Archive for December, 2015

Lee Negin

Dervish Dharma Dance (Single)

Passing Phase Music, 2015

Review by Kent Manthie                                               Dervish Dharma Dance pic2

Well, just in time for the holidays, another new single by the cosmopolitan Lee Negin, American, by birth and citizen of the world by choice: after spending some time in Seoul for a while, Lee’s recently relocated to Tokyo, from where he’s been busy putting out some new, electronica. Music that, less so than the recently released “Frack Art, Let’s Dance” single, which was, as Negin himself put it “an EDM cut…and I’m not into EDM”. This time around, however, with “Dervish Dharma Dance”, a longer, more hypnogogic experience, running at eight and a half minutes, Lee sort of picks apart; deconstructs, if you like, the whole EDM thing and rebuilds it in a more, well, shall we say “club friendly” way, but in a more mysterious, a little bit darker way, with what hit me as violet-indigo-shaded soundscapes, after listening to it.

Take the title of the song, for instance: “Dervish Dharma Dance”: that conjures up images of an Eastern – more far- and far-southeast Asian styles, as in a pinch of this, a dash of that, a few teaspoons of the mystic and a cupful of the mysterious.

One thing that captivates me is the long running time of this song; instead of suddenly ending (or getting mixed into another tune) just as you’ve finished floating and have gotten a solid foothold on the dance floor, “Dervish Dharma Dance” takes its own sweet time with its near-ultra-violet end of the electromagnetic spectrum, only a fraction of which is visible (to the naked eye) light. The whole concept of sounds giving way to colors or “seeing sounds” and “hearing colors”, a sensation of synaesthesia, often achieved through methods of opening up, expanding or using to a more full degree, your consciousness, whether it be through the help of psychedelics like LSD, yage, mescaline or peyote, a state of deep yogic meditation which is something anyone can achieve, just depending on how hard one works at it and the concentration and practice one puts into it.

Even the title of the song, “Dervish Dharma Dance” has a certain spiritual substance to it. It conjures up images of Sufis in South Asia spinning wildly in their attainment of a religious ecstasy; one that they use to get closer to Allah. But you may enjoy this from the comfort of your own home, in your chair or sofa, maybe with the lights turned low or off. The music has a very sensuous sound to it. It’s a very beautiful song too. A great electro-dreamscape that would be quite fitting to have playing when you’re right in that state when you’re on the cusp of sleep; in that shadowy world, right when your wakeful state metamorphoses into sleep; maybe you could let it become part of your dreamtime if you were to put your player on “repeat”, so that “Dervish Dharma Dance” would continuously play, in a loop. The song would be just right for that too, as it isn’t some pop song, with your typical “verse/chorus/verse” or beginning, middle & end, which would one would think, get to be somewhat repetitious, even to the sleeping mind.  If you’d like to get a glimpse of the video on You Tube of the new single, check out  https://youtu.be/MsEHYq1WlUM – and see it first.

I could also see this being a great anthem to be part of a live show that would have the audience entranced and in a dance! Feverish fun!! -KM.

Hit the Dance Floor!!

Posted: December 14, 2015 in New Indie Music

Lee Negin

Frack Art, Let’s Dance Single

Passing Phase Music, 2015

Review by Kent Manthie                                                            Frack Art, Let's Dance!

For this, his latest, Lee Negin is experimenting a little with the overall electronic-based music by mixing in a little bit of what he describes as “EDM” into this single, “Frack Art, Let’s Dance”. As of now, December, 2015, it exists only as a single, as opposed to one of his last couple long-form releases (Surfing Samsara and the conceptual “technopera”, The Cheeze Chronicles, Vol. 5).

On “Frack Art…” Negin takes a breather, of sorts, relatively speaking, that is, since it contains the same intricate touch with which his other work is layered. He made a point of mentioning that it’s an “EDM” single, but that he really isn’t all that into EDM.

But, while it is true that “Frack Art, Let’s Dance”, even by its name, has a dance-y style to it, it certainly doesn’t detract from his previous works.

I suppose one could make the case that Lee decided to cut loose and go with “Frack Art” as a way to get a new tune out while not having to lay the groundwork for, as an example, the Cheeze Chronicles – an album that is a superlong meditation on a post-consumerist society; a “Technopera”: something one needs to take the time to listen to in one complete setting. Cheeze Chronicles is a marvelous, 90 or so minute psychotronic (to coin a word) reverie which is out of this world, but simultaneously takes aim at the hyper-consumeristic society which is no science fiction, but, sadly, the banal reality one must face every day. Cheeze Chronicles takes aim at this craziness and sprays it with hypnotic psychedelia which contains an irreverent, sardonic leveling of this whole upside down world where fictional television characters and the advertising that society’s blasted with, night after night, for many, shows them how to live, what to wear, what to buy and why they need all this stuff. But Negin doesn’t use a hammer and pound out a polemic, attacking, pedantically, this cultural trance many in (especially) The West are under. Instead, he uses wit and humor to counterattack with a better and more enjoyable hypnotized, psychedelic set of ethereal, atmospheric, textured lovely music that really digs in and, erases the damage, at the very least, for the duration of the listening, or at the best, it has the potential for expanding your consciousness and opening up new doors for you to go through and shut behind you in order to get away from the madness and drown out the noise.

