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NoVo / Nouveau: Live Audio, Day 3 – Nathan Bell (2010.03.04)

Photo credit: Greg Szeto

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Download the entire set in FLAC.

Nathan Bell (feat. Ami Dang)

drum overheads – shure sm81s
banjo amp – sennheiser 421
banjo spot – oktava 012
sitar amp – sennheiser 421
acoustic guitar with pickup – shure sm57 on amp
stage – apex 460 tube (set to omni)
stage – mxl 990 (angled at 45 deg in towards the middle of the stage)
mid room – oktava 012 (x/y)
back room – AT boundary

Recorded by Matthew Leffler-Schulman & Alex Champagne @ Windup Space
Mixed by Matthew Leffler-Schulman @ Mobtown Studios

Novo / Nouveau: Nathan Bell (feat. Ami Dang)

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MP3: Nathan Bell – Moonsblood from Nathan Bell @ 2640 (2008)

Nathan Bell probably needs no introduction, particularly to those of you familiar with Baltimore music. In recent years this elder statesmen of Baltimore music (one-time bass player for Lungfish) has come to prominence for his transcendent instrumental expeditions on banjo, as well as his Human Bell project with Arbouretum’s Dave Heumann. Bell explains the appeal of solely instrumental compositions simply: it’s all about “room.” He laments that vocals can often make a song feel confining to the listener, and the extra space for interpretation and musical exploration is appealing to him. Leaving the imagination wide-open for one to wander wherever the musical spirit takes you is key to his approach. Local label West Main Development captured Bell’s solo music in most glorious form with its release of a intricate live performance at the 2640 Space in 2008; the result is perhaps the most expansive and epic EP I’ve ever laid ears upon.

What may be most exciting about his headlining set tonight, is a potentially Earth-shaking collaboration with local sitar-wielding treasure Ami Dang. She was a casualty of inclement weather at Aural States Fest II, one of the more disappointing things to happen that night. The chance to catch up with her playing, a relative rarity nowadays as she records with Ehse Records for a highly anticipated release, will be a welcome opportunity.

Aural States Fest II: Spotlights – Sick Weapons, Ami Dang, Liveshitbingepurge

Photo credit: Frank Hamilton

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MP3: Sick Weapons – Orgy on the China Train, Live from Whartscape 2009

Over the past year, Sick Weapons have steadily been amping up their live show from heady racket to straight-on punk freight train. Opening for the Frodus reunion show at the Talking Head, they tore the roof off with raucous abandon.

Lead singer Ellie Beziat drops some knowledge on us regarding their in-the-works full-length:

The artwork is being designed by Nolen Strals of Double Dagger. Highly, highly conceptual and intellectual-as one would expect from our brain combos. Three of Baltimore’s best engineers have their fingers in the mix including Adam Cooke, J. Robbins, and Christopher Freeland. And it includes the hits like “Orgy on the China Train,” “If You Love Me, Take Me to the Hospital,” etc. as well as some new tunes, “I Got Mental Illness” and “Anthony Bourdain’s Earring”.



When I first saw Ami Dang, I was in awe. Her innovative blending of classical Indian influences and use of modern experimental electronics, her earth-shattering vocals…I firmly believe she is one of the most innovative musicians in our fair city, and I can’t wait to see her new vision merging her experimental side with her poppier side. In addition to doing some recent collaboration with local behemoths Celebration, she is also working on an album with Ehse Records which we can all only hope will be out in the very near future.


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MP3: Newagehillbilly – Improv, Live at the Hexagon (2008.12.05)

With a crew as motley and diverse as MT6 Records, it’s not surprising we found all different kinds of reactions to their output when we featured them in our Sign On! label spotlight column. Regardless, head honcho Alex Strama and his merry roster often create some of the most inspired experimental music around. Here’s your chance to check out a sort of MT6 all-stars group (Pawly Walnutz, Newagehillbilly, Decapitated Hed) doing what they do best: producing blistering electronic noise.

Preview: Aural States Fest II @ Sonar Club Stage/the Talking Head (2010.01.30)

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  1. MP3: Pontiak – Suzerain from Sea Voids (2009)
  2. MP3: Vincent Black Shadow – Flash Roll from More Deeper (2008)
  3. MP3: Leprechaun Catering – Night In Amnesia from Kumquats, Lychees (2004)
  4. MP3: Caleb Stine – Two Mantras (Small Sur cover) from Baltimore Does Baltimore (2009)
  5. MP3: Benjy Ferree – Dog Killers! from Leaving the Nest (2006)
  6. MP3: Sick Sick Birds – Buildings from Heavy Manners (2009)
  7. MP3: Noble Lake – Ladies and Gentlemen from Heyday (2008)
  8. MP3: Height With Friends – Swiss Chard from Swiss Chard Vol. 1 (2009)
  9. MP3: Thrushes – Crystals from the forthcoming LP Night Falls (2010)
  10. MP3: True Womanhood – Magic Child from the Magic Child Single (2009)
  11. MP3: Lands & Peoples – Bad Habits

web Aural States Fest 2 new

Teaser image to the right, proper flyer art coming from Nolen Strals of Post Typography/Double Dagger fame.


