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NORTHERN SPY

I Wish I Didn’t Dream, the new album of duets by guitarist Loren Connors and vocalist Suzanne Langille,was cut in just a few hours of studio time. But the pieces started falling into place 15 years earlier on the 10th floor of a nondescript building in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. It was there, at the old location of the Brecht Forum, that Connors got to know writer and WFMU DJ Kurt Gottschalk, who was curating a concert series there. On occasion Tom Abbs (now President of Northern Spy Records) would co-program weekend festivals there, sometimes bringing in MP Landis to do live painting during the performances. Flash forward to the present. Gottschalk was selecting paintings and writing text for a book of Landis’ paintings and the two begin imagining a soundtrack for the book. The obvious choice would be Connors, a painter himself, and Langille, an admirer of Landis’ work. The more they talked about it, the more
plausible it seemed. Gottschalk had already produced a Northern Spy release with Connors and Langille (Haunted House, Blue Ghost Blues, NS012, with Andrew Burnes and Neel Murgai) which featured one of Landis’ paintings on the cover. Within a few months a session had been booked in the same studio where Blue Ghost Blues was recorded. The process was simple. Slides from Landis’ WD series of paintings were shown on a screen and Connors and Langille responded. There was no advance preparation other than a folder of verses (her own as well as Keats, Denis McCarthy and some nearly lost to history) Langille brought to the session. The resulting album, their first duo record in 14 years, is as vulnerable as it is beautiful. Langille sings as if she’s speaking cautiously, Connors’ guitar barely whispers, but at any turn either might erupt in screams. Do they not want to yearn for more, or do they fear their nightmares? Their dreams are a haunting mystery.

The Home Of Easy Credit

The Home Of Easy Credit

    The Home of Easy Credit is the eponymous debut recording from husband and wife team Louise Dam Eckardt Jensen and Tom Blancarte. Taking their name from a department store sign in a dilapidated section of downtown Houston, Texas (Blancarte’s native state), the duo draw their inspiration from the gradual awareness of the decline of civilization which permeates our culture. Hailing from a remote rural region of Denmark, Jensen uses subtle and not-so-subtle electronics to blend her vocal, saxophone and flute work with Tom Blancarte’s furious bass playing, creating one of the most unique sound worlds in contemporary music. Featuring tortured sonic landscapes that conjure up Stockhausen and Feldman as readily as Björk or Mike Patton, their debut on Northern Spy Records is a mediation on the bleakness of modern America and the western world in general.

    The album contains a tightly-constructed musical narrative; five short auditory haikus named for permutations of the American Dream posited by Ted Ownby are interspersed between longer, open-form pieces whose titles reference cubicles, the dark side of Frank Lloyd Wright and the books of Michael Pollan and James Howard Kunstler, among other subjects. The Home of Easy Credit paints a musical portrait of a commercialized and homogenized consumer culture that is slowly waking up to realize that it is completely fucked.

    “Incredible blending of female voice, saxophone, and gnarly double bass; the instruments are used both as solo voices and ensembles in almost every conceivable way. The duo’s work stands strongly apart from any kind of generic so-called free improvisation- both in the roles the instruments play as well as the way they are electronically modified. Dramatic, beautiful but above all very unusual music.” – Peter Evans.


    Starring

    ABCDEFG-HIJKLMNOP-QRSTUV-WXYZ

      Starring’s 'ABCDEFG-HIJKLMNOP-QRSTUV-WXYZ' combines minimalist musical patterns with dreamy poetry to create a new style front-woman Clara Hunter likes to call “sparkle prog.” It captures the frenetic energy of the band’s live show, but here it is overlain with a new palate of synthesizers, delay effects, drum processing, aux percussion, and vocals that create delicate, but sometimes radical juxtapositions between the lyrical and the experimental. Though songs like “the best” and “aphonia” channel the loud, raw, and repetitive “circus punk” of Starring’s early releases, much of this record speaks with a broader sense of expressive depth.

      Over the course of the album’s six cuts, choruses soar at monstrous heights framed by mechanical and occult trances. Dead jazz turns up with fuzzy 8-bit solos, whistling synths pipe beneath ghostly choral arrangements, viola lines in Turkish modes swoop into ornamented curls and loops, and singer Clara Hunter’s girlish vocals whisper the record’s secrets with surreal, woozy melodies. Concretely, the album reflects an aesthetic that recalls the classic sounds of European prog rock (Magma, Faust, Neu!), the unhinged grit of 1970’s New York no wave artists like Suicide, the earliest cuts from minimalists like Terry Riley and Philip Glass, and even a dose of post-rock’s strung-out improvisations.

      “Think Suicide and a Wooden Ship sailing merrily on a thermos full of Red Bull and Verb Caf coffee… Starring join together to tinker with volume, rhythm and the infectious drone of a Farfisa, angling to be a force more invested in body music than mind music.” - The Village Voice.


