Acetone_Poolhouse

The music of Acetone seems to exist outside conventional methods of timekeeping. Off to the side. Suspended and slightly warped.

Likewise, the story told about the band in Sam Sweet’s non-fiction novel, Hadley Lee Lightcap and in the grooves 1992-2001, the book’s accompanying audio companion, eschews a strictly chronological approach. The book drifts, warm and hazily, through the lives of the Los Angeles trio, bassist and vocalist Richie Lee, guitarist and vocalist Mark Lightcap, and drummer Steve Hadley, matching the anthology’s tracklist of songs pulled from the group’s LPs and unreleased home demos. With care and no small dose of gallows humor, Sweet presents an intimate but nonetheless cinematic view of three guys, the singular thing they created, and the place where they lived.

Acetone :: Germs

Though Acetone were label-mates with the Verve at Virgin subsidiary Vernon Yard, recorded for Neil Young’s Vapor Records, and attracted high-profile fans like J. Spaceman and Hope Sandoval, nothing about 1992-2001 indicates a band bound for the spotlight. The trio’s music, a heady mix of surf, country, exotica, hillbilly spirituals, and slow-motion indie rock, pulled from thrift store LPs and adhered to its own logic. Hadley, Lightcap, and Lee listened to music deeply, searching for elements beneath the surface. The band searched for psychedelic qualities in unlikely places, turning up lysergic textures in mood music, Tiki kitsch, and Charlie Rich record. Coupled with the foundational influences of the Velvet Underground, Brian Eno, Steve Reich, and Al Green, this strange blend takes time to reveal itself. Some patience is required approaching Acetone’s music. Lee’s voice seems to float out of the speakers, his bass locked into meandering grooves with Hadley’s meditative drums and Lightcap’s tremolo and reverb-drenched guitar. Like its contemporaries, Low, Souled American, and Mercury Rev, Acetone created music that deconstructed and protracted rock & roll templates.

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As one never steps into the same river twice, so one never glimpses a Calder mobile in quite the same way again. Once set into motion, the pieces in “Alexander Calder: Hypermobility,” now on display at the Whitney Museum, rotate and revolve, their starry components tracing elegant and elegantly perturbed orbits. From a complex premise—cubist simultaneity extended into three dimensions—the mid-century sculptor arrived at the playful innovation we now associate more with a child’s nursery than with international modernism: where once there seemed to be stasis, there is instead only pure, fleeting relation.

Jim O’Rourke’s latest composition aspires to complement (and, in a way, even helps to clarify) this dimension of Calder’s work. Commissioned for Hypermobility, “Calder Walk” is a work of extended, atmospheric avant-jazz ingeniously embedded in the exhibit by way of a stream accessible on the museum’s website. A natural outgrowth of the Whitney’s adventurous multimedia programming, and in particular of Jay Sanders’ superb music curation, the result is an experience as amusing as it is melancholic, paradoxically lonely and communal.

Like the material that inspired it*, “Calder Walk” resists yielding a complete picture from any one vantage point. Instead, it accumulates tension through its loose, ambling structure, suggesting repetition without ever precisely retracing its own slippery footsteps. O’Rourke’s distinctive brass arrangement sets the tone, fading in and out over a slide guitar, evoking the sculptures’ elongated, flexible grace. Absentminded piano chords join the mix, along with hustling drums—a montage-signifier of stop-start glances and shuffling feet.

Jim O’Rourke :: Calder Walk

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This year, Yep Roc’s massive Nick Lowe reissue campaign went into overdrive. The label re-released 1982’s Nick the Knife, 1983’s The Abominable Showman, and 1984’s Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit over the summer, and two more mid-period albums drop on October 20, 1988’s Pinker and Prouder Than Previous and 1990’s Party of One, effectively putting the entirety of Lowe’s catalog back in print. To cap off a banner year, Lowe will perform this month at the label’s 20th anniversary celebration, Yep Roc 20, backed by Los Straitjackets.

Back in July, Lowe was a guest on Aquarium Drunkard’s Transmissions podcast. The topic was his ’80s catalog — which found Lowe embracing country, skiffle, and new wave pop — but the producer, songwriter, and performer was quick to talk about lots more, including his marriage to Carlene Carter, the connections between punk and pub rock, his early influences, and the spirit behind hits like “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding.”

