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.


SXSW 2009 - Wednesday

feat: The Shaky Hands, Max Tundra, Crocodiles, Wavves, Explode Into Colors, Pocahaunted, Pete And The Pirates, and Telepathe

Sorry (again) for tardiness, it took me longer than expected to process all of the music (on a crappy computer) and whatnot and other real-life things. I can't be bothered to lookup song titles, so if somebody wants to post any setlists or titles in the comments section (or any other comments) it will be appreciated. Eventually I'll get around to posting the two other days of SXSW I recorded, but until then - these recordings from the Wednesday SXSW kickoff are the result of a newly purchased Zoom H2 digital recorder. The results are varied, some sets you may want to keep on your computer, others not, and it was a good learning experience for me concerning microphone placement and other variables I will bore you with throughout this post. I do hope you keep the Pete and the Pirates set, it may be the best one I recorded the whole SXSW and is one I can't stop playing. And pretty much everything here is a highlight in it's own right - Max Tundra's SXSW debut, Wavves second SXSW show, some great songs from Shaky Hands, and a jaw-dropping set from Pocahaunted. I did record a few things over this SXSW I won't be posting, true to this blog's creed I'll only post things I really liked, and even though sets are usually only 20-30 minutes (some are partial sets I arrived to late or something) they add up and my server space is now precious.



Click pictures for a larger version. You can also download all of the Wednesday mp3s in one zip file (275MB) HERE (click "Download for free with FileFactory Basic")

I had to work and miss at least one day of SXSW, and since The Shaky Hands weren't playing too many shows I went Wednesday (to see them) and Friday & Saturday and had to work Thursday. I'm too big of a Joggers fanatic to miss drummer Jake Morris playing with the established Portland band which he recently joined last year (since the Joggers take years to release an single 7"), just in time for their tour opening for the Meat Puppets. I talked to Jake before the show and he was apprehensive, and said they hadn't played in a while, had just driven in early that morning, and before that founding member/singer Nicholas Delffs had an even longer journey, having just arrived from India. But the worries were unfounded and The Shaky Hands made me a big fan, and disappointed in myself that I'd been missing out and hadn't gotten any of their stuff yet. It may not be as angular as the Joggers, but it's its own kind of rich textured rock. They just kicked off a nationwide tour, check them out fer sure if they're in your area. After a stint on the great UK indie label Memphis Industries, The Shaky Hands signed last year to Kill Rock Stars and opened the Kill Rock Stars Day party at Club Deville. Track 7 is especially nice and mellow and shows off Delffs' immediately likeable voice.

The Shaky Hands
2009-03-18 SXSW, early afternoon
Club Deville

2009-03-18 SXSW 01
2009-03-18 SXSW 02
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2009-03-18 SXSW 04
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2009-03-18 SXSW 06
2009-03-18 SXSW 07
2009-03-18 SXSW 08

And from there we headed a block away to Red 7 to catch the SXSW premiere of British electronic-kitsch maestro Max Tundra at the Terrorbird/Force Field Day Party. It was probably the first time I've seen a book used as a prop during a music gig. Tundra's voice explores pitches like some modern avant-garde opera (or camp theater), playfully bouncing vocal melodies over the top of by his unique style of breakbeat techno with electronic flourishes and toys. I was back by the soundboard like I was for The Shaky Hands show, but Red 7 also had a concert going on outside just behind us, and during quieter passages you can hear it - I would imagine this is not something you really have to worry about normally when recording, but as can be heard here has to be a concern in the cramped downtown spaces of Austin during SXSW. But all in all not a bad recording and definitely a nice moment to capture (thanks to smileybone for the pic above/left)

From there it was around the block again to Emo's and the Pat Possum party to see Wavves, and before that was two dudes called Crocodiles who most definitely know all of the Jesus and Mary Chain records by heart. With a drum machine and a guy singing over one noisy guitar, it was a bit more than the sum of its parts and rocked hard enough to justify the sunglasses. I recorded from the very back next to the soundboard, and added a touch of EQ to all the recordings, but realized I had to add more the further back I recorded. Crocodiles are currently on tour in support of Ladytron.

