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Stream: Man Forever – “Pansophical Cataract”

Experiments in drone. That’s pretty much all that you need to know about these two tracks (yes, only excerpted here) from Brooklyn’s Man Forever. The first track up is “Surface Patterns” which is followed by “Ur Eternity.” Both tracks are similar in scope and purpose, with Glenn Branca’s brand of minimalism taking up the aesthetic reigns. The ever-growing rumble mixed with the incessant jungle beat percussion is reminiscent of the sounds that Branca conjures from an orchestra in his 6th Symphony. The songs on “Pansophical Cataract” inspire the listener to search for sounds and patterns within this cloud, and repeated hearings reveal any number of paths that one can take.

The artist behind Man Forever is one John Colpitts. He’s best known as the drummer of Oneida and also for his work with Boredoms and White Hills. Colpitts also works with So percussion, and has more recently completed a collaborative album with So entitled “Ryonen” released on Thrill Jockey earlier this year.

“Pansophical Cataract” is available through Thrill Jockey, and there are even a few copies of the album left on orange vinyl. You can also listen to samples from his other releases on his artist page on Thrill Jockey.

Colpitts is taking Man Forever on the road for the summer. Check the tour dates below:

Apr 25, 2014 Baltimore, MD The Metro
Apr 26, 2014 Winston, Salem, NC Reanimator
Apr 27, 2014 Richmond, VA Balliceaux
Apr 28, 2014 Charlottesville, VA The Southern
May 08, 2014 Albany, NY The Low Beat
May 24, 2014 Pittsburgh, PA Gooski’s
May 25, 2014 Erie, PA Basement Transmissions
May 26, 2014 Columbus, OH Double Happiness
May 27, 2014 Detroit, MI Trinosophes
May 28, 2014 Milwaukee, WI Cactus Club
May 29, 2014 Bloomington, IN Magnetic South
May 30, 2014 Madison, WI Good Style Shop
May 31, 2014 Louisville, KY Dreamland
Jun 01, 2014 Dayton, OH Blind Bob’s
Jun 03, 2014 Poughkeepsie, NY My Place Pizza
Jun 22, 2014 Raleigh, NC King’s Barcade
Jun 23, 2014 Knoxvile, TN The Pilot Light
Jun 24, 2014 Asheville, NC The Mothlight
Jun 25, 2014 Atlanta, GA 529
Jun 26, 2014 Chattanooga, TN Sluggo’s North


Video: Oozing Wound – “Welcome to the Spaceship, Motherfucker”

Well, it might be too late for this now, but I sincerely hope that you heeded the warning at the beginning of the video, because they are not messing around. Oozing Wound wants to make sure that you are headbanging, even if that means it is the result of a seizure.

I’m placing this one right in between Slayer and Liturgy. More toward the Slayer side of things than anything else. For a few minutes at the beginning of the song I was wondering if it was going to be an instrumental or not. The band pummels that opening riff into the ground in a fit of metal hypnosis. It isn’t until about a minute-twenty in that the actual lead line/opening riff comes in, followed by the raspy, vocals that are clenched tight not very far behind.

Three full minutes of thrash metal insanity, going 900 mph straight toward a brick wall. Pretty intense. Pretty awesome. The ending motto is pretty classic too. Check it out above. If you aren’t awake now, you will be.

Chicago’s own Oozing Wound released their debut album, “Retrash,” last week on Thrill Jockey. Pick up a copy of the LP, pressed on virgin vinyl and packaged with a fully artworked inner sleeve and free download coupon; or the CD version in 4 panel mini-LP style gatefold package here. You can also hear a preview of each of the tracks at that link.

There is also a limited edition screen-printed LP version available at Permanent Records Chicago. Grab it while you can.

Album review: Luke Roberts – "The Iron Gates at Throop and Newport"

Luke Roberts’ “The Iron Gates at Throop and Newport” is, on its surface, a collection of heartfelt emotional explorations. Continued listening reveals a deeper folk and country influence. Roberts’ delicate and finely crafted arrangements are spare one track, fleshed out the next, always finding the perfect balance of instruments to accentuate his plain-spoken lyrics.

