Recent Reviews & other news

Got a bunch of orders out today including two surprise orders from distributors.

Today was the official street date for the Vlor & Aarktica.  So that means tomorrow I’ll start the follow-up on promos (meaning the official promo campaign for Moodring is essentially done, not sure if that’s good or bad).

Did more layout work for the mini-comics today.

I bought some plastic cowboys that are going to be the promo gimmick for Sarah June’s record.

My son turned me onto that I can get Google to email me whenever one of the albums on the label is written up somewhere.  So this should help a bit with fighting the illegal downloads as well as tracking reviews & radio play.  Pretty stoked about that.

Here’s some recent reviews for you to look at & decide you need to buy some junk.

Moodring hail from Portland, Oregon and are centred around two members of Rollerball – Mae Starr on vocals and keyboards and Monte Trent Allen on bass. In addition, the quartet is completed by drummer Jesse Stevens and bass clarinettist Michael Braun Hamilton. Scared of Ferret is a curious beast with its roots in early Can and PIL with lashings of dub and a sprinkled topping of free jazz.
It’s also a strangely programmed album. Several of the tracks feel like mere sketches – ideas that have been abandoned before being fully developed and these are all loaded in the front half. The eastern tinged “Rintin Fire” and the improv work out “Shaker Tab” are the only tracks out of the first five that have any real substance to them, and even they are a little thin. Things don’t really get going until song six, “Colin Wilson”, which fuses a stoned dub with Starr’s gloomy contralto. From then on, everything seems much more focussed and fully realised. Indeed, the final six tracks (with the possible exception of the skeletal plinks, clicks and drums of “Riketts”) are terrific.
“Bulbul Tarang” starts out in a mood of dark ambience with a funereal drum beat before developing into a psychedelic drone piece with the clarinet wandering freely on top. With its dub vocal sighs and whispers and bass line not a million miles from Can’s “Mother Sky”, “The Weasel” is floaty and spacious. “Into the Doom” stands out. It has a sprightly electro-pop keyboard riff and a dreamy clarinet melody. For once Starr’s vocals aren’t buried shyly away, but are more forceful, sounding a little like Carla Bozulich. Things conclude with the slo-mo nightmare freakout of “Horse”.
Scared of Ferret is half way to being an exceptional album, but there’s too much in the first half that feels like it needs more. I wouldn’t call it filler – that would imply a band on autopliot – but just unfinished. The good stuff makes up for it, though, being both challenging and inviting at the same time.
~ Music Musings & Miscellany

This is the seventh release in the past five years from this Rollerball sideproject featuring the duo of Mae Starr and Monte Trent Allen, accompanied by assorted likeminded loonies on the bus. Bowel-cleansing rumblings, earth-trembling percussion, disembodied vocals, and assorted effects, loops, and the ever-popular “kaos pad” add up to one horrific mindfuck – a Halloween party from hell and one of the gloomy-doomiest releases this side of Trent Reznor’s NIN heyday. “#9” adds some intriguing clarinet bursts straight out of some kif-induced trawl through a Morroccan bazaar, and there’s a gothic slice of vintage Cure slicing through the instrumental title track.
Things actually get rather festive on the crackling, percussion-driven “Ricketts” and the bubbly “Shaker Tab,” although the latter still sounds like someone’s strangling a rabid monkey in the background! There’s a funky dub groove to “Colin Wilson” that wouldn’t be out of place on an old Killing Joke album. In fact, the whole experience could serve as a revisionist soundtrack to The Last House on The Left or Texas Chainsaw Massacre. With songs about ferrets, weasels, and ricketts, this isn’t exactly the thing to toss on at a kid’s birthday party, unless you want to scare the bejeezus out of the little buggers. From Allen’s Jah Wobble-inspired bass throbbings to Starr’s distorted, House of Horror shreikings that’d have Nina Hagen shitting her panties, to the post-apocalyptic free-jazz skronkings of Michael Braun Hamilton’s effects-laden bass clarinet and the end of the world floor-rattling drumpounding of Jesse Stevens, you’ll be scared of a hell of a lot more than ferrets once you’re finished with this one. Grab this early Halloween treat now and prepare to be afraid…very afraid.
~ Jeff Penczak, Foxy Digitalis

