Psych titans Pontiak to strap on their Kodiak boots for Canadian trek with Sleep in September

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You can’t always freely decide where you want to tour; fans have to be made, bills have to be paid, and bosses have to be obeyed. But to deliberately choose to spend over two weeks in the unfriendly confines of Canada, where the temperature never gets above -20 degrees Celsius (whatever that is) and where beer and weed is rarely consumed? Well, that’s just plain madness!

No, take it from a lad from the land with a universal, publicly funded health-care system: Pontiak — the band of brothers and brewers — will have no trouble finding suds and buds north of the 49th parallel when they hook up with doom doyens Sleep for a coast-to-coast Canadian tour in balmy September.

Jennings, Lain, and Van Carney will hit the Great White North for a tour beginning in Victoria on September 1, ending in Halifax on September 16, and hitting most of provinces along the way (no Newfoundland, P.E.I., New Brunswick, or the Territories this time around; curiously, no Toronto show either).

It has been two years since the last Pontiak album, so expect freewheeling, trippy sets at these amazing double bills. To get you reacquainted, have a listen to “Ignorance Makes Me High” from Dialectic of Ignorance (Thrill Jockey) below.

Pontiak live:

05.28.19 – Richmond, PA – Richmond Music Hall *
09.01.19 – Victoria, BC – Capitol Ballroom #
09.02.19 – Vancouver, BC – Commodore Ballroom #
09.03.19 – Nelson, BC – Spiritbar #
09.04.19 – Calgary, AB – The Palace Theatre #
09.06.19 – Edmonton, AB – The Ranch Roadhouse #
09.07.19 – Saskatoon, SK – Coors Event Centre #
09.08.19 – Winnipeg, MB – The Garrick #
09.11.19 – Guelph, ON – Guelph Concert Theatre #
09.12.19 – Ottawa, ON – Algonquin Commons Theatre #
09.13.19 – Montreal, QC – MTelus #
09.14.19 – Quebec City, QC – Theatre Imperial #
09.16.19 – Halifax, NS – Marquee Ballroom #

* Dead Meadow
# Sleep

Music Review: Matmos – Plastic Anniversary

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Plastic Anniversary

[Thrill Jockey; 2019]

Rating: 4/5

Matmos’s music is strange, and it has always been so. Here is a list of the strange ways that they have made music:

Matmos: Matmos starts out, right off the bat, by recording the nervous system of a crayfish. I don’t know how to do that. I’m not even completely sure what a crayfish is.
Quasi-Objects: A record made entirely out of everyday objects, if among your everyday objects you include a whoopie cushion and a banjo.
The West: Recorded with old-timey instruments in a new-timey way, i.e. with lots of digital manipulation.
A Chance to Cut Is a Chance to Cure: This is really where Matmos hit their stride, weirdness-wise. This album was made entirely from surgery-related samples, including the grossly hypnotic sound of liposuctioned fat and the upsettingly groovy sound of LASIK lasers.
The Civil War: This is a play on words (how can a war be civil?) and also a reference to two real-world historical events: the English civil war of the 16th century and the American one of the 19th. As such, it uses a variety of historical instrumentation from both eras.
The Rose has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast: This album consists of 10 audio portraits of gay and lesbian figures, including typewriter sounds and a gunshot recorded in memoriam of William Burroughs, and the real, honest-to-goodness sound of flesh being burned by a cigarette to create a “Germs Burn” for Darby Crash of The Germs.
Supreme Balloon: All synthesizers all the time, baby.
Treasure State w/ So Percussion: The duo partner up with the strange percussionists of So Percussion to record an album based on basic materials like “Water,” “Aluminum,” and “Flame.”
The Marriage of True Minds: A meta record of verbal testimonials in a parapsychological experiment wherein group member Drew Daniel transmitted his thoughts about “what the new Matmos record will be about” to sensory-deprived participants. Quite strange, indeed.
Ultimate Care II: Made entirely out of sounds created with a laundry machine.

So there’s your context: A couple of absurdists, who are now taking on a new audio guise for their 11th album, Plastic Anniversary. And the topic they’ve chosen is, again, as strange as it is obvious: the world in/as plastic. The metaphorical plasticity of their sound is used to draw attention to the very real plasticity of our world.

