Warm Climate “Calculate the Greatness” Glass Singer LP (Monofonus Press)
Planets Around The Sun “Bump Tongues” Cosmic Job CS (Eiderdown) [9.32]
Gianni Giublena Rosacroce “. . . Yuruga” La Mia Africa CS (NO=FI Recordings) [17.30]
Birds of Passage “Sunday Best” Taxidermy of Unicorns 2xCS (Watery Starve) [20.33]
Josh Mason “Dying In A Canoe” The Symbiont LP (Sunshine Ltd.) [27.23]
Zach Phillips “Cry” I Can’t Predict My Past Actions CS (OSR-Tapes) [41.03]
Better Psychics #2 “Howard Tom Jeffords Gochise” What Is Rule CS (OSR-Tapes) [44.08]
The A Band “Washing Powder” 20 Greatest Hits 1990-2000 2xCD (Must Die Records) [46.05]
The Garbage & The Flowers “Nothing Going Down At All” Eyes Rind As If Beggars 2LP (Fire / Bo’Weavil) [49.38]
Brute Heart “There Are Spirits” The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari CS* (Moon Glyph) [57.12]
Von Himmel “Rock N Roll Animal” b/w Traum Esel LP (Donkey Disk) [1.02.04]
Ashley Paul “Soak the Ocean” Line the Clouds LP* (Rel) [1.18.13]
C. Yantis “Brown Boot” American Surfaces CS (Digitalis Ltd.) [1.22.34]
Giant Claw “Last Empress of Dread” Music for Film CS* (Constellation Tatsu) [1.27.00]
Bear Bones, Lay Low “Llévenme con Ustedes” split w/ Gnod CS* (Full of Nothing) [1.30.48]
Elephant Micah “Schroeder in Borneo” Globe Rush Progressions LP* (BlueSanct) [1.35.13]
The Slaves “Seventeen” Ocean On Ocean 2LP (Helen Scarsdale Agency) [1.38.30]
Brian Green “Side A” (excerpt) Milltown CS (A Giant Fern) [1.46.05]
Tatsuya Nakatani “Side L” (excerpt) Nakatani Gong Orchestra LP (Taiga) [1.57.46]
I wanted to take some additional time is to listen to and fully consider many of the releases played on this week’s podcast before writing anything up here. Sure enough, I ended up catching some crud and have been spending most of the past few days laid out in a cold medicine-induced dream state sipping tea and trying to read Kafka on the Shore, which, I must say, is a rather perfect headspace to be in while taking on such a read. This general inactivity, however, did provide me with the opportunity to listen back to much of this music with a fresh, albeit slightly chemically altered, set of ears. So with the fever sweats held in check for the time being, I’ll try to pound out some semi-coherent ramblings about a few stand out releases from this week’s podcast show. I apologize in advance if I get off topic and start writing about sardines raining down from the sky or having conversations with my cat.
Let’s start with Josh Mason’s The Symbiont, released on his own Sunshine Ltd. imprint in a beautifully presented clear vinyl edition. Mason’s approach to music-- much like his peers Nathan McLaughlin and Joe Houpert-- seems to be about stripping away all that is unnecessary and focusing purely in on texture and simple melodic development. On the surface that may not seem all that ground-breaking, but there is indeed a sense of the profound etched in all of Mason’s work that I’ve encountered, especially here on his debut LP release. There is this very pleasing and natural ebb-and-flow to Mason’s music; sounds meld together into, yes, a sort of state of symbiosis, where it is difficult to differentiate between the organic and the digitally enhanced. While I’m not familiar with the Horacio Quiroga stories from which these two side-long pieces were inspired by, I did come across a few lines in Kafka . . . that I found to be particularly apropos regarding Mason’s latest: “Time’s rules don’t apply here. Time expands, then contracts, all in tune with the stirrings of the heart.”
The last we heard from Warm Climate-- one of the few “rock” bands of the past 5+ years to really knock me on my ass-- they were dropping a tape that was part of Stunned Records final batch. I know I have mentioned this before, but Warm Climate, as well as Stunned, hold a special place in the FFF podcast universe. Hell, the first track we ever played on podcast numero uno was from Warm Climate’s Edible Homes. Their trio of tape releases on Stunned, though, were just so damn unique, a strange and beguiling mix of glam rock, noise, free jazz, weirdo-folk, and you-name-it. Some astute label out there should do the world a favor and reissue these on vinyl or, better yet, as a complete box set. At any rate, the arrival of Glass Singer, Warm Climate’s first vinyl offering, was a much-welcomed event around these parts. Still graced with Phil French’s eye-popping artwork, Seth Kasselman and crew (here joined by mainstay, Caitlin C. Mitchell, and now M. Geddes Gengras) pick up where they left off with Pigeon Brides Weigh In. The six songs contained herein follow a fairly grand art rock trajectory (maybe slightly more traditional rock sounding by WC standards) and, like previous efforts, can shift on a dime from being moody and atmospheric to being euphoric and outwardly deranged. I’ve seen names like David Bowie, Neil Young, and Comus tossed around in reference to Warm Climate, which makes complete sense, but while listening to Glass Singer on repeat over the past week, I can’t help but draw at least some comparisons to the more recent output of Scott Walker. There are those cryptic song titles, the non-repetitive song structures, the overarching narrative feel, the jarring instrumental breaks, and then there’s the VOICE that, let’s be honest, people will either undoubtedly love or hate. It’s by no means easy listening, but, as Tiny Mix Tapes so eloquently described of Bish Bosch: “Walker is a world-builder, and you don’t so much listen to Bish Bosch as much as you wake up into its interpretation and wander around.” I share the same thoughts for Warm Climate and their latest, Glass Singer.
Von Himmel also seems to be a band adept at building fascinating sound worlds. Their’s, however, is built on a firm foundation of every notable subterranean psychedelic sputtering from the last 40+ years: Red Krayola-style free form freakouts (yep, that’s where we jacked the name), Japanese psych, Kosmische, The Dead C, and, heck, their based out in psychedelia’s womb of San Francisco to boot. Von Himmel, fortunately, takes all of this and makes it something uniquely their own. Side A’s Rock N Roll Animal displays their loose and cacophonous free rock impulses, while the flip side’s Traum Esel has a more meditative, ambient drift. The who & the how behind Von Himmel remains a bit mysterious, which of course only adds to the intrigue.
Alright, that’s about all I’ve got left in me for now. I’ll save a few tape reviews for the weeks ahead. Stay tuned for the next FFF podcast where (weather permitting) Minneapolis-based laptop musician, Michael Flora, will join us for an in-studio session and to play some music from his Nada imprint and from his personal collection.