That conversation, minimally edited for clarity, is presented below. Tune into to the Transmissions podcast. Subscribe on iTunes or via RSS feed.

Transmissions Podcast :: Nick Lowe

Aquarium Drunkard: I guess we’ll start off by talking about how on July 14th, Yep Roc is releasing Nick the Knife and The Abominable Showman and then the rest of the year is going to see them release the entirety of your ’80s discography. What has it been like revisiting these records, Nick the Knife through Party of One? How has that felt for you, revisiting this era?

Nick Lowe: Well, how can I put this? [laughs] I haven’t really revisited them much at all.

AD: [laughs] Yeah?

Nick Lowe: Yep Roc was kind enough to put them out again, but I wasn’t really consulted. That’s not a complaint. They just decided they would get them out there again which is really nice because they have gone out of print. I don’t know anybody who really listens obsessively to their own records, at least not after they’ve immediately been recorded. I mean, I listen to my records for two or three weeks after they’ve finished. I listen to them quite a lot then and then you put them away and that’s it. And hearing your old records, especially someone like me, when they didn’t play my stuff very often on the radio — occasionally they will play an old one or even a new one — and if you hadn’t heard [it] for a while, it’s a very strange experience. It was even when I had a big hit record like with “Cruel To Be Kind” and they played it all the time. I used to hear it all the time on the radio. It always [seemed] like there’s some mistake. Somehow it slipped through the wire and it doesn’t sound like anything else. All you can hear is, in my case, what’s wrong with it.

But the records I made from that era…the ’80s..were tough to listen to really because I wasn’t in very good shape. I mean I know that it’s all in the ear of the beholder. I might go, “Oh man, I was definitely offbeat with that one” but what I’m hearing as offbeat, other people hear something really cool or a fantastic approach. What are you gonna do? You’re gonna do your best at the time and that’s it.

SiriusOct

Our weekly two hour show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35, can be heard twice every Friday – Noon EST with an encore broadcast at Midnight EST.

SIRIUS 497: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ Wilco – Handshake Drugs (First Demo Version) ++ Kevin Morby – 1234 ++ Jonathan Rado – All The Jung Girls (Diane Coffee cover) ++ John Cale – The Man Who Couldn’t Afford To Orgy ++ David Vandervelde – Corduroy Blues ++ Girls – Headache ++ Amen Dunes – Green Eyes ++ Nap Eyes – Stargazer ++ John Andrews & The Yawns – Relax ++ Silver Jews – Federal Dust ++ Richard Swift – Most of What I Know ++ Cotton Jones – Silver Piano Man ++ Vandaveer – All I Have To Do Is Dream ++ Allah-Las – Strange Heat ++ Jacco Gardner – Clear The Air ++ The Olivia Tremor Control – Hideaway ++ Conspiracy of Owls – Ancient Robots ++ Girls Names – I Lose ++ Deerhunter – Walk A Thin Line (Fleetwood Mac) ++ The Microphones – I Want The Wind To Blow ++ Sic Alps – L Mansion ++ Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Keep Eye On Other’s Gain ++ Julian Lynch – Mare ++ Destroyer – Leave Me Alone (New Order) ++ Ought – New Calm Pt. 2 ++ No Age – Eraser ++ Galaxie 500 – Ceremony ++ The Dutchess & The Duke – Living This Life ++ Wolf People – Village Strollin’ ++ Tunde Adebimpe – Unknown Legend ++ Thurston Moore – Frozen Gtr ++ Lower Dens – Tea Lights

*You can listen, for free, online with the SIRIUS three day trial — just submit an email address and they will send you a password.
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Songhoy

The desert blues from Timbuktu. Thursday night, October 19th, Aquarium Drunkard Presents Songhoy Blues at the Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles. You want to see this. We’ve saved a stack of tickets we’re giving away to AD readers. Hit up the comments with your name to enter, along with your favorite LP of 2017…so far.

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In Jim Jarmusch’s beatific Paterson, Adam Driver plays a bus driving poet named Paterson, living in Paterson, New Jersey. It’s a film guided by patterns: the patterns Laura, Paterson’s wife wears, the pattern of his day to day routine, the repeating patters of twins throughout the film. It’s a film about the poetry of “normal life,” and it features words by Ron Padgett, writing for Driver’s character, calling back to William Carlos Williams’ epic poem, called Paterson, of course, and a quick but pivotal verse by Method Man. Jarmusch films have always unfolded slowly –think Stranger Than Paradise, Down By Law, and Mystery Train — but Paterson feels warmer than those films. It seems to luxuriate in its pace, offering a balmy sweetness to the patient viewer.

