Thursday, September 30, 2010

Charles Cohen + Merzbow

Last Monday, Philadelphia arts organization ARSNOVA presented us a with the musical equivalent of a solar eclipse; a performance from Merzbow with drummer Balazs Pandi and local synth-guru Charles Cohen.

Cohen, I gathered from the crowd's excitement, is a local hero and to witness a solo show is quite a rare event. Cohen is a master of the Buchla Music Easel, an incredibly rare analog synthesizer with only a handful left in existence. Cohen created a very rich palette of extremely organic sounds, conjuring images of dripping water, bird calls, dolphin cries, wooden chimes, marimbas, kalimbas, and in particular seal cries. Anyone who has not seen this clip from the Werner Herzog doc Encounters at the End of the World, where it shows seals crying should definitely check this out. The sounds that these seals make easily compete with the most out there Cluster, or Tangerine Dream records.

Each of the sounds was well treated with delay moving from short bleeps and blips, to ambient interstellar passages that made the sounds physical as if watching some space ballet. Cohen moved about the instrument with ease and grace, much like a dance himself.

There is an awesome video below by Alex Tyson that gives a quick peak of what Charles Cohen does.

Afterward, Merbow.

Merzbow and death metal turned free jazz drummer Balazs Pandi ignite the stage with blistering noise. These tired adjectives battling to describe the onslaught that Masami Akita has been dishing out for over 30 years without any end in sight. Merz is plugged into his scrap-matal-tar blasting white-hot fuzz-wah through a JCM900. The music is hard to penetrate. I close my eyes and Merzbow's world unfolds...

The sound of the big bang. Giant waves of noise, of thunder, wash over me as my body is tossed and turned and reduced to particles. Stars bloom, blossom, and explode around me. Quasars open, the eye of God to the gnostic rhythms of Akita's pulsar. The drummer beating out the heartbeat of man, at the whim, the beck and call, of the hand of God, Merzbow.

I open my eyes. The crowd is hyponotized, shocked, disappointed, and divided. The thin lanky man, sheepishly exits the stage.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Homayun Sakhi - The Art of the Afghan Rubab

Inspired by my last post and the mandolin playing of Snehasish Mzumder I thought I would post one of my favorite records over the last few years, Homayun Sakhi -The Art of the Afghan Rubab on Smithsonian Folkways.

Sakhi is an Afghan ex-pat who relocated to San Fransisco which boasts one of the largest Afghan population outside Afghanistan. Afghani classical music is interesting given its geographical location, being a cross roads for many cultures. The music is especially groovy and works with smaller rhythmic cycles unlike its North Indian counter parts. It is amazing the amount of momentum and presence that this duo creates. Enjoy the music!


Friday, September 10, 2010

Review on Weird Canada and move to Philadelphia.

I put out a few copies of this tape back in the spring for Wyrd Fest and the Obey Convention. I'll be making a few more once I get set up again here in Philly. If you want it in digital form though you can download it HERE.

As some of you may know I have left Canada for the "American Dream." The move has been interesting, exciting, and scary. Definitely a bit of culture shock. Philly at times looks and feels like Beirut (Or what I imagine it looks like as I have never been). I am staying in a beautiful loft with my partner's sister in Fishtown. We have a little spot in the corner till we get everything set up. I got a bank account after a bit of scare where I copied my social security number down wrong and it was looking like I wasn't going to get an account. I unfortunately had to go with Bank of America, as I was entering the bank there was a giant sign across the street that read, "I Hate Bank of America." It probably is an omen. I finally got a phone and each day is getting progressively better and I am slowly making friends. I am really worried about a job, I am not sure what to expect here and Philly's economy is the third worst in the country, seems you can't escape that. Today I am looking for more houses. I have been concentrating on writing more since I haven't had the opportunity, space, or privacy to write music. Lantern is sitting on about 20 songs write now and we'll have some upcoming releases, hopefully.

Some crappy pictures from my new AT&T cell phone.

My good friend and colleague Aaron Levin, the genius behind Weird Canada, kindly wrote some nice words of the I put out. I only made a few copies of this tape back in the spring for Wyrd Fest and the Obey Convention. I'll be making a few more once I get set up again here in Philly. Please get in touch if you would like a copy.

Best, and keep listening in!


From Weird Canada
With an unruly vocabulary for the avant-garde, the wild long-hair behind Omon Ra / Omon Ra II rips through your consciousness with six streams of free jazz, orchestral minimalism, and prepared minutiae. The unwieldy compositions are performed on-or-by everything (Arp2600, Dalhousie Brass Quintet, Saxophones, mixers, prepared piano, etc.) and mutate wildly in timbre; “Origins”‘ dense, synthetic dark-age scorches a sinusoidal path for the blissfully organic sequences; hear the strangely poppy Brass Quintet devastate “Prisms” and segue into the harrowing minimalia of “Long Tones and Lose Change.” It’s all a sharp reminder that underground reverberations are still produced in the dusty corners of academia. Bsc GRIP.