Zs

Zs, photo by Yuco Nakamura, courtesy of Northern Spy.

Earlier in March, I had the opportunity to interview Greg Fox, the Brooklyn-based drummer currently of Guardian Alien, Zs and Ben Frost who came into the WNUR studio to play a solo set. Having been in various projects from Teeth Mountain to Liturgy and numerous other collaborations, Fox talked about growing as a musician, opening up to other kinds of music, learning from other icons like Marvin Bugalu Smith and Jojo Mayer, and experiencing the pre-zombie apocalypse that is SXSW.

Here is an edited version of the interview that I [DL] conducted along with the engineer of the set [ES]. I’ll try and post a link to the in-studio set once it’s up on the WNUR Airplay site.

Zs’ latest EP, Grain, will be out April 30 via Northern Spy. Check out the kaleidoscopic music video for an excerpt of “Part Two,” by Fox, below.

DL: You’re obviously involved with so many projects and collaborations. How do they come about?

GF: It’s all kind of happened over the years, just by kind of going with things as they’ve come up. I had a college band, and that band toured with our friends’ band from Baltimore, I ended up joining that band, and then because I’m playing in that band, I joined another band, and a met a bunch of people that way, so it’s been playing and meeting people and playing with people. It seems like a pretty natural progression.

DL: A lot of your stuff, just from what we’re hearing now, it’s from very intense drumming to electronic drone, how do you see the relationship between all the different things that you do?

GF: When I’m playing music, I like when I realize that I’ve lost awareness of my body while I’m playing, you know? I like making music that has that effect on me while I’m doing it. So, ideally, if I’m drumming, I want to not remember where I am, not to the extent that you forget to play the part when the change comes. Or doing electronic stuff, I know it’s good for me when I stop realizing or stop being immediately conscious of the fact that I’m making music. I think that maybe speaks to whatever kind of similarity there might be.

DL: So along those lines, going into a set, how much of it is planned? Do you have an overarching theme, or do you just go for it?

GF: It depends. Since I started doing this solo drum performance stuff, usually when I play a show these days, I will either just play drums or maybe use the drone stuff with the drums. But besides that, I put it together while I’m doing it, I guess. And then sometimes, I do make composed music also. Some of that stuff is for my bands, and some of it just sort of lays in this ‘netherrealm’ until it either comes out as a solo record or something.

ES: Like Zs?

GF: Zs or Guardian Alien. Or a lot of other stuff. I’m now creatively involved in three or four different projects, and there’s some, I guess, stylistic overlap. I mean if I play electronic stuff, that stuff is planned, that stuff is written. I’m playing something that I wrote. Most of the time when I play live solo, I’m improvising. But I’m incorporating some of this new stuff.

DL: With all these projects, how would you say your approach to drumming has evolved? Do you approach it differently with different projects?

GF: I guess I don’t know if I think about it specifically as far as drumming, but I definitely think about it as far as just making music in general. I think that, in the different projects that I do, I think––and I don’t know if this just stops short of being a music thing––but in my experience, situations are good when there’s something you can learn from the situation or from the people that you’re working with. So I’m not thinking so much about the drumming as I’m thinking about growing as a musician in general, and to me a situation is especially fruitful when I feel like I’m learning or being challenged from or by the playing I’m playing with. So the drumming has changed a lot over the years, definitely, for me. I’m just concerned with learning and with continuing to grow as a musician and as a drummer and just really taking in as much as I can.

ES: So, this is your third time in our studio in not so long. From following you on Twitter and just keeping up with your various projects, it seems like you guys have been touring sort of nonstop. What’s that like? Is that something you’ve done in the past, is it something new?

GF: It’s relatively new that I’m so busy consistently. I’ve done long periods of touring before. I think the longest I’ve been out at a time is like three months or something. But I mean, I’ve been on tour almost consistently since October at this point, and that’s with Guardian, with Ben Frost and with Zs.