2009-03-18 SXSW, afternoon
Emo's outside

2009-03-18 SXSW 01 - I Wanna Kill

And next was one the the most hyped acts of the year, Wavves from San Diego. Like Crocodiles it's just two dudes, but having somebody live drums helps fill out the live sound for Wavves, although the music is still much less expansive and the drumbeats for the most part just match the same pounding rhythm of the guitar and much of the noise and nuance of the albums is missing. Nathan from Wavves does play his straight-ahead rock chords live with a catchy urgency and has a way with vocal melodies, especially the switching to ooo-ing sweet beach melodies like on "To The Dregs", although by that song in this set (only their second of SXSW I believe) his voice is already showing signs of strain. By the end of the week things didn't get much better for him, almost losing his voice due to the huge number of shows they played over four days.

2009-03-18 SXSW, afternoon
Emo's outside

2009-03-18 SXSW 01 - Intro
2009-03-18 SXSW 02
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2009-03-18 SXSW 06
2009-03-18 SXSW 07
2009-03-18 SXSW 08
2009-03-18 SXSW 09 - To The Dregs
2009-03-18 SXSW 10 - Wavves

After that we headed to what's becoming a not-so-great secret about SXSW and my default place to go: the free day shows all week long put on by NYC promoter Todd P (teaming up with various labels and party-throwers) at Ms. Bea's. Ms. Bea's is on Sixth Street, on the east side of highway 35. The downtown club scene (and downtown itself) is generally west of I35, but the east-of-35 area, not too long ago mostly all lower-middle class, is slowly being gentrified. But Ms. Bea's is an old-timey Mexican ice-house, like others in the area, and it has a great patio and open area out back, and for SXSW it's configured with two stages that bands alternate between. The first stage is just a section of patio in front of a chain-link fence and the second is underneath a covered arbor. Thomas from Pete and The Pirates said it best on their blog, "This is how all gigs should be; played outside in people's yards on warm summer evenings."

For Wednesday day the party was "Todd P presents Music Made by Women"curated by Veronica of Finally Punk. We caught the end of the set from Portland's Explode Into Colors, and it was what SXSW is all about: discovering new bands. I hadn't heard them before, but was wholly impressed by the thick and swampy musical atmosphere created by this female three-piece, with expansive grooves and vocals that alternate from sweetness to seance - perfect I'd imagine for summer highway cruising. The slight crackling heard a bit here and even more during Telepathe is actually a result of the PA for the under the arbor stage and not the recorder

Explode Into Colors
2009-03-18 SXSW, late afternoon
Ms. Bea's

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2009-03-18 SXSW 02

And then one of my most anticipated shows: Pocahaunted. If Explode Into Colors sounds at times like a seance, Pocahaunted sounds like channeling Native American spirits from the underworld. Bethany from Pocahaunted didn't come with them and is on hiatus, but Amanda had more than able backup, including new arrival Diva Dompe from LA band Blackblack on bass and members of Robedoor (husband and Not Not Fun cofounder Britt Brown on guitar and trumpet) , Sun Araw, and Magic Lantern. I asked Amanda afterward about the set and she said it was all brand new material that they had just written together, with no real titles for the songs. The bass in this newest incarnation of Pocahaunted has a definite nod to dub reggae and Amanda has said that ahead is an even funkier sound, one that perhaps you can even dance to. In an interview with LA CityBeat she says "Right around the time we started recording Island Diamonds, I started listening to a lot of spacey dub and buying Soul Jazz box sets, trying to sink my teeth into that aspect of electronic music." Previous to this set I knew Pocahaunted's vocals mostly of course for their primal chanting, but didn't realize until I read that LA CityBeat interview that this was the first time they've used actual real words in the vocals. But that definitely doesn't take away from the other-worldliness. As the pictures show, I was right up front for this recording and it sounds great.


