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Minimalist noise, psych and drone records of note

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Interested in taking a side trip into the more avant-garde sounds out these days?

Well, there are three albums Rusty has been spinning of late that might be what you have been looking for.

Or not …

The Acid – Liminal (Infectious) 2014

Based in Los Angeles, this group has not released much of anything in the past three years, save for musical soundscapes included in the anti-nuclear documentary film The Bomb, British DJ Adam Freedland, L.A.-based producer Steve Nalepa and singer Ry Cuming recorded something that Brian Eno would probably be making were he 30 years younger.

With electronic, sci-fi soundscapes, blips, beats and even some folk-emo acoustic guitar, the Acid offer up a hypnotic collection of tracks that mix the current synthwave phenomenon, dubstep and some Radiohead-esque experimentation. In fact, Cuming often reminds me of that band’s lead singer, Thom Yorke.

I want to know you, ghost. I want to touch you, ghost,” Cuming sing/whispers on the spare track “Ghost.”

One feels a little off balance on “Veda” at least until the icy beats take hold. Meanwhile “Fame” is one of the more structured compositions (not to be confused with either the David Bowie or Irene Cara songs of the same name).

Liminal is the sort of album one would expect to hear playing as background music in a modern-day goth/hipster club. But that’s not to say it’s not worth listening to. In the right frame of mind, the Acid’s musical vision can push the right buttons.

3/5 Rusties

Godspeed You! Black Emperor – “Luciferian Towers”(Constellation) 2017

Bringing to mind the “satanic mills” of poet William Blake, Montreal-based experimental music collective Godspeed You! Black Emperor returns with a revolutionary long-player that clocks in at a little over 43 minutes but features only four tracks – “Undoing a Luciferian Towers,” “Bosses Hang,” “Fam / Famine” and “Anthem for No State.”

For those unfamiliar with Godspeed, these leftist/anarchist Canadians, way back in 2003, in those dark, early years of “The War,” the band was investigated by police in Ardmore, Oklahoma after a tipster at a gas station thought they were terrorists. Later, realizing they were “peaceful Canucks,” they were sent on their way to their next show in St. Louis.

So, it comes as no surprise that the band takes from that experience and noting the experiences of many others on our planet, that things are decidedly “amiss,” not unlike the times Blake observed in “And did those feet in ancient time.”

With nine musicians – and two guest musicians on saxophone and trumpet – and led by Efrim Manuel Menuck, we don’t hear any voices, we just hear the sounds assembled into a greater whole, climbing, hoping to be heard. The band did offer “explanations” for each track on the Constellation Records website, with the first track noting how the “dull marble obelisks” of our time, will one day be “hollowed out and stripped bare of wires and glass” with the “wind … whistling through all 3,000 of its burning window holes.”

It reminds me of Whitley Strieber’s description of the Twin Towers in his post-nuclear apocalypse novel WarDay (1984), where survivors strip the towers bare, using the metal, cables and other materials for purposes of survival. It’s grim. But the human race marches on.

And with the epic “Bosses Hang,” it is GSYBE’s proggy, musical middle finger to the greedheads, land rapers and plutocrats who have long exploited the working class.  

The album closer, “Anthem for No State” ebbs and flows like a musical battle, a struggle, if you will, as the proletariat seeks justice amidst the martial drumming and spaghetti-western guitar licks. It’s the final showdown. And we all know it.

“Luciferian Towers” is a really remarkable album, one that makes you sit back … and think.

4.5/5 Rusties

The Telescopes – As Light Return (Tapete Records) 2017

The British shoegazer vets are back once again, offering more dense noise and psych-drone, as they did on 2015’s Hidden Fields, an album Rusty appreciated at the time.

And while The Telescopes - which is essentially a solo project for Stephen Lawrie, who founded the British shoegaze band 30 years ago – continue down that same distorted pathway, As Light Return is a difficult recording to like.

Where to start? Is it “Hand Full of Ashes” or “Handful of Ashes”? Does it matter? Anyone looking for any semblance of melody, harmony, simple song structure - look elsewhere. Vocals are at a bare minimum and are barely heard. The Telescopes of 1993 are pretty much long gone. Phantoms of the past.

In fact, listening to it, I felt a little, well, off-balance. Was it vertigo? And vaguely nauseous. I had to turn it off after a few spins. 

And that is probably the effect Lawrie is after. It's confusing, claustrophobic music, the sort that government agents blast in the cell of a suspected terrorist to get information. This is Jack Bauer torture music, and yet it seems to reflect where we find ourselves at in 2017. Make of that what you will.

2.5/5 Rusties

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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