Sun Hammer “s/t”

This may be one of the best “summertime” releases I’ve ever heard. Maybe the sun shining through the bleak Masshole clouds influences my feelings on this; but I think it’ll hold true in years to come. Jay Bodley (Sun Hammer) has a mastery of atmosphere, composition, and hooks that is rare in any genre. This release leans heavy on the “outsider hip-hop” end of the spectrum and I’m happy it does. There’s clearly a passion in these tracks. Treated vocals (Andrew Weathers) permeate nicely throughout and accentuate the rhythms, glitches, and melodies. There are some tracks that switch and turn quickly and I’m reminded of a less jarring version Prefuse 73 “Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian.” Other times its as smooth as silk and cold lemonade. One of my favorite tracks “WR Flame” clocks in at less than 2 minutes but encapsulates Jay’s creativity and ear for the sublime perfectly. The cassette version of this release has a very “old school” feel and look; very worth it for you physical media junkies. Highest recommendations!

-RH

Jannick Schou “Fasjil”

I’ve been following Jannick Schou’s work for a few years now. I’m a huge fan of 2015’s “Fabrik” released by Experimedia. This four track collection from 2013 serves as a great introduction to his work. The first track starts off with some great drones and noise and is punctuated by a huge kick drum that pulses and drives the track. The second track features a more upbeat kick/snare rhythm blanketed with more drone/static/noise. The third track is full of grime with a slower kick/snare combo that’s as bleak as it is entrancing. The closing track is menacing and plows along at a great tempo as noise threatens to obliterate the beat at multiple turns. When I listen to this I can’t stop thinking “I wish I could do that” and I’m grateful. Superb!

-RH

Meet Your Anti-Label

It would not be hyperbole to say that I’m in awe of what Auris Apothecary does. Some of the most mind blowing packaging for an eclectic roster (Noise, Black Metal, Surfpop, Electronic Glitch) that never ceases to surprise. DAS of Auris Apothecary was nice enough to answer a few of my dumb questions for this web posting vehicle.

page1image3837376

“I’M NOT A MUSICIAN” – APRIL 2018 ANSWERED BY DAS

1. What got you interested in starting a record label? Were there any labels or artists that inspired you?

We (the founders of AA) had all been playing music in various bands since our early teen years. We started to have some different solo and collaborative projects we were working on, and wanted a way to share them. Our main inspiration was to make every release feel like a deluxe edition; in some way special or different than an average album. A small shout out to analog label Magnetic South as well, whose early brown-paper packaged cassettes definitely rekindled my love for the medium after a hiatus spent away.

2. Do you have a design/visual arts background?

Not really. As a child I was creative, but I’ve always been a terrible artist. My current drawings could legitimately be mistaken for children’s doodles. But I pirated a copy of Photoshop in 2003 and have been self-taught ever since, learning new techniques and mediums due to a desire to utilize them. The label has served as my design education as well as ever-expanding portfolio which allows me to play around with any aesthetic or style I want.

3. As someone who also plays music, which part of the process do you enjoy most? Playing? Recording? Designing? Other?

My favorite part of the process depends on the music I’m working with. I only enjoy performing live when it’s in loud metal bands. When I’m by myself, I prefer recording for the ability to produce compositions with multiple layers, instruments, effects, and other general sound exploration. But I truly love making designs and packaging for other people’s projects. I find myself infinitely more inspired to create when it’s within the bounds set forth by someone else’s art.

4. Where did the idea for releasing media that may be unplayable or potentially destroy the media player come from?

Auris Apothecary was initially born out of an idea to release music you couldn’t listen to or purchase. As impractical as the concept was, the humor of it kept nagging at us, until one day the sand-filled cassette was proposed. To this day, I believe it’s our most “perfect” release in attaining the initial principles we set out to achieve, and it started us down the absurd spiral of anti-releases that we’re now somewhat infamous for.

