One of the many reasons to love NPR: their stellar coverage of this year’s All Tomorrow’s Parties festival. A highlight at ATP 2011 was Oneida’s marathon free improv set. Titled “Ocropolis III” and clocking in at nearly eight hours in duration, the event featured a number of indie luminaries joining the band onstage: members of Yo La Tengo, Chavez, Portishead, Boredoms, and more.
In a generous gesture, NPR is sharing the entire set as a free download on their website.
They’ve been making music for a dozen years in their stomping grounds in Switzerland, but Trux Reverb, their latest record – out today via Static Cult – is getting the band Disco Doomsome stateside exposure. Recorded by Jim Roth of Build to Spill, it’s an audacious, thunderous, and relentless experimental rock record that’s light on the disco, heavy on the doom.
Check out the “case in point” below – an MP3 of album track “Star Drone” that the band was kind enough to let us post. And, if you’re at SXSW this week, see them live (dates below).
mar 16 – Austin, TX – BD Riley (SXSW)
mar 17 – Austin, TX – Backspin Record Store (SXSW – outdoor day party)
mar 18 – Austin, TX – Garden Show (SXSW)
mar 21 – Houston, TX – Super Happy Fun Land
mar 23 – Austin, TX – Ghost Room
mar 24 – Austin, TX – Club de Ville
mar 26 – Paris, TX – Bakery
mar 31 – Pioneertown, CA – Pappy & Harriets
apr 05 – Phoenix, AZ – Rogue Bar
apr 09 – Boise, ID – VAC
2011 has started off with a spate of releases. One of the CDs that should be eagerly anticipated is Napa Asylum by San Francisco garage/noise rock collective Sic Alps. It’s slated for release on 1/25/11 on the Drag City imprint.
There’s not an ounce of fat to be found here! Napa Asylum is full of punchy, often aphoristic songs that create a powerful impression. Most are around two and a half minutes long; the lengthiest 3’40″. But sometimes good things come in small packages; Sic Alps’ songs never suffer for being pithy. Indeed, among the 22 cuts here, there’s a surprising variety of sonic ambiences.
The band can turn from the slowly undulating fuzzy groove of “Eat Happy” to the psych pop inflected “Cement Surfboard,” reorienting their listeners on the turn of a dime. That this kaleidoscope of fast-changing styles can remain consistently engaging and never seem whiplash inducing is no mean feat. And at their best, Sic Alps potently combine heavy rock riffs and punctilious percussion with lithely delivered vocals: a delicious juxtaposition of demeanors.
Akron/Family is known for their explorations of alt-folk balladry, indie rock jams, and noisy experimentation. Their next album comes out next month and, by all accounts, it takes the band even deeper into sonic exploration, encompassing field recordings, homemade instruments, and microtonality.
Not only is A/F catholic in terms of musical influences, they’re also embracing a number of recording formats. Joyful Noise will be releasing the band’s new album S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT on cassette alongside Dead Oceans’ releases of the LP and CD. All formats will be released on February 8th.
Karl from Joyful Noise passed along this info about the cassette version:
The cassette edition of the album is pressed on high-quality purple tapes,
is limited to 500 hand-numbered copies, includes digital download (MP3 & FLAC), and full 8 panel artwork.
Who says cassettes are for the Eighties?
You can check out the album’s leadoff single “So it Goes,” below.
Swans disbanded way back in 1997, only to reform in 2010 to record a full length LP of new material entitled My Father will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky. In the interim, their members have been involved in various projects. Frontman Michael Gira has performed with some of the other members of Swans, as well as with various other collaborators, in the band Angels of Light and as a solo artist. Despite these and other creative outlets (Gira is also an accomplished writer and label head of Young God Records), one can readily understand why he might want to return to Swans, albeit a version that features core members of the group but also includes some new faces (including a guest appearance by Devendra Banhart). The material on My Father will Guide me…is tailor made for the collective’s sonic approach.
That approach is an unusual combination of strenuous, sometimes assaultive, noise and experimental rock elements coupled with a dystopian, disturbing, yet often poignant delicacy. Here, as on their previous recordings, these two patterns of music-making frequently coexist in the same piece. No-wave signatures and blistering distortion is sculpted into incendiary, powerful climaxes. Dulcimer, vibraphone, trumpet, and strings provide a counterweight to the heavily amplified guitars. When the latters’ torrential waves of sound recede, one is left with faint vocal echoes or the gentle tintinnabulation of chimes: unnerving reverberations that seldom provide a real sense of repose.
With My Father will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky, the Swans and Gira demonstrate that they are still fully capable of creating powerful and unnerving music. Is it strange that the renewed presence of this band’s gloomy and portentous sonic world seems reassuring? Maybe it’s because now we no longer have to wax nostalgic over Swans LPs from the distant past. Instead, listeners can revel in a venerable band that’s still creating formidable work.