The guitar on Benjamin Verdoes’ song “The Future is a Bandit” spins out and works like a zoetrope - a cylindrical device that produces moving images when a viewer looks through vertical slits at a rapid succession of static pictures or impressions. Verdoes’s voice flows over the animation softly and effulgent. The quick pace continues through to the end, where the zoetrope is reset with new images to spin. “The Future is a Bandit” is off Verdoes’ new full length The Evil Eye out on Brick Lane Records. Many melodies preside inside, played and mixed exquisitely at Crybaby Studios and The Red Room by Samuel Miller and Ephriam Nagler. Verdoes, who is one half of Iska Dhaaf, has been a busy man as of late. He spoke.
Walk me through the gauntlet of the riff on “The Future is a Bandit.” How did you land on it?
I usually write when I lose my awareness of the fact that I am playing guitar. I just sit there in the space between thinking and zoning out. I imagine that part of my psyche was wound up and unraveled in that riff. It kind of sprawls and weaves around. Around that time I was trying to write clearer parts and melodies so I tried making it feel like it was marching onward despite the fact that it changes time signatures and goes through rhythmic shifts, etc.
Is it tricky to play that song, and sing, emoting the meaning of the song? Seems like it would be tricky.
Playing it with a full band is tough because I can't hear all the notes and I get lost. Then I worry about the fact that I'm lost and forget the words. When I forget the words I try to recover and remember them, which causes me to miss more notes on the guitar. It's a vicious cycle, really.
What's the story of the song? You sing, "I saw us in a vision." Talk about the vision. What else did you see? Have you ever taken ayahausaka?
It was influenced by a few things. I wrote the words soon after my mother died. I was fixating on the emptiness that comes when a relationship goes away. In the vision I saw the inevitable end that comes to our experience - as we understand it. I was dwelling on the elaborate ways we try to evade and escape death, and even the thought of it. The idea was also inspired by my girlfriend's then-chronic worrying about the future. Like many songs on the record, I wrote it for her. My goal was to acknowledge the uncertainty and fragility of life, but then zoom into the specific joys and wonder of our relationship and the simple ways we can deal with existential dread. I have not taken ayahausaka. Perhaps I should.
Benjamin Verdoes plays tonight at The Triple Door for the vinyl release of The Evil Eye with Seattle Rock Orchestra, Melodie Knight, and John Van Deusen (The Lonely Forest).
Com Truise makes sounds that are '80s-routed, slow-mo mood rings. Put the mood ring on, let it read your body-temp, it will shine some shade of aqua marine. The synth-loped sounds always seem to find the secret passage way. "Sundriped" looks through the '78 lens for bulbous rounded graininess and delay. It's the jam, if we're using jam to describe jams. Com Truise is New Jersey producer Seth Haley. He’s just released an EP on Ghostly International called Wave 1, and he took a moment to speak.
Musically, where do you come from. What did you listen to growing up, as young Com Truise? I’m definitely subliminally inspired by the '80s. When my mother was pregnant with me, she went to a Culture Club concert with me in her womb. I saw, or should say heard Boy George as an unborn. I think that affected me somehow [laughs]. I remember riding around in her car, and listening to Billy Joel, and Bette Midler, Tina Turner, Kenny Loggins, and Michael Jackson. It never really hit me until like four years ago. I was working in advertising. Coworkers always used to push synth pop on me, and '80s stuff. Not in a bad way. They’d send me things, and I’d say, “Yeah yeah, I’ll listen to it.” But then the folder would just sit there in my download files forever. I was more into drum 'n' bass, and ambient stuff. I can’t remember exactly when I let my wall down, but at some point the '80s music hit me. And I completely saturated myself in it. And was baffled at how I hadn’t gotten into before. So much music came out of that period, and the equipment, and everything. I’d research and research, and surf and surf and surf. And dig. And look through the liner notes of albums to find out what synthesizers these bands would use.
