“Black Metal” (Used 11 times)
wmmberger on 10/19/2012 at 09:00AM
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.
lizziedavis on 06/29/2012 at 02:30PM
It's a dangerous time to be an experimental musician influenced by black metal. Bands that seem to get just a bit too conceptual with their metal have attracted heavy controversy over the last few years. Luckily, Extra Life has managed to evade the wrath of purists while taking black metal to an entirely new plane. Fronted by Charlie Looker, an elementary school teacher, former member of Zs and Dirty Projectors, and true “musician’s musician,” Extra Life fuses black metal, early music, and experimental theory to create music that is at once intensely powerful and a little fragile. Their latest release, Dream Seeds, is a haunting and jarring study of the nature of dreams and children.
Extra Life will be playing in Spy Music Festival in NYC at the end of the month. I asked Charlie Looker some questions via email.
You've said that the inspiration behind Dream Seeds comes from the ethereal realm of dreams and childhood, yet to me, the music also feels meticulous and intellectualized. What's your process of developing songs out of the hazy sphere of youth into the careful world of adulthood?
Any time you do something creative you’re taking things which are subconscious and making them conscious. You take something ethereal and unformed and you make it manifest in the world. That’s always what the creative process is, whether or not the source is dreams or childhood or whatever. If what you make is good, then it actually increases and intensifies the mystery of the original impulses. If along the way, the whole feeling becomes dry and obvious and overly intellectual, then you’ve failed. I’m not sure if I’d call our working process intellectual. It’s definitely meticulous. We all get obsessively caught up in little details of our parts, how the parts interlock, subtleties of rhythmic feel. But that’s not philosophical or academic, it’s just craft. Any intellectualizing about the music usually comes after the fact of making the music, in reflecting on it.
How young were you when you started playing and writing music?
I played the piano very seriously from ages five through eleven. Then I got into metal and I started playing the electric guitar. I played in some hardcore-influenced bands in high school and I’d write parts of songs, just riffs and chord progressions. Around sixteen I got a four track and started making these long insane home-recorded piece, really influenced by John Zorn and Ennio Morricone, like soundtracks without film. That’s basically how I got into experimental music in general.
What were some of the musical influences behind the album?
The past few years my favorite music I’ve been checking out is Antony and the Cocteau Twins. But I’m not sure how much that’s even audible to the listener as an influence on the record. I’ve been really into Current 93 but we don’t really sound like that, other than maybe on “No Dreams Tonight”. I’ve also been super into Romantic and Impressionist orchestral music, listening to it a ton and also studying the scores in depth. This has definitely opened up my sense of arrangement, orchestration and recording, but then again, on this record most of that production side of things comes from our guitarist/engineer Caley Monahon-Ward and not me.
You just got back from a European tour. How was it?
It was awesome. It was tiring, but not nearly as tiring as touring the states. We were fed well.
Are you doing any sort of special set or collaborations for Spy Music Festival?
The main thing I’m doing is just a straight-up Extra Life set on June 30. But also on that bill Caley and I will both be playing guitar in Rhys Chatham’s ensemble which is definitely a special thing. Chatham is an important musician and I’ve never met him before. Spy Fest in general will be sick. Northern Spy is a really unique label and I’m proud to call it home.
wmmberger on 05/16/2012 at 09:36PM
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.
wmmberger on 10/19/2011 at 06:44PM
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.
wmmberger on 07/27/2011 at 12:00PM
Taking into account all my years on WFMU, including my original tenure doing the weekly Hip Bone program (1984-1999), this live performance, a world debut by the Raspberry Bulbs 4-man combo, is one event that I shall place among the highest, most gratifying events I have ever had the decided privilege of presenting on the radio. Infused as it is, with a taste of the original rock 'n' roll energy, spirit and earnest delivery that made parents in the 50s fear Gene Vincent, and corporations in the 70s suppress the efforts of The Sex Pistols, this RB set is music + power defined. Something to spring on my hopefully appreciative grandkids.
I purchased the Raspberry Bulbs' debut cassette, Finally Burst...With Fluid, in 2009, from the man himself, long-time Bone Awl drummer, founder/proprietor of Seed Stock records, also known as He Who Crushes Teeth. My intense Bone Awl fandom re-ignited, as he described the tape as a solo project of his own, and my need to be on tap with all things Bone Awl was further satisfied, when I got home, and played this little motherfucker of a tape. The similarities to the parent project were there, sure, but the songs struck an instant chord of originality as well, owing more to first-generation punk, Oi!, and garage rock, and goddamn if the songs weren't catchy as hell.
Thus began a casual email discourse between Mr. RB and myself, I knowing that the tape (and the others that followed) were a one-man effort. I nonetheless threw it out there that were he to ever organize a combo to render this material live, the My Castle of Quiet program would be a welcome place to roll the dice, the invitation was open.
Fast forward to the first third of this year, and much to my pleasant surprise, a Raspberry Bulbs appearance on the show, not only a live set but a sheer *debut* of the newly formed RB combo, was now in the planning stages. And here it is, fulfilling and surpassing any expectations I might have had, like human gunpowder, well-rehearsed and ready to take the world over. Saying "thanks" at this point seems trite, despite my earnest gratitude, as RB & Co. surely know by now that they killed it, bagged it, and took it home.
What to say? Live appearances will follow, and I can't encourage you strongly enough to attend one or all (Saturday 6/30 @ Red Light District, as part of Burning Fleshtival III, and Sunday, 8/21, as part of a great bill @ Secret Project Robot.) Much credit must go to WFMU's own Diane "Kamikaze" Farris, who engineered the set, and lent her expertise, while at the same time being open to input from the band, and myself, as the live sound was fine-tuned. Thanks also, as always, to Tracy Widdess, for rendering my abysmal-as-ever iPhone capture of the band, making it something worth looking at more than once.
All hail the 'Bulbs, finally burst.