It’s been a while since I did one of my From the Valley reviews of local music, mainly because I haven’t seen a lot lately that inspired me.
But, just to keep the beast fed, here are a few words on a few recent local recordings:
The Happy Feiertogs, self-titled two-song EP: This is labeled “experimental,” but it’s not really all that experimental. The production is sorta swirly, and weird voices pop up from time to time; but they’re still playing in conventional key signatures, in 4/4 time, and all that.
It’s not bad — “Maneno Kwa Afrika” is the pick hit here, with its repeating bass figure and heavily echoed vocal interjections (“Botswana-wana-wana-wana! Chad-chad-chad-chad! Congo-congo-congo-congo!”) — but I think these guys need to find a little something extra to really be memorable.
The Happy Feiertogs’ EP is available as a name-your-own-price download here.
The Ghost Within Us, “Wipe Off The Hot”: Same deal as above. Two guys in the studio making music they label “experimental,” but doesn’t really go all that far out. (The Feiertogs are in Allentown and The Ghost Within Us is in Bethlehem, for what that’s worth.)
“Wipe Off The Hot” features some pretty good guitar playing. At its best, it could pass for a U2 backing track, as it’s one of those tunes that takes three chords and then uses synth drones and chunking rhythm guitar to vary the texture.
That style hasn’t been particularly “experimental” since about 1983, though … and here it just leads to a track that feels like it maybe isn’t all the way finished yet.
The Ghost Within Us’ “Wipe Off The Hot” is available for free download here.
D.V.O.I.M., “Rookie E.P.”: Easton-area mixmaster Ibn Malone cites maverick hip-hop producer J. Dilla as an influence. I imagine the brief, jagged set-pieces on “Rookie E.P.” are probably much like the ones Dilla turned out when he was developing, which is to say that Malone’s learning well.
If I have any beef with this, it might be the download price; $5 for scarcely three minutes of music seems a bit much. But, not everybody gives it away for free, and a dude’s gotta get paid.
D.V.O.I.M.’s “Rookie E.P.” is available for download here.
Vandora, “Prototype”: Phillipsburg, N.J.’s Vandora apparently has a full-length album planned for sometime this winter, but has put a couple of scratch mixes out as an EP.
Opener “White Noise” (no, it isn’t literally white noise) reminds me a little of King Crimson in places, smart and aggressive with growling bass, which is a high compliment around these parts.
“Silicon” is a six-minute song that moves intelligently between different speeds and sections; they don’t sound like they were written separately and scotch-taped together, as some long songs do. The closer “Grand Designs,” brief and piano-driven, makes an effective change from the other two songs.
Yeah, I’d be interested to see what these guys do on a full-length.
Vandora’s “Prototype” is available as a $3 download here.
Seagulls Fucking Seagulls, “RADIOWAVES”: Allentown noisemonger Pory Nog is nothing if not prodigious: Since I last wrote about his one-man band Seagulls Fucking Seagulls, at least four new Bandcamp releases have come out bearing the SFS imprimatur.
I haven’t listened to ’em all — or even most of them — but I’m still anointing “RADIOWAVES” as the best of the batch. It’s more than an hour-and-a-half of radio static, punctuated by glitchy broadcast bursts and the occasional sonic molestation of what appears to be a Kidz Bop CD.
I periodically get into moods in which I could listen to stuff like this all the way through. If you’re wired on the same frequency, give it a spin.
Seagulls Fucking Seagulls’ “RADIOWAVES” is available as a name-your-own-price download here.