Raagnagrok - Man Woman Birth Death Infinity Lotus House Records by Keith Boyd
Raagnagrok – Man Woman Birth Death Infinity
Somewhere along the continuum of MAN WOMAN BIRTH DEATH INFINITY you
will see, hear, feel and find just about everything. Given enough time all of those
polarities and seemingly opposite states resolve themselves into a fluid mosaic of
With this collection Raagnagrok have given us a sonic tone bath. An Alchemical
mirror that both reflects and absorbs. From the opening rubbery wobbles of
Elephanta Gateway to the expansive drift of Infinity, this album both delights and
Raagnagrok is an aptly named neologism of a name. Ragas are composed to enhance
or reflect upon everything from Hindu religious epics to the passing seasons to
the quality of light during various times of day. They follow set patterns but give
ample room for both repetition and variation. “Grok” is a Robert Heinlein word and
concept from the watershed Sci-Fi novel, “Stranger in A Strange Land”. Like many
words from other languages, “Grok” bumps up against the constraints of English in
terms of direct translation. It is a word that condenses multiple nuanced meanings
but perhaps the closest approximation is to understand and deeply encounter
something. The “something” could be a piece of art, an idea or another person. To
“Grok” something is to reach a point where the boundary between observer and
observed dissolve and a point of unity is achieved.
So what does this tell us about the effect and experience of Raagnagrok’s music?
It tells us that we can expect a solid dose of open-ended sonic reflections with
deep layers to get lost and found in. Although each piece stands on its own I highly
recommend giving this album a listen from top to bottom. Zali Krishna and Mark
O Pilkington manipulate all manner of electronic tools but never forget to let the
human element in. There are sitars and guitars winding and weaving through
Roger Deanesque landscapes. My only wish from this album is…MORE! I want more
Raagnagrok music to accompany me through my own forays and journeys with
MAN WOMAN BIRTH DEATH INFINITY.
Earth Wind and Fire at the San Diego Civic by E. Nielsen
It was a night full of love. The old boys can still get it done. Earth Wind and Fire filled the house at the San Diego Civic last night and pumped some serious good vibes like a needle to the heart. The show was jam packed with hits and peppered with songs from their new album Now, Then and Forever. They came out with Boogie Wonderland and Sing a Song and just tore the house down. It was one of those goose bump inducing few minutes that live music was built for. The whole audience was up instantly and stayed up for almost the entire show. What a pleasurable way to end the week and beat the heat of the late SD summer. more
1. Elephanta Gateway
5. Raagas on the Sturm
6. Mount Pelle
7. Anta Gateway
"In July 2005, a small package was delivered to an address in Stamford Hill, London for the attention of Mr Otto Amon and Mr Solomon Kirchner. The gentlemen who recieved the package have never revealed who sent it to them or what was inside it but a body of urban myth has grown up around the Lapis or Ovoid that was rumoured to have been seen in various locations around London, from Frognal to Fitzrovia.
"We are told that Amon and Kirchner subjected the Lapis to broad and narrow range frequencies in Pythagorean clusters which caused the object to "sing" or "recite". We are also told that for five or six years, in spite of their efforts, the lustreless surface of the Ovoid could not be broken.
"The object, whatever it was, has never surfaced in the collectors' market, and its recipients have maintained their silence. Whether their newly released recorded collaboration, Man Woman Birth Death Infinity, affords any clues, we cannot honestly say."
Beggars - S/T on Lotushouse
1. Ghost Coyote
2. Eureka, My Love
3. Lullaby de Bourbon
4. 2-3-74 Floating
5. Midget Decapitates Clown
1. Will We Call It Love
2. Queen Anne's Lace
3. Follow Me Down
4. Berserker's Boogie
5. My Strangest Lover
6. You Should Love For Now
2CD set with Glen Donaldson, Bruce McKenzie and Eric Nielsen. Steven R. Smith guests on 3 tracks. Recorded and mixed on Mt. Washington in LA and in Ocean Beach in SD. CD 1 mastered by Glenn Donaldson. CD 2 mastered by Yoshida Tatsuya.
Buzz or Howl
Catherine Christer Hennix-Chora(s)San Time-Court Mirage- Live @The Grimm Museum Volume One Sonic Acts/Important Records by Keith Boyd What do you with an album where nothing happens but everything is present? Where nothing happening is the actual hoped for reality. Can you praise nothing? Surely you can give the academic-musico-historical perspective. You can analyze it and use the Holy Saints of Minimalism name drop game. Here I'll do that for you;
"AHEM...Catherine Christer Hennix is in the great lineage of La Monte Young, Terry Riley, John Cage, Elaine Radique and to lay it all out there Pandit Pran Nath."
