Anna Minard claims to "know nothing about music." For this column, we force her to listen to random records by artists considered to be important by music nerds.
NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (Merge)
Listening to this album was weird because I'd heard it before. But not like I heard it a while ago and didn't listen carefully. I've heard it because I hang out with a lot of people who make music, and it turns out they all adore Aeroplane. For the last six months or so, I've heard these songs played and sung by friends—on guitars and a cappella, alone and in two-part and three-part harmony, in public and in my living room and in basements. It's a musical currency that they've all been loving and trading for a decade, and I only just found out.
Recently, I was on a long road trip, listening to music for endless meandering highway hours, and I came across Aeroplane on a beat-up old iPod. On a whim, I pressed play. (Actually, first I asked permission, and the driver asked me if I was sure—I could listen to it for the first time only once, and was I ready for that to be now? I was.) Outside were miles of pointy trees and bluish-tinted mountains and some body of water I don't remember. It was evening, so the light slanted sideways in pale yellow sheets. It was the end of a trip back from somewhere dusty and hot and so dry we got nosebleeds, and we were marveling at the slow and welcome embrace of this damp, lush, fecund ghost world that is home.
Even with all the affection I had already for these songs, and the awe bestowed on them by my friends, I felt unwarned, unprepared for the way it got inside me. It felt both private and universal, just for me and also uniting me with everyone I've ever known.
(Paramount) In less than two years, 22-year-old Torontonian Abel Tesfaye, aka the Weeknd, has proceeded from anonymous YouTube poster to recipient of press accolades including "songbird of his generation" and "best musical talent since Michael Jackson" (MTV's John Norris). The variant of R&B employed by him and his ilk has been referred to as "PBR&B," "R-Neg-B," and "hipster R&B" by people who are likely tiresome to converse with. Ignoring such nonsense, it's possible to verify that Tesfaye indeed possesses a truly marvelous tenor, which he can stretch to great range, and that his productions are often even more interesting in their deconstruction and backward reassembly of traditional R&B templates.
Perhaphs my expectations were too high for Decibel Festival’s XLR8R showcase. With the crushing blow of the removal of British sample savant Actress from the bill due to visa complications, I was already let down before the show began. Things got better when some friends from out of town joined the caravan. We made our way into the city talking about Craig Johnson Records, Joe McPhee Music (Seattle shit, natch), Vancouver Jazz festivals gone by, and bop and acid jazz greats like Pharoah Sanders and Elvin Jones shows we were lucky enough to catch years ago.
The DJ set in the car ran from Dead Meadow to The Surfaris, and even some Greh Kihn band for good measure. Everyone was primed for something good.
This is Boe Oddisey of The Boe Oddisey Scarf Dance and Art Company. Boe was basking and doling to the J Rocc, Dam-Funk, Nosaj Thing, and Supreme La Rock of the Decibel Do-Over in the sun at the Broadway Performance Hall Plaza. Boe came to Seattle from Bremerton in 1971. He says, “Celebrate and seize the day.” Boe gives out hugs, and art, and is available for private parties. I love Boe. He’s a beautiful addition to our city. He says, “All fan mail welcomed at PMB B40, 1463 E. Republican St, Seattle, WA, 98102. Exotic and/or all age scarf dancing, comedy, abstract, acrylic painting, massage for you. Clean, sober, tobacco free, vegan option on life. Just do it. The time is now. We are here.”
by Dave Segal
on Sat, Sep 29, 2012 at 3:54 PM
Some incredible shit went down Friday at Decibel. Some of it sounded like this.