The first thing that struck me upon hearing the opening seconds of “I Don’t Want You Anymore” slow, droning violin’s delicate vibrato and spare guitar chords was the way that it reminded me of Jason Molina’s work with Songs: Ohia’s final album “The Magnolia Electric Company”. This track opens like a country ballad, heartache weighing heavy in Roberts’ voice. The violin comments on the emotive quality of the lyrics in its moaning bleat that contributes a deeper level of emotional interpretation. Like many of the songs throughout the album this is a sparse voice and guitar affair, though Roberts’ intricate picking can weave a complex harmonic fabric with a great deal of interestingly voiced chords on tracks like “Second Place Blues” and “Cartier Timepiece”.

There are only a few tracks assisted by a full rhythm section, moving the songs from the Nick Drake territory of “Spree Wheels” towards the aforementioned Magnolia Electric Co. sound. Luke’s voice is clear and low, similar to Bill Callahan, conjured from a very personal place as evidenced from the first person perspective of the lyrics. Though even without the aid of a full band Roberts has a skill in filling the spaces. The excitement in “Lost on Leaving” rolls forward with harmonica and piano in addition to broad guitar strumming and the most hopeful words sung on the album: “With everyone smiling at me”. It’s impossible not to see Luke Roberts himself singing through a smile as the words cross his lips.

Luke Roberts - "The Iron Gates at Throop and Newport"
Luke Roberts - "The Iron Gates at Throop and Newport"

“Will You Be Mine” is strummed brightly as Luke’s voice cracks. He follows the line “I need you to call” with an extended pause that puts us as listeners in his place, waiting and hoping in desperation for fulfillment. The track consists almost entirely of two chords, but he shows us what can be done with only two chords in this track and the next track that is equally minimal in its harmonic changes: “Spree Wheels”. In “Spree Wheels” the guitar sound morphs into a full ensemble with the lower strings sounding clear and round like an upright bass.

The way in which the songs are recorded brings the listener in closer. From the dry drum sound on “Old Fashioned Woman” to the sound of fingers brushing against the guitar strings as they are plucked, to the directness and clarity of the voice; this album is very present. It’s hard to hide mistakes in a mix like this, and that high-wire act of sorts is exciting to listen to. Luke Roberts is a confident performer who doesn’t disappoint on any of these songs.

Standing in sharp contrast to the laid back and stripped down nature of the majority of the songs is the arrangement of “Old Fashioned Woman” with its distorted lead guitar line that slices right through every other instrument in the ensemble with a slight amount of reverb and delay that comes off as an otherworldly sound amidst the repeated lulling finger picked steel string guitar. Adding to the colorful arrangement in this track is the simple 2-note piano line that gives a bit more depth, complexity and reinforcement to the guitar line.

With “The Iron Gates at Throop and Newport” the artistry and craftsmanship of Luke Roberts as a songwriter, and guitarist is truly on display. He successfully navigates a wide variety of sounds and textures to great effect throughout.

[audio:http://quartertonality.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/08-Lost-on-Leaving.mp3|titles=Lost on Leaving] [audio:http://quartertonality.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/06-Spree-Wheels.mp3|titles=Spree Wheels] Head to Thrill Jockey right now to pre-order the album. It’s set for release on March 20. And if you are planning on purchasing the album in the vinyl format (as I wholeheartedly suggest), Thrill Jockey says:
 The vinyl version of Luke’s debut Big Bells and Dime Songs sold out upon release, so do not hesitate.

Album review: Wooden Shjips – "West"

Wooden Shjips’ drone of ultra fuzzed out guitars aligns them with the trend of retro sounding new-music that seems to have exploded in the past couple of years. They are taking the psychedelic/early hard-rock sound and very much running with it. The band seems to be more than happy to sit on one chord for minutes at a time in the minimalist style, rhythmically chugging through a cloud of distortion a la Queens of the Stone Age. Wooden Shjips actually shows up Queens in their dark heavy sound being that much more darker and heavier.

The vocals, though certainly not the focus of any of the tracks, remain downplayed and monotonous. They definitely do their part to make the songs sound all the more sinister. It’s like the singer is speaking of bad omens, or summoning spirits and the like. When you get down to it, his singing style is downright eerie.

Extended instrumental sections, like in opening track “Black Smoke Rise”, do their best to mimic the wandering, seemingly one-take guitar solos of the first wave of psychedelic music of the late-60s. These sections seem to serve the songs in capturing a certain vibe, and places that as a higher priority than “saying something”. That shouldn’t be taken in the pejorative sense, but in the sense that a guitar solo, or keyboard solo, that is flashy and driven by technique with flourishes of 32nd notes and technical melodic bravado would truly just not work against the backdrop they are laying down. They seem to be sticking to a very strict stylistic theme and mood here and something showy would stick out far too much. They do a great job throughout the album of establishing and maintaining a consistent sound.

