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
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.
wmmberger on 06/15/2010 at 10:59PM
They said they came in a Scion; I saw no such vehicle, and am pretty sure it was in fact a bio-powered starcraft. OPPONENTS Live on WFMU's My Castle of Quiet, 6.9.2010
Brooklyn's OPPONENTS are currently riding their own, hard-to-define wave of greatness, with, one assumes, more greatness to come. These two sets stylistically encompass so many things I love --- grisly analog throbbing ala the horror soundtracks of 70s/80s cinema; beatific, long-form "head" music; echoes of the Con Schnitzler holy duality of Rot and Blau; and the casual intensity of brave young men with good ideas, coupled with the belief that there are no "rules" in how you get your music made.
OPPONENTS live performance on the Castle waxes scary as often as it trips out, takes off and floats, and simultaneously at that. Set 1 features some deliciously in-your-face analog bubbling, that once layered with Aaron's processed vocals and mic sounds, gives the feeling of a super-creepy inter-dimensional kids' party—ya can't leave 'til the kid opens ALL his freakin' presents, and some of the packages are already stained dark red. Set 2 feels like immediate bad news at the graveyard—you shouldn't be drinking here! There are haunting electronics worthy of the aforementioned Schnitzler, and early TG. Both sets come off deceptively through-composed, in a series of well-taut "movements" that rise to a logical conclusion. Maybe Joshua and Aaron are not of this Earth, entirely...maybe the kids with the crisscrossed human/alien DNA are now coming of age and making music. When Josh slips onto the drum kit in the middle of Set 2, you know for sure that anything can happen, and does.
I never got to attend the groovy goings on at Berlin's Zodiak club, as I was six years old in 1970, and lived in the states—so the live dazzle of OPPONENTS foots that bill for me. Joshua and Aaron work so well together as improvisors, and I stress again that they are just now hitting their stride. I Swarm With a Thousand Bees, their CDr on Obsolete Units, is a must-have, and the as-yet-unreleased Together We Will End the Future, what I've heard of it anyway, is the fully fleshed slam-bang version of what's only hinted at in these powerful sets.
Thanks as always to engineer/ sound-guy extraordinaire Glenn Luttman, who for the last year (along with Irene Trudel, who engineered for Ghost Moth) has aided me immeasurably in bringing some of the finest local electronic music to WFMU's airwaves; and to Tracy Widdess for taking my sloppy, in-the-moment iPhone captures and consistently making art out of them. Thanks again to OPPONENTS.