Sunday, September 23, 2007


Sorry we flaked out last week, but luckily we've got this week something that should make up for the temporary, you'd think after two decades of writing and reading about music, I'd have written and read enough premature ravings over records that faded after the initial spike of novel enticement, to realize I shouldn't freak over a release I just got. But then, you could also argue that, having seen this kinda reaction so often outta me and others, maybe I've developed a radar for records that sound great both right away and long after...

Anyway, regardless of whatever's actually true in all the above useless over-thought, I can't imagine that my infatuation with one particular record I just got yesterday is gonna subside anytime soon. The release in question is a double-CD split between two of L.A.'s finest drone/noise outfits, Pocahaunted and Robedoor, slyly titled Hunted Gathering and birthed by the tirelessly awesome Digitalis folks. That "finest" adjective is a bit presumptuous - this is the first I've heard of either - but they both have solid discographies spread across a bunch of exclt labels, and besides, there could be 100 similar groups in L.A. and I still would bet that none have generated anything better than what these two super-creative duos have achieved here, easily one of my favorite releases of any stripe this year.

Other than discographies, there's not a ton of other info out there about these two - all I can tell is that Pocahaunted is Bethany and Amanda, Robedoor is Alex and Britt, and two of the four are married and involved in the excellent Not Not Fun label. Other than that, all you really need to know is locked in the beautiful tones and daunting noises of the eight massive tracks on Hunted Gathering. Generally speaking, Pocahaunted trades in more ethereal seances, while Robedoor are more given to monolithic mega-drones, but both seem capable of either and a lot more. What they have most in common is a wide-open sense of space and time, and a beautiful ability to let their music grow and expand to ideal fruition. Which is why the format of Hunted Gathering works so well: alternating 10-minute-or-so tracks from each group and leading up until a capping 13-minute collaboration, it gives enough room to each to spread out their long tones and swelling ideas without restricting either's ability to get lots of great sonic shots in.

I'm starting to veer into starry-eyed platitudes here, so how about some specifics: Pocahaunted's slow, gentle, yet biting stuff is super hypnotic, and the best example is "Warmest Knives." Though it's raw, echoey, and even kinda dark, this aching cut has a soaring lilt that somehow conjures in my brain what might happen if some of the Dead C.'s meandering guitar chords got lost in the ethereal luggage of both Charalambides (in terms of sky-seeking meditation) and Bardo Pond (in terms of smoke-cloud haze and, especially, Isobel's knack for melting flute strains into psych guitar blasts).

Robedoor don't remind me of quite as many people, though their gravelly drones do call to mind Double Leopards (as does the nice packaging of this gatefolded double CD, which when I first opened it made me think of the packaging of Leps' classic Halve Maen on Eclipse), and even the darkened metal strains of the Earth/Sunn0)))/Southern Lord contingent. Perhaps they'll remind you of someone else, but I'll bet it's someone else awesome. Because Robedoor's thick soundscapes are so full of fine aural silt to sift through - at least that's true of their very highest stuff, like my fave track here, "Razed Terrain," which builds cavernous reverberations and ground-shaking detonations out of hums, howls, moans, and thick sonic wind.

So to make up for last week's emptiness, here are both of the aforementioned tracks...hopefully they'll rattle your cranial components they way they have mine...

POCAHAUNTED - "Warmest Knives" from Hunted Gathering
ROBEDOOR - "Razed Terrain" from Hunted Gathering

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Gotta be a little brief this week, my one of the more underrated labels (or maybe more like underexposed - it's not like people who know the label don't rate it highly) around nowadays is the always awesome Spirit of Orr. I don't have a ton of their releases, but the ones I do have really rule, and their roster is pretty impeccable: Temple of Bon Matin, Ashtray Navigations, Axolotl, etc. I also really dig one of the entries in their "Blueberry Honey" CD-R series - a nice collection of oddities from Massachusetts mind-melders Believers called Forgotten Tracks - and I was lucky enough to be gifted with the fifth and newest episode of this series, The Night Outside by Aethr Myth'd. I've only had it a coupla days, but it's filled up pretty much all of my non-US Open time this weekend...

