2018: truly an awesome time to be alive. Awesome to witness this turning of tides. But understand, we mean ‘awesome’ strictly in classical, not contemporary, sense. As in: we are filled with the awesome conciousness that must have been shared among survivors as they rowed from the site where Titanic was last seen; or crawled, on broken legs, away from Antietam. For to see these tides turning as they are is to witness so much obsolete human behavioral garbage surfing its way from where it was consgined in the past right into the space between our eyes. To watch what we’d hoped was the unchangeable suddenly stir, and turn on a dime! To have felt a proximity to understanding and the nearness to the transformation of what appeared to be an entire people….and instead, open our eyes and face the world as it is today! Utterly rancid - and, in this sense, awesome. No matter where you look, the current state of play on both sides of the street is straight outta the revoltin’-developments department: to once again favor passing the fruits of commen man's hard labors forward to the men at the head of the line, with the most in their possession already. The proletariat supporting the lies of their meritlessly appointed upperclassmen! An entire country falling for the most basic of cons! How might an invasion of body-snatchers be any worse? We’re beginning to think that movie just was an allegory! But that movie is from decades ago (or decades and decades, depending on which version you’re into – (clearly lonely) film buff ed.) - we can only guess that, if this is indeed an old problem, this corruption of all that is good, who knows, maybe we’re not far from complete and utter breakdown and revolution! Has the system failed? For years, here at the best little ivory bunker in Texas (NO. - film buff ed.(still feeling very much alone)), we’ve set our personal hourglasses to explode ONLY when the record business did too. And kids, I hate to tell you, but the sands of time is getting mighty hot! Music might not even survive – because once you’re back in the gulag, what will it really do for you anyway, you fucking peasant? Your head’s already in the noose – just let them lead you on your merry way to oblivion! We’ll be over here, in the ever-shrinking space left for independent thought and action – trying to figure out how to co-opt as much corporate space as we can without losing our danged liberty! Assuming it’s not too late. Such as it is. Awesome. [Cue music please!]
Will the young people carry the day? We have a hope in our fat old hearts that next-next-gen are a truly empowered wave, and not merely a pack of milk-fed sprats who (dig) talk talk, but have never tasted the sting of the whip on their righteous (yet admittedly tender) backs. Let it be so! Come on, ye children - cart out the old and horrid masters of our world, the sooner the better. How do you think that beggars like us assumed our exalted (sic – ed.) position? One must spill some blood and crush the bones of the wicked. It’s just the way things are. Get your feet wet (with yeah, blood – where-we-going-with-this? ed.) - and when the time has come to release yourselves from the righteous exertions in which you have engaged, go home, pour the wine and drop the needle onto a record that abstracts your reality into something dreamy, something danceable and most of all, something that blows the facts of existence right out of your mind! When this time comes, we suggest Wand to get the party started. For theirs is the jamming of the future! Their new EP, “Perfume,” is a grand example Wand's unique brand of iconoclasm (oxymoron much? - tool-of-the-man ed.) – at times, assuming a familiar and pleasing form, and at others, shattering the idols to admire the rare sound they make when they fall! This is a sound composed from parts old and new – and it is drawing listeners near, like moths to a bug-zapper in the night. They’re listening to Wand all over the world, from South Africa all the way to the lip of the Arctic Circle! They’re turning on in Brazil, and swinging in England – and of course, our good neighbors to the north, our patient Canadian brethren, are tuned in as well. The special brand of magic waved about by Wand is spreading, fanned vigorously by the band themselves, who are doing as many dates as they can, as often as they can. Right now, they’re on the last leg of a coast-to-coast North American tour, to be followed in August with a west-coast run up from their native Los Angeles and then back. And finally, they’ll be back in the UK and Europe in November! All this playing leads to more playing, in the form of music inspired by the playing, and then the music becomes the mosaic that makes another album – and with all the dates they’re playing, we’re expecting more genre-shattering music before very too long! But until then, let the people feed on the sounds of Ganglion Reef, 1000 Days, Plum and the newbie, “Perfume” - all of ‘em on (wait for it) Drag City Records!
