Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Trieste" E.P. Free to 3-Way Singles Club Mega-Subscribers, Thanks to James Cameron!

In honor of filmmaker James Cameron's solo dive to the bottom of the Challenger Deep (the deepest spot on Earth -- about a mile deeper than Mt. Everest is tall!) this past week, ITAV is making Stargrazer's 2010 instrumental concept EP Trieste available for free to 3-Way Singles Club Mega-Subscribers!  Look for it with your subscription materials later today.

The Trieste EP, on release, received nice reviews from a couple blogs that we admire greatly, Oh Drat in the UK and Mostly Midwest over here in the USA!

Trieste describes the January 23, 1960 dive by Navy Lt. Don Walsh and Swiss scientist Jacques Piccard in 4 musical movements over 15 minutes.  Until now, this was the only manned dive to this depth (35,797 feet down) ever attempted -- not even robots or unmanned subs have returned to the deepest point since (though a couple ROVs have gotten close)!  The descent to the seafloor took place over 5 hours, most in complete darkness (sunlight only reaches down about 500 feet). The two men stayed for 20 minutes on the seafloor before beginning a 3-hour ascent back to the surface.  Cameron stayed at the bottom for nearly 3 hours, alone, in a claustrophobic-looking submersible shaped like a green bullet.

I was genuinely afraid for Cameron.  The Bathyscaphe Trieste was a one-of-a-kind submersible, basically a perfect sphere of steel slung under a giant float equipped with weights held in place by electromagnets.  A window cracked at about 30,000 feet down, sounding to Walsh and Piccard like a gunshot.  That had to have been a tense moment!  Cameron's descent in his submersible, Deepsea Challenger, sounds like it was a lot quicker; the sub is described as a "vertical torpedo."  The trip was not without mishap: a hydraulic leak rendered the robotic arms inoperable and obscured Cameron's viewport with grease.  Considering the crushing pressures that far down (about 1,500 times our atmospheric pressure), though, that's a small problem for the prototype Deepsea Challenger to encounter.  But from the accounts of a recovery helicopter spotting the resurfacing craft "bobbing in the open ocean," it sounds like Cameron, unlike Piccard and Walsh, made his dive without 7 miles of cable tying him to his support boat.  Gutsy, James, very gutsy.  Cameron has already stated he'd like to return to conduct more sample-gathering and scientific observation on what he described as the "almost lunar" hadal plain of the perpetually dark Challenger Deep.

For those of you not (yet?) part of the 3-Way Singles Club Mega-Subscription family, you can stream Trieste for free in its entirety here:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

3-Way Singles Club #11 Hits the Airwaves! Benoît Pioulard, Brooks Mosher, and Tin Window bring the Atmosphere!

[click the image to be whisked away to another place.]

The eleventh installment of our series picks up a thread that has been dormant since 3-Way Singles Club Vol. 2 way back in June of 2011 – that of transportive ambient sound; consciousness-erasing, mood-altering sonic terrain. In this case it unfolds over the course of nearly a half hour of music, effectively transforming Vol. 11 into a mini-album.

While atmosphere has always had some part in the proceedings at ITAV, here it takes the forefront. These three pieces of music unspool slowly, like old 8mm films of water moving hypnotically and glinting in a mesmerizing, fluid field of movement. The lines are blurred, the polaroids over-exposed. The language isn’t in a common tongue, but it sings of universal frequencies and deep undertows, sine waves and bit damage, somewhere in the backrooms and sub-basements of the psyche.

Tin Window is a fairly new project by Ann Arbor-based Erin Elizabeth, a solo work running parallel to her collaboration with Will Lawson and Jónó Mí Ló, Full Frontal (a.k.a. Fullscreen). Tin Window’s approach to ambience is process-based, a textural affair that uses audio happenstance as much as careful sculpting. In “Frankincense” the grit and grain is the careful twisting of sound sources, and the bell-like clarity of Elizabeth’s voice deep within a shifting mist of overlapping tones and the resulting richly colored synesthesia.