But all that does is contextualize someone. In fact it allows you to box, catagorize and ignore the very thing itself. And that very thing folks, is just simply not to be missed. Not in this case. It's just too damn good. Through some alchemy of technique, equipment and will power this group has created a masterpiece. A triumph of tonality which if you will listen, LISTEN DEEPLY, has the power to move your heart. Move your soul and move your being to pure bliss. So what is this magickal sonic tonic you say? Are there secret power words or hidden mysteries revealed? I guess that depends on what you come looking for.
Drones and tones emerge, coagulate, become and then lose their edges filtering into the background of ever present froth. more
Moon of Ostara - The Star Child 4Zero records by Eric Nielsen
I think/hear England and the beginning of the wyrd 60's, as soon as the first notes creep out of the developing mists of The Star Child Part I. The album begins with ambience and lists lovingly into this organ figure and classic sound that alludes to the timbre and tone of all four Parts that make up The Star Child. Fred Laird is blessed with a magicians hand to dip back into the English 60's and 70's, seemingly anytime he wants.
I've been following Earthling Society for a while now (Beauty and the Beast is my favorite of theirs). And I've collaborated with Fred, (most notably on Earthling Tempel - A Pilgrimage to Thunderbolt Pagoda) and I have always been amazed how authentic and true Fred can make his sounds.
He has a strong sensibility for putting authentic instruments together with compelling ambiance and tasteful psychadelic top layers of mood. I first noticed his ability to do this on his guitar. In Earthling Society he has shown an adept hand at compostition, and this album finds Fred exploring the sometimes wide open spaces of Popol Vuh and orchestrating different sounds to carry the songs rather than focusing as much on the guitar. more
Dieter Moebius at Space 4 Art
OB Assisted Gates: Camera Lucida Series Searching for a spiritual gate, if in need of a mantra or a blissed sound trigger, try the sounds of Charles Curtis, OB resident and Camera Lucida Concert Series curator among many other titles and accolades. These live concerts consist of the best players the region and often beyond has to offer in the manner of old world, classical, intensely magical, and proficiency. Musicians include the top San Diego Symphonist and top UCSD players, joined by special guests to create some of the highest quality chamber music in the US.
I attended the presentation on April 2nd, consisting of Bach's Preludes and Fugues for String Trio (arr. Mozart), Strauss' Sextet for Strings from Capriccio, Op. 85, and Brahms' Sextet for Strings in B-flat, Op. 18. The Strauss piece was especially sweet, balanced in a moment, delicately calling into the upper right-hand section of my brain to question noble dances of a certain imagined time. Throughout, the playing was superb, the mood blissful, and the audience proved fully engaged as they offered a standing ovation with multiple call-backs for the players to be recognized. more
Maquiladora's Eric Nielsen and Bruce McKenzie joined forces with Skygreen Leopards' Glenn Donaldson to form Beggars, whose double-disc Beggars (Lotushouse, 2013) is a tour de force of ecstatic Eastern-influenced freak-folk. Mostly these pieces lean towards the traditional song format, although inevitably deformed by the musicians' pedigrees.
The ghostly hyper-dilated drones of Ghost Coyote are imbued with quasi-Morricone western-movie guitar twang and even harmonica. The sweet lullaby and the trotting pace of Eureka My Love as well as the romantic honky-tonking Justine (with a refrain a bit reminiscent of Dylan's Blowing in the Wind) hark back to the heydays of country-rock. 2-3-74 Floating evokes the martial laments of the young Neil Young although diluted amid discordant guitar jamming and lulled by waves of funereal vocal harmonies. Berserker's Boogie is a lively and poppy almost-bluegrass tune. They even intone the singalong Queen Anne's Lace with drums, banjo and all.
Thankfully, the spaced-out yodeling of Lullaby de Bourbon (memories of Aoxomoxoa-era Grateful Dead), the free-form quasi-jazz guitar and vocal interplay of Will We Call It Love, the seven-minute dreaming psalm Big Pink Sun and its sublimely disintegrating coda, remind us of what Maquiladora are best at. The 23-minute Midget Decapitates Clownis an ambitious concerto for suspense and agony. Far from being just a droning piece, it piles up sonic event after sonic event, producing the trancey effect out of a multitude of traumatic sounds. The chirping and tweeting that accumulates half-way into the piece decays into a nervous organic filigree and dies away in the most cryptic manner; one of the high points of Maquiladora's career.
Beggars - S/T by Naysayer at KFJC Released from Lotus House Records, this is psych country/psych folk territory. Heavy on acoustic guitar with background mandolin, organ and lots of harmonies, these songs are about lost relationships, missed chances and old secrets. They sound like they should be sung around the fire pit outside an old shack in Topanga Canyon. Dusty, weedy, afternoon sunlight that blurs the vision. Turn it on, kick back and look directly into the sun.
Track 5 of CD B is a 22 minute deep listening style excursion.
