The Rummage

Tag: 2013

. issue XXIV : vi .

. artist : radio b .
. album : whole foods .
. year : 2013 .
. label : rayni day entertainment .
. grade : a .

Whole Foods

I have never understood people that claim not to enjoy music in general existence (most importantly the very few who claim to abhor and avoid music), as someone who wants to actively memorize popular top 40’s from 19’s to 20’s on 33 and 45 [CONNOR SEZS: Is it worth it?/ Let me work it/ etc chez mademoisellelliot]. Fascinating, but true, these persons without any enjoyment for any music or any tone, these individuals without a favorite let alone any listenable musician or group, do exist. Musical haters often only reveal this answer to a direct question, which is a loaded query in a short burst of digdug layering toasting the eventual hammer clicking silenced stop of blasts six or eight questions later from a variation of, “What’s your favorite artist?” to the last one which is always the incredulous non-question confirmation “So, you mean you don’t like to listen to any music–any music at all?” The less severe cases of music-aphobia extends outward to include such divided musical politics as people that only care for lyrics but never the music of any musician, orchestra, or collective, people that say they care for music but never quite enjoy lyrics of any artist or band or sextet, and of course the huge everypeople, every human being, every earthling who responds to some sounds, sonics, or singers in instant defensive motions for more so than just primal scary sound alerts [growls, howls, shrieks, creaks, rattles & hums, etc]. Hallucinogen users often suffer from an experience known as a “bad trip” which often reflects the emotional emotisphere of one’s being, only as good as you feel; wait a minute, it also sounds just like everyone I know, every human user within the interface. Everybody suffers and strives toward a high as a goal, longing to have straight A’s or the outstanding high with nary a low point, let alone a downward trending angle, any weakness or loss; life being the ultimate loss, liberty the one we all choose to accept in some loss or another, and the happiness that we are desperate to ever lose a grasp on every second of the existance we have.

While I have loved incarnations of rap throughout my entire life (okay, yeah, sticklers will call me out for my alienation and disillusionment as a twelve year old with the arrival of “gangsta rap” that invaded R&B staples of the early 1990’s as Tony, Toni, Tone, R. Kelly, Naughty By Nature and other Top 40 staples of WPGC and WKYS gave way to Snoop, Dre Ph.d, and bleeped / censored / scratched lyrics), I have always spent more time listening and relistening because there is a LOT to memorize. A joy for me is the ability for playback in my own head, liking memorization of an aural method as I do, I like to have a grasp on crawl running commentary for review and digestion.

So, as the Cheats Movement continued a showcase this year to joyous anniversary at Gallery 5, RVA HotSauce offering tithed to the community a great percentage of beautiful music. This led to my discovery of Radio B from the press release, which served to pique my perusal online which, to my delight, presented free music files to greet me. Not just free music files in blue hyperlink and nonsense numerical and letter listing, but eight full catalogue albums in user friendly, accessible, debonair designed, pattern professional gleam on a site unassociated with a bandcamp or soundcloud template. The artist’s own site gives Radio “a faith in music and artistry which spurs him on in a time where music seems to be fading away,” and that faith is great example of the evolution of mankind in a technodigital aging. Following a span of five years on the site itself and over a hundred songs (CONNOR SEZS: I’m not counting them, don’t call me about this anymore), this kind of portfolio is my favorite overview. All at once, the case for retroactive research seems at least considerate enough to have a birth and a death before digging up the truth, or interviewing the very entity itself before the loss of anyone or anything, any moment that doesn’t return.

