Saturday, October 26, 2013

Thoughts on PJ Harvey's White Chalk

I had never heard PJ's music before this record as I had always associated her with guitar heavy indie rock music. But a friend that works in the industry gave me a lovely 45RPM pressing of White Chalk when it was released in 2007. I find myself continually coming back to this unutterably exquisite exploration of pain. There are no guitars here, mostly piano and autoharp along with some restrained drumming by the Dirty Three's Jim White. Bass, banjo, zither, fiddle and organ all appear here and there as well. Producing legend Flood and long time Harvey collaborator John Parish made the record with her and they're skills are obviously indispensable. It has some of the most beautiful vocal arrangement work ever put to tape, her voice is astounding stop-you-in-your-tracks powerful. When the back-ups drop on Silence it chills me to the bone every time. It is a short, concise, powerful record capable of stirring up serious emotion to those paying attention. The subject matter seems to be the dissolution of family, specifically abuse, and certain acts are strikingly recounted throughout the album- indeed, some songs are near transgressive in their vividness. Truly haunting. The album echos of another time or another world, its baroque feel and tonal longing are unlike anything I have heard before or since. So, yeah, I highly recommend this LP if you like heavy duty music- and it gets better with each listen even after 5 years. I am usually hesitant to recommend this kind of highly personal, emotive music but I think this LP cuts across a lot of boundaries. Also, I do not suggest listening one song at a time online, just buy the LP and play it loud at home in the dark to hear it's full potential. It's cheap on discogs. Her follow up- the war torn Let England Shake is amazing too but slightly more normal sounding than her ethereal and singular masterwork White Chalk.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Rinpoche - Degradation 12"

The second release on Tears of Joy Records is a record made by myself and Thomas Klepper, resident and co-founder of Los Angeles' long running (but now defunct) underground warehouse party space Music For Dancers. He also runs a cassette label called Association of Masks. We made the 12" in an edition of 252 copies with stamped sleeves and an insert. The tracks were written and recorded at Thomas' studio at his warehouse in the fashion district, downtown Los Angeles, earlier this year. Working without the assistance of a computer, we used various old synth and drum machines and mixed through a Tascam board to 1/4" tape which proved to be a rewarding way to track music. The A side is a deep bassline-led Chicago influenced tune suited for the early morning hours while the B side is an acid house workout featuring a demented vocal sample from the Aggressive Christianity Missionary Training Corps. You can buy a copy cheap at the Tears of Joy website or it will be in the shops early November.