Electricity Is So Mainstream

I started this post on the 12th of January, the day my electricity was re-connected after being cut off for 5 days. Things kinda didn’t go according to plan. On the first night it was off, I was in my room in the darkness and all I could think was I really need to hear some music, and there was something I came here to say afterwards, but didn’t quite manage to finish the post.

The first thing I need to say is that if you have contacted me about a review (and many have), please accept my apologies if I didn’t respond, and most particularly if I did and haven’t written anything yet. In some cases it may be too little too late, but I’m hoping I can still listen and write for them over time.

My life doesn’t suck, by the way, it’s just not particularly easy at the moment, and yes – as the opening of this post may indicate – it’s a business/finance thing, which is unrelated to this place but the one thing it’s affected is my capacity to listen to music and write about it the way I had been. I hope this makes sense to everyone out there, but before things got a little complicated for me in other areas of my life, when I listened to music, I went to where the music was….and when I came back, I brought “souveneirs” (just a fancy way of saying “blog posts”, really).  Right now, the difference is when I listen to music, it takes me home.

I miss the other way.

Anyway, I also want to say a very belated thank you to the awesome Arvel Hernandez (Endless Nest) and Evan Hydzik for making it possible for me acquire Fringe – it was worth the wait – such incredibly moving music – and I am blessed that others went out of their way to enable me to hear it.

So, back in January, the power was off, and on the first night (that sounds unintentionally biblical, but perhaps here follows revelations!), I craved just to hear at least one song, one note… I don’t have an MP3 player, by the way, all my audio devices are powered by mains electricity. Except, I remembered that just before I moved into this place, and was staying with my brother and that other hopeless yobbo, I bought an SD card for my phone so I could transfer photos to the computer, but I had saved one song to it.

Lucky for me, my phone was charged, and so for about 20 minutes I was in my room, in the dark, listening to Bloodhail by Have A Nice Life on my very tinny phone speaker.

It was a strange experience.

A very (very) long time ago, I was meant to write something about the solo music project by HANL’s Dan Barrett, Giles Corey. I didn’t obviously, but one thing I did do was buy this…

That’s a pendant bead (hence the drilled hole at the top), made from seraphinite. I bought it because it reminded me of Giles Corey, in essence, and I had planned to use it in a necklace or something (unfinished – surprise). It’s the tombstone shape, the dark shapes like hollowed skull eyes, the almost black/grey washed out colour, in part, but more importantly it’s the finer details. The feathered texture, the fractured lines within a solid stone, like calcified and imprisoned broken wings…it’s full of ghosts, some of them dark, some of them light. That’s what I saw, anyway.

And you know, when I was listening to Bloodhail that night, I realised that here on earth, unluss you’re buried in something¹, there is no such thing as pitch black.

S4E

1. Just to clarify, I don’t mean dead and in a casket, I mean unless you take the light of the world away from yourself, even in the darkest moments there is light from somewhere.


Moving On…

But just before I do… I think it’s important for me to acknowledge that apart from the unfortunate comment (as discussed in my previous post), my communication with Contraphonic was completely polite and respectful.

Also, my bemusement over it should do nothing to stop anyone from checking out either Fringe, or any of Pillars And Tongues’ work for that matter. On that note, do yourself a favour and go check out Oaky (doting, in late summer), an alternate version of the track Oaky, which appears on The Pass and Crossings, plus an additional track. It’s a free download, so there’s no better opportunity to see for yourself what I’ve been raving about all this time (if you haven’t already).

In other news, I was a little saddened to read the other day that Her Name is Calla members Thom Corah and Michael Love have now left the band… Sad for me, mostly, as it means I’ll never get the chance to see HNIC live with the line-up as I came to know and love them – not that it was anything other than the faintest of possibilities anyway, but now there’s no possibility at all, so the sense of finality is doubly saddening.

In saying that, the most important thing to say is how glad I am to have discovered (for lack of a better word) their music when I did. The Quiet Lamb may be – as its name would suggest – a quiet achiever, in that not nearly enough people are aware of it, but (in my very humble opinion) it’s one of the greatest albums of the decade… So, Mike and Thom will be missed, but I’m sure their contribution both to HNIC, and music in general, will continue to be cherished and influence music for years to come. All the best for their future endeavours, and I guess this means changes are in store for Her Name is Calla, too. Looking forward to it.

