Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Our Great Golden Man

Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, Our Great Golden Man revels in noisy self-expression. What sets them apart is the element of surprise and seeming chaos they inject into their Salem, Oregon thrash. Guitar timbres tumble from clean to distorted, and when you expect growling or screaming from the vocal department, you get semi-shouted singing that actually has melodic shape. it's a nice distinction.
The band have been friends since high school, and three of the members are currently enrolled in college. They want to make a living doing this, so lets give them a hand.
Their sound is highly diverse, while at the same time encompassing all the prevailing trends at work in the sounds of good bands, namely, high rhythmic diversity relating to phrase structure, changing guitar tone coloration and a sprawling-yet-tight sense of organization in relation to the form. They have a very confident sense of ensemble, which shows through in the execution of all the myriad transitions, time, and feel changes these guys pack into a small space. Everything is tied together by a highly imaginative approach to songwriting, which seems to be the key to pulling it all off.
The band formed in 2008, two of the members having played together in a previous band. Knowing one another as friends has probably been key in terms of their rapid growth, as the songs they have released so far are tightly constructed. This would probably translate even better live, as I could easily see myself slam-dancing to this at a show.
In their friends I see the Locust listed, and I can definitely hear elements of that type of thinking at work in Our Great Golden Man's writing. This band seems to prefer a more relaxed pace however, as the oppressive tempos are largely absent here, and the fracturing is, as stated before, achieved as much by timbral (clean-to-distorted) changes as by rhythm. One thing that is interesting about the rhythmic approach is the way they change accompaniment styles seemingly with each new phrase.
Musically, this translates into a style of expressiveness that ties the music to the words in a highly emotional unity. You have to hear it to truly understand. As the singer delivers his lyrics, the band seems to comment on and draw out the feelings expressed by actualizing the sentiment in the music. The songs seethe and recoil, shimmering with life. The result is similiar to the songs of the nineteenth century composer Hugo Wolf. His accompaniments were so richly imbued with the internal life of the texts that you don't need the libretto to get the gist of the lyrical intent. That's the kind of thing at work here. The band has plans to expand their touring/fanbase area, but don't expect them out here on the East Coast any time soon, as they need to become more exposed in the area near the Pacific Ocean. As tight and inventive as they are, I see a bright future for them, and think that people, given exposure to their sound, will be won over.
Check 'em out at

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Global Crash

Hello again and welcome back. This next review is about the music of an old friend of mine who goes under the moniker of Global Crash. This music is what would be categorized as "electronica". Unfortunately, I am not a fan of that term. At all. But you get what I am driving at. This man's conception is highly eclectic, encompassing a wide variety of styles ranging from trance to progressive house and breakbeat techno. It strikes me that the trance ethos pervades the whole thing, because of its overall hypnotic quality and broad rhythmic structure. Sonic events, once unfolded, will persist in the airspace for a while. Usually there will develop a matrix of sorts that will be comprised of a few of these sonic events. From that point on this grouping will be subject to myriad subtle nuances in terms of rhythmic structure, timbre, etc., that will eventually move the grouping to another place entirely, securing a type of "perpetual development", eventually arriving at a new point of departure. On and on this process persists, creating broad canvasses painted with large strokes.
The resulting picture is one of zen-like simplicity, seeming at times to revel in the sake of its own existence, existing solely for itself, quiet, introspective.
The area where Global Crash and its creator Paul Holder reside is near the ocean. I have spent alot of time living near the ocean and something about this music makes the same impression on me, one of deep, unfathomable space, uniformity of space, timelessness. There is a sense of gravitation, the feeling of looking out into the ocean late at night and seeing no clear division between land and sea, only a black, endless uniformity. Standing too long staring, one feels the pull of the tide, as though it might suck you into its void, string you out in its limitless blackness. This is the type of impression Global Crash has on me. As if I might possibly get caught up in its aural net and sucked in by its subtle, imposing gravity.
I do not want to give the impression that this music is dark or negative in any way, as there is nothing "evil" about it. The forgoing bit of exposition is simply an attempt at describing the overall effect of this musical impression. It is "quietly active", and pulses with a life all its own. One could possibly dance to this music, but it possesses such a contemplative, meditative quality that it seems better suited for those types of activities. It would translate even better live. We feel that this would be great "cool-down" music at a rave or something similiar, as its broad rhythmic conception, though supported by traditional "techno" drum sequencing, is so gradually paced that one never feels frantic or jumpy, but rather lulled.
For the sake of disclosure let me state that Paul and I went to high school together. We skateboarded and also listened to a lot of similar music. Among the shared interests musically was Skinny Puppy, Ajax, Ministry and many others. But in the foregoing list it is clearly seen that seeds were planted.
Global Crash eschews traditional musical norms. In response to my round of questions, I was given to understand that he considers himself to be more of a sound engineer than a musician, but I feel that the proof of his intuitive musicianship indicates that he is more of a "musician" than he may realize.
In my questionaire, which was posted as a seperate blog on Myspace, I inquired as to musical schooling. The answer I received was most telling, which pointed out a mentality that has confronted my very existence forever. The fact is, that as much as I am glad to be "trained" in this art, too many academic musicians ruin the experience with their snobbery. It was put to me that Paul was told that his style is not real music. As if being knowledgeable confers upon one the right to DECLARE what is valid in art. How is this not real music? It is sound organized through time, hence music.
The production is of a type I have heard referred to as "continuous mix", meaning that there is no break in the songs, no silence between tracks, so those interested in specific track divisions and the like need to pay real close attention to the track numbers. It seems to me that this relates to the type of production that occurs live, and also supports the broad rhythmic conception nicely. The primary instrumentation is keyboard/drum machine, with enough sampling and secondary instrumentation thrown in to provide variety.
Paul's long-range plans for Global Crash are to keep expanding, to continue on for as long as possible, distributing his music himself until he finds a bigger outlet. His other goals are to do soundtrack music for films, etc. He is also interested in securing a DJ gig at a club and doing live performances for fashion shows, art exhibits and the like. Anyone interested should look him up.
check him out at: , also at

