Posts Tagged ‘Music’

28th April 2017

My first encounter with Cinema Cinema was in 2012, when I received their sprawlingly epic double album Manic Children and the Slow Aggression for review, and landed an interview for Paraphilia Magazine with Ev Gold. Not only was it a remarkable album, but Ev proved to be a great interview subject: enthusiastic, affable, conversational, and I recall him singing ‘cinema, cinema,’ as he explained the origins of the band’s name to me. I didn’t recall the scene, but I knew the film in question: the dark, Belgian-made, parodic documentary, Man Bites Dog. As the press info accompanying the release of their latest album, ‘after years of explaining… the duo felt compelled to further affix it to their story by naming the new album after the film.

With the band’s gear – including all of their guitars – being stolen just two days into the recording sessions, Man Bites Dog is testament to the sheer determination and bloody-mindedness of one of the hardest-working bands around. Brooklyn duo Ev and cousin Paul Claro have gigged pretty much relentlessly since their formation, and it’s on the road that the material has been evolved and honed. This adherence to the punk ethos, based on the simple premise of two guys in a van, showing up, plugging in and playing hard. So, using borrowed gear, the album’s recording went ahead regardless. Never mind making lemonade from lemons, the very existence of this album proves that Cinema Cinema thrive in the face of adversity, and are completely unstoppable.

Man Bites Dog continues the trajectory of its predecessors, from the aforementioned Manic Children and through 2014’s Night at the Fights. That is to say, it’s a noisy, guitar-driven beast of an album, that veers wildly between crunching riffs and expansive experimental space-rock sections. On this outing, they expand their sound with the addition of saxophone, courtesy of NY jazz musician Matt Darriau.

The first track, ‘Bomb Plot is a lurching, low-slung racket, a crazed hybrid of US hardcore punk and math-rock, with a snaking groove and a fuck-ton of other stuff going on too.

‘Run Until Your Out’ packs a pot-punk vibe in the verses, then explodes into a roaring grunge chorus. It’s a complete riot, and while all sorts of incidentals whizz and whirr in the background and Gold comes on like Jello Biafra one moment and Kurt Cobain the next, it’s remarkable just how direct and accessible it is. It’s no small achievement that they can pen and perform a song that possesses such an overt pop sensibility without sidelining either their full-throttle rock sound or reining in the experimentalism. And it’s this fine-honing that makes Man Bites Dog their most powerful and potent work to date.

‘Exotic Blood’ represents the album’s first foray into more overtly experimental territory: a six-minute stoner rock work out, there’s a hefty riff, but it’s warped and bends all over the place in a way which invites comparisons to Melvins – until the sax comes in and takes it somewhere else completely while a whole heap of stuff goes off in every direction. Indeed, the album’s mid-section marks quite a change in tone from the opening salvoes, with the discordant riffs, tinged with free jazz flavours and riven with unpredictable tempo changes swathed in drifting noise and wandering sax. ‘You talkin’ to me?’ Gold yells dangerously on ‘Taxi Driver’, another song which reflects the duo’s equal appreciation of film and music. It’s also a song which chops and changes and stops and starts and judders and drives. The end result is little short of deranged: tense and strange and forceful, it packs a lot into a short time.

The thunderous, trudging ‘Mask of the Red Death’ is the soundtrack to a truly purgatorial experience that breaks into a monster stoner riff that’s hard to resist, picking up the pace and beefing up the density until hitting a frenetic peak around four minutes in. The obligatory ‘Shiner’ improvised jam track – the album’s closer being the fifth in the series – typically explores the band’s most experimental tendencies, and it’s nine minutes of angular guitars, wild effects and even wilder sax.

It all adds up to a focused, concise and yet still strangely divergent album, and in this way, Man Bites Dog is perhaps the most perfect encapsulation of Cinema Cinema’s sound, scope, and ethos to date.

 

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Polyartists have always had a hard time: we exist in a culture obsessed with pigeonholing, of ascribing a single genre or a medium. Brion Gysin’s ultimate failing could be aligned to his unwillingness to commit to any one mode of creative output, and over 50 years on, creatives exploring multiple outlets seem to sink beneath the radar simply by virtue of their evasions of prescriptive categorisations like ‘musician’, ‘painter’, ‘writer’ or ‘sculptor’.

Casey Deming – born  in Owatonna, MN, USA, and resident of the Twin Cities (that’s also in Minnesota, and unrelated to any kind of Lord of the Rings-type fantasy world) – has spent a career straddling multiple outlets, ranging from collage to experimental music.

John Wisniewski recently pitched some questions to him about his work for Aural Aggravation.

JW: When did your career in music begin? Were you trained as a musician?