I’ve nothing in the way of tribute, so I’ll let the music speak for itself. Here’s one of my favourite tracks from The Quiet Lamb. I never get tired of listening to this, or any of the other tracks on the album.

PS – There’s just 7 days left on their Indie GoGo campaign.

And now for some good news… My favourite Aussie band, Adrift For Days, are heading back to the studio to record the follow-up to The Lunar Maria, with a prospective release date early 2012; which makes me all kinds of happy. The Lunar Maria is a name-your-price download over at Bandcamp, with a limited edition CD version also available, so go check that out while I wait impatiently for album #2.

S4E


Some People Just Don’t Want Your Money

It’s unfortunate that I feel compelled to make this post; unfortunate for whom I haven’t worked out just yet – which may or may not make the idea a good one, but I’m not too concerned about that right now.

If you read my last post, you’ll have noticed a recommendation for Fringe by Evan Hydzik, one that was based purely on my sincere love of Pillars And Tongues, plus the brief video. I’m still yet to be able to listen to the release in full, and it would now appear that I never will. Which saddens me greatly.

I don’t seem to have much luck when it comes to certain releases by this band, and now associated member’s solo stuff… Long-term readers may recall that last year, I broke my “no cassettes, ever” rule by purchasing More Sun. I never received that cassette, unfortunately. Which was kinda ok, at least in the beginning, as I know stuff can go wrong in all sorts of ways. What wasn’t ok was that I never received a response from the label. I would have been happy just to have the download code, but I didn’t even get that. Thankfully, Pillars And Tongues released the track via Bandcamp, enabling me to purchase the song eventually.

Not the point, though it is most definitely worth mentioning that both my communication and transactions with Endless Nest/Empty Cellar (responsible for last year’s Lay Of Pilgrim’s Park and this year’s The Pass and Crossings), have never been anything less than friendly and successful (respectively).

The point is, despite several attempts, I could not get the checkout process to work over at Contraphonic so that I could buy the MP3s. In the end, I sent an email to their general enquiries address, which was brief but contained as much detail as I thought relevant, as I figured it might help troubleshoot the problem.

I sent the email on the 19th of September, which (as you may be able to see) was a week before I posted the recommendation for the release, and at that stage I had not received a response.

I wasn’t prepared to give up, though, as I really did (do) want to hear the music. So, on the 8th of October (more than two weeks after my initial enquiry), I looked up the Facebook fan page for Contraphonic and posted a comment/enquiry. They’ve deleted it, so you won’t find it there anymore, but  asked them if they checked their emails, and if not was there any way possible they could allow me to purchase Fringe, and if they did check their emails, I guess I’ll take that as a no.

The post was tongue in cheek, but most definitely borne from frustration. I had been trying to purchase the music for more than three weeks, and had my initial enquiry ignored. And quite frankly, I see nothing rude about it.

Today, 10th of September, I finally received a reply to my initial email. The message was actually quite polite, and offered me a solution to the problem. Fantastic, I thought. Can’t wait to hear it…

Then I saw this underneath the much more polite message:

I’m quite sure I wasn’t meant to see that, and if I hadn’t, I would have happily gone ahead with the purchase being none the wiser of the merchant’s rather low opinion of me… But I did see it.

I guess what I want to know, is why sending one email enquiry, then following it up once a couple of weeks later in order to be able to a) send this company money, and b) receive a music release I very much want to hear, qualifies me as such? What am I supposed to do when I haven’t received a response to an enquiry, and thus have no way of knowing if it’s being ignored on purpose or whether or not it was received? Of course I’ll look for another way to try and make contact if the first avenue didn’t work. So, it would seem this is what at least one representative of Contraphonic will think of you if you dare make two attempts at trying to communicate and purchase from them.

I may be able to understand the attitude if I was rude, or had been sending emails daily or something, but I didn’t do either. Long-term readers may also remember that this is a label I have attempted to both support and promote in the past. I obviously didn’t make a difference, so I guess it’s neither here nor there anyway.

