Friday, May 30, 2014

Ma Turner, ZOZ

At times we're mottled in a brittle lifing, bound by a daily grindstone that can sink your eyes into dark socket swamps and wear the brain's best parts to useless nubs. Too often, people succumb, see no shoulder, stick to the drill, drained face and drained recognition of the holies surrounding. You just see people crossing the street under hot sun and barely give a fuck enough to think about why the next day might even be real or matter while you wait at the red light. And those people crossing the street; they don't give a fuck, either.

ZOZ is Ma Turner's premiere outing as a soloist (he's also of the bands Warmer Milks, Cross, Salad Influence, The Elephants and many others). He's released a shit ton of solo releases, mind you, most of them digitally. I've reviewed some of his earlier solo recordings here. He released a giant collection of his music called ZOZ COLLECTION which was contained in an artistic twelve-cassette boxed creature. This Sophomore Lounge vinyl LP is a re-working, re-assessing, re-mixing, re-configured packaging of some of those sounds.

The music mustered here represents late night sonic experimentations that can also be included in a Ma Turner spiritual search. Ma has forced himself out from under the grind of the stone, grabbing the remaining meat of his mind and soul, and allowing himself and his art to predominate the blare of the addled, dulling racket that can be American life.

It begins with "Christ in a Garden," an incautious jangled reading reaching for that expanse of peace through chant and mantra, floored by a banged acoustic guitar. From there, the gloves ripped as "Rash Harvest" begins a journey adrift, wherein the mind is adriatic and no longer in control, but instead accepting and filled with the sounds surrounding it.

These are plums immersed in the lack of forethought but instead feeling and perception. Electronics, found noises, low, high, loud, soft, life. Sometimes seamless, sometimes broken transitions bounce between fear and hopelessness and midnight joy, walled by a sway of disjointed, hypnotic soundscapes permeated by breaks in consciousness with a stark banjo that speaks of friendship on a pedestal.

"Rotary" is a preemie reflection into arches, shades and ceremonies that is aided by the crusading trance of repetition found in the words of "For Every Night." "IUGY" is the chaos of real folk set in a David Lynchian tone. Madder. That mysterious background offbeat percussion is madder. Not angry. The other mad.

"Crucifix Cruiser" reminds me of the realizations-through-torment found in Brian Wilson's "Elements Suite," particularly "Mrs. O'Leary's Cow." And as soon as you think you have a grip on this final piece, you are yanked out of Turner's reality and back into yours. So suddenly. So suddenly, in fact, it's refreshing and eye-peeling. Tomorrow is unbarred.

Available on Sophomore Lounge. Recommended.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Andy Matter, Pacific Midwest

I think it was winter.

"Look for his car; I never know which house it is unless his car is on the street."

Soon inside, we hovered over Albini's version of Cheap Trick's In Color. We drank, smoked, rolled. On an exercise ball. It's here I heard some of the first rough cuts of Pacific Midwest. Shawn saved my notes and read them back to me:

Tom Hanks in Big.
"Is it like you were milking a cow?"
"You have chosen wisely, son."
Jack journals.
"Don't take the Chalice from the palace."

I don't know what any of that fucking means (except jack journals, which I'll explain in person next time I see you), but I'll try and remain true to my gut drafts and fit them in here.

Andy Matter's kick-drummed himself into being a basic constituent element of the physical reality that is Louisville music. The Touched, Red Light Relay, Health and Happiness Gospel Band, Opposable Thumbs, Mimi Von Schnitzel, Furlong, Adventure, Butter, Legba Bentonia, Whiskey Dick, etc...His hands have been in so many cookie jars, both his crumbs and crud rock are strewn throughout this music scene.

Pacific Midwest has been a labor of love for the multi-instrumentalist/singer-songwriter. It's a potage that stews the experiences, sounds, influences and flat bullfrog weirdnesses Andy has performed and survived into one catchy postcard that culminates into a fun read. Almost like TOM HANKS IN BIG, Andy has moved from the toy store to dancing "Chopsticks" on the giant piano.  (wow...I can't do it anymore. that was painful.)
Less of the Stooges-influenced crud rock Andy marauded his drums to in the early 2000s, Pacific Midwest is more of a dissolve into a collage of garage anthems pitted with heart-on-sleeve vocal deliveries in almost storytelling frames. It's a mix of personable observations that builds upon clever lyrical delivery through a voice that hovers between assertiveness just as it might waver into a bettering worriment. Lines from these tunes are as likely to get across someone with ire and frustration as they are to put across something with aspiration and hopes.

As much emotion is worn on truth, so are influences. The melodic rock of Guided By Voices, The Replacements, even Sugar, posture themselves into tunes that create golden choruses. This has the drive of a bombastic rattled rock that can morph into the pleasures of a bouncy jangle pop and back again in a snap. The vocals can waver and shake like Eric Bachmann or Doug Martsch. Check out the first video from the record, "Carbonation," a barnburner brandishing a nailed slap-backed riff:

Carbonation - Andy Matter & Ten Wet Dollars .m4v from Andy Matter on Vimeo.
(directed by Shawn Price)

Pacific Midwest is loaded with these types of hooks: "Nova No Va," "Alive for Days," "Final War," "Tonight and Every Night," and the track list goes on. And more aces from heartful sleeves are pulled with bandmates from other L'ville bands guesting throughout the album, including J Glenn (Mimi Von Schnitzel), Bob Dixon (Health & Happiness), Eric Suplee and Bill Montgomery (Opposable Thumbs), Jaye Wood (Red Light Relay) and Benn Lally and Jason Walker (New Bravado/Ten Wet Dollars).

Fuck it, let's all just put this album on and go swimming at the quarry. Good beginning to summer.

PS: Is it like you were milking a cow? See: jack journals.

Andy Matter's record release show for the cassette + download Pacific Midwest on Gubbey Records will be Saturday, May 17 at Modern Cult Records. Also on the bill are The Teeth and Tag Team Guys.