White Noise

This Heat
The fear of mutually assured destruction can be a wonderful source of inspiration. For This Heat, it helped spawn Deceit and Health & Efficiency EP, records that forged progressive and post-punk by dismembering the Genesis-soiled corpse of the ’70s. Twenty-five years after the band’s conception, record company ReR is reissuing the band’s notoriously elusive discography in Out of Cold Storage, a box set that includes the two aforementioned records as well as their self-titled debut, a new collection of live recordings, a book of photographs and essays, and Repeat, a later EP of unreleased material.

Charles Hayward, Charles Bullen and Gareth Williams joined forces in 1977, got their first radio play from John Peel that year, then wallowed in the Bristol squats and Rock in Opposition scene that birthed Henry Cow and Roxy Music until 1982 when Williams left to study Kathakali in India. Preceded by Faust’s tape experiments and krautrock jams and eclipsed by Sonic Youth’s stateside noise dirges, This Heat’s short lifetime became the stuff of myth rather than legend – frequently talked about but seldom heard, except on tapes copied from other tapes.
Those tapes are the inimitable artifacts of Cold Storage, the studio built by the band in an industrial meat refrigerator. This Heat surfaced in 1979, a truly experimental record of punk being torn into pieces, all insidious sine tones, scraping tape loops, creaky organs and tribal drums with little room to scream. Deceit, the band’s paramount achievement, is an ironic assault on the noxious politics of the Cold War. England is on the outside, the band is on the inside, and the two can’t quite connect, vocal harmonies haunt when they should soothe, guitar riffs churn on past their logical expiration, lullabies become mantras, then elegies. Deceit is the return of the repressed where fear and confusion are dragged out from the inner recesses of the mind and perfectly articulated. Alexander Provan

Buddha Machine
Brian Eno is not a gnomic creature, will not fit easily in your purse or shoulder bag, will not serenade you for hours on end with the music of celestial spheres in the confines of your living room – he is not even battery-operated. In other words, he is not the Buddha Machine.

Released last year by Amsterdam experimental record label Staalplaat, the Buddha Machine is an innocuous, rectangular box equipped with an integrated speaker, DC input, headphone output and nine ambient loops. The loops – composed by Christiaan Virant and Zhang Jian as the Beijing-based electronic duo FM3 – range from five to 40 seconds, from hazy melodies to flickering clusters of tones. While FM3’s loops are static, their glacial pace and general ambience guarantees a listening experience that changes over time. Vague rhythms dissolve and resurface transformed, subtle frequencies mingle with background noises.

Rough day at work? Choose a loop, adjust the volume and cede yourself to the endless repetition. Need to escape? Collect all six colors, pack an aural picnic, take the sounds to the park and treat yourself to an ambient symphony. Feeling subversive? Pack a bag of them, head to the mall and drown out the muzak.
Inspired by a cheap mp3 player with a loop of a chanting monk that Virant found in a Chinese temple over a decade ago, the Buddha Machine lies somewhere between portable conceptual art installation and ultimate music-nerd fetish-object. Staalplaat has plans to commission other artists to compose loops for further editions of the Buddha Machine, which has accrued a cult following over the last year. Understandably, Eno himself is said to have picked up eight of them. Alexander Provan

You Say Party! We Say Die!
A renaissance is happening in indie music: bands are smiling and having fun on stage while churning out a magnificent show. And luckily, this phenomenon knows no borders. Canadian bands like the Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene are paving the way for a new guard that has seemingly taken over. Vancouver’s own You Say Party! We Say Die! is creating a stir with its high-energy concoction with a collective energy similar to the Go! Team, an early B-52’s art-style, and a similar call-to-fight in the streets like the Clash’s early works. With their staccato chants and pulsating beats, the band is full of spunk, foot-tapping contagion and swirling pop style that echoes their American cousins and fellow West Coasters Pretty Girls Makes Graves.

With their group approach to attacking the stage with collective abandon, You Say Party! We Say Die! have been gaining rave reviews across North America, from SXSW to West Coast tours, by winning people over one at a time with their energetic live shows. Their first full-length recording Hit the Floor received favorable reviews and has opened doors across America and gained considerable interest in Europe, where they will be heading in the spring for a full tour.

