The Perusal #17: Requiem & Simon McCorry, Kaukolampi, Rhombus Index, Taras Bulba…

July 19, 2021

A Look At What’s Out There by Dominic Valvona

THE SINGLES/TRACKS/VIDEOS SELECTION:

Motorists  ‘Through To You’
(We Are Time)  Out There Now

Jangling towards the sound of power pop, with excursions to the golden age of Athens, Georgia, the Toronto-based Motorists channel a disarming melodious, infectious miscellaneous of R.E.M., The Weather Prophets, Guadalcanal Diary, The Three O’ Clock, Teenage Fanclub and fellow Canadians, Sloan on their ‘preview type’ showcase, ‘Through To You’. Dropping in the long lead up to the trio’s debut album Surrounded (released on the 3rd September) as an sort of introduction statement of intent, the rather marvelous underground paisley chimed and driving gentle, winding rocker certainly gets my seal of approval.

‘Through to You’ we’re told, is a song about ‘a yearning to connect with other people, attempting to peel back the curtain of solitude that has engulfed us over the last 15 months or so. Written during the first lockdown, when hope for a bit of familiarity was starting to blossom, it zeroes in on the desire to feel close to someone without having to speak a word.’ We can all relate to that.

Speaking about the song, Motorists guitarist/vocalist Craig Fahner (flanked in this set up by Matt Learoyd on bass, and Jesse Locke on drums) has this to say: “It’s an unabashedly nostalgic song, both musically and lyrically. It’s about teenage love, fucking around in the summertime, and most of all, the joy of finding a shared language beyond words to connect with the people around you – a language that operates outside of the rigidity of everyday life.”

The video that accompanies it was created by Fahner and Michelle Lemay, and features the band performing live in-studio. It harkens back to the ’70s and ’80s German TV program Beat Club, which featured live performances from musicians playing against a backdrop of analog video psychedelia.

The rock ‘n’ roll tropes of getting away from it, escaping in a cult automobile – even if the realties of driving in an ever gridlocked world prove contrary to that myth -, are all in evidence as the band investigate the “isolation” of a “technologically saturated society, laden with romanticism around radical togetherness.” Expect a full review later this year when that album drops.

PTČ  ‘PAPAGAJ Ft. Vazz’
Out There Right Now

Yeah I know: Slovenian Hip-Hop, who’d have thought it! And yet it exists, and I can confirm it’s actually very good. This shortish skit from the Ljubljana based duo of PTČ is the last in a series of singles to drop from their upcoming debut album ‘NEKI TKO VSAKDAN’ (or Everyday Similes). Featuring fellow compatriot rapper Vazz, ‘PAPAGAJ’ features stark stanzas peppered over a playful but edgy hip-hop beat. The accompanying video visuals are said to combine ‘the bleakness of abandoned military hangars with youthful naivety’.

The much-contested Central European Republic gateway to the northern alpines, southern Balkans and east has seen its fair share of history and conflict; in the great break up of Yugoslavia in the 90s, Slovenia once more broke loose. Going through some the duo’s previous tracks, it seems they reinvent the Slavic culture of old and romanticised feudal traditions with low rider east coast American rap, R&B, Jeru The Damaja and the Wu-Tang Clan (amongst many others). The results of which provide a fresh new unique commentary on the contemporary; a whole different perspective. I implore you to check both them and Vazz out as soon as possible: you’ll thank me for it.

ALBUMS SELECTION:

Kaukolampi: We Jazz Reworks Vol.1
(We Jazz Records)  30th July 2021

Barely recognizable, the first ten albums from the Helsinki-based label We Jazz are transformed, transmogrified and taken to the outer limits of an ambiguous cosmos – a place, level, dimension where Pharoah Sanders breaks bread with the Drum Circus, Syrinx, Ariel Kalma, Amon Düül II and Madlib – in the first of a new series of outsider reinventions.

Fellow Finn and sonic force behind K-X-P, foil to Tuomo Puranen, Timo Kaukolampi is the inaugural artist to take on the challenge of reinventing that contemporary jazz imprint’s back catalogue. With complete freedom Kaukolampi has created an impressive, untethered kosmische, krautrock and abstract progressive jazz soundtrack in ten parts. Unveiled and performed originally at the We Jazz Festival showcase in 2018, but subsequently built upon on over several further studio sessions, this reworked venture frazzles, reverberates, effects, bends, pulls apart and samples bits and bobs from records by such roster acts as Alder Ego and the Bowman Trio, amongst others: though without any reference points in the notes it’s anyone’s guess as to what exact phrases, performances, drum breaks appear, reconstructed out in the expanses of an echoed space.

