Now a retrospective festival rundown — Bottled Smoke 2007 in Los Angeles

Bottled Smoke logo

Which might seem a little strange, given three years have passed and all. But to explain:

A little over three years ago is when I first started the blog, but a little before that is when the original Bottled Smoke festival occurred at the Echo Curio (plus a side visit over to Mr. T’s in the Valley). It was also before I was on Twitter, before I could have even purchased an iPhone and might have even been before I was on Facebook, not entirely sure now. Everything really does blur up and blur together. In any event, for all these reasons I didn’t and couldn’t talk about that get-together the same way I’ve talked about the On Lands, the last Terrastock and so forth — this recognition of how things really have radically changed for me and a lot of others may be a little long in coming but there you go.

I was, however, happily on Flickr at the time and had been for two years, so I took a lot of photos of the event. I also wrote a review of it after the fact for Plan B online but I guess it’s not around anymore, though maybe I’m just looking in the wrong spots. It wasn’t until a couple of months ago, though, in the midst of one of my periodic scrounges through (and clearing out) of old papers that I realized I had scribbled down a series of notes on a number of the performances.

These were essentially Twitter posts avant la lettre, really, or I could have seen myself posting them as such. Quick impressions, often hopelessly insular. I don’t really recall using any of these for the article but I could be wrong — I think I had some vague idea I was going to write something up for an ILM posting or similar.

Since I have a bit of time this week I figured I’d go ahead and create what would have been the kind of retrospective photo/’Twitter’ overview of the festival had all the factors I mentioned above been applicable back in May 2007. A random exercise, perhaps, but that way it’s all preserved a little more clearly. I think after having seen both the second Bottled Smoke earlier this year as well as On Land just the other week, both of which featured a number of acts who I saw for the first time at the original Bottled Smoke, it’s nice to look back a bit.

I’ll also preface this by saying that I cannot find notes for all the acts (apologies to Xela in particular!) and that there were a few performers I didn’t see at the time — friend JBR was having a small housewarming party down the road a bit so I cut out briefly for that — but it’s still pretty complete for what it is. Hope everyone enjoys!

Antique Brothers, Bottled Smoke

Antique Brothers — “…steady, slow but good interplay. Instrument swap, drone/acoustic plucking…touch of fluid spaceyness. Slow but great buildup, nicely blissed…excellent way to start. Settles into two acoustic guitar gentle ramble. Focused, with soft drone background…very accomplished, with roughness given space. Nice blend….Flute/recorder adds to it. “Black Bart’s Cave…just buy it from Grant.” Twin acoustic encore — short set, fired up crowd. Relaxed, communal. Ends with goof and laugh.”

Ilyas Ahmed, Bottled Smoke

Ilyas Ahmed — “…starts very gently, contemplative melody. Lovely. Effortless filigrees…Just sound, into an extended flow. Shifts regularly but (something unreadable) a new beauty. Like, in fact, a great dance or hip hop mix. New elements each time…His singing initially a lost ghost amid the whoosh of Sunset Blvd. traffic…A capella back into a stately descending melody. Perfect mix/control w/r/t vocal/guitar blend. Second piece more ‘conventional’ but still striking…very delicate. Third (song) for bro/mom. How nervous his fingers are!…Sudden big keen — amazing.”

The Sea Zombies, Bottled Smoke'

The Sea Zombies — “Brad (Rose), Xela, Jefre, G. Kowalsky…DARKTHRONE! Intro: ‘Shut the fuck up!’ Jefre on drums: ‘We’re gonna be shit!’ Loud, collage, random into drone…ad hoc! But not bad for all that. Increasingly goofed/chaotic…Too many cooks? No, there’s intent, but overlapping. Pedals raised, constant motion…Xela wails, the rest drone/blast/tweak. A mean is reached.”

Pocahaunted, Bottled Smoke

Pocahaunted — no notes. There’s space for notes on the paper but hey.

Metal Rouge, Bottled Smoke

Metal Rouge — “…dulcimer/guitar, both loaded with effects…Hot, sunny, nice difference…uptempo/loudness/noise…slow/sure burn. Screech/drone…quicker on the dulcimer, metal sheet howls…phases in/out, rhythm of zonk…e-bow dulcimer, bowed guitar…sudden static drop (unreadable)…switch to koto (?), tones cutting starkly through murk…huge high-pitched zone/drone…ear-piercing.”

