Medicine Singers – the full-length collaboration between Yonatan Gat and the Eastern Medicine Singers – is out now! The album takes powwow and traditional songs of the American indigenous peoples, infuses them with avant rock, jazz, and experimental electronic elements, and features a wide cast of musicians including Ryan Olson (Polica, Gayngs), Jamie Branch, Laraaji, Ikue Mori (DNA), and members of Swans (Thor Harris, Christopher Pravdica). These songs were recorded and mixed by various people at a number of studios (including Seth Manchester at Machines With Magnets and Daniel Schlett at Strange Weather), and I did additional mixing & production at Studio Windows for much of the album.
Liturgy’s new album The Ark Work is out now! After Rolling Stone premiered the album’s 11-minute centerpiece “Reign Array” and Pitchfork ran an in-depth feature on the group earlier in the month, NPR streamed the entire record on First Listen, hailing it as “challenging, befuddling, [and] exhilarating… the deeper into it you delve, the more its audacity and imagination start to bloom.” As expected, reviews have been polarizing, from praise in blogs like Spin, (8/10 – “real radical departure worthy of admiration”), Stereogum (“smart, visceral… it’s an album of intense and experimental music, music that never quite fits into any genre tag”), AV Club (B+ – “a singular musical achievement… utterly captivating, transcending pastiche and coming off like some disorienting super-genre that will never be heard again”); to scorn from metal zines like Exclaim (3/10 – “Liturgy is fully trolling us”), Revolver (2/5 – “Are they fucking with us? It certainly seems like it”), and Metal Underground (0.5/5 – “This might be the worst album I’ve ever heard – metal or otherwise”); and plenty of confused others in between.
I love this record. We spent many weeks together working on it – it’s easily one of the most in-depth recording projects I’ve ever been involved with, I know this thing inside and out – but I still find myself fascinated and exhilarated by The Ark Work. No, it’s not for everyone. But I can honestly say that I’ve never heard anything like it before, and doubt that I will again. I recorded much of it at Strange Weather (along with programming and additional recording by Hunter Hunt-Hendrix and Frank Musarra) and mixed it at Doctor Wu’s. The Ark Work is available now on double LP, CD, and download via Thrill Jockey. Catch them on tour with Lightning Bolt (West coast) and Sannhet and Horse Lords (East coast) this month.
Godmode is one of my favorite labels around – great music, awesome people – so it was a pleasure to master their new compilation American Music, out now. It features new music by the entire Godmode roster (including a punishing new song by Yvette, the debut of Malory, and an epic Shamir remix by Negative Supply) as well as like-minded outsiders such as Excepter and Rusty Santos‘ The Present. Stream it above or order the ultra-limited cassette at Godmode.
Also out now is the self-titled debut by Pocket Hercules. The record premiered on Vice, along with a hilariously scathing review by former teenie-bopper Aaron Carter. We recorded this to tape on an Otari MX-5050 last summer at Seaside Lounge, and mixed and mastered it at Doctor Wu’s. I had a great time working with these guys – it was the first time many of them had been in a “proper” studio or made a “real” record, and experiences like this are priceless. The album is available to stream and download at their Bandcamp page and on cassette via Seagreen Records.
Railings have released their third EP Until the Making. I mastered this last fall at Doctor Wu’s (I also mastered their previous EP Reach House), and I’m a big fan of what Alex Ian Smith and his gang are up to. Stream it above, or go to their Bandcamp to order a cassette that features a side-long composition not available for download.
Honduras recently premeired “Paralyzed”, the first single from the upcoming record Rituals, on Entertainment Weekly. I had a blast working with these guys on the record – recorded upstate at Outlier Inn and mixed and mastered at Doctor Wu’s – and with a bajillion shows at this year’s SXSW and a steady stream of local shows, expect to be hearing a lot more from the band in the coming months.
My dudes Beech Creeps also braved the SXSW rains to promote their recently-released self-titled debut, out now on Monofonus Press. If you haven’t checked it out yet, start with this new video for “Arm of the T-Rex”, recently premiered on Vice. They’re also playing this weekend at Union Pool with label-mates/honchos Spray Paint – not to be missed!
I spent a good chunk of March traveling (if you ever have the chance to go to Oman, I HIGHLY recommend it!), but still had time to work on a variety of projects. In addition to mastering the Godmode compilation, I also (re-)mastered a compilation for Optimo Music called Now That’s What I Call DIY! It covers a wide range of UK post-punk singles from 1978-1982, from dub to electro to more straight-forward punk and everything in between. Michael Train (who guided the Sunday Painters reissues) and I worked on restoration, and the set sounds awesome! This was one of those pleasant surprises of a project, and I’m excited for people to hear it.
