Carla Bozulich - Evangelista (Constellation)
Ms. B has long compelled me with a voice unlike any others; through the years she's saddled up with Ethyl Meatplow, Scarnella, Mike Watt, Nels Cline, the Geraldine Fibbers, and was acclaimed for her soulful renditions of Willie Nelson tunes on her Red Headed Stranger LP a few years back. The textures and timbres of Carla's voice make her one of the few people who can carry the trad song structure as well as the out-there explorations of sound space and rule both domains. Leaving behind her sunny L.A. home to hook up with the Montreal Constellation crew (including assorted Godspeed You Black Emperor/Silver Mt. Zion/Hanged Up musicians among others), she spent some frozen winter time armed with some pre-prepared sounds and loops to create one stunner of an album that subtly slides around both those plains, making a passionate if not scarified slab of music. Opener "Evangelista I" is almost an invocation to the harrowing ride ahead, as scraping strings and drones swell around Bozulich, her fearsome voice declares war right back at the proceedings to the point of cracking. The album is however as full of as much beauty as it is unrest, and it is when these elements clash is when she shines strongest (I probably realized this upon hearing her version of "Masters of War" on a Scott Amendola release, it's one of the most venomous takes on the song ever); her ability to enhance verse with completely self-stylize flights of fancy illuminate her in the same breath as moments of Patti Smith (ala "Birdland" or "Radio Ethiopia") and Starsailor-era Tim Buckley as well. But it's also invigorating to see her dragging similar passion in playing out of the Constellation stable who are often at a fiery peak here accompanying her own sounds with live instrumentation. Evangelista I (Real Audio broadcast).
Jacob Kirkegaard - 4 Rooms (Touch Tone)
AKA I Am Sitting In a Radioactive Room? A sonic time layering piece that technically evokes the classic Alvin Lucier recording I Am Sitting In a Room (which recorded a voice in a solitary environ and rerecorded again and again while playback was occuring), this disc is the latest chapter in a long line of investigations of discrete sonic properties in different environments by this Danish-born composer/artist. Having previously collaborated with turntable experimentalist Philip Jeck and recently issuing geothermal recordings, Kirkegaard this time turns his microphones towards the site of the world's worst nuclear power plant accident, Chernobyl in the Ukraine. Making recordings of 10 minutes each, he examines the sounds of four individual rooms, each one abruptly evacuated with belongings left behind upon the 1986 disaster. After repeated playbacks while recordings continue (up to 10 cycles), each of the locations reveals its own dense overtones, slow but sure. The haunting quality of the drones is only compounded by the invisible danger of what may still be existant. Tracks are merely titled "Church", "Auditorium", "Swimming Pool" and "Gymnasium", and definitely ring with a creepy vibe of ghosts unlocked. Excerpt of "Swimming Pool" (Real Audio).
Noel Von Harmonson - Born On the 4th of July (Resipiscent)
I'd have loved to have flipped the switch to the WFMU Time Machine the couple of times the mighty Comets on Fire burned up our live studio, if only so that we could show Yanni (who honest-to-gawd used to hang in the WFMU East Orange studio orbit back in the day) what would be wrought 25 years down the line in terms of solo human/electronic manipulation. It's always been a severe pleasure witnessing the Man Behind the Box, Noel Von Harmonson, careening around on the Echoplex and oscillators literally riding the waves of scum sound like he was piloting a brakeless schoolbus. A promo-only Comets EP gave us a quick taste on one track of what Noel could get up to on his own (like say, while the rest of the band were preoccupied trying to get drummer Utrillo to put his pants back on), and now that Resipiscent has treated us all with a full length version of that the world is most certainly a little better. Here our dude is literally cruising the Oakland strip zapping all the electroclash boheme posuers down with mighty knob-twiddle, the whole while shaking the joint with rhinoceros-mating-call electrified action. if you're looking to be led on a sort of slow "cosmic trip" of sorts, you might want to look for that Cluster record instead, this is an all-out assault on the senses that will reward those willing to hop on. Excerpt of track 1 from Bill Zurat's show here (Real Audio).
Sightings - End Times (Fusetron) (pic on right: BT)
One can only imagine what it must be like down the hall rehearsing at Sightings' NYC practice space, here is a band that has clearly developed its highly evolved sense of communication via playing together, a lot, at volume that I'm surprised hasn't alerted Bloomberg in his office firsthand. Contrary to what Li'l Steve might have said about what it takes personnel-wise to make it in the scene, the Rock Trio may be the most advanced form of consultation (I guess he would write off the Minutemen, Dead Moon, etc.), and as a guitar/bass/drums format, Sightings have established telepathy to turn it all inside out with a shitstorm of sound just as flooring as your other No Fun Fest superstars that have abandoned that traditional instrumentation. In the eight years or so that the Sightings gentlemen have been, like the Doobie Brothers, taking it to the streets, strange things have happened. At first there was the noize rock. Terrifying sheets of guitar attack and marble-mouthed vocal gruntings from Mark Morgan with a pretty workmanlike rhythm section (Richard Hoffman on bass, John Lockie on drums), but within a certain realm of Fushitsusha/Keiji Haino worship there was also a creeping teutonic coldness, later weird elements of Chain Reaction/Thomas Brinkmann style minimalist electronic signifiers fell in while the rock context never shifted at all. They still sounded like a total inferno, but the rock muscle elements kind of collapsed inward and the bass and drums started to work as ever-blurring textures more than directly ID'd driving rhythmic sources, while disjoined vocals acted as an instrument in itself around the nebulous screech of the guitar wall. Here the band really hit its stride, heaping everything into one big swelling organic force while still giving you a clue that secretly these dudes all dissected Wackies dub records, hence I half expected them to continue their dive into the dumpsters of the echo chamber and start honing it and endearing themselves to Christgau like Sonic Youth started to post 1986. Fat ol' chance. Instead, they beefed up and got even more brutal. The last record on Load was my fave to date, and wondering how they'd up it with End Times, well, they went and created one of the most assaultive gtr/bass/drum outings ever. It's a completely scarified slab of ugly, twisted stuff, but even though it's a bloody hellride, there's some of their most advanced structures and compelling moves. But it is a record clubbed by one big Ugly Stick. Unclog your "Bile Duct" (Real Audio) here.