Archive for September, 2009

Intermission: A Correction

The MP3 on the Pulido Fennesz Siewert Stangl post was incorrectly tagged as “Canto de Zafra”, when it should have been tagged “Canto de Velorio”. This here blog had the two sides of the single all mixed up! The post has been corrected and the MP3 has been re-uploaded, tagged with the correct title. Sorry for any confusion or inconvenience.

September 30, 2009 at 4:05 pm Leave a comment

Intermission: Get Ready for Post-Rocktoberfest 2009

Coming Soon

Coming Soon

Disco Inferno – “New Clothes for the New World”

September 28, 2009 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Intermission: If You Happen to be in Vancouver on Sunday 27th…

Von Bingen + Solars live

Von Bingen – “Eyeglasses of Kentucky”

“Sunday, September 27
From California, Holy Mountain/Sub Pop recording artists
with guests

Presented by Twee Death in conjunction with Psych Night at the ANZA.
Doors 8pm
Showtime 9pm
The ANZA Club
3 West 8th Avenue

“Like fellow locals Comets on Fire, or English space rockers Hawkwind and
Spacemen 3, Wooden Shjips’ magic is a mix of pummeling hypnotic grooves
and otherworldly guitar.” “Primitive rock riffs subjected to subversive psych-
tinged FX-laden ju-ju; manic, warped pulses of pop-rock that make your ears
bleed + get you moving at the same time”

LP release party! Featuring members of Magneticring, Jackie-O Motherfucker,
Astral Blessing, Kemialliset Ystavat, etc.., Von Bingen’s debut full-length vinyl
LP on Amen Absen has just arrived + it’s 100% killer. Available at the show.

One of the finest minimal psych outfits making sounds anywhere right now,
Solars conjure up transportative drones, throbbing pulses & hypnotic swells.

Plus tunes from DJ Magneticring before/after/in-between.

Advance tickets available online at:
or in-store at Zulu & Audiopile NOW.”

September 25, 2009 at 5:37 pm 4 comments

Short Break

Giant Bench!

Giant Bench!

Bubblegum Cage III will be taking a couple of weeks off in order to prepare for the Post-Rocktoberfest festivities. If you only just recently discovered this here blog, right now would be a good time to catch up on some of the previous posts. For those of you who aren’t a bunch of fucking slow-pokes, you might want to find out What We Did on Our Holidays (further evidence below) or – alternatively – read a book.



Fairport Convention – “Book Song”



Normal service will be resumed in October.



September 21, 2009 at 9:00 am 4 comments

Pulido Fennesz Siewert Stangl – A Girl & a Gun (Interstellar) 7″

Pulido Fennesz Siewert Stangl - A Girl & a Gun

Pulido Fennesz Siewert Stangl - A Girl & a Gun

What the hell is up with that cover, eh? We’ll deal with this issue in a minute. But first…

In the last couple of years, Christian Fennesz does seem to have become a little less choosy when it comes to collaborations. You have to hand it to him, though – for every collab with an experimental jet-set superstar like Ryuichi Sakamoto or Mike Patton, there’s one that teams Fennesz with some hardcore, grass-roots improvisers based in his native Vienna.

This 7″, released by Austrian label Interstellar, features the great man alongside Martin Siewert and Burkhard Stangl – names that should be familiar to long-term Fennesz fans. The unknown quantity here is Lucia Pulido. Apparently, she’s a fairly well-known Columbian singer and each side of this 7″ is based on a traditional Columbian song.

The recordings were made for an art film titled Film ist. A Girl & a Gun, which – judging by the vaguely grotesque sketches adorning the record’s cover – must be pretty, erm…. racy stuff. The songs, on the other hand, are quite straightforwardly pretty and civilized.

“Canto de Velorio” is full of chiming guitars, subtle electronics and cooing vocals. On “Canto de Zafra”, Pulido becomes rather more strident, with intense – but never less than decorative – results. Both sides are very accessible but richly inventive and original.

This seems like the kind of record that’s going to disappear from print pretty quickly. Hopefully, it’s not already too late for you to buy A Girl & a Gun from Touch.

