Sunday, December 25, 2011

Jeff & Jane Hudson - In My Car + Computer Jungle b/w Club Mixes 12”

To be honest, I only heard about Jeff & Jane Hudson earlier this year when fellow Halifax label boss Matt Samways of Electric Voice Records told me he was releasing a new 12" for them. The stripped down 80's synth jams he was posting at the time sounded intriguing—my interest was peaked.

As the story goes, Jeff & Jane Hudson spent some time in the late 70s exploring early punk rock in their Boston band The Rentals (not to be confused with that Weezer related 90s outfit) before moving to New York during the fertile years of the No Wave movement in the early 80s. Jeff & Jane quickly carved out their niche, creating music that was detached yet emotive. They utilized drum machines, synthesizers, quick bursts of guitar, and melodic vocals to craft a signature sound as original as anything coming from the best groups of their day. Eventually becoming a New York staple during this era, they'd go on to share bills with the likes of Suicide, Duran Duran, Siouxie & the Banshees, Sonic Youth, Lydia Lunch,PIL and many more. But despite being one of the most innovative and compelling bands of the early '80s synth movement, Jeff & Jane's contributions became more and more obscured as the decades passed. Luckily, in early 2011 Captured Tracks and Dark Entries teamed up to reissue the duo's classic 1983 LP 'Flesh' along with select single material and tracks from their 1981 EP 'World Trade'. The reissue brought much deserved attention back to this trailblazing outfit.

And just recently, Halifax's Electric Voice answered the call to step up the Jeff & Jane revival by releasing this killer 12" single, the duo's first new synth based material in decades. The record consists of two tracks, 'In My Car' and 'Computer Jungle', backed with alternate club mixes. These new songs are a throwback to the sound that originally propelled Jeff & Jane to so much success in the early 80's; although, I'm not sure that any of the tracks on their 80's records are quite as infectious. If pushed to find a comparison, I'd say the mix of hook-laden melodies, quirky synth lines, and a darker hidden meaning remind me in ways of Kraftwerk's 80's dance departure 'Computer World', not a bad piece of music to evoke. That being said, all of Jeff & Jane's music, including this new record, clearly stands on its own. The 'In My Car' 12" is pressed on heavy, coloured vinyl in a limited edition of 500 copies. Art by Jeff Hudson.

Electric Voice Records
Jeff & Jane Hudson's Official Site
Buy Record From DIVORCE

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Li Jianhong - Lovers with Cloisonne Bracelet

I love a good record trade. It's a fantastic way to discover musical gems that for one reason or another didn't make it on my radar. My latest acquisitions are from New York's stellar Tipped Bowler label. A quick preview of their tracks on Soundcloud had me sold; I always have a strong appetite for quality psych noise. Their package arrived today, and the first LP to hit my table was Li Jianhong - Lovers with Cloisonne Bracelet. Athough relatively new to western ears, Li Jianhong is a psych guitarist from China who has been plying his trade for quite some time in both his band 'Second Skin' and through solo work. Lovers with Cloisonne Bracelet consists of one epic track of exquisitely crafted guitar shreddery per side. There are lots of comparisons that immediately come to mind, including Keiji Haino, Loron Connors, Bark Haze, and even DIVORCE artist Gown. Li Jianhong is unique, however, in that he maintains such a curious balance between noise and beauty. At times he evokes an intensity akin to the most ecstatic moments of a classic Hendrix solo, but the music never loses its dream like pulse and drone. Masterful stuff. Highly recommended.

01 Lovers in Misery by Tipped

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lost & Found Xmas Record Sale

Great sale for the shop only (mail order sale to be announced soon).
25% off all distro titles and any 4 label releases for $20!! Only until xmas. Lost & Found is at 2383 Agricola St. in Halifax. Get down there.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Cat Is An Alien Interview with DIVORCE

The process started almost two years ago when Italy's My Cat Is An Alien got in touch about trading records. Somehow the idea came up that DIVORCE do an LP for them. At the time, I was in quite deep with commitments to put out records, so this MCIAA project seemed like a far off possibility. Regardless, they sent the master. I was floored. I played it constantly for a year, hoping they wouldn't lose faith in my promise to get the album done. Needless to say, it finally happened. During this long journey to vinyl, I became even more enamored with the music of these strange brothers. They take what they do seriously and have created one of the most impressive catalogues of any artist or group in experimental music. To coincide with the release of Living on the Invisible Line, they did an interview with me regarding the new record and making music in the outer realms.

Like most of your recent albums, Living on the Invisible Line was recorded in a remote region of the Western Alps. One of the first things that struck me about the record was how much I could hear that vastness, isolation, and beauty reflected in the music. But MCIAA started making music in Torino, a city that you talk about as rapidly decaying (in one way or another). How has your music and outlook on creating changed since the studio moved to the mountains?

