Heathered Pearls was exactly the right remixer for the Dirty Beaches song “Casino Lisboa.” The original, off the new album Drifters/Love Is the Devil, is like some latter-day, slow-motion amalgam of the Cramps and Consolidated, a world-weary dirge vocal amid the clank of self-consciously routinized industrial rock. In the Heathered Pearls edit (referred to somewhat casually as “Heathered Pearls’ dead time rework”), it is as if the track is being revisited in the memory of its remixer. Slivers of the vocal repeat like a song can when caught in the gears of the lizard brain. It ekes out a sense of forward momentum, but really just gets caught in its own circuitous loop. The result loses none of the embalmed spirit of the original, if anything emphasizing it. It does lose some choice moments from the source material, including a brief excursion into a guitar solo that sounds more like the wind brushing a metal fence, but the trade off is worth it.
Here is the original “Casino Lisboa,” in the form of its mesmerizing video:
The opening strum is pure Duane Eddy, the deep swelling rumble that summons up vast empty geographic spaces, but the way the tremulous tone continues to reverberate sounds more like something out of Robert Moog’s workshop. That wavering in Babel Ensemble’s “MD13Xc2″ is thick, robust, and on a short cycle, and as it proceeds it veers back and forth between melodic component and rhythm. Slowly the guitar overlays gain collective density. They don’t obscure each other so much as lend increasing depth — the original tones sound further away, as if with each step the guitarist leaves early chords churning in place in the ever-receding distance.
Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/babel_ensemble. Babel Ensemble is a project of Jakob Rehlinger, who is based in Toronto, Canada. Thanks to the excellent listener who goes by Roamin (roamin.ca for having drawn my attention to this track by reposting it on Soundcloud.
The notes fling like they’re ringing out on a digital hang drum. The phrases seem to pause long enough to suggest a momentary ease, before launching again into serial flurry. The track modulates occassionally, the full tonal setting shifting entirely between different foundations, between relative extremes of shrill and muted, sharp and dull. The track is credited to Handhewn. The brief note associated with the track, “Mayhem + Creature,” relates to the Serge modular system employed.
The psychedelics are confirmed at about two minutes in, when echoed vocals warble and waft and turn back on themselves, like some ancient recording-session outtake from a forgotten Led Zeppelin album. Until then it is all tumult and sporadic drumming, and after as well. What it is is “Drama Class” from People of the North, off the Sub Contra album, due out June 11 from Thrill Jockey. The band is an offshoot of Oneida, featuring that group’s Kid Millions (drums) and Bobby Matador (“keyboard, synth, vocals”) and various guests, all apparently also from Oneida. The track in question has the slow head-bobbing drone-ness of doom metal, even as the percussion brings to mind something European and free improvisatory. It’s maximalism, writ small, like a human-powered white-noise machine.
Spring 2013: The Disquiet Junto is assisting Geoff Manaugh in a course he is teaching at Columbia University's GSAPP, "San Andreas: Architecture for the Fault." Details at bldgblog.blogspot.com.
February 26: I'm giving a three-hour guest lecture about listening to a class on writing for radio productions at the Academy of Art in San Francisco.
May 15, 2013: Last day of 15-week course I'm teaching about sound in the media landscape at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, California.
Ongoing: In January 2013 I became part of the SoundCloud Heroes project, more on which in the near future. In the short term, full disclosure, I was gifted the top-level account, Pro Plus. Initial post here: "What I'm Up To."
Ongoing: The film The Children Next Door (2012), on which I served as music supervisor and collaborated with Taylor Deupree on sound design, is currently touring festivals. It won a special jury prize at DOC NYC and has also played at the Denver and Hamptons festivals. Directed by Doug Block, produced by Lynda A. Hansen. More at thechildrennextdoor.com.
Down the Pike: Concerts in the Disquiet Junto series are in various stages of planning for London, England; Portland, Oregon; and elsewhere.