Archive for March, 2008

Dälek, still killin’ it

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

I owe a couple more show recaps: first is Dälek at Rock & Roll Hotel, actually just a day after I saw St. Vincent at the same venue (this was a couple weeks ago and I’m just now getting around to writing it up). This show was predictably great; Dälek live is quite literally a punishing experience, and if you don’t have earplugs at one of their shows you’re doing some serious damage to yourself. This time around they had expanded to a quartet, and as this review of the Philly show amusingly puts it, “Dalek didn’t look like any hip hop band I’ve ever seen - a metalhead bass player, a laptop DJ that look straight out of Death Cab For Cutie, a giant tattooed turntable DJ, and an almost scarily intense MC.” (Oops — the “metalhead” plays guitar, not bass.)

I’ve seen these guys annually for the past three years, and each time they’ve added a member. In 2006, it was just MC dälek and Oktopus, the producer. I believe their turntablist, Still, had just left the group at that point. Last year, they added the guitarist. This year, they added the dude on laptop and keyboard. Incidentally, I don’t remember seeing any laptops at all the last two times I saw them, but this time, Oktopus and the two “new” guys each had their own laptop.

All of this lineup shifting didn’t seem to have much of a discernable effect on their sound as far as I could tell. I mean, with Dälek live, you can basically hear three things: dälek rapping, Oktopus’ beats thumping, and a shitload of howling noise, not necessarily in that order. I guess my ears aren’t quite good enough to figure out exactly what effect the guitarist and laptop guy had on the howling noise. Still, I do have to say that, though this is a statement totally lacking in specifics, these guys sounded good. Noise is at its best when it evokes emotion, and Dälek is masterful at tweaking their sheets of sound to get the emotional response they’re looking for.

I was happy with this set as it included some great stuff from Absence (”Culture For Dollars” was totally mindblowing) as well as the expected material from Abandoned Language. As with last year, the closing song was “(Subversive Script),” and what a fantastic way to end it was, seeing as how it is home to one of the group’s most lethal beats ever. Also as with last year, I was left wishing their set had been much, much longer. Oh well.

As for the other groups: I left before Russian Circles came on, which was my loss because I understand they are awesome. I didn’t much care for Young Widows, who were billed as “noise-rock” but pretty much just sounded like indie-rock with a lot of noise on top, which is really not the same thing. I saw that they recently got signed to Temporary Residence, a label I generally respect, so perhaps I’ll have to give them another chance sometime. For more useful takes on these two bands, check out this review.

And, of course, there are photos…

Cutting-edge music - shirt, tie, soullessness required

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

An update to the actual site is coming tomorrow evening, but two quick things tonight:

One: I’ve been listening to the new Meshuggah all night tonight. It’s already my favorite of theirs so far, although admittedly it’s been a while since I listened to Destroy Erase Improve.

Two: There is an article at Georgetowner lamenting the state of independent music in DC and hailing “a new indie scene” starting up in Georgetown. Now, if you know anything about Georgetown, you’re probably already skeptical. And rightfully so: the Georgetowner’s idea of an “indie music” scene involves shows at a venue where there’s a jacket and tie dress code, tickets are $60 at the door, and one of the headlining artists boasts on his Myspace page that he is featured in an issue of DC Modern Luxury Magazine.

Some highlights from the article include:

There are those that dismiss the independent art world as catering to the common people. But let us not forget that some of the most celebrated works of William Shakespeare and Mozart played in the common theatre houses during their lifetimes. At times, their work was not widely accepted by the power elite of their day. It was often viewed as subversive, offensive, and a direct challenge to those in power. It is only years later that we realize their artistic contributions are a preservation of the politics, struggles, and social ideologies of the age. Are we marginalizing the next great commentator of our time?” (emphasis mine, because, just… wow.)

Or even better, “[DC INDIE's founder] realized that DC’s power elite were searching for a richer environment than the local night club to while away there [sic] evening hours.” Ah yes, because the REAL audience of indie music is obviously DC’s power elite! Seriously… these folks are like the bastard children of two of the most annoying types of people in our society: one, the ignoramuses who whine about how “music was so much better when…” while calling anything remotely innovative “just noise.” And two, the fucking assholes who sit in their multimillion-dollar homes wondering why all those poor people out there don’t just work harder so they, too, can afford two BMWs and a house in Georgetown. I guess it makes sense that they wouldn’t want to “while away there evening hours” at a grungy nightclub with the filthy unwashed masses.

Naturally, these clueless folks are getting hammered by anyone who feels like they have a claim to the label “indie music” in DC. Perhaps the most gratifying response is at Brightest Young Things (the picture of the venue is priceless). “In case you forget your collared shirt, Banana Republic is located next door… KICK OUT THE JAMS MOTHER FUCKERS!!” Amusement at the expense of Georgetown aristocratic tools whose idea of cutting-edge “indie music” is fine dining with a generic downtempo electronica artist playing in the background: priceless!

In the end, though, I suppose live and let live: those people can fork out $60 and feel like they are helping out the cause of cutting-edge indie music. I’ll keep going to Transparent Productions shows, or Velvet Lounge shows, or whatnot. I can get the same feeling for 15-25% of the price. And without having to put on a fucking jacket and tie.

What’s interesting this year?

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

A brief break in the show reports for a quick list of upcoming 2008 releases I’m interested in. This is as much as reference for me as anything else, as there’s enough good stuff coming up that I’m having trouble keeping track in my head. So here we go (I’ll continue updating this for the next little while):

  • March 3 — Autechre - Quaristice
  • March 5 — Pelican - After the Ceiling Cracked (DVD)
  • March 11 — Meshuggah - obZen
  • March 18 — Bar Kokhba Sextet - Lucifer: Book of Angels Volume 10
  • March 18 — John Zorn - The Dreamers
  • March 25 — A Silver Mt. Zion - 13 Blues For Thirteen Moons
  • March 25 — Spring Heel Jack - Songs and Themes
  • April 1 — Nadja - Skin Turns to Glass
  • April 8 — Boredoms - Super Roots 9
  • April 8 — Nadja - Desire in Uneasiness
  • April 14 — Scorch Trio - Brolt
  • April 15 — Maja Ratkje - River Mouth Echoes
  • April 21 — Magenta - Metamorphosis (yes, I’m curious)
  • April 22 — Æthenor - Betimes Black Cloudmasses
  • April 22 — The Cinematic Orchestra - Live at the Royal Albert Hall
  • April 29 — Boris - Smile
  • May 6 — Russian Circles - Station
  • June 2 — Opeth - Watershed
  • Spring — Secret Chiefs 3 - Xaphan: Book of Angels Volume 9
  • Summer — Cryptopsy - The Unspoken King
  • Summer — Massive Attack - Weather Underground
  • Summer — Zu - Intermediate Spirit Receiver
  • Fall — Mogwai - The Hawk is Howling
  • 2008 — Bohren und der Club of Gore - Mitleid Lady (EP)
  • 2008 — Ephel Duath - Through My Dog’s Eyes
  • 2008 — The Thing - box set (including The Thing, She Says, a new CD and a DVD!)

Also, recently released are new albums from Guapo and Genghis Tron, both of which are on my want list. I just recently got the new Earth, The Bees Made Honey in the Lion’s Skull, featuring Bill Frisell, and it’s fabulous. Maybe my favorite one of theirs since Earth 2, even.