You did a remix for the Tron Legacy soundtrack. How was it remixing an orchestral score? How did that remix land in your lap? The guy that did the music supervision on the movie is a DJ in California for KCRW. He knew Sam Valenti. My remix was last minute. They were looking for another one, and Sam thought I would be good for it. They sent me all the stems, it took like three hours to download them all. Three gigs of stems, all this orchestral stuff. I maybe used 100 megabytes of them [laughs]. It was my first major instrumental remix. Definitely a challenge, because I was used to vocals. The Tron song was amazing, but it was from a score. I wanted to make it sound like me, but didn't know how I would tie it all in? I found strings that happen at the end of the song, and were able to make them work. And time signatures for scores aren’t forgiving, very weird stuff. I basically had to restructure the entire thing, which was big learning experience for me, to make be a semi-dance music format.
Lakutis and I are in New York City, just a few blocks from Times Square at Dave & Busters. Video games beep and ring and flash, soliciting money. Consoles emit chiptunes and radio pop blares loudly overhead. His new album Three Seashells will be released in the morning. I’ve been waiting for two months to hear it, but there’s been some delays in releasing the album, though neither of us know what those are.
"Wait, is this your album release party?" I ask.
“I was thinking that to myself earlier," he laughs. "My unofficial album release party at Dave & Busters.”
Lakutis and his closest friends all came down from Washington Heights looking for a new Korean video game that "pays you" to harpoon fish, but the American version isn’t the same. “The mechanics are all fucked up on this version,” he tells me. It must be true, it’s the one game nobody is crowded around. Meanwhile, his pal DVS—the only other rapper to feature on his new album—is absolutely killing it at trivia. I want to ask him what he’s been up to as well, but anytime someone speaks to him his wild eyes look back with a shut-the-hell-up-I’m-concentrating glare.
“I’ll get the new album to you, no wait, fuck it, you can download it tomorrow like everyone else.” We laugh. That’s Lakutis, he’s not even trying to be funny, he just is.
"I saw the 'Jesus Piece' video though," I say.
“I’m obsessed with the YouTube views on that right now. I don’t want it to have millions of views, I’m shooting for like Thug Waffle exposure, though,” Lakutis says. We check on my phone. “Thug Waffle” has 800,000 views, “Jesus Piece” has 8,000.
It's 9 a.m. and she is in bed with her dog. She is in Los Angeles; I am in Seattle. We are having a conversation over the phone about a jazz album, Except Sometimes, she recently released.
Most people do not know her as a jazz singer, but as the star of three films that straddle the middle of the 1980s—Sixteen Candles (1984), The Breakfast Club (1985), Pretty in Pink (1986)—and define a significant movement in American popular culture that had John Hughes as its creative force. Molly Ringwald's red hair and full pink lips form an image shared by a generation that's now in its middle age. But behind that pop image is, of course, a person who is not much like the characters she played in the '80s, particularly the one in Pretty in Pink (my favorite of the Ringwald Trilogy). The real person is instead a woman who was raised in a house filled with the sounds of a serious musician, Robert Scott "Bob" Ringwald—a jazz pianist who happens to be blind and also her father.
And here's all our recommended music events—tonight, tomorrow, this weekend, and beyond!
The buildings that once stood next to Linda's Tavern have been demolished, except for a single brick wall—the paint-by-numbers mural that separates the establishment from the fresh dirt lot next door. The earnest endeavor of Linda Derschang (a Colorado native who moved to Seattle in 1987 to open a clothing shop), Bruce Pavitt, and Jonathan Poneman (the founders of local record label Sup Pop), Linda's opened with four beers on tap and no food, and became an immediate institution—a place musicians worked and hung out, a place to meet your friends and talk for hours. A full liquor license, a kitchen addition, and two decades later, Linda's remains, in location and spirit, more or less the same since opening in February of 1994: a neighborhood bar, no matter how the neighborhood changes. I talked with the owners, folks who worked there back in the day, folks who are currently working there, and regulars who hung out there and/or drank there, and drank there some more, about the resilient culture of a little tavern called Linda's.
And here's all our recommended music events—tonight, tomorrow, this weekend, and beyond!