Throughout the film, Jarmusch and collaborator Carter Logan’s SQÜRL provide ambient textures behind Driver’s slow motion. The band’s body of work, including pieces for Jarmusch films The Limits of Control, Only Lovers Left Alive, and the recently-released EP #260, features sprawling feedback and distorted drones. But the duo approached Paterson differently, mostly forgoing guitars in favor of analog synthesizers, creating a contemplative sound that feels like an electronic counterpoint to Jarmusch’s recordings with lutist Jozef van Wissem, Concerning The Entrance Into Eternity and Mystery of Heaven.

The Paterson soundtrack was recently released by Third Man Records, and AD rang up Jarmusch and Logan to discuss expanding the music to album-length, the band’s experience providing live scores to silent film director Man Ray’s Retour a la Raison, Emak Bakia, Les Mysteres Du Chateau Du De, and L’Etoile De Mer, and most excitingly, to debate and define, Coffee and Cigarettes-style, the term “ecstatic music.”

Aquarium Drunkard: Paterson feels very different from what I hear on SQÜRL’s records and your other scores. Did the themes of the film itself dictate a shift away from that more heavily distorted format?

Jim Jarmusch: It started because I love many forms of music. I’ve always loved electronic music. Carter, too. We’ve been into the whole history of electronic music, from Otto Luening to Stockhausen to Berio, lots of different things. This kind of happened when we made our first score contributions to a film, The Limits of Control. I was trying to score that film with existing music. In [a] certain sequence, [the characters] are in an art museum and I could not find stuff that seemed to work. So the editor at the time, Jay Rabinowitz, said, “Why don’t you guys just try to make some music for it?” Which we did — we worked with Shane Stoneback, Carter and I, and it was good.

In this case, with Paterson, I wanted an electric score from the very beginning. I was trying all kinds of things. I love Boards of Canada, Tangerine Dream, and of course Eno, and Aphex Twin and Biosphere. We love Blanck Mass, he’s a friend of ours, and Jónsi and Alex from Iceland, and all kinds of stuff, Cluster, Global Communication. I was trying a lot of stuff, and some of it would be too sweet, some of it would be too dark. I don’t know what words to use, but it wasn’t quite weaving together right. But then our editor on this film, Affonso Gonçalves — “Fonzie” — [said] “Well man, I know you and Carter just got some analog synths and you’ve been into that and doing the live Man Ray scores, why don’t you guys try to make the score?” So we didn’t have much free time to do it, but over a series of weekends we started creating some stuff and when it got laid in, it was working really well. So we just followed that.

tom-petty

Putting on a Tom Petty record at wall shaking volume is one of life’s finest, simple pleasures. Tom Petty’s entire career is a wax wonder, and one thing that has been evident since his incredibly sad passing is that he was also a great uniter — seemingly, everybody was moved by his music.

The man was the embodiment of rock ’n’ roll; he was a second generation fan who soaked up Elvis but then pledged his allegiance to the British invasion. No mere copycat, when he stepped up to cover a song from one of his heroes, the love and passion for the music deep within him was 100% palpable.

Fortunately, a mobile truck had the tapes running in Boston, July 1978, and caught this performance of the Animals classic “Don’t Bring Me Down“. Written by the American team Gerry Goffin/Carole King, this performance takes the British interpretation and and brings it back to the USA as Tom and his untouchably tight Heartbreakers claim it as their own. However, this was initially only released in the UK as the flip side of “Here Comes My Girl”, in both 7” and 12” format. The wide groove, 45 RPM 12” single is a devastating piece of vinyl. Stan Lynch’s bass drum sounds as though it’s gonna break a window, Mike Campbell’s fuzz and tremolo guitar is in your face, Ron Blair’s bass thunders away, Belmont Tench’s organ channels the 60’, and Tom’s vocal is felt with pure velocity. words / d see

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers :: Don’t Bring Me Down (live ’78)

Related: Aquarium Drunkard / Wax Wonders Archives