Anyway, back to “Frack Art, Let’s Dance”. On this single, a three-and-a-half minute electro-pop-dance record, Lee seems to be enjoying himself, letting go for a little while and offering up something for that cult of the “clubkid”: a self-styled EDM cut which, compared to the aforementioned works, lets Negin get loose and not be worrying about tomorrow, but living it up tonight. But don’t worry, there’s always more to come.

It’s also good to hear something whimsical that still contains elements from Lee’s deep, Wonderland of an imagination. Stay tuned because there’s more on the way!

But if you’d like to find out what is available and more information, I’d suggest you go here: http://www.leenegin.com – from there you can glom on to all things Lee Negin: New releases, a video and art gallery, a biographical and discography page as well as pathways to previous works, including Hungry Ghosts.

Also: here’s hoping that we’ll be able to see Lee playing live at more and more venues around, both internationally and here, in the States. I’m sure it would be a mind-bending show that gets all the senses fired up! -KM.

For all you Kinsella-fans (Mike, Tim and cousin Nate), here’s Mike’s band, American Football, captured live, in a video from Webster Hall, in NYC of “Never Meant” from American Football’s eponymous 1999 album.  Unfortunately, I don’t know the exact date of this particular performance.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.  –KM.

As a way to give you an example of their new album, The Things We Do to Find People, here is the video of a new Beach Slang song, “Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas”.  Hope you enjoy it.  Also – for more information about it, scroll down a bit and read the review of The Things We Do to Find People.  KM.

 

Joan of Arc
The Gap
Jade Tree Records, 2000
Review by Kent Manthie                                       The Gap cover            
I just felt like I had to answer all these haters who’ve, in the fifteen years since Joan of Arc made a brilliant album, The Gap, have been maligning it, undermining its musical interactions as so much playing around in the studio, or talking about how Tim Kinsella is trying to “say something, but doesn’t quite know what…” (a remark that I’ve seen recycled in a couple other reviews) – well, those who write these snarky, oh-so-smart-guy reviews are just annoying.  They are too dismissive.  Obviously, they’re not Joan of Arc fans, that much is obvious.  But just because they happen to be familiar with Tim Kinsella and company’s work doesn’t mean they’re necessarily qualified to be passing judgment on albums that they don’t seem to understand -or even appreciate.    So, to help rectify that, I thought, especially since I didn’t write my first review of a JOA album until their Boo! Human album, in 2009, I thought I’d copy-and-paste exactly what I wrote on the Allmusic website’s “User Reviews” section for this particular album (The Gap).  It may sound a little “reactionary”, but that’s only because I wanted to give an answer to all the high-minded, heavy-handed “critics” who have taken it upon themselves to be the arbiters of “hipness”.  This, after all, is not a typical review, in the sense that I’m not going through it as I would if this were a new album and I was writing a review, like normal.  Think of it more as an “open letter” to those “Brent diCrescenzo”-type JOA-haters who love to hate these guys.
I don’t care what anyone says about it, The Gap, in my opinion, is one of the most original, brilliant and lasting albums made since…well, in a LONG time. Sure, there is this love-it-or-hate-it thing that music reviewers have with Joan of Arc in general & The Gap, in particular. I mean. so what if they used up to 100 tracks while recording this or that each cut goes seamlessly into the next. This isn’t some fluff made to try to get played on the radio. Tim Kinsella never cared a bit if commercial radio stations anywhere played his music. He and his bandmates, whomever they happen to be at any given time, write music they enjoy and that, by extension, the Joan of Arc fanbase will enjoy as well. One thing that is so great about JOA is that, between their debut, A Portable Model Of… and their last major release, Life Like (or the one they did a year later, as a sort of soundtrack to Every Door a Window’s dance performance piece, Testimonium – Testimonium Songs was the 6-song album which came from that collaboration), Joan of Arc’s music has gone through so many different styles and sounds -due, no doubt, to the ever-changing line-ups of the band, with main man, Tim Kinsella, being the only constant. Along with The Gap, which has more memorable tunes than just “Me and America” (“As Black Pants Make Cat Hairs Appear”, “Knife Fights Every Night” and “Your Impersonation This Morning of Me Last Night”, to name the most obvious), is up there with So Much Staying Alive and Loneliness, Live in Chicago 1999, In Rape Fantasy and Terror Sex We Trust as well as Joan of Arc, Dick Cheney, Mark Twain up through 2012’s Steve Albini-recorded Life Like – all great albums; peerless, grand, obscure and guess what: we like it that way!! If you’d rather hear something more “accessible”, turn on your local “modern rock” radio station and, in between the commercials, you’ll hear what you’re “supposed to” like. Oh and I agree wholeheartedly with Tim Kinsella when he says that Joan of Arc is NOT an “emo” band. Quit trying to put Joan of Arc in a box. They’re not going to stay put!

