Solid State | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Full Avey Tare interview.

Posted By on Thu, Nov 30, 2006 at 2:08 PM

Here's my complete interview with Avey Tare of Animal Collective, which appeared in part in the Wed. Nov. 29 issue of Seven Days. What made the print edition was edited for space, and in some instances, clarity! But now you can enjoy the unexpurgated version.

Avey will be appearing with his wife Kria Brekken (ex-mum) at the Firehouse in Burlington on Dec. 5, at 7:30 p.m. Greg Davis will also do a set. Click here for contact info.

Listen to a live performance from Avey & Kria here.

ME: To my ears, your music has grown increasingly rhapsodic. Is beauty a part of your overall aesthetic?

AVEY: I'd say all the things I like are aesthetically beautiful. Really, that means they achieve something very individualistic, and enhance senses and feelings that maybe wouldn't normally be on the surface. There are a lot of different kinds of beauty and that’s definitely translated into my music. Take for instance the film Texas Chainsaw Massacre. To me, its very beautiful; visually, stylistically, etc.. I think chicken bones, human skulls and bloodshed can be beautiful when viewed in a certain light.  But I’m not really a dark, macabre person or into violence at all. Those things don't linger in my day to day life.  Kristin [Kria] doesn't understand why I like films like that.  But to me its about separating them from reality. I just feel like life would be boring if there was only flowers and love. I realize this doesnt really translate into a stable reality, but music is part non-reality to me.

ME: How does working as a duo compare with creating with a band?

AVEY: In a duo it’s important to not let things get too complicated, and let the music come from the two people that are playing rather than trying to overdo things. It’s sometimes hard for me to keep things minimal, so I really like the challenge. I really like minimal music, so I try and embrace it as much as I can when playing with fewer people. 'Cause it's harder when you are playing with three other people.

ME: How did you begin writing/performing with Kria?

AVEY: Initially AC asked Kria to play piano with us while we were recording Feels, 'cause we had been talking about including more piano on an album for awhile, and she is real sweet at the keys. I think we all had a really great time. But beyond that, we started playing lazily in an apartment I had in Paris last summer. I had been living and recording with my friend Eric Copeland there, 'cause we needed a break from New York summers, as they can be brutally hot and disgusting. I was taking time off from the Animal Collective bros, 'cause Noah [Lennox] was about to have his baby, Nadjia. For awhile, Kristin and I were really only able to see each other in between other things  — she was still playing in mum at the time — so we made plans to hang for a month. It seemed really easy and laid back to spend time in our flat just playing acoustic guitar, smoking hash and that kind of thing. Earlier this year she decided to move to NYC, so we started recording a bunch of the songs we wrote in Paris. In April, we were asked to play a small show by our friend Eyvind at this great place in NYC called The Stone, which
I don't think many people know about. We did a similar thing this summer in Reykjavik. Since we really like to travel together it made sense to do a small tour and try to play some shows in other places. So here we are. I've always liked Vermont, by the way.

ME: I’ve had the pleasure to hear a live set from you two, and I love how intimate it sounds. Could this be a reflection of your personal relationship?

AVEY: There's that, and also just the process of making our music, which usually happens in an apartment. Perhaps on record it might come to be a bit more produced, but I think the intimate quality will always be important. I will always like transportive music, so that remains an element, too.

ME: Your earliest work was less centered on song form than some of your more current output. Do you feel you’re gravitating toward a new melodic center?

AVEY: This gets said about AC alot, and though I do know what you are talking about, I think our early recorded output really reflects a time where we were focused on learning to play live together. When you're playing with other people I think you really have to let everyone shine, otherwise it usually seems forced or controlled. I think Spirit They're Gone is one of our more melodic releases, personally. But that's just me writing those tunes and not a group playing.  After releasing that, we wanted to experiment with sounds and forms and feel how it was to really play together and work more with iprov. Just to see what would happen if no one took the reigns but the melodies were still there. Melodies have always been somthing that Noah and I love writing, 'cause at least for me personally, I'm not a virtuoso on any instrument. So I've spent alot of time on writing melodies and translating them in interesting ways. I guess with AC records like Sung Tongs or Feels, Noah and I have gotten a little more confident about structuring our songs with each other or the other dudes and letting the melodies provide structure to the song. Whereas as for awhile, we'd just let the structure make itself.

ME: Animal Collective has garnered a great deal of acclaim in the last few years. Has this affected you or your bandmates creative process?

