Alabaster Museum presents an evening of intergalactic soundwave surfing and hallucinatory visions, harkening back to the halcyon days of West Coast acid tests, the Exploding Plastic Inevitable and the UFO Club. Eyegate II will drive lasers right into your third eye with liquid lights and film projections as four of the region's premier psych ensembles provide the foundation for inner levitation. Space is the place!
Important note #1: Guardian Alien has been added to the bill and will start at 8:30 sharp. This makes a great bill even better.
Important note #2: Many of you already know about Tom Carter, but for those who don't, Tom was supposed to be part of this bill but came down with acute pneumonia while touring Europe a couple of months ago. He's been hospitalized since May but has improved enough so that he should be released in August. Unfortunately, he'll have a mountain of medical bills and no job awaiting when he returns, so we are donating all the proceeds from this show to him. There's no cover, but we all would GREATLY appreciate any financial assistance to Tom. Not only is he one of the nicest guys around, he is responsible for some of the most beautifully inspiring music of the past 20 years.
Friday, July 20
4014 Walnut St.
8pm, all ages!
Free (donations STRONGLY suggested)
Bardo Pond (Philly, Matador/Fire/ATP)
Rhyton (NYC, Thrill Jockey, mem. of No Neck Blues Band/D Charles Speer/Psychic Ills)
Kohoutek (The Eastern Seabord, Prophase/Music Fellowship)
Guardian Alien (NYC, Thrill Jockey, ex-Liturgy)
w/ visuals provided by Eyegate II
Bardo Pond was the flagship band of Philly's "Psychedelphia" space rock movement, which also included the likes of Aspera, Asteroid No. 4, the Azusa Plane, and tangentially the Lilys. (check out drugmusic.com for some tastes of psychedelphia). Explicitly drug-inspired -- their titles were filled with obscure references to psychedelics -- they favored lengthy, deliberate sound explorations filled with all the hallmarks of modern-day space rock: droning guitars, thick distortion, feedback, reverb, and washes of white noise. Hints of blues structure often cropped up, but Bardo Pond's earliest roots lay with avant-garde noisemakers from the realm of free jazz and from New York's no wave movement and downtown Knitting Factory scene. As their musicianship improved, the band gradually incorporated more traditional influences, but maintained their affinity for the outer fringes of music. Thus, their brand of space rock echoed not just genre staples like Hawkwind and Pink Floyd, but jam-happy Krautrockers (Amon Duul II, Popol Vuh, Ash Ra Tempel, Guru Guru) and experimental indie heroes (Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, and especially Spacemen 3). With a steady stream of releases on Matador, the band stuck around long enough to draw comparisons to the spacier, noisier contingent of post-rockers, like Mogwai and Flying Saucer Attack.
Bardo Pond was formed in Philadelphia in 1989 by guitar-playing brothers Michael and John Gibbons, who'd long had an interest in making free-form noise, though they didn't pick up nonpercussion instruments until attending art school in their twenties. Their first collaborator was guitarist Clint Takeda, a friend of Michael's who shared their enthusiasm for free music. Over the next two years, the band held twice-weekly jam sessions in their living room. At first, their aesthetic was one of naive, unfettered freedom, but they slowly grew convinced of the need for some semblance of structure and proper instrumental technique. Takeda christened the band Bardo Pond in 1991, after a location described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. By that time, they'd picked up new members in vocalist/flute player Isobel Sollenberger and drummer Bob Sentz, both art academy classmates of the Gibbons brothers.
Rhyton pours out a sonic libation unto the liberated world. Waveforms ring out, alternately frozen and blazing, wrenched from an improvisational method. They seek to loosen the gaze so as to widen focus, taking the unity in hand, not grabbing for the micro-constituent. Using the dynamic levels of rock, Rhyton carve out an edifice of sound on their debut LP that centers upon repetition and modal excursion. Recorded and mixed by Jason Meagher at his Black Dirt Studio, this self-titled release is culled from a highly fruitful three day recording session. Seeking to capture the cutting intensity level of their live performances, the band takes the ethos of full engagement. The multiple amp setup at hand in the studio helps imbue the ear with "second hearing". The split stereo, dual amped electric leads utilized throughout the record are best experienced on tracks like "Pontian Grave" and "Teke" where phase and tremolo patterns bounce and surge from ear to ear, warping senses of both time and space. These two distinct sound sources are a manifestation of dual perspectives derived from a single emanation: this is not the fracturing of a voice, but rather its multiplying into a unified but complimentary chorale as different delay lengths and distortion levels cohere into an ensemble greater than its parts. On "Dale Odaliski" the rock trio trappings are stripped away as a booming tom tom, oscillators and delay loops evoke a kind technological primitivism that seems akin to a message from a shattered, distant future. Extreme attention to auditory detail is apparent throughout the album, as blasts of varied gain stages writhe within fields of phased cymbals and bass throbs. Taken from repose to ekstasis - as mental impulse reigns above, so the body below records.