The topic of plastic, and our inundation with it, is trite beyond imagining. Did you know that since 1950 we have created 6.2 billion metric tons of plastic? Of course you didn’t, because the real number is 8.3 billion. The fact is, these numbers are so staggering as to be incomprehensible to the layperson, such that a difference of 2.1 billion tons of non-biodegradable filth doesn’t register as correct or incorrect data. Statistics simply can’t get the message across.

What we need is a little strangeness. It is, after all, very strange that we drink from a bottle once, and then that bottle sits on the ground with other trash or floats in the ocean, forever. It is very strange that we listen to plastic (vinyl albums), play with plastic (billiard balls), control one another with plastic (riot shields), and insert plastic into our bodies (silicone implants). Perhaps Matmos will be the ones to defamiliarize all of this for us.

And Plastic Anniversary is unfamiliar, strange, unsettling, and wonderful. “Breaking Bread” is a goofy narcotic pop tune made from tweaking the broken shards of Bread records. “Interior with Billiard Balls and Synthetic Fat” takes its percussion from a game of billiards and its squelching atmospherics from synthetic fat. The terrifying “Thermoplastic Riot Shield” uses squeaks, scrapes, and percussion against a riot shield (which you can apparently buy on eBay) to evoke the chaos of a confrontation with militarized police. And the bouncy, frenetic, Autechre-inspired “Silicone Gel Implant” is sourced from… you guessed it. The breadth of the topics covered here, from police violence to plastic surgery, is testament to both Matmos’ inclusive experimentalism and the sheer pervasiveness of plastic in every arena of our lives.

The penultimate track, “Collapse of the Fourth kingdom,” implies our eventual victory over this dominance of plastic. Its title is based on the Bakelite Corporation’s characterization of plastic as a “fourth kingdom” apart from animal, mineral, and vegetable. Its triumphant drumline (provided by Greg Saunier of Deerhoof along with members of the Whitefish High School marching band of Whitefish, Montana) seems to celebrate our ability to overcome a seemingly hopeless situation, adapting plastic horns, drums, and whistles to signal a new way forward.

But this track fades into “Plastisphere,” a “field recording” made from bubble wrap, plastic bottles, packing tape, and, tellingly, a plastic emergency stretcher. They are sounds for those who like calm nature scenes, complete with insects, soothing winds, and falling water. The message, however, is clear: despite our exultant confidence in our ability to transcend and adapt to the world of plastic, nature will have its say, and nature is very much compromised by (and at this point altered by) our reliance on plastic.

Hidden in the first half of the album is “Extending the Plastisphere to GJ237b,” 10 seconds of what sounds like synth noises, but are in fact made from a plastic salad bowl. Upon first listen, this puzzling little snippet seems out of place — why give it its own track? As a part of the Sonar Festival, a low-bitrate version of this track was “beamed from a high-powered radio tower in Tromsø, Norway to the exoplanet GJ237b in the vicinity of the Luyten Star in the Canis Minor constellation.” And so the Earth will survive us, many plastics will likely survive us, and the sound of those plastics will survive us, blasting into outer space long after we’ve met whatever ecological reckoning is imminent. For now though, we have the sound of Matmos to, hopefully, make the strangeness of this situation a little clearer.

♫ Listen: Matmos – “Plastic Anniversary”

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outta 5

Styles: plastic

Others: poker chips, pvc panflute, plastic ocarina, plastic trumpet and trombones, plastic fish fashioned into a jock strap

ENDON prep new album Boy Meets Girl on Thrill Jockey (definitely a better love story than Twilight)

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Vocalists have been genuinely screaming at us in their music for at least a few decades now. But when was the last time that you felt like the singer was actually experiencing something painful?

