Emily Cross (Loma) Interview
Emily Cross was explaining her podcast, What I’m Looking At, and how fellow bandmates Dan Duszynski and Jonathan Meiburg had sampled their lead singer’s own voice on a forbidding piece titled “Thorn.” The track serves as a holotype for the rest of the record; a Gregorian, chamber, electroacoustic piece inflecting an abandoned manse and an enchanted rose. Cross sings of an undertow and one prowls the lower frequencies, threatening to pull audiences under. The sonic is not drastically from their folktronica debut, but key instrumentation is different.
There are some common threads: there are no concerns for whether music is too experimental for audiences and they share a love for the weird and bizarre sounds. Which explains a good deal about Don’t Shy Away. Loma may not qualify for popular, they certainly qualify for alternative. The focus is on something good no matter the orthodoxy. Cross, Duszynski and Meiburg evade traditional or stylistic hang-ups by understanding the fluid nature of their partnership and the fundamental schemes of their sonic: spare and sparse arrangements. A tension strung tight, a vocal note running meter-by-meter, Loma unveil their synthetic compound of interests in electronica, folk, chamber, et al, taut yet light, vulnerable yet guarded. Is this chambertronica? Or is that just electroacoustic? And is this world beat, or can we just call it alternative folk? From Duszynski’s standpoint “Genre is so loosely defined in 2020, especially when all the music ever made is available to anyone at any time.”Don’t Shy Away doesn’t simply refine the theory that was the first long-player, but makes for an appendix; an essay on principles translating between whole genres and philosophies. A sort of Jeet Kune Do for the electroacoustic artist.
Yves Tumor’s Heaven to a Tortured Mind Review
As soulful as it is pagan, as glamorous as it is smut, read enough Pitchfork and you might question everything one thought they knew about Heaven to a Tortured Mind on first listen; but being only a contextual listener, the listening experience revealed no direct krautrock or Britpop imagery.
If there were, it was filtered through one of the record’s clear theatrical forebears: David Bowie. If there is krautrock involved in this record, then I would have heard it as some contemporary companion to Heroes or Low. If there were Britpop, then ample references to Blur’s nineties œuvre would appear like rubbish in the modern world of this review.
Yet, Tumor is such a Heinz-57 of musical style it’s hard not to see something in everything they do. On the surface, “Folie Imposée” even implicates a lyrical rhythm to The Cure’s “Friday (I’m in Love). The anarchic “Identity Trade” implies a relation to the New York Dolls’ fustian “Personality Crisis.” Far from being some effort to sound like the New York Dolls or the Cure, however, Tumor’s lyrics and funk musicality constitute images of romantically-incensed ego dissolution, while tracks such as “Hasdallen Lights” and “Folie Imposée” impress a Macintosh Plus vaporwave dialect.
Written for Atwood Magazine (.com)
Dope Lemon’s Smooth Big Cat Review
If you listen to the record long enough, you might begin to sympathize with those “beers around the pool table at midnight,” in fact, you might begin to feel like a sidewalk slab bristled by grassweeds, like paint flaking on a cornerstore sign, like dust on the doorstep, waiting to be let in; you might begin to believe that this, the slow roll of drunkenness fraying the edges of your inhibitions, is indeed “Angus’ real world.” But Smooth Big Cat, and thus Angus’ real world, does not hold much for surprises besides a few moments of note, that includes the brushstick percussion and tumbadora claps on “Hey You;” that includes “Lonely Boys Paradise” as a lo fi descendant of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer;” that includes “Smooth Big Cat’s” keyboards interpolated right into the middle of the mix.
It’s not until “Dope and Smoke” comes on that you realize that the argument whether Dope Lemon has crafted a dirty Don Henley or an Ariel Pink cowpoke record is all just decadent overcoating the lo-fi War underlayment. At his best, Dope Lemon is not working some millennial Johnny Cash on whiskey cannabis image but some serious low riding machismo. It’s not until then you realize just why he’s leaning on the hood of that Rolls-Royce: he totally intends to spring that suspension with the hydraulic lifeblood of his bottled chauvinism. After which Angus Stone’s themes begin to tumble down. With the advent of “The Midnight Slow” it is understood that Smooth Big Cat is supposed to be the “Stormy Monday” record for getting stoned, drunk or laid. Preferably in that order. The second half of this record offers no new element besides a demotape harmonica jugband blues cut in the form of “Hey Man, Don’t Look At Me Like That,” whistling on the sunset winds of every John Wayne film ever made. So even at his most reserved, he’s still banal.