Whole Foods, the most recent release, is my focus here. (CONNOR SEZS: Yer focused, okay. Warm that up, size that ring, wait, you’re writing down everything?) I say to you, and there are very few times I drive readers to a site, but I’m telling you, right now, go here, go here http://radiobmusic.com right now. Go to http://radiobmusic.com and download and listen to everything. The chance to view and listen to an artist in such depth is heavenly unheard of anymore in such a demand for monetary compensation for any offering. And this site offers you a beautiful interface and gorgeous waiting room interior design (meaning, I’d like to stay there all day like any good home or menu default screen), I bet it looks gorgeous on a smartphone of any platform (CONNOR SEZS: Woah. Okay. Yeah. Droid is sweet.). There are no other instructions, no easter egg to click on or mediafire foray or any other step by step instructions required of you. You get a lot of great songs, and so I give you this gift, readers, of an artist you should listen to deeply. At http://radiobmusic.com you get a lot of music to enjoy, and it is a pleasure. I love the entire album of Whole Foods (5 on 5 mixtape may supplant the top spot soon enough in my foreseeable future); the smooth production stays without a single popping skip of thesis, and the producing collaborators are many {Frequent contributor and fellow Rayni Day Entertainment cadre Nickelus F share production duties overture with Cashby, Trac-Qaeda, The Stoop Kid, NameBrand all producing tracks and Conrizzle, Fair, James River, Misterelle, Illa Scorsese, Chance Fischer, Vintage A, Tamir Rock, Noah O, Destiny Da Chef, Lil Lee, Deemize, Nike Nando & J Bizz appearing on tracks to kick out wisdom and jams}. While choosing Cypher in three incarnations to prove my point, (CONNOR SEZS: Wikipedia Says: A cipher is any collection or gathering of rappers, beatboxers, or breakers forming in a circle in order to jam musically together–the term has also in recent years come to mean the crowd which forms around the battles, consisting of spectators and onlookers. This group serves partly to encourage competition and partly to enhance the communal aspect of rap battles. The cipher is known for “making or breaking reputations in the hip hop community; if you are able to step into the cipher and tell your story, demonstrating your uniqueness, you might be more accepted.” These groups also serve as a way for messages about hip hop styles and knowledge to be spread, through word-of-mouth and encouraging trends in other battles) the entire album is something you can play from start to finish without feeling the itch to skip a track or turn a random selection to the playlisting. The battle rap style evokes a sense of improvisation and playfulness regardless of the often heavy subject matter or koan statements, which is no small feat considering the polished sheen all these songs exude.

So, do it already. Go to http://radiobmusic.com and start to love a local boy making good into great every single time, and a faith in music and artistry which spurs him on in a time where music seems to be fading away. As Radio’s site says, much better than I can, he “exemplifies the underdog mentality…. The idea is to make positives out of negatives…. Radio B hopes to inspire people through his music and motivate people to reach to the ends of the earth to reach their dreams. Coming from Richmond, a place where there is no major sports team, and local celebrities for the most part are…just that…local. There’s Deangelo and Skillz, and more recently Trey Songz from Petersburg, but the chances are slim for the aspiring artist in the Capital City…. Which makes Radio B and Rayni Day Entertainment’s underdog mentality all the more a reality…. And the world loves an underdog.”

by Perkus Tooth

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. issue XXIII : vii .

. artist : terminals .
. album : s/t .
. year : 2013
. label : vaald .
. grade : b .

Terminals

Terminals self-titled release on Vaald embodies the grim, various, crisp beauty of their label. A stunning synthesizer composition running longer than an hour, Terminals draws out its reflective movements with pellucid prowess. This release eloquently balances compositional opposites, sometimes sliding into total silence, at others, occupying the full orchestral zest of a tune-up; sometimes whimsical, with flute or bird chirrups, at others, deep and reedy, with the tenacity of a contrabassoon; sometimes tense and tough in texture, at others, translucent and gelantinous, pealing out mid-range beauty of bells. Terminals is an exceptional, chameleonic work that manages to sustain a coherent but fundamentally evolving thread, and whose high points emerge effortlessly from the hushed, evocative center of each extended track.

by Brittany Tracy

. issue XXIII : vi .

. artist : raising holy sparks .
. album : a mendicant hymnal .
. year : 2013 .
. label : deep water acres .
. grade : a .

rhsparks

By the loose standards, or paradigms, that seem to be developing, here’s a another one for the ‘goat-hair tent prog’ camp. Now, before I bury myself, let’s stop there briefly. That appellation came by way of a serious passenger, and though it might seem flippant at first, it cuts to the heart of the matter. Underneath the obvious sense of humor —and wink— to it, there’s a real honing in on what makes albums like Raising Holy Sparks’ A Mendicant Hymnal a shimmering example. What it really means, for pilgrims like Raising Holy Sparks and outfits like Mountains, Anvil Salute, Date Palms, and label-mates Evening Fires … is that there are some serious, and traditional, knots in the tree rings … even when the songs seem to be effortlessly eschewing conventional form as much as expectation. There’s a decidedly rural (for lack of a better word and vocabulary) spine running through them, intertwining the humanist and the spiritual. Whether it’s the instrumentation, folk foundations and mutations, intent, execution or simply the bones of the song, there’s a definite leaning towards embers smoldering or raging flames. Not that things aren’t susceptible to blazes at any given moment (check the slow ride out on “Within the Painted Desert”), but if there are you can be sure it will be accompanied with an intoxicating smoke that makes you breathe even deeper rather than choking. And as your lungs expand, so do the vistas that the music conjures up, dwarfed only by the panoramas blossoming between your ears. Open your ears and watch the” Meteors Over the Mesa” where those two environments coexist, with yourself right smack dab in the middle of the overlap with a full 360° view. It’s all big music, even in the quietest of moments, yet full of space. Space you can breathe in, either here on grounded Mother Earth or up there where suspension replaces oxygen. That right there is a shared perspective, a perspective that can look up, deeply, and move into it without forgetting the view below of a starry night. Or the wood for the trees if the band is so inclined. Does this mean they sound alike, a singular soundtrack to a transcendental Groundhog Day? Hell no. Not anymore than anything else we cram into a requisite pigeonhole. It’s a vibe that is both planetary and intimate, and one with endless tributaries, as well as confluences (as luck would have it, that’s a position you can take “At The Confluence Of The Potomac & Shenandoah”). Though not without willing and substantial revisits on our part, ones that breeze through the doldrums easily, morphing and assimilating themselves as they make successive grasps to maintain motion without sacrificing drift.

