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26 February 2017
The Waxathon isn't a record that anyone remembers - I think barely anyone even remembers Dreamcatcher at this point, which is what I said at the beginning when I covered their LP four years ago - and you can currently snag a copy on Discogs for 3€. And that might be worth the investment, if you have an interest in extremely difficult outsider Canadian electro-acoustic noise circa 2001-2002. This was recorded live and sounds like it, with amp buzz a constant reminder of the arsenal of Hargreaves and so many like him. Which is not to say that this is derivative; what keeps this record on my shelf is my continual enjoyment of it; how it hails from an aesthetic time/era but sounds, almost paradoxically, unlike any of its peers. There's barely identifiable sounds from guitars or keyboards, warped vocals, and a sense of compositional construction that is curiously bereft of drama, impact or resolution. The opening cut, 'Who The Fuck Said That?', is completely the wrong way to start an album - the most minimal piece here, it stumbles along with occasional blurts of activity that sound more accidental than anything else. And it's not even mood minimalism, but just the sound of decayed, forgotten loneliness. By the end of the first side things have gained momentum - '2001: It's Saudi Duty Time' has a title which suggests a political intent, and given that this record was recorded starting in September 2001, you have to wonder if this was made in some form of response. But rather than contain any lucid narrative, the bottom keeps falling out, ending up like a bag of old cutlery being shaken out into a giant anthill. 'I Beat Cops Up the Rope Ladder' ends the side, coalescing into a violent, thick shakedown that's the closest The Waxathon ever gets to the dense wall-of-noise aesthetic, though it also keeps things spacious and ends with a tape splice just when you think it's gonna get anthemic. When I saw Dreamcatcher live a few years later I thought Wolf Eyes was the obvious influence, and you can hear that a bit on their LP, but The Waxathon feels devoid of any particular ancestor - that pulsing malevolence that Wolf Eyes inherited from their Factrix (or even Skinny Puppy) influence is nowhere to be found here. Nor is their the more dadistic, absurd side of the noise underground - even the title 'Jesus Ducks Jury Duty' and its low-mixed, buried vocal samples all serve an aesthetic that is far more alien than anything else. 'AK-420 War Journal' features sampled voice calls over a sustained harsh drone, I think maybe with his mom, pushing the question of 'what is music' and also setting an image of what Mr. Hargreaves day-to-day life was like at the turn of the millennium in Montreal. When it's over, I'm right back where I started - not really sure what any of it meant, but somehow altered by the experience.
21 February 2017
18 February 2017
17 February 2017
18 October 2016
The 8th of July 1969, being a recording from just that day which merges the American and continental European approaches to free music of the time, with Anthony Braxton and Jeanne Lee meeting Willem Breuker and Arjen Gorter, among others. But his catalog beyond that record is worth a dip, especially if you can come across these 'Jubilee Edition' releases, reissuing some recordings from the early 70s at what was then a discount price. And also if you like vibes. Angel finds Hampel and Jeanne Lee working together again, with a young Daniel Carter on saxes and Enrico Rava, plus a few less known names (I thought bassist John Shea sounded familiar until I realised I was thinking of former Manchester United defender John O'Shea). This is recorded live on WKCR in New York, 1972, and thus has that raw, slightly scratchy sound associated with radio recordings - the energy of the live audience can't be felt, though I guess the energy of potentially millions of listeners could replace it, in a virtual sense. These guys were certainly up to the task, opening with a fluttery collection of wind instruments (there's five musicians here blowing into things, plus Lee's voice, Paul Bouillet's guitar, the aforementioned Shea, and Murugar's percussion hanging it all together on a wire frame). No one takes front and centre, until the middle of side one when the guitar chords have a 70s waka-chika sound and Carter's tenor repeats a three note theme over which everyone else goes wild, circling and circling and never quite coming to a test. Things evolve collectively, the digging of heels gradually lightening and a dare I say 'swing' feel coming in. Hampel switches to his vibes and makes a nice off-kilter groove with the rhythm section, though Murugar is fluttering about on the toms and making the rhythm felt through the absence of a strong drum pattern. It's masterful, and it's slightly sneaky the way it creeps out of the angry birds at the beginning. Side two continues, veering back and forth from open, quick jabs of winds and more fluid passages. It's all held together by Hampel's compositional sense, which is just there enough to be felt while allowing these musicians the full spectrum of expression. I'm not always sure who is who (Rava's trumpet is largely underrepresented) but as the Galaxie Dream Band, it definitely congeals into a band form.
15 October 2016
Marion Brown's Afternoon of a Georgia Faun side one if it were transposed to this time and place.