Sunday, March 31, 2013

Red, red wine

Hands and Knees - Red Hot Minnow

Hands and Knees' Red Hot Minnow leaves me with the same feeling I get after watching my children spend 10 hours climbing on furniture, cartwheeling down stairs, doing somersaults on the ceiling, swan-diving off top bunks, and perfecting the skill of sprinting full throttle while screaming at top volume: I am simultaneously jealous of and fatigued by their inexhaustible energy.

Hands and Knees play fast and loose, like on "Cemetery" and "Cool," but even when they're not playing fast and loose, they still manage to exude a vitality that enters the room with you and lifts you up by the armpits and twirls you around. "Pinwheel" features this exuberant, sloppy melody; if it played for an eternity it wouldn't be long enough. "Gracie" has bleating trumpet and foot-stomping, hand-clapping rhythms. "Dreamt" is representative of Hand and Knees' rather uncomplicated approach to their craft: well-constructed songs done with a lo-fi recording approach.

I began to imagine the album's recording process and how much of a fecking blast it must have been to undertake. Like, a bottle of red wine was passed around and band members drank straight from the bottle, crimson spots dotting their chins. Except for that one individual (probably the bassist; bassists are pointy-headed piss faucets) who wanted to pour the red wine into a cup; he was ultimately rewarded for his civility by having the wine slosh all over his shirt, a mishap that was a source of much laughter to those around him. Then the bottle went empty and during a song when a particular band member wasn't needed (again, probably the bassist), that person was ordered to walk the nine blocks to the liquor store to fetch more red wine. Which they did, quite contently.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"I can't concentrate"

Microflvrscnce - I
Patient Sounds #31

Listening to Microflvrscnce's I in the dark—an act that compels me to listen with more than the usual attentiveness, as well as bury my hands in crevices I wouldn't dare explore under the harsh eye of artificial light—I was reminded of an essay by Lauren Slater titled "Black Swans." Slater details her conflict with a severe case of obsessive-compulsive disorder and how her doctor's treatment plan includes desensitizing her to obsessive thoughts (in Slater's case, "I can't concentrate") through what is essentially tape loops. Slater's doctor instructs her to record herself saying "I can't concentrate I can't concentrate I can't concentrate" and then listen to those words on a Walkman for two hours a day. Eventually, she will become so accustomed to the interminable thoughts inking up the purity of consciousness that their potency will be diminished. Or her doctor theorizes. Slater eventually increases the tape loop dosage (increased volumes, four hours of listening), but the overall effect is not a cure for her disease, but instead, this (a physical reaction I experience after listening to I):
My sheets were damp from sweat ... Shadows whirled around. Planets sent down their lights, laying them across the blue floor. Blue. Silver. Space. I can't concentrate.
Microflvrscnce is Poland's Rob Skrzynski and America's Ross Devlin. Indulge in this; your body will react similarly.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Wonderfully tossed together

Pride of Lowell - Pride of Lowell
Dirty Pillows

Pride of Lowell is not in the song business—they're in the mindfuck business. Got that? The minimalist duo of Patrick Breiner (tenor saxophone, clarinet) and Max Goldman (drums) churn out maximum chaos. Each instrument complements and combats the other; horns woo drums, drums fuck horns, horns and drums squabble, drums and horns make up. I want to say the pair channel the spirit of James Chance or maybe Ornette Coleman, except it's not really channeling. It's more like strangling.

Pride of Lowell's punk-jazz improvisations sound wonderfully tossed together. Like a standard, linear song was written and then the individual notes were cut from the sheet music and assembled in random sequences and pasted to a piece of paper, so that the sheet music took on the appearance of a ransom note constructed from snipped-out magazine letters.

At one point, Breiner's tenor sax made a deep, flatulence-like sound that was akin to the air being slowly let out of the universe and I thought, "If this is it, if this is the end, I will expire content."