BIOSPHERE @ BROADWAY PERFORMANCE HALL Honestly, Biosphere (Norway’s Geir Jenssen) put on a more varied, dynamic show at last year’s Substrata. His set last night wasn’t bad by any means, but the first track’s rhythm remained unvarying for about 15 minutes. Don't get me wrong, it was a fine rhythm (tom/2 kicks & 4 cymbal taps), but some changes wouldn’t have gone amiss. Like a masterly soundtrack composer, Biosphere increased the tension of his teeming, momentous drones in subtle increments. There was something almost classically Hollywood about the suspenseful atmospheres and melancholy grandeur of much of Biosphere’s performance. Toward the end, things became more limpidly ambient until a chilling synth part came in, sounding like Bernard Herrmann’s shrieking strings from Psycho flattened into a monotone EEEEEEEE. Aaaand scene…
ELEH @ BROADWAY PERFORMANCE HALL Eleh is cloaked in mystery. His identity is known only to a select circle of initiates. His music is so minimal, it makes Pan_sonic sound like ELP. Last night, he sat on the floor in the dark, his back to the audience, as he caressed a keyboard and tinkered with a Serge modular synthesizer that looked like it was shipped straight from Morton Subotnick’s studio ca. 1968. (Thank Allah Eleh wasn’t playing yet another fucking silver Mac.) Eleh began with keening, wispy tones that curled over a perpetual, faint universal 60-hz hum. Eventually, booming bass belches, methodically spaced, issued like a belligerent household appliance rebelling against its duties. This was followed by a fluctuating bass tone that felt like a blanket sweeping over you and tucking you in for your eternal dirt nap. Par-TAY. The epitome of an anti-personality, Eleh got up and walked offstage without acknowledging the crowd, as his sound continued to was and wane. Soon after, the lights went on. The end.
EMPTYSET @ MELROSE MARKET STUDIOS If you thought nothing could top Thursday’s Modern Love Records showcase (mea culpa), Emptyset kind of proved you wrong at the Raster-Noton showcase. (Raster-Noton has been one of the best labels on the planet since 1999.) The British duo played techno that belonged in an S&M grindhouse, its vicious tones and vengeful beats meting out punishment for the sheer glee of it. Machismo played a role in this music, but it didn’t come off as obnoxious, even at its most militaristic (beats going off like artillery). Emptyset’s heavy, maximal tekno bore some of the most obese kickdrums ever to give speakers embolisms. At times, their brutalist, abstractions recalled Fred Bigot’s bass-intensive slugfests. At others, the tempo picked up to a swift yet still massively heavy cruising speed, augmented by crazy, serrated, mechanized textures. Often you felt like you were in the presence of an megalomaniacal automaton. Frequently you felt like you were in an abattoir—or a war. “That was original,” someone said afterward. Um, yeah.
The bass in mix for Erykah Badu and the Cannabinoids at the Paramount Theater was overpowering, and there were 17 laptops onstage. Actually I counted seven, with one of the Cannabinoids regularly pressing the “wind chime” button. On the floor, toward the rear of the Fabergé confines of the Paramount, the sound was a swampy mess. Reports from the balcony were that the bass overpowered up there as well. Her vocals were completely indiscernible, washed in realms of reverb and delay, but she still owned it powerfully. In the live context of her show with the Cannabinoids, Badu’s voice slots in more as an instrument, so understanding every word isn’t what I think she’s going for anyway. Highpoint was a Flying Lotus number off Until the Quiet Comes out October 2 in the US. Occasionally she palmed at a drum pad (hello bass) to her left, (with a brain to her right) sometimes topping off the plain of the song with a hand-tied 808 flurry. Projections sailed through seas of animated ganglia and Tron-world dolly shots of the pyramids. Songs mostly stayed on their own mid to down tempo flight paths with few key changes, and when they touched down, for my ears, the bass just overtook too much. It was one of those shows that seemed to drain, not charge. I love Erykah Badu, though; she can do no wrong. Maybe I should have been stoned. (Brain picture after jump.)
