November 1, 2011

Cabbage rock!

Ever wonder? The debate continues. There's some good discussion in the comment section of that article, as well as a link to a BBC documentary on kraut rock ya'll should check out.

Moving on... This month's installment is another round up of the musix I've been trippin' on all year, not just the best (the very best of the year installment comes in January, of course) but the most heavy rotation, to use an antiquated expression, and some of the acts that have been getting the most exposure right here on the SRC of late. Funny, but they mostly seem to be of the swoony, woozy, drifty, dreamy, hazy, spacey variety, as opposed to, say, more formalist structures like prog rock or post rock. Maybe this stuff is a surrogate for the hallucinogens I don't indulge in (anymore)...? This is music that takes you to a higher plane. Well, I guess that's what all spacerock is about, innit? This set also features a couple-few collaborations made in heaven for the discerning spacerocker - read on!

Barn Owl is a San Francisco "drone duo" that specializes in minimalist meditations via guitar and harmonium that manage to sound maximal, a real wall-of-sound for just two instrumentalists. The late, great Magnog took the soft-focus psych explorations of bands like Flying Saucer Attack and applied them to improvs, most of them many times more lengthy than the brief sample included here. The appropriately oblique moniker Implodes pretty well sums up their sound, all blurred lines and disorienting fuzz like a vaguely menacing acid experience.

The set takes a turn for the more linear with a couple of my recent fave neo-shoegazers, the dream-pop inflected MBV worshipers The Black Ryder, and the Madchester-ish space grooves (think mid-period Primal Scream) of The Oscillation. An obvious direction to continue in here would be some of the motorik-influenced artists I've come across recently (kosmiche is making a komeback!). Lo-fi traditionalists Wet Hair cruise down the well-traveled autobahn that defines the genre (but less robotic and more shamanic, in a Jim Morrison vein). As I've mentioned in past installments, Woods has a penchant for the random instrumental jam that nods to kraut rock and might seem incongruous with their usual oeuvre of fey freak-folk... but these jams rock! Mysterious instruMENTALists Gnod and monsters of psych White Hills both dabble in the motorik realm, and they derive an entire album's worth on this perfectly matched collaboration, apparently not their first either (although I have been unable to verify the existence of the first one). All Tiny Creatures inhabit some of the same terrain as the previous acts but they are both more experimental and texturally complex while simultaneously bringing a pop-orientation similar to their sometime compatriot, Bon Iver's Justin Vernon. Even psychedelic troubadour Kelley Stoltz seems to be enamored of the genre, at least in the case of this example of what could be called garage motorik.

And now for something completely different... I had to transition somehow, and what better than a Crazyhorse-sized psychedelic power ballad from freaky sometimes-folkies MV & EE (also technically a collaboration, between Matt Valentine and Erika Elder, but they pretty much always record as a duo)? An epic guitar barnburner works pretty much anywhere. Psychedelic in name only, but still off-kilter enough to be included here, Psychedelic Horseshit traffics in self-described "shitgaze", a spoof on the term shoegaze but obviously quite apt as well. Since we seem to be headed toward a rocktronica segment (even though the Horseshit dude is usually much more primitive garage rock than on this track), how about some 70s-soundtrack analog-synthrawk (think Moroder or latter day Tangerine Dream) from retrofuturists Zombi? Or the robot rhythms (can they possibly be human?) of avant art/spazzrockers Battles, and who better to take a turn on vocals with them than the cyborg godfather Gary Numan? Talk about an apropo collab.

Speaking of dream collaborations, look no further than ballistic Portland psych-proggers (did I say no prog in this set?) Eternal Tapestry and cosmic Long Beach guitar noodler Sun Araw. And did I say no post rock? Okay, I lied: Parlour harken back to the era of Louisville (yes, Kentucky - think Slint or Rodan) math/post rock and actually feature lesser known players from that scene. Despite what I wrote earlier, there has been some great post rock recently and I've included a couple examples of it here. Explosions In The Sky, some of the founding fathers (along with Mogwai and Mono) of the quiet-loud-LOUDER-LOUDER STILL-IMPOSSIBLY LOUD dynamics exploiters, and their kissin' cousin (they're not related but they sound a lot alike) Caspian.

Shifting gears, yet again, for the end of the set. Bark Psychosis are the band being referred to when the rock writer coined the term post rock, but I don't think it really describes them, at least not in context with the other bands within the genre. To me they come closer to Portishead's dour/noir trip hop or enigmatic undefinables like Hood. Whatever it is, it's beyond rock, so maybe they do fit. Thurston Moore (do I really have to tell you he's one quarter of the guitar mangling glory that is Sonic Youth?) has done solo albums before, but they're usually far from the utterly unique interplay the postpunkers invented 30+ years ago. But this one manages to frame the style he developed in SY within the folk-ish acoustic arrangements of his other solo work. A perfect album from start to finish. And what more can be said about O.G. psychedelphians (they're from Philly) Bardo Pond? I mean, they still have a ton to tell, but their most recent album is so rewardingly prototypical of them they named it eponymously after all these years!

For you traditionalists who don't mind streaming from this site, the following tracks should appear in the first player below:

The Spacerock Continuum Theme - bRambles
Awakening - Barn Owl - Ancestral Star
Ghost Squid - Magnog - More Weather
Marker - Implodes - Black Earth
To Never Know You - The Black Ryder - Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride
Gamelan Mindscape - The Oscillation - Out Of Phase
Echo Lady - Wet Hair - In Vogue Spirit
Out Of The Eye - Woods - Sun And Shade
Run-Around - Gnod & White Hills - Gnod Drop Out With White Hills II
Plankton March - All Tiny Creatures - Harbors
Mt. Fuji - Kelley Stoltz - Antique Glow
Wandering Nomad - MV & EE - Barn Nova
Revolution Wavers - Psychedelic Horseshit - Laced
Escape Velocity - Zombi - Escape Velocity
My Machines - Battles (w/Gary Numan) - Gloss Drop
Night Gallery II - Eternal Tapestry & Sun Araw - Night Gallery
Distractor - Parlour - Googler
Trembling Hands - Explosions In The Sky - Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
Malacoda - Caspian - Tertia
Shapeshifting - Bark Psychosis - Codename: Dustsucker
Orchard Street - Thurston Moore - Demolished Thoughts
The Stars Behind - Bardo Pond - s/t

But don't forget, you now have the option of spacerock to go:

1. Click on the Kadoo logo instead of pushing the play button in the player below.

2. Click "download" when redirected to the Divshare site.

3. Once downloaded drag it to yer iTunes and sync it with yer pod - simple!