Archive

Monthly Archives: March 2012

After hearing Róka Hasa Rádio, I was sold. Thy Catafalque is an avant-garde metal band originally from Makó, a small town in southeastern Hungary of all places. They mainly sing in Hungarian but please don’t let that chase you away. I don’t speak a word of Hungarian, I don’t have the patience to learn a language as difficult and limited in use as Hungarian, and, with the exception of an ex-coworker that I don’t really speak to anymore, I don’t know any Hungarian people that I could ask to translate but Thy Catafalque still managed to make my Top 10. Besides, Tamás Kátai, the founder of Thy Catafalque, said that the lyrics would sound lame in English anyway. Tamás Kátai (also “Kátai Tamás” sometimes, due to Hungarian naming conventions) does everything on the records. Everything. One of his former bandmates from the band Gort, János Juhász, contributes somewhat in the guitar and bass department but it’s safe to say that Kátai is responsible for Thy Catafalque. He even programs the drums.

This band had originally started out as a black metal project but as time progressed, their sound started to embrace a more experimental dimension. By the time Róka Hasa Rádio was released, the stylistic change had been set. They took a more experimental turn by introducing electronic elements and incorporating Hungarian folk melodies while still keeping the black metal sound in tact. While it does use folk melodies, it’s not the kind of superficial use like you would hear in the current wave of folk metal where the band would just adapt the melody for guitar and bass. It’s the kind of use that captures the musical roots and folklore of Hungary. Now, I don’t know a whole lot about Hungarian folk music but you can tell that the use of Hungarian folk music here is not superficial and that it actually means something special to Kátai. It creates a hauntingly melodic sound and feel. It’s not necessarily a groundbreaking sound but it’s extremely beautiful regardless. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: “Köd Utánam” (“Fog Behind Me”) from Róka Hasa Rádio (“Fox Belly Radio” according to Google Translate. What it really means, I don’t know):

This song is also a good example of the lyrics sounding better in Hungarian. I don’t know what the lyrics translate to but I was curious enough to look them up in the original Hungarian and the words flow very nicely. It’s almost poetic. That might be lost after a translation into English.

And here’s a 19-minute song from the same album, “Molekuláris gépezetek” (“Molecular Machineries”). Go ahead and leave it on while you’re doing something else. It’s brutal and soothing at the same time. Mesmerizing all around. Quality metal can do that (in my ears that is). The breakdown is just too chill. Listen at 720p for maximum greatness.

The band has been picking up steam lately, which makes me happy. Last year, they signed on to Season of Mist, a major metal label that is the current home of other trailblazing metal bands like Cynic and Gorguts. They recently released their latest album through Season of Mist, Rengeteg, which is ALL Tamás Kátai without any help from János Juhász.

Unfortunately, even though Thy Catafalque is active, they don’t do live performances and don’t plan on it. Kátai thinks that, because he lives in Edinburgh and his mates remain in Hungary, even a rehearsal would be too much of a hassle. It’s understandable. Rehearsal is a big enough hassle when everyone lives in the same city! Besides, Tamás said in an interview that he gets more of a kick out of composing and creating his music than performing it in front of an audience.

Advertisements

Boys and girls and rabbits and kangaroos and the etceteras, here is my first entry. Clap your hands and read on.

I don’t know much or have much to say about the distorted guitar happenings that have been swirling in and out of this academy and its surroundings, but the utterances I’ve been picking up tell me that most of it’s elephant doo doo and stale pudding. Titus Andronicus, who get five bags of elephant doo doo and then some, played for free at BU central. A couple of my friends went to see Dr. Dog, an entire waterfall of wet elephant doo doo (that people would actually pay $35 to go see). And I feel very reluctant about going to house shows now, as most of the ones I’ve been to were stale pudding, pudding so stale that you could mistake it for elephant doo doo. But hey, people are nice and the sun is bright in the daytime. Maybe everyone just needs more Mark E Smith and Cap’n Crunch.

So,

Maurizio Bianchi is an Italian guy who makes lots of noise with electronics. Since the 1980s, Mr. Bianchi actually had a goal, you know, that he wanted to achieve artistically, as an artist, through his ~*aAAart*~, “to produce technological sounds and in such a way to work on complete realizing of the modern decadence.” Sounds healthy.

