Masaki Batoh is the lead guy in the killer Japanese group Ghost. And dudes, this marks the second time in less than a week we’re gonna be graced with some freaked out musicians from that island nation. Acid Mothers Temple played a surprise set at the VFW on Saturday and yeah, that was killer, but this Batoh fellah has something even weirder in store. We really like weird.
He’s managed to have this (admittedly goofy-looking) machine built that picks up brain waves via radio, sent to a computer, and turned into waveforms i.e. sound. It’s an interesting idea, the video above serves as a preview of sorts and we’re really curious to see how this translates live. You should be prepared for this, folks. If you’re coming in expecting anything even close to a “pop” song you’ll be left seriously wanting. It’s so punk it’s not even funny.
The perfectly chosen local support includes the atonal jam band Atrocity Singers as well as kosmische savants Modality.
Masaki Batoh (Japan), Atrocity Singers, and Modality play The Palace Lounge on Tuesday, May 7th. The show is at 9pm the cover is $8. Don’t balk, touring is really expensive and dude, this guy is from Japan.
Here we are continuing a bunch of other great folks’ end-of-the-year lists! Ben Weiss is the former General Manager at KBGA 89.9FM and is currently one of the technologists behind local krautrock ensemble Modality.
The list below contains the albums released in 2012 that I listened to the most. I guess to me that makes them the best. It is not informed by all the great concerts I saw this year by traveling and local bands. It doesn’t take into account all the times I saw Skin Flowers, The Magpies, and Jacob Milstein perform. It doesn’t even include the hours I spent watching Riff Raff and R. Kelly videos on YouTube. Maybe it is an indication that I am not changing as fast as the times, but it doesn’t showcase internet only singles, remixes, or mixtapes. Nope, it’s a good old-fashioned, end of the year, best-of list that looks at full length (or close to it) actual albums that saw a physical release. Close to half of the albums on the list are collaborations. Nearly all are instrumental. Not all are technically weird.
Blues Control - Valley Tangents (Drag City) Twisted near-jazz from a Philly duo (husband and wife?) who last year joined Laraaji on one of the year’s best ambient/newage records. This is probably their highest profile release, though there is not much to hold onto here, no easy entry point into the off-kilter world of BC, the woozy piano line of first track “Love’s A Rondo” is worth the price of the album.
Can - The Lost Tapes (United Artists) In the same year that landmark album Ege Bamyasi turned 40, Can unearthed 3 CDs from the archives of jams, outtakes, unreleased tracks, and more. More complete than the typical odds and sods collection that bands release later in their career, the driving poly-rhythms, lysergic guitar workouts, bizarre field recordings, and electronic madness help place this collection in the pantheon with all of their early albums.
David Daniel & Doug McCombs - Versions (Thrill Jockey) Two veteran improvisors got together in the studio for 7 hours, gave the recordings to Bundy K. Brown, and let him work his magic. The result is an album of processed guitar jams, layered drones, blissful distortion, motorik grooves, and emerging melodic lines reminiscent of the beauty of McCombs’ work with Tortoise and Brokeback. 4 guest drummers punctuate the proceedings, giving some sections the feel of free jazz, others of krautrock. A second record contains 2 shows from their tour, sidelong meditations that build and release in glorious catharsis.
Food Pyramid - Mango Sunrise (Moon Glyph) I came across this Minneapolis band and their familiar brand of kosmische enthusiasm through a series of tape releases available online and purchased the new record immediately. The addition of a saxophone and elements of dub to their hypnotic synth sounds give some of the songs an update from the technology dreams of 1970s Germany to the imagined industrialized global dance floor of 1980s Celluloid records.
Gala Drop w/ Ben Chasny - Broda (Gala Drop) Gala Drop is a Portuguese band of sonic explorers. Ben Chasny is the shredding guitarist from Comets on Fire and the avant/psych/folk troubador Six Organs of Admittance. Chasny’s firepower and Gala Drop’s southern European grooves combine for a too-short half hour of psychedelic blowout. I’d play hackey-sack next to these guys’ drum circle any day.
Laurie Spiegel - The Expanding Universe (Unseen Worlds) This pioneer of electronic music - she worked at Bell Labs, played Morton Subotnick’s Buchla machine, and is featured on the Golden Record containing messages from Earth aboard the Voyager space craft - gets the deluxe and much deserved reissue treatment. I imagine her background as a scientist and researcher as opposed to working musician or composer has kept Spiegel from achieving the same name recognition as say, Tangerine Dream, but her contributions to the universe of computer music are no less essential.
