Sunday, February 18, 2024

Chelsea Wolfe's "She Reaches Out To She Reaches Out To She" & North American Tour: Feb 27 - Mar 30

A true genre hybrid for the times, the music of Chelsea Wolfe has absorbed, distorted and recontextualized post-goth, electro-industrial, doom metal, modern neo-folk and indie singer songwriter forms into her own maximal sound. Her contemporaries more closely reside within the doom and hardcore scenes of the last two decades chronicled in The Quietus' Columnus Metalicus. This cultural association was further affirmed by contributions to her recent string of albums from members of the post-shoegaze outfit True Widow, labelmates Russian Circles, and the collaborative album,"Bloodmoon: I" with Converge. As The Guardian review suggests, "Converge & Chelsea Wolfe: An Explosive Combination", it is an album in which Converge's rampaging post-hardcore has been brought to a deadening crawl, sacrificing speed for a slower, more melodic, and often weightier battering of sound and song. It is in this dynamic between this lumbering crawl, and the brief blistering explosions of hardcore bombast that the album defines itself as something singular. As a foretaste of this album, her most recent quartet of releases run a gamut that suggests the hybrid of the sounds and genres touched upon throughout the releases that precede them. Beginning with the most coherent fusion of all of her previous work with the new addition of electro-industrial sounds heard on 2013's "Pain is Beauty", the string of following albums for the Sargent House label would disassemble this hybrid into their particular genre components. Beginning with 2015's "Abyss", which again focused on the electro-industrial, post-punk and gothic rock aesthetics, the following "Hiss Spun" shifted its weight toward a doom metal sound, enlisting members of Converge and the post-metal band Isis to lend additional weight. With 2019's "Birth of Violence", the sound had again found a new genre focus in the darker spectrum of traditions in blues, folk, and Americana. On the new label home of Loma Vista, this year's "She Reaches Out To She Reaches Out To She" again looks to reassemble all of the constituent genre forms into a cohesive whole. Where the last decade of releases for Sargent House stressed individual genres, shifting their focus from album to album. This new work, heard on tour this month with a date at Seattle's Neptune Theatre, and a session at Live on KEXP, aims to be an amalgamation of all of these forms into a singular style. It's also an album of exploring a familial heritage of touching on "different realms", as The New Yorker suggests in their "Chelsea Wolfe’s Eclectic Hauntings", through Wolfe's time spent with her elders, as a journey in which "Chelsea Wolfe Embraces Her Inner Wisdom". This lengthy peregrination has brought her to a point wherein, "Chelsea Wolfe says Witchcraft and Sobriety Informed Her Latest Album". With the fruitful harbor she has found in a new state of being populated by the subjects of her Favorite Sh*t, for Revolver, "On Archery, Oracle Cards, Cape Dresses and More".

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Kristin Michael Hayter's "SAVED!" & North American Tour: Jan 25 - Mar 2

Over the course of its five year span, power electronics composer, pianist, and classically trained singer Kristin Hayter's devotional music inspired Lingua Ignota remained an outlier within the post-black metal and industrial noise music cultures with which she shared much musical geography. In The Quietus' "Fire, Prayer & Curses: Lingua Ignota Interviewed", she plumbs its 12th Century sources of ecstatic inspiration where they meet in an urgent and ferocious record on the subject of the unsayable, the unspeakable, and the traumatic repression of abuse. Yet more than just a "Extreme Music Reckoning with Misogyny", on her third album "Caligula" for Profound Lore, Hayter adds that Lingua Ignota is not just about catharsis, but also transformation and retribution. Last year the transformative journey of Lingua Ignota's particular vein of cathartic ritual concluded, as Hayter announced that her "Lingua Ignota Project is Coming to an End". This was owing to the considerations the artist describes in her statement to Pitchfork; "I have been making a lot of changes in my life, and my music needs to change in tandem. I will be retiring all music I’ve made up till now after my upcoming tour and a few unannounced special performances in spring of 2023. I am proud of what I have accomplished so far and I look forward to what the future holds, I am in no way leaving music behind and will continue to build this world, but this world will look different." After a  span of personal and creative tumult, heightened by the complexities of the pandemic, Rolling Stone maps how, "Canceled Gigs, Postponed Surgery: How COVID-19 Upended Kristin Hayter's Year". Hayter’s final album as Lingua Ignota, "Sinner Get Ready" for the Sargent House label, featured Appalachian instruments and televangelist sermons, and a shift into more explicit tackling of religious fundamentalism and revelation. The following series of tours and distinct performances concluded in 2023, and coincided with the founding of the Perpetual Flame Ministries label, along with KW Campol of the band Vile Creature. Continuing along the spiritualist thematic trajectory of the final Lingua Ignota album, the label released "SAVED!" under Hayter’s own name. The review for The Quietus establishes that this is an album of death-like release and majestic rebirth, "Reverend Kristin Michael Hayter: Would You Be Free from the Burden of Sin?". Driven by a sense of leaving everything behind, "SAVED!" thematically burns the fuel of the grand secessionist spirit, aspiring towards a state of revelation, passing through death into a state of being refashioned and remade in grace. Through a mix of gospel standards and new original music, this month Hayter invites us to join in her baptism of purifying devastation, with a date at Seattle's The Neptune Theatre.

