TO THE NEVER ENDING WORLD
Demon! Beast! We fear you going away - but in the meantime, when will you leave? Maybe we don't even CARE what we’ll stand on if you're not there. But......ffffffffffffffffff.....until then, we're here. You're here. The world exists. With its billions. We're not a world-denier. There are many facts and truths and commonly-held beliefs, many pleasant realities that we're ready to argue over. There are totally things that we know better about than everyone else out there. We know, however, that you won't go away. This explains our stance - stooped, besweated, without sleep, matted, eyes pinned, a spade in our hands. We will stay your maw! As long as you are there and we are here, we will sacrifice throw after throw of our offering to your hunger - our butterflies to grease your wheels! We aren't any more a part of the problem than we are a part of the solution! 50/50. Even split. We've got music and words and pictures and books and, right, the odd t-shirt. It makes us happy and it makes you turn. We've got music for you - and what's more, we've got a few ideas to think about as well. Here in April 2015, it's hard to really measure if we're nearer or farther from the end of this never-abating place - so instead, fill your jaws with these thoughts and words from Drag City Records. Worry later! Until then, let’s think about how to really do a few things right for a change!
HOW TO LISTEN TO MUSIC, 2015 EDITION
Don't listen to music. That's how this tutorial begins. Go outside. Walk down the street. Don't listen to music. Keep your head in the game. Listen to the climatic sound that you're walking through - or riding through! That's right. Ride your bicycle. Ride the bus. Don't listen to music. The music describes a dream, but you're living in reality. Think about it. Wait for it. Anticipate listening to music. When it comes, it will be a moment of truly letting the world go away, and at that time, it will be you and the music, and that will be everything. Until then however, don't listen to music. When you're in public places, don't listen to music. Music should be banned in public places. Go home. Get home. Don't listen to music. There's still a few things you have to do, and you want to be able to give yourself to the listening when the time comes. You don't want music to be your wallpaper. That's potentially a lazy action, and disrespectful to the music. Music means something! If you want to know how to listen to music properly, start by remembering this. Before they had records, people went to special places to hear music. They sat in those places and experienced recitals, concerts, operas etc, and they didn't do anything else. It was rude to the other listeners and rude to the musicians. Sure, this was in olden times, and it was classical music, and maybe that music was more sophisticated and required you to listen and mostly, it wasn't for dancing, it was for listening - but actually, it wasn't that different from what we've got today. So take care of your business, don't listen to music. Then it's time. You're ready. It's like an appointed time. It's not really a ritual though, it's just your life. You can call it a ritual if that amuses you. Or arouses you. Music is there to stimulate, so if calling the experience something other than 'listening to music', well yeah! Go ahead! Do it! Pour your glass of alcoholic beverage, if need be. Smoke your drugs - or pop, snort, shoot or rub your drugs. Or vape your oil of drugs! Put them wherever they go best - your anal retina? If it floats a boat, yeah. We're happy for you. Because when you listen to music, that's a moment that should launch a thousand ships in your heart and mind and life. So put it on and get it on! Headphones, speakers, whatever (no ear buds)! Ahhh. That's good music. We like this music. Give yourself to this music. Take it real seriously for once - not as the soundtrack to the cartoon you call your life, but as an entity that is feeding your soul. You freaking vampire, appreciate it, damn you!
The next time, tomorrow - whenever it is. Listen to music the way you want to listen to it. We're not the music police! Well, we're not YOUR music police. But keep this method in your thoughts. This is a valid and provocative way to listen to music.
