Archive for the ‘Black Ox Orkestar’ Category


silentlandThis is a great compilation of Constellation artists from 2004 and earlier.  What makes it so good is that 13 of the 14 songs are released here for the first time.  So it works not only as a sampler of the labels artists, it also works as a great rarities collection.

ELIZABETH ANKA VAJAGIC-“The Sky Lay Still” [stripped down version of album song].  This song starts with slow echoing guitars and Elizabeth’s voice which sounds a bit like Carla Bozulich (but cleaner).  Two minutes in, it shifts tones to an awesomely catchy section with great vocals.

DO MAKE SAY THINK-“Winter Hymn Winter Hymn Winter Hymn”   This is the entire Winter Hymn … album remixed into a 5 minute track.  I’ve often complained that I dislike remixes but this one is great.  It includes some big guitar chords, some quiet drums, some notes and maybe gives you a feel of the album, but maybe not.  The end of the track plays some very fast heavy chords and then gets sped up out of existence.

EXHAUST-“Wool Fever Dub” [from their self-released cassette]  This song has a big thumping beat and some cool echoed harmonics on the guitar. This basic song structure runs through a 3 minute instrumental with a different “chorus” and some intense drumming at the end.

HANGEDUP-“(Re)View From The Ground (remix)”  This is a very catchy, fun remix.  Noisy clattering drums and all kinds of feedback squalls keep this propulsive track moving—this is my kind of dance remix.

BLACK OX ORKESTAR-“Toyte Goyes In Shineln”  This track comes from their album Ver Tanzt? And is one of my favorite of their songs from this disc.  An Acoustic guitar and bass play a simple melody over what I assume is quiet Hebrew singing.

SACKVILLE-“This Machine”  This is an unreleased track from the band.  It is a simple downbeat folk song with a really catchy chorus.  I like Sackville a lot but haven’t mentioned their full length yet–coming soon.

SILVER MT. ZION-“Iron Bridge To Thunder Bay” This is an unreleased track from the Rusted Satellites session, it begins with squealing feedback that slowly changes pitch until the thudding drums and bass come in.  They play a rumbling rhythm underneath the otherwise noisy sounds.  After 6 minutes, the song ends in squalls of feedback until the last minute just echoes until the end.

SOFA-“String Of Lights” [from the self released cassette].  I really like Sofa and wish they’d released more music.  This song actually sounds a bit like the Black Ox Orkestar song above-a- slow broody acoustic piece, but I love the way the chorus brightens the song.

POLMO POLPO-“Dreaming (…Again)”  This track is described as “constructed of materials from the Like Hearts Swelling sessions”  It’s a pretty, upbeat song with some slide guitars and a groovy rhythm.

RE: “Slippage” [unreleased track from the Mnant sessions]  This song has clanging percussion and oscillating keyboards which make this soundscape interesting and compelling.

FLY PAN AM-“Tres Tres ‘Avant'” is an improvisation with Tim Hecker and Christof Migone.  There’s a funky bass and drums with some groovy keyboards.

1-SPEED BIKE-“Fair Warning” [ remix of “New Blue Monday” from their album].  The track starts with a person saying “Okay we’ll call this one Fair Warning.”  You can hear the music (primarily the guitar echoed) and the riff from New Order’s “Blue Monday” and then he starts reciting passages in a great Canadian accent: “heroin crop in Afghanistan is 3 times higher this year than last year because the Taliban got taken out and replaced with the Americans.”  “We don’t want funerals because people like to party too much, Capice?”  The second half of the song is a lot of swirling statics and noise with repeated notes.

FRANKIE SPARO-“See My Film” [working mix of an unreleased song].  This song has a sprinkling of guitar notes and Sparo’s mellow but rough voice singing a cool melody.  The addition of a violin melody really elevates the song.  The end is even better as he adds another vocal line and some da das making it even catchier.

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR-“Outro” This is a live performance of a concert finale recorded in France on 14 May 2003.  This slow song opens with glockenspiel and strings–a slow, pretty melody that evolves over 7 minutes to add a bigger string section.  The last 2 minutes include a very nice violin solo that plays over the top of the rest of the band.  GYBE has never officially released a live album, so this is a good opportunity to hear what they can do live.

[READ: August 20, 2016] Land

This is a book about Anthony Gormley’s five statues on Landmark Trust Property.

The five statues in this book are life-sized cast iron sculptures installed in five Landmark Trust sites across the British Isles from May 2015 to May 2016.  Saddell Bay, Mull of Kintyre; South West Point, Lundy; Clavell Tower, Kimmeridge Bay; Martello Tower, Aldeburgh, and Lengthsman’s Cottage, Lowsonford.

The sculptures are by Antony Gormley, the photos of the sculptures are by Clare Richardson and the text is by Jeanette Winterson.  Winterson is the only person I’d heard of in this book but as soon as I flipped through the pages, I was instantly struck by the sculptures.

