Archive for September, 2011


Posted in music with tags , , on September 28, 2011 by Tanner

Drumm’s Imperial Distortion is as good a late night album as any. A few fingers of bourbon sitting on my window sill and the gentle warble of the New Age coming across my living room as I look out to where Lake Superior should be on this starless night. And the black chasm the big lake becomes at night begets all manner of dark ruminations, starry wisdoms better left unsaid. Music as open ended as Imperial Distortion fits that Lovecraftian weird, stewing in the stagnancy of small towns at night, that almost palpable pressure of the atmosphere weighing down on your head, the stars burning holes into all that cumulonimbus, water hanging in the air. Drumm’s music pushes right on through, alien intelligent.

I’m not looking for the next big Miasma tonight. Imperial Distortion sounds just right. Not nearly as static as I‘ve heard it described, a track like Snow moves around my apartment like an undulating poisonous cloud punctuated with random colored lights. At turns ominous, but frankly far more comforting than all that it would imply — high school science experiments with alchemical references, Kelly LeBrock in the shower and you with your jean shorts still on.

The bullshit about Drumm and his “black metal noise” makes me queasy. Conflating admiration with influence. Why is it so much harder to just let the music speak for itself. Don’t get me wrong, I love Carcass, but they ain’t Vivaldi, even if they steal from Four Seasons. And who wants Carcass to be Vivaldi anyway? As if that validates their onslaught. As if their onslaught needs to be validated. And who wants Drumm to be some corpse painted asshole, moaning about the moonlight cascading onto the icy plains of some forefather‘s foreskin? Isn’t this authentic enough? Isn’t this boring or brilliant… or more simply itself enough? But if one wants to go down that road, if there is some tortured darkness to Drumm’s music, I think it’s found far more on these long shifting drones of Imperial Distortion and Imperial Horizon than any of the noise terror he’s so admired for. SHM, Impish Tyrant the rest brim, spit out like sparks from the fire. They’re detrital, layered, subsuming. But Imperial Horizon leaves you behind. It’s down right nihilistic at times, a track like Guillain-Barre taps into a slim coursing eternal line, beginning and ending without a glimmer of recognition, of heeding our calls. Antiseptic glow. Beautiful in its way (and working wonders on the insides of my nasal cavities), but ultimately unknowable. And beauty being so hard to qualify. Like the end of Romantic Sores, all floating indifference but oh so pretty.

I can’t complain. I should go to sleep now, and conjure some personal demons to make myself feel more like myself. But it’s nice to have a piece of music that colors the space for a little while. In this sleepy town. Because I know this is all just words. And probably says more about me than the music. But that’s nice. That’s good. Perception is a fucking tricky thing. Sleep tight.


A crash of piano like thunder.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on September 25, 2011 by Tanner

Days like these.

The head shop down the street has shirts that read, “Lake Superior Makes Me Wet”. Outside shitkicker trucks grind their transmissions into dust while blasting ‘Bodies hit the Floor’ or window-rattling hip hop. With small bibles tucked into breast pockets, old men suck on their teeth, and shake their canes at stray dogs. It begins to rain. A crash of piano like thunder, a clarinet that blurs and bounces from plaster walls. The smoke curls in the air.

I have four large windows windows that look onto Ashland’s Main Street, an honest to God Main Street: the small movie theater, the furniture store, the sticky menu café, the liquor store with advertisements of proud hunters knocking back Miller Lite while they bury their knees in the necks of glassy-eyed deer. Saturday afternoons I watch teenagers, flush in the coarse bash of youth and bored out of their skulls, circle the block like sharks, as if they stop moving for a second they’ll slowly suffocate and die. All greasy haired and chew spackled lapels as they bum cigarettes from each other and commiserate,

–Motherfuckers keep taking my shit. I fuckin’ say to ‘em, I say, ‘I’ll bring it when they bring it.’ Dumbass white trash motherfuckers.

