Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Japanese Metal

CNNGo just published a piece on Japanese Metal / Visual Kei by La Carmina. It's perhaps a bit oversimplified, but the main point she makes about the genre-defying aspects of J-Metal is dead on. Reminds me a bit of what I was trying to say in 2006 on "Visual Kei and The Blurring of American Genre Lines" for The Big Takeover.

And since I'm self-promoting, here's my interview with Japanese metal legends Dir en Grey from their first US tour later that year. I'm still surprised they didn't make it bigger in the States. But, as many friends who hear my Visual Kei mixes can attest, the sound of the Japanese language coupled with a refusal to follow Eurocentric visions of metal aesthetics and aurality is definitely not for every palate.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Obake! J-Horror / Hausu spoof video

A discussion of J-Horror cinema with Japan Society's director of Film, Samuel Jamier.

Oh, and I also kill people.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Vaura @ Wierd

Vaura’s debut at Wierd last night brought out a range of dark music devotees all poised to encounter this strange, new beast. While there are no recorded tracks available for public consumption yet, this show and the band’s September debut at Lit help to flesh out a few initial impressions of the foursome’s unique sound.

Vaura weaves a wicked metallic skein of dense shoegaze atmospherics pierced by the thrash of rapid fire riffs and overlaid with classic post-punk vocals both dark in delivery and singular in thrust. It’s a collision of genres that’s difficult to describe, but the evocative aura of the music has a bleak, cruel romance pulsing at its core. While guitarist Kevin Hufnagel (Dysrhythmia, Jarboe, Gorguts) and bassist Toby Driver (Kayo Dot, Tartar Lamb, maudlin of the Well) come from experimental and metal backgrounds, drummer Charlie Schmid (Religious to Damn) and singer/guitarist Josh Strawn (Blacklist, Religious to Damn) bring sweeping, melancholic rock to the table. And despite imagery and ethos that may imply otherwise, Strawn’s disavowals of the band’s place in the new wave of black metal serve only to reveal Vaura’s barrier breaking intent and may paradoxically confirm their status as true black believers in the end.

The name Vaura itself holds the key to many of the fecund, contradictive qualities within the music. It’s a winking orificial allusion that emphasizes their forceful feminine insertion of warmer, brighter tones into the steely strictures that constrain (and often limit) thrash, black, and death metal. Within this (v)aurality, there is a dynamic interplay between Hufnagel’s intense, precise guitar lines invoking a masculine, controlled rationality, and Strawn’s clean, emotive vocals with often indistinguishable lyrics that suggest a primal, pre-linguistic return of feminine, corporeally-driven feeling. But lest one get too entrenched in binaries that cut off the bloodflow, the few excellently placed larynx-shredding screams that break up Strawn’s delivery rip the listener from this womb state. These moments serve to (c)literalize the clash of gendered aurality in theory and provide a soundtrack for the collision of sexed bodies in practice.

Vaura sounds like the violent upheaval of wars waged below the waist. With a balance of melody and brute force, there’s none of that clichéd hypermasculine parade of aggression that can be too clumsy to reach those untouched nether regions where labels devolve and dissolve into sounds of pure pleasure. Vaura’s irruption onto a scene badly in need of cross-pollination is a welcome one. The band’s first official release can’t come too soon.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Japan Fashion Now @ FIT

My new vlog for Japan Society, Nihon New York, deconstructs the sharp silhouettes of Japanese fashion. Everything from Issey Miyake to H. Naoto is covered at FIT's cutting (bleeding?) edge exhibition, and as everyone knows, you can't beat a sack dress! Interview with ever erudite curator Dr. Valerie Steele and spot on commentary by Purevile's Wren Britton offset my off-the-cuff meanderings.

P.S. Oshare = fashionable.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Shadowtime: Ressurection

After a period of ritual rebirth, afterbirth, and mourning, Shadowtime NYC is now black from the dead.

Thanks to Hellbiscuit for the pic.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Devil's Blood

A Dutch outfit dripping in bloodlust, sex, and Satan, The Devil's Blood play 'Horror Soul' swollen with occult eroticism that brings the best of Black Sabbath, Roky Erickson, Blue Oyster Cult and the dueling guitars of Thin Lizzy together in ways you never imagined could be so deviant. Read a full review of their first full-length, The Time of No Time Evermore, over at The Big Takeover, and enjoy the full-on assault of their horn throwing head banging selves below as they ask the ever burning question, "Christ or Cocaine."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Religious to Damn - Glass Prayer

Religious to Damn's first full-length opens with a whispered roar. Strains of acoustic guitar and cymbals introduce "To Love the Machine" in a deliberate slink as Zohra Atash's ethereal vocals melt into the mix. Here and throughout Glass Prayer, she manages a restrained power that's weightless without weakness, showcasing her lithe soprano in a tease that's never too forceful. The first track ends with a metallic echo, seamlessly transitioning into the next.

