Nate Fitzbutler did a remix to Kanye West’s and Kendrick Lamar’s “No More Parties in LA” called “No More Parties in SD”. He said, "we made this track to try to bring some national buzz to our city that’s always been in the shadow of the LA music scene."

Niko Sitaras from the San Diego based dream rock band Paper Days says, "We just released our new EP 'Fun For Family & Friends'. Our release party is on Feb 19th being hosted at the Irenic (with The Bash Dogs & Splavender). 

Panic Is Perfect is an indie-pop group from San Fran and they are touring in support of their new album, Cellspace, which drops tomorrow on Strange Loop Records. They'll be playing at The Loft @ UCSD on Feb. 12!





Sound is God: La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela and The Just Alap Raga Ensemble perform with Charles Curtis at The Dream House in New York's Guggenheim Museum ~  The Third Mind - American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860 - 1989 Eric Nielsen 5.19.9

Stenciled words at the entrance read, "Please be advised that the levels of sound and light in this environment may alter your psychological state."

Godfather of Modern Minimalism, La Monte Young, held the premiere of "Raga Sundara, vilampit khayal set in Raga Yaman Kalyan" performed by The Just Alap Raga Ensemble in a setting of Marian Zazeela's light installations at New York's Guggenheim. This Indian classical Raga was taught to La Monte and Marian by Pandit Pran Nath and, infused with original compositions and multiple drones in harmonies written by La Monte, debuted at these two performances.  The Raga Ensemble is seven performers including cellist, instructor, and Ocean Beach resident Charles Curtis, who has collaborated with Young since 1986.

Charles, a world class cellist as well as a professor of contemporary music at UCSD, not only collaborates with some of the most famous composers in the world, La Monte Young and Alvin Lucier most recently, he also has an extensive list of local San Diego artists he has worked with, including Pall Jenkins, Ilya Monosov, Joshua Blatchley, dancers Justin Morrison and Leslie Seiters, Dan Bryant and Mia Ferm, Michael and Liz Kaufmann, Jeff Thayer and Brian Chen of the San Diego Symphony, pianist Aleck Karis, and his colleague and neighbor Anthony Burr, clarinetist and composer, with whom he works very closely.

A long time resident of Ocean Beach, Charles notes, "I have come to appreciate the complex sonic experience of the airplanes taking off over us."  Charles performed a few years back on solo cello at the Voltaire space in Ocean Beach; he was a part of a collective of artists where the space now houses the green, constant mayoral candidate Jim Bell.  "There was more contact with San Diego musicians when the Voltaire Street Space was happening. There were great events there including, very shortly before his death, the Jacob Faust Band. But the vice squad shut us down and nothing quite like it has taken its place," Charles explains.  Many SD musicians and music lovers mourn the loss of the Voltaire Space.

With similar interests, Curtis was introduced to La Monte Young in '86 by a mutual colleague and their artistic relationship has flourished through the years.  Charles has participated in more performances and premieres of Young's string works than any other interpreter, and has been a member of The Just Alap Raga Ensemble since 2003.  Young is firmly established as an American treasure, a pioneer in compositions using non-western tuning.  In the early ‘60s, Young and Zazeela’s band, The Theatre of Eternal Music, included the likes of Terry Jennings, Terry Riley, Angus MacLise, Tony Conrad, and John Cale. Young's compositions are a departure from European classical thought with an emphasis on developing a new tonal palette based on microtones or "just intonation", notes outside the standard western 12-tone scale, and with a focus on drones and layers based on mathematical formulas.  Charles explains, "...playing in just intonation is the highest challenge that I know of, so this work is a tremendously rigorous discipline, and as such it has a positive influence on all of my playing."  At the moment, he has a group of grad students at UCSD who are very serious about learning this method.  "As far as teaching goes, it's a big commitment to try to learn to play in this way, and I wait for students to decide they really want to learn this, I don't push it on them."  Perhaps it is no surprise that Pandit Pran Nath gave master classes at UCSD in the early ‘70s and later in the ‘90s, at Young’s suggestion, Charles took a master class with the legendary Indian vocalist during a fortuitous European tour.  

La Monte has complete trust and faith in Charles as an interpreter of his compositions, especially as he has written one major work exclusively for Curtis to perform.  Charles explains, "I see my calling first of all as an interpreter of composed works by composers other than myself.  But the interpretation of music can also take the form of original work that interprets musical and artistic ideas, rather than specific compositions that already exist."  From 2002-03 Young and Zazeela composed “Just Charles & Cello in The Romantic Chord in a setting of Abstract #1 from Quadrilateral Phase Angle Traversals,”, premiered all over the world, which consists of solo cellist Curtis with prerecorded drones and light design, leaving some freedom for improvisation.  When microtones like these are layered, it sounds like multiple instruments playing at the same time with frequencies never heard to western ears, and produces a bodily reaction that can actually alter your psychological state.

