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wmmberger on 03/18/2014 at 12:45AM

A Grind Apart: Ubasute Live on My Castle of Quiet

Wm. Berger / Tracy Widdess

The grind music I like, I really love, because as a genre, there is a rampant saminess; so I sit back and let bands like Psychic Limb, Ubasute, Agathocles, Cattle Decapitation and Pig Destroyer rise to the top by way of their own virtues.

Alex Caprio's distinctive and unpredictable shriek, Mike Marciano's artful, intricate Rickenbacker bass virtuosity, and Jeremy Suria's guitar work (equal parts technical, Steve Howe-midrangery, and thick, power-chord glue) all work thoroughly together to make the band a cut above the raging pack. Upon even deeper observation, Ubasute's lyrical content, and carefully chosen graphic imagery flaunt the more-easily-attained / co-opted genre conventions. 

Live set from February 2014 »


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wmmberger on 09/05/2013 at 05:18AM

Jamaica-Queens-The World; Psychic Limb Live on My Castle of Quiet Pseudo-Finale

What makes a great grind band? Doing as much as you can in an average of 43 seconds' song duration, flexing those ferocious chops from all angles, and, though this may be hard to explain to someone whose ears are attuned to pop music and the traditional song form, a certain "catchiness," an anthemic propulsion that will make the listener/receiver want to propel oneself into the pit without a care for personal safety. Psychic Limb have all these qualities, in spades.

I've liked these guys from the second I heard them, they stand out mightily from the pack of late 2000s grind on bandcamp and elsewhere, and they make records that stand firmly amongst the classics of the genre. And yes, they can and do reproduce it all in person.


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wmmberger on 08/23/2013 at 09:09PM

Music #1 and #2; Tom Carter and Pat Murano, live on My Castle of Quiet, 5.24.13

Wm. Berger / Tracy Widdess

Still working my way through the last few months of live performances on the My Castle of Quiet program, we find ourselves now at this haunting session from late May by Pat Murano and Tom Carter. 

This is an exciting time for improvised music in general, and the releases on Murano's Kelippah label, including the Carter/Murano LP, are at the very forefront of this exciting post-everything era in the genre. Here, we're "after" Krautrock, after 90s space-rock (Carter being a veteran of the much-respected, much-loved Charalambides), after the Parker/Bailey EMANEM-label vibrations from the UK, after doom/drone/"organic" improv, and basically that's all a good thing, as anything goes—one can tweak and kerplunk, be melodic, be massive, be subtle and contemplative, and give bursts of electronic noise, all in the course of one session, or even one piece. 

Carter and Murano seem to guide one another into vast fields of arcing melody and rhythm, and at least for this session (one must consider all the Murano / Carter works to really get the gist, including the aforementioned LP, and NATCH 4, also offered on our Free Music Archive), we're in blooming meadows of post-Kraut brilliance. Especially in "Music #2," Murano's synth figures weave intricate spiderwebs over and under Carter's Michael Rother-like, slow-burn guitar improvisations, before collapsing into a welcome noise-gasm in the concluding minutes.

Yet again, that "magic room," also known as WFMU's studio B, and the forum of the My Castle... show, seem to have provided the comfortable environment for another history-making session to occur. And though kraut/space might be the listener's initial reaction, absolutely nothing is off the table, and I hear elements of dub, doom, and wild, free noise in these tracks. Lie back, with or without your inebriant of choice, and enjoy.

Huge thanks to Tom and Pat (Mr. Murano having the dubious distinction of being the most-often-featured live performer on The Castle, having played this session, as well as ones with Malkuth, K-Salvatore, solo as Decimus, and also on Brian Turner's program in the duo Key of Shame), and to engineer extraordinaire Juan Aboites, and to Tracy Widdess for yet another varicolored photo manipulation of my scrappy captures.