CD: I started making music about 10 years ago. I’ve never had any formal training. It started when I connected with the improv / experimental music scene in the Twin Cities after completing my undergrad degree at the University of MN. I began to collaborate with people involved with the Tuesday Series which was holding weekly concerts at cafe in my neighborhood. Primarily I was just doing small percussion stuff with whatever objects I had at hand. Later I bridged into bending circuits on tape players which was kind of hip at the time. Now I almost exclusively work with tape loops.

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What inspires you to create new sounds?

Listening to everyday sounds. Sometimes simply taking a walk is enough to inspire me: church bells in the park, wind chimes on front porches, traffic. My baseboard heaters are making this great clicking sound as I write this. Both my visual and sound work are collage-based, there is so much content out there that I’d rather focus on selecting and organizing material as opposed to composing it.

Who are some composers who are influential to you?

Arvo Pärt, Henryk Górecki, Tim Hecker, Ben Frost (especially his album with Daníel Bjarnason), John Cage, John & Alice Coltrane, Miles Davis, Laurie Spiegel, Ekkehard Ehlers, C S Yeh, John Wiese, Ernst Reijseger, Harold Budd, Krzysztof Penderecki, Mica Levi, Angelo Badalamenti, Wendy Carlos, Giacinto Scelsi, Johnny Greenwood, Fennesz, La Monte Young, Fe-mail …

What is the response from the audience to your compositions?

Often curiosity. What am I hearing and why? It’s nice to elicit such responses, I find it kind of boring when musicians focus too much on portraying a certain aesthetic or identity. I try not to create work that’s veiled too much in my own ego. I think it’s important to challenge your audience, make them ask "is this music?".

Have you composed any film soundtracks?

Unfortunately no but it has often been alluded to in my work. The improv noise band I play in Squid Fist (with Bryce Beverlin II & Tim Glenn) has performed along with experimental 8mm & 16mm films but we have never purposely composed something for film. The tape collage project Visions of Christ (with John Jerry) lends itself more to scores because it’s not very interesting to watch us play. John and I have performed along with a light organ setup in the past and hope to employ more visual elements in the future like projecting found slides or pantone colors. Someone remarked that my CS release with Justin Meyers could stand in as an alternate soundtrack to Tarkovsky’s Stalker.

https://player.vimeo.com/video/5404328

Squid Fist Live at Organ Haus from brycebeverlinII on Vimeo.

Do you listen to alternative music or rock music all?

My tastes are pretty eclectic although not that obscure. I listened to a lot of classic rock growing up but have mostly left that behind, besides an occasional nostalgic trip with the Stones. Bob Dylan is maybe the most important musician in my life, rarely a day goes by without me spinning something of his. Most "rock" music that I prefer skews weird, however I hold a lot of old americana and soul in high regards. Early Staple Singes records are in heavy rotation. I’m currently obsessed with Gene Clark’s No Other and also love his records with Doug Dillard. A lot of Townes Van Zandt these days too. Besides Dylan there are some great Minnesota artists like Michael Yonkers and Spider John Koerner. In many ways I’m indebted to my good friends Clint Simonson (De Stijl Recs) and Chris Berry (Soft Abuse) for exposing me to so much gold over the years. Without them I would have not discovered Peter Jefferies, Ed Askew, Mad Nana, Michael Chapman, Bobby Charles, Charlie Tweddle, Black to Comm, King Darves, Mayo Thompson, Neil Michael Hagerty, and Steve Gunn. I was lucky enough to see Wolf Eyes play last night; they’ve always been inspirational to me. I dig their respective side projects as well: Henry Hazel Slaughter, Regression and Stare Case. They’re so wonderfully evocative of such greats like Throbbing Gristle, The Velvet Underground, and Suicide.

Which of the arts is most important in your creations?

They all play their key roles. I’m reading Leonard Shlain’s book Art & Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time & Light and it keeps giving me ideas for sound and visual projects. I probably expose myself the least to theatre and dance though they have both affected me profoundly in the past. Perhaps it’s a lack of exposure. I have definitely engaged with literature the most in my life and am forever blown away by people like John Berger, César Aira, Joan Didion, Susan Sontag, Denis Johnson, and Cormac McCarthy. I’m currently tackling Ta-Nehisi Coates’s memoirs and am loving them.

Will you be playing any live dates?

I recently completed a commission at the Cedar Cultural Center that was funded by the Jerome Foundation. It was a collaboration with John Jerry, Davu Seru, and Jonathan Kaiser for tape loops, percussion, and cello. Justin Meyers and I played a couple weeks ago and hope to make another recording together in the near future. I have another tape and synth project with John Marks and we self-released a CS a few months ago. I am trying to refocus my energies on visual work, getting ready to be part of a collage show at Chicago’s Lula Cafe in May and apply to grants in hopes of funding the purchase of a risograph printer. Jugging all these things has become an art form in itself.

Casey Deming Online