Sunday, April 12, 2015

Liturgy's new album "The Art Work" & US Tour with Lightning Bolt: Apr 15 - May 18

Many of us will remember the Lightning Bolt tours of the early and mid-2000's where their particular frenetic performative driving percussion and eruptive guitar were on manic display. Shows that not only spilled off the stage, invading the dancefloor, bathrooms, hallways and in the case of the No Gallery performance here in Seattle back in 2003 taking over a one block area of Capitol Hill until the police arrived. Throughout the 2000's they became something of an 'event' band operating on their own terms; made records when they wanted to and continued a almost situationist refusal to perform on any traditional stage or platform (with all the greatness and disasters that entailed). The inside perspective on their methodology and independently defined performance ethic offered by frontman Brian Chippendale's discussion with The Quietus, "Lightning Bolt Interview: Earthly Delights & The Quest For The Mask". This April and May they're back to tour with their most recent manifestation of hyperfrenetic mania, "Fantasy Empire" displaying the same human tornado frisson and impact, but with a more detailed, tooled  musicianship. It's less a fiery blur and more a detailed depiction of explosive aggression. The near-perfect bill of them and fellow Thrill Jockey artists led by Hunter Hunt-Hendrix, the frontman and “dogma director” of transcendental black metal band Liturgy who's vein of ultra-mathy brutalist rock that resembles little else in a genre than continues to expand beyond it's Black Metal origins. Liturgy occupying a far-flung branch of a growing international heavier school of blackness that Brad Sanders detailed in his piece for The Quietus. The article acting as an excellent opening unto the dark passageways of this genre's growing stylistic variances. Their music deeply invested in aesthetics and a philosophical, sensorial agenda, it's a rare form of metal that the Brooklyn-based band conveys through "Moral & Aesthetic Truths: An Interview With Liturgy". Their most recent, literally titled, "The Art Work" they've produced their most explicit representation of these ideas in action, making for a divisive work that has polarized the underground metal world. With it's dragging, rough and deeply ur-human guttural qualities the album is brought to life through vocal chants entrenched in stylistic references stemming from a myriad of genres. Combined with their straining, arduously orchestrated guitar work, the density of the textures and grandeur of it all verges on the exhausting. Live it should be oppressive in the best possible way.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Lisandro Alonso's new film "Jauja" at Northwest Film Forum: Apr 17 - 23

Seattle has had the fortune of hosting rare screenings of Lisandro Alonso not only in the festival circuit, but a workshop and complete retrospective of the director's work, "At the Edge of the World: The Cinema of Lisandro Alonso" during his residency at Northwest Film Forum in 2009. In a series of interviews with Senses of Cinema, Alonso discusses his way of looking at and framing the world -- the physical nature of time and characters that inhabit it -- on the screen in a way that favors the enveloping integrity of the environment and the immediacy of moments within. Ranked in Sight & Sound's year-end poll, "Jauja" which opens next week at Northwest Film Forum not only features the unlikely paring of the producer and star power of Viggo Mortensen, but the 19th Century period setting in the aftermath of the Conquest of the Desert of the 1870's during which the Argentinean army attempted to drive all indigenous peoples out of Patagonia. Mortensen playing the Danish military engineer Gunnar Dinesen in search of his runaway daughter, making "Jauja,’ a Desperate Odyssey in the Argentine Desert". Ostensibly the film's premise has parallels with Joseph Conrad's "Nostromo" in it's associations of imperialism, place and setting and John Ford's "The Searchers" in it's commentary on conquest and xenophobia. In a sly nod of recognition, Alonso's discussion with Senses of Cinema asks "'Who’s John Ford?': An Interview with Lisandro Alonso". More than just a quest for his daughter and her disappearance into the landscape, Film Comment's interview and film of the week review, "Into the Unknown: Lisandro Alonso Travels Back in Time to Find a Way Forward with Jauja" places time as integral to the texture and force of the film. And as it progresses, by increments "Jauja" gradually shifts emphasis as Dinesen advances up the mountain, from the historical to the mythical to the Oneiric. Journeying into a space which is maddeningly impassable to a man of his logical mind; riding his horse over it's great expanses, the land offers up nothing of his daughter's whereabouts. By turns becoming an adventure in texture, scale, light and by the film's conclusion, even time. Like the film's protagonist, we travel through terrain, places and eras where the viewer registers the signs but cannot read them; they abstract interpretation and confound the rational eye.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Kranky Records Showcase and West Coast Tour with Loscil, Marcus Fischer & Simon Scott: Apr 12 - 18

The month of April will see both a Kranky Records showcase in Portland featuring Benoit Pioulard, Ethernet and Loscil, as well as a west coast tour spinning out of the Northwest dates with Marcus Fischer and Slowdive's Simon Scott. Most of us came to know Chicago's (now relocated to Portland) Kranky as the home of space and post-rock in the 1990's, everything from Low, to Labradford, to Godspeed! You Black Emperor and Stars of the Lid have found an audience through the label in decades past. In the time since they've become one of the defining American imprints for abstract electronic, drone and neo-classical music. Concurrently forays into ambient neo-folk like the work of Portland's Liz Harris as Grouper and Thomas Meluch's Benoit Pioulard project have been a rich vein they've also mined. A sound epitomized in the ambient idyl of "Sonnet", Meluch's venture into extended tone sculpting released earlier this month. The west coast tour through the latter half of April features a lineup including the solo venture of Slowdive's drummer and sound designer, Simon Scott. One only need hear the jazz-inflected, Angelo Badalamenti-like doomscapes of his excellent "Bunny" on the Miasmah label to recognize that his work is a significant entity outside the context of the formative shoegaze band. With "Below Sea Level" on John Wozencroft's Touch and Taylor Deupree's 12K label he further established his sound in the company of abstract guitar and electronics composers like Christian Fennesz and Tarantel's Jefre Cantu-Ledesma. Scott's labelmate Marcus Fischer who put in a finely detailed, melodic performance at the inaugural Substrata Festival has continued to develop his vocabulary of pointilist electronically processed acoustic and environmental sounds. The two making complimentary framing for the long-established Kranky artist Scott Morgan and his Loscil project. "Sea Island" released last winter, sees him extend the subterranean bass and open expanses of his melodic electronic music into even further abstraction and scale. Performed as an audio-visual multisensory experience, Loscil has reached a point of near total synergy of image and sound with this current live incarnation.