RV Paintings - Trinity Rivers / Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood - Preying in Circles (Root Strata CDs)
Two new beauts from Jefre Cantu-Ledesma's Root Strata, eternal purveyors of the new weirdness. RV Paintings is a new offshoot of the Starving Weirdos gang, featuring Starving Weirdo Brian Pyle, brother Jon, and their brother Spencer. No idea if we're talking actual siblings here or what, but it's not really important. But speaking of siblings, Brothers of the Occult Sisterhood, whom you shouldn't need any introduction to are definitely the real deal. The bro/sis tandem of Kristina and Michael Donnelly erupted out their native Australia back in 2004 via the Musicyourmindwillloveyou label, and Shirley, you've heard one of the gazillion records attributed to their name in that short span of time. But earlier catalogue number always goes first, so let's talk RV Paintings.
The three cats on this disc play a wealth of noise makers, standard and non-standard: electric and acoustic guitars, drums, loops, field recordings, yes. Fog-like layers, glasses, African slitdrum, wha. The biggest pratfall to avoid then is making noise for the sake of it (something I think the Starving Weirdos are guilty of at times) but nay, not on this disc. On the three tracks that make up "Trinity Rivers", RV Paintings nail it. "South Fork Trinity" and "North Fork Trinity", 10 and 15 minutes apiece, featuring glistening, shimmery guitar floating over black, watery graves, the result of whatever these loops and possibly even fog-like layers are. "South Fork Trinity" dips into a bubbling, steamy, swampmuck trench of churlish voodoo creep and frozen blurs culminating in a subtly euphoric, organic, and Buddhabox-esque ascension to the split heavens above. "North River Fork", the closing piece, takes things in the other direction by way of perfectly dealt percussion sloshing and strained, Partch-ian slitdrum tones. Just as quick as the track reaches its ebullient apex, all sounds are swallowed by stormcloud channels and seagulls crying, the perfect embodiment of the words "trouble at sea". "Mad River", the trinity-completer sandwiched in betwixt, is a beautiful ebb-and-flow piece with swirling, darkly psychedelic electronics and ominous drums, with a great patch of Tim Hecker/Machinefabriek droney ambient whuzz at the spiral's tail. This one too resorts to birdsong by track's end, but with actual waves to match, all frothing up against a dull cosmic hum. Basically a great album that not only lives up to its slick cover, but manages to sound exactly like it. Step inside...
"Preying in Circles" presents the duo of Kristina and Michael Donnelly, but this time joined by the mysterious EON (anyone know?) from sessions that took place between 2004 and 2006. The seven tracks on the CD feature the general BotOS (as we call em down at the station) sound, consisting mainly of acoustic guitars and hand-belted percussion, along with chimes and bells, occasional vocals, miscellaneous bowed and plucked string instruments, and anything else that happens to me in the toybox on the day of recording. Despite the expanded lineup, the songs are, for the most part, as restrained as I've ever heard em. "Ornamentum Dust Raga", "Thought Flickering Eyes Swallow the Forest" and "Insect Orbiting Shadows" feature sparse, languid acoustic guitar amidst constantly-shifting droplets of junky cabin floor instrumentation, while "April" and "Harp Fragments Drank Syrupy Blue Squid Blood" play off an exoskeletal form so as to resemble a vague take on coherancy. Best of all is the 11-minute finale "Ragged Pyres in the Night", a kind of summation of everything the disc has to offer, moving through multiple acts showcasing the group's knack for eerie Americana wordless folk prayers, No-Neck Blues Band communal slipshodal moves, British psych folk riffing (I swear I hear a meditation on Comus' "The Herald" in there), and Tower Recordings/Bummer Road campfire noodling. Root Strata's text posits this one as sounding like a "Sunday morning jam with your best friends outside in a garden just after tea" and they've got the Sunday morning part down pat at least...this is one of those quintessential records you throw on when you wake up early and shuffle around the house with the day ahead of you and sunlight pouring in through the windows. Unfortunately it's 1:30am as I type this so I'm Not Feeling the Rainbow so to speak, but I know when I come back to this one in the morning it'll hit me like gangbusters.
In the event that these two are old hat for you already (which is possible), there's a couple of neat sounding Root Strata LPs in the works to feed yr need. An amazing/insane sounding Gregg Kowalsky LP ("For his Graduate thesis at Mills Collage, Gregg translated, scored and conducted one of his electronic compositions acoustically for the 25 person Contemporary Performance Ensemble featuring Fred Frith on violin.") and an LP reissue of a long gone Jyrk silverback which saw the minds of Axolotl, Gerritt and Yellow Swans coming together for general ne'er-do-well-ness. Always summat to look forward to, then.