You can also see this gallery on Consequence of Sound.
Lexington, KY’s Boomslang Fest takes advantage of the gorgeous early fall weather in the Bluegrass to let the students and volunteers who keep the signal of University of Kentucky’s WRFL 88.1 modulating righteously. Now in its fifth year, this budding four-day event adopts the modern urban festival model, utilizing a variety of traditional, non-traditional, and funky spaces to throw raucous shows wherever it’s prudent to do so — be it a church, bar, restaurant, courtyard, etc. As one of the country’s finest college stations (full disclosure: I’m an RFL alum, but it’s true), WRFL showcases its diverse sonic palate through an expertly curated lineup. Better yet, this relaxed weekend offers a premium festival experience for an insanely affordable ticket price, especially for students. Random notes: My inner dialogue editing these photos: “Kim Gordon is 60. That’s as many as 6 tens. How is this possible?” Also, No Joy’s hair is its own visual experience and Youth Lagoon put on the show of the year.
BODY/HEAD (feat. Kim Gordon and Bill Nace)
Guess so. It’s late Saturday night and I’m already two sheet as we speak, but unless my eyes are deceiving me, this mysterious email without much tangible information is announcing a new EP from Ariel Pink called Ariel Pink With Pizzazz. And this five track, vinyl only issue comes to us from the most epically titled label in human history, Free Dope and Fucking in the Streets – responsible for the infamous Holy Shit side project back in 2006. “In the Heat of the Night” is good. There are horns, there are oboes, there are yacht rock, slack pop, feel good vibes throughout. It also reminds me of my favorite cop drama, appropriated titled In the Heat of the Night.
Believe. Ariel Pink With Pizzazz drops July 9th.
In his original email to The Decibel Tolls, Brooklyn’s Guilty Ghosts (a.k.a. Tristan O’Donnell) described his music as a “cross between Mogwai and Three Six Mafia,” a combination that seems absurd at first, but actually makes sense once you realize the similarities between the two groups. Both make music that’s equal parts eerie, melodramatic, and melancholy (yes, I just called Three Six Mafia melancholy; listen to the beat to “Bin Laden Weed” and then talk to me). Admittedly, O’Donnell’s sound is far closer to Mogwai’s, but once you hear his record I think you’ll understand his Three Six namedrop.
Guilty Ghosts’ self titled debut is stunning from beginning to end. Opener “Dakota Forever” sounds blown out and dissonant, but pure chords peak out like a streetlight seen through a snowstorm. “Everyone Around Me” has a backdrop of static that’s foregrounded with a twisting, Ouroboros-like guitar line and distorted drums. “Grand Illusions” has a churning, fuzzy Fennesz-esque sound that snarls and squeals above a quietly insistent drum beat. “Neverending Well” is spare and menacing, powered by little more than heavy echo and one or two repeating tones. “This Is How We Collapse On The Moon (Arthur Russell tribute)” wonderfully captures the bubbling, free-flowing spirit of Russell’s music, tapping into the mix of wonder and sadness found in a song like “The Platform On the Ocean.” “Please Pray” actually could be a Three Six Mafia beat if the drums knocked a little more; it’s guitar line is gorgeous but tense, like the kind Edgar Froese used to play on later Tangerine Dream records. “Bergen Street” (which we’re offering for your consideration) features yet another great guitar line (shades of hypnagogic guitar god Mark McGuire) backed by a distorted skeleton of a drum machine beat.
As someone who gets sent six or seven instrumental albums every week, I’m a sucker for ones that try to wring emotion out of every note, every drone, and every ghostly sample. I’m not against subtle instrumental music, but there’s something you hear in certain songs (think Mogwai’s “Mogwai Fears Satan” or Boards of Canada’s “roygbiv”) that takes your breath away and reminds you all over again how powerful music can be without a word being sung. Listening to his album, I have a feeling Guilty Ghosts understands this feeling, and he’s on his way to making one of those songs that leave even those who claim to be bored with instrumental music breathless.
Guilty Ghosts’ self-titled debut (along with a new album Enigma Variations) can be heard over at his Bandcamp site.
For fans of: Mogwai, Fennesz, Emeralds
Guilty Ghosts – Bergen Street
Two things worth immediately mentioning about Cold Pumas. One, I will never make friends with the band’s name. I picture a crate of refrigerated shoes, which is apropos imagery for my recent post-quitting smoking Lynchian nightmares. Two, that’s completely irrelevant, as the music is awesome. Cold Pumas is a stalwart power trio from Brighton, and are fairly accurate in describing themselves as “HEALTH but in Neu time.”
On “Tropical Guilt,” Cold Pumas summon precise 4/4 kraut apache rhythm and augment it with tape echo-laden punk vocals, light rapid-fire surf guitar, and unadulterated hypnosis. The amalgamation of chilly motorik and bouncy beach punk is a welcome juxtaposition, and I’d love to see their tag line be “motorik for partying.” Because that’s exactly what it is. Highly recommended. Cold Pumas find themselves on the MySpaces and the Tumblrs.