What’s disheartening the most, in all honesty, is that at the moment, stuff like this is something I can barely make allowances for (in terms of purchasing ‘luxury’ items, that is), but I do so because I respect the artists and labels that work so damn hard to put their stuff out there for what is often very little return. Right now, I’m working unbelievably hard just to get that US$8.99 to spare for something like this. I do not steal music, no matter how much I want it and no matter how little $’s I have to spare.

Never mind. There are other releases currently available that I will be happy to purchase instead. From labels whose owners and representatives have been exceedingly kind, gracious and generous in the music they have shared with me.

I don’t know, perhaps you think I’m just being whiny over being called names, I’ve certainly been called worse! Tell me what you think, would you have still bought the music in the same circumstances, or would some unknown stranger’s opinion of you bother you enough to prevent you from acquiring something you really wanted? As an online retailer myself, I would never a) let a customer’s enquiry go unanswered for longer than 12 hours, and b) think any less of them if I did ignore them and they sought other means to try and communicate with me, but obviously other’s have different ideas.

S4E


In Passing, In Hindsight & In Need

Here’s another mixed bag of a post, in order to serve as a quick catch/heads up on some recent releases of note. In alphabetical order…

Birds of Passage and Leonardo Rosado – Dear and Unfamiliar

Currently up for pre-order from Denovali, with two streamable tracks. I was quite taken with BOP’s album, Without The World, so hopefully will be able to check this out before too long.

Blueneck – Repetitions

I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned Blueneck here on S4E, and if not… Shame on me! They’re wonderful, and I currently have this album pretty high up on my want list. You can stream three tracks over at Denovali, where you can also buy the album in all the usual formats.

Evan Hydzik – Fringe

In case you aren’t aware of my Pillars and Tongues obsession (and that would be a reference to the band of that name, by the way), it’s enough to inspire immediate purchase of just about anything musical and vaguely associated with them, including this very intriguing release. At least, it would be if I could purchase it. I did go and have a listen, though, albeit via the following all too brief YouTube clip. You may be able to purchase it from Contraphonic, if they like you or something.

Lozninger – Moving Targets

If you didn’t listen to me (or Lozninger) last time, tsk! But at least you get the chance to hear something for the first time here and now. Moving Targets is currently available for pre-order, to be released 17th October in a limited run of hand packaged CDs (which, if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to make sure to check out, as the packaging sounds just as lovely as the music). Two tracks are currently streaming on Bandcamp, once you’ve taken a few moments to listen to those, head over to the Like A Snake EP and grab the three tracks which are still available as a free download.

Weikie – I Am The Tin Man

More solo artistry stuff, this time with Her Name Is Calla member otherwise known as Adam Weikert (or so I assume, going by the pseudonym. Could be a ruse, or diversionary tactic, but Sophie Green is ruled out based on the fact she’s credited with the [always awesome] violin noises, and sounds a bit different on the occasions she’s contributed vocals). Folky, and banjo-y, occasionally bringing The Tallest Man On Earth to mind. Buy the two tracks currently available on Bandcamp (and yes, I said buy – pretty sure the money raised is going to charity).

Those very worthwhile releases aside, I’m back to working on a couple of new [proper-like] reviews, which’ll be appearing over at [sic] sometime soon. Two Hands & Anomie continues well… (quite guiltily not much thanks to me). Also, as soon as I get the chance, I’ll be grabbing a copy of Tori Amos’ latest release, Night of Hunters. I’ve heard some really positive feedback on this, so looking forward to giving it a listen and maybe putting some thoughts on up here.

S4E


Things Of Interest

Just a quick note to update a few things…

First, the good people at [sic] Magazine recently posted an interview with yours truly about the Two Hands label; which you can read here if you want to know some of the reasons behind the decision to launch the label and what our goals are. Much thanks goes to [sic], and Rob Gannon for that.

Second, you know I love Her Name is Calla, and while I don’t have a ghost of a chance to see them live any time soon, I’ll be pledging my support for their tour campaign currently being run via Indie GoGo so’s I can at least nab one of the postable perks. Check ’em out, discover an awesome band (if you haven’t already), and drive me mad with jealousy if you go see one of their shows.