5. Did you ever have a concept for a release that you were unable to go through with?

There’s been a few ideas that haven’t panned out, either due to budget constraints, illegality, or impracticality. There was an idea involving rotten meat that was vetoed, a “pipe bomb” packaging concept that would probably land us in jail, a ridiculous sketch of an “ant farm” anti-cassette that makes no sense, etc. There’s no end to the “never going to happen” ideas.

6. Do you like pizza? If so, what kind of crust, topping, cheese, sauce?

Who doesn’t like pizza? I’m simple with my toppings but I make it from scratch a couple times a month. I have my go-to dough recipe memorized by heart, then top it with a decent smattering of savory (not sweet) sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, and Boar’s Head brand pepperoni. You know what…fuck it. Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 packet of quick rise yeast
  • 2 tsp white sugar
  • 1 1⁄4 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 Tbl oil (half olive / half vegetable)
  • 2 – 21⁄2 cups of bread flour
  • 2 Tbl white corn meal
  • 1 Tbl melted butter

 

Mix warm water + yeast + white sugar in large glass bowl. Let proof for ~10 minutes. Mix in oil, then top with 2 cups of flour. Sprinkle mixed up salt and garlic powder on top of flour, then mix together. Knead dough for about 5 minutes, continually adding small amounts of flour until dough is smooth and doesn’t stick to bowl. Coat the dough ball in oil, cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and a towel, and let rise until your heart’s desire: 1-12 hours depending on how patient you are and how much yeast flavor you want to embed. After dough has risen, coat your cooking sheet or cast iron skillet in a thin layer of oil and sprinkle with white corn meal. Don’t roll the dough out! Simply flip the bowl over into your hand, then flip the crust down onto the sheet and spread out with your hands. Cover with your toppings, brush melted butter on the crust, and sprinkle mixed up salt and garlic powder around the crust. Bake at 515 degrees Fahrenheit on the bottom rack until the crust and cheese is golden brown. Brush crust with more melted butter. *Tastes best with some Ex Fauna-brand R.I.R.H.S. Hot Sauce

7. Your releases cover a wide variety of genres; what kind of music do you listen to in your spare time, if any? 

I’m an equal opportunity lover/hater of all genres, but spend most of the day in silence. When I do listen, it’s incredibly random and determined by my mood, the weather, what season it is, etc. The AA catalog is a fairly honest interpretation of my tastes, though. And I have an insane back-catalog of personal projects I’m always working on, so listening to mixes, rehearsal recordings, and other in-progress things also consumes a decent chunk of my listening.

8. You have been involved in hosting events in your local scene and releasing local artists. What’s the Bloomington, IN scene like nowadays?

Despite Bloomington, Indiana’s scene being unlike anything you’ll find in a lot of smaller Midwestern towns, with an unending stream of concerts nearly every night covering a ton of genres and a crazy number of local groups, unfortunately, it’s not really my cup of tea in terms of aesthetic & styles. I’ve been happy to support the community by attending, recording, and hosting shows of all varieties over the years, and have consistently tried to promote/book/release as many local friends and their projects as possible. But my love for metal and harsh experimental sounds is not a passion the town shares. And last year alone, 3 unique DIY venues closed, including our space The Artifex Guild, our neighbors down the road at Magnetic South, and the punk collective known as The Void. Perhaps coincidental, but we were all located within a half-mile of each other on the South Side. A sign of the times…?

9. Favorite animal of 2017?

Doesn’t matter what year it is: giant squid.

10. Any last words?

“glitterbomb”

Please visit Auris Apothecary at https://www.aurisapothecary.org

Ryan Huber “The Need of Want”

A 23+ minute ambient/ noise track released as a digital download in the summer of 2016. Some guitar drone, some field recordings, some I don’t know what. Honestly, doing these long tracks is fun as hell. It’s probably really indulgent; but still fun!

