Rhys Chatham & His Guitar Trio All-Stars: "GUITAR TRIO IS MY LIFE"
Utilizing multiple electric guitars and a single chord, 1977's "Guitar Trio" is composer Rhys Chatham's signature work, and a euphoric, minimal-punk classic. Now, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of "Guitar Trio" on an epic scale, Chatham musters an all-star guitar army for the 3xCD set, "GUITAR TRIO IS MY LIFE!" The sprawling collection features members of Sonic Youth, Swans, Tortoise, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Hüsker Dü, Modern Lovers, Silver Mt. Zion, Town and Country, Die Kreutzen, 90-Day Men, Collections of Colonies of Bees, and many more; even Tony Conrad gets in on the act. Together these artists celebrate Chatham's wordless anthem, with its minimalist origins, rock & roll rhythm, ecstatic whorl of harmonics, and ever-evolving, ever-expanding nature. So, take a listen, and hear what one man can do with hundreds of guitars, 30 years, one chord, and a skyscraper of amps set to Liquefy. "Guitar Trio" endures.
V/A: A Field Guide to Table of the Elements (Southeast Edition)
Everybody loves a mystery. Generations of record collectors have spent valuable chunks of their lives poking through vinyl bins in search of unknown pleasures, or rambling though the piney woods with their ears cocked for a high, lonesome sound. Even revolutionary sounds can come and go with the scarcest trace. That's part of the power they hold over the ardent, would-be listener. The truth is out there.
Since 1993, Table of the Elements has spoken that truth, focusing on musicians whose light shimmers outside the frames of convention and registering the ripples of music that are too essential to die or dissolve into the common currency. It has prospected for the rarest sort of sonic lode, the uncut goods blessed with a hearty half-life. The label's 100-plus releases are a vital contemporary archive, a survey of meaningful eruptions across a broad horizon of improvised, experimental, minimal and outsider musics.
Here, on these two CDs, is a field guide to the essential Table of the Elements. This sampler is more than a summary of label highlights; the performances make a statement as bold as their visceral impact and as rich as the conceptual process that underpins their creation. It's the kind of music Table of the Elements is all about. It thrives outside the barricades, where no one else is looking. Where the truth is spoken.
Oren Ambarchi: A Final Kiss on Poisoned Cheeks
There is a vivid breadth to the guitar deconstructions of Australian Oren Ambarchi. Sometimes his work takes a delicate lilt; it can also dive into dark and deep pools of sound when he joins cowl-core ensembles Sunn O))) (with Stephen O'Malley) and Burial Chamber Trio (with Greg Anderson). Whether with those bands, solo, or in collaboration with luminaries ranging from Mike Patton and John Zorn to Christian Fennesz, he consistently reroutes his instrument into zones of arch, alien abstraction. A Final Kiss on Poisoned Cheeks offers a dizzying gaze straight into a chasm of extreme frequencies ? paint-peelingly high and bowel-churningly low ? all set atop a sub-strata of menace, angst, and contemplative beauty.
Rhys Chatham: An Angel Moves Too Fast to See
RHYS CHATHAM altered the DNA of rock. The New York-born composer began as a classically-trained prodigy, but by 1975, Chatham was fusing the overtone-drenched minimalism of John Cale and Tony Conrad with the relentless, elemental fury of the Ramones. It was an inspired amalgamation ? the textural intricacies of the avant-garde colliding with the visceral punch of electric guitar-slinging punk rock ? and with it Chatham created a new type of urban music. Raucous and ecstatic, this sound energized the downtown New York scene throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, prefigured the No Wave movement and cast a huge influence over the subsequent work of Chatham's many protégés, including Glenn Branca and future members of Sonic Youth.
However, by the late 1980s, Chatham was chafing against the logistical and financial constraints imposed upon him in the States; in his mind was a vast, unprecedented sound. Moving permanently from New York to Paris, Chatham began composing his masterpiece, a piece for one hundred electric guitars, electric bass and drums. The result, _An Angel Moves Too Fast to See_, is one of the most extraordinary works in the minimalist canon, one that demonstrates the majesty inherent in Chatham's amplified imagination. Now widely available for the first time, this lavish CD presents this sonic revolution in all its glory, and cements Chatham's reputation as a monolithic figure astride both rock and classical musics.