Against All Logic’s 2012-2017 Review
Our third rock is currently abuzz with the single-use sounds of Drake, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Shakira, J Balvin, Miley Cyrus, Post Malone et al. Sorry gang, smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, but you’ll still throw ‘em away after a couple drags. There is better music out there; better habits to spill gas on; for every DVSN, there’s Choker, for every Rihanna, there’s Janelle Monáe, for every Avicii, there’s Daft Punk. For every James Blake there’s Jamie xx. DJ Koze. Four Tet. Mount Kimbie. Nicolas Jaar. To be fair, most of these guys play a brand of electronic dance music that flirts with house and deep house, but doesn’t go the full tropical pastiche, doesn’t smoke the Majorcan jamón, or run away like an Ibizan weekend. Instead they stay subversive—no trip, just drip. No drops, just thoughts. They play EDM on the verge of existential crisis. Chewing through beats and synths as a lost philosopher gnaws on isms and ists; absurdist jungles, nihilist steps, surrealist glitches. They scald on these points, but rarely do they burn up like a meteoroid so as to make the radio notice. At least, not like Moby had done 20 summat years ago with the mega-record Play. Not like Against All Logic should be doing now. Because that surly nom du jour, Against All Logic, a friend you can call AAL, should come with the content warning sticker. Not because it delves into the verbally profane or horrifically detailed, but because it smashes those pretty stained glass expectations that house music can’t inspire God’s…
Logic isn’t just trying to find a Divine spark, but also juxtapose it with brimstone sentiments.
Eskimo Joe Black Fingernails, Red Wine Review
I picture my being in the mold of man painted by Egon Schiele, a subject for The Embrace (II), a body rendered to waves, writ in shires of lush, teeming gestures, powerful yet gentle arms, shoulders, ash tree skin cresting on hills discolored by the limestone bone beneath them, before, oddly, lines cast to roll-ridden pudgy middle, before the leg just as defined in power, as with intonations of the macabre inherent to the damned riddled corpse, a visual tragedy, Herculean, wrapped, writhing, twisted; in an embrace of life or death, protector or destroyer, lover or rapist painted in a pose both admirable and abominable, a tribunal between Socrates and Nietzsche with only a tanned Adonis as witness and record keeper, his body radiating with Jekyllian terror at the evil of his subconscious, as if horrified at his own binary potential between good and evil, yet entirely unaware of his own majestic entropy; too concerned, with, he like the audience is drawn to, the Venus of his desire, peach pitch skin, a shade of foggy warmth befit for dawn in April or October, dew dipped and glowing, a canvas colored equally in shades fresh with life, yet ripening with age, ever beautiful but with each mortal coup and stroke, human, she is as he is: binary, but replete with the prismatic tones of tints and shades and hues and flesh; their embrace is at once omnipotent as it is impotent; they can not stop time, only hold moments, they can not cure nature of itself, only euthanize it, before Schiele’s eyes, taking his mentor’s, Gustav Klimt’s, Der Kuss—a collage of art nouveau, impressionist, cubist romantics, stacked into a towering tableau moderne of symbolism; breaking down every foreground form to circles, squares, shapes concentric, linework woven and embroidered, polygonal fields of lilacs and blues bordered by gilded bronze and cubist coats and whirlpool robes, Eve kneeling to an L, eyes closed, her hand on Adam’s hand and his hands and her face, nymphic, harbored and cradled together, his head protruding from the stoic posture of its golden sheath, phallic, the ivy in his oaken crown pressing the flowers in her hair, her toes curling backwards, the idyllism of Klimt’s subjects immutable and tangible and impossible—and breaking it.
In this picture I see an insane man and madwoman in embrace, the field of violets and bluebells bleached into a quilted pile of dirtied linens like clothespieces, makeshift, temporary, a smudged meadow for the moment to be effaced by the future, laid diagonal to swirling, formless background noises of mustards, mayonaisses and olive, colours perhaps of modernity, perhaps of psychology but no matter; in this picture I see myself and I see my love, narcissism permitted; in this picture what I see is two nihilists, neophytes embracing the only thing they have left before that too is erased, the horror that Kierkegaard suffered, Turgenev discussed and Camus pondered. These notes are an avalanche come upon me each time I contemplate Schiele’s and Klimt’s pieces together, a barrage of inferences collapsing upon my inward person, the id swallowing the ego whole in defiance of the superego, shaking it violently enough to the point of revaluation. If art fails to do so, then I am unconvinced that it is good.
