Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Big Bear and The Drift.
Listed: Big Bear + The Drift
Though Big Bear's label (Monitor) claims that there is 'no solid reference point to consider,' there are certainly influences to be gleaned and comparisons to be made to this band. However, don't let that take anything away from them - I like to think of their riffy punk-metal as Khanate on speed. Throw in all sorts of intangibles: multiple guitars, squaky guitar lines, etc., and now maybe you'll start to get the picture. Check them out live, and you're likely to be fully sold. Their self-titled new record is now available.
1. Tyondai Braxton – History That Has No Effect (JMZ Records)
Self-recorded 2002 release featuring super obsessively composed vocal, guitar, and small ensemble compositions employing both looping/real time manipulation strategies and cleverly orchestrated music for multiple instrumentalists. Total fucking textural and harmonic innovations abound.
2. Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (Merge)
Structurally, lyrically, melodically, and thematically one of my favorite records ever in the world. Who the fuck knows anything about Jeff Mangum's science on this record? It's wonderful, tragic, and melancholy. Anyone who can listen to this album in its entirety without crying (or at least dedicating an hour to severe introspection) is a terrible person.
3. Modern/20th Century Composition – Ruth Crawford Seeger, Aaron Copland, Charles Ives, Morton Feldman, Arnold Schoenberg, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Darius Milhaud, Anton Webern, Bela Bartok, Conlon Nancarrow, Steve Reich, Henry Cowell. Igor Stravinsky, Francis Poulenc
Aesthetically and conceptually these people were not fucking around. Sure they were Nazis, misogynists, and parents for the most part, but their shit is completely for real.
4. Diamonda Galas - The Litanies of Satan/Wild Women with Steak Knives (Y Records)
The Wild Women with Steak Knives side, subtitled "The Homicidal Love Song for Solo Scream," is a near catalog of techniques and sounds available to a human voice -- at least to a psychotic person's voice. One of the most uncomfortable, urgent, colorful pieces of music I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. It completely informs my worldview. I'll go ahead and give the Litanies of Satan side an "Eh." It's super dated, I think.
5. Parts and Labor – Groundswell (JMZ Records)
Their first full length featuring fully realized versions of many of Dan Friel's solo casio keyboard compositions along with more collaborative songs. The addition of drums and bass offers a sense of urgency to the angular, consonant melodies offered by the master fracturer, himself. Like their diseases, P&L's songs on this record are unique, infectious, and utterly memorable.
6. Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares - Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares (Nonesuch)
The Bulgarian State Radio and Television Female Vocal Choir seemingly has more enthusiasm for singing than I have had for anything in my entire life.
7. Animal Music: Team of Jeremy Roht, West Dawson, Yukon Territory (Suppose)
This is a totally haunting, but exceptionally musical record. There appear to be actual structures happening in a lot of the sections. Maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part. Who the hell knows? It's super-hella-beautiful and engaging to listen to, though.
My friend Amy just sent me this mamma jamma a few days ago. You enter a band that you like and it plays a song by that band and then plays songs by other similar artists that you may enjoy, but probably haven't heard of. You can set up, like, a hundred different channels or so. The super awesome thing is, if they play a song that (a) you don't like or (b) you feel doesn't belong on that channel, you can mark it and they'll never play it again. The shit learns like Joshua in War Games. I've currently got Zombies, Beatles, Swans, and Devendra Banhart going. Totally weird.
9. Aerial M - s/t (Drag City)
The precurser to David Pajo's more pastoral Papa M. Minimal, repetitive and haunting postrock that spooks and touches me as much today as it did in the late 90s.
10. The Vehicle Birth - Tragedy (Crank!)
For a time, the best band in Boston. While their contemporaries like Hoover and Crownhateruin attempted to fuse indie and math with DC-style post punk, the results were usually lopsided and seemingly contrived. The VB's facile amalgamation constituted a starkly original sound. Their sense of humor helped too.
Originally a side project from Danny Grody (Tarentel) and Trevor Montgomery (Lazarus), San Francisco's The Drift very quickly matured into a full-time dub-jazz-rock ensemble. After Montgomery left Tarentel and The Drift to focus on his Lazarus project, the band enlisted upright bass phenom Safa Shokrai to replace him - in addition to Jeff Jacobs on trumpet and Rich Douthit (Halifax Pier) on drums - ultimately steering the band away from its ambient rock leanings and into the hazy world of dub-infused guitar stabs and inspired jazz shuffles. Their new record, Noumena, is out now on Temporary Residence.
