Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fat Millie's Lament and the Metal Machine

This entry is the result of an effort to generate interest in this blog by creating a piece that will contain a host of potential search terms. In this case, the terms will relate solely to music.

In particular, it's hoped the entry will attract the interest of those with special tastes for dark ambient music, doom metal, black metal, experimental classical music, triphop and drum and bass. To maximize the number of potential search terms, I'll simply list performers (and in many cases, composers or songwriters) who make the kinds of music I've listed.

The list for black metal includes bad-news-making Scandinavian bands, such as Emperor and Belphegor, and their American counterparts, the not-bad-news-making Xasthur and Azrael. A stunning Greek version is Rotting Christ, whose short songs, usually built with traditional pop structures (but not pop delivery) are replete with soaring and substantial melodies.

Xasthur makes the least structured music of the bunch, with a sound that mixes overlayered grinding guitars and the simple melodic chord progressions associated with all sorts of minimalism.

For doom, the earth2 recording has yet to be surpassed for its calming effect; for agitated or frustrated individuals, early Swans is ideal doom.

The reach of dark ambient is vast, embracing Lustmord, Metaconqueror, Lull, Robert Rich and the dozens of recordings of Steve Roach.

Performers melding all the sounds mentioned thus far, and power electronics as well, are Navicone Torture Technologies (the project of a fellow who calls himself Leech) and Abyssic Hate — two acts whose recordings can always be counted on for rapturous beauty.

Less rigorous in its demands on the listener, but sometimes as lyrical, is the work of such triphop DJs as DJ Spooky, Coldcut, DJ Shadow and others. Comparable melodies (thought to be vaguely in the tradition of jazz) are found in the breakneck drum and bass beats of Kenny Kenn, DJ SS and the David Bowie album Earthling. To venture further into experimental electronic music, and formulate lists of the talented crowd that gets classified with such tags and terms as experimental techno and shoegaze music, would be to introduce a number of potential search terms too big for this writer to manage.

As for experimental classical composers (whose work often overlaps with dark ambient or power electronics), the very long list includes such names as John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luciano Berio (hear, for example, his Laborintus 2), Sal Martirano (for example, L's GA), Kenneth Gaburo (for example, Fat Millie's Lament), Maurizio Kagel, Luigi Nono. Such composers paved the way for the great, early nonacademic noise works, such as Lou Reeds' Metal Machine Music, the compositions and anguished and angry performances of Diamanda Galas and Joanna Went, and what I feel is the greatest recording of noise music to date, Yoko Ono's Fly. (For what it's worth, I'm guessing that New York No Wave owes a greater debt to experimental jazz than to experimental classical. While I'm not an unusually honest person, I'll admit I'm not familiar enough with experimental jazz to write about it with any kind of real authority.)

Additions to this very short list are heartily welcomed

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