In the new hot-and-cold war that’s coming, you don’t have any friends. Allies might as well be rivals for all they do for you. Your socials are on lockdown for fear of what you might say to cause the next world-warp. And everybody hates you. Eyes scan the horizon, looking for something….anything!...in which to invest your hope. Well, turn around – it’s coming from behind you. In fact, it’s aimed directly at the center of your heart, focused with precision from the faraway and in fact rather unlikely time of 1980! Yes, hope was dead then, too. New dawn had been declared in America, but the nature of the day ahead was not yet known. All anyone knew was that, despite the failings of yesterday, they were still alive. This was the situation in which the band called Death found themselves in those times – the three Hackney brothers had utterly failed to sell their incendiary musings + revolutionary spirituality to anyone anywhere. Their self-released single “Keep On Knocking” b/w “Politicians In My Eyes” sat unsold in boxes. Their chosen name (and in fact, mission statement), “Death”, had proven to be toxic, even when matched with their magnetic power of three. So they moved from their native Detroit to Burlington, VT, and reached outside of themselves to become The 4th Movement. The world was in a mess, and they still felt compelled to bring a message to the people who needed help. So they wrote an album of new material, put their new name on the cover, and had it pressed, 1000 copies worth. Then they went to work, spreading the gospel of their new revelation. Yet this too was in vain. Or was it? In 2009, those long-rejected tapes from Death gained new life among an appreciative listenership, who heard in them a punk prototype that seemed to come from outside any previously-known hotbed for such foment. It was true, that Death had been inspired by the sounds of The Who, Alice Cooper and the MC5. But they’d also been inspired by their internal journeys – after all, the name Death had come from the thought that the ultimate trip was surely death! This was what they wanted to share with their listeners. Likewise, The 4th Movement alluded to a power coming from without their brotherly triangle – and the lyrics of The 4th Movement advised listeners to draw power to themselves in the face of a world gone wrong. Listen to “The Build Up”, with its hairpin turns, and you will hear the gonzo rock of the Hackney brothers – in service of the lord, but with no less fire. And now, almost a decade after Death gained their long-deserved fame with their long-lost For the Whole World To See, we’re bringing back its true successor, The 4th Movement in a deluxe package, with a poster, a lyric insert and an obi to tell this story all over again. You’re gonna need help in the world that’s coming. The 4th Movement will help you get there! Out now in ALL the formats – LP, CD, CS, DL and that immortal service for the rest of civilized time (2020), streaming.
Through the hazy sunlight in which we perceive all that is yesterday, the heroes and heroines of our mythic imagination are strutting amidst an almost painfully beautiful scene, made up of the beauty which we have perceived in their music over the years. We were the ones perceived that beauty - but they imbued it with their unique thought and energy in the first place. But then again, we have maintained it, elevating it with our ardor! Who then holds the power? Our heroes and heroines, of course, you asshole. They sent the message that has echoed through time and launched the ships of our own. And so it is, with this message in a bottle from John Renbourn, circa 1978. Performing in the Jittoku Coffee House of Kyoto, Japan, it was another night in what must surely have seemed like an endless string of them. Yet upon relistening, it sounds like something more! Captured on tape by the show’s promoter, Satoro Fujii, the recorded memory of this night is pristine and dimensional, bringing we the listener in reach of the actual events, as John wends through many of his classic pieces - “Candyman”, “Kokomo Blues”, “The Earle of Salisbury”, his remarkable adaptation of Charles Lloyd’s “Transfusion” - and what gets the audience off most of all, some splendid medleys of his traditional material, at which point the energy in the room really comes unglued. Throughout it, John’s playing is far-ranging, yet precise; this the man that many knew in the flesh and on records, and here he is again. Though John Renbourn and Satoro Fujii have both gone, their coming together moment Renbourn playing while Satoro captures it – of 40 years ago now – is something for new generations to enjoy, and carry forward under their own power. They lived the legend and we didn’t even know it existed! Now it does and it has a humble beauty that feels just like life. This is how it plays forward! Yes, you can be involved - Live In Kyoto 1978 is out now, on the immortal formats (we know...) of LP/CD and of course, all the streams that are fit to play in one lifetime (550 billion, right?)!
THE JOY BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN
You heard the news! We’re not asking you – we’re telling you. Yeah, you heard right - Joy is nigh! The sickish are coming, the sickish are coming! - and before you know it, they’ll be all over you, up in your head faster than Ty on White! They’re plastic fantastic, lover! They’ll jump on anything that moves. After six interminable annums, the dream team of Ty Segall and White Fence are ready to roll once again. Wouldn’t you call that Joy? I mean, we tried calling it Hair 2, but it just didn’t work as well (also they told us to stop) – once you hear it, you won’t be able to help but agree. This music, despite being kind of sinister at times, is otherwise supremely cheerful, poppin’ and boppin’ and rock and rollin’ in ways that even Hair didn’t. Because Ty and White Fence (Tim Presley in classic one-man-band mode - remember?) got a brand new bag and they’re smoking it! “Good Boy” is just the tip of the 15-songs deep iceberg. We’ll be able to tell you more soon. Meantime – you heard it hear first. We’re telling you!