MATTERS OF LIFE AND DEATH
The paradox of life - if we stop to smell the roses, do we miss something else while we get our snot-full of nosegay? While we sit hunkered down at our stereo, listening to our rock and roll, is the world outside got something that we're missing? Well, yes and no. Yes, we can't be everywhere at once. No, we ARE a part of what's happening, of EVERYTHING that is, just by holding down this little corner we call our own. There's no one set of rules, punkers! In fact, up until now, punkers, it's been simple - Death was a part of the past. Not Death the immortal, punkers - Death from Detroit! Even when they played shows of their classic proto-rock in the present day, it was still coming from a mythical place that we couldn't really imagine. This is what so much music is about - a virtual union with an essence that didn't exist unless we existed with it. Well, now that Death is N.E.W., what's so different about it? Nothing, man! N.E.W. is in the Death canon, ready to be fired at you, a victory lap from a group that didn't get to run their race when they were actually new. By the time For the Whole World to See was released, it was thirty years later, and the original leader of Death had passed on a decade previously. And since then, the vintage music pulled from the Death archives has been ubiquitous. For the Whole World to See, Spiritual-Mental-Physical and Death III represent all the greatness (and a couple of rehearsals and demos) committed to tape from 1975 until the early 80s (with a couple forward-flashes for good measure on Death III). With N.E.W., we get the news from Death five years into their grand rebirth. Playing their classics before ever-larger crowds of breathless rockers, Bobby and Dannis Hackney, along with guitarist Bobbie Duncan in the place of their departed brother David) began to realize that if they were meant to play Death as a part of their unknowable fate, that at least they should take a hand, and play not simply what was behind them, but what was inside of them as well. And so Death N.E.W. presents the band called Death way down the road from their youthful expressions, still filled with the kind of deviant energy and spirituality that drips down so powerfully into songs that grind, pound and soar. Live favorite "Relief," kicks things off with an anthemic chugger, but Death regularly up the tempo throughout the album, proelling a string of stinging existential jams that confront bitter realities as they are with all the sharp angles intact. Death comes from the 60s-70s rock tradition that contrasts the fragile nature of the inner light with the all the frantic armament that a power-rock trio can bring – and that tradition is fully and finely represented on N.E.W.
RED-Y STEADY GO!
Excitement! It's well established that in three dimensions, every point is an equal and indivisibly tangible starting point - which for us, implies that new love based on chance encounters in the marketplace could happen ANY and EVERY day. This means, o shopkeep, that for some of our young people in the world today, The Red Krayola starts here! OUT NOW are LP reissues of four classic titles from four distinct classic eras of their long and fabled career - several of which actually predate yer friendly old mothership here (sure, Drag City is forever, but "forever" from a starting point late in the year of 1989)! And so we (you) learn again that time comes in bite-size pieces, each of which is unknowable in the larger sense of "time" - and that's all FINE, since we have recalled bite-able slices from 1976 (Corrected Slogans), 1983 (Black Snakes), 1989 (Malefactor, Ade) and 1995 ("Amor and Language"). This is all colors of Krayola, from the polemicized art-core 70s iteration to the post-wave groove version of the early 80s, the post-everything dereliction of '89 (but pre-post-Wall, and that's important) and the friendly nu-psych popular songs of '95. So much fun! But something to be concerned about too - because these records were out of print for years - who's to say they won't be again soon? Don't forget yer history, lest ye be doomed to repeat it! That means you should snatch a handful of our far-out Red Krayola vinyl reissues before - Biff! Bang! Pow! They're gone again.
WE'D GLOVE TO TURN YOU ON
Not so long ago (and yet in the old world nonetheless), a great poet wrote that "the past is a bucket of ashes," and thus that we should live today and so forth etc. While he had a point for both the old world and new, it’s also probably worth considering that never before in history have those ashes been of such value as in this past decade! It's no secret and perhaps even a cliché at this time to point out the public's fondness for that type of release that we call in our industry, “reissue” - but you know what? Now may not be the time to reflect on why. We've posited that it may have to do with the void left in the wake of the final collapse of the rock 'n roll era - but it may also have been accelerated by the encompassing nature of our technology, and the at-present unthinkable consideration that there may be a former time that cannot be accessed by us in our current state of tech-superiority. Others say - wait a minute; we weren't even gonna reflect on this! No, and why anyway when we can talk about the amazing new White Glove Test book, collecting show flyers from the golden age of Louisville punk rock (1978-1994, duh!). These flyers never once knew the airless space of the internet in their brief but eventful live; instead they were stapled and/or pasted for display, or passed from hand to hand in a stalwart effort to spread the word about local happenings as quickly and directly as humanly possible! These shows occurred in real time and then ended, never to be heard or seen again (with a few awesome exceptions)! It was a different era - actually a different couple of eras, and White Glove Test captures them with the judiciousness of its flyer's-eye view, from the ubiquity of No Fun in 1978 to the emergence of Babylon Dance Band, then Blinders and The Endtables in 1979, Malignant Growth and Dick Brains in 1980, Your Food and Languid and Flaccid in 1982, and so on and on. Torches were being passed! Students becoming teachers! One can sense as well the excitement in the flyers for shows featuring names from the outside world - Circle Jerks! Minor Threat! Black Flag! The comings and going of hot clubs as well - from Vogue Theatre to Iroquois Hideaway to Windmill to Tewligans to the Jockey Club to Uncle Pleasant's to the Butchertown Pub, Snagilwets and so on and on into the 90s! Then there’s the posters themselves, representing aesthetic upon aesthetic and a growing awareness over time that this social action might also be "art." Nearly 300 pages of chronological flyerdom reproducing over 700 flyer images with all color, youthful energy and grit fully intact! White Glove Test is guaranteed not to get ashes on your fingers - but if it don't rub off on you, something's definitely wrong – with you! Not the book, it’s totally great. And it’s OUT NOW!
