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Archive for the ‘Mushrooms’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: PHIL PULEO-Phil Puleo’s poly”WOG” 1996​-​2003 (2003/2020).

Phil Puleo has been the drummer for Swans for a number of years.  He has also been in Cop Shoot Cop and a number of other bands.  He also lived in New Jersey and was a good friend of a good friend of mine.  So I’ve hung out with him a few times and was pretty excited for him to get the gig with Swans.  I was really looking forward to seeing them this past winter, but theirs was one of the first shows to get postponed until next year.

So Phil has reissued (and remastered) some of his solo projects.

This one is described as

Highly effected samples of me playing various instruments. Guitar, Piano, Bass, Percussion, Electronic percussion, hammered dulcimer, harmonica, found audio recordings, weird answering machine messages etc.  Many of these tracks were recorded around the Swans are Dead tour in 1997 in my home in NJ.

So you get fourteen tracks of warped instrumental songs.  They sound like a soundtrack to a world that is slightly out of phase with ours.

“Italianato” is basically the music for “La Vie en Rose” performed on a a pipe organ that’s underwater.  But its ten minutes are filled with all kinds of samples that break through the surface.  By about four minutes the main melody has been stripped away to pulses of keyboards and samples of a woman saying “Are you too young to remember that?  You are.”  Along with a slowed voice saying “I’m a depressing motherfucker.” And that same earlier voice repeating “You are.”

“Can Somebody” opens with a somber piano that’s accompanied by swirling waves of high notes.  An answering machine plays through as if from another world. I’m really enamored of the simple melody that starts after the message, like a mechanical bird singing a robotic song.

“I” is a minute and a half of a slow echoing piano melody while “Ahoy” soars with a violin-like instrument fluttering around.  Until a more sinister noise comes from under the depths, surfacing again and again.

“Mother’s Plot” is based around percussive sounds.  There’s also distant voices processed to sound almost like chanting.  “Vio” messes around with some loosely tuned guitars and a harmonica, a kind of under the sea Western.  Although half way through the song grows a bit brighter with clean guitars strumming a pretty melody.  “Message” has a deep pulsing sound and delicate sprinkling of chimes and piano as a man leaves a message about burning the whole place to the ground and needing an alibi.  Yikes!

“Slow By” has some plucked almost Spanish guitar enveloped by more of that pulsing sound.  Once the percussion comes in the melody establishes itself to create a really interesting soundtrack.  “Overgrown” has a melody based around what sounds like a dulcimer.  There’s some interesting guitar sounds that come and go and a noise that sounds like a cow (but isn’t).  The rubbery sound quality in this song is really terrific.

“Hill 503” is an exploration of what constitutes percussion.  A steady drumbeat is accompanied by other sounds (including a violin bow banging strings) that grow and recede. By the end, an echoing guitar line re-introduces a kind of Western feel to the piece.

“Tumble” has some wooden percussion underpinning the sounds of children playing in the distance  It sets for a potentially bucolic scene.  Especially when combined with “Wog Maia,” a pretty guitar song with gently echoed piano and processed children’s voices.

“Indian Guy” has some gentle dulcimer in what sounds like an urban landscape. The “solo” sounds like it was manipulated by some proto-Auto-tune.  “All New Baby” has some more lovely hammered dulcimer playing over the top of some sinister backing chords.  The second half cycles through rising seven note patterns that provide some excellent tension.

“Everything” is the reissue’s bonus track.  It does sound like he’s crammed everything that’s gone before into 90 seconds.  Waves and waves of noises that resolve in a tidy little guitar piece.

This is not easy listening, but it is very evocative and visual.  I’d watch whatever movie this was a soundtrack to.

[READ: August 20, 2020] “Digestions”

I was surprised to learn that I had not read anything by Jim Crace before–his name sounded so familiar.

This piece is several very short stories about food.

“Mussels on the House” is the best one.  In it, the chef of The Yellow Basket likes to take revenge on unsatisfied customers by giving them less than good mussels.  The locals enjoy hearing the stories of the politician or the couple planing a divorce or the state executive whose evening did not end how they planned.

“George’s Magic Cookies” may have been given to a man on death row.  It certainly would have made the moments after his last meal happy ones.  George thinks that he might still be flying. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: WRECK AND REFERENCE-“Absurdities & Echoes” (2013).peach 5

wreckI followed Lars’ blog on NPR and after listening to yesterday’s Altar of Plague and I wound up here with Wreck and Reference.  Lars describes this song as the band’s “most melodic and mysterious.”  If this is the band being melodic, I can’t imagine what the rest of it is like.

The song opens somewhat conventionally but quickly shows something unexpected with some rapid fire drums.  And then the vocals come in.  The guy sounds like he is drowning–both in his angst and in the recording technique–he’s either under a ton of reverb or just buried in the mix. The lyrics are incomprehensible, although they seem quite impassioned.  After the verse there’s a lot of noise and snare drums–martial without exactly being military-like.

I guess there is a melody in there, but it’s not an obvious one.  The song has an accompanying video which you can watch at the link above.  It’s as peculiar as the song.  Incidentally, this song comes from their 7″ called Content, which is pronounced “No Content.”

[READ: April 18, 2013] “Supreme Cloud Ear”

This issue of Lucky Peach was the China Town Issue.  So all of the contents were about Chinatowns across the country.  I really enjoyed it, as there were so many interesting things to read about.  This short story was set in a Chinatown.  A young couple is planning to meet Beverly.  Well, actually Andrew has met Beverly but the narrator is meeting her for the first time.  There’s an air of power around this meeting, Beverly is practically a mythical figure as far as the narrator is concerned.  We enter the room where she is preparing something and there is stilted and awkward dialogue.  And indeed, for the longest time, we don’t really know why everyone is so secretive (it’s very well done).

Beverly maintains a detached aura no matter how much the narrator tries to talk to her.  After a few minutes, Beverly says she has to go on a delivery.  The narrator says that she has forgotten to get wine for their dinner, so she’ll tag along.  Beverly is clearly not happy about the company, although again, we don’t know why, exactly.

Beverly says that there’s a wine store down the street but the narrator won’t leave her side.  Resigned to the company and making sure that the narrator is prepared for whatever might lie ahead, Beverly invites her along. (more…)

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