ES: You guys have gone not just in America, but Japan also.

GF: Yeah, Japan and I was in Europe with Ben, going back to Europe soon with Zs and then with Guardian again in May. Right now, it looks like I’m touring through the month of June, and then we’ll have like a month off or something, and then there’ll be a lot more stuff because new records will be coming out in the fall and in the new year.

ES: Zs just released a new EP, Grain. I listened to it, it’s really awesome. Do you have any other releases planned?

GF: Well, Zs is recording the next record pretty soon, and I think the idea is that it’ll come out late 2013, early 2014. I have a solo tape coming out on NNA in April. The new Guardian record is going to come out in November. The stuff that I’ve been working on with Ben, I don’t really know when that’s going to come out, but it’ll probably be also late 2013 at the earliest. And then there’s other projects that might happen that I don’t really know about yet.

I’m really stoked about it. I’ve kind of been wanting this for a long time. You know, for a while I was holding down part-time jobs and stuff in New York City and just doing what I had to do when I wasn’t on tour. And it was the kind of situation where I was touring a lot but it wasn’t enough that I could really support myself off of it, and so I was constantly in jeopardy of losing the job that I had or something like that, but the jobs weren’t something I really wanted to do anyway. So I got kind of lucky in that I got fired from this one––for three years I was working as a sound guy at this sort of diplomatic place in New York––and they fired me after three years. Then that two weeks later, I got a phone call from Ben asking if I wanted to do the band and do more recording with him, so it kind of just like happened at the right time. Then came joining Zs and going on tour with Zs. It’s at the point now where, for the first time in my life I’m really fully able to––I mean, in a very meager way––support myself as a musician. I mean, I have debt and all kinds of shit, but I’m on tour consistently enough and my rent is cheap enough and my expenses are low enough that I can––now, because of how I can project in the future the amount of touring that I’m going to be doing, I don’t know how much money I have coming in, but I know I have money.

DL: Well, I’m just wondering, so do you think the big break came with Liturgy or was it when you started doing your own stuff more?

GF: I got a lot of attention for my drumming with Liturgy and we did a lot of touring, and the record did well. I get listed as “ex-Liturgy drummer” all the time. So I know that record had a lot of reach, and I know that a lot of people know of my drumming because of that. But, I don’t know, it didn’t feel like a break or anything like that. When I was in Teeth Mountain, Teeth Mountain was having a relative amount of success, we were touring Europe. And then when I was playing drums with Dan Deacon, it felt like that was successful for me. It’s just been this progression of just it becoming more and more of a reality, that this is just what I’m actually doing, and less a question of “what am I doing?” But now, it’s like now I know what I’m doing. Yeah, I think that Liturgy definitely, for a lot of people, was the way they became aware of my music, but I would say for the most part, the majority of people are definitely not aware of any of my music.

ES: I’m actually kind of curious how you’ve gotten involved with Zs? I don’t know if you knew all those guys before you got involved with the band or how you met up with them?

GF: Well, [ex-Zs guitarist] Ben [Greenberg] actually is sort of a childhood friend. I’ve known Ben since we went to neighboring high schools. I’ve known him since like seventh or eighth grade. And he used to be in a band with some of my friends from my school, and so we would go see them play. And he was really a shredder back then. So Ben and I have been friends for a long time, and we’ve done some playing together. Ben and I were in a band together for a little while, like sort of between my getting out of high school and going to college in New York.

