First of all, welcome to a new installment at Heavy Blog that we’re calling Heavy Vanguard. This is a podcast wherein Heavy Blog Editor Scott Murphy and myself (Jimmy) discuss avant-garde and experimental music. Each episode follows an intense, in-depth discussion of an experimental album that is in some way relevant to the world of music. Genres or popularity (i.e. “underground” or “mainstream”) aren’t considered when we pick an album; it’s more about a release that, regardless of how it sounds or how it’s been received, has pushed the boundaries of music in some way or another. Each episode is short (under half an hour), acting as a launchpad for people interested in exploring what the avant-garde has to offer. Today’s album is the debut Nurse With Wound album Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Sewing Machine and an Umbrella.
Given the modern understanding of “dance music,” listeners may expect The Living Earth Show’s sophomore album to toy with synth melodies and simple snare-kick patterns. And while this may be true to a small extent, guitarist Travis Andrews and percussionist Andy Meyerson serve a reminder of the boundlessness of what can soundtrack dance and, inversely, how dance morphs as an art form depending on its sonic backdrop. All five tracks composed for Dance Music were written with dance in mind and ultimately conjure unique, off-kilter imagery ranging from club fare to interpretative dance. And though not every experiment is a success, the duo maintain intrigue at the very least.
As summer comes to its annual, unfortunate end, it’s understandable if your attention span for new releases has slipped in favor of last-minute vacations and weekend escapades. Unfortunately, you picked one hell of a month to slack off, as August provided us with some of 2016’s most phenomenal releases yet. We don’t say that lightly – August has truly bestowed upon us an eclectic array of musical triumphs that had our staff scrambling for the time to digest it all. Our editors certainly share this sentiment and have compiled what may be our strongest group of Editors Picks to date. We’ve got recommendations ranging from post rock to trap-rap and doom metal to avant-jazz, so prepare to empty your wallets on your new favorite albums of the year.
The Glowing Man caps off a four album musical victory lap from a reinvigorated Gira, who convened a group of new and old collaborators at the turn of the decade to culminate Swans’ mission statement. A moderate re-introduction arrived with My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky (2010), an admittedly great album that struggled with its reliance on ideas from Gira side-project Angels of Light. Yet, any early detractors scurried away once Swans unleashed The Seer (2012), easily one of the greatest albums of the decade and century thus far. Gira and crew’s experimental capabilities and limitless mindset led to a magnanimous statement of mood, sound and anti-structure that leveraged every aspect of Swans’ three-decade career in the most effective way possible. The Seer seemed inimitable, and To Be Kind (2014) proved that point correct – by demolishing Swans’ already desolate structure and rebuilding it in an adjacent, bastardized fashion.
Welcome to yet another Jazz Club, where we get to take a break from the admittedly wonderful world of metal in exchange for some horns and sax and plenty of Miles Davis. Honestly, we tossed around topic ideas for today, but nothing really seemed to stick, so we’re going to have a much more conversational installment centering around various questions we’ve been mulling over lately. Sorry ahead of time, unless this turns out great, which in that case, you’re welcome.
If you pay any attention to our biweekly playlists (click here if you missed last week), the Heavy Blog staff listens to a lot of weird music that is frequently outside the metal genre. This is a feature where two staff members face off and listen to each other’s…
After we provided a general introduction for the genre in our last Jazz Club, Jimmy and I tossed around the idea of writing an adjacent piece catered specifically to metal fans. As with any genre, it’s easier to crack into the overall style with a handful of bands or albums that incorporate elements from genres that the listener is already familiar with. There are some pretty strong links between jazz and metal, which made it easy to select a well-rounded list of albums to recommend for metal fans who want their jazz to have an added edge. Some of these releases lean more towards one genre than the other, but they’re all excellent in their own right and provide a solid, metallic gateway into jazz.
To understand what Fire! Orchestra is, we have to first know whence it came. And that would be the Fire! trio. Since 2009, Fire! is comprised of mastermind, saxophonist, and keyboardist Mats Gustafsson (who is widely known as a great jazz musician, especially for his improvisational style), bassist Johan Berthling, and drummer Andreas Werliin, both of whom are also known in the Swedish jazz scene for their work in other bands. As of today, they have released three full-length albums on their own, as well as two collaborations – one with Oren Ambarchi (In the Mouth a Hand), and one with Jim O’Rourke (Unreleased?) – plus a couple of EPs. They gained further recognition by playing fresh, inspired and energetic avant-jazz, getting better with each subsequent album, culminating with their 2016 release, She Sleeps, She Sleeps. Back in 2012, they had the idea of expanding their formula with the addition of an orchestra. Now with nineteen musicians instead of three, there was much more space for experimentation and variety, although there was already a lot of both in their simpler format.
Despite being relatively underground in the general world of music, John Zorn has established himself as one of the most important avant-garde musicians ever. With one of the most prolific discographies in music—accounting to about 90+ solo albums and 50+ side projects in genres ranging from classical to film score work to jazz to metal to free and structured improvisation and (seemingly) everything in between—Zorn has simply conquered music, like a sax-wielding Alexander the Great.
Henryk Mikołaj Górecki had this to say, regarding his Third Symphony: “Perhaps people find something they need in this piece of music […] somehow I hit the right note, something they were missing. Something somewhere had been lost to them. I feel that I instinctively knew what they needed.” Recorded in…