Zeena Parkins: Between the Whiles
Having collaborated with artists ranging from Sonic Youth to Yoko Ono to Bjork, Zeena Parkins proves it: The classical harp is really a rock 'n' roll instrument. Forget angelic choirs; Zeena is the Jimi Hendrix of the amplified harp. With more soar, shimmer, screech, whine and wail than ever before, her new album, Between the Whiles, hurls wildly into oscillating soundscapes, showcasing her artistic vision and technical versatility. The sonic scope is immense, and there's a lot to explore; dive deep, and you'll come up with some rare and eerie treasures. Liner notes by Terry de Castro of The Wedding Present.
Collections of Colonies of Bees: Birds
Collections of Colonies of Bees sweep in grandly, in billowing swarms of sound, bourn aloft on a thousand wings of minuscule, elegant detail. Guitars chime and soar; deft yet intensely focused percussion propels towards an inevitable dawn; covering it all is a gossamer veil of subtly nuanced electronica. Their CD Birds is joyous, epic minimalism in exquisite registration, a sound that is dazzling ? and as sweet as honey taken straight from the comb.
Collections of Colonies of Bees: Birds
NOW AVAILABLE ON VINYL!!! Collections of Colonies of Bees sweep in grandly, in billowing swarms of sound, bourn aloft on a thousand wings of minuscule, elegant detail. Guitars chime and soar; deft yet intensely focused percussion propels towards an inevitable dawn; covering it all is a gossamer veil of subtly nuanced electronica. Their CD Birds is joyous, epic minimalism in exquisite registration, a sound that is dazzling ? and as sweet as honey taken straight from the comb.
Tony Conrad: Bryant Park Moratorium Rally (1969)
An October afternoon in 1969. Midtown Manhattan. A rally in Bryant Park against the Vietnam War. Down 42nd Street towards Times Square, Tony Conrad is adjusting microphones in his 5th floor loft, one directed at the TV set - where it will pick up live local news coverage -- the other pointing out the window, where the echo of speeches and crowd noise mingles with the oceanic rush of crosstown traffic. As the event is about to begin, he rolls tape. Thirty-four years later, we hear what he heard. And the juncture, for so many reasons, could not be more critical. As the Bush Administration pursues a risky military agenda in the Middle East - one with unsettling long-term implications both at home and abroad - we see a nation not divided, as in the Vietnam Era, but strangely complacent. Our media-saturated reality functions like a drug, instantly televised warfare a new entertainment, and organized public dissent a novelty at home and a roaring chorus everywhere else. Conrad's recording of the Oct. 15 Vietnam Moratorium Rally is an eerie flashback that offers urgent new insights into our own lives and times, post-9/11 and full on into a new millennium.
Megafaun: Bury the Square
From the vibrant Southern quasi-capital of Durham emerge Megafaun, wearing earnestness across the chest and abstraction along the sleeves. They pour forth dulcet harmonies, as seeking vocals tug banjo lines up the Appalachian mountains; redemptive noise soaks everything, like thick air wafting from the Atlantic. Clawhammer banjo and strummed acoustics lock and roll with electric guitars and electronic textures. They realize that folk implies deep, personal, intense expression, whether the instrument is a parlor piano with the lid thrown back or a distortion pedal with the case cracked loose. In this band, orthodoxy and unorthodoxy flow together as one.
David Daniell: Coastal
Have you heard the raw, minimal howl that rises from the late-night, backwoods campfires at Table of the Elements? If so, you know the work of David Daniell -- even if you don't yet recognize the name. Daniell is the head of both of composer Rhys Chatham's current ensembles; he's the lead guitarist in Jonathan Kane's rollicking band, February; he performs regularly in a duo with Tortoise's Doug McCombs; he has collaborated with the Who's Who of today's finest, including Tim Barnes, Thurston Moore and Loren Connors; and his guitar work with his own band, San Agustin, is the stuff of which fleeting blues-drone dreams are made.