And I’ve known [Zs saxophonist] Sam [Hillmer] for a while, and [Zs guitarist] Patrick [Higgins] I met a number of years ago when his old band, Animal, played at Bard when I was a student there. So I had met everybody and Sam was doing this weekly party at this bar Zebulon that unfortunately closed down. It was the only good bar in my opinion in the world. But anyway, Sam was doing these things, so I was hanging out with Sam a lot more, going to these shows and playing them and he asked me––I don’t really remember how long ago this was––but he gave me a call and he asked me if I’d be interested in doing some playing. And I was like, “Okay, sounds good.” And he was like, “It would be like a thing where we’d write music together,” and I was like, okay, that sounds interesting, you know. And so then, a couple months later, he called me back and he was like, “So that thing I was talking about was Zs.” And I was like, “Oh yeah, okay, that makes sense.” So you know, when he said that Pat was doing it with him, that made sense to me and I knew Ben was sort of moving on to do other things. And I just don’t know [ex-Zs drummer] Ian [Antonio] very well, I’ve met him a bunch of times… but yeah, to a certain extent I wasn’t really surprised by being asked.

I’ve definitely admired Pat and Sam, totally, their playing and their musicianship over the years in different times and spaces. So, I figured, sounds good. You know, Sam called me up and he was like, “All right, we’re going to write all new music together, you’re not going to have to learn any old stuff, we’re going to write new music together, we’re going to go to Europe and Japan, and we have two records like, ready to go. We just have to make them.” And so for me, it was just a no-brainer. So this is just like more touring, you know what I mean, getting into a situation where I’m playing with people who I admire and learning. It’s crazy how busy I am right now because of having joined Zs. But it’s working right now.

DL: So you’re talking about meeting all these people as childhood friends, so did you also start drumming at a really young age, and how did you arrive at the style of drumming you’re doing right now?

GF: My grandfather was a drummer. Not professionally or anything, but he had a drum set in his house and you know, he played. So that was an early influence. I always kind of knew I would pick it up at some point, so I started actually playing in like sixth grade or something. For a while, it wasn’t something that I was taking extremely seriously. I mean, I was in bands and I was playing and I took lessons, but I wasn’t really concerned with it as a craft or as something that had a canon or something that I would find myself as a part of historically like with a link to people who play music like that. I never thought of it that way. I guess that playing in bands in high school and stuff, we’re playing a lot of metal, so I started getting into that stuff.

It got really serious with me––I think everything really changed for me with drumming when I got out of college and got kicked out of my parents’ house and decided not to go to college, and I didn’t really know what I was doing. But I got this job at this music store in New York, and some of the guys who worked there were really fantastic drummers. And they would give me free lessons. We would just be sitting around and they would give me lessons. And some of them would also work as drum techs. One of the guys who I owe a lot of my technique and style to is Guy Licata, who is a really fantastic drummer. And he gave me tons of free lessons. We would just be sitting there and we’d have the practice pad out, and he’d show me stuff and I would just practice all day. He was also studying with drum teching for Jojo Mayer, who’s an unbelievable drummer. So I met Jojo a few times, he showed me some things. A lot of just picking things up from people and meeting people, but that year was when I got serious about it because I didn’t know what I was going to do. So I was just like, well I’m just going to do this drumming thing, and I started getting gigs as a session musician and doing some hired gun stuff. I was in a pretty terrible rap-rock band for a while that I was paid to play in.

So it started becoming something that had a viability to it. And then, when I went to school, I went back to college and I had some bands in college and that’s when I think my music tastes really started to solidify or open up––not solidify, but I opened up to a lot of much further out music than I had been into, and so I think that having a metal background and learning all this deep hand technique and just technical stuff about drumming and then getting into weird music, I think that kind of made this trajectory for me of sort of incorporating all this stuff with involving an openness. I also studied, when I was in college, with Marvin Bugalu Smith, who played with Sun Ra and Archie Shepp. And he taught me a lot about sort of breathing while playing and sort of feeling the tide of the beat and subdividing rhythm and sort of being able to find polyrhythm all the time, which I think is a big part of my style. I studied with Thurman Barker, also a fantastic drummer. And yeah, I’m studying now with Milford Graves, which is like, the greatest honor. I mean, we hardly even hit drums.

