Casper And The Cookies' "Modern Silence" Is A Modern Masterpiece

I probably can't write a better review for Casper And The Cookies (myspace) new opus than I did with this drunken message board post (slightly edited), which was in response to Pitchfork's review of Modern Silence: "I was somewhat surprised to see the name Matthew Perpetua at the end of this review. Perpetua started/is Fluxblog, one of the first mp3 blogs and one I respect. He loves The Fiery Furnaces, so I can't begin to think what he was talking about with this album being "too long." This album is so full of perfect I don't even know where to begin. But to address Perpetua's main criticism, instead of viewing it as too long, view it as a vast musical wonderland - where you can drop in as you please. This CD has been in my truck for a while, mostly all shorter journeys to work, and every morning I get a little excited on deciding which song segment I will choose, whether I feel like the 'let's go, day' of "Little Kings" (and it's flowing follow up songs), the extra pick me up of "Sharp!" or the sharp-yet-fuzzy "Nagoya", the lyrically perfect 'let's have a relaxed day' of "Chocolate Cake And Coffee" or sweeter than aspartame "Sunshine Girl", or maybe weird the day out with the multi-dimensional "I Am Gone" which will keep playing probably through the lunch drive home and have the second half of my day start off having just listened to the most simple, sublime kazoo line with a hoedown behind it of all-time. The playing all sounds like perfect first takes - not too studied and overdubbed, a nice looseness but still nailing it, with just the right amount of accompanying colors and textures. Every sound and song is just too good without ever repeating itself - such rich, fully realized versions of songs that I just cannot get sick of listening to them. It's the most fantastic fucking thing I've heard in a long time, and if the CDs hole were a (quite) bit bigger I'd fuck it. Yeah. I'm a little drunk. "He didn't play a note, but man that note he didn't play - he never heard before."

Modern Silence sees the Cookies stripped down to a three-piece - frontman Jason NeSmith (AKA Casper Fandango) mostly playing keys and singing, his wife Kay on bass, and Jim Hicks on guitar, and those are very loose roles - all members seem to play drums and keys and sing, etc., and there are a few more credited players on the lyrics page. NeSmith owns the Bel Air recording studio in Athens, GA, and the album credits simply says "produced and performed by the band", lists the three members, and then "assisted by Bill Doss" (Olivia Tremor Control, Sunshine Fix, Apples In Stereo), so I imagine many long unhurried late nights in the studio crafting this album, and it's a tribute to them how the performances still sound so fresh. And should Modern Silence not find the audience it so richly deserves, NeSmith will still no doubt be in even greater demand for his studio wizardry, because this album sounds flawless. This and the previous track are a couple of Modern Silence's more upbeat danceable tunes, "Nagoya" is I believe the only one sung by Jim Hicks:

the last track on Modern Silence is a fifteen minute journey (actually about 21 since the two previous songs work as part of the suite) through pop psychedelia with a shitload of guest appearances - they're listed at the bottom of the lyrics page (you may want to bookmark this for future reference since these aren't on the album anywhere). This is just the last three and a half minutes of the last track, but even if it were the whole track it wouldn't be complete without the rest of the album building up to it. But just in this segment, you can hear the low rumbling spirit channeling of The Late BP Helium (of Montreal) at the beginning, a "melody and counterpoints" from Apples In Stereo frontman Robert Schneider in one of his non-Pythagorean scales, and others - I started to explore some of the artists I hadn't heard of before. Going to Gary Pig Gold's website I was treated to the actual version of the mini-song he contributed (heard below), in it's un-fucked-with purity (his bio sounds pretty interesting), and learned the violin player Cole Causey plays with the Athens Symphony. And a kazoo isn't credited, but what else can that catchy as all-fuck two-note melody be?:

Buy Modern Silence direct from the band for ten bucks - HHBTM also has deal going with bonus stuff for thirteen bucks. And I'm going to try to finally finish editing my second day of SXSW shows, and it starts off with none other than Casper And The Cookies. Don't miss Casper And The Cookies last Daytrotter session, featuring three tracks from Modern Silence, and they have another appearance scheduled for later this year, along with several tour dates (check their myspace) - do not miss them when they come to your town!

previously at FP: Casper And The Cookies delivered a jaw-dropping genre-hopping cover of of Montreal's "Penelope" for the of Montreal tribute album I put together.


Animal Collective - Animal Crack Box

Don't know how I feel about a live boxset that's been talked about for years by AC fans getting this kind of treatment - a limited vinyl-only run of 1000 that sold out as soon as it went for sale. It was inevitable that people with possibly no interest in the band would be able to pick up on the hype and profit - one asshole already wants $1,100!!! - while people who are real fans are barely able to get a chance to purchase it, and the thing that gets me is that this fact was probably weighed in the decision to give it such a limited release, and considered good hype. Because we would eventually get a digital download somewhere, I guess I don't blame them for trying to generate more buzz for themselves (surely the band had as much decision as the label on what kind of release this was going to get). Especially since the music isn't what those new to AC may expect - in fact, I have no doubt it will alienate a few people who first got hooked on Merriweather Post Pavillion's catchiness (although veteran fans will delight in new songs and versions and parts unheard before). It is 3 LPs worth of live material from three of AC's first years, and it drones, shrieks, spooks, bubbles, explodes, wonders, and wanders, with hardly a hint of the polish and sampler-based locomotion that marks their last two albums.


New Deerhoof Session

A top listening-while-procrastinating choice lately that I must shout from the rooftops about is the brand new live sessions from The Bay Bridged, which is a San Francisco-based indie blog, podcast, thrower of kickass SXSW parties, and now live session studio. To kick things off, their first session is San Fransisco's own beloved Deerhoof. And instead of playing something off "the new album", last year's Offend Maggie, they roar through a track from 1999's Holdypaws, two (!) from 2004's Milk Man, and a soundtrack cover from Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, who did the music for Zorba The Greek, Z, and Serpico. Here's that track:

... and head over to the Bay Bridged's New, Improved, LIVE page for the rest of the session in your classy choice of 160 or 320 kbps (Deerhoof likes it enough to make this session their sole music selections on their myspace.) I heard that Why? may be upcoming.


New Animal Collective Song: "Bleed"

Basically this song has three continuous components: a soft electronic pulsating dirge, Panda and Avey doing dreamy call and response vocals that occasionally swirl back into each other and trail off, and the disconcertment of bottles breaking, maybe some chains falling, and the sad hypnotic sound of a bottle cap rolling in circles in the street. I love it, but it may not be everyone's cup of tea.

btw, this isn't the same version found on GvB and elsewhere, I ripped this one and added a hint of EQ and limited/amplified for fuller sound, I'm too lazy to do the whole show though, (besides I've got a bunch of sxsw recordings sitting here screaming to be let go of.) The entire concert that this song came from (the second on Animal Collective's brand new tour) is available here, courtesy NPR.

Animal Collective's myspace has their tour dates, which I won't bother reposting since virtually every one is already sold out. If they're not sold out in your area, do not wait.