“Symphony For A Genocide” was released in 1981. It’s the only LP from him that I’ve actually listened to, and I suspect that it’s just the kind of noise that normal people like you and me have always been looking for. It’s Metal Machine Music with less Lou and more warmth and pulse. It’s Merzbow contained in a fireplace. It’s 20 Jazz Funk Greats with some flesh between the bones, and no dude singing. That description might offend decadent ol’ Mr. Bianchi, but it’s the truth. His “genocide” is really a warm cathartic ride on a picture book thundercloud. Now, it might be genocide for all that elephant doo doo and stale pudding that stick to our ears, but even then it’s really just a big fuzzy q-tip.

Auschwitz. I would have named it Chugga Chugga or something.

Hey it’s on Discogs!

http://www.discogs.com/MB-Symphony-For-A-Genocide/master/41053

*Lou and Merzbow and Throbbing Gristle are all great, ya know.

NOTE: Unfortunately, I could not find any videos for this music. Wait for the end, though. I have a surprise.

Fact 1: Arabic music utilizes a kind of musical tuning totally different from Western music that is divided into 24 tones instead of 12; so trying to play Arabic music on Western instruments is, with very rare exceptions, just silly. Fact(ish) 2: Most piano music to come from the Middle East these days is, to put it nicely, very simple and New-Agey, presumably because they don’t understand how to make the Western temperament work well, much like how white people don’t seem to fully understand the Arabic temperament, or even know of its existence, so both sides use a watered down version of the foreign temperament. As an Egyptian-American, I love music from both worlds but I think the crossovers are too cheesy to be taken seriously. In fact, the whole Egyptomania thing, not just in music but in general, has never made sense to me. So hearing an album like this was a huge revelation for me.

Le Piano dans la Musique Arabe is exactly what it sounds like it is (if you know a little French, that is). It’s old recordings of Arabic music that feature the piano. Unlike the folksy and corny piano music coming from the Middle East today, this music sounds totally authentic. I was shocked to learn that Western instruments could actually make music like this. And these guys have a very good touch. Everyone on the record is Egyptian (Cairene, to be exact) and these recordings were made in the 1910’s. This is the kind of music that you would hear if you were in a shisha bar. Most of the people on this record, like Abdallah Chachine and Mohammed El-Kourd, I have never heard of before while some, like Mohammed Abdel-Wahab, are more notable and enduring figures in Egyptian pop music.

Most of the album is the piano by itself but sometimes the piano joins up with another traditional Middle Eastern instrument like the ney (I think that’s a ney) on “Faraqouni.” Basically, think of an Egyptian/Arab equivalent to Thelonious Monk playing in a bar and that’s what the record sounds like. The album has a lot of taqsims on it. A taqsim is a style of free improvisation, metered or unmetered and usually solo, that traditionally follows from a composition.

Oh, and, like most brilliant Arabic music, it’s great for pot. Just thought I’d throw that out there…

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a physical or digital copy of this album for sale ANYWHERE. I couldn’t even find it on the Internet after a search that probably lasted a good two hours. The way I got this record was my dad finding it in an audiophile’s house somewhere in France. He claims that it’s available on iTunes and Amazon France but I couldn’t find it in either of those places. I even looked in every music shop that I found the last time I was in Cairo and didn’t find it. Even the most knowledgeable guys that I found looked at me like I was crazy when I brought this album up. I’m assuming it’s only available in France. I even looked up the label, Les Artistes Arabes Associes, and even though their discography is partially visible, this particular album doesn’t seem to show up anywhere.

Now, I understand that it’s really maddening and anti-climatic to write about a rare album only to reveal that it’s seemingly nowhere to be found outside France and that my dad and I seem to have the only copy. So I have a surprise gift for all of you: a free digital copy of Le Piano dans la Musique Arabe! Normally, I wouldn’t do this but because it’s so hard to find, I’m making an exception. If today is your birthday, consider this a birthday gift from us at Rhyme of the Unheard. If not, then Happy (insert random obscure holiday that happens to be today or a holiday that you made up for the occasion)!

