Classic short week here, hardly anything new in…. however, if the Fed Ex man delivers tomorrow, the much anticipated, under appreciated Syrinx albums will be available for your ears to munch on.
…..pick of the week…..
Syrinx: Tumblers From The Vault (ReRVNG Intl.) LP
In tomorrow???…..The two instrumental albums that Syrinx issued in the early 1970s sound little like the psychedelic music prevailing Toronto’s rock venues at the time, and are even further removed from the electronic tape experimentations spooled by a younger John Mills-Cockell. Instead, the path of Syrinx whimsically veers away from the dominant mode of ‘70s subculture, charting surprising commercial success. Tumblers From The Vault presents their entire recorded legacy, reviving the story of Syrinx and sharing their memorable, mind-bending melodies. The musicians behind Syrinx were composer and keyboardist John Mills-Cockell, saxophonist Doug Pringle, and percussionist Alan Wells. All three were young veterans of the Toronto creative scene by the beginning of 1970. LSD played a supporting role in their artistic pursuits, but equal guidance also came from Mills-Cockell’s studies at the University of Toronto and Royal Conservatory of Music, where he established an ad-hoc, DIY electronic music course in the school’s basement. Before long, Mills-Cockell was an accomplished young composer and an important conspirator in Intersystems, a rogue, multimedia ensemble that intersected heterogenous artists and musicians via the Toronto underground. In this freeform environment, Mills-Cockell’s compositions found alert ears, among them his primary collaborator Doug Pringle, a wily wind player, and producer Felix Pappalardi, whose credits include Cream’s Disraeli Gears and who helped John land an album deal with True North Columbia. After Intersystems dissolution, Mills-Cockell journeyed to Canada’s west coast to work on an album of original synth-based compositions using his multi-suitcase Moog as the primary instrument. Pringle was enlisted to color outside the music’s already adventurous lines, his sinuous, signal-processed saxophone adding another electrifying voice to Syrinx’s signature sound. A sound that hybridized chamber music dynamics with wild, yet tuneful electronic melodicism. With Alan Wells’ understated percussion rolled into the fold, what started as a solo venture for Mills-Cockell became a new kind of collective. From these coastal sessions were conjured exemplary pieces like “Journey Tree” and “Hollywood Dream Trip,” both plaintive and serene expressions of Mills-Cockell’s economical arrangements, and also Syrinx’s restrained and expert use of their electronic resources. “Hollywood Dream Trip” alone presents a theme so memorable and melancholic that it calls to mindErik Satie, John Cage’s early piano works, and the cinematic power of Golden Age soundtrack music. Syrinx’s self-titled debut arrived in 1970, followed in 1971 by Long Lost Relatives, which is highlighted as the first album on Tumblers From The Vault. Between the two albums, Syrinx became a vital part of the Toronto music scene, with Doug Pringle’s loft serving as the central node for impromptu performances and the group’s collaborative activities. Syrinx also started receiving high profile work, first for television, film, and dance, and then for orchestra. One commission culminated commercially in “Tillicum”, the unforgettable theme music for pioneering reality television show Here Come the Seventies. As a standalone single, “Tillicum” would climb to #38 on Canada’s RPM charts. The most eventful assignment came from the Toronto Repertory Ensemble’s conductor and composer Milton Barnes, whose solicitation inspired the powerful orchestral suite Stringspace. The studio version of Stringspace for Long Lost Relatives is a near faithful version to the live performance, the Toronto Repertory Ensemble offering the same sweeping, deeply engrossing symphonic support. (An original live version also appears on Tumblers from the Vault on the third LP, along with other rare and alternate Syrinx gems). “Tillicum” also appears on Long Lost Relatives, a nod to the group’s new visibility, and perhaps an assertion that Syrinx was part of the trailblazing new world that their television theme song signaled. Syrinx’s music is more than a faded strain in Canada’s consciousness, but has never expanded universally. One modest task of Tumblers from the Vault is to reinstate Syrinx to their place in the wider canon of groundbreaking music so their story can be appreciated beyond the limits of Canadian notoriety. Another task is to simply have this music heard again, which is an endeavor made less difficult by the fact that the most defining quality of Syrinx’s music is its timelessness and agency. Unlike so many turn of the ‘60s experiments fusing rock and pop music language with new technology, Syrinx was never excessive in expressing their vision of what electronic music could offer. Instead, they blended these sounds in a holistic way, allowing the acoustic and electronic textures to create one organic voice. They opted to foreground the lyrical and poetic content of their compositions rather than their innovative techniques. It’s a tribute to John Mills-Cockell’s compositions, and his comrades Doug Pringle and Alan Wells, that the tangential path of Syrinx remains as present, exploratory and inviting as ever. Syrinx’s Tumblers From The Vault will be released on October 14, 2016 as triple LP set, double CD, and digital formats. An accompanying documentary about Syrinx by artist and filmmaker Zoe Kirk-Gushowaty will screen selectively.