Aural States announces line-up, details for Aural States Fest II

December 11 2009 – Baltimore, MD – Baltimore-based music website Aural States (auralstates.com) is proud to announce Aural States Fest II, our second anniversary blow-out at Sonar Club Stage & the Talking Head on Saturday January 30th in Baltimore, MD. This will likely be the final year for Aural States to be based in Baltimore, and hence, the final Aural States Fest.

The line-up for this year includes a wide variety of acts from Baltimore and DC, crossing generational and genre boundaries:

Pontiak (www.myspace.com/pontiak)

Leprechaun Catering (www.myspace.com/leprechauncatering)

Vincent Black Shadow (www.myspace.com/vbskicksoutthejams)

Sick Weapons (www.myspace.com/sickweapons)

Office of Future Plans (J Robbins of Jawbox | www.myspace.com/officeoffutureplans)

Caleb Stine (www.myspace.com/calebstine)

Benjy Ferree (www.myspace.com/benjyferree)

Sick Sick Birds (www.myspace.com/sicksickbirds)

Noble Lake (www.myspace.com/noblelake)

Dustin Wong (www.myspace.com/dustinclarence)

Height With Friends (www.myspace.com/height)

Thrushes (www.myspace.com/thrushes)

True Womanhood (www.myspace.com/truewomanhood)

Lands & Peoples (www.myspace.com/landsandpeoples)

Ami Dang (www.myspace.com/amritakd)

Liveshitbingepurge (Newagehillbilly, Decapitated Hed, and Pawly Walnutz | mt6records.com)

NARC (www.myspace.com/iamthenarc)

Stay tuned for additional line-up announcements in the coming weeks.

Like last year, early arrivals with ticket stubs will be rewarded with a limited-supply of generous grab-bags filled with CDs and merchandise from (mostly) local artists and businesses, including Atomic Books, Video Americain, Baltimore Jazz Alliance, Thrill Jockey, Natty Paint, and many more.

This year we are proud to team up with our younger regional cousin Bmore Musically Informed (bmoremusic.net) to present our festival as Night 2 of the “Blogtimore PWNS” weekend. Night 1 takes place Friday January 29th, when a combination of Aural States Fest alums (Arbouretum, Wye Oak, Sri Aurobindo) and fresh local talent (Weekends, the Violet Hour) will play the last show ever at the G-Spot.

Tickets for Night 1 are $10ADV/$12DOS and available through missiontix.com. Tickets for Night 2 are $15 and available through sonarbaltimore.com. A limited supply of 50 double-header tickets are available for a discounted rate of $20 through (sonarbaltimore.com and missiontix), and will guarantee access to both nights.

Photos / Live Review: Celebration, Lone Wolf, Ami Dang @ the Windup Space (2009.02.20)

There’s an old, bittersweet saying that goes something along the lines of this: “You can never go home again.”

I’d like to submit an exception to that statement: “…unless you call Baltimore home.”

This past Friday, the Windup Space’s recently constructed stage was adorned not unlike someone’s living room, with antiqueish/kitschy decor such as Buddha lamps.  The warm yellow glow of incandescent bulbs cast a much warmer light than the typically harsh stage lights.  The room was nicely filled before Ami Dang took the stage, and things felt cozy.

Dang’s blend of traditional Indian sitar and classical singing with experimental electronics grows more effective with each successive performance.  Her voice ranges from subtle and sublime to massive and nearly overwhelming in power.  The intimate nature of her performance requires rapt attentiveness for full-effect, and in that the crowd failed.  A large din of chatter often broke into Dang’s delicately crafted silences; but these distractions quickly fell away whenever Dang let loose her vocals.  I’m convinced that given the right amping, Dang could obliterate buildings with them.

Lone Wolf was a rather chaotic drum/vocal one-man act (backed by sax) that was too discombobulated for me to follow.   I may have prematurely written them off, but I found myself supremely disinterested.

Celebration, on the other hand, struck with the orchestrated fury of a tsunami, combining equal parts wild-eyed frenzy, atmospheric experimentalism and soulful pop leanings.  Their last performance in Baltimore was months ago, and it showed in the earnestness of their performance.  They hadn’t really left Baltimore, but it felt like a triumphant homecoming nonetheless.  A projected flickring fire on the back wall, warmly welcoming and complementing the homeyness of the decor and the gentle, wafting scent of some sort of wood incense in the air.  

The nature of Celebration’s primal pop is such that it envelopes you in its feral folds; rather than coming off as some foreign, distant spectacle, there is an allure, a warmth that emanates from Celebration that draws you into their music and performance.  This was magnified tenfold by the cozy trappings of the space.  As things often tend to go in Baltimore, the mood at the Windup swiftly became one of old friends reunited, the time that had passed becoming a brief footnote in a long-standing and deep fraternity, united by a common bond: love of music.

Ami Dang

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