With 2,175 posts in 16 months, you're bound to miss something. We've gone ahead and gathered some of our favorite tracks from now and yesteryear that didn't get much play, but deserved it.
Hubble: “Nude Ghost”
Ital: “Only For Tonight (Dubout/Saviour’s Love Megamix)”
The Rebel: “Prove It”
[photos by Coley Brown]
By Ric Leichtung
Prince Rama is a band that's widely respected in the underground for their high energy performances and inimitable sound. But even after being in the band for more than five years, songwriter and keys player Taraka Larson still feels that "people [...] often misunderstand us." One respected but in this case hilariously off-base critic called them the harbingers of "the real witch house sound" on the grounds that they actually sounded like witches (rly?). Taking a look at their artwork and press photos, you'll notice a few reoccurring motifs that would make a blog troll's mouth water: occult imagery, clearly staged photos, and maybe my personal least favorite thing ever, glitter (editor's tangent: have you ever hosted a glitter orgy and had to clean it up? Shit's impossible get rid of). There are tons of lol-worthy videos that've inspired legions of Tumblrs dedicated to making fun of things with similar imagery. Take that strong aesthetic and add lyrics delivered in an abstract, self-created language, and then pile it even higher with a self-made, epistemological philosophy called "now age." There's a lot of room for ridicule here; their idiosyncrasies walk a fine line between radically insightful and completely detached from reality. But trust me when I say that this band should not be overlooked. The key to understanding Prince Rama is faith; they will not enlighten the close-minded.
AZ: Your music has a lot of Eastern elements in it-- is this a conscious choice, or more an intuitive one?
Taraka: I feel like it's more like inner landscapes. To me, music is a very visual thing, and I visualize landscapes and environments for sounds to live in, and I feel that the regions that come out through the music are places that I have internalized in some way. The Eastern music even, it's like "Yes, I can see how that can be seen as like, Eastern music," but for me, it was the music I grew up with.
Nimai: Growing up, our parents loved a lot of super-psychedelic stuff. We listened to a bunch of Hare Krishna music. But in Texas, we were living in such a conservative, Christian town that it wasn't conducive to psychedelic, '60s rock at all. And so my parents-- they used to be hardcore hippies-- would play that kind of stuff in the car for us and we would just think it was normal music. Eventually, we were in junior high and we decided to love Hanson, Backstreet Boys, and whatever was popular at the time.
Taraka: It's weird looking back on it now; it was like these two extremes that I totally embrace now. It's like extreme Eastern/spiritual/psychedelic music and extreme pop on the other end of the spectrum and neither one discounted the other. I was really into both.
Nimai: But even the pop that we were listening to still had a higher message... "MMMBop" is like a way of measuring time. In an "MMMBop," you're gone; in an "MMMBop," you're not there.
Taraka: That's so mystical!! [snickers]
AZ: [Laughs] Pop's always found a way like that. With 2012 around the corner, I’ve noticed how many pop songs revolve around the idea of the last chance, which sort of alludes to an apocalypse approaching. Britney Spears’ “’Til The World Ends,” Usher’s “DJ Got Us Falling In Love Again”…
Taraka: It's always been there… I'm really into apocalypses. I looked up eleven different ends-of-the-world within the past 50 years, and the number-one hit songs that corresponded with each of those-- they're strangely connected. This was almost too good to be true: the number-one hit for this last one, May 21st, 2011 [the date of Harold Camping's predicted Judgement Day], was ''Til The World Ends." And some have these weird survival messages; on Y2K, the number-one was Faith Hill's "Just Breathe." Pop is a dispenser of mass consciousness.
Finding success this year with two sold-out pressings from Angus Maclise-- the boho lifer who called John Cale a chump-- Boo-Hooray is issuing a third Maclise LP, Dreamweapon II, as well as limited re-pressings of the first two records in the series. Dreamweapon II features Maclise and his wife Hetty on a number of sounds-- mostly organs, bells, drums and voice-- and was originally available only as a CD-R. All three pressings are limited to 500 unnumbered copies. --Dale W. Eisinger, Altered Zones
A couple of weeks ago, we reported that Mike Collins' label Culture Dealer is accepting song-poem submissions for a new, limited cassette series. We couldn't resist, so we submitted our own that will soon find a home on a split cassingle with another, hopefully bizarre, submission. To channel the golden oddities of song-poems past, we arranged verbiage from some of the original Altered Zones contributors' posts to form the abstract poem that The Doobie Sisters Family Band-- a rotating cast of studio musicians assembled by Collins-- translated into an acid-washed shapeshifter that's worthy of both hip-twisting and cloud-gazing.
