Moshi Moshi, Chalaque (UK), Jookla (Italy), Pad Thai Drugstore – Deep Thoughts, April 11

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Moshi Moshi

Dave starts by passing out Lucky Strikes. I take one, of course; though I didn’t take a Nat Sherman the first time I saw him in 2006. He sings Elton John’s “Your Song”, and you really feel it. Vic Rawlings dominates on his electric guitar, power pressure chords, Polly is just like Ringo. It’s an experience that transcends transcription. Like a carnival or bursting open a piñata. Angela Sawyer sends blitzkriegs through her synthesizer, and Vic comes back with sixties cheese fuzz. Then it’s “Owner of a Lonely Heart”. This is twenties’ style Paris pastiche.

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Chalaque

Chalaque is Punjabi for smart ass (no one likes a smart ass). Nick of Chalaque is English, of the North country. His band is heavy acid, and instrumental. The music goes nowhere and everywhere. One point of reference, The Bevis Frond. It’s got that dark and painful, but gentle melancholy.

Chalaque is a trio, power trio I guess, with bass and drums. The effect isn’t like Cream or Hendrix though. It’s spacier, and spicier. You feel like you’re traveling tapestries over different lands.

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Jookla

Davide, Virginia, Bill Nace

Jookla is an Italian energy band, with tenor sax and drums, and electric lap guitar. It has the feel of Machine Gun, or Last Exit, driving dentist drill music. It just keeps driving, harmonic on tenor pushed to the limit. The energy is erotic, and carries through Virginia, on sax, as she travels into the audience, willow blowing in the wind.

This is sewing machines gone wild, a specular sweatshop, the stitches making music, needles sewing flesh and bodies. The basic gist is linear propulsion of tones into the stratosphere. Harmonically simple motifs that are ripped and mangled and wrought into new shapes.

Now she picks up a curved soprano, with a small bell. The sound is strangely familiar, Coltrane soprano, but deeper and darker, because of the bell. Bill Nace on guitar gets a Peter Brotzmann effect, demolition derby drives. The lanky drummer, Davide, with the long hair and beard is one with his set.

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Pad Thai

This is Andy Allen’s band, glamor boy psych jazz stuff, with genuine claims to each. He gets strange sounds out of the bell, sometimes by stuffing stuff down it, but it’s always beautiful. He uses pauses gently and dynamically, showing a grasp of dynamics, the interplay of sound and silence.

The music goes from acid bliss to soft floating petal tones, natural but architectural. Jesse of Cowboy band on bass is a great grammarian, punctuating the flow of sound with funky commas and semicolons.

Billy McShane on alto sax joins for last number. I saw McShane at Deep Thoughts anniversary, and he was mellow but very human. Here he deals with another music. Still he’s very sparse and minimal, with sharp spurts and honks. He duos with Allen, an avian dialogue. The two just play their mouthpieces, but they have sublime control, and get many notes from them. Ethan on drums is salt and peppery. Sam Lisbeth, of Cult and Leper, is subdued, as the music starts to border on schizo-folksy.

Then it gets intellectual and complex, but with a hypnotic, building beat. Jungle forest birds.

Sara Lee – The New Classic – Midway Cafe (March 9)

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Rhythms straight out of a sixties pop song Josie and The Pussycats with tough rock chords and a little girl’s voice on this number there’s a nice rocking feel like a ship rocking on the water with squalls of heavy metal threading in and the song matures like a good Bordeaux this next is very childlike a singsong tune a nursery tune then it slips gear quick and back into heavy pop with a stop out of nowhere this one has a grand feel teen glory in the dating field a good spring dance in the gym or on the beach as night closes in the vibes have a glittering romance with touches of classic nineties alternative is this the new classic?

