The Rummage

Tag: Mid-Atlantic

. issue XXI : i .

. artist : janka nabay & the bubu gang .
. album : en yay sah .
. year : 2012 .
. label : luaka bop .
. grade : b plus .


Ahmed Janka Nabay released a series of popular cassettes of what he calls bubu music in his native Sierra Leone in the 1990’s. Civil war drove Nabay into exile in the USA, where he formed a full band in 2010; this is their first full-length album. Bubu is based on the Islamic music of northwestern Sierra Leone, which is driven by percussion and bamboo flutes; in Nabay’s elaboration, drum machines provide the percussion while electronic keyboards sub for the flutes. What he’s making here is African “tradi-mod” music, with one foot in tradition and the other in contemporary electronica – Congotronics, South Africa’s Shangaan Electro sound and Ghana’s Bola are all working in a related direction. There’s a lot more than beats and blips going on here – the whole band (most of the members are affiliated with the experimental rock band Skeletons) riffs cleverly on this structure, Douglas Shaw channels some of the great African guitarists, and Boshra AlSaadi (a Syrian native) excels as the second vocalist. This is post-colonial hybridity you can dance to – looking forward to the next installment.

by Bill Lupoletti


. issue XVIII : vi .

. artist : water torture .
. album : shellfire! .
. year : 2012 .
. label : diseased audio .
. grade : b .


Very-very ’89-meets-‘94 duo Water Torture offer acerbic grindcore in SHELLFIRE!, a work stolid — rather than frenetic — and oh-so-post-hardcore. But the grind aesthetic governs timely, if not sonic, constraints. Only 4 of these 11 songs are longer than a minute, which means … ‘now we’re talking.’ Remarkably, one piece is a mere 4 seconds long; “Medicate,” the by-the-thread appendage to “Self Preserve,” piggybacks on the consummate riff to rail off last words as though they were not only related (they’re not), but the cinch of emphatic closure.

It’s a mordant, adventurously well-rounded album from a duo with a unique approach: raucous noise splayed out in rich, tortuous retro, slabs and finely-minced riffs of bass, a hailstorm of drums. Water Torture are Matt Goodrich (b-g and noise) and Thomas Leyh (d and vox), and SHELLFIRE! has all its wits about it and then some. The talented Leyh’s punk sensibility (no shrill convulsions here) yells, “Waste of space, waste of skin, waste of life,” “Thanks! For nothing! Thanks! For nothing!” and “Resistant to reformation!” “For Nothing” creeps in misleadingly with the wavy dissonance of a noise field deconvoling over a sulking, never-quite-concomitant bass, accumulating arrhythmic kick drum before launching into the unpleasant sneer of vocals and a righteous riff on bass. Similarly, “Resistant” winds down into a dance floor shambles: tinkles on keys, Sun Ra with the shakes amid strathes of feedback.

Water Torture seem to be angry at unauthentic human constructions; they might call their music “power violence,” but it seems directed against ‘puppetry’ — which is hard not to appreciate in 2013 after the long run and general validity of the punk tradition; Leyh is more decrying “a living lie” than he is threatening to “eliminate the waste” — still, it’s a rude and mordant album.

“Complete Collapse,” SHELLFIRE!’s second longest (at 2:06) and far-and-away standout, has the perspicuity to begin with the shriek–and-warble of feedback, crunching into a gravelly basso profundo. Slowing again and again in tiring plateaus, using the nuance of a noise tendril to delineate portions of a song, punctuating with a syllabic onslaught (“complete collapse, this world will end”), “Collapse” offers a sampling of what Water Torture can do with noise, tempo, syncopation, timbre, and composition in this solid and authentic effort.

by Brittany Tracy

. issue XVIII : iii .

. artist : note! .
. album : pirateweather .
. year : 2012 .
. label : self-released .
. grade : b plus.


Pirateweather from Brooklyn’s Note! is a clever and well-crafted chiptune release. Focused partly on danceable beats and capricious blips and partly on an ambience of dull informatics and harsher sounds, Pirateweather is a unique hermeneutic achievement of delicate multidimensionality, exploring genre tropes, producing an ambiguous mood, and making it sound totally natural.

by Brittany Tracy

. issue XV : viii .

. artist : lantern .
. album : rock ‘n’ roll rorschach .
. year : 2013 .
. label : cardinal fuzz .
. grade : b plus .


