Dan Friel, electronic twiddler extraordinaire of Parts & Labor, has a new solo record out. On his previous solo album there were some remnants of Parts & Labor, most noticeably the guitar, and though his usually high-pitched warble tweaking does have a recognizable sound found on everything he does, here he's clearly trying to stretch it out even further into his own realm of DIY futuristic explorations. And cognizant of the fact that not everything in a post-apocalyptic soundtrack should rock, he includes some slower numbers that paint an eeire Mad Max picture of slow swirling dust clouds vanishing into digital pixelation. Those tracks help push open new fields of more drone-y stuff for Friel, so that his trademark flickering-beat grooves (that sometimes sound like mouth harps) and swirling melodies don't get stuck in a rut. But as these two tracks show, the upbeat Friel electro-freakouts sound as fresh as ever.
And checking out Dan Friel's myspace, I noticed he was playing a gig with guitar-god Marc Ribot next month, a Ribot project I hadn't heard called Ceramic Dog. It's his new trio [with bassist Shahzad Ismaily (Laurie Anderson, Secret Chiefs 3) and drummer Ches Smith (Trevor Dunn's Trio Convulsant, Secret Chiefs 3, Xiu Xiu], what he calls his first rock band since high school, and as it turns out they have a brand new album out too, and I've got to say, even more than the Friel: "Holy shit." Like the Friel, there's a couple of slower numbers, but here they stretch out to epic proportions, including the spoken "When We Were Young And We Were Freaks" which sounds like it could be a Jad Fair song. There's more rollicking fun than introspection, but all the tracks have a sense of adventure musically, even when using gimmicks they are obviously trying to expand the boundaries of their art, using the familiar musical notions only as a springboard for their explorations. I hear the Sonny Sharrock influence when Ribot shreds, like on last year's release, in fact if Sonny Sharrock were alive this probably wouldn't be too far off what he would be doing. There are explosions of wailing, bursts of scales and squeals, Ribot bouncing his own melodic ideas off of one another (overdubs? I'd like to hear this live!), the whole band pumping furiously and jumping rhythms and excursions in genre-bending similar to Mr. Bungle, some fat electro-beats that could have come straight from a Trans Am album and other kitchy electro-funk Zappa-ish parts, and a Doors cover that has to be heard to be believed. It's a rare musical treat that simultaneously explores and boogies.
Dan Friel's myspace says he's opening the early show at the Knitting Factory for the Ceramic Dog record release on July 25. The Ceramic Dog myspace, however, doesn't list that date, and in fact puts them in Amsterdam on July 24. So unless they're flying to NY and playing the same day, I don't know for sure.
Get Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog - Party Intellectual,straight from the label, Pi Recordings (with other mp3s) and Dan Friel's Ghost Town straight from Important Records (mp3/viynl/CD, several more free mp3s there, too) And both labels look like great places to explore for other artists, too.