Part 3 of a 3 part interview conducted with Los Angeles DIY label Deathbomb Arc, on the birth of clipping., the meaning of experimental music, and the curses and blessings of liking everything:
“I might be the wrong person to answer that,” Steven Cano (aka tik///tik) says “when I’m making my music I feel like I’m Selena in the middle of everything. For me it’s another version of pop music, and that’s how I attack it. It doesn’t mean I don’t listen to other noise artists, but that’s how I know how to make music, that’s where it comes from”
“I love the sounds, personally. I find them exciting, and for me that’s all there needs to be is that the sounds are pleasing to my ears.” Jonathan Snipes says.
“What’s the point of any music?” Bill Hutson says, then crosses his legs and looks away and laughs.
But from I.E. comes something poignant as usual:
“The first time I heard these guys was over The Smell speakers and the hair stood up on my arms. I never knew what noise music was, but I kind of made it, and then when I was starting to become an artist I had the same feelings as these guys, like maybe everyone was a white supremacist or something, and being part of a group meant just getting together and collectively hating things. I tried to hang with punkers, because where I grew up hiphop was the music of gangsters, and though hiphop was my whole life, I didn’t want to be a gangster. Then I met these guys and they had this funky way of liking everything and playing it loud. I didn’t know what noise was but I saw tik///tik, and Beach Balls, and I just felt awesome. I felt so happy that there were people who didn’t discount anything or put things in a box”.
The conversation drifts and I let it. Most of these people haven't sat in the same room together in some time, and combined they have decades of experience making art. Clearly we have music in common, but just like I love to talk about Seattle, they love to talk about LA.
Hutson: “There’s also sort of an assumption—and you see this a lot when you play places that aren’t big cities or you interact with people who like noise but aren’t from big cities—there’s an idea that you’re making an extreme kind of music because you don’t like the music that the guys who picked on you in high school listened to. There’s an assumption that if you like noise that you dislike other things, like because you make this music you don’t like Mandy Moore, but the opposite is true in LA; you can do both.”
Snipes: “There’s so many weird nested little music scenes here that you’re not just part of the 'music scene' there’s a place for you here no matter what you do."
Brian Miller: “What’s been hard to find outside of LA is a scene of people who don’t play music that sounds the same, where the people are related by more abstract concepts and will share the same bill. There is a place for lots of acts who are not appropriate bar-rock acts.”
Hutson: “I’m interested in the character of underground LA music. For instance, what are you doing making music for a very small group of people in the city that produces mainstream culture for most of the world? You can’t be sanctimonious about it, either, because no one here is actually proud of LA. This is a city that when you leave and tell someone where you’re from they have no problem telling you how much they fuckin' hate it. Then they go home turn on their TV and look at my fuckin' city”.
Snipes: “I love LA for that reason. I’m scared of civic pride anyway. It’s like nationalism to me. I love a lot of cities, but I love Los Angeles because we don’t have that. Being from LA is neutral in a weird way, because we’re all at odds with our environment.”
Hutson: “Talking to Sub Pop and playing in Seattle at the Silver Jubilee I couldn’t believe how much un-ironic pride there was in something so simple as a little record label. The whole city stopped, you guys flew a Sub Pop flag from the Space Needle! I saw the mayor walking around the concert in a Sub Pop T-shirt. I just couldn't imagine that happening in LA. Could you imagine a street fair and our landmarks flying flags because we’re proud we made Transformers 3 this year? I love the sincere pride in a cultural product from the city. I told everyone that while I was there.”
This is the genesis of Deathbomb’s latest group project, True Neutral Crew, a trio consisting of Brian Miller, Daveed Diggs, and I.E. that seeks to make music from a truly neutral standpoint. Their original idea for their #Monsanto EP was an album written from Monsanto's point of view. Thankfully, being truly neutral, they made what came out—a smartly written, well-rhymed noise-rap record. But the very structure of the group is representative of their isolation, their lack of an option to have an opinion about. Their refusal to participate in a broken system.
