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Listed: Bhob Rainey + Vessel

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Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists determined by our favorite artists. This week: saxophonist Bhob Rainey and recent Expanding Record's signee Vessel.

Listed: Bhob Rainey + Vessel


Vessel is Brit Gavin Toomey, who took to electronics after playing in improvisation noise bands over the past decade. He first appeared on Expanding Record’s The Condition of Muzak last year, where his single “Tiny” stole the show. This month marks his debut electronic album, Dreaming in Paris, already hailed by Boomkat as one of the finest releases of 2003 so far. Toomey is also an accomplish film technician and helped in the creation of UNKLE’s frighteningly good video for “Rabbit In Your Headlights”. Fans of Benge and minimalist electronica should check him out.

10 - in no particular order.

1. Jimi Hendrix - Electric Ladyland (MCA) - This album is so privately positive. I think his Electric Ladyland studio was one cave of escape from his own rock-star persona. This album captures that sense of creative freedom. genres are sampled and his studio isolates them until they drift into pure narcissistic sound design. He even samples layers of his own voice chatting away as his "live" audience on "rainy day, dream away". "1983, a merman i should turn to be"... and "moon turn the tides gently gently away" both take the music back to the sea with a melody struggling against the tide.

2. Stars of the Lid - Per Aspera Ad Astra (Kranky) - Beautifully recorded soundscapes - low level listening for the most private of spaces. Minimal melodies and discrete sub bass rumbles break out of the speakers. If you listen to it quietly enough you forget its playing and you freak out just for a second when you hear a distant rumble or a gently soothing cello approaching from the unknown. Lovely.

3. The Roches - The Roches (Warner) - The cautionary moral tales of "Hammond Song" and "Pretty and High" contrast with the more ironic observations of urban/suburban life ("Mr. Sellack"). The unique voices of the Roches are sensitively treated with wonderfully spacial production "in audio verite" by Robert Fripp. This album is a collection of lovingly recorded, sublimely spiritual "folk" songs.

4. Godflesh - Pure (Earache) - Justin Broadrick's body of work deserves recognition. Deadhead (from streetcleaner) is one of my favourite Godflesh tracks, but Pure is the most passionate album. Justin's solo project, Final, exposed a less aggressive and more frail, studio-based autonomy. I look forward to hearing his next music.

5. Stereolab - Emperor Tomato Ketchup (Elektra) - One of my personal favourites of their consistently great albums. Beautiful melodies with some really meaty drum/synth textures. Seeing them play live was a truly uplifting experience. After the sad loss of Mary Hansen I'm looking forward to hearing new Stereolab material.

6. Nick Drake - Five Leaves Left (Hannibal) - His haunting vocals always sound intimate and deeply personal. "River Man" and "Cello Song" have to be my favourite tracks from his minimal collection of studio recordings. While Pink Moon is sometimes unbearably introspective, this album is quietly excited and hopeful.

7. Boards of Canada / Hell Interface (Warp) - I remember walking around Manhattan in the hot sun with "Pete Standing Alone" on my headphones. I was completely on my own planet just floating through the city. There's a handful of tracks I could listen to on their own but it tends to be as much the context of their releases which captures the imagination. As I find with Electric Ladyland, there is a very self conscious attention to the layers of history. they have a very playful, inspirational approach to redefining these symbols - in an affectionate way.

8. Bjork - Vespertine (Elektra) - I've been a huge Bjork fan since I saw her play live at the tail end of the Sugarcubes. She conveys a magical sense of discovery with every album she releases. Each remains almost entirely unique while entirely dependent on the last. Her last two have been more layered and less immediate. Some lovely collaborative work with Opiate and Matmos on Vespertine. She remains a truly inspirational force in pop music.

9. Autechre / Gescom (Warp) - I don't think I could pick a particular album. I usually find 1 or 2 tracks on every release that immediately strike me. This usually changes over time and then another track becomes more relevant for a while. A lovely Gescom track, "Sciew Spoc," still sounds as fresh as when I first heard it. "Tewe" is another favourite on my ipod at the moment.

10. Metamatics - "So Many Ways" (Hydrogen) - Lee Norris in my favourite incarnation as Metamatics. "So many ways" from the album Neo Ouija is one of those timeless love songs. It stopped me in my tracks the first time I heard it. I once listened to it at night driving down the side of mountain in the French Alps. The snow-covered mountains had little vehicles with headlights scanning all over it and it accompanied the experience beautifully.

Bhob Rainey

Boston resident Bhob Rainey is one half of the alien improv duo nmperign (the other half being trumpet player Greg Kelley), known for its improvised explorations into texture. Rainey studied under Joe Maneri at the New England Conservatory of Music in the mid-90s. In 1998, he and Kelley formed nmperign, which has since released albums on such labels as Twisted Village, Crouton and Selektion, among others. Rainey also produces solo work, which gravitates slightly toward a more melodic aesthetic.

Some major influences, old and new.