Earthling Tempel - Pilgrimage To Thunderbolt Pagoda by Aquarius Records
Not sure if this is part 4, or just the first in a new multi part epic, hardly matters, what does matter is, this is another glorious expansive collection of meditative psychedelic abstract dronefolk ambience. Every High Mountain Tempel disc we're reviewed thus far has gotten played to death here, and this one doesn't appear to be any different. Well, at least in that respect. In one distinct way it is very different, HMT are not going it alone this time. They've assembled a pretty impressive collection of sonic alchemists and musical conjurers to help with this ritual, Isis Aquarian from the Source Family, Charles Curtis from La Monte Young's Just Alap Raga Ensemble, and two crews from the UK we've never heard of, Earthling Society and Astarism, but even with all those cooks in the kitchen, HMT and friends have managed to weave another dark minimal masterpiece, all hushed barely there guitar shimmer, drifting whispered vocals, delicate crystalline melodies, dense swirls of piano, warm swells of tape hiss, mysterious voices and field recordings, whirring organ, bowed steel strings... so lovely.
If the liner notes are to be believed, two of the tracks feature Earthling Society on their own, and those tracks do sound different, much less free and sprawling, a bit more structured, like seventies UK acid folk, swirling and melodic and quite lovely. The final two tracks find the two groups in full on collaborative mode, and the gears shift to something much more space rocky and Hawkwindy, all blissed out and heart-of-the-sun, until the final track which is a strummy, delicate, moody chill out closer, a sort of dour doom folk drift, that makes a perfect ending.
Super nice packaging, silkscreened oversized 4 panel sleeve, white on black, with the cd-r affixed to the inside. And of course, SUPER LIMITED!
High Mountain Tempel - The Glass Bead Game by Aquarius Records
Part three in the ongoing series of limited cd-r explorations from mysterious drone combo High Mountain Tempel, and like the two before it, the band continue to delve into some murky sonic underworld, again presenting loooong songs, each separated by brief sonic interludes, this disc seems feature more actual vocals, the opening track features a processed voice, that sounds a bit like throat singing, or a Speak And Spell, intoning some arcane message, interwoven with long drawn out tones, and a thick ropy buzz, super dark and intense and atmospheric. Elsewhere sampled voices surface, there are bits of chanting here and there, all peppered throughout the disc. But even with the extra voices, the focus here is still on dark, lugubrious, extended dronescapes.
The sound of High Mountain Tempel is probably closest to Expo '70, as their various permutations of dronemusic seem to have a definite krautrock vibe, that gives the sound a sort of spaced out quality, and a subtle propulsion, but unlike Expo '70, HMT seem to have a distinct Eastern influence, much of the music is meditative and subtly dramatic, a bit soundtracky, and some of it sounds like it could be Japanese. Especially the way field recordings are incorporated into the sounds. Giving everything a definite texture, some of it sounding like it was perhaps recorded live in some hilltop temple. Which we would imagine is the idea.
Not sure what else to say actually. This is indeed fantastic, brooding and malefic, but also shimmery and dreamy, sonically it has much in common with the first two installments, so definitely check out those reviews to read more about their 'sound'.
Needless to say, fans of the drone and folks into the current crop of cd-r soundscapers will for sure dig this, but like the other HMT discs, this is more than simple drone music, this is ritualistic alchemical soundwork, one can almost imagine stumbling across a group of cloaked figures huddled around a fire in a forest clearing, tossing various powders into the flames, causing the fire to change color and cast beastlike shadows on the branches above, and this is the sound filtering through the forest like a black moonlit fog...
SUPER LIMITED of course, packaged beautifully in a foldover silkscreened sleeve, gold metallic on red on the outside, black on red on the inside.
High Mountain Tempel - A Screaming Comes Across The Sky - The Faultline Scriptures
by Aquarius Records
Record number two from this mysterious drone-kraut styled duo. Their last disc was a huge hit around here, so we were pretty thrilled to get our hands on this one, a logical sonic extension of the first, delving deeper into some murky tripped out twilit soundworld.
The disc opens with shimmering clouds of gongs and cymbals, whirring and sizzling, suspended over a deep distant rumble, a delicate intro to a record at once hypnotic and lovely, dark and dense.
The record is arranged into three epic tracks, interspersed with short sonic interludes, ranging from field recordings of crickets, looped chants (Elizabeth Clare Prophet if we're not mistaken), spirituals and mysterious liturgical songs, whirring drones, and backwards percussion, but it's the long tracks where the duo get to spread out, let their dense soundscapes sprawl.
The three long tracks sounds like movements of a greater whole, clocking in at 15 minutes, 11 minutes and nearly 17 minutes respectively, each rife with creepy delayed vocals, churning guitars and smeared chords, roiling muddy whirls, which often dissipate leaving streaks of fragmented melody and haunting slowed down voices. Buried amidst the drones and whirs, are lullaby-like melodies, skittery percussion, streaks of grinding distortion, hidden voices, more field recordings, thick swaths of cavernous rumbles, little bits of electronic glitch and lots and lots of low end buzz.
Packaged in a fancy navy blue fold over sleeve, screenprinted in white ink, with a photocopied insert with liner notes and song credits.