September 17, 2009 at 9:00 am 1 comment

Jim O’Rourke – The Visitor (Drag City) LP

Jim O'Rourke - The Visitor

Jim O'Rourke - The Visitor

Throughout the ’90s, Jim O’Rourke was a ubiquitous presence in experimental music and underground rock. He began by prowling the hinterlands of free improv, dark ambient and noise. Gradually, via his membership in David Grubbs’ deconstructionist rock band Gastr Del Sol, he came to the attention of the indie rock cognoscenti. Eventually, he was given the highest honour imaginable, becoming a fully-fledged member of Sonic Youth.

What really built O’Rourke’s personal fan-base, though, was the series of solo albums he made for Chicago’s Drag City label. These records came cloaked in cover art which ranged from the cloyingly cute to the grotesquely pornographic (occasionally encompassing both aesthetics simultaneously) and were – more often than not – named after Nicolas Roeg films.

The music itself was an odd – but timely and highly effective – mish-mash of folky-Americana, West Coast pop, progressive rock, digital electronica and easy listening. Some of the albums were instrumental but others – notably O’Rourke’s masterpiece Eureka – came topped off with astoundingly bitter and misanthropic lyrics, sung in his faltering, unassuming little voice.

In 2001, he released Insignificance, which was simultaneously his most conventional rock album and his most lyrically unpleasant assault on the human race. It was great and sold like hot cakes. After the release of Insignificance, O’Rourke moved to Japan and slimmed down his musical activities to virtually nil.

Which brings us to The Visitor, his long-awaited new solo full-length. It’s a folky, instrumental effort, along the lines of Bad Timing (the connection is made explicit by the fact that both albums feature images of disco balls on their covers). Though split across two sides of vinyl, it’s essentially one long composition, which O’Rourke has quite possibly been labouring over for these last eight years.

Side one initially seems none too engaging. It’s full of rather ponderous, rhythmically complex, finger-picked acoustic guitar. The tone is relentlessly melodic and there are no electronics or dissonances to add edge. At times, you fear that O’Rourke is in danger of slipping into the technically clever but aesthetically vapid worlds of third-tier prog rock and lite jazz fusion.

Things start to make sense as side two picks up the pace, adding some loose improv drumming and dissonant piano parts. By the end of the composition, everything has resolved in a most satisfying fashion. Listen again, with some knowledge of the musical road-map and you’ll find the whole journey extremely pleasurable.

So, while not outwardly challenging, The Visitor is clearly a record that demands full engagement. On the cover, O’Rourke asks that we listen to it “on speakers, loud”. He’s also refused to have the album released in MP3 format, presumably feeling that the loss of audio fidelity will dull the sharp edges of his precision sound mix. Good for him. Sorry for posting digital extracts.

Still, The Visitor remains a somewhat enigmatic release that may leave you wondering exactly what Jim O’Rourke is getting at. Perhaps those Roeg-inspired album titles provide a clue. O’Rourke has claimed that, while music is what he does, cinema is what he loves. The concept of “imaginary soundtracks” may be somewhat played out but it’s hard not to think of The Visitor as the soundtrack to a cinematic masterpiece O’Rourke might have dreamed, if he’d been chosen for that particular vocation.

See – or rather hear – for yourself. Buy The Visitor from Drag City.

September 14, 2009 at 9:00 am 3 comments

Mokira – Persona (Type) LP

Mokira - "Persona"

Mokira - "Persona"

Mokira is Andreas Tilliander who – like Tape‘s Andreas Berthling – is a first-generation glitch electronica producer. From Sweden. Called Andreas.

During glitch’s post-Oval heyday, Tilliander released albums on Mille Plateaux and Raster-Noton. He’s been a little bit under-the-radar for the last few years, so it’s nice to see him releasing some new vinyl on the ever-reliable Type label.

Persona is hardly a glitch album, though. Apparently, it’s the result of Tilliander’s move towards a purely analogue approach. While this might seem like a cowardly capitulation with the current fashion for vintage synth drones,  the simple beauty of these tracks is hard to deny.

The soft pads and diffuse reverbs of Persona suggest that Tilliander has been spending some time luxuriating in Vladislav Delay’s world of echo. Witness “Lord, am I Going Down?” for evidence.

