Thursday, August 20, 2009

Vol. 7 - Dinosaurs

Wowee it's been awhile. And the freedom of summer is still temporarily taking members from us-- Aesop is back, but Adam has left for a week and a half. We stride onward and await his return. In the meantime, please welcome Aesop back and get excited for our newest mix theme, picked by Hasan!

Hasan: Tad - Behemoth

DINOSAURS! Man, I loved anything dinosaur-related when I was a kid-- I could watch Jurassic Park all day and never get sick of it. By the age of 9, I had already decided that I wanted to become a paleontologist and discover some new species of dinosaur. Eh, so much for that. Anyway, I had a tough time figuring out what song to choose for this week. Then it came to me: Tad!

Tad were a monstrous '90s northwest rock machine that combined old school punk rock riffs with a heavy distorted noise that came to be known and popularized as "grunge." A band that has been overlooked and went through some tough times, underrated for sure. Seriously, Nirvawho? Tad's music is very appropriate given its primitive and hulking nature. But what made me really choose this song in particular for this week's theme (aside from being on a huge Tad kick lately) are the lyrics. I can't help but picture vocalist/guitarist Tad Doyle (possibly drunk) wailing away and yelling at some gigantic "terrible lizard" with nothing else but his old Fender in hand. "You will fall down behemoth, motherfucker!!!"

Jess: Grief - Predator

Discovering deception sucks. As a child, naivety beat fallacy. That’s how it was with dinosaurs as a kid. Upon realizing that a) those things aren’t alive and b) they’re not all cute, friendly and, um, purple, I got my first taste of revenge. Barney-- damn you and all your tricks. If Grief’s “Predator” was edible, it would bite like blood from a mouth wound. That bitterness drives this track with relentless urgency. Decomposing riffs and urgent war cries tell a tale of man versus beast. But Grief tells a more unfortunate story by the name of the album alone: …And Man Will Become the Hunted. Man defeated by beast? Pfff. If this were my fairy tale, I’d savor a fresh limb from the purple freak as testament to my victory. Yes, Barney, let’s make a fossil out of you.

Aesop: Yogurt - Cars Are The Dinosaurs Of The Future

Whew. Just in from a whirlwind three-week tour of the USA with Ludicra and Hammers of Misfortune. Managed to meet two more of my fellow Bodies, Hasan and Jess, both of whom are as adorable and sweet as I imagined they would be. However, I am tired and eager to crawl into my own bed and sleep off the adventure. I can’t really write a big thingy about dinosaurs or the
song, but I have chosen “Cars Are The Dinosaurs Of The Future” by Yogurt. I played drums on the track. Yogurt was the side project of the late, great genius Matty Luv of Hickey. It tells of a future ecological utopia where cars are reduced to hulking memories, and all in just over a minute. Matty is dead now, but I see more evidence of the songs prophecy everyday. Cars truly are the dinosaurs of the future.

Tyler: Hardknox – Fire Like This

Real talk, I almost picked Was (Not Was)’s ‘Walk The Dinosaur’ this week. Seemed cheap, though, so I ended up listening to Hardknox and stomping around my apartment. The big-beat duo of Steve and Lindy only released one full-length, an uneven self-titled that works best when they just go for amped-up entrance themes. If a T. Rex could put sunglasses on with their stubby little arms, they would do it to ‘Fire Like This’, which is a heat rock working its way up the food chain on the strength of cranking primal drums and features a cheerleading group of elementary kids. And no one holds it down for dinosaurs like fourth-graders.

Giant Squid – Pathalassa

Like so many children, dinosaurs were my absolute favorite thing as a kid. I owned a metric dickton of dinosaur books and toys. I wanted to be a paleontologist so badly. While I'm not going down that road, I still find dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures awesome, and am particularly fascinated by ancient sealife. So too are proggy-sludge band Giant Squid. Most, if not all, of their songs are about the monstrous sea. This track, off their latest album and named for the ancient sea that surrounded Pangaea, definitely evokes plesiosaurs and rising above the waves. In this case, those plesiosaurs are attacking some sailors, somehow! While not really dinosaurs, plesiosaurs were the most badass creatures of the antediluvian ocean. No one enters their sea without getting crushed and eaten.