Danny's picks :
1. T.P. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo - The Kings of Benin Urban Groove 1972 - 80 (Soundway Records)
I was fortunate enough to come across these guys from a comp I picked up called Love's a Real Thing released on none other than Luaka Bop. Poly-Rythmo has the first track on the record and it immediately struck me. I've been crazy about Afro-beat music for a while now, so it was a real treat to hear their slant on the sound. I immediately hunted down more of their stuff and this is what I happened upon. It covers a nice span of their work, touching on dirtier heavy-grooves, very much in the Afro-beat tradition, to smoother almost psychadelic cuban-inspired jams with ultra trancy long drum and bass interactions. Plus, they sing in French. So so good!
2. East New York Ensemble of Music - At the HELM (Ikef re-release)
Here's yet another group I discovered through a comp called The New Thing, this time from the always reliable Soul Jazz label. It was like an epiphany for me! I've always had an affinity for eastern inspired jazz a la Alice Coltrane, Don Cherry, but then this came along and I was floored. I believe At the Helm is the only existing recording of this ensemble co-led by Ameen Nuraldeen and Bilal Abdurahman, who've studied in Africa, the Near and Far East - and it shows! All five tracks have this consistent understated burning quality to them. The melodies are achingly unforgetable and the musicianship is amazing, combining all sorts of percussion, vibraphone, bass, and a host of eastern/Middle Eastern instruments. A total must have for fans of roots music.
3. Jack Rose - Kensington Blues (VHF)
Love this guy! He's a real standout amongst the fingerpicking Fahey-style revivalists. Speaking of Fahey, he pulls off a lovely rendition of 'Sunflower River Blues'. His playing is simultaneously crystal-clear, as it is crude and unafraid of imperfections. He really shines later into the record with his token loose tranced-out blissful numbers like 'Flirtin' with the Undertaker'. Just saw him live for the first time and I was beside myself - confident as all hell without an ounce of pretension.
4. Animal Collective - Sung Tongs (Fat Cat)
I heard bits of this right around the time it came out, but never actually had my own copy. It was one of those 'buzz' records that many folks around me seemed to have that somehow slipped by me. Eventually, I got a copy and it hasn't ceased to amaze me in its ability to continually grow and mutate with each listen, eliciting the strangest of influences without ever sounding jarbled or forced. It's pop, it's psychedelic, it's free-form at times, and i'm engaged from start to finish.
5. Aaron Copland - Four Piano blues (1900-1990)
A good friend introduced me to Copland's work on a mix cd, so unfortunatley I have no reference for these recordings. What I do know however, is that this is some of the loveliest piano work I've come across since my encounter with Erik Satie. It's elegant and deceptively complex for such simple sounding solo piano, playfully jumping around from barely-there motifs to rich chordal passages that sweep my sappy soul away.
Jeff's picks :
6. Paul Hindemith
A re-discovery for me. I used to listen to him as a teenager (especially when I was working on his "Trumpet Concerto" in my teens) when I was more immersed in classical music. I recently pulled out the ol' trumpet concerto and worked my way through it again and found a new fondness for him and have started to re-listening to his orchestral works. He's a 20th century german composer of the "serial" school but he parts with the rigid academic rules of serial composition when harmony, mood and beauty require it. Like all the great German and Russian composers his work is dramatic, fiery, passionate and it carries his own distinctive mark, ie. like Duke Ellington and Mozart you immediately know who the composer is when first hearing the music. Truly one of the greatest composers ever. Awesome!
7. Brian Eno - Ambient 4, On Land
I've always liked Eno but I had a roommate who drove me nuts by playing Eno (and Roxie Music!) daily so I sort of pushed him aside for a long time. I can never listen to "Nerve Net" again! Although I've listened to Discreet Music and Ambient 1 Music For Airports and really liked them I'd never heard any of his other ambient works. I recently picked this up in a used record bin and have played it quite a bit. Usually in the afternoon so I don't fall asleep! If you can get past some of the somewhat "cheesy" synth patches which definitely date the album you are in for quite a treat. It's less passive than some of his other ambient works and darker. The record seethes and stews with a constant and controlled intensity and I think it walks the line between ambient and non-ambient music. I'm glad I don't have this on cd because if I put it on repeat I'd probably never get off the couch.
I never thought I'd end up being a "plant guy" but here I am! I have these beautiful large windows in my apartment that face the sun most of the day and I've recently taken to building shelfs and buying large quantites of plants. Although I'm still in the cactus phase I'm starting to move into succulents which are much harder to care for. I like laying on the couch surrounded by plants and listening to music with full exposure to the sun. I think it's a large factor in my current trend of listening to lots of ambient music. I like the process of feeding them and watering them and the fact that I have to remember to be resposible for something else other than myself.
By Dusted Magazine