Monday, July 16, 2012
Ezra Buchla / Whitman split on Folktale records
Got an elaborately packaged single in from Folktale Records out of Portland, Williamsburg's sister city. It always amazes me sometimes checking back on labels at just how many releases these guys have already put out, and I still feel like I barely know the label. What I do know is that they've put out some really unique artifacts, a picnic plate lathe cut packaged with a box of candles and a 5" record. it's inspiring that a smaller label like this can still push the limits of the single format...you don't have to have unlimited funds and a pressing plant down the street to do tri-color vinyl, or records inside records.
The A-Side of this split is from Ezra Buchla, entitled "Black Rabbit" it starts out with some droning low bass tones and synth just hardly audible above the crackling of the surface of the vinyl. Quieter distant and buried vocals...I think... coming off like Godspeed You Black Emperor, exploring this kind of sonic landscape, taking time to slowly develop. A healthy guitar distortion rises out of this humming and bashing on the strings. The chords are drawn out infinitely long, and there's a bunch of voices now, some kind of devilish imp chorus. They're reversed and decayed, combining into a real creepy mass.
Like Locrian, this is born out of real depths of dread... the catharsis never really coming, just building and building on this vaguely ominous feel. Real damaged and unsettling in a pretty traditional way. He's not using any weirdo instrumentation or new fangled effects to shock...it's a slow creep... piling on layers, strings and samples. I almost don't want the lyrics spelled out on that insert, I'm already deciphering it into something even more sinister (not that this isn't already in a dark place). Ezra was in the Mae-shi who I've only ever heard rumors and stories about their shows, and this single makes me want to go backwards and check them out as well.
Whitman on the B-Side, includes Christopher Payne, the puveyor of Folktale, with the track "Scorpion". This has Christopher's dual vocal over crickets and a bare bones electric, or hushed acoustic, no effects whatsoever. Dealing with that same hopeless, blank place as the reverse, coming at it from a more folk place. With the depth of a Bill Callahan, this is a powerful songwriter who is comfortable being completely naked, thanks to his unique delivery. So closely mic'd you hear lips crack to start to sing in just above a whisper like John Davis...you still have to lean in a bit, and the layers just barely lining up but remaining two separate and distinct deliveries following the minimal chords. A cello peeks in to hum along under this night time scene. I hope it was recorded outside at night and knowing Folktale, it probably was.
Get this one from Folktale direct, come with a huge printed insert on cardstock, great thick black ink on brown chipboard sleeve, perfect design for the creepy minimal drones inside.
It says: "This is serious as the apocalypse".
Cryptic scrawling in the gutter.
Not to be listened to in a dark place emotionally.
Check out Black Rabbit via Ezra's page, Whitman's full length below: