Already been four months? Time sure flies when you’re doing sweet F.A., so let’s buckle down for another pit stop before we inevitably lose another tire to its cruel and alternate definition.
On some occasions, it begins to drag. On every occasion, the drums are too quiet. Above all else, however, you’ve got some of the most beautifully entrancing super-psych jams, post-rock ramblings, drones and buzzes, space-soaring Kittinger dives and totalist tantruming of the late 1990s, compacted into a sweet little buzz in the brain. All the tracks are untitled, because who the fuck cares? What matters isn’t the name of the vehicle, but where it’s gonna take you – and I’m afraid where you’re going, your brain isn’t fully ready for (there’s three guitarists for this fuckin’ thing?).
You’ll hear Branca, the Ash Ra Tempel, Hawkwind and other noisy, drug-laced footnotes in the history of 20th century recorded music compacted into a neat 80-minute bow to throw at the door of the millennium’s end. The contrarians won.
Trajectory of listens past the first: likely positive.
Trance Mission - Trance Mission (1993, City of Tribes)
We’ve got a fine pick here: a tribal ambient outing that is brandished with the overcoat and overtones of Indigenous Australian traditional music (which I’m aware has hundreds of different stylings and a history that flirts with existing prehistorically, but I’ll need to generalize for my current sanity), and garnished by the zombie noise of new age. Is it particularly moving? Well, I’m not so sure about that, but it knows how to ease you into its jive and atmosphere before sinking you further so deeply that you’d swear it was over-indulgence. Luckily, it rarely does that, allowing the appropriate instrumentation of clarinets, didgeridoos, piri, khenes and other assortments to keep you within its scope.
Sure, the piri is Korean and the khene is Lao, but that may as well provide a great case as to how well these woodwinds of different histories work together. It seems Kenneth Newby really likes the concept of that, too. There isn’t a particular standout track, but more or less just a general idea on how it all felt.
Trajectory of listens past the first: neutral.
Brave Little Abacus - Just Got Back From the Discomfort – We’re Alright (2010, N/A)
The musicianship itself is fine for all I know or care, but every single version I’ve found and attempted has had the same intentionally dogshit mixing that only shows the great risks that comes with wanting to try lo-fi and lush at the same time. Are the slow collage bits any good? Matter of fact, they very much are, and are the highlights of the album given how they provide a better glimpse into the world than the experiments performed unto the Midwestern emo tradition ever could (at least when that damned muzzle is still on). It seems Demirjian’s voice is rather polarizing, but it’s nothing you can’t get used to. Boy, the album sounds like it’s being played in a speaker that was eased into a glass of milk like the T-101 was lowered into lava.
There are some moments where the composition really fucks up and something that has the potential to be immensely moving and intriguing blips out in favor of tossing a slab of malarkey with great haste and no finesse into and through the structure like it was a window. It’s all shards and pieces, isn’t it? If the main appeal would be that ephemerality, then my primary objection would be that it simply doesn’t work. I’ll probably be indirectly pressured to keep trying this album until the mere exposure effect kicks my ass into conformity.
Trajectory of listens past the first: who knows at this point?
MX-80 Sound - Big Hits: Hard Pop From the Hoosiers (1976, BRBQ)
In 1976, art-punk started to brew for the first time, next to regular punk-rock and hilariously eager “post-punk” (otherwise known as the more interesting breed of punk music). Among Television, Pere Ubu, Patti Smith’s group and whomever else was early to the party, we also had the MX-80 Sound. This band is immediately different from any of those other misfits; Pere Ubu used completely twisted and unrivalled mental turmoils and avant-savant tendencies, Television had the technicality and formality of fusion aces with the rebellious humour and innovation of a well-remembered stand-up comedian, and Patti Smith is otherwise known as Patti Motherfuckin’ Smith, but the MX-80 Sound had the sloppy ideas, the tight performances, and the eagerness to line the artistic proteges of punk-rock with enough speed to get a little genius out of it.
The result is early punk meeting a for-the-time unnamed embryo within the retirement home inhabited by the Mothers of Invention. With the curveball composition style, the humorous varnish and a freakish formality wedding with a feral tongue-in-cheek vigour, it’s not hard to realize that the Cardiacs weren’t the only one onto this kind of thing. I think they were the cells that made up that embryo. The main achievement here is just the accomplishment in the genre and composition, the songs aren’t necessarily mindblowing but they’re capable of hooking you in constantly.
Trajectory of listens past the first: neutral.
Pharoah Sanders - Love in Us All (1974, Impulse!)
Two lengthy pieces, one subdued and blissful who seeks nothing short of a meditation on its scenery of love existing in everyone and everything, and the other being a triumphant declaration at the highest mountain in the galaxy towards the greatest peer it will ever meet, now deceased and one with the stardust that comprises its creator. They prevail like two sides of a Double Eagle, one-of-a-kind and ahead of its time while perplexingly behind. The instrumentalists are all approaching the top of their game, and Pharoah braves through the galactic mirages and myriads alongside them in search of their own plot of cosmos.
It’s that contrast of ruthless free aggression within the second side that wriggles out of mind and out of sight before speeding around the listener like a pissed-off torpedo, and the inimitable optimism and beauty of the first side that performs the utmost free-form through a brilliantly subdued introspection mechanism that makes this all the more special. Yes, this is superior to Karma. Hell, I’d argue this could be superior to Pharoah’s final outing Promises. There’s not much that can be fully articulated because all the words haven’t been invented yet. All that I can confidently assert is that this album is fucking beautiful. And if Coltrane listened to that second side whilst his soul broke free from his cancer, then he’d be pretty damn proud of Pharoah. In time and in exposure, I could eventually see this being one of the true jazz masterpieces of the 1970s and of the 20th century.
Trajectory of listens past the first: positive.
Written 8/15/2023, 6:00 - 8:17 PM.