fievel is glauque - god's trashmen sent to right the mess

last week i received an email from zach phillips, who used to run OSR tapes, an excellent and prolific experimental record label...purchasing that whole discography right before the OSR bandcamp page closed in 2017 has been a gift that keeps on giving, so i was excited to hear word of new musical transmissions from his corner. his latest personal project is called fievel is glauque, the product of a set of songs in need of a singer, and a chance meeting with his collaborator marie-amélie clément-bollée in his current home of brussels, after having knocked himself out by walking into a street pole.


the easiest explanation for 'god's trashmen sent to right the mess', the debut tape from fievel is glauque, would be to say it was lofi jazz-pop, but that would be reducing the scope of this expansive album. the overall stylistic impression is jazz, with complex arrangements for various configurations of percussion, strings and woodwinds surrounding the lithe skeletons of the tunes, formed from zach's keyboards and marie's casually perfect vocal takes. the method of recording vibes with the style, as these songs were cut live, with a few different line-ups of players, straight to an old one channel tape deck, with one microphone for the band and one patched in for the vocals. somehow, no detail of these layered performances was lost by this technique, and it gives these tracks a grit and immediacy that makes what seems at first to be light lean towards heavy.


in some of songs the swing of the drums straightens into a back beat, and a rock song emerges. in others the rhythm section shifts gears into hip-hop fusion mode and marie delivers deadpan cascades of words in english and french. the songs are all fairly short and flow seamlessly into one another, the composition of each song and the album as a whole feels end-to-end, meticulously arranged but so lively in its execution. 'god's trashmen sent to right the mess' comes out on new years day, but you can pre-order it now from la loi, which is zach's new label.

Bandcamp Friday Election Week Roundup

it's been a week that felt like a year, but one bright spot (aside from the obvious) was the november installment of the monthly ritual known as 'bandcamp friday', when bandcamp graciously waves their share of artist revenue in an effort to give folks who depend on it more income during the pandemic, or if they don't, a better ability to fundraise for charitable causes through their work. 

it's been a popular move, and on the first friday of each month fans of underground music can expect new releases, archived material and full discography discounts from the vast universe of musicians that use bandcamp. i bought quite a few friday releases this time around, so i figured i would make a post highlighting a few of them.

jerry david decicca - the unlikely optimist and his domestic adventures

this album is a lush, modern texas country gem with the kind of songwriting that expresses the universal through observations of the mundane, much in the tradition of great songwriters we have lost this year, like john prine and jerry jeff walker. the production is beautiful, with some duet vocal performances, the playful presence of a saxophone throughout and the peerless organ and accordian playing of texas legend and sir douglas quintet alum augie meyers.



i'm assuming that taureg guitar hero and movie star mdou moctar needs no introduction to anyone who might be reading this post. he and his band have been taking advantage of bandcamp friday to shore up income lost from their once-demanding touring schedule by releasing a series of mixtapes that let you behind the curtain of their process as a musical unit. while moctar's proper albums are masterpieces, he is very comfortable in the mixtape zone, having risen to popularity with extremely lofi recordings shared via cell phone by fans in his home country of niger. i'd get as many of these mixtapes as you can!

(this was only available temporarily! here is a link to his last proper album)


j.m. hart is the host of brokedown podcast, on which he talks to musicians about their music and the music of the grateful dead. 'delia sue' is only his second foray into recording his own music, though he sounds like an old hand at it. it's a sweet and forlorn country jam about a missed romantic connection, elevated by a maudlin pedal steel guitar. one of the reasons i love bandcamp is that it really helps anyone share their music, from lifers like JDD and Mdou Moctar mentioned above, to those who might even be nervous to share their art for the first time...bandcamp makes a place for everyone, building a type of community in an era when community is hard to find.



devon flaherty is known in some circles as a prolific collector and trader of 78 rpm records, but his EP 'the light's on' shows that he is as good at making old time music as he is at collecting it. the album features claw hammer banjo reels and irish ballads accompanied by banjo or ukelele. a stand out to me was 'the kerry recruit', an unaccompanied track highlighting devon's strong balladeer's voice which sounds like something out of the past, reminding me of the singing of ewan maccoll.



