Monday, September 26, 2011

Global Crash

Global Crash creates iridescent waves of rhythm. Conceived around 2008, and representing the culmination of a long exploration in the world of electronic music, this project represents the ever-unfolding musicality of Paul Holder.
      At present, there are two releases under this moniker; the first, ‘Fragility in Technology’, and now, ‘Echolalia’. After spending some time with the new album, I revisited ‘Fragility’. The advance in conception is astounding.
     If we turn to a dictionary, we see the following definitions for ‘Echolalia’:
1. Psychiatry The immediate and involuntary repetition of words or phrases just spoken by others
2. An infant's repetition of the sounds made by others, a normal occurrence in childhood development.
      Acknowledging the titles of the songs elicits a similar feeling, that of responding to the outside world, possibly through the naiveté of youth. ‘Baby’s Breath’, ‘Shimmer Reflection Underneath The Water’, and ‘Spectral’ are three of the nine tracks listed, and the names themselves imply some sense of reflected existence.
     The fact that this project was conceived of as an album with individual tracks is one of the reasons why it is a more satisfying listening experience than ‘Fragility’. ‘Fragility’ was essentially a collection of bright spots amidst an amorphous stream of unfolding sound; ‘Echolalia’ consists of individually conceived tracks that are generally well presented from start to finish.
      There is a wide range of variety within the scope of the project. On one hand, there is a track like ‘Until you’re numb’, which lies somewhere in the realm of trip-hop and ambient; a slowed down, jungle-esque beat wedded to a set of vaguely arrhythmic chordal and melodic ideas. The upper register ideas seem to float out of the churning rhythm like vapor from a fissure.
     On the other hand we have ‘Delicate Cadence’, which produces a completely different effect. In this case, the track evolves from the most minimal elements, and each instrument enters in a more leisurely manner. A major key vamp carries the body of the tune, and the effect is more uplifting. More rhythmically defined than pure trance techno, this track would be a great accompaniment to a beautiful sunrise in the woods or a cool down at the end of a show.
     The strengths of this recording lie in the realm of pacing, the unity of the ideas presented, and the variety of styles on display in the music itself. The end result is music that maintains a consistent point of view while diving into many areas.
     Go see this live. I have had the pleasure of experiencing this thing twice now, and the difference in effect is highly noticeable. Admittedly, DJ sets are generally a little less dynamic than a rock show. One guy scrunched over a G4 isn’t very exciting. What is exciting is the increased texture afforded by a superior sound system. On top of that, Paul has interest in various media, which is incorporated into the proceedings. He likes to project movies produced by a company dedicated to such things, and the accompanying visuals enhance the music in generally interesting ways.

Check him out at….

Thursday, September 1, 2011

California Smile

     My introduction to California Smile was ‘Secret Message From Your Teeth’, given to me by Victor after meeting him for the first time at as220. “Postrock”! I thought. “You’re wrong”, said Cameron. “Keep listening.” And so I have. Cameron was right.
     “Listen to ‘Things Not Worth Saying’.” All of a sudden my attention was diverted…
“Was that a leading tone? Some kind of dominant relationship? This is awesome!”
California Smile is a highly complex musical entity from New England. There appear to be many musicians associated with this group, chief among whom are Victor Mansella, Michael Murphy, Jared LaFond, Jake LaFond, and Cameron Brennan.
     The fact that there is some ‘traditional’ thinking involved in the creation of this music is very fascinating. The linear motion (voice leading) and harmonic schemes have a classical bias in certain respects, but the framework is definitely clothed ‘in the now’. There are so many inferred influences, and there was one definite time when I was reminded of an instrumental, off- Broadway version of Queen.
     After this was ‘Roof Came Off House’. I had to reconsider my position yet again. This had a metallic-synth edge to it, with the same harmonic sensibility. Listen to that insane noise at the beginning of the first track and the way it dissolves into the band. There is, for me at least, something almost Schubertesque about them at times. Here, in ‘Sermons From Snakes’, the leisurely pace of the tempo and the broad, expansive quality of the melody line reminds me of the slow movement of the ‘Trout Quartet’ of Mr. Franz. This is to be taken in the most general sense.
      Concerning this album, I thought it was their newest release, until I checked the dates on the sleeves. ‘Things Not Worth Saying’ is later.
      This group excels at high musical drama, not in some ‘classical’ sense, but more in the sense of knowing how to build and develop an idea as a complete unit, and utilize emotional contrasts. In my opinion, this is due to their understanding of both pacing and the specific relationship that melodic rhythm has to metrical flow, to musical time in general. The end result has a very refined sense of ensemble, where that ‘band as one giant instrument’ effect begins to make itself felt. With the right sound engineer, this would be an awesome thing to experience live.
     On top of the European influence in the department of harmony, there is also an ‘orchestral’ feel to the band. The compositions have the quality of being composed and then arranged for the band. From talking to Victor, I was given that he did in fact attend music school, but didn’t feel it benefited him that much on many levels. Still, that kind of influence will have some sort of effect somewhere, even if it is not consciously perceived.
     After this, I was forced to go back to ‘Secret Message From Your Teeth’. This time I didn’t hear it being so post-rock; the nascent quality of the harmonic approach was more readily felt.
     This is a musical being that doesn’t fear change. ‘Variation on a Theme’ could possibly stand in as the group’s motto, if such things existed. ‘Constant Reinvention’ is another. This group presents music that is accessible while still being a positive challenge, music that is serious in its expressive intent while still being ballsy.
     In a recent conversation I had with Cameron, he told me that the band is planning to play sometime this month. Also, Victor told me that the band is currently at work on material for a new album and plan on debuting some of it this fall.
 Go check them out. They are yet another example of the best parts of the scene, awesome music made by people who love to play.