unchained melody

sunday night was a great one for music at tonic. an excellent bill put together by stars like fleas, with akron/family and pandatone rounding things out.

pandatone is a one-man band that does a great version of the sort of glitchy indiepop/laptop music released on labels such as morr music or carpark records. this music has gotten so much low-key attention it's spawned the insanely successful hybrid the postal service and even its own genre name: indietronica. trevor was charmingly self-deprecating and held together the uplifting music with a guitar and a laptop, some of the laptop pieces sounding like they were manipulated from his guitar. as shannon from stars like fleas agreed, it has a personality about it that sets it apart from any standard attempts at following this genre. the show was made more visually entertaining by projections from video artist mumbleboy, whose colorful looping cartoons of people, animals, and robots (such as the one above) went perfectly with the music.

akron/family then settled in for an hour of incredible music. they veer back and forth between short pieces and brilliant improvisation that puts most so-called "jam bands" to shame. how they make an ordinary four-piece rock band into something that bears no resemblance to such a thing is amazing. a sort of naive country-folk is mixed with little noises and loops, multi-part harmonies, and occasionally swells into powerful noisy sections or long drones that have your head reeling. they have a few impossible-to-find releases out, but hopefully soon we'll get to hear their new CD for young god records.

finally, stars like fleas took to a stage lit only by a household lamp. using a baby grand piano, acoustic guitar, banjo, saxophone, live drums, and computer processing and rhythms, they created a beautiful and unique sound world. singer/mastermind montgomery's voice was like that of a little boy grown up but still lost. no wonder, with the band barreling and meandering through barely adjacent genres with an ease that should embarass most musicians. avant-folk, jazz, experimental, glitch, indie rock, and more were touched on in the all-too-brief set.

it was a really good crowd for a sunday night. all 3 bands were still there by the end, chatting with each other about the show. it was a great show of mutual support all around.

the title of this post comes from the song of the same name by the righteous brothers. i actually never much cared for their version, preferring the cover banged out by u2. in any case, here it's a reference to the kinds of elusive but powerful melodies wielded by these bands.


my life in the bush of ghosts

above is a picture of the violinist from ONDA playing at dogs blood rising last night. there was also a percussionist and laptop artist/vocalist. the percussionist was especially impressive, with the great tones he got out of the variously-sized cymbals he rubbed and scraped. portions reminded me of parts of homotopy to marie or live at bar maldoror by nurse with wound or how to destroy angels by coil. that's a big compliment.

speaking of coil, as a sort of tribute to the late jhonn balance, i played a rare coil track called "broken aura," which has only been distributed semi-officially on the coil website a few years ago via their "song of the week", when the band would make an mp3 of some unreleased or unfinished track available online. the lyrics are pretty eerily apropos. this track was buoyed a bit towards the end by mixing in parts of "quiet and alone" by peter gabriel from the birdy soundtrack. finally, i thought it was appropriate to play "the ladder" from thejacob's ladder soundtrack to echo balance's troubled but hopefully ultimately peaceful ascension.

the title of this post comes from the album of the same name by david byrne and brian eno. here it refers to jhonn balance, the missing presence of several people who should have been at the night, and the fact that i coincidentally played songs from the album ghost by third eye foundation and a song by the japanese band ghost.


rise rise rise

tonight i'm DJing at the monthly dogs blood rising night at the lucky cat in brooklyn, along with my esteemed colleague DJ abstract.

some of what i spin at DBR:

aarktika, adult., aphex twin, apparat, autechre, william basinski, beefcake, beef terminal, bjork, calla, chris clark, chronomad, coil, converter, the coral, current 93, delerium, deru, richard devine, disjecta, dj shadow, ekkhard ehlers, brian eno, michael fakesch, faust, fog, fourtet, ghost, gridlock, helios, hilmar orn hilmarsson, kero, lali puna, legendary pink dots, low, lull, maserati, mogwai, murcof, mus, my bloody valentine, the notwist, nurse with wound, on air library, the orb, pluramon, portishead, proem, sigur ros, somatic responses, ms. john soda, laub, kid606, ladytron, soma, squarepusher, tarentel, t.raumschmiere, yen pox, and music from soundtracks like memento, lost in translation, and nadja. sometimes simultaneously.

if you think i'm going to link to each of those artists, you're insane. google anyone you haven't heard of, they're worth checking out.

the title of this post comes from the song "the death of the corn" by current 93, who also provided the title for this night with their second album.


i feel happy

"Researchers found that angry people are more likely to make negative evaluations when judging members of other social groups. That, perhaps, will not come as a great surprise. But the same seems to be true of happy people, the researchers noted. The happier your mood, the more liable you are to make bigoted judgments...One interesting hypothesis, though, is that happy people have an 'everything is fine' attitude that reduces the motivation for analytical thought. So they fall back on stereotypes -- including malicious ones."

the full article can be read at the new york times' website. you do have to sign up for it, but it's free.