Nine Inch Nails – Corona Radiata

Can you imagine being in the presence of a dinosaur? It goes without saying that you would more than likely be more intimidated and pretty terrified than you would be excited or calm. Personally, I sometimes find it hard to believe that such creatures ever existed considering the animal life we have grown accustomed to here on Earth. With all that in mind, you would think it would be easy to find a song about dinosaurs. This was probably the most difficult one for me thus far. I figured Asa would go for Dinosaur Jr. or Valley of the Dinosaurs, so I stayed clear of those two. If I had had Was (Not Was)’s “Walk the Dinosaur,” I would have offered it.

There are a number of theories as to how exactly the dinosaurs became extinct. The one I recall the most is that the sky was afire as a storm of comets brought down the multi-million year reign of the legendary animals. I imagine that the last day of their lives was incredibly ominous as the sky might have been very dark and foreboding. It would have been the kind of scene in a film where characters are talking but no sound is heard except for silence or something equally as eerie. That day probably sounded like “Corona Radiata.

Asa: Dinosaur Jr - Sludgefeast

Now I know what you're fucking thinking. THAT ONE WAS TOO EASY. Well, sure, but in thinking of my song choice this week, I flashed on when I saw this Amherst trio in the fall of 2007. After the show, my buddies and I awaited the DC metro's arrival so we could make our way back to our Baltimore dorms. As we did, some shaggy douche with a leather jacket and band pins took note of my friend Mike's Choking Victim shirt. "Great fucking shirt, man!" he shouted nasally in a voice not unlike the Frank of the Professor Brothers. As we timidly returned conversation, dude quickly asks if we "were at the shitshow? Or should I say...the Dinosaur Jr show?!" Yes, we were. No, they didn't suck. "Yes they fucking do, man!" he spat. "They're all old now and shit...all those guitar solos...they are fucking dinosaurs!"

That's hardly an insult. Lou, J and Murph may be old, but they still got it. Feast on the primordial ooze of "Sludgefeast" and get over the fact that J Mascis' soloing is all the teen angst he had that comes through his hands and not his mouth. And damn if the results aren't something.

Jason: Gwar - Gor-Gor

Growing up, I had a very unique perspective on dinosaurs. You see, every summer I helped Jack Horner and his crew dig dinosaurs on Egg Mountain in Montana. I helped discover a dinosaur, and discovered one of the first Maiasaura Peeblesorum teeth.

So, this means my song is the best.

Gor-Gor is the biggest, baddest dino ever, and say what you will, but Gwar's first few albums are fucking genius. Hooky and catchy, humorous, but clever, and man, the riffs are amazing. The breakdown on this song makes me smile every time I hear it. Gwar used to be much more than the tools that they are now, and this is a testimony of that. Gor-Gor comes and you must die!

Bitsy: Jonathan Richman And The Modern Lovers - I'm A Little Dinosaur

I guess you could say I’ve been going through a dinosaur phase since I was about two years old. Being submerged in films like The Land Before Time, Jurassic Park, and Godzilla, I developed a deep appreciation for all of them (and especially that awesome Quaker oatmeal with the eggs that eventually hatched into tiny multi-colored dinosaurs.) Reverting myself to my childlike, dinosaur-obsessed state of mind, I chose Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers’ “I’m A Little Dinosaur.” Simple lyrics with catchy 50s rock and roll rhythm- I couldn’t pick anything better suited for a dinosaur mix

Download the Dinosaurs mixtape HERE.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Vol. 6 - Transience

This week's post comes courtesy of Tyler and brings us from the tangible (Gundam) to the intangible. Aesop's still on tour and will rejoin the fold next week.

Adam: The Endless Blockade - Perfection

To me, this noise track on the Endless Blockade's most recent masterpiece, Primitive, is the first thing I think of when I think transience. The actual noise section of "Perfection" is book-ended by two eerie and nebulous samples, one an apparent radio transmission and the other an awkward conversation on religion. In between this comes a relatively brief burst of harsh noise with the gruffer of the two vocalists spouting off about Man's interpretation and understanding of a higher power in something much more intellectual than standard, punk credo of "NO GOD NO MASTERS" or "FUCK GOD." Ending on the line "Man understands divinity like a dog understands electricity," the song quickly flows back into the aforementioned conversation before fading out into oblivion.