by Dave Segal
on Sat, Sep 29, 2012 at 10:01 AM
One can get blasé about yet another Seattle gig by Portland trippers Eternal Tapestry. However! The band's new album, A World Out of Time, is their best yet. They've channeled the mantric, churning boogie of Terry Riley and John Cale's Church of Anthrax, the fuzz-toned girth of krautrock gods Faust at their most transcendental, and the rambling beauty of Swedish prog-rock giants Älgarnas Trädgård. It kills me that I'm going to miss this show because of Decibel Festival. Maybe you can tell me about it. Stenskogen—a crucial side-project/supergroup composed of Midday Veil's David Golightly, A Story of Rats/Dull Knife's Garek Druss, and Portable Shrines' Aubrey Nehring—are gifted gurus of the drone. They lay out a bounty of spiritual sound that can nourish you for weeks.
· The artist who is Prince and also a symbol and also the color purple has an Afro now. It could be bigger, but so far it's looking pretty good.
· The Evaporators played a most excellent show at the Funhouse over the weekend. Nardwuar totally still has it! Patrons of the Lower Queen Anne establishment were dismayed, though, by the darkened back porch area where showgoers usually gather to smoke, play basketball, and flash one another. Apparently, the fire department told the Funhouse to remove the extension cords that powered the back porch tent lights because they were deemed too dangerous. But a completely pitch-dark porch area where a bunch of tipsy Friday nighters are reveling is as safe as can be?
· The 2012 Genius Awards party was a smashing success! Big congratulations to Lori Goldston, this year's music Genius! And to all the Geniuses and fine (like, fiiiine) folks who participated in the joy. "Everyone looked better than normal this year," observed an anonymous Stranger staff member. The Seattle Rock Orchestra concluded the ceremony with Michael Jackson hits, causing spontaneous stage dancing to occur. A single surprised security guard attempted to keep the stage-hopping at bay, but you simply aren't allowed to tackle someone if they are wearing sequins and/or a bow tie.
This is the inaugural edition of the "Fuck, It's Late, We're Bored, Everybody Left in the Office Donate One Thing to This Pile" Line Out trivia contest! This goes out to you, people who work late on Fridays (we're sorry!) and people who read Line Out on the weekend (that's dedication!).
Trivia Question: What song did Negative Approach's John Brannon sing at karaoke in New Orleans last June?
One lucky winner will receive:
FREE! FREE! FREE! Enter now!
· A signed* copy of Wilson Phillips's newest album, Dedicated! · One Caffé Vita gift card with "like, a dollar" on it! · One WINNING Lucky Kelly O™ Scratch ticket (value: $1)! · A McDonald's Monopoly sticker thing for a FREE medium fries! · A coupon for a free 7-Eleven brand bag of chips!
Leave your answer and/or dumb jokes in the comments! Winner will be chosen at random and notified in the comments, and can pick up the prize package at our offices. IT'S FRIDAY! HAVE A GOOD WEEKEND! GOOD NIGHT!
It's to the advantage of artists and audiences alike that Decibel discourages flash photography and limits picture-taking to the first three songs of each set (there might be exceptions, but those were the basic rules laid out in the press logistics mailing). It's also why the photos below aren't all that great, but at least you get the gist of Brooklyn's Julianna Barwick and London's Maria Minerva, who both performed solo at the Triple Door as part of the Optical 2: Ascension showcase (I wasn't able to catch Lulacruza and Anenon, who rounded out the bill).
by Dave Segal
on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 4:45 PM
Stranger photographer Jack Newton snapped some sweet pics of Orbital last night at the Paramount. A friend who went said he left after 30 minutes because Orbital sounded "too normal." What's your take?
Lee Harvey Oswald Band was a Touch & Go label studio-ONLY group who were active in the early/mid '90s, tho' their first EP did come out in 1989. Considering they WERE a cheeky (ahem) novelty/studio thing, all their records, The Lee Harvey Oswald Band (1989), A Taste of Prison (1994) and Blastronaut (1996), still hold up. Not a difficult feat, really, considering all three records are filled with ROCKIN' JAMS, jams that are seemingly taking the piss out of the underground AND the swagger of hair/rock ROCK bands. Dig it!