File Under: Electronic, Psych, CanCon
Anciients: Voice of the Void (Season of Mist) LP
Anciients return on Season of Mist with their long-awaited sophomore album Voice of the Void. A heavier and harder-hitting album than their debut, Voice of the Void raises their game with mind-melting, frenetic guitar work and a more explosive percussive attack. Tracks such as “Serpents,” “Pentacle,” “Incantations” and more are prismatic; bursting with heavy riffs in every shade and color without sacrificing the quartets heavy rock roots. Anciients are the archetype of a modern, progressive heavy band and Voice of the Void is a dynamic listen carrying the spirit of metal’s forerunnners.
File Under: Metal
Black Marble: It’s Immaterial (Ghostly) LP
It’s Immaterial is the second full-length effort from Black Marble. Their first for Ghostly, It’s Immaterial follows up their EP Weight Against the Door and highly acclaimed debut full-length A Different Arrangement. Still featuring Chris Stewart at the helm along with select collaborators as supplementation, the project’s recent shift in locale from East Coast to West Coast lends a great deal to the overall feel of the new album: the light and dark elements of shadows, the salt and sting of evening’s high tide sea spray, a beautiful thing left on a shelf too high to maintain. The general mood is that of creating something new, but going back in time to do it. Like attempting to flesh out a song that you woke up humming but can’t find because it doesn’t exist yet. With the end of the East Coast chapter of Stewart’s life on the horizon, It’s Immaterial was recorded in a period of mental and physical transition, trapped between spaces and unable to move on until the snow globe flurry of ideas floating around him settled just right. It’s Immaterial is soaring and muted all at once. It’s a collection of songs pieced together from perfect seeming snippets heard while passing open doors. It’s a framework in which your imagination creates its own version of what you need to hear but didn’t have a way to describe – like a favorite song heard on an unlabeled mixtape by a band you can’t uncover. It’s Immaterial is a further evolution in Black Marble’s sound. Where the songs featured on their debut full-length seemed to hiss from a vent in the floor, the new tracks seem to be coming from the next room. Written, recorded, mixed, and performed entirely by Stewart, the new songs are a unified vision – one person’s attempt to patchwork together bits of vapor and the most subtle gleanings of preference to make something wholly new. It’s an endless drive in the passenger seat of a car while listening to everything you’ve ever loved, but lasting only 40 minutes.
File Under: Electronic, Indie Rock
Califone: Roomsound (Dead Oceans) LP
Califone’s debut album Roomsound was originally self released in April of 2001. Roomsound covers the same rustic, slightly ramshackle back forty that Tim Rutili has been plowing through since his previous band Red Red Meat. Only this time the tilled bedrock unveils the most vividly colored, luring crop of songs Rutili has ever harvested. The sleepy, country-blues picking and autumnal backwoods melodies are accented with striking splashes of electronic tone color, obsolete keyboards and off-kilter percussion. Lyrically, Roomsound penetrates the breath of pirates, poison apples at a tango contest and the waiting room between death and canonization where missionaries have quit and 19th-century prostitutes have been rescued for all the wrong reasons. Masterfully produced by Brian Deck, the album is vaulted far beyond the sum of its parts. Roomsound is a hauntingly unique and distinctive record of crafted and sculpted beauty.
File Under: Indie Rock
Cheap High: Subterranean Suburbia (Dipstick) LP
From BC’s Fraser Valley comes the exciting sounds of Cheap High. They give a spirited performance on the eerie post-punk number “Time and Space, which features artsy sing/speak, goth/punk guitars and a percussion section that goes off like a carefully sequenced detonation.
