David Lynch remixes Zola Jesus (Soundcloud)

In the first evidence of what will purportedly be an ongoing collaboration in 2012, David Lynch has remixed the Zola Jesus track “In Your Nature” (Soundcloud stream below). The song first appeared on ZJ’s 2011 LP Conatus.

Zola Jesus – In Your Nature (David Lynch Remix) by sacredbones

“In Your Nature” will be available 2/21/12 via Sacred Bones digitally and as a vinyl 7″. Zola Jesus is also on tour (dates below).

Zola Jesus Tour Dates:

Jan 19 Sao Paulo, Brazil- Clash Club [w/ Talk Normal]

Feb 01 Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom [w/ Talk Normal]

Feb 03 Austin, TX – Parish [w/ Talk Normal]

Feb 04 New Orleans, LA – One Eyed Jacks [w/ Talk Normal]

Feb 06 Tampa, FL – Crowbar [w/ Talk Normal]

Feb 08 Orlando, FL -The Social [w/ Talk Normal]

Feb 09 Miami, FL – Bardot [w/ Talk Normal]

Feb 10 Birmingham, AL – Bottletree [w/ Talk Normal]

Feb 13 Knoxville, TN – Pilot Light [w/ Talk Normal]

Feb 14 Asheville, NC – Grey Eagle Tavern [w/ Talk Normal]

Feb 16 Washington, DC – U Street Music Hall [w/ Talk Normal]

Feb 17 Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer [w/ Talk Normal]

Feb 18 New York City, NY – Webster Hall [w/Liturgy, Talk Normal]

Feb 20 Cincinatti, OH- Contemporary Arts Center

Feb 21 Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall [w/Chris Connelly, Talk Normal]
Feb 22 Grinnell, IA – Grinnell College [w/ Talk Normal]

Feb 23 St. Louis, MO – Luminary Arts [w/ Talk Normal]

Feb 24 Lawrence, KS – Granada [w/ Talk Normal]

Feb 25 Denver, CO - Larmier Lounge [w/ Talk Normal]

Feb 27 Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge [w/ Talk Normal]

Mar 01 San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall [w/Wymond Miles, Talk Normal]
Mar 02 Los Angeles, CA – Natural History Museum [w/EMA]
Mar 03 San Diego, CA – Casbah [w/ Talk Normal]

Notable in 2011: Tom Waits (CD Review)

Tom Waits

Bad as Me

Anti Records CD

Bad as Me, his first studio album in over seven years (the last was 2004′s Real Gone), is a musical homecoming of sorts for Tom Waits. While there are certainly plenty of songs that share affinity with various releases from throughout his body of work, from Frank’s Wild Years to Mule Variations to Alice, there’s also a conscious embrace of what one of my friends called “Hollywood Tom Waits.” By that, he meant the early years of Waits’s career, when he was both a Beatnik bard and aspiring film composer (and actor); one who’d duet with Crystal Gayle and collaborate with Bette Midler. The years before Waits’s persona became  larger than life. And before he began to work with longtime partner and collaborator Kathleen Brennan. Brennan, a playwright, would urge and enable Waits to plumb the dramatic depths of his songwriting craft. So, pre-1983; pre-Swordfishtrombones. Brennan is still listed as coauthor on all the songs on Bad as Me, and the lyric narratives remain taut and clever. But she seems willing to take this stroll down memory lane with her partner.

And while calling Bad as Me “Hollywood Tom Waits” could have been leveled as a criticism, connoting a step backwards or a more superficial creative process, one needn’t – indeed shouldn’t – take it that way. Instead, it can be reckoned as a rapprochement between Waits’s latter day experimentation and some of the features of his earlier work: supple melodic writing, a penchant for good hooks and compact structures, and an ambiguous approach toward emoting: one that often leaves the audience unsure of whether he’s being satirical or on the level.

Thus it often is on Bad as Me as well. Waits can sing the refrain from Auld Lang Syne on “New Year’s Eve,” the album closer, without it seeming bathetic or mawkish. He can croon an ostensibly sentimental ballad like “Last Leaf” in a duet with Keith Richards (a longtime collaborator if a larger than life legend in his own right). But the sandpaper swoops of their combined voices make the performance’s bald emoting seem earnest, hardworn, andearned; a careworn moment of vulnerability rather than two old hands blubbering into their beers.

There’s plenty of edge and ebullient polystylistic experimentation on the CD too. While Waits recruits  new band members to the fold – his son Casey Waits plays drums and Red Hot Chili Peppers’s bassist Flea plays bass on couple of tracks, a number of others are longtime collaborators. Marc Ribot and Larry Taylor create an angular backdrop for the barnstorming blues of “Raised Right Man.” David Hidalgo joins Ribot, Taylor, the younger Waits, and a horn section in the rollicking rockabilly of “Get Lost.” The title cut finds Waits channeling Screaming Jay Hawkins, abetted by saucy baritone sax and Ribot outlining an off kilter yet catchy tango rhythm. Things get stranger still on “Face to the Highway, ” a song that recreates the blurred edges of many a cut on 2002′s beguiling Waits record Alice. And “Hell Broke Luce” is a Harry Partch percussion-enabled howling and rap with motoric pulsations that ultimately devolves into skronk cum circus music. It’s easily the track on Bad as Me that displays the most avant attitude.

One is not only impressed with the suavely chameleon character of the CD’s supporting cast, but with a similar vocal suppleness from Waits himself. Not only can he still inhabit all sorts of characters, but the dynamic range he brings to bear, from delicate falsetto and hushed whispers to infernal rasping, bellowed sprechstimme and screams that, for less durable singers, would likely be polyp inducing. All in the service of a baker’s dozen of songs of equally durable quality; ones that can stand beside some of the best material in his catalog to date. Long live Tom Waits.

Neon Marshmallow featured on Experimental 1/2 Hour

Portland cable access show “Experimental 1/2 Hour” did a special episode devoted to Chicago’s Neon Marshmallow Festival. Altered Zones is sharing it via Vimeo (embed below).

While I couldn’t make it out to Chicago for the shows (which were 6/10-6/12 at the Empty Bottle), I spent a great deal of the weekend grooving in solidarity to a cassette comp of some of the fest’s featured acts. You can still get one over at the festival’s site: 80 minutes of unreleased tracks for $6!

It’s great to see “out pop’s” ascent continue well beyond the temporary fad stage. Hopefully, more enduring attention will allow for experimentation to remain artistically vital and commercially viable. Who knows, maybe it’ll make more mainstream artists open their ears and up their game?

Experimental ½ Hour – Neon Marshmallow Fest 2011 Special Edition ft. Operative & Luis Gonzalez/Andy Quitter from Experimental ½ Hour on Vimeo.