I bought a pipe in a fit of nostalgia a few weeks back when I moved into town. I missed the smell of the smoke, the feeling of it nestled between my teeth when I was a child and would clandestinely steal a few drags on my Father’s pipe. Smoking it now seems like the right thing to do on this windy overcast day, thinking too much, listening to Burkhard Stangl and Kai Fagaschinski’s Musik-Ein Porträt in Sehnsucht. It’s an album that seems like a salve, an assuagement to the shock of being somewhere that’s concurrently so small and so goddamn large. There’s an ooze of history dripping from the cracks of every building here, as dense and heavy as the iron ore resting at the bottom of Lake Superior. You can see it woven into everyone‘s hair, filling every shot glass, in the bottom of every shoe. My nostalgia seems to be both bolstered and relieved, listening to the delicate piano cling clang like a 2 AM Tilbury at the end of “Last Night I had Visions.” I sit transfixed to the Feldman-esque lope of “Sexy M.F.” with Stangl’s guitar pinging off into space, accenting Fagaschinski’s tart breathy burrs. The meander of this music seems at home here. At home in the slow afternoons contemplating the ache that comes with the smell of shoe polish and wood smoke.

I had missed the deft sensitivity that marks Stangl and Fagaschinski’s playing when I had first listened to this (what, a year or two ago?); I hadn’t noticed at the time how each player only seems to fully come into focus through the aspect of the other. They both have some remarkable duos under the belt where this characteristic is apparent, but never to such an extent as found here– it’s as if each player was working as a filter or lens for the other. Returning to the album now, I notice it also has an incredible coherence. Each track is a subtle progression to the next. Even when the modes change– from slow drones to gentle vibraphone ruminations to gentle melodic guitar/clarinet cells, the thread is never lost. And the narrative is never severe. In fact it seems to bloom and envelope by virtue of its subtlety. These are seven tracks that seem to glide by on their own volition. But like so many good things. they are not afraid to be punctuated by the outside world, like in “Weißt Du noch unser Lied?” where motors rev, birds chirp, and 70s hard rock cassette deck soloing comes through an open car window while a guitar strums over it all.

Musik-Ein Porträt in Sehnsucht hadn’t made as much sense before living here. It wasn’t the right time or place. The seemingly effortless playing appeared too easy, too ambivalent to the world I chose to live in. Here in the wind, in a small town that seems adorned by it’s own memory it all makes a kind of sense, as if it urges you to let things happen by their own accord. As the afternoon turns to dusk, it becomes that much more powerful, stuck on repeat in my living room, pitching itself against boredom and sloth, hanging in the orange light of the dusk. In this time that seems to stretch and guide ones hand to ruminative bullshit, where one feels stuck in thinking of the here as though it were somewhere else, this album seems to embellish the play of time, and perform gentle accompaniment to the slow burn of days like these.

Erstwhile Records

Well, well…

Posted in Uncategorized on September 11, 2011 by Tanner

Sloth and nostalgia — a bad combination. But new things are on the horizon. No doubt I should probably update this place more, but the last few months I’ve seen some pretty radical changes in my life (and in the spirit of too much information): a new move into the wilds of Northern WI tucked into the nook of frigid Lake Superior; a big commitment to a long-suffering girl friend; a start of another degree in an unfamiliar discipline; alien abduction etc.. Anyway, I’m working on it. But really, it’s a good time to be out of it, as reading up on all the NYC Amplify fest reviews other places make me pretty damn jealous I can’t be there. But it sounds like a pretty great time for electro acoustic quackery either way. And that’s pretty exciting. This place will have something new at some point in the future.

In the meantime, if you want to read more of my drivel has been commissioning a few reviews from me here and there:


Buenos Aires Tapes

And while you’re at it check out the rest of the site. They have a new John Butcher interview up, if that’s your thing. I haven’t read it yet, but I bet he mentions quarks (I know I would). Thanks for reading, as always.