I also had the opportunity to work with my friend Alex Zhang Hungtai (of Dirty Beaches infamy) again this month. I mixed and mastered a live performance from earlier this year at London’s Cafe Oto, which features Alex on saxophone, David Maranha on keys, and Gabriel Ferrandini on drums. It’s way closer to free-jazz and heavy drone than the bulk of Dirty Beaches’ catalog, but the fact that Alex is constantly moving and shifting his musical ideas is one of the things I admire most about him. Expect the unexpected.
And I worked with director Robin Comisar on his narrative short film Mom Died. It’s a beautifully shot and slightly surreal story about a family’s disfunction after the passing of their matriarch, and the tender son who can barely keep it together. The film should debut later this year.
I’ve got a number of projects scheduled for April, including work to complete the new Eaters EP. Come to our next show – April 23rd at Baby’s All Right – to hear some new songs from it, along with previously-unheard music by our friends Yvette and Dan Friel! We all played a show together last year (our record release show) and it felt right to play together again as we were all testing out new material. Tickets are on-sale now.
Eaters toured the northeast/midwest in October with Lace Curtain and did some non-CMJ shows during CMJ in New York. We played some great and memorable shows with some great and memorable bands – too many to mention, but special shout outs to Protomartyr (always awesome), Turn to Crime (psyched to be working on a collabo with these guys – Derek, whaddup??), Koko vs Real Life in Montreal (seriously, please record something!), Dull Tools (represent), Big Mama’s House in Philly, my Chicago people, and of course David/Lace Curtain. Impose posted some photos of our show with Protomartyr at Death By Audio, even sneaking one of man-behind-the-curtain/third-Eater ChrisDuffy.
Eaters also appeared on Driftless Ambient 1 with an improvised composition titled “Banner of Your Choosing”. I love how this song came about and turned out, and really happy to be a part of this compilation. Stream it above, and check out track-by-track details and hear the whole record on Dazed.
For the month before that, I was working with Liturgy on their new record. It’s an immense record – intricate and beautiful and fucking heavy – and its the culmination of years of work by Hunter, the band, and many others. I am thrilled to have been a part of this album, and absolutely can’t wait for people to hear it. We recorded at the illustrious Strange Weather in Brooklyn, with additional recording and production done by my long-time friend and associate Frank Musarra, and mixed at Doctor Wu’s. I wish I had something from it to share, but I don’t, so just watch this clip of them playing with Peter Fonda on drums instead.
I do have plenty of other stuff to share though, like this short film by Mary Harron (director of American Psycho and I Shot Andy Warhol) that I sound-designed and mixed. It’s a part of We the Economy, a series of shorts about the US economy, produced by Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) and Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft), which screened for free last month and are currently streaming online with supplemental information about the wide variety of topics covered. Mary’s is called This Won’t Hurt a Bit, and is about the the history and sorry current shape of the American healthcare system. Bob Balaban, Lili Taylor, and many other familiar faces appear – this was really fun to work on.
There are several new releases out this week that I worked on as well. I co-mixed the new Dream Police record Hypnotized with Kyle Keays-Hagerman at Doctor Wu’s in the spring, and it’s out now on Sacred Bones. Dream Police is Mark and Nick from the Men, and this record veers way off into psychedelia and synth-rock, getting comparisons like “a scuzzy and potent take on that whole Drive soundtrack sound” and “a demented Dire Straits record”. The record premiered on Pitchfork Advance, and made it into Stereogum’s Heavy Rotation – check it out!
The new Future Punx EP I’m So Inspired is also out this week via Dull Tools. Drummer and swell guy Jason Kelly recorded and mixed much of this (with the basics tracked at Rubber Tracks), and we worked at Doctor Wu’s to finish the mixes and master. It’s got a classic new wave vibe, like some lost classic from the early 80s, hitting all the right notes for people pining for more bands like Devo, the Units, and Tom Tom Club. Noisey debuted the song “Forgive the Doubt”, and Impose posted the video for “Spike Train”, their track with Parquet Courts on the LAMC series (and which we mastered in the same sessions). People between NYC and Texas should make a point of checking them out on tour, and people everyone should listen to the EP, streaming above and on sale now.
Parkay Quarts/Parquet Courts have a new record called Content Nausea out this week as well. Austin and Andrew recorded and mixed this themselves about six weeks ago (fastest turnaround ever, no big deal), though some work we did together during the Sunbathing Animal/Tally sessions shows up here as well. I love the detours and explorations they take as “Parkay Quarts“, and it’s cool to see some old favorites re-imagined and find a home alongside some killer new stuff. Of note is the mastering job by Joe LaPorta at Sterling Sound and how cohesive these recordings made on a 4-track cassette, on an 8-track reel-to-reel, in Ableton sessions, and from a karaoke jam sound together. Awesome all around – check it out above, out now on What’s Your Rupture/Rough Trade.