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Lolita Black

Back in 2003, a guitarist and drummer were jamming together, writing dark, punk influenced heavy rock. The drummer was female, and as the guitarist watched her play her drums with a severe intensity, he thought to himself, "Lolita Black!" Thus was born one of the great up-and-coming bands in Providence, Rhode Island.
Lolita Black are a four piece, comprised of Bob on guitar, Kaleigh on drums, Jacob on bass, and Jessika on vocals. I had the pleasure of watching them at AS220 this past May opening for The Chinese Stars, and they killed. Straight out. Their sound is a throw back to oldschool riff-based rock, tempered by a thoroughly contemporary sensibility. Jacob and Kaleigh have the bass/drum nexus locked down tight, and from my memory banks I can still recall that Kaleigh beats the holy hell out of her drumset, playing with focus and conviction. Her sense of time is dead solid, and her phrasing is straightforward and right on top of the beat. As much as everyone is in love with Gabriel Serbian,(and rightly so), hearing good straight-up thrash can be refreshing, especially when the drummer in question possesses a time sense as solid as she does. I personally feel that she will be inspirational for many young women who want to rock out as hard as they can. She plays as though exorcising something dark and evil.
That's actually a great word to use in relation to this band. Not literally, but in a Geezer Butler/Bill Ward kind of way. Think of Black Sabbath, and songs like Children of the Grave or War Pigs but with more thrash, and you can start to get it. However, the presence of a female vocalist completely changes the texture. Jessika has a great vocal tone for the music they play, and tons of attitude. She seems to vocalize from her chest voice and head voice equally. Her chest voice adds a fullness to her tone, giving it a dark and rounded quality. When she changes registers, as in "Hollow", the quality of her tone becomes more biting and urgent. No matter which aspect of her range she is using, she acquits herself nicely, really bringing out the drama as though tortured by some long-held misery.
In some ways, however, Bob is the real revelation. Those "in the know" are already acquainted with his stage presence and crushing intensity as the frontman for DropDead. But, the world now has the chance to discover him as a guitarist. Maybe this was known already. I do not know him personally, so I cannot say. At any rate, his riffs are tightly constructed and rhythmically "in the pocket". He has absorbed a lot of great influences, and it shows through in his approach to riff writing. Not that his playing is derivative in any way (which it isn't), but his personality as a guitarist displays a deep knowledge of the tension and release necessary to any good music making. Also, he has a muscular right hand that pushes slightly ahead of the beat, heightening the intensity.
This brings us to Jacob. The bass player is always the "hidden weapon". With out a solid bassplayer, a great band will totally fail. Unless it is Arab On Radar or Yowie or some such, but that is a different style altogether. The style that Lolita plays in necessitates a tight bottom end, and in Jacob such is to be found. He has great rhythm and a fat, fuzzed-out tone. As I stated, he locks in with Kaleigh to form the "undernet" of the rhythm section, nailing all the downbeats with precision. He also locks in with Bob and glues the bridge between guitar and drums nicely. When doubling the guitar riffs, Bob and Jacob are seamless in their unison playing.
Though he has fronted DropDead for close to twenty years, Bob stated in response to my barrage of questions that he wants Lolita Black to stand on its own two feet, and he doesn't "see the need to use the DropDead name as a launching point". With songwriting this solid, there will be no need for such associations. On top of that, Lolita sounds nothing like DropDead.
As of this writing, the band has just finished its first release, entitled "Inside The Wasteland", which I was given to understand is in the vicinity of 23 minutes. I have only been fortunate enough to listen to the songs on myspace (about 50 times), so I am looking forward to picking up a copy of the album. They are also in the process of printing shirts and pins, and have some shows lined up for the coming months. I didn't verify, but listings could probably be found at Lots of Noise (, which contains listings for most of the goings in the Providence area. Support this band!! They are going places.

Check 'em out at: