Papir : V

The Danish trio Papir have always sounded much larger than you’d expect three guys to sound. With just the guitar/bass/drums rock trio standard set up, these guys make a mountain of sound. At times brash and fuzz-covered, other times dreamy and atmospheric, Nicklas Sørensen, Christoffer Brøchmann Christensen, and Christian Becher Clausen cover terrain as diverse as psych rock, post-rock, and even moments veering on progressive. Their tenure with El Paraiso Records gave our ears classics like Stundum, IIIIV , and their explosive Live At Roadburn that showed they are a force to be reckoned with live. These records set the stage for the trio from Copenhagen to seriously blow minds(and eardrums) for years to come.

Papir have returned from a three year hiatus with a brand new album and a brand new record label. Papir’s V is everything you’d hope from them and more. A double LP that spans over 90 minutes, V is a heady, expansive journey into the cosmos and back. Grab some headphones and a couple beers and get set to take flight.

Papir’s move from the mighty El Paraiso Records to Stickman Records has done nothing to quell the trio’s heady, hazy musical atmospherics. The record is seven songs clocking in over 90 minutes and is easily their most epic set yet. This is their most consistently dreamy collection of songs as well. At times there’s moments of Krautrock repetition(“V.II”), grand moments of blissed-out psychedelia(“V.III”), and epic musical statements(“V.VII”), but nothing ever gets into overdrive here. There are a few moments where Sørensen pushes his amps into overdrive territory, but for the most part this is a groove-driven affair. The rhythm section of Christoffer Brøchmann Christensen and Christian Becher Clausen lay down some solid groove foundations which allow the guitars to float above the proceedings and go where they may.

That’s not to say this isn’t a heavy record.

On the contrary, this album is like looking into some unknown abyss. It’s a beautiful and overwhelming experience. There are moments when everything melts together into one cavernous sound, as if the band are performing in a black hole. I liken it to my experience with vast, open spaces; back when I used to ride rollercoasters and would often go to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio for the non-pharmaceutical thrills. Sitting amidst the gray, ominous waters of Lake Erie, those slow crawls up that first great hill on the Magnum XL-200 were both exhilarating and horrifying. Clear days were okay, but overcast days the lake looked like this endless expanse that would devour you whole in an instant. And at night, the giant ferris wheel sat on what seemed to be the edge of the world. Lights flickered as you were cast up into the night sky to look over into Lake Erie’s beckoning calls. V has moments of that overwhelming vastness.

“V.III” starts out like some great post-rock anthem and then seems to slowly dissipate into that black abyss. “V.IV” is reminiscent of the lighter moments of Stundum. It feels like an early morning buzz as the crisp air hits your lungs and the day unfolds before your eyes. There’s a jazz quality to the drumming here. It’s like Tony Williams getting weird with NEU! in 1973. Opener “V.I” is like a hand guiding you through a technicolor maze. It’s breezy and takes flight many times, with the guitars getting nice and gritty at moments. Nicklas Sørensen seems to be channeling the great Michael Rother at times with his fluid guitar notes. This really is the perfect opener for an epic album like this.

Papir have never come across as a band that feels they need to rush through a song. They start a musical journey and explore like free jazz pioneers did before them. Their music is the wandering kind. You put on headphones, drop the needle, and just go where the music takes you. V is their most expansive set yet, giving us seven worlds to explore and get lost in. And they are beautiful worlds, indeed.

8.4 out of 10

 

Mogwai : Atomic

I have to admit, it took me a while to find my way to Mogwai. Even after seeing them in 2004 during an ear-shattering assault that left a good friend of mine and I stunned and shell shocked at the Curiosa Festival I still just could never bring myself to dig deeper into these Scottish post-rockers. But on a whim in late 2010 I picked up The Hawk Is Howling and everything changed for me. Songs like “Scotland’s Shame”, “Batcat”, and “The Sun Smells Too Loud” took me into Mogwai’s world. Ever since that afternoon in 2004 when my senses were violated by jet engine-volume distortion shrieks and feedback squalls for nearly 10 minutes I assumed these Scottish dudes were the equivalent of artsy noisemakers for noisemaking’s sake. Sonic blustering just to provoke. Turns out I was completely off base.