In the process of sending and receiving lyrics and artwork, I was able to ask Collins a couple of questions regarding the impetus of undertaking a project such as this. Besides citing Off The Charts: The Song Poem Story, he said, "I hate the idea of how many writers, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, etc. remain inactive because of self-consciousness, personal strife or lack of inspiration. That's just the whole idea for me. Before I really found my voice creatively, I was lucky to have a number of truly supportive close friends and collaborators, and my path now is to simply express myself and fuel the fire of others who might need an invitation to do so." If Altered Zones were a band, I don't know if it would sound like this, but with Mike Collins at the helm, it does. --Mark Craig, Altered Zones
We've provided the lyrics, and their source links for you after the jump. If you have $15, Culture Dealer is still accepting submissions
By Dale W. Eisinger
John Zorn is a complicated figure in the history of the American avant-garde. His performances are at times alienating, and on the whole dense. In the '70s, when he moved to New York and began making a name for himself as a saxophonist, composer, and founder of the performance art project Theatre of Musical Optics, he rejected much of the "cool" culture of his time. He flouted conventions of composition, performance, pedagogy, and promotion in order to retain total control over his work, and remains a linchpin of the sort of New York counter culture that is at once exclusionary and influential.
Zorn didn't dislike "scenes," per se, as he ran with very specific types of composers and performers-- Milford Graves, Bill Frisell, Arto Lindsay, Laurie Anderson-- in the Downtown Music movement of the '70s. Zorn was also instrumental in the rise of avant concert spaces in the city with his work at venues like Tonic and the original Knitting Factory. His performances, curation, and administrative work helped to sustain some of those first inklings of New York DIY. Currently, he's artistic director at Alphabet City's The Stone, a performance space he founded in 2005. His label, Tzadik, has released records from Merzbow, Mike Patton, Kayo Dot, and hundreds of other out and left-field artists since '95. Despite his underground ethos, his establishment accreditations are too many to list, and he's credited on more than 400 records as producer or performer.
But attempting to summarize or label the career of the avant-garde composer and multi-instrumentalist contradicts the spirit of his art. Zorn's been reluctant to deal with press over the years, saying we've done him no favors and caused him nothing but troubles. He's gone as far as asking journalists not to review his shows. As I told Zorn before this email interview, it was not our intent to paint him in false light, exploit his likeness, or make any assumptions of his work. I wanted to introduce him to a new set of listeners who may be unfamiliar with his unflinching autonomy and radical aesthetic sense. Zorn possesses a beautiful mind, one capable of elucidating his unique musical language for a younger generation of likeminded artists.
In what is intended to illuminate "the most important musical voices of our time," Zorn will appear at Columbia University's Miller Theater on Friday, December 9th as part of the space's Composer Portrait series. In addition to larger ensemble pieces, there will be four world premieres and one New York premiere of some newer compositions by Zorn, each technically demanding and written with a specific performer in mind: cellist Fred Sherry, violinist Jennifer Koh, pianist Steve Gosling, the Talea Ensemble, and conductor Brad Lubman. Afterwards, Zorn will play late-night organ improvisations at St. Paul's Chapel.
Pirako Kurenai and Kageo have been making minimalist guitar pieces together as Suishou No Fune since 1999, and with their latest live album, Bonsai No Ie, the duo's showing no signs of slowing down. Recorded in a concert held at Tokyo plant store, this pseudo-improvised standout is a nod to the somber side of Les Rallizes Denudes and later era Japanese psych bands that appeared on P.S.F. Records. --Ric Leichtung, International Tapes
Bonsai No Ie is on its last copies and is still available from 8mm Records
Former Skaters, Monopoly Child Star Searchers, Vodka Soap, and Pacific City Nightlife Vision Band member Spencer Clark is now going by Fourth World Magazine. "StarChild's Birth" is yet another track from his upcoming release for his own Pacific City Sound Visions, The Spectacle of Light Abductions. This one builds around a tenuous elastic loop until effervescent tides swell to an undertow. Clark explains: "It's the sound of a hybrid human-alien consciousness being transmitted through a satellite to the environment of earth." I'm glad someone has come to the public eye to confront this overlooked issue. -- Dale W. Eisinger, Altered Zones
The Spectacle of Light Abductions is available now via Pacific City Sound Visions
Since its debut earlier this year, Matthew Papich's Co La project has always exuded the exotic and the luxurious. Papich indirectly admits this, but his forays into the "New Anything" sound are all the evidence we need: fresh as a new suit, warm from soaking up the sun on some tropical yacht party, but always embodying a professional composure. A classy take on the sometimes bombastic game of electronic music where subtle re-inventions of the source material are allowed to roam freely, teasing us like the almost-nudes of each release's cover art.
