CHIK WHITE “Jaw Works & Behind a Dead Tree on the Shore” C60 (Notice Recordings)

BEN OWEN "Birds and Water, 4" C41
(Notice Recordings)


The immense, magical strangeness of the jaw harp – man, that twanging, cartoonish sproing – fuels this release. It’s essentially a series of brief exercises. On Side A, the Nova Scotia-based White cycles through variations on his daily practice; on Side B, he improvises along a shoreline. Since each track is no briefer than 50 seconds and no longer than four minutes, a game freshness reigns and there is never a sense that the artist is repeating himself: the coiled spritely bounce of “Hiding In A Dead Tree” is as distinct from the breathy, fading hesitancy of “Dreamer’s Words” or the steady, strident vibrations of “Dreamer’s Question.” White’s tones sidle from hypnagogic to inquisitive to – in the case of “Cliff Collapsing Slowly” – downright cybernetic, the echoed thrumming contrasting deliciously with the ceaseless crash and dispersion of waves. “Meditative” is a descriptor that’s thrown around a lot in experimental or drone music, but it’s rarely this earned, even as a crepuscular unease lurks at the edges of this cassette.

The album can be heard here; Chik White also has a Bandcamp page.

-- Raymond Cummings



Refrigerator tones. A distant lawnmower. Putting your ear to an airplane that is incessantly take off. Blow-dryer by the sea.

Ah, I just noticed some subtle shifting and extra-ness under the surface. Is it new, or has it been there from the start and my ears are just adjusting? Classic drone question.
Source is probably electronic. Who am I to say that it is not a vacuum cleaner? Or a blender? Maybe a microwave cooking meatloaf? This is jam is making me hungry. Tasty jammers.
Subtle changes happening under the surface, oscillating sounds cycling, shifting, bubbling. Do you like chilling out to subtle drone? Blast it. This will be the summer jam of 2015, folks cruising with the windows down, lemonade in cup holders, cranking this at top volume.
It feels like the artist is making sound that is asking you to stop what you are doing and FOCUS on the sound. Meditate and envision sine waves. I'm really wondering if I'm missing out playing this on a stereo with ONE SPEAKER.
In a hospital bed you are zoning out to the sound of a machine monitoring someone's heart-rate flat-lining. You notice the constant tone is suddenly much lower, and you realize those drugs have kicked in and you can feel waves rippling. A sort of fluctuating phasing is accompanying the hum. Ride it out. The doctor is good. The drugs are good. There is only peace inside the hum. Ride the waves inside the hum. The whoosh-whooshing is increasing in speed, and you wonder briefly if you are hearing your heart-rate in the humming.
Is the phasing sound louder than the humming now, or am I just so focused on it?
Side 2 feels like a series of tones droning out. Constant sound. Feels like this particular series of tones is making my stomach feel off; I am on edge. And there it goes, there is that phasing going on. This track is going to make my brain explode.
I feel like if my mom walked in right now, I'd have some explaining to do. Fuck. Mad respect, big ups, but this is making me feel uneasy. Was thinking about pulling the plug, but I'm g'nna weather this.
Someone (hi, Ben) is twiddling the shit out of a knob or something. Side 1 was more mellow, serene... but this side, for me, definitely has a jarring effect, though still, demands that you focus in & zone/drone out to the pulsating under the surface.

Hand-numbered edition of 100. Don't tell mom, the babysitter's dead.

-- Garrison Heck