Written for The Fried Neckbones (.net)
FEELS Live in Bordeaux
I couldn’t answer her question—but my mind reeled: how many critics would rip an artist like Geronimo for putting on someone else’s image? How many more will want to? She looked at me like I had the answer—perhaps forgetting I was the one who asked the original question. Platitudes, full for sentiment but empty for comfort, dribbled out of my mouth. Only now as I am writing do I remember a pertinent conversation after a private concert on the night before the 2017 eclipse. I was privileged as a nascent fan to watch a performance by Sol Seed (freshly on tour for their latest and greatest long-player, The Spark) and meet the various band members while bartering for CD’s. Eventually I met lead vocalist Michael Lennon, expressed my fandom’s birth from an earth-shattering medley cover of “I Shot The Sheriff>Soul Sacrifice” two summers prior and then began to spitball on the nature of taste and human reciprocity, when Lennon replied to my spiel and I will paraphrase:
“Humans are incredibly mimetic creatures… that we are able to identify and replicate what we like is entirely natural and profoundly human; imitation is the highest form of flattery after all.”
So who was to care if Geronimo looked like PJ Harvey? She doesn’t play like Polly Jean, she played like Laena Geronimo. These words probably would have been more of a comfort after her expression of self-doubt. Alas, I’m only good at these things when I write about them. Allen came to relieve her while we went to smoke in the foyer of the VOID, waxed a little more bullshit on Indiana Jones films and then returned. Once back at the booth, I bought myself a tee-shirt. They had run out of sizes with the debut artwork (I’m quite fond of that hand) so I settled on the fingerprint decal—Geronimo quipped, “Hey, at the very least it won’t look like a band shirt.”
“Yeah, don’t worry,” I swung back, “I’ll let everyone know.”
Written for The Fried Neckbones (.net)
Eskimo Joe, Melbourne
Back here again, so long but too soon
Among childhood loves and bullies,
Lambs, Wheatbix and Milo never missed
Me, or wanted me here, down under
Between eucalyptus trees. I am found,
Nursed across wavebreaks, suffocated
Over deep dreams of gum smells and
Beach days that no one can remember,
But ever recalled in melodies, pianos
Pounding, bloodbeats, and humming
Guitar strings. I flick pages off the easel,
Old tabs locked in an ego-death spiral,
A winding anatomy around sonar tick
Tocks gone before anyone ever knew:
The chords were something I would forget.
Lyrics For A Song I Don’t Know
flying from rosy clifftops; falling
homunculi tongues vatted in; saliva
on the white rocks; impale
fetal lyrics for a song I don’t know.
Bury Him With Music, Death Said
Find your genius
When life breathes you in
And blows you back
Well, the record was true—
Notes may paint your
In brooding Dutch
He could outplay ‘em all—
Bitter than a peach
Pill, black n’ steel rips
Into jeans, he’s road
But he couldn’t outplay you.
She arrived on that date in spring when the weather feels better and everyone’s ready for summer to swing.
As the twilight again glow and white ol’ Jack’s last breath ended its bellow, each eye flint n’ tinder spark, no arms need hold her through dark. Hair painted in red magic, warm-witches only habit midnight fabric, her silence gave a thirst—she spoke each word like a cloud burst. But as the next day woke, she had disappeared without a word spoke; tears on the discus run to rose as summertime comes, springtime goes.
Sun shimmered, rising high while her only breeze released a deep sigh, but we fried on the deck, we fried in the hall, we fried like dreck. Walls waved with her heat, trees trembled and I melted into my seat, living with no glass case, hippy spirits sprinted free from time and space. The music grooved good as we fared well in the old Oregon wood and flew fire on the lawn, ah, summertime came, now summertime’s gone.
Begonias ne’er bloom in the dark hours miscountin’ minutes pickin’ the flowers all twisted like the china cat—stumblin’ over colors and crawling ‘cross the forest floor. And I was Spinnin’ on fair grounds when I spied Cuckoo Delilah swirl just to see ye, but ye ne’er did catch her real name, ye just chose cards n’ divined dice all game, cuz summer was a-comin’ and the wind was changin’ for someone’s better.
And we were grass, dancin’ down by the river, and we were crowns, wearing magnolias forever and we are Spring, come early, for a Summertime swing.