October 27, 2013

Jim O'Rourke: "Steamroom 1".

Consisting of two instrumental tracks exploring O'Rourke's ongoing sonic experimentation, Steamroom 1 offers plenty for fans of ambient/minimalist drone - but decidedly little for fans of O'Rourke's signature, guitar-driven brand of chamber folk-rock a la Eureka or Insignificance.

Recorded at Steamroom Tokyo as part of an ongoing series of previously-unreleased material, Steamroom 1 comprises droning organs and feedbacking electric guitars in two lengthy installments - "Falling Wall" and "Previous Wall". The former slowly gains in volume amidst a sparse melange of guitar swells and organ drone, while the latter utilizes a single, repetitive octave shift in creating what might otherwise be misconstrued as a "melody" by O'Rourke's more mainstream followers. The resultant whole is an unorganized and self-serving sonic mutant of an album from our most beloved and humble X-Man of the indie rock scene, which doesn't at all mean there is anything here not to thoroughly enjoy.

Here's to O'Rourke's celebrated return; we look forward with possibly too much enthusiasm to hearing the remaining eight volumes of this mysterious series!

✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✩✩✩ | 7/10

Jim O'Rourke - Steamroom 1

October 23, 2013

Massimo Volume: "Aspettando i Barbari".

There's something truly desperate in the way Emidio Clementi delivers the climactic vocal lines in "Dio dell zecche":

"la moda di esibirsi travestiti
da operai!"
"la moda di fumare!"

Crudely translated, it's some balderdash about transvestites and the hipness of smoking, in high poetic, stream-of-consciousness hipsterese, lending one little to work with in correlating the weight of the subject matter with the weight of its pained delivery; nevertheless, there is desperation enough in this statement to cause a mental double-take, and just enough seediness to conjure a burgeoning Bukowski to mind.

While we're on the subject of counter-culture (or whatever), we might just go ahead and get it out of the way now: another post-rock release from a band who's been doing things unaltered since the mid-90s? Yes, but they're Italian. It's instantly more obscure.

That kind of talk gets us nowhere.

This is another solid release from a seasoned act out of Bologna who can be credited with the honorary title "proto-post-rock", although they lean more towards post-hardcore most of the time. The formula is there: tone and timbre over melody, eerie walls of delay, and lots of pizzicato guitar; yet, Massimo Volume does it with undeniable greatness. I suppose what is most refreshing about this band is their genuine catharsis amidst a massive scene of genuine emulators, plain and simple.

The quartet's October 2013 release Aspettando i Barbari is gripping, from start to finish. Notables include the album's opener, "Dio dell zecche", "La cena", and the title track "Aspettando i barbari" as fairly grooving, understated anthems of sort, as well as "Vic Chesnutt" - a dark "tribute" to the recently deceased paraplegic, complete with slide and distortion-generated emergency sirens - and "La notte", a superbly-melodic piece of post-rock, leading into the meandering and superbly-ambient piece of post-rock that is "Silvia Campagni".

Have a listen with us on Spotify, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comments section below!

✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✩✩  |  8/10

>>MASSIMO VOLUME - Aspettando i Barbari

October 20, 2013

Joel M.: "Yoruba".

Like an airship in 1897 over a mystified New England populace, my return hangs mysteriously over the music scene, granting those looking upward a rewarding listening experience - but largely unnoticed, and hardly recognized as fact by most.

This is the fate of the independent bedroom-rocker, and honestly, it has its rewards.

First off, one's career can wax and wane at leisure, with little to no repercussion; one is granted total freedom in the timeliness of each consecutive release and its contents, production value, instrumentation and artwork.

Second, the bedroom-rocker is not strapped for cash; this is because he or she works a day job, making their music career a side project. While this leaves little time for prolonged sessions of experimentation, post-production, or live performance, it guarantees two very important things:

1. Their music career will never become "work".
2. Their material is more likely to be gifted to their audience free of charge, because they are not supporting their label's lofty salaries, and find more joy and purpose in the process of creation than in the sales their material can amass them.

Perhaps, in short - the independent bedroom-rocker is the luckiest of all. The catch: with no label and no budget backing their material, they are more often than not doomed to absolute obscurity, cluttering up the loneliest corners of the over-saturated internet marketplace, or racked amongst other unknowns in the bargain bin at the local used music store. Paradise? Solitary? It's anyone's guess.

For me, such a fate has its definite advantages, but ultimately, as most artists would agree, it pains me in the deepest way possible - having no genuine fan base with whom I might exchange life and hope through music for loyalty and recognition. For the independent, this is the paycheck we long for. This is what we pray we might "fall into" at any given moment, when everyone is least expecting it. This is what every song is about.

It's much different than fame; we seek timelessness. The moment that even one fan writes of the ways in which our music has enriched their lives, and has become a staple amongst their collection - or perhaps even a desert island disc - is the moment our eulogy is written. While we may be waiters, flight attendants, directors, or CEOs, this is all we wish to be remembered for. It is the outpouring and artistic arrangement of our very essence as spiritual beings trapped in corporeal confinement.

Yoruba is available for $7 on BandCamp, but I'm also giving it away for free, as I do with all my releases. Have a listen one way or another, if you find the music worthwhile.

Joel M. - Yoruba

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