Changeling, Bottled Smoke

Changeling — “…solo drone/pedal…people love facing away!…Miles Davis approaches here…more a show of change in the details, but they are great details.”

Mike Tamburo/Matt McDowell, Bottled Smoke

Mike Tamburo with Matt McDowell — “…guitar and dulcimer? more delicate and rolling, Matt w/shading, then into combined (unreadable)…acoustic pluck turned into doom threat, twin guitar fun…twang overlay, then guitar/drums, then clarinet drone…huge wash, hammered guitar/tuning forks…singing/acoustic guitar/drums…slow build rise! very inspirational.”

Xela, Bottled Smoke

Xela — another one I have no notes for! Sorry about that, John!

Robedoor, Bottled Smoke

Robedoor — “…tent, crouched…one ups the ‘turn from audience’ gambit, good thick drone…everyone facing like an altar…nice self-mythmaking…tent shakes, drums are primal thump…really makes it an ominous invocation.”

Thousands, Bottled Smoke

Thousands — “…echoed slow build, vocal moan, a bit more jammy/twangy, but that makes for actual riffage, plus drum rolls…propulsive, in a way few of the acts have yet been…lots of murk, angst, groove…nice theatricality up front…some instrument switching for variety into soft freefloat loveliness, nice shift!…more chaotic calm exploration from there…short drone/howl to conclude.”

Ghosting, Bottled Smoke

Ghosting — “…solitary dark guitar and doom feedback drone/tone rhythm…grace fighting against the pit, rising above confusion…finger bells adding a light glaze…chatter sample, abrupt end!”

Starving Weirdos, Bottled Smoke

Starving Weirdos — “…theatrical! aims at immersive experience…candles, Lincoln, jungle/forest sounds, cries and howls…Atman/Vangelis dropkicked strange spinning rubberband thing…flowing composition (Spacious Mind?)…ZONK.”

Tarentel, Bottled Smoke

Tarentel — “…squeeze box, nefarious devices and more…slow calm start, soundbox drone…unfolding rapture of sound…and then just as glaring near silences…bowed cymbals = key.”

Heavy Winged, Bottled Smoke

Heavy Winged — again, no notes here but a great performance.

The Holy See, Bottled Smoke

The Holy See — “…two guitar drone f/Tarentel folks…pedals ‘n’ fun…overload but still good for a Sunday afternoon…echo rise…standard but handy. Additional vocal treatment from J…it’s a higher/heavier pitch…mic feedback adding chaos screech.”

White Rainbow, Bottled Smoke

White Rainbow — “…very serene start, guitar/pedals, shimmer up…adjusts, adds vocals…calm…v. calm…water bottle percussion start…Steve Roachish!…gong next and now the jam…back to guitar, beads, vocal chants, beats…all keeps adding and adding…guitar chime overlay then hit the sunrise moment.”

Valet, Bottled Smoke

Valet — “…vocal selection/drone, but more layered/echo…Fursaxaish, but not exactly…Arcanta, kinda…then down into guitar sustain/note…echoing flow…then almost nothing…it’s a neat change from the thick overflow…traffic and gentle strum/zone…you can hear the click of the pedals! soloing over calm loop…back to vocal…more unsettled/tense then flows into beginning-style…and dive!”

Gregg Kowalsky, Bottled Smoke

Gregg Kowalsky — “…’tape chants’…tape decks around the room, Lucier/electroacoustic…tape overlay buzz resonating off walls/floor…Gregg sync? no. result…rise/fall that interacts/scrapes…tactile, scraggly, like something is walking/clawing…tape players range in size/volume, pacing is irregular. audience (baby! dog!) (unreadable)…a touch of Main? adjustments to pitc/volume emphasizing a scarier scraggle collapsing/shredding sound…then slowly something more peaceful/soothing…”