finally in this roundup is chicago's ragenap, specialist in the area of super longform guitar drone interpretations. i thought the national anthem was a fitting choice for right now, especially since i cannot recognize the melody while listening to this maximally spaced out jam. this is ragenap's first exploration to include percussion, and that coupled with some electronics and horns from a collaborator makes this his deepest zone yet. i love the kang and kodos cover art too.


bandcamp friday has been a beacon of light in dark times for many of us in the loose community of musicians and music fans who like congregate online. i appreciate bandcamp for doing what most tech companies never think about doing...trying to help people even a little bit. keep an eye out for music deals on the first friday of every month!

my entire discography (20 albums) is on sale for $4.60 and all proceeds are going to portland area food banks so people can have a better thanksgiving!

elkhorn - acoustic storm

acoustic storm, the latest record from east coast instrumental psych-folk duo elkhorn, was recorded at home, late at night during a blizzard, making the best of a bad situation. a big show in brooklyn had been snowed out so they took that energy and frustration and put it on tape. this could be seen as foreshadowing for the circumstances musicians and other artists find themselves in now...mother nature, in the form of a pandemic and the limits of human societal cohesion and intelligence (we are, after all, natural beings)  has put an end to the idea of safe, responsible performance, and we are left with only remote means of expression. it's heartening, to me at least, that this particular reaction to a cancelled performance resulted in my favorite elkhorn record to date, one that explores new territory for these veteran players.

joined by turner williams of ramble tamble on an additional guitar, the band eschews their familiar electric jazz/acoustic american primitive dichotomy and goes all unplugged for these two amorphous, improvised sides. the music flows between various folk and jazz inflected grooves, at times getting distant in tunnels of near-disintegration, only to come back to something recognizable as being adjacent to the folk-blues. this is unencumbered, instinctive jamming, and the organic feel is reinforced by the gritty sounds of fingers sliding and tapping, an occasional bump here and there. the style of recording reminds me of the intimacy and immediacy of something like the pizza tapes, but mood-wise, this music can no more be pinned down than the snow storm it is named after. 


the LP is available for pre-order from cardinal fuzz in the UK and centripetal force in the US. 

yes selma - the koker ballads

i came at the koker ballads not knowing what to expect. the discography of baltimore-based multi-instrumentalist and experimental recording artist yes selma is vast and varied, so i had no idea if i'd find fucked up indie-pop fragments or some kind of industrial free jazz. what i discovered was music made from and for our fraught times; bleak, minimal, introspective drones created with nothing but a casio, a microphone, and a tascam 4 track. 

my first thought listening to this blast through the speakers of my stereo was that this is what 'no pussyfooting' would sound like if it was made with absolutely no budget (and no guitar), and that's a great thing. YS placed a microphone against the window during the lonely, self-isolated process of recording the instrumental drones, and mixed these field recordings in with the hazy layers of the compositions. the sounds of life going by, laughing kids and casual gatherers especially, are heartbreaking in this context. 

this is high-end quarantine rock, a prophecy of harsh wind eroding the sharp corners off of a dead civilization. this album can comfort too, however, because within the pain of its detached documentation of the normal world, there is a warm nostalgia that matches the soft hiss from the all-tape recording process. get it on limited cassette or digital from KMAN 92.5 tapes.

tapes and tubes - sugarbushey

'sugarbushey' is the brand new album from philadelphia based poet and musician tapes & tubes. it came out yesterday on UK imprint TQN-aut, and the limited edition CD is already sold out. i understand why. i have been keeping up with T&T's many recordings over the years, and 'sugarbushey' is the purest and most ambitious distillation yet of the stylistic elements they have at their disposal. 


the album trades distorted pieces of observational, tactile poetry with warm soundscapes, haunted by tape errors and minimal, floating collections of guitar notes. the earthly details in the poetry and the mystical drift of the music unite the ground and sky in a holistic presentation. T&T uses images and sounds of the everyday to connect with the eternal. there is a feeling of heavy contemplation and of absorption into the swirling energetic tides of the universe. 


