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Next Little Things: R. Stevie Moore, Pig Heart Transplant, Eartheater, and more

on February 23, 2015, 3:00pm
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Original artwork by Cap Blackard (Buy Prints + More)

Next Little Things is a monthly round-up of limited-run, mostly experimental vinyl/tape releases, reviewed by Grant Purdum.

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Almost nothing in the music world happens at random; there are no overnight success stories. Every band that makes it was at one point a band that hadn’t yet made it; not only that, but for every said band rolling in adulation and hype, there are dozens of equally vital groups that never got a shot, and will never get a shot.

It was never a conscious decision, but over the years it’s become my mission to shine a light on the mysterious underground machine that occasionally spits out a winner like Interpol or Arcade Fire. This is a space wherein art is still art; where people with nothing to lose create because they can’t imagine living their lives any other way. As a corollary, I want to document their output because I can’t imagine living my life any other way. I am constantly challenged and delighted by what I find bustling under the hood of the music-industry mainframe. The deepest recesses of the indie underground, while not immune to the problems that plague the more profitable sectors of the music world, to me represent a more inclusive, authentic source of inspiration.

Let the ultra-laminated chase the Next Big Thing down the rabbit hole. In this column, I aim to uncover the artists and recordings the mainstream neglects, with one caveat: I can’t guarantee the artists I cover won’t eventually become Next Big Things themselves. Or, at least the Next Little Things.
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William S. Burroughs – Nothing Here Now but the Recordings LP [Dais]

wsburroughs Next Little Things: R. Stevie Moore, Pig Heart Transplant, Eartheater, and moreI’ve heard William S. Burroughs recite his own poetry, not to mention R.E.M. lyrics, but the “montage technique” employed in this collection of his works on tape is a dramatic departure from what I’d expected or even dreamed possible. Nothing Here Now but the Recordings is an LP-only release (that’s right, not even digital) that cobbles together selections from an archive in Kansas, and by the time these tracks hit your ear, others will have been involved, including Throbbing Gristle’s Genesis P-Orridge and Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson, and writer/editor James Grauerholz. And there’s more: These artifacts were dubbed under the guise of a cut-up technique devised by Brion Gysin, and thus they skip around gleefully like a Books LP. A few instrumental sections and radio patch-ins aside (likely recorded secondhand), what you get is the booze- and drug-addled author at his OUT-est. His words, and even his voice, are being manipulated, but his presence benefits from the incursions, brilliantly succinct quotes standing out like beacons. “A green fix should last a long time,” he blurts; that’s a more predictable line from the author of Junkie, but check this: “Your planet has been invaded … Get out and fight for your streets … Boys, take the place apart … All of you green people, crab people, blue heavy metal people … All out of time, all into space, forever; you cannot take words into space.” And that’s just me jotting down random selections I’m hearing at this moment. Imagine two full LP sides of it, in context, buttressed by a romantic accordion or two and that deeeep, anything-but-soothing voice you’ve undoubtedly heard before. Nothing Here Now but the Recordings isn’t for everyone, but few things worth anything are.

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Yannick Dauby – Tsi̍t lâu tsuí:流水 Penghu Experimental Sound Studio Vol.1 LP [Discrepant]

3mmCover_OPTI [Converted]Yannick Dauby isn’t easy to connect to any common cause, flitting between several experimental spaces while simulating the overarching dominance of nature with large tidal rushes and dreamcatchers tossed about by gusts of wind. Tsi̍t lâu tsuí:流水 Penghu Experimental Sound Studio Vol.1 surges as regularly as the tide while it presents a bevy of treats for the ear to latch onto, finding purchase somewhere between the kitchen-sink approach of Starving Weirdos, the on-the-spot brilliance of labelmate Gonzo, and the natural cycles of the Wired Open Day recordings on Taiga Records (involving Oren Ambarchi and others). It’s a lot to process if you’re not lying on your back in a record room or spacing out with headphones on the bus, so take the proper precautions before you commit to each side of the LP. That’s not a warning, that’s an endorsement, by the way. The clarity, intensity, soulfulness, and even-handed compositional prowess of Penghu Experimental Sound Studio Vol.1 is daunting, even when measured next to the general excellence of the releases by Dauby’s peers on Discrepant Records.