Theo Angell, Bottled Smoke

Theo Angell — “…soundcheck? is its own performance, strum/clang/sing…mike on case?…into joint chord/jam flow…nice shifts in/out, sometimes Theo solo…Ilyas Ahmed waits at points (unintentional?)…very clean, no Ilyas pedals, a couple for Theo…like a barbed-wire hoedown at one point! if only briefly…grinding noise jam right after gentler plucking, sudden (unreadable) charge, both singing…Cat on suitcase!…second song more focused but just…conch shell! conch jam with Tim, very strange/wonderful…drumming in the sideroom…”

VxPxC, Bottled Smoke

VxPxC — “…melodica/pedal noise spike start…other elements float in…then the roaring starts. singing bits, collage, no loops much, but definite layering…more bass zonk, organized chaos with Grant adding guitar…shoegaze/epic scope, assembles very nicely…haunting feel, perhaps surprisingly goth/shoegaze!…there’s an epic collapse at work, remember Tim DJ’d This Mortal Coil!…almost a Spiritualized progression up! into calm keyboard/guitar Mogwaish section, contemplative! very epic, very nicely unexpected…accordion into more clattering jam…organ/drum machine echo/overload, ouch! into a stately screech…bowls, pipes, all in mix…screams and wails…”

Ajilvsga, Bottled Smoke

Ajilvsga — “…with Xela…drone shatter with vocal wails to start with…rapidly punishing in a trebly way…massively overdriver/distorted, earplugs necessary for sanity…no flow as such, it’s all scraping experience!”

Nick Castro, Bottled Smoke

Nick Castro — “…four piece, perfect comedown…guitar/bass/(unreadable)…casual and friendly with each other, delicate funny…nice bunch.”

On Land Festival 2010 — Sunday shows

And the final day of the festival, starting with the Aquarius Records instore that afternoon:

Ilyas Ahmed and Grouper, Aquarius

Ilyas Ahmed and Grouper — “Lovely hushed start, very them for lack of a better term: wordless, lost vocals, rich low guitar textures, massive reverb…The set continues in that vein, some slightly faster songs but otherwise always in the zoned/echoed/postgaze/4AD spot I still adore.”

Christina Carter, Aquarius Records

Christina Carter — “Christina starts in very delicately and deliberately…Alternating between the guitar part and lines being sung from a poem in her notebook. It’s a very affecting performance…Second song begins with a short instrumental introduction — has a similar vocal/guitar/vocal feel but the parts blend more.”

Then later we were off to the Swedish American Hall and one last night:

Higuma, On Land

Higuma — “…Gentle wide open and dreamy guitar to start it off. Evan adding some darker shades that suggest Barn Owl a bit but this is clearly its own thing esp thanks to Lisa’s vocals…Both performers now opening out their parts, Evan really letting fly while Lisa explores both the central melody and vocals…Big guitar part from Evan kicking in, loud but not punishing, more loomingly melancholic. Really great set here.”

Common Eider, King Eider, On Land

Common Eider, King Eider — “…they kick in with a LOT of dramatic feedback and zone…Forlorn wordless vocals, deep echoes, HUGE feedback from guitars and violins, soft piano. Don’t remember last year like this!…Everything much more hushed now. The last band I saw that was quite so extreme was Ghost! But CEKE have their own good style…Now moving into more explosive drum parts and increasingly frenetic strings while the piano part remains serene and steady…George Chen is the modern Animal on drums. Minus the neck chain…Now back to guitars (quick big feedback strum, low e-bow rhythm), vocals and then violin. A massive sounding conclusion…Though now a brief coda? Same slow descending melody, much more skeletal.”

Ilyas Ahmed, On Land

Ilyas Ahmed — “Compared to the instore’s slow, steady hush this is much more improvisational and alternately hurried and quiet…Much pedal adjusting, almost like a constant search to refine and focus the sound as he performs. Vocals now coming in serenely…Ilyas announces “This one’s for Jack” and I’m sure it’s Jack Rose. Still missed, was thinking of him today. A lovely song.”

Bill Orcutt, On Land

Bill Orcutt — “…he takes the stage to a sudden hush…Might sound strange but his performance reminds me of Glenn Gould in a way, the sudden physicality and vocal interjections…It’s almost like the notes get ripped suddenly out of the guitar, quick and fierce, then peace reigns for a moment…The second song is calmer in parts, creating a tension between that and the sudden bursts as they appear. Performance as exploration …Big resonant tones at points — another thing to remind me of Jack Rose tonight, from a slightly different angle…Third song has him suddenly rip into a quick propulsive blast (on acoustic guitar, no less — its wear and tear makes perfect sense)…Tumultuous applause after the fourth song — many cheers — and after asking if he still has time, into one last piece.”