With Daydream Repeater, the first vinyl full-length for NNA Tapes and for Co La, Papich extends this aesthetic to new peaks and makes more obvious the intriguing duality of his music. Because, even with all this talk of gentlemanly pursuits of epic proportions, Co La jams are raw as hell. While the ingredients are slick, the arrangement of them is usually hard-hitting in its simplicity. Bmore club's propulsion and pure energy are kept alive-- but in place of shouts, gun shots, and overt sexual gestures are the sweeping elegance of a cleanly cut Ronettes loop and classically Co La high-pitched vocal interjections. Even in territory where the dancefloor is a little less pronounced, like the off-kilter disco/dub stutter of "My Jamaican," there's a confidence in the material that empowers these recycled bits of culture to stand on their own. It's been Papich's game for awhile now, but after a hyped year of perfecting his craft, Repeater comes at the right time for him to make a definitive avant-luxury statement --Matt Sullivan, Altered Zones
Daydream Repeater is available now on NNA Tapes
Maria Minerva and d'Eon just dropped their own versions of "Birds of Paradise" and "Hey Sparrow," adding to Peaking Lights' ever-expanding roster of top notch remixers that includes the likes of DaM-FunK, Main Attrakionz, and Patten, all of whom appear on the forthcoming '936' Remix LP. But if you're craving even more from Madison's best husband-and-wife duo, Peaking Lights are curating additional 936 re-workings by Damu, Sunless '97, Cadenza, and Doldrums available streaming at 936.fm. --Mark Craig, Altered Zones via Gorilla Vs Bear
The UK/Europe release of 936 drops tomorrow on Weird World, the same place you can pick up the limited '936' Remix 12"
Between their known history and stylistic similarities, Christa Palazzolo and Sarah Brown's current project, Boy Friend, is destined to be compared to their former band-turned-solo-project, Sleep ∞ Over. But in "Egyptian Wrinkle," the Austin duo's title track from their upcoming debut proper for Berlin's Hell, Yes Records, they breathe an urgency into the wall of organ, synth, and slide guitar that is unique from the layered bedroom meditations of Forever, and more in line with this past year's Lovedropper 7" or their old work on the Outer Limits 7". On record, you can the electricity of their live set; Christa's lively, dancing croon while calmly multitasking behind her keys and Sarah's stoic, ruminating stance while methodically manipulating her echoing guitar seem as vivid in your mind as they would in real life. --Matt Sullivan, Altered Zones
The Egyptian Wrinkle LP is due to drop February 6th, 2012 on Hell, Yes Records
Out of feedback squalls and a rushed drum count-off comes a massive guitar banger, "The Finest Thing," the newest of Captured Tracks' 7" shoegaze reissues, this one from German noiseists Grabbel and the Final Cut. The band formed in 1989, two years after The Cure released "Just Like Heaven," which may point to the band's influence here--riff much on that guitar line, Grabbel? "Psycho Popsong" and "Out of Work and on the Dole" grace the 7" as well, dropping January 24. -- Dale W. Eisinger, Altered Zones
Greece's Keep Shelly in Athens just dropped the title track from their forthcoming EP for Planet Mu. "Campus Martius" thickens as its layers of synth melodies envelop this appropriately autumnal groove's piano loop. --Matt Sullivan, Altered Zones via Boiler Room
Campus Martius drops December 5th on Planet Mu
18-year-old Phoenician Jacob McNaughton, aka Galapagos, posted a chopped and chipmunked rework of Jennifer Hudson's "No One Gonna Love You" that has enough hiccuping pitch-shifted vocal stabs and dizzying arpeggios to keep you watching the young producer through the new year. Go ham on his Bandcamp and download his discography, and keep your eyes on his Soundcloud for more tracks to come. --Ric Leichtung, Altered Zones
The Emeralds synth man's last song, "Batteries May Drain" might've made you worry about the mortality of your everyday portable electrochemical cells, but with this new MP3, you don't have to live your life worrying anymore. Hauschildt consoles us with a song of regenerative introspection in "Already Replaced," taken from his latest, Tragedy & Geometry, which dropped yesterday on CD and double LP on Kranky. --Ric Leichtung, Altered Zones via The Fader
Denver's very own gothstar, Pictureplane, made this video for "Black Nails," taken from his sophomore LP for Lovepump United that was released earlier this year. Pictureplane gathered some film footage while hanging out in the Russia Federation's heavy industrial landscape-- which "smelled of poison" and felt "apocalyptic" to him-- and spliced it with animation by Rhinoceropolis founding member, Milton Melvin Croissant. The shots that appear in the little box throughout were actually taken by Egedy using his pocket dgital camera, showcasing cathedrals, da Vinci paintings, and crowd footage of a show with '90s thrash metal gods Master. Egedy says the footage aimed to "capture the amazing spirit of Russian culture and to portray the classic 'Russian soul' that my Russian friends say is becoming lost." --Ric Leichtung, Altered Zones