AVEY: It hasn’t, really. It’s always been really important for us to focus on the current music we’re making and not let it be affected by anything other than what’s going on in our lives. I don’t even read what people say about us anymore, ’cause usually I don’t agree with it anyway. I’ve enjoyed making all of our records and am proud of all of them, although I can see why a group of people may prefer some to others. In a perfect world, a large amount of people could find waysto appreciate records by Family Fodder and Folk Rabe. Or even something moreconcrete like Luc Ferrari or Black Dice. But in truth, most people wouldrather hear the Beatles, and I know it. But none of us have been disillusioned by any hype we’ve gotten. I think we’ve always wanted to make new and interesting music, music that we would want to listen to, and explore new territory, ’cause that’s what keeps it fun and interesting. We always hoped to have as many people as possible appreciate something about what we are doing, but it was never a goal to have lots and lots of people into us. We would change what we want to do to win more people’s attention.

ME: Did you ever expect that kind of attention for your work?

AVEY: I personally try not to expect anything and just hope for the best. I think as long as a person enjoys and believes in the music they are making, or anything they do, then they will be happy. At least as far as personal achievements goes.

ME: The first time I heard your music I honestly felt like it was playing inside my head. Is it that way for you?

AVEY: A friend of Kristin and mine were just talking about how original ideas like melodies, etc. are things that are just floating about in the ether around us and they get picked up by people who are sensitive to them. I guess if you believe in things like Jung's concept of universal consciousness — which I do — [Casey's note: me too] then perhaps what you're saying holds some truth. I don't know where the melodies I write come from — they just pop into my head. I think [Yamataka] Eye from the Boredoms said that music is something that's always happening around us and that musicians just tune into it and bring it into the physical realm.  Any musician that's had the experience of playing with others and found something magical happening knows what I'm talking about. There are a lot of ways to look at it; we could spend an entire interview on this topic alone.  If anything it makes our world seem to have more possibilities, and makes you think that creativity and the imagination is a lot more important then people give credit to in their day-to-day lives.

ME: One thing that I enjoy most about both yours and Kria’s music is that it sounds very organic, even when there are production accoutrements. How do you achieve a balance between raw feel and arrangement?

AVEY: I think it's just a matter of letting the music stay human.  Some bands practice and practice 'til all the notes are perfect and they never miss a beat. There are groups I like that do this, but it really doesn't interest me as far as playing goes. It can be equally as fun or interesting to let the music run wild and not have so much control. It's the same even when we have added ear candy; we try and let it flow with us and not be stuck in some program where it always has to start at the same time or do the same things.

ME: For one reason or another, I've been asking a lot of artists about spirituality in music. I hear it in your stuff, but I can't seem quantify it. That's not a bad thing. It's kind of like waves lapping, or something. How do you feel about it?

AVEY: In a lot of ways, I'm a spiritual person, and I do believe in the spirituality of music. But for me, it stays on a very personal level. I think a lot of times people use words like "shaman" and "spirituality" and "mystical" to describe our music, and, while I for one am interested in all of those things, most of the group isn't really. Well I mean, it's not that they aren't, but we don't sit around trying to come up with new shamanistic techniques or discuss spirituality.  We're really just four guys interested in making some special sonic music. I think some of us are still trying to figure out where spirituality fits in our lives. I think that music can just be very spiritual on its own, without speaking about it in any way. There's something about starting to play and losing all sense of everything physical around you besides the sounds.

ME: Plenty of music journalists have lumped your work into catchall categories. Does that ever annoy you?

AVEY: Sure it does, but that's just the way it is. I don't think that process will ever be changed, and if it helps anyone out there locate us or find a way into our world, then I ultimately don't mind. Honestly, the "freak-folk" thing is a big joke to us and all of our friends at this point. It's funny that journalists are still using that term, but what can you do?

ME: Is there anything that you've heard, seen or experienced lately that has inspired you artistically?

AVEY: It sounds cheesy to say, but I really try and let everything be some sort of an inspiration. Otherwise, I'd probably start getting very angry or jaded, or maybe even bored. Off the top of my head? I just saw Black Dice and they are always an inspiration to me.  Also, I recently went snorkeling in Australia. You sometimes forget how powerful the current of the ocean is.

ME: What would you like to do musically that you’ve yet to attempt?

AVEY: I'd definitely like to make a record without guitars. Other then that, I think it's just about searching out what I haven't found yet.
         

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Love IS Real.

Posted By on Tue, Nov 28, 2006 at 10:47 AM

 
A very depressing day, weather-wise. And there are other reasons to feel a little down: family illness, wedding-planning stresses, and mean-spirited motherfuckers tryin' to bust on me an' mine.

But wait — what's this? Another batch of Beatles songs re-packaged for the holidays?  The cynic in me wants to scream, "Enough!"

