Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review: Rhys Chatham- Outdoor Spell

Video snippet of a recent Rhys Chatham performance.

There's a lot of electrified barbed wire here in Kansas. Its siren song is irresistible. Even though you know it's going to hurt, the wire simply must be touched.

I feel much the same way about Outdoor Spell, the forthcoming album by Rhys Chatham. It's often excruciating, yet I've been listening to bits of it every day for over two weeks.

As with many of my generation, Sonic Youth's early work served as my introduction to artistic noise. Pouring over pre-internet interviews with the rock band led me to Chatham. Years of willful appreciation of the sonic assaults, however, didn't prepare for Outdoor Spell.

After a relatively tranquil opening track, "Crossing the Sword Bridge" quickly becomes unbearable. It sounds like air squeakily escaping from a balloon, the insistent whine of a vacuum and the irate honking of a dozen taxi drivers. Chatham seems to be challenging listeners to to endure all eighteen minutes of the piece. (I can't make it without taking a couple breaks.) "Corn Maiden's Rite" is made only slightly more tolerable by arrhythmic drumming. Its chorus of trumpets sounds like a flock of dying geese. Long swathes of "The Magician" resemble a flatulence-induced car crash.

It's genius.

My friend S. tipped me off to Odd Future. I love these kids! And this is the single funniest thing I've seen in 2011. There's a riot going on.

The new video for Hidden Pictures' "Anne Apparently" is cute.

Mac Lethal is featured in another high profile battle. The action starts at 3:30.

I reviewed Todd Clouser's Sunday outing for Plastic Sax.

Kansas City Click: Smith Westerns is at the Record Bar on Tuesday.

Cage the Elephant return to the Beaumont on Wednesday.

(Original image by There Stands the Glass.)


mike t. said...

hap... i have a hard time making the jump from your review to "genius." how do you do it?

Happy In Bag said...

There's noise and then there's Noise. This is Noise.