After the show I tried to find more music, but the internet had very little to offer—I could only find one lonely track on Bandcamp. So I tracked 'em down to find out where they came from and yell at them about not having more music available to me at that very minute. Thankfully, 2014 is going to be a big year for the band—they recently signed to No Idea and will release both an EP and a split 7" on the label later this spring (the latter being with the band Sunshine State, featuring Warren Oakes from Against Me!—rad!), so soon we'll all be able to hear their songs about the Funhouse, the Mariners, beer, and nostalgia.
First of all, I'll need a little background because I don't know anything about you. Who all is in Dead Bars?
John Maiello: Dead Bars is myself and drummer C.J. Frederick. We have had many combinations of bassists and guitar players in our short time as a band, but C.J. and I are the core. We currently have a solid, full line up that we are working with, though. l write all the songs, and played guitar and bass on the recordings. When we play live, I just sing.
And how about your musical history? What bands have y'all been in in the past?
JM: C.J. and I have been playing drums in punk and hardcore bands for forever—too many to name. I had never picked up a guitar until a few years ago when I started writing Dead Bars songs (hence why I don't play guitar live... I don't really know how to).
Tell me how Dead Bars came together. It was a great surprise to see an awesome local pop punk open the Swearin' show and I'm embarrassed to say I hadn't heard of you guys before that. So where have you been hiding?
Part 2 of a 3 part interview conducted with Los Angeles DIY label Deathbomb Arc, on the birth of clipping., the meaning of experimental music, and the curses and blessings of liking everything:
I’d just brought up my theory that hiphop as a movement is incorrectly labeled as sexist. That people, rappers, as individuals can be called out for their actions or their speech, but the movement cannot. People don’t attack thespianism as a whole because the actor who plays Don Draper on Mad Men gives a sexist performance on TV, so what’s the difference with rap?
“Some people don't understand that. People do think that musicians go on stage and are the ultimate version of themselves,” Brian Miller adds.
People imprint themselves on music like no other art form. clipping.’s work especially has been regarded as more aggro than deserved (in my opinion) and Bill Hutson helps me understand why when I bring up the fact that I have feelings for abstract art (I feel as emotional at the lines of Judd and paint blotches of a Frankenthaler as I do at good music), yet I still understand the painters and sculptors of that period were not referencing me.
“But even abstract art was sold on the rugged individualism of Pollock as some cowboy. With the artist as the character and not the art,” Hutson interjects. “It’s all a bunch of bullshit to me,” he says, before shrinking back into his shoulders and staring into his wine.
Jonathan Snipes explains: “I always thought of my Captain Ahab lyrics as a sort of musical timbre. I responded to Miami Bass and Detroit Ghetto House music. I liked the drum machine sounds, the way they were programmed, the synths, and the words. The words in those songs just so happen to mostly be about women’s butts.” (Everyone at the table giggles. it makes sense, sort of.) “It wouldn’t be that type of music if we weren’t talking about women’s butts. The words you’re using can be a timbre choice. I think the same is true for clipping. I don’t feel like I’m allowed to say that, because I don’t write the words for clipping., but I would say that’s true of that band as well.”
Part 1 of a 3-part interview conducted with Los Angeles DIY label Deathbomb Arc, on the birth of clipping., the meaning of experimental music, and the curses and blessings of liking everything:
I love Seattle, but after developing a nasty case of seasonal-affected malaise last month, I did what any miserable person would do: took some work in Los Angeles, California. I later realized that the dates I’d be there included the evening of the Grammys. I began to imagine a scenario in which an award would be given to artists who take chances with music rather than make popular music, and little Los Angeles label Deathbomb Arc came to mind. I did what any self-doubting writer would do: I requested an interview.
Deathbomb Arc is the label that birthed Sub Pop signees clipping., a group whose music works as much to entertain as it does to muddle and expand genre. Their 2013 release midcity did the unlikely and combined two of my great loves: electroacoustic interference music and hiphop. I wanted to understand the genesis of their sound, so I talked to label boss Brian Miller and to my surprise in one evening he’d rounded up two-thirds of the members of clipping., Jonathan Snipes, and William Hutson (Daveed Diggs was away and unavailable), rapper I.E. (Margot Padilla), noise musician Tik//Tik (Stephen Cano) and label videographer and graphic designer Cristina Bercovitz for an all-pro interview session.
