Monday, November 29, 2010

Music Review: Brian Eno - Small Craft on a Milk Sea

You’ve really got to hand it to Brian Eno, who, now entering his fifth decade as a recording artist, had managed to create a genuine air of excitement in the lead up to his newest album, Small Craft on a Milk Sea. This is partially due to the fact that Small Craft represents a sort of spiritual convergence for experimental electronic music, as this is the first album Eno has released through Warp Records, a label which may very well have never existed if not for Eno and his initial run of course-charting ambient and electronic productions from the decade proceeding from the mid-70s. It’s also to Eno’s credit that the results clearly showcase a reinvigorated and well-considered recording mindset. On the other hand, it’s equally unfortunate that the record at a fundamental level evidences an approach which Eno arguably perfected sometime circa 1978. There’s certainly something to be said for familiarity, particularly for an artist who at this point could evidently subside on Coldplay and U2 production residuals alone, but it ultimately hangs Small Craft in a bit of limbo: while obviously competent and enjoyable to a fault, there’s little to differentiate the record as anything more than wheelhouse 2010 product when it could just as easily have been a pace-keeping early 90s document from an artist whose descendants have clearly built upon the ideas and techniques Eno helped popularize.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ranked & Revisited: Andrei Tarkovsky

Many directors spend their entire careers creating and producing pictures at a consistent and near-overwhelming rate-- think Ozu, Altman, Godard, Mizoguchi, Fassbinder, etc. Others meanwhile, work more methodically, pouring years into each imposing work. In this camp you have your Terence Malick's, Stanley Kubrick's, Victor Erice's, and, arguably most substantial of all, Andrei Tarkovsky. The legendary Soviet spiritualist, despite casting such a large shadow over post-World War II art-house cinema, only directed seven films in his 25 year career, before dying of cancer in 1986, the year of his final film. Despite this brief catalogue of work, however, Tarkovsky's is a career marked by it's density, each picture an undertaking of near-mammoth proportions, rendering the man's filmography a huge, lumbering labyrinth of ideas, pretensions, and, at it's best, transcendence. I can't think of another filmmaker whose work feels not only richer, but distinctly new, with each successive viewing.

Monday, November 22, 2010

"Finally Champions"

I'm not a big Giants fan-- actually, I kinda despise them-- but little gestures like these from the San Francisco psych-pop underground can go a long way towards easing the discomfort. Put together by the hotly-tipped indie label True Panther, which originated in SF, the Finally Champions benefit compilation gathers together 21 rising Gold Coast acts-- from more high profile groups like Girls and the Fresh & Onlys to equally interesting though less visible artists such as Ty Segull and Young Prisms-- and donates the proceedings to San Fransisco Coalition on Homelessness. Donations are $1, and you can stream the whole thing below.
I'm now anticipating an Anahiem Angels-themed comp next year, featuring a trove of posthumous material from Tim & Jeff Buckley.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Download: Black Tambourine Cassette

"These mixes were transferred from a copy of the original Black Tambourine cassette. The songs were recorded at Upland by Barrett Jones, then mixed at Inner Ear by Don Zientara. Soon after the first Black Tambourine single (By Tomorrow) was released, the master tape containing all of the original studio mixes was stolen from a car. The songs that weren't included on that single were quickly remixed by Mike & Archie at a home studio, so that they could be quickly released as a second single and compilation track.

Here's the thing:

There are no major differences between the mixes included here and the remixed, previously released versions. They come from the same performances and recordings. The differences are fairly subtle-- doubled vocals on Can't Explain and For Ex-Lovers Only, a long feedback ending to Throw Aggi Off The Bridge, different effects & treatments (reverb, reverb, reverb). The vocals are somehow buried even more, and the guitars sound louder.

Beneath the cassette hiss and crackle, we think these Don Zientara mixes sound great, and we want them to be available.

The cassette mixes of Black Car, Drown, By Tomorrow, and Pack You Up are not included here, since they are identical to the ones released on the By Tomorrow single, Complete Recordings, and the Black Tambourine anthology." [Text and download via the BT Bandcamp; Tip via P4k News]
Also, Jon Staph and I talked a little bit about Black Tambourine and their aforementioned self-titled anthology compilation on a recent reissue-oriented podcast. Check that here.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Stream: End of Radio SoundCloud Mix #5

With the ridiculous amount of reissues and compilations coming down the pike over the last month or so, I thought it would be of some service to dedicate this latest EoR Mix to a dozen or so selections from some of the very best available. Obviously, with the tunes running such a diverse stylistic gamut, don't expect much in the way of cohesion or flow-- this is more for the curious listener overwhelmed by the sheer amount of classic material now at one's fingertips. Some of this stuff is more well known that others, of course, so in the case of the recognized classics I've done my best to highlight bonus tracks or rarities whenever possible. Other than that, it's hard to imagine anyone fretting over the dearth of new old classics to discover. At least until 2011.