Philly-based Lantern‘s full-length debut, Rock ‘N’ Roll Rorschach, gets the wax treatment from Cardinal Fuzz in a limited edition run with a CD of the album plus four bonus cuts. Billing themselves as purveyors of ‘blown-out-proto-biker-punk-blues,’ Lantern do everything they can to live up that, plus more. Snotty, gritty and brash, Rock ‘N’ Roll Rorschach drags rock ‘n’ roll back through the gutter to get down to the core elements of grime and irreverence. You know, the sh-t that makes it fun, as much as the ‘chicks, kicks and GTOs’ do. As saucy and cheeky as a lot of it is, Lantern take it all very seriously, knowing full well that rock ‘n’ roll was built on that irreverence as much as it was spit and sweat. Rock ‘N’ Roll Rorschach is a love-letter to the rude and raucous as much as it is a celebration of the power of release. Even mellower cuts like “She’s a Rebel” manage to pick up a coat of grease as it adds some ups and downs to the energy level. Rock ‘n’ roll isn’t solely an American endeavor by any means as anybody worth their bell bottoms knows, but Rock ‘N’ Roll Rorschach is a decidedly American record by an outfit steeped in the traditions of R&B, blues, garage fuzz and the piss of punk. Drawing a direct line from the gene pool to The Stones, through the bastardization of The Stooges and the MC5 and straight through the vigor of countless others that have (and are) toiling under an oily rag out in the garage, Lantern get right back to the heart of it all while pushing it forward. It’s a relentless assault, but Lantern pepper it with change ups like “She’s A Rebel” and some glammy bluster drawn from T. Rex to Bowie to The Sweet, made evident on the righteous lagniappe Mr. Mars or the mojo-soaked King of the Jungle. Lantern may not be reinventing the wheel, but they sure as hell know how to keep it rolling … straight between the eyes and right in the gut.

by Mr. Atavist

. issue XIII : i .

. artist : it’s not night: it’s space .
. album : bowing not knowing to what .
. year : 2012 .
. label : self-released .
. grade : b plus .

Bowing Not Knowing To What

It’s Not Night: It’s Space leave the sun and moon behind and head for deeper space on their full-length, Bowing Not Knowing To What. It’s Not Night: It’s Space continue to churn up the grind, lubricating the gears with more than just space dust and pushing the machine further out than before. Bowing Not Knowing To What takes their swirling maelstrom and puts it behind a few new compass points, giving it a bit more focus that ends up propelling rather than diluting. They haven’t forsaken any of the heft, but there’s a broader range of dynamics, accents and locales that elevate and dissipate, not the least of which are the contributions by guests Deborah Gillespie, Shana Falana and Rick Birmingham (layering in vocals, flute, strings, and some sitar). While “The Mantis & The Cow” is prime It’s Not Night: It’s Space — dramatic, relentless and over the course of its running time virtually mapping out a good chunk of the cosmos—cuts like “Painted Serpent” are what extend It’s Not Night: It’s Space’s distant reach. “Painted Serpent” in particular breathes some desert life into places very east of the sun. “Magus in the Valley” is trademark It’s Not Night: It’s Space, spinning the pistons into over-dive, corkscrewing their bulk into a razor point until it’s a diamond hard drill bit boring through the cratered surface. “Vibration Eater” does much the same, with Kevin Halcott’s guitar oscillating and flaring around the formidable bottom-end engine room of Tommy Guerrero and Michael Lutomski. Rather than going for the obvious lure of pure drive, It’s Not Night: It’s Space let their campaign breathe and flex, giving their weight an elasticity that stretches them, and their sonics, without piercing the hull. Bowing Not Knowing To What fully delivers on the promises made on their debut EP. It’s an ante-upping follow-up that didn’t forget the follow through.

by Mr. Atavist

. issue XII : iii .

. artist : black dice .
. album : creature comforts .
. year : 2004 .
. label : dfa .
. grade : a minus .


Brooklyn-based noise detectives Black Dice record their Burroughs-like sound deployments as crooked cops who investigate malfunctioning robot arm factories for traces of dangerous radiation while excitedly flipping on and off various switches on every machine they see. Busy, absurdist soundscapes ebb and flow with watery guitar washes interrupted by clicking parasites crawling up your spine. Their unnerving world is the vague feeling of being trapped in a black hole while slowly forgetting all your warmest memories.

Black Dice’s three members show great restraint, only infrequently playing at the same time, if at all. Often a multitude of broken beats and samples do all the heavy lifting, and this is incredibly impressive, given their roots as a thrash-based band. The extremely sparse singing is an eerie backdrop to a symphony of overloading microchips and data streams talking trash at each other. The consistently mid-tempo percussion weaves in and out of the mix effortlessly throughout and never misses a beat.