Humanity, hear our plea – your habitual thinking is bringing us DOWN. You’ve systematized old and outdated impulses without looking to see where you are standing – and it’s gonna be your end. Ben Chasny, he of Six Organs of Admittance fame, is concerned. How are you ever gonna REALLY understand how to play your guitar unless you jettison those bad old habits? Ben wants a world of evolved sensibilities, people who understand and can relate to the problem of problems – not with a whetted-blanket quitter’s mentality, but with an oath to fight further into the heart of the matter – to, as he puts it, “dissolve the musical structures that have been imposed on the player’s mind.” That’s part of what turned him on to the Hexadic System. Another part of it was his longstanding fascination with chance operations, serialism, and combinatorial structures meant to aid the process of creativity by deepening one’s experience of it. This is not a short-cut; it’s a scenic route that will provide the guitar player with an up-close experience of tonal relationships that can only expand the knowledge her fingertips! And all you need to enter into this exciting new world of correspondences is a pack of playing cards. Any basic poker deck will work – but if you’re really interested in the Hexadic way, why not just go the distance and pick up a Hexadic deck from us? Not only are the cards custom-designed by Steve Quenell to represent the right amount of occult whaziz, but they also feature references to a number of influential names with regard to Ben’s System research – heavy-hitters like Bachelard, Agrippa, Llull, Paz and Deren (to name but a straight-flush-worth! – card-countin’ ed)! Get the book and learn all about Triadic Movements, Fractured Tonal Fields, Hexafields and Dynamic Imagination – then get the cards and make it all real by aligning the deck with your neck – guitar neck that is, keep up boy, don’t lose the thread, you bother me! Once the basics have been covered, you can start exploring and finding new combinations – but not only those combinations, but suggestions as to how you can interact with your new correspondences in order to continue to creative push-pull with renewed energy! Ben’s on tour right now, playing the Hexadic music that this system produced – but once he’s down with shows both here and in Europe, he’s gonna come back and get a PowerPoint system together like you wouldn’t believe! The Talking Hexadic tour starts here! Keep your future vision fixed right here, Hexadic nation!
Today's sounds - what are they? Are they sounds we've never heard before? Or are they mere combinations of sounds past with an imposed new order revealing previously hidden connotations? Sure! And sure! But “mere”? Stupid words, meaning so little and so very much! Whatever – we’re here to talk about sounds. So these sounds....are they for sound’s sake? Or are they the sounds of songs? Sometimes it's so hard to tell (or care! - where-are-you-going-with-this ed.). But that's today, and we're not gonna fight it. We dig the sounds! Drag City's into releasing records of JUST sounds, that's how awesome we think sounds are. And yet, underneath it all, we're rockers. We love it when a song comes together. So you gotta imagine we were double-pumped when we announced that coming up FAST here in May, Jim O'Rourke is releasing his first record of not-just sounds but actual songs, his first since just a few years ago, when he released the now-classic Insignficance. It's funny how these days it takes only a few years to get your record dubbed "classic," and then “forgotten” - time was.....wait a minute, when DID Insignificance drop again, anyway? WHAT THE FUCK!?! 2001??? Records didn't even DROP then, that's how friggin' long-ago that was! And holy shit, now we're gonna die a lot sooner than we thought! FUCK!!! Jesus. Well, thank the Christ there's a finally another new Jim O'Rourke record with songs with singing - we'd hate to go to the grave without at least one more. We're greedy like that. Plus materialistic. Now, in case you’re actually so uneducated as to not know about Jim O’Rourke who has had much to do with the drift and tilt of sounds over the past two decades just because he hasn’t made a record with singing in 15 years….well, it’s a long time, sure. But get the FUCK out of here! 15 years ain't shit in the scheme of things. Plus, one of the pillars of historical Drag City is DEFINITELY Jim O'Rourke's production sound, from Gastr del Sol to The Red Krayola to Edith Frost to Loose Fur to Joanna Newsom. When it comes to Jim’s own classics, Eureka and Insignificance, the delight inside the wrapping of the sound is the song itself, like “Ghost Ship In a Storm,” or “Insignificance,” which build one section upon another in a way that makes linear sense and yet builds in exponential fashion to sudden orgasms of delight. These records are still selling continuously