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wmmberger on 10/02/2012 at 09:00AM

Pissing, With Contrast; Divorce Money Live On My Castle of Quiet

©Wm. Berger

Brooklyn's exceptional Divorce Money, one of the finest, mournful, hardcore bands around (who for whatever reason have not been released on Youth Attack, though their eminence and songwriting parallels the best releases on that label), brought something a little different from the careening, tortured pleasure of their 7" EP and tape, to their My Castle of Quiet live appearance. I'm a sucker for artists who consider their radio set to be an in-its-own-world kind of event, and this one was was borne out of sheer circumstance.

Down a drummer for the night, after having rescheduled with the show once already, Divorce Money more than rose to the occasion, bringing something no less "punk," and definitely no less tortured, though musically more along the lines of the best jams of Missing Foundation or Flipper. Friend of the band Jonathan C. stepped in quite admirably on drums, tapping out a mighty dirge into the night, with DM members Rene on vocals and Alex on guitar (with much feedback, yes!)

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wmmberger on 07/28/2012 at 01:30PM

An Exorcism—Good Spirits, Begone!; Shaved Women on My Castle of Quiet

Wm. Berger / Tracy Widdess

Punk / hardcore, much like its absentee father rock, will never die, and goes on, as new generations of bands are formed and blossom. Particularly since the mid-2000s, there are some excellent, exciting new bands emerging, and Shaved Women are high on the list of artists not only keeping the genre alive, but also re-shaping and redefining it for our times. 

In Shaved Women's songs, I hear great bands of yore, like The Fiendz, The Freeze, early Circle Jerks and Black Flag. Real punks are brutally sincere and earnest in their work—no poseurs allowed, and these are some of the most talented -and downright amicable- dudes you will meet playing HxCx today.

Their 12" vinyl, originally issued by the excellent Rotted Tooth Recordings label, caught the attention of Jussi at Ektro, and is now available on CD, thanks to the hyper-eclectic Finnish label.

Shaved Women came up from St. Louis while on tour, and pounded out a fierce, tight, and meta-accomplished set for WFMU / My Castle of Quiet, and here it is, on mp3 for your downloading and listening pleasure.

Huge thanks are due to Diane Kamikaze, whose highly evolved engineering & mixing skills always make Castle sessions into something more than they would have been without her expertise and accommodation.

Thanks also to Tracy of Brutal Knitting, who continues to craft my dubious band captures into works of art. (Apologies to SW drummer Tom, who's not visible in this shot; it was the best picture I took by far, so it's what we had to work with; you are nonetheless one of the most fluid and skilled drummers to ever grace Castle airwaves with your talent!)

Big thanks to Ben, John, Tom and Chris!

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wmmberger on 06/14/2012 at 10:11PM

You've Got the Cutest Little Plague Face; The Gate LIVE on My Castle of Quiet

Wm. Berger / Tracy Widdess

The Gate, at first glance, are an improvisational / jazz trio, but with information freely flowing in from punk and metal (Brian Osborne drummed with Wretched Worst for their very memorable Castle session last March; bassist Tom Blancarte, also a black metal fan) and horror films (tuba player Dan Peck, in addition to being a fan of black metal et al., is also a horror and cult-film buff), their sound offers doomy vistas, and cinematic, creeped-out passages, as well as hearty improv energy.

This live set runs the gamut of rhythmic / tonal delights, and the listener likewise easily escapes any preconceptions about what a tuba, bass and drum trio might be able to pull off. "Plague Face" will bring to mind Alan Silva and BYG Actuel, as often as it does European B-film music. At just over 47 minutes, this set is a real treat for fans of the "out." Mp3 hotspot > 18 mins.

(music just below the break)

Thanks to Diane Kamikaze for doing a great job with the sound, man-oh-man is it sharp and chunky, and to Tracy Widdess for her appropriately gloomy modification of my band photo. Most of all thanks to Dan, Tom and Brian. Formerly known as The Dan Peck Trio, their debut LP on Heat Retention comes highly recommended (this Pop‑up will take you to a sample from a previous My Castle of Quiet show), as well as their new CD as The Gate, Destruction of Darkness, on Carrier RecordsPop‑up.

