Alibi V.19 No.31 • Aug 5-11, 2010 
Raven Chacon with the antler cello

Aural Fixation

The Albuquerque Sound

Raven Chacon curates the city’s underground

In life there are certain truths: What goes up must come down, all's fair in love and war, a stitch in time saves nine and one who makes a synthesizer out of a cougar pelt is wicked awesome. Musician, teacher and installation artist Raven Chacon is familiar with the latter, having made just that as part of a Winnipeg-based project by his interdisciplinary American Indian arts collective, Postcommodity. When the piece is pet, the pelt synth purrs, and when it’s twisted it raars. The group also fashioned an antler cello and antler harp, and made a drum from a boar bladder and a coffee can. The instruments, says Chacon, are meant to be played by a futuristic tribe representing the last of its culture.

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Available in shirt-form at dirtycoast.com

Music to Your Ears

Bayou Ball

Long before the BP oil spill disaster, and even before Hurricane Katrina and that skank Rita ripped through the Gulf Coast five years ago, the Louisiana shores were already suffering. “Since 1900,” says the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, “Louisiana has lost more than 1 million acres of wetlands and barrier shoreline as a result of natural processes and human activity.” Louisiana’s land loss not only compromises habitat for fish and wildlife, but it removes a natural buffer against storms. With oil smeared all over the problem, the situation is truly horrifying.

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Birds, Batteries and some band wearing glasses

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Birds & Batteries lands at Low Spirits

Imagine you’re in one of those centrifuge rides at the state fair and the blaring theme music is some sort of ’70s rock. The cylinder spins faster and faster, pressing you against the wall and lifting your feet off the floor. On every rotation, as you whip past the speakers, your ears catch a blur of electric guitars. The centrifuge is also next to the funhouse, so high-pitched synth melodies, drum machine hits, and other electronic bleeps and blips swirl past you. Suspended next to you on the ride, your friend, who happens to have a lovely voice, is telling you loudly about a dream he had last night. Floating in space, enveloped in this musical blend, is what it’s like to listen to Birds & Batteries.

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Flyer on the Wall

Dead and Alive

The head of an Old Testament villainess depicted in ’80s religious workbook style wears the body of a runway model and the pants of a David Bowie and proves that, yes, mixing silvers with golds is often a good idea. This figure represents Post Burial, a monthly psych / glam / post-punk / goth / new wave night taking place at Blackbird Buvette (509 Central NW) on Saturday, Aug. 7, at 9 p.m. DJ Evan and others provide the music, and it’s free. (Jessica Cassyle Carr)

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Sonic Reducer

The Suite Unraveling "Music For Robots 1" · Miracle Condition Miracle Condition · La Bestia Rosa "Manera Nueva"

The latest incarnation of The Suite Unraveling—Lily Maase (guitar), Michael Kammers (sax), Greg Heffernan (cello), Alex Mallett (bass), Nico Dann (drums), with guest vocalist Sunny Kim—takes a prog-rock approach but rejects the genre’s tendency toward precious self-consciousness. Of course, the band plays Maase’s remarkable, fearless compositions, which are anything but precious or self-conscious. With an exceptional ear for timbral values, especially the sonic interplay between sax and cello, she orchestrates expressive textures alive with rhythmic impulse. Prog-rock it may be, but it rests on a strong jazz foundation and an unselfish approach from every participant. Turn it up. (MM)

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Courtesy of the Artist

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Their Kindness is Charade

Crystal Castles • electropunk, synth pop, witch house

Remember the thing called Witch House? How about darkwave? The constant bifurcation of artistic paths in the field of electronic music can be damnably confusing and irritating, as well as rewarding and helluva lot of fun too—as long as you pick the right band. When adherents of these sorts of genres aren't busy sorting their rainbow-colored toe socks and looking for tubes of Vick's Vaporub to snatch up at the local Walmart, then it's a pretty fair bet that they are listening to the likes of Crystal Castles, a duo of Canuck electro-arhats who've made their mark in the music world with a febrile and spooky glitchiness that has outlasted any names critics might apply in favor of an honestly, intimidatingly pure exploration of sounds that make humans dance and rejoice as they swirl around the very noisy and icy maelstrom of life and death. Ethan Kath and Edith Frances, AKA Crystal Castles, perform live in Burque on Thursday, Oct. 19. Viewed as an opportunity to joyfully and ferociously embrace the void, this ought to be a damn good show, but don't blame me if you can't remember your name afterwards.
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Courtesy of the Artist

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Special Beat Service

The English Beat • ska

Here's a brief on a band with three names, but unlike Eliot's bunch, these dudes are not a coterie of cats. At home across the pond, they're known as the Beat. In the land down under, kindly refer to them as the British Beat. Here in 'Merica, we call them the English Beat. But no matter what you call them, this estimable ensemble that still includes founder and guitarist Dave Wakeling—but not vocalist Ranking Roger—was partially responsible for the upsurge in popularity that two-tone ska saw on both sides of the Atlantic during the '80s and '90s. With a retinue of classic, upbeat jams like “Monkey Murders,” “Spar Wid Me” and “Save It for Later”, the band's touring the states again, impressing OG ska lovers as well as the next generation of horn-crazy youth with their combination of crazy stage antics and terrific tuneage. You can catch the outfit live here the the Duke City on Sunday, Oct. 22, at the Historic El Rey Theatre, but don't worry you don't need checkerboard pants or a smart little hat to enjoy this gig—just make sure those great big feet of yours are rested and ready to dance.
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