  • Ralf Wehowsky – While the folks at IRCAM were busy getting bloated on convolution algorithms, RLW was making some of the best electronic music of the past decade in his kitchen. Ever since the early tapes of P16.D4, Ralf's music has had a distinctively horrific space, haunted by discontinuity and an increasingly malevolent silence - not to be confused with a human malevolence – it’s quietly brutal, awe-inspiring. My favorites are Points of Reference and Vier Vorspiele.

  • The Shadow RingLighthouse (Swill Radio) – Luckily, this one came out on vinyl, because the only thing that saves me from sitting stupefied until I die of thirst while listening to it is the act of flipping the record over. Lyrics like, "I've got a photograph of me with a python 'round my legs/Imagine a king cobra - aren't they the largest venomous snake?" and "I am talking/Drink your tea in there/I am talking/It should interest you/I am talking/Women with guns", though they could speak fairly well for themselves, are even better spoken by Darren Harris in his dry, British staccato. I can't think of any better examples of cheap-synth anti-song writing, and I'm still not sure if this is an example of that, either.

  • Morton FeldmanPiano and String Quartet (Ives Ensemble) (Hat Hut) – Pick your favorite Feldman. This piece is a standout for me, mainly because a lot of the wandering, pensive chromaticism of Feldman's late works is replaced by a greater stillness and a near-physical manifestation of breath. Throughout, there is the feeling of opening and closing, especially from the strings, while the piano dots the air with lingering harmonies. Feldman's craft was at a high point at this time (this was one of his last pieces), which is highly apparent in the accordion-like quality he gets from the strings and in the glorious revelation of the piece's only significant moment of counterpoint, about two-thirds of the way through.

  • Kevin DrummSheer Hellish Miasma (Mego) – A while back, a friend of mine in Chicago pulled out a CD while I was visiting his apartment and said, “This is by my friend Kevin.” I thought, great, your friend Kevin, and proceeded to hear and be blown away by the now classic Kevin Drumm on Perdition Plastics. Sheer Hellish Miasma raises the bar again. It's loud as shit, addictively warm, full of carefully-crafted details, and always gives me the best naps: a woman I was living with, who was well-acquainted with this sort of music, found me sleeping soundly in my chair while “Inferno” was pounding at the foundations of the building. She was visibly disturbed and could barely muster the words “This is too much” before she stormed out of the room. She doesn't live here anymore, and I'm sleeping quite well.

  • Leif Elggren – There is something of Charlie Chaplin or Samuel Beckett in Leif Elggren's work - something comic (often extremely funny), with a really long, tragic shadow. I still haven't been able to grasp how his recorded works, so many of them basically big-fat drones, convey that sadly human sense of humor. The absurdity and irony he wields could easily come off as self-aggrandizing or just plain base, but there is so much integrity and earnestness in everything he does that there isn't a chance of mistaking it for something less than a gift. The book Experiment with Dreams is a must-have, and his most recent CD release, Extraction, is as good as anything he's ever done.

  • Lionel Marchetti – The recurring sounds in Lionel Marchetti's pieces (the stone [?] plopped in water from Portrait D'un Glacier, the whipping in La Grande Vallee and Mue, etc.) don't really function as themes. Their persistence constantly recasts the time of the pieces, prevents events from simply succeeding one another, and helps create narratives similar in structure to those of Robbe-Grillet. These pieces, composed with such care and obvious joy, are as rich as any in the classical canon, yet they sound completely fresh, unpretentious, and absolutely singular.

  • John Cassavetes – Cassavetes' films present a barrage of characters whose struggle and failure to communicate push them away from rehearsed, inherited emotions and towards genuine action. There are no types or mere signs of realism; instead, the characters and their situations are complex, disturbing, compassionate, and ultimately unsolved. Cassavetes' own struggle to be genuine, riddled with setbacks and compromises, is equally a modern myth of individualism. I might prefer The Killing of a Chinese Bookie and Minnie and Moskowitz, but I wouldn't ignore any of the films from Faces on.

  • 3 classic musique concrete works: Pierre Henry, Fragments pour Artaud; Francois Bayle, l'Experience Acoustique; Iannis Xenakis, La Legende d'Eer.

  • Live shows that are hard to forget: Cellule d'Intervention Metamkine in Florence 2001; undr quartet at the Shoebox in Boston 1999; anything with Ron Lessard.

  • Current listening: Lightning Bolt, Wonderful Rainbow; Wolf Eyes, Wolf Eyes w/Spykes; The Rolling Stones, Between the Buttons; C. Schultz/Hajsch, Untitled LP.

    Word Up: Greg Kelley, Chris Cooper, Howard Stelzer, Jason Lescalleet, Le Quan Ninh, Gunter Mueller, Axel Doerner, Andrea Neumann, Liz Tonne, Vic Rawlings, Mike Bullock, Yukiko Nakamura, James Coleman, Michel Doneda, Alessandro Bosetti, Jack Wright, Bob Marsh, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Eric Rosenthal, Taylor Ho Bynum, Jerome Noetinger, Lionel Marchetti, United States of Belt.

    By Dusted Magazine

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