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wmmberger on 05/30/2012 at 05:16AM

An Ancient Love Affair (with hulking synths); The Spiritual Switchboard LIVE on My Castle of Quiet, WFMU 5.11.2012

Wm. Berger / Tracy Widdess

Positive feedback continues to filter in for this live set, presented on the air a few weeks ago. The Spiritual Switchboard, a collaboration between two of Brooklyn's synth heavyweights, is without question a summit to be reckoned with. Jesse DeRosa (of Baked Tapes, Grasshopper, The Hex Breaker Quintet / Quartet, Shingles, etc.) and Joshua Slusher (OPPONENTS, Creeplings, The Grand Selector, et al.) are busy young men, overflowing with talent and a vibrant urgency to express themselves, and put it all out there, as much and as often as possible. Perhaps surprisingly for that M.O., their works are of the highest quality.

It's no secret that I admire them both professionally and personally, so I was only too pleased to provide the My Castle of Quiet program as a forum for them, a vehicle, with which to continue sharing their prowess, on a journey that began for me personally, back when Grasshopper were the second live band ever to be presented on the program, in August of 2009. The Spiritual Switchboard were joined for this absolutely live session by Joshua Greco (also of OPPONENTS), another super-nice guy with a big talent for swinging it analog.

While harkening back to the 70s "Berlin-school" electronic era, Spiritual Switchboard are also Brooklyn to the core, and there's something about the borough that inspires rough experimentation—a coarse, ominous, urban shroud that flashes the streetlights and rumbles the trains above and below, transcending notions of mere imitation to something wonderfully new, and wonderfully ageless at the same time. It's Klaus-Schulzean, and rolling a handmade in the rain somewhere near Meeker-Morgan.

At this point I'm probably over-waxing, and the music really does speak for itself—a grand synth spectacle if ever there was one. The almost 50 minutes of mighty drone, the spinal currents of bubbling color, and the ever-dancing and encircling transmigrations of melody, leave no doubt as to why listeners are still writing to me about this session.

Tremendous thanks must go to Juan Aboites, who rendered the live sound with panache and sensitivity to the musicians' needs, and to Tracy Widdess, who yet again reconfigured my photo of the band in action into a thing of beauty, suitable for framing. Thanks most of all to Joshua, Jesse and Joshua, for providing The Castle with yet another great session to remember and enjoy.

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wmmberger on 05/16/2012 at 09:36PM

A Living Portrait, from the graveyard to your door; Occultation LIVE on My Castle of Quiet

Wm. Berger / Tracy Widdess

What is metal, or rock for that matter? While others scramble for last-minute sub-subgenrefication, I am happy just to watch those umbrellas widen, and the envelope swell and burst. Occultation are such a band, one that tastefully mines not-immediately-recognizable influences, and much like that pre-job interview adage, "just be themselves, they'll be fine." Fine they did do, having grown leaps and bounds since the impressive Somber Dawn demo, to a sound that defines itself throughout their debut full-length, Three and Seven, on Profound Lore.

That first demo, and an early, related live video clip, led to their My Castle of Quiet invitation, and it was an easy call for yours truly that the band was indeed a perfect fit to the horror-gloom purveyed weekly on the radio program. These complex, richly haunting songs marry almost to an absurd ideal with the essence of MCoQ, such that it was an easy decision to host a live performance, positioned to promote their groundbreaking first release.

Here's their set, short, sweet and brimming with power >

A heap of cobwebby thanks to Bob Bellerue, creator of the Ende Tymes Festival (this weekend!), who engineered the session with his usual aplomb and almost empathic understanding of the band's sonic goals and emphases. Thanks also to Tracy Widdess of Brutal Knitting for smashing up my gritty iPhone captures into a thing of beauty.