I think I’m lucky that I’ve been prodded at all these different times by seemingly kind of random events that have caused me to open up to things. When I joined Teeth Mountain, I didn’t the kind of music that they were making. I had a band with the guy who used to play bass for Liturgy, Tyler Dusenbury, and I had a band in college. And our band toured with Teeth Mountain, because Tyler’s friends with those guys from home. So anyway, Teeth Mountain asked me to join them, and I didn’t get it. I didn’t have a place in my mind for what that was. But doing it opened me up to it, and opened me up to a whole world of music that I just would not have been able to understand––not “understand,” but enjoy. So getting an ear for bands like Wolf Eyes, or Sightings, you know. I love those bands now, especially Sightings, Sightings is like my favorite band. You know, opening up to those kinds of music, or different stuff that’s less traditional, less easy to discover on your own, and at the same time just getting serious about drumming and being in these situations where I was playing weird music kind of created this creative space for me, I guess, where I would start connecting these dots of this technique I had learned, you know, like this molar hand technique for drumming while playing blast beats. And it’s just like, well, I can throw this shit in there. But yeah, these things would sort of happen. All of a sudden I would find myself incorporating something that I was doing in Teeth Mountain or Liturgy… you know, my drum teacher would be showing me some lesson and I’d be playing, and that would manifest as a part or something. And then by getting good at playing that part, I just opened up this whole style that I could get into. And all these things have just sort of extrapolated from each other.

DL: Yeah, that’s amazing. So, being a Chicago radio station, and you’re on Thrill Jockey, and I loved your collaboration with Man Forever. You’re based in Brooklyn, how did you get involved with Thrill Jockey and the Chicago scene?

GF: Well, when Liturgy was getting ready to put out our second record, we were talking about record labels… I definitely wanted to see about working with Thrill Jockey because a lot of my friends, my Baltimore friends, were doing Thrill Jockey stuff. Double Dagger and Future Islands, you know, I’ve been tight with those folks for a while and that whole Baltimore scene. So a lot of Baltimore folks were getting signed to Thrill Jockey… and I also knew that they did Boredoms and they did Dan Higgs, Zomes, and all this music that I really love. So it’s like, well, maybe they’d want to put it out, and they did. So that how I sort of began my relationship with those folks. And then, when we were making, sort of after we recorded the second Guardian record and while I was starting to mix it, there were some labels who had some interest in the band, and I was trying to see who would put the most pepperoni on the pizza, so to speak. And then I emailed [Thrill Jockey founder] Bettina [Richards], and I just said, “We got this record, we’re almost done with it, would Thrill Jockey want to put it out?” And she said yes… and then that was that. It was a no-brainer for me. I love the way that that label operates, so I’m very happy to work with them.

DL: So I guess my last question is, you’re getting ready to head down to SXSW, is it your first time down there, or what are you expecting from it?

GF: This is going to be my third time. I didn’t go last time, but I went the two years previous. SXSW is like experiencing the zombie apocalypse before it happens. It’s all these people in these vans with all this gear, trying to get this stuff in and out of venues very frantically all day going from place to place. And then you’ve got hoards of drunk people just wandering the streets that are getting in the way of all these people. So it’s like incredibly difficult to navigate and it’s stressful, but it’s a lot of fun, and I like it because I get to see a lot of my friends from around the country who go to South By. Some of them go just because people meet up and hang out there. I mean, Guardian and Zs and some of our other associated side projects and solo projects are going to be playing this––my friend [drummer] Mercer [West], who’s in the band Quiet Hooves and Bubbly Mommy Gun, he’s from Athens, Georgia––he goes down to South By every year and just books a bunch of house parties. And friends will just play every night of those house parties. So we’re playing three nights at these series of house parties. That’s just going to be a lot of fun. We’ll just try to be as chill as possible, and I’ve tried to stagger things as much as I can so that we’re not rushing too much. And in instances where I do have to rush, I’ve made sure to the most extent possible that they have a drum set available, because having to shlep a drum set around makes it a lot harder. But I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be hot, it’s going to be nice.