2009-03-18 SXSW, late afternoon
Ms. Bea's

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2009-03-18 SXSW 02
2009-03-18 SXSW 03

It's hard to pigeonhole Pete And The Pirates (or Thomas Sanders' other project Tap Tap). They are imaginative but not necessarily ground-breaking. It's hard to nail down references but you know they sound like somebody. Their greatness lies in the details - Sanders' quintessentially British vocal phrasings, the tightness of the band, and most of all the extremely catchy pop hooks. The songs here at Wednesday evening's NY Noise party are sung and played with contagious enthusiasm, and by track 4 "Come On Feet" things really start clicking. The next track, old favorite (recorded by both Tap Tap and Pete And The Pirates) "She Doesn't Belong To Me" brings some calmness for a bit but even it can barely be restrained despite the fact that this is their fifth set this day, and then three fantastic new songs after that. Pure indie pop goodness. Like Pocahaunted I was right up front for this one with nobody in front of me, and though I might have assumed this could be too close, the sound came out well-balanced and full, probably the best of all the recordings I got for the whole week., despite the fact that the kick drum sounds like it was "made of ceramics". Big thanks to Melissa Soltis (flickr) for sending me these pics (and the one above of Ms. Bea's).

Pete And The Pirates
2009-03-18 SXSW, evening
Ms. Bea's

2009-03-18 SXSW 01 - intro
2009-03-18 SXSW 02 - Jennifer
2009-03-18 SXSW 03 - Things That Go Bump
2009-03-18 SXSW 04 - Come On Feet
2009-03-18 SXSW 05 - She Doesn't Belong To Me
2009-03-18 SXSW 06 - Motorbike
2009-03-18 SXSW 07 - Selina
2009-03-18 SXSW 08 - Lost In The Woods
2009-03-18 SXSW 09 - Mr. Understanding

I actually enjoyed Telepathe's closing set enough to include it here, and that's kind of surprising. On the surface it's just electronic club music (which I'd normally probably hate), the vocal melodies seem kind of Top-40 inspired, and there's a futuristic New York hip-hop vibe, some desert tribalism, and a little Miami booty bass. But they pull it all together and "wing it" with a snare drum, keyboard and samplers (pretty much Animal Collective's live setup) and make it work, sounding original and modern. Thanks to lap0la for the pic!

2009-03-18 SXSW, evening
Ms. Bea's

coming next (eventually): Friday, including Casper And The Cookies (who seriously have an album of the year contender hitting stores soon), Bearsuit, Fishboy, and the Not Not Fun label showcase.


Finally, Pavement (two shows +more)

I've been lazy about posting, but it's about the two year anniversary for this little old blog, and the fourth in Pavement's line of reissues has just come out, so the (slacker) stars have aligned. I won't blabber on too much about Pavement or their music, but I will simply say this: they were the coolest, and I was lucky enough to be there to see a good deal of it - from seeing them open for Sonic Youth in '92 to following them on around for all four Texas shows on their last tour in '99 (that's my pic of Malkmus in Houston '99 below). The T-shirt pictured here is a super-rare one from the '97 Brighten the Corners tour, with a Westie-designed tour map on the back. I've met Stephen Malkmus several times, and I'll say unequivocally that he sometimes gets a rap for being an asshole for no good reason. There's a bit of aloofness to his cool, but he's just a plain nice guy (on top of being the coolest motherfucker on the planet). Add the enthusiasm of percussionist/keyboardist/shouter Bob Nastovich, the slack hip swagger of either drummer (Gary Young on the first record, Steve Westie/Westie after that), the aw-shucks manner of bassist Mark Ibold (who is also talented enough to play alongside Sonic Youth) and the always right-on second guitar work of Spiral Stairs (who wrote a handful of Pavement tunes which I must admit never measure up to Malkmus's), and you have one of my favorite bands (and obsessions) of all time. Does anybody remember the old Pavement-Powered website (with tons of music and shows to download)? That was me.