Deerhoof

Fever 121614

Polyvinyl Records, 2015

Review by Kent Manthie

Deerhoof has just come out with a live album that will show all those who haven’t experienced their live sets, what they’re like in concert; live; up on stage. The name of the album comes from the fact, that, last year, December 16, Deerhoof, who were on a tour of Japan at the time, played a gig at Fever which they taped, for posterity. Well, it’s a year later and now their set at Fever, in Tokyo, is the setting of this killer album by the San Francisco-based Deerhoof. So, Fever 121614 comes from the fact that they played a club in Tokyo called Fever and it was on 12-16-14 (December 16, 2014) – get it?

Fever 121614 and it has a raw, edgy, rockin’ sound to it. It starts off with a rollicking rendition of “Exit Only”. In the beginning of the song, Satomi sings in this soft, breathy kind of way that reminded me of one of my two favorite female indie rockers: Kim Gordon (the other being Patti Smith). On this live version of “Paradise Girls” Deerhoof really let loose, whereas the studio version from their 2014 album, La Isla Bonita is a wonderful, delightful and groovy, to the maximum, psychedelic zoom, where, for one, Satomi’s voice is more audible – her mic was turned up louder or mixed in better, etc. Another thing that differs is the restraint shown by guitar wunderkind, Ed Rodriguez. At first you don’t hear too much, but, a little way in, you hear bits and pieces of his great cutting, razor-sharp, whip-cracking guitar riffin’. But, when they play it live, captured as it is, from Fever, in Tokyo, “Paradise Girls” is less restrained, guitar-wise: Ed’s all over the place, non-stop, loud, piercingly-high notes, chopping lower notes, etc. and Satomi’s voice, not being overseen by a smart studio engineer, and whose microphone is probably not turned up loud enough, doesn’t project the same sort of sexy, rough timbre it has on La Isla Bonita. It’s a similar thing with “Mirror Monster”, which happens to be the 2nd song and the one right after “Paradise Girls”, on La Isla Bonita – the live version shows a less refined, less straitjacketed band, unleashed in the east, as it were, and not merely recreating the exact same thing that one can find on the album. So there’s that. Still, going back and listening to La Isla Bonita is a treat in itself. The whole album has a little more kitschy-pop-dance style, with wickedly devilish guitar mixed in as well as an atypical pop-rock drummer: he has some jazz chops that can really put the songs in a different light. One more La Isla BonitaFever 121614 comparison: the “Exit Only” studio version, which, I must say, has a great, dreamy, but the kind of jump-cut/all over the place type of dream. As the opening cut on Fever 121614, it is a great song with which to open the set. Again, the live version of “Exit Only” is, like, “let out of its cage” – the whole band really kick out the jams here – a great one with which to start the show: injected with wild, freak-out guitar screams, a jumpin’-up-&-down feel to it, it’s the perfect way to get the party started. The studio version, again, is a good tune in its own right, but, I wouldn’t say it’s their strongest tune on the album, though it does have Deerhoof’s typical brightly shining brilliance.

After doing “Paradise Girls”, they jump right into “Let’s Dance the Jet” and then stop for about a second before “Doom” begins. “Doom” is a great freakout – one that is jarring in its biting guitar works. Then, they get into “Fresh Born”, a really catchy, groovy song which will have you, at the least, bobbing your head up and down or, if you’re really in the mood, you’ll be up and dancing around the room; if you have good equilibrium, you’ll just barely miss knocking over any big or expensive stuff and that will give you all the more of a rush.

I could go on and on about each song’s merits and how they all have a great live sound to them, but I think it would be better to just tell you that the whole album’s one big, exciting live show that really gets your blood flowing and adrenalin pumping.

I don’t know how words could explain the wild rush Fever 121614 is. I can keep trying, though. For those who are big fans of Sonic Youth, Superchunk or even the Stooges of old, back in the Stooges and Fun House era -you will be really impressed by the excitement that just oozes out of your speakers (or headphones, as the case may be). One piece of advice I can give you is, when you play this, turn it up, loud!! For, just like listening to the first Stooges album full blast will really get you all pumped and ready for anything, the same thing goes with Fever121614: it’s very pleasing to the mind when played at an ear-splitting volume. Anyway, I thought it would also be a nice treat, since I, earlier, posted a video of Deerhoof playing “We Do Parties” live from their Tokyo set, that’s captured on Fever, I decided I’d also post, with this review, another video I got from Pitchfork, “Basketball Get Your Groove On”, which was played in front of security cameras at whatever hotel they were staying for their appearance at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in 2009. Enjoy!! And, get your hands on the just-released Fever Fever pic121614, which was just released on “Black Friday” -the big shopping day, for all those who just have to have that certain toy or TV or computer or whatever it is they want for an xmas present or for a personal present, etc. -KM.