Con Tex – Wall of Haze – Midway Cafe (March 9)

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He’s got a paw print in his blue guitar I guess he’s a dog dogging the chords into the amp one chord blast over and over again hand almost windmills racing like Indy 500 just round and round the tracks down the miles with the lost child’s voice as wild as White Light White Heat gonna make me go blind
 
Now it’s just a wall of haze electrical field echoing into trance with grand strides of a nascent tune which just tumbles down the Spanish Steps

Arkm Foam – JP Drive-In (March 2)

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Arkm Foam plays his electronic kits with the ease a child plays with alphabet blocks, perpetually learning new things about the ABCs of sound, and sharing them with the audience. Foam plays with constants and spontaneity in his music. Chugging, unbalanced rhythms bleed from his machines, and parts of them will get severed, creating flights of sonic UFOs with no fixed destination. With these he explores the sound worlds he has created, and they either get left like satellites to spin on in limbo, or they become part of the massive rock face, which you climb like a mountain on a sunny day on Saturn. This is highly crafted space science but approached with an innocent ear open to surprise and play.

Hurricanes of Love – JP Drive-In (March 2)

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No one knows how Frank Hurricaine got so good. The way he plays guitar makes it sound like he spent long hours in his bedroom as a teenager, teaching the strings to talk, so they could tell their own story, a frenzied dystopian epic of the American dream. Stories of hidden America populate his songs, like the thugs themselves from the Creole mafia who torment him in an abandoned peanut hut in one song. Messages come out of nowhere, and they are mysterious. Sometimes they don’t reach you until you are asleep at night, and your nightmares become parables. Hurricaine played last night in the cozy living room of The JP Drive-In, and his lovely masculine voice have this all a tone of comforting humor, but these are crazy, heady trips he’s taking you on. Hurricaine is about music changing people, radically, and once you’re in there’s no coming out, you’re with him for a joy ride in a hearse limo into the heart of the spiritual underworld.

Ktotam – Andrea Pensado (Zero Moon)

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“Bicho Raro” is a South American slang term meaning bug. It’s the first track on Andrea Pensado’s 2011 release, Ktotam. Pensado has a legacy of composed new music, with international exposure. But she has renounced, if not turned her back on this. Her new music has bursts of screams and noise, graced with lilting samples of 19th century late romanticism. It’s a heady brew. It draws you in, blasts you back, and marks you with its passion.

Ktotam has seven tracks, a couple with her friend Greg Kowalski. They have the air of bold primitivism, with touches that let you know this is a lady of grace, comfortable in European conservatories, even if they made her bored. The kids like her music because it’s noise, and it’s loud and rebellious. Indeed, she has become a goddess of the young at basement shows around Boston.

Textures are sanded and planed, then ruptured. Perverse whispering creeps in, with loud whistling. She has a genius, and that’s the fluorescent force of her shaping ability. The compositions resist form, smashing leitmotifs, but the shattered fragments graft on to your body, and the body becomes the shape of the song.

Ktotam was released two years ago, and recorded earlier than that. Pensado has chosen, apparently, to resist the impulse to chart her forays into her new field on a frequent basis. Perhaps this is part of her art, and mystery. In many ways, it is as if she has stepped into a new phase of evolution with her art, a new state most artists never approach. The way she expresses herself is private, though it seems to bust your chops.

“Ktotam”, the title piece, beginnings with low humming and scraping, like a subway train approaching. Buzzing accrues like flying saucers, or a pan of frying sausages. It’s a whole new world you inhabit, with sparks, exploding bombs, and flashes. What begins as disturbing and unsettling becomes comforting and enveloping, like a mohair blanket. Changes occur abruptly, like the stages of falling into a nice, deep sleep. The jolt stays with you like the aftershock of an emotional event, but so do the glorious, sweet vicissitudes, and the disc stays in your mind and blooms, like a trellis plant.

 

 

Lair – Baby Rattle Boy Scout Music – Whitehaus, New Years Eve

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Bumblebee drums to carnival circus sounds grand shimmering veils of smoke
 
Gregorian chant guitar voracious vocals screams and whale wails
 
Building bouncers rubber balls off stone walls rolling barrels down the street you take a thrill in scoping down the vocabulary finding the quaint jewels
 
Bubblegum baby rattle Boy Scout music tree kind you hear at the Popsicle store when you want more vanilla ice ice baby twitch and twinge of guitar string down out and dirty silent singing whispers of succulent secrets rattle attack drums like a spiderweb of Tums
 
Now he’s on electronics board and the drums are sloppy and funky rumpa-tumpa that kind of thing simmering singing Alec the sly romantic cupping the mic with his lips tense as an electric fence but then it keeps on going like the Energizer bunny

