nedjelja, 30. prosinca 2012.

Aspidistrafly - A Little Fable (2012)

Singapurske uspavanke za sporo razvijajuće polaroide
April Lee i Ricks An lagano isparavaju u mraku.
Uši imaju trepavice.


“I went mourning without the sun; I am a companion to owls.”

In the autumn/winter of 2010, Singapore-based April Lee and Ricks Ang of ASPIDISTRAFLY (also founders of Kitchen. Label) embarked on the recording of their second album A LITTLE FABLE in Japan in collaboration with several artists. Fascinated by the patina of time and themes of
folklore, A LITTLE FABLE narrates a surrealist procession of tales, twelve compositions simmering one into the other lyrically and picturesquely. This album sees the duo returning to a warm, organic palette of closely-whispered vocals, fingerpicked guitar, string arrangements and their trademark texture-focused arrangements. Featuring guest collaborators Kyo Ichinose, Seigen Tokuzawa, haruka nakamura, Junya Yanagidaira (ironomi), honagayoko, Akira Kosemura, Janis Crunch and more.
A dusty bottom drawer of forgotten memoirs is unlocked, and the album opens with a mourning, solitary cello while a harmonium drone forebodes an oscillating motif of glockenspiel tones, or sprinkled stars if you will. In LANDSCAPE WITH A FAIRY, a tale of loss and longing during the earliest dawn mist – the world in its daily transition – is daubed in the hues of intensified sunlight, foliage or shadows, only to be diffused and faded by time, not unlike Andrei Tarkovsky’s polaroids of the Russian countryside. April Lee’s intimate vocals and acoustic guitar gently break the silence of a cold morning, backed by graceful string flourishes arranged by Kyo Ichinose. Kitchen. Label’s very own haruka nakamura and Junya Yanagidaira (ironomi) add harmonizing colors of the guitar and piano respectively.
Tracing the mysterious migration routes of nocturnal animals, HOMEWARD WALTZ skips home along a breadcrumbed-path with ephemeral glimpses of forest sights, ornamented by violins and other curious sounds before fulminating into a amorphous guitar drone, as Seigen Tokuzawa’s improvised cello strokes drift and wander with split-second apparitions in the night sky. Sounds of wooden creaks and early morning spoon-in-coffee stirrings permeate the spontaneous atmosphere of COCINA. honagayoko’s quaint and chopped piano phrases waltz with spliced vocals and flute.
Emerging from the darkened foliage into a vast, cryptic hemisphere, the second half of the album teeters on the frailty and transitoriness of the world. A LITTLE FABLE’s voyage reaches a turning point by SEA OF GLASS. Ricks Ang constructs a prolonged arpeggio of sonorous looping guitar motifs that float in and out of focus, reverberating almost like a narcotic percussion across tumultuous oceans. Now distanced and gauzy, sounds of surging waves open COUNTLESS WHITE MOONS in a misty indefiniteness, yet held together charmingly by Akira Kosemura’s luminous piano. The elusive narration in LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS tells of a deliberate escape from the passage of time with a folkloric enchantress who wordlessly casts her spells. In GENSEI, April Lee relates an unspoken anguish in her tender, wavering vibrato while Janis Crunch’s somber piano and chorus vocals loom like a harbinger of death. The last chapter TWINKLING FALL, the second track to feature haruka nakamura, now shuts the drawer of secrets, dissipated monochrome colours restored once again to full bloom. -

The purpose of a fable is to illustrate a lesson, often moral in character, with concision and a kind of dreamlike colour. Fairies exist, animals take on human characteristics, rocks and plants speak; the whole universe comes alive with possibilities for story-telling and is channelled, through authorial intent, into a small, easily-digested nugget of ethical guidance.
When I think of fables, I think of magic, disbelief, and the impossible made possible. It’s probably telling that I also think of childhood. Fables hack into the child’s mind, exploiting the natural tendency towards fantasy and wonder in order to plant the seeds of society’s ideals of “right living”. I think that, in many ways, the oft-noble and morally certain lessons of fables can have a perverse and unsettling effect on young minds as they mature. The black and white certitudes of the fantastical and idealised neverland conjured up by these tales provide a backdrop against which reality casts confusing and confused light – moral choices become relative, means and ends become interchangeable, and situations never have clear resolutions. In uncertain times, we look back on the lessons of youth and how do we interpret them? Do we see them as our moral bedrock, our core principals? Or do we view them as society’s convenient lies; duplicitous in our inability to gain traction in the shifting sands of life?
With “A Little Fable”, Aspidistrafly have created an album which thankfully does not attempt to moralise or deliver life coaching in the manner of a folk-tinged Anthony Robbins lecturette. Instead , the album attempts to take the listener back to that child-like state of open-mindedness and preparedness for magic – that internal space in which the story of the fable unfolds, before the clumsy ‘lesson’ hits home.
The dreamworld of Aspidistrafly is characterised by whispered lullabies, delicate guitars, gently rippling textures, cascading pianos, and dancing string arrangements (that are a far cry from the ‘mournful cellos’ adorning the majority of music I surround myself with). There is not a disjointed mood or hint of a melancholic shadow falling across these tracks. Like the warm sun on your face, or the play of light across closed eyelids, there’s a delicate ephemerality at play here that allows the tracks to elude gravity and sprightfully shimmer around the listener.
Tracks exist between two worlds – whilst self-evidently rooted in the folk music traditions of yore, bridges are built to contemporary and more experimental modalities, evinced by the unobtrusive (but structurally integral) use of electronic textures, techniques, effects, samples and field recordings. This is, by no means, Tunng mark II though. The electronic flavours here are altogether more subtle – rarely “front and centre”, their role is primarily augmentative but simultaneously essential to the overall character, tone, and structure of the music. The interplay between traditional and modern techniques creates a beautiful and evocative mood which pervades the whole album.
I don’t know that there any standout tracks here – to this listener’s ears the quality of each track is consistent and to single out individual tracks for special mention is close to impossible. If anything, this might be some (very) mild criticism of the album; the mood is a little too consistently dreamlike or lullabilic. There’s an unremitting lightness to the tracks that I personally find a touch wearing. On repeat listens I end up not noticing the transition from one track to the next – a kind of auditory ‘snow-blindness’ wherein track differentiation becomes increasingly difficult. I put this down to my personal taste rather than any fault of the album – it’s not you, it’s me – my crushing internal descent into a pit of stomach-gnawing cynicism is not appropriately soundtracked by music this pretty.
“A Little Fable” is a beautiful nymph-like album, full of sweet and evocative tracks that transport the listener back to a primordially experiential state akin to the tabula rasa of a child’s framework for reality – a state open to possibilities, magic, and fantasy; a state wherein fables can assume the mantle of reality; a state that precedes the soul crushing disillusion and tedium that arises from having to deal with bills, work, people and politics on a daily basis. It’s a little pocket of escape, and if you need some, you should hear it. - John McCaffrey for Fluid Radio