Gormley works with the human form in very heavy sculptural designs.  There’s another book about his work called Human that shows even more of his sculptures. (more…)

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cst038webOn the second (and so far final) Black Ox Orkestar album, the songs are longer and the whole disc has a more polished feel.

It feels less like friends gathered on a night for music (which is what the first one seemed like) and more like a band playing the music in the studio.  There’s more precision in the instrumentation and more instrumentation overall.  The voices,  like on “Bukharian” are layered, bringing in bass voices that didn’t appear before.  The album also feels a bit more like a GYBE type of project–more building, more epicness.  “Tsvey Taybelakh” [Two Doves] is over 7 minutes long.  And even though a song like “Az Vey dem Tatn” [Sad Is the Father] is clearly Yiddish (the vocals are the big giveaway) they sound like more than folk songs, they sound bigger, more “important.”

“Violin Duet” has a slow mournful piece and then a sprightly fun dance piece.  “Ratsekr Grec” is a big instrumental dance piece that  sounds familiar but is not the song I’m thinking of (which is from a movie, I believe).  The 7 minute song actually has elements that feel a bit like Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” (with clarinet).  And the final song “Golem” begins like an epic with slow guitars and strings in a very traditional melody.  It has a number of false endings at around 3:30 and again at 5 minutes.  And since album has some translation of the lyrics, (which are still sung in Yiddish) we can see the lyrics move beyond traditional Yiddish yet are firmly grounded in them:

“We made a new golem/ We created our guard/ Without soul and without mercy/ He watches the gate/ Like the cameras on the fence/ Like the barbs on the wire/ Like the concrete barricades/ He becomes landscape/ But no. It can’t go on/ No. It can’t go on/ Not like this…,”

Again, if you don’t like traditional Yiddish music (or vocals sung in Yiddish) you won’t like this, although the adventurous may want to give it a chance.

[READ: May 6, 2014] 8

The cover above is actually not the cover of the version I read.  The McSweeney’s Two Books in One does not seem to have this cover for 8 anywhere (which is a shame because I like the way the covers of each book parallel each other (and make the infinity loop as well)).   Interestingly, the original version of the book featured the subtitle: “All True, Unbelievable.”  And that might be useful to include here too.

Amy Fusselman’s 8 is a sequel of sorts to The Pharmacist’s Mate.  In that book, she wanted to get pregnant.  In 8, she not only successfully gave birth to the boy from that first book, she has also had a second child.   And like many new parents, she understands that no matter how much you wanted children, sometimes for your own sanity you need to hide from them to have a few minutes to yourself.  It’s refreshing to read a normal person write about her children.  Especially when she and her husband try (and fail) to do sleep training.

But fortunately, that is not all Fusselman talks about.  She also talks about when she was raped as a shockingly young girl.  This tragic story is dealt with in a variety of ways and, surprisingly, never in a particularly dark or somber manner.  She calls her assailant “My pedophile” and spends a lot of the book working with alternative healers to come to grips with what happened to her.  And while this story is obviously hugely important in her life, it doesn’t seem to cloud everything she does.  (more…)

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pharm SOUNDTRACK: BLACK OX ORKESTAR-Ver Tanzt? [CST029] (2004).

cst029webBlack Ox Orkestar play traditional Yiddish music in a somewhat untraditional manner.

There are half instrumentals and half songs with vocals sung in Yiddish (which means I don’t know what they mean).  According to the Constellation website they are a: blend of originals and new arrangements for pieces pulled from various Eastern European songbooks.  And since the members come from “punk-rock, free-jazz, and other liberation musics,” it’s an approach to this music that may interest people who don’t normally like traditional music (and may turn off those who do).

.  I can’t really speak to the music, as I’m quite unfamiliar with it.  I prefer the instrumentals because I like the way the music tends to interweave.  Like “Cretan Song” which is a rollicking fun song like the Yiddish equivalent of an Irish seisún.  And yet. some of the vocals songs are really enjoyable too, like “Toyte Goyes in Shineln” which has a great melody and feels very familiar to me.  While “Ver Tantz?” begins as a slow melancholy song and turns rambunctious–almost chaotic.

Enjoyment depends on an appreciation for tradition Yiddish music, of course.

[READ: May 5, 2014] The Pharmacist’s Mate

I read this book a few years ago.  I read it again because McSweeney’s reissued it with Fusselman’s other book 8 on the flip side.  I wanted to read 8 and decided that since Pharmacist was so short I would read it as well.

And I’m glad I did because while they are not related exactly, they both work as a form of non-fiction and 8 is a nice postscript to what she talks about in Pharmacist.

As with most genre defying books, this is more or less a memoir, although it is written in a somewhat strange format–each small section is numbered (and eventually all the numbers turn into 1s because she realizes that she is starting anew with each section.

The Pharmacist’s mate of the title is her father, now deceased.  She includes notes from his time in the war as a sort of parallel to what’s going on with her own life. She very much wants a baby.  And through the book we see her engage in multiple ways of conceiving from natural to in vitro.  And then we read her angst about becoming a parent  And losing a parent. (more…)

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