The UK has been on top of their game lately. Tombs is the debut EP of Moon Zero, and it features four tracks of dark drones recorded at St. George In The East Church in Shadwell, London. The EP starts out slow with the opening track running at 10 minutes, but it’s a deliberate, subtle and seamless build-up that builds a solid foundation for the rest of the EP. Processed organ and mildly orchestral swells make for an overall eerie atmosphere. I really like “Endless Palms,” which slowly builds from an ethereal sound to a disturbing climax. Grab the digital over at Moon Zero’s Bandcamp or order the cassette.

Notable Albums 2012

It’s the most wonderful and tedious time of the year, when I feel obligated to publish a list of some sort. Similar to last year, I have to start with a huge disclaimer: I haven’t really listened to everything that’s been released this year, including a lot of big titles. So really, this isn’t a “Best of 2012” list. It’s more like a “Notable albums I heard this year that didn’t suck” list. Lots of albums didn’t make it on here, but I had to draw the line somewhere. Here are the ones that made the cut.

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20 // Alabama Shakes – Boys and Girls [Rough Trade]

It surprisingly takes a lot for me to go out of my comfort zone, and so I was pleasantly taken aback by Alabama Shakes’ debut full-length. I’m usually not too keen on soul and blues rock, but Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes literally pours her heart into every note. When Howard pleads “cry with me,” I almost have no choice but to acquiesce because I can literally hear each drop of blood, sweat and tears in her songs.

 
 

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19 // Ty Segall & White Fence – Hair [Drag City]

Ty Segall has been on a giant roll these few years. It’s cool that the kind of modern garage rock did a collaboration with the newer White Fence. Tim Presley, the guy behind White Fence, has the lo-fi thing down pat. Mix that with Segall’s crazy garage riffs you have a diverse and spastic album that has a lot of weird tangents.

 
 

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18 // Radar Eyes – S/T [HoZac]

I think this is just me feeding my HoZac obsession and Chicago love, but Radar Eyes are definitely one of my favorite things to come out of the city. Having seen them a few times live, I can tell they’re a hardworking bunch of good people. Their sound also sums up grimy Chicago pretty nicely in a solid rock album with a side of noise pop.

 
 

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17 // David Byrne & St. Vincent – Love This Giant [4ad]

I had anticipated this album for a long time, and I’m going to be honest: Love This Giant didn’t exactly size up to my high expectations. What else but pure brilliance would anyone expect from David Byrne and Annie Clark? It’s still a very inventive album, and I can definitely see the influence of both composers in each song, but for some reason I find myself going back to their own respective works. Maybe Love This Giant could have been a more coherent work to stand on its own, but nevertheless, definitely still a very noteworthy album of the year.

 
 
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16 // El Ten Eleven – Transitions [Fake Record Label]

Transitions finds El Ten Eleven at forks in their personal lives, reflected in the varied sound of the album itself. Always experimenting with each new record, a heavier emphasis on synths in Transitions signify a shift away from the duo’s usually more stripped-down sets. Yet in composition, the album seems to put El Ten Eleven full circle back to their self-titled debut with addictive hooks and distinct, progressive segments. It also doesn’t hurt that there’s a Duran Duran cover thrown in as well.

 
 
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15 // VA – Rework: Philip Glass Remixed [Kora/Ernest Jenning/Orange Mountain]

This was also one of my highly anticipated albums of the year. As if Philip Glass’ works aren’t tantalizing enough, just the bill of this album is enough to knock it out of the park. A gathering of today’s most outstanding experimental artists spearheaded by Beck, the album features unique remixes by Amon Tobin, Dan Deacon, Nosaj Thing, Tyondai Braxton and so many more. [Also, take a look at my recap over at PMA.]

