Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Thrill Jockey Avalanche #1 - Jon Porras (of Barn Owl), Luke Roberts, Man Forever

My inbox is overflowing - I have no idea how I'm going to get all this 2012 good music to your delectable ears! So I'm doing a whole bunch of multiple artist posts (see Tenzenmen post here as an example of what I mean). I could just list releases, post a song, move on. So much easier too! But that is NOT how I do things here at Sonic Masala. So this week I aim to catch up on all the recent and upcoming releases from label favourite Thrill Jockey, starting with these three lovelies.

Jon Porras is more famous as one half of brilliant drone duo Barn Owl. However, just like other half Evan Caminiti, they have individual projects going on too. Black Mesa is Porras' solo venture, and it's a excellent excursion into guitar experimentation, taking elements of Japanese psych, West Coast amble and Southern twang, having his collages percolate through the prisms of elongation, tremolo and twang, deconstructs and reconstructs over a ten month period, and then offers it up as an album. 'Into Midnight' has some Neil Young Dead Man era darkness pulsing through its veins, alongside warblings that the Black Angels' Christian Bland would find wholly appealing. Yet there is something overtly immersive about Black Mesa that makes this more than a vanity project or an attempt at creating an artistic gesture. Many of these songs feel fully formed - the longer tracks are justified at their extrapolated timeframes, the shorter tracks evoke the right mood without feeling half baked. Like the outpourings of Mark McGuire, Black Mesa is a sublime album from a continually exciting performer.

Jon Porras - Into Midnight

It seemed only yesterday that Luke Roberts released Big Bells And Dime Songs (when he didn't even own his own guitar!), yet last month he was back releasing The Iron Gates At Throop And Newport. He wrote this sophomore release on his own guitar, and on tracks such as 'His Song' and 'I Don't Want You Anymore' Roberts seems to have grown in confidence and scope also. The arrangements have been noticeably beefed up, so that his plaintive vocals are embedded amongst complementary orchestration rather than plastered on a blank canvas, pulling all the weight. Yet it would be easy to drown out these emotional odes with bombast and flair, but every arrangement is specifically chosen. It's a beautiful album, one that stands on its own pedestal yet promises so much more.

Luke Roberts - I Don't Want You Any More
Luke Roberts - His Song

Finally today we are looking at Pansophical Cataract, the stunning album from percussive magnets Man Forever (AKA John Colpitts AKA Oneida's drumming maestro Kid Millions). The two track release was always going to be an exercise in drumming exploration, the tub-thumping counterpoint to Porras' offering, yet the boisterousness inherent in the cyclical suites he constructs here are a little more out there - and all the more enjoyable for it. The album is relentlessly driven by Colpitts' endless quest to find pattern in percussion. It's a rhythmic roar that is as calming as it is unsettling, a paradox that aptly showcases the possibilities within this musical framework. And although Side A 'Surface Patterns' delves into the pulses of electrical instruments rather than the skin variety, it is no less hypnotic and captivating. Colpitts, like many of the artists he works with that live on the periphery of what we know as 'pop music', is an exciting presence and a godsend.

Man Forever - Surface Patterns

Grab all of these from Thrill Jockey here.

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