Following a long break after his debut solo release, Daniell now returns with _Coastal_. In all its variety, this record is a focused synthesis of influences. Tracks like "Sunfish" and "Glasswort" use acoustic guitar reminiscent of work by David Grubbs and Mountains, while the thick psychedelic morass of deep electric guitar, synth drone and scattered tribal percussion of "Whelk" brings to mind early Faust, and the long-form tone poem "Palmetto" is pure swirling electronic glacial beauty. Rooted in the blues, American minimalism and post-punk ideologies, Daniell's guitar playing is always inspired; when fused with his intricate electroacoustic compositions, the results are breathtaking.
Bernhard Guenter: Details Agrandis
Tony Conrad: Early Minimalism Vol. 1
In 1962 Tony Conrad's amplified strings introduced the sustained drone of just-intonation into what came to be known as "minimal" music. Utilizing long durations and precise pitch, he and his collaborators forged an aggressively mesmerising "Dream Music" ? denying the activity of composition, elaborating shared ideas of performance, and articulating the Big Bang of "minimalism". However, the many rehearsal and performance recordings from this period were repressed, inaccessibly buried.In 1987 Conrad set out on a ten-year return expedition to the site of these entombed fragments; from them he reconstructed and regenerated the epic EARLY MINIMALISM. Reaching back through time, Tony Conrad weaves a mobile narrative over and under minimalism: making music out of history, and history out of music.
Jonathan Kane: FEBRUARY
Jonathan Kane is a Downtown NYC legend -- as co-founder of the no-wave behemoth Swans, and the rhythmic thunder behind the massed-guitar armies of Rhys Chatham and the rock excursions of La Monte Young -- and one of the hardest-hitting drummers on the planet. With February, his first solo record, Kane summons Swans' concussive wallop, Chatham's dense guitar strata (Kane even manages a rollicking version of Chatham's notorious "Guitar Trio"), and the perpetual propulsion of 70s krautrockers Neu, then steers it all head-on into... the blues. Make no mistake about it: Kane is a bluesman, and beneath the high-decible bombast of these five instrumentals, he's powering guitar-driven minimalism into the blues, and the blues into guitar-driven harmonic maximalism. So roll with Jonathan Kane down his Highway 61 of the mind -- it's the shape of blues to come.
Ateleia: Formal Sleep
Ateleia is Brooklyn resident James Elliott. His music combines crystalline pulse with submerged aquatic drones and subtle ghost melodies. It's not so much oceanic as it is tide pool - the churn of the tidal impulse captured in miniature and crawling with activity. Evoking the grand echo of My Bloody Valentine and the long-standing tradition of psychedelic minimalism, but informed by contemporary electronic music, Formal Sleep is truly immersive. Featuring contributions by David Grubbs (Gastr del Sol), David Daniell (Rhys Chatham, Jonathan Kane), Jon Philpot (Presocratics, Bear In Heaven) and Sadek Bazaraa.
Neptune: Gong Lake
Behold: Neptune, the most harrowingly original band on this planet ? or the next. Its three members are, in turn, musicians, sculptors, scientists, blacksmiths, electricians, and industrial machinists; relentlessly inventive, possibly sane. Together, they construct all of their instruments, forging guitars and drums out of circular saw blades, gas tanks, oil drums, bike parts, VCR casings, and miscellany from the trash. Electronics, and even cords, are homemade as well. The combined effect is a bizarre, post-apocalyptic mélange of steel, iron, wire, rust, rivet, knob, and cable; it's lunacy, arc-welded for maximum destruction. Concerts are seizures of motion. Wearing 40-pound guitars assembled entirely from scrap metal, the members don't play their instruments ? they battle them, like mechanized golems. But make no mistake, this is not simply art with sharp edges and serious customs issues. Neptune rocks. Hard. Recalling the slapdash angularity of The Fall, the rhythmic ack-ack blasts of This Heat, and the sheer proto-clangor of Einstuerzende Neubauten, they count as one of the best experimental rock bands of any era. Their dynamic, expertly wrought songs and skilled improvisations don't start; they explode. _Gong Lake_ is the band's first unlimited CD release, and with it the world will discover what fans of their live shows have known for years: Neptune is otherworldly.