What's evident even early into Glass Prayer is its wholeness. The deliberate continuation between songs, like a good old fashioned dance record, is not something you hear much on modern rock releases. The result is the feeling of a full album, not a string of singles as is often the default today.

While the sound Religious to Damn create has aural antecents in Cocteau Twins, Mazzy Star, Fleetwood Mac and their ilk, there's a more nuanced narrative playing out in the music. "Drifter" picks up with a driving, semi-psychedelic groove, and the chorus is layered with guitarist Josh Strawn's backup vocals to great effect; it's a less common pleasure to hear a woman on top in the mix with a supporting male voice beneath. On the title track, Atash keeps the fires burning with a punchy vocal melody as a striking bassline subtly prowls by, and "Black Sand" brings the spacious atmospherics with its slide guitar sprawl. Adding depth with her expressive contralto, Tamaryn's guest appearances on "Let the Fires Burn" and "The Bell" are also of note.

Stylistically, Glass Prayer offers up everything from acoustic folk and dreampop to hard rock, all channeled through washes of tempered passion. As the heaviest track on the record, "Terra" shows off Religious to Damn's versatility: Strawn's galloping vamp is reminiscent of a reoccurring theme on Pink Floyd's The Wall and the drums hit hard as Atash breathily repeats "a heart that bleeds does not deceive." The song unravels in epic fashion, ending with a forceful fade out.

Like many great records, a perceptive peeling back of the layers will reveal new and captivating details. Whether it be a percussive chime or a perfectly dissonant harmonium line, it's the hidden treasures that make Glass Prayer so memorable. Mesmeric pleasures abound with each and every listen.

Catch the band live at Lit this Sunday, and check out the entire record, now streaming on MySpace.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Metropolis 2010

Slate provides a slideshow covering the vast aesthetic influence of Fritz Lang's Metropolis, which is now on view with restored, never-before-seen footage at the Film Forum.

There are mentions of the obvious cinematic offspring - Star Wars, Blade Runner, The Fifth Element, and Madonna's "Express Yourself" - but really, just about everything in vogue right now references the dystopian, shadow-laced cityscape of Metropolis...

1. February 2010 Vogue Germany shoot by Karl Lagerfeld
2. 2010 Autumn/Winter line by Gareth Pugh
3. Late 2009 shoot of Lady Gaga by David LaChapelle
4. Late 2009 video of "Empire State of Mind" featuring Jay-Z + Alicia Keys

The list goes on...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Light Asylum @ Knitting Factory

There's no question that seething synth duo Light Asylum is one of the best new bands in New York. Shannon Funchess and Bruno Coviello draw from an impossibly broad range of synthpop and industrial sounds, expertly paired with unexpectedly dynamic emotional shifts from song to song. At Tuesday's Knitting Factory show, they opened with the sweetly powerful "Angel Tongue," which has the bouncing melodic brightness of early Depeche Mode and a somber marching drumbeat. By the second song, "Dark Allies," Funchess' snarl had ripped the room in half, her sandpaper scream and rich low voice dripping sweet hoarse honey as she delivered each carefully enunciated line. Rapturous reverie was replaced by claws-out vehemence, with killer beats kissed with the kick of Nitzer Ebb and mid-period Ministry. What followed was a set running the gamut from romantic contemplative musings to cutting aural aggressivity: it was nearly impossible to choose favorites. See the videos below for further evidence...

Above photo, second video: Jeff Elstone

Monday, April 19, 2010

Trans Am @ Knitting Factory + Thing

Ten years after I last saw them play in our hometown of DC, Trans Am is still sonically crucifying the post-rock competition. During an hour-long set at Brooklyn's Knitting Factory, the trio played with dedicated intensity while still keeping a lightness and humor to offset their chilled Teutonic synthfunk. The set included songs old ("City In Flames" off of 1999's Futureworld roared forth with divine precision) and new. In fact, tomorrow marks the debut of Trans Am's 13th release, Thing.

