John Fahey remains the beacon of American Primitive Guitar, but Peter Walker's two out-of-print 1960s albums Rainy Day Raga and Second Poem to Karmela or Gypsies Are Important (both Vanguard; 1966, 1969) are benchmarks of exuberant raga-blues sure to destroy any open-tuned acolyte. Read more »
Talking to Barn Owl is something of an evangelical experience. Longhaired duo Evan Caminiti and Jon Porras confess they're often mistaken for brothers, but their kinship actually began when they met at San Francisco State University, where they both played in metal bands.
"I guess it was through folk music and roots music and Indian classical and some other things that we started to see the validity of the drone what it was besides this new experimental genre or whatever," Porras recollects. Read more »
Jack Carneal is trying to locate a Malian musician to secure the release of a much-cycled bootleg on his microlabel, Yaala Yaala Records. Fueled by exuberance and somewhat chastened by controversy, Carneal is worrying over Yaala Yaala No. 4 more than he did the first three releases: a dubbed set of howling electric kamelen music by Pekos and Yoro Diallo; a popular bootleg recording of griot Daouda Dembele; and an audio collage of Carneal's minidisc field recordings from his yearlong stay in Bougouni, Mali. Yaala Yaala No. Read more »
PREVIEW I admit I was a little skeptical on first receiving Valet's Naked Acid (Kranky) in the mail. I was burned out on Terry Rileyinspired meditation music even before seeing the garishly New Age "vibe painting" gracing the sleeve. It took a couple of weeks for me to get around to actually listening to the thing, and I'm glad I waited: the album begins with bell chimes, distant drums, and a what sounds like a thumb-piano loop, but what follows is hardly Tubular Bells, part two. Read more »
LIT An interviewee in Grant Gee's excellent 2007 documentary Joy Division posits that the gloomy Manchester band inverted punk's initial "Fuck you!" to convey a more atmospheric and ultimately unsettling sentiment of "I'm fucked." If so, the contemporaneous No Wave bands from New York City melted down those two approaches to one primal howl. Read more »
"Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" Rock critic Simon Reynolds opens his recent survey Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 (Penguin, 432 pages, $16) with that famous piece of invective, courtesy of Johnny Rotten from the stage of San Francisco's Winterland. Rotten sneered those words during a Sex Pistols show. Tellingly, they arrived at the end of an American tour that contained both a zeitgeist and its own annihilation or so it seems from Lech Kowalski's documentary D.O.A. Read more »
Phil Spector may or may not have been the first to use layers of overdubs to convey the widescreen-aspect ratio of teenage emotion. Nonetheless, he certainly carved a niche. Adolescent euphoria be thy name: Brian Wilson, "Baba O'Riley," Bradford Cox, and now Anthony Gonzalez on his new M83 album, Saturdays=Youth (Mute).
"I have such good memories of my teenage years," Gonzalez confesses over the phone from his native Antibes, France. Saturdays=Youth wraps wasted youth in nostalgia for 1980s pop, and it's a dangerously fun tonic. Read more »
After years of Tarantino twists and shot-for-shot shams, homage has gotten a bad name. Let's call Flight of the Red Balloon something else: a transportation device in which Paris, Albert Lamorisse's beloved 1956 slice of magical realism The Red Balloon, and a patchwork family float in and out of Hou Hsiao-hsien's inscriptive view. At 61, the former Taiwanese new wave pacesetter is on a travel kick. Read more »
LIT When filmmaker Bruce Baillie founded Canyon Cinema in the early 1960s, it was a backyard bohemia to show artisanal films and drink wine with neighbors. But it quickly took root as a cooperative serving the needs of a movement of underground filmmakers. Read more »