Monday, February 13, 2006

magik markers : a panegyric to the things i do not understand: gulcher
I think that lo-fi's lack of a fully defined sound has helped a lot of bands, like Avarus, taking diverse elements and forming them into a pulsing whole, a more organic sort of creation. After hearing albums like Burned Mind and Dog Jaw from Wolf Eyes, the Slam Section tape helps shine a different light on their sound, re-focusing on their primal brutality as a whole entity. Still, while trying to get a grip on a fairly difficult band whose entire catalogue seems to consist of clutches of poorly recorded live takes, it can be pretty frustrating.
All I'd heard from Magik Markers prior to this album definitely promised that all the praise being heaped upon them was warranted, but was exceedingly difficult to find a way into. The best seemed to be Thee Magik Marquers, which moved from thinly quiet tracks, mostly surviving on Elisa Ambrogio's vocals, to bracing free fire squalls. If you could surrender yourself and embrace the dynamic, the music's peaks were brilliantly overwhelming, but it was quite a commitment. But it's all changed with this one.
Now, every element of the Markers' sound is clear as day, and the clarity is blinding, my friend. Like Dominick Fernow's feedback on Black Vase, hearing every nuance of the free noise spewing out of Elisa's guitar does nothing but increase it's power, and with Leah Quimby's bass and Pete Nolan's drums audible in the mix, their power is fully realised(and so they formed like Voltron). This is no-wave spew ala Mars or Confusion is Sex era Sonic Youth bent through a psychedelic free jazz lens, yet somehow with roots in earlier rock. Even when, after laying down some searing guitar noise, everything opens up into whistling, jabbering, light feedback, and the barest of rhythms, it ain't no airless avant garde wank, and when the guitar starts blatting smears of sound again, it's no surprise. That might be the greatest strength of this album, getting to follow Magik Markers fractured improvisational logic in two side long pieces. Every time you think you're hearing a musical non-sequitur, they bring the fire and it acquits itself. Taken as a whole, it might crack your skull open wider than you expected.
Also, I though it was needlessly pretentious, but look up that p-word and the title is quite nice. Or maybe you just knew it already. I'm real impressed.
Also, the Wolf Eyes/Prurient split is pretty great. Wolf Eyes' The Terror Tank is mixed in a manner that seems annoying at first, but actually gives the effect of being in some sort of a tank while something really awful takes place outside. Weird. Prurient drops more of his eviscerating squall, a little bit lo-fi with sudden dynamics and field recordings thrown into the mix. Dude's the greatest.
Birchville Cat Motel's With Maples Ablaze is sorta disappointing. Molded by Campbell Kneale from a multitude of tape contributors, including Bastard Noise's John Weise, Kemialliset Ystavat's Jan Anderzen, The Dead C's Bruce Russell and Reynols, it's all whiz-bang neato, but lacks the singularity of my favourite Kneale pieces. But I guess that's the point. I think it's just more, er, polite than I'd hoped. Back to my BxC.

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