Decades in the making, the musical duo Matmos have built upon their noisy and experimental past to create increasingly conceptual albums that collide together many worlds of thought and style. On their latest album, The Marriage of True Minds, M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel have properly outdone themselves, this time basing their project on a concept so well-crafted that its exact specifications shall never be known by anyone save for the band members themselves. At the heart of these vagaries are experiments in extrasensory projections -- that's right, ESP -- though be not fooled: Matmos are skeptical in their own way. Daniel is quick to drop the fun fact that belief in ESP is still considered a symptom of schizophrenia, so outlandish it seems to scientific professionals -- but all that hardly matters in the context of Matmos' project, for they aren't looking to shift any scientific paradigms. No, they are looking to shift their own musical paradigm, and five years of conducting artistic ESP research and synthesizing its results have led to what may perhaps be the band's most exciting record yet. What's more, Matmos have proven that growing with age and experience have not made them any tamer. Their apparently unyielding desire to explore the strange and experimental is as strong as ever, even if it is taking on many different shapes along the way.

 

To be old and punk rock is to be old and potentially irrelevant, and that is, to a certain degree, why most punk bands have such a limited life cycle. How can anyone maintain the anger, aggression and emotional commitment to hold onto the values and morals deemed important as a teenager, without the world grinding it all down into a jaded package of disillusion? There is nothing that says that being in a punk band means you have to start when you are 20 and cease when you are 27, but to a certain degree, the writing is on the wall the moment you start. You may have been bellowing discontent to a crowd of 20-year-olds with your first vinyl, but after the third album is released, an older you will probably still be bellowing that discontent to a crowd of 20-year-olds. With that in mind, it is completely understandable why bands in the realm live and die so quickly, and those that stick around for decades are few and far between.
February 10th, 2012 @ Showbox at the Market, Seattle But Gainsville, Florida quartet Hot Water Music are one of the few between. Hot Water Music released Finding the Rhythms in 1995. After eight full-lengths, numerous EPs, and returning from an "indefinite hiatus", the torchbearers of the post-hardcore/emo wave of the mid-'90s are still going strong. For their tour in support of their latest release, Exister, HWM took out for support two very similar bands in different points in their career: La Dispute and The Menzingers. When reminiscing about Hot Water Music, most people bring up how they were their favorite band at one point or how no one else spoke closer to home lyrically, etc., etc. For many in the punk community, Hot Water Music proved that you can wear your heart on your sleeve and not sacrifice any points for it. This evening at the Showbox in Seattle, the legions of kids that sang along to their every word 15 years ago have aged and matured likewise, rounding their set out with one of the oldest median age punk crowds you'd see in a while. When "Wayfarer" rang out, the crowd cheered almost louder than the band sang. The mosh pit was active, but not in a stupidly vicious way, and there wasn't a single crowdsurfer until a teenager finally was able to get on the shoulders of someone else to make his mad dash for the barrier between the crowd and the stage. SEE ALSO: HOT WATER MUSIC - EXISTER ALBUM REVIEW LIVE SHOW REVIEW CONTINUED BELOW

 

When I caught up with Midnight Magic in Portland, Oregon, it was a week after the band's original show in the city. They had originally been booked on a Halloween bash that was foiled by Mother Nature, who decided that hurricanes and cyclones should devoid Portlanders of the band's disco-funk-soul stylings. The make-up show, an Ekstasy-sponsored night co-thrown by members of indie house outfit The Miracles Club, took place at a relatively new dance club called The Rose Room -- and somehow, despite all the chaos, Midnight Magic managed to fly in with seven of their nine members. I had read a handful of pretty mundane interviews on the internet which were basically fixated on simple facts about the band and went no further. Those publications discovered that some members of Midnight Magic moved from Los Angeles to New York together and that others were session players for Hercules & Love Affair and LCD Soundsystem. All that is fine and dandy, but for a band as fiery as Midnight Magic, I felt it necessary to break the mold and get to the bottom of who they actually are as human beings. On the tip of that iceberg was a simple question about their lineup. How and why is that worth it to them to have nine members? Don't they want to make money or find traditional music-making success or whatever?
I felt that answering the aforementioned questions would by proxy answer a lot of other things about Midnight Magic's approach to music-making and life in general. And when all seven members of the band were on hand and pumped to do a group interview, the band's inclusive and playful sound was translated into tangible real life vibrance. To set the scene: the club itself was too small to house all of us, so we flowed through the emergency exit to perch in the stairwell, nearly locking ourselves out along the way. Keyboardist Morgan Wiley, the longest-limbed of the group, knelt in the center as everyone stood and sat around him. As there was no flat surface present, Wiley became the eagerly self-nominated holder of the recording apparatus, occasionally striking Backstreet Boy-type poses to make sure the microphone was within earshot of whomever was speaking. His actions were charming, to say the least -- as was the entire interview. So though I usually opt for expository feature articles on bands, this nine-way chat (with seven band members and two journalists) was too rich with laughter, teasing, tongue-in-cheek statements, and all the self-help philosophies one could possibly want (or not want) to pass up a direct transcription. Doing so would have been a disservice to both band and reader, so both of those follow in the full interview below, along with many a hippie star dust quote spoken with full authenticity.

