Listening to the piece “Gesine IV” (MP3) on guitarist Giuseppe Ielasi’s album Gesine (Hapna), one could be excused for hearing words in one’s head: “Tin soldiers and Nixon’s coming / We’re finally on our own.” It’s not that his solo guitar piece, with touches of percussion, directly resembles Neil Young’s Woodstock-era hymn, but that it summons it in spirit. The lingering ghosts of rock’s past take a second form later in “Gesine IV,” when a drone of feedback brings to mind another Woodstock moment, the peak of Jimi Hendrix’s rewrite of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Add a third early rock trendsetter, Robert Fripp and his self-layering guitar landscapes, and you’ve pretty much triangulated Gesine as a whole (all six tracks), though in fact it could as easily be mistaken for an errant bit of Amsterdam free improvisation as for new weird folk. Ielasi is Italian, and he has collaborated with Dean Robers, Gino Robair, Brandon Labelle and others. Learn more at hapna.com.
Good Reads: (1) The European Union Commission is focusing legislation on member states over noise pollution in cities (cnn.com). … (2) Finally, someone (Tony Green) takes on the “most bogus claim in the music business,” i.e., that one is “classically trained” (slate.com). … (3) I sent a note to engadget.com, asking for suggestions about iPod alternatives (specifically, flash-based items with screens that support multiple operating systems and drag’n’drop). They posted it, and about 50 people responded (engadget.com). … (4) How to copy a vinyl album using your computer scanner (link), via makezine.com.
… Select New Releases: Sara Ayers debuts her enviro-ambient A Million Stories CD (Dark Wood Recordings). … More new release info at brainwashed.com/releases.
… Disquiet Heavy Rotation: (1) The top Disquiet Downstream entry this past week, easily, was “For Amanda” (July 11, MP3) from allthatfall‘s hopecrash EP, on the luv sound netlabel. It opens with a tasty horn’n’guitar salvo that you won’t get out of your head any time soon. … (2) Missy Elliott‘s new album, The Cookbook, is her least Timbaland-heavy, certainly, but she’s not short on fine production, as the 12″ for the Neptunes-produced “On and On” shows: rubberized beats, lots of space, syrupy scratching. It’s a good recipe (and the 12″ includes an instrumental). … (3) Alarm Will Sound‘s album of unplugged Aphex Twin covers, Acoustica, is now out, and the winner may be a solo piano take on the Drukqs album’s “Avril 14th,” which, of course, was solo piano in the first place. Close runner up: “Gwely Mernans,” which revels in light counterpoint.
… Quote of the Week: Robb Witts (link) on thinking of John Cage during the public moment of silence after the July 7 bombings in London: “Cage discovered that there is no true silence, that even in the deepest quiet our human ears are filled with the background hum of our own fleshy machinery. By taking our act of remembrance into the streets, we performed a memorial of quiet, in which the presence of our fellow Londoners was audible by the absence of their sound.” (Via Robert Gable‘s site, aworks.)
Apologies for the two-day lull. I was away for a brief work-related trip. Speaking of lulls, a full track from Colin Andrew Sheffield‘s debut solo album, the enviro-ambient First Thus, is up at the Elevator Bath label’s website, elevatorbath.com. The shortest of the set’s four tracks, “Come Closer” (MP3), at about four and a half minutes, rises like a ground fog, the mere suggestion of mist gaining density at an imperceptible and, yet, suddenly claustrophobia-inducing rate. Reportedly, the sounds on “Come Closer,” like all of those on First Thus, originated on pre-existing commercial recordings, but those recordings are so entirely misshapen and distended, so wrenched into formlessness, that an act of Congress under the most severe stricture of the Patriot Act likely couldn’t suss out their original source.
Yes, the Downstream is about downloadable, not streaming-only, sound. But another question that gets answered “yes” is: “Are there two streaming interview programs featuring Brian Eno up on the BBC’s website?” Some questions are more important than others. And indeed, there are two such BBC programs (programmes?): the Mixing It show (link) and Any Questions? (link). Better yet, the Any Question? show presents a complete transcript on its website. Understand, though, that while Mixing It features a discussion about Eno’s new album, Another Day on Earth, the Any Questions? show is a discussion about terrorism, in light of the recent attacks in London. … Still want a download? Well, here’s a tangential one: frequent Eno collaborator Daniel Lanois has a new record out, Belladonna, and its record label, Anti, has posted a free song, the redolent rural ambience of “Agave” (MP3). It doesn’t deserve a full post, though, because it’s not a complete file; it cuts off a little more than halfway through, which is all the more absurd since the original is short to begin with, falling shy of two minutes in length.
The act allthatfall‘s six-song EP on the luv sound netlabel (title: hopecrash) is so endlessly listenable that you end up playing it in the background while writing about other (other, more easily summarized) records. There’s just so much to praise on hopecrash, like the catchy birdsong on “We Live Outside,” chirping above a funky organ cascade, with the occasional flute line, some snappy drum breaks, and the odd vocal refrain; individual elements suggest acid jazz, given the genre’s emphasis on loungified period instrumentation and chanteuse charm, but those elements here are stacked one on top of the next, combining to be so much more. “Fall Break” veers close to electro, with video-game burts of overclocked riffs, but a background track of children playing, along with a quaint little melody, keeps it from ever sounding particularly retro. And then there’s the tasty horn’n’guitar salvo on “For Amanda,” which sounds like an outtake from the recent Abdullah Ibrahim remix record: elements of earthy jazz salvaged for digital pursuits.
What distinguishes allthatfall’s pieces is that even though they’re essentially sequences of individual sonic packets, they have a structure that moves from one musical space to another, with well-timed transition points along the way; this is loop-based music that at each juncture makes a concerted effort to break free from looping. Take the opening of the fantastic “For Amanda” (MP3), just as one example. It starts with this guitar line that bounces back and forth between speakers, and then introduces the horn, eventually laying two distinct horn parts atop each other (one a trill, the other a held note), as a drum-machine beat kicks in; after a brief diversion, the song returns, but the horn is replaced by a synthesizer. The effect is ripe with promise, and the piece hasn’t even reached the half-way point. More than anything, you’re left thinking that this Amanda person must really be something. (Check it out at luvsound.org.)