LPs Round-Up: Jan St. Werner, Date Palms, Glenn Jones
Published on May 22nd, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Thrill Jockey continues to a) release brilliantly experimental music and b) be one of Rocksucker’s very favourite labels, so here are reviews of three new albums of theirs that might just make you see the world a little differently…
Jan St. Werner – Blaze Colour Burn
The Mouse on Mars man told Rocksucker in wonderfully descriptive terms that this solo effort is not ‘ambient’ music. On account of how frequently unsettling it is, we can only agree; indeed, it could scarcely be any more different from the beaming, technicolour party trips that were Parastrophics and WOW, his day band’s LP releases of last year.
“Cloud Diachroma”, for instance, is a creeping, thirteen-minute symphony of valve releases, road sounds and monotone string tension. There’s so much of subtlety going on in there that it demands earphones consumption, like a crawling, busy little universe inhabiting your mindspace. For all that it is jarring and disruptive, there’s an ominous, buzzing two-note element that somehow manages to hold up the ‘melodic’ slack in a way that’s quite startling given its refusal to deviate. It’s the dark subconscious lurking beneath Mouse on Mars’s afore-described niche and it makes both planes of existence all the more fascinating.
Next up is the gentle, glitchy wilderness of “Spiazzacorale B”, which lets loose a high-pitched whirring sound as if a giant was doing that wine glass trick with his finger (you know, this). It then becomes a discordant arrangement of woodwinds with the background chatter of people and birds, before “Feed Opener” welcomes in more light courtesy of an orchestra tuning up.
“Serra Beacon” leads us back into the darkness, albeit it’s more ‘calm before storm’ than the storm itself, and Blaze Colour Burn slips into an existential background on the non-sequentially titled “Spiazzacorale A”. Exploring more of the gentle wilderness covered in B but without the giant wine glass, its eleven-minute course including pounding drums, a soft cacophony (if such a thing can exist) of parping brass instruments and some kind of drone. All of which leaves the abrasive “Sipian Organ” to deposit us back into the real world, addled and enriched by the experience.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!
Blaze Colour Burn will be released on June 10th by Thrill Jockey.
For more information, please visit Jan St. Werner on the Thrill Jockey website.
Date Palms – The Dusted Sessions
Now on their third album, Gregg Kowalsky and Marielle Jakobsons roped in Ben Bracken on electric bass, Michael Elrod on tanpura and Noah Philips on electric guitar, the latter instrument appearing for the first time on a Date Palms record.
The Dusted Sessions kicks off with “Yuba Source Part I”, a blissed-out drone that scrapes a few instrumental elements off country music and assimilates them into its slow-burning self, digging them up and carrying them away like some monged snowplough. “Six Hands to the Light” does indeed register as the sonic equivalent exposure to an intense, enriching light, one encompassing sci-fi whirring and shimmering synth strings, before “Yuba Source Part II” manages to sound like a cross between the opening two tracks.
“Yuba Reprise” is just sublime, like God’s own orchestra tuning up and making the sun rise with it, but The Dusted Sessions takes a sudden, major turn for the darker on “Night Riding the Skyline”; it retains the drone of the tanpura and throws in a skittering rhythm, scuzzy bass and occasional unhappy peals of electric guitar. “Dusted Down” furthers this unexpected bleakness, a stark contrast of mood made all the more impressive by its being underpinned by the same drone and moving at the same sort of glacier-like pace.
Set closer “Exodus Due West” is just a sparse wilderness of weird sci-fi noises whizzing past a dolorous horn, and that’s your lot: day to night, all in seven tracks.
Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!
The Dusted Sessions will be released on June 11th by Thrill Jockey.
For more information, please visit the official Date Palms website.
Glenn Jones – My Garden State
The term American Primitivism may conjure images of The Tea Party and the like, but it’s actually “a music genre started by John Fahey in the late 1950s. Fahey composed and recorded avant-garde/neo-classical compositions using traditional country blues fingerpicking techniques, which had previously been used primarily to accompany vocals.”
Thank you, Wikipedia. Anyway, even without the expansive knowledge of the genre with which to draw comparisons, we must commend Glenn Jones as being a fine modern exponent of it due to My Garden State being ever so lovely. It lulls you in with the duelling banjos of “Across the Tappan Zee” then ‘hits’ you with the softest of double whammies, namely the pastoral folk fingerpicking of “Going Back to East Montgomery” and its slower, bluesier counterpart “Blues for Tom Carter”.
So intimate and natural are the sounds Jones weaves that it’s almost as if these instruments are coming out to play at night and making music of their own accord, like they always have and always will. Luckily for us someone was there to capture their furtive frolics for posterity.
“The Vernal Pool”, an implied landscape of open tuning, and “Alcoeur Gardens” were composed spontaneously in the studio, Jones having been inspired by Damo Suzuki’s Instant Composing technique while his erstwhile post-rock group Cul de Sac were on tour with the aforementioned Can legend. “Bergen Country Farewell” is arrestingly beautiful, so just have a listen already…
Rocksucker says: Three and a Half Quails out of Five!
My Garden State is out now on Thrill Jockey.
For more information, please visit Glenn Jones on Thrill Jockey’s website.