today, as befits music that has made a mark in time – though apparently the kiddie corps at one of the big “music” sites out had to dump their memory with the O'Rourke encodes in order to make room for the latest Father John Misty b-sides. -1.0, kids! Not a fair trade. If you’re gonna write about music today, you’d probably want to know a bit more than NOTHING about a fellow whose associations run all the way from guitar legends like Derek Bailey, John Fahey and Loren Mazzacane Connors and whose production credits include albums from Stereolab, Wilco, Faust, U.S. Maple, and Beth Orton too! The kid’s mixed long-lost Judee Sill tracks! He even spent a few years as a member of (admittedly post shark-jump) Sonic Youth. He mixed Ys by our very own Joanna Newsom and a bunch of other records and has done soundtracks out your ass for years now! He was musical consultant on School of Rock - that's right, showing the little kiddies how to rock convincingly on camera! Jesus H Shitcakes, if you're gonna write about music, read the fine print on who made it and what it made, would you please? Okay then! So, other than the songs he sang on the two Loose Fur records over the past decadeish, this is his first songs-with-signing album in apparently unknowable forever. But Simple Songs brings back the whole O’Rourke oeuvre with a vengeance – lush and lustrous pop music of several juxtaposed vintages, tweaked within an inch of its life and linked seamlessly together to make you jump and laugh and sing while making God cringe with revulsion at the assembled excesses of one of his chosen! Awesome stuff, and we’re gonna hit you with it in just a few weeks. So smarten up, if you can – or just wait for the wave to engulf you! O’Rourke-o-mania is coming again – IN YOUR FACE!
GOOD, GOOD, GOOD EXCITATIONS
The year was 1982! New York was NOW (again!). Punk had broken out into post-punk and new-wave had given way to no-wave and the possibilities seemed endless - if only you could get a record out! But what if you did? With his Orchestra of Excited Strings, Arnold Dreyblatt paid forward the directions posited by LaMonte Young, Terry Riley and Tony Conrad, via a quintet of midget upright pianoforte, portable pipe organ, hurdy-gurdy and two bass viols (strung with piano wire!). The attempt punched HARD, scratching for overtones with a rhythmic pulse of strings that sounds today like the bare riffage of what we were soon to know as 'metal'. Unrelenting in its stolid stomp, this heavy new version on minimalism was calledNodal Excitation. It came out on India Navigation and...just sat there. The record, awesome though it was, didn't take off - but it didn't go entirely unheard, either! Dreyblatt moved to Berlin and continued to develop his overtonal pursuits there - but meanwhile, a mini-cult rose up around this neglected album. Soon, that mini-cult included a short-pantsed Chicago youngster by the name of O'Rourke (sounds familiar…). Telling everyone who'd listen (and some who didn't, but hid it pretty good) about Dreyblatt and his Excited Strings, Jim was a one-man Dreyblatt support group - and since it had been well over a decade since Nodal Excitation had come out and it had never come out on CD, the next logical step presented itself. The year was 1998 when dexter's cigar brought Nodal Excitation off the shelf and back into the stores, and in the process, remastered the tapes to get even more out of them than was gotten in the original pressing! HO-LY SHIT! HOTTT. So when that happened, what it did was...well, we sold some. I mean, this minimalism....the general public hadn't quite heard of it yet. They wanted to know what it was first. They weren't flocking to the Tower to get their copy, anyway. Even in a time when CDs were shakin' like the leaves on the trees, the Dreyblatt CDs didn't QUITE move like that. But whatever – it was good to bring this back into the converstation in that time. And time passed, the CDs eventually all sold, and time passed and we made more CDs. And now, the year is 2015. We're living in an era where everyone who heard that Dreyblatt CD went out and formed their OWN orchestra of excited strings (on their laptop) and people are generally more inclined toward the worlds of drone that seemed so far afield back in '82 and '98. Now it's almost freakin' mainstream, dude! Arnold Dreyblatt's even made a record with Bon Iver's old band (can a grammy be far behind? - starry-eyed ed.)! Plus, the people, they like LPs all over again - they call 'em vinyl, even - all formal-like, as if they never had met! Now comes the time for Drag City to reissue the dexter’s cigar reissue of the India Navigiation original – the trifecta! World of expanded ken, have at it - a vintage microtonal marriage of rocky riffage and folky strummage in search of the lost keys (may they never be found!). We got some real live, all-vinyl Nodal Excitation for ya - coming in May!