Somehow this release is different. You've likely already heard about Cirque Soleil's Beatles-themed Vegas show. Well, Love is the soundtrack to that. Flying Frenchfolk aside, what's really interesting is the music. The venerable George Martin — whose production genius helped introduce collage and musique concreté to the pop word — has created a mash-up record using Beatles recordings as the source material. Working alongside his engineer son Giles, they set about creating what will likely be the last original document to bear the Beatles imprint.

Love could've easily been a disaster, but it's not. Purists might have a problem with the idea of screwing with history, but let's face it — the Beatles practically invented mash-ups anyway.

It's all put together with the kind of grace and subtlety one would expect from the man who had to translate John Lennon's acid-scrambled requests into some kind of sonic conformity.

I expected an over-the-top mélange of modern production gimmicks and simplistic through lines. My assumptions were, thankfully, incorrect. Many of the songs are left more or less intact, with accents and punctuations borrowed from other compositions. In some cases, Martin used sections of music not featured on any album — demo recordings, outtakes etc. So it sounds pretty new, either way.

Modular arrangement is definitely a lot easier these days. Back in the '60s, Martin had to speed up tape cycles to match pitch, and used a razor to make edits. Now its done in near-real time with software plug-ins.

Example: The end of "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" suddenly descends into the closing riff of "I Want You (She's so Heavy)." Every so often, slivers of "Helter Skelter" drift into the mix. It's truly spooky.

Hear for yourself, but please don't turn those mean Beatles lawyers on me!

"Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite"

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Year-enders.

Posted By on Sat, Nov 25, 2006 at 10:56 AM

It’s nearly 2007, and there ain’t a damn thing we can do about it. So what have I learned in the last twelve months? That there are some arguments you just can't win, for one.

But let's move on. Inspired by Jay's lovely list, I've decided to reveal a few of my choice picks for '06.

I had a tough year finding new music. For one reason or another, I retreated to my safe corner, re-investigating old classics and, well, classical.

That doesn't mean there weren't a handful of pleasant revelations. But let's not call it a "Best of." I think "Records I Happen to Dig" is more appropriate. Oh, and the ranking is completely arbitrary.


#1. Kayo DotDowsing Anemone With Copper Tongue

Is it metal? Is it experimental? Is it a quasi-pretentious mess? I still have no idea. But my puzzlement is no hindrance to enjoying this titanic slab of art-rock.




#2: Comets on FireDogwood Rust

There are a lot of psych bands out there these days, and some of them should probably take more acid. These fellas don't need to. On earlier outings, COF's synapse-scrambling jams tended toward orgiastic squalls of fuzz. Here, they experiment with sun-baked ephemera, sounding like a grizzled cross between (here we go again) early Blue Oyster Cult and the Dead.

#3: EspersII

I used to not like Espers much, but this record rules. Previously, they were a pale imitation of several acts, including Pentangle and Vashti. Now they've metamorphosed into an acoustic/prog chimera of remarkable strength. And how can I not include a band that sparked the "what is folk" discussion on this very blog?


#4: John PhillipsJohn the Wolfking of L.A.

Somehow being betrothed to the foxiest member of the Mamas & Papas wasn't good enough for this guy. Originally released to critical antipathy back in 1970, this long out-of-print album has aged better than many envisioned. It chronicles Phillips' post-fame dalliances with women and drugs — hardly groundbreaking in and of itself. But everything is set to a flaky, country-rock groove that goes great with whiskey 'n' Quaaludes. Yee-haw!

#5: Jenny Lewis with the Watson TwinsRabbit Fur Coat

Jenny, Jenny, Jenny. Let me count the ways I love thee: First is your razor-sharp wit that cuts to the quick yet leaves no permanent scarring. Oh, you surgeon of the coyest cruelties! Second is your voice — a sweet 'n' sour mix of tender resentment. Third is your fetching appearance. Umm, I think I need to stop there. I'm almost a married man.


#6: MastodonBlood Mountain

Major label metal kicking ass in ’06? Who could’ve imagined? As an aging shredder, I have to admire the sheer intensity this band brings to the table. To my ears, Mastodon sound like the missing link between ‘90s miscreants Kyuss and the new generation of technical hardcore brats. Besides, where are you gonna hear another song about a Cyclops this year? Well, besides my second pick.

#7: MatmosThe Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of the Beast

San Francisco duo Matmos are one of the best bands working in electronic composition, hands down. They’re not exactly “underground” (nor is this list, for that matter) but M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel possess a level of artistry that makes all of their releases worth investigating. And this one is no exception. Although I often forget to listen to it, when I do, I something new is revealed.