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wmmberger on 04/02/2012 at 04:01PM

From the Eaten Ogress to the Berzerker, and all that lay between; Wretched Worst LIVE on WFMU's My Castle of Quiet, 3.16.2012

So it goes with "heavy" bands nowadays; it's the ones that defy easy genre-fication that are closest to my heart. Sure, black metal is amazing, but it's the projects that don't let the sound play them that really shine. And so it is with punk-noise bands like Drunkdriver, Tinsel Teeth (ed., avoid name dropping), and our guests a few weeks ago, Wretched Worst.

Wretched Worst appeal to me in the same way Flipper does, that feeling of almost falling off the building, as though things might get reckless in the room at any moment. And they carry on the tradition of anything-goes experimentation, forged by the Subterranean Records scene in the 1980s, where one can just grunt, or make one very sparse, metallic noise with great earnest, or let a good, collective drone just go, for five or more straight minutes. Noise-brut, one might call it. These indefinable, maniacal songs are regardless quite pleasing to the ear.

But make no mistake, one could also hear Wretched Worst and get none of what I just wrote, and just find their head swirling in heart-jarring thrusts, very sexual and wildly human. Hard as hell. L'humian désenchaîné.

So before I take on airs even more, let's just get to their set, and let that be the proof in the pudding. Quite righteously engineered LIVE by Diane Kamikaze.

Thanks to singer Matt (Matt Minter, WW vocalist), who does most if not all of the band's record-and-tape packaging art, and is a unique talent; maybe the closest references I could cite would be Raymond Pettibon, and 80s, L.A. punk-flyer art in general, but with an ultra-modern, disturbing-horror angle as well. Thanks also to the band—Aaron, Thad and Brian (who will join us again on The Castle, playing drums with The Gate on April 27), and thanks to Tracy Widdess for mashing up my (and possibly Diane's) captures of the band, to create the glorious portrait that accompanies this article.

Dig it! Wretched Worst on bandcamp.

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wmmberger on 01/01/2012 at 11:16PM

FUN Go! America! Celebrates New Jersey, on My Castle of Quiet, 12.18.2011

Wm. Berger / Tracy Widdess

FUN—as I've come to know the Philadelphia-based combo, its sounds and membership, I realize how truly appropriate the name is for what they do. FUN are able to apply clever, inventive, fresh ideas to their improvised music-making, minus all the beard-stroking and pretentious, high-minded, music-conservatory-based conceptualization and back-patting that often accompanies similar activities.

For their FUN Go! America! tour, a 50-year project that involves one performance a year, each in a different state, on the very date that that state was inducted into the Union, FUN came to New Jersey on December 18th, to WFMU's Studio B, to render two unique, smartly conceived and individually distinct long-form improvisations. The concept of the tour alone is staggering, and relies upon FUN's members having access to interstate transportation, and living long enough, to execute the mass concept in its entirety.

Backed by an American flag, adorned with their name in silver duct tape, and a host of gear ranging from plastic soda bottles to radically modified electric guitars, Mat and Jonny donned Kennedy and Nixon masks ("lifelong enemies") to render their first set, which begins with the delicious sound of carbonated-beverage-pouring, and takes flight from there. Set two, entitled "A Stroll In Jersey City," involved a studio-stationed, close-mic'd cel phone, into which they called in, while walking around the neighborhood of WFMU's building, making music from whatever they encountered on their walk.

Engineer Bob Bellerue and myself certainly had a great deal of FUN, recording the sets and watching the action put forth live and in person. These sets were broadcast the following Friday a.m. on My Castle of Quiet, though it was critical to the concept that they were recorded on Dec. 18th, the very date of NJ's 224th anniversary of statehood.

Thanks again to Mat, Jonny, and their friend Kevin, all of whom were present for the rendering of similarly intriguing sets on the Castle on the last day of December 2010, that material also resulting in a dynamic set of remixes, aired on the show the following February. Thanks as always to Bob, for his invaluable, sterling engineering skills, and to Tracy Widdess, for once again rendering my performance photos into art.