 
 
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14 // Emeralds – Just To Feel Anything [Editions Mego]

The entire Emeralds crew was busy at work this year. Steve Hauschildt and Mark McGuire both released new solo albums. Collectively, electronic wizards Emeralds’ 2012 release is nothing short of a mind-boggling adventure. Just when there’s a grasp on a more identifiable pace than some of their past work, Emeralds slow things down into an airy cloud only to pick things right up again with a running beat.

 
 
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13 // Oneohtrix Point Never / Rene Hell – Music For Reliquary House / In 1980 I Was a Blue Square [NNA Tapes]

NNA’s second split LP joins two giants of experimental electronic music. It’s an interesting combination as the two sides are contrasting yet form two parts to a similar statement. Whereas Oneohtrix Point Never steps into a confusing world of the unknown laden with notes from modern technology, Rene Hell aims to bring a sort of conclusive answer to Oneohtrix Point Never’s question with orchestral landscapes.

 
 
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12 // Tame Impala – Lonerism [Modular]

It’s hard to believe that this is only Tame Impala’s second full-length album. Maybe it’s the veteran experience of the band’s respective members that drives this album full force to acclaim. Expanding on 2010’s Innerspeaker, Tame Impala regenerates the successful recipe of equal parts ’70s psychedelia sound with modern day execution.

 
 
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11 // Delicate Steve – Positive Force [Luaka Bop]

I feel like I’ve already written so much on Delicate Steve this year, that I’ll just say this bluntly: listen to this album. There couldn’t have been a better followup to Delicate Steve’s debut from last year, which was my fourth favorite album of 2011.

 
 

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10 // Jon Porras – Black Mesa [Thrill Jockey]

Another shoutout to a Chicago label, Jon Porras’ (one-half of San Francisco-based Barn Owl) Black Mesa is a hypnotizing concoction of sparse electric guitar solos and layered feedback. Never has drone sounded so strangely and disquietingly calm.

 
 

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9 // Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan [Domino]

I think it’s generally good news whenever David Longstreth does anything. 2012’s Swing Lo Magellan and the accompanying About to Die EP both showcase a solid new direction that Dirty Projectors are heading toward. Although 2005’s The Getty Address will probably always be closest to my heart, Swing Lo Magellan is a stellar collection of innovative songs full of Dirty Projectors’ signature quirk, just when I thought they couldn’t get any better.

 
 

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8 // Jozef Van Wissem & Jim Jarmusch – The Mystery of Heaven [Sacred Bones]

Who knew filmmaker Jim Jarmusch could shred like any other? The second collaboration between Jozef Van Wissem and Jarmusch, The Mystery of Heaven pits Van Wissem’s minimalist lute against Jarmusch’s echoing guitar thrashes in counterpoint for an unlikely and enigmatic duet.

 
 

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7 // Tim Hecker & Daniel Lopatin – Instrumental Tourist [Software]

Another collaboration between two major experimental electronic giants, Instrumental Tourist joins Tim Hecker and Daniel Lopatin of Oneohtrix Point Never in the first of Software Recording Co.’s Software Studio Series. Literally taking inspiration from sounds across the world, the album is a real journey with driving motifs and expansive themes. Like a story, Instrumental Tourist has a clear beginning, middle and end with complex progressions in between.

 
 

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6 // Zammuto – S/T [Temporary Residence]

It was a pretty dark start to 2012 when The Books announced they were breaking up in January. Thankfully, Nick Zammuto released his solo debut a few months after, a promising start to another chapter in The Books history (bad pun). Zammuto experiments more with vocals, not surprising considering that was Zammuto’s main function in The Books. Zammuto stretches, distorts and does otherwise crazy things to his voice, processing it to the point where it operates as an instrument on its own. Along with jumpier, more percussive hooks, Zammuto is an exciting look into Zammuto’s new solo career.

 
 

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5// Japandroids – Celebration Rock [Polyvinyl]

Okay, okay. So what if there’s literally not a single Best of 2012 list out there that doesn’t have this album on there? Japandroids just put out a goddamn good album and it deserves all the acclaim it’s getting. I don’t think I have to really say much here about Celebration Rock, other than the fact that I’ve had it on loop for more days than I can remember in 2012. Also, please go see them live. The bruises will be more than worth it.