Brighten The Corners begins the polarizing point for many Pavement fans, what some consider the beginning of the downward ride to the end, coming right off the heels of the mercurial fan-favorite Wowee Zowee - but I really think the greatness of Pavement's first three albums are the only thing that overshadow the songs on the last two, especially compared with virtually everything else in indie rock of the time (and even today). I remember Rolling Stone reviewing it at the time and declaring Pavment had finally become a "proper" band. There is a real musical sophistication that begins with Brighten The Corners, and except for a few moments like the rocking single "Stereo" it's overall a much mellower affair than their previous work. The songs seem more deliberated and have more exploratory proggish melodies

And like the rest of the Pavement reissues, this one's full of not only B-sides long cherished by hard-core fans, but plenty that even they haven't heard. For me, that gold nugget would be "Nigel". My friend Brian will instantly recognize it as the lick I play at least a third of the time I pick up a guitar (mine with Malkmus's sig is below). For years, I knew of only two live versions ever played, but something about that (C to Am to) F to G# progression was always just one of the coolest things I ever heard for some reason - I could never get over it. And finally, after nearly ten years of playing my version roughly based on a live version, I get to hear the definitive Pavement studio-recorded version, and it's brilliant:

Pavement "Nigel"

Pavement "Nigel" (live, circa 1997) (not on BTC reissue - Sorry about the bitrate)

Pavement "No Tan Lines" (originally on the Shady Lane single)

And there are 14 live radio tracks on the second disc of the expanded Brighten The Corners: Nicene Creedence Edition (along with 6 completely unreleased songs, 62-page booklet, B-sides and other goodies), but unfortunately not a full concert like only the first Slanted and Enchanted reissue has had (a concert on vinyl had been available with some preorders which I'm kicking myself for missong out on). To remedy that, here is one of my absolute favorite Pavement concerts from this period. It is definitely one of the more laid-back Pavment shows I've heard, and ends with a hilarious great improv Malkmus wrote for a girl named Amanda. This was the first Pavement boot on cassette I ever received, and the first I painstakingly converted to digital in '00 when my friend Chris first got his ProTools setup. A couple years ago I found a digital version direct from the master, which was a lot clearer than my previous copies but still lacking some punch, so once again I did some limiting/EQing and whatnot. Please enjoy (don't forget you can use DownloadThemAll for ease if you're a Firefox user - see the right sidebar)

Included in the Brighten the Corners: Nicene Creedence Edition is both songs Pavement performed on the cartoon Space Ghost: Coast To Coast on the Cartoon Network, without the Space Ghost interspersed in the music. Not included in the following video is Space Ghost introducing Pavement as "The Beatles", but the video really helps make it. Poor Goldie.

And for Brian, I'm sorry my blog neglect leaves you sad - here's a short set I came across recently from '92 which has some favorite old gems and which should soothe your hurt butt. Previous copies had "Loretta's Scars" as track 3, but clearly at the end of "She Believes" Malkmus announces "Loretta's Scars" coming, so I fixed that, and if you have this recording you'll notice the obviousness. Other songs and bits are clipped, however, this is just what was broadcast on French radio. Googling for info on this, I found a copy of it in somebody's boot collection with apparently twice as many songs, if anybody knows of anybody who has more of this, please email me - as well if anybody knows what the last song on the Missoula show above is, let me know. Gotta love Bob Nastovish's intro to "No Life Singed Her" on this one, even if you like your job:

2008 has been a so-so year for new music, making the Brighten The Corners 2-CD reissue a perfect stocking stuffer for the musically discriminating person on your holiday list. Buy it direct from Matador Records for 14 bucks.


