February 2010

Harmonic Series: Dissonance and Consonance

Dissonance/Consonance: Both consonance and dissonance result from the layering of sounds. In a traditional, western sense, harmonies consist of complimentary sounds (the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes in a scale). ccnsonance, by contrast, comprise notes that don’t fit into this pattern of traditional harmony. 20th Century composers, though, like pianist Anton Webern worked to change these perceptions.

Pitch: A sound’s pitch is determined by the rate that the wave vibrates. Combination of these notes can create dissonance or harmony dependent upon the vibrations. The distance between the pitch of two notes is an interval (progression) - an octave is the most common example of.

Duration is characterized but the length of a note or tone. The work of Glenn Branca, in a variety of different ways, utilizes duration to good effect.

Alejandro Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain (OST)

Alejandro Jodorowsky, a Chilean filmmaker who made a run at artistic renown during the ‘70s with some of his western styled journey films, is as much of an enigmatic figure today as he was then.

Making a name for himself amongst the newly liberated late night movies across the States found the South American filmmaker working alongside the Beatles’ manager, Allen Klein, to finance some of his work. With this newfound, high profile support, Jodorowsky was able to ratchet up some of the weirdness inherent in his work with 1973’s The Holy Mountain. Its predecessor, El Topo, though, shouldn’t be perceived as anything akin to a normal feature.

Quicksilver Messenger Service: An Ignored Psych

The convoluted history of San Francisco’s Quicksilver Messenger Service is almost as entertaining to hear as its music – but not quite.

The ‘60s were rife with political tomfoolery in the States and abroad. Here, though, as the government sought to augment its laws regarding drugs and controlled substances, a number of people soon found themselves wrangled by police. Amidst the shifting cultural trends, the younger folks and what would get referred to as the establishment, a San Francisco rock and psych scene sprung up. The most popular proponents of the sound that became so affiliated with the Bay don’t need to be revisited frequently. The Quicksilver Messenger Service, for whatever reason, didn’t quite make as much of an impact as the rest of its cohort.

John Cale x Terry Riley: Anthrax Church

Surrounding both John Cale and Terry Riley is a tremendous amount of not just reverence, but intrigue. It would seem that pairing these two performers together would result in artistic success, but an artistic success that would be backed by a pretty broad smattering of the record buying populace.

Riley, of course, is considered by some to be the foremost exponent of minimalism. And while that might be debatable, Cale is gifted a great deal of credit for inspiring the Velvet Underground, of which he was a member of during the recording of its first two albums. Certainly there are some circles that neither of these people carries any cache. But for now, we’ll just assume that the folks who don’t know don’t deserve to know. How’s that?

A Boston (Supreme) Dick

Yes dear friends, more lo fi. I’ve gone and done it: given in to the easiest journo catch phrase of the moment as to better explicate some recording that only a handful of people have the desire of delving into. But that might not be the case after finishing this here write up.

Confusingly and endlessly tied to what was going on in the Lou Barlow universe – from Dinosaur Jr. to Sebadoh – on Boston’s the Supreme Dicks fist album, the ensemble doesn’t really bare too many similarities to the better known Bostonian. Certainly there are elements that the two share, but that could be the case for untold numbers of groups functioning from the late ‘80s through the mid ‘90s.

Nerve City: A Huge Recording Budget

I’ve resisted applying the tag lo fi to music for such a long time now. If nothing else, I’m impressed with myself. That being said, it’s become more and more difficult to escape the term – and it doesn’t appear to be getting any easier. So, I relent. There’s now only my own pride standing in the way of utilizing that term – and since there’s such a shortage of that personal confidence, here it goes.

Sebadoh: III

The story surrounding Sebadoh is one that should probably make people feel that the project was born out of the insecure tendencies of an artist. That may well be true. But the recordings that the ensemble has produced over the last twenty some odd years isn’t all the brain child of Lou Barlow – although he’s unquestionably the central figure in this bizarre saga.

Earth Gets Lighter

The legacy that bands create – especially when the group functions in disparate incarnations over a long period of time – is usually going to be understood in drastically different ways by each individual fan.

And while Earth might well remain best known for sporting guitarist Dylan Carslon since he’s the dude that bought Kurt Cobain that fateful shotgun, the different approaches that the band leader has taken to heavy musics is worth an investigation.

Stud Cole: A Wild R&B

My dad got drafted during the ‘60s. He didn’t fight it out in swamps – thankfully. But he did goto South Korea for a while. And during his time there, he picked up some boss stereo components: a pair of speakers that I currently have, a beautiful turntable now in a dump somewhere and a rather heavy reel to reel recorder. When I found that last item on the list of my pop’s shipped home goods, I snatched it right quick. It became evident pretty quickly that it was an outdated mode of recording – where was I even going to readily find tape to use? Regardless of the answer, the fact that my father and a number of other unfortunately drafted folks spent time making tapes of Hendrix records and the like points to the availability of technology during the ‘60s.

The Mantles Git Mental

Part of what’s so bloody interesting about writing about music – which in and of itself is an odd combination of dependency and artistry – is finding out what commonalities other journos find in a piece of music. Quite often, it’s a confounding annoyance bereft of genuine and thoughtful cultivation. But sometimes, a music hits that results in folks doing their jobs all proper like.

With that, though, is the fact that anything released via the weirdo, independent label Siltbreeze is going to have an immediate audience despite the quality of the release. Of course, there aren’t too many bummers that the imprint has brought out, so that’s a moot point. But more importantly, there’s a deference that every scribe grants discs from that label – the Mantles are no different.

Julian Cope vs Julian Cope: A Pen and A Guitar

It’s funny when a confluence of interests results in something that’s a few levels below whatever original materials it sought to incorporate. There’s not really been an act that’s followed its influences in a manner that does them total justice. But that’s the nature of art and imitation. So maybe no one is even culpable in situations like this – but then what would we all complain about? Nothing? I find that highly unlikely.

Coming out of the ‘70s ensemble Teardrop Explodes, itself an amalgam of ‘60s rock and new timey dance music, was Julian Cope. And at this point, he’s probably as well known for his writing and the Head Heritage website than for any of the music that he recorded during the ‘70s – at least one should hope so.