Tonight I had the pleasure of meeting meeting two great bands; one literally and the other figuratively. I went to see fellow Ghostly artists School of Seven Bells play at Slim’s here in San Francisco and their performance was incredible. But having seen them live before, I pretty much expected that. It was the opening act — Warpaint — that were the big surprise of the night.
Warpaint are a Los Angeles based “psychedelic” band and I’d have to say that description is apt. I spent most of the set mesmerized by them, sort of in a trance. This is one of those bands that I dream of producing a record for someday. Bassist Jenny Lindberg and her Rickenbacker carved out the low end as if from stone and the guitarists were all over it with the kind of stripped down, melodic style I’m a sucker for. I’m not easily moved by live rock music performances but this one had me running over to the merch booth to snag a CD before the set was even half way over. The hilight of the show was an ultra-somber yet perfectly timed rendition of their song “Billie Holiday” which left me in awe (and remionded me of another favorite from Grouper). As soon as I got home I popped the CD in, hoping it would live up to their live energy and was pleasantly surprised to hear that it did. It’s raw, unpolished, and at times sounds like a jam session accidentally caught on tape, and it’s beautiful. The only thing I’d change would be the drums on the album version of Billie holiday; they were absent from the live version and I think it was a little more focused without them.
Experimental rocker Jesu remixes School of Seven Bells, the remix is very similar to something that maybe Apparat or The Reflecting Skin would of done I think which includes heavy dry kicks and swells, definitely one of my favorite remixes in 2009.
Recently listened to a mix by Philip Sherburne and it started off with this His Name Is Alive track which I thought was a group that has some ok records but this instrumental should be followed up by a whole series of songs like this, i’m sure i’d not be the only one buying that record up.
More electronic music producers need to be making music videos that they’ve done if they have some decent taste like this Rebolledo one that just features Matias Aguayo walking around on the beach eating ice cream and singing the song. The drummer is the the best part, I have no idea what he’s playing with but he’s looking great doing it hah. I hope to see younger musicians like Seth Troxler take on a project like this because he’s almost at this level and has the imagination for it. The video is also refreshing for Techno/House and it also made me revisit Matias Aguayo’s first record “Are You Really Lost” which blew me away again. On a side note: That Theremin sound will kinda get to you, might actually turn you away but I guess its more about the bassline at times for me and vox.
School Of Seven Bells – Face To Face On High Places (Jesu Remix)
His Name Is Alive – Sitting Still Moving Still Staring Out
You may know Tim Saccenti for his unreal spacey Battles video or his wild Animal Collective videos or press photos for Flying Lotus and Jimmy Edgar but his live visuals this weekend for School of Seven Bells were jaw dropping, not only did School of Seven Bells play a gorgeous live show but Tim Saccenti nailed the visuals and captured the sound perfectly, I almost felt like I was experiencing something that was on some other level. Below is a great review of the night:
Timothy Saccenti’s Visuals andthe School of Seven Bells
The question that immediately comes to mind as one looks into the silky black voids of photographer/director Timothy Saccenti’s mind, manifested wonderfully in images of black expanses occupied ironically by an artist or an object beyond one’s capacity for reaction, is this: What possible world am I occupying and how am I existing in this space and time? With the School of Seven Bell’s visuals, Saccenti (in conjuction with Flame artist Alvin Cruz) achieves, brilliantly and originally, the apex of what all artists can hope to achieve; as the mirrored yet chaotic colors begin to rise up on the screen, the viewer relinquishes control of his or her consciousness of the moment and enters the beautiful, black, colorful, numbing minds of Saccenti and Cruz.
So what makes these images so otherworldly yet familiar enough that one can fall into them so whole-heartedly? The peice mixes familiar epiphenomenal stimuli (shapes and images) with powerful digital distortion, creating a space that is paradoxically common and foreign. The experience places the viewer at the precipice of human comprehension and tethers them to the rock of humanity with fibers so inconspicuous that it is hard to know when one might fall into the black abyss. It is exhilarating. Paired with the ambient, submissive music of The School of Seven Bells, an audience is treated to complete perceptual experience involving the lyrical mastery of the band and their interstellar sound.
