. It's a playlist, but I tried to make it nice and talismanic; use it judiciously and respectfully as you would an evil eye or any other instrument which meddles in unseen orders, staying true to the notion that a good way to keep safe and sane in the next few hot months is to never be far from a recognition of the cold that lies just round the corner.

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herr_professor on 05/11/2010 at 09:32AM

Working Hard for No Money

At times the chip music community can seem a little insular at a distance. Fiercely protective from exploitative outside elements, many feel that they cannot break in from outside, but the fact is that many chip music insiders are themselves huge music fans, eager to hear infinite variations on the chip music concept. This week we bring you the work of Nathan Meunier,  and his ep The Beacon.

Like many chip artists, he comes to chip based production after writing and performing elsewhere, in Nathan's case it was indie rock. The tracks here reflect that, with a series of moody instrumentals punctuated with jangly guitars and soft squares. Nathan's path to chip came through his other focus, writing, He is currently working on a nonfiction book entitled Geek Beat Manifesto, which explores the rise of spazzy subcultures like Chip Music, Video Game Cover Bands, and Nerdcore Rap. Take a look at the EP, and check his writings on his website, and we will catch you in seven.

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andrewcsmith on 05/10/2010 at 12:00PM

The best dancer raises more dust from the floor

Photo by Lori Baily

The Bristol quartet Zun Zun Egui takes no prisoners; theirs is the music of a post-apocalyptic tropical house party. The songs combine constantly shifting African rhythms with the ecstatic shouts—in Mauritian Creole, French, English, or in no language at all—from Kushal Gaya. Gaya moved to the U.K. from the coast of Madagascar (and the island of Mauritius) and brought with him memories of the Creole dances and rituals that French colonists had earlier attempted to squelch. But far from being a cliché melange of cross-cultural feel good pop tunes with an African veneer, Zun Zun Egui does the opposite; instead of incorporating a djembe into some four-four meters, they use thoroughly modern instruments on top of flowing, rhythmic patterns that seem to go on for miles. Bassist Luke Mosse and drummer Matt Jones are the prime components of this groove, and the reason that these songs can continue for upwards of nine minutes without getting stale.

It would be impossible to discuss this band without bringing up Yoshino Shigihara's visual art, which seems akin to the other-worldly screeches she elicits from her keyboards. The above photo doesn't do the psychedelic visuals justice—an overstimulating counterpart to their spare setup—but the brilliant light and color is as much a part of the environment as the music. Both of the tracks below are from their latest EP, Bal La Poussiere, (loosely translated from the Creole: "the best dancer raises more dust from the floor") released on Blank Tapes.

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zun zun egui
andrewcsmith on 05/08/2010 at 11:00AM

Things change when part of a century

"Roar and Spit" by Molly Thompson. Full version is available on the Pretty Panicks site.

Between 1965 and 1971, the composer James Tenney wrote a series of pieces later collected as “Postal Pieces,” in which he wrote the entire composition on the back of a postcard and mailed it. Many of these were later published in Peter Garland’s journal Soundings, and have since been performed as independent pieces as well as recorded and released on CD by everyone from the classical ensemble The Barton Workshop to Sonic Youth.

Some time in the early twenty-first century, the poet Sara Wintz founded the Pretty Panicks Press with the purpose of documenting, in reduced form, the compositional ideas of rock music. Partly about the compositional process of rock musicians, and partly an homage to Garland and Tenney, these postcards tie the twentieth century into the ambiguous zone that many classical/alternative/rock/hyphenated musicians today find themselves in. The recordings of rock preserve the sound of the songs, and the sound of the musicians, but these extreme reductions preserve the idea.

The electric guitar quartet Dither, typifying this nebulous twenty-first century, brings massive chops with an egalitarian sense of purpose to every piece of music. For this concert, they took up Molly Thompson’s postcard piece “Roar and Spit,” containing the statement, “you could basically use any instruments as long as the accordion and voice remained intact and it would be different every time.” Check out their recording below, along with Sara Wintz’s reading of part of her long poem “Twentieth Century” (from which I copped this post title).

There’s more music available on the album page as well, including Lisa R. Coons’s “Entropion” and quartet member Josh Lopes’s “Pantagruel.” Both of these tracks will be available on their debut studio album on Henceforth Records, celebrated by an album release party at the Invisible Dog Art Center in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, on Saturday, June 12.

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JoeMc on 05/07/2010 at 11:00AM

Hi, Mom!

Mamie and Hounds remembering mom. You'd better, too!

A timely reminder from your friends here at the FMA: If you haven't yet sent out that card or those flowers to your M-A-double M-Y, then it's time you got FTD on the phone, or at least staggered down to the Duane Reade to pick up a Hallmark. it's pretty much the least you can do. Even if your own mom makes Mo'Nique seem like Mother of the Year, you still ought to show a little respect to the woman who thrust you out of her loins and scrambled up her innards for the remainder of her natural life for you.

OK, so you've got the card. To get you in the mood to write that inscription that will make the ink run from your mother's happy tears, here's a little gem from the great Mamie Smith, along with her Happy Jazz Puppies (probably their original name). If you aren't packing the camper in route to Hometown, U.S.A. after hearing this one, then your heart is colder than the look on your boss' face when you come in late for the 47th time.

I'll say a little bit more about Mamie Smith below, but be sure to listen to the song.

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