Normally it comes across as a deliberate contribution to their overall sound, but in the case of Tokyo-based band ENDON, the screams relentlessly delivered by Taichi Nagura definitely sound (in lieu of something more rhetorically graphic) like he’s concurrently stepping in successive puddles in his socks. Their 2017 album Through the Mirror even included a stock scream commonly featured in older horror films, and that should’ve basically cemented things in the minds of listeners; ENDON terrifies as much as they are terrified, and there’s probably a secret, collective obsession with John Carpenter’s work as well. (Cue parts of the Halloween score being an interlude on their next dissonant endeavor?)

On the contrary, for their next album, Boy Meets Girl, ENDON are the score. The new full-length — out February 15 on Thrill Jockey — is being marketed as an abstract and atypical soundtrack to “an imagined horror film about love,” which might at least partially account for the otherwise-chaotic and heavy quintet playing “light music” that one might broadly associate with romance. I have my doubts about it being the best musical choice on the drive to Valentine’s Day dinner, however.

Hey, speaking of Valentines Day, didn’t your date say that they’re into pre-orders??? Also, check out the trailer down below; it just warms your heart:

Boy Meets Girl tracklisting:

01. Boy Meets Girl
02. Heart Shaped Brain
03. Born Again
04. Doubts As a Source
05. Love Amnesia
06. Final Acting Out
07. Red Shoes
08. Not for You

Matmos announce Plastic Anniversary, which is, OF COURSE, an album made entirely out of plastic

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As it wont to happen when you’re a couple, M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel — the inseparable-forever (hopefully!) duo known as Matmos — like DOING STUFF together.

But of course, they don’t just like doing ANY OLD stuff together; they like doing rather absurdly high-concept stuff together — e.g. 2016’s Ultimate Care II album, which consisted entirely of sounds sourced from a rather specific (and damned dependable!) Whirlpool-brand washing machine.

Well, as luck would have it, the multitudinous bangs, pops, rattles, hums, and hiccups of a gruff electrical appliance aren’t the ONLY sources of incessant noise around the Schmidt/Daniel household, because the Baltimore duo (who NOT-un-coincidentally are also celebrating their own anniversary as a couple) have just announced the March 15 release of their newest full-length flight of sonic fancy: Plastic Anniversary: an eleven-track album consisting soley “from a single sound source: plastic.” From the press release:

The album was crafted as a celebration of Matmos’ Drew Daniel and M.C. Schmidt’s own anniversary as a couple and explores the world’s relationship to plastic — a material whose durability, portability and longevity, while heralded by its makers, are the very qualities that make it a force of environmental devastation. Through its reliance on discarded plastic, the album shows at once the boundless creativity of Matmos and pervasive nature of the material, and therefore the urgency for solutions.

True to form, the band have assembled a promiscuous array of examples of this sturdy-yet-ersatz family of materials to create the sounds on the record: Bakelite dominos, Styrofoam coolers, police riot shields, polyethylene waste containers, PVC panpipes, pinpricks of bubble wrap, silicone gel breast implants and synthetic human fat. The bounce and snap of the duo’s programmed rhythms are supplemented by a sweatier and more unruly human element than on previous releases, provided by a surprising cast of guest musicians including Members of the horn and drumline sections of the Whitefish Highschool Bulldogs from Whitefish, Montana and drummer Greg Saunier of Deerhoof.

Aww. Adorable! And I know it sounds far off, but March 15 is right around the corner! So knock off whatever the hell else you’re doing this time of year and check out the album trailer down below — followed by its cover art and full tracklisting — and pre-order Plastic Anniversary for that special sweetheart (real or imagined) in YOUR life right over here. Love (and bubble wrap…and silicone breast implants…and synthetic human fat!) really does conquer all. <3

Plastic trax:

01. Breaking Bread
02. The Crying Pill
03. Interior With Billiard Balls & Synthetic Fat
04. Extending The Plastisphere To GJ237b
05. Silicone Gel Implant
06. Plastic Anniversary
07. Thermoplastic Riot Shield
08. Fanfare For Polyethylene Waste Containers
09. The Singing Tube
10. Collapse Of The Fourth Kingdom
11. Plastisphere

Koen Holtkamp finds a reason to continue wearing his Halloween mask, releases new album as BEAST on Thrill Jockey

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Subsequent to the birth of his first album, musician/visual artist Koen Holtkamp is releasing a brand new child named BEAST, who, despite his/her name, almost certainly looks like a normal human.