Meet Your Ethereal Noise Wrangler

An Interview With James Adkisson

I met James while living in Austin many moons ago and had the extreme pleasure of playing in the psychedelic instrumental band A Five and Dime Ship with him and other extremely talented folks. I have continued to follow his work since leaving and am always joyed to hear what he is coming up with. He has been a part of the legendary Austin psych-rock band 7% Solution, as well as projects such as Headshy, Were-Jaguars, and awesome solo ventures like Dirac C and Blindshore. He has the uncanny ability of turning the harshest guitar noise into something beautiful while maintaining a grasp of compelling composition. James was kind enough to answer a few questions for this here blog. Enjoy!

1. Tell me about your earliest musical influences and when you became interested in playing. What was your first instrument?

My Mom tried me out with acoustic guitar and piano lessons when I was in elementary school. But they didn’t go anywhere. Acoustic guitar was so hard with no reward. With piano I would barely practice the song I was supposed to learn and then just make stuff up. Hold down the sustain pedal and start putting things together. In high school one day I went over to a guy’s house that had an electric guitar an amp and some type of Roland tape delay. He would play the main chords to a song make a loop and then play the solo over the loop. He was playing songs I knew and they sounded like the records. After that I wanted an electric guitar. I wanted to play guitar but I didn’t read music and I had a hard time listening to songs and figuring out how to play them. I was not going to be a virtuoso. I really liked that you could alter electric guitars sound. I dove right into buying effects. I spent a lot of time just playing with sound. I started out listening to what’s classic rock now. Prog Rock. Art Rock. The first guitarists that I was attracted to were Brian May, Steve Howe, Alex Lifeson, Robert Fripp and a bit later Adrian Belew. He was really the spark that made me think maybe I could be a musician. Paying attention to Adrian Belew and actually seeing him play on a TV show called Fridays it struck me that he was using unconventional sounds and guitar effects as song parts. If I just worked at being able to replicate my sounds, pull them up when needed then maybe that was a useful skill.

2. Have your musical tastes changed much? Do you still like music that you listened to growing up?

Alot of the things I liked growing up I still listen to. It’s even fun to hear some of it the way I hear music now. You hear things differently after learning more about recording and mixing. I still listen to some of my old favorites like Queen and YES and Black Sabbath and Rush. Living through the 90s The Cure and Depeche Mode, Bauhaus, U2, NIN, Shoegaze stuff, affected me. Now it’s Radiohead and Portishead, DJ Shadow and Elbow, Spiritualized, Beachhouse, A Place to Bury Strangers, I listen to all kinds of things. Hip Hop. Really experimental stuff

3. What was your first band / musical project?

I tried to get in with a few people early on. Starting up bands. But they usually wanted to give me parts to play. And they were disappointed. I wasn’t good at that. My first songs came from getting a 4 track and doing everything myself. I knew there were solo artists like Brian Eno and Bill Nelson and David Sylvian. I thought maybe I could do something like that. My own singing and drum loops. Being able to mimic things with guitar came in handy. If I wanted cello or violin or bass, synth sounds I made them with guitar. I called it Hollow and made cassettes.

4. What is your favorite instrument / gear to use?

I still really enjoy guitar. Even though a lot of times the sounds I am striving for are very uncharacteristic of guitar. What I always like more about the guitar than a keyboard is the physicality of it. The bending and pulling of strings. Bending the neck of the guitar, leaning into the amp for feedback. I have all kinds of effects pedals. Ever since my first experience watching the guy in high school making loops I wanted to do that. So I have loop pedals. I think two things that really are part of my sound are the Digitech whammy pedal and the E-bow. The whammy pedal lets you change pitch and harmonize. And I use that a lot. I use it like it’s meant to be used but also I like to hold a note while toggling through pitches. That can be really pretty or glitchy and mechanical. The E-bow is hand held. You hold it over the guitar pick up with your right hand and it keeps the string its hovering over buzzing. Your left hand is free to fret. You can play quickly or by moving the E-bow slowly towards the pick up the notes can swell in. You can do really beautiful things with it or you can make a lot of noise with it. When I hand it to people a lot of times they have an awkward experience. Trying to get a nice sound with it. But right out of the box I don’t remember it ever being difficult. I loved it.