Kitchen. sets the bar ever higher with two beautiful releases by Janis Crunch & Haruka Nakamura and Aspidistrafly. Each has much to recommend itself musically—no surprise there—but as striking is their presentation: the former's CD is packaged within a large-format customized box set that also includes a fold-out information sheet and four poster-sized collages by Sakura Sato; Aspidistrafly's A Little Fable is presented in a forty-eight-page art-book edition sporting a die-cut cover and featuring photographs and collages (by April Lee and Miu Nozaka) and lyrics.
Pitched as “12 songs for the peaceful winters of the world, and 1 song for your soul,” 12 & 1 Song actually came into being rather surreptitiously. During the winter of 2007, Crunch and Nakamura were working on material for his solo album Grace when, in the spirit of the season, they decided to try their hand at composing a Christmas carol, the lovely result eventually appearing as the last song on this winter-themed album. Nakamura's artistry has been showcased before, in particular on his solo albums Grace (Schole, 2008) and Twilight (Kitchen., 2010), while Crunch is a singer, composer, and classically trained pianist who has collaborated with Akira Kosemura and Aspidistrafly in addition to Nakamura. Of the two, it's Crunch who's the more prominent presence on the album, given that her singing and piano playing form the primary core of the duo's sound, with Nakamura's classical guitar and soundscape contributions acting more subliminally.
The album generally alternates between vocal songs and instrumentals, and its heartfelt tone is established immediately by Crunch's solo piano piece “Solitude,” which exudes a classical character that's equally stately and forlorn. The piano settings are typically elegant classical miniatures of melancholy and wistful character, whether it be the slow waltz “Foret” or “Requiem,” in which Crunch pays homage to Ravel. Her warm vocals grace a number of songs, including “Winter Story of Henry” and the stirring “Hymn,” where her choir-like voice appears amidst a field recording-based backdrop. As affecting are those songs where she sings in Japanese, in large part due to the songs' entrancing melodies. One of the few uptempo numbers is the high-spirited “Nuit,” where her multi-tracked voice glides over stop-start rhythms provided by Nakamura's acoustic guitar and percussive accents. Some songs play like those one might hear in a children's nursery (e.g., “Forche” with its sing-song electric piano melodies), whereas others exude an appealing innocence (the folk ballad “Insincere Love,” which accompanies Crunch's singing with Araki Shin's flute playing).
Appropriately enough, A Little Fable is not only presented in book-like form but also includes a Table of Contents and a wondrous, fairy tale-like narrative (involving a secluded hilltop cottage, an autumn forest, and rocky seashores) that stitches together its twelve songs. The second album by Aspidistrafly duo (and Kitchen. founders) April Lee and Ricks Ang is something special indeed, and not just because their contributions are enhanced by the talents of others, including Nakamura, Kosemura, and Crunch. It's a long-form serenade of delicate, organic sounds, primarily featuring whispered vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, and strings, and complemented by an array of time-worn textural detail.
Following a brief overture of mournful cello playing accompanied by harmonium and glockenspiel (“A Black-Necked Swan”), the mesmerizing “Landscape With a Fairy” appears, with Lee's delicate voice riding a graceful wave of piano sparkle (by Junya Yanagidaira) and soothing string figures. The magic and mystery of the forest fully blossoms during “Homeward Waltz” when nocturnal sounds of animals appear alongside her hushed vocal (“So where do you go / When the day is closed / Only the forest knows”), violins, and Seigen Tokuzawa's cello strokes. We move inside for “Cocina” where the clatter of coffee cups, spoons, and other kitchen noise accompanies vocal musings, tinkling piano (by Honagayoko), and flute, before Angs transports us to the outdoors for the solo setting “Sea of Glass,” a panoramic moodscape of reverberant guitar shadings and strums.
Especially stirring are serene vocal settings like “Countless White Moons,” where Lee's angelic singing is paired with Kosemura's graceful piano playing, and the ballad “Gensei,” which focuses primarily on Lee's tender vocal and Crunch's understated piano and chorus vocals. That the album ends with a lovely variation on “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” (here called “Twinkling Fall”) is fitting, given the lullaby-like nature of the recording's contents. As is often the case with such projects, one can give one's full attention to the story-line and absorb the narrative as the songs play, or one can simply let the music wash over one and let it work its magic that way. Even if one were to opt for the latter and set aside the somewhat surreal story, A Little Fable would still have a powerful impact. -

i hold a wish for you

“Ethereal froth scudding across the sky. The sunset cleanses today, leaving it glowing. Shining water, silent waves.”

“i hold a wish for you” is aspidistrafly’s anticipated first full album. Drawing references to Banana Yoshimoto’s literary classic “Moonlight Shadow”, aspidistrafly weaves through the solitary atmosphere of the novel with their own narratives inspired by several excursions outside the confines of their immediate surroundings.  This latest release invokes delicate moments with nine tracks that combine acoustic instrumentation across April’s warm vocal harmonies, soft floating textures and binaural field recordings.
“i hold a wish for you” is an invitation to travel with sound through lyrical melodies and pastoral sonic scapes, accompanied with artwork by April Lee and Kobe-based artist Rika M.

From Singapore, ASPIDISTRAFLY consists of composer and vocalist April Lee (b.1984) and producer Ricks Ang (b.1980). The duo play a flickeringly filmic mixture of ambient folk with gossamer-like vocal harmonies and guitar-based drone wrapped in a delicate lo-fi haziness. April’s beguiling artwork and lyrics also form the backbone of ASPIDISTRAFLY’s storytelling.  ASPIDISTRAFLY released their debut EP “The Ghost of Things” in 2004 in Singapore, followed by first full-length album “i hold a wish for you” (Kitchen. Label) in 2008 which gained much recognition and attention in Japan and Asia. In 2009, ASPIDISTRAFLY was invited to a 7-city tour around Asia which culminated in a headline show at SuperDeluxe in Tokyo. In December 2011, they released their second album “A LITTLE FABLE” (Kitchen. Label). A track from the album “Landscape With A Fairy” was selected as NPR Music’s Song Of The Day in March 2012. April’s distinctly smoky and melancholic tone has often been compared to Vashti Bunyan and Linda Perhacs by music publications worldwide. In the autumn of 2012, ASPIDISTRAFLY embarked on a successful 6 city tour of Japan.
The duo has collaborated with artists including with Kyo Ichinose, Akira Kosemura, honagayoko, ironomi, Seigen Tokuzawa and others.
April has most notably collaborated with haruka nakamura for which their track “twilight” was awarded “Single of the week” on iTunes Japan in 2010. In 2007, ASPIDISTRAFLY has also worked with renowned media artist Daito Manabe and Takayuki Fujimoto (dumbtype) on “Drift Net” by Singapore-based theatre group TheatreWorks.  Outside of ASPIDISTRAFLY, the duo also founded record label Kitchen. Label in 2008. As curator and producer, Ricks directs all Kitchen. Label releases and curates a repertory of sound and images that showcase a distinctive aesthetic vision, shared among ASPIDISTRAFLY and fellow label artists including haruka nakamura, FJORDNE, ironomi, Janis Crunch, Evade, Pill-Oh, Szymon Kaliski and others. Kitchen. Label has been widely recognized for their thoughtful approach to the design of their music releases, where visual storytelling and tactile sensitivity parallel with the music, garnering acclaim by publications such as Creative Review and The Wire. In Japan, the label’s music and vision has resonated greatly with their audience, leading to two sold-out label showcases at Sonorium and Waseda Scott Hall in 2010 and 2011


first ep



by haruka nakamura
2010.07.15 12. twilight


by Akira Kosemura
Schole Records SCH-013
2010.02.13 09. little dipper


by haruka nakamura
Schole Records SCH-004
2008.05.02 08. cielo

V.A /
rain and holidays vol.1 春待ち

2010.03.10 08. common colors
in the air

V.A /
songs of twilight

2010.03.25 14. common colors
in the air

V.A /
+65 Indie Underground

Universal Music Singapore
2009.12.22 CD1: 17. red toe nails

Tin Hat - the rain is a handsome animal (2012)

Elementi klezmera, tanga, jazza, bluesa.  
Obrade pjesama e. e. cummingsa.
Balade o oblacima na lišću. Teatralne, melankolične sahrane malih životnih stvari koje su nam preblizu da bi bile naše.