Arian Shafiee – Orange Lemon Lime – Whitehaus, New Year’s Eve

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Beautiful shimmering twinge and twang of the East cascades of delicacy slow pluck whole tone arpeggios echoing overlapping shades of orange lime lemon bubbling fizz intricate finger work with each hand electrical impulses building crescendo whiplash slide and tumble chugging train up sunset hillside wispy pastorals floating by swatches of purple melody raw strings ringing chime

 

Crucial Creations: Robert Wyatt – ’68 (Cuneiform)

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A lesser-known figure in the popular history of rock music, Robert Wyatt is as blitzing an innovator as Hendrix, and as blindingly intense. Soft Machine, the band he co-formed, and drummed for, in the late ‘60s, created jazz-rock fusion for Europe in the same way as Miles Davis did for the US, and as crucially and creatively, which is an achievement that cannot be underestimated. It is the equivalent, in physics, say, of something like splitting the atom.

 

Recently discovered tapes have produced the new Cuneiform release of ’68. Here, Wyatt is in contemplative, meditative mode, largely extemporaneous, creating segments that would go on to form Soft Machine’s releases Volume Two (Probe, 1969), and Third (Columbia, 1970). Wyatt was impetuously driven, as an artist and as a human. He would extrapolate from his inventions to the point of nebulous expansion, where things would buzz and break apart in his musical art.

 

’68 shows him in the studio, alone, at the start of his experimentation, where things are still peaceful, and take you into psychedelic, pastoral reveries of your own mind. They produce missing links, new pieces of the puzzle of his creative evolution. Of the two major cuts on the album, “Rivmic Melodies” would go on to form the bulk of Volume Two, and “Moon in June” would appear as Third’s exclusive vocal masterpiece.

 

As elements cast aside from the projects that would go on to form the group’s seminal achievements, they may seem minor; but as the underexposed, overlooked earlier phases of the works, they are just as revelatory, in their own ways, giving a glimpse into one of music’s greatest minds, and proffering new ways of looking at Western music.

Guerilla Toss Throws Up a New LP

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Gay Disco (nna tapes)

Gay disco baffles you with bombs, or bombards you with bafflement. The lyrics sound like computer poetry, and you can’t tell if the record’s skipping when you put it on, it changes so fast.

Kassie leads the troops, and she’s unflagging. She’s got a lilt to her voice, which she modulates into coos and screams. She’s like another instrument, and it’s like she’s the ball attached to a rubber band on a paddle.

The dynamics are good. It’s got the classic rock loud/soft/loud pattern, but you never know when the soft is going to come, so it’s like a delay stagger, when the green lights are aligned so you can just buzz through traffic.

Some of the patterns evolve like a bubbling spring sending rings out in a pond, bullfrogs hooting at night. Arian can get a cheesy funk sound out of his guitar, and it’s so clear you feel you are there, right in the gay disco, your butt eyed and guys peering at you shyly.

Arian rules this band. It’s his sound that counts, like Harrison’s counted for The Beatles. It’s got heavy psychedelic obbligatos, and they’re wired around the funk like copper coils. You really feel like an electrician when you hear this, clamping high voltage cables with pliers.

And it’s a cure for the blues, like electro convulse therapy. I think it’s Simon who sounds like Beck on the beginning of side two, rapping to Peter’s heavy rim shots. Simon and Ian are like defensive backs in a football game, reining in the energy.

Guerilla Toss have mastered their musical complexity on this disc, so it still sounds simple, and it’s fun, for all the mathematical formulae they wear on their sleeves from music school.

There are days at the beach on this record, and electrical storms. Sonic volley ball, and sparks flying. The tension can be maddening, until you own mental angst is part of the music. It’s dark, this must be said. But then so are their shows, but you don’t notice so much because everyone’s partying. And then, in a way, it’s like looking at the party space the morning after, the silver beer cans glistening in the sunrise. 

Peter tempts you to look at the business as a junk shop charade. Indeed, you have to thread through the stuff to find the salient themes, and it can be grueling to do so. It’s the thrill of finding the shards of an antique pot you know just how to put together.