5. How did you get involved with 7% Solution? What was that experience
like?

I moved to Austin with a girlfriend. I knew it was a big music town. But I still just expected to make music on my own. One of my first jobs I became friends with a guy named Bob and we shared similar musical tastes. That job didn’t last. Later when I worked at Waterloo records Bob came in with a tape of his band. It was 7% Solution. I really liked it. To me it was sort of Hendrix meets the Cocteau Twins. He said that to play live they would need another guitarist. I did my best to learn parts and recreate tones from the songs on the tape. And tried out. Like usual. My playing someone else’s parts was nothing special. But the wonderful thing was Reese the singer, guitarist asked me to show them what I would play. If I was coming up with parts. That’s how I ended up in the band. Thankfully he saw that I was creative and liked what I did. Later after our first CD we had more attention than any of us would have imagined. It was hard to believe. It was my first band. First time really collaborating with others. First time playing live.

6. You’ve done a lot of solo recording; do you find it more/less rewarding?

I really enjoy recording with a band. Figuring out how to make a song work together and knowing that certain people have strengths you can rely on. Shared enthusiasm is great. When I work on solo songs most of the time there is some idea in my head. Maybe a combination of song types that I would like to hear combined. Let’s say, in my head I can hear a PJ Harvey song combined with Brian Eno. It’s hard to bring that to a group and try to explain it. Anyway it’s something I want to hear. My goal. It’s not that important to others. If I work on it myself then I know what I want to do with the drums and the atmosphere of the piano. How I want the elements to come together to hopefully sound like what I have in mind. So I guess that’s more rewarding. If the song turns out like I hoped.

7. Could you discuss musical projects you’ve done in the last 5 years? What are your plans for the next 5 years?

A few years ago Reese and his now ex-wife Lisa and I had a band called HeadShy. We recorded one CD. It has a lot of good songs. It ranges from trip hop to some very 7% Solution like songs and even some Nick Cave like songs. It’s on Bandcamp. Reese and I have re-mixed and mastered songs from some first 7% Solution tapes and made those available on Bandcamp. We have also worked on new songs. I think we will probably just post them as they are finished. He has been helping me work on my Blindshore songs. I asked him for vocal coaching. I find that’s the hardest thing to do alone. Going back and forth from the mic hitting record. Hard to make good decisions about your own voice. He’s ended up helping with much more. And he sang on one song. I posted three new songs as The Details EP. More songs should come out over the year. I also want to do a project called Jet Black Cat. The idea for that is to do shoegaze songs. Interesting covers plus a few originals. I have a lot of recordings of playing records through all of my effects as well. Messing around with the speed of the turntable and also looping segments. A bit like Christian Marclay. I think about doing something with those. I might do new Dirac C songs. Those are songs where every sound is made with guitar and guitar effects.

8. What is your favorite place to eat in Texas?

Since I am up all night I like a place where you can get breakfast at two in the morning or three in the afternoon. It’s not fancy but I like a diner called Jim’s. There are a few of them in Austin and San Antonio. It’s the kind of place you look for when you are on a trip and you need to pull in hoping they either have a good burger or breakfast. Sometimes I think I am my happiest with something good to read, coffee and breakfast in front of me.

9. How do you like performing live vs. writing and recording music?

I enjoy recording the most. Creating. Hearing something come together. There are many aspects to playing live. Being in a band where roadies had it all set up ready to go would be dream. I don’t enjoy the nervousness and all that goes into the set up before you actually play. Once I am playing it’s great. If everything is going well then it’s a hard feeling to describe. Revealing in a way. I always felt like if someone had seen a show then they knew me better. I have not played live in a few years. But usually when I see a live show it makes me want to again.

