AMN Reviews: The Dead C – Rare Ravers (2019; Ba Da Bing Records)

Aotearoa’s greying heartthrobs, the Dead C, blast us off into the end times (aka 2019) with their latest long-playing petroleum slab, Rare Ravers, courtesy of Ba Da Bing.

The A-side grooves lead in to “Staver,” a 20-minute plunge into the depths of Dante’s rings o’ hell. Fear not, feeble mortal, Michael Morley, Robbie Yeats, and [Dr.] Bruce Russell ditch the edifying Italian humdrum and instead crank out the sonic panacea one so badly craves in this blustery modern epoch. The trio incant a spellbinding and dizzying mélange, that is sure to send you swiftly whirring into phaser-laden no-blues bliss. Just as the track starts to lull around the 18-minute mark,  there is a deee-licious metallic scrape, sure to send you into fits. This listener is unsure if it is our Kiwi protagonists dragging an iron-framed bookshelf across the shop floor or if one is hearing a bit of cymbal manipulation courtesy of Robbie Yeats. If it is the latter, this is one of the few (if only) instances of Yeats employing this particular extended technique with the Dead C – a refreshing piece of sonic craftsmanship, that it is indeed one of the highlights of the A-side. In truly antagonistic fashion, “Staver” does not ride off into the sunset, leaving you and your pop sensibilities with a snug and hearty sense of resolution, instead it abruptly ends, leaving you in the company of your stylus’ incessant picking at the run out groove.

The B-side opens with “Waver,” a two-minute piece that falls somewhere between kosmische and something that might appear on a meandering private-press country release. This brief penultimate tune – which wouldn’t be out of place on any of the Dead C’s more recent output –ends before its starts, fading surreptitiously into the album’s final track (admittedly, this listener listened to the B-side three times and it wasn’t until hearing the digital version of the release, with its clearly demarcated tracks, that it became apparent there were distinct cuts on the B-side of the record).

The album wraps up with “Laver” (an obvious theme here), another extended free noise canter which starts in trademark Dead C fashion: the playing is vacant, hypnotizing, and slyly non-committal. At approximately a quarter of the way through the piece, the trio’s sun-bleached sauntering takes a wild shift and is vaporized by an atomic blast of heavily-saturated distortion that crumbles out of the speakers. From the wreckage, the group rebuild in a similar mold, yet the playing possesses an equal degree of both trepidation and tenacity. Despite employing ye olde blunt cut to the end of the A-side, the group’s decision to again employ this technique at the terminus of Rare Ravers’  B-side remains jarring and unexpected.

This isn’t so much the soundtrack to the end times as it is the very blueprint. Fans of the Dead C, Siltbreeze devotees, doomsday prophets, and owners of the Faust back catalog are sure to find Rare Ravers a treat. Everyone else… well, you can wait for the twin suns to scorch your shadow into the pavement.

– J. Sebastien Ericsson Saheb

AMN Reviews: Donald McPherson and Tetuzi Akiyama – The Kitchen Tapes Vol. 1 (2018; God in the Music)

If one could synthesize the murmurations of the common starling into sonic form, the resulting product would invariably sound similar to the twin guitar duo of late-Aotearoa / New Zealand artist Donald McPherson and Japanese improviser Tetuzi Akiyama. Consisting of three parts culled from a 2010 live performance in Christchuch, The Kitchen Tapes Vol. 1 features some enjoyable Akiyama and McPherson riffing, with the duo crafting sonic landscapes that evoke a gamut of emotions, from splendor to pathos.

The opening segment, Part One is the longest piece on the tape, clocking in at just over 19 minutes. The side features much of what you’d expect from the pair: the playing is both prodding and prodigious, yet the listener is spared the cloying blows of virtuosity and one-upsmanship. Instead, McPherson and Akiyama weave in and out of each other’s playing and remain content in their explorations of bucolic motifs that taper off as soon as a new thematic turn reveals itself. At times the guitars are cinematic and even orchestral (5:04); at other points, the pair’s playing is evocative of flamenco (11:58). In all, Part One possesses enough whimsy and a number of (very) high points that assuage any moments in the performance that may feel awkward or too tentative for some listeners. 