The new record is part muscular Man Machine, part montage music for an 80's action thriller. Live and on Thing, drummer Sebastian Thomson's voracious pummelling is the rock solid core of the band's sound. On "Black Matter" and "Arcadia" in particular, his heavy groove is situated seamlessly with the vocoded robot vocals that float atop the mix, swarming through hypnotic synths and unsettling guitar lines by Phil Manley and Nathan Means. Although it's been nearly 20 years since Trans Am started as an Oberlin college side project, they're still kicking out some killer (mostly) instrumental jams.

PH: Naomi Ramirez

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tactile Mind

Subverting the good 'ol strip club adage 'Look But Don't Touch' with her new book of handcrafted "pop-up" braille erotica, photographer Lisa J. Murphy's Tactile Mind is not only meant to be felt, but "felt up." Certainly a (sex) positive step towards including a population often passed over by the porn industry.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lapham's Quarterly

Either an abomination or an aesthete's wet dream, Lapham's Quarterly is a literary journal like no other. Lewis H. Lapham, a former editor of Harper's, has created a publication that culls together lauded texts and images of the past filtered through a topical lens and contextualized with new contributions by the greats of today. It's the worst of channel surfing intellectualism or the best of post-modern ideological bricolage. Each issue presents a starting point for countless works of literature and schools of thought, constructing new contexts by situating disparate thinkers side by side. While the writers/artists tend to have a Eurocentric bent, the series has included many lesser known members of the global creative canon such as Japanese father of Noh drama Zeami, Persian lyric poet Hafiz, and Chinese literary critic Lu Ji.

Lapham's celebrates fragmentation and discontinuity while paradoxically presenting cohesive themes. The Spring 2010 issue, Arts & Letters, aims to examine how artists and their art have interacted with society throughout time. Amongst Nabokov, Van Gogh, James Baldwin, and a government report detailing the meeting between Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon, is a new essay by Salman Rushdie and a staged textual dialogue between Walter Benjamin and Andy Warhol. Between these excerpts are games, diagrams, and tables that present pertinent factoids like which mind-altering substances were used to create what great literary works (Uppers: Sarte's Critique of Dialectical Reason, Psychedelics: Huxley's Doors of Perception) or what songs were featured during which US presidential campaigns (Mondale: "Theme from Rocky," Dukakis: Neil Diamond's "America"). I'm still reeling from the mention of T-Pain, Matthew Barney, Hokusai, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Ovid all in a single publication!

Like it or not, this byte size interdisciplinary approach to history and knowledge is fast becoming the future of thought. In both form and content, Lapham's Quarterly is a series tailor made for a post-internet world. It turns teleology on its head by offering a virtual reality on paper where turning a page is tantamount to jumping across milennia. Flip (click?) through a web of philosophical threads that are strung together Wikipedia-style until you're not quite sure where the original origin of your search lies. By all definitions, Lapham's is a dilettante's domain: how you choose to read it, however, is entirely up to you.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Shadowtime Ludlow

Just did a rundown for Time Out New York on the best shopping of this LES strip. Check it out for discounts through March 31st on places I've already mentioned, such as Veda (10%) and Verameat(10%), along with new haunts like Tommy Guns Salon, where you can test a man's mettle by how he handles a straightrazor...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tamaryn @ The Fader Fort (SXSW)

Caught Tamaryn's last show in Austin at the Levi's Fader Fort amidst today's unseasonable freeze. Unfortunately, technical issues cut the set short, but not before the band laid down two particularly explosive songs. "The Waves," which I had yet to hear, is the mesmerizing title track off Tamaryn's upcoming full-length. Its cascading mantras rippled across the open air tent, digging deeper with each refrain of "into the waves..." as the chanteuse tossed her mane. Most of all, it was "Mild Confusion" that blew me away. Epic sustain on Rex John Shelverton's crashing guitars entwined with Tamaryn's soaring vocals, which were both dulcet and biting for the occasion. Getting to hear the song on a proper sound system, the way it was meant to be heard, was an expansive and unexpected pleasure.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Revel Hotel - The Beating of the Wings

The Beating of the Wings is a rare breed of record, building a sonic bricolage from moody glam cabaret and early 80’s coldwave with an injection of Nine Inch Nails ire. The gentlemen in Revel Hotel don’t deal in irony: they wear their dark and damaged hearts on their sleeves, both lyrically and musically. At first listen, it’s singer Johnny Quinlan's full throttle bravado and sweeping piano melodies that light the torch songs on the record. Lyrically, he doesn't shy from bombast and incorporates a healthy dose of grandeur, deftly dropping lines about god, prophets, and power, even on the dancefloor ready tracks.