The Hawk Is Howling, Hardcore Will Never Die But You Will, Rave Tapes, and now their newest, Atomic, are carefully crafted records that are (mostly)instrumental journeys that are equal part pastoral soundscapes and heavy guitar wallop. I know I’m only covering the last 10 years of a nearly 20 year career, but I haven’t delved back into the early days(yet). This is a review of what’s happening now, and for my ears the new Atomic is what is happening right this very moment.

Like most in the post-rock canon, Mogwai were and have remained a mystery to me as a band. There’s no guitar solos, tasty drum fills, or lead singers belting out lovelorn lyrics to rope in the disenfranchised and broken-hearted. They don’t have individual spotlights shining on them one at a time, showcasing their individual bits. They work as one musical organism, building together not separately. In doing this their faces blur, and individuals become cogs in a post-rock machine. While this might sound rather dystopian, I think it works to Mogwai’s advantage. You’re not left with personality’s vying for the listener’s attention, but just the music to soak your head in. I think that’s why I’ve fallen so hard for Mogwai; as well as Explosions In The Sky, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and This Will Destroy You, to name a few.

Mogwai, I think, are made to score stories on a screen. They’ve dabbled in the past with songs in film and working with the Kronos Quartet and Clint Mansell for the soundtrack to Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain, but they truly shined with their score for the French TV series Les Revenants. On that score the band showed their mastery for nuance and mood, things they’d honed over the years as reigning kings of instrumental rock. Atomic is a re-tooling of the score they created for Mark Cousins’ documentary Atomic, Living In Dread And Promise. Having not seen the film I don’t know how different the album version of these songs are from the film, but in the canon of Mogwai music this record is one of their best.

Like their previous effort, the excellent Rave Tapes, synthesizers play heavily on this album. Not heavy in a way that the music is over-saturated with analog drip, but subtle plucks and dips are surrounded by orchestral richness like on album opener “Ether”. This track sounds like John Williams in outer space, or Howard Shore scoring in a black hole. Pretty soon the guitars soar in to put us smack dab in a Glasgow practice space and ground us back on the home planet. “Bitterness Centrifuge” feels monolithic in its “wall of doom”-like sound. It’s both emboldened by the sonic weight and tipsy in its overwhelming heft. “Little Boy” is subtle but strong, synth-heavy melancholy(melancholy is something these guys have always done well.) “Are You A Dancer” falls even deeper in quiet, maudlin vibes. A beautiful musical work. “Fat Man” is completely haunting and one of Mogwai’s most delicate pieces yet.

Atomic, as an ornament for another’s artistic achievement works beautifully, and on its own stands as a singular artistic statement as well. Like Explosions In The Sky’s wonderful The Wilderness, Atomic pushes the instrumental rock album to a whole other level.

8. 5 out of 10

 

 

 

March On, Comrade : March On, Comrade EP

March On, Comrade rose from the ashes of another local band, Ordinary Van. Usually when the lead singer and main songwritercomrade decides he’s moving on that band usually ends up packing up and calling it a day. Occasionally someone might be brought in to replace said singer and the band continues on with a somewhat different identity. The guys left in Ordinary Van decided to stick together and forge a new identity. That identity was forged with Fort Wayne musicians John Ptak and Ben Robinson. The result is a sound less earth bound and more floating in space. You can call it post-rock if you must, but I like to call it existential post-breakup rock. Music to examine the broken pieces to and understanding why they broke. The self-titled EP from March On, Comrade seems to pull hope from the pit of ones twisted stomach. It’s a grand statement in a small package.

“Pool” opens the EP with an 80s vibe as synths and clean, echoed guitar come together to give the song a Talk Talk meets The Fixx vibe before something happens near the three minute mark and the song takes a melancholy turn. Instruments build upon simple motifs and stack upon each other like classic Sigur Ros. Dark clouds open to blinding light; what was impossible before seems like the next logical step. It’s a big and beautiful instrumental ending. “Archer” seems a more darker affair. It’s filled with quiet angst and calculated sadness. “Prism” sounds like Elbow on a good mood bender. I think Guy Garvey would approve. “Irons” has the vibe of early This Will Destroy You, had they experimented with ethereal vocals for a bit. And closer “Shade” keeps that existential longing vibe going.

