Said the Gramophone - image by Keith Shore
by Dan

Hani Zahra - "Ma's In A Vaze"

Hani Zahra are different shapes of sticky rice, and they're in hidden places all over. You find them and it's food.

release show tomorrow at The Knitting Factory

by Sean
By Nicolas Amori

Jeff Bird - "Souvenir Flutes". A baby blue tug goes putting down the Amazon. It is a battered boat, seaweed-stained, but its tiller still works, its radio, its hand-cranked orange juicer. There is a crew of three: a captain, a navigator, a cook. One of them is a ghost; they know one of them is a ghost, hear the rattling chains every night, but the other two haven't figured out which of them it is. At every meal, at every anchor, every time they spy another ship on the river or a bird of paradise on the shore, two are thinking, Are you a ghost are you a ghost are you a ghost are you a ghost? The third, the ghost himself, is not thinking anything. He is the perfect imitation of a man, afloat on the water, travelling somewhere. He sups with the humans, plays cards, talks dreamily about family back home, their distant destination. When they go to sleep he lifts his phantom chains, rattles them, stalks the deck. He feels lucky to be here, where it is humid and noisy, where the air smells of red flowers. The insects are chittering. The birds call. Around dawn, three men will sit up in their cots and stare across the room at each other and wonder.

[Jeff Bird plays music with Cowboy Junkies and a thousand other people. He also plays the theremin. "Souvenir Flutes" is from Rhythm & Entertainment. More music here.]

(image by Nicolas Amori)

by Sean
by anne deniau

Thus Owls - "As Long As We Try A Little". How far do you have to go before the world changes? A train bulleting through landscape; a balloon rising through jungle canopy; a drill boring through ice. Maybe the light begins to change, before the breakthrough, and you know you are close. Maybe there are sounds, promising Soon... But maybe not. Maybe the light changes but the world dos not. You can't know when the transition will occur, the change of state, until suddenly the lake has turned to ice or the world to fire. Suddenly you are in our out of love. "As Long As We Try A Little" is just voices and piano, a woman answering herself. There are some warning murmurs but truly nothing happens until everything happens. The train skids onto snow; the balloon crosses into monsoon; the drill hits frothing water, wagging anemone, coral. [buy]

(photo by anne deniau)

by Sean

Sun Kil Moon - "By The Time That I Awoke" (live at Haldern Pop Festival 2014). I have no recording of Sun Kil Moon's Wednesday night performance at Pop Montreal. Their "By The Time That I Awoke" sounded nothing like the album version, which Mark Kozelek made with Jimmy LaValle. This was a greater wonder, a gift sent out into a darkened hall, a comet in a Montreal autumn. Instead of cascading computer synths, Sun Kil Moon gave galloping drums, glimmering piano, a blade-edged bass guitar. Kozelek stood with one hand in his jean pocket and sang into a handheld microphone. He sang and shouted, crooned and shouted, bathed in swaying reverb. The darkened hall, the comet, the Montreal autumn - everything felt buffeted by that swaying, disembodied reverb. Sometimes it was hard to know if we were listening to a moving music or ourselves being moved through the music, our spirits pulled roughly across another material, water or glass or smoke. The song stopped and it started again. We understood some lines and others came across all blurred, incomprehensible, their meaning reduced to intonation. Kozelek's music has always been a lesson in the way intonation can overwhelm: as Red House Painters, as Sun Kil Moon, as himself, he sang in a voice that sounded almost like a moan. He sang in a voice like a right hook gliding steadily through space. We never saw it coming; we never saw it 'til we were hit, 'til it knocked us down.

[audio source / buy albums by Mark Kozelek]

(photo source)

by Dan

Blonde Redhead - "No More Honey"

Edmund was breaking into Alison's house. They hadn't spoken, not face-to-face, in a year-and-a-half. They'd seen each other in the sides of their eyes, in the peripheral run-off of looking at their son Frank. But not face-to-face. And now Edmund was putting a garden stone through the back porch window. "Paid for that window anyway," he thought, as he wrapped his jacket around his hand and cleared out the jagged edges from the frame. He pushed his body carefully through the opening and was suddenly reminded of his stomach, bloated from beer and not much else. It was hard to tell when he'd started to sweat; was it after five minutes of struggling in the window opening, wondering how his legs must look out the back? or was it the very minute he decided to come to the backyard with bad intentions? Finally his gut, which was now compacted into his body like overpacked luggage, let loose over the edge of the frame inside and his legs crumpled in a paralyzed slump to the floor. Edmund rose with a kind of triumph particular to the slow-boiled criminal: little victories, the clear-and-present-fuck-you. He was in, and he could do whatever he wanted, for a little while.


by Sean
Snowstorm by Thomas Eberwein / Thomas Traum and Tim Gfrerer

Rob Schwimmer - "Stormy Weather". In places, Schwimmer's solo piano version of "Stormy Weather" feels easy-breezy, comfortable. At other times it is full of disquiet: a life, a song, undone at the seams. A storm rolls in, streaked with lightning, and it begins to rain. There is dissonance and coda, a saunter smearing sideways. There is playfulness and droop. There is not heartbreak, I don't think; but acceleration, deceleration, flagging spirits, decay. Entropy at work on a spirit, weariness on a soul. All that loveliness, fragile as a cloud.

[Rob Schwimmer is one of the world's finest thereminists. This song does not feature theremin; other songs on Beyond the Sky do. Buy it.]


Montrealers: Join me (for part of this week at least) at Pop Montreal. My guide to the festival is here.

Toronto: Hope you'll consider coming to see me at this weekend's Word on the Street festival. I'll be reading from Us Conductors and/or talking with panelists at two events on Sunday, September 21 - noon and 4:45 pm. And signing books, too! It's free. Details here.

(image source)

by Sean
Candy floss

Miracle Fortress - "Let Me Be The 1". Just a damn splendour of a track; "Let Me Be The 1" unites all of Graham Van Pelt's recent feints, forays and experiments, from Five Roses' sumptuous romanticism to Inside Touch's sleek dance pulse. On these early listens it feels more adventurous and more successful than 2011's Was I The Wave?: listen to all that space, the way it weirdly winds from Fleetwood Mac to Studio to something that's almost piano house. It's a song with a sharply angled vocal hook & yet also four minutes of wide open space, synths and fingersnaps, a sunsetting fadeout. It's a song with its own mirror-image, its own afterhour denouement; an inhalation and an exhalation, or just a hand in a hand.

I love "Let Me Be The 1"'s patience, and its nerve. I love its love. I love that it is not rushing; but it's ready to. It's practiced. It's in its blocks. It's ready.

[Miracle Fortress's third album has yet to be announced.]

(photo source unknown)