Dan Higgs, On Land

Dan Higgs — “Dan Higgs begins with a warm “Hi everybody” in between his opening chants and gentle instrumental rhythm…”Let’s go insane…because what they call sane…it’s a waste of the brain!” All to soft tambourine and high tones. And why not?…The gospel in his vocals is equally warm, it’s a sudden appreciation, and he invites us to “help me out if you like!”…”Got some dust in my throat…feels nice!”…In response to a claim it’s Holy Bible time he sings of burning it, breaking its spine and standing on it “until your tears run dry”…”What is the Bible?…it’s turquoise blue, it’s neon pink…an ocean of sound…and there is no evidence, no explanation why.”…”Clear away the bricks, clear away the stones, smash the holy vessels with hammers made of song.”…”Learned about my own sense of smell this week!” The story about trying to determine the putrescent smell in his van = A plus…Switching over to banjo…He can definitely come up with some peaceful yet creepy laughs…”Last chance to throat dance! OOOOOOOAAAAAOOOOWUH!”…Gotta say this is definitely my most unexpected set of the festival. Nail filing and all!…”Going to play one last song…it has been a strange pleasure…I’m always looking for new pleasures…this goes out to the ladies!””

Grouper, On Land

Grouper — “…as with last year, in near pitch dark with a film set to screen behind her…The set begins with a crumbling cassette sample of some sort while the film kicks in…Softer, deep buried melodies sound off as she adjusts pedals and other elements…Extremely lovely stuff, as deep blue as her instore set but again like Ilyas not repeating it, not yet using guitar…One of the more deliberate sets of the festival, very slow evolving but also extremely involving, a slow pulling inward…She now starts playing guitar and singing, the rich reverbed tones of both a new layer of dark beauty…Moves to a new melody — a very Windy and Carl feeling now but with Liz’s vocal style one of the clear points of difference…What seemed like a final conclusion was more a quick pause, into a vocal/guitar part that’s the most stripped down yet…The film projections for Grouper have been lovely, black and white images ranging from city business to wintry forests and roads.”

Charalambides, On Land

Charalambides — “”Hi, we’re Charalambides.” And with that from Christina we are go for the final band of the festival…Almost sounding like a slow, none more drawn out blues band at the start, just. Christina’s singing goes big early on…Tom looking almost entranced, Christina seated, eyes closed. Still a fascinating partnership after all these years…The performance feels so far like an extension of her instore with the extra guitar adding more fractured texture, a darkness…Remembering Christina’s wordless keening from ten years back and contrasting it to the focused, suddenly sharp poetry here…She stops singing and their guitars break into a brief, unsettled coda to end the first song. Tom’s dark tones set up the next…Christina’s brighter, sharper guitar parts again a good but always complementary contrast. There’s heavy drama at work…The two now fully lock into their instruments, a focused, intense upward charge. Almost the only comparison point here is Swans. I’m quietly fascinated by the fact that some people near me have suddenly left over these last minutes like they didn’t expect this…Christina’s slow march now contrasted by Tom fully going off, pedals and feedback in a massive storm. Then her singing kicks in…Christina sets down her guitar and takes the mike out of the stand, Tom plays a calm part. It’s a version of a song from the instore…It’s interesting to hear the subtle differences — both her singing and his music adds or stretches out notes, a little freedom. He adds some high scrapes and swirls, she sounds even more commanding and fraught…”Maybe you will dream together tonight….she’s so far away…he’s so far away…Hush now, it’s going to be all right…” While the music’s doom laden repetition suggests anything but that state…Christina takes up the guitar again while Tom adds some softer breaks and quieter tones. It’s like the sudden removal of weight…Her singing now similarly more obviously empathetic, a bit of balm while Tom’s is still loud but now a bit triumphant…Now both of them really amping into some heroic sounding stuff, great to hear. Darkness leading into dawn…Pretty amazing. If this is how the festival all ends I couldn’t imagine a better way to do so. Into some big zoneout feedback…And On Land Festival 2010 is indeed over!”

