Site hosted by Build your free website today!
Back to Prem's [ig] Noble Web Page--main
Prem's Faves for 2004
{no particular order}
KUSF San Francisco, 90.3 FM
Band/Artist Release Record Label Prem's Spew
Badawi Clones & False Prophets ROIR elements of dub reggae--namely the driving bass guitar and accompanying snare/hi-hat/kick drum rhythms--converge seamlessly with middle-eastern percussion and rhythms to create a very dark atmosphere, with embellishments of avant garde piano, clarinet, guitar, flute, and the occasional eerie female vocal; Raz Mesinai leads this project, as usual, and is joined on this release by guests Marc Ribot and Shahzad Ismaily, among others [2003 release]
Califone Heron King Blues Thrill Jockey dusty folk/blues/Americana meets electronic loops and, dare it be said, IMPROVISATION; though this intriguing blend might not, on paper, sound at all enticing, Califone masters the juxtaposition of banjo with cello and prepared piano, Wurlitzer with mbira, pump organ with electronics and more, and yet still maintains focus with each mysterious creation featured here--deceptively lulling you into a state of acceptance then flooding your mind with subtle complexities
Cerberus Shoal Bastion of Itchy Preeves North East Indie (NEI) with this release Cerberus Shoal once again makes it easy to infer that the band may actually consist of renegade outer-space aliens seeking refuge on Earth from the conformist dictates of the corrupt intelligencia of their home world of Bleeb; gooney synths, musical saw weirdness, and simplistic rhythms converge with elaborate instrumentation, music box chaos, mouth-harp lyricism, prolific choruses, and a host of whistley accentuating sounds on this oddball extravaganza
Nels Cline/Vinny Golia The Entire Time Nine Winds Cline and Golia converse with one another in a musical tongue replete with syllables and phrases, but spoken with woodwinds and guitars, and whereas other improvising duets' similar attempts may degenerate into two musicians talking "at" each other, in this case the conversations evolve with eloquence and elegance and involve both acoustic and electric guitar as well as saxophones, bass clarinet, and flutes; many tracks feel moody and dark, while one brings into play seemingly Chinese influences and several feature subtle electronic modifications
{various} Death Rattle & Roll Volume 1 Wondertaker garage rock'n'roll in all its raunchy glory, with no compromises offered--cranking electric guitars, roaring bass, slamming drums, jackhammer in-your-face vocals, and an overflow of attitude; an excellent sampling of the scene with tons of brain-rattling riffs on thirty tracks featuring The Jack Saints, Everything Must Go, Jack Endino's Earthworm, Motorhome, Ain't, The Nitwitz, The Amputees, Bottles & Skulls, Black Furies, Fleshies, Midnight Bombers, The Hydromatics, Reid Paley, The Grannies, & Dirty Power
Deerhoof Milk Man Kill Rock Stars/5 Rue Christine Deerhoof continues to solidify its sound, building upon the substance of its last release ("Apple O'") and moving further away from the addled tumult of its earlier releases; however, the core Deerhoof sound remains intact, with inventive rhythm structures and lyrical/instrumental interaction as well as a myriad of musical curveballs, though this album evidences electronic themes perhaps associated more with Arne Nordheim's works from the early 1970s than with anything produced contemporaneously
Fantómas Delirium Cordia Ipecac a musical convergence of fun-house horrors with dark, schizophrenic improvisation in a manner reminiscent of Naked City, replete with screams & whispers, haunted-house vocals sans lyrics, heavy breathing that would make Darth Vader jealous, church bells tolling, tribal drumming, tabla fills, computerized sound collage, chimes, ominous organ, foreboding ambience, machine-gun trap drumming, mouth harp, tongue'n'palette rhythms, and much more; Mike Patton brings it all together intricately with a great sense of focus throughout, keeping it all from imploding upon itself without seeming to take itself too seriously
Faun Fables Early Song Drag City the first full-length release from Dawn McCarthy and friends, originally self-released on CD-R in 1999 and now reissued on Drag City, featuring Nils Frykdahl (of Idiot Flesh, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, more) on most tracks as well as other guests such as Mark Orton and Rob Burger of Tin Hat Trio; traditional European influences (yodelling, etc.) intermingle with Appalachian traditions while plenty of reverb provides a supernatural environment complete with flute, vibraphone, pump organ, cello, electric guitar, and/or reversed tape noise lurking quietly in the background of McCarthy's brooding yet sometimes shrill vocals, her acoustic guitar, and Frykdahl's often-falsetto supporting vocals