The Barcelona Scene - New Music from Coconot (Pablo Díaz-Reixa / El Guincho), DC/LuvLuv, And More

I've been exploring new Barcelona music by way of El Guincho, the solo project of Barcelona-based Pablo Díaz-Reixa. While his first major (noticed) release was this year's Alegranza (drawing apt Animal Collective-meets tropicalia comparisons), his first LP Folías (more of a Panda Bear solo inspiration compared to AC) didn't draw much notice until after Alegranza had made waves, and especially after Gorilla Vs. Bear posted the album link. Folías was released on one of my new favorite labels, DC/LuvLuv (Discos Compulsivos), also from Barcelona and run by Cristian Subirà. I've been hard-up for some good new music (which seems to be in a lull right now) so I've been diving into this scene, and loving everything I've found. Cristian is also a part of Coconot, Pablo Díaz-Reixa's pre-El Guincho band, as well as other bands in the eclectic new Barcelona scene which seems to have a love of drone/avant garde/tropicalia/the best of modern indie/and some booty bass. Pablo Díaz-Reixa's cousin Alfredo Montes, who he started Coconot with, is no longer in the band, but Cristian is playing more instruments and the producer for their first album, Jens Neumaier, is now playing guitar and singing. Coconot have just finished recording a brand new album, and where their first major release, 2006's Novo Tropicalismo Errado, seemed to be Sun Ra-influenced modern-prog-yet-4onthefloor rock, on their newest Cosa Astral (judging at least from the one preview track on their myspace) they've definitely let things soak up some Mediterranean heat and coast-life flavor (and olive oil and wonderful anchovies and dried meats and papas bravas w/ garlic aioli and Gaudi and street sweepers late at night asking me for a light for their blunt amid a calm atmosphere that somehow still feels slightly charged so that it seems anything could happen but not usually in an overly dangerous way, oh man do I miss Barcelona). This first preview track definitely has me excited for the new album:

Coconot "Conservad El Rayo" (Cosa Astral)

Coconot "Argentina 2, Pablo 0" (Novo Tropicalismo Errado)

Coconot "We Travel - Eo - The Spaceways (Variaciones Sobre Un Tema De Sony'r Ra)" (Novo Tropicalismo Errado)

Coconot live a couple of years ago:

Cristian of DC/LuvLuv and Coconot also plays in other bands in Barcelona, and from what I've heard they are much more radical and experimental than anything Coconot (or El Guincho) have done, some really out-there ambient, noise, even Black Dice-type stuff. The release for the following LP states: "For some reasons I wont talk about right now Matt Ortega (Mir, Socio) moved from New Jersey to Barcelona on June 2008. There he met Cristian Subirà (Summer Recreation Camp, Coconot). They both became friends and music colaborators. The result of many jams and lofi recordings is ´Dead Geography´ a collage of sounds and rare ambients."

And Cristian is also a part of Barcelona's Gärgamel (not to be confused with the Norweigan progrock or Floridian funk metal bands of the same name), another side project definitely not in it for the money. They also, like a lot of these more experimental Barcelona bands, know both the role of repetition in creating musical altered states as well as the importance of exploring off those repetitions and constantly taking it some place new:

Gärgamel "Llet Fosca"

Gärgamel consists of Cristian Subirà and Aleix Clavera. I'm starting to see a trend here of Barcelona musicians playing in both "respectable" bands and avant-garde side projects, as Aleix Clavera (also in El Guincho's live band) plays bass in Barcelona's Evripidis and His Tragedies, who are on Barcelona label Touch Me Records (Spanish label of Castanets, Sufjan Stevens, Half-Handed Cloud), and in the UK on Rough Trade, and in the US on Darla. They're sure to appeal to fans of the crooning sounds of Jens Lekman and piano-pop of Ben Folds:

Evripidis And His Tragedies "Ru Ru, I'd Love You"

Evripidis And His Tragedies "Gregory"