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wmmberger on 07/29/2013 at 11:45AM

Denton Blues; Bludded Head on My Castle of Quiet, 5.10.2013

Wm. Berger / Tracy Widdess

As I said to the members of Bludded Head, for a good, long while, I'd been subsisting on the two, outstanding tracks from their debut 12"—and with great enthusiasm, am now proud to bring you live versions of these four, new compositions from this unique Texan doom outfit. Studio versions of the songs are also available from the band on limited CDr. 

With two new members added to the lineup (and the original, intact core of Nevada Hill and Darcy Neal), these songs find BH in the realm of even greater dynamics and subtlety when compared to the tracks on their debut; the addition of double bass and an accomplished new drummer having opened up the compositional palate of the band considerably. None of the crunch has been sacrificed though, and Nevada's outrageous screams still ride atop the steamrolling melee of Bludded Head's mighty downbeats.

Doom bands come and go, many sounding similar to one another, with the greatest emphasis being placed on how far apart those gut-punch downbeats can be spaced; not so for Bludded Head, who seem in it to write, arrange and execute great songs, several worlds apart from the sameyness that characterizes many of their peers in the genre. My Castle of Quiet and WFMU caught up with the band mid-tour, and it shows, such that the freshness and intensity of these selections are at a dazzling peak.


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wmmberger on 06/28/2013 at 02:26PM

My Boss Is an Angel Cast out of Heaven, not a Jewish Carpenter; One Master LIVE on My Castle of Quiet, 4.26.2013

Wm. Berger / Tracy Widdess

This session is a monster, black-metal fire that strafes the earth and then salts it for good measure. Fuckin' unbelievable.

Speaking very generally, black metal can be divided into two, distinct subgroups; the raw and the dirty, with its roots in punk, and the more "musicianly," with expert playing, and grander, more-"orchestrated" concepts. Either way, to pass my filter, the songwriting is key, and has to be there to bring the sound across.

Naturally, there's been significant cross-pollination of these two basic styles over the years, and One Master are perhaps the finest example of a band that has chops to spare, with longer, epic songs, but with not an ounce of grit sacrificed—in fact, the sheer gut-punch of this session, as well as One Master's two full-lengths and split cassette with Glass Coffin, will simply bowl you over like a life-affirming ass-kicking. Even as I listen now, after many a deep sit-down with the material, the ferocity of One Master's Castle session is staggering and the first thing your ears will notice—melodic riffs, deftly arranged and well-written songs, delivered with mighty, mighty force.

These guys were also great to hang with, and we had lots to jaw about off-air, with our shared obsessions for classic horror / exploitation film and the like. These are men you can have a beer with, and talk about Cannibal Ferox on into the night. I recall saying, "Is there any scene in Requiem for a Vampire other than the basement-torture scene? 'Cause if there is, I don't remember it...." hehe....

Thanks a fuck-ton to the band for bringing their exquisite black-metal art to WFMU, and to engineer Juan Aboites for creating a clean, solid and forceful mix for the broadcast. Thanks also to Tracy Widdess of Brutal Knitting for re-crafting my shitty iPhone band captures.

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wmmberger on 05/02/2013 at 09:59PM

The Face You Made: Arvo Zylo Live on My Castle of Quiet

©Wm. M. Berger

Arvo Zylo's recordings and talents run the range from truly overwhelming, confrontational, and chilling, to thought-provoking. His experimental sounds are rooted in the 1980s Raplh/LAFMS/post-TG international "noise boom." Over many releases and collaborations, he has maintained a character of the unexpected, though one always wants to hear what that next sonic mask will be. In his other projects Blood Rhythms, Saint Street, and Mister Fuckhead, Arvo guarantees provocative listening, and the "catchy" or more-easily-palatable nature of the work will naturally come and go, giving way to the horror.

The cassette-and-CDr album 333, his recent split with Death Factory, and some of the live solo work he's done recently, under his own name and as Blood Rhythms, all stand out to me as experimental music of the highest order from an original talent.