But there’s a far more obvious influence at work here: ’80s drone-rock legends the Spacemen 3. “Ode to the Ode to the Street Hassle” rather obviously samples that band’s “Ode to Street Hassle” (itself a rather obvious erm… ode to Lou Reed’s “Street Hassle”).

Tilliander also pays tribute to the band in this biographical sleeve note: “Hats off to Jason Pierce and Peter Kember. Thank you for signing my T-shirt, Jason. Sorry for interrupting your performance.”

More obliquely, Tilliander’s love of the Spacemen 3 extends to embracing their infatuation with flangers, phasers and all things that go “eeeeeeooowwwwwwaaaaaahhh”. Indeed, the one real weakness of Persona is its over-reliance on these kinds of simplistic effects.

On the whole, though, this is a delightful return to the fray for Tilliander. You are encouraged to buy it from Forced Exposure.

September 11, 2009 at 9:00 am 5 comments

Sparklehorse + Fennesz – In the Fishtank 15 (Konkurrent) LP

Sparklehorse + Fennesz - In the Fishtank 15

Sparklehorse + Fennesz - In the Fishtank 15

The early career of Christian Fennesz was positively littered with collaborative releases – of varying quality. A few years ago, Fennesz announced that he was going to start being a lot more choosy about collaborations, mainly concentrating on FennO’berg, his trio with Jim O’Rourke and Peter “Pita” Rehberg.

Rather confusingly, there have been no new FennO’berg albums since that time but Fennesz has gone on tour with Faith No More vocalist Mike Patton (an artist whose good intentions do little to mask his lack of talent) and has also appeared on an album by a rather nondescript indie rock act called Sparklehorse.*

You might be forgiven for greeting the news of a full-on Sparklehorse + Fennesz release with a copious yawn. But if you took the time to give said release a fair listen, well you’d be taking back that yawn pretty quickly, mister.

In the Fishtank 15 is the latest entry in the Konkurrent label’s series of collaborative releases, which has previously paired up Low with the Dirty Three and Tortoise with The Ex. It’s basically a document of Fennesz jamming in the studio with Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous and it really is surprisingly satisfying.

Things do not start off promisingly. Early on in the opening track (“Music Box of Snakes”) you can clearly hear Linkous fiddling with a delay pedal – usually the first sign of a clueless rock guitarist trying to be “experimental”. Things pick up pretty quickly though and Linkous ends up acquitting himself rather well – in spite of the fact that the whole session takes place in Fennesz’s abstract/electronic realm and barely strays into Linkous’s world of singers and songwriters.

In fact, if there’s a weak link here, it’s Fennesz’s guitar playing. Don’t take that the wrong way, Fennesz is an excellent guitarist – with a strong tone and a lovely melodic sensibility – but he does tend towards always playing the same kind of thing. There are a number of moments on this release where he sounds like he’s about to burst into his own classic tune “Codeine”, most obviously on “Christian’s Guitar Piece”.

And to be honest, the best parts of the whole record are the bits where Linkous’s voice makes an appearance, as on “Goodnight Sweetheart” and “If My Heart”. Listening to these tracks should be pretty humbling stuff for any Fennesz fans who’d written Linkous off as a mere indie rock hack. Maybe Sparklehorse isn’t so bad after all!

The vinyl version of In the Fishtank 15 is available for pre-order from Insound.

(*To be fair, there have been some pretty great Fennesz collab’s in recent years, perhaps most notably 2008’s Fennesz Brandlmayr Dafeldecker 2CD.)

September 9, 2009 at 9:00 am 2 comments

Black Moon – Diggin’ in dah Vaults (Wreck) CD

Black Moon - Diggin' in dah Vaults

Black Moon - Diggin' in dah Vaults

Black Moon’s Enta da Stage is the mighty Woebot‘s favourite ’90s rap record, so you know these guys are worth the time of day. Enta da Stage certainly makes an impression – it must be one of the darkest hip-hop albums ever released.

