Saturday, March 12, 2011
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Esben and the Witch at Empty Bottle; Salem at Empty Bottle | Concert previews
Salem and Esben and the Witch fly on broomsticks into the Empty Bottle this week. But which is truly bewitching?
By Brent DiCrescenzo
One of the more inane microgenres born on blogs, witchhouse is merely a new spin on goth. Chillwave’s evil doppelgänger buries spooky keyboards in shallow-fidelity graves as obscured vocals sing of bones instead of beaches. Honestly, it’s like Bauhaus, had Bauhaus grown up on hip-hop and been given no budget.
Salem has become the most publicized face of the sound, primarily because the Michigan trio serves up great journalist juice. Member John Holland was quoted in BUTT magazine talking about his days as a teen prostitute, and the band has titled an EP Yes, I Smoke Crack, modeled for fashion spreads in The New York Times Magazine and generally bombed hard onstage.
Less discussed was the group’s debut album, 2010’s King Night, a murk of cheap gangsta riddims, menacing keyboards and mumbled threats. Like a wet dream of Larry Clark, Jack Donoghue raps monosyllabic, nihilistic thoughts on “Sick.” But strip away the layers of gimmicks and you’re left with little more than a smoke machine.
To be fair, the far more literate Esben & The Witch merely have the misfortune of putting “witch” in their name during this witchhouse trend. The Brighton, England, threesome goes trad gothic on its recent first record, Violet Cries, something that could have easily fit alongside Dead Can Dance on 4AD circa 1986.
Rachel Davies takes her bittersweet time, chanting low in drawn-out vowels over a fog of delicate feedback and faint tribal drumming. What at first seems like a palette of pure gray reveals surprising detail on closer listens, as when the keyboards tink like dripping icicles in “Hexagons IV.” There’s a seamless mix of digital and organic textures, but more important, some real emotion. Esben can be harrowing, gorgeous or somehow both, but it’s not all shock tactics and makeup.
Salem + Silk Flowers + Neil Jendon + The Fortieth Day & Noise Crush
Salem has become the most publicized face of the witchhouse microgenre, primarily because the Midwest trio serves up great journalist juice. Member John Holland was quoted in BUTT magazine talking about his days as a teen prostitute, and the band has titled an EP Yes, I Smoke Crack, modeled for fashion spreads in The New York Times Magazine and generally bombed hard onstage. Less discussed was the group’s debut album, 2010’s King Night, a murk of cheap gangsta riddims, menacing keyboards and mumbled threats. Like a wet dream of Larry Clark, Jack Donoghue raps monosyllabic, nihilistic thoughts on “Sick.” But strip away the layers of gimmicks and you’re left with little more than a smoke machine. Colorful psych outfit Silk Flowers supports with churning, intense sounds.
With their Ryan-McGinley-goes-to-the-trailer-park looks and trendy witch-house sound—imagine a goth DJ's record collection chopped and screwed—Salem effortlessly leapt from obscurity to indie-music-blog ubiquity. Soon enough, most of the people paying attention to the group went from loving them to ignoring them in favor of the new-new—as is usually the case in these situations—but sticking with Salem has proved interesting. I still find much of last year's King Night (Iamsound) unlistenable, but in a really fascinating way that continues to compel me to put the album on. With their daring way of being tunefully terrible, their ability to attract frequent accusations of exploitative cultural appropriation, and their druggy-cool image, Salem just might be this generation's Pussy Galore. It's about time. —Miles Raymer
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Gutter industrial trio Salem make their Bottle debut after much praise for their two stellar EPs - the first of which, Yes I Smoke Crack on Acephale, sold out before it finished pressing - and a punishing new full length out via Merok. Conceptually, they're almost classical, but screw, juke and disembodied bass all feed into the murky lo-fi sound and, in the words of FADER, "celebrate release, whether from comfort or nightmarish inevitability." Silk Flowers are new signings to No Age-run PPM label and bring some east coast grit to the roster. Dean Spunt has called them "the weirdest band I know;" that's saying something. Analog synthesizer maestro Neil Jendon and BloodLust! labelmates Fortieth Day rejoin recent MCA video artist Lisa Slodki (Noise Crush) to open tonight's explosion of unholy rumbles.
NEW ZINE: Ablation
Mon, Mar 7 2011
For 2011 I will be making a publication every other month. January's NEGATIVE LITANIES was the compendium documenting the monthly 2010 series and exhibition. For March I present ABLATION..
ABLATION. contains video stills cut from a video I shot featuring a live set of power-electronics group BLOODYMINDED originally intended to be edited into an installation but never quite finding the right cut. This set dates from 2007 when BLOODYMINDED played with Carlos Giffoni, Burning Star Core and Prurient at the Flowershop in Chicago.
Instead of being cut into a video the images were removed as stills from the source footage, enlarged and placed into a new sequence that emphasizes the dark setting and intensity of this unique group's intense live performance. The title of this zine come from Mark Solotroff's inimitable lyrics from the album Gift Givers and seeks to link the zine's process with its subject.
Edition of 100 Copies
8.5" × 11" inside of a Black Envelope with Black Print
All prices PPD:
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
Monday, March 07, 2011
The "Constantinople: 746 AD" discs are now available via the BloodShop!