Rhyton is a band with an organic genesis, born from late night rap sessions at a local Brooklyn watering hole. Heads of certain vibe gathered together to tap into the underlying flux form of transportational music. Dave Shuford (D. Charles Speer, No Neck Blues Band) had been knee deep in research and practice in the realm of middle eastern musics during the recording of his solo LP Arghiledes. From that album, the track "The Heavy Heart of Ando-Yeap" was used as a leaping off point for the gestation of Rhyton. Shuford brought his personal selection of varied string instruments to the table, seeking to create a heavier electric syntax for mandolin, saz and baritone guitar. Jimy SeiTang (Psychic Ills) emerged as a sonic surgeon, creating wave patterns with his bass and pulses of tape delay tales. Spencer Herbst (Messages, Matta Llama) injected his flowing, highly energetic style of percussion and brought in visual conundrums by way of videocassette. An instant near-telepathic bond was established, making improvisations seem like composed forays even to the closest confidants. With variants and heads situated as a point of departure, Rhyton explores the inner workings of the ear and seeks the latent brain bulge within the listener.
Formed in Washington DC in 2003, Philly-based experimental collective Kohoutek plays improvised psychedelia, ranging from unsettling, discordant noise to delicate, melodically shimmering rock, inspired by such varied musical entities as Can, Amon Duul 2, Ash Ra Tempel, Trad Gras Och Stenar, Dead C, Sun City Girls, Hawkwind, This Heat, Sun Ra, Art Ensemble of Chicago, and King Crimson. They inhabit a world of murky terrain where drone, musique concrete and noise coalesce with cosmic folk, where doom and sludge metal merge with fiery jazzoid polyrhythms. All Kohoutek performances are rituals channeling untapped energy transmogrified through pure expression and response to the immediate environment.
"Lossless Loss," their second studio album released on Prophase in 2009, covers most of the dynamic stylistic range Kohoutek is known for: abstract and textural sound, atmospheric rock, harsh noise freakouts, clattering percussion, guitar heroics, and alien electronics congealing to form a multihued psychedelic extravaganza. Recorded deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia in September 2007, the five members embarked on a psilocybic twilight journey, and this 44-minute aural excursion is the result. No overdubs and minimal editing create an experience as close as possible to a Kohoutek performance. With longtime core members Scott Verrastro (percussion, flute), Craig Garrett (bass) and Scott Allison (electronics) augmented by Vic Salazar (electric guitar) and Damian Languell (vocals, harmonica, clarinet, didgeridoo, Space Echo), Kohoutek forge their own path in the improv universe, and "Lossless Loss" is another burning fragment of this fleeting sonic comet.
“People interested in music that defies the pop song convention, music that challenges that part of your brain that lies dormant during most aural experiences, need a band like Kohoutek. This ensemble began their wildly meandering journey across the more peripheral realms of free-form psych rock a few years back and from the very beginning they seemed determined to try to cross swathes of interstellar drone, guitar squall and loose, slowly evolving improvisations of drum and bass grooves and squelchy electronics with tapestries of gravitationally flowing darkness. What we get is a sonic bag that is raw, gorgeous, loud, dreamy, dissonant and mystical at the same time, somehow managing to transcend all sorts of seemingly limited genre barriers. Dedicated followers of bands such as The Spacious Mind, SubArachnoid Space and Ash Ra Tempel will for sure want to check these cats out, with a musical style that at its best rarely goes wrong in the live setting." (Mats Gustafsson)
Recently one of my favorite bands, the New York black metal experimentalists known as Liturgy, lost a pivotal member of their band: drummer Greg Fox. While Liturgy has made no formal announcements breaking up the band, I imagine it would be tough to continue down the same path of intensity without Fox in the fold. This guy’s drumming style is so precise, yet, it comes off very fluid. On albums like last year’s Aesthethica, it was like listening to white, frothy waves of drums crash against guitars, bass, and black metal vocals.
Since leaving Liturgy, Guardian Alien seems to be what’s now demanding much of Fox’s attention. The project isn’t brand new, though. They had an album last year, but no doubt this new album of theirs will get a bit more attention now that they’ve landed on Thrill Jockey Records. See the World Given to a One Love Entity is the title of the band’s forthcoming album, and it’s also the title of this LP’s only track. A 37-minute track, I should add.
The stream above seems to be the first five minutes of this psychedelic monster, and it’s absolutely awe-inspiring. The guitars have some heavy, panoramic production on them, making them feel as if they’re bouncing off the stone walls of some ancient monastery where Tibetan monks prey on the regular. Fox’s drums are more on point than ever, and there are loads of indescribable sounds and textures floating through the haze of noise created by Guardian Alien’s cacophony of guitar and drums. It’s a stunner that I can’t wait to finish come July. (The Needle Drop)