San Francisco-based quartet Tin Hat will release their sixth studio album, the rain is a handsome animal, August 28th on New Amsterdam Records. The 17-track song cycle is based on the visionary modernist poetry of American poet E.E. Cummings and, for the first time in the band’s history, centers largely around the remarkable singing of Tin Hat violinist Carla Kihlstedt. Each of the group’s members channeled their relationship with Cummings’ work to contribute their own unique pieces for the project, showcasing themselves as both imaginative composers as well as riveting performers. The resulting work is at once universally accessible and hard-to-define–drawing from both high and low art forms such as folk, classical, Americana, and countless other traditions–which, in essence, is exactly what makes the project emblematic of Tin Hat as well as Cummings’ work itself. The music of Tin Hat is born of the long-standing friendships and deep musical connections of members Carla Kihlstedt (violins, viola, voice), Mark Orton (acoustic guitar, dobro), Ben Goldberg (clarinets), and Rob Reich (accordion, piano). This sacred kinship is the reason handsome animal feels organically cohesive despite that each member took turns separately with the pen; each peice was collaboratively refined over the course of two years while the ensemble was on tour before being taken into the studio in May 2011. Although this isn’t Tin Hat’s first album featuring vocals (past vocalists have included Willie Nelson, Tom Waits, and Mike Patton in addition to Kihlstedt), it does mark the first time the group has focused a project almost entirely on Carla’s moving singing. Intimate, warm, and robust, her voice perfectly complements Cumming’s tough-minded words, all set to some of the most beautiful and ambitious compositions in the group’s history.
Cummings’ poetic language is a natural fit for Tin Hat’s aesthetic; some of his poems read like lyrics to folk songs, while others are spare and abstract, leaving ample room for musical interpretation. As such, some of the album’s pieces explore his poetic phrasing (such as Reich’s art-song so shy shy shy, which is written around a melodic transcription of Cummings’ own reading), or the way in which the lyrics display on the page (such as Goldberg’s stirring unchanging), while some are less direct meditations, such as the three instrumental works including Orton’s up beat, jazz-tinged title track. The album sways different ways, from Orton’s plaintive cry on buffalo bill and Reich’s catchy folk on if up’s the word, to the surreal setting made by Kihlstedt’s e-string violin on little i and Goldberg’s cinematic closer now (more near ourselves than we). But no matter where it turns, at its core the rain is a handsome animal resounds with the profoundly perfect union of these inspired minds, blurring the lines between composition and poem. -

While new to New Amsterdam Records, the San Francisco-based quartet Tin Hat isn't in itself a new project. Formed in in 1997 as Tin Hat Trio and then rechristened Tin Hat in 2004, the outfit had five albums under its collective belts prior to recording the song cycle the rain is a handsome animal. What separates the new release from the others, however, is that it's the first time a Tin Hat recording has largely oriented itself around the singing of violinist Carla Kihlstedt (even if past recordings have included vocals by Willie Nelson, Tom Waits, and Mike Patton in addition to Kihlstedt). The album's lyrics are derived from the poetry of e.e. cummings (yes, the famously lower-case poet), but there's no need to be scared off by the recording's literary connection.
cummings' words act as perfect springboards for the quartet's marvelous flights of fancy and invention. Four would appear to be the perfect number for this outfit, too: enough voices are present to produce a rich chamber sound—Kihlstedt, Mark Orton (acoustic guitar, dobro), Ben Goldberg (clarinets), and Rob Reich (accordion, piano) make up the outfit—but enough space is left to accommodate a clear separation between their individual sounds. Though guest horns and strings musicians appear on the recording (most conspicuously during “buffalo bill”), Tin Hat's quartet sound is a thing of beauty, combining as it does Kihlstedt's luscious strings with Orton's guitar, Goldberg's clarinet, and Reich's accordion. The elegant interplay between the instruments and vocals in “unchanging” makes it one of the album's most arresting moments, something helped along by the prominent role accorded Goldberg's contralto clarinet.
Elements of klezmer, tango, jazz, and even blues inform Tin Hat's music. Reich's playing on “a cloud on a leaf” calls to mind Piazzolla, while the interplay between Kihlstedt's strings and Goldberg's clarinets reveals Tin Hat's connection to klezmer and related musical forms. The intimate tone of the album is established at the outset when “a cloud on a leaf” presents a samba-slash-tango of the kind one would more likely encounter in a small cafe than formal concert hall. Kihlstedt's voice also humanizes the material by being less operatic and conservatory-like and more natural in its delivery, and she's certainly up to the vocal challenge, too, as the upward ascent she effortlessly scales in “2 little whos” makes clear.
The album ranges between dramatic ballads (the lilting “sweet spring,” with its remarkable violin-generated evocation of birdsong, and “human rind”), theatrical set-pieces (one could easily picture the Weill-esque “if up's the word” and “open his head” performed on some off-Broadway stage), a rapturous song of playful character (the charming “2 little whos”), and even a reasonably credible stab at raw country-blues (“anyone lived in a pretty how town”). A particularly beautiful moment emerges during the funereal dirge “buffalo bill” in the vocal line “and what I want to know is / how do you like your blue-boyed boy, Mister Death” that follows the declamatory horns episode.
The group's virtuosic command of their respective instruments is displayed throughout, but perhaps never more thrillingly than in the driving title track when the music fluidly oscillates between solo and ensemble passages. Each musician stands out but special mention must be made of Kihlstedt, given the ferocious violin playing she adds to the extended workout “the enormous room” and “grapefruit.” Anything but precious, the rain is a handsome animal impresses as a riveting and perfectly accessible collection whose seventeen songs reward repeated visits. -

Many composers have found inspiration in the work of poets, setting verse to music. For Tin Hat, an ensemble with deep Bay Area roots, the elliptical modernist poetry of e.e. cummings has revealed an entirely new side of a band already known for its vast array of influences.
In its first incarnation as Tin Hat Trio, the band experienced a good deal of internal dissension over whether or not to also showcase violinist Carla Kihlstedt as a vocalist. Founded in 1997 as a stylistically expansive instrumental ensemble, the group wasn't entirely averse to singers. Early albums featured guest appearances by the likes of Tom Waits and Willie Nelson. But the fear was that with Kihlstedt's rock star charisma, unleashing her vocals would knock Tin Hat's delicate balance askew.
Those anxieties weren't entirely misplaced. A 17-song cycle based on the syntax-bending poems of e.e. cummings, "the rain is a handsome animal"  (New Amsterdam Records) is Tin Hat's first album of new material in five years, and Kihlstedt's dramatic, profoundly expressive voice often grabs you by the throat.
The album is Tin Hat's latest literary endeavor, following 2007's The Sad Machinery of Spring, a project inspired by the hallucinatory writing of the doomed Polish Jewish artist Bruno Schulz.
"the rain is a handsome animal" features Tin Hat's new lineup, with Kihlstedt and fellow founder, guitarist Mark Orton, Berkeley clarinetist Ben Goldberg and the most recent addition, San Francisco pianist and accordionist Rob Reich. All four musicians contribute compositions, responding with humor, empathy and slippery lyricism to cummings' tricky, idiosyncratic use of language. In Goldberg's hands, the brief poem "2 little whos" feels like a romantic denouement from a Broadway musical that got lost on 52nd Street.
While Kihlstedt's vocals dominate the album, her violin work is as arresting as ever. But then, as a group, Tin Hat's musicianship is masterly throughout. Each piece is full of subtle and telling details, like the ominous rumble of Goldberg's contra alto clarinet on "unchanging," an arrangement that shadows cummings' unorthodox placement of the text on the page.
Tin Hat captures the seismic emotional swings of cummings' verse, delving both into his dark moods and his giddy flights, like "yes is a pleasant country," the album's closest brush with preciousness.
A beautifully constructed album that reveals more with each spin, "the rain" contains art songs and folk ballads, tango flourishes and jazzy grooves. And much like cummings' mercurial verse, it offers a surprise around every corner. - Andrew Gilbert

You be words and I’ll be music
Ain’t you heard that’s how they do it
You’re a poem when you’re on your own
I’ll try not to get in your way
But I’ve all the pretty poems I have known
Baby, you give me something to say

—Sondre Lerche, “Words and Music”
Poetry and music can be used as two different ways of saying the same thing. When I read a poem about any given topic—say, heartache—my reaction is usually different then when I listen to a song or album on the same topic. This may have to do with the different physiological processes involved in each activity, but attempting to reduce emotional events to biology is almost always unsatisfactory. If I feel like listening to a record as opposed to reading a book (I find it difficult to do both at times), I just feel it. There’s no real reason why.
Unlike me, some particularly deft composers (in this case Tin Hat) have a unique ability to merge these two art forms. Of course, poetry and vocal music aren’t far apart to begin with. The great epic poems were almost always accompanied by song when read in their time. Some of contemporary music’s best lyricists have the skills of great poets. In reading lyrics, they often only work as a part of a song rather than as standalone works of poetry, but even in those cases there is a natural poetic rhythm to lyrics that, when done right, carries a seriousness that’s wholly literary. For the rain is a handsome animal, Tin Hat have taken on a very serious literary challenge of their own: crafting 17 musical adaptations of the poetry of E. E. Cummings. Tin Hat, a group known for musical skill both virtuosic and organic, face a pretty lofty obstacle right from the get-go: How can they express their instrumental prowess without drowning out Cummings’ poetic language?
The success of the rain is a handsome animal is that they avoid that problem entirely. Most of these songs feel so natural that it’s hard to believe they weren’t written as lyrics first. One of the most memorable moments here is “buffalo bill,” where one of Cummings’ most wry lines (“Jesus he was a handsome man / And what I want to know is / How do you like your blueeyed boy Mr. Death?”) takes on an entirely different life. Very wisely, the musicians here decided not to handcuff themselves to the text. None of these songs read like a predictable take on the source poems; the music flows naturally with the words. The only real flaw with these interpretations is how many there are; at 17 tracks, this runs a little long, and while there’s little here that’s bad, some editorial oversight could have made this a more powerful listen. As it stands, the album tends to require you come back to it in several different listens. By making Cummings’ poetry the primary subject, Tin Hat necessarily require the listener to do some reading, whether to see how they came up with these compositions or if the listener could see a different musical interpretation for the words. the rain is a handsome animal is a feat in its successful union of poetry and music without the dilution of either one, but since the source material comes from such a well-respected poet, one must also look outward to the primary sources.

As far as virtuosity is concerned, Tin Hat continue to impress. With this being their sixth studio effort, they’ve had plenty of room to mature as performers, and this is undoubtedly their most assured work yet. A refined, beautiful Parisian quality underlies many of the songs; the two openers, “a cloud on a leaf” and the title track, are intricate, jazz-inflected pieces that carry all the grace associated with the City of Lights. The latter song is especially impressive, and in a surprising turn it’s the best song here despite its wordlessness (It’s one of the few instrumental cuts present). Tin Hat’s style is like the union of a classical chamber quartet and a jazz-fusion group: elegant, technically uncompromising, and at times blistering in its fret-burning. This incredible skill alone, however, isn’t what makes this their best recording yet. The fact that I came away from the rain is a handsome animal both impressed by the musicianship I just heard and with a deeper understanding of a great poet is a testament to the high quality of this release. Cummings may be a great who can stand alone on the merit of his words, but Tin Hat have given him incredible things to say. - Brice Ezell

Ten years ago, whilst sitting in my cold and leaky garden flat by the sea, I switched on the radio and heard what sounded like a violin dancing with a broken mattress. The sound turned out to be a tune entitled Fountain of Youth by the Tin Hat Trio. I was hooked and, over the next decade, I stuffed my record collection with everything the trio released; from the eerie chamber music of MEMORY IS AN ELEPHANT and HELIUM, via the malformed western swing of THE RODEO ERODED, to the haunting insert-genre-here of BOOK OF SILK and THE SAD MACHINERY OF SPRING.
Surreal, otherworldly, usually instrumental though often accompanied by the vocals of violinist Carla Kihlstedt or such eminent guests as Tom Waits and Willie Nelson, the Tin Hat Trio – known as Tin Hat since the departure of accordionist Rob Burger – have been defying categorisation for fifteen years with a steady stream of weirdly unique, though always exquisite, records.
Billing the project as their most ambitious to date, Tin Hat have just released THE RAIN IS A HANDSOME ANIMAL – a seventeen movement song-cycle using as lyrics the poetry of e.e.cummings.
Employing the usual, spine-tingling blend of accordion, clarinet, guitar and violin, the band have, once again, tinkered with the mechanisms of jazz, classical and European folk to produce the usual captivating monster that is their unparalleled brand of chamber music. This time, however, Carla Kihlstedt breathes life into the deformed marionette with her wispy, ethereal vocals and the unpredictable modernist poetry of the perpetually lower case e.e. cummings.
Like their 2007 outing THE SAD MACHINERY OF SPRING, which was inspired by the writings of Bruno Shulz, Tin Hat's THE RAIN IS A HANDSOME ANIMAL presents another perfect marriage – that of the band's dark and chilling acoustic sound with the words of a troubled artist. And whether you're approaching this album as a Tin Hat devotee, a cummings reader or someone with a penchant for the musically extraordinary, you'll be thoroughly entertained and nourished by the record's spirited inventiveness and mischievous charm. - Liam Wilkinson

A poet since the age of 8‚ Edward Estlin Cummings literally made his name by eschewing standard forms of syntax‚ grammar‚ and even authorship. He was imprisoned for suspicion of treason in World War I -- essentially because he preferred hanging out with French soldiers instead of the other members of his ambulance unit. Although perceived as a radical and a bohemian‚ he became a Republican in later life and supported Joe McCarthy's witch hunts. In short‚ Cummings did what he wanted‚ said what he wanted‚ and wrote what (and how) he wanted. Tin Hat and e.e. cummings were made for each other.
Cummings loved Paris‚ living there for two years and returning many times afterwards. As such‚ Paris is where Tin Hat starts‚ infusing the opener "a cloud on a leaf" with the unmistakable sound of Django Reinhardt's legendary Quintette du Hot Club de France. Although Carla Kihlstedt's violin work is utterly different from Stéphane Grappelli‚ her unique vocal style actually dovetails with the Hot Club sound on Ben Goldberg's deconstruction of Cummings' "speaking of love." That sound makes frequent appearances throughout the rain is a handsome animal: Mark Orton's guitar and Rob Reich's accordion drive the title track down the same road Reinhardt's classic "Rhythm Futur" traveled‚ with Goldberg's romping clarinet acting as a whimsical‚ wailing car horn. Reich also adds a touch of Parisian romance to "two little who's." However‚ Goldberg's "unchanging" turns the lights down on the Club‚ going deeper and darker than Reinhardt ever went.
Because she literally brings Cummings' verse to life‚ Kihlstedt is the de facto star of this riveting date. Her voice floats about on "unchanging" like the falling snowflake that inspired the poem‚ and her interpretation of the verse "this is a girl who died in her mind" sets the haunting tone for the dystopian "human rind." Although every player comes strong throughout the disc‚ Kihlstedt's violin is a huge presence‚ whether she's painting a screen of soft rain on "diminutive" or literally making her instrument cry on the mournful "grapefruit."
Tin Hat is pigeonholed as an avant-classical outfit‚ and there are strong aspects of that sub-genre in the frightening free sections of Reich's "the enormous room." But Tin Hat's got big ears‚ and they listen to a lot of stuff. Kihlstedt's unconventional love song "sweet spring" has elements of Coldplay and Joni Mitchell; the funereal brass choir on Orton's "buffalo bill" evokes recent recordings by David Binney and John Scofield; Orton's dobro makes "anyone lived in a pretty how town" into an alt-country song‚ and if Tin Hat played the two-note vamp on "enormous" through a stack of Marshall amps‚ they'd have heavy-metal fans screaming their lungs out.
Tin Hat doesn't do background music‚ just like e.e. cummings didn't write nursery rhymes. Both the group and the poet should be viewed head-on and digested at length. Like I said: A match made in heaven… or France‚ whichever. And if the lower-case titles disturb you‚ just pretend Cummings' caps-lock is broken. - J Hunter

Foreign Legion (BAG Production)