Okay, great band, BUT THEY WEREN'T A REAL BAND, aaaaaannnnd no one has ever copped to who was ACTUALLY in the band!! SO, dearest readers, has anyone fucking ever sussed out who REALLY were the players in the Lee Harvey Oswald Band?! Erm, I KNOW, obviously, the Didjits' Rick Sims was in the band. I'd recognize that voice anywhere, but the rest? For years, any time I spoke to ANYONE at Touch & Go I bugged 'em about the LHOB, but all I ever got was a giggle and an "I dunno, man." Here is all the Touch & Go website will give up...
Hot flashes of light delivered by cloud, seeding the metallic ether in ways that make even the most high-balled rock and rollers eat their own dirt.
Born in a five-star whorehouse in the great state of Texas (population: FUCK YOU), the Lee Harvey Oswald Band is a pack of wild dogs begging at your table for sexual scraps and demanding the quick extinction of your dull affairs.
Right, it has been like TWO decades now. Someone HASTA know SOMETHING!!
by Dave Segal
on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 3:42 PM
Last night, my little slice of Decibel was so intense and amazing. It went something like this…
MARIA MINERVA @ TRIPLE DOOR Maria Minerva looked like she was dressed to perform some modern dance, but instead she (wo)manned her gear with one hand and gripped the mic in the other. With these rudimentary tools, she enchanted a sedate crowd at Triple Door, a venue that always seems too posh for the music I go there to hear. Minerva slung her voice like a lasso, flamboyantly swooping up and down her register while coaxing distorted keyboard ululations. Her set largely explored a languid sort of dub and electronic pop hybrid, but sometimes diverged into deep drone zones, sculpted airplane-engine roar, lopsided house music, midtempo funk, and, during the last track, a Moog-like babble that evoked Mort Garson, Dick Hyman, and Gershon Kingsley. Lots of people were leaving throughout the performance (probably to see Orbital, who, according to reports I heard, were weak). Bad choice, people.
DJAO @ BARBOZA I will keep saying this until it happens (or it doesn’t): Local producer DJAO (aka Alex Osuch) is going to blow up, any year now. He led off the Dropping Gems showcase with a masterly set of slow-your-roll hiphop/future bass spectrality that had the crowd transfixed. DJAO contrasted ocean-floor bass pressure with ethereal tone impressionism and angelic croons (his own) to stunningly beautiful and yearning effect. And as the sole practitioner of Chiltonwave™, he scropped and chewed Big Star’s “Thirteen” until it gradually deliquesced into a pool of molasses-y loveliness. DUG DJ Jon François said, “I like [DJAO’s music] because I feel like I’m alone when I’m listening to it, even in a club.” Achieving that sort of intimacy is a special skill.
CUT HANDS @ MELROSE MARKET STUDIOS I hate to be that guy, but if you missed the Modern Love Records showcase at MMS, you fucked up, badly. Cut Hands (William Bennett of Whitehouse, looking like your favorite humanities professor) unleashed a sadistic rhythm orgy, a relentless barrage of percussion and flayed frequencies, for a little over an hour. It was one of the most intense sets I’ve seen at Decibel, and I’ve been going since year 1. Cut Hands’ most recent album is titled Afro Noise, and that’s what the man delivered. An iconoclastic Caucasian Brit messing around with Ghanaian and Congolese rhythms risks accusations of cultural colonialism, but fuck, this shit sounds phenomenal, so loosen up, Mr. Politically Correct. Bennett, now in his 50s, danced feverishly to his own clattering madness, an elephant stampede of kick/kettle drums—or maybe frame drums the size of a satellite dish? Whatever they were, they left you dazed and contused. Frequent metallic tonalities clanged like gangbusters and drums progressively became more weapon-like as the night wore on. You couldn't help feeling thoroughly pummeled. So damn primal...