Wednesday, March 28, 2012

GUEST POST by Adam Zaby
-Washington, D.C.


The Daily Brothers "The Dream is Dead" c40 (Teflon Beast Records)
There's definitely a Grateful Dead influence working throughout this tape, and while it's not the only thing going on with the Daily Brothers, it's clearly highlighted in the label's submission letter and then there's the sweet looking skull on the cover so it would be a mistake not to mention it here, too.  Since I'm confident that the world of music would have been better off without the Grateful Dead, I'm probably the wrong person to be reviewing this tape. And I know that what I've just said probably insulted about a billion hippies, so I switched over to Spotify for a few bars of GD's Greatest Shits just to confirm my position. Position confirmed.

So take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt: this tape is something of a five steps forward, three steps back for what's otherwise a very promising upstart tape label. The earlier Himbert & Herbert release I liked a lot, but I'm not as down with this facet of the multi-genre label's output. The Daily Brothers are clearly hardworking. They probably came up playing bars/restaurants/clubs in their hometown, which I take to be somewhere in the hyphen between D-FW, Texas before they moved to Austin.  But there's an earnestness in the vocals that borders on being hard to watch for me, and I'm sure my bias here relates back to my aversion to the Dead.

My favorite track on the album would have to be the instrumental organ number "Behold, New Behemoth!," which comes near the end of side A, and is nowhere near as Metal with a capital M as I was hoping. Instead it's got kind of a sleepy R&B vibe (that I dig a lot) like it should have backed a montage sequence in a mid-70s film score. The mixing and recording for this album came through a little rough on both sides, with the drums and organ dissolving into the CrO2 without the same charming graininess of four-track bedroom recording, but it works on tracks like this one that seem already subdued by the haze of a bygone era.

Now flip the tape, and you'll find that side B does pick up with a much better, stompier classic blues rock (the first song seems to be about shoes so "stompier" fits). And if that's your thing, you might want to skip past side A altogether, and get straight to the more groove-aligned material.
Teflon Beast, keep on truckin'...
Buy it here. Listen here.


Eclipser "Transmissions from the Silver Pyramid" c60 (self-released)
Oh, Canada, you sweet bastard, ambient seems to have become a native form for y'all. You looked north, saw absolutely nothing the fuck up there, and found a way to incorporate that constant chill at your back into your music. Eclipser's a trio out of Victoria, BC, a town my TX ass thought was a whole province until now: Jeremy, Arlen, and a guy named Speedy, which I take to mean that he's a race car driver by trade on the Canuck NASCAR circuit.  And together they've found that great northern chill and run it through with some carefully distributed drone.

There's a nice roundness to Transmissions, a cohesiveness, and I get the sense that the group's sound could expand or contract to fill any container, which to me is a sign of a solid electronic act. You won't find much if anything abrasive in the mix here, mostly wholly conceived notes hanging in the air. This is the sound of radiant floating orbs, occasional spaceship encounters, and some lonely, rich hermit idly flipping keys on the organ in his mountain castle. In other words, it bears a striking resemblance to the images and not the sounds for what could have been an awesome Wu-Tang video. The best parts of the tape are cinematic, suggesting motion, interaction between characters. This is especially true during the atmospheric build on side B and then again later, much deeper into the same side where there's some nice human speech played backward.

The difficulty with this genre, in my opinion, is that it can be damned impossible to distinguish one band's sound from so many others except among the more loyal and elite listeners. Personally, I own a few ambient tapes, and I consider them all to be nice albums, but it doesn't always matter to me which one gets thrown in the deck, which probably takes me right out of the running for that "elite" ranking I just mentioned. But then ambient artists seem inclined to be self-effacing (self-eclipsing?), preferring to hide behind their sounds, rarely performing live outside of their hometowns, and somehow never having their photos taken. So maybe this is okay, just fine. I do know I'm glad to have their tape, and I'm sure I'll enjoy Eclipser's kosmische, their hypnotic and pulsating forms, for many more flips to come. Here's to hoping these guys can find the base of loyal and knowledgable electronic fans that they deserve.

More on the band here. No clue where to pick up a copy, though.


--both reviews by Adam Zaby--

No comments:

Post a Comment