Welcome Carlos Guillen, who will be providing an insider’s take on the Early 2009 MT6 Sampler, a decidedly different perspective from Zack’s fish-out-of-water scenario.
Carlos is a longstanding performer of experimental music whose past projects include the fantastic Soihadto with Duff from Ace of Cakes. His baby continues to be The Expanding Man, a dizzying instrumental showcase of aural textures from Carlos’ guitar and the instruments of whomever he decides to collaborate with (main collaborators now are DJ Tyler Quinn and Percussionist Michael Castor).
Carlos is also an owner at the Hexagon and runs sound there and every year at the High Zero festival (which he credits with originating a lot of his appreciation of experimental music).
You have to be a little crazy to climb into the rocket car of experimental music, both as a listener and as a performer. Experimental music is about taking risks – huge risks. There are musicians out there who gig regularly with no hope of radio play, no hope of mainstream label support, and no hope of selling records. These performers do what they do for radically different reasons than the mainstream performer; they have no traditional conventions to hide behind. More often than not, the experimental musician speaks a language that is very personal, so naturally, most people will be very turned off by what they do.
Experimentation can be dangerous – accidents will happen. Many experimental musicians relish their accidents, their train-wrecks. The payoff is when an experimental performer is allowed to show some real warts-and-all personal truth, and is able to find an audience who understands and appreciates them for it.
MT6 Records has been promoting such musicians for several years now. Most of their output simply cannot be understood without some knowledge of experimental music, some reference point with which to approach the music MT6 helps spread to the masses.
For those of us who do have such inclinations, MT6 is pretty awesome.
The Early 2009 MT6 Sampler should not be confused with the typical record label sampler. This is not a slick infomercial designed to tease the average listener to come into the world of MT6. This is a mixtape by MT6’s beer-swilling synth-destroyer NEWAGEHILLBILLY; it is a compilation of his favorite tracks from some of the label’s latest releases, and it is just as personal and freaked-out as MT6 itself.
Are you ready for some freak-out? Let’s hope so.
Human Host, “Hatched”: This delightful piece of lo-fi thrash metal is a nice opener to the sampler. Human Host is a multi-faceted beast, and this song is actually quite traditional for them. I find their commitment and honesty very refreshing.
Jason Willett, “SRIURFXRET96”: Jangle by the boatload, this song has lots of beach party vibe. The kind of vibe after 10 hours in the sun: disjointed and atonal, yet it’s still possible to dance the watusi to it. The ending riff reminds me of a popular Disney theme ride, revealing that Willett happily employs his inner child in the creation of his music.
Newagehillbilly, “Sonic Rehab”: Fuzzed-out and phased-out guitars, shouted vocals with miles of delay, and distorted dubby drums make me feel like I’m wrapped in the blanket of alcohol withdrawal. The guitar solo is delivered with total commitment, and has a Sonny Sharrock edge to it that is a definite highlight. The popular rap lyric quotation at the end, and the dedication to ODB, clearly reveals the tongue-in-cheek nature of Newagehillbilly and his many compatriots which guest on this recording.
Le Harmacy, “2”: This Italian noise trio delivers a jerky, jangly little tune with lots of moments to breathe before once again jumping into the freezing swimming pool of improvised punk jazz. Relish the cold, and keep your feet moving!
Agrarians, “The mirror travels above the ocean”: The repeating of a long phrase on bass guitar; slow beats smothered in minimalist vocal melodies and lyricism. Classic organ sounds with fuzzed guitars, the vocals are the focal point here, which ponder the “high cost of living.”
Heroin UK, “ShitStorm”: Yes my friends, life can truly seem like a shit storm sometimes, and 70’s-style fuzz-rock outfit Heroin UK is going to dole out some auditory methadone to cure what ails you. Please play this song LOUD.
Abiku, “Novelty”: Glitchy synths and electronic drums as a woman screams – and I don’t mean that tiresome screamo you hear on the radio these days. I mean real, passionate, desperate screaming and synth programming that brings to mind early industrial music and 70’s gore flicks.
Chief Pokawa, “Baked”: Beefheart-style ditty, hysterically expounding on the bakedness of the author of this song. He’s not kidding around here people, he is really, truly baked! I guess if you don’t know much about baking, you probably won’t get the joke.
Make Believe Horse, “What most people dont know”: Strummed acoustics and multi-tracked vocal harmonies, all smothered with a heavy dose of wow & flutter. This song is a kind of shoegazing folk that reminds me of a nighttime campfire sing-along at the end of a long summer.
Can Openers, “You cant see me”: Jerky beats and electric guitar stabs (possibly one of Neil Feather’s guitaints?) evoke a twisted afrobeat feel. Manic spoken vocals add to the anxious groove created on this song, bizarre and danceable at the same time.