March On, Comrade have a real knack for building songs piece by piece in front of our eyes. Unlike some of our post-rock heroes like Explosions in The Sky, Mogwai, This Will Destroy You, and even Sigur Ros, March On, Comrade prove on this EP they don’t need one whole album side for one song to get the point across. March On, Comrade have put together a 5-song EP that makes us excited for what’s coming next from them. It’s a beautiful, sad, and longing kind of album that’s an emotional heavy as well as a musical one.

Explosions in the Sky : The Wilderness

Listening to Explosions in the Sky for me has always been like that lump in your throat moment in a great film. The tragic losses, theexplosions triumphant successes, and the moment when you realize everything is going to be all right despite all the downs you’ve gone through to get there. They soundtrack both figuratively and literally those moments in life when something great is still something questionable, but has the potential for greatness. Albums like Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever, The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place, All of A Sudden I Miss Everyone, and Take Care, Take Care, Take Care were these emotional bombs. The songs ebbed and flowed and told a non-existent tale of love, loss, redemption, and a life worth living; a life worth saving. They pushed through the field of instrumental bands that came before and after them and always remained true to their sound. And that sound was crystalline, shimmering guitars that could get a dirty jangle going from time to time, as well as bombastic drums that sound just as orchestral as they do rock and roll. As well as their own albums they’ve also delved into the world of film scoring, making beautiful music for two of David Gordon Green’s films, Prince Avalanche and Manglehorn, both of which they worked alongside David Wingo.

So Explosions In the Sky could have continued to make amazing instrumental rock albums that would inspire navel gazing in thousands of wandering souls for years and I’d keep on buying and listening with glee. But instead of doing that, EitS decided to take a few years and reconnect musically, going off and doing side projects like Inventions with Mark T. Smith and Eluvium’s Matthew Cooper, as well as the aforementioned film soundtracks. They’ve returned with The Wilderness, an album that takes the band’s expansive and exploratory sound and works in electronic and more atmospheric textures. It’s the best album they’ve released in years.

“Wilderness” floats along like a dream within a dream. Mark T. Smith’s work in Inventions is present immediately as synth and electronic textures come in and out of the mix. EitS haven’t lost any of their emotional heft, they’ve just given it a new, futuristic sheen. “The Ecstatics” feels like the unveiling of something great. More electronics mixed into the EitS formula make for something quite fantatsic. “Tangle Formations” is carried along by big drums and a lovely piano line. Another sweeping epic that moves the listener to another place and time.

I’ve always been amazed by how big of a sound just four guys could create. All of their albums sounded so symphonic. The Wilderness is no exception. Each track is its own world, and with the added ear candy each listen gives you something new to find. “Logic Of A Dream” is all pomp and circumstance as it starts out then guitar, piano and tribal drums come in with an urgency and rushed contemplation. The track seems to melt into the earth before reforming on a steady drum beat and dream-like melody. “Disintegration Anxiety” is a perfect example of how EitS have revamped and rebuilt their sound from the ground up. It’s a driving track that works in new sounds and vibes into their already great formula. At times “Disintegration Anxiety” sounds like Battles on the verge of a nervous breakdown. It’s a forward-thinking sound. A futuristic vision of EitS. “Losing The Light” feels like floating in space. It’s weightless contemplation. Taking in your surroundings and pushing to understand them.

The Wilderness is an album of self-exploration from beginning to end. “Infinite Orbit” feels like a tumble through the milky way, while “Colors In Space” is gazing into infinity itself. The big questions answered, or just creating more questions. Each track is a journey into the great unknown, whether it be space or ourselves. Explosions in the Sky have never faltered in asking the big questions through music. The Wilderness is some of the biggest questions yet. Repeated listens will give you the answers.

9.1 out 10

 

 

No Ordinary Comrade : A Talk With March On, Comrade

 

by J. Hubner

Photo by Adam Garland

So let’s say you start a band with some of your best pals. You work hard and write some great songs. You play some shows, decide to cut an album and really go for it. Then, right after you give the world the gift of music one of those pals(the pal that does most of the singing and a good portion of writing) moves away. A lot of bands would find it hard to keep the forward motion going and continue on, but none of those bands is Ordinary Van.

Ordinary Van did all of the above, and indeed lost a key voice and good friend in Paul Bates when he moved to the West Coast last year. But instead of packing up the amps and calling it quits, remaining members Ryan Holquist, Charles P. Davis, and Chris Leonard got a new thing going with John Ptak and Ben Robinson. That new thing is March On, Comrade. The guys sat down to talk with me about the band recently.

J. Hubner: So tell me about how March On, Comrade came to be? It seems there’s some similar personnel between March On and Ordinary Van, correct?

Ryan Holquist: Three of the five of us were in Ordinary Van, and when Paul Bates moved to California fairly abruptly, the rest of us decided we’d like to forge on.  John Ptak had been an ancillary member of Ordinary Van on and off.  Between the five of us, we’ve been in five or six of the same bands together for the past 8 years or so. So while the lineup is new, it’s also very much established. Ben is the newest member, and while none of us have been in a band with him before, we’ve all known him personally for years.

Charles Davis: The origin of the band stems directly from Ordinary Van. Paul, for a variety of reasons, moved to California which removed the principle songwriter and vocalist from the band. We had just finished doing a Radiohead show with John Ptak playing bass and had been working on bringing him on as a full time member anyways, so the fact that he was also a great vocalist worked well for us. We wrote and rehearsed for about 6 months as a 4-piece and then brought on Ben to fill everything out.

J. Hubner: With March On, Comrade being Ordinary Van without Paul Bates plus John Ptak and Ben Robinson, where does the sound lie? Is this a continuation of Ordinary Van’s vibe, or are you going in a different direction with the music? March On, Comrade has a post-rock ring to it, which makes me happy. What or who is influencing the direction the band is heading in?

RH: March On Comrade’s sound has some definite similarities to Ordinary Van’s – still ambient, lots of reverb and delay – but is overall a little more dynamically varied and less poppy.  We all have different influences musically, but we’re not hesitant to draw some perhaps obvious inspiration from the post-rock stalwarts like Sigur Rós, Explosions in the Sky, Mogwai, etc.  Being a drummer first, I’m personally having a great time writing songs and navigating arrangements from a different instrument.  

CD: For the folks that liked Ordinary Van, I think they will find similar things with MOC that they will  gravitate towards. In OV, Paul basically wrote the songs and then presented them to us to fill everything in. The writing in MOC is much more group oriented. One person may present a general idea but everything is basically built up as a group. Our goal musically was to take the direction of OV and push it to much further extremes. The standard post-rock giants definitely serve as influences but we all bring our own musical backgrounds and likes to the table which has helped us write songs that don’t sound exactly like copies of another band.  

Ben Robinson: I recently joined the band when I saw the influences on the what was minimal Facebook page.  Right up my alley, ambient post-rock music with and ethereal flow.  That’s what I look for in a band.

J. Hubner: The material you guys are currently working on, are they new songs you guys as a band have worked up together? Or is their material left from the Ordinary Van time frame? How does the songwriting process work within March On, Comrade? Are you working out songs live or is their one or two main songwriters bringing ideas to the band?

RH: All of our material has been newly fleshed out, beginning in February 2015.  Some of the songs originated from demos that have been laying around since 2008, and others have been written by the group on the spot, sparked by a single riff, chord progression, or even guitar tone.  We do all of the arranging as a group, which is much more rewarding than being handed a fully thought-out recording and essentially learning someone else’s song.  

CD: Everything we’re playing is technically new. During OV, we were essentially playing Paul’s songs, but the rest of us were still writing on our own. I personally had a good half-dozen song ideas hanging around, as did Ryan. So some of the songs we’re playing now came out of things we wrote during OV, but anything we played live or recorded with OV is no longer being played. We all still love those songs, but it is a new group so we’re moving forward with all new material. Given his role in the writing, it definitely would have been weird to play any of those songs without Paul.

marchoncomradeJ. Hubner: March On, Comrade recently had their live debut at the Brass Rail on November 7th. Tell me about the show. Great turnout? You were on a bill with Void Reunion and The Meat Flowers, right? 

Chris Leonard: The first show was incredible. Everything went pretty smoothly and the amount of people crammed in there was nuts. You know you’ve had a good turnout when it’s difficult to move around!

RH: It was a lot of fun to play our first show along with Void Reunion, who were playing their first show.  Our styles aren’t particularly the same, but we both have a good vibe.  It was great to mutually support each other on our new ventures.  We’re also similar in that every member has previously been in other bands that have played shows together.  Same with Meat Flowers, for that matter!  The show was sold out, which is a great and humbling display of support for the music scene in Fort Wayne.

CD: The show is was incredible and we got a lot of great feedback from the people that came out. It was a great experience and let us get a good guage for what we’re doing right, and what we’ll need to work on. Overall, the show sold out, which I had only seen happen a couple of times so it was great to see so many people come to see new bands. Void Reunion was excellent also.

BR: It was my first time at the Brass Rail.  I heard its not normal to sell out there and was really happy and surprised by the turnout.   Everyone enjoyed it and actually listened to the music.  You don’t get that often!

John Ptak: I thought the show went really well. We didn’t really know what to expect for a turnout with most of the bands being relatively new, but we couldn’t have been happier with how things went.  With nobody hearing us before, I was really excited that people seemed to be interested in it.

J. Hubner: How has the overall feedback been from friends and fans? I’m sure there’s expectations to some degree from folks that loved other bands you’ve all been in before. Are they digging the new band and new tunes?

RH: We had been working away in Charlie’s basement, and really only a handful of friends and our girlfriends had heard a couple of sloppy iPhone recordings.  I don’t think anyone had any real specific expectations, but I was humbled by the positive reception.  Our hard work was very politely rewarded; now that we’ve set an expectation, the challenge is to keep the ball rolling and keep the bar set high!

CD: The feedback has been excellent. I think we’ve found a way to write songs that have some hooks, but still push boundaries and challenge a listeners expectations. And it seems like people seem to have an appreciation for that.

J. Hubner: To date, how many songs do you guys have worked out? Are you looking at possible studio time to record? What’s the plan for recording? An EP or full-length? 

CL: We have 5 songs completed at the moment, with a 6th in progress. We’re at a point where if we were to record the 5 songs, we’d probably call it an EP. But if we added a 6th, with the length that post-rock songs tend to be, we could probably call it a full-length. So it’s yet to be decided.

CD: We’re going to start recording in December and the idea now is to record 5 or 6 songs. That would typically be an EP but again, with our song length it will probably have the feel of a short full-length.

RH: We’ve all been in bands who work hard to prepare one 40-minute set’s worth of music, and then just sort of slow down.  I don’t want that to be the case for March On, Comrade.  I think it would be fun to have something new for each show, whether that’s a new song, something new with the light show, an intro, interlude, whatever it is…but something new to keep it interesting for us and the people who see us.

JP: All of us have been in enough bands that have waited a while to record that we’re all on the same page about not making that mistake again.

J. Hubner: As far as other band gigs, is March On, Comrade everyone’s main thing now? Are you guys still dabbling in other bands?

RH: I’m always pretty busy musically, but March On, Comrade is certainly what I’m putting the most work into at the moment.  I’m still playing with 2 Before Noon, and I recently recorded an album of Lee Miles’ new material. But March On, Comrade is new, so it needs the most work, and the positive reception at our first show was very motivating to keep pushing forward even harder.  It’s also the only band I don’t play drums in, so it’s very new and interesting for me.  Jason Davis knows how the story goes…

CD: Ryan still plays in his jazz group, Chris is playing in another post-rock group, although slightly heavier I believe. I fill in for a cover band in the area occasionally and I’m sure John and Ben are working on other things as well. Overall, I think we’d all agree that this is our main focus going forward.

BR: Of course we all work with music on a daily basis so projects come up and we help other bands and musicians out locally when we can.

JP: For me, this is the only band I’ve been working with. That may change at some point, but I’m really enjoying focusing on just one thing instead of juggling multiple bands.

J. Hubner: Now that the band has gotten that first gig out of the way, are you guys filling up the calendar with more shows? Any dates you could share with us?

RH: We’ll be back at the Brass Rail on December 10 with Eric McMiller and the Dashville Sound from New York, along with Barky & Speaker.  We’re also putting together a hell of a bash at CS3 on January 2, where we’ll play with Void Reunion again, as well as Heaven’s Gateway Drugs.

CD: We’re definitely getting more gigs booked. As we continue to write new songs, we want to play them out and get feedback from listeners.

J. Hubner: So what’s the long term goal for March On, Comrade? Where do you see the band in a year? Five years? 

CD: I see this band having some longevity. I expect within the next few months we’ll have an album recorded and we will have a handful of shows under our belt. Our goal is to not fall into a rut and keep playing the same songs every show. We want to keep writing and let the band/music evolve. As long as that happens and no one gets bored, I don’t see any reason why we would stop. Obviously, life happens and sometimes the unexpected can disrupt your plans, but overall we have a really good group of guys who have a lot of history with each other so the foundation is in place for a long term project.

BR:  Rich and famous!  But all joking aside, I really want to make music that relates to people on an emotional level.  Whether it’s lyrics, music, the feel, the speed, everyone reacts and interprets music differently.  I want it to matter.

RH: Just keep swimming.


 

Make sure to check out March On, Comrade at the Brass Rail on December 10th and clear January 2nd for that CS3 show with Void Reunion and Heaven’s Gateway Drugs. Seems like a pretty stellar way to kick of 2016. Keep up with the band at https://www.facebook.com/marchoncomrade/?fref=ts.

 

 

 

This Will Destroy You Destroyed Me

twdyI’ve pretty much been immersed in the world of Texas band This Will Destroy You all week. It’s a harrowing and quite beautiful world to be in.

Last week my friend John, who runs Karma Records of Warsaw(my hometown vinyl haunt), had nonchalantly brought This Will Destroy You up to me while I was in the store perusing. He’d gotten their album Tunnel Blanket in the store and said he thought I might like ’em. I liked the packaging. It kind of reminded me of something Godspeed You! Black Emperor might put out. Yeah, I know you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, but when a band takes the time to not only put out great music -but take great care in album artwork, gatefold sleeves, and just a general classy presentation- well I really appreciate that kind of stuff. Anyways, I told my pal John that I’d give them a listen on the ‘ol Rdio the next morning and see what I thought. Sure, I could’ve snagged the record from John right then and there, but the days of just buying an album on a whim are kinda gone. That is, unless it’s a $12 or $14 record. I’m not going on $24 whims these days.

The next morning at work I give Tunnel Blanket a spin. First time through I liked it, but it didn’t quite click with me at first. So I ran through it again and something was different. This is definitely what you’d call “post-rock”, but I really hate dumping bands in genres. I use it simply to give someone not familiar with the band a direction or sound to be prepared for. There are hints of Mogwai in the opening track “Little Smoke”, but the sound is much more expansive and cinematic than Mogwai. Less blunt and more carefully crafted. It’s twelve minutes that build into a cacophony of noise that disintegrates into a mournful mist during the end. Once I ran through it the second time I was hooked. This was pure and beautiful and tough and amazing. “Glass Realms” is almost ambient music, with a melody wavering in the air and what sounds like a ghostly symphony underneath.

There are definite similarities to This Will Destroy You and Explosions in The Sky. The big, open sound, long run times with the songs, and just a general feeling of wonder in the compositions. But where EiTS has a general feeling of “good” or “uplifting”, This Will Destroy You is more like instrumental black metal. Or doom metal with swirls of shoegaze. Doom/gaze? Either way, their songs linger more in the brisk, charcoal gray world of late October and November, not Explosions in The Sky’s open blue skies of July. But I think there’s something to be said for both of these bands hailing from the Lonestar state. I’ve been to Texas. I’ve driven three straight hours from Lubbock to San Angelo and seen nothing but flat lands and horizons that seem you’d never reach the whole trip. You can hear that vastness in both bands. “Communal Blood” by This Will Destroy You feels like staring out into a vapid, stretching landscape and wondering if you’ll ever seen another human being again. Arms out-stretched and reaching for something; but nothing reaching back. “Reprise” continues that internal squall for something. Anything.

I think the most beautiful piece of music I’ve heard in a very long time is sitting in the middle of Tunnel Blanket. It’s called “Killed The Lord, Left For The New World”. Much like the title, it evokes feelings of endings and new beginnings. It’s sweet, airy, tribal, and breathtaking. It’s a moment on that cold November afternoon where the black clouds open for a moment and share some of the sunlight they are keeping from the earth. It’s both regaling life and mourning death; not sad just reminiscing a soul long gone. It’s stunning.

Tunnel Blanket feels like a new world symphony, not a rock record. It’s like a futuristic orchestral piece. From start to finish it moves me in a way I haven’t been for some time. To some ears I’m sure this will just be filed under “post-rock” and written off as just more of that instrumental stuff. But those ears will be missing out on something quite wonderful. I’ve gone through This Will Destroy You’s catalog and I haven’t found a record from them I don’t love. Young Mountain is probably my least favorite, but that is still a great album. Their newest, Another Language, is absolutely incredible as well. It almost seems heavier, while at the same time pushing those ambient moments even further. I’ll be writing more about that record soon.

There you have it. I’ve found a new favorite band, and all thanks to John at Karma. Muchas gracias, Juan. Muchas gracias.

 

 

Stranded Dreams and Beautiful Chaos

dream districtBack in December I bought an album by Body/Head. It’s the post-Sonic Youth break-up album that Kim Gordon did with fellow guitarist Bill Nace. It’s essentially Gordon and Nace in a studio,each with a guitar and amp. Gordon has a mic that she improvises words. It’s not singing. It’s like psycho therapy through spoken word retching. Normally I wouldn’t get into this sort of thing, but for some reason I did. More so the guitar soundscapes and feedback they created. It was this wall of barbed noise. I loved the idea of two guitar and two amps creating intermingling noise. The song structure, for all intents and purposes torn down and in it’s place is this cloud of noise not telling a story but creating a scene. The pages of a book with the words removed and in their place are these swaths of noise and drips of oil-based notes. To me, these were like aural paintings. Cave drawings telling the story of someone’s psyche. I wanted to do this.

I’d often thought about doing something like this. “Songs” that weren’t really songs. Something more like a music score to a film that hasn’t been made. Sounds that I hear in my head that I think would be a cool thing to hear in the background at the cinema. Or more so, making music that sounds like what I’m feeling at that moment. For me, that was the main goal. With that in mind, I headed to the studio in late December, loaded a cassette into the 4-track recorder, and hit record. What came out that first recording session was the 21-minute “Damage/Stars In Ecstasy”. It’s this mix of feedback, distortion, and ominous chaos that goes in and out, replaced by a calm. It pretty much embodied what I was going for. From there, I felt free to do whatever. The reason I went with a 4-track cassette recorder(as opposed to 16-track digital)was to limit how much I could layer. I wanted to be able to create these pieces within the confines of four tracks. I wanted to see what I was capable of with those sorts of limitations. Using a loop pedal greatly enhanced what I could do with those limitations. I’m happy with the results.

From late December up to March I recorded eight tracks. Once March hit I put this project to the side. A couple weeks ago I went down to the studio and revisited these songs and thought “What the hell is this? Why did I do this?” After a couple times through these tracks I realized I did it because it’s something I needed to do. Being snowbound most of January, along with a very tragic loss, this project was therapy for me. It kept me sane. These songs are my version of a Pollock painting. Drips, splashes, smudges on a tape canvas that becomes something completely different when you step back and look at it from a different angle. As pretentious as that sounds, it’s the best way I can describe it. It works for me.

Stranded Dreams is the first installment of this musical venture. This musical venture goes by the name of Dream District(it’s something I read in a book written by Sigmund Freud.) It will be followed with another album in a couple months. After that, I plan on going a different route with it. I want to make it much more lush and expansive. A little more “hi fi”, if you will. But for now, the lo fi quality is something I’m liking.

I know this sort of thing isn’t for everybody, but I want folks to at least give it a chance. So in the spirit of giving I’m giving it away for a week. Go to Dream District’s Bandcamp page and download it. Take a listen. If you like it then great. If you don’t, delete it and no harm no foul. Don’t worry, next time I see you I won’t ask you about it or make you feel weird. It’ll be back to normal.

Deal? Deal.