Beneath Quinlan’s bravura, however, is the strength of Barrett Hiatt's expansive and hard hitting drums, Robert Tahija's stirring guitar melodies, and Frank Deserto's punchy basslines and precisely apoplectic theremin psych outs. Of the five tracks, “Terminission” is by far the standout song, bringing a fresh take on early 70's glam to life with an electric/acoustic mix akin to Bowie's “Life on Mars” or “Rock 'n' Roll Suicide.” Tahija channels Mick Ronson with Quinlan playing both Bowie and Mike Garson as he opines on what could be an indictment of desperate scenesters or the same lost souls Ziggy sang to: “We signed our leases/Bought our coffins/For the end…We talk in riddles/We worship false idols/And single out the weak/We shoot black smoke in the sky/Numb ourselves by getting high/And turn the other cheek.”

Read more over at The Big Takeover


Catch Revel Hotel’s CD release show tomorrow @ Crash Mansion or get yourself a copy over at CDBaby.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Impossible Music Sessions: Cruel Black Dove plays The Plastic Wave

"This is the sound of The Plastic Wave not performing," announced the moderator to a still room. The song began to play as the audience stood silently watching an empty stage, some wiping away a few stray tears as the synths kicked in and the inaugural night of The Impossible Music Sessions came to a close.

Sponsored by, a musical Amnesty International of sorts, The Impossible Music Sessions "feature the artists who cannot appear and the music they are not free to make." The first installment at Littlefield in Brooklyn showcased the Iranian band The Plastic Wave as performed by Cruel Black Dove.

Formed in 2008 by Saeid Nadjafi and Maral, The Plastic Wave have clashed with Iran's notoriously oppressive political regime. As a woman, it's illegal for Maral to play in front of a mixed gender audience, especially while singing in English, and doing so eventually cost her and her bandmate time in jail for performing their melodic, trip hop inspired electronic rock. Although the strength of the band's demo got them accepted into 2009's SXSW festival, they were unable to obtain the visas to go.

The night began with a video introducing The Plastic Wave before moderator Austin Dacey interviewed Cruel Black Dove. Shortly thereafter, Maral joined in via video conference, describing her band's history and the Iranian musical underground. She was soon supported by in-person commentary from singer Raam of fellow Iranian band Hypernova. Having opened for the likes of The Sisters of Mercy and IAMX, Raam is in a unique position to discuss the perils and triumphs of starting out as a rock band in Tehran. He emphasized the universal desire to partake in the inherent freedom of rock 'n' roll and described his ability to play (and stay) in the States as fulfilling The American Dream. Tried and true sentiments to be sure, but ever so powerful when voiced in this context and from his perspective.

When the live set finally began, it was a moving kind of multi-layered voyeurism, as CBD churned out "War of Others," "[RE]action," and "My Clothes on Other Bodies" with their signature dark, synthrock grind. The band played for the audience and to the lone image of Maral on the laptop, which was positioned to face the stage. The audience in turn watched both Cruel Black Dove and the projected face of Maral, as she watched four people whom she had never met interpret her songs. Although she and her bandmates were simultaneously disenfranchised and disembodied due to geography and circumstance, the mediums that carried the message were both virtual and palpable, synthetic and very real. The set ended, fittingly, with a powerful rendition of the Cruel Black Dove original, "War Son."

Saeid joined the chat after the live show, commenting on his involvement in this historically significant evening. Despite technical difficulties, his excitement was infectious. While the event could have been far more volatile if fraught with the fervercy of political specifics, the fact that it kept a focus on the simple and singular power of music made far more of an impact. It wasn't about 'issues' but about sonics and soul. The first of The Impossible Music Sessions did not push ideology, but simply disseminated the visceral aurality of Tehran by way of Brooklyn.