Wooden Shjips - "West"
Wooden Shjips - "West"

After the mid-tempo minimalism of the first two tracks there is a burst of energy in the form of a catchy vocal melody in an upbeat tune that is (perhaps ironically) titled “Lazy Bones”. This tune, along with the heavy riffage displayed in “Home”, create a nice dynamic across the album. Wooden Shjips remains true to their sound but show that there is always room to move and create something new, and possibly contrary, without abandoning the aesthetic they have been developing.

The album forms and arc with droning tunes “Black Smoke Rise” and “Rising” as bookends. The latter of those tunes is a backwards track that casts a knowing wink to their already “evil” sound. But the more upbeat riff-based tunes happen towards the middle of the record with “Looking Out” creating a connection by being both upbeat and still droning it its persistent rhythm and complete unwillingness to change chords. Meanwhile “Flight” takes a page out of the Tony Iommi book of devilish sounding riffs, replete with a delay ridden keyboard solo straight out of “Inna Gadda Da Vida”. In a way a lot of these songs ride the line right between those two worlds.

With “West” Wooden Shjips creates droning minimalist music in the context of the heavy, psychedelic rock genre. The attention to consistency of sound most certainly pays off in the end.


Album review: White Hills – "H-p1"

Heavy, unrelenting drones of guitar riffage that are spread out over an extended jam. That is how I would sum up the sound of White Hills’ “H-p1” in one sentence. It isn’t totally fair to sum things up in one nice little phrase though as the songs on the album actually cover quite a bit more ground and honestly can’t be summed up succinctly.

The same way that Queens of the Stone Age’s early material would take one riff and pound it into the ground with unrelenting repetition, so do the tracks here. I’m reminded more of two bands that aren’t Queens of the Stone Age while listening to this album, both of them based in Chicago: CAVE and Vee Dee. CAVE’s basis in heavy sounding kraut-rock that sounds like it is going to crush you beneath its weight combined with Vee Dee’s garage rock goodness.

The opening track “The Condition of Nothing” is basically the same fuzzed out guitar riff that shifts between 2 chords throughout. There are some vocals that bring the track into a bit of A Place To Bury Strangers territory with the sound of guitar based industrial music that is sinister and sneering with tinny production placed up against an absolute wall of guitars.

“No Other Way”, which clocks in at nearly eleven minutes, takes the same formula, minus the vocals. A heavy riff is repeated throughout while an echoed melody provides a bit of variety. In the course of eleven minutes the track is developed subtly with a background hum that slowly creeps up eventually taking center stage as everything else begins to fade. These shifts and changes that occur over the extended jams contrast with the sheer repetitiveness that the listener is sure to be focusing on and drawn towards. Admittedly the riffage does lock in to a hypnotic groove, allowing the listener significant time to focus on different aspects of the track.

White Hills - "H-p1"
White Hills - "H-p1"

Following “No Other Way” is “Paradise”, another lengthy track that functions in quite a different way. This time the drums are the primary focus while scattered, spacey sounds pop up at various times creating a much more varied fabric that spasms and percolates to the end.

Out of the extended jams and the stoner-rock minimalist development comes the garage-rock sound of “Upon Arrival” that gets to the point straight away. Psychedelic garage rock with vocals that sound like Alice Cooper and simultaneously provide White Hills with the best opportunity for radio play. There is an honest to goodness verse/chorus/verse structure with a real guitar solo that pulls us back out of kraut-rock groove of repetition.

As a testament to the truly varied nature of the album the latter half moves even further away from riff based rock and into more ambient, free form electronic free form improv with a trilogy of tracks that seem to develop and bleed into one another. “A Need to Know”, “Hand in Hand” and “Monument” could form one giant song, just as the band seems to be doing earlier in the album.

Pulling things apart and putting them back together, exploring different sounds and themes while remaining firmly rooted in the tradition of heavy psychedelic music seems to be what this album is all about. They take ideas presented and flesh them out on other tracks, they run them into each other and play them on top of each other, helping to make sense out of their seemingly disparate interests. This all makes total sense with the truly epic titular track that closes the album at an astonishing 17+ minutes with a truly evil sounding riff that seems to tie together all of the ideas presented in the album. I’ll even give them bonus points for sporting a few extended guitar solos in one song and throughout the album.