Chris: Orchid - …and the Cat Turned to Smoke

Not to be too much of a downer, but in my life, the most transient things have been people. They kind of flit in and out of my life before fading out, for whatever reason. While not everyone is like this, certainly a fair amount of people I meet only are in my life for a seemingly short period of time, whether as friends or acquaintances, lovers or enemies. Screamo legend Orchid’s “…and the Cat Turned to Smoke” lyrically captures the transience of such relationships well. The song opens with the lines, “ we smiled and said,/ ‘I’ll see you this summer’”/-but we knew it was over.”; another romantic relationship has gone and died silently. On a more sonic level, the song transitions from Orchid’s trademark aural clusterfuck sound to more melancholic dirges, finally ending with violins fading to a dull hum. Life goes on.

Bitsy: Rites Of Spring - Patience

I know little to nothing about transience involved with music theory, but I do know of one band that could easily be pinned to the idea of a short-lived music career. Rites Of Spring, a post hardcore group, reigning just for two short years in the mid 1980s, had a pretty sizable impact among the D.C. hardcore punk scene. Putting out only one studio album (self-titled), one EP, and one compilation during their two active years, the band was around just long enough to make some waves within their genre. Their career quickly fizzled out as the members dispersed, pursuing other interests. All history lessons aside, to better signify the whole transient theme revolving around Rites Of Spring, I chose the shortest track off of their compilation, End on End. A brief song from a band that ended as quickly as it formed— “Patience” is a good sampling of Rites Of Spring.

Tyler: Rosa – Starch and Carbohydrates

It took forever for me to land on "Starch and Carbohydrates," as my own topic reduced to me to shuffling my Zune towards the end of the week, hoping for something that was better than merely ‘unsettling’. Acoustic-punkers Rosa made one album in 2003, I, Mississippi, You, then broke up. Transience embodied (That link is basically the only page about them this side of a fan Myspace). "Starch and Carbohydrates" is a ragged little thumper of a tune, uncertain and unpolished, and it ends perfectly for this mixtape. Start ain’t bad, either, considering this alternate definition.

Hasan: Portal - Circle

Though we may understand what Portal is getting at with its main chorus: "just when the circle's drawn, just then the circle's gone." It's the subtle interactions between the lyrics and harmonies of this song that really present a deep and positive view on transience and impermanence. Through these layers and interactions we understand that just as the circle's gone, a new one is drawn, this is best exemplified through lyrics such as:

I am winter dormant in my solitude
You are spring alive and with new growth
I am summer burning in my beatitude
You are fall shedding leaves grown old

Just when the circle's drawn
Just then the circle's gone
The circle's gone

I am petals found in frail wayside flowers
You are wind blowing bare open
I am sunlight showering the rays of play
You are sand soft yet hard as stone

Paul Masvidal and Aruna Abrams beautifully deliver their lyrics with the message that with life there is death and with death there is also a new beginning, it goes full circle. Enjoy!

Jason: December Wolves - The Night That I Died

Transience is a pretty vague topic for sure. In audio engineering, a transient is a short increase in sound output, defined usually by the attack of an instrument. Using this definition, any song or even noise would qualify. However, I decided to also deal with the definition of passing in and out, passing from this life onto whatever lays ahead. December Wolves were an incredibly promising black metal band in the mid to late 90's that released one amazing album, Til Ten Years. After that, they went nuts, and went in a different direction entirely.

Quinn: Josh Ritter – “The Temptation Of Adam”

I took this week’s theme pretty literally, deciding to focus on acoustic guitar and its strength as an instrument. It’s so often the foundation upon which music is crafted as so many songs will begin on acoustic only to flourish into something bigger. It’s an instrument that brings people together (e.g. campfire sing-a-longs) or transforms the most poppy songs into something entirely new.

I was trying to think of some song done by some artist during the period of 1950-1970. You know…one man, one guitar, tons of reverb, epic sound? Have you ever heard Neil Young’s performance of “Old Man” from Live at Massey Hall 1971? It’s some deep stuff. Instead of choosing a well-known classic, I decided to shine some light on a lesser known artist and chose Josh Ritter’s “The Temptation Of Adam.” The song is enthralling and insanely poignant, even without the brass and string embellishments. I imagine Ritter grabbed an old wooden chair, sat in front of a mic, and played. It’s an example of how the company of an acoustic guitar can make a story all the more engaging and intimate.

