Archive for the ‘HangedUp’ Category


silentlandThis is a great compilation of Constellation artists from 2004 and earlier.  What makes it so good is that 13 of the 14 songs are released here for the first time.  So it works not only as a sampler of the labels artists, it also works as a great rarities collection.

ELIZABETH ANKA VAJAGIC-“The Sky Lay Still” [stripped down version of album song].  This song starts with slow echoing guitars and Elizabeth’s voice which sounds a bit like Carla Bozulich (but cleaner).  Two minutes in, it shifts tones to an awesomely catchy section with great vocals.

DO MAKE SAY THINK-“Winter Hymn Winter Hymn Winter Hymn”   This is the entire Winter Hymn … album remixed into a 5 minute track.  I’ve often complained that I dislike remixes but this one is great.  It includes some big guitar chords, some quiet drums, some notes and maybe gives you a feel of the album, but maybe not.  The end of the track plays some very fast heavy chords and then gets sped up out of existence.

EXHAUST-“Wool Fever Dub” [from their self-released cassette]  This song has a big thumping beat and some cool echoed harmonics on the guitar. This basic song structure runs through a 3 minute instrumental with a different “chorus” and some intense drumming at the end.

HANGEDUP-“(Re)View From The Ground (remix)”  This is a very catchy, fun remix.  Noisy clattering drums and all kinds of feedback squalls keep this propulsive track moving—this is my kind of dance remix.

BLACK OX ORKESTAR-“Toyte Goyes In Shineln”  This track comes from their album Ver Tanzt? And is one of my favorite of their songs from this disc.  An Acoustic guitar and bass play a simple melody over what I assume is quiet Hebrew singing.

SACKVILLE-“This Machine”  This is an unreleased track from the band.  It is a simple downbeat folk song with a really catchy chorus.  I like Sackville a lot but haven’t mentioned their full length yet–coming soon.

SILVER MT. ZION-“Iron Bridge To Thunder Bay” This is an unreleased track from the Rusted Satellites session, it begins with squealing feedback that slowly changes pitch until the thudding drums and bass come in.  They play a rumbling rhythm underneath the otherwise noisy sounds.  After 6 minutes, the song ends in squalls of feedback until the last minute just echoes until the end.

SOFA-“String Of Lights” [from the self released cassette].  I really like Sofa and wish they’d released more music.  This song actually sounds a bit like the Black Ox Orkestar song above-a- slow broody acoustic piece, but I love the way the chorus brightens the song.

POLMO POLPO-“Dreaming (…Again)”  This track is described as “constructed of materials from the Like Hearts Swelling sessions”  It’s a pretty, upbeat song with some slide guitars and a groovy rhythm.

RE: “Slippage” [unreleased track from the Mnant sessions]  This song has clanging percussion and oscillating keyboards which make this soundscape interesting and compelling.

FLY PAN AM-“Tres Tres ‘Avant'” is an improvisation with Tim Hecker and Christof Migone.  There’s a funky bass and drums with some groovy keyboards.

1-SPEED BIKE-“Fair Warning” [ remix of “New Blue Monday” from their album].  The track starts with a person saying “Okay we’ll call this one Fair Warning.”  You can hear the music (primarily the guitar echoed) and the riff from New Order’s “Blue Monday” and then he starts reciting passages in a great Canadian accent: “heroin crop in Afghanistan is 3 times higher this year than last year because the Taliban got taken out and replaced with the Americans.”  “We don’t want funerals because people like to party too much, Capice?”  The second half of the song is a lot of swirling statics and noise with repeated notes.

FRANKIE SPARO-“See My Film” [working mix of an unreleased song].  This song has a sprinkling of guitar notes and Sparo’s mellow but rough voice singing a cool melody.  The addition of a violin melody really elevates the song.  The end is even better as he adds another vocal line and some da das making it even catchier.

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR-“Outro” This is a live performance of a concert finale recorded in France on 14 May 2003.  This slow song opens with glockenspiel and strings–a slow, pretty melody that evolves over 7 minutes to add a bigger string section.  The last 2 minutes include a very nice violin solo that plays over the top of the rest of the band.  GYBE has never officially released a live album, so this is a good opportunity to hear what they can do live.

[READ: August 20, 2016] Land

This is a book about Anthony Gormley’s five statues on Landmark Trust Property.