The Raga Ensemble included the Just Dreams recording of The Tamburas of Pandit Pran Nath, in addition to the seven performers. The four vocalists include La Monte, Marian, their senior Raga disciple Jung Hee Choi, and Da'ud Constant; the three instrumentalists were Naren Budhkar on tabla, Charles Curtis on his specially tuned cello, and Jon Catler on fretless sustainer guitar, built specifically to play microtones.

The walls and ceiling of the Dream House were bathed in color. Purposefully placed lights high above projected onto slowly swirling hanging sculptures casting recurring shadows in hues of red, blue and purple on the surrounding walls.  A tall rectangular wooden sculpture shed dueling color shades, ultimately melting into purple where they met.  Below one set of the suspended curves of shapes and light, was the 'stage' for the performers.  Pillows were placed on freshly carpeted floors for 75 attendees, limited due to fire marshal restrictions.

In the first part of the Raga, the Alap, there are no tablas and most of the sounds are of the voices and the tamburas.  It became very apparent that those in attendance were in for a once in a lifetime experience.  La Monte led the group with hand gestures, eye contact, nods and subtle directions that demonstrated an intense level of communication from the seven years they have spent together as members of the ensemble. Charles said that it's the duty of the band to never take your eyes off of the master as he is directing the unfolding of the piece and the intense call and response between La Monte and the Ensemble members was ecstatic.

Subtle microtones in the voices slowly emerged, sounds that have been described as subtle shades of note particles above or below the precise pitch line. Of course the tuning of the voices and instruments to the tambura drones are of the utmost importance in Young's compositions.  Catler's special guitar was unique: one could rarely hear the down stroke of the pick on the string as he would turn the volume up after the stroke and play the left hand on the neck as he moved between the notes in a sustained tone.  Particularly mystical was the interplay between Charles and La Monte as the Raga built into the climax. The rapture began gaining momentum between the players and it spilled into the audience as the qualities of sounds and light began to alter the listeners’ psychological state and as the final quote noted in the lengthy program, "According to the Vedas, sound and music are embodied within the creation."

Pandit Pran Nath taught "sound is God."  And the sound did become God for many in the audience as afterward I witnessed many devotees approach La Monte and affirm their belief that the fountain of godhead flowed through him into them.  It was Young's masterful collage of formal microtonal classicism, mixed with archetypal elements of American rock and roll (like La Monte's cane and black robe, the magical ‘60s lighting, and the audience's predisposition ) fused into this Indian Raga that transported us to another realm.

At the end of the show, everyone in attendance was entranced.  We came from all over the world to be a part of the Just Alap Raga Ensemble performance in the Dream House as it was comparably one of the best shows I've ever experienced. It shook the foundations of my spirit, inspired me, and blew out any preconceived notions of space, time and prejudices regarding other music.  Fantasy turned into reality.

Charles noted about the shows, "I thought La Monte was incredibly strong and going for it, and the group is so focused on him that the performances basically rely on his energy, so it all comes out of his power."  The length of the concert was nearly 3 hours and the audience was enraptured and sat and lay spellbound in this mystical ceremony. This was an impossibly difficult ticket to obtain and many were left turned away as the show had been sold out quickly after the tickets were offered.  Some of the other performers represented in the Guggenheim's Third Mind show were Gary Snyder, Laurie Anderson and Yoko Ono.

More information about La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela's work can be found at

    Lotushouse MP3 Sampler
    Maquiladora - The Revenge of Becky Royal (New Piano)
    Tenniscoats + Maquiladora - Hours
    High Mountain Tempel - Processional (An Invocation to Thee Angelic Sister)
    Raagnagrok - HJD
    Beggars - Will We Call It Love
    Maquiladora - Termez 1936
    Maquiladora - Song 26
    Buzz or Howl - Sendhe Mortu Chin Rigore
    Earthling Tempel - Celestial Inhabitants of the Sun
    Buzz or Howl - The Sins Of The Flower Are Visited On The Shunned
    Maquiladora - Light of the Rain
    High Mountain Tempel - The Ascended Master (Hang Gliding in Heaven)
    High Mountain Tempel - Fluctuat Nec Mergitur
    High Mountain Tempel - Tempel Walk
    Buzz or Howl - 05 Oct 05
    Buzz or Howl - Sun as the Destroyer of Dreams
    Live version at the Make Room SF 2005
    Maquiladora - In This Life
    Maquiladora - Simply to See You
    Maquiladora with Kawabata Makoto - Nampasen
    Maquiladora Maquiladora - Drunk and Lighting Fires (A Waltz)
    Maquiladora Maquiladora - Ritual of Hearts
    Maquiladora Maquiladora - Ankle
    Maquiladora - Mayday
    Loraine Loraine - Pasqually Old Pasqually

    Beggars - S/T
    by Pierro Scaruffi

    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.

    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.

    LIMITED TO 150 COPIES! Each one hand numbered.


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