Saxophone trills mutate, float or snozzle in various ethers and on various planes, whilst the trinket tingles, resonated and splashed gongs and bells create a mystical atmosphere: a pathway to transcendence. Although divided into ten parts, each passage, traverse, experimental drama flows into the next, like one long continuous suite. Yet some parts traverse replenished insect chattering rainforests, whilst others touch upon satellites, comets and the unidentified objects of a cosmic courier galaxy. The drums however become staccato breaks in the fashion of UNKLE, or something from the Anticon and Mo Wax stables on the album’s biggest splurge of heavy beatmaking: ‘Part 8’.

Astronautically far out like a mysterious mirage, Kaukolampi’s adventures in We Jazz label transformation are extraordinary. New worlds merge from the source material, as a semblance of jazz is drawn, stretched out and strung out in a stellar and often supernatural exploration. If you thought the originals were already pretty experimental and on the fringes, then you’re in for a surprise with this treatment that take’s the label’s first ten albums to an entirely new level. At the moment We Jazz and its roster can do no wrong; easily one of the best jazz labels on the planet and beyond, as this experiment proves.

Requiem & Simon McCorry  ‘Critical; Mass’
(Hush Hush Records)  19th July 2021

An ambient neoclassical symphony of incipient drama, forebode and reflection, the Critical; Mass album from the transatlantic collaboration of Requiem and Simon McCorry emerges from the pandemic miasma of the last 18 months to move both the soul and mind.

Cinematic in scope despite the subtleties and minimalistic approach, this album’s trio of synthesized, electrified and acoustic suites transforms the growing concerns of our day and the specter of Covid into a deep, slow burning soundtrack that builds and builds towards swells of either esoteric unease or cathedral-in-the-sky arching beauty. 

The adroit ensemble behind this meeting of minds has enviable and wide-ranging form. No stranger to this blog, the highly prolific UK-based classically-trained cellist, composer and producer McCorry has worked across various arenas (from theatres to contemporary dance), whilst the Washington D.C. Requiem duo of Tristan Welch and Douglas Kallmeyer are both solo artists in their own right with varied backgrounds in experimentation to draw upon. Welch, when not sonically pushing the envelope as a guitarist, working his way from the diy noise and rock scenes of the US capital, works full-time as a funeral home director. Unsurprisingly this gives him a rather unique and close relationship to mortality. Welch’s foil, Kellmeyer, is a real multi-disciplinary musician with experience in playing bass, soundsystems, audio equipment, live mixing, production, and is also the ‘driving force’ behind the Verses Records label. If not busy enough, he’s also working with a range of human rights campaigns, including projects centered round the effects of music and PTSD awareness.

All this scope of experience is channeled into an album of semi-colon couplet related thoughts and expressive washes; steered evocatively by barely recognizable wanes, faints and concentrated brow stirred cello and guitar. Across three different multi-layered peregrinations, the trio tenderly and in airy translucence sky past clouds; place us amongst foggy shrouded beasts and leviathans; and gradually build towards a symphonic heavy atmosphere and shapeless ambient finale.

Unsettled drama and obscured anguish meet ambiguous reflections on a seriously good, moody collaboration: a minimalistic ambient, verging on the classical, soundtrack for the uncertainty of our present times.

Also Read:

Simon McCorry ‘Nature Is Nature

Simon McCorry  ‘(Premiere) Pieces Of Mind

Taras Bulba  ‘Sometimes The Night’
(Riot Season)  30th July 2021

Transducing a healthy miscellaneous diet of Kung-Fu horror flicks, David Lynch, Noir crime movies, Jean Cocteau and the works of the controversial, ‘seppuku’ committed, Japanese polymath Yukio Mishima into both the ethereal and a more raunchy, drugged and grinded rock ‘n’ roll, the former Earthling Society instigator Fred Laird unveils his lockdown preoccupations, influences on his third album, Sometimes The Night.