The musicians have this to say: “Inspired by 7000 miles of travel across 30 states, A Mendicant Hymnal draws on the vast & ever-changing American landscape, from the mountains & deserts of the West through the empty plains & onto the endless forests of the East. The first in a continuing series, trying to get, in the words of Edward Abbey, ‘close to the West of my deepest imaginings, the place where the tangible & the mythical became the same.’”

Raising Holy Sparks is, fundamentally, David Colohan of United Bible Studies and Agitated Radio Pilot. In every way, A Mendicant Hymnal comes across as a deeply personal album, even a journey. And in no way does that make it insular or impenetrable to passers-by. Colohan’s “epic slow-motion electro-acoustic soundscapes” not only envelop, they embrace. Any feelings of mournfulness or longing that might arise through these deep devotional drones quickly dissipate through a sifter that scatters stars and spirits in equal measure. By the time the waters of the Potomac and the Shenandoah have been crossed, the enigmatic “Plains of Kansas” or “A Stretch of Haunted Road” walked, or the wounds licked, swaddled and healed in “Shadow City, Missouri,” A Mendicant Hymnal —for intimate it is— simply doesn’t belong to Raising Holy Sparks anymore. Whatever journey it takes you on, it’s yours as much as it is Colohan’s. The universality of it doesn’t just allow that, it encourages it. Contemplative, spiritual, and ‘holy’ transcendent, A Mendicant Hymnal is far richer than its order’s subscribers claim to be. Whatever amount you put into their hands or collection plate is returned tenfold, at the very least. Here’s to sharing the wealth.

by Mr. Atavist

. issue XXIII : v .

. artist : clade .
. album : holonic sadism .
. year : 2013 .
. label : self-released .
. grade : a .

Clade

The passage of a single note and its overtones is the trajectory of the unique drone and chanter of Clade’s Holonic Sadism. Here experience of mind and music become an admixture, held steadfast and forward on this focused path. Sadism is characterized by a robust, sustained vitality and a potent linear maturity to nowhere and everywhere — what Clade calls “infinite regress.”

by Brittany Tracy

. issue XXIII : iv .

. artist : kirin j callinan .
. album : embracism .
. year : 2013 .
. label : terrible .
. grade: a .

Embracism

“Musician’s musician” is a dubious title, but one that is pretty apt for Kirin Callinan. He doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, but years on the road playing in Mercy Arms and Jack Ladder’s band have helped Callinan accumulate some friends in high places. He just finished a tour supporting Cut Copy, and now Embracism, which was produced by Kim Moyes of The Presets and released on Terrible Records, Chris Taylor’s label of Grizzly Bear fame.

Since Callinan’s musical peers have already signed up, his solo debut Embracism is a coming out party for everyone else. And man, is there something for everyone. The dynamic range that Callinan’s voice travels over the course of the album is pretty remarkable. This could just as easily be an audition reel for a Pixar film as it is a musical document. He howls like a whiskey-gurgling Stanley Kowalski through the refrain of “Victoria” in “Victoria M” and through the trials of presumptive erectile dysfunction in “Love Delay” — just as easily as he mutters inscrutably through the first two minutes of “Way II War.” He croons through the bitter syrup of “Chardonnay Sean” and “Landslide,” songs so melodramatic he makes a convincing case that he’s telling the truth even when he repeats “I cry when I listen to Springsteen” (“Come On USA”).

Callinan throws the kitchen sink at the listener in all aspects of this record, too. On one hand, you can definitely hear producer Moyes’ influence through the spitfire robo-chittering and handclaps that forms the percussive foundation for most of the songs on the album, as well as some timbral choices that would be right at home on a Presets record, probably most salient in the dog-whistle screeches on the title track and the faux-brass pomp of “Come On USA.” That being said, there is definitely no sense that Moyes encroaches at all on Callinan’s peculiar vision. Callinan compliments the mechanical backdrop of the album with capacious reverbed-out guitars firing out of a pretty elaborate pedal collection. These “guitars” span the tranquil echoes in “Scraps” and “Landslide,” the haunting melodies of “Halo” and “Stretch it Out,” and constitute the percussive robo-grinding in the climax of the title track.

