Dec 8, 2008

josephine foster

Colorado born Josephine Foster has practically defined what it means to be an outsider folk singer. Initially with Born Heller and then solo and accompanied by the Supposed, her unsettling soprano and way with a song takes the eerie otherness of those early Appalachian ballads and brings them, whispering, into our dreams. The Coming Gladness brings the folk aesthetic that Josephine has explored in her recent albums to the psyche rock territory of her recordings with the Supposed. This intense, uncompromising music is the looming badlands landscape lit by the charged lightning strikes of an extraordinary voice. That voice belongs to no movement, trend or fashion, any more than the equally haunted spirit of Tim Buckley, another outsider, another unique talent, did in his day. It is simply great music and Josephine Foster is, simply, a great singer, simply a great songwriter. Guitarist Victor Herrero and percussionist Alex Nielson more than contribute to the otherworldly sound of the album. Alex Nielson has been the drummer of choice for Will Oldham, Current 93, and many others, while also fronting his own bands Directing Hand, Tight Meat Duo, and Trembling Bells. Victor as accomplished on electric guitar as acoustic, has also a new solo acoustic guitar soon to be released on Bo’ Weavil. .
One of the finest artists to have emerged from the so-called freak-folk boom of a few years back,
Josephine Foster continues to write beautiful songs, and doesn't sound remotely like an artist tied to a particular fad. Regardless of its context, Foster's voice always sounds as if it's emerging from some dusty, wartime 78pm vinyl, with an outgoing, operatic tone probably best described as 'witchy'. Foster has tried out various styles of arrangement of her peculiar song craft over the years, and set into a trio format (with drums supplied by the always excellent Alex Nielson and lead guitar from Victor Herrero) this album probably draws comparison's with the more fleshed out sounds of her A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing album or the Born Heller material. There's nothing that could be branded as especially folksy about this music though, in fact it probably more closely resembles a kind of song-based free jazz at times: on the woozy piano psychedelics of 'Lullaby To All' she sounds like a 1940s Kate Bush, as a rampaging, atonal solo scrawls mercilessly across the song from Herrero's guitar. His inky lead playing leaves its mark on much of the album, and it's particularly effective on the more atmospherically charged moments, such as 'Indelible Rainbows', which is swamped in glistening echo. Despite its ventures into dissonance and the more exploratory dynamics of free jazz, this latest body of song from Foster finds her at the peak of her songwriting form, and she actually seems all the more effective for having other musicians to clash against. Very highly recommended.

Entre que con el paso del tiempo cada vez resulta más complicado escribir palabras que aporten verdaderamente algo y que me llegara el Lp, el regreso de la sirena se ha hecho esperar. Querer intuir que nos esperaba tras A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing, el folk más misterioso y desolador que yo haya oído y un disco bellísimo que siempre habrá que reivindicar, era tarea perdida. Abandonado el romanticismo alemán y también a Locust, lo cierto es que aún perduran recuerdos de aquel viaje y, en realidad, por aquellos parajes aún vive pero fuera de la cueva en la que se refugiaba. Su compañero Victor Herrero resquebraja ahora la guitarra aunque las consecuencias son menos fatales, algo más enmascarado en una densa atmósfera. Más Alex Nielson a la percusión, This Coming Gladness, se rinde a la exploración psicodélica y a un folk con alma de blues, eso sí la sensación de free-songs de 'A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing' sigue ahí. Cada paso de Josie en su trabajo es un nuevo vacío a llenar, en sus diferentes reencarnaciones el paso intermedio e invisble nunca había existido, así que por fin llegó.

Dec 7, 2008

ulaan khol

All heavy with warmth & mystery, Ulaan Khol returns with another round of vertical incantations aimed at the heavens. As Ulaan Khol, Steven R. Smith (Hala Strana, Thuja, Mirza) creates dense tapestries that revel in the eternal and infinite. The bursts of tones & grip on formal structures can compare to the best of Hototogisu or Handful of Dust, though filtered through an ample dose of Ash Ra Tempel.

Supreme while discreet, these songs carry a sense of unnerving calm and optimistic gloom, often within a single composition. Swaths of heavy feedback cascade against sinister organ workouts & varied percussion that’s at times pounding, and at others distant. Throughout, Smith’s works emerge as vessels of possibility, exploratory rituals of hope.
Under the Ulaan Khol banner, Smith has planned a maximalist three-part suite, 'Ceremony.' Following the cryptic first installment, II shines with hazy, rolling atmospheric works that drift and shift with ease. Riding a crumbling riff into oblivion, Ulaan Khol's II emanates with the gleam of pure white light.