Opener “Cloud Pleaser” presents an inviting locale that begins with a lightweight, repeating guitar figure as an offering. This gentleness doesn’t last long, as a disembodied deep crunch of jaws begins trying to eat a lone, brave synth bass note. Delay-pedal jungle beats eventually underscore “Creature,” whose built-up sections include some rhythmic tech-chirping and fade-outs to off-balance washing machines. Starting in the middle of the factory floor, “Treetops” brings out an old Nintendo overseeing a skipping printing press, frantically whipping it until it spews forth a series of error notifications and tears in existence. This, of course, is over flanged guitar and thick-veined pulsating sounds like trucks backing up.

“Skeleton” starts with queasy, sickly arpeggiated chords manipulated with a chorus pedal until deciding it should try to make you swoon. At this point, the guitars turn, lifting and otherworldly. Then this A-B setup repeats itself and throws in a lunar, almost post-rock ending as a reward for indulging something that is both slow-moving and fifteen minutes long. What might be a pitched-down synthesizer provides the basis for the closest thing to an actual song on the album: the noticeably major key “Schwip Schwap.” This quick entry resembles one of Battles’ more stationary Gloss Drop numbers, with a celebratory march towards the completely freeform second half that ends with a tongue-in-cheek sitar.

Creature Comforts contains almost no melodies, save for the memorable guitar triangulations, circularly repeating arpeggios or never-ending math equations with a constant, seasick delay. This is incredibly effective for providing floating, peaceful epicenters within madness. The head of “Night Flight” proves that around the 33-second mark … then dissolves into monolithic schizophrenia right after what could be considered a ‘perfect ending.’ At this point, “Flight” goes on an inlooking tangent that ends with the band burrowing underground until they reach the earth’s core, slowly growing tired of their own Kafka-esque onslaught of chaos, and falling asleep.

With Creature Comforts, Black Dice created a new genre: glitch jam noise. The album takes many chances in the stockpiling of scratchy, wounded layers — which, more often than not, pay off. Slow-burn, tumbling drums mingle with earthquakes and MicroKorg-demons, then dissolve into mutating instrument declarations.

Black Dice’s Creature Comforts is some weird loner’s sketchpad from high school where each delirious idea was open-ended, border-pushing, and full of intricate detail.

by Ryan Myers

. issue VIII : iv .

. artist : tim buckley / jeff buckley .
. album : copenhagen tapes / sketches for my sweetheart the drunk .
. year : 1968 / 1998 .
. label : strange fruit / columbia .
. grade : a plus .



Has anyone seen “Greetings From Tim Buckley” yet? While father is the title, titleholder, FPS Doom Shadow Pixel Address Unknown File title, and the tits; son Jeff Buckley is the main character (existing in physical form, granted), in the events following a prodigal performance at Saint Anne’s Church, NYC, April 26, 1991. Legend has it he broke a string at the end of his set having to capture the last few notes a capella, soaring ‘setto; also around the craft services table he hummed a leaden rewrite of blushing lilac lyrics to “If I Had a Hammer.”

Lousy numerical reviews online, but it is nice to see what realities were captured in the scope of the artists who touched and would continue to fondle the familial find over that short span within the nineteen nineties (CONNOR SEZS: Lookout, Belle Epoch, looks like there’s just a numerical necessity there).

Nothing carves the archways and keystones quite like the family fungus, and as the history etches itself moistly, moss mows over massive memento and ties together possibility for connection, missed orbitals and otherwise. The sons of the father in this instance have documentation awareness and the other as subject matter (“I Never Asked to Be Your Mountain” for the tall-to-small Buckley, notably absent in direct confessed association the other directional, but freebasejumps “Dream Brother,” “What Would You Say,” “Eternal Life,” and “Thousand Fold”), Jeff furrowing furtive falsetto father’s footsteps in conceivably hungry with the fossils beneath the soundwaves of various quality. (Legend has it that Buckley previewed a release of a Concert in London of 1968, emanata energy eruption of guarded ebullience; this legend is provided by record company executives, though, so call me Ishmael)

The most daring vocalists within the modern floor of music have tended feminine sections, experimentation and range being something that rests within style. (All apologies Mike Milosh, I haven’t delved.) Powerful women’s voices with ability to key off locksmithing set a stage, and so with the Buckleys this is what I find most often. Soft steel stabbing, slick and shining at surroundings; Tim Buckley carved for persona a winking troubadour, vocalist as main instrument and a practiced, haunting tenor. (Hello, Goodbye [Elektra] boasts from the cover, “He will sing you his ten tales and then wander till Spring.”) Jeff notably grew into this mythology and ethos of the musician. The touring and travel, the wear of a bohemian and unplanned lifestyle was justified in the search and upkeep of an artistic calling, a need to practice and perfect: all these philosophies merged father and son, passing profound genome and providing yet another parasitic similarity in the early ending of their careers (and the acquisition of the small recorded echoes they made during).

