Posts Tagged ‘Mike Patton’

Nakama Records – 27th February 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

You think of the human voice and you’ll probably immediately cast your mind to speech and singing. But the extremity of the range of the human voice is truly remarkable, and extends far, far beyond these limited parameters. Index sees Oslo-based Agnes Hvizdalek explore, over the course of forty-seven minutes – mastered as a single track – the potentials and possibilities of her vocal cords. The CD’s packaging offers nothing but a fingerprint by way of an explanation, but thankfully, the accompanying press release assists with the provision of context and framing the ‘pure vocal sounds that oscillate between fragility and levity, in the most well-shaped musical manner’ by explaining the way in which they’re ‘interwoven with, and set in contrast to the buzz of the city sounds and the building acoustics’. That city buzz is São Paulo, and the album was recorded at the bottom of a 60-metre-high chimney at the old factory “Casa das Caldeiras” in the heart of the city with the world’s largest helicopter fleet. As such, Index captures the correspondence between the individual and environment as well as exploring the limits of the individual themselves.

It perhaps goes without saying that this is about as far into avant-garde territory as it possible to get: a work of pure experimentation, of parameter-pushing and prioritising process over end product. That doesn’t mean that Hvizdalek’s concept is entirely original: Mike Patton’s Adult Themes for Voice (1996) stands as a bewildering document of one man’s immense vocal capabilities. It’s largely unlistenable, at least in anything more than small doses, but at least it’s broken into bite-sized chunks of sonic derangement. Hvizdalek makes no such concessions to accessibility, and while many of her vocal acrobatic are less extreme than Patton’s, Index is nevertheless a hugely challenging album, a morass of saliva and tongues and brain-bending bleating and blowing.

To describe the various sounds would be essentially pointless – not only dull, but abjectly failing to convey the actual experience of the album. So, Hvhizdalek hums and drones, wheezes and moans, ululates gutturally and breathes like a bellows. She squeaks and snarls and snarks and spits. But what’s remarkable is that while at times she sounds perfectly human and natural, oftentimes the sounds issuing forth from the speakers sound like no creature on earth. And yet the bewildering polytonal rasps and drones sound like no instrument known to wo/man either.

There’s no way in the world anyone is ever going to sit down and play this album for pleasure. I write as someone who’s actually spent the best part of an hour with these sounds rippling and bouncing from the speakers wired to my laptop wearing pyjamas and a bemused expression. A part of me feels obliged to give the album at least one more run-through, but the fact is, while I have absolute admiration for Hvizdalek’s artistic commitment and vision, I simply can’t face it, at least not now. This is absolutely no sleight on Hvizdalek’s work: Index is a true work of art. It’s a work to ponder, to reflect on and to sample when the mood takes. This may not be often, but in a world cluttered with sonic wallpaper, there’s a real need for an album like Index.

Agnes Hvizdalek – Index

Quisling Records – 1st April 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

And so the story goes that originally formed by two frustrated drummers, Godzilla Black was the brainchild of two frustrated drummers who came together to release their eponymous debut in 2010. They evidently did something right, catching as they did the attention of Ginger Wildheart, which led to frontman John Cormack contributing vocals to Ginger’s Mutation project alongside members of Napalm Death, Cardiacs and The Fall, which was later released on Mike Patton’s Ipecac Records.

As you may reasonably expect from an ever-mutating project with a crazy wealth of crazy references, there’s a lot going on here. The album’s first track, ‘The Wizard of Ooze’ brings together elements of Kong’s skewed post-Shellac racket and the bombastic bravado and melodies of Faith No More. Sling in some bold brass and it’s one hell of a strange stew, but that’s exactly what Godzilla Black do – they melt multitudinous improbable bits and pieces together to forge something that’s weird, wonderful and rocks like a motherfucker.

The breezy vocal melodies of ‘Take Me To the Countryside’ may carry a psychedelic edge and hints of The Monkees in the verses, but they’re driven by a barrage of beefy guitars and a warped take on the overall production worthy of The Melvins. And we’re still only two tracks in.

‘First Class Flesh’ is just under two minutes of musical mania, the screaming abdabs finally defined sonically, and then there’s ‘Spaghetti’ which is a slice of wild desert blues, Sergio Leone and Queen of the Stone Age stranded together, in fucked up on peyote and hallucinating mirages of who the fuck knows what.

Most bands would have shot their load for ideas long before now, but the rockabilly math-rock frenzy of ‘Polydactyl’ and the crazed, full-throttle attack of ‘The Other White Meat’ (which even manages to reference The Blues Brothers in the midst of a bonkers explosion of raucous brass) more than abundantly show Godzilla Black are a band who are constantly on the brink of rupturing themselves lest they don’t give vent to their creative fermentations. In the hands of lesser artists, such an explosion of divergent musical bits and pieces would be a horrible mess, but they hold it together, and even the shorter tracks – there are a fair few that run between two and three minutes, and a couple are even more brief – sound fully formed, and even focused despite their everything all at once stylings.

It may take a few listens through to really get a proper handle on, but Press the Flesh is a classic example of what you might call ‘warped genius’. Restless, relentless and audacious as fuck, there really is never a dull moment.

Godzilla_Black_album_cover

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=3855894031/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/artwork=small/track=3933977863/transparent=true/

Godzilla Black Online

Dale Crover of the Melvins is a fan and played on their last album, Ginger Wildheart is also a fan as he had the band’s frontman sing on his Mutation album which was released on Mike Patton’s Ipecac label. The singer from Godzilla Black also plays drums in Hawk Eyes.

‘The Other White Meat’ is lifted from the forthcoming album ‘Press The Flesh’, released 1st April via Quisling Records. It’s got the lot – chunky bass, lurching riffs, wild sax, and nods to The Blues Brothers. On one hand, it’s like a collision between Rocket from the Crypt, Hawk Eyes, Dead Kennedys and Shellac. On the other, it’s nothing like anything else. Get a load of it below, and hope for their sake they don’t suffer the same fate as Baby Godzilla.