Here it is: http://www.mediafire.com/?90jy6zux3yp5fuk

If you’re having trouble, feel free to write me: adamthometzathotmail.com@gmail.com

If you listen to metal often, you may have come across his name at some point. I’m surprised that this guy isn’t a legend by now. I think he is one of the most creative and yet underrated guitarists to grace the metal scene today. Yeah, some guitarists like John Petrucci of the famous Dream Theater are nice but I think that Ron Jarzombek’s sound and style, unlike Petrucci’s, has its own unique sonic footprint while still being very shred-tastic for those who take a guilty pleasure in guitar shred music.

Ron Jarzombek’s career started with the short-lived S.A.Slayer. It was originally named Slayer but a certain pioneering thrash metal band had already made that name their own. I won’t say who. Ron joined in 1983 and stuck with them until the group disbanded a year later. I would put up something of theirs but it’s pretty mediocre thrash metal and I’d rather leave room for the good stuff in this post. If you’re curious, just search for them on Youtube. He’s only on their album Go for the Throat.

In 1986, Ron joined the band Watchtower for the recording of their second album Control and Resistance, which, although it never achieved mainstream success (obviously, since it’s on this blog), proved to be influential to nearly every progressive metal band to follow. Think Guns ‘n Roses meets the Mahavishnu Orchestra and that’s basically Watchtower’s sound. Ron’s guitar style really starts to shine here. Here’s “Mayday in Kiev” from Control and Resistance released in 1989 on Noise Records:

Here’s another song from the same album, “Dangerous Toy,” with one of the trippiest guitar solos I’ve ever heard at 2:05 in:

Are the vocals too “80s” for you? I wouldn’t be surprised. Still, I think the music is pretty amazing and unlike anything I’ve heard so far and this was released over 20 years ago! Unfortunately, they haven’t released any albums since then but apparently they’ve been working on a third album called Mathematics. They seem to be taking their sweet time with it, as personal and professional matters seem to keep popping up among the band members, so I can’t say when to expect it, though I’m keeping my eye on them.

From this point on, most of Ron’s projects are instrumental, and this is where things get interesting. There are two main projects: Spastic Ink and Blotted Science. Spastic Ink (such a good name for a band) has a very complex and stubbornly genre-less sound that seems to love utilizing weird and constantly changing time signatures so the listening experience is consistently exciting and wildly unpredictable. In addition to Ron, there is his brother Bobby Jarzombek on drums and Pete Perez on bass, both incredible musicians (you have to be to play this kind of music). Unfortunately, Spastic Ink is no more. They left us with two albums: Ink Complete (released in 1997 on Dream Circle and re-issued in 2000 on Jarzombek’s own EclecticElectric label) and Ink Compatible (released in 2004 on EclecticElectric). They’re both very good but if you can only pick one, pick Ink Complete; the WTF-factor is higher, the production, despite sounding thinner, is oddly more suited to the music, and it’s overall a more challenging listen.

Here’s “A Wild Hare” from Ink Complete. It’s a musical rendition of various scenes from Bambi. Rather than just interpreting the overall air of the scenes as music, Ron decides to directly translate the sounds made in the scenes into bizarre melodies. The result is not only more effective but also quite amusing and will sound totally mad if you aren’t familiar with the scenes:

Thankfully, there is a video of the right scenes set to the music for those who are curious, with Thumper’s voice, which is what the lead guitar is imitating, in it.

Here’s another wacky track from the same album, appropriately titled “The Mad Data Race”:

And to give fair representation to the other album, here is the opener “Aquanet” from Ink Compatible:

Then, there is Blotted Science, which sounds like the evil cousin of Spastic Ink. Ron gained some more fame for this project. It’s a super group that also features Alex Webster of Cannibal Corpse on bass and Charlie Zeleny of Behold…The Arctopus on drums, recently replaced by Hannes Grossmann of Obscura for their latest release. The sound is denser and more akin to death metal, though Ron’s style still shines through. Their debut album, The Machinations of Dementia, released in 2007 on EclecticElectric, is truly a product of the Internet age. All the guys recorded their parts in their own home studios and, as crazy as this may sound, they have never even been in the same room together until four months after the album’s release!