You Say Party! We Say Die! are rapidly spreading a smoldering trail of fire from home stereos to sweaty clubs, noisily poised to take on the world scene with their style and catchy chaos. Scott Radnidge

Sean Lennon at the Mission Creek Music Festival

Mission Creek Music Festival
Angelina Moysov wore a silky black jumpsuit, buckled up with an oversized black studded-belt and strutted around in mean knee-high black boots, yet the outfit of the southern Russian was an understatement compared to the sophisticated sound of her band Persephone’s Bees. On May 20, the band rocked San Francisco’s Rickshaw Stop.
Persephone’s Bees was one of a handful of bands in the 10th annual Mission Creek Music and Arts Festival. Mission Creek spotlights local underground musical, literary and artistic expression while also featuring national and international artists. “I had a visceral desire to fill what I thought was a cultural void in the city: a festival that celebrated local musicians,” says producer and founder Jeff Ray. “So I started Mission Creek Music Festival ten years ago at a warehouse space on Sycamore Street.” Named after a creek Ray discovered running through the elevator shaft of his band Zmrzlina’s practice space, Mission Creek started as a single-day event, but has evolved into an eight-day, 170-act festival, including music, film and sound installations.

Thanks to a Zellerbach grant and local sponsors like Rainbow Grocery and Intersection for the Arts, Mission Creek is able to make ends meet. But Ray admits the future is uncertain. “Most of the people involved with Mission Creek are musicians, not business folks, so we tend not to focus so much on making money,” he says. “Someday this will have to change, or the festival will not survive.” Although this year may not have been particularly lucrative, Ray acknowledges that artistically it was one of the best years ever. “It’s a testament to how vibrant the music scene is, despite these dark political and economic times.”

One of this year’s features included Vincent Gallo and Sean Lennon performing at Bimbo’s 365 Club. “They had an amazing rapport. There was an ethereal, timeless quality to their music, and the entire crowd at Bimbo’s was silent throughout their set,” Ray says.

As ears stop ringing and bands pack up, Ray has set his sights for another successful run next year, with hopes to bring back some past festival participants like Deerhoof, Joanna Newsom, Devendra Banhart, and with a little luck, his favorite Swedish band, the Knife. Nora Ballard

The Black Angels
The heavy drone of the Austin-based Black Angels may very well be the resonant vibration of our collective fears. It may also be the voodoo that keeps dread at bay. The Black Angels compose music with conviction, breaking through the bubble of pop music with a blitzkrieg of musical oblivion that takes listeners into the dark subconscious of rock and roll. Their sound is pure, refined emotion and it goes deeper than some people may want, but it seems to be catching on.“We’re getting a really good response all across the country,” says Alex Maas, a founding member. “The last six months have been really great to us.”

Alex and his band members – comprised of Christian Bland, Stephanie Bailey, Nate Ryan, Jennifer Raines and Kyle Hunt – create a multi-layered, mind-altering gestalt of sound that plays superego to pop rock’s id, though this superego is full of shadows from the ghosts of the ’60s and early-’70s. Many of their songs deal with war and death, but they’re not trying to base their reputation on that alone.“We don’t try to be political,” Maas explains. “If there’s something that we think is true, we’re going to say it.”

Maas and Bland write most of the songs, but overall the Black Angels represent a collective effort since the band is tightly knit and share fairly similar tastes (four of them live together). “As far as what we’re doing,” says Maas, “I don’t think anyone else is doing this.”

Their music doesn’t have hooks, but according to Maas, the Black Angels try to make music everyone can relate to. If some people can’t relate, that’s fine too. “If you don’t get it, then that’s okay. That just means you weren’t supposed to.” Kristopher Monroe

Blogged In
No longer just the place to get your daily fix of news and catty celebrity gossip, the Internet is also one of most effective ways of tapping into the latest musical trends. Music blogs offer an easily accessible window into the audio world with news, reviews, concert photos, and tasty music samplings from the hottest indie darlings and hip-hop artists. Here are five audioblogs worth checking out:

As the name implies, Brooklyn Vegan is an audioblog that uses New York City’s vibrant vegan scene as a jump-off point to explore the current musical climate. The site’s postings offer music news, concert information, photographs and a smattering of songs for your downloading pleasure. brooklynvegan.com
Gorilla vs. Bear is the perfect site to get your indie rock fix with just a dash of hip hop. This site always serves up great mp3s from buzz-worthy artists. gorillavsbear.blogspot.com

M3 Online is an excellent blog, with write-ups of up-and-coming bands and a variety of quality music samples. goodweatherforairstrike.blogspot.com

Soul Sides is the creation of renowned hip-hop music critic Oliver Wang. This blog is guaranteed to provide you with your weekly dose of superior hip hop and soul. soul-sides.com

Using Elbo’s search engine, you can scour other music blogs for information about bands and concerts, or you can seek out particular songs. The “What’s Hot?” list allows you to see what other music hounds have been downloading. elbo.ws, Petrice Gaskin