Modality - Particle City (House of Watts) Yeah, I put my own record on here. It would be disingenuous of me to not acknowledge how much I listened to this record this year, how proud of it I am, and that its release has been one of the greatest joys of my life, let alone 2012. Buy it at Ear Candy or Rudy’s II and support local business and local art. Neneh Cherry & The Thing - The Cherry Thing (Smalltown Supersound) Don Cherry’s stepdaughter and originator of the “Buffalo Stance” teamed up with Norwegian free-jazz trio The Thing and turn their creative energies loose on a broad range of material - songs here include covers of Suicide, The Stooges, Madvillain, Don Cherry, and Ornette Coleman. The younger Cherry’s voice is another (powerful) instrument in the ensemble, somehow finding an incredible balance with Mats Gustafssonn’s blistering saxophone.
Oren Ambarchi - Sagittarian Domain(Editions Mego) Another prolific year for this Australian guitarist made it hard for me to keep up with his output, but of the three albums I heard (the other two being Audience of One and Imikuzushiwith Jim O’Rourke and Keiji Heino), this one got the most listens and the most attention. The cover photograph shows an empty parking garage that continues to the horizon and it perfectly evokes the potential and the propulsion built into the 33 minute guitar excursion. While a climax never really comes, the last 4 minutes somehow morph into a contemplative denouement for string trio.
Rangda - Formerly Extinct (Drag City) The second Ben Chasny project on my list, this trio is rounded out by Sir Richard Bishop of Sun City Girls and Chris Corsano. Knotty, complex, guitar shredding psychedelia. Three incredible players at the top of their form. Corsano’s drumming is probably the most jaw-dropping performance here, but really this sounds like the meeting of three wizards, unrivaled in their powers and wise enough to know when to use them.
The Sea & Cake - Runner (Thrill Jockey) Another perennial favorite, TS&C released something like their 10th full length this year, and it is another slab chock full of that widescreen Chicago pop I love so much. Very few bands own their sound as thoroughly as TS&C do. That combination of motorik drumming, well crafted synth arpeggios, jazzy guitar, and Sam Prekop’s breathy vocals seems to spring from an endless well, and I will keep coming back to drink.
Sun Araw & M. Geddes Gengras Meet The Congos - Icon Give Thank FRKWYS Vol. 9 (RVNG, Intl) The FRKWYS series, after continuing to get better, hit its apex with the 9th installment, a pairing of two stoned out LA bros with one of the most legendary Jamican vocal groups of all time. Sun Araw has been wading in the murky waters of dub throughout his generous output of eastern tinged synth and guitar psych wanderings, and this album realizes the potential of the reggaeness of his work. NB This album is not reggae.
Ursprung - Ursprung (Dial) Hendrik Weber, who as Pantha du Prince makes sparse and beautiful house music, joins forces with Stephen Arbry, guitarist from the band Workshop. Ursprung retains Weber’s sense of delicacy, cuts the bpm dramatically, and adds melody from a live musician. Hungry for more ideas than are usually presented in dance music, I think this is what I wanted from Pantha du Prince all along.
We’re being lazy! That’s right folks, this article originally appeared in Weird Missoula last winter. We’re reposting it now because Modality is one of our favorite “break out” acts of 2012 and they’re playing two shows this week.
They started tentatively, masquerading as a mountain response to things like Godspeed You Black Emperor! or Mogwai, retreating into their cave below the Badlander and returning as the only Missoula band to fully understand the kosmiche of the 1970s. I’m not even sure they’re completely aware of how much they’re drawing upon (and here comes the laundry list) the work of Tangerine Dream, La Dusseldorf, Popul Vuh, Neu!, pre-synth Kraftwerk, Cluster, or even Can. Who knows? There are so many bands scattered about by history that similarities are inevitably going to pop up accidentally all the time. Even so, it’s to our good fortune that a band like Modality exists and has been focusing their energies to such a degree that it’s only a matter of years before they get picked up by a label like Kranky or KRAAK or some Deutschophilic collective in Belgium or something. Speaking of Belgium, they need to play Les Atliers Claus.
