Archive for April, 2017

I thought I’d post this little treat up for fans of the sublime, rich aesthetically attuned Joan of Arc.  Here is the video for a song off their newest album, He’s Got the Whole This Land is Your Land in His Hands.  It’s entitled, “Never Wintersbone You”  Hope you dig it.

PS -it’s got something to do with Phil Collins and his big hit, “In the Air Tonight” from his debut solo LP, Face Value.  That album was made right at the time Collins was going through a particularly nasty divorce.  I have and you too have probably heard that rumor that went around, mostly in the 80s & into the 90s that describes the story of this song & how Phil had set the “perpetrator” (?) up by sending a ticket for the front row, center so he could see him and expose him for some grave misdeed from years past.  Now, I don’t know if that’s true or to what extent it has validity, but, well, who knows?  Anyway, Tim & Melina are taking it to that end, it seems, in this tune.  OK?  Well, just listen & watch for yourself! Enjoy! and See you Really Soon! –KM.

Hi Everybody!! Hope you are enjoying this year, so far, which, for a minute there felt like a “new year”, the way it always is, you know. Anyway, I’ve been away from the blog too long lately but it’s not cuz I don’t want to write, on the contrary, I’d love nothing better than to be able to have all the time in the world to devote to nothing except writing (reviews and other things), but as it is, things come up “IRL” for me – sometimes things that are my own problems, other times it’s because I’m taking care of a sick girlfriend. Well, no, sick isn’t the word, really, more like distressed, suffering, in pain & it seems that the drs whom she sees are either incompetent, at least partly incompetent or they just don’t give a damn. I’m on the fence about that, kinda, but I’d probably say, if I had to, that it’s a bit of both. So, forgive my extended absence: all you lovelies whose great albums I’ve reviewed over the last few years, please feel free to contact me whenever you have a new CD coming out, I’d be happy to help. Until then…happy dreams! (BTW, up next should be a review for the smokin’ new album from WOODS, who, last year, brought us the interesting City Sun Eater in the River of Light, whose review you can also read here, just do a search for Woods or the album title & it’ll bring it to you or you to it, depending on your POV. Anyway, so, FYI (especially you, daniel g. -you know who/what I’m talking about- oh & sorry about that long-winded email I sent back, after you had just asked me what I thought of their new album (WOODS’s new CD, I mean). I hope to incorporate a bit of that into my review, or maybe I won’t… >smiles< OK, see you REAL(ly) SOON!

Lee Negin

The Falling of the Long ShadowsLee Negin Falling of the Long Shadows Cover

Passing Phase Music, Catalog # A2Z-2017

Released in 2017

Review by Kent Manthie

The new album by Lee Negin is a super electronic fantasy. Starting with the opener, “The Lesser Gods”, The Falling of the Long Shadows takes you on an astral journey; a trip through a kind of dream-space medium. It isn’t ambient, nor is it a techno-house-acid kind of electronica either; more of a hypnogogic dance through a viscous medium, like heavy water or corn syrup, i.e., slow-motion gyrations.

A little shorter than previous works (40 minutes), you, nonetheless, are exposed to a tour through unknown territory, maybe unreal territory, even. The music sucks you in, not unlike a black hole, except you can fall in without “spaghettifying” and even travel back, at the speed of light to come out at the end.

The stuff on The Falling of the Long Shadows is something completely new. I can’t think of anyone to whom I can compare it. On the album, Lee’s pulled out all the stops to try and discover the limits of imagination in a musical realm. Track number two, “Beyond (the Beyond)” is a kind of repetitive drone cycle, but not at all simplistic. The repetitions I’m writing about are layered over with a variety of sounds, feelings, even visions, especially if you’re listening with headphones and aren’t distracted. On “Between Thoughts” things settle down some; the song has this feeling of soundwaves washing over you as if you’re standing beneath a waterfall; cascading down on you and around you.

“Parvati” does have a little bit to it which reminds me of Brian Eno, to some degree, although only in a sonic sense, i.e., it doesn’t sound like this or that album or song, there’s just a certain feeling. But by the middle of the song it starts to get into Krautrock territory for a bit. I’m thinking here of Neu! or Faust, maybe some early Kraftwerk, as well, with some beautiful piano in there at the end, which continues on, into the beginning of “No Turning Back”, as well, in fact, “No Turning Back” serves as a kind of Entr’acte between two parts. The whole song has a really mellow, less otherworldly vibe to it, with a beautiful piano playing and strings backing it up (but that could be synthesized string sounds too). It finally ends in a quiet fading. “Warping Out” sounds like something one might hear from the modern incarnation(s) of King Crimson. A chaotic, somewhat frenzied, yet ordered all the same, melange of sonic delight. Seven and a half minutes of superb quality sounds!

