Sarah Bernstein & Kid Millions
When Kid Millions and Sarah Bernstein conceptualized their new album, they decided to move away from well-trodden improvisational approaches and towards more transcendental, otherworldly sounds. Pulling inspiration from disparate influences such as early liturgical music, Ornette Coleman, Laurie Anderson, the minimalist metal band Sleep, Yoko Ono, masters of dub, drummers Milford Graves and Tony Williams, and composers Morton Feldman and Lou Harrison, they set out to create a cyclical form of spontaneous thematic music. The result is driving and expressive, with pieces of gem-like brevity placed alongside others of sustained evolving intensity.
Colpitts and Bernstein started playing together regularly in 2014. Their early performances were surprising, suggesting new avenues of spontaneous composition. They gradually developed an approach that utilizes an extreme range of dynamics and note density, from pin-drop violin pizzicato and cymbal scraping to powerful electronics, wild vocalizations, and unrelenting drum textures. “Broken Fall” is their second album with 577 Records. This recording is the first to include Sarah’s poetry as lyrics. The text is barely decipherable, intertwined musically with her otherwise wordless vocal expression, yet the rhythm of the words and the meaning drives the temperament of the album. “Broken Fall” is a huge step forward for the duo; an album that fully captures their fluent musical relationship.
n the months between wrapping up production on the first album and it eventually reaching the public, Pierce quickly began thinking about the follow-up. The reignition of a long-dormant interest in poetry brought a closer focus on lyricism and a deeper consideration of what the words were trying to express. The themes of isolation and self-doubt that floated in glistening clouds of reverb on the first album began to sharpen, and the language around these difficult feelings took on a new clarity. Pierce’s songwriting has always held a distant sadness, but with The Late Great Gold Dust, the melancholy cuts through, feels more present and alive within the songs. There’s a muddy narrative arc to these twelve songs, getting more harrowing throughout the album’s second half as screams echo in the void until an exhausted sigh that sounds something like acceptance rises out of the murk. This incremental ramp up from the album’s lighter material to its most depressive follows the same Side A/Side B mapping that made both Neil Young’s On the Beach and Black Flag’s My War different articulations of the same creeping intensity.
Luxor Rentals is a big band that takes a small view… rolling in the ashes of the recently disbanded Huevos ii Patrick, John and Jett decided to pick up the pieces after brother Mikey Turner left for the UK and with the help of Bryan, Wes and Hinkle have a new bag of noisy strummers and melodic hummers. The seven piece Luxor Rentals tries and sometimes succeeds at textured song structures incorporating an unintentional surfeit of guitars with synth/keys. Seven people have a lot of ideas and opinions and sometimes they even agree on Dylan’s “polk-a-dot” phase, Neil Young’s “drives a hearse” phase, Yo La Tengo’s “Chuck Taylor” phase, Arthur Lee and Love’s “first five albums” phase, The Clean’s “Great Unwashed” phase, and Syd Barrett’s “having a career in music then pitching it in to paint insects” phase. But then again, I’m just one person writing this.
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