And DC/LuvLuv isn't exclusively for Barcelona bands: ""Baltimore's Teeth Mountain combines driving polyrhythms with hypnotic drones to create a powerful and enigmatic sound. The instrumentation is unique: four drummers, musical saw, 'cello, microtuned keyboards and sampler. A similarly unique musical vision keeps the sound from descending
into mere gimmickry, despite the novel instrumental grouping. Members of Teeth Mountain also run the Comfort Dome, a live-in show space which hosts a wide variety of experimental music.
The band tours frequently in the United States, and has shared the stage with
(among others) The Ex Models, Dan Deacon, WZT Hearts, the Death Set and
 Marnie Stern, as well as members of Raccoo-oo-oon, Nautical Almanac and Destroy All Monsters. Teeth Mountain will be among the featured bands at Wham City's Whartscape festival this summer, and will be going on a Wham
City tour this fall with many of the above-listed bands as well as Jana Hunter,
Videohippos and other related groups.
"" RIYL: a more tribal-ish Parts & Labor

And 2/3's of this DC/Luv Luv band, from what I've read, hail from Deptford, South London, just down the road from where I lived for a year in New Cross Gate (but their myspace says Glasgow, which is grey enough to be a good stand in for my analogy if that's the case). I've read and heard about several bands from this area, which isn't necessarily the safest, it was previously a Caribbean enclave, the site of racial rioting in the past, and the scene of a few recent notable London crimes. But it's definitely cheaper than oh-so-hip Shoreditch to the north, and home to Goldsmith's College and many art students, and the Deptford Market where a main street and part of that neighborhood is transformed into what Americans call a flea market every weekend. This band were previously called On Fire and are now called Helhesten, and their music reflects the chaotic, gritty, south-of-the-Thames feel I remember coupled with an insane Boredoms-style anything-can-happen free-jazz attitude.

Helhesten Vs. Michael J. Fox:

And a Borbetomagus/Metal Machine Music style freak jam from Helhesten at one of my favorite London spots, the tiny Windmill in Brixton, South London, just a couple of months ago. Not for the faint of heart:

And DC/Luv Luv apparently has a soft spot for a small touch of booty-bass mixed with their noise, as evidenced by music from Richmond, VA's bootilicious Shams and New York City's gritty Car Clutch, who both have upcoming releases on the label

Car Clutch in london last year:

And while looking into Coconot/El Guincho/DCLuvLuv, I found this Barcelona band that I really like with the dare-to-be-googled name of Internet 2. They're on the quirky, playful side of experimentalism:

Internet 2 video for "Dar Penita" (gather the kiddies)

And there's still lots of other connections to explore - for instance Jens Neumaier of Coconot is also a member of the established Barcleona prog-jazz outfit 12Twelve:

El Guincho's Alegranza makes it's official (legal) stateside appearance October 21, order it from the link on his myspace- and El Guincho's Folías was DC/Luv Luv's first release, and it's now completely sold out, so don't waste any time in heading over there and picking up any of their other obscure eclectic releases that catch your ear before they're gone, too. Head to the DC/LuvLuv myspace for buy links, in the US they link to GoldenAge.

And to my three regular readers, sorry about the wait - if you want to keep up on this and other blogs that update sporadically get yourself an RSS reader and subscribe.


Brown And Purple Mix

I've been working on this one for a bit. It's got a couple of newer tracks, several 80's tracks (I've been on a kick for finding lost 80's gems I haven't heard), a little "old-school rock-n-roll", and other stuff. It's not too long, about 40 minutes. You're already here, might as well download it - but wait until you can listen to the whole thing at once. And turn it up a little.


Is There Life On Mars?

Yesterday NASA's Phoenix (official UofA page / NASA page) lander confirmed the existence of water on Mars. They were pretty sure it was there when they saw on camera what appeared to be chunks of ice disappearing, but yesterday the Phoenix was finally able to get a good scoop of soil inside itself, and the TEGA equipment analyzed the samples and "tasted" the water, and confirmed it. Scientists have long concluded where there's water there's life, so it may only be a short time before we have the evidence of the first lifeform discovered outside Earth. The Mars Science Laboratory (rover) will be launched in the Fall of 2009 to further study the composition of Mars.