Part Two opens the second side and is most likely to elicit the John Fahey comparisons. While understandable to a degree, they ultimately miss the point and serve only as inchoate shorthand for those unwilling to settle in and listen to the unique artistic voices, nuance, and timbres that belong to Akiyama and McPherson, both individually and as combined as a unit. At times, a bit tedious; however, the duo never sound lost and retain their ability to engross the listener throughout. The closer, Part Three, is both the shortest cut on the album and its strongest piece by a mile. Reminiscent of Indian raga, Nick Drake, and even Neu!, the piece is vibrant and captivating and like the best of dreams, ends far too soon…

While the sparsity and relatively restrained dynamics on The Kitchen Tapes Vol. 1 may make it a bit more demanding than the pair’s 2006 Vinegar & Rum, this listener would argue the peaks surpass and outweigh any troughs from the moment you hit play on the deck. What’s more, not only does this release help mark the arrival of new End of the Alphabet / Astral Spirits collaborative spin off-imprint, God in the Music, it marks almost one year since McPherson’s death. What better way to remember the guitarist than to enjoy his collaborative work with his friend and kindred spirit Tetuzi Akiyama. 

– J. Sebastien Ericsson Saheb

Metal Rouge, Mesa Ritual in Albuquerque

From the Spectre Series:

“Métal Rouge is a duo unit, originally formed in New Zealand between Andrew Scott and Helga Fassonaki, now residing in the sea between–concerned primarily with pure thoughtless formless now and its expression through sound.”

http://www.myspace.com/metalrouge

Mesa Ritual is the duo of Raven Chacon and William Fowler Collins. If you caught the duo at the Robb Trust Composers’ Symposium show here at ARTS Lab earlier this month then you’ll recall low frequency electronics that shook the architecture, layered field recordings played at a whisper and towering, multicolored walls of sound.

When: Saturday, May 09, 9:00 PM
Where: ARTS Lab Digital Media Garage. 131 Pine Street NE, Albuquerque
Map: http://artslab.unm.edu/where.html
How much: $5-10 suggested donation goes to the artists.

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Musique Machine Reviews

From Musique Machine:

Wolfskin – O Ajuntas das Sombras
O Ajuntas das Sombras (Ajuntas of the Shades) is a darkly enchanting, often hypnotic and at times very creepy shot of earthy woodland and ritual based dark ambience and chilling drone craft with hints of slowed and damned folk matter weaved in here and there along the albums deep dark and compelling woodland track.

The Incapacitants – Box Is Stupid(boxset)
Box is Stupid is a really luxurious and rather neat boxset that brings together 10 cd’s worth of early out print 1990’s tape releasers by Japanese noise tearing duo The Incapacitants. It’s really a must have item item for any serious and discerning noise fan

Deadwood – Ram Black
Ram Black is an ultra bleak and violent mixture of noise, blackened metal and doom guitar tone, brooding pitch black ambience and the odd primal industrial battering.

RST – Tomorrow’s Void
RST is New Zealand’s Andrew Moon, an artist who, though he has been known by those three initials for over a decade, seems tailor made for the Utech label. His electric guitar experiments are carefully arranged as to appear fully composed, yet on the other hand naturally flowing, indicating at least some level of improvisation. Moon’s approach to the guitar is not unheard of; he shapes feedback and seems to rarely if ever actually touch the strings of the instrument. What he culls from what has become an increasingly commonplace practice is what sets him apart; he creates a massive, cavernous atmosphere by overlapping elements created by plenty of analog effects and more than enough amplification.

Figueras,Toop & Burwell – Cholagogues
This is a rather active, quirky, textural varied and enjoyable long form piece of improv that was original recorded and put out in 1977 and here returns in a digital remaster form.

Sum Of R – Self Titled
Sum of R’s sound sit’s in an heady and atmospheric place between doom metallic’s, guitar drone craft, filmatic post-rock scaping, grim ‘n’ glighty ambience and general atmospheric dwell and unfold

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