File Under: Postpunk
Tashi Dorji & Tyler Damon: Both Will Escape (Family Vineyard) LP
Both Will Escape is the debut full-length between electric guitarist Tashi Dorji and percussionist Tyler Damon. In the long tradition of string/drum duets — from Bailey & Bennink to Haino & Yoshida — these two cleave out their own unmapped continent of sound. Across four pieces they connect lashes of ecstatic intensity and outer reaches of texture and timbre. At times Dorji’s brutal electric torrents meld into Damon’s metal and tonal abstractions. These two developed in parallel for years before forging an ongoing duo in 2015. Dorji has released a string of startling acoustic albums that’ve rescrambled six-string notions of jazz/improv/Flamenco. Damon’s rethink of overtone and rhythm is enraptured as it’s stupefying in solo exhibitions or with Mars Williams, Darin Gray and Thee Open Sex. Both Will Escape — their second release after a live cassette on Astral Spirits — was recorded by Patrick Kukucka at the Hi Z lo z Studio in Asheville, NC and mixed by John Dawson at Magnetic South in Southern Indiana. Edition of 500 LPs with download coupon.
File Under: Jazz, Free Improv
Kings of Leon: Walls (RCA) LP
Multi-platinum selling rock band Kings of Leon return with their hugely anticipated seventh studio album Walls, the follow-up to their Grammy Nominated 2013 effort Mechanical Bull. The group decided to revisit their recording roots in Los Angeles, CA, where they layed down their first two albums, working with famed producer Markus Dravs (Arcade Fire, Coldplay, Florence + the Machine) for the first time. Dravs pushed Kings of Leon in new directions on the organic 10-track set which finds the band experimenting with their signature sound and committing to the most personal material of their career. Bassist Jared Followel to Billboard, “He just said things that nobody had ever said to us. Like, ‘I don’t like that song, that’s not good, we can move on from that.'” Dravs also asked the band to change tempos and musical styles at the drop of a hat. “He’d be like, ‘OK, now play it like the Sex Pistols.’ And then you’ve turned a slow song into a fast one.”
File Under: Rock
Merchandise: A Corpse Wired for Sound (4AD) LP
Formed nearly a decade ago, galvanized by Tampa hardcore and inspired by its miscreant noise, A Corpse Wired For Sound signals a new chapter for Merchandise. Following 2014’s After The End – a full-band effort recorded in a closet – the band stripped back to its core of Carson Cox (vocals, electronics), Dave Vassalotti (guitar, electronics) and Pat Brady (bass). The trio traveled to Rosà, Italy for their first ever sessions in a recording studio at La Distilleria, with local producer Maurizio Baggio. The nine-song nocturnal A Corpse Wired For Sound was recorded half in the studio and half at home, in Tampa as well as Cox’s newly adopted bases of New York and Berlin – the culmination of a long-distance collaboration between Cox and Vassalotti. The album’s metallic title is inspired by a science fiction short story by JG Ballard, but equally sums up the band’s current state of mind. “We were ‘reborn’ as a rock band for After The End,” says Vassalotti, “and then we straight-up died again. It couldn’t last. The result is this distended corpse responding to you from both sides of the Atlantic, forever singing in spite of everything.” Cox expands further, “it’s about the truth of growing up. You can’t take your friends or lovers with you. It’s about finding peace with that loneliness.”
File Under: Post-Punk
Mono: Requiem for Hell (Temporary Residence) LP
MONO is a band driven by intangible conflicts. Their albums have found inspiration in the inescapable coexistence of love and loss, faith and hopelessness, light and darkness. Fittingly, their new album, Requiem For Hell, incorporates all of those conflicts into the one universal inevitability in life: Birth, and death. Requiem For Hell finds MONO returning to longtime friend and collaborator, Steve Albini. After MONO and Albini’s band, Shellac, toured Japan together last year, they realized how much they missed the (often wordless) creative dialogue they shared during the making of many of their most memorable albums – beginning with Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky… (2004) and culminating with Hymn To Immortal Wind (2009). The rebirth of the Albini collaboration for Requiem For Hell also coincided with the birth of a close friend’s first child, whose actual in utero heartbeat serves as the foundation for the aptly named “Ely’s Heartbeat.” For MONO, it all felt so right, so inevitable. Requiem For Hell is undeniably heavier and scarier than most of MONO’s output to this point – hear the dizzying 18-minute title track for example – but it also carries some of their most sublime moments. This dichotomy is how one band’s obsession with conflict has manifested itself into one of underground music’s simultaneously quietest and loudest catalogs.