I did my best to avoid the Grammys in LA. I sped up Mullholland drive, tumbled down Topanga Canyon, and watched paddle boarders surf in the sunset at Malibu. I went to Watts, talked to the daughter of Harlem Renaissance player Leo Trammel about the Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center. We agreed Los Angeles’ legacy of great musicians (Eric Dolphy, Schoolboy Q, John Cage, Ice Cube, Tyrese Gibson, Barry White just to name a few) was shamefully not its most recognized feature. I watched a girl play guitar at Watts Towers, heard her father sing, and became aggravated at the police helicopters looming overhead. I relaxed in the sun. That evening I found my way to Mid City LA and met the Deathbomb Arc crew at the home of Jonathan Snipes. We sat around the kitchen table and talked. My malaise melted and was recast as a sense of belonging.
My first exposure to clipping. was through their mixtape for No Conclusion. The group took a leak of Kanye West’s Yeezus, and the idea from their Twitter followers that Kanye might have been listening to clipping. during its making, and put together a mixtape over their favorite parts of his leaked songs (there weren’t many) that included their favorite rap music from the year prior. The person who pointed me toward clipping. mentioned to me that this label had been releasing artists music on cassette like the medium never went out of style. clipping. released an untitled cassette on Deathbomb and very few sold until their album midcity drew attention with a free online download. Midcity was also later released on cassette. I asked Brian Miller about that.
A t the end of their Rise Ye Sunken Ships touring run, the now-Seattle-based Augustines (previously We Are Augustines and Pela) had become a bit burnt from being constantly mobile, constantly up and down from performing, and constantly away from their Brooklyn home base. Billy McCarthy (vocals, guitar), Eric Sanderson (bass, keyboards), and Rob Allen (drums) had been touring nonstop for two and a half years. But instead of holing up somewhere to rest and settle the dust for a change, McCarthy did the opposite—traveling had been so imprinted into his blood, he couldn't break from it. So to recharge, he visited Kenya, Turkey, Mexico, and Alaska, eventually returning to the Applegate, California, elementary school where he first learned an instrument. There, while being observed by students and teachers, he worked on the Augustines' latest, self-titled album, out February 4 on Votiv/Oxcart Records. McCarthy's voice is immediately identifiable. There's brawn and rapture to it that pours out over the builds of the band's unfeigned rock and roll. The songs have a sense of triumph and fruition, while at the same time knowing heartache. When he was a teenager, McCarthy lost his mother to suicide. He took care of his schizophrenic brother, but his brother became homeless while battling drug addiction and eventually ended up in solitary confinement in prison, where he took his own life. In November 2012, Augustines convened at a converted 19th-century country church in Geneseo, New York, for a month to work on new material. Then they headed to Bridgeport, Connecticut, to record with coproducer Peter Katis (the National, Interpol, Jónsi) at his Tarquin Studios. McCarthy spoke from Sea-Tac Airport just before getting on a plane to the UK.
And here's all our recommended music events—tonight, tomorrow, and beyond!
The neat folks at blank on blank / PBS Studios have unearthed another interview with one of our most favorite Northwest sons (see also Kurt Cobain). Holy wow, I love hearing Jimi's voice. And now I also want to wake up, roll out of bed, and swim on over to my breakfast table for some orange juice. Damn, Jimi. You were a chilly-chill dude.
Queens, NY chef-turned-rapper Action Bronson seemingly emerged out of nowhere in 2011 with his debut Dr. Lecter, a ‘90s-East-Coast-revivalist mixtape full of heavily-accented narratives and vivid food punchlines over dusty, soul-sampling boom-bap beats. Both his throwback style and consistent releases (not discounting his imposing appearance but flippant demeanor) have made him a constant fixture on rap blogs over the last few years, and his latest tour for his Blue Chips 2 collaborative mixtape with Brooklyn production duo Party Supplies is finally bringing him to Seattle for a show. I caught up with him on short notice for a quick interview while he was on the road from Denver to Utah. The call was dropped four times, but he still had plenty to say.
