Thrill Jockey Records 20th Anniversary Show featuring Future Islands & Tortoise
Matmos, Dan Friel, Arbouretum, Pontiak, Special Guest Host Ed Schrader
20 Market Place
Baltimore, MD, 21202
Doors 6:30PM / Show 7:30PM
This event is all ages
Future Islands' romantic synth sound scales new heights with On the Water, the Baltimore trio's most ambitious and fully realized statement yet. Built around a song cycle exploring love, loss, and memory, their latest album finds the band continuing to deliver pounding rhythms, swelling melodies, and undeniable hooks - but finding new ways to probe inner space and tug at hearts.
Convening in March 2011 in Elizabeth City, NC's historic, waterfront Andrew S. Sanders House, vocalist Samuel T. Herring, bassist William Cashion, and keyboardist Gerrit Welmers lived together in a space that served as both studio and sleeping quarters. The band used this tranquil retreat to refine their most reflective and mature batch of songs to date, adding new material in the process.
What emerged is a lush yet visceral album about two parallel journeys--one physical and one psychological. On the Water's narrator offers enough detail that their story feels personal, yet open enough that any listener can inhabit each twist and emotional pang as their own.
Travelling on foot, we seek something - an exorcism, an epiphany, an ending. Memories wash across us as in life: nonlinear, linked by emotional resonance rather than conventional chronology. And so, the pain of letting go channeled by "The Great Fire" collides with a moment's fleeting serenity in the Eno-esque "Open"; the triumphant rallying cry "Give Us the Wind, " despite its confident declaration of individual strength, remains a mile away from final chapter "Tybee Island." It is there the song cycle ends, and what is discovered in "Tybee Island" will be as different as the lives lived by each person who finds their way to this album.
On the Water may unearth aural memories as well. The mind may flash upon our first encounters with New Order's "Ceremony," David Bowie's "Heroes," or The Cure's Disintegration, memories which, are continually reborn and reimagined in the context of the here and now. And as the song-cycle's narrator comes to terms with his own memories, his singular journey collapses into the collective experience of album-closer "Grease." It is here that the "I" of the nine previous songs collapses into the "we" of Future Islands, now singing the literal journey of the people who came together by the ocean to deliver these songs into our ears.
Far from just a narrative trope, the ocean played an integral role in On the Water's creation. The bulk of the album was recorded with waves pounding sand mere feet away. The album opens and closes with field recordings made by the band on a nearby dock, and one pivotal track, "Tybee Island," began with vocals recorded on the beach (subsequently fleshed out in the studio with additional instrumentation).
The ocean inhabits every note of these songs. On the Water is an addictive ride that demands repeat listens, eagerly awaiting the test of time. To produce these results, Future Islands fleshed out its sound with the additions of cello, violin, marimba, and field recordings. As with their 2010 breakthrough album In Evening Air, On the Water was produced by frequent collaborator Chester Endersby Gwazda, perhaps best known as producer of Dan Deacon's Bromst. Noted guests include Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner, who provides vocals on "The Great Fire," and Double Dagger's Denny Bowen on live drums and additional percussion.
For all its undeniable weight, On the Water is not a sullen concept album. Every track on the record works both as a contribution to the whole and as a stand-alone pleasure, evident in the insistent throbs, addictive melodies, and stirring vocals of tracks like "Close to None," "Balance," and first single "Before the Bridge."
Make no mistake, On the Water is a record that aims to both break your heart and heal your wounds.
Tortoise's almost entirely instrumental music defies easy categorization, and the group gained significant attention from their early career. The members have roots in Chicago's fertile music scene, playing in various indie rock and punk groups. Tortoise was among the first American indie rock bands to incorporate styles closer to krautrock, dub, minimalism, electronica and various jazz styles, rather than the standard rock and roll and punk that had dominated indie rock for years.
Some have cited Tortoise as being one of the prime forces behind the development and popularity of the so-called "post-rock" movement. Others, however, have criticized Tortoise's music as being derivative of progressive rock and argue that Tortoise have been subject to much undeserved hype for such a relatively new ensemble.
Other groups related to Tortoise include The Sea and Cake, Brokeback, Shrimp Boat, Isotope 217 and the Chicago Underground Duo. Tortoise records on the Thrill Jockey label.
The group's origins lie in the late 1980's pairing of McCombs and Herndon, who imagined themselves as a freelance rhythm section (like reggae legends Sly And Robbie). That idea never saw fruition (but in the summer of 2007 they formed the group Bumps and released a record with the same name on indie hip-hop label Stones Throw records, their interest in grooving rhythms and recording studio trickery led to McEntire and Brown (both formerly of Bastro) joining, followed by Bitney. Though songs are credited to all the musicans, McEntire quickly became, if not the acknowledged leader, then the group's guiding force, at least via media perception. In reality his extra contributions mainly took the form of being the recording engineer and mixer.