For fans of: Neu, Black Dice, Melt Banana
Cold Pumas – Topical Guilt
I’m off to Chicago for the weekend, bros. Unfortunately, due to work constraints and leaving town immediately afterward, I don’t have a lot of time to write a fun Halloween-themed entry. So… I’m kinda copping out and re-posting what I put together last year. However, since there are a lot more readers now than a year ago at this time, perhaps many of you all missed these gems. To that end, reposing is warranted. Happy Halloween, folks. Hope you don’t see too many stupid zombie Michael Jackson costumes. Okay…
One of my favorite Halloween past-times is dusting off some of my old tapes, turning out the lights, and scaring myself. In the spirit of the holiday, instead of my usual smattering of psych rock and other insane music, I wanted to share some choice insane recordings.
I discovered Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell when I was 13 (1998 by the Gregorian calendar). I walked into my grandmother’s room one night to fetch something. It was late at night, she was obviously asleep, and she usually slept with the radio playing. It was the strangest call-in show I had ever heard – instead of, you know, railing on Clinton as the majority of AM radio did at that time, the caller was talking about a poltergeist in his house and its glowing red eyes, claws, et al. As a fan of the macabre, I immediately ran to my room and tried to find the show on my stereo. This happened to be the evening that Art Bell premiered the Sounds From Hell. Though I was slowly approaching a sort of agnostic belief system at that time, it still made me want to shag-ass to the closest church.
Since then, I’ve amassed around 40 tapes of old Art Bell broadcasts, and I tend to listen to them to get “Halloween festive,” as it were. Everything from remote viewing (controlled psychic phenomena), aliens, Y2K (remember that?), bizarre conspiracies, cryptozoology, exorcisms, wholesome apocalyptic scenarios, and more – I’ve got some of the greatest hits on tape, spanning about three years. Of course, during this time, I never shared with anyone that this was something I enjoyed doing. When you’re 15, it’s important that everyone knows how cool you are. This was not a cool hobby. However, I’m sharing it with you now! Glad to get it off my chest.
The show, Coast to Coast AM (see the link under “Other Awesomeness”), still exists, but the smokey-throat, sardonic host Art Bell retired in 2007. No host will really replace Art, who broadcast his program internationally in a double-wide trailer behind his home in Pahrump, Nevada in the dead of night. A host sitting in a downtown radio studio just doesn’t transmit the same mood. Moreover, Art never screened calls. Anyone, sane or nut, got equal time on the air. This, unfortunately, is no longer the case, making Coast to Coast not nearly as entertaining as it once was.
As of right now, I don’t have a way of recording my tapes onto my computer, so I found some other folks’ recordings. Of course, Orson Wells’ War of the Worlds will always be an excellent Halloween classic for me, but Art’s creepy and paranoid program has much more nostalgia for me. Plus, that program was legitimately frightening at times, as some subject matter was right on the cusp of what was plausible. Despite all the programs dedicated to the supposed Roswell crash and gnarly things that Freemasons might’ve been responsible for, Coast to Coast AM was one of the first talk shows that dedicated lots of air time to climate change, starting in the early ’90s, as well as new scientific subjects like nanotechnology and RFID. This gave the show a more unsettling edge at times. Cyborgs and aliens, sure, but climate change – that’s more scary to me.
So the first clip… about 10 years ago, as alluded to earlier, Art Bell aired the urban legend recording “The Sounds From Hell.” It can be a really bothersome clip to those with a nervous disposition, but also morbidly fun. It’s also completely a hoax – literally speaking, not theologically, so worry not (unless, ya know, your faith tells you to). The origin of this sound is as follows: Soviet scientists in the early to mid 20th century drilled a hole nine miles deep in the heart of Siberia to study plate tectonics. When they hit a heat pocket, their drilling equipment was destroyed, followed by the sound of millions of screaming souls. As any good scientist would do, they whipped out the mics and recorded it. Part-ee.
The second clip is an infamous one. From Wikipedia: “At about 11 p.m. PST, Thursday, September 11, 1997, [Art Bell] designated one phone line for Area 51 employees who wanted to discuss the secretive base. Several callers claimed to work at Area 51, but the bizarre highlight of the night came when a seemingly distraught and terrified man claimed to be a former Area 51 employee recently discharged for “medical” reasons. He cited malevolent extraterrestrials at Area 51 (”extra-dimensional beings” who are not “what they claim to be”) and an impending disaster that the government knew would take out “major population centers.” Midway through this call, Bell’s program went off the air for about 30 minutes. After talking to network engineers, the official explanation was that the network satellite had “lost earth lock” or forgotten where the earth was. Network officials were baffled, and the cause remains a mystery.”
The third clip is a portion of a lengthy interview Art did with the Ghost Investigators Society, who record the “voices” of ghosts on blank, never-used-before audio tape. This is also known as Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP). The recording and history of EVP is immensely interesting, despite the shitty Michael Keaton movie based around EVP. Jump to around the minute mark in the recording to skip the show’s bumper music between commercial breaks.
The last one is a exorcism. It’s really fucked up.
Have a chill ‘ween.
Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell – Sounds From Hell
Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell – The Frantic Area 51 Caller
Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell – Electronic Voice Phenomenon
Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell – Russian Exorcism