Laird, as you may know, called time on the liberal kool-aid swigging krautrock and acid psych Earthling Society a few years back. The band’s swansong was a madcap alternative soundtrack to a ridiculous psychedelic supernatural chop suey movie. This latest album kicks off with a congruous leftover from that last minor filmic opus, with another laughable sample from some Shaw Brothers or obscure Kung-Fu flick, before steaming and growling into something altogether different and transformed. For Laird, during the period of last summer and the beginning of this year, was also getting heavily into the self-recorded primal music of Hasil Adkins and Link Wray’s eponymous entitled first album for the Polydor label (that iconic cult favourite from 1971, which saw Wray donning Native Indian garb, marked the changing times and moods whilst staying close to roots and blues music).

Less cosmic, or psychedelic, and instead more salacious, with a penchant for the Bad Seeds, early Crime And The City Solution, The Cramps and servings of Wray and Bill Justis, Laird’s, sort of, solo outing is a darkly gothic laced version of 50s and early 60s rock ‘n’ roll horrors and druggy beat poetry era pastiche. Guitars are often skeletal or quivering in a Dick Dale fashion, whilst the piano offers up Nick Cave-like bar room blues and swag. Meanwhile a haunted organ replicates Gene Moore’s strange unnerving score for the cult Carnival Of Souls classic B-movie. A creeping gauze and heightened spell of the spooky seeps into the slinky, rowdy thickly laid on phantasm of post-punk blues.

Exceptions to the rule are made when Laird’s two guests show up: Vocalist Daisy Atkinson’s Lynchian like style diaphanous siren call from a shoegaze ether that’s part All About Eve, part Strawberry Switchblade on the Jean Cocteau dedication ‘Orphee’. On the surprising music change, big production job, ‘Sometimes The Night’, she offers a certain MBV like heavenly lush vocal over what could be a slow released epic by Spiritualized, or even the Besnard Lakes. Playing accentuated and melodic scaling romantic serenaded saxophone, Mike Blatchford provides the untethered and wafted to Laird’s more reverberated, phaser and whirlpool organ mysteries and grind on both the ‘The Big Duvall’ (dedicated to Andy Duvall of Carlton Melton infamy) and ‘House In The Snow’ tracks.    

Another change of musical scenery, ‘The Sound Of Waves’ is like a Japanese version of GOAT conjuring up the ritual rites to some Amicus production folk-psych Green Man – those waves incidentally, do appear much later, after a dose of Bamboo music fluted krautrock.

Funeral slumber lounge music meets blue Hawaii and Swans, whilst early Zombie invasion scores get swept into a heavy strung-out dirty vision of rock ‘n’ roll on an epic size, omnivorous devouring album. Sometimes The Night is an altogether different and enthralling adventure in dirge-y and more translucent esoteric music.

The Tape Recorders  ‘Wire’
(Somewherecold Records)  23rd July 2021

Inviting us all into the both literary and kosmische imbued dreams of The Tape Recorders’ Argentine author and music maker Gabriel Rojo, the analogue and synthesized throwback Wire album could be a missing concept from the old German Ohr (or even Sky Records) label. New age visions and vague hints of Klaus Schulze, the Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Mythos and Jean-Michel Jarre stir the emotions on Rojo’s debut album for the ever-expanding Somewherecold label. 

With additional encouragement, help from Mel Helmick (who provides extra atmospheric field recordings and touches, and the artwork) and Diego Masarotti (collaborating on the album’s pleading, confessional narrated filmic soundscape, ‘Why We Forgive’), the Buenos Aires sonic explorer brings the outside world, title references to philosophical journeyed literature, and a deep sense of mysterious forebode into his geometric pulsing dreams.

That ambient and neoclassical lucid state of dreaming features both cushioned melodies and more sonorous, deep looming synthesized bass. It also features messages, augers from the ether, and plenty of sprinkled Library music stardust, tubular beams and UFO wobbles.

Multi-layered vapours, rays and arpeggiators build curious horizons and mindscapes: from Tron-like life in the machine to contemplation. These kosmische-traveller peregrinations are littered with subtle movements; with real world motorbikes revving alongside the racing acceleration of imagined futuristic craft and various nodes.

Appearing at the middle mark of the dream that started this whole journey, the incredibly influential luminary John Cale makes an appearance. There’s no obvious reference to his music however, only the vague illusions to the more abstract uses of the viola.

Wire is a successful kosmische style flight into the imagination; an album that also channels South America’s own burgeoning adventures in electronic and analogue experimentation in the 70s; a dream cast traverse.