Tin Hat
Ara Anderson – trumpet, pump organ, piano, glockenspiel
Ben Goldberg – clarinet, contralto clarinet
Carla Kihlstedt – violin, voice
Mark Orton – guitar, dobro
With Special Guests:
Matthias Bossi – percussion

The Sad Machinery of Spring (Hannibal/Rykodisc)

Tin Hat
Ara Anderson – trumpet, baritone horn, pump organ, toy piano, celeste
Ben Goldberg – clarinet, alto clarinet, contralto clarinet
Carla Kihlstedt – violin, viola, trumpet violin, voice, celeste, bowed vibes
Mark Orton – guitar, dobro, banjo, pump organ, prepared piano, percussion, bass harmonica
Zeena Parkins – harp
Featuring Marika Hughes on cello (tr. 5)

Book of Silk (Ropeadope)

Tin Hat Trio
Rob Burger – accordion, piano, prepared piano, toy piano, field organ, celesete
Carla Kihlstedt – violin, viola, trumpet violin, voice
Mark Orton – guitar, prepared guitar, dobro, banjo
With Special Guests:
Matthias Bossi – percussion
Amanda Lawrence – viola
Jill McClelland Coykendall – clarinets
Lori Presthus – cello

The Rodeo Eroded (Ropeadope)

Tin Hat Trio
Rob Burger – accordion, piano, prepared piano, toy piano, field organ, celesete, harmonicas
Carla Kihlstedt – violin, viola, trumpet violin, voice
Mark Orton – guitar, prepared guitar, dobro, banjo
With Special Guests:
Willie Nelson – vocals
Jon Fishman – drums, percussion
Billy Martin – percussion
Bryan Smith – tuba
Zeena Parkins – harp
Jill McClelland – coykendall – clarinet
Ben Goldberg – base clarinet
Marika Hughes – cello
Todd Sikafoose – bass
Pat Campbell – drums

Helium (Angel/EMI)

Tin Hat Trio
Rob Burger – accordion, pump organ, prepared piano, base harmonica, marxophone
Carla Kihlstedt – violin, viola
Mark Orton – guitar, dobro, banjo
With Special Guests:
Tom Waits – vocals
Trevor Dunn – bass
Jon Evans – bass
Tom Yoder – trombone
Marika Hughes – cello
Pat Campbell – percussion, trombone
Andy Borger – drums
Beverly Wachtel – saw

Memory is an Elephant (Angel/EMI)

Tin Hat Trio
Rob Burger – accordion, pump organ, toy piano
Carla Kihlstedt – violin, viola
Mark Orton – guitar, banjo, mandolin
With Special Guests:
Mike Patton – vocals
Trevor Dunn – bass
Ben Goldberg – clarinets


“Modern melancholy, modern jubilation, modern swagger and modern volatility – for the last few years Tin Hat has reminded us that things aren’t exactly as they used to be.  Tin Hat makes it up as it goes, and dodges the commonplace like the plague.  Call them wordless torch songs for the new millennium, and hold out your hand.  They’ll introduce you to an emotion or two you’ve yet to experience.” Downbeat

“It’s an all-encompassing American tableau with melodies both strange and beautiful.” ~Associated Press

“…integrates all manner of music, tango to rural Americana to European chamber–by now a too-familiar move. But what makes them so appealing is the way they find deeper connections in all the sounds, rather than opting for the usual post-mod avoidance of meaning; their eclecticism draws you in instead of pushing you away.” Seattle Weekly

“Their haunting and strangely familiar music…is a soundtrack for the kind of puzzling dream which leaves you sitting awake in the middle of the night…” ~The New Yorker

“Dreamily eclectic, the music is a deft soup of American folk melodies with middle-European hamishness, the high modernism of Stravinsky and Schoenberg with the brash, wise-guy jazz of Looney Tunes composer Carl Stalling and Raymond Scott. Familiar sounds bubble up and tickle the ear, then transmute into something witty, rich and strange.” Variety

“… strikes a perfect balance between antiquated and avant-garde. It defies classification on literally every level, sounding at once like the lost music of the late 1800s and like the pending music of the next millennium. It is erudite and timeless, inviting and elusive, unsettling and comforting, challenging and familiar.” Jambands .com

The Sad Machinery of Spring [is] their deepest, most beguiling work… amazingly accomplished and beautifully recorded… from a group of preternaturally talented musicians. Record of the year material, and it’s only January…” BBC

“Tin Hat Trio seem to exist on a plane far removed from the rest of modern music. Heedless of genre, era, and trend, the Trio have patiently spun their creaking, cinematic yarns… a sepia-toned, still-life dream that whispers with secretive, mournful passion.” Pitchfork Media

“…the evocative pleasures of a music that seems as if it lives – and has forever – down deep in the marrow of our bones, coaxed out in its haunting and ethereal glory via accordion, piano, pump organ, marxophone, harmonica, violin, viola, guitar, dobro, and banjo, by these inspired musicians… Listen to this CD three times through; in your sleep you’ll have dreams strange and old and wondrous … an odd, affecting, wonderful musical night.” The American Reporter

“(They) have created something warm, welcoming and entirely unique through their melding of the avant-garde with something much more familiar…”Rolling Stone

“…crackles with the improvisational savvy of jazz, but it is unclassifiable – like notes from some dusty heartland attic, restored and polished to a high sheen…a marvel of intimate chemistry and resourceful orchestration.” The Philadelphia Inquirer

“…this remarkable quintet of multi-instrumentalists create a series of measured vignettes that brilliantly mix the familiar with the bizarre. Founder members Carla Kihlstedt – fulsomely melodic on violin – and ultra-sharp rhythm guitarist Mark Orton are here augmented by harp and an instrumental assortment that includes wheezy harmoniums, querulous trumpets and plaintive clarinets. Unhurried tempos add to an underlying feeling of uncertainty, creating a genuinely surrealist musical soundscape.” Financial Times, London

“Forget the definitions, and simply think of the music of the Tin Hat Trio as compelling entertainment, rich with whimsy, imagination and intelligence.” The Los Angeles Times

Marielle V. Jakobsons - Glass Canyon (2012)

Ne stakleni kanjon, nego kanjon staklom iskopan u muzici Philipa Glassa.

I can’t help but listen to Glass Canyon, Marielle V. Jakobsons’s new solo album, visually. Frankly, Marielle’s images are intriguing: purple sands, crystal orchards, cobalt waters, dusty trails, albite breath, and shale hollows. The images find their consistency (as even purple finds its etymological origins in hard matter, a shell) in solidification or re-solidification (depending), and present themselves as aural sculptures — impermanence yearning for at least semi-permanence. Solidification only necessitates a holding of something in place, formed and for awhile. What’s held in place in each image, leaving aside the ‘problem’ of metonymy, is mutable nature. The act of holding itself is a tension between the synthetic and the organic: part artifice, part nature; part electronic, part acoustic. Marielle’s Twitter profile reads: “I make sounds with strings and electronics.”
Even as I claim that Marielle’s songs are aural sculptures, they’re not tableaux. The songs on Glass Canyon do very little to replicate the recognizable sounds of their titular images. In the first minutes of “Purple Sands,” you hear something like a breath or waves — a ‘natural’ sending out and then retracting. But as that subsides, so does any semblance of the world. Marielle hasn’t made an alien music, but neither has she made something thoroughly rooted, as noted above, in bioacoustics. (She’s not the first to do so and by no means the most abrasive in her divergence; in fact, it’s easy to call Glass Canyon an indisputably gorgeous and accessible album.)
The presence of the violin makes me want to use the word “classical,” but there is nothing particularly classical in the language of Glass Canyon. Likewise, ambient; no, the album is too engaged and too engaging. Instead, what Marielle has replicated, as Sean McCann and Troy Schafer alongside her have replicated, is the exuberance of nature, the subtle, superabundance of the given thing itself — never more showy than it needs to be and slightly estranged. Never totally contrasted and always subtly blended. The relationship between the violin and the electronics is, as I wrote above, a tension — both nervous and balanced — that finds itself on the cusp of losing the other.
And Glass Canyon is a frantic album. Quiet, quick beats barely emerge and swell in the deep. Although they don’t hold the entirety of the album in their tension, they come up sporadically as a reminder. One thinks of Liturgy’s ‘naturalistic’ “burst beat,” only Marielle’s beats, which are more natural, have the weight and intensity of a pulse: they are more felt than heard, and shape rather than force an image. To hold something means that it’s capable of going away: water, flora, the body, space itself. Maybe the last one is a bit of a stretch, but what is sculpture if not an attempt to interrogate and fill space, even with the memories of space itself? -