The five statues in this book are life-sized cast iron sculptures installed in five Landmark Trust sites across the British Isles from May 2015 to May 2016.  Saddell Bay, Mull of Kintyre; South West Point, Lundy; Clavell Tower, Kimmeridge Bay; Martello Tower, Aldeburgh, and Lengthsman’s Cottage, Lowsonford.

The sculptures are by Antony Gormley, the photos of the sculptures are by Clare Richardson and the text is by Jeanette Winterson.  Winterson is the only person I’d heard of in this book but as soon as I flipped through the pages, I was instantly struck by the sculptures.

Gormley works with the human form in very heavy sculptural designs.  There’s another book about his work called Human that shows even more of his sculptures. (more…)

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varmintsSOUNDTRACK: HANGEDUP & TONY CONRAD-Transit of Venus [091] (2016).

conradHangedUp & Tony Conrad have the third of three discs released as part of Constellation’s Musique Fragile 02 set. From the Constellation site: Transit Of Venus documents this fertile collaboration and includes some enormous slabs of drone rock alongside more decomposed pieces and gorgeously gritty string duos.  [[The performers] recently plunged back into the archives and started shaping an album from the various 2-track and live-mixed [improvisations and] multi-track source material.

“Flying Fast n Furious” has clattering percussion and squeaky violins.  There’s some fast drumming and violin playing in the middle with a great wobbly low bass around.   About 4 minutes in the sounds are almost otherworldly/underwatery.  “Transit Of Venus” has the return of that low wobbly bass—big round fat bass notes that just seem to linger as the drums clatter away.  The sawing violin is a little less interesting than I’d like, however.  “Principles” features a buzzy violin that scratches over the interesting drum pattern.  After a minute or so some strange sounds percolate under the drone.  The sounds are mechanical, organic, (balloons?) digital—unclear.  It’s 8 minutes long and there’s a few moments when the big bass notes come in that are very cool.  In the last minute or so a new violin solo comes out of the din but it doesn’t alter the tone of the song all that much

“Bright Arc Of Light” is 4 minutes of slow bowed and plucked violins.  It’s quite minimal.  “Gentil The Unlucky Astronomer ” is 11 minutes long and it starts with multi layered violins.  It sounds a bit like The Velvet Underground’s “Heroin” and after 2 minute the slow drums come in.  Once the drums enter, the song stays mostly the same—sawing violins and a steady drums with some other occasional percussion.  It’s very droney.  Around 6 minutes things change slightly and the song becomes more insistent.  It continues like this for most of the rest of the song and then ends with some solo violins.  The final track is “Panorama From Maxwell Montes” which opens with some dissonant scratchy violins.  The drums come in and start playing an intersection complex rhythm making this a good album closer.

fragileMusique Fragile Volume 02 is the second in our series of limited-edition, artwork-intensive box sets featuring three full-length albums by three different artists, available on heavyweight vinyl and as a digital bundle. The vinyl set will be limited to 500 hand-numbered copies, lovingly designed and hand-assembled.

[READ: November 1, 2016] Varmints

I really enjoyed the drawing style in this book.  The main characters were cute and cartoony and yet the backgrounds were reasonably realistic looking.  It really conveyed the setting (the old west, I guess) effectively.

However, I had a huge problem with the story.  The book felt like it was part 2, but to the best of my knowledge it isn’t.  There just seemed to be huge gaps in the story that were never filled in.  Not to mention, this is supposed to be a children’s story, but we find out (very late in the story) that the childrens’ mother was killed in cold blood–more or less on a whim.  It’s a shocking piece of violence which I suppose little kids can handle but, woah, what the hell, dude?

The story begins with Opie and Ned in a saloon.  They are young kids, Opie is Ned’s older sister–a joke is made about Opie being a weird name for a girl, but sadly, nothing more comes of that.  Opie is holding her own in a game of cards but Ned is bored and keeps interrupting the game as annoying little brother will do.

Ned says he wants a hat, and since no one will give him one, he climbs a mountain of a man (he’s so tall we can’t see his face and he is wearing a full-sized bear as a cloak of some sort) and takes the hat off of him.  Chaos ensues, the hat flies off (and gets two holes in it) and the kids wind up stealing the giant man’s horse and taking off. (more…)

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dec20133SOUNDTRACK: HANGEDUP-Clatter for Control [CST034] (2005).

clatterClatter for Control is Hangedup’s third and (so far) last album.  As Kicker was an evolution from their debut, Clatter feels like an evolution as well.  It feels like a more experimental work with fewer “proper’ songs proper and more soundscapes and ideas.