The name Benoît Pioulard is known to listeners of handmade sound, most frequently associated with his albums for Chicago-based label Kranky. Precis, Temper, and Lasted have a dual focus. At least half of the material on each album is Pioulard’s lambent acoustic songwriting amid beds of warm ambience, taped sounds, and layered field recordings. Intermingled with the songs are numerous short-form pieces that explore drone, static, and musique concrète. For “At Least We Were Both Wrong,” he expands the latter idea into a quarter hour piece that sounds like bowed contrabasses deep within the veins of the earth; dark waters moving slowly and even majestically far beneath old, old roots.

Austin, TX-based producer Brooks Mosher is probably best known for movement-inducing techno records on labels like Dolly, Comfortable Records, and Other Heights that reference his Michigan upbringing with touches of house and acid peeking through often intricate mixes. An Eno-esque interest in the potential of ambience has always been present as well, either converging with fluent beats or rising out of the rhythm to lull, lift, or float a listener. “Umbrellas In The Sun” conjures the slow march of the sun across a field of the titular objects, the simple science of shadows casting radiant music on warm sand.

This is speaker music. It’s headphone music. It’s sound works for the pure glory of sound. It’s easy to get lost in this wilderness, and once you surrender you’ll see the incredible amount of detail that underpins this world.

Next month:  Veloura Caywood, Geistlos, and Drinking Mercury!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Viking Moses & Mother McKenzie to perform at SCENE Metrospace!

March 21st!  With special guests Joshua Barton (of Fields Of Industry) and Malls.  ALL AGES.

Details and RSVP here!

doors at 7:00 PM, music at 8:00 PM, listen to 88.9 FM The Impact for chances to win tickets, only $6 at the door!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Viking Moses to release "The Conquest Night" March 13!

We're excited to present our first ever album review/preview, from a fellow independent label The Epiphysis Foundation!  Full disclosure: we've been eagerly awaiting this album since we met Brendon in 2010 at a show with Stargrazer and Doby Watson held at Lansing's own Basement 414.  We'll try to remain objective, but all disclaimers apply.

On March 13th, the Epiphysis Foundation will release Viking Moses' 3rd full-length album The Conquest Night, which like its predecessor the moving The Parts That Showed follows a loose story arc.  The Conquest Night weaves together a tale in episodes, of two kids out past their curfew and their adventures (and misadventures) over the course of the night until morning.  They encounter wild dogs, forest fires, confrontations with other children, fierce feelings, wonder, and fear.   Bridging an emotional range that flattens out to some extent as we become adults, The Conquest Night explores the sort of innocent love that youth is uniquely capable of.

Viking Moses is the touring and songwriting project of Brendon Massei, active since 2003.  After releasing debut album Crosses and having a song included on Devendra Banhart's acclaimed Golden Apples Of The Sun compilation (2004), Massei toured relentlessly, playing numerous DIY venues and developing a reputation for forming ad hoc bands the day of performances, or even occasionally drawing people out of audiences.  A Viking Moses show has an intensity and range that would be difficult to imagine bottled on record, and indeed his gorgeous sophomore album The Parts That Showed (2008) was subdued by comparison, although it encompasses a lot of unflinching emotional territory and takes on the story of an underage prostitute with a novelist's precise hand.  Neither morality play nor cautionary tale, The Parts That Showed is a raw, minimal and at times noisy folk album with lots of edges surrounding a crystalline, skeletal heart; a human tale embracing the beauty and ugliness of life rather than playing to our expectations or grasping for meanings.  And it does so by transmuting this grit and joy into a surprisingly uplifting, melodic, and memorable clutch of songs.  Massei writes that he hopes Dolly Parton will perform it one day, and one can hear the country icon's influence and imagine her doing just that.

The Conquest Night was recorded over the same two days in 2005 as The Parts That Showed, with Massei backed up by Deer Tick's John McCauley III, as well as Cody Brant on bass, Spencer Kingman on piano, and Jacob Sato on drums.  Seven years later, this more driving counterpart album finally sees release!  Despite the intervening years, the recording sounds immediate and fresh.  Along with nine original songs, The Conquest Night also features "Crowned," penned by Scout Niblett and Daniel Johnson's "I Live For Love."  Taking what might seem a straightforward concept and performing alchemical, extended and timeless songwriting mutations on it, Brendon Massei transports us back into the bodies of his protagonists, revealing minute details and emotional watersheds with an immersive, observant and unpolished vocal delivery that is nonetheless riveting.

