Thursday, April 02, 2009

Paint & Copter

Damnatio Memoriae
This album is all the more touching because of the passing of Johnithin Christ one of the co-founder's of Savage Jaw Records. This album is testament to his good tastes. This album is dark, broody & beautiful. Andy Brown the main man behind this project is a veteran in the basement of the underground rock movement, harkening all the way back to his participation in Jessamine. This band appeared on the land mark Drunken Fish compilation, Harmony of the Spheres, an inestimably important album.

On this album, Andy is in good company. Besides the other members of Dave Tollefson & Jason Frank, the trippy magical duo of Monte & Mae (of Rollerball & Moodring fame) also grace this album. The album opens with “Rarefied Air”, which features swirling bass sounds & keyboard wails that channels the spirit of Kraut Rock. It is as fleeting as it is heavy. “Times New Roman” is still dour, even with the sounds of an accordion breaking the facade. The vocals come in with the lyric, “It is my last chance, give me one more year.” Mae harmonizes beautifully with Andy. It is as heart- breaking as it is beautiful. Suspira is a very different song. While I would not call it upbeat, there is a very tangible drive to this song. Mae sings, “In the Canyon” The wood wind instrument winds itself through snake like bass lines & drum beats. At one point the woodwind nearly goes into a free jazz freak out but still manages to ride within the waves of the rhythm of the song.

“Sacred Geometry” features heavily delayed vocals, keys, drums & a guitar letting out squeals of feedback. Mae's vocals are at their most ethereal and meld well with Andy's slightly monotone vocalizations. “Remote Viewing” features Mae in her full on lounge singer mode, if said lounge was on the banks of the river Styx. It goes into a nice tunnel of delay and feedback with the drummer keeping things moving until the abrupt end. “Cymatics” is a much more abstract piece. A thudding digital keyboard and Andy's swirling vocals create a thick fog that hangs in the air until a keyboard line starts leading the way out of this delightful morass. “Determinacy” is the most pop-y song off the album so far. It feels like dub caught in molasses, which is a surprisingly pleasant sensation. Listeners might catch themselves bobbing their heads or tapping their toes to this one.

“Wizard” is still dubby feeling, but this time it is entirely menacing. The blown out guitars ride over distorted drum loops. A squealing electronic sound swirls in the feedback, while plaintive notes from a wood wind is played. The ominous beginning resolves itself in a somewhat gauzey feeling ending. It almost sounds like The Cure at their earliest and most abstract. The song once again gathers a head of steam and starts pummeling forward. Andy's buried vocals tunnel through the mix. The last song & my favorite has a Spaceman 3 style vibe. Andy sings about getting “Back to Nature” With each new project Andy manages to explore new territory, whether it be the stoner/drone of Jessamine, the funk with Fontenelle, to the Baroque dark cabaret of this endeavor. Since it is such a change of pace, it might take a few listens for listeners to acclimate to these sounds, but once they do they will be justly rewarded.
(Savage Jaw Records) (Dan Cohoon)