What the album lacks in cohesion, it makes up for in intrigue. At 10 songs, Embracism has the curtain closed on it long before it overstays his welcome, and I eagerly await Kirin Callinan’s next move.

by Elliot Wegman

. issue XXIII : i .

. artist : freedom family .
. album : ayentsoo .
. year : 2013 .
. label : academy lps .
. grade : a .

FreedomFamily

Frank Gossner (Voodoo Funk) and Academy LPs have another winner in this choice slab of Ghanaian Afro-funk. The Freedom Family was one of West Africa’s tightest combos, although this is the only LP they ever waxed under that name. As the Plastic Jims (named after the Sly & The Family Stone song) and the Heartbeats ’72, they spent several years backing up Geraldo Pino, West Africa’s first soul star and the man who gave Fela the impetus to invent Afrobeat. They made this record for EMI in Lagos in 1974, and it is first rate from beginning to end. Led by music director Chief Kwame Frimpong’s keyboards, the band featured a tasty two-man horn section, a killer rhythm section and charismatic lead singer Albert Jones. Every track here is excellent, but take particular note of “Holy Worshipping” (an instrumental) and “Yensuro (No Fears)” (a vocal) – they’re loaded with tuneful hooks like the best of Booker T & the MGs. And for a change of pace try “Love Affair,” which sounds like James Carr in Nigeria. Jones also contributes the lengthy liner notes chronicling the band’s ups and downs on stage, in business and in their colorful personal lives – it’s the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, West African version. Seminal if you dig Afro-funk.

by Bill Lupoletti

. issue XXII : viii .

. artist : strange mountain .
. album : cr-14: ghost rails .
. year : 2013 .
. label : carpi .
. grade : b plus .

GhostRails

The cover of CR-14: Ghost Rails is the perfect still for this sightless cinema: a railroad switch, hypertrophic skull bones (perhaps a keepsake of Victorian grotesquerie: the ‘skull’ has an expression — and eyeballs), and weird, honeycombed crepuscular rays in the cobwebs of drypointed crosshatch. These six tracks are loosely thematic (some seem to evoke the seaside, others the lawn, others, train-travel) but all use the same enchanting modus operandi (tape loops) to quaver out melting, laving ether that wafts through the landscapes of the mind. It’s a phonograph’s cry, the Edwardian last gasp: balmy, like springtime, and gracious, responsive, sincere, but warm in the slumber of mal du siècle. This self-conscious transience does not have to mean malaise — aren’t all ephemera characterized by the wave as they pass? — but this phantasmal world is sallow, too, dimming as the spring sun refracts in the sepia rain. The loops are nothing so much as an exercise in sustained misshapenness, slowly writhing with a preternatural tenderness (more internal than extended: those febrile vessels, crucibles, are in fact made of porcelain). And here there’s a sense of physical impact, of embrasure, and of temporal impact, of stalling for periscope précis, near and far and wide. The far-flung, featherweight richness of Ghost Rails is nearly overwhelming, especially when it cinches a concrete instance out of the fog: the ‘transmission’ sonics at the beginning of “Weird Clouds” keen desolately, the mother’s calls in “Drifting Landscape” (e.g. “Daisy!”) reprise as a reminder of the tension between the seeming persistence of our most static life times and the reality that one day it will have had been soon to be gone, and the magnanimous clock chime in “Aeterna.” Ghost Rails gives its listener pause, both stopping and blanketing ‘time’ across the sentimental landscapes of remembrance, history, and daydreams.

by Brittany Tracy

. issue XXII : vii .

. artist : joseph kabasele .
. album : le grand kalle: his life, his music .
. year : 2013 .
. label : sterns .
. grade : a .

Kabsele

On the heels of Ken Braun’s comprehensive Franco and Rochereau compilations, here’s Braun and Sterns Africa’s look at the third member of Congolese music’s big three: Joseph Kabasele, aka Le Grand Kalle. Kabasele was at the forefront of the development of rumba Congolaise, the Cuban-influenced style that became the soundtrack to African independence and African music’s lingua franca, beloved across the continent. His band, Orchestre African Jazz, was Congo’s most popular throughout the 50’s and early 60’s and spawned some of the country’s biggest stars, like the aforementioned Rochereau and the amazing guitarist Dr. Nico. Songs like “Mokonzi Ya Mboka,” “Table Ronde” and “African Jazz Mokili Mobimbo” are integral to the history, both musical and political, of the young Congolese nation. African Jazz was eclipsed by the mid-60’s by a younger generation of players (many of them alumni of the orchestra), yet it’s amazing how well those later Kalle numbers stand up: “Moselebende To Bolingo,” from 1968, is decades ahead of its time. With the holiday season coming up, this lavish (104 page booklet + 2 CDs) set is the perfect item for the African music lover on your gift list.

by Bill Lupoletti