The band's basic story, from what I can glean, is that they were kind of formed as an alternate version of the Other Method (note the name similarities), with Paul Labrecque of that group (and also Sunburned) joined by Ron Schneiderman (at least for this CD...I've seen them listed elsewhere as Labrecque and Valerie Beth Webber, or Labrecque and Bram Devens, so apparently the parts rotate). Having never heard the Other Method I can't say what the stylistic deviation from the mothership is, but A Night Outside does remind me of Thuja in its organic noise feel, Pelt in its backwoods-y take on Theater of Eternal Music-style drone, and Jazzfinger (who've also been on Spirit of Orr) in the echoing lo-fi envelope that surrounds the band's humming meditations. A pretty stellar set of referents, to be sure...

All of which means that this is a fascinating set of windy drones, slow-growing noise, and eerie folk fragments that manages to be truly hypnotic - at least in the sense that every time I try to jump back to a particular track, the next thing I now I'm four or five tracks down the road before I've realized that we're not in the same town anymore. Makes it kinda hard to pick a fave to post - they're pieces of a puzzle that's easier to see when it's all put together - but I am particularly enamored of the second track, a rolling journey of squawking noises, crowing cacophony, and barely-there percussiveness, all weaved together with tantalizing passages of faded restraint. It's the kinda thing that makes me wanna lay down in a moon-lit forest and keep squinting and blinking in hopes of someday making out what I won't ever be able to see...or better yet have a dream in which I'm doing the same, and this is the soundtrack.

AETHR MYTH'D - (track two) from A Night Outside

Sunday, September 02, 2007


Anyone familiar with one of the godfather genres to current Noise, No Wave (and hey, if you're not familiar and want to be, you can pre-order my book on the subject, due out this winter- yes, I really did write a book about No Wave - more on that soon) is surely a fan of the hypnotic tones of pioneering group Ut. Their music throughout the 80's was a pretty unique hybrid of No Wave dissonance and gut-punching rock that continues to be unfairly overlooked, despite Mute's recent reissues of Griller and In Gut's House (someone needs to pick up that ball and bring us new editions of Ut EP, Early Live Life, Conviction, etc etc etc).

One of Ut's pilot lights, Jacqui Ham, continued on after that group's demise with the equally mind-blowing Dial. I had stupidly slept on their output until Jacqui was kind enough to educate me with their new disc, 168k. I was so blown away by the amazing combo of primitive rock, noise, trash-punk, and whatever else you wanna call it on this disc, that I immediately ordered the other two Dial missives, 1996's Infraction and 2000's Distance Runner. Both are thorough forays into wide-open guitar clatter, snarling vocal intensity, heavy rhythmic sputtering, and so much more. I hear at times the dense plod of the Dead C. and/or Gate, the shattering distortion of Sightings, the quicksand lurch of Mouthus, and the pure abstractions of Ham's No Wave brethren, particularly the searing stomp of Mars and the harrowed howl of Teenage Jesus and the Jerks. But mostly I hear an amazingly singular take on rock that's been imploded/exploded/fractured into noise, and my jaw is just permanently dropped by how devoted Jacqui still is to making uncompromising music. She's pretty much my hero.

Anyway, as great as those first two Dial records are, I think 168k is a big step up, an unerring set of eight demolishing tunes that cover all kinds of rough sonic terrain without ever dipping into predictability, tedium, or even a single dull moment, to be honest. Ham and R. Smith's punishing guitar work meshes into knots of aural barbed wire, and Lou Ciccotelli's raw, crunching drum sound wraps the whole thing up into a thorny ball of fire. (I apologize for getting so hyperbolic - big shock coming from me, right? - but I implore you to trust me this time; I really think 168k is gonna hold up as one of the year's best, easily).

Jacqui has been kind enough to let me post a track from 168k to whet yr appetite. "Soda Wars" (linked below) is a great example of Dial's sonic mastery: opening with a rolling/truncated Robbie Yeats-worth beat, it grinds two layers of cracking guitar into a lava-cascade of fire-colored noise, nearly swallowing Ham's stomach-hitting howl, which manages to sound painfully desperate and dauntingly authoritative at the same time. If you dig this, I really beg you to get the whole thing. It'll be out soon and available through some distros, and I'll update here when they in fact have it for sale, but until then you can contact me via noiseweek-at-comcast-dot-net and I can hook you up with how to get it immediately.

(on an unrelated note, for all DC-area noiseniks who don't already know - Sonic Circuits is coming up this week - lots of amazing shit happening, hope to see you there!)

DIAL - "Soda Wars" from 168k
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