 

At first look, anything that is described as minimal, whether it be architecture, music, art, or even a way of living, is often also characterized as simple. However, a deeper examination can actually reveal a more complicated and challenging story, which proves that minimal does not always have a direct relation to simplicity, and that minimal can mean different things to different people. Such is the case for Austin duo Deep Time, who on their Facebook page describes themselves as "minimal weirdo pop."
When the two members of the band, Adam Jones and Jennifer Moore, talk about being "minimal," they refer more to the literal meaning of using limited resources, as opposed to the more known term of "minimalist music," which is defined by the use of repetition, ambiance, and often, electronics. Unlike the latter, Deep Time's music is considered minimal because they play the game of figuring out how to give life to their complex ideas knowing that they are limited to what they can do between two members.

 

Liars continue to compel me to no end. Truth be told, with these days and their compulsive relentless onslaught of auditory information, I almost expect to get sick of a band after album four or so. So I downloaded Liars' new album when it came out, but only listened to it a few times before I found out I was going to be interviewing them again. I then decided I should probably rectify that and listened to it like six times in a two-day stretch. Holy shit! WIXIW is a freaking classic which finds them again refining their prime directive of reinventing their prime directive, which has always been their forte. Six straight albums of genius. Not many bands can pull that off. This one's more aberrant but still uniquely them. Basically, they use more computer beats and effects than usual – kind of what you'd expect a band to do circa now. Difference is, Liars were always kind of doing that, so it feels completely effortless. Oh, how it owns. I had the good fortune of catching them live a few weeks back and had my mind psychically ass-handed to me by the sound druids in the sky. Liars are one of the few bands I know that you can definitely say are better live than on record, that still actually make great records. There are plenty of bands that excel face-to-face but can't pull it together in the studio, ever. The way the bass amplifier worship reverberated through their new beat-heavy cuts brought a sinister vibe to sound, rendering the whole scene that much more exquisitely delicious. When they dropped into the punkier cuts from albums like Sisterworld and their self-titled third disc, there was more raw power per inch being blasted from the stage than most metal bands ever conjure forth in their faux demon-worshipping careers. A ton of acts are using pure volume these days as a way to mask underdeveloped songwriting chops, but Liars do it right. Frontman Angus Andrew talks about that and other fun shit like dreams below. Dig.

 

Liars – WIXIW Teaser
"'Wish you' is a familiar and universal sentiment of longing and hope, but when misspelt becomes uniquely shrouded and difficult to interpret, which in many ways is representative of our music and the songs we wrote for this album." -- Angus Andrew, on the album title WIXIW

 

In the latest dubstep-inspired track by Brooklyn's The Mast, vocalist Haale Gafori took full directorial duties and turned scenes from her mind into a stark music video for public consumption. Covered with powder for a heightened ethereal effect, Los Angeles-based dancer Pandora Marie pop and locks her way in and out of Gafori's vocals, as monochrome simplicity eventually projects into full-color silhouettes that pulse in time with glitchy beats. In the brief Q&A below, Gafori describes the creative process for "UpUpUp" from start to finish, and you can expect to see this video in our upcoming Motion & Movement In Music Video panels for Bumbershoot and MusicfestNW.

 

 

Drawing from the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and one of the area's most majestic creatures, Rafael Anton Irisarri of The Sight Below and Thomas Meluch of Benoît Pioulard have breathed life into a new project, Orcas. On their debut self-titled disc, the two have created nine tracks of ambiance-heavy songs featuring a number of opposing elements, including light and dark, acoustic and electronic, textured subtlety and straight-forward hook. In that spirit of balance, this bilateral feature places side-by-side interview responses and sample tracks from both artists, to dissect the strengths, weaknesses, and sonic tendencies both musicians contribute to making Orcas the rich collaboration that it is.

Benoît Pioulard

"Sault" from Lasted Where Irisarri's soundscapes lay a gentle foundation for the work of Orcas, Meluch's work as Benoît Pioulard provides more accessible and structural elements, complete with singer-songwriter pop melodies. "Sault," from Benoît Pioulard's album Lasted, has guitar and vocal tendencies that connect to the piano and guitar lines of "Arrow Drawn," which is streaming below.

Rafael Anton Irisarri

"A Great Northern Sigh" from The North Bend As The Sight Below, Rafael Anton Irisarri's compositions rebuild familiar emotions and spaces by way of minimal electronic soundscapes. According to Irisarri, "A Great Northern Sigh" has conceptual and thematic ties to the work of Orcas, as it also relates to the Pacific Northwest. "Almost like an audio postcard," he adds. "What can I say -- I'm deeply inspired by this region and wouldn't imagine composing our Orcas album anywhere else."