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wmmberger on 11/07/2011 at 10:53PM

So What IS The True Color of Venus, Anyway? Mister Matthews on My Castle of Quiet, 10.21.2011

Wm. Berger / Tracy Widdess

Mister Matthews is one of those individuals, to be counted on one or two hands, that can truly be called My Castle of Quiet royalty. Having appeared on the show a total of four times, MM first appeared with Telecult Powers, the duo of himself and Witchbeam, the first band to ever play live on The Castle, and a project that helped to shape my notions of what the radio show itself was going to be. Later on, Telecult returned with Lala Ryan of Excepter, performing the Modern Rites of Pei, a performance that will go down in WFMU history, as they successfully conjured pledges during our 2010 marathon. (This performance was also partially filmed for an eventual documentary film on the station.) Later still, he returned with the Hex Breaker Quintet, a combination of Telecult Powers and Grasshopper, two bands that most definitely have shaped Castle history, and finally, this much-in-demand solo performance, which exemplifies the breadth of MM's work, both as High School Confidential and The True Color of Venus Revue, two very different projects from the electronic maestro; the "head" and the "hard," rendered with equivalent expertise.

Though both pieces deal in the bliss of repetition, they are radically different from one another, the High School Confidential track rooted decidedly in the universe of harsh noise, and the TCoV selection recalling the electronic works of Terry Riley, a 70s-soundtrack-meditation for safe travel of the mind and spirit (though perhaps that latter classification could be argued on behalf of either work, solely dependent on the listener's expectations and needs going in.)

Tremendous thanks to Mister Matthews for bringing it, with focus and attention. Perhaps more than many, MM is really a listener; he takes his creations by the hand and guides them where they're meant to go. Huge thanks also to Bob Bellerue, who engineered the session with his customary aplomb, and also guested as co-DJ for a portion of the evening's programming (the full, three-hour archive can be heard here.) As always, Tracy Widdess made great work of my iPhone capture of the artist, perfectly summarizing the visual accompaniment to the music as rendered. All in all, it was a rewarding broadcast—in a welcoming environment, surrounded by friends, Mister Matthews delivered another live performance for the eternal archives.

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wmmberger on 10/19/2011 at 06:44PM

A Visit from the Agents of Transformation; The Black Twilight Circle on My Castle of Quiet

Wm. M. Berger / Tracy Widdess

Black metal has been, for years now, my power food—visceral nutrition for the body and spirit. For three hours on October 7, the heartiest of metal meals was served up on WFMU by the Southern-California collective known as The Black Twilight Circle. A grouping of ~than a dozen projects, the BTC releases most of their work on their own Crepusculo Negro label, and styles run the gamut from high-powered, tuneful hardcore (Mata Mata) to raw, darkly atmospheric gut-punch black (The Haunting Presence), to the most esoteric of psych-informed, highly creative bm (Shataan, Kuxan Suum.) Many, but not all, of the players in the collective are Mexican-American, so there's that intriguing and arcane element (for most of us Anglos, anyway) of Mayan folklore and symbolism that also serves to make the BTC bands so fascinating and somewhat impenetrable.

The individual members of the BTC are all incredibly talented and accomplished multi-instrumentalists as well, so depending on which project has taken the stage, different players make their unique contribution on different instruments. This evening was, without a doubt, one of finest radio events I've ever hosted, the power staggering, and the range of styles represented incredibly impressive. A total of seven bands played sets that night (a WFMU record?), each project completely distinct from the previous, and each equally magnificent in its own way.

There's been a high call and a clamor for downloadable versions of these sets; one listener even posted their own rip to that week's playlist in the interim, before this post came into being. These mp3s were cut from the Adobe Audition .wav files, recorded live while the bands were playing, in uncompressed glory. Tremendous thanks are due to WFMU's own Diane "Kamikaze" Farris, who crafted a dynamic live mix, which apart from the performances themselves, has received much praise in the ensuing weeks. Thanks Diane; could not have done this without you.