Modality started as a duo between guitarist Clark Grant and drummer Jay Bruns. It was good but there was always something lacking to my ears. Enter synth-guru Ben Weiss and lo and behold, they’re now one of the most uniquely engaging groups in Missoula. That’s hard for a band that’s so resolutely instrumental. Jam bands are one thing and yeah, Modality “jams,” I suppose, but they use a completely different connotation of the word. Also, it kinda brings me back to something we at Weird Missoula tried to make pretty clear when we were being interviewed by The Independent a few months back: the philosophies behind a lot of the musics “hippies” hold dear and a lot of the musics noise-dudes and experimental musicians hold dear, well…they’re really the same. Wolf Eyes improvises as much as the Grateful Dead and as much as John Coltrane and as much as Further. The idea that not every single piece of performance needs to be composed is not a new idea. Hell, it was present in a ton of 18th Century classical music. There are definitely times that the Grateful Dead even sound a little like Can to me.
I’m digressing. Sorry. That happens. What I was saying before: Modality makes it work as an instrumental ensemble. Live, they throw up visuals that oddly mimic the music they’re playing. That works and it really makes what otherwise might not be engaging to watch become absolutely enthralling.
Visualize the snowpacolypse that fell on Missoula last month. Something like, I dunno, more than a couple feet of ungodly wet, heavy snow and the resulting shutdown of the city. Kinda made the winter seem endless, didn’t it? Listen to this track, put up this January by Modality and its unerringly Nordic starkness. It sounds like the color white to me. It’s the shortest eleven minutes you’ll ever spend staring through a fogged-up porthole into whatever sea you think a mountain of ice is supposed to be.
Does Maria Minerva (above) look sad enough to you? She sounded hella sad throughout the 11PM phone call we got from her last night. It was a bummer. Kylie (Father Finger) was apparently Maria’s tour entourage’s only legal car driver. On top of that, Kylie was sick. So sick that she was taking medications for said sickness, struggling not to pass out, and generally miserable. When you’ve got the epic drive between Minneapolis and Missoula to conquer before an even more epic drive to some place in Canada…well yeah, I can totally understand the reasoning. We’re not mad. We’re not mad at all, just a little bummed out. Act of “god” an all.
Even so, Better Tennis and Modality brought some killer sets our way. We made the show free after learning of Maria’s unfortunate circumstance and thankfully only two folks asked for their money back. It was a great night to see some weird local electronic…um…weirdness! Three big hurrahs from our mouths to yours.
Thanks again to all you intrepid music fans that still came out, still stuck around, and still caught some of our favorite Missoula artists doing their thing.
Like Riley Wave’s other alter ego, Germ Hunk, Better Tennis is as superb a project as its creator is reclusive. He barely plays shows under either moniker. He’s only released a short, four song EP for Germ Hunk. Nothing for Better Tennis save for this video that, at the time of this writing, was uploaded to his Vimeo account seven hours ago. He’s got a Better Tennis Bandcamp page now.
I know some people have already gone ape shit over the Germ Hunk stuff and dude, I know it’s good. It’s really good. Better Tennis is more my bag though. We randomly caught him at some show at the VFW ages ago. Can’t remember which one. It kinda blew us away and we’ve been trying to get him to play almost every show Weird Missoula’s done ever since. Yeah, we’re that excited. There’s no one else doing this kind of music in Missoula. It’s a shame but at least we got this guy, Better Tennis, shining on the stuff because he’s got the stuff and the stuff is pretty much essential.
He’s playing on Tuesday, September 25th at the Ole Beck VFW Post #209 (245 W. Main St.) with some killer out-of-towners: Maria Minvera and Father Finger…as well as fellow locals Modality. We did a little write-up on the show a few days ago so check that post out if you’re interested. 10PM 21+ $5 cover.
About Mario Lemieux: Mario Lemieux (born October 5, 1965) is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player and co-owner of the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Pittsburgh Penguins and the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. He is widely acknowledged to be one of the best players of all time. He played 17 seasons as a forward for the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL between 1984 and 2006. A gifted playmaker and fast skater despite his large size, Lemieux often beat defensemen with fakes and dekes. He is currently the Penguins’ principal owner and chairman of the board, having bought the team out of bankruptcy in 1999. He is the only person ever to win the Stanley Cup as both a player and an owner.
The more I’ve been looking into the stuff that makes up one Maria Minerva, the more I’m just plain enamored with the lady. Her music is well, sick, but the other stuff: that magic stuff that means you got the attitude and the stuff and the fucked ideas and the sounds and the stuff… She’s got it dude. Her real name is Maria Juur, she’s originally from Tallinn, Estonia and she’s set to have one crazy night in our fair fair Missoula-town.