“Klang Klang” is a fast, yes, klanging song.  The viola is slightly discordant and the riffs are abrupt and staccato and it builds into a frenzy.  “Alarm” is more spooky sounding with tape manipulation. “A Different Kind Of Function” starts with some staccato notes and then builds into merging lines of viola and feels almost like a remix song.  “Kick-Back-Hub” is 90 seconds of squeaking bowing and metal clanking along with some very fast drums. It melds into “Eksplozije” which is 2:25 and is more feedback and big noisy drums.

“Go Let’s Go” feels like an actual song with riffs and chords, while “Derailleur” is another short piece, just under 2 minutes of noise and rattling and wildly untuned viola sounds.  “Fuck This Place” has a bass guitar although you wouldn’t necessarily know it (there is more bottom end), it feels like the viola is actually vocal samplings which is neat. “How We Keep Time” is a slower song with languorous viola sounds and sparse drumming.  “Junk The Clatter” feels like the most song like of the bunch. After a minute intro a fully realized riff comes out.  There’s some beautiful melodies and when the song ends it has a cool rocking section.

I prefer Kicker in Tow, but there’s record is a lot of fun too, full of unusual and discordant sounds–if you like that sort of thing.

 [READ: May 5, 2014] “I Can Say Many Nice Things”

I wound up reading about 3/4 of this story in one sitting and I loved it.  But when I came back to finish the end, I didn’t really like it as much.  I though the first part was engaging and complex without being convoluted.  I was interested in the direction the story was going and I was disappointed that it went where it did.  The ending ultimately makes sense within the context of the story, but I enjoyed so much of what happened before that I guess I didn’t want it to end.

So what was so great?

Fleming is an writing teacher.  A disgruntled and unpopular writing teacher.  He has been given a chance to teach a writing class… on a cruise!  A five day cruise with all expenses paid and ten well-paying students signed up for a morning and afternoon class.  Everyone he knew thought he was so lucky (colleagues pretended to be jealous)–it would certainly be an easy way to rack up positive evaluations from happy cruisers?  But Fleming is a pretty miserable guy.  He’s even more miserable because he intended to get in shape for the cruise, but in fact he got fatter, and he feels lousy about himself.

Even though at heart this is a story about teaching and writing (typically not great story topics), the set up is unusual–especially as we slowly come to realize that he is trapped on this ship. And when you add in some of the other details, I thought this was a really interesting setup.

Here’s some details that i found compelling. (more…)

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dec20133SOUNDTRACK: HANGEDUP-Kicker in Tow [CST022] (2002).

hanged2Hangedup’s second album is bigger and better than the debut (which was pretty good to start with).  This one is far more intense, and much better sounding.

I love the way the first song “Kinetic Work” starts out in such a fast and intense fashion and then shifts gears to a slower beat about 90 seconds in. Then it reverts back to a fast building song, growing very intense by the end.  “Sink” is a scattered affair with the drums taking “lead” playing all kinds of noises and rhythms over the slow beat of the strings. “Losing your charm” is more about tone and mood—with a steady pulsing beat and ever more energetic strings. It sends a middle eastern vibe too.

“View from the Ground” brings in some more unusual sounds—very machine like (with lots of echo on the percussion). And the strings sound a bit more like guitars here. “Moment for the Motion Machine” is a 1 minute 28 second precursor to the 13 minute “No More Bad Future.” If there was ever an epic instrumental of two instruments, it is this. Like a suite from GYBE, it builds slowly with grinding viola and occasional mechanical percussion.  The song changes pace and then assumes a kind of martial beat at around 5 minutes in. And then shifts gears growing more and more intense until the end.

“Motorcycle Muffler” is metallic and machine-like with interesting effects on the cool ringing tones–it sounds like he may be actually banging on a muffler.  “Automatic Spark Control” starts slowly but builds aggressively with the occasional ringing note as a progress bar. “Broken Reel” ends the disc with a slow series of viola chords (and overdubs). The title implies and the song sounds like an Irish dance, and it does, but one that is well, broken and several paces too slow.  It’s quite a change from the rest of the record, but it shows an expanding style and shows just how much they can do with two instruments. Hangedup is a very cool experimental band for those who like melodic noise.