Oakland-based violinist and sound-artist Marielle Jakobsons is one half of Date Palms and the excellent Myrmyr, whose Fire Star LP was one of the highlights of 2011. Glass Canyon is her first solo outing in a while, and finds her exploring the vast expanses and secret enclaves of the American landscape through a deceptively simple set up of synthesiser and violin. You might think you already own enough records along these droning, immersive lines - and so did we, until we fell head over heels for this beautifully produced, not to mention perfectly paced and sequenced album. 'Cobalt Waters' reminds us of the extraterrestrial distress signals of Motion Sickness Of Time Travel, but rendered more organically, while 'Crystal Orchard' explores Glass-style cycling strings with burbling electronics in a way that could hardly be called original, but is captivating all the same. 'Dust Trails' sounds like chugging 70s kosmische if it had arisen out of the prairies of the Midwest US rather than the arts labs of Cologne, Berlin and Dusseldorf. And if you've got an insatiable thirst for deep, dark, drone music then look no further than awesome closer 'Shale Hallows' - which comes over like a Lawrence English or a Fennesz given a subtly gothic edge. Trust us, this LP really does stand out from the pack - check the samples. - boomkat

What is it to experience the beautiful? Wittgenstein believed that when the eye sees something beautiful, the hand wants to draw it. Beauty seems to bring copies of itself into being. For Oakland-based sound artist and violinist Marielle V.Jakobsons, it seems the beautiful in nature is something that calls forth sound reproductions. Jakobsons’ first major work under her own name is a stripped down aural nakedness of synth and violin, to examine (as she has said herself) “where the two timbres meet.” The beauty-in-nature introduced through the six track titles, each combining colors with landscapes, along with the disc’s megacosm-inspired graphics implies a reproduction of the beautiful in nature.
In the positing of the two instruments against each other, there is a perpetual duplicating of a sound movement throughout the album. The first track, “Purple Sands,” introduces this duplication with a low threnodial synth and the flutter of iambic strings playfully teasing out the sleepy drone imitated throughout each track. For an unrecognizable nine minutes, the audience floats in a tranquil sea, reflecting the deep concentration and an attention to proficiency of the musician. This is sound design at its finest, the pacing perfection, and the mood inciting eternal artistic creation. For its entire dark semblance, each track carries the optimism of the natural and the breath-light touch of the beautiful.
With such deep attention to this beauty, and the recreation of a dance between two unusually partnered instruments, Jakobsons generates her own intrinsic musical laws. A good example is “Dusty Trails,” with the pulsing electronic murmur of the synth writhing and weaving through a traditional choral style string, until the end of the track when the synth pares down into a rapid metronomic whirr and the strings reduce to a high pitched solo lament, each moving within its own traditions and yet each sound reaching out for the other. The end of the track with its electric echoes and demented contortions evoke the beauty of each sound as it morphs into a new partnership.
The strings are electronically tainted, to bring them closer to the synthesized sound, but in the deft hands of Jakobsons, they never lose their vibrational impact. Jakobsons is as fine a synth player as she is violinist and it is her patience and her ability that allow the sounds to sit in layers upon each other, from the heady dominating chords on “Albite Breath” through to the belly-aching drone on “Shale Hollows.” The latter track is the final of the six and the most traditional drone of the bunch. One is almost tempted to call the sounds ambient, but they are too well crafted and too intricate to play to so light a description. This is a mood drawn from the beauty of nature and what seems to be a desire to reproduce that beauty. It achieves this indeterminate objective by revealing some fringe of sound that has previously been inaccessible to the rest of us. - Lisa Thatcher 

I absolutely loved Jakobsons' last solo album (Darwinsbitch's Ore), but her many collaborative releases since then have varied quite a bit in both style and quality.  Recently, however, she has been on a definite hot streak, as both Myrmyr's Fire Star and the Espvall/Jakobsons/Szelag album were pretty amazing.  Glass Canyon does not quite keep that impressive momentum going, but there are enough flashes of inspiration to make it an intermittently satisfying effort nonetheless.
Students of Decay
In characteristic fashion, this album marks the beginning of yet another new direction for Marielle: prominent use of synthesizers.  Unfortunately, I cannot help but find that exasperating, as synths are very much in vogue these days and their ubiquity is definitely wearing on me.  I am not some sort of crazed Luddite or anything, but a considerable part of Jakobsons' appeal for me was due to her organic intensity in a field so rife with laptops, synths, and artificiality.  As a result, Glass Canyon is quite a bit less distinctive than most of Marielle's other efforts.  Also, some of the more aberrant pieces just seem jarringly out of place: "Dusty Trails" sounds like burbling, candy-colored neo-krautrock and "Crystal Orchard" resembles a Futurist Aaron Copland (not a compliment).  It is hard to comprehend how they wound up sharing an album with something as slow-burning and menacing as "Shale Hollows," which is probably the album's finest sustained piece.
Fortunately, several of the album's other dark pieces are quite good too.  In particular, I loved the moment in "Albite Breath" when the thick, quavering synths give way to a mournful violin coda.  It is probably among the most moving passages in Jakobsons' entire oeuvre, actually.  A few great songs do not quite salvage the album though–Glass Canyon is ultimately too uneven and too simple to burrow very deeply into my psyche.  Part of that may be by design, as Marielle deliberately set out to make a stripped-down album in order to focus on the textural contrast between violin and synthesizer, but I do not think that she allowed that impulse a sufficient gestation period: too many of these songs are lean on strong melody and place too much faith in the appeal of buzzing, throbbing, and oscillating.
Normally, I would describe this sort of album as "a transitional effort," but Marielle's whole career has essentially been one unending transition and it is entirely possible that her next release will bear no resemblance to this at all.  I suppose occasional misfires are an inevitable occupational hazard that comes with constant reinvention and restless evolution.  Although I suspect much of my disappointment may be due to my unrealistically high expectations and my subjective bias against analog synth textures, I think I can safely say that this does not rank among Jakobsons' best work.  Existing fans will no doubt enjoy a few pieces, but the merely curious should go elsewhere. - Anthony D'Amico 

