Sunday, October 28, 2018

Colin Fisher - The Garden of Unknowing (Tombed Visions, 2018)

I’ve been following the music of Toronto-based multi-instrumentalist Colin Fisher for over ten years, including his output with the I Have Eaten the City trio alongside Nick Storring and Brandon Valdivia (Mas Aya) and with Not the Wind Not the Flag (a duo with Valdivia).  It goes without saying that when new Fisher tunes arrive on the scene, that I’m going to do my best to sniff them out.  UK-based Tombed Visions is a new label to me, but upon peeking at their back catalogue I realize that I’ve been hiding under a rock.  The aesthetics of the imprint’s releases are fantastic – each is a miniature work of art.  I have some investigating to do…

Fisher’s oeuvre is massive and boundary-stretching, as far as creative music is concerned.  Whether he’s going solo or teaming up with like-minded heads, there are no laurels rested upon.  Yet there’s a cohesive thread running through it all, a signature that is undeniably present in each release.  Perhaps epitomizing this phenomenon, The Garden of Unknowing finds the musician pushing compositional and improvisational boundaries yet again.  Fisher wields guitar, saxophone, synth, drums and bass all on his own to weave together a series of free jazz pieces that contain the energy of a complete outfit – a collection of masterful players folded into a single entity.

Musically, these pieces are incredibly melodic and appealing.  Each of the seven tracks is a mini-universe, complete with interwoven narratives – both though-provoking dialectics and late-night carousals.  Each element unfolds expertly as Fisher improvises with himself, the music ebbing and flowing with an inconceivable unison that only a master craftsman of sound could achieve.  Particularly engaging is “Unveiling,” which unfolds with an energetic abandon over a searing wail of synthesizer.  Its ember sheds tongues of flame that twist and leap freely, cascading upward as bursts of orange sparks, until finally waning at track’s end.

Join Fisher in The Garden of Unknowing; head over to the Tombed Visions Bandcamp.  Physical copies are still available.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Isness - Isness (Crash Symbols, 2018)

The West Virginian cassette tape gurus over at Crash Symbols continue their unrelenting cadence of adventurous releases, showing no signs of slowing down.  The label’s been offering up about a tape every month since around April of this year, and each one is a pleasure to behold in both the visual and the aural realms.  Even cooler, some of their tapes are accompanied by an artwork-matching button that you can proudly wear on your favourite jacket now that Autumn is here and the icy weather is brewing.

The latest spool of goodness to hail from the Crash Symbols camp is a delicious slice of harmonious improvisation from Isness, the duo project of Montreal’s Catherine Debard (YlangYlang) and Oakland-based composer Matt Robidoux (Curse Purse with Ted Lee of Feeding Tube Records, ex-Speedy Ortiz).  Robidoux is actually a west coast transplant, originally hailing from Massachusetts, inhabiting the zany orbit that folks like Sunburned Hand of the Man also abide.  He and Debard crossed paths via a web of touring and other opportune moments of translocation, synergistically creating the isness of… …well, Isness.

A third member graces the A side of this delicious tape, violinist Jenifer Gelineau of Sunburned Hand of the Man.  This material was recorded in summer 2017 when the three musicians convened in Ontario, Canada, and is very much dream-like in execution.  A soft drone permeates the proceedings over which violin, percussion, flute, what sounds like banjo, and the ocean’s roar are all interwoven across the first three tracks.  The side closes with “Beach Pizza”, its clangorous strings and feedback serving as the jarring wake up call that abruptly terminates the mesmerizing hallucination it succeeds.

On the flip, we have the pair of Debard and Robidoux on their own, sprouting a growing delusion of amorphous room tones, string scrapes, samples, percussion, and other less discernable sounds.  Their poetry grows ever musical as the side unfolds, abstract aural phenomena coalescing into crystalline patterns which then splinter apart such that the resulting sonics are at times mellifluous and at others certifiably strange.

You can peer into the spellbinding mindshare that is Isness by pointing your browser to the Crash Symbols Bandcamp; there are still physical copies available.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Welcome to Nine Chains to the Moon!

Hello!  This new little blog was thought of as an extension to the music writing that I am involved with for other publications (Exclaim!, Decoder, ex-Foxy Digitalis), and is aimed at focusing on little-known sonic entities from the global sub-underground.  Submissions are always welcome and encouraged.  Physical is preferred but digital is accepted as well.  Reach out to ninechainstothemoon [at] gmail [dot] com to inquire!  Thanks and much love!