Gastr del Sol: Harp Factory on Lake Street
Is 90s nostalgia underway yet? If not, this reissue may be just the thing to get it started. In 1994, Chicago is the fountainhead for a bona-fide Scene, in which bands are giving timbre and texture priority over riffs and power chords. To the chagrin of many, the press will label it all "post-rock." It's the definitive movement of the decade, and front and center are Gastr del Sol, comprised of David Grubbs (previously: Squirrel Bait, Bastro) and Jim O'Rourke (subsequently: Wilco, Sonic Youth). Some of their city-mates may shift more units; Gastr, with a relentless drive for reinvention, shift the boundaries of where a band can go. Avant punk, atonal song-styling, musique concrète, delicate piano-guitar interplay, raw electronics and modernist chamber music -- all are fair terrain, traversed with subtlety and finesse. Behind the obligatory horn-rims, Grubbs and O'Rourke have "vision."
A dozen years later, this overdue reissue of 1994's _The Harp Factory on Lake Street_ EP provides the missing piece in Gastr's otherwise available discography. To hear it again is a treat. It's their notorious "big band" record, and the ten-piece ensemble is a veritable All-Star team of mid-90s Chicagoans, including members of Tortoise, Sea and Cake, Shellac, Dazzling Killmen, Brise Glace and the Vandermark 5; through studio maneuvering courtesy O'Rourke and engineer John McEntire, they blossom into a small-sized orchestra. Remarkably confident in the use of space and dissonance, _Harp Factory_ also emphasizes the conceptual "scrape", the friction between nuance and noise, that plays such a prominent role in Gastr's subsequent _Upgrade and Afterlife_ LP. Familiar signposts are still in sight -- O'Rourke's compositional skills, Grubbs' associative, absurdist musings -- but this is definitely their boldest outing. It's a record full of blissful confoundment, one that aptly vivifies the spirit of an era. Gastr del Sol may have lasted a brief five years, but they are to the 1990s what the Magic Band, This Heat and Sonic Youth were to their respective decades: intrepid trailblazers through the backwoods of sound.
Jonathan Kane: I Looked at the Sun
Jonathan Kane's rollicking, majestic and critically-acclaimed debut _February_ set you up with his lustrous, deep-grooved sound; now comes the bare-knuckled knock-out punch. On the opening track, "BQE," Kane compliments his signature wall of guitars with the high-lonesome serenade of pedal steel, then puts that pedal to the metal and barrels through the psychedelic badlands of Mississippi Fred McDowell's classic "I Looked at the Sun." Add the Dixie-fried strut of ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons to Glenn Branca's guitar armies and you're still only halfway to Kane's mind-blowing reinvention of both minimalism and the blues -- it's a blistering day's drive from anything you've heard before.
David Daniell: I-IV-V-I
David Daniell is one of the hardest-working guitarists in avant-garde show business. He leads the troops in Rhys Chatham's guitar armies; he was a member of Jonathan Kane's rollicking band February; and he performs regularly in a duo with Tortoise's Doug McCombs. He's collaborated with Tim Barnes, Thurston Moore, and Loren Connors; and his guitar work with his own band, San Agustin, is the stuff of which fleeting blues-drone dreams are made. With influences rooted in blues, American minimalism, and post-punk ideologies, Daniell's guitar playing is always inspired; when fused with his intricate electro-acoustic compositions, the results are breathtaking.
V/A: Impala Eardrums: A Radium Sampler
For fifteen years, Table of the Elements has been the preeminent source of avant audio, championing minimal, improvised, and outsider musics of various spots and stripes. Now, as its influence radiates outward, the label presents Radium, its "rock" imprint, showcased here with Impala Eardrums, A Radium Sampler. While minimalist legend Rhys Chatham leads the way with a delightful unreleased piece from his mid-80s archives, most of the other contributors are younger folks, from a new generation of performers. It's a diverse bunch, ranging from the raw Americana of Megafaun and Jonathan Kane, to the humid, pulsating krautrock of Ateleia and the spectral songcraft of Paul Duncan. Neptune serves up its version of home-forged proto-clangor, while Collections of Colonies of Bees and School of Seven Bells pour forth in glistening, shimmering waves. Together, these eight tracks ? all previously unreleased on CD ? have one thing in common: a resolute will to march headlong into the untamed brambles and briar patches of 21st-century sound.