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Russell St Bombings – Russell St Bombings [Smartguy]

russell st bombingsMembers of Total Control, UV Race, and a few other Aussie heavyweights get together for an underground version of The Traveling Wilburys, and wouldn’t you know it? The results ring as true as anything these fellows have managed on their day jobs. Russell St. Bombings practically render punk obsolete with their mastery of junkyard instrumentation and vocals as tossed-off as a finished smoke, delving deep into an improvisational zone that seems to have organically become several solid chunks of composition. I don’t know how else you come up with this dreamy, free-falling muck, faintly rooted in riffs, yet open to all manner of exploration, from triple-layered acoustic guitars to blasts of noisy mist to multi-tracked vocals to found-sound fungus. What sets this self-titled effort apart is the level of commitment to the journey from start to finish, these seasoned vets saluting Albert’s Basement (Aussie tape label, fellow travelers) as they dip into shoegaze, instrumental ragas, anti-ballads, solo synth-with-a-twist, and anything else they can get their grubby hands on. This one drops Feb. 24, so be on the lookout.

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Eartheater – Metalepsis CS [Hausu Mountain]

3-Panel_JCard_FRONT_AII was a little weirded out when I went to PsychFest last May and saw Guardian Alien performing as a duo, with Greg Fox (Liturgy) on drums and newcomer Alexandra Drewchin on synths and vocals. Hearing Drewchin’s solo output as Eartheater, however, has clarified the reasons for the downscaling of GA, as she is quite the forward-thinking artist in her own right, stepping into a deeper-than-usual lo-fi realm that reeks of home-recorded John Frusciante. In fact, Drewchin samples my favorite homemade Frusciante joint, “Running Away into You”, at the beginning of “The Internet Is Handmade”, which alone is endearing. Of course, her appeal reaches a lot farther than that; Metalepsis is like a clumsy bear-hug, wrapping its arms around seemingly everything and nothing at once. Drewchin deals in tape loops and all manner of unidentifiable audio, serving as an underwater version of what Kassie Carlson from Guerilla Toss puts out as Jane La Onda/Size Queen. Eartheater captures enough magic on Metalepsis to warrant more output; let’s hope this isn’t just a passing fancy of a project.
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Tsembla – Terror & Healing LP [New Images]

tsembla front small Next Little Things: R. Stevie Moore, Pig Heart Transplant, Eartheater, and moreListening to a Tsembla composition is like staring at a complicated stained-glass piece of art: What truly shocks you isn’t its vivid colors or shiny nature (as rewarding as those aspects are) so much as the organizational heft, not to mention patience, it requires to assemble hundreds of tiny, hand-crafted snippets into a cohesive whole. Terror & Healing, Marja Johansson’s third album under the Tsembla banner, is, at first blush, a scattered mess, until you realize Johansson is channeling the chaos into smaller rivulets that flow into a larger body of sound. A multi-layered approach to songcraft isn’t a novel concept, but few of its purveyors betray such uncanny organizational ability, cohering challenging, varied content while flaunting the chops to shut down a noise dive when necessary. Johansson samples like a madwoman, stutters half her beats and slows down her melodies to a crawl, all while maintaining a semblance of order and balance, not to mention variety. Tomutonttu, Excepter, and Gonzo are the first peers that pop to mind if you’re looking for solid footing, and I might be crazy, but might a few of the Ensemble Economique, or even Expressway Yo-Yo Dieting, folks delight in it as well? Let’s hope so. I first came across Tsembla seven-odd years ago, care of a ridiculously striking 7-inch on Vauva Records, then lost sight of them, so it was gratifying to stumble upon Terror & Healing a few weeks back. If you make time for any record in this column, let it be this one.

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