NNA079: Drainolith – ‘Hysteria’ LP
NNA is very proud to present our second release from Canadian hero Alexander Moskos’ Drainolith project. Following up 2012’s “Fighting!” full length LP, “Hysteria” reaches new levels in the Draino sound world, resulting in his most fully realized record to date. Moskos has spent years marinating solo in the cold Northern underground, cutting his chops as lead axegrinder with Montreal-based noise punks AIDS Wolf, and most recently rolling with North American all-star clan Dan’l Boone. “Hysteria” is the result of nearly two years spent in various studios with producers and fellow ‘Boone brothers Nate Young (Wolf Eyes) and Neil Hagerty (Royal Trux), working diligently together to take a few steps beyond Trip Metal and extract the skeleton out of “rock”, inserting it into a newer, much weirder, humanoid skin. The epicenter of this sound rests humbly on the foundation of guitar and voice, two facets of sound that Moskos has carefully cultivated through years of experimentation and digestion from a wide array of musical influences. The relaxed, loose, and energetically electric technique of guitar playing is reinforced by Drainolith’s unrivaled tone, which has morphed throughout the years but now stands alone atop a mountain of shredders. It is ripe with Bluesy fuzziness and the humanity of Americana, while punctuated by the gritty stab of 80’s death metal, and further rounded out with a sprinkling of EVH-esque chorus zones and free jazz adventurousness. The result is a sound that pre-dates the internet in a fabulous way. Each note seems to leave behind a glistening impression like a spot of grease on a pizza box. A tone as unique as this is only bolstered by the vocal delivery, the literal voice of the Mind of Moskos. This beautifully cold, dripping baritone is unmistakable, it’s fried-yet-poetic articulation recalling a halfway point between a melting Dylan and a blazed Robert Ashley. Over-tired, over-wired, and over it. Moskos lets every word kerplunk into a mesmerizing puddle of observation, giving something as mundane as staring out the window or a Vancouver hotel foyer the poignancy of a published work. With guitar and voice at the core, the additional instrumentation on “Hysteria” is the bizarre glue that binds it all together, using the palette of electronics, keys, and haphazardly triggered beats and percussion in an intensely layered fashion to ensure maximum disorientation. The compositions are fully stacked, allowing little room for sparseness or tender moments. Tracks like “Qix” stagger forward in a deranged manner, it’s elastic percussion hearkening back to purple Nike foot-pounding of 2011’s “Where Are Ye Col. Leslie Groves?” cassette and the “one man band” era, for those of us fortunate enough to witness Drainolith’s live experience. Other tracks like “Joy Road” burn on patiently, disintegrating piece by piece into the ether of time amid a bed of Fender Rhodes eeriness… almost like a rare Canadian B-side to the Lizard King’s “An American Prayer”. Blues notions are confronted by Beastie-esque guitar stabs, smeared together with repetitive, angular riff rotations and flailing synth filigree, creating a densely-layered intensity that feels like the anxiety of standing in a rat’s nest of instrument cables and leaky pipe water in a moist basement. Pleasant melody is of little interest here, instead thriving on dissonance and reminding us of the OGs of post-punk, when rock met experimentation and abstraction head on, shoving a properly-greased square peg into a circular hole. While thematically cryptic, “Hysteria” drops rough clues to the heart of it’s content, filled with tales of Quebec biker wars, sinking into couches, Detroit street hassles, sneaker worship, sidewalk slush, sexual desire and seasonal affect disorder. At it’s heart, “Hysteria” is the product of a musician who has much love for the past, but also little interest in recreating it. It is a song cycle that reflects the complexities of our day to day world through the psyche of the modern jammer, fueled by the quintessentially Moskosian diet of caffeine and nicotine. Someone who isn’t content sitting stagnant in a crowd of tradition, and who acknowledges that radical ideas are necessary to propel things into the future.
NNA080: Kid Millions – ‘The Sanguine Cadaver’ C54
“The Sanguine Cadaver” is a new expedition through the percussion-centric world of drummer John Colpitts, better known as Kid Millions. Known for his driving force as the drummer of experimental rock outfit Oneida, as well as his personal conceptual percussion project Man Forever, Kid Millions is also a key player in a long list of amazing collaborations with artists such as William Basinski, Laurie Anderson, the Boredoms, Akron Family, Jim Sauter (of Borbetomagus), and many more. Throughout both sides of “The Sanguine Cadaver,” Colpitts expresses his complete devotion to the act of percussion, embodying and luxuriating in the physical and spiritual connection between human and drum kit. The first piece, “Begging Attire,” creates a cavernous sound world with the assistance of additional musicians on guitar, keyboard, and added percussion. A dense, dynamic wall of droning resonance is constructed, powerfully covering all corners of the frequency spectrum. Each musician’s respective sound flows in and out of focus, creating subtle shifts that alter the mood of the piece. Every instrument plays a specific role, never overpowering one another but instead working in a ritual unison, lending to the billowing, impenetrable qualities of the resulting sonic environment. Although rooted in static minimalism, “Begging Attire” is a far cry from peaceful ambiance. Instead, it sprawls forth in a menacing, ominous storm of deep tones and percussive metallic textures, eventually locking into a howling, almost Industrial ceremony of buzzing, churning squalls and slow, plodding rhythms. On the second piece, “For Jerry,” we find Kid Millions in a personal, exploratory space. This is the sound of one man and his drums, a complete physical immersion in rhythm through a catharsis of primal energy. Colpitts blazes forward relentlessly, never resting on one pattern or tempo but instead seemingly playing multiple ones simultaneously. “For Jerry” is, however, more than just an impressive display of chops. It is a document of a human reaching elevated levels of consciousness through intense, sustained interaction with his instrument. Wordless vocal chanting and tonal incantations make their way through the maelstrom, suggesting altered states of spiritual transcendence. The extended technique of the piece is not only a feat of strength and a challenge to the performer, but the listener as well. When Kid Millions plays, it’s clear that he puts his entire being into it, a quality that translates magnificently throughout all moments of this cassette.
NNA081: Wei Zhongle – ‘Nu Trance’ C32
Nu Trance by Wei Zhongle is an exciting moment in music. It explodes oppositions of globalism and hermeticism, male and female, precision and feeling. Sounding like a broadcast from the future, This Heat and 80′s Downtown New York lay somewhere in its world mutant genetic imprint.
The members of Wei Zhongle are nomads. The intuitive vocals by Rob Jacobs are sometimes in English but mostly in a language of his own, inventive but perhaps also channeling ancient vocal traditions, while laying down hypnotizing guitar. Sam Klickner’s forceful but intentional drums are a free ticket to Bonkersville. The effects-enhanced clarinet by John McCowen floats over and weaves through it all, pulling everything out in four dimensions. Minds are blown when these three elements merge.