Haley Heynderickx- I Need to Start a Garden
Hayley Heynderickx’s full-length debut, I Need to Start a Garden, not only contains wonderfully lush folk compositions but also tells of the Portland-based singer-songwriter’s own personal exploration of uncertainty and insecurities. Following her fairly well received 2016 EP, Fish Eyes, Heyndericx began working on her first full length but found difficulty in capturing what she had envisioned for the album that would eventually become I Need to Start a Garden. After three attempts of recording, all in a different place with a different producer, I Need to Start a Garden was finally finished after year’s worth of trial and error. While the album was recorded with a full band, often there are sections of just Heyendrickx and her finger-style playing, that of which was directly influenced by the bluegrass guitar teacher she took lessons from growing up. On the warm “The Bug Collector” Heydercix confronts her desire for perfection over an American Primitive like nylon string guitar part. “Om Sha La La” upbeat tempo builds to the track’s peak with Heydericx repeating the album’s title growing louder each time. Heydericx is currently finishing up a European tour that followed the record’s release.
Peter Zummo- Frame Loop
Legendary New York Avant-garde trombonist and composer Peter Zummo’s long last recordings of a live performance accompanying Trisha Brown’s ballet, Lateral Pass, is now seeing the light of day for the first time after being recently discovered by Zummo himself. In 1985 the ballet premiered at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and was combined with live performances of composed and improvised pieces written by Zummo and longtime collaborator Arthur Russell, famous for not only his amplified cello sound , but also his instrumental role in the development of the avant-garde scene in New York City during the seventies. The two originally began collaborating with one another after Zummo had moved to New York City in 1975 and became deeply immersed in the downtown underground scene by participating in community life affairs such as taking on the role of booking for The Kitchen performance venue. Zummo’s glossy horn parts played a vital role in the sound of Russell’s later disco albums like 1981’s 24 → 24 Music. The 1985 performance features Zummo on euphonium and trombone, Arthur Russell on his amplified cello, Bill Tuyle’s marimba playing, and Mustafa Ahmed on congas. Through the album, each musician works with one another through background vamping and interplay while taking turns with the various reoccurring melodic motifs. Zummo did not realize the live tape recordings from the performance still existed and was only discovered recently in his studio. The tapes are now released for the first time as Frame Loop and are another glance into the world of the underground avant-garde of New York City circa 1970-1990.
The Garden- Mirror Might Steal Your Charm
The Garden’ twin brothers Fletcher and Wyatt Shears latest release, Mirror Might Steal Your Charm, is one of the duos most cohesive records to date while still remaining wildly entertaining and genre-blurring. Formed on 2011, the two twin brothers from Orange County, California, have released numerous projects over the years, evolving with each one while still remaining true to their original sound of guitar driven chaotic punk. More so than ever before, the two brothers have begun focusing on their take on electro-punk and incorporating samples from various keyboards. The opening song, “Stallion”, is probably the most reminiscent of The Garden’s earlier works with its trebly distorted bass intro and heavy drum track. The middle section of the album shows off the group’s new found use of Yamaha keyboards with tracks like “:(“, starts with a series of random sound effects until telephone rings with an individual leaving a voicemail before going into a double-time chaotic breakout. The trend of melding electronic drum beats, keyboard effects, rap like vocal delivery, and dark reverbed guitars is executed quite well on songs like ” Stylish Split”. Mirror Might Steal Your Charm was self-produced by the two brothers recording last a short period of time. Wyatt explains, “I think it’s healthy as an artist to switch up your environment once in a while. The production is tight as a whistle, but also more raw,” and Fletcher adds, “The process made for a more focused and personal sounding record, with a healthy dose of guitar throughout. Things are a little more refined. If we aren’t implementing past experience into new situations then we aren’t learning. Progress is very appealing to us”.
Sun Ra- Of Abstract Dreams
The past couple of years have been incredible for any devoted fan of the astral traveling Sun Ra, as many of the long out of print records from the endless Ra catalog have begun to see light. Just last year over 66 albums that were legally remastered digitally got uploaded to Bandcamp. In 1974, Sun Ra, the man who claimed to travel to Saturn and return with a mission to spread joy and enlighted ideas through sonic messages, found comfort in the University of Pennsylvania’s public radio station, WXPN which was low-key a student-run operation. Between 1974-1980 Sun Ra recorded at the studio several times, some of which were collected an archived, Of Abstract Dreams, is a collection of some of the saved recordings. Ra would often do with The Arkestra, a big band, or under various other monikers, recording different versions of a tune was a common practice. Of Abstract Dreams is no different as “Island in the Sun,” “New Dawn,” “Unmask the Batman,” and “I’ll Wait For You” are all alternate takes of previously recorded versions or that reappear later in Ra’s recording career. “Island in the Sun,” was first released in 1974 on Sun Ra And His Intergalactic Research Arkestra’s The Invisible Shield, and had a greater Latin influence than the Of Abstract Dreams’ version, which has a little bit more of a looser feel due to its added chants, flute, and extra percussion. “I’ll Wait For You,” appears again later on 1979’s Strange Celestial Road, as funkier version than Of Abstract Dreams‘, which is much more sparse and prominently features Ra’s spiritual vocals. Of Abstract Dreams serves as another great look into Sun Ra’s lifelong spiritual journey.