Faun Fables Family Album Drag City similar to Early Song (see above), but far more elaborate and flamboyant, involving between 15-20 participants and the sounds of whales, crows, wolves, and more; this time around witnesses a greater choral presence and the inclusion of more guest vocalists (including one song sung by a child!), as well as guests on cello (Marika Hughes of Charming Hostess), vibraphone (Phillip Williams of Nanos Operetta), piano & organ (McCarthy's mom--Michelina Tyrie), glockenspiel (Max Baloian of Nanos Operetta/Rube Waddell) and many more
Flat Earth Society Isms Ipecac much like music for a spy movie, full of twists and turns in a big-band fashion featuring quirky themes and the occasional obnoxious vocal chorus; clarinetist Peter Vermeersch leads this motley Belgian assortment of over twenty participants (with trombones, saxes, guitar, tuba, kazoo, accordion, trumpets, percussion, acoustic bass, vibraphone, xylophone, keyboards, clarinets, and vocals) through a set of mostly original compositions (the two exceptions being one cover which melds Nick Cave's 'King Ink' with a Louis Armstrong composition and another which seems to draw upon a traditional Chinese tune) that transport you into a dementedly cartoonish world
Diamanda Galás Defixiones: Will and Testament|Orders from the Dead Mute Galás focuses her fury upon the subject of genocide and "ethnic cleansing," whether that of the Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks by the Turks or the Jews by the Nazis or the Palestinians by the Jews or the Incas, Aztecs, and other Native Americans by early European explorers and early Americans or otherwise as her vibrato-laden voice seethes with anger, resentment, and loss; disc one of this two-disc set features studio performances of Galás' disturbing vocal gyrations (sometimes backed by her own piano playing and/or dark atmospheres, occasionally with electronic modification) with one track featuring a chorus of the doomed, while disc two features her live voice/piano performances recorded in Los Angeles/New York City/Medellin, Columbia/Aula Magna, Portugal [2003 release]
Ghost Hypnotic Underworld Drag City another release from Ghost which sophisticatedly intermingles psychedelic rock with traditional ethnic music forms (Japanese, Indian, European, more); though one or two of the tracks featured here feels positively dated to the Summer of Love and it would seem that the key ascending vocal chorus to "Aramaic Barbarous Dawn" was lifted from the title track of Uriah Heep's 1971 "Salisbury" album, Ghost again makes a strong showing with a much heavier feel than on its previous two or three releases, even including a long, intriguingly dissonant instrumental piece to kick off this album
Performer: Iranian Orchestra for New Music
Composer/Conductor: Alireza Mashayekhi
Iranian Orchestra for New Music Hermes Records Mashayekhi guides you through a matrix of simple to complex themes that range from minimalistic to grandiose, elegant to peculiar, accommodating to unsettling; indigenous instruments [tombak and daf percussion + ney (flute) + setar, tar, & oud lutes + ghanoon zither + santur hammered dulcimer + kamancheh bowed strings] meet western instruments (violins, drums, cello, guitar, clarinets, and piano) as well as computer-generated music for blends which, though they retain their Iranian character, push the limits of where classical ends and experimental begins [2002 release]
{various} Irving Stone Memorial Concert Tzadik the passing in June of 2003 of Irving Stone--a fervent supporter of the New York jazz scene stretching all the way back to the 1970s--brought together a great many inspired musicians to perform beautifully in his remembrance: an aggressive duet for violin and piano by Mark Feldman and Sylvie Courvoisier; a shrieky sax solo from John Zorn; an intense yet sorrowful cello solo from Erik Friedlander; a free-jazz gathering of Oscar Noriega, Trevor Dunn, and Tom Rainey on sax, acoustic bass, and drums; an experimental flute solo from Robert Dick; bizarre gyrations of voice and electronics from Shelley Hirsch and David Weinstein; a stark, ominous duo for sax and guitar from Ellery Eskelin and Marc Ribot; a grooving piece for piano, electric guitar, and acoustic bass from Annie Gosfield, Roger Kleier, and Greg Cohen; driving improvisation for piano, electronics, and drums from Sylvie Courvoisier, Ikue Mori, and Susie Ibarra (collectively known as "Mephista"); a forceful cello solo from Okkyung Lee; a serene piano solo from Yuko Fujiyama; a peculiar duet for trumpet and synthesizer from Lesli Dalaba and Wayne Horvitz; and a great many other performances from musicians including Stone's widow Stephanie, Tim Berne/Sylvie Courvoisier/Tom Rainey, Herb Robertson/Andy Laster/Steve Swell/Joey Baron, John Zorn/Ikue Mori, Charles Gayle/Tom Rainey, Satoko Fujii, David Sewelsen/Greg Cohen/Kenny Wollesen, Karen Borca/Roy Campbell, Roy Campbell, Louis Belogenis/Tony Malaby/Trevor Dunn/Tom Rainey, Chris Speed, and William Parker and the Little Huey Big Band (including Roy Campbell/Matt Lavelle/Masahiko Kono/Rob Brown/Charles Waters/Sabir Mateen/David Sewelson/Andrew Barker)
Glenn Jones This Is the Wind that Blows It Out|Solos for 6&12 String Guitar Strange Attractors Jones, guitarist of Cul de Sac and long-time fan of John Fahey (the two played together, as a matter of fact, on the Cul de Sac/Fahey album "The Epiphany of Glenn Jones"), renders a set of elegant chamber folk and blues guitar solos of which Fahey would be proud--brimming with warmth of spirit, yet of calm and contemplative disposition; one track (Nora's Leather Jacket) develops more of a flamenco feel, while another (Linden Avenue Stomp) features guitarist Jack Rose in accompaniment for a quick blues jam
The King Cobra The King Cobra Troubleman Unlimited a choppy ride fraught with pounding drums/quick-change time signatures, growlingly ominous metal bass guitar, occasional farfisa organ, spacey weirdness electronic accents, and a female vox that ranges from dark and menacing to staccato and ballistic; Rachel Carnes--the former vocalist/drummer/organist of The Need--drives the attack on this EP, while Tara Jane O'Neil and Betsy Kwo provide the follow-through for this art/punk/metal sledgehammer of a band
Guy Klucevsek/Phillip Johnston Tales from the Cryptic Winter & Winter an odd mix of Western classical music themes, traditional folk song structures, and avant-garde tendencies for accordion and saxophone which ranges in feel from bouncy to tense to melancholy to creepy...creative dissonance plays a large role in many of the compositions featured here, often sneaking in unexpectedly as a contrast to throw the listening experience a bit off kilter; the classical themes draw from works by Schubert (Der Leiermann), Satie (Petite Ouverture a Danser) and Strauss (The Blue Danube Waltz, as evidenced in "Blue Window") [2003 release]
The Magnetic Fields i Nonesuch a virtually acoustic release by The Magnetic Fields?!?! BRING IT ON! The complete lack of synthesizers on this outing (indeed, electric instruments are hardly used at all) and the clever utilization of acoustic instruments instead (acoustic guitar, cello, bell lyra, harpsichord, piano, toy piano, marimba, acoustic percussion, banjo, ukulele, more) alone makes this release unique, as this arrangement lends itself to the baleful sentimentality of Stephin Merritt's baritone vocal, but the artful catchiness of all of the tunes featured here leaves them percolating through your mind long after you've heard them--in a good way
mJane Prayers from the Underbelly|Live at the High Mayhem Festival 2003 Pax Recordings a coming-together of the avant-garde vocals of bandleader Molly Jane Sturges (from whose name the band's moniker is derived) with unstructured turntablism, real-time sampling, harmonium drones, edgy percussion, and--most notably--oud flourishes; the focus throughout remains upon Sturges' non-lyrical vocals, which vary widely from aggressive or eerie singing of word-like utterances to harsh vibrato-heavy passages reminiscent of Diamanda Galás to horrific quasi-human shrieks to whispery gnome-like mutterings--perhaps unsuitable for background listening
Amy X Neuburg Residue Other Minds an electroacoustic thrill ride that intertwines shocking operatic bellicosity with voice loops, cyclical enlightened gibberish, electronic decomposition and reconstitution, warped chorales and more in a manner that locks on to your brain then rattles it into conniptions of oversaturation; the key element here is the human voice (Neuburg's, needless to say) evidenced in a myriad of complex applications and environs
Raushan Orazbaeva Akku Felmay deep, gripping solo performances full of longing, foreboding, and death utilizing Orazbaeva's instrument--the two-string bowed kyl-kobyz of the Kazakhs--which produces a sound and feel similar to that of the cello; however, this shamanistic instrument also features jingling metal objects which help create the dark sonic environment in which it had traditionally been utilized, though Orazbaeva deftly applies it to non-traditional roles as well after having resurrected it from oblivion with compositions involving even the howling of wolves