Yes, this is one blissful album. By the time it ends, you’re so into it that you aren’t ready to leave this realm, so you might try to find something similar, older or new, or even a previous CD of Negin’s (http://passingphasemusic.com. is where you can find more of Negin’s catalog).  The album’s finale, “Requiem for Cheeze” is a nod to Lee’s previous opus, The Cheeze Chronicles, Vol. 5, which, itself, was a delightful odyssey into other-dimensional arenas.  Fans as well as neophytes alike will appreciate this paean to the aforementioned album.  Not only that, but “Requiem for Cheeze” also happens to be a great tune with which to close out the album.

So, to end where I began, The Falling of the Long Shadows is a superb album. I think it’s one of Lee’s best works. From having corresponded via email with him, I know he put a lot into making this album. It was a labor of love and a kind of test for himself; pushing the limits of the imagination with sonic intensity. He definitely passed the “test”!

One other thing:  I strongly urge you to get this album (that is, if you haven’t figured that out by now)  One easy way is to follow this link, to where you can find out more about Lee, e.g., anything not covered here as well as purchase a copy of this great groove that digs deep into your subconscious:  http://passingphasemusic.com.   Then, after getting your copy, maybe go back and leave Lee a message, letting him know that this is such a soothing balm, a perfect antidote to cloying, overplayed pop songs on your average FM radio station.  In other words, send words of encouragement to Lee to let him know that he is sorely needed in this era of ephemeral “alternative” radio flavors.  Remember, too, that word-of-mouth is the best kind of advertising:  it is genuine; you like it, you tell a friend or three.  You’re not getting paid for this, which is why telling a friend or friends, plural, about how great this album is is worth more than the most expensive ad campaigns!!   –KM.

Joan of Arc

He’s Got the Whole This Land is Your Land in His Hands

Joyful Noise Records, 2017Joan of Arc He's Got... cover

Review by Kent Manthie                                                 

After one of the most depressing and awful years in modern memory (2016), 2017 is shaping up to be a better one (so far, anyway). The one good thing that has happened so far this year is the new album from Joan of Arc, He’s Got the Whole This Land is Your Land in His Hands, their first since 2013’s Testimonium Songs, which was a soundtrack of sorts to the dance troupe, Every Door a Window and their dance piece, Testimonium, which was a re-creation, of sorts, of the trial of some labor leaders in the late 19th century.  That album, basically an EP, with just six songs on it, came on the heels of 2012’s wonderful Life Like, on which the worked again with legendary Chicagoan Steve Albini.

He’s Got… is not as stripped down as their last two were. This time they’ve brought Jeremy Boyle back, and Melina Ausikaitis too. The album starts out with a great opener: “Smooshed That Cocoon”, something that could only come from the wonderfully creative mind of Tim Kinsella. By the time we get to the middle part of the album, it goes into a kind of laid back, but “busy” mosaic of sonic gravitas. “Never Wintersbone You” talks about Phil Collins and his first solo hit, “In the Air Tonight”, from his first solo LP, Face Value, which was written and recorded around the time he was going through a particularly nasty divorce, which, ironically, provided some of the impetus of Face Value. Anyway, it’s hard to really know what they’re singing about unless one knows the context. Also, the last two cuts on the album, “F is For Fake” and “Ta-ta Terrordome” are great and show that JOA still have ‘it’.

As soon as I read that Joan of Arc had a new album out, I immediately went to work and, once I had it, I listened to it all the way through, of course, and was just blown away by its brave, forward-looking, fearless intensity. Every song really shines on this and I can’t think of anything I’d change about it. Oh, I suppose, if I were, say, Robert Christgau, I’d look and look until I found something negative about it that I could use to sound oh-so above it all, etc. but I’m not Christgau. I don’t live in that same world. Don’t wait around for some single to show up, get yourself the whole album. It’s a beautiful piece of music as a whole; it all fits together nicely. -KM.