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Deep Voices #73
More flourishes, a little dynamism
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A couple tracks of extreme repetition here. First is drummer Kioto Aoki, whose new album of solo percussion is excellent. “Is Not IS” rolls along heavily, pensively. Aoki is a taiko drummer and the track is her pummeling away. It’s not calming in the way the constant low hum of ambient music may be, but it has a heartbeat to it that is meditative nonetheless. Nervous energy is still energy.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the almost comical “Drama” by the fantastic Danish musician CTM. For about half of the song’s six minutes and 40 seconds, you hear only one note on cello, played repeatedly. It feels like a challenge. How much can you take? Eventually you get more flourishes, a little dynamism, some plaintive bowing. It’s beautiful stuff. But I like it most when it’s just the one note beating you over the head.
Tirzah’s new album…sheesh! All praise to her and producer Mica Levi for making a massive record out of such a gentle sound. One of the things I loved so much about Tirzah’s previous music is how vaporous it sounded, like the songs had somehow been conjured from nothing, a genie escaping its bottle and appearing beside, ready to grant wishes. I wish for more Tirzah. The vapor turned into a tank. “Bombastic” seems like such a dumb word but I don’t know what else to say about the drums. They are kinda dumb! The kick drum is so loud. Her voice wraps around the beat, sometimes like ribbons around a maypole, sometimes like a snake around your neck.
The drums are largely indebted to rap music and, listening, a friend and I were both reminded of the bygone Brooklyn band Telepathe who, in 2008, released “Chrome’s On It,” which owed as much to Mannie Fresh as Kate Bush. That filtering of indie rock through a hip-hop prism, at that point, felt extraordinarily fresh. But the band, principally comprised of two women, faced sexist criticism that curtailed their career. They were ahead of their time and deserved better. Listening to Tirzah got me to listen to Telepathe and I found their 2009 album Dance Mother to be really rewarding in its dynamism. “Chromes On It,” with its signature drum trill, is maybe a little dated because it feels like the result of an experiment. You can see the ingredients. But when the whole song is fully baked Telepathe shine, especially on songs that mix live drums and a drum machine. I love “Michael.” It’s such a sumptuous song. I paired it with my favorite song from Tirzah’s album, “Promises.” Where it should be.
Amnesia Scanner fun fact: the duo used to have a project named Renaissance Man. When they decided to change their name, they opted for an anagram. Renaissance Man ←———→ Amnesia Scanner. I used to blog about Renaissance Man a lot when I worked at the Fader. They were nutty even then, and I tried to replicate the sound in my writing. This was not a good idea! I looked it up recently: “A brontosaurus could duet with Ray Charles on a cover of ‘Informer’ and it would be more obvious music than what this Finnish duo is coming up with.” LOL.
When Rasheed Ali starts a song jingling sleigh bells you know you’re about to get fucked up. I recently became aware of the guitarist Tisviji Munoz and was pleasantly surprised to find he had a lengthy back catalog of albums featuring a host of legendary musicians, Ali included. This track which opens the excellently titled 1998 album River of Blood is mostly a showcase for Ali who pounds through on drums and shenhai, a double reeded Indian instrument. It sounds like a swarm of bees is coming up from the earth to haunt you for life. Munoz, a guitarist very much in the mode of Sonny Sharrock, does get in some solid noodling, at least. It goes without saying this is not quite as massive a statement as Ali’s duet with Coltrane, the groundbreaking Interstellar Space, but Ali pushes the envelope on anything he plays on, even here at 64 years old. No excuses.
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