'sugarbushey' leans more heavily on music than on words, which is a change from past T&T albums i have enjoyed, but an excellent balance is struck here. the album begins with a short poem about the places in which beauty can be found, and ends with a nearly eight minute snowdrift of tone, hiss and field recordings called 'tape deck', which feels like a perfect coda, like a wordless version of the first track. download 'sugarbushey' here.

buck curran - no love is sorrow

'no love is sorrow' is the third solo LP from american ex-pat guitarist and songwriter buck curran, who is currently based in italy. reflecting its title, 'no love' is a heavy and heartfelt album that draws the listener close to its intimately recorded instrumental landscapes and illuminates the darker corners of emotional experience with its lyrics. 


the opening track, 'blue raga' invokes buck's well know admiration for hermetic fingerstyle guru robbie basho (for whom he curated two excellent tribute compilations) with a fluid dance between two guitars, recorded closely so that the details of fingers and plectrums on strings are present, a technique i appreciated on buck's last album 'morning haikus and afternoon ragas' as well. 


the next track, 'ghost on the hill', sets up the basic range of the album, complimenting the guitar explorations that opened the album with a melancholy, psych-tinged love song. other highlights include harmonies from buck's partner adele pappalardo (check out her tunes here) on the trad-folky 'deep in the lovin' arms of my babe', and the crushing, spaced-out kosmische feedback jam that is 'war behind the sun'.


'no love is sorrow' is available for download and on spotify, and i believe it will be out on vinyl in the near future.

fuck racists, fascists and capitalists and happy saturday from MFOA

horse apples - love and some verses

continuing on the theme of jams that preface some blood-moving pop-type action with meditative synth passages, i thought i would write a little bit about 'love and some verses', the latest track from upstate new york bedroom producer horse apples.


the song opens gently with bird sounds and a bubbling, swelling synth arpeggio, evoking a pastoral morning coffee vibe. before too long, a brushed snare drum and an e-piano melody shift the gears from drone to electro-folk. the arrangement reminds me a bit of late 90's british singer/songwriter david gray, who may not have gotten enough credit for the forward looking production of his hit album. however, horse apples is considerably more THC drenched than david gray. the pop sensibilities are here but they are undermined, in a good way, by shimmering slabs of synth that surface from the mix and hit like sunbeams on bloodshot eyes, and the laid back romantic slacker vibe of the vocals. also, the bird sounds never get potted down, chirping insistently over the titular verses.



horse apples have released a number of songs in the past few months, 'love and some verses' being a highlight for me. i recommend checking all of them out, which can be done easily by copping them in collected form as the album "II", available here as a download and/or a free one-of-a-kind CDR.

andrew weathers ensemble - two songs

something has spoken to me and said "start posting here again". for the first real MFOA post in 3 or so years, i figured what better music to write about than some new stuff from andrew weathers; founder of full spectrum records, the guy who masters everyone's DIY albums, and one of the truest fellow travelers i have met out here trying to think about new ways to make, share and imagine music in the conditions under which we are all obliged to suffer. andrew's latest release is a pair of sprawling "ambient country" (as he calls them) jams recorded with his nation-spanning group of collaborators under the name andrew weathers ensemble. i believe this is their penultimate release as this incarnation, but somehow i doubt the output will really slow down.


this first of the two songs is an expansive rendering of a sweet hymn-like song called 'little tack' by outsider/visionary artist and minister howard finster. it seems to be a celebration of the humble things that keep us grounded, of things that work without fanfare. frustrating the instinct for quick gratification, this arrangement has a slow build with droning accordion and synth sounds accompanying the first verse. the autotuned vocals have the de-personalized personality we have now grown used to from those who use autotune not to hit notes but to bring grit. the effect is to stretch this slice of americana into pure atmosphere, but eventually this song gives in to something that sounds a bit like kraut-rock countrypolitan, if that could be laid back. it swells and taps and becomes ecstatic. the music becomes the celebration of simple work that lyrics imply.



the second song, side B of the cassette, is an original instrumental composition called 'plains of paradise'. in the tradition of ambient music it evokes the landscape in the title, a landscape that is at once bountiful and desolate, that holds all of life and death in the infinitely thin border between grass and sky. the loping, clicking beat and insistently thumping guitar strings keep you bit in ennio morricone territory, which is appropriate. the plains seems to haunt andrew's music in general, and it is where he has set up shop, in the arid expanse of southwest texas.


'two songs' is available digitally here and on cassette from timesuck tapes.

this wouldn't be MFOA if i didn't say that i also released some new music the other day. it's called 'if i could only remember my dog's name' and you can name your price for it here.

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