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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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