Taking these two from a wonderful songbook; I continue to digress all over, (reader, pray over and over and over and over):

“Gunshot Glitter” is throttle. The recording quality has the warmth crackle of a roaring vinyl, and after-reminder (there is only one person doing all of this work) only adds to the mystique and fascination. A tapped microphone for percussion and layers of guitar only give a typhoon for Buckley’s obtrusive art school graffito: “So I just came from Hick’s town / Left my coins behind / Maybe some poor clothes pony will buy himself a life.” This demo song sounds wonderful finished and yet was only at the stage of scrap paper in Buckley’s feeling. All of Sketches shows the album he was about to junk in various session incarnations. When the members of his touring band met up in Memphis to re-record what was raw on the album (the 4 track shotgun shack roomtones of “Murder Suicide Meteor Slave”), Buckley’s death in Wolf River had already occurred.

Tim Buckley’s sprawling après deluhoegaze shuffle (that retains some lighthearted tones from the vibratophone, or whatever that marimba thing is) in “I Don’t Need It to Rain” captures ambling at its finest sole worn soul crush survival stasis. I must say that his Copenhagen concert (just pop the keys into youtube and it’ll show) hums in a warm painted desert bliss (the compilation released as “Once I Was” in 1999 has an edited version of the full from “The Copenhagen Tapes”), a plains calm storm overcast breeze, momentary relief coming with a burst symptomatic foreboding. Buckley’s use of double bass and vibraphone adds to the dynamic and sound aesthetic, and the quality of the record betrays an ancient find, a treasure buried.

Concert recordings without a board certification, known in vernacular as “bootlegs” offer a window into an artist. Live performance versus Studio performance has been debated as a somewhat new medium enters digital pubescence, but regardless these are the only evidences that are left. I could write all day long about subjects I subject myself to constantly and over time, but I have yet to accurately portray my relationship with the Mario Brothers. While I have been playing Mario All-Stars for Twenty Years, some of the Mario games within fall Twenty Plus years, much like google plus. Am I right or am I write deadline? (CONNOR SEZS: Oblivious Peninsula, Aye.)

Regards, Tintin.

by Perkus Tooth

. issue VII : vii .

. artist : brian wilson shock treatment .
. album : operation sun probe .
. year : 2012 .
. label : starry night .
. grade : a .


Brian Wilson Shock Treatment return from fraternizing with the Druid Time Lords and set the pulleys and levers for the heart of the sun—and elsewhere—with their fantastic new Operation Sun Probe. A garage psych feast, Operation Sun Probe carries over the unhinged fracture of Druid Time Lords in all its unpolished glory, adding a sharper focus that actually accents the sonic rupturing rather than diluting it. Brian Wilson Shock Treatment cover all corners of their solar garage, delivering their dirty brand of space and psych rock, veering into prog territory (“The Circle Is A Square,” “Operation Sun Probe”), spooning out chunky nuggets of rock exhaust with hooks (“Baron Mandrake”, the wonderful “The Flood”), getting down in the swamp with the prophetic “Cell Phone Radiation Blues” and taking on a few covers with their spooky take on Donovan’s “If It’s Tuesday It Must Be Belgium” and a re-entry burning juggernaut rendering of Black Flag’s “Nervous Breakdown.” The album download also includes 2 bonus cuts, “I Don’t Work That Way” and their contribution to Valis’ 2011 Summer Solstice, the regal “King of Atlantis.”

Does it all hold together? You bet, and not just because of the scuzz and fuzz found in every corner. There’s more glue to it than that and a willful amount of sugar in the tank, too. There’s a loose scope to Operation Sun Probe that seems natural and unforced … there’s room for the “Colossal Atomic Man” to carry on “Iron Man’s” fight without stepping on the toes or squelching the sweet siren call of “Legeia” or any of the other sun-baked and probed characters. Does it sound like it might not hold together? Only in all the right places. Their junkyard sculpture aesthetic may not appeal to everyone (it would be a crime if it did), but the ground they cover and how they deliver shows more focus and stretch than most without having to polish it up. There’s nothing wrong with a good hearty belch after a meal, and Brian Wilson Shock Treatment have eaten well; punk, space, prog, heavy and hooky psych, pop … Operation Sun Probe, like Druid Time Lords, is absolutely endearing in its regurgitation. Don’t dab that errant morsel with fine linen, use an oily rag instead.

by Mr. Atavist