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wmmberger on 03/07/2013 at 06:04PM

WARNING - Giant, Pre-historic Shark Attack! IDES Live on My Castle of Quiet, 12.21.2012

©Wm. Berger

NJ's IDES did what I'm always a sucker for—treated their live WFMU appearance as something unique and special, considered the medium / opportunity of a live radio appearance, and planned accordingly. In addition to their mini-masterpieces—tight, well-composed songs of 40 secs. to one minute in length, they bridged those songs with a series of improvised, powerful "interludes," cleverly paced and sequenced passages of enthused energy.

I knew immediately upon hearing IDES for the first time that they were a cut above simply another hardcore band, with an intensity and dedication to their sound that transcended genrefication. They pretty much played straight through their 22-min. onslaught, wound tight as a battlefield tourniquet, though there were two ever-so-momentary "breaks," which is where I cut up the otherwise-continuum presented here, for your mp3 enjoyment, stream or download. 

Like the predatory sea mammals we have today, the Megalodon cannot stop, or it dies, and the sonic charisma of IDES remains intact. The band have an incredible "swing" to everything they do, such that even an old fart like myself can daydream about careening off the stage head-first into the pit; all you'd see of me would be the flat heels of my Converse hi-tops, back when such footwear actually sort-of supported my meager arches.

The noise bridges are welcome, carefully placed throughout the set, and sound casually great, miles away from anything even remotely half-arsed. So, the verdict is and remains that New Jersey is a reliable, consistent font for all things hardcore and punk, and beyond; look just across the Hudson, 'cause great things are happening.

Can't thank the band enough for playing, adding yet another outstanding, highly memorable live performance to the ever-growing WFMU / My Castle of Quiet pantheon. Thanks also to engineer Juan A. for the reliable, versatile and casual application of his considerable talent, translating the often-chaotic happenings across the double-glass into something radio-ready and highly listenable.

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wmmberger on 01/22/2013 at 09:00AM

Lea Bertucci and K-Salvatore on My Castle of Quiet

Wm. Berger

It was a night of true magic, back in early October 2012, when some of Brooklyn's finest improvisers gathered at WFMU / My Castle of Quiet, to offer unique, exclusive performances, on a double-bill to support the station's pre-Hurricane-Sandy, Web-only fundraiser for that month.

First, Lea Bertucci, a master of spacious atmospheres, and gloomy, contemplative soundscapes, on her trademark combine of physical, open-reel tape and electroacoustic bass clarinet. Lea's two sets from this night evoke The Grand Canyon, and Utah's wide-open spaces, where she'd spent several months earlier in the year on artist's retreat. Lea has been performing solo for many years (see her bio, at Broken Diorama, linked above), as well as in the hometown-favorite duo of Twistycat.

 

Second, K-Salvatore, the duo of Jason Meagher and Pat Murano, coming off the high of their landmark LP, Tsar Ova Elk, a veritable shoe-in for the My Castle of Quiet end-of-year music list (like I said, glaring omissions; this one very worthy of inclusion and just slipped off my mental radar at the time the list was being compiled.) Pat has appeared twice before on the show, both solo as Decimus, and in 2010 with Malkuth; both Jason and Pat are founding members of the No-Neck Blues Band. Their set hummed and shook our building; as "top shelf" as anything from the aforementioned newest LP. 

 


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wmmberger on 10/19/2012 at 09:00AM

An Iron Broom to Sweep The Earth: Grafvolluth Live

©Wm. Berger / Tracy Widdess

If you want hard blast-beats that under-ride high melodic guitar figures, vocals that seem to scream up an impossibly deep Norwegian well, and slower, lurching sections that evoke anthemic, latter-era Bathory, you need look no further than Grafvolluth. They do an incredible job honoring the traditional Scandinavian Black Metal sound of the early 90s.

As someone who caught up with the genre a few years late, I was initially blown away by the incredible variety of what passed as "black metal," and records like Ulver's Nattens Madrigal, as well as Carpathian Forest's Black Shining Leather, blew my mind and ears, as I walked home from the BART station around Lake Merritt in Oakland, hugging my Discman, and saying hails to the birds. ...It was an honor for me personally then, to host Grafvolluth, as their music takes me back to this initial enthusiasm I had for black metal—while still being very new, raw, original, and in its way, distinctly US-made.


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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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