Early on, Black Moon had some sort of association with Mobb Deep. Both crews certainly espoused a similarly bleak worldview but whereas Mobb Deep wrapped this worldview in all sorts of half-baked Social Darwinist rhetoric, Black Moon seemed to simply accept their harsh ‘90s reality, no questions asked. They weren’t interested in self-justification – which somehow made them even scarier.

Diggin’ in dah Vaults is a compilation of singles, B-sides and outtakes, released some time after the Black Moon crew’s 1995 break-up (they later reformed but never quite managed to recapture their initial spark of inspiration). For the most part, it reprises songs from Enta da Stage, adding lusher production and more sophisticated, melodic emceeing.

While Enta da Stage is a devastatingly effective statement of intent, lead emcee Buckshot and producer Evil Dee both reached peak form on these later tracks. Buckshot’s voice had, by this point, taken on a unique, insinuating rasp and a lilting singsong cadence. Evil Dee, meanwhile, was draping woozy, menacing soundscapes over crisp, minimal beats.

“Buck ’em Down (Remix)” is exemplary – replacing the original version’s stark, staccato sound with something at once breathlessly psychedelic and utterly merciless. “Ack Like U Want It (DJ Evil Dee Remix)” and “Murder MCs”, meanwhile, are prowling, deep and subtly dissonant.

This is nasty, nasty but utterly seductive stuff. It’s hard not to feel like a voyeur listening to these tales of inner-city brutality. It’s also hard to shake the feeling that you might be the next victim.

And yet Diggin’ in dah Vaults is a deeply rewarding listen. In the final analysis, it seems like a heartfelt attempt to find some oblique kind of beauty in the midst of incredibly dark circumstances.

Looks like you can buy Diggin’ in dah Vaults from Amazon.

September 7, 2009 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Richard Youngs – Beyond the Valley of Ultrahits (Sonic Oyster) CDR

Richard Youngs - Beyond the Valley of Ultrahits

Richard Youngs - Beyond the Valley of Ultrahits

Richard Youngs is surely one the United Kingdom’s most under-appreciated musical artists. Even appearing on the front cover of The Wire magazine a few years back didn’t seem to boost his profile all that much.

Youngs’ music ranges the gamut from acoustic singer-songwriter rock to no-holds-barred free-form noise. Whatever mode he’s working in though, Youngs always gives something fundamentally uplifting to whatever listeners he may have.

Beyond the Valley of Ultrahits is hardly the most significant entry in his sizeable discography. A CDR released in a tiny run, …Ultrahits was apparently recorded as a goof, when a friend dared Youngs to record a straightforward pop album.

Youngs took the dare but the results give the impression he didn’t take it too seriously. This is a distinctly imperfect album that sounds like it was recorded very, very quickly indeed. The electronic backings are rather generic, the songs are mostly quite rudimentary and the vocal harmonies are often shaky.

But there are more serious problems with …Ultrahits. Firstly, it’s slightly disturbing that this is Richard Youngs’ idea of a straightforward pop album. In fact, it’s not really a pop album at all – it’s a quirky indie rock album. Has indie rock achieved such cultural hegemony that even an artist of Youngs’ range can’t see past it?

Perhaps, though, what we really have here is just another Richard Youngs album. That’s a problem too – his folky tones and sincerely mystical lyrics just don’t sound right over faux-R&B beats. Real pop stars simply don’t write vegan cookbooks, do they?

Having said all this, the wrongness of ...Ultrahits – it’s awkward, ragged imperfection – is also the album’s charm; its saving grace. If you can get past your preconceptions about what Youngs was supposed to achieve, the results are actually quite beguiling. And many of the songs are simply beautiful.

“A Storm of Light Ignites My Heart” is a particularly lovely anthem to the night sky. The shuffling back-beat might seem a little uncharacteristic but don’t be fooled – this is Youngs at his ecstatic best. “Collapsing Stars” is great too. Based around a naggingly familiar sample loop (Lali Puna? Pluramon?), it’s lilting folk-song melody is totally at odds with the concept of the album but utterly perfect for Youngs’ voice.

So, out of all this imperfection, all this wrongness, comes one of 2009’s most winning albums. Sadly, as a limited run CDR, Beyond the Valley of Ultrahits is – by all accounts – waaay out of print.

September 5, 2009 at 9:00 am 2 comments

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