 [READ: May 2, 2014] “Flight”

This story is about a very stoic couple breaking up.  It is narrated by the woman.  She says that her husband, Allan, left her about a year ago.

When they were first together he talked about her in a way that sounded like he felt they had a cozy life,

like the castles he used to build out of straw bales when he was a boy.  Inside the castle was a den in which to eat cookies and drink fruit juice while listening to the rumble of the combine in the next field.  That’s what being with me was like, Allan, said.

But it seems that it was really more suffocating than cozy.  Allan worked for a wind farm company and traveled the world as a technical consultant.  But he never told her anything about where he went–he found it hard to describe and explain.  So she eventually bought him a camera.  He took pictures and sent them to her from around the world.  But he got back he still had nothing to say to her.

dolly-sods-wilderness-west-virginia-hdr-photography-sunsetThe one place that is mentioned in the story is Dolly Sods, West Virginia, (see this cool photo to the right of Dolly Sods from Captain Kimono).  [I had never heard of Dolly Sods Wilderness, but it is protected land and is described : Dolly Sods is an area of high elevation wind-swept plains on the Allegheny Plateau. At elevations of 2,600 to over 4,000 feet, the area has extensive flat rocky plains, upland bogs, beaver ponds, and sweeping vistas. The plant life and climate on this high plateau resembles northern Canada, and many species found here are near their southernmost range].  The narrator explains how there are parts of Dolly Sods that have never been touched by human hands.  In the picture that Allan sent from there, he is next to a wind turbine that is going to be put up. (more…)

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dec20133SOUNDTRACK: HANGEDUP-HangedUp [CST016] (2001).

hanged1Hangedup is a noisy band made up of two people: Genevieve Heistek on viola (often looped) and Eric Craven on drums and percussion.  The whole enterprise has a kind of DIY sound—like (very good) first takes done in fit of creative outpouring.

 “Winternational” opens the disc with slow and somber viola.  But after 1:41 the drums come in and the tempo changes into complex song–the way that simple patterns morphs around is really cool. It turns into a great instrumental song, with a low, almost detuned bass sound and lots of percussion. “Propane Tank” has more great weird percussion (sounding like he’s possibly hitting everything in the room). The sounds are manipulated and twisted but make a very interesting beat.  It’s pretty cool “Powered By Steam” builds then slows with some great strings and percussive sounds following in and out of a strong melody.  “New Blue Monday” is more of the same but with a new an interesting beat arrangement and texture. It also has a great ‘riff” and melody .

“Tapping” is mostly drums (tapping). The beginning is a little monotonous although the effects in the background are interesting to try to imagine what they are.  It builds slowly so by around 5 minutes the song has some momentum.  I imagine its interesting to see live and it works for a slow building monster song but its dull compared to the rest of the disc.  “Czech Disco Pt.II” makes up for it with frenetic drums and viola. “Wilt” plays with interesting bell-like percussion.  “Bring Yr Scuba Gear” has building viola; however, this song has bass guitars (guest bassist Ian Ilavsky who is also on “Powered by Steam”) and overdubs by Efrim Menuck which make this the most traditional sounding rock song of the bunch. Which is no bad thing.

Hangedup are certainly experimental but they are very cool and different sounding, too.

[READ: May 5, 2014] “Interview 8 (Mother)”

This is an excerpt from Ball’s novel Silence Once Begun.  As such, it’s a little hard to talk about it fairly.

It begins with an interviewer’s note that he was awoken by Mrs Oda who felt she needed to clear something up.   The rest of the except takes the form of an interview.

Mrs Oda tells a story about Jiro, (presumably her son) about why he cannot be trusted.  Her story concerns Jiro when he was young.  He would pretend that he was a lord and he would preside in judgment over his toys.  All the toys (even things like blocks or spoons) would plead to him for something.  First they would all shout at once and he would declare that they would all be executed if they could not speak in turn.

Then each toy would make its case (perhaps it didn’t like where it was placed last night).  Regardless of what the toy asked for, his response was the same to each one: “Don’t open your mouth again or I’ll have you killed.” (more…)

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walrus maySOUNDTRACK: POLMO POLPO-Like Hearts Swelling [CST026] (2003).

polmo“Swelling” is the operative word for this disc from Sandro Perri (who is the only person in the band).  Perri layers waves of music.
The album is comprised of drones and loops and is largely ambient in nature.   There’s five songs in 46 minutes. Opening track “Romeo Heart” builds from silence to super loud punk noise.   The 11 minute “Requiem For A Fox” introduces a kind of  underwater heartbeat pulse and detuned sounds.  By around 7 minutes the drums kick in bringing the song to a faster beat until it concludes with an acoustic guitar section and a wild slide solo at song’s end.  “Farewell” builds slowly over 5 minutes with interesting drums sounds.

