August 20, 2013

REVIEW: "Paracosm" by Washed Out

Sunlight pours from Washed Out's Paracosm
  The music of Ernest Greene, or, Washed Out, comes at you in waves. The new album, Paracosm, eases the listener slowly into an aviary. The sounds of birds minding their business on a summer afternoon is the last thing heard before going under.
  On his second album, released Aug. 13 on Subpop, Greene crafts pretty pop jangles from the silk of sunlight. In his world the colors are always bright. The mood is revelatory and triumphant. 
  Songs are heavily layered with a sprawling drone and background snippets of field recordings and party scenes, plus more birds. Each progression dissolves into the next, leaving the listener light-headed and feeling a little nostalgic.
  The sound taps into everything dreamy about The Flaming Lips, but with a finer calibration. Paracosm consists of nine very well-fed songs.
  "Great Escape" is a funky Beach Boys jam sent frolicking in a field of daisies. The guitar twang on "Paracosm" unspools like the fishing wire from a fishing rod, while the prettiest harp loop flutters perpetually.
  "Don't Give Up" sounds like something the Avalanches would play behind all their samples. "All Over Now" and "Falling Back" could fit onto any soundtrack for any John Hughes movie. 
  On each track the drums plod along and they sound like sand is splashing off the drum heads. The guitars rise and fall on a continuous loop. Greene's voice is soft and pale and mostly forgettable, camouflaged in the mix. 
  The songs themselves don't sound much different than anything else that's been popular in music. They sound like they could fit into any time period since the Sixties. What bring these ditties their uniqueness is the incredible tidal wave of drone that heightens their emotional core.
  The traveling undertones are subtle, but all-encompassing, circling Greene's simple songs like an earth orbits its sun.

Key Tracks: "Paracosm," "Great Escape," "Don't Give Up"

August 13, 2013

REVIEW: "More Light" by Primal Scream

Primal Scream pack entire career into More Light

     Primal Scream’s new album, More Light, is the rock & roll musical equivalent of a very long, arduous, mind-bending trip. You will span time with this album. Whatever you are doing when “play” is pressed will be different than whatever you’ll be doing when silence finally returns.
     It’s been a quiet few years for the Glasgow rock band. Their last album, Beautiful Future, was released in 2008. Since Screamadelica‘s sun-dried, trance rock entered the world in 1991, Primal Scream albums have progressively grown more and more raucous and abrasive. More Light brings it all to a head.
     The opener, “2013,” is a nine-minute swirl of crescendos and drop-offs and horn squawks and loose endings of whatever crossed the microphone. “21st century slaves / A peasant underclass / How long will this shit last?” Bobby Gillespie sings in muted, maniacal whispers, firing up a revolution. The next song, “River Of Pain,” is built on an acoustic tremor and stretches way out into the bog of your mind. It travels downstream with little thorny bombs of noise floating about until slipping off the cliff into orchestral clouds.
     And it continues on like that. Each song is full, bulky with different shrieks, echoes, strikes of feedback, etc. gurgling to the surface. When Primal Scream pressed record they vaunted their instruments and got lost in the room. Most of the time that’s a good thing–a loose chaotic war zone of psychoactive rock–sometimes, though, it can be a drain. Clocking in at 68 minutes, the album does become a task halfway through, but that really could depend on the mood you’re in, or the drugs you’re on.
     One thing that’s certain about the songs on More Light, is they e v o l v e. The shortest song, “Goodbye Johnny,” is three-and-a-half minutes long, but most are between four and six minutes and in that time the structure gets dismantled, rebuilt and layered to the nines. Every facet of psychedelic rock is featured on this album. Bluesy acid-drop, spastic freak-out jams, funkadelia, hypnotic blacked-out drones all come roaring from the cannon.
     “Turn Each Other Inside Out” drops you in a highway scene painted by Ralph Steadman. It skids downhill with a driving, plunking guitar encountering hiccups and daydreams on the way down. The bass in “Tenement Kid” paces side-to-side in the background while the guitar summons extraterrestrials. “Elimination Blues,” quells the noise for a moment offering some panicked blues with Gillespie’s shuddering oooohs mingling with riotous backup singers. On “I Want You” the haze of Jefferson Airplane mixes with the slow-romp of The Troggs. "It’s Alright, It’s OK,” bursts back to ’91, while “City Slang” taps the energy of The Stooges.
     Gillespie and his minions are still wide-eyed, living on society’s fringes, squeezing every last drop from life like the sponge it is. When they sweat, you sweat. You might, one day, outrun a train; you can’t outrun More Light.