It's time to get a little crazy as MATMOS are on a North American tour supporting a new record with a unique new live performance! The Rose Has Teeth In The Mouth Of A Beast is the new record by the San Francisco duo. It's a series of "sound portraits" of a pantheon of people that they admire. A musical attempt at biography which is loose in some places and very literal in others; taken as a suite of stylistically disparate songs, you get a kind of fractured family album, a historical pageant. It's at once Matmos's most melodic and most conceptual record.
Matmos is M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel. They make music out of the sounds of objects, animals, people, and actions. They have collaborated with Rachel's, So Percussion, Jay Lesser, Alter Ego, People Like Us, Kronos Quartet and Bjork. They have shared stages with Slint and Wolf Eyes, remixed Foetus and Erase Errata (and many others), taught seminars on sound art at Harvard University and the San Francisco Art Institute, and DJed at proms for homeless teenagers. They have had pieces in the Whitney Museum of American Art and The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, did a 17-day live performance at the Yerba Buena Museum of Contemporary Art in San Francisco, and have scored the soundtracks for five gay porn films, one pinball machine, and one NASCAR television commercial.
Dan Friel is an electronic/experimental musician, and a founding member of the band Parts & Labor. "As one of dual frontmen in Parts & Labor, Dan Friel takes the disobedient squeals of keyboards and other sundry electronics and marries them to more familiar contexts, making otherwise jaw-clenching noise surprisingly palatable while helping the two- to three-chord punk anthem sound new again." - Pitchfork
The Gathering, Arbouretum's fourth album, was to a large extent inspired by The Red Book by Carl Jung, or more specifically, Jung's pursuit of the inner images that led to the book's writing. Dave Heumann, the singer, guitarist and main lyricist of Arbouretum, has long been a fan of experiences that surpass comprehension and describe the numinous. The narrative of "losing one's way and finding it again" resonated deeply and it was in this context that the songs that comprise The Gathering came to be.
With elaborate and very allegorical imagery, Heumann's lyrics take the listener with him on an adventure, filled with conflict, redemption and revelation. The central metaphor of the track "The White Bird" refers directly to the book, while other songs are more generally inspired by Jung's archetypal reservoir of experience, for example, the epic "Song of the Nile", with its themes informed by Gnostic mythology.
On a return trip from South by Southwest, the three brothers who make up Pontiak conceived of recording an expressionistic record. Something unlike anything they had tried before. They imagined it as a color project, painted through music, favoring the traditional form of the song to explore texture and color. The album was an ambitious undertaking and would require deconstructing and then rebuilding their studio in order to be able to record it the way they envisioned it.
The first step was to find a new mixing board. They found a Soundcraft 6000 24 track analog mixing board for sale on an exotic animal compound in Arkansas. To their surprise it was tucked away in a studio next to giant Moog synthesizers and had been used to record Herbie Hancock. Board in hand, they returned home and began rebuilding their studio to capture both the band's heavier sound and the melodic nuances they're becoming known for. They focused on the acoustic properties of the space, paying great attention to the subtlety of the room. After a detour to the Austin Psych Fest that involved tornadoes and chainsaws, recording began immediately.
Recorded at their farm studio in the heart of Virginia, Van, Lain, and Jennings rotated between their respective instruments and engineering duties. They treated the recording equipment as another instrument, placing just as much importance on the sound leaving the amps and drum skins as the sound written on the tape. If it wasn't as colorful and tangible throughout the entire songwriting process it was unacceptable. While previous Pontiak albums had been approached more loosely as snapshots of a specific time, focusing on the current songs, and their current energy, Echo Ono is different. It was conceived of as an album. Instead of recording hours and hours of songs and then fitting the best pieces together, careful attention was paid to the narrative of the album and the structure of the songs as well as how each directed that narrative. What was left to chance was what would happen when the band pushed these structures to the extreme in performance and volume. The band used several different amps to test these boundaries: a 1969 Fender Dual Showman Reverb, a 1973 Sunn Model-T, a 1969 Sunn 200s, a 1975 Fender Bassman 100, a Vox AC30, and for effect an Echoplex tape delay. Lain used two drum sets: a 1946 mahogany Slingerland Radio King set with a matching solid maple snare, and a 1967 maple Ludwig kit. No distortion or overdrive pedals were used. If an amp started to act unpredictably, they turned it up. If a speaker started rattling, they pushed it.
As the summer began to wind down and the album took shape, it became clear that they had realized their love of texture and color that loud music produces. Music so loud it produces physical vibrations in your chest. Echo Ono felt like a complete whole, as well as their most concise and direct album to date. It was like walking to the top of a hill in a field and watching the sky expand, a vision fully realized.
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