 You’re probably already familiar with Marielle Jakobsons’ without even realizing it. The kraut drone chanteuse has meddled with the best that the Bay-area experimental scene has to offer, circumventing collaborative sonic tides with Gregg Kowalski as Date Palms, Agnes Szelag as Myrmyr, and just about every notable west coast-drone specialist as Portraits. This isn’t Jakobsons’ first solo outing, having crafted confounding bits of epic sound as Darwinsbitch, but this does seem to be the coming out of in her own right, unassisted and unencumbered by other players. Every sound is her own, and the output has her name without any alteration or pseudonym.
Mixing atonal electronic textures and fill with high-minded strings and acoustics, Jakobsons takes claim to the darker yet beautiful side modern classical. Arp’s collaboration with Anthony Moore for RVNG Intl.’s consistent FRKWYS series could serve as a sonic compatriot, but those pieces meddled with a playfully childlike curiosity for inspiration. Mixing isolating string-induced tones with electronic sifts, static and noise, Jakobsons’ palette reaches far and wide both geographically and temporally.  Sonics a la the original  krautrock spacial travelers collide with dark drone experimentalists for a confounding version of modern classical.
Glass Canyon starts unassumingly enough with “Purple Sands,” a piece that balances extremes of light and dark, under and over saturation, and fragility and sturdiness, effectively establishing the template for other pieces to follow. Just as Jakobsons’ material on Date Palms’ excellent Of Pslams, the songs take their time to unfold and progress naturally. On “Crystal Orchard,” the eagerly pensive strings of Arthur Russell and Sophie Trudeau paint elegantly broad swatches of emotion, again playing on juxtaposition. Cycles of melody quicken and slow while bubbly synth noise a la Jeff Witscher unsettle things just a bit.
“Cobalt Waters” reveals Jakobsons’ hand as a tried and true purveyor of early electronics, this time channeling Raymond Scott and Daphne Oram with heavy emphasis on atmosphere and tension. Halfway through the piece, the synthetic squall dissolves into an epically desolate scene with icy strings and feedback, inducing chills via cinematic sound only Ben Frost seemed to have previously mastered.
The grimly beautiful sounds continue deep into the second half, staring with the deceivingly upbeat “Dusty Trails. An eager yet restrained cello and violin fight with a shroud if shimmering analog texture for emphasis, but end up proving the rhythm and pacing throughout. As the suite plays through, the narrative shifts and Jakobsons reigns the chaos down the jaggedly seamless run. Album closer “Shale Hollows” closes the album and acts as the most straightforward drone piece here. Much like loscil’s aquatic subtonal tones or Pulse Emitters’ haunted, alien broadcasts, the bass and tones seem otherworldly but also completely human. Touches of color and blips of noise create a mise-en-scène that captivates and destroys everything in its wake. - Bobby Power

Glass Canyon, the second of Marielle V Jakobsons’ solo releases but the first under her own name - as opposed to last year’s debut Ore, released under the notable moniker of ‘Darwinsbitch’ - is third in a line of major releases from Jakobsons this year; yet if one compares it to musical efforts far longer in the making, you find that this release sounds no less sonically planned - that is, every nuance of the music lends itself to the track and (most importantly) the overall atmosphere of the release - without losing that vital, ‘moving’ energy that only music made alongside other things (Jakobsons’ two solo projects, ‘Date Palms’ and ‘Myrmyr’ have both had releases this year) can seem to latch onto, and channel.
Opener Purple Sands quickly encapsulates the dual nature of the album’s sounds - throbbing, minimal bass synth noise, over which effects-laden violin arcs and cries, under the sounds of high up winds. At just under nine minutes, it may appear to be a hefty undertaking for an opening track, but Jakobsons’ ability to rein her music in to really allow the impact of what she is doing before releasing it to build into new landscapes makes her pieces almost akin to orchestral works, comprising of many smaller movements that are built upon and advanced continuously over time.
Indeed, the dichotomy present in Jakobsons’ sound palette could, at first glance, appear to be risky in that the worlds of dense, synthesised noise and the violin have, perhaps in the past, appeared to be rather mutually exclusive. Yet within Glass Canyon, this exclusivity seems to disappear, with - although admittedly somewhat processed - violin sounds not meshing with, but instead building upon a foundation of synth in a seamless fashion. Yet this makes the release sound very two dimensional. Jakobsons’ skills as a synth player are not to, in any way, be considered as secondary to her violin playing - indeed, the playing on the release ranges from beautiful, crushed- organic layers of sound on Crystal Orchard to what could potentially morph into the beginning of an early acid-house record on Cobalt Waters, before again becoming the underlying current upon which delayed, swarming snippets of violin melody are fleetingly placed, before decaying into glitches and static fragments.
Closing with fuzzed-out, low voltage throbs of beautiful synth piano on Shale Hollows, Jakobsons out does all previous efforts in this release - a trend that will hopefully continue, in both solo and collaborative outings, far into the future. - Max Hampshire

subota, 29. prosinca 2012.

Daniel Fishkind - kako danas slušamo

Koliko se zapravo i kako sjećamo muzike koju smo preslušali? Dobar album, ali ne bih sad baš poludio. Svidio mi se početak ali  ne mogu se sjetiti kako zvuči. Ne znam, možda mi se svidjela jedna stvar...

Fishkind raskriva kako funkcionira naša percepcija muzike u doba daunlodiranog obilja - brzog slušanja i još bržeg donošenja procjena.

(Fishkindov ukus i procjene u ovom slučaju uopće nisu važni.)

All the Albums that Have Been Released in 2011 Thus Far that I Have Downloaded Illegally (with Commentary)

936 – Peaking Lights → I like this, but I’m not gonna get all excited about it.
A I A : Alien Observer – Grouper → This seems like alien music maybe? Just kidding, but am I? I think I liked this.
A I A : Dream Loss – Grouper → This is the same as the other one, right?
All Eternals Deck – The Mountain Goats → Forgettable. Forgiveable.
Angels Exodus – Lil B → Can’t go wrong, but also… can’t remember listening to this ever. Still seems good.
Apocalypse – Bill Callahan → One of my favorite albums of the year. Very funny, very smart. Excellent songwriting by a consistently excellent songwriter. Listened to this walking from East Village to West Village several mornings. Really good music videos.