      Extra Life

      Dream Seed

        Extra Life’s first record for Northern Spy, Dream Seeds marks a dramatically new creative direction in the band’s still-young but prolific career. It is perhaps Extra Life’s most clearly-defined concept album : seven songs dealing entirely with the twin themes of dreams and children. In a lyrical left turn away from the morbid sexuality and black humor of Made Flesh, these songs look to the subconscious in search of innocence, morality and meaning. According to principal songwriter and elementary school teacher Charlie Looker, the lyrics began with a consecutive series of harrowing dreams involving children, all interconnected by recurring symbols. Claiming to be in some way spiritually reborn, Looker penned the songs while mining these dreams’ buried pasts and even watching in awe as some of their prophesies unfolded in all-too-real life. Alternately brutal and tender, haunted by ghosts of both the dead and the unborn, the songs of Dream Seeds express the violent yet redemptive collision of the Real and Psychic Worlds and an archaic belief in the divine truth of dreams.

        The Spanish Donkey

        XYX

        Any of the artists that form The Spanish Donkey (Jamie Saft, Joe Morris, Mike Pride) could create dictionaries of superlatives with praise their work has garnered. But as a cohesive unit, they surge forward into a new thesaurus, as a dream trampling through the woods on the edges of evening. Joe Morris’ melodic improv guitar lines sketching out space where Jamie Saft’s keyboards color in chromatic aberration nudged and prodded by Mike Pride’s outside of time drumming.

        Three artists who have made careers of developing new sonic spaces, have formed a new place of exploration and imagination. It’s the re-history of 21st century avant-jazz. Featured Artists: Joe Morris: guitar, Jamie Saft: MiniMoog, Roland Jupiter 6, Roland SH-01, Korg Lambda, Korg CX3, Yamaha CS-01, bass guitar, Mike Pride: drums, percussion & nose whistle.


        J Spaceman & Kid Millions

        Live At Le Poisson Rouge

          THIS IS A RECORD STORE DAY 2014 EXCLUSIVE, LIMITED TO ONE PER PERSON.

          RSD 2014: "On September 11, 2013, J. Spaceman (Jason Pierce of Spiritualized and Spacemen 3) and Kid Millions (Oneida, Man Forever, People of the North) took a night off of their US tour with Spiritualized to perform an improvised set at (Le) Poisson Rouge, in Greenwich Village. Northern Spy was there to document the show.

          The resulting 12"" LP comes with an accompanying 7"" and will be limited to 3000 copies worldwide, released for Record Store Day 2014 (April 19).

          Throughout their respective careers, both Spaceman and Millions have navigated the various sub-genres that fall within the rock and experimental labels, and, on this album, we find the two artists exploring elements of their counterparts prior work in a fresh and unique way. Spaceman uses Millions' free style of drumming as a cue to eschew the pop melodies and structures he worked with on his last release, 2012's, Sweet Heart, Sweet Light.The record's first side - titled ""Misha"" - features 24-minutes of Spaceman’s minimal guitar and piano parts along with Millions’ eclectic, yet subtle drumming. The pairing of these elements yields a dreamy and celestial atmosphere that could compare with anything from Spaceman’s famously mind-altering catalog. Side two of the 12"" - titled ""Han"" - focuses more on the chaotic nature of the two musicians’ past. Spaceman makes use of his distortion, tremolo and wah-wah pedals, while Millions goes into full freakout mode on the drums, never allowing the audience to fully lock into a groove. The duo steadily builds and eases tension, keeping the listener fully engaged over the track’s 21-and-a-half minute runtime. As mentioned before, accompanying the LP will be a 7"" featuring two cuts - ""New York"" and ""London"" - that showcase Spaceman's more rock inspired noise stylings and Millions' absolute disregard for consistency and predictability.

          Neptune

          Msg Rcvd

            On 'Msg Rcvd', Neptune employ an array of new techniques and methodologies to explore indeterminacy and difficult phenomena such as feedback. Moving away from guitar feedback, this record features amplified drum feedback as well as the introduction of two new ‘feedback-organ’ machines. Developing their career-long interest in arranging and deploying found sounds, Neptune continues to use their sonically peculiar guitars built from pieces of found metal, but add to this new devices to pick and arrange sound out of the air: interrupted radio broadcasts. On msg rcvd the listener becomes eerily aware that trash is not just the junk on the street and in alleys, but it is also the invisible radiation that surrounds us and permeates us, and, in an expanded sense, the very material of which our bodies and experiences are made. One man’s trash, another man’s Neptune.

