Saturday, August 7, 2010

JAWSMOKE/NITE LITE "Split" c26 [Stunned]

So apparently Phil French (Super Minerals, Magic Lantern, Stunned Records) and Jeff Astin (Xiphiidae, Tricorn & Queue, the Housecraft label) have been hanging out and I want to know one thing: why wasn’t I invited guys?
The first side by Jawsmoke titled “Palo Santo” is actually a series of miniatures that were maybe recorded in and/or inspired by St. Paul or something(?) It’s very pleasant to listen to, particularly before bed or just waking up. All the sounds are pretty gentle, without being new agey or overly “soft.” It’s tactile music but still a nice one to relax to. I’m guessing there’s probably a keyboard or two, tapes, and some simple percussion maybe. Each piece lasts anywhere from 45 seconds to a couple minutes and there’s usually some rhythmic looping somewhere though it's typically obscured by keyboard drones or field recordings. The approach is refreshingly simple; none of the pieces achieve a lot but they are all modest successes. They show up, they’re enjoyed by the listener and then it’s on to the next. I wish this approach was implemented a lot more often when dealing with ambient/drone-oriented music.
Nite Lite is another Astin/French project but the group also features Myste French, Whitney Hackett and William Giacci (Super Minerals). Like the first side, there’s a modest approach I really appreciate. Namely that this jingle-jangle percussion jam doesn’t immediately sound like five people. Each person is doing their own simple percussion-oriented thing on thumb piano or metal chains or whatever and allow the sounds some space to collide. There's a loose but natural chemistry with the group of players as they are never too shy but all remain tasteful in their contributions, no one voice overwhelms the others. The piece, "Molly," just kind ambles along without arc but it has complexity without density which is a nice change of pace from the usual. Enjoyable little tape overall.
This tape is available as a free bonus if you buy the other 5 new Stunned releases which you should (the Warm Climate tape rules!) I like the squiggly line artwork too.

Stunned