Wait…switch that up a bit.

Koen Holtkamp is releasing a new ALBUM…AS BEAST…called Ens. And the story of it occurs more or less conjunction with Holtkamp’s newfound fatherly experiences. Thrill Jockey tells us of how Holtkamp recorded the release during the off-hours invariably associated with the post and possibly pre-birth timelines; and as a result, there’s a sense of “blissful grandeur” that emanates from the music therein, which wouldn’t be a far cry from the other work that Holtkamp has recorded both solo (under his own name) and as a member of Mountains.

Check out the Koen-produced video for the track “Paprika Shorts” down below to get an actual sense of how this sounds. The minimal notes of prickly synth remind one of a simpler time, when nothing beat a heated pacifier and Big Bird laying down the recently imposed avian law (civil liberties be damned).

Ens is out TODAY — November 9. Grab it on LP or CD here, and be prepared for the very opposite of cacophony. I mean…to the extent that you need to be.

Ens tracklisting:

01. Paprika Shorts
02. Color Feel
03. Boketto
04. Edb
05. Staren
06. Miniature
07. For Otto

SUMAC announce existence of an American West Coast, plan exploratory tour there

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Seeing as how the extensive hair-conditioning and intensive collaboration regimens of Keiji Haino likely inhibit his schedule for large periods of time, it’s probably a good thing SUMAC has another 2018 album on which they can base a semi-imminent tour.

Love in Shadow came out on Thrill Jockey a little more than a month ago; and this January, folks in the western half of the US will have the opportunity to hear Aaron Turner’s latest guttural narrative at a time when “people speaking intelligibly” seems to be increasingly viewed as a net-negative for society overall! (Hell, it’s probably only a matter of time before governments around the globe start requiring everyone to speak in ancestral grunts instead of “fam” for at least a temporary amount of time. Oh well; at least sex in dorms and apartment buildings will suddenly become a lot less conspicuous!)

Anyway: so yes, SUMAC’s upcoming West Coast tour begins after the new year — and joining the PNW trio as they unintentionally dissolve your irrational optimism for 2019 are experimental guitarist Tashi Dorji (of Tashi Dorji fame) and Aussie metal duo Divide and Dissolve. Talk about a lineup worthy or your attention! (Don’t actually “talk” about it, though; it’s probably best to start practicing your grunts early.)

Love In Shadow by SUMAC

SUMAC dates (w/ Tashi Dorji and Divide and Dissolve):

01.11.19 – Vancouver, BC – The Astoria
01.12.19 – Seattle, WA – Sunset Tavern
01.13.19 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
01.15.19 – Chico, CA – Naked Lounge Coffee
01.16.19 – Sacramento, CA – Harlow’s
01.17.19 – San Francisco, CA – Rickshaw Stop
01.18.19 – Los Angeles, CA – Zebulon
01.19.19 – San Diego, CA – Brick By Brick
01.20.19 – Phoenix, AZ – Rebel Lounge
01.22.19- El Paso, TX – Rockhouse Bar & Grill
01.23.19 – Austin, TX – Barracuda
01.23.19 – Dallas, TX – Club Dada
01.26.19 – Albuquerque, NM – Sister
01.27.19 – Denver, CO – Larimer Lounge

Black To Comm preps 2019 album with his brand new label/number one bachelor, Thrill Jockey

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Sound artist Marc Richter’s self-titled release as Black to Comm certainly earned a spot on my personal best-of list for 2014, and what I find most appealing about that album is the fact that weirdness and calm act in concert, which is a difficult feat to pull off if you’re occupying a sub-genre that excels at keeping things pretty much aurally-static. The track “Is Nowhere” stands out as probably the most typical of the eight; but even there, electric pulses intersperse, and what sounds like a person’s inability to play oboe ends things on an intriguingly off-key note. Keeping things interesting is more than just a cliché! Black To Comm lives to dull-ify fireworks and volcanic eruptions!