At 13 minutes, “Sky Histoire” adds a tambourine, which brings in an interesting (albeit minor) percussive element that the other songs didn’t have. By the end, the song is totally intense.  It even has bells and chimes.  The final track, “Like Hearts Swelling” feels like real instruments rather than samples and keyboards.  It features Genevieve Heistek from Hangedup looping and weaving her viola.

Regardless of how great this album is (which it is), if you don;t like ambient music this is not for you.  But if you can get absorbed in the sound, it is a great collection of songs.

[READ: May 1, 2014] “Juno Pluvia”

As this story opens, the narrator, whose name is Hero, is protesting about her cousin Nile.  She tells us to forget about him because a dead body has recently washed up on the beach and that is what we should be worried about.  The man (clad in speedos and nothing else) has been dead for five years–the cold water of Lake Michigan preserved him.  And it was Nile who found him.

When she questions Nile about what he was doing when he found him, Nile says he was fishin’, which she doesn’t believe for a second.  And then she allows us to consider Nile after all: “grease incarnate…did he ever wash?”  And all the while, her mother warned her about him…to never ever get into his van.

Hero relates sadly that she was never invited.  He was never to be her first, she was never to be one of his girlfriends, who were all cross-eyed and bucktoothed anyway.

And thus, the remainder of the story focuses on what she told us to ignore–her cousin Nile. (more…)

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This is a compilation from Constellation Records.  It features mostly unreleased tracks and turns out to be a great sampler for both the fan of the label and the novice.

Since the label never had any “hits” per se, they couldn’t really release a “greatest hits” collection.  But they went the extra mile by selecting rare tracks rather than just a songs from their albums,.

It also belies the idea (put forth by me as well as many others) that Constellation had “a sound.”  While they have branched further afield since this collection was released, even prior to this you can see a lot of diversity.  From the epic instrumentals of Godspeed You Black Emperor, to the noise structures of Exhaust, to the sort of spoken word of 1-Speed Bike to the viola/bass duet of HangedUp.  This compilation contains one track from pretty much every artist on their roster from the (then) new artist Elizabeth Anka Vajagic to early bands Sofa.

The Do Make Say Think track, “Winter Hymn Winter Hymn Winter Hymn” is described as a condensation of the album of that name into 5 minutes, and I believe it is).  Many of the other artists’ tracks are remixed.  But the remixes aren’t dance remixes or dub versions, they are just remixed, usually by Efrim or one of the other Hotel2Tango individuals.

If you’re a fan of the label, hunt down this disc.  If you’re not familiar with the artists, this is a great place to start.  The bands’ tracks, even the remixes are representative of the bands.  So, you get a good sense of Exhaust, 1-Speed Bike, Fly Pan Am and HangedUp.  Although the real selling point is the live track by Godspeed You Black Emperor.  It’s not one of their “real” songs per se (as it is just an outro) but it’s a nice indicator of their live show (which was one of the best live shows I’ve seen).

[READ: December 18, 2009] Shoulder-a-Coffin Kuro

I’m not sure how this book ended up in my house.  I was looking at a pile of graphic novels and there was this one.  I hadn’t really noticed it before and Sarah didn’t know anything about it, so…who knows.  Anyhow, I decided to just go ahead and read it.  It turned out to be my very first manga (awwww).  And it took me a few pages to understand the style at all.

Manga primer: First off it’s written right to left (so at first I wasn’t even sure where to start the book, as this one starts without a real “start”).  Then I realized that the 4-panel style means you read all four columns down on the right and then all four columns down on the left.  And, just to complete the culture shock, you read the speech balloons on the right of the panel before the ones on the left.  After about twenty or so pages it grew easier, and by the end it wasn’t an issue anymore.  But wow!

Oh, and for a little more confusion, there are occasional full color pages thrown in, but they aren’t chapter breaks or any special pages, they just seem to be in color.

So, anyhow, on to the story. (more…)

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