As a warm up for listening to and writing this week’s “Sonic Reducer,” I took a few minutes out and listened to selected tracks from the proto-monumental Clouds Taste Metallic album, a work by The Flaming Lips. This was the last record they made with Ronald Jones handling the lead guitars and right before semi-new drummer Steven Drozd—now an institutional creative force behind the Lip’s symphonic psychedelia—took veritable command of the band’s direction. It’s a mixed package with Wayne Coyne’s noisy, shambling narratives neatly countered by Drozd’s informed pop presence. I really like the way Drozd beats the hell outta the drums, Bonzo style. Each track is better than the last, incrementally nuanced, I think. Just so you know, that experience may have colored what follows.
Bill PalmerA Whisper In The Trees(Bill Palmer Music)
Bill Palmer’s new album is a spacious thing, though ironically he begins the recording by singing that he wants to put his love in a box because she belongs to the wind. Despite that dutifully ill paternalism, the guitar playing is plangent, the singer’s tone wistful and strong, full of merciful, redemptive failure. Palmer’s simple yet self-reflective string style is often arranged around complex, yet strikingly straightforward rocanrol moments; keyboard and trap-set accompanists add depth to the work by suggesting that Palmer’s lyrical vision is much deeper than his voice suggests. Favorite tracks: “Lake” and “Ships.”
Jeremy BarnesSpring '17 Live In Satan's Finger(LM Dupli-cation)
Jeremy Barnes, a resident of Duke City, N.M., was one of the members of a band called Neutral Milk Hotel. Following that, he and his life companion/collaborator/wife Heather Trost formed another band called A Hawk and a Hacksaw. He makes a helluva lotta music and on this recording from last year, recently released, Barnes demonstrates his command of the organ. He improvises another world, circus-like but ethereal and resoundingly, relentlessly all-consuming. Two 16 minute tracks guarantee that oblivion is a button push away; just don’t listen as you summon sleep, elsewise be prepared to dream of infinite Gothic landscapes.
In the liner notes to this work of intuitively expansive electro, composer Lawrence-Anthony Martinez writes that he intends this recording to be heard by cyborgs, outsiders whose ultimate freedom resides in the agency of dance. The results of this manifesto are often ecstatic, ringing through the new, worldly information implicit in “True Indigo,” to the frantic and beauteous lurch of movement forward suggested by “Home.” There is a resolution of sorts at the end of this recording; the bright and calming climax in “Contact (Hope)” happens through a type of courage that is necessarily naked but thankfully, universally human.