Last, a recommendation I should have made already… Back in March 2009, I picked up the rather good Daytrotter Session by Golden Ghost. It took me a while, but I recently bought the album the session songs came from. RIYL Dark Dark Dark, Lotte Kestner, The Sandwiches, Bad Braids, Tiny Vipers.

S4E


What I’ve Been Up To & What I’ve Been Getting Down To

Ok, so I didn’t die from my cold, but dear lord I wish I could curl up into a ball and sleep for a month right now! What are the chances that four weeks later – almost to the day – I instead get a nasty case of the flu? The kind that impacts every little muscle and – while it may be TMI – makes you want to cry when something remotely sentimental comes on the TV, like ads for dishwashing detergent.

Bleh, that’ll teach me to think I can survive on four hours sleep a night and still get everything done, like my hero here:

But instead, I see Jane finally achieved that freshness and sparkle she’s always longed for, and I’m all

like Timmy fell down the well again.

Ok, so that’s an exaggeration (promise – I’ll only get teary if there’s exotic scents involved, not your stock-standard pine or lemon).

While I’ve got the chance, though, and an excuse for being slightly sentimental, I want to thank each and every person that’s given Two Hands and our first release some attention, and – in a lot of cases – exchanging their hard-earned for the album. Bless your hearts, you’re awesome.

I’ll be updating the THM blog in the next couple of days with all the new features and reviews. Also, keep an eye out at [sic] for a label focus piece some time in the near future.

Meanwhile, and though I know I said I wouldn’t do this, here’s what’s been taking up most of my time and attention – most of which are still unfinished because I forgot this stuff is actually work.

But on to the actual important stuff – what I’ve been listening to…

Anyone who reads [sic] will know I took a bit of a liking to the album Gallantry’s Favorite Son by Scott Matthew recently – really, go check this music out. It’s just lovely.

Last year, Crippled Black Phoenix’s I, Vigilante was one of my favourites, though it was edged out of my top ten at the last minute… Recently, I finally caught up with more than just a sampling of tracks (some b-side type stuff available on Bandcamp) and actually bought the Resurrectionists & Night Raiders box set (an expanded version of 2009’s 200 Tons of Bad Luck). Like I, Vigilante, I can’t say I’m enamoured with every single song on this massive 2-CD set, but really… Who needs to be when the songs I dig are so bloody good!?

If you haven’t listened to them before, give the opener – Burnt Reynolds – your full attention.

S4E


Good News! I Didn’t Die…

I missed last month’s swag post, and the opportunity to talk about a whole bunch of things, while I’ve been quietly working on a few other things and establishing my online store. That’s rather by the by, though, so we’ll skip the most of it and head straight on in to a few of the things I should have already brought to your attention…

First up, the awesome things happening over at mini50 Records…

Do yourself a favour and go grab the free digital single of Like A Snake (with two bonus non-album tracks) by Lozninger.

Secondly, you know how sometimes all you have to do is listen to a short snippet from something and you immediately know you have to have the whole album? Well, most of the time that’s awesome, but it sucks when everyone else has the same reaction and gets in before you do, meaning the album in question is sold out before you can even blink.

I’m talking about Lost Again On Waking by Glacis, written by Euan McMeeken (from over at TheSteinbergPrinciple) and performed by Euan and James Scott (from the fabulous Conquering Animal Sound/Japanese War Effort), and the rather stunning physical version available for about 5 seconds from Fluid Audio. The CD copies included photography by Heidi Kuisma and looked absolutely lovely, so very disappointing to not have been able to get a copy.

Of course, it was listening to the music that made me want it in the first place, which is available to download from Bandcamp for a modest £3.

Some absolutely beautiful work – with or without the packaging.

Lastly, I found out quite recently that the anticipated new album by Rachael Yamagata has a campaign being run via Pledge Music. She’s (quite understandably) hit nearly 150% of her target already, but the campaign still has about three months left before it closes to pledges. Most of the limited items have been snapped up, but still worthy of a pledge just for the album. Very much looking forward to hearing this one – Elephants…Teeth Sinking Into Heart is brilliant. Go pledge for the new one here.

Take a listen to one of my favourites, Horizon. I played this to death about two years ago – simply stunning.

S4E