Fortunately, his musical appeal isn’t all that niche, because otherwise, Thrill Jockey wouldn’t have recently seen it fit to sign the Hamburg-based artist and order at least one new album scheduled for release…in “early 2019.” (His former home, Type Records, previously seemed like a natural fit; perhaps Thrill Jockey is trying to beef up their non-rock reputation? Ohhhhhh man, what have you crazy Chicagoans done!?)

We don’t know much info as of yet beyond the announcement of the signing, but if you (like me) can’t wait to hear the totally chill-yet-somehow-exciting fruits of this budding relationship, here’s a full-album throwback in the meantime:

Watch: Brother JT – “Zabriskie”

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You guys out there might be asking, “Ryan, what is up with your bizarre infatuation with Brother JT?,” to which I’d reply, “Hey, none of your business, you nosy person.” Of course, come to think of it, it actually and literally IS your business, because you’re here, reading this right now. Taking time out of your day to pay attention to me.

So I guess I owe you guys an explanation, and probably an apology.

Apology first: I’m sorry I upset you. Let’s move past it, if we can.

Now, the explanation: You saw the “Hey boppa re boppa” video, right, the other video from Tornado Juice (Thrill SUPERFLY Jockey)? All that acid-head stuff, all the trippin’ balls? You know Brother JT did a song once called “Sweatpants” and another one called “Muffintop” (among thousands of other things, give or take)? You know he’s from eastern PA, just like me? Do you know what comes out of eastern PA besides acid-head garage popsters and transcendent music writers and, like, crayons?

Nothing good, probably.

So when something worthwhile does come out of there, you take notice. Take “Zabriskie,” a NEW video, in which the good brother portrays Count Orlovsky (Russian émigré) in an Ouija-enhanced encounter with Diamona Lil (clairvoyance). Spoiler alert, he gets William Tell’d. But not quite. Figure that one out for yourself — which is surprisingly easy to do if you just WATCH THE VIDEO.

“Zabriskie,” also a prime Tornado Juice cut, is another slab of Bro JT’s patented blend of leery lysergic rock, fit to slime its way into your earholes like an unbusted, hot-dog-eating poltergeist.

Yes, you read that right.

Dan Friel (ex-Parts and Labor)-fronted Upper Wilds to explore life on Mars in October

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In a world riddled and ruled by the stark raving average, we need the likes of Upper Wilds now more than ever. Straight ain’t cutting it, so we need to be thrown mismatched combinations to shake shit up. Where fact and imagination overlap, where the real meets the staged, where the scientific sorta hesitantly networks with the abstract at a mandatory-attendance work soirée; that’s where Upper Wilds live — and that’s where it’s at!

The sophomore album of fine friction-pop by Upper Wilds is out October 19 on Thrill Jockey, and the first sign of life from the album Mars can be heard below. “Perfect Eyesight” features Katie Eastburn (Young People, KATIEE) and is about William Bates, an ophthalmologist of questionable reputation who “instructed his patients to stare at the sun, thought glasses were a scam, and occasionally disappeared for years at a time with no memory.”

The trio — Dan Friel (guitar, vocals, ex-Parts and Labor), Zach Lehrhoff (bass, Ex Models), and Jeff Ottenbacher (thumper extraordinaire) — not only procured Eastman for Mars but can boast having the considerable vocal talents of Jason Binnick, Jeff Rosenstock, Aaron Siegel, and Mark Shue contributing as well. Embrace Upper Wilds’ adverse blend of the artistic and the unhinged and pre-order Mars here.

Mars by Upper Wilds

Songs on Mars:

01. Dead Mall
02. Hellcoder
03. Skylab
04. Wine Flies
05. Perfect Eyesight
06. Mars
07. Deimos
08. Caveman
09. Ex-Frontiers

Shows on Earth:

09.29.18 – Brooklyn, NY – Alphaville #
10.31.18 – Chapel Hill, NC – Nightlight $
11.01.18 – Washington, DC – Comet Ping Pong %
11.02.18 – Philadelphia, PA – Ortlieb’s %
11.03.18 – Brooklyn, NY – Union Pool ^

# Eaters, War Bubble
$ Solar Halos
% Mock Identity
^ with Mock Identity, KATIEE