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Listed: Mick Barr + Nalle

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Dusted Features

Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Guitarist/composer Mick Barr and Glaswegian pixies Nalle.

Listed: Mick Barr + Nalle

Mick Barr

Mick Barr is a gifted electric guitarist known largely for his work in Orthrelm, the axe ‘n’ drums duo with Josh Blair that rose to prominence in the early aughts. But Barr is also an accomplished solo performer, recording under the names Octis and Ocrilim. Whether he’s paired with someone else or going it alone, Barr always shreds with a purpose, if not sheet music. Writing in Blastitude, ex-Flying Luttenbacher Weasel Walter called him “the most focused and uncompromising composer in the current rock underground.” His latest solo album, ANNWN, just came out on Hydra Head Records. Barr picks his favorite drummers in this week’s Listed.

1. Dale Crover of the Melvins
One of my biggest musical influence, from high-school onward. Ozma, and Gluey Porch Treatments are my favorite performances.

2. Zach Hill of Hella and others
One of the only people I've ever felt completely comfortable improvising with. Powerhouse of emotion and ideas.

3. Weasel Walter of the Flying Luttenbachers and others
One of my favorite improvisers, and composers, and the only drummer I know who tries to make his real drums sound like MIDI.

4. Fenriz of Darkthrone
I usually don't like drummers that underplay their abilities, but Fenriz makes it sound good. Capable of so much more, as proven by Goatlord and Soulside Journey.

5. Gabe Serbian of the Locust
Someone once described him as "the Bruce Lee of drummers."

6. Mike Smith of Suffocaton
Favorite moment is the roll in the opening riffs of the title track of Breeding the Spawn.

7. Away of Voivod
Not my favorite drummer, but one of my favorite visual artists.

8. Will Garre of the Brothers Chuck
I grew up right by him, and I never knew he even liked music until I saw him play. But he continually blew my mind with this band. They were around from 1995-1997 and kind of sounded like Jesus Lizard and the Beastie Boys. He built a frame over his drumset, from which hung all sorts of non-traditional percussion. Not sure if he has played drums since then.

9. Josh Blair of Orthrelm
Not trying to plug my own projects, but Josh rules. Able to memorize large amounts of material extremely quickly, and able to play some of the most convoluted patterns infinitely.


Chris Hladowski, Aby Vulliamy, and Hanna Tuulikki make up the Scottish trio, Nalle, a quiet, psychedelic ensemble reminiscent of the best bands from Finland’s folk scene. Hladowski also makes music as The Family Elan, and all three have ties to the deceased Scatter, Glasgow’s nebulous improv uber-group. Nalle differentiate themselves by ditching the jam sessions and honing in on an assortment of traditional musics, including Japanese Gagaku, European plainsong and Near Eastern modal drones. They also mix things up with instruments like kantele, radford valve oscillator, shruti box, pixiephone, bouzouki, gimbri, oud and jaw harp. The group’s 2006 album, By Chance Upon Waking, was loved by those who actually heard it, prompting Locust Music to release their new album, The Sirens Wave on March 24. Hladowski and Tuulikki took part in this week's Listed.

1. V/A - Tuva, Among the Spirits: Sound, Music, And Nature in Sahka And Tuva (Smithsonian Folkways, 1999)
In this 49-minute sonic journey across the steppes of southern Siberia, we glimpse into an animist view of the world where man lives in harmony with the land. Nature is the locus of spiritual power and is channelled through human sound and music making. From streams of throat singing that echo through mountain caves, to imitations of animal and bird sounds, this recording resonates with the bare bones of our psyche.

2. V/A - Albania: vocal and instrumental polyphony (Le Chant du Monde, 1994)
Not much can be said about this. All the sadness of the world, from the fall Byzantium to the grey skies of Chernobyl, rolled into the sounds of a handful of sensitive men with big voice boxes. Like an oppressed nation taking flight, a bold eagle ascending into the redsky of a lonely July night. One of the tracks was sampled on a Hala Strana’s Fieldings, though unfortunately not credited on that release.

3. Sun Ra - When Angels Speak of Love & Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy (Saturn Research, reissued on Evidence)
It sure is difficult to pick out any one record from this lot’s discography, so I chose two. The trumpet playing on the title track from When Angels Speak of Love always does it for me. Seems to hit something that we all need, without even resorting once to the ‘space chord.’ Impressive. Whilst Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy is a collection of much rougher cuts it has a certain psychedelic propulsion running though it that will either have you shaking your ass off or drifting far away to other planes of there. Members of Nalle covered the John Gilmour-led “Adventure-Equation” with now defunct big band Scatter (Pickled Egg/Cenotaph) a number of years back. Oftentimes the success of such daring music is simply a question of commitment to the cause, and these guys definitely had it in abundance. Inspirational stuff.

4. Tokyo Gakuso and Tadaaki Ohno - Gagaku and Beyound (Celestial Harmonies, 2000)
Gagaku has been performed in the Japanese imperial court for thousands of years. In this royal music, voices and instruments move slowly in repetition around the pentatonic scale with a calm and elegant intensity. Elongated sounds of voices, flutes and mouth organs merge, become one and swell in unison, pushing up and out against an invisible frame. Nothing ever explodes but somehow tension is released with sparse plucked strings and percussion, the spaces between notes being just as important as the sounds themselves.

5. Ostad Elahi - Celestial Harmonies (Le Chante du Monde, 2004)
This is my current favorite from an archival CD series featuring the tanbour playing of Ostad Elahi, a peerless master of the sacred Kurdish lute. From a spiritually enriched childhood, immersed in music, through his career as a secular judge in Tehran, Ostad developed a unique personal mystical approach to music. It is a language of the soul, a way to share his experiences, to express that which he could not state, whilst simultaneously being steeped in his learned Sufi heritage. All the surviving recordings were made between 1964-72 during the last years of his life.

6. Kate Bush - Hounds of Love (EMI, 1985)
This record is split in half. Two sides with two hearts, the outer and the inner self. On the first side, Kate holds the position of a mystic warrior seducing the listener into her five beautifully crafted pop songs, brimming with confident optimism. On the second dark and otherworldly side, “The Ninth Wave”, we ride out on a seven song mythological voyage through sea and space. Wave after wave we dance and drown finally emerging ecstatic and exhausted.

7. The Beatles - Help (Parlophone/EMI, 1965)
Universal folk music for the broken-hearted, you just couldn't get away with it today, songs like "I Need You" and "Ticket to Ride" ring out like a call to prayer blaring out of speakers bang in the middle of my aorta. Bigger than God, of course! At least in this secular world we live in. Harrison's songs are the highlights for me.... makes you wish that he hadn't been stifled by the oppressive egos of John and Paul.

8. Rembetika - Songs of the Greek Underground 1925-47 (Trikont, 2005)
Bells made from seashells. The interaction of a plethora of celestial strings infused with clouds of purple smoke, slowly rising to unknown heights. Wood smuggled through prison bars, carved by the rough skin of music-starved inmates, and wound with liberated noose wire. I can see the big moustaches now, the beautiful singers, Rita Abadzi, Roza Eskenazi, finding freedom in music, Anestis Delias selling his bouzouki down some shady backstreet for another hit of opium - his girlfriend injected him in his sleep to get him addicted - yet always managing to find another one somehow. And all of this in the form of 45 radio friendly three-minute hits. Bliss!

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