Friday, March 28, 2008

Trees Community

Our micro-blogosphere has been rightly buzzing with the news of the Ya Ho Wha 13's upcoming visit to NYC in April. K and B both have excellent posts dedicated to the lovely California commune/music group. All the excitement has reminded me of my own favorite 70's collective The Trees Community.
Founded in 1970 in New York City, Trees Community (or Trees as they are often cited) were a Christian musical commune that lived in an abandoned loft while rehearsing and recording in a basement space in St. John the Divine Cathedral. In 1971 they "embarked on a pilgrimage without a destination," traveling from church to church in a converted yellow school bus, spreading the good word and their joyous sounds.
I have a sweet place in my heart for Christian Psychedelic Folk, but their music really transcends that or any other category. Their 1975 album The Christ Tree has some of the most beautiful and sweeping harmonies imaginable, mixed with plenty of haunting free-folk freak outs. On their myspace page they list Balinese Music, Indian Classical Music, Claude Debussy, Terry Riley, and Steve Reich as some of their influences and upon first listen they are all too clear. While they incorporated over 80 instruments from around the world, sitar and harp arrangements figure prominently and to great affect. Rejoice!
PS: Some songs are posted on the myspace page linked above, but for a full copy go HERE

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Vision. Creation. Newsun

No frontin', life's sweetest pleasures are the most obvious and simple ones. As such, forgive me for speaking to two of them - Gorgeous weather and the music of the Boredoms.

If you are reading this you are most likely in the New York area and know what an absolutely perfect day it was yesterday; Bright bright sun and clear clear blue skies. While I have been talking about Spring a lot I believe yesterday was the first legitimate Spring day (Today being the second). Totally obvious and totally pleasurable.

Its a rare and special occasion when an entire album perfectly captures the spirit of the day, and yesterday that happened with the Boredoms 1999 album Vision - Creation - Newsun. After going to lunch at Egg with Molly and Julia, and taking a leisurely walk in the sun long enough to have my face feel all warm, putting the record on and pouring over every sound was like swimming in an ocean of shamanic psychedelia with the threat of land nowhere in sight. (Even the album cover, above, captured what yesterday felt like)

Surely the Boredoms aren't obvious in any conventional sense, but singing their praises feels quite vogue given that right now every significant band is so influenced by them (Dan Deacon, Health, Aa, Japanther, et al.). This is no bad thing especially given that to my knowledge it is unprecedented. Totally obvious and totally pleasurable.

While I love the Super Roots series and Super AE, I think Vision - Creation - Newsun is perfection. The record is more accessible and the Amon Duul II and CAN influences really shine through but I think it is really the spatial qualities that I love. Some of the Super Roots series can feel limited in so far as each song is a constant burst of energy. While conceptually thrilling, it falls flat in practice. There is a lot to be said for build up, tension, and release as opposed to just orgasm after orgasm which some of their records can feel like.

Obvious simple ecstasy. Please. Thank you!

Should you want to feel like I do, Peep THIS for a copy.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Evrysing's Throwed Birfday

Today, March 11th, is Evrysing's Birthday. I welcome any and all good wishes. Thus far it has been a great day, Kindling made me breakfast in bed (some lovely oatmeal with apples and blueberries!) and showered me with amazing presents!

Today is also the birthday of several notable individuals, including baseball pitching legend Dock Ellis. A talented pitcher for the Pirates, Yankees, and Texas Rangers, he is most known for a June 12, 1970 game where he pitched a no-hitter while on LSD, having taken it under the impression that he wasn't pitching that day.
Regarding this incredible summer day, Ellis has said this- "I can only remember bits and pieces of the game. I was psyched, I had a feeling of euphoria... The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large sometimes, sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn't."

In regards to the coming year and the larger 'game' I hope this describes my 28th year of life perfectly, with similar results (you know, metaphorically speaking and all) Happy Birthday Dock!
Speaking of Texas, today is also the birthday of hip hop artistic genius and grill seller Paul Wall. Anyone who knows me knows my deep passion for all things Chopped and Screwed, Slowed and Throwed, etc. so I won't go on too long. But Happy Birthday Paul! Chunk the Deuce!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Whisp'ring Ev'rywhere

It feels like at least once a week I find myself talking to someone and they ask "So what kind of music do you like?" A seemingly reasonable question but one I have long disdained. At this point I think I have mastered a facial expression wherein people quickly realize what an impossible question it is to answer fully. Truthfully I like everything but that negates the spirit of the inquiry.

Although I never get this far, to be more precise I am consistently most excited about music that is a highly skewed vision of Pop. I think any sounds I have really adored in my adult life have fit within that spectrum (Os Mutantes, Animal Collective, Fennesz' Endless Summer, Lee Hazlewood, The United States of America) The more exploratory moments feel so much more vivid when the point of departure is so familiar. As much as I love to immerse myself in a sea of noise from time to time, if everything is already so open there is nowhere to really go.

This also goes a long way in explaining my ambivalence towards Sonic Youth even while I admire them a great deal. Sure they flirt with Pop, but above all else they have put themselves in a place where they so fully embody the 'avant-garde' that in a certain conceptual sense, nothing happens in their music, nothing can be surprising, there are no fields to transcend. Of course there are always other reasons to listen but I find this striking. In stark contrast, when Justin Timberlake first utilized the sonic futurism of the Neptunes production, there was an underlying thrill that I have never seen the SY crew quiet match.

Perhaps 1970 witnessed the most skewed and sublime pop song in recent American history, from the Country music charts no less. A husband and wife duo, Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan reached #23 on the US Hot 100 list with Tennessee Bird Walk. The lyrics alone are genius- "Take away their feathers and the Birds will walk around in underwear / Take away their (whistle) and the Birds will have to whisper when they sing."

The other night Kindling and I had BS
and Kellyr over for dinner and we listened to the record in question. Brock suggested blogging it up and when I found this video I could not resist.

PS: This image is called 'Misty and Wolf'

The Sun is Always Setting Somewhere Else

Gut of the Quantifier

Tauba Auerbach, Barb Choit, Dan Estabrook, Tatiana Echeverri Fernandez, Brion Gysin, Lisa Oppenheim, Fred Sandback, Paul Sharits, Matt Sheridan Smith, Sue Tompkins

March 9 until April 20, 2008
Opening Reception: Sunday, March 9, 6-8 pm

As a warm up for the Series Finale of The Wire, please visit my friend Lisa Cooley's gallery this Sunday for the opening of a charming group exhibition Gut of the Quantifier. Included is the above work The Sun is Always Setting Somewhere Else by Lisa Oppenheim. Details can be found HERE

See you there!