Pinback Summer in Abaddon Touch & Go pleasantly poppy but with ulterior motives, this release from Pinback's Rob Crow & Armistead Burwell Smith features plenty of rhythmic and melodic hooks as well as a wealth of catchy refrains--but there's often something slithery hiding beneath the surface; a careful listen reveals that there's much more going on here than one might anticipate from a poppy album, with peculiarly eerie harmonies or the occasional odd meter, murky electronic backgrounds, etc. turning up more frequently than expected to keep you transfixed
Chitravina N. Ravikiran Music from Madras|Ravikiran Plays Chitravina Nimbus Records Ravikiran's mastery of the chitravina [a very large lute related to the veena (or vina) but played horizontally with a slide, much like pedal steel] shines through these ragas of South-Indian Carnatic music, sounding serene yet full of dynamic gamakam (or bends in pitch); the chitravina and violin on these recordings interact playfully, while the mridangam (a two-headed barrel-shaped hand drum) delineates the complex associated talas (rhythmic cycles) and augments the improvisation [2001 release]
Jack Rose Two Originals of... VHF Records a variety of meditative yet often murky compositions for acoustic 6&12-string guitar, dobro, and slide guitar--all infused with the blues; on "Yaman Blues," Rose imitates the raga form by starting with a sitar style that mutates into slide blues, while on "Linden Ave Stomp" he's joined by guitarist Glenn Jones of Cul de Sac for a folksy blues duet, and with his shiverring slide cover of "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground" Rose invokes the spirit of Blind Willie Johnson
The Supplicants Balance Isotope Records inflective jazz that steers the listener through a variety of forms (the 10-beat rhythm of "Missouri" or the 14-beat rhythm of "Ibeji" provided by percussionist Sameer Gupta, for example, as well as more traditional structures) yet maintains a melancholy mood overall with introspective bass lines from David Ewell and moody bass clarinet/saxophone riffs from David Boyce (of the Broun Fellinis) and Richard Howell; the pace becomes more brisk on several tracks including the band's cover of Alice Coltrane's "Ptah, the El Daahoud," but the character remains subdued [2002 release]
David Thomas & Two Pale Boys 18 Monkeys on a Dead Man's Chest Smog Veil a weirdness tour de force, intertwining Thomas' characteristically acidic vocals--often electronically modified--with a masterfully crafted web of psychotropic rhythmic and melodic electronic sequences, outlandish theremin, echo-heavy trumpet, blunt and driving electric guitar/electric bass riffage, and occasional melodeon tweaks; this recording incorporates the best elements of Thomas' past with Pere Ubu and trumpeter Andy Diagram's work with Spaceheads, and portends the indoctrination of guitarist/violinist Keith Moliné into the Ubu continuum while maintaining its own distinct brand of quirkiness
The Vandermark Five Elements of Style...Exercises in Surprise Atavistic the title of this release sums up many of the performances included here in that most of the pieces begin and end with a certain style, yet feature all kinds of unexpected surprises in the middle--on the track "Knock Yourself Out" the band begins and ends with nippy funkiness though the middle mutates into free jazz hell...and on "Telefon" the beginning and end feature rapid-fire jazz reminiscent of John Coltrane while the middle slips into creepy humming into the horns...and "Intagliamento" begins and ends with droney minimalism as the middle explodes with nippy toots and clanks...and the last piece--the epic 20+ minute-long "Six of One"--veers into and out of a variety of peculiar phases; however, nothing here sounds incongruous because the players manage to maintain a sense of functionality throughout each piece as a whole
Ellen Weller Spirits, Little Dreams, and Improvisations Circumvention Music Weller brings together a pool of talented musicians including Vinny Golia, Nathan Hubbard, Lisle Ellis, and others for an inspired set of improvised pieces of varied intentions and influences drawing upon klezmer, funk, jazz, folk, chaos, and more and featuring a myriad of musical instruments--even a dark piece centered upon the rare contrabass clarinet as played by Golia; Weller, a multi-instrumentalist who focuses on the woodwinds, keeps these performances from flying apart with her poise and keen sense of direction

Back to Prem's [ig] Noble Web Page--main