Friday, February 25, 2011




Last year, I profiled New York-based experimental electronic sextet Excepter for The Wire. I interviewed three of their members—John Fell "Jeff" Ryan, Lala Ryan, and Jon Nicholson—in person, and sent questions to two other members, Clare Amory and Nathan Corbin, by email. Today it was announced that Amory has died of cancer at age 35. In a spirit of remembrance, here are her answers to my emailed questions, in full.

How long have you been in Excepter?
I even tried to google and figure out if my first show was at Tonic or Suoni Per Il Popolo festival in Montreal, and I just couldn't remember or figure it out. I had been to every show for so long before and felt part of it. It was 2006-7 I think. Before I had been in FEAST which played traditionally structured songs and practiced 2 hrs. at a time 3 times a week. I loved FEAST especially at the end when we were playing Stoner Sludge Metal and had finally figured out how to record. After that band ended I was playing with Nathan and friends at home and didn't want to do anything else. It took a while for my brain to want to play Excepter. Now it's good to be truly free and with the other weirds. You are an Excepter or you're not an Excepter whether you started playing yet or not and really we're all Excepters.

Were you and Nathan a couple when you joined?
Yes and we had already been playing together as LAKE for a while before, also as eyelasher. We can play loud at home whenever we want which is great.

How were you each recruited?
I think Jeff told me a bunch of times I could play when I wanted, then at some point I just did and now I always do.

The music is improvised, and then edited later by Jeff - are the rest of you consulted on edits, or do you hear the album when it's done?
It's true that Jeff has the final say. That makes everything so easy. I can vary my participation in different processes in the band as it suits me and nobody's ever given me grief. After being a dancer and in heavily rehearsed and composed projects for years, the space is IT brother. I don't care about winning I just want to be free. Sometimes we talk about the feeling of the record or specific parts of it, we get the cuts he's worked out in advance so we can talk about it if we want.

Has this process evolved over time, or was this the arrangement when you joined the group?
It evolves with changes in instrumentation; a new instrument can become the leader and tell the group what to do. The lasting effects of various tour vibes; usually great! We tour in high style with giant burgers and become a freedom force. There's nothing like it and it makes the music enormous. The number of shows in a time period effects how tight our web is woven.

Can you describe the negotiations (spoken and unspoken) that determine the course of a live set?
Sometimes Nathan and I listen to each other's beats at home before a show. We're also listening to the same records at home before we leave. Sometimes the band works out a technical component like Porkchop [Jon Nicholson] and Nathan synching for the night. Sometimes Lala says that she's worked out some special spell. Jeff often has excited and explosive arm gestures followed by shyness that communicate his vibe for the night. I am always happy when I get to the club and I can tell what everybody is like, then we play. We listen to each other, I feel like we get along. I wait for openings. I try not to play or do anything unneccesary.

What was the experience of playing the 17-hour set on Election Day 2008 like? How do you prepare for, and "come down" from, something like that?
To prepare I chose my instruments. I voted in Pennsylvania at 6 am and then drove 4 hours to the club so I was a little late. The drive was amazing, I have video somewhere. I always know it's going to be dreamlike, the longer I play like this the less the number of hours matter. We could play from now until we die I think, we would just sleep and eat right there while the others kept it going. When you pause to eat you get really good ideas.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Here's what happened at this week:

• On Monday, a review of two CDs (an album and a remix album) by new Bill Laswell/Justin Broadrick project The Blood of Heroes;
• On Tuesday, a review of the latest album by Florida death metal legends Deicide;
• On Friday, an interview with Chilean-American electronic musician/producer Nicolas Jaar (pictured above)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Rammstein did a one-off show at Madison Square Garden and sold it out, now they're doing a North American tour—Ayumi Hamasaki could totally do the same thing.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Live in the UK, 1986:

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Here's what you may have missed:

• Monday, a review of Bongripper's Satan Worshipping Doom
• Tuesday, a review of Miles Davis's Bitches Brew Live
• Thursday, a review of Mostly Other People Do the Killing's The Coimbra Concert
• Friday, a review of Hans-Joachim Roedelius's Geschenk des Augenblicks


This video came on mun2, the bilingual cable channel, while I was - no joke - listening to LCD Soundsystem's "Losing My Edge" on headphones. Bear in mind as you watch that Gloria Trevi - who is attempting a comeback after serving jail time for some seriously unsavory, creepy shit - is 42 years old. She could literally be a parent to pretty much everyone else on screen. I guess she's going for that Cher-esque "old lady still at the party" thing?

Friday, February 11, 2011

DEV's something I like. Dev is a female rapper who based on only two songs, I very much prefer to Ke$ha (her closest analogue). Here's "Bass Down Low"...

And here's "Booty Bounce"...

You may notice that a section of the lyrics to "Booty Bounce" was sampled for the chorus of the Far East Movement single "Like a G6"...

This has been today's edition of What People Younger Than You Are Listening To.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


(Well, not really; I caught the 11 PM re-airing.)

I went out last night and saw the Wayne Shorter Quartet at Town Hall. I took some pictures, and reviewed it for the Village Voice.