Photos by Boris Gasin.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Alice Soundtrack

A sneak peak of the soundtrack from Tim Burton's upcoming Alice in Wonderland film has been released, and it's quite dismal. The title track is by Avril Lavigne, and despite a contribution by Robert Smith (the jury's still out on that one), the rest of the songs are by such awful pop punk/rock bands that I'm not sure why I'm bothering with this post. A duet between Mark Hoppus and Pete Wentz? Other tracks by All-American Rejects, Shinedown, and Tokio Hotel? It's a sad state of affairs coming from a director who used to populate his soundtracks with the dark, majestic orchestrations of Danny Elfman along with songs by Prince, Siouxsie, and Harry Belafonte. (Would have been better if he went with Gaga covering The Sisters of Mercy's "Alice" or Jay-Z laying down the rabbit hole rhymes.) I'll be interested to see how this affects the unwavering dedication of the old school goth legion of Burton fans...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Infernal Simulations

Deemed an "unapologetic attempt to build an entertainment franchise around a 700-year-old literary masterpiece" by The New York Times, Dante's Inferno video game for XBox and PlayStation will descend upon retailers tomorrow. While some scholars have balked at the grossly inaccurate appropriation of this hellacious work, the Inferno's website endeavors to promote a decent historical representation of The Divine Comedy and Dante Alighieri, despite the fact that the game itself may deviate from the epic poem's plotline. After watching the teaser below where she-demons sprout spiked phallic appendages amidst a crumbling necroscape doused in flames and ash, all I could think was: where's my copy of The Inferno? Naysayers be damned, there's certainly enough seductive mayhem in this video game to inspire the intellectually curious to move beyond live action simulation to literate Hell.

Explore the 9 circles of Hell here...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Notes on Vamp

Dazzling to the eye with a dark, fecund mystery that's laced with myth and history, 'vamp' is omnipresent in contemporary culture. As an aesthetic edifice it bleeds into fashion and film. There are the iconic sartorial designs that have influenced our understanding of the vamp look, and there are the femme fatales onscreen, who embody the concept with image and action. "A sensibility (as distinct from an idea) is one of the hardest things to talk about," writes Susan Sontag in "Notes on 'Camp.'" Vamp, like camp, with its shrouded origins and multivocal meanings, is no different.

The term seems to have entered the popular milieu with silent screen star Theda Bara's 1915 film, A Fool There Was. It's a tale of the seduction and corruption of a Wall Street lawyer by a woman credited ominously as "The Vampire." Not an undead beauty, Bara plays a psychic vampire, feeding on weakness and destroying with her sex. With dark painted eyes and a sly smirk she crushes rose petals in her hands, and with her wiles, leads her lover to the gutter. She earned the nickname "the vamp" in the American public from that point on, cementing the slang for predatory females.

From the outset, vamp is a gendered term. (Paraphrasing Sontag: to (v)amp is a mode of seduction.) In one connotation, vamping is a stylized sexualized performance that invokes a looming sense of foreboding. It is in many ways an aestheticized interpretation of how straight men have approached the fairer sex for millennia - desire mingled with fear, agony accompanied by ecstasy. Another reading might reveal the destructive misogyny that turns the virtue of a sexually empowered woman into a vice. (She is only riding the pleasure principle into its inevitable outcome, feminists could argue.) Either way, we fear what we cannot control, regardless of the vamp’s true intentions.

As a teenager, my brother would comment on my short nails painted dark red, calling them "vamp." He had dabbled in NYC's hedonistic club scene of the mid-80s and so I romanticized this use of the term, hoping there was a whole cult of vamp I could enter upon moving to the city. While no such thing happened, I have been drawn to the idea of vamp ever since. There must have been something to what he said though, because Chanel came out with a dark red and black nail polish line in 1994 with that very title.

Recently, the word appeared in Lady Gaga's song "Teeth" from 2009's The Fame Monster. She sings "Don't need direction...Just got my vamp" as the synth groove vamps beneath: surely a vamp collision if I've ever heard one. Then there was the lesser known glam metal band Bang Tango's 1991 track, "Dressed Up Vamp," which has Joe Leste crooning "dressed up vamp tonight...looking for love and a lonely bite," referencing the bloodsucking side of the spectrum whilst injecting a masculine edge to the vamp sensibility. And I’d be remiss not to mention the ladies in “Addicted to Love” as vamp incarnate.
Quite a mercurial little phenom.

Along with these uses, there are other meanings, too. In dictionary English to vamp is to patch up or piece something together. It is to concoct or invent. Like camp, vamp has its performative aspects, but there is no wink to betray the performance. Vamp does not deal in irony: it is dead serious.

Perhaps most importantly, there are the musical implications of vamp. A vamp is the ostinato of popular music, and the sounds of a vamp in musical theatre or jazz can often evoke the qualities of the abovementioned vamp: a sultry slink, a wanton strut. As a sonic structure it provides the musical meat of the performative aural arts. The vamp can be itself an introduction to a vamp: just take in any moment of Cabaret, Chicago or Sweeney Todd to see this put into practice. And while there's often musical improvisation over one, the vamp itself is musically spare, open to variation, and keeps a repeated rhythm. The visual vamp is much the same way.

The vamp look is never overdone. In fact, it is the understated fashion of a vamp that makes her stand out so severely. The red lips, the impeccably tailored outfit, the silk stockings, the spike heels. It’s akin to imagery found in Coco Chanel, Victorian mourning attire, and in the work of recent greats like Helmut Lang, Thierry Mugler, Rick Owens, and Gareth Pugh. From Theda Bara to Bettie Page and Morticia Adams to Angelina Jolie, the vamp look has changed dramatically. Nonetheless, it retains a stark aesthetic, open to change, with a repetition of the risque.

The sensibility of vamp has invaded popular culture, grasping at all of the arts with its shadowy fingers. Now more than ever, as the word 'vampire' is so laden with immaturity and sexual abstinence, the more erotic and esoteric term 'vamp' may finally have it's day. What that fully means, however, I can't quite say...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Edwardian Ball @ The Regency Ballroom

San Francisco's annual Edwardian Ball is a fete of a different caliber. The beaux-arts architecture of the Regency Ballroom brimming with a sea of aesthetes approximating Edwardian realness set quite the surreal scene. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the ball that boasts an unbridled love of Edward Gorey featured a headlining performance by Rosin Coven where women became water fountains as the band played, and dancers wound their way across the stage. The croquet court downstairs made an apt setting for the fantastic spread of goods available from vendors from all over, and the absinthe cocktails, particularly the Gashlycrumb Tiny with a splash of cranberry, increased the illusory gloss on the evening.

I said hellos to Decimal (like the point) and burlesque performer/DJ Miz Margo (whom you can often find spinning at Wierd these days) while surveying the critical mass of finery on display. And although I was assured by an insider that the only reason this event reaches such aesthetic heights is due to its yearly occurrence, I still found it hard to believe anything like this could happen in today's New York. There are wonderful parties in town, of course, but nothing I've yet seen to match the grand scale of this ball. The pagan performance artist types that stalked the rooms, either miming or displaying crystal ball acrobatics, are not a fixture on the East Coast, and neither are those hybrid Turn-of-the-Century meets desert debauchery devotees that make up part of the Burning Man crowd. These guests imbued the event with a historical magick that's in keeping with San Francisco's peace and love past. It's a distinctly California experience, and, if you're not too entrenched in the bleak reality of NYC, yet another reason to visit SF more than once a year.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Spring Studs + Spikes

Spring 2010 is very Mad Max-cum-Lady Gaga with Christian Louboutin giving studs to the guys, and Louise Goldin providing spikes to the ladies. (Although D&G did jumpstart the revival in 2007 with these beauties...)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Religious to Damn @ Wierd

Zohra Atash is a master of the non-verbal. Fronting Religious to Damn she's chilling and serene, serious and otherworldly using vocal sounds as much as words to ignite cold flames around us. The highs on "To Love The Machine" cut to the quick, and "Sunset" is stunning. Her vocals are controlled with as much precision as her measured hip sways and steely stares, but when Atash unleashes the full force of her voice and the drums, keys, and guitars crescendo, it's frighteningly good. Her power is lovelier when louder. Lace and beads and bangs coupled with moments of brooding Nicks and Buckingham in the back and forth between Atash and Strawn made the show a bewitching affair. Restlessly await the upcoming full-length.

PH: Naomi Ramirez

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Swans Revival

Michael Gira just announced his decision to revive Swans with a new album and tour in 2010.

One thing I want to point out right now: THIS IS NOT A REUNION. It’s not some dumb-ass nostalgia act. It is not repeating the past. After 5 Angels Of Light albums, I needed a way to move FORWARD, in a new direction, and it just so happens that revivifying the idea of Swans is allowing me to do that. I’ll be using what I learned in the last several years to inform the way this new material develops, while carrying forward from where Swans left off with its final album Soundtracks For The Blind, and in particular, Swans Are Dead. If you have expectations about how Swans should be, that’s your business, but it would be a disservice to both of us if I were to make music with your needs in mind, and the music would certainly suffer as a result. In any event, I certainly never thought this day would arrive, but it’s inevitable, it’s here, it’s fate, so I’m succumbing to it.

The complete diatribe is posted over at Young God Records.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Paint It Black: Apartment Therapy

A voyeuristic look at black boudoirs over at Apartment Therapy.