Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Twelve Days of Listmas: Day Five

17 Tigersmilk, Android Love Cry

Chicago trio Tigersmilk are cornetist/electronics wizard Rob Mazurek (who appeared on this list last year as part of the Chicago Underground Duo, and who will appear yet again this year), bassist Jason Roebke (see #22) and drummer Dylan van der Schyff. In typical Chicago fashion, each of these musicians has their fingers in several dozen other pies but, like a shockingly high percentage of Chicago improv stuff, Android Love Cry (Family Vineyard) sounds neither tossed off nor rushed.

Yes, the title references a cybernetic futurescape, but before alarm bells go off let me assure that electronics are merely the setting here, not the gimmick. Atop the sounds of glitchy, damaged circuitry, the trio weave deft patterns of improvised sound, led by Mazurek’s ghostly horn. The result is something like imaginary sound portraits of a dystopian tomorrowland where ancient jazz lingers, choking forth from discarded soundcards. Or something like that. Dismayed? Don’t be; just listen.

16 Yeasayer, All Hour Cymbals

I don’t know who exactly kicked off the recent flurry of world music-crazed indie rock – maybe Man Man? – but I do know that it’s gaining enough momentum that it may well prove the dominant trend of 2008, lighting up a million music blogs and eating up space on your Zune. There are two aspects to this trend: genuine world music attracting the attention of curious hipsters and band members (think Konono No.1, Tinariwen or vintage afrobeat), and; those same Western kids turning those global sounds inside out. The above mentioned Man Man make sublimely weird and gravel-throated music with a strange afropop edge. In the wake of Antibalas’ success, a hundred Fela Kuti-copping collectives are formed each month. Beirut’s Zach Condon must own every Rough Guide CD ever released. Next Big Thing Vampire Weekend sound more Johnny Clegg than Johnny Rotten. It’s all getting so as ticketholders for the next Pitchfork Festival will be forgiven for thinking they’ve stumbled into a WOMAD tour stop.

Count Yeasayer among this probably unintentional groundswell, sounding like somebody blew their minds by slipping Peter Gabriel into their Modest Mouse sleeve. “Where’s the Real World logo?” I asked.

So why does All Hour Cymbals avoid sinking into the new rising morass? Because their harmonies are airtight, their choruses soar majestically, and sometimes, like on “Wait for the Wintertime,” they sound like Black Sabbath jamming on “Kashmir,” and whether you knew it or not, that’s something you’ve been waiting your whole life to hear.

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