O’Rourke and Dreyblatt in May – your ears will be plenty busy! And the parts of your brain attached to that transaction should have something to do as well. But our policy has always been “Why Stop at Too Much?” Thus May also includes a new mini-structure from the production line of The Howling Hex – a 7” single entitled “Butterfly” b/w “Party Shoes.” Following in the (dance) steps of last year’s “Fool’s Watch” b/w “Lord Gloves” extended 10” single, The Howling Hex continue to focus most cannily on America’s obsession with not having to think too hard. Why have six or eight songs to consider when two will do, and one may rule? It’s back to singles for the New Border Sound, and while the 10” had long, rolling jams built on a note, this new 7” has nothing but lean and powerful tendons, featuring all the streamlined highlights that were unearthed in last year’s extendo-jams, working together artificially to produce a perfect rock and roll experience in nice, short blasts. Fun stuff – and all the singles decorated in specially screened sleeves for a limited edition that fans’ll appreciate (and flippers will…yeah, flip for - groannn….). May is gonna be quite the day with The Howling Hex onboard!
But why stop there, right? May is just the beginning of the best little season in Texas – summer! It’s actually not great down there, it’s really hot – but you know Texans, nothing but the best for them – even if it’s the best self-deceptions. So while they’re suffering away, us and the rest of the world will have ourselves a time! June has some cool records to keep yourself from overheating, including Meg Baird’s oh-so-long-awaited NEXT album, entitled Don’t Weigh Down the Light (which we wish she hadn’t of said, because now that we’re thinking about it, we don’t want to weigh down the light – but we don’t even know if we might be doing it or not!). Made in her adopted new home of San Francisco (what?! A musician moving TO San Fran, and not away! Weird…what’s their rent? – gentrification index ed.), Don’t Weigh Down the Light is some of Meg’s deepest, darkest, most densely arrayed productions, with loads of guitars spinning around the axis of her dulcet vocals. Trippy music for now people – and June just keeps it going on with music from two of our subsidiaries. On GOD? is the new album from The Cairo Gang, entitled Goes Missing – a gleaming beacon of pop music built on the assumption that the song is all. Although The Cairo Gang are known for their collaboration with lord of the roots Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Goes Missing is metallic in its fervor and light on its feet. SWEET! Also representing for way out west coast states of mind in June is a new release Gazebo Effect on Sun Ark from the undoubtedly named S. ARAW “TRIO” XI – in which the dry bones of Cameron Stallones and his crew are scraped together for more syntho-percussive jamz-out. So wack, you just gotta go back! All these releases’ll hit right after summer officially comes out – so consult your almanac and keep your senses ALERT.
THE WORLD OVER
Yeah, we’re talking about June – but we’re working on July. And August. And September. It’s a process and we have to keep ourselves flung out there in the near future, pushing and tweaking and making sure everything’s right for your entertainment pleasures. We’re in it together with the artists and the bands – and once we’ve gotten the particulars of the releases together, then it’s up to the talent to carry that ball into the far and wide to push it all FURTHER STILL. Right now, we got Sir Richard Bishop bushing the beats from east to west while touring with the very same infamous travel guitar with which he recorded Tangier Sessions – Europe, get ready, you’re next! Six Organs of Admittance are continuing their Hexadic U.S. tour with Elisa AmbrogioImmoralistly supporting every step of the way! With a French EP in the pipeline and Pitchfork on the horizon, Bitchin Bajas are droning their way out east for most of May! Ty Segall’s also going east to play a bunch of acoustic shows in June. Jessica Pratt’ll also be back east to play acoustic – but that’s what she always does! But like a real lady, she uses an amp. Also in May is a big one – the first Neil Michael Hagerty tour in AGES, and one that goes on for ages too! Bunch of west coast days and some shows back in New York and the like too. WOW! Also heading to Europe are Wand, starting in May, and Dead Rider, for almost all of June. Go, gentlemen! At the same time, Laetitia Sadier, who’s already there, will also play several weeks of shows around the EU. In Japan, The Silence have a bunch of June dates set. And before June ends, Faun Fables will be back on the road again. Faun, it’s been too long! And just in case you noticed that we hadn’t mentioned Australia, Bill Callahan will be down there at the end of May. So with action on a few continents, we’re definitely bringing the world in line with the Drag City way of life. Even if it all ends this year, we can say without a doubt we lived when and where we could.
Still roaming, still dreaming – let’s call this a wrap!
Drag City Inc.