Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Live and dangerous // Recently...
Wanted to round up a few live reviews I posted recently on The Volume, all photographically (and/or videographically) enhanced by myself and/or Laal, who snapped the Black Pus pic above.
*Positive Catastrophe at Jazz Gallery - 5.8.09
*Mastodon at the Fillmore - 5.9.09
*No Fun Fest at MHOW - 5.17.09
[choice live video of the aforementioned Black Pus, a.k.a. the solo project of Lightning Bolt's Brian Chippendale, on this one]
Also, a list of recent delights:
I am so psyched about this book. PSYCHED. What this is, is a compilation of the so-called Hall of Fame features from Decibel magazine, i.e., the best metal publication currently on the market. The HoFs are oral-history-style making-of pieces on the purported best extreme-metal albums of all time (don't get me wrong, I basically agree with the choices). I've read many of these in their original form, but--much as was the case with Ben Ratliff's excellent The Jazz Ear, discussed within this post from January--they're all expanded here and they're just so amazing. Such a variety of personalities and motivations, from the uber-enigmatic and neurotic (Kyuss) to the arch and sardonic (Carcass) and the on-another-planet visionary (Morbid Angel, of course) and the thoroughly demented/zonked (Eyehategod). As much time as I've spent listening to metal, I've never heard some of these records and I'm really enjoying spinning them as I read. If there's one quote that, more than any other in the book, should convince you that this is an essential compendium of knowledge, it's this, from one of my personal heroes, Mr. Trey Azagthoth, who discusses the making of the killer Altars of Madness:
"That record has so many riffs, and the way they're played today has a little more fullness. Back then everything was kinda rushed and fast, so it didn't really come together as well, I guess, as far as the atmosphere and trippiness. I really wanted a feeling of like going backward or playing sideways and dragging--just all these weird feelings that I wanted to put in the music that I think later [Morbid Angel] albums have. But I think that record had more cool riffs than any other record anyone's ever done, if you count 'em. There's probably, I don't know, 50 or 100 riffs on that record, it seems like to me. I didn't want just a couple of cool riffs and a bunch of filler in each song--I wanted parts where there's actually singing over complicated riffs rather than an easy riff for the vocals."
Re: "dragging," "sideways" riffage, YES. I know *exactly* what he means about M.A.'s compositions, though I've never known quite how to articulate it. Re: AoM having more cool riffs than any other record, I'm sort of inclined to agree. Though I far prefer Covenant overall, you can beat M.A.'s debut full-length for sheer part-by-part awesomeness. Anyone got any other favorite riff records they'd like to cite? For me, another biggie is Mastodon's Remission, which has a gargantuan riff quotient. And Sabbath Volume 4, obviously. Anyway, if you are into metal, you won't want to do anything but obsess over this book once you get ahold of it. Here's hoping for a volume two, with some more obscure choices! (I pitched a Hall of Fame once that I thought was great, but I never heard back. How 'bout it, Decibel, wanna give me a shot?)
So a lot of my recent listening has sprung from this book, namely:
*Kyuss s/t a.k.a. Welcome to Sky Valley
Loved this one as a teen. Holds up much, much better than I'd expected, probably due to the formidable pop element in many of the songs.
*Dillinger Escape Plan Calculating Infinity
Oddly, I've never really gotten to know this album, though I've heard many bits and pieces over the years. The hardcore aspect of D.E.P. has always been tough for me to relate to; as far as math-rock and -metal, I've always related much more to the Midwestern tradition (Craw, Dazzling Killmen, etc.), in which there was no macho-ness, only sublime eccentricity and outsider rage. But you can't deny that there's a special kind of savagery going down here.
*Carcass Necroticism - Descanting the Insalubrious
What a fucking great album. I loved Necroticism's successor, Heartwork, in my adolescence, but for some reason, I never went back and bought this. Carcass might be the funniest death-metal band; they've got a real sick and sardonic sense of humor and an extremely distinctive writing style. Very sophisticated stuff that doesn't sound dated at all (like, say, roughly contemporaneous discs such as Obituary's Cause of Death and Cannibal Corpse's Tomb of the Mutilated, both of which are featured in Precious Metal and both of which sound pretty weak and primitive--in the pejorative sense--to me today).
And then there's other stuff, like:
*Propagandhi Potemkin City Limits
Not quite as good as the best album of 2009 so far, but still incredible. What a brave and revelatory band. Prog-punk poetry forever!
*The 1966 Carla Bley tracks currently spinning over at Destination Out.
As the D.O. dudes indicate, this material does present a kind of parallel-universe free-jazz aesthetic that has no real point of comparison in that time period. Bewitching stuff.
*AMM Generative Themes
Pulled this off my shelf randomly the other day. Very, very cool. Not as profoundly austere as some of their later stuff and actually more akin to clattery free jazz than I thought they ever got. Very singular group; every fan of experimental audio stylings should check out at least a few of their discs.
*Melvins Pigs of the Roman Empire, The Maggot and The Crybaby
Ah, the Melvins' early Ipecac years, before the current Big Business-abetted Renaissance. Some spotty stuff indeed, but with amazing high points. (An investigation obviously spurred on by Friday's awesome Webster Hall show.) Pigs, a collaboration with Lustmord, has some great shit on it. Was bummed out by it at first, but if you give it time, it sinks in. "The Bloated Pope" and the title track both kick hard and the soundscape stuff sounds way cooler to me now than when I first got ahold of this. The Maggot is... a little shaky and nondescript in spots, but it's worth a listen for the awesomely glammy and hammy and doomy cover of the early Fleetwood Mac tune "The Green Manalishi with the Two Prong Crown." The Crybaby is also a tough listen, but the Tool collaboration "Divorced" is very intriguing as are the team-ups with Jim Thirlwell of Foetus and Kevin Sharp of Brutal Truth.
*Genesis The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
I've had this for like two years and I STILL haven't made it all the way through, which is more a testament to my short attention span than to the way I feel about this record, because I absolutely love it. Totally undated prog, right here, with steely urban themes and mountains of wit and eclectic ambition. I'm late to the party on this one by decades, but if anyone hasn't dug into Genesis's Gabriel years, pick this up pronto.
*And lastly, two tracks from the first Thin Lizzy album (self-titled) that Tony e-mailed to me. So lean-sounding and peculiar. Rhythm section is like the perfect midpoint between the Jesus Lizard and Zeppelin. Lyrics are arcane and suffocatingly British, in a good way.