Thoughts on the On Land Festival in San Francisco

The Swedish American Hall stage

As anybody who follows my Twitter feed probably knows all too well, I was up in SF for a few days just now — something I always like to do every so often so I can visit my sis, but also because on that particular weekend the On Land Festival was being held. Started by the good folks behind the Root Strata label, it’s one of any number of festivals and get-togethers this decade inspired by the example of such gatherings as the Terrastocks over the years, in case revolving around the label roster thanks to the many enjoyable acts that have put out releases on it.

I have to say — as I told Jefre of Root Strata directly at some point, I think — that for many reasons this was one of the best such events I’ve yet attended. I think it was down to a combination of things — a good location to start with in the center of the city (literally all I had to do was walk a couple of blocks to catch a tram back to my sis’s after each day ended), wonderful venues in both the Cafe du Nord and especially the Swedish American Hall (most of the festival took place there and the sound throughout was top-notch), enthusiastic support from all involved, good crowd and in the end a really, really sharp collection of bands that played one excellent set after another.

As I put it in one tweet a few bands in, “key hallmark of the festival so far = variety. It is not simply a ‘drone’ festival, each act has a distinct sound.” And that IS key — you could easily sense the throughline on each act, why they released something on Root Strata and why they were at the festival, but while that sense of something overwhelming and awe-inspiring held sway each time, the resultant range is the true measure of success for both label and festival. I had intentionally held back from listening to any of the bands I wasn’t familiar with already prior to the festival, because I just wanted to experience it completely fresh — very glad I did so, it often meant not merely surprises but truly pleasant ones.

Root Strata’s blog has two sets of photos up from the festival here and here, check ’em both out, along with this clip of the mesmerizing performance by Sun Circle. I’m sure there are many other things out there too, I’ll have to look around a bit!

My own series of photos can be viewed here. For the remainder of this entry, I’m going to pull together the various thoughts via Twitter I had for each performance, plus a link to the band’s site and a representative photo — and please keep in mind a number of acts performed in little or no light at all! Very intentionally. Enjoy, and by all means check out all the artists’ work and support them as you can — as well as the Root Strata label in general via their catalog.

Thanks again to Jefre and Maxwell of Root Strata for pulling it all together — see you next year!

Jefre and Maxwell

Danny Paul Grody

Danny Paul Grody: “…starting the festival with gentle, slow guitar moodouts, then further shifting to keyboards, then acoustic guitar, a gently flowing collage. By adding wordless vocal keening to the layers of sound, the feeling is of a calmer White Rainbow set.”

John Davis

John Davis: “…with help from Maxwell of Root Strata. Davis opening on electric guitar, Maxwell on koto (I think). Elegant melancholic drone from the start. The koto textures the deep drone, which in addition to the landscape film projection is pure slow sunrise beauty….John Davis set just wrapped up on a note of perfect serenity.”

Jim Haynes

Jim Haynes: “…now on stage with a tableful of nefarious devices. A good start….The combination of mixers, pedals, Haynes bowing something and more suggests a lost spaceship, a damaged hulk….Haynes also using acoustic elements well — rhythms and scrapes in a bowl adding a literal crumbling.”


Darwinsbitch: “…deep oscillating drones, electronic violin at a high pitch. Compelling! The combination of the violin’s odd modalities and the vast moaning drone is near Köner-levels of awe. The addition of a slow rising melodic motif put this set at the top of the heap. Stellar.”

Metal Rouge

Metal Rouge: “…focused facing their amps, creating arrhythmic scrabble and drone chaos….their more Sonic Youth/Dead C style playing here is a nice contrast to what has happened so far without disrupting it — again, showing what ‘drone’ can actually encompass. Also, swapping from drums to trombone = nice touch!….And they even ended on a drum solo because why not!”

William Fowler Collins

William Fowler Collins: “…now starting with a big ol’ blast of feedback — that was more a soundcheck — now playing to film accompaniment of water/bubbles. Suggestions of an Old West in the shadow of electricity, twang lost in echo and drift, dark roars….A screech of wires across a night desert, looming power terminals over blasted sand. Majestic.”