From her own Soundcloud page: “Maria Minerva is myself as my own little sister, born out of need to do whatever. Maria Minerva has not heard of HQ recording. Maria Minerva has not heard that postmodernism is passe. Maria Minerva wishes she was born in the 1980s and born again in the 1990s. They call it lo-fi, I call it 21st century folk music…”
Hats off to Ms. Juur there. It’s not every day an artist is adept at defining their sound so well. We’d add that she’s “punk” in a way most electronic music that makes its way to Missoula isn’t. This isn’t your regular four-on-the-floor dance thing. There are no Carly Rae Jepsen remixes at play. Think a more disjointed Kraftwerk, less disjointed Excepter, a slightly more trippy Suicide. This is an electronic show for punks, or a punk show for electronic kids. We’re pretty certain that punk is almost all about attitude, not some adherence to a three-chord-denim-jacket formula. We hope you agree.
We’re gonna include some stream-able content of Maria Minerva and her tour-partner Father Finger below.
Once again Mr. Matt Larubbio has wowed us with another killer VFW poster. This time it’s for Modality’s April Residency Series that, coincidentally, begins tonight. Like all the previous Larubbio prints, these full color, hand-screened posters are available for $8 each at the VFW. Just poke a bartender and they can help you out.
An anonymous poster suggested recently that perhaps we at Weird Missoula could post something like a show calendar to shed some light on things happening in those out-of-the-way places. By that we kinda just mean the Lab. Or house shows. Or stuff like that. Either way, here’s an incomplete list of some of the events we’re excited for in this last week of March and the first week or so of April! Until we can figure out how to get a “real” calendar up and running please check back for individual show posts here and even our friends over at Missoula Events.
Tues. 3/27 @ The Badlander:Voodoo Horseshoes, Modality; 9pm; 21+; FREE
Thurs. 3/29 @ The VFW:Bird’s Mile Home’s March Residency Series’ Final Week with: Total Combined Weight, The Plurals (Michigan); 9pm; 21+; FREE
Fri. 3/30 @ The Badlander:Unicycle Loves You (Chicago), Shahs, I Hate Your Girlfriend; 9pm; 21+; $5
Fri. 3/30 @ The Lab:Tummy Fest Fundraiser #2 with: Buddy Jackson, King Elephant, Dear Sister Kildeer, Spencer; 8pm; All Ages; donations accepted for Tummy Fest
Sat. 3/31 @ Zoo City Apparel:White Mystery (Chicago), Coathangers, Leather Sky (Denver), I Hate Your Girlfriend, Needlecraft; 8pm; All Ages; $6 advance $8 at the door
Mon. 4/2 @ The Badlander:Murder By Death, Los Vigilantes, The Brass Monkey Band; 9pm; 18+; $13 for 21+, $15 for 18-20
Fri. 4/6 @ The VFW:The Back Pockets (Georgia), King Elephant, Abe Coley; 9pm; 21+; $3
Tues. 4/10 @ Zoo City Apparel:Acid Baby Jesus (Greece), The Velcro Kicks, Shahs, Needlecraft; 8pm; All Ages; $5
Thurs. 4/12 @ The VFW:Modality’s April Residency Series’ Week One with: Skinny Legs, Boys; 9pm; 21+; FREE
This post marks the first of what I hope are many after-the-fact show reviews here at Weird Missoula. We like shows. We can’t make it to many but hey, when everything works out we’d like to pass along that commodity we know we’ve got in spades: opinions.
Pterodactyl were pretty good. They opened the night off with a pick-up rendition of The Temptations’ “Just My Imagination” that actually turned into an apt example of what was to come: three part harmonies, jangling guitarisms and a wealth of good humor. Their drummer’s falsetto was mostly off-key throughout but their charm made the whole thing endearing. These dudes did not take themselves seriously. Some of their stuff just wasn’t my cup of tea (that isn’t a bad thing) but man…they were one of the better live bands I’ve seen. One of the showgoers asked for another oldies song so in deference, their second-to-last number was some Beatles cover I can’t name. It was incredibly entertaining. I was really glad I’d come.
Modality finished the night off in a kosmische flurry. Buoyed by a melange of vintage spaceflight footage and copious drone, they proved that if any Missoula group can claim a foundation in Krautrock, it’s them. They played three long-form pieces: one almost-Ariel Pink-esque song that reminded me (don’t take this the wrong way) of an instrumental version of the Doobie Brothers’ “Takin’ It To the Streets.” Sandwiched between their two motorik meditations, it provided a bit of levity for the unfortunately paltry crowd that had braved this cold Sunday evening.