Asa: Swervedriver - Son Of Mustang Ford

Transience speaks to me as a state of constant motion, whether physically, throughout life or otherwise. While I wouldn't want to subject myself to constant coming and going, I can't lie either: sometimes life stands still for too long. During these times, the yearning for an escape is overwhelming, and no band captures that longed-for rush like Swervedriver. Like many fans and critics, I assumed the band's melodic-wall-of-sound tunes to be mostly about cars until frontman Adam Franklin informed me last year that while this was partially true, many of his works were concerned "pining for something else, like a new place to live or a new person to hang out with." I knew that feeling as well as any other. Let's ride.

Jess: Om - At Giza

Om transcend the unconscious. “At Giza” best represents this fluidity. From the beginning, feel the nerves loosen to gaseous states, lifting solid matter several inches from the ground on which it should rest. This two-piece progress psychedelic adventures beyond familiarity. Similar chords and tones remind of late ‘60s groove, the kind my parents would swing to as teenagers. But there’s more to Om that even grey-haired hippies can’t comprehend. Om orchestrate a mind-numbing, psychedelic trip from sun-baked rooftops. Although only 15 minutes, this may as well last for days. The sun rises, the sun sets, and Om transcend throughout consciousness like a swirling stream of thick smoke. Relax.

Download the Transience mixtape HERE.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Vol. 5 - Mobile Suit Gundam


Adam hit us with one hell of a curveball this week. It's abstract, it's more than one word, and not exactly a choice anyone making a mixtape would make. Damn near everyone had a hell of time picking a song, but that's half the fun! From classic rock anthems to trip-hop to Japanese hardcore to British prog, this is likely our most diverse slab of tuneage yet. This post also marks the arrival of our newest Body-- Tyler. Welcome aboard, son.

Please note Jason is still remedying his computer troubles and should be back next week.

Bitsy: Beastie Boys - Intergalactic

Giant robots? Excellent. Most of my television- charged childhood revolved around the idea of man vs. machine, man infused with machine, or just vengeful machines independently. After brushing up on Gundam’s history (provided by Adam), the Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic” music video came directly to mind. Massive robot with sick dance moves attacking an equally massive octopus-headed creature—what kid wouldn’t love that? Using chunks of Rachmaninoff’s “Prelude in C-sharp Minor” also gives the track some badass credit. “Intergalactic” would be an adequate addition to any giant robot mix.

Aesop: Crow - Japanese Title

So I'm pretty fucking sure that I am the oldest Blog Body. This gives me license to be a grouchy dickbag if I want to. So with that said, fuck you, Adam, and your Gundam theme! In my day we had Shogun Warriors, big fucking Japbots with tough names like Gaiking and Mazinga. The toys were cool, but didn't stay around because of the almost Darwinian presence of choking hazards and eye-seeking projectiles. Gundam is weaksauce compared to that shit. Oh, and for the song I chose one by Crow. Crow are Japanese and a monstrous machine of utter nihilistic destruction. Gundam, seriously? I have to leave for tour now, assholes! (Catch Aesop on tour with Ludicra soon!)

Quinn: Portishead - Machine Gun

When I learned that this week’s theme was going to be Gundam I was really thrown off. I know just as much about anime as I do about quantum mechanics. Thanks to this whole Wikipedia/internet thing, I managed to learn more about Gundam, a show that apparently deals with a lot of different themes.

After mulling over the possibility of choosing Megadeth’s “Hangar 18” I settled on the fabulous “Machine Gun” from Portishead’s most recent LP. The fact that it’s titled “Machine Gun” certainly seemed relevant to the show, but my decision went deeper than that. This song is haunting with its mechanized snare, chilling synthesizers, and the incredibly beautiful voice of Beth Gibbons. The snare starts off as an instrument but winds up embodying the definition of the song’s title. I imagine that flying around space in a mobile suit would at times become a bit lonely and maybe even a bit eerie. This song captures those feelings. “Machine Gun” sounds like a perfect soundtrack for the gloom of war.

I still don’t really know anything though about quantum mechanics.

Jess: Thin Lizzy - The Boys Are Back In Town

I have little business with televised anime series, let alone Japanese ones with poor dubbing quality. For the most part, attempting to overcome the lackluster music choices in these, dare I say, cartoons is enough to make my psyche shrivel to a prune. But given the circumstances of Mobile Suit Gundam, the anime prior to the Transformers era, one classic must take precedence. Thin Lizzy know male camaraderie best with their hit “The Boys are Back in Town.” When morale wavers to unsightly depths, this tune cranked at maximum is enough to wake a sleeping giant with gusto. This is an appropriate battle anthem for 1979. Dismiss that Dance Dance Revolution nonsense. Blasted among neon-light laser beams, Phillip Lynott’s voice can’t be left unaccompanied. Put a little shimmy in that step, Gundam.

