Music Features

San Francisco Jazz Festival: Something else

The musical journeys and spiritual quest of Alice Coltrane
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com

"Music is the celestial sound. And it is sound that controls the whole universe, not atomic vibrations. Sound energy, sound power, is much greater than any other power in this world."
Swami Satchidananda addressing the audience at Woodstock, 1969

Each year, in addition to its roster of standard jazz players, the San Francisco Jazz Festival tucks a few cards up its sleeve. The past few years have seen performances by the likes of Caetano Veloso, Ravi Shankar, Orchestra Baobab, and João Gilberto, for example. Read more »

Rock between wars: Ecstatic Sunshine

No boring moments on the zippy Freckle Wars
|
()

Vocalless but intensely lyrical electric-guitar duo Ecstatic Sunshine take risks on their first non-CD-R release, Freckle Wars (Carpark) — namely by eschewing a drummer or even a drum machine despite a tendency to craft manic post-rock buildups that seem to predict explosive toms and thundering cymbals. But these happy rockers are more interested in preparing sunshine than predicting rain. For two guys with guitars, they make remarkably unindulgent music.
"Most of the songs took us months to write," Ecstatic Sunshiner Dustin Wong said on the phone from the group's Baltimore practice space. Read more »

All that jazz

The sax, violence, and noise of Wolf Eyes
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com
Anyone who's experienced the aural carnage spewed by Wolf Eyes can confirm the patience required to endure their shows.
The Michigan noise-ticians — comprising Nathan Young, John Olson, and newest member Mike Connelly — vigilantly carve a slow burner of nauseating sounds and mangled rhythms into a single, decaying pulse while a thundering reverberation slowly boosts the anticipation of a jam-packed throng.
The trio toy with duct-taped noisemaking appliances, sheet metal, and tapes. Read more »

The sound of evil

Getting spooked by the Bay's Ludicra
|
()

duncan@sfbg.com
Metal people scare me.
Not in an "ooh, I'm scared" kind of way, but in an "oh, that's sad," arrested development kind of way.
This is especially true of the black metal cabal. Black metal is supposedly the be-all and end-all of evil, and it's just so camp that it's silly. Everyone's got a fake metal name (Necronomicon or Umlaut), panda bear Kiss tribute makeup (I mean, corpsepaint), and homemade nail-spike armbands. Don't forget the unreadable band logo that looks like cleverly arranged twigs. Read more »

Online Exclusive: Method Man at the crossroads

Sitting down with the Wu-Tang Clan man
|
()

a&eletters@sfbg.com
When a bumped phone interview with hip-hop legend and putf8um artist Method Man mushroomed into a proposed
backstage post-show encounter, I naturally jumped at the chance.

Being a devotee of the ultimately more funk-based grooves of Bay Area hip-hop, I tend not to pay
attention to the doings of NYC, and I can’t claim to have ever followed the Wu-Tang Clan in general or Meth
in particular, though I have always admired both from afar. Read more »

Surfing new turf

Christopher Willits swings between ambient bliss and grating discord
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com
Listening to the warm analogs, e-bowed guitar, and post-jazz swing that manifest on "Medium Blue" off Surf Boundaries (Ghostly International) — one of two new albums by Christopher Willits — you might assume that the instrumentation was performed by an ensemble of helping hands rather than simply the Bay Area electronic musician. And you'd be half right. Read more »

Hailing a Japanoise guitar maestro

Decades of Masayuki Takayanagi
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com
FULL CIRCLE For more than three decades Masayuki Takayanagi (1932–1991) has served as a cult figure to a small but rabid coterie of listeners searching for the roots of extremity in improvised music and free jazz. The Japanese guitarist has received kudos from renowned experimentalists like John Zorn and Otomo Yoshihide yet has remained obscure because his recorded output has been generally unavailable. Read more »

Straight outta Mill Valley

The Abi Yoyos grow legs and skirt scenes
|
()

› a&eletters@sfbg.com
Some time has passed since people routinely looked in 924 Gilman Street's direction to familiarize themselves with what's new and interesting in Bay Area rock. However, this doesn't mean that nothing worthwhile passes through its doors. Read more »

In bed with the Long Winters

Masterfully eloquent longing -- of the drunken rapist kind.
|
()

It's become popular to characterize the Long Winters' John Roderick as an intellectual ronin of sorts: a librarian without master who travels the countryside lending his songs and wisdom to brainy 826 benefits. Read more »

Sweet dreams

Tom Carter, Charalambides, and Playmobil tableaux conjure another world
|
()

kimberly@sfbg.com
"It definitely contributes to this kind of cavelike, sort of womblike environment up here."
Tom Carter is surveying his kingdom, a.k.a. the Oakland apartment he shares with his partner, Natacha Robinson, and we both try to make the connection between Charalambides, his 15-year-old duo with ex Christina Carter, and the hundreds of Playmobil figurines that populate damn near every surface around him. The only Playmobil-free space seems to be Carter's cranny-cum-closet-cum-studio housing a computer equipped with Pro Tools and sundry plug-ins that simulate analog effects. Read more »