Snapped Ankles- “CIA Man (NSA Man Violation)”
The UK based post-punk trio Snapped Ankles are back following their 2017 full length debut, Come Play The Trees (which was personally one of my favorite releases from last year), are back with their new single “CIA Man (NSA Man Violation)”. Since forming in 2011, Snapped Ankles have been continuously making a name for themselves through their work in the underground clubs performing video art installations alongside improvised synth pieces, before eventually releasing their first single “True Ecology (Shit Everywhere)” in 2012. Snapped Ankles has managed to cultivate a somewhat distinct aesthetic, performing in shamanistic ghillie suits, playing homemade log drums that are fitted with synthesizers, animal skin drums, effected guitars, and describing their music as mean to take place on the “forest floor”. The trios’ songs are a mix of poppy, dance like post-punk, combined with electronics that contain structure that can be followed, while others are almost entirely made up of only their homemade log synths. Their newest single, “CIA Man (NSA Man Violation),” is actually a take on the Fugs’ classic “CIA Man“. However, this time around Snapped Ankles have altered the lyrics to fit in line with the Edward Snowden and NSA monitoring revelations of the past couple of years. The track’s upbeat repetitive electronic drum sample stays consistent underneath lead singer Austin’s drawl of complaints on the NSA’s shadowy actions between the chorus, “NSA Man!”. The group also released a clean redacted version that is about a minute and half shorter.
Cavern of Anti-Matter- Hormone Lemonade
Stereolab’s Tim Gane’s side-project, Cavern of Anti-Matter, released their third album Hormone Lemonade this past month and is a series of hypnotic space jams that are mind trip inducing like any great electronic psychedelia work. Unlike previous albums, a key feature of the group newest release is band member Holger Zapf’s extensive use of homemade drum machines and tape experiments. Starting from the ground up with the drums, Gane and the other band members worked on meticulously adding on modular synthesizers and fuzzy guitar leads. In the span of three one hour sessions, Zapf used his homemade drum machines, the Taktron Z3 and Taktron Z2, combined with Hohner andEko drum machines to create the wildly unorganized skeletons of the songs. Gane then edited parts down, adding new ones while refining existing parts through overdubbing to try and create cohesive musical ideas and sections. Additionally live drummer Joe Dilworth also added more percussion to these reworking alongside Gane. Hormone Lemonade is intensley percussive, but also holds some unique chord structures that even venture near jazz territory in certain areas. “Feed Me Magnetic Rain” is by far one of the most electronic among the album’s ten tracks, and has one of the albums most interesting chord progression, driving in an out of a repetitive melody. The album’s cover art of a wheel is symbolic of the records nonstop driving percussive theme that never really lets up, but manages to still remain interesting and engaging all the way through.
Cindy Lee- Act of Tenderness
Cindy Lee is the alter ego of Patrick Flegel, who has been performing in Drag as Cindy Lee for six years now making what he calls “Confrontation Pop”. Flegel, former frontman of well received experimental Calgary band Women, embraces noise, industrail, and pop all at the same time creating a genre-bending piece of work. Last March the album received a full LP reissue for the first time since being released in 2015 with only a small pressing. Cindy Lee’s voice aches with pain and sorrow that is incredibly beautiful, cutting through many of the reverb-drenched tracks. The lead single “Power and Possession”, highlights Lee’s falsetto during the chorus singing out “Don’t say another word / Don’t break my heart in two,” while ringing sharp sounding guitars play underneath.”Bonsai Garden” is by far the albums most abrasive and industrial sounding with blearing razorblade distortion and guitar taking up the entirety of the song. The album’s slower pieces are deceptively simple, and allow for Cindy Lee’s diva like qualities to shine through. While women experimented with avant-garde guitar work, Cindy Lee has served as proper departure for Flegel, allowing him to experiment as he pleases. He explains, “It’s a safe place to be an egomaniac. There’s no one there to tell you it’s a bad idea, for better or for worse,” adding, “You’re not a real diva, but you can pretend you are, which is what’s so magical about drag. It’s kind of the same thing as music: it’s a really playful thing to do.”