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 — “…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 — “…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 — “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 — no notes. There’s space for notes on the paper but hey.
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 — “…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 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 — another one I have no notes for! Sorry about that, John!
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 — “…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 — “…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 — “…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 — “…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 — again, no notes here but a great performance.
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 — “…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 — “…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 — “…’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 — “…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 — “…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 — “…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 — “…four piece, perfect comedown…guitar/bass/(unreadable)…casual and friendly with each other, delicate funny…nice bunch.”