#8: LoscilPlume

Another album I forget lives in my iPod. Scott Morgan, a.k.a Loscil, creates gracious, patient music that actually goes somewhere. He’s really hit his mark with Plume, an album that provides frosty ambient with a pulse. If you like dark drone, but find Lustmord too oppressive, this one is for you.



#9: Serena ManeeshSerena Maneesh

Technically this was available in ’05, but I got it upon domestic release in May. I’m including it to prove that I can like Norwegian bands heavily influenced by the styles of yesteryear! This is straight-up shoegaze, no doubt about it. But I haven’t heard such a satisfying take on the sound since the genre’s heyday. And the publicists by and large left me alone.

#10: M. WardPost-War

I like his rough, manly voice. And the fact that he doesn’t use AutoTune.





#11: Woven HandMosaic

Christianity has never sounded so bleak. Except during the crusades. And the Inquisition. And the Salem witch trials. Aww, forget it. Anyway, David Eugene Edwards’ post-16 Horsepower work is like M. Gira’s Angels of Light in Sunday School. Which is to say, brooding, ironhanded and totally devotional.


#12: Sunn 0))) & BorisAltar

Beauty + Doom = Altar. This review will further elucidate.





#13: Brightblack Morning LightBrightblack Morning Light

Wow — two Matador releases made my list! Maybe co-owner (and sports enthusiast) Gerard Cosloy will take back the mean things he said about me for pissing on the now-defunct Prosaics. But I doubt it. Anyway, this record was pretty hyped, and a lot of people found it dull. To that, I say: drink more Robitussin and get back to me.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bye-bye.

Posted By on Wed, Nov 22, 2006 at 10:07 AM

What a week! Nice to see the blog get so much action.

I'm heading to Maine in a few hours, leaving mucho work on the back burner. Maybe some of you commentators would like to help me with some of it?

In keeping with the vibe of the holiday, I'd like to give thanks to all of my regular (and irregular) reader/posters: Murph, Undead Molly, Brookezilla, Jay, Tanner, Ben, BenH, Greg, Ari, Neil, Bill, Mike, and anyone I've happened to forget. You've made doing this a really fun experience.

To all of you lurkers/recent commentators: I hope you stick around. And don't be shy about voicing your opinion. It helps me to consider other perspectives. Which can be difficult, but ultimately worthwhile.

It's occurred to me that I haven't put together a November podcast. Well, I might just have to do two next month. I think the first one will be "Spirituality in Sound." I was inspired by our last lengthy blog discussion. And it's kind of appropriate for the Holidays, right?

Oh, and congrats to Brooke Hunter for documenting the difficulties in tying the knot in today's issue.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Does anybody remember laughter?

Posted By on Tue, Nov 21, 2006 at 4:32 PM

Flatlander at False 45th sent me a link to these recordings of safety workers at the Burning Man festival. Hi-larious! (It's via BoingBoing, of course).

Then there's this half-lame, half funny piece of musical/political satire:

Guest post!

Posted By on Tue, Nov 21, 2006 at 12:05 PM

Today's post comes courtesy Bob Kilpatrick, our brand-spankin' new web development guru.

He went to last week's Los Lobos show, and wrote about it for your pleasure. He also took some sweet pics. It's definitely nice to have another voice on this page besides my own cranky one. But look for my full report on the Brian Wilson show soon...

PS: I did my first stand-up routine last night. More on that later!



Los Lobos rocked, but I’m getting ahead of myself. My wife and I arrived about half way through the opening band
Matt Mays & El Torpedo. I hadn’t read Casey’s review of their new CD at that point, but his comparison to “Rick Springfield recast as a heartland rocker” rings pretty true, especially if you throw in a little Billy Idol lip curling and teen angst. They were quite good and the crowd really enjoyed them. I could see them going pretty far if they got the right breaks.

The crowd had a certain vibe; they were wound up like a bunch of fourteen year-olds out for their first show without the folks. Actually, it was quite the opposite: the audience was composed of 40+ folks who had escaped the kids for the night. My wife was only too gleeful to point out how neatly I fit the demographic.

Los Lobos took the stage like a bunch of old guys who had ridden too farand too long that day, but their music was tight from the start. The crowd nodded and danced and clapped from the beginning. It wasn’t long before the band broke out in smiles. Their lead singer said “Thanks, we really needed this tonight.” We were only too glad to oblige.

Towards the end of the evening they brought up a group of women from the crowd to dance on stage. As they twisted and shouted I really wished their teens were there so I could have seen their mortified faces.

The evening hit a crescendo with a cover of the Grateful Dead’s ‘Bertha’. I always feel bad when a band gets their best reception from covering someone else’s material, but everybody, band included, was having such a good time who really cares.

All in all a good night for this old web head.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

More industry force-feeding.

Posted By on Sun, Nov 19, 2006 at 9:56 AM

Here' s the latest so-called "indie" band to not like: 120 Days from Norway.

They're pretty much the nazz with bloggers, NYC clubbers, after-party goers, and underfed hangers-on.

A certain pleasant-but-aggressive US publicity company recently took the band on as clients. Another artist on their roster is the unyieldingly hyped Lady Sovereign, which should tell you something. Also, they're on Vice, which might tell you something else.

I've been innundated with requests to review 120 Days for my other "outlets," to use a lame music biz phrase. Surely, I'm expected to just fall in line.

120 Days are touted as a "modern-day krautrock band," or some such nonsense. Fuck that. The sound like The Strokes with analog keyboards.

First of all, krautrock was a genre marked by idiosyncracies: most of the groups were wildly different from one another in process and result. Bands like 120 Days, on the other hand, seem to adopt whatever aesthetic happens to be in fashion.

For the original krautrockers -- a post WWII generation of defiant art-school dropouts -- it was important to work outside the realms of "polite" European classicism and borrowed American blues. Obsessed with rhythm and repetition, they drew inspiration from African music as well as emerging audio technologies. This sound later found its pop mark with New Wavers like the Talking Heads and "reformed" proggers such as Peter Gabriel and Robert Fripp. Bowie and Eno (who pretty much founded the New Wave) were both early champions.

Krautrockers sought to challenge preconceived notions of Germanic music, which had taken on some unfavorable associations. They traveled several sonic avenues, from the cold, motorik pulse of Neu! to the limber, pan-global grooves of Can. But some people assert that, with such a variety in sound, there is no real kratrock. This is a valid argument.

Anyway the little boys in 120 Days are about as far from Faust as a group can get. And that's what I told their publicist.

No matter -- they'll no doubt get more exposure than I could give 'em by rocking those sponsored parties for Microsoft's Zune MP3 player.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Off to see the Wilson.

Posted By on Fri, Nov 17, 2006 at 12:34 PM

Time for a road trip to hear some angelic pop music. But I think I'll listen to metal on the way down. I need some extra oomph today.

See you Sunday night at the James Hunter show, right?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

No snappy title.

Posted By on Wed, Nov 15, 2006 at 10:33 AM

I have a million and a half things to write before Brooke and I head to Boston to see Brian Wilson on Friday. It's my third time. I feel like a member of some weird cult. On BW's website, he's encouraging attendees to wear loose-fitting robes and Nike sneakers. Wonder if they serve Kool-Aid at the Orpheum?

Anyway, here's a funny thing I stole from Pitchfork:

That's everyone's pal Borat hangin' with Mastodon.

While we're on the subject of hairy prog-metal, check out this live clip of Mastodon's tune "Capillarian Quest." The middle section shreds like a hundred biomechanical blizzard beasts.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Blast from the past.

Posted By on Tue, Nov 14, 2006 at 4:00 AM

Some Tuesday reporting for yez:

Local alt-country legend Brett Hughes recently told me that a song he penned for his old band the Decentz (which also featured Seven Days Publisher Pamela Polston and 'grasshead Gordon Stone) made a list of "Essential Recordings by Acts With Strong New England Ties." The song in question, "Compared to You," is from the Decentz'  out-of-print debut, which I've wanted to get my hands on for some time. Who can digitize that sucker for me?

Says Hughes, "It was right there next to Mission Of Burma, The Pixies, Bonnie Raitt, Morphine, Aerosmith, The Cars, The Modern Lovers, J. Geils Band, Aimee Mann, NRBQ, etc." So basically, there's a shitload of Boston acts and Brett's old gang.

The chart was compiled by longtime music observer Alan Lewis, who publishes a weekly e-mail newsletter called the New England Music Scrapbook. He's been doing it for years, with no financial reward. Lately, he's written about area music for the Vermont Guardian, who I assume offer some compensation for his work. They should - he's an all-around hardworking, gentlemanly fellow with a strong grasp of regional music history.

In other news, I'm thinking about entering the Comedy Open Mike Battle Auditions at Higher Ground in order to write about it. Organizer/host Lee Seelig is kind of pressuring me into it.

What he doesn't know is that if I do it, I'm totally in it to win.

But I haven't decided yet.

Tags: ,

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2022 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401

Advertising Policy  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |  About Us  |  Help
Website powered by Foundation