**Read all responses in husky New-Yorker accent for full effect**
Hey, what’s going on Mr. Bronson?
How are you, sir?
Man just chillin, enjoying this very Seattle day.
That’s what it’s all about. I’m fuckin’ driving through goddamn Denver right now.
Okay, okay, the other state where weed is legal. You enjoying yourself out there?
I was in the other state where weed is legal, the other Super Bowl contending state, you know.
So who you got in the Super Bowl this year, who do you like?
Listen man, I’m gonna go with the Seahawks in Overtime.
Okay yeah, I like that. should be a close game either way you know. Our defense verses that high-powered offense…
I mean it is what it is man, it’s fucking Peyton Manning! Let’s see how good that defense really is.
So you’ve never been to Seattle before, I remember on your last tour you were in Vancouver and Portland. But you missed Seattle, and a lot of people were bummed.
I actually never went to Portland either, I just went to Vancouver. I mean listen, it’s not like I get to choose where I go, you know what I’m sayin? I get a schedule and I’m like ‘damn what happened here,’ they always give me a schpiel, they always give me a story of why it didn’t go down and that’s that. I’m happy I’m going man. The only time I only been in Seattle was in the airport and my cousin happened to steal like AT LEAST $500 worth of merchandise somehow.
[Laughs] nice, that’s what’s up. Do you get in Seattle right before the show, or are you going to have time to hang out and see the city at all?
We’re gonna be there a couple days, like three days. I’m gonna watch the Super Bowl there.
Oh, word. Do you know where you’re gonna watch it yet?
I don’t know, what should I do? I was thinking about buying a flatscreen and taking it to the hotel room. Then give it away in Portland. I’m gonna fucking sign it if the Seahawks win and give it away.
Sounds cool. If the Broncos win, what are you gonna do with it?
I’m gonna fucking smash it.
[Laughs] Okay, so you have money on the game then?
I always have money on the game.
Right, I feel that. You got a favorite player on the 'Hawks while we’re talking about the Super Bowl?
I actually love [Strong Safety] Kam Chancellor. He’s a fucking animal, man. I also like [Defensive End] Michael Bennet. He’s a fucking beast, I liked him when he was on [Tampa Bay] Bucs. Who else do I love? I love a bunch of fucking players on the team, man. I love Marshawn Lynch, I loved Steve Hutchinson. He was a fucking great lineman for the Hawks, then he came over to the Vikings… I was a big fan.
Yeah he was one of our all-time greats. Speaking of Marshawn Lynch—I know you’re a big smoker, too. Did you know they have a strain of weed out here named after him called Beast Mode Kush?
My friend Lucas likes to chug beer and run into the side of small sheds to see if he can knock them over. He sits in his car, slams Hamm's or Rainier, and listens to music to get fired up beforehand. He's a large guy, but I don't think he's ever actually knocked a shed over—he just gets off on the release from the impact. The other day, I slipped Lucas a copy of Wimps' new EP, Party at the Wrong Time (out on Help Yourself Records), and asked him to make it the music for his next shed-dozing escapade. I told him I wanted a review when he was finished. Two days later, Lucas called back, yelling, "Fucking drencher, yeah!" I asked him if that was good, and he said, "Oh yeah, I fucking loved it. Those songs are perfect for shed-hits. It's rhythm 'n' balls." There you have it. It's also scrappy punk, full of feisty, negativistic decrees. Party at the Wrong Time is Wimps' second release, and the trio of singer/guitarist Rachel Ratner, drummer Dave Ramm, and bassist Matt Nyce sounds spunky and honed. Ratner sings with hearty charges, issuing bummer-mandates in call-and-response with Nyce. Peppered lyrical content ranges from animal medicine to economic funk to phone tapping. For the interview, we imagined we were in an imaginary steak house. Lucas was not there.
And here's all our recommended music events—tonight, tomorrow, this weekend, and beyond!