            “Amazingly, the band constructs their instruments out of circular saw blades, bike parts, gas tanks and miscellaneous scrap metal found in the trash. But make no mistake, Neptune isn’t aping past metal bangers like Test Dept and E. Neubauten. At times the group rocks hard, creating disciplined almost danceable grooves, combining This Heat’s ascetic experimentalism with Cop Shoot Cop’s percussive wallop. Homemade electronics flesh out the sound, ricocheting off complex rhythms, adding texture and dynamics to Neptune’s singular, highly musical approach.” – Paul Lemos, The Big Takeover.


            'Honky Tonk Medusa' is Donovan Quinn’s first album that he’s both recorded and produced since the Skygreen Leopards’ adventurous 'Life & Love in Sparrow’s Meadow'. Along with Quinn’s work on vocals, guitar and synth, the album also employs San Francisco musician’s Jason Quever (Papercuts), Michael Tapscott (Odawas), along with his regular rhythm section of Nick Marcantonio and Michael Carreira. Working in reverse order to many current acts, the sound of 'Honky Tonk Medusa' is molded to each individual song; letting the lyrics and spirit of the song dictate the instrumentation and style with the lyrical narrative tying it all together.

            The story of the album is one of decaying American cities, Internet age entropy, and equal parts romance and loneliness. In addition to the music the album features artwork by San Francisco artist Joe Roberts and liner notes by Elisa Ambrogio (Magik Markers, 200 Years) & Ben Chasney (Six Organs of Admittance).


            Colin L. Orchestra

            Infinite Ease / Good God

            In the tradition of long strange trips across wide open spaces, the Colin L. Orchestra arrived at the offices of Northern-Spy Records via Colin Langenus’ previous project, USAISAMONSTER. He’s exchanged his previous duo for a full-scale rock orchestra of his bestest buds on multiple guitars, drums, violins, keyboards. Their first project, "Infinite Ease/Good God", is full-scale indeed, available as a double-CD or a deluxe fully re-mastered for vinyl version of "Infinite Ease" with a digital download of "Good God".

            Though three years in the making, they flow as smoothly as an inner tube on a lazy stream on a summer’s afternoon. Three years setting schemes and arranging sleeping dreams have culminated in two lush, flowing albums full of anthems and wee small moments. From the supple bass line that opens, “You Need Sleep,” to crunches of guitar shred melting into velvet strings on their way to a country ditty that would do Graham Parsons proud. Here is a double-pleasure that re-envisions the “jam band” and, at the same time, “indie rock,” meshing together minimalistic repetitive jams, bright melodies, and loose, easy-going vocals all in the sole service of aiding your bliss.


            Long time collaborators Tom Carter & Marc Orleans have formed a new project, Eleven Twenty-Nine, and signed to Brooklyn’s fastest growing indie, Northern-Spy Records. Taking the name from blues parlance for a year long prison term, their first, self-titled release lays down a devilish pact of pulsating, impressionistic sound keeping one foot solidly in the soul and depth of blues while the other is planted firmly in an enigmatic free improv rock.

            Tom Carter has been a blues-damaged guitarist of extraordinary magnitude and magnanimous extremes. In addition to his solo work and Eleven Twenty-Nine, Carter remains an active co-creator of the Texas homebrew psych pioneers Charalambides and curator of his own label, Wholly-Other.

            Free-form psych veteran Marc Orleans has been the secret weapon behind some of the heaviest mumbo jumbo and dusted American cosmic-craziness to come out in the last decade and a half. Marc pioneered his twisted lines with Juneau, Enos Slaughter and the Sunburned Hand of the Man back at the end of the 20th century. Now, residing in Brooklyn, he plays steel guitar ninety hours a week. As well as with Eleven Twenty-Nine, Marc is an active member of the Acid Twangers, D. Charles Speer and the Helix and has appeared on N-Spy’s Colin Langenus’s latest record as well as Steve Gunn’s Borum Palace. He also just finished steel guitar work on Meg Baird’s upcoming Drag City release.


            Bird Names

            Metabolism: A Salute To The Energy Of The Sun

            The latest release by the fringe pop outfit Bird Names is another bright star in their galaxy of offerings. The album, "Metabolism: A Salute to the Energy of the Sun", was created meticulously over the course of many moons and spiritual awakenings in sunny Chicago, IL. The band is a duo, of sorts, comprised of Phelan LaVelle & David Lineal, though a cast of good souls have helped them along their travels. Recently making Athens, GA their home, they explore a pop sound that touches as much on the naïve as it does the borders of avant-experimentation.

            Their new album, mastered by Griffin Rodriguez (Icy Demons, Beirut, Band of Horses), is a lo-fi, boundary-pushing, pop experiment in the vein of the Beach Boys’ "Smile". It is a fully-realized reflection on the sun and the fount of organic energy, or human energies, as the speech of the sun.



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