 
 

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4// Brian Eno – Lux [Warp]

Few people manage to remain relevant after a decade or so, but Brian Eno has pushed out brilliant album after brilliant album for four decades. Lux returns to Eno’s ambient roots of the ’70s like Discreet Music and Music for Airports. With each subtle note, Eno carefully crafts layers of harmonious progressions, slowly building up to grand opuses in a transcendental dreamscape. [Also, take a look at my recap over at PMA.]

 
 

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3// Dan Deacon – America [Domino]

I don’t know what I was expecting when Dan Deacon put out an album titled America. While the entire release is nothing less than Deacon’s usual stuff, the four-part “USA” opus that ends the album alone makes me a more patriotic person. Maybe it’s Deacon’s strange vision of America, but it evokes wide shots of a grand and beautiful landscape, something like the cover art for the album. With America, Deacon reminds us of a forgotten beauty with a glorious picture painted with percussive backdrops and noisy computer rock accents.

 
 

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2// Pond – Beards, Wives, Denim [Modular]

Truth be told, I didn’t know too much about Pond until I saw them live and they threw down one of the best shows I’ve witnessed. WIth a constantly changing lineup, Pond shares many members with Tame Impala and the former almost functions as a crazier, more spastic version of the latter. There’s a lot of the same psychedelic influence, but whereas Tame Impala would mellow out with a running bassline, Pond would explode with indulging guitar riffs and random shouts, perhaps thanks to the idiosyncratic Nick Allbrook at the helm. Beards, Wives, Denim captures another side of barren Perth, Australia, different from the one that Tame Impala inhabits. In this version, Perth is a hotbed of capriciously wired brains and impulsive warrior calls.

 
 

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1// Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! [Constellation]

The first release in a decade from GY!BE, Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! is no small feat. I was lucky enough to catch GY!BE live twice this year, and to call each experience life-changing is probably an understatement. With each track taking at least half an hour to build up live, every itching minute inches closer to an epic climax that is nothing short of every cheesy metaphor I can think of. A religious conversion. The parting of the red sea. What the fucking second coming must sound like. I’m not even a religious person, and GY!BE’s music isn’t specifically meant to evoke any religious imagery, but perhaps the point is to just move people. If anything, GY!BE probably has more of a political undertone, definitely seen through the projections that have accompanied live shows in the past year. Allelujah! is a strong return after a temporary hiatus, and GY!BE hold nothing back in reestablishing their ground as humble creators of the most transcendental kind of experimental post-rock. [Also, take a look at my recap over at PMA.]

Long time no post… I’ll be back on a regular posting schedule after the New Year. Alas…

Few things are better than a collaboration between iconic figures. Drone/ambient masterminds Tim Hecker and Daniel Lopatin (better known as Oneohtrix Point Never) have put their two experimental brains together for a monumental release. Released via Software Recording Co., Instrumental Tourist is the first in the Software Studio Series (SStudios), a venture inviting different electronic artists to collaborate together. The release takes inspirations from “digitally-sourced ‘Instruments of the World,'” evident through the voyages from one theme to another as Hecker and Lopatin sample, cut and loop for nearly an hour. Lighter than the average Hecker opus and denser than the usual Oneohtrix Point Never ditty, Instrumental Tourist strikes a comfortable balance between the two artists, melding the former’s operatic schemes with the latter’s rougher accents.

In honor of the recent Philip Glass remix album, of which Jóhann Jóhannsson is a collaborator, here are some tracks from the Icelandic composer. Jóhannsson scored these for the film Drømme i København (Dreams in Copenhagen) from 2009. Slightly bittersweet, these tracks strike a special chord because Denmark has been my home for the past two months and I can see how the subdued nature of the city streets fits this soundtrack beautifully.

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