That’s a toxic tinkering album. It’s stoned psychdelic Music, with a slight jazz-esque background, from the brainchild of Mae Starr and Monte Trent Allen, also from Rollerball, Portland, USA.
There’s a long, hypnotic track, called Colin Wilson, a pure opus here: – dub bass line, ghostly, grave, female vocals, airy guitars harmonies, mid-tempo drums, – it sounds like if Bowery Electric of Beat were duetting with Low of I Could Live in Hope; a sicked mantra that suddenly falls into the suffocated drones of Bulbul Tarang, turning into a synth catharsis, hidden voices, distortion, winds and dazing sounds.
Anyway, the mesmerizing cut is still high on The Weasel, – kraut and drugged, effected vocals, echoed and broken, – fully charming.
Into The Doom is a song radiating self-possession in every single note, driven by an obsessive keyboard riff and a clarinet solo, – Horse is playground for djing with noise with a groovy trip-hop drumming, with an unexpected hard-rock psychedelic ending, – and i’d be ready to bet it’s Bret Constatino from Sleepy Sun to sing.
~ Paolo Miceli, Komakino

Mae Starr and Monte Trent Allen, also in Rollerball, are at it again with their genre-defying side project Moodring, which may possibly be a quartet now (?). The name is appropriate, as the tracks seem to be at least as much about creating moods as they are about composing songs intricately from start to finish. My guess is that the musicians lay down a few ideas and then mess with the material in the studio until it sounds not quite like anything you’ve heard before. A Moodring record always sounds to me like many late nights at the computer were involved. As usual, the production is super creative with many surprises and odd textures that keep things interesting. A few guests appear on this one, adding drums, woodwinds… maybe some other stuff. A worthy release.
~ Max Level, KFJC

this is a rum bugger.  some kind of noirish jazz exotica.  part david lynch part sun ra.  has some of that primitive psyche folk vibe that all the best sunburned hand of the man shit has.  when they get into the hazy fug of percussive grooves and prog lounge freakouts all the ghosts in my haunted head get queered the fuck out.  it’s a heady mixture of the organic and the synthetic, full of spook-house vocal mumblings and claustrophobic dub clatter.  dense.  full of smoke and tar.  man do i dig this.
~ cows are just food

imagine a hundred roy montgomery’s exploding at the same time and yr somewhere near the geetar sound on this.  it’s kindof unrock (although there is an almost arpeggio in all our times have come).  a similar epic six (and twelve probably) string drone loop and post-whatever sonic violence as aidan baker or justin broadrick peddle.  it’s a huge bloody wall of electrikal whooomph and glacial tones.  apparently he’s jiggered about with a buncha tracks by hefner and pere ubu (misdirection maybe?) and warrior soul among others to produce this oddly listenable beast.  not that i can recognise anything of the sort among the wet bursts of ambient noise and pop-doomerry.  and hell any fella with the big brass balls to cover coil deserves yr uninhibited love.
~ cows ar
e just food

Brian John Mitchell’s Remora is a foundation stone in guitar based drone music and rightly so, what with being active now since 1996. While not busy running the greatly underrated Silber record label, Mitchell has been gracious enough to produce yet another slice of looped drone distortion this time taking the loops from small moments from songs ranging from the likes of Journey to Pere Ubu.
Rather than try and decipher where each hook originates from like some secret code Derivative will instead wash away conscious thought in a wave of emotive experimentations, beginning with the soft and bittersweet movement ‘Every Prince’ and continuing through with ‘Highway Run’ which is crying out for cinematic accompaniment to its rhythmic and strangely uplifting tone.
‘Misdirection’ finds a more confident sound than previous tracks, its bold and secure movements balancing a fine line between harsh noise and space rock. ‘Death Planes’ achieves a similar feat, though with much more of a sober quality to its heart; a tone and feeling that makes it a stand out track on the album.
‘All Our Times Have Come’ combines both the grandiose scale of ‘Misdirection’ with the relaxed and sombre themes of ‘Every Prince’, making a beautifully alien soundscape, a combination that ‘Into the Light continues in a darker, slower requiem than previously heard, each twisted sound soaking in character and atmosphere.
From the simplest of abstract ideas Mitchell has produced a mind bending album with Derivative and one that will surely be lapping up praise in the drone scene and beyond. With output as constantly strong as Derivative more people will soon learn to hrt [sic] Silber records as much as the rest of us already do!
~ Michael Byrne, Left Hip