File Under: Post-Rock
The Naked & Famous: Simple Forms (Somewhat Damaged) LP
Simple Forms is the third studio album by Los Angeles-based New Zealand indie electronic band The Naked and Famous. Simple Forms features the first single “Higher.” The band formed New Zealand in 2007 but relocated to Los Angeles five years later. The Naked And Famous consists of Alisa Xayalith (vocals, keyboards), Thom Powers (vocals, guitars), Aaron Short (keyboards), David Beadle (bass) and Jesse Wood (drums). The band has released two studio albums: Passive Me, Aggressive You (2010) and In Rolling Waves (2013). The Naked and Famous took their name from English musician Tricky’s song “Tricky Kid”, which is ambivalent about the notion of celebrity.
File Under: Indie Rock, Electronic
Red Fang: Only Ghosts (Relapse) LP
After three years of vigorously touring the world, Red Fang re-emerge with their greatest and latest full-length album, Only Ghosts. Produced by the legendary Ross Robinson (At The Drive In, The Cure, Slipknot) and mixed by Joe Baressi (Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss, Melvins), Only Ghosts consists of ten new tracks of the band’s signature, high-impact, hook-filled, hard rock. Red Fang prove once again they are top-notch songwriters who have mastered the heavy anthem without taking themselves too seriously. Only Ghosts is a rock album of incredible magnitude that demands to be played at maximum volume!
File Under: Metal, Stoner
Soul Mates: Snake Oil (Deathstryke) LP
“An ill-mannered rock ‘n’ roll outfit with tweaked-out riffs for miles and swagger to burn. They have the elusive severity of classic hardcore, but with an evolved and bizarre approach to tapping into that sound.” – Skot Hamilton (KEN mode/Adolyne/Grey Light District)
File Under: Noise Rock
Sonic Youth: Confusion is Sex (Goofin) LP
“Originally slated to be a seven-inch single to follow up their self-titled debut, Sonic Youth’s Confusion Is Sex blossomed into the band’s first album: a brain-bludgeoning, completely fried endeavor of dissonance and disarray, a perfect soundtrack for running from a chain-wielding gang near the SIN Club. This was the sound of 1983 New York City: nothing like London where punks were starting to scrub their faces and sounds to get on Top of the Pops , and nothing like the jangly roots of college radio rock starting to formulate in Athens, GA. “It sounded like no one else on Earth, for that matter. The raw, Wharton Tiers 8-track production is dark, the Kim Gordon-scrawled cover figure art of Thurston Moore is dark, Lee Renaldo’s back cover photo-collage and Catherine Ceresole’s crumpled-xeroxed images that adorned the inside are dark. It’s an album that moves Sonic Youth forward from their first EP almost by devolving backwards into true ugly, lo-fi primitivity “…While its confrontationalism might have put off some critics, time has rewarded Confusion with a truly distinctive air and atmosphere in the Sonic discography, enough to have Moore declare it his fave along with the band’s swan-song The Eternal.” – Brian Turner, WFMU
File Under: Art Rock, Noise
Warpaint: Heads Up (Rough Trade) LP
It’s easy to get the wrong impression about Warpaint. The band’s studio albums (including their most recent full-length, 2014’s Warpaint) have tended to emphasize moody atmospheres: gauzy keyboards, hypnotic harmonies and sinister grooves. In concert, however, the Los Angeles quartet – vocalist/guitarist Emily Kokal, vocalist/guitarist Theresa Wayman, bassist/vocalist Jenny Lee Lindberg and drummer/keyboardist/vocalist Stella Mozgawa – pair this moodiness with bumped-up tempos and sinewy beats. The music’s no less dark – but it has an additional rhythmic urgency and tension that can be surprising. Of course, confounding expectations has been part of Warpaint’s m.o. since the band formed in 2004. And so when the band convened to make their third studio album, Heads Up, they shared a common goal: to make a faster, dance-oriented record. “We’ve always had this really jammy, high-energy live show compared to some of our records,” Kokal says. “We all love to dance. We didn’t want to take away from the emotion or the core feeling of what our band is all about – which I don’t even think we could take out if we wanted, because it is who we are – but we wanted to bump the speed up and have a little bit more fun.” Mission accomplished.
File Under: Indie Rock