Key Tracks: "Tenement Kid," "Elimination Blues," "Goodbye Johnny," "River Of Pain"

August 06, 2013

Revisiting the RE-BLOG

from: Quiet Lunch
Photo by Eli Jace/Quiet Lunch
     Walking into Brooklyn's SIGNAL Gallery last Friday night turned every human face into a dark silhouette with a fuzzy lining of white light. The light splashed from two door frame-sized projections of revolving photographs. Photographs from the work of 200 artists make up the current show titled, BLOG RE-BLOG
     Copy and pasted together by Max Marshall and Paul Paper, the show seeks to reflect the oversharing of images online and present them in a physical setting. The goal of the exhibit is “to underline the way images are spread on the Internet, where the questions of authorship, curatorship and crediting become accentuated,” Paper explains.
     Each photographer was randomly paired up with another and chose one image from the other’s catalogue. “The photographers had free reign over what images they selected from the paired artists’ portfolio,” says Marshall. The results are a little drop from the massive collection of images that have become a swallowing vortex of the Internet.
     The two curators have been overseeing images, and also creating their own, with sharp focus for the past couple of years. Marshall has been in charge of the daily contemporary photography blog, The Latent, since 2010. Marshall respects brevity over total inclusion and so the posts have always been once a day, containing only five images.
     For Paper, “The more critical and conscious stage of my photographic practice began about 6 years ago.” The simply titled, I Like This Blog, has been his platform since 2009. A year later he started Sraunus, a traveling projected photography show in Europe.
     Paul picked some of Marshall’s work for the show and instantly forged a partnership. Marshall remembers, “I jokingly asked Paul, ‘When is Sraunus going to hit the States?’” and right then turned on the lightbulb above Paper’s head. Through their shared connections online, they were able to amass a large collection of receptive artists. “I selected photographers that are supported online or have a large presence,” says Marshall.
Photo by Eli Jace/Quiet Lunch
     The paired images are locked into a twenty minute loop, projected side by side, about fifteen feet apart. Unlike the average gallery where the viewer is given an unmoving piece of work to stand and contemplate, BLOG RE-BLOG is in constant motion. “I was interested in taking this cursory process online and exalting [it] into a physical exhibition, which you have to visit in order to experience,” Marshall says.
     Sometimes the two photos flashing would match lyrically, like when a serene image of a spider web went up against a dead rabbit hanging from some clenched fist. Sometimes the pairing would loosely create its own scene. The image of a starved white dog staring dead-eyed in the distance went next to a vibrant photo of what looked like a mango and lime. Other times the grouping would provide a total contrast, like the image of a sexy, black woman lined up against an old, soggy, white man walking into the ocean. The rest of the time the images may have passed too quickly for any conclusions to be made. The beauty of its randomness is the endless source of meaning each slide evokes. It’s like blindly surfing the web.
Photo by Eli Jace/Quiet Lunch
     “The Internet, as a social and cultural phenomenon, is fundamentally shaping the way we view, distribute and understand images,” Paper says. “We rarely, if ever, see an isolated photograph disconnected from other imagery; rather, it is part of some kind of ‘stream,’ ‘feed,’ theme or collage.”
     BLOG RE-BLOG is active through Aug. 11. SIGNAL is located at: 260 Johnson Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11206. The Gallery is open Saturday and Sunday, 1 – 6 p.m.