Bad Liquor Pond, “PainKiller”: A fantastic gem of shoe-gazing psychedelic rock. For listeners most interested in traditional songwriting and record production, I think BLP may be the most accessible band on the MT6 roster.
Rosemary Krust, “For Today”: What starts as a drone loop underneath lilting female vocals descends into an unsettling wall-of-noise piece. This duo clearly has the musical talent and maturity to tackle opposing emotional themes within a single composition, and they pull off a deviously subtle transition between the two – a definite highlight on this sampler.
Jad Fair and Jason Willett, “or so I’ve been told”: A snappy beat and surfy organ sounds place this song firmly in the Willett camp, while Fair’s vocals provide a Lou Reed-ish drawl which reminds me how fantastic Half-Japanese is. This song touches on the same themes of the first Willett track and the Can Openers track (of which Willett is a member). I can see the pride MT6 has at having Willett and Fair join the roster, for their reputations brings some good cred to this small DIY label.
Talibam!, “3”: Talibam! spells their name with a ! for a reason. On this song, synths provide the main pulse alongside short, repetitious melodic statements like the shouting of expletives, whilst the drummer plays with an abandon that reminds me of tearing my room apart looking for W2’s on April 14th. I hope these guys can take a break from touring Europe on the strength of their collab with the outstanding Daniel Carter to bring their blissful noise freakout to Baltimore.
CAVEMEN!!!, “Cut the Tank”: This snappy little slice of primitive punk is a nice intermission as we reach the midpoint of this sampler. CAVEMEN!!! attack their instruments like were just visited by The Monolith.
Herschel Hoover, “Opener”: A superb piece of traditional pop song writing with a strong new-wave character. This song could get some great radio play with some high-end studio production. One of my favorite compositions on this sampler.
Engine, “Practice makes purple”: This noise duo combines a minimalist drum loop with bubbly synth tweaking, warbly vocals, and the occasional distorted guitar riff. Primitive and lo-fi, this song reminds me of the unpleasantness of a rigorous practice regimen.
Animal Twat, “Fuck your Cocaine”: Another thrash-punk tune from a group that shares members with Heroin UK and CAVEMEN!!, this is good ole fun-in-the-basement-studio fare. Oh yes, brothers & sisters, testify!
Cream Center, “This song is about fucking dragons”: Lo-fi drum’n bass with screaming lyrics reveals the building trend of merging grindcore vocals with homemade electronic backing tracks, a style that Cream Center shares with Human Host. This is the future people, get used to it!
Dirt, “Where are the meesers?”: 8-bit beats & synth sounds with spacey female vocals, this song is decidedly lo-fi and ominous, and leaves me wondering: just what is a meeser? And should I be worried?
Rickman, “Hard to be me”: Here we take a sharp turn into some blues folk territory. This track features acoustic guitar finger-picking, with some modern effects on otherwise traditional vocals and a mostly instrumental song structure. Rickman’s got the blues, updated a smidge for you youngsters.
Pat Grant, “Expectation Blues”: This lo-fi tape recording, with chorused guitars and off-kilter vocal harmonies reminds me most of Frusciante’s solo work and Flying Saucer Attack.
Balance, “44”: A hypnotic and deeply unsettling track of pulsing noise and minimalist distorted beats. This has horror movie soundtrack all over it. Whatever you do, don’t turn around!
Blakk Sweat, “Strange Mouth”: Completely instrumental, this great example of psych-folk helps break up some of the noise acts on this sampler and is a nice break after the unsettling nature of the previous track by Balance.
Hazardous Guadalupe, “AudioVisual Education”: A fine example of the primitive-rock that MT6 represents, this tune shares much in common with the Willett collaborations on this sampler, though it’s rhythms are more basic and less funky.
The Wire Orchestra, “Square Roots”: The backbone of MT6, which exemplifies the aims of primitive-rock, musical democracy, and has an output that is 100% improvised. This track features ambient swells and a bizarre vocal sound collage.
Chin Forces, “Transport”: Chin Forces makes use of a straightforward post-rock sound on this track. As one of the integral members of MT6, his guitar playing is evident on many MT6 releases (Heroin UK, Wire Orchestra, and more) and this minimal guitar and drums track is an excellent example of his style.
Decapitated Hed, “Blood on Hands Poop on Dancefloor”: A crunchy beat and distorted bass tones remind me of the occasional noise-funk of Sonic Youth, while squelchy synth bursts and fuzzed-out pedal tones provide some variation from the pounding rhythm section, decomposing down to just one fearsome bassline before an abrupt silence.
Whistletips, “Excerpt”: Deep, distorted drones and pulses in a wide stereophonic mix, recalling the ambient transitions of stoner doom super-group Old Man Gloom. This song reminds me of the euphoria that accompanies death by asphyxiation, a fitting end to this most strange and wonderful mix of fringe music.
And so ends my take on the MT6 early 2009 sampler. Thank you for reading.
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