Adam: G.I.S.M. - Meaning Corrupted 1: "Fatigue"

Take any of the "structured" songs from the second LP from Japan's legendary G.I.S.M. and you practically have an exact auditory replication of giant, dueling Japanese mechs battling over the metropolis that is Tokyo. G.I.S.M.'s brand of mech-music is mid-paced hardcore and Iron Maiden-guitar filtered through the utter weirdness of the Gerogerigegege. With its raging, bob-your-head solos and unstoppable velocity, "Meaning Corrupted 1: "Fatigue"" is the closest thing to actual fighting Gundam. Sakevi's vocals bring to life the terror thrust upon those tiny, Japanese peons as they scurry away from the guarenteed death by shrapnel, glass fragments, and flame. Actually, that just sounds like the time Sakevi chased a crowd with a flamethrower. ENDLESS BLOCKADES FOR THE PUSIFUTERE!

Tyler: Lupe Fiasco - The Emperor's Soundtrack

What a start. I don't know anything about Gundam, so I called my sister, a Japanophile and ‘the anime one’ in the family. Now I barely know anything about Gundam, but did leave the convo with a theory: Anime fans are like hip-hop heads – gear-oriented, overly analytical, self-referential to the point of ostracizing others.

Given that revelation, here's ‘The Emperor’s Soundtrack’. Lupe Fiasco, an anime nerd who shouted out long-running manga Lupin the 3rd in his first big look, is at his most captivating when he’s trying to pull a ton of strands together – peep the cover for Food and Liquor, his debut. 'Soundtrack', a look-to-the-sky production stuffed with six punchy verses and a chanting hook about ‘knowing weapons’, sounds more like the warrior’s pregame. You could bump it in your Gundam while heading off to battle.

Chris: Sigh – Messiahplan (Gunface Alternate Guitar Solo Take)

If there’s one thing I can’t seem to escape these days, it’s my weaboo past. I used to think most everything Japan ever did was awesome. Anime, manga, video games, music, language; almost the entire cultural gambit. I didn’t even really listen to music outside of music that wasn’t a dorky movie soundtrack until I started listening to J-rock and J-pop in 10th grade. Thankfully, I grew out of that around the end of high school and have just become your average terrible person.

I never really liked Gundam, though. I couldn’t get into the giant robots and all. However, I did really like one song that reminded me of mecha and such in the past, and that was Sigh’s “Messiahplan”. It’s pretty cheesy to listen to now for me, and I think Sigh are better when they use saxophones, but I can definitely see this as a Gundam intro or battle. This version comes off the 2007 reissue, and has slightly better production values and a different solo than the version in my bepimpled days.

Asa: Camel - Lunar Sea

When I think Gundams, I think space. These shows can't be all bad English dubbing, "TETSUOOOOO!"s and laser blasts. The vastness of the cosmos has to be addressed too, goddamit, and for my money Camel do a great job with their instrumental "Lunar Sea." The quartet's playing not only translates the sheer size of space but also the serenity of floating in-- basically-- nothing.

Hasan: Bolt Thrower - The Killchain

To me Gundam is all about giant robots built for war and destruction. I remember viewing the television show every now and then in the 90s, I had no idea what was going on in the show except for the fact that there was a war raging on and that giant robots were the weapon of choice. I instantly knew which band would be appropriate for this week's theme, Bolt Thrower! "All tanks should come with a built-in Bolt Thrower discography and massive speakers welded to the hull."

Bolt Thrower has mastered and maintained the perfect soundtrack for war. Their sound is fast and chaotic, while at times melodic--perhaps giving the listener a feeling of safety or comfort, only to bring them back to the aural assault of bursting guitars, bass, drums, and Karl Willets' vocal attack. "The Killchain" pretty much centers on the progression of technology and its effect on war. As technology increases, new tools of destruction are made and the rules and strategies of war change. A "killchain": an endless cycle of killing. The characters and people in the Gundam universe are "caught within the mainframe of the killchain!"

Download the Mobile Suit Gundam mixtape HERE.