As for the material, Ron utilizes a 12-tone approach to composition for this project. Not the traditional approach that Arnold Schoenberg devised with retrogrades and inversions and what not but an unorthodox version that Ron himself devised that is based on the circle of 12 tones. He describes his method briefly here. I can tell from the titles on the album that Ron also took an interest in psychology and neuroscience but the interpretations aren’t as amusingly literal as something like “A Wild Hare,” since the subject is more abstract. Maybe someone who knows more about that stuff than I do could fill us in if they hear something. Here’s “Synaptic Plasticity” which refers to the ability of a connection between two neurons in the brain to change in strength overtime depending on how often it’s used. Tell me if you hear that:

The Machinations of Dementia is their only full-length album to date. They did, however, release an EP last year called The Animation of Entomology (I’ll admit that their album titles could use some work…) on EclecticElectric that should keep fans tantalized. This is “Ingesting Blattaria” set to a scene from Creepshow. (Just a fair warning for you entomophobes: there are LOTS of cockroaches in this video):

Someone should get this man to score their film sometime! I’d totally watch that.

Also, Ron only plays guitars that he made himself. According to Ron, “I am rather selective when it comes to guitars. For me, it’s easier to build a guitar totally from scratch than to buy something off the shelf and customize it.” That might explain the unique tone that he gets. He has some sick models, too. You can check them out on his website here.

You can visit his website at ronjarzombek.com to buy his music and merchandise. If you can, I recommend getting your hands on physical copies of the CDs rather than torrenting them not just because you’d be supporting the artist, as the argument traditionally goes, but also because the liner notes for the CDs usually hold descriptions of each of the songs. Most of the time, they just describe neat guitar and music theory tricks but if you’re really interested in knowing how he composed his music, you’ll get a lot from the liner notes, particularly his solo albums (I would’ve talked about them but I’ve already written too much. They’re more of a next step in appreciating him anyway).

Nashville, TN. If you know anything about Country music then you know that this is where the careers of Country Legends like Hank Williams, Dolly Parton and Jonny Cash blossomed. However, one might say that in the last few decades Nashville has become the home of a schism between two groups, two polar musical opposites, both albeit descendant forms of first-generation Country heroes.

The first group: Music Corporation, USA. Home of chart-topping, money-making Country superstars like Garth Brooks, Toby Keith and Miley Cyrus. Home of an industry that produces watered-down, childish and irreverent hits deemed by producers to encapsulate the singular American culture one can be so proud of. This group isn’t interesting to talk about, nor is any of the music worth listening to. So I will not go any further.

The second: Music City Rebels. “Rebel” is quite a loaded word, especially in the South, but it happens to be what a lot of these types of musicians call themselves, not because they believe in secession, but because it’s a word tightly linked to their culture, which some of them feel is being corrupted. In this case, being a “rebel” would refer to going against the grain of the popular Country music industry based in Nashville. Some of the most notable Music City Rebels include Hank Williams III (Hank Williams’ grandson) and “Jason & the Scorchers.” These people are worth looking into if you don’t already know them. Nevertheless, this article will focus on Joe Buck, Country musician, Rebel, and self-nominated “Evil Motherf***er from Tennessee,” whose music has never been produced by any major label in Nashville and, already coming from the alternative current in Music City, is horribly underrated.

It’s hard to explain his style, which is in some ways very simple, yet draws from a lot of influences. This video, which documents the collaboration between him and producer Jack Endino (famous for producing Nirvana’s first album Bleach) probably describes it best:

What I find interesting about Joe Buck’s style is a few things. First of all, he embraces a beautiful simplicity that is hard to find in any music. He travels around with a guitar and a kick drum. He writes songs that he can perform himself. On “Piss and Vinegar” he adds a bass to round out the guitar and some toms to his kick drum, just to enhance his sound for the album. And sometimes he plays banjo. And that’s it. Here’s one of my favorite tracks of his:

I realize that my Toby Keith/Garth Brooks comment earlier may have sounded slightly invidious… This video should have proven my point more accurately; what commercial Country music has this much soul? Joe Buck calls it “heartache;” it’s an intense emotion, and it makes his music evocative and visceral.

