Saturday, November 27, 2010

On the Ripple Desk – Featuring My Sleeping Karma, Boris Smile, Eastern Conference Champions and Floater

So much good music, so little time.  Let’s jump right into it then, shall we?

My Sleeping Karma – Tri

And there it was . . . Mt. Everest standing right before me.

It was 2006 that Mrs Racer and I took off, flew around the world and spent 3 weeks trekking across Tibet to Mt. Everest.  Standing at basecamp, at 20,000 feet, the glory of Everest’s summit before me, the majesty of Rombuk Monastery behind me . . .  it was a moment of pure magic.

I didn’t bring any music with me on that trip, but if I had, it would’ve been this new, mesmerizing album by Germany’s My Sleeping Karma.  A while back, I wrote about my love affair with their second album, and I’m happy to say, that Tri is every bit as trance-inducing, hypnotic, powerful, and dynamic as Satya was.  My Sleeping Karma don’t create soundscapes, they create sound universes.  Alternate dimensions of Krautrock beats, undulating, snaking guitars, swirling, miasmas of melody.  Each of these 9 instrumental tracks is capable of transporting me somewhere in place and time.  Some alternate reality, some imaginative dimension.  No one else has ever sounded like My Sleeping Karma, no else ever could.  This is psychedelic, space rock at it’s finest.

“Brahma” is playing right now, and in my mind’s eye I see Rombuk monastery, the monk’s walking the grounds, the mountain before me.  I feel the emptiness of being on the ceiling of the earth, the spiritual abandon of being this much closer to God.  My Sleeping Karma can take me there.  Just wait until you see where they can take you.

Buy here: Tri
Buy mp3: TRI

Boris Smile – Rockets EP

One of a long list of discs that’s been sitting way too long on my desk waiting for review.    Boris Smile, a collective of young musicians fronted by singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Wesley Chung, bring a definite emo angle and modern twist to indy rock.  Chung’s disaffected vocals are strangely magnetic, drawing me into this release with his earnest passion and heart-felt searching for truth.

Using the Rocket as a theme, Boris Smile traverses a spectrum of moods from the introspective to the robust., perhaps never more moving than “Apollo” which seems to imagine an Apollo astronaut saying goodbye to his wife and children before launching off on a mission.  Delicate and touching, filled out with gentle strings and angelic harmony vocals, this song could just as easily translate to our current day soldiers leaving home for the unknowns of war.  Like a modern retelling of “Space Odessey” Apollo strikes the heart of real emotion.

But Rockets isn’t a one-song pony.  “Aurora” captivates with its loosely strung acoustic guitar and dreamy melody, while “Are We Alone,” sets the tone with the airiness of its spartan arrangement.  This is a sincere album of lo-fi, acoustic emo.  If you’re a fan of Pedro the Lion or Broken Social Scene, you should look deeply into Boris’s smile.

Buy here (mp3): Rockets EP
Buy vinyl: Smile [Vinyl]

Eastern Conference Champions – Santa Fe EP

I have to admit, it took me a little while to get into this twisted dab of dense folk drone, but once I got it, really got, I couldn’t get the damn thing outta my head.

Eastern Conference Champions are a trio who’ve already been kicking walls and knocking down doors, contributing songs to The Twilight Saga and appearing on “Last Call with Carson Daily.”  But don’t let those accomplishments put you off.  What we got here is hardly the commercial drabble you might associate with a film like Twilight.  ECC play a deceptively folky, alt-country drone rock that sounds unlike any I’ve ever heard.  Where a song like “Common Sense,” nearly flattens with it’s effects-heavy guitar riffing, Teutonic beat, and fuzzed bass, “Bloody Bells,” is just as deceptive with it’s twangy vocal and tinkering percussion.  “Sideways Walking,” finds a new beauty in its spartan melody while “On Off,” crashes against the shore with another layer of muted guitar. 

I guess the most reasonable place to look for inspiration here is Neil Young, because only he could effectively change up moods so quickly and effectively, rocking or folking out, while always sounding so distinctly like himself.  ECC do that as well, and they do it damn well.

Buy here: Santa Fe

Floater – Wake

Talk about a band with a sound all their own.  Floater take the muted heaviness of grunge, toss that into their witches brew pot, add in the musicianship of prog, some flourishes of psychedelic rock, spice it up with some pretty random time shifts, tribal percussion, and a singer who’s voice is achingly familiar (like a distant Michael Been of The Call).  Stir that whole concoction up, bring that massive wooden spoon up to your lips, and the potion that results is surprisingly tasty.  For those of you who like your rock a little unpredictable yet still familiar, progressive in scope but accessible in execution, heavy yet melodic, you just might find your own musical elixir here.

“Concrete” after it’s ambient, neo-Floyd intro bursts out as anthemic and full of bravado as much of the early Call material.  Even the chorus “Now I can only say/that I’m alive/I’m alive/I’m alive” sounds like something that would’ve burst off the lips of the recently departed Mr. Been. And trust me, that’s a good thing. The Call were always one of my favorite bands.  So take their passion and drive, meld that with some seriously prog-minded chops, toss in enough powerchords to light up a small nation and we’ve got a winner here.

“Cannonball,” follows suit, as does the rest of the album.  This is big, big music played with intent and sincerity.    Call it alt-prog, post-alt-grunge.  Whatever.  Call it good, and you’d be correct.

Buy here: Wake


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