10. What are your 5 desert island albums?

My favorite music always inspires me. I would need some way to make music on the island or I wouldn’t last long.
Brain Eno – Another Green World
Radiohead – In Rainbows
Yes – The Yes Album
U2 – Achtung Baby
Sonic Youth – Dirty

11. Closing thoughts?

It may be hard to tell by the bands I’ve mentioned but I enjoy and I am interested in experimental, industrial, ambient, electronic, and just strange music as well. But what I generally take from that is I might be enjoying this ten minutes of feedback, or a recording of a broken turntable but not many people do. A smaller dose of it or combined with something else could make it a really wonderful part in a song. I would like to use something like this somewhere in a song. So I steal lots of ideas that way. Because (at least for me) it’s much harder to make a recognizable song with verses and a chorus than a fifteen minute atmospheric loop. I could churn out looped guitar albums. Maybe five a week. Someone might think they were genius but I would know they came pretty easy for me. And I think that’s the truth with alot of the “far out” things I hear. Song structure is an art. It’s not that easy to do a good job of it. And it’s really amazing when someone can bend it all to hell and keep it recognizable as a hummable song.

Check out some of James’ work at:

https://blindshore.bandcamp.com

https://dirac-c.bandcamp.com

https://were-jaguars.bandcamp.com

https://afiveanddimeship.bandcamp.com

https://sevenpercentsolution.bandcamp.com

Inam Records 28

Sujo “Blood Saints”

This 2008 release was the first Sujo attempt to add “structure” and write “songs” with admittedly strange results. Four tracks total with the 16+ minute title track being the linchpin. Limited cdr (48 copies) and available digitally. The percussion is bare and simple and guitars layered and noisy. Some samples, distant vocals, distorted bass are added into the mix. If MBV had listened to only Darkthrone for 4 years prior to recording their debut, maybe it would sound like this (yeah, probably not).

Meet Your Sound Artist Extraordinaire

An Interview With Jay Bodley of Sun Hammer

I collaborated with Jay for the 2012 release Sujo + Sun Hammer “Fistula” on Inam / Music Ruins Lives. Since then, I’ve continued to follow his work including 2016’s “Mahamudra” on Full Spectrum Records. I am always impressed by an artist that is adept at a multitude of musical styles. In Jay’s case, this includes deep ambient, field recording manipulation, and hip hop / beat driven compositions. His new album, “s/t”, will be released by Full Spectrum Records on May 1, 2018. Here is a few words from Jay!

1. What were your earliest musical influences? Have you musical tastes changed much throughout the years?
The first music I remember really touching me was when I was very young, hearing Michael Jackson’s Thriller album and Pink Floyd The Wall, which my parents had on vinyl. Getting into rap music in the early 90s, that was the first explosion of music discovery I had outside of what my parents played at home and it really gave me the biggest thrill, so in a way that’s always been my favorite genre. But I have always liked a lot of different styles of music. Last year I got heavily into Negativland, Metallica’s albums from 84-91, and Miles Davis’s fusion period. This year I’ve been trying to listen to more music from women, because I noticed my tastes have mostly been dominated by male musicians. Some artists I’ve been really loving are Eartheater, Julia Holter, Marissa Nadler, Chelsea Wolfe, Dawn Richard, Susanne Sundfør and Katie Gately.

2. When did you first start making music? What style of music were you making? How did it evolve?
I played classical piano from five years old all throughout my childhood, and started forming bands when I was in middle school, but I really started creating and producing my own music when I was a senior in high school, in 1999. Some of my friends and I started a hip-hop crew, The Abolitionists, whom I produced beats for. So for several years I was doing that and at the same time getting interested in exploring IDM and other forms of electronic music. Mostly I was inspired by the stuff on Warp Records around that time, Squarepusher and Aphex Twin and Autechre. I got into doing mostly ambient stuff for awhile, and eventually came back to beat-driven music with my album MAHAMUDRA, and went more pop-leaning with the new one. At the same time this one is similar to a plunderphonics type album I made in 2007, San Lucifer II, where I exclusively used samples from hip-hop songs. I like lots of different music, and I tend to explore whatever I get interested in.

