Thursday, March 18, 2010

Joseph Childress / Strangers Die Every Day on Ash From Sweat + Empty Cellar Records

I was first introduced to Joseph on his split from Empty Cellar with the White White Quilt...then I saw another 7" from Joseph when I was poking around EC's latest releases. It's a cooperative release with Ash From Sweat records and this time he's paired up with Strangers Die Everyday, I'll get to JC's side, but I can't get over the Strangers B-Side called 'Untitled'...I had no idea what to expect, so this post rock cello, violin, bass and drums instrumental took me by complete surprise. I've been really getting more into Mono lately, especially the orchestral passages where I forget what I'm listening to or where it's going. To hear these instruments stripped down like this, not in a huge chorus situation is haunting, and everything can't help but just sound amazing...I can appreciate the skill it takes to play serious instruments like these and then to apply that training to Godspeed type moody drawn out complex arrangements like these really is just amazing. The range this piece goes through an a lowly side of seven inch vinyl is Locrian, they pack a massive journey into these grooves. It's an instrumental score that effortlessly writes the would really be a shame to slap this over any kind of imagery though. There's so much going on, I don't want any distractions...and on vinyl with the format emphasizing the full voice of these instruments...I'm ordering and looking for a full length.

Do I even need to mention the Childress side? Of course, that would be ridiculous...Joseph recorded 'White Castle Creek Mother', he's got a great voice for starters...I don't know what to compare it to or why it just sounds good, it's one of those personal, intangible things I guess. Take any singer/songwriter like this and first of all you have to have a personality, which I think you can hear/sense right away. If I didn't even know anything about his personal story I know all of that would still come through. He switches into falsetto halfway into a word, his phrasing doesn't follow the melody, lyrically it takes insane work to construct this narrative. It's a weird creation myth story which should be straightforward but it's done in this mysterious way that isn't starting at the beginning. There's a subtle arrangement behind this that reminds me of some direction Will Oldham could go, (where doesn't he go?) or Bowerbirds without the massive kick drum, it's not country or neo-folk, just head held up straight ahead talent that I could take an awful lot of.

Denver label Ash From Sweat records proudly serves up this great split 7" from two Denver expats, Joseph Childress & Strangers Die Everyday. Joseph plays a stunning rendition of “White Castle Creek Mother" the only track to surface from his 2007 recording sessions with Chris Adolf of Bad Weather California. Drawing on chilling imagery of the personal & collective history of the plains in Wyoming on which he worked ranch – as told to him by a young girl – “White Castle Creek Mother" features a beautifully subdued full band arrangement, a rarity for Joseph’s recordings. Strangers Die Everyday contribute a beautiful multi layered post-rock composition. In the vein of Godspeed You Black Emperor and Explosions In The Sky, their untitled track achieves a remarkable level of lush intensity despite sparse instrumentation and but one electric instrument, a bass guitar, amidst a cello, violin, and drums. 480 copies exist on grey vinyl with full color artwork by Aaron Ray. Above and beyond packaging again, by Ash From Sweat.

8 bucks from Empty Cellar where you can pick up the Tim Cohen full length (!) which is amazing...or that Cairo Gang I just gave a listen to the other day. Or go over to Ash from sweat where there's got to be something else in their catalog you'll want, but you'll have to email Dan because they run things without paypal buttons or shopping carts or one clicks...they'd appreciate a nice note instead.

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