Here are the pictures:

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


Slander (Victory)
Long Island sextet Dr. Acula have come a long way since the “party grind” of Below Me and The Social Event of the Century. Their music is slower and heavier now, moving into the chest-beating deathcore territory of Emmure, The Acacia Strain and Chelsea Grin. The movie and TV dialogue samples that have riddled all their releases are still there, of course, spicing things up and adding an additional layer of satirical bite—as though an album with a song called “Cocaine Avalanche” needs more jokes. It doesn’t, not when it’s got riffs this potent. Slander is more than just a parade of sludgy breakdowns—the party synths add some texture, but so do the occasional bursts of pop-punk and even melodic death-metal riffage on tracks like “Pure And Immature Goon” and “Who You Gonna Call?!” There’s a passage toward the end of the latter track that could have come from a Black Dahlia Murder album. With Slander, Dr. Acula have grown from a joke band into a group worth attention and respect, without losing their sense of humor. [Link]

The Architects of Guilt (Solid State)
It seems pretty clear that Texas-based death-metal band The Famine like The Black Dahlia Murder a lot. That’s fine; lots of people do. But there are a few moves cribbed straight from the BDM playbook on The Architects of Guilt, including but not limited to the screech-and-growl vocals, the melodic solos tucked into death-metal riff-storms and the ability to write songs that are damn close to catchy while staying extreme. Oh, and then there’s the fact that The Famine use the exact same font as The Black Dahlia Murder for their name. But don’t blow this album off just because it has some superficial similarities to the work of another (excellent) band; The Architects of Guilt is the work of an assured and talented group of musicians. Drummer Mark Garza’s playing is particularly impressive, adding unexpected subtlety to “Bigger Cages, Longer Chains!” while jackhammering the listener into submission on “The Crown And The Holy See” and “Ad Mortem.” Bassist-turned-vocalist Nick Nowell’s upper-register delivery is more powerful and unnerving than his death-metal roars, but he’s always a compelling presence, and guitarist Andrew Godwin offers catchy riffs and squiggly solos, as well as chugging breakdowns reminiscent of Demiricous’ excellent, overlooked Two (Poverty). This is the album you want to play for anyone who thinks Texas metal died with Dimebag Darrell. [Link]


How a revolution erupts from a commonplace event—tidal wave from a ripple—is cause for endless astonishment...

First, a piece of news about something said or done travels quickly, more so than usual, because it is uniquely apt; it fits a half-conscious mood or caps a situation... The fact and the challenger's name generate rumor, exaggeration, misunderstanding, falsehood. People ask each other what is true and what it means. The atmosphere becomes electric, the sense of time changes, grows rapid; a vague future seems nearer.

On impulse, perhaps to snap the tension, somebody shouts in church, throws a stone through a window, which provokes a fight...and clearly it is no ordinary breach of the peace. Another unknown harangues a crowd, urging it to stay calm—or not to stand there gaping but do something. As further news spreads, various types of people become aroused for or against the thing now upsetting everybody's daily life. But what is that thing? Concretely: ardent youths full of hope as they catch the drift of the idea, rowdies looking for fun, and characters with a grudge. Cranks and tolerated lunatics come out of houses, criminals out of hideouts, and all assert themselves.

Manners are flouted and customs broken. Foul language and direct insult become normal, in keeping with the rest of the excitement, buildings are defaced, images destroyed, shops looted. Printed sheets pass from hand to hand and are read with delight or outrage—Listen to this! Angry debates multiply about things long since settled: talk of free love, of priests marrying and monks breaking their vows, of property and wives in common, of sweeping out all evils, all corruption, all at once—all things new for a blissful life on earth.

A curious leveling takes place: the common people learn words and ideas hitherto not familiar and not interesting and discuss them like intellectuals, while others neglect their usual concerns—art, philosophy, scholarship—because there is only one compelling topic, the revolutionary Idea. The well-to-do and the "right-thinking," full of fear, come together to defend their possessions and habits. But counsels are divided and many see their young "taking the wrong side." The powers that be wonder and keep watch, with fleeting thoughts of advantage to be had from the confusion. Leaders of opinion try to put together some of the ideas afloat into a position which they mean to fight for. They will reassure others, or preach boldness, and anyhow head the movement.

Voices grow shrill, parties form and adopt names or are tagged with them in derision and contempt. Again and again comes the shock of broken friendships, broken families. As time goes on, "betraying the cause" is an incessant charge, and there are indeed turncoats. Authorities are bewildered, heads of institutions try threats and concessions by turns, hoping the surge of subversion will collapse like previous ones. But none of this holds back that transfer of power and property which is the mark of revolution and which in the end establishes the Idea.

—Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to the Present (HarperCollins, 2000)

Truly we live in times such as man has never before seen.

No, really.

Monday, February 07, 2011


I was in England recently, traveling with a rock band I shall not name for a magazine I shall not name. You'll find out soon enough, believe me. Here are some photos.
A street in Bristol. No, you could not own a Cadillac here even if you wanted to.
Also Bristol. Self-explanatory, really.
A row of taxis in Bristol. Note weird reflection in shop window. A ghost, perhaps?
Painting by Banksy, splattered with blue and yellow paint by pissed-off local soccer fans (apparently he insulted them or the team at some point). This painting is 3 or 4 stories off the ground, and nobody knows how he got up there to do it; it just appeared one morning.
Standing on Brighton "beach," which is actually the British national rock collection. Kinda looks like Asbury Park, NJ, plus rocks.
Me standing on Brighton "beach." I walked up and down this ground for the equivalent of about three blocks, and afterward, my feet were seriously aching.
Inside Brighton Dome, a really cool concert hall. The guy with his back to the camera is the drummer for the band I was following around.
The stage at London's Brixton Academy, shot from the balcony (which is several stories above floor level). This place is huge and scary, originally a movie theater built in the 1920s. The floor (where the seats used to be) slopes downward toward the stage, and there are several big metal barricades erected in the middle of the floor which can really hurt you if you bounce off them.