Opening in a rough-around-the-edges Ballard (can you imagine?) during Seattle's 1990s music-explosion heyday, the Tractor Tavern did something a little different by catering to the Americana, roots, folk, bluegrass, singer-songwriter, and alt-country scenes. Situated on the now hoppin' Ballard Avenue, the old girl has managed to maintain a fairly sweaty, boot-stompin' atmosphere—a dusty oasis in the midst of an increasingly artisanified neighborhood.
In anticipation of the upcoming milestone, I chatted with Greg Garcia—the Tractor's booker since 2008—about craft cocktails. Just kidding, we talked about sleazy fishermen and that time King Khan and the Shrines drank two gallons of Jameson.
What are your memories of the Tractor and Ballard before you started booking there? I have always been a fan of the Tractor for as long as I could get into bars—I'm 36 now. I played some of my first shows as a musician here and would frequent shows for bands like Willis and the Clumsy Lovers back in the day.
Ballard was really the closest thing you could get to a drunken fisherman village. Blue-collar guys coming off the boats from Alaska with pockets full of money, just wantin' to score chicks and drink, and that was pretty much it [laughs]. An old Norwegian fishing village. My mom worked at the old Shilshole Broiler restaurant on Market from the time I was in fourth grade until it closed in the mid '90s. Lots of drunken fishermen came in, who are still here, and even Mudhoney. I remember my mom telling me about the time she served Mudhoney at the restaurant and told them that I played drums, and they said, "Tell him not to get into music" [laughs]. She would also take me to see all the old fishing boats or to see Duffy Bishop play at the Ballard Seafood Fest. I guess Ballard has always been in my blood. Now when my mom comes over to the neighborhood, we always have to stop into the Smoke Shop so she can see Darlene, who's still tending bar there—she's a Ballard legend.
While his music goes down smooth, knowing—or rather learning—about Pinton has been vexing. He’s been making his mellifluous, free jazz, that perfectly mixes improv and bebop reflective of Ornette Coleman or better, Eric Dolphy, for almost 30 years. Every time I hear a song of his I ask myself “How? How could I have lived this long, and only be hearing this now”? The first songs of his I ever heard were a month ago, an old friend passed along some songs from his catalogue. I was amazed by selections from his 2003 album Dog Out. My buddy said, “I’ve long contended that best contemporary jazz comes out of Scandinavia”.
I know. I choked on my americano when I read that too, but if Nascent, and Pinton's work is any indicator, it's no exaggeration. The album opens brightly, horns, guitar and drums take you for a walk in the park via “si va al mare” and “why you shouldn't ask for more,” even the upright bass slaps and strolls. Without warning the album takes a sharp turn into serenity, as they put down the tempo and Pinton picks up the flute and blows meditatively on “kojan,” and makes usually sprightly melodica sound mournful among cymbal crashes, chimes, and minor chords of “nu.”
Since hearing Pinton I've been stricken, I have that nagging, insistent need back in the primal meat of my brain that real addicts know about; Pinton’s horn game is strong: saxophones alto, baritone and tenor, contrabass and regular-old clarinet, flute, bass flute, and melodica round out his artillery (for this album). His abilities know no bounds. On the aforementioned Dog Out, Pinton led a quartet made up of himself, another horn player, bass and drums into a cinematic soundscape as slick and striking as silver gelatin black and white photos (they get up to the same business on the track "haltdansen" on the new album). I bring it up because it’s one of the better albums I’ve ever heard –jazz or otherwise. Listening to it I felt like it may have been inspired by cinema. I asked him:
"...No, I never think in images, at least not on a conscious level, but I do try to convey feelings and emotions about a particular state of mind I want the composition to 'represent,' if that makes any sense."
Seattle’s Hush Hush Records is releasing the second volume of Cock & Swan remixes today titled Recess Tangle Vol. 2 (download is available for a name-your-price.) The OCnotes remix of “Inner Portal” is a swarthy and mechanized ethereal splurge. For the video, Cock & Swan’s Ola Hungerford edited together animated scenes of gigantic animal robots doing battle. It’s a G-Force/Star Blazers take on break-beat, crystal space-dub. Hook that shit up, climb inside your giant flying jet-panther, and blow up the four-story chrome mantis that’s coming right at you. Or, break out your handy dandy Star Wars figures and act out a touching Boba Fett/Princes Leia love scene. I always kind of wanted them to hook up. Hush Hush headman/KEXP Dj nice-guy Alex Ruder and Hungerford took a moment to talk about the release.