“Derivative” isn’t a label most artists would enjoy being attached to their work; as one would imagine, a quick Googling of some of the Web’s more prominent album review sites demonstrates a notably negative correlation between use of the word and score. It isn’t likely, then, that many musicians would claim ownership of the term, especially to the degree of allowing it to name a record.
But, for Remora–a solo ambient/noise project from Brian John Mitchell, operator of the respectable Silber record label– “derivative” isn’t an admission of guilt but a statement of intent. Each track on Derivative finds source in an assortment of hooks from Mitchell’s favorite artists. “What Did You See There?”, for instance, lifts the bass line from Joy Division’s “Wilderness” and envelopes it in a gauzy haze of looped guitar drones. Other artists featured across Derivative’s eight tracks include Bob Dylan, Pere Ubu, Journey, and more. And, yes, Journey being appropriated for a work of this sort is quite possibly the year’s least expected act.
The compositions are far from cover versions, however. The experience is more akin to quaffing a bottle of cough syrup and falling asleep while a beloved record skips across a few particular riffs. An element of discovery is manifested, like recognizing a familiar face in a dream or a cognate in a foreign language. Often, though, these referents wash out completely, Mitchell being content to allow his loops to blur into amorphous textures. Once the ancestral hooks fade, the tracks become then odes to space instead, expanding outward and to no place in particular.
In the past, I’ve found issue with guitar-based drone for lacking many distinguishing characteristics, but Derivative’s theme (gimmick?) is enough to grant Remora some individuality.
~ Jacob Price, Delusions of Adequacy

Zinester(QRD)/cartoonist/musician(Remora/Small Life Form)/media mogul (he runs Silber) Mitchell’s collection of ten issues of his “Lost Kisses” comic strip is presented as a slow-moving cartoon designed to emulate the act of reading the comics. Each panel is split in half with our stickfigure hero’s adventures played out on top and a running commentary of bon mots (“Men have an instinctive need to provide for girls they’ve had sex with,” “My life is still further from falling together than falling apart,” ”Sometimes I remember what’s best to forget,” et. al.) on the bottom, sort of like watching a DVD release with the cast or director offering witty anecdotes in the background. So it’s almost like watching/reading two cartoons simultaneously, a process which, admittedly requires an acute attention span and a touch of speed-reading ability.
But that’s a minor point. The key is the comics themselves, which are fraught with tales of death, drugs, alcoholism, despair, loss, and failed relationships. Mitchell also provides his own customized soundtrack in his guise as Small Life Forms. Each comic lasts about five minutes and the occasionally subliminal music is appropriately moody, morose, frightening (the backing to the Halloween script is particularly spooky), cautious, heartpounding, and unsettling – think of David Lynch’s soundtrack to Eraserhead. Often glacially slow and ominous, it never interferes or distracts from the story – it’s ultimately one of the most ambient soundtracks you’ll hear all year and would easily attract the attention of fans of Eno, Sounds of The Lid, Windy & Carl, Azusa Plane, et. al. if released separately.
Each of the ten comics exposes another layer of Mitchell’s personality, like peeling the layers of an onion. They’re brutally honest, occasionally heartbreaking and often quite funny in a self-deprecating way – all bearing the unmistakable stamp of hope that the future will always be better than the present. The use of stickfigures is key to the presentation of Mitchell’s naked honesty – the lack of flesh and bones on his alter ego representing his own lack of self-confidence in his actions. The theme of many of the stories is that, like the rest of us, Mitchell just wants to survive the frustrations, personal inadequacies, and self-doubts that we’re faced with every day. At the end, he always comes through, ready to face another day. As an exercise in self-analysis, it will help everyone who reads it examine their own life and talk their way through the hard times to reach that light at the end of the tunnel, which, hopefully more often than not, Is not another train coming in the opposite direction!
~ Jeff Penczak, Foxy Digitalis

Crudely drawn comics can have a charm or even a message. As long as that message makes sense, isn’t an inside joke, and actually makes you think. Using the most simplistic stick figures possible, Brian John Mitchell–who conviently has the same initials as Brian Jonestown Massacre–offers 10 self-examining teen angsty stories involving death, moral issues and relationships while the stick figures add witty and thought-provoking banter.
Accompanying a slide show-like DVD of the original 2″ x 2″ printed versions is dark ambient drone by Silber artist Small Life Form, which makes the whole thing more original and eerie. Each story is about 5 minutes long and most frames make a statement within their own story (stuff like “does it mean i’m old that i watch the news?”). What happens in the stories are definitely plausible, and the question arises as to whether or not the author actual had that experience or if it was embellished or just complete fiction. The drawings call out for repairs in hopes of improving their craftmanship (I would love to see it more fully realized). At the same time it reflects the repairs needed for the characters. Extras include a few other, non-related Lost Kisses comics by BJM with a guest artist.
~ Kenyon Hopkin, Advance Copy

This entry was posted in daily news, music and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.