Starving Weirdos

Starving Weirdos: “Unlike at Bottling Smoke, this time there’s light onstage….Set up reminds me of early Pelt but sound is more of a mix of echoed howl, mixing murk, chimes, unease. Perhaps the most theatrical show, sonically if not visually.”

Scott Goodman/Operative

Operative/Scott Goodman: “Pure sine wave oscillation madness so far. The equivalent of liquid chalkboard scraping….Okay now that the full drumming is kicking in it makes more sense — New Wave Lightning Bolt, kinda. Suggestions of Suicide, DAF, Trans Am, Mouse on Mars — aggroelectro. Yet still droney!”

Joe Grimm

Joe Grimm: “…now starting, with his film/audio setup on the floor, projecting to the stage….The most minimal of the shows so far — Grimm avoids expected stage presence and projects blank white, letting the flicker of the two beams match the buzzing hissing insect drones he creates, a thousand angry bugs. The constant changes in screen flicker suggest ghost images, all while the drones get angrier and louder.”

Pete Swanson

Pete Swanson: “Saw Yellow Swans once, will be interesting to see the difference….has guitar and mike ready but so far it’s rumbling craggy drone….I’d say this was the most shoegaze set yet, but of the cryptic aggro version — FSA at its most unhinged. Shifting to classic guitar/buried sing scream style now, fighting through waves and waves of sound.” (I randomly mentioned this comparison to Pete later and he suggested more of a Gate sound, which makes PERFECT sense.)


Ducktails: “…a guy, a guitar and a lot of gear, plus bright lights. And twinkly keyboards….it’s all rather sparkly somehow….Okay and the sample swirl explains the Hawaiian references — like a lazier Avalanches, not without charm. This might be the first performer ever who takes percussive inspiration from Tones on Tail’s “Slender Fungus.”

The Alps

The Alps: “…after a slightly rushed soundcheck, the Alps are good to go. The first ‘traditional’ rock band lineup of the day, but aiming for mantras in a Spiritualized sense in part….Also exploring open zone freakouts, Stooges/Can steady builders, an effective tour of styles.”

Keith Fullerton Whitman

Keith Fullerton Whitman: “Keith Fullerton Whitman has plugged in his box of mystery wires and we’re off and running. And I’m definitely not kidding about the box….Whitman uses/abuses electronics to make them both uglier and prettier, a simultaneous reworking. The pulses, abbreviated melodies, loops and underscoring crushing collapse just screams tension. One senses Whitman is willfully unsure what the machines will do, testing to see what happens.”

[Tarentel was next and closed out the first night, and by all accounts slew. But I was wiped! Had to cut out early and recuperate — I’ve been lucky enough to see them before so I knew they would rule and I regret having to duck out. Next time!]

Brendan Murray

Brendan Murray: “As the photo sorta shows, this is another set where films are key, with Murray behind his computer. Murray’s work is a kind of classic drone, overlapping tones and rhythms as deep, strange contemplation. The choice of film projections — insects, water, plants — is actually more soothing than the music!”

Common Eider, King Eider

Common Eider, King Eider: “…a duo, with one on two guitars and violin and another just guitar. Very contemplative, calm Charalambides style to start, but tension builds….Should also say there’s a third member, a pianist off to the side hidden by amps a bit. The combination is ultimately familiar but still striking, forlorn voices and notes in suspension.”

Sun Circle

Sun Circle: “Sun Circle begin with low light and hand percussion, plus mixers….It’s a lovely way to suggest ‘wrong’ elements (drum circles, new age spirituality) via a different context. Meanwhile, slow building feedback murmur textures and starts to override the performance as viewed/interpreted.”

Barn Owl

Barn Owl: “Flying Vs and guitars with bows. It’ll be bemusing, whatever is about to happen….Yet the result is calm and contemplative, both guitars bowed while films again play. As ever, by forcing the eye away from the band, the result is strange disconnect, an actual film soundtrack even when, as now, the duo now play guitar directly, a dreamy slow spiral down akin to Isis or Jesu, or even Sunn0))) at a stretch, but cleaner and less obviously metal or shoegaze, if you like….Even now, moving fully toward full drone howl, it’s a feeling of black walls of sound, performance hidden away.”

