My reviewing packages from Foxy Digitalis exposed me to a lot of great music this year, including spectacular vinyl releases by Spires that in the Sunset Rise and Pink Priest, the challenging, dynamic experimental work by Anthea Caddy and Thembi Soddell, and tapes that include Million Brazilians, Hulk, Flesh Coffin, and more.
This year I've also traded a lot of vinyl and benefited from plenty of enjoyable listening experiences, from small-scale private press releases to new LPs from some of my favorite acts (Lumerians, Nada Surf, A Place to Bury Strangers, etc.).
Chicago drone artist Cinchel helped me start 'Spective Audio by agreeing to release his drone.dump on tape and including his individual watercolors with those layered drones; he also contributed some of his work for the Vital Sound compilation. Cinchel is not only my friend, but a thoughtful drone guitarist and sound manipulator, and he shows the development of his work on his 2012 release, Stereo Stasis. When Aristotle argued against Plato's philosophy, he said that we love the truth more than we love our friends; in this case, I love Cinchel's work because it's great to see him develop as an artist, and you should take the merits of his work beyond my word. Cinchel executes three pieces that alternate between boundless, airy imagination and intense, truncated cycles, accompanied by singular packaging to accompany the privately pressed release.
"Static (Homeward Bound)" shifts from the delightful perception of "Revelations..." to the cyclical objects themselves. There is a roaming, underlying decay that completes these slowly rising cycles, suggesting a process of toil or repetition. True suspension. As these cycles truncate and return, Cinchel produces seams or rolling waves, presenting tangibles objects to experience through this drone. "Wandering..." completes these themes, riding symphonic crescendos and consistent swelling to a beautiful culmination in tremolo'd, fluctuating tones that are clustered with high frequencies to replicate a shimmering arpeggio of elements. A dramatic shift completes the piece with high frequencies decaying into dramatic bowing, building and releasing tension into a static, washing sound that overwhelms the frequencies. Those rolling waves crash into breakers, completing the release through intense, otherworldly sequences.
Into the world of structured music, upon following the threads of Permanent Records and aQuarius Records mailing lists, I began following S-S Records this year. I jumped into some older releases from the label, landing a copy of Cheveu's American pressing on S-S at newly minted Hausfrau Records in the Detroit-Shoreway Neighborhood of Cleveland. I also picked up a copy of Michigan Haters by Sightings, and a Dan Melchior release, in order to canvass the spectrum of alternately playful and brutal acid jazz and blues. It might be music older than 2012, but this label stands out with its creativity and quality.
On a journey to space from Haack's release, one might also encounter Lumerians, that singular Bay Area group that boasts two masterful albums in as many years. While last year's Transmalinnia (Knitting Factory) found the group placing their droned out instrumental experiments against rather concise, energetic psych rock songs, this year's Transmissions from the Telos Vol. IV (Hands in the Dark / Permanent) explodes those instrumentals into this other-worldly, free form fusion. One of the great successes of Transmalinnia was this hypnotic, dream-like feeling that crept throughout the instrumentals on side B, building this progression of dreams that exceeded the structures of the songs. On Transmissions, the group invert the formula, moving between three energetic, jazzed up compositions that trade in structured songs for this type of free, universal rhythmic end of krautrock. As the popularity of krautrock explodes in songwriting, there are dense appropriations as well as synthy, electronic appropriations of that movement, but Lumerians surpass all of that with their logical completion of the movement's most unfiltered, robust moments.
Intense, surreal, remote, dynamic. Come along with us as we chronicle the adventures of the soul through psychedelic, drone, noise, experimental, pop music based around Chicago bands in particular and local bands everywhere.
- ▼ 2012 (9)
- ► 2011 (13)
- ► 2010 (24)