The ecstasy of misbehaving receives early celebration with the album's opening track "On The Way Home."  It is immediately followed by an encounter and flight from a pack of dogs.  In a particularly surprising and atavistic moment, Massei yelps with the tribal resolve of the dog pack.  The respite from their narrow escape is brief; a fire is built to warm by and sparks rise up to the stars.  The album's first single "Follow Foreign Love" can be heard here along with some unique, even ambient, reworkings of four other songs.  "House Up Along The Way" most closely recalls the minimalism and spaciousness of Massei's previous album, while "Down In The Water Below" makes the most of a simple refrain, using it to reflect the moon, fireflies, starlight, broken branches, and the simple reverie of swimmers.  "Cardboard Swords" and "Hayfields" carry on right on the heels of the prior songs, the evening divided into chapters worthy of Twain as the reality of morning's approach sets in.  The companions continue to wrestle and chase, unwilling to acknowledge that fatigue and sunrise are unraveling the conquest night.

Viking Moses has crafted a tale of pounding hearts and innocence; of children in vast fields with every direction open to them and the thrill of making your own decisions.  A propulsive follow-up to The Parts That Showed, The Conquest Night draws us back into that world for a low-lit adventure scrambling through abandoned houses, going for night swims, and finally letting go of the night that has carried us along like a wave.  Massei's parting songs,  "Leave Each Moment" and Johnson's "I Live For Love" may set us down gently, but the poignance of memory and the exhilaration of the song-cycle linger.

You can purchase The Conquest Night here:

If you're in the mood, listen to Viking Moses perform Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You," the closing track from The Parts That Showed.  It will change the way you think of that song.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

New Single from Rioux features Björk, Painting by Peter Richards

Brooklyn NY-based musician and producer Rioux is set to release Re: You in April, a 5-song E.P. he has described as "a mix tape of sorts."  On February 17, unveiled the first song from Re: You, "Unison (feat. Björk)."  Featuring subtle pitch shifts of Björk's vocals and a geometrically bewitching beat, the song also featured cover art by ITAV founder Peter Richards (me!), a painting titled Walls Impede My Progress.

The track is available as a free download from the artist's SoundCloud, so enjoy!, writing about a February 26 live performance at Glasslands Gallery, observed:

Erin Rioux (NYU ’12) talks about sound as if it were a physical substance that is at once biological and mathematical. Notes are sound waves to be “sculpted,” sounds are “raw” or “organic” or “digital” or “tactile.” His music, perhaps related to his attachment of these words to his sound, tends to take on an elastic, ethereal but beat-driven quality.

Rioux recorded the garage-influenced beat (for "Unison") with a live drum kit, which is one of the ways he builds his sound “from scratch,” favoring live instruments over stock samples. 

“I don’t make electronic music to use sounds that are only digital,” he explains with a hint of quiet connoisseurship.

Plug Gods referred to Rioux's music as "manifesting a sense of grace and cultivated beauty in its minimalism," something we couldn't agree with more, as evidenced by his 2011 audio/visual album Everything You Need Is Right Here, which is startlingly diverse songs and electronic workouts accompanied by film collaborations with video artist Cabrido.  The album manages to meld post-punk with indie folktronica in a very ear-friendly way that nonetheless takes you on a gently psychedelic adventure through sunlight, percussion, and electronic transcendence augmented with lots of live instruments and percussion, including tastefully "out" sarod workouts.  The album is also available on vinyl, in a limited pressing of 300 copies.

You can load and watch the entire album as a video playlist by clickity-clicking this link:

Erin Rioux has been a supporter of my art for a long time now.  His former band, Rochester MI-based The Novel Citizen, commissioned posters from me that still remain favorites in my portfolio.  He said he couldn't talk about some of the people he was collaborating with on Re: You when we were discussing the licensing of Walls Impede My Progress, and I thought "cool, he must be working with someone he admires."  Little did I know!  This is an exciting time for Rioux, a great track re-imagined from Björk's luminous Vespertine album, an honor by proxy for me (and excellent exposure for my painting), plus a free download for you!