Friday, June 1, 2012

The Late Virginia Summers / Long Division split 10" on Harding St. Assembly Lab

I've been meaning to talk about this crazy split 10" series from guys over at The Harding Street Assembly Lab, they were nice enough to send over the entire series (so far?) and I just started making my way through them and his one is already my favorite...I know I have to hear the other two but honestly this is an incredible document, musically and the package is a real fitting memorial to what's inside.

The A-side is from The Late Virginia Summers and I think I forgot just how great these guys have been in the past and need to be included in that instrumental section. The perfect thing for writing or even reading, it just works on that jazz listening level, you can be completely compelled to take in every note, without the narrative context of a lyric, or let it exist as this kind of environmental soundtrack working subconsciously. Like this first track, “Heather Majestic Purple” slowly fading in long drone tones, warbling waves of sound that repeatedly fade through each other.... pulsating tones that start moving cones, a far off chime. These are layers to slowly absorb, the kind of composition that’s slowly changing. The twinkles of a slowed down Explosions in the Sky track off in the distance. It's making you question all the sounds around you. Is that a screeching bus brake off in the distance? Or a glass ringing imperceptably for minutes on end? Tilt your head, it’s getting louder. The chimes and creaking gates.
I love a piece that can create this mood, the details get filled in later. That vibration on the wood floor...that’s the low end synth. Sometimes you don’t even hear driums and there’s no reason to miss them, it would be too much of an interruption. The calming right before that storm is coming. The black clouds are gathering, but there’s time... nothing is happening right away, I’m not even worried about thunder there’s enough time to gather all the things in the yard and bring them in the wind is picking up.
A hundred layers of soft ringing and a ghostly kind of un-harmonic sound, everything else is gathering itself together in one layered wave that's working parallel to the next octave up... but that ugly off minor key that repeatedly bends is leading towards this bigger ominous sound... and wouldn’t you know it, that whole previous composition that made you wish you were safe inside is just about on top of you now.
“Chime Ray Du Peter Kent” samples a french broadcast and leads into a slow sampled pattern without the bit decay... might even be played live here. The broadcast isn’t near anything and becomes just voices since you can’t understand... even if you knew the language. It’s not related to dance or even electronic, the chime repetition is back getting louder and this beat falls away. The chime turns into a moogy ocillation, rising and falling with the emotion of a computer.
"Matisse (Final Vision)" brings things back to feeling more hopeful, those drone sounds have been spreading themselves across this entire side, never really going away, just turning into an environment for the rest of the instrumentation to develop. Growing at a snails pace, this final track gives way to guitars and drums, mic'd oh so softly out in the distance and completely beautiful, I already know what’s left on the side is going to be over way too soon for this kind of Tortoise rhythm jazz informed perfection. Big drums catching all the sublte intonations of hits, a vibratto guitar slowly picking up and lifting our skinny tunrtables to heaven. The slow epic grow that needs to be seriously listened to all night. With this broad palette on one side of a record leaves you really empty because it’s over.
Written, performed, tracked and mixed at Joe’s house in Jan 11.

Then it's on to the Long Division side which is a five piece instrumental band out of Norfolk, VA and are a perfect match to A-Side's TLVS, in fact Joe and Nathan both tracked, mixed and edited this a month after their A-Side. “Transmogrifier” sounds to be working with the more traditional elements of instrumental rock, subtly weaving in the weird,, disparate complex beat then kicking right into one of those grooves. They’re managing to stay far away from EITS or the more metal sounding stuff and keep it really light and airy, with nontraditional effects for this style of melancholia. It's going deep and really full, but that guitar keeps a rock edge and doesn’t go so dramatic right for the heartache. I think there’s a group of strings but it’s so layered in, it could very well be some kind of synth sound, but as it slowly starts playing against the strong distortion and breaking free with weird Modest Mouse sounding string bends, it’s a groove that keeps changing with all the headbobbing.
“Tragic colors of anna maria” the ringing now comes from the frantic back and forth of a metal string played with animal hair, really distant in the mix here, incredibly quiet, like listening from the other room. The guitar playing against this free form bassline turning the see saw motion into a groove, which is in a different rhythm entirely with picking high melodic strings under far off reverb. This one has been trying to warn you it’s going to take off with a stronger beat, still working through multiple quicknesses and repeated off kilter melodies and it all drops out for a while to let another set take it’s turn. This constant musical chairs of instrumentation never actually finds the time to build any kind of long term castle, all the pieces keep getting swept back into the ocean. They have the delay do all the work, reverse decay and chance. That’s how it’s all going to end. All of it.

These bands are a perfect match and with Joe and Nathan a part of both visions they end up in the same place prodiuction wise with this smart package with handstamped plain white jackets, I’m more eager than ever to get the next volume in the series. On splatter swirl vinyl, an every-color-at-the-plant mix, color insert, hand printed sleeves with mythological battle scenes. Knowing the lab, these refer to specific stories that the songs directly refer to. They're working on that level.

The late virginia summers (TLVS) present one of their most impressive (as well one of their oldest) moments with the drone of "heather majestic purple", then finish the offering with a recent creation ("matisse") penned specifically for this EP. norfolk’s long division hand in a couple of pieces written during the creation of their self-released "calm before". "transmogrifier" is loaded with memorable hooks & passages, while "tragic colors" is a darker trail, replete with perfectly placed layers of feedback & wash. this b side also features the final sessions of long division in their "classic" lineup.

AVAILABILITY: marbled teal vinyl + digital download, limited run of 100
ARTWORK: jacket & insert courtesy of HSAL

*this is the first of our split 10? series. the idea is to feature one of our own on the A side, with a friend of the label holding down the B side.*

Check out the tracks below and pick this up over at the Harding St. Lab, highly recommended, 100 pressed!!

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