FOUR ACOUSTIC GUITARS AND ONE BROKE-ASS MOON WALK INTO A BAR...
...waiting for a punchline? Oh, we’ll give you a punchline – but you’ll have to cool your jets until August 17th, when the new Papa M album, A Broke Moon Rises, drops, guillotine-like, onto your waiting ears (or how about your right hand? – hey-let’s-lose-the-metaphor ed.). It’s got everything you want from a Papa M record made just of acoustic guitars and drums (ie, no drum machines or electric guitars/keyboards/etc) – a pool of stillness into which a vibe of profound uneasiness slowly steals. The opening promotional salvo called “Walt’s” demonstrates this (along with the good news that David Pajo’s sense of humor hasn’t deserted him) – carefully and hypnotically, Papa M picks through five pieces, four of them by him and one an interpretation of Arvo Part’s “Spiegel im Spiegel”. Sure, it brings the yurt down – neither Part nor Pajo do anything in half-measures, and they both repeat their phrases often enough to hypnotize the most resistant of listeners! A Broke Moon Rises on August 17th! Check your almanac -
BLOOM, CHOPSTICKS, BLOOM!
In addition to the highlights provided this summer from some of yer muthership’s finest, we also have two sweet new music releases from Blue Chopsticks. We’ve been carrying the BC flag into the marketplace for almost 20 years now, helping them change minds, starting with our own. In the early going, there was lots of concrete from Luc Ferrari, plenty of guitar jazz, classical and elsewhere from Noël Akchoté and a variety of solo and collaborative efforts from Blue Chopsticks CEO David Grubbs, plus some wonderful art-punk from the 80s courtesy of Circle X and Bastro. David has continued to mark the BC output with works from his own particular sensibility – three of them in collaboration with poet Susan Howe and two with Andrea Belfi and Stefano Pilia. All of this slowly expanded our universe of expected musical approaches, creating a subtly different character out of us over the years. Now, this new pair of releaseses lined up for June and July of 2018 are something else again – based in languid, luminous guitar compositions and improvisations – starting with the meeting of Manuel Mota & David Grubbs in Lacrau. Two electric guitarists working their way through some shared feelings in a time-suspended space. It’s out now! Get in between the molecules and into the grooves of this LP-only release. Then in July comes the Hotatedori 12” record, “Konata Kanata”, with more chiming and melting guitars courtesy of Taku Unami and Tetuzi Akiyama forming a body for which vocalist Moé Kaumura provides a delicate, almost egg-fragile head. Here are some words from the one-sheet “covert and whispering folk music….quiet funkiness and cold psychedelia”. Oh, and “medieval plainchant”. Nuff said, right? They just sold you a 12” record! We’re only the messenger – and a happily-evolving member of the target audience! The new sound of Blue Chopsticks is in full bloom this summer.
SUMMER’S HERE – AND GONE AGAIN
Seasons mean a lot – not just in their simple imposition of weather patterns or, even more simply, change – but also in the abstract ways they manifest in our spirit, as it responds to their challenges. This is especially true as life gets on – for an OLD AS FUCK record label, such as ourselves, seasons are even more important, as there are not only mathematically fewer of them, but they also tend to pass by much quicker than previously known! So while some of you out there are happily declaiming the arrival of summer, we are, with noses bent to the calendar of the months ahead, already anticipating its demise. Better to live with one (admittedly teary) eye crooked at the future than to lose ourselves in the day! It’s not our fate. You however, dear listener….the world is your bottomless oyster pit. So squeeze, suck and swallow all the previous sea-meat you can, and everywhere you can find it, too. Like at the club, dang it! That took a minute to develop...anyway, check out the shows around the world from our touring gang this summer: Circuit des Yeux, Faun Fables, Wand, No Age, Neil Hamburger, Laetitia Sadier and Six Organs of Admittance. With lots more to come in the fall.
And us? We’ve got a fort to hold down. We’ll be hear next time too – probably going on about the summer lasting forever. Contradictions, yo.
Drag City Inc.