Asleep on the Floodplain – Six Organs of Admittance → Never listened to this.
Batman – Lower Dens → Really liked the music video that went along with this. Good single, but I forget what it sounds like.
Belong – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart → Despite being a stupidly named band, this album is all right, but also sort of annoying. Ya… feel… me…
The Best of Gloucester – Danielson → Danielson has a new album. It sounds like other Danielson albums. Pretty funny, hehe.
Black Up – Shabazz Palaces → Not as good as the “myster[ious]” EPs, but pretty good. Best beats of the year, not sure about the best delivery. Cool website though.
Bon Iver, Bon Iver – Bon Iver → Really huge step forward for the old Boner. That first album was all whiny and stuff, and this is like happier whining with trumpets and stuff. I like it.
Boy Friend EP – Boy Friend → This sucked I think.
Bricksquad Mafia – Brick Squad → It seems unclear whether the mixtape title is styled “Bricksquad Mafia” or “Brick Squad Mafia.” Can’t recall anything about this album. Just seems nice and tight.
By the Hedge – Minks → I listened to this album walking on Bond St. between Bowery and Lafayette, and probably other places too. I liked listening to this album. There are parts with good talking and nice bass. Good to feel tired too I think.
Cape Dory – Tennis → This was cheesy and cutesy like whatever. I liked parts of it I guess.
Cherish the Light Years – Cold Cave → Not bad but like whatever.
Civilian – Wye Oak → Don’t remember ever listening to this, but it seems I listened to this. I assume I don’t like it.
Cloud Nothings – Cloud Nothings → Never listened to this.
Collected By Itself: 2006-2009 – Blank Dogs → Never listened to this either.
Cults – Cults → Cheesy and pretty bad, but okay in ways I guess, but probably not.
D – White Denim → Man… just whatever I guess. I think I liked one song maybe.
David Comes to Life – Fucked Up → Really damn good shit. Best Fucked Up album I’d say. I went to see them and the side of my face touched that lead singer’s fat sweaty hairy belly. This is supposedly a rock opera, but I can’t figure out the story. I’ve listened to this album mostly in the car and once when planting basil in the rain. They say David a lot in the album, and I’m David.
Deerhoof vs. Evil – Deerhoof → Never listened to this… for some reason…
Dr. Lecter – Action Bronson → Completely genius, best hip hop record of 2011 thus far. Sounds like Ghostface, but it’s a white guy with red hair from Queens. Really awesome music videos and vibe. Once he retweeted one of my tweets.
Dye It Blonde – Smith Westerns → I think I liked this, but now I don’t care about this. I listened to it on my way to get pastrami in the Lower East Side.
An Empty Bliss Beyond This World – Caretaker  → I think I liked this but only listened to it once and I think there weren’t any words in the songs.
EP – Childish Gambino → Funny maybe in a bad way probably.
Eye Contact – Gang Gang Dance → Downloaded this and was like whatever and then deleted it when I was doing a mass clean of my iTunes and then heard one of my friends say he liked it so I redownloaded this and danced to it. Then I listened to it at work, and it’s still just okay… ya know…
The Flaming Lips with Neon Indian - The Flaming Lips with Neon Indian → This was pretty bad…
Go Tell Fire to the Mountain – WU LYF → Really enjoyable. Really good website. I listened to this a lot when I first downloaded it. Maybe I’ll listen to it more soon.
Goblin – Tyler, The Creater → Probably the biggest letdown of the year. Not bad really, but so underwhelming. Demonstrates the lack of growth and effort in OFWGKTA since they’re impressive breakout onto “the scene” last year. Dude seems wack.
Goodbye Bread – Ty Segall → Good but not great.
He Gets Me High – Dum Dum Girls → Bad.
Headbangers In Ecstacy – Puro Instinct → Middle of the road.
Helplessness Blues - Fleet Foxes → Better than their first album, which was pretty damn good, which means this album is pretty damn gooder, but for some reason I don’t ever feel like listening to it. I imagine them being upset with Bon Iver for being better at sad/happy cabin folk dude music.
Holy Ghost! – Holy Ghost! → Supposedly this album was good, but I don’t remember wanting to listen to it ever, especially after listening to it.
Hot Sauce Committee Part Two – Beastie Boys → I like the first song on the record a lot. The music video/short film was pretty funny and, more importantly, easy to watch.
House of Balloons – The Weeknd → One of the best albums of the year. Really good samples and lyrics and moan sounds. Seems humble and powerful. Free download on artist website, so I guess I didn’t download it illegally, but oh well… it seems like I did because I downloaded it from Mediafire, not the website.
I’m Gay – Lil B → Great. Haven’t listened to all of this, but that doesn’t seem to matter because it won’t change my opinion. Dude redefines language. “Words don’t mean shit.”
Illusions of Grandeur – Lil B → Not as good as I’m Gay, but like, hey, still come on, still Lil B.
Island Brothers – Bonnie “Prince” Billie → Seems I listened to this but also seems like I didn’t, oh well.
James Blake – James Blake → Dude redefines dubstep, covers Feist. I like this music video he has where everyone spits in a bowl and then a girl drinks it. Hehe. But yeah, the album is good and surprising, and also happens to be surprisingly good.
The Journey To The 5th Echelon – The Jet Age of Tomorrow → Whatever. Just sayin’. I don’t have much to say.
Just Once EP - How to Dress Well → I think I liked some of this that I heard, but I might’ve just convinced myself of that.
Kaputt – Destroyer → Best album of the year thus far in my opinion. Dan Bejar destroys it. Dude brings it to a new level. I guess he also has like a doppelganger or something. But I mean, saw them live after really loving the album a lot and it was unimpressive. Still though, as an album… really awesome.
Keep – Animal Collective → This shit is so forgettable that I forgot about it. It was like for a shoe company. I think I liked the Panda Bear song though.
The King of Limbs – Radiohead → I’m a big Radiohead fan, and this was a good album, but mostly everyone just remixed the “Lotus Flower” video and then forgot about it, and I’m not gonna lie, I’ve only listened to this once since its initial hype/release.
Kiss Each Other Clean – Iron & Wine → Man, this sucked.
Leave Home - The Men → My friend told me to download this, and I did, and I started to listen to the first song twice, but it’s a long first song and it starts slow, so I haven’t finished it yet, but one day…
Let England Shake – PJ Harvey → This is all right/okay.
The Magic Place - Julianna Barwick → I enjoyed this, but I don’t care about listening to it again.
New Brigade – Iceage → This seems not bad but overrated I guess. It’s punk I think.
No Color – The Dodos → I never listened to this album.
Noble Savage – Maria Minerva → I liked this I guess, but I don’t care.
Nostalgia/Ultra – Frank Ocean → This is the best Odd Future release of 2011 thus far, lol.
The People’s Key - Bright Eyes → This sucked a lot if I remember correctly.
Pleasure – Pure X → I don’t remember listening to this, but I want to listen to this.
Ravedeath, 1972 – Tim Hecker → Lol, this sounds like a good name for an album. I don’t remember it, but I want to.
Return of 4Eva – Big K.R.I.T. → I listened to the beginning of this while I was walking to get my boots fixed on St. Marks. I don’t remember what it was like.
The Rip Tide – Beirut → Beirut has a new album. It seems the same the same as their other albums, which means it seems good, not bad.
Rome – Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi → Pretty bad.
Shapeshifting – Young Galaxy → I think I liked this when I first heard it, but I don’t ever think I’ll listen to it again. Damn. I’ve written this a lot today. Music is forgettable/disposable. These bands and albums and stuff are just getting thrown under the bus by me, and they don’t deserve it. I bet they have something to offer to the world, but nothing to offer me. I’m so sorry. Please forgive me. You’re good people, and it’s not your fault that nobody cares about or remembers your music.
Share the Joy – Vivian Girls → This probably sucked.
Smoke Ring for My Halo – Kurt Vile → Didn’t like this, but it seems like everyone else did, so maybe I should listen to this again. Does anyone have a reason why I should care about Kurt Vile?
Sound Kapital - Handsome Furs → This sounds like the name of the band.
Space City Kicks – Robert Pollard → Oh whatever, come on. It’s like, you know. He makes too many albums. This was pointless.
Stay Home – The Beets → This was kind of shitty if I recall correctly, but not bad.
Summer Is Forever – Wavves/Best Coast/No Joy → This probably sucked, but I don’t remember and I’m afraid to ever try.
Tallinn at Dawn – Maria Minerva → She had another album I guess. I like how the cover looks like a cassette thing folded out. I think I liked this better than the other one. She’s got a cool apathy face, huh?
Terra – Julian Lynch → I like this dude. I liked this album. I forget what this album sounds like, but I’m sure I like it.
Tomboy – Panda Bear → This is one of the best albums of the year, but not the best album of the year. It was basically a bunch of expectations and singles that did their job and made me fairly happy. The songs that weren’t singles are forgettable. The rest of it is really solid. Pandy just announced a deluxe box set to go along with it, for those interested.
Underneath the Pine – Toro Y Moi → Big step forward for the Toro dude. Feel happy for him and his chill ass retro vibes.
w h o k i l l – tUnE-yArDs → Seems obvious that any band that stylized their album title and band name this way would suck a lot. This album sucks a lot. I can’t say how much it sucks. I deleted it soon after downloading.
We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves – John Maus → Very excellent. Funny and emotional and dark. Sounds like Ariel Pink with a deep voice and a lot of baggage. Biggest surprise of the year thus far for me.
What a Pleasure – Beach Fossils → I think I liked part of this at one point but can’t remember what it sounds like. I’m sure it sounds like beachy or something.
Widowspeak – Widowspeak → I actually downloaded this album on my girlfriend’s computer in the kitchen while her brother made us pepper and mozzarella sandwiches. I was pretty disappointed because it’s boring and because I saw them open for The Soft Moon in Brooklyn and was like “this band seems cool” but the album seemed not bad but more like come on dude whatever bro seriously. Maybe I’ll download it again, but I probably won’t listen to it again.
Wit’s End - Cass McCombs → I liked this a good amount.
Within and Without – Washed Out → Washed Out released an album that sounds worse than his singles and EPs, but not that bad, but not that good.
A Young Person’s Guide to Mark McGuire – Mark McGuire → I never listened.
Yuck – Yuck → This was supposedly a big thing in England, and it was compared to Pavement, but really it wasn’t like that, and there were a few good songs, but not strong enough to listen to all the songs like an album.
Zonoscope – Cut Copy → This is really good. Funny sort of but in a great way. I listened to it walking on West 4th St. imagining that it was the theme music to a new age version of Miami Vice with better critical reception, etc. The song “Pharaohs & Pyramids” is featured in a video I made at some point.