the title of this post comes from monty python and the holy grail.


i am trying to break

above is a picture of velapene screen performing at the breakcore show on sunday. this was probably my favorite set he's done, since he concentrated more on beats and live manual processing. he also added more depth with new chords and sounds from his new album medical breaths on frozen empire media. although his original and complex music is the main reason to check him out, he did get treat everyone to his always-changing remix of "untitled" by interpol, which takes an already great song to a completely different level.

just about all the music was so good you forgot you were just watching a guy with a laptop (although lance blisters, most of whose set i unfortunately missed, had a guitar). the great visuals also helped. the duo les technocrates from montreal had particularly complex visuals, and ilan katin used some great DIY techniques with his processing and live minicam mixing. out-of-town dj peter lee played complementary music in between some of the artists to keep things flowing.

vytear started off the night with a set that was several cuts above his appearance at dbr's anti-rnc party. some of the beats were a bit harsh, but that's part of breakcore.

mad ep did a great job as usual, with only one song i recognized from the various times i've seen him. the man is a workhorse. his music was slower compared to the other artists that night, but that left room for subtleties, a welcome respite from the sometimes punishingly fast beats.

not that everyone pummeled the crowd to death. scrap.edx turned in a perfect set alternating between lush keyboard atmospheres and pounding beats that managed to sound new and familiar at the same time. even better, the man behind the gear was the most unassuming, ordinary-looking, indie/college guy in a plaid shirt and glasses, whom you'd never expect to churn out music so fiercely dark. he actually got people dancing and kept them going for most of his set, people only taking time out to catch their breath. another enjoyable night put together by angel of dogs blood rising, the monthly event happening this coming saturday.

the title of this post is from the only song i've heard by wilco i actually like, and the movie of the same name. i found the movie very interesting, especially the studio footage and the scenes detailing the pressures within and without the band. however, after they booted the most interesting and experimental band member, the music took a sharp turn to hearditallbeforeland.


a rose by any other name

as should be the case every monday, i've added five pictures to ocular spectra, my photo site. there seems to be some debate over the definition of a photoblog. i think the chronological aspect qualifies mine, even if that aspect is ephemeral. except for photoblogs created by mobile phone or downloaded obsessively immediately after shooting (or at least the day of), there's always an element of untruth to the time frame associated with a certain image. these images are in fact mostly shot right around the time they're posted, so they are documents that define at least a vague point in time. the categories are there because i like aesthetic and meaningful groupings of photos rather than just random shots.

this reminds me of one of the alternate titles for this blog, apophenia. unfortunately, it was already taken, apparently in vain since it remains unadorned for over a year.

if you don't know the title of this post comes from shakespeare, get this.


you can't see what i can see

at the movable hype show put on by gothamist at the knitting factory. various people took pictures at the show, such as bluejake, tien mao, larimdame, youngna, and whatisee. in fact, some of these sites have a picture of me on them. which ones? that would be telling.

below is one of the shots i took that night. i consider the difference between the pictures to be proof that photographers don't really take pictures of objects or people, but of something in their own heads. this one will end up on my photo site.

this post's title is a reference to a track by heavy d and the boyz, a generally lightweight (ha ha) rap act from the 90's. while not exactly a classic, i still have a soft spot for this one because it not only contains lyric samples from public enemy (back when they were both good and relevant), but also recontextualizes the brilliant bassline groove from bitches' brew by miles davis. ironically, the pe song sampled, "she watch channel zero," is based on a sample of slayer's "angel of death," and, along with the same sample in kmfdm's "godlike," was actually instrumental in getting me into slayer.


psychasthenia : qu'est-ce-que-c'est?

the psychasthenia society is a great show hosted by jon keith brunelle that shocases some of the best work by New York artists whose instruments are laptop computers and related devices. brunelle narrates an original story based loosely on images captured from sources such as obscure and classic films, sometimes accompanied by sound effects and music. each chapter of the story is followed by an electronic artist and video manipulations of some of the preceding imagery. i've seen three of these shows, and they're captivating.

tonight the piece will be "the hammer variations". video will be manipulated by daniel vatsky, and the musical interludes will be provided by the excellent laptop artists mad ep, mathhead, and end.

below is a picture i took of velapene screen performing at the psychasthenia society show at galapagos, which is where tonight's show will be too. best of all, it's free. but please buy a drink or two and support galapagos, it's a cool space.

velapene screen will actually be playing a breakcore show this coming sunday at siberia, where you can also see mad ep again. don't be put off by this, mad ep lives up to his name. the sets will be completely different and entirely appropriate to each of the bills he's on.

the title of this post is a paraphrase of lyrics from talking heads' "psycho killer". but you probably knew that already.


begin the begin

there's nothing here right now, but that doesn't mean there's nothing to say.

sometimes there's so much to say it all turns to nothing.

the end result may be the same but the reasons are different.

more soon.

the title of this post comes from the rem song of the same name.