Of course moving our recording studio to a remote and isolated zone of the Western Alps, so far from Torino's environment, was definitely a big change. Our so-called "Alien Zone" studio is now located in a place which, from the very beginning, we decided to keep as totally private and secret even to close friends, in order to own a space where to be completely alone and detached from the "outside world". It did not only affected us from the artistic point of view, but maybe even more it opened our personal approach to life in terms of new perspectives. The mountain landscape was not new to us, since we spent many periods of our childhood there, but when we began to feel our hometown Torino as a place getting energetically "empty", due to the quick and inexorable destruction of the early 1900s abandoned factories that represented an immeasurable source of inspiration for us, we felt the need to find a place we could feel at ease again. It might sound strange, but as Torino seemed to become a more "comfortable" place to live in, instead we as artists started feeling ourselves lost in a meaningless and soulless void.
Actually, we must say that our creative process does not depend merely from the outside. In fact it basically comes from the innermost part of ourselves, although the vastness of the mountains helped developing our musical and visual aesthetics into further and still unexplored territories. We always felt that our music, and the process of creating instantaneous musical compositions itself, was connected to the Cosmos and the energies that inhabit space; mountains are sort of bridges running towards the highest dimensions of the Spheres, yet coming from the innermost core of our planet. Exactly the same kind of elements that act in our creative process.

In a recent Wire article you refer to the soulful utterances of Blind Willy Johnson on Dark Was The Night, Cold Was the Ground as an influence on your wordless vocal technique. In my opinion, American blues of that era is some of the most emotionally powerful music ever recorded. Experimental music sometimes fails because it lacks any trace of this kind of soul. Your work, however, has always seemed emotionally charged. Why is that important and how does it happen?

First, thanks for recognizing such emotional charge in our works; we know sometimes people don't get this immediately in our music for the reason of its undeniable "ultra-experimental" nature, and because of the fact that for most of people "experimental" is synonimous of "soulful", a kind of music that MUST have a "scientific-only" approach. On the contrary we totally agree with your point of view: music, be it jazz, blues, classical, punk, noise, ambient or experimental, MUST be "emotional", 'cause music itself is the highest expression of human soul. This is what we look for in all artistic expressions or works of art: pure feeling! Early blues was the purest expression of human existence on Earth, a human chant to the Spheres. This is why we also consider American primitive blues as one of the most soulful and powerful music and art of all times; it is as inspired and heartfelt as the primitive howl of the first man crying at the sky at the beginning of mankind. We feel strictly connected with all forms of archaic and primitive art, 'cause we see in them the strongest relationship with post-modern art. As Roberto once wrote, "all archaic art deals with death, sex, transcendence and Eternity. Anyone who does not look from this perspective cannot understand and appreciate contemporary art, even less pretend to use the term 'avant-garde' without exposing oneself to ridicule".

When it works well, improvisation can bring about some of the most ecstatic results in music. Certain late 60's / early 70's jazz records (Alice Coltrane - Journey into Satchidananda, Pharoah Sanders - Karma, etc) are obvious examples of this approach reaching sublime heights. Of course, the process of spontaneously creating music is as much a learned skill as any other musical technique, but there also seems to be an intangible element at work, almost like something magical manifests itself during these heavy moments. As improvisers, how do you conjure up that magic?

Well, you're naming some of our favourite jazz records and musicians. Most of their records are pure "magic" indeed, and since the beginning we realized that something special would occur any time we did improvise together: it's hard to explain it through words, because it's the combination of many irrational elements that reign over the whole musical creative process. It is like a subtle yet intense force that seems to guide you and the sounds you're playing into a dimension which is "other", in between this world and a place where a stronger energy makes all have a higher meaning and aim.

Being improvisers means to deal constantly with this forces and what is completely unknown, be it outside or inside of yourself: that's the spirit behind our music and art; we are somehow sure that when music will be on something magic will happen and will enlighten new acknowledgments of our souls and of the mysterious universe we are in.

Unlike language, music is neither arbitrary nor a creation of human beings: it preceeded the human world, and could continue to exist without humans.

I have become a huge fan during the process of putting together this LP. Thanks so much. Do you have any additional comments to add with regards to Living on the Invisible Line?

First, we must thank you for the utmost care and devotion you have put in releasing this LP, which we definitely feel as one of MCIAA's most intense works so far. In few words, this is the story of 'Living on the Invisible Line': in early April 2010 we were in our Alien Zone studio in Western Alps, when a huge snowfall took us unexpectedly. Quickly our studio was surrounded by two meters of snow, and we found ourselves even more isolated than usual... the atmosphere was surreal... like being projected into a mesmerizing white painting of abstract expressionism. At that point, it came spontaneous to think of our own lives, as artists struggling everyday against the violent affection of the outside world, trying to remain pure and find a salvation through our own art, as our only defense and only aim. As the one you can see in the back cover picture of this LP, the only thing we could see from our window was a long stalactite of ice... It was like a transparent line where we could see ourselves reflected in, an "invisible line" indeed, and we compared this with the tough way we are going along day by day. We switched the recorder on.

My Cat Is An Alien - Living on the Invisible Line #4 by divorce_music