Sunday, February 4, 2024

André 3000, Carlos Niño and Nate Mercereau's "New Blue Sun" released Mar: 22 | Cord Jefferson's "American Fiction" at SIFF Cinema: Jan 4 - Feb 22

Approaching the subject of the new album by André 3000, Carlos Niño and Nate Mercereau, actor Jeffrey Wright spoke on the related themes explored in his and Cord Jefferson's film, "American Fiction", the adaptation of "Erasure" by Percival Everett currently playing at SIFF Cinema. Wright talks on the subject of audience expectation and suppositions about black artists in popular culture, particularly when working within genre and artistic subcultures, "Jeffrey Wright Speaks on Finally Being up for the Best Actor Oscar: ‘I was Frustrated, but I’m Not Frustrated Now’". Considering the example set with André 3000's "New Blue Sun", the collaborative album with Carlos Niño, Nate Mercereau, Surya Botofasina, and Matthewdavid, the album itself expressing a sense of being, "A Conversation Between Carlos Niño, André 3000, and Nate Mercereau". Wright highlights this work as a prime representation of the freedom of an artist to work outside of preconceived alignments with genre and form; “What I’m suggesting is there’s a level of toxicity that exists now that I don’t think existed then … just the nature of the tone: there’s violence, there’s misogyny, there’s self-orientation, there’s a materialism that is so intense now. Maybe that’s reflective of the times but there’s also an absence of originality. It seems so conformist to me. There was a lot of weird backlash when André 3000 put out that flute record. Weird commentary, like, ‘What is he doing?’ But God, you know, how beautiful for him. He got to play and put out what he felt within. That’s what it’s all about". In this bold turn down a new stylistic avenue, André 3000 adorned his exploration of a new music and instrument with his jazz contemporaries gathered from the 21st century body of musicians who are currently "Rewriting the Rules of Jazz". This specific set of contributors for "New Blue Sun" were sourced largely from the International Anthem label, and the sound heard on a series of collaborations by Carlos Niño & Friends. Most recently represented by his albums "More Energy Fields, Current", and last year's "(I’m Just) Chillin’, On Fire" to which The Guardian responded, "What is this? A full orchestra? A small string ensemble? An Indo-jazz fusion band?". Expressed on a variety of drums and cymbals, triggering real-time effects and electronic tones and textures, Los Angeles multi-instrumentalist and producer Carlos Niño has created a chameleonic electro-fusion voyage with jazz rigor. On the eve of their current US tour, "André 3000 Brings His Solo Album 'New Blue Sun' to the Stage, and There Are No Words", the artist speaks with NPR on the liberating effect of the music and the sources of its inspiration, "André 3000 Opens Up About 'New Blue Sun,' his Daring New Solo Album". The trajectory to this destination further mapped in conversation with The Guardian, "André 3000 on His Surprise Flute Album: ‘It’s Pure Excitement’".

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Noir City Festival: Darkness Has No Borders at SIFF Cinema: Feb 16 - 22

This year's edition of the annual festival titled, Noir City: Darkness Has No Borders, finds Eddie Muller and the Film Noir Foundation returning once again to Seattle's historic Egyptian Theatre. This marks the third installment since returning from a pandemic hiatus with the Noir City: 15th Anniversary Edition, and Noir City: Dark City in 2022, the latter inspired by Muller's bestselling book "Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir". At the time of the newly expanded publishing of the book, Muller spoke with NPR's Terry Gross, plumbing the genre's "Celebration of Cinema's Double Crosses and Doomed Characters" that populate "The Lost World of Film Noir". Previous to the hiatus, the festival presented Noir City: International Edition II, which continued the programming last seen in the first of the Noir City: International Editions, with geographically framed sets and quartets of films originating from far flung corners of the world. Earlier editions such as the Noir City: Film Noir in The 1950s program which tracked the beginning of the decline of the American studio system, and into a fresh cinematic landscape where the genre was to be refashioned, both subtly and radically, for a new generation. Other iterations have been formatted in a Film Noir from A to B presentation involving "A" and "B" film double bills, in both low budget and high production value features. On other occasions, the program has been focused thematically, such as the year that featured Noir City: The Big Knockover - Heists, Holdups and Schemes Gone Awry. Outside of the annual festival, in 2017 Muller took up permanent residence on TCM with the launch of his Saturday night Noir Alley showcase. Now in its fifth year, his show has become a central component of how "Turner Classic Movies Is Changing. And Trying to Stay the Same", yet the venerable platform has been under fire from its larger corporate umbrella. Last year, Warner Brothers Discovery gutted the leadership team of Turner Classic Movies, following which, a group of famed directors then came together to "Fight to Save Turner Classic Movies". This resulted in a surprising reversal, in which, "TCM to Include Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Paul Thomas Anderson Taking Active Role". Muller's weekly selections and introductions on Noir Alley act as more than just a showcase for the Film Noir Foundation and their partners at The UCLA Film & Television Archive, but instead a global overview of the social concerns, look, sound, aesthetic, and feel that define the Dark Passages of film noir. This year's touring festival presents a lineup of 18 films in Seattle, thematically framed in a statement from the Film Noir Foundation; "In a move taken in opposition to the nation's current wave of anti-immigrant sentiment, the venerable Noir City film festival has declared "Darkness Has No Borders". The weeklong festival will feature a dozen thematically linked double bills, pairing foreign language films with movies made in the United States and United Kingdom".