Antonello Perfetto & Greg Nieuwsma  ‘Aquarium’
(Submarine Broadcasting Co.)  Available Now

A fecund of experimental music has grown out of a Krakow hothouse in recent years, centered on the strange sounds of Sawak and the inventive Krautrock replicents Corticem. The latter’s last brilliant opus, Planetarium (which made my choice albums of 2020), was a bunker produced cosmology of Swans, the fa US t pairing of Jean-Hervé and Zappi Diermeir, Mythos, The Cosmic Range and Ash Ra Tempel. Many of those same names pop up on this new breakaway union of Corticem and Sawak band members: the Antonello Perfetto and Greg Nieuwsma collaboration.

Prompted by the loss of their previous shared rehearsal space and recording studio during the pandemic last year, the two set up an impromptu, rudimental space in Perfetto’s living room. Due to sharing their last one and various time constraints, most of the music was originally spontaneous, more improvised. But then a roomier studio became available, which meant that the duo’s aquatic themed new offering could be planned in advance for the first time. But though they wanted to keep within the same realms as the previous Planetarium epic, drummer Perfetto and his foil Nieuwsma decided to mess around with synthesizers: midi synching two synths together without any more than a basic understanding of these instruments.

‘Outside’ their comfort zones and inspired by avid book digger/collector Nieuwsma’s off-the-wall Fish Diseases: Diagnosis And Treatment read (mostly flicked through when seated on the bog), the sonic partnership submerged their heads beneath a cosmic-psych, krautrock and kosmische refracted aquarium.

What begins as a sort of joke ended up as a loose concept, with every track on this underwater misadventure named after some exotic or other fish: each signature different, the scope varied and always mysterious. The ‘Chocolate Frogmouth Catfish’ (which I can’t believe exists as anything but a fantastical dreamt up hybrid) for example, is represented by an odd Cajun banjo plucked shuffle and chorus of happy whistlers, whilst the ‘Green Terror’ is represented by Higamos Hogamos or Holy Fuck jamming it out. Some tracks offer floatation tank mindful drifts, and others, garbled, sporadic tangles of gnarled post-rock guitar and off-kilter drum splashes, hits and shimmers. Swimmingly eloping to an often alien fish tank archipelago where the Tangerine Dream merge with Hailu Mergia in an English fairytale horror (‘Black Parrot Cichild’), or, circular Wurlitzer’s spin a choral siren call of deep water mystique (‘Bleeding Heart Tetra’), the fruitful ideas bouncing duo with little knowledge of synths manage to create a psychedelic and avant-garde underwater opus.  

Rhombus Index  ‘Planar EP’
(See Blue Audio)  Available Now

Under the equilateral Rhombus Index moniker of anonymity, the mysterious Halifax producer behind the alias treads an ambient pathway through an inspired West Yorkshire landscape on their inaugural EP for the burgeoning Spain-based label, See Blue Audio.

With a series of previous EPs and soundtracks for several theatre productions on the resume, Rhombus Index’s Planar showcase is rich with suffused big scale panoramas and gravitas, and algorithmic incandescent bulbs and synth notes that dance like life-giving microbe forms under the microscope.

Method wise filed recordings and found sounds ‘sourced in the open spaces around’ that scenic countryside county, recorded just after heavy rainfall on a Spring day in 2019, are used as the foundation for further studio manipulation and transformation. This process creates something iridescent and deeply reflective: from the earth, the elements, yet somehow more mysteriously sensory: even spacey at times. ‘Node’ for instance, as it title suggests, has various signals and bleeps and piano notes cross, branch out from the fissures-in-the-fabric and hovering bass drone network: sounding like Basic Channel meets late the Tangerine Dream. ‘Leptusol’ may make reference to the soil – that title being a geological name for both very shallow soils over hard rock, or, deeper soil that’s extremely gravelly – but sonically and rhythmically there’s a swimming light breeze of the Balearics, and enervated hints of North Africa, on that enveloping patterned minimal electronic dance suite. Another scientific nature reference title is ‘Xylem’; one of two types of transport tissue found in vascular plants, which transports water from the roots to the stems and leaves, but also carries nutrients too. Ecology aside this finale features layers of transformed xylophone recordings, which overlap: some with an almost glassy texture, others, like an uninterrupted quickened trickle.  Over and in the centre you can hear tiny molecules playfully bobbing and travelling.

Close at times to Warp, and at others, the serial majesty and lightness of new classical ambient Roedelius, the Planar EP prompts a degree of deep reflection with contemplations at the enormity of it all. This is a slow brilliant ambient release of melodic calm and inspired wetted landscape observations that flows along with nature’s rhythms to convey the abstract.  

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

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