 

Like a whale call bubbling forth from oceanic depths, Sister Crayon's 2011 release on Manimal Vinyl, Bellow, is an album dense with emotional weight. "When I think of someone bellowing, I just see a sad, really powerful thing coming out of someone," explains vocalist Terra Lopez. "Years of an... exhausting type of feeling." Bellow is an aural manifestation of such exhaustion -- a collective "bellow" from a group of Nothern California musicians who do not shy away from the fascinations which arise from darkness. Filled with trip-hop beats, soaring operatic vocals, distorted guitars, and delicate synth lines, the sonic universe of Sister Crayon is a varied and complex one. What holds consistent, though, is the band's fortitude, as they explore parallel emotional states through individualized experiences.

Part I: Now Age Manifesto And Q&A

TEXT BY THAD MCKRAKEN; Q&A BY VIVIAN HUA; MANIFESTO AND ANSWERS BY TARAKA LARSON The fundamental nature of time itself wasn't something I'd contemplated at great length until roughly a year ago. I think what turned it around for me was when I accidentally summoned what classic occultists would refer to as my Holy Guardian Angel. Out of nowhere in the summer of 2010, I started performing sigil projection exercises which seemed to be coming from somewhere else. I felt strangely and unconsciously compelled to envision myself in third person, as an external character wearing a sleek black suit. I was confronting my demonic persona -- the part of me that longed for frivolous shit like wealth and power -- or something to that effect. Who am I kidding, I had no fucking idea why I was doing this, but the further in I got, the more the scenarios played themselves out in my head; they had me shaking hands with the world's elite and proceeding to haunt their unconscious. To make a long story short, this version of myself that I'd been unwittingly focusing on actually showed up in my room one night. I will confess that I wasn't fully awake. I was in a hynagogic sleep state that a lot of mainstream psychologists would refer to as sleep paralysis. I taught myself how to do this by experimenting with astral projection years earlier; it fucked with my head forever. But it's what "I" told myself that's relevant here:
"We are the beings from the Sirius star system that were communicating with Robert Anton Wilson. We are the grey aliens. We are death. WE EXIST OUTSIDE OF TIME. That's why it's difficult for us to communicate with you."
They then projected a telepathic communiqué into the depths of my spirit. My reality became this video-like demonstration which oscillated between perspectives, drawing connections to something I'd also randomly started contemplating months prior – the Gnostic concept of the Holy Trinity:
  • The Father (or Holy Guardian Angel) – the me who is eternal and exists outside of time;
  • The Son – the me who exists inside what we refer to as human reality;
  • The Holy Spirit – the conjunctive tissue which binds us all into one coherent plotline; time itself, shown to me like a glowing orb which I existed inside of, though apart from my cosmic overmind persona (it/I watched from outside as if floating motionless in outer space).
Sounds completely nuts right? Well, it does until you realize you're one of about a billion people throughout history who have had this type of shit happen to them. Unfortunately, these topics are usually relegated to the easily disregarded world of "New Age" literature, ensuring that anyone who believes a half-man half-God walked the earth 2,000 years ago will laugh them off without a second thought. The term "New Age" has been so intentionally co-opted throughout the years by military and religious interests that even I hate it. Luckily, writer Daniel Pinchbeck has been trying to rebrand the neo-psychedelic evolution of these concepts as "Next Age." And here, we have the multi-talented Taraka Larson of Brooklyn's Prince Rama putting a much needed artier spin on ancient New Age ideas with The Now Age Manifesto. It's a work about the importance of intentionally transcending so called normal space-time perception and entering what Larson and English philosopher John G. Bennett refer to as Hyparxis, a hypertime dimension that has a timeless quality noticeable to human perception. In a way, these experiences and mind states kind of have to happen to you before you'll take any interest in them – but The Now Age Manifesto details concepts that will help you get there if you try. The entirety of Larson's manifesto can be viewed online at www.now-age.org.

The Now Age Manifesto: Introduction

The Now Age seeks to reconnect the current dislocation between time and space and resurrect the symbolic power of music by means of UTOPIA. NOW AGE = NO AGE Somewhere between Time and Eternity lies a dimension called Hyparxis**. Hyparxis is defined as an 'ableness-to-be'. It does not indicate a change in time, or a manifestation of eternity. Instead it refers to transformations in 'inner time'. Hyparxis combines what is actual with what is potential, thus creating a 'present moment' based on the internalized experience of external temporal events, past, present, or future. Thus, the Now Age refers to no age at all, but instead describes an elemental quality of being. UTOPIA = NO PLACE The word UTOPIA by definition signifies "NO PLACE". It is neither here nor there, of this world or transcendental to it. Its existence as a non-existence can be seen as a singularity, but within this "no place" exists an infinity of space. Thus an invisible "space between worlds" is created that acts as a medium between the real and the ideal environments. This aspiration for a space within a pre-existing place is vital for distinguishing the utopian impulse from the transcendental impulse; whereas transcendentalism seeks escape from the "real" world in exchange for an ideal one, utopia instead seeks a deeper connection with this world in the form of tapping into its inner potential, a REALIZATION of the REAL. It is here that the musical environment lives. Sound in and of itself is a tangible example of "no place". It is pure vibration, a shifting of air particles, and is thus (by sheer virtue of its nature) wholly meta-physical. **John G. Bennett, The Dramatic Universe