Virtually every band on the BTC's east-coast tour played a set that night, though even three hours does eventually run out, and Dolorvotre were unfortunately cut down to one, temple-smashing number, "Brilliant Brightness," nonetheless a highly apropos way to cap off the event. Here now are those sets, in the order in which they were performed. Where the live performance was rendered continuum style (as in the case of Arizmenda and Kallathon), I kept that flow, ripping the set as one, continuous mp3 file. Other sets, like those of Shataan and Volahn, had clearer stopping points, and thus the mp3s have been broken up accordingly.

Endless thanks to Eddie and the BTC band members; you're welcome back any time. Depicted: Volahn; photo by the author, manipulated by Tracy Widdess.


Support Wm Berger on WFMU!

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wmmberger on 08/27/2011 at 06:06PM

A Powerful Suggestion to an Enveloping Journey; Decimus LIVE on My Castle of Quiet, 8.12.2011

Wm. Berger / Tracy Widdess

Pat Murano waited a good, long time to fly completely solo, but when he did, it was worth the wait for performer and listeners alike. Starting out as a founding member of the No Neck Blues Band, and during that time, co-founding and co-piloting the excellent project K Salvatore (I owned and enjoyed many K Salvatore recordings before I made the connection that Pat was involved), Pat became even more active in the past half-decade or so, starting the outstanding and distinctive black-metal band Malkuth (or "Mal-koot," as our French friends render it.) Malkuth was, to say the least, a surprising move, that someone from two of NY's premier improvised-music combos would also have up his sleeve a groundbreaking, one-of-a-kind voice in metal's much-maligned and misunderstood bastard-son subgenre. (You can hear Malkuth's Jan 2010 live My Castle of Quiet session by clicking here.) As if that weren't enough, in the last year, Pat whipped out yet another great improv duo, the excellent Key of Shame, with Mark Morgan of Sightings (you can hear KoS on Brian Turner's show, coming up September 6), and last but surely not least, his mind-expanding solo project, Decimus, which made its WFMU debut two weeks ago on My Castle of Quiet.

It goes almost without saying that Pat has a lot of music in him, all of it remarkably parsed out with little or no stylistic overlap, and without question, Decimus is the most melodic, uniquely psychedelic and focused (naturally, being a solo oeuvre) of the lot. This performance, rendered live without a score and only minor beforehand preparation, is a supreme effort in patient, mindful listening, and responding in kind, a focal point, a beam of individual will with little precedent in New York music. To render evolving, encompassing drones, and/or high-volume collage or "wall" noise as it's called, is an achievement in and of itself, and we've heard many a great session along those lines on The Castle—hopefully I've presented the "cream" of local and nationwide artists working in that milieu—but to do something like Decimus is another matter entirely, in that it's one individual really sounding like a "band," and as Pat expressed in the post-session interview (and I paraphrase), to change the environment in this way is to change people's minds via suggestion. In my personal view, the Decimus works achieve this in spades, and as a result sit comfortably alongside some of my most-favorite music—because a true journey occurs, and to follow that composer's gentle suggestion, to take the journey, is the great joy of listening.

This particular set, "Decimus H" (as Decimus LPs are numbered, and digital and/or live works are lettered) is highly recommended for fans of Conrad Schnitzler (R.I.P.), Asmus Tietchens, instrumental works by Throbbing Gristle, and for a more contemporary reference, Hive Mind. It's sure to please, in general, fans of the more electronic side of Krautrock music, and post-TG global-"industrial" electronics.

Huge thanks to engineer Ernie Indradat for helming yet another successful Castle session, his sensitivity to many types of music is plainly evident in the body of work he's done with the show. And yet again, Tracy Widdess saves the day by making a valid rendering of my amateur photo capture of an artist who plays in near-complete darkness. Boundless gratitude to Pat for sharing this excellent work with WFMU and My Castle of Quiet listeners.

Decimus has many recordings available, including several on LP (two of them very new) and more for listening and download or purchase on his bandcamp page.


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