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!





 

 

 

 

Ouled Bambara - Portraits of Gnawa (Twos & Fews) Keith Boyd 8.8.09
 
When was the last time you had the demons driven out of your head?  We’ve all got them.  They boil around in our brains at night, keeping us up through the raw stinging hours, whispering and shouting.  “Not good enough!” they shriek.  “Eat this!  Buy that!” they cajole.  “It’s all your fault!” they taunt.  We needn’t watch The Exorcist to get a dose of the infernal.  All we need to do is look in the mirror.  
 
I suppose it’s a part of our human nature to feel beset by dark forces (both internal and external).  It is also a part of our nature to seek out ways of keeping them at bay and driving them out.  Go where you will in this life and you’ll find any number of personal and cultural methods of dealing with the devil.  Some Pentecostals speak in tongues and handle snakes. Huge festivals in India are centered on engaging in intense methods for purification and renewal.  Some folks find it in exercise, others in meditation.  Some cultures send people on vision quests to seek out answers and direction.  In the U.S. we are generally so bereft of effective rights of passage and exorcism that many people turn to drugs or alcohol to find relief.  In Morocco, North Africa, an entire caste of people exists who use music and singing to accomplish the aims of mental and spiritual well being.  This group is the Gnawa, and Ouled Bambara: Portraits of Gnawa, the new album from Twos & Fews (a new boutique label from Drag City) provides a beautiful and clear entry into their world.
 
In Morocco, magic is everywhere.  This is not meant to be as poetic or picturesque as it seems at first.  From charms and curses to divination, people from all tiers of society engage with the supernatural world on a daily basis.  It is part and parcel of their lives and is deeply entangled with their Islamic faith.  I have traveled some in Morocco, and in most cities have found that troops of the various types of musical healers can be found plying their trade in every possible venue.  You’ll find them in markets, at festivals, and even in private homes.  Certain areas are known to be the heartland of these brotherhoods and sects.  Essaouira is a city particularly associated with the Gnawa; however, traveling groups are instantly recognizable where ever they may be.  Members of the group wear a woven dreadlock and cowry shell-encrusted headpiece.  This, along with their robes and instruments, make their appearance distinctive.  Although not all are so, most Gnawa tend to be dark-skinned Black Africans.  Their forbearers came from sub-Saharan Africa, and were brought to Morocco as slaves.  Their unique appearance and the intensity of their purpose lend them a shamanic aura that in some senses speaks to their function in Moroccan life and society.  
 
Although many recordings of Gnawa music are available, this is the first one that combines a quality recording with amazing background information.  The excellent liner notes that come with this project go a long ways towards explaining the cultural, historical, and practical aspects of the Gnawa. A track-by-track breakdown further clarifies the specific rituals and musical modes on display.  While this context is thoroughly engrossing and vital for understanding what is a complex phenomenon, it isn’t needed in order to be overwhelmed by the lush, intense sound of the music.  Perhaps it’s best just to know that the “tagnawit” (the craft of the Gnawi), results in the participant’s entering an altered state in which the symbolic power of music and sound assist in negotiating life’s disparities.  As the accompanying essay notes, Gnawa is, “rooted in uprootedness, imbued with Islamic cosmology, moving in rhythm by the grace of God and the authorization of the saints.”  People experiencing a Gnawa ritual move through darkness and emerge revitalized and empowered into the light of the day.
 
So, what does it sound like, and what artistic relevance does it have for the Western listener?  The three main elements of the music are derived from vocals, guinbri, and qaraqueb.  The trance-inducing interplay of these three elements makes for a heady and delightful experience.  The music comes on like rolling thunder.  It rumbles and echoes with the rubbery thwack of the guinbri. This is then offset by the metallic, train-chug fizz of the qaraqueb.  Call and response vocal chants ride these ebbing and flowing waves of energy. I think most modern ears have been attenuated to this kind of hypnotic repetition via the good graces of electronic music in all of its various forms.  So perhaps this link and entranceway may allow for a kind of parallel understanding and enjoyment.  The sheer energy and exuberance of the sound will surely capture the imagination of any music lover.  The disk was expertly recorded and has a crisp vibrancy that snaps like an active presence in the room.  The music is intensely rhythmic, and as such, reads as a primal and earthy FUNK with the relentlessness of an earthquake.  By using their cache within the independent and arty underground, Drag City is doing everyone a favor with this release.  Hopefully this disk will help dispel the “museum piece” aloofness and academic quality that much African music gets entombed with.  These sounds should open a few ears and inspire some exploration.  Who knows?  They might even drive out a demon or two.


    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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