Also, if you're curious about album info, you can click on over to our official SoundCloud page for further information about each track. Enjoy.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Podcast: End of Radio #29 - May Nothing But Happiness Come Through Your Door

"Returning this week with their first genre-based show in a year, your regular End of Radio host Jordan Cronk has brought in a special guest to help pay homage to the very personal strain of modern experimental music known as post-rock. Together they trace the genre’s origins from its unknowing inception in the late 80s to its glorious post-millennial burn-out."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Behind the Scenes: Herbert Turns a Newspaper Into Performance Art

Matthew Herbert has made a career out of wacky sampling and thematic concepts. In addition to producing such left-field house classics as Around the House and Bodily Functions (my personal favorite), the man also dabbles in installation work and live and improvised electronic composition. Following two solid conceptual records from 2010 alone, Herbert's latest excursion involves a single, hour-long piece based on the September 25th edition of the Guardian UK newspaper to be performed at the Royal Albert Hall (via P4k News). Obviously I have no idea how this is gonna actually turn out, but based solely on the below behind the scenes/making-of/interview clip, Herbert certainly has high aspirations for the work. Feel inadequate and unoriginal after the cut:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Flaming Lips on "Yo Gabba Gabba" - "I Can Be a Frog"

The Flaming Lips are basically always dressed and ready to go for an impromptu kid's television show, but wouldn't ya know it, one finally came along and actually invited them to perform. One question that this video of the band performing Embryonic cut "I Can Be a Frog" on "Yo Gabba Gabba" begs, however, is why there weren't any Nick Jr. execs cool enough to sign off on any indie-rock bands for say, "Eureka's Castle", when I was a kid-- certainly would have accelerated that whole awkward phase. (via P4k News)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Henry Rollins vs Hipsters

Update: As is his way, Vulture's Nitsuh Abebe comes at the situation from an objective angle and pretty much nails it. Rollins certainly has some issues, but when it comes to an argument, he's like a well oiled machine. As for me, I'm rather neutral on the debate-- I could only hope to be in Rollins shoes in 20 years and have to find out for myself-- but it's still a kick to see this guy get revved up for a confrontation-- something I'll personally never get tire of.

Earlier: Pretty self explanatory. Still love this guy, although back in the day-- female or no-- I'm sure fists would have been flying.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What's In My Bag? - Krist Novoselic

Premiere Los Angeles record store Amoeba Music holds all sorts of in-store performances and various artist signings on a weekly basis, so it's no surprise that these musicians do a little shopping during their respective visits. And in a cool little section of their website called "What's in My Bag", the store features short videos of random artists talking about some of their recent purchases. One that caught my eye today was from former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, who currently writes a lot about music while dabbling a bit in politics as well. Befitting a fan in 2010, his tastes run all over the map, from a new M.I.A. single to Lil' Wayne's Tha Carter III to a Dark Side of the Moon cover album by the Flaming Lips. Of particular interest to myself, however, is his sections of Philip Glass's Satyagraha and Can's rarity/demos collection Zhengzheng Rikang. He also talks a little bit about Kraftwerk, his aversion to the term krautrock, and an import version of the Stone's Sticky Fingers. I get a peculiar thrill when my favorite artists talk about the music they enjoy, and if Novoselic doesn't float your boat, Amoeba has a ton of other videos available to watch right now. (via @KristNovoselic)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Music Review: Avey Tare - Down There

As Animal Collective’s music has slithered its way out of the sonic murk over the last half-decade or so, it’s been equally fascinating to chart the rapidly developing vocal personas of the band’s two core songwriters as it has been to sit stunned at the day-glo, synthetic leaps they’ve made as sound sculptors. On the one hand you have Noah Lennox, the more tonally traditional of the two, taking Brian Wilson-inspired pop harmonies to delirious new heights. And on the other there’s Dave Portner, Lennox’s unhinged, occasionally deranged foil. Together they’ve produced some of the most unique and forward-thinking pop records of the modern era, and as their individual personalities have become more pronounced in recent years, they’ve managed to parlay their success into various solo and side projects. Lennox, being the more accessible of the two, has unsurprisingly garnered enormous levels of acclaim for his work as Panda Bear, while Portner looks to be using the freedom to work out nagging experiments and personal anxieties.