Friday, December 11, 2009

Diagram A/Chrome Jackson split on Spooky Tree Records

Last up this week is another single from Spooky Tree Records, this one a split with Diagram A and Chrome Jackson.
The sleeve is a pretty good idea of the sonic aesthetic direction both of these guys are going. Out of focus collages of chain link fences, old glued together newspapers, scratchy negatives from photos...all taken in hell.
Chrome Jackson is Stephen Mattos from Arab on Radar infamy. I've only heard about their live show years ago...that entire Providence no wave scene that they're now down in the books as founding. So where does that leave CJ on this side of the split? The insert says this track 'The Icicle Men March' was recorded in April this year at 88.1 Brown Student Radio.
First of all forgive me if I talk about this at the wrong speed...I think it was 33, but then I convince myself it's too drone-y and slow, that it has to be 45, but that's a little thin sounding, maybe hyper, so 33 it is.

Maybe it's the melody played back with low sample quality...but something is making this guitar sound like a kettle drum, with layers of distortion...and when it jumps, or autotunes the lower notes and starts panning back and forth, it completely rumbles. This is why this track is best heard on vinyl. I know your pathetic desk stereo you play the ipod through is not going to sound like this. No way. It's a hellish kind of scale melody repeated, played frantically until it fades out.

It's artists like this that constantly renew my faith in the guitar as a valid instrument forever. It's never going's the blankest slate to future generations. If you are bored with performing with a guitar, then it's you because there are sounds no one has ever heard still waiting. Maybe this is musician's music...kind of only blowing your mind when you start to deconstruct it as a performer, but then there are still assholes that say they could paint a soup can. THAT'S NOT THE POINT!
Diagram A's side 'Artery Drawing Anterio' sounds based more in the digital world, meaning he is triggering something that translates into a digital sound that's then of course completely fucked with. I think that's the other side of the guitar that keeps it so vital is the physical performance when creating this noise, you have to really interact with this object that adds something to the sound (of course) that is going to change every time. Not that it isn't present here, it's just not a guitar, but the idea is the same. Diagram A sounds like it relies on the unknown a little to get some of this sound. This is handmade electronic circuit bent style...the sounds are cleaner and harsher. Every possible open space in the waveform hasn't been filled up with hiss. It's more minimal and carefully constructed sounding with no consideration for a vibrating's just a mechanical sound that goes on forever...or until you flip the switch. It makes me want to pull out the Justice Yeldham single from Load.
Check out some instrument construction on his blog. These noises don't make themselves.

This is another great single in Spooky Tree's series of solo noise artists. Quickly becoming the Not Not Fun of the Northeast...solid singles with just enough taste of these guys to look them up and start tracking down full lengths, to hear where individually they'll go when given some space. I haven't heard anything with a recognizable melody for days and I just want more.

That reminds me about this piece at PS1 this weekend, Saturday 4PM:

Daniel Perlin performs Re: construction, an attempt to simultaneously build a model house and create an audio composition based on the sounds of its construction. Referencing both Robert Morris' Box with the Sound of its Own Making (1961) and the sampling work of Matthew Herbert, Perlin makes full use of hammers, screw drivers, and other tools for their physical and sonic capabilities.
I want to hear either of these guys build (or take apart) their electric guitars for a double sided seven inch. Or the sound of a seven inch being pressed!
Ok, now I'm getting stupid.

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