How was OCnotes chosen to remix that track? What was the process?
Alex: I've always dug remixes and hearing different artists interpret and twist original sounds into their own creation. So the idea of reaching out to artists to collaborate and get involved in a Hush Hush release is always something I keep in mind. Cock & Swan’s Secret Angles contained so many beautiful layers and unique sounds that it seemed like an excellent opportunity to connect with a bunch of musicians that both myself and the band respect and admire for remixes. Similar to the two volume remix collection that came out last year for Kid Smpl's Skylight album, we were a bit eager, ambitious, and excited and ended up receiving 24 solid remixes that we felt were worth including on the release. A 24-track release is a bit hefty these days, especially when it comes to remixes, so we split them up into two balanced halves/releases that also flow well as a full listen.
In rap's sanctified Compton triptych, the first gilded panel you see belongs to Eazy-E, the centerpiece houses Dr. Dre, and the third frame belongs to one DJ Quik (David Marvin Blake), the Funkadelic-formed rapper/producer extraordinaire. Quik's 1991 groove-carved platinum release Quik Is the Name helped usher in a most beautiful West Coast G-funk sound. Quik utilized live instrumentation over samples to float his throaty, lazed flow. His subject matter spells out gangsta narratives of players and bounties of the game. Quik's beats, always massively danceable, work well with his penchant for the party rap. Quik's production and collaborations through the years link him to the land of hiphop giants: Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, Tupac Shakur, 50 Cent, Raphael Saadiq, the Roots, and Suga Free, to name a few. In 2011, Quik's album The Book of David very much made the statement that he's still making solid music. Quik spoke by phone from a northern Los Angeles locale.
Pyramid Vritra (LA-based Hal Williams of NRK, Odd Futurings) has a new video out for his song “Tea & Lemonade.” Lower key vocals and raps are housed within the curvature of guitar, bass, and a more straight aheaded 808 beat. WARNING: if chameleon eyes freak you out, don’t watch. In the video, Hal has chameleon eyes, looking everywhere, all directions. You’re just waiting for his tongue to snap out and snag a dragonfly. Pyramid Vritra has an album entitled Indra coming out February 18th on Stones Throw Records. Hal spoke briefly about the goings on.
Are you into chameleons? Obviously you’re into chameleons. How have chameleons affected your life?
Hal: Yeah. I suppose they’re cool. I’m part chameleon, my whole life has been affected. The idea for the video was from Cameron Dutra. I supplied the sound and vibe and we molded it from there.
Where'd you record the song? How’d the beat come together? How did inspirations inspire?
Recorded it in my car. The beat itself was originally produced for The Jet Age Of Tomorrow's Jellyfish Mentality album. I probably wrote it on psychedelics, and the ending phrase on the song was inspired by RuPaul.
When are you coming to Seattle?
Nrk and i should be out there soon. Never been. I got alot of music to get out.
Seattle has a wise man. His name is Riz Rollins. He'd never tell you he's a wise man, but do the real ones ever do that? For 25 years, he's been DJing KEXP's airwaves, mostly at night. Riz knows the night. He's a sentinel of the nocturnal, and he turns speakers into eyes. Riz reads the digital breeze like tea leaves, deciphers the code, and plays exactly the songs the night needs to hear. When he DJs, he spins more than the tune; he spins the earth. Monday nights from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., he hosts a variety show that goes in perfectly on everything; Sundays, his show Expansions, which turns 20 next year, is on from 9 p.m. to midnight with DJs Masa and Kid Hops. If something is ailing you, he's a healer, a solver of stress, the Great Understander. If positivity is a gun, Riz fires a .44 Magnum. This year's MLK Unity Party marks its 14th year of existence. Riz spoke about it, his presence beaming intensely. Right away, he laid it down, saying, "I don't have a car, but I kick foie gras's ass. You know, adorned by fresh spring figs and shit."
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