Ilyas Ahmed

Ilyas Ahmed: “Ilyas fronting a trio lineup. With Honey Owens of Valet on guitar and Jed from Heavy Winged on drums, it’s a nice switch from Ilyas’s solo approach….There were rumors of Doors-like rock sleaze for this set — no leather pants yet….The feeling so far is of Ilyas at his most serenely unsettled — spikes and starts behind an air of calm. His keening vocals here feel more lost in the music as a result, a sinking anchor into bubbling water….The shift to full improvisation makes sense, given his affinity for and knowledge of many musical approaches.”

Christina Carter

Christina Carter: “Her ever-powerful, wordless wails are as stunning as when I first heard them ten years back, plus having seen Joan La Barbara in her company the other day, her approach has a greater context for me, less rhythmic but more free and swooping, yet equally yearning to reach beyond linguistic traps which, matched by her shards of reverb country guitar, relentlessly suggest fracture and refraction.”


Grouper: “Grouper now starts, her own vocal keening and guitar approach complemented by a slew of pedals and films….By playing her initial parts as samples, she moves the focus from direct performance to direct manipulation, her individual parts of playing become redone elements in flowing evolution….By contrasting Christina Carter’s immediate performance with Grouper’s, the festival rightly concludes with an extension of the themes of like/unlike — common elements but individual approaches, set for set….The return to vocal/guitar now complements the samples in turn, working them back into a slow, depthless riff, another demonstration of Grouper’s ability to know the difference between homage and invention in that this does not reconstruct shoegaze, sampling, loops etc but aims for a shifting new synthesis….The silent presence of the audience has never felt so strong before now. It seems fitting to end the festival thus. It is also is fitting to end with a rich sound, feedback and delay plunging down and down, perfectly suiting the dark black water of the film, light sparkling on the edges, framing the full depths. A triumph of art.”

Dream magazine issue eight is out (and I’ve got a story in it)

Just passing on the word from George Parsons, Dream’s editor, who made the announcement tonight — my piece is an interview with the great guitarist (and great guy) Ilyas Ahmed, done last spring in the run-up to the Bottling Smoke festival. The issue includes a CD with a piece of his on it, for further goodness.

George’s announcement follows, including ordering information:

The eighth issue of Dream Magazine is finally here.

Issue eight has longtime contributor Mats Gustafsson (late of The
Broken Face) doing his inimitable interviewing journalistic thing on
Los Angeles brotherly duo Antique Brothers, and New Zealand’s
singular Rory Storm. Ned Raggett talked to guitar genius Ilyas Ahmed.
Steve Sawada interviewed Portland, Oregon’s Plants. Brian Faulkner
talked to Tom and Christina of the Charalambides, Mark Dagley chatted
with Natalie Rose LeBrecht aka Greenpot Bluepot. I interviewed: The
very wonderful Damon & Naomi, tripped-out vocal adventurer Dredd
Foole, great guitarist Sir Richard Bishop of the late lamented Sun
City Girls, legendary Japanese guitarist Michio Kurihara with
translation by Alan Cummings, the deeply beguiling husband and wife
acid folk duo Arborea, American singer songwriter Stephen Yerkey of
the late great Nonfiction, Argentinian sonic explorer Anla Courtis
late of Reynols, the great Swedish psychedelic band The Spacious
Mind, the unique and brilliant British composer and vocalist Johnny
Parry, I talked to Myc James lead vocalist of Nevada City band of
yore Absalom, psychedelic home-recording Brit madman Reefus Moons,
singer songwriter Lys Guillorn, ambient masters Stars of the Lid,
Sacramento Valley’s own psych-pop wizard Anton Barbeau, and the truly
wonderful The Handsome Family. We also feature artwork by the
stalwart Peter Blegvad, the charming Andrew Goldfarb, and myself.

We recieved exceptional pieces for this issue’s complimentary CD
from: Arborea, Rory Storm, Anton Barbeau, the Slow Poisoner, Natalie
Rose LeBrecht, Rory Storm, Lys Guillorn, Reefus Moons, Absalom, Anla
Courtis, Antique Brothers, M. Jarvis / A. Jarvis, Powell St. John,
The Spacious Mind, and Ilyas Ahmed.

112 pages perfectbound
$12 postpaid in the United States.
Payable to George Parsons.

George Parsons
Dream Magazine
P.O. Box 2027
Nevada City, CA