He is also incredibly prolific: along with his solo career he has collaborated with numerous artists, including many of the Music City Rebels. He played bass and guitar for Hank III, and later formed a band with him called “Assjack,” and also had his own bands called “Gringo” and “Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers.”

Finally, Joe Buck is poetic. Some of his lines have stuck with me long after I heard them. He says things that are very honest: “My mind has grown weak, but my back is strong.” On “Music City’s Dead,” he has some of the most touching lyrics:

I’m heading back to the country,

To a trailer on the lake in the shivering pines.

In the woods there’s a song on the wind I’m swaying to.

And moonlight drifts like rays of smoke on the raging fire.

I’m leaving innocence lost in the city of the Country Star.

It begins as a loving description of his home in the countryside. It reveals itself soon after to be a song about leaving Nashville, getting out of the city that has become a harbor for everything Country music should not be.

However, Joe Buck, didn’t actually leave Nashville. It seems to be his current location, actually. What this tells me is that he is indeed disillusioned with the direction in which the music there has gone, but that he’s stubborn and will not surrender Nashville and everything it stands for to a business run by fake musicians and greedy opportunists.

If you’re interested in finding out more, here is a link to a great documentary made in Holland. It’s narrated in Dutch, but the interviews are in English, and Joe Buck himself has a prominent role as a tour guide:

Also, here are links to his websites (unfortunately much of the merchandise is sold out, but his music can be found on iTunes):

http://joebuckyourself.bigcartel.com/

http://www.myspace.com/joebuckyourselfmotherfucker

One winter Saturday morning, I was trolling around the Internet in my pajamas and (please don’t ask me how) came across this guy:

Meet Ray Sipe (a.k.a. “raysipeladygaga” on Youtube, or “Ray Sipe, The Lady Gaga Guy” according to himself in one of his videos). I couldn’t find much information on him but according to his Youtube channel, he lives in “South Florida,” is “111” years old, is a “clown” by trade, and is influenced by “Lady Gaga.” In terms of secondary sources, I couldn’t find anything.

In nearly all his videos, he is wearing some variation on what he’s wearing in the picture, is in the same room, and lets loose on any subject that you could think of (lobsters, iPhones, shoes, you name it). Sometimes, he gets behind the keyboard. There is something about his “singing” (or whatever you want to call it) that sticks. My first exposure was “Adolf Hitler” and I’ve caught myself humming that tune on the streets. Even in class, I had to make an effort to suppress his tunes in my mind in order to focus.

This man is difficult to describe so, without further ado, I’m just gonna shut up and post some of his masterpieces to give you an idea of what he does.

If you like art that tells a story, check out “Adolf Hitler”: 

Maybe you’re more interested in philosophical inquiry? Try “Scoop Da Poop”:

“Mr. Lobster” shows his tender compassion for the environment:

Or maybe cautionary tales, like “Sitting On The Toilet”, are more your thing:

“Angry Birds” is hard to pin down. You’d think he’s referring to the popular Angry Birds game but after a while, you start to wonder if he’s really referring to actual angry birds. He gets behind his trusty Casio for this one:

“Eye Phone” is a really punny one:

He also has an uncanny ability to draw inspiration from some of the dullest things in life, a disposition that most artists would kill to have. Here, his muse is duct tape (not duck tape. Don’t worry, he’ll go into the distinction):

And finally, “The Lion King”, which is somehow the only video of his that managed to go viral:

I know I posted more videos than necessary but if you only watched 2 or 3 of them, then you pretty much got the general idea. These are just some of my favorites. Also, this collection of links only scratch the surface; as I write this, Ray Sipe has 1112 videos on Youtube, despite the fact that he hasn’t even been on Youtube for a year yet. Does he even have a job? Or a family? Or friends? Or sanity? Well… okay, maybe we already established an answer to that last question but still, one couldn’t help but wonder. No matter. He makes ditties that are fun for the whole family and that’s all that matters to us.

The only way to listen to him that I found is on his Youtube channel, “raysipeladygaga”.

What do you guys think? Senile 50-something virgin or totally underrated musical genius?