There is a diamond shape that occupies the screen for much of the piece. Besides being a spatial image that one can clearly identify, it suggests another, semi-erotic, human form that boldly stares back at a transfixed audience. It is difficult not to see a vaginal, pink shape in the diamond. It is natural and digital, surrounded by a hazy distortion and heavy digital sounds that are reminiscent of television snow. Watching the two female singers, it is hard not to feel lulled by a kind of siren song.
One of the more powerful images, a white face with dark eyes, exists as a kind of character throughout the piece. It comes and goes as the viewer’s ability to make it out is realized and lost. The face is mirrored on both sides of the screen as one’s own face so commonly is. The face swings back and forth with an organic fluidity that is imperfectly natural and correct. Amongst the computerized movement of box shapes and spheres, this face stands out with its organic movement that, at the apex of its swing, faces the audience and becomes black (with white eyes). It is an eerie and fantastic moment as the echoing voices of The School of Seven Bells rise and fall to the metronome of the huge face.
The image that most dramatically drives the feeling of nature is the wilderness at sunrise; however, in digitally transcendental fashion, the piece juxtaposes the desert grasses with outstanding digital effects. The sunrise image sits inside a sphere that seems to rotate as the image remains still. The sphere fits inside the skeleton of a neon cube in an eclectic picture that moves with a more perfect, digital, fluidity. The circle is also seen in another major part of the piece. Inside of a large, white circle are numbers that follow around the circle’s circumference, similarly to that of an ancient calendar. Here, Saccenti seems to be exploring the most seamless connections between man and nature. Time is a human invention developed to understand the most fundamental engine of nature. It is a similar idea that drives the image of the Hindu deity, Ganesh. Here, the audience explores the human invention of religion as a tool for understanding the impossibilities of nature. A statue of the deity rotates slowly, giving a reverend importance to his presence.
The pairing of these two artists could not have been more perfect. The School of Seven Bells creates an original sound using a similar juxtaposition. Soft voices and flowing guitar riffs round out the heavy digital sound that backs up each song. These two elements collide to produce a sound that is otherworldly.
Throughout the piece, we see the majesty of nature and the boundless imagination of humanity. Represented beautifully by digital displays, the viewer enters a possible world that can only exist with the imagination of this brilliant collaboration, through the conduit that is their talent.
We have written about this release before here with the Tycho free single and here with a bit more information about the project, now after the free download its officially out in digital retail stores with an exclusive Solvent track and available in physical CD format. Here is what Ghostly International had to say about the release thats #5 on iTunes Electronic charts – “Cartoon Network’s genre-defying [Adult Swim] programming rearranges comedy’s basic building blocks into oddities like Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!; Ghostly International’s artists scramble the language of dance and pop music into something strange and artful. It was only a matter of time before the two found each other and made adorably freakish babies.
The Ghostly Swim compilation is a collaboration between Ghostly International and [Adult Swim], a 20-track mix (curated by label founder Sam Valenti IV) of tracks from Ghostly’s avant-pop mainstays like Matthew Dear, Michna, and School of Seven Bells, alongside kindred spirits like Milosh, FLYamSAM, and Mux Mool. Ghostly Swim’s best tracks embody the label’s trademark mix of playful darkness and irreverence – Deastro’s lurching robot-rock anthem “Light Powered,” The Chap’s bizarro-world pop hit “Carlos Walter Wendy Stanley,” Michna’s slinky-smooth “Triple Chrome Dipped” – making them an ideal accompaniment to, say, pissing in your pants over Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law.
Ghostly Swim was initially released in early 2008 as an exclusive free download on [Adult Swim]’s website. Now, the groundbreaking compilation is available both on iTunes and as a limited-edition CD (available only through the Ghostly Store, free with a purchase of $20 or more), and includes a bonus track: Solvent’s banging cover of Madonna’s “Hung Up.””