3. What is your recording set up? How often do you record? What inspires you to do it?
It’s very simple, and I like that. I just use a laptop and a mid-size MIDI controller keyboard. I have other MIDI controllers but I almost never use them.
I work on music every day. Nothing inspires me necessarily, it’s just become a practice that I engage with on a daily basis, sometimes in a very systematic way – like I’ll have a specific idea of some sound I want to create, or a chord progression or something – but sometimes not.

4. What are your interests / responsibilities outside of music?
Cooking, running, yoga/meditation, restaurants, eating/drinking, pets, friends.

5. What is the favorite place you’ve ever lived? Why?
I don’t really have a favorite but as far as fond memories, unsurprisingly they mostly come from the city where I grew up – Ann Arbor, Michigan.

6. Can you tell me about your newest release on Full Spectrum records?
Sure, it originated with my practice of creating a small piece of music every day, a loop of some kind usually. It was something I kept up for over three years. I have been interested in sound collage and musique concrete stuff for quite a long time, and had recently gotten very into the GRM stuff from Pierre Schaeffer and that whole crew, and also the plunderphonics stuff from John Oswald and Negativland, so I wanted to assemble my album in a way that was similar to all that. But the material I had accumulated, a lot of it was informed by modern rap and R&B, so I decided to make full songs out of some of my loops, and make lyrics and sing and everything. It’s the first time I’ve done lyrics or singing on a project since my high school band, Muzzle. My friends Andrew and Gretchen run Full Spectrum and they asked me if I wanted to release it with them. Of course I was excited to, but I was also surprised because it’ll definitely be the most pop thing they’ve done thus far, and also the first with rapping – I am super honored to have songs on there with Intricate Dialect, Kadence and Tenacity, three of my Abolitionists homies, so it kinda brings things full circle in a way.

7. What is your favorite format of releasing music? Digital? Cassette? Cd? Other?
Digital. It’s the only form of music I consume because it’s so convenient I don’t like to accumulate a lot of stuff. So I just don’t really care that much about other formats, to be honest.

8. What is best and worst haircut you’ve ever had?
A good hair person is crucial. I find I end up having to put a lot of trust in the people who are cutting my hair, so when I find someone I like I am incredibly loyal. I’ve got a guy now who’s just fantastic, maybe the best I’ve ever had – for anyone reading this in the LA area his name is Trevor, he’s at the Floyd’s on Melrose.

9. What are your future plans for Sun Hammer?
At the moment I’m doing a lot of miscellaneous projects that aren’t necessarily associated with my Sun Hammer music, like The Lum podcast with Intricate Dialect which I just love doing, also some composing, sound design and sound editing for film stuff. I’d like to continue to work on more weird pop songs, though at this time it may take me a few years before I have a new album ready. I will probably want to come up with a concept first – usually when that happens everything begins to fall into place.

Visit the Sun Hammer website at: http://sunhammer.com

Inam Records 175

Olekranon “Aphelion”

The thing that I remember most about this 2014 release is recording the bulk of it over a few days in a hotel room. I used my Korg d1200 (RIP) and what gear I could fit into a bag, ate some pizza, drank a few beers, and had a grand ole time. This turned out to be the final Olekranon release and probably the most focused one. Quit while you’re ahead, I guess. It’s got a darker mood overall and propulsion is the key. Pressed on 100 cdr’s in full color digipack folder.

Erik Waterkotte + Ryan Huber “…And Now They Are Gone”

This collaboration with Erik (erikwaterkotte.com) consisted of field recordings that he made that I composed and edited into 8 tracks. I also added some guitar drone in places. Erik then screen printed